Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Arundhati Roy - becoming internal security threats

The British General Election Fraud, articles and theoretical analysis of Parliamentary Democracy

Britain it is only weeks away from the holding of a general election when members will be elected to the House of Commons, the legislative body of the British state. In recent British general elections turnout has fallen to record lows as more people become disillusioned with the fraudulent sham of capitalist parliamentary “democracy”. Even so the Trotskyites and revisionists are campaigning to try to get people to vote, especially for the discredited Labour Party.

In the past Maoists in Britain have always campaigned for people to boycott both national and local elections. Elections are an occasion when people’s attention is focused on politics and we should seize such occasions to expose the capitalist system of oppression and exploitation. It is no good to simply ignore such elections. Again we should campaign for people to abstain but with one possible exception.

The fascist British National Party has made some headway by winning some local government seats and two seats in the European Parliament. It is possible that in a few constituencies there could be a significant chance of fascist candidates getting elected. In those cases it would be correct as a blocking move to campaign for people to vote for the non-fascist candidate most likely to win. This is not because fascist members of parliament would be any different in supporting capitalism than are the other bourgeois parties. It is because the way in which they would maintain the rule of capital would be even more oppressive than now, especially for ethnic and national minorities. Even so this should not be used as an excuse for voting in a constituency simply because there is a fascist candidate. In general, abstention from voting should be the rule.

Communists in Britain should start campaigning for abstention now. Indeed, a few of us already have begun. I can supply leaflet texts, stickers and badges for comrades who want to take up this campaign.

Remember: If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it!

by Harry Powell


The election circus has come to town. The politicians want to con us into voting for them. But any vote is a vote for the system, for CAPITALISM, and against ourselves, the people. Whether the next government is Tory, Labour or whatever the same tiny minority, the CAPITALIST CLASS, will carry on oppressing and exploiting us.


Already many people don't vote in elections because they know from experience that whichever party wins the people lose. Under Labour and Tory governments mass unemployment has remained, social security benefits have been cut, the number of homeless have risen and the social services have been run down. At the same time capitalist like Richard Branson have carried on getting richer by ripping off the working class. After all, that's what capitalism is; a system of legalised robbery and, when it suits them, illegal robbery!


Of course it's very hard to tell the difference between the policies of the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats because they are all much the same. The Greens are a little bit different but it doesn't really matter because whoever is elected the CAPITALIST STATE will go on ruling on behalf of the capitalist class. The police will go on oppressing working people as they did in the Miners' Strike, the armed forces will go on terrorising the Irish people, the bureaucrats will go trying to prevent people claiming benefits, the courts will go on handing out class justice. Whoever is the Westminster ringmaster, the capitalists will carry on ruling.


We don't have to put up with the capitalists beating us down and ripping us off. We can fight back, as we did with the Poll Tax, and fend them off. All of the main political parties, including Labour, urged people to pay this unjust tax. But millions of people refused to pay and the State had to back down even though they threatened us with bailiffs and prison. As a result Thatcher had to go and the Government had to abandon the Poll Tax. This shows that our enemy, the capitalist class and their state, can be defeated if working people organise to fight back.


The capitalist state and the television and newspapers try to kid us that through elections it is us, the people, who decide how we live together. That is why they put so much time and effort into trying to get us to vote. Then when things go on the same as always the capitalist class and their mouthpieces can turn around and tell us that we can't really complain because we elected the government. By conning us into voting it creates the illusion that the people have power when in fact it is the tiny minority of capitalists, the owners of industry and commerce.

The problems we face - poverty, unemployment, homelessness, pollution, etc. - can only be dealt with if we, the great of mass of working people, take matters into our own hands and create a truly democratic society, one where there really is rule by the people for the people. This can only come about if we rise up against the capitalists and their state, overthrow them and take direct control of our workplaces and communities. Although possible, this will not be easy as the capitalist state will fight back by every means, especially violence, as can be seen by what they have done in Northern Ireland. One small step towards defeating the capitalist enemy is to refuse to kiss the hand that strikes us by not voting in the election circus.



A Communist Position on Bourgeois-Democracy and the Parliamentary System by the Social Revolution Party of Canada


I. Introduction

In light of the recent debates within the International Communist Movement1 as to the value of working within the bourgeois parliamentary system, and because of questions posed to the Social Revolution Party as to its position on bourgeois elections, it seemed prudent to write an article on the bourgeois parliamentary system and the attitude that communists should be taking towards parliament. For whatever reasons, it seems that English speaking communists often romanticize the parliamentary experience; indeed, almost all of the “official” Communist Parties within the Anglosphere have been reduced to, in the words of Marx, “parliamentary cretinism”2.

In the interests of a detailed and thorough exposition of the problem at hand, this article will begin by looking at the original debates surrounding communist involvement in bourgeois parliaments dating back to the inception of the Third International. Careful attention will then be paid to Lenin’s critique of both British and German communist involvement in their respective parliaments, with an eye as to whether or not Lenin was being consistent in his critique. We will then step forward 80 years and examine the modern Canadian context and whether or not advocating parliamentary involvement in Canada in 2009 is a Leninist position. Lenin’s position itself will then be the focus of extreme critiques, examining the effects of parliamentary involvement on communist organisations. Finally, after careful investigation, a position for the Social Revolution Party will be put forward. Onwards!

II. What is Parliament?

Due to the deceptive and anti-analytical nature of politics within the Anglosphere, it is worthwhile to take a brief step back and define what we mean by parliament. By parliament, within the context of this article, we mean the legislative branch of the state. It is nominally the role of parliament to establish state policy and to hold the other branches of the state accountable. In Canada parliament formally includes the Sovereign, the Senate, and the House of Commons3.

It needs to be stated, before we continue, that even when parliament is functioning according to ideal circumstances, it still has a very limited role in the actual functioning of the state. The legislative branch can only set policy; underneath the legislative branch is the massive bureaucracy that carries out the day-to-day tasks of the state. This is a fact oft-overlooked by communists when assessing the role that parliament plays in the life of the state. Winning parliamentary power does not give one power over the state, but rather over the accounting and administration of the state. The state carries on a life of its own, independent of the 308 people that sit at its head.

III. Lenin on Parliamentary Involvement

Lenin’s main critiques of communist anti-parliamentarism are found in his oft-misquoted piece “Left-Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder. While categorising and critiquing a series of left-communist heresies, Lenin touches significantly on the question of whether or not communists should participate in bourgeois parliaments4. Lenin’s answer is that unequivocally, communists should engage in the bourgeois parliamentary system; he derides those on the left that abstain from parliamentary activity as having proved that “they are not a party of the class, but a circle, not a party of the masses, but a group of intellectuals and of a few workers who imitate the worst features of intellectuals.”5 There is no ambiguity in Lenin’s work as to whether or not communists should engage in bourgeois parliamentary activity.

It would be completely intellectually dishonest however to look simply at Lenin’s final position on the question of bourgeois parliaments, without examining the reasoning behind Lenin’s position. In responding to assertions that parliament has become historically obsolete, Lenin replies:

Parliamentarism has become “historically obsolete”. That is true as regards propaganda. But everyone knows that this is still a long way from overcoming it practically. Capitalism could have been declared, and with full justice, to be “historically obsolete” many decades ago, but that does not at all remove the need for a very long and very persistent struggle on the soil of capitalism. Parliamentarism is “historically obsolete” from the standpoint of world history, that is to say, the era of bourgeois parliamentarism has come to an end and the era of proletarian dictatorship has begun. This is incontestable. But world history reckons in decades. Ten or twenty years sooner or later makes no difference when measured by the scale of world history; from the standpoint of world history it is a trifle that cannot be calculated even approximately. But precisely for that reason it is a howling theoretical blunder to apply the scale of world history to practical politics.6
Lenin outlines the nature of his position extremely well in the afore-quoted passage; despite the fact that parliamentary democracy is clearly historically obsolete, it may still be necessary in a practical political framework to struggle “on the soil” of parliament.

Lenin continues:

How can one say that “parliamentarism is politically obsolete,” when “millions” and “legions” of proletarians are not only still in favour of parliamentarism in general, but are downright “counter-revolutionary”!? Clearly, parliamentarism… is not yet politically obsolete. Clearly, the “Lefts”… have mistaken their desire, their political-ideologlical attitude, for objective reality.7
And: Parliamentarism, of course, is “politically obsolete” for the Communists… but – and that is the whole point – we must not regard what is obsolete for us as being obsolete for the class, as being obsolete for the masses. Here again we find that the “Lefts” do not know how to reason, do not know how to act as the party of the class, as the party of the masses. You must not sink to the level of the masses, to the level of the backward strata of the class. That is incontestable. You must tell them the bitter truth. You must call their bourgeois-democratic and parliamentary prejudices – prejudices. But at the same time you must soberly follow the actual state of class consciousness and preparedness of the whole class (not only of its Communist vanguard), of all the toiling masses (not only of their advanced elements).8

Despite the fact that parliament is historically obsolete, and despite the fact that a Marxist analysis allows communists to realise that parliament is historically obsolete, parliament is not yet practically obsolete for the vast majority of the working class because they still continue to participate in it. For Lenin, the entirety of his position on parliamentary involvement rests on the fact that the masses have not yet moved beyond a bourgeois-democratic frame of mind, and therefore communists, in order to stay in touch with the masses, have to struggle within that same framework. Communists must struggle where the masses are, and therefore communists must struggle within a parliamentary framework.

It is worth noting that within Lenin’s critique one finds no mention of the usefulness of parliament for accomplishing social change; quite the opposite in fact. Lenin’s position in favour of parliamentary involvement is purely based on staying in touch with the masses.

IV. The Parliamentary Question in Britain and Germany circa 1920: Is Lenin Consistent?

The main focus of Lenin’s critique lies within the realm of practical politics, and it is no surprise that Lenin deals not only with the “ultra-left” in the abstract but also how the political positions of the “ultra-left” play out in reality. In doing so, Lenin focuses very specifically on the emerging Communist movement in Britain and the already established communist movement in Germany. It is worth investigating the content of Lenin’s critiques of both the German and the British ultra-left, in particular looking at whether or not Lenin is being consistent within his own critical framework, and if there is anything that we today can practically pull from Lenin’s insights.

The main thrust of Lenin’s position on Germany has already been explored; the quotes contained in section III of this essay were directed against the German “lefts”, but were highlighted there as they hold a more universal significance. Concretely, the German “lefts” believed that parliamentary struggle had become historically obsolete, and therefore struggling within the framework of bourgeois parliaments could be at best a waste of time. Against the arguments of historical obsolescence forwarded by the German “lefts”, Lenin retorts:

This is said with absurd pretentiousness, and is obviously incorrect. “Reversion” to parliamentarism! Perhaps there is already a Soviet republic in Germany? It seems not! How then, can one speak of “reversion”? Lenin attacks the German “lefts” for what he conceives as prematurely not engaging in parliamentary activity.

In dealing with the British “lefts”, Lenin advises similar tactics. In the context of the newly forming communist movement in Britain, a communist movement that was already rife with ultra-left tendencies, Lenin advises a parliamentary coalition with the British Labour Party. Speaking to the specific conditions in Britain at the time, Lenin remarks:

In my opinion, the British Communists should unite their four (all very weak, and some very, very weak) parties and groups into a single Communist Party on the basis of the principles of the Third International and of obligatory participation in parliament. The Communist Party should propose a “compromise” to the Hendersons and Snowdens10, an election agreement: let us together fight the alliance of Lloyd George and the Conservatives, let us divide the parliamentary seats in proportion to the number of votes cast by the workers for the Labour Party and for the Communist Party (not at the elections, but in a special vote), and let us retain complete liberty of agitation, propaganda, and political activity.11

Lenin then goes on to suggest that if the Labour Party accepts a deal it will provide a platform for the Communist Party from which they can agitate amoungst the masses. And if the Labour Party doesn’t accept a deal, then it will expose the Labour Party as allies of the bourgeoisie who are against the unity of the working class. In Lenin’s opinion, the British communist movement will make gains regardless of the actions of the Labour Party if it takes the parliamentary road.
Lenin further reiterates his position on British communist involvement in parliament when he writes:

If I come out as a Communist and call upon the workers to vote for Henderson against Lloyd George, they will certainly give me a hearing. And I will be able to explain in a popular manner not only why Soviets are better than parliament and why the dictatorship of the proletariat is better than the dictatorship of Churchill (disguised by the signboard of bourgeois “democracy”), but also that I want with my vote to support Henderson in the same way as the rope supports a hanged man – that the impending establishment of a government of Hendersons will prove that I am right, will bring the masses over to my side, and will hasten the political death of the Hendersons and the Snowdens just as was the case with their kindred spirits in Russia and Germany.12

On a superficial level it appears that Lenin is being consistent in the application of his analysis to both Britain and Germany. On one hand, Lenin suggests that the German “lefts” support parliamentary involvement. In the same vein, Lenin suggests that British communists do the same. However, internal to Lenin’s argument is the idea that parliament is parliament is parliament the world-over, without taking into account the specific nature of the individual political climates of the respective parliaments themselves. Lenin applies his critique equally to all situations, but fails to understand that a critique of parliamentarism in Germany and Russia does not necessarily apply to parliamentarism in Britain.

To take a step back for a moment, an unspoken assumption in Lenin’s argument is that the space for an anti-capitalist critique exists within the context of bourgeois parliamentary action. Lenin assumes, incorrectly as will be pointed out, that this is the case in all parliaments in 1920. Nowhere does Lenin explore, even for a second, that this isn’t the case; indeed, the entire nature of his critique, especially towards the British communists, is that they should be entering into parliament specifically to fill that space. Lenin, while grasping the specific historical events leading to the establishment of ultra-left varieties of communism in both Germany and Britain, seemingly fails to apply an actual historical analysis to parliamentary involvement.

To approach such an analysis, it becomes important to look at the context that the emerging communist movements found themselves in. In Germany, the “lefts” that Lenin rails against were members of an organisation known as the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD). The KAPD had split off from the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in April of 1920, specifically in opposition to electoral tactics. The KPD itself was a newly formed organisation as of 1918, which essentially amounted to the left-wing of the then reformist Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) finally declaring independence/regrouping after expulsion in post-war Germany. The SPD itself, despite being reformist and reactionary by the time 1914 came about, had a long history of being an actual anti-capitalist party. Even after the SPD had been thoroughly exposed as reactionary, the debates within the SPD, specifically those trying to justify the SPD’s support for Imperial Germany in World War I, took place within a nominally Marxist framework.

It can be said then, that the German “lefts” of the KAPD emerged onto the political scene in a context in which there had been a long history of anti-capitalist action and debate. The German working class would not have been unfamiliar with such ideas; the fact that nominally Marxist debates were taking place within the German governing party at the time Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder was written shows how deeply entrenched some semblance of Marxist thought was within the German working class. Therefore the space existed for an anti-capitalist, anti-state movement to exist and actually benefit from a parliamentary presence; Lenin is exactly right within his own framework when he criticizes the KAPD for being out-of-touch with the masses, for being “not a party of the class, but a circle”13. Or, to put it slightly differently, due to the inundation of Marxist and anti-capitalist ideas within the German working class, the space existed for the German left to both agitate against capitalism and the state while engaging in parliamentary activity for the sake of propaganda without getting the two messages confused. It was the space created by nearly 50 years of SPD agitation that afforded this to the German left.

The same however can not be said for the British communist movement. There, the “lefts” that Lenin referred to belonged to four organisations, namely the British Socialist Party, the Socialist Labour Party, the South Wales Socialist Society, and the Workers’ Socialist Federation14. None of these parties had any institutional history with any groupings before them; while individual members assuredly were involved in movements before the inception of their respective parties, the parties themselves were new formations.

On the parliamentary front, there existed only the Labour Party which had been founded in 1900. Prior to its inception, many of its constituent groups had in fact been associated with the Liberal Party15. Even in its best days the Labour Party was purely a reformist organisation; there was never a revolutionary or Marxist current that existed within the Labour Party. Because of this, the space for an anti-capitalist critique in British parliamentary action never existed the way in which it had in Germany. Lenin therefore, not taking into account his unspoken assumption as to the existence of an anti-capitalist space within parliament, urges the British communists to engage not only in parliamentary activity but to seek out an alliance with the Labour Party. Lenin, within his own framework, is incorrect and inconsistent; the situation in Britain was not analogous to the situation in Germany. Or, to put forward the argument again in a slightly different manner, due to the fact that there was no history of anti-capitalist agitation in Britain, the space did not exist within the British Parliament for an anti-capitalist critique. The two messages, that of being anti-capitalist and anti-state, as well as struggling within the context of bourgeois parliaments would not have been as clearly received by the masses as they would have been in Germany.

In summary, Lenin’s position on parliamentary involvement rests on three pillars: The first is that the masses are engaged in parliamentary activity. The second is that the masses have not yet moved beyond a bourgeois-democratic framework. And the third, unspoken pillar is that within parliament there exists a space for an anti-capitalist, anti-state critique. When these conditions are satisfied, as was the case in Germany in 1920, Lenin is quite correct in criticising the KAPD for being anti-parliament. However, when these conditions are not fulfilled, particularly the third condition, as was the case in Britain in 1920, Lenin is being inconsistent within the framework of his own critique. Parliamentary struggles should not always be engaged in, and communists need to take careful stock of their own conditions to decide the correct course of action.

V. A Brief Interjection from Lenin

For those familiar with the text of Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder, one can already see a rebuttal to the above arguments from the text of the aforementioned piece itself. Responding to the argument that the masses can’t understand the nuances of both an anti-state position combined with parliamentary activity, Lenin retorts:

And if the objection is raised that these tactics are too “subtle,” or too complicated, that the masses will not understand them, that these tactics will split and scatter our forces, will prevent us concentrating them on the Soviet revolution, etc., I will reply to the “Lefts” who raise this objection: don’t ascribe your doctrinairism to the masses! The masses in Russia are probably no better educated than the masses in England; if anything, they are less so. Yet the masses understood the Bolsheviks; and the fact that on the eve of the Soviet revolution, in September 1917, the Bolsheviks put up their candidates for a bourgeois parliament (the Constituent Assembly) and on the morrow of the Soviet revolution, in November 1917, took part in the elections to this Constituent Assembly, which they dispersed on January 5, 1918 – this did not hamper the Bolsheviks, but on the contrary, helped them.16

Here Lenin makes three mistakes. The first is that he fails to grasp the analytical effects of liberalism on a given population

William Abrahams - Mabon - A classic example of the Liberal influence on British Labour Party and Lib/Labism

The second, stemming from the first, is that he again conflates two unequal groups in order to prove his point: in this case, the British and the Russian masses.

The third mistake, and whether this is an intentional mistake or not is not known, is that Lenin equates bourgeois parliamentary involvement with involvement in a constituent assembly.

Speaking to the first mistake, if one can not conceive of a society after capitalism and without a state, then one can not actively work towards such a society. For Britain this was the case; the working class by and large would have had no conception of a society beyond capitalism17. Lest we forget that capitalism had existed in Britain far longer than elsewhere on the continent. This fact was coupled with the lack of a history of revolutionary agitation in an extra-parliamentary context (revolutionary trade unions, workers’ associations, etc.).

The specificities of the British situation (that of being unlike Germany in that the working class lacked a revolutionary identity, and that of being unlike Russia in that capitalism had had more time to permeate the consciousness of the working class) would have in fact led to a confusion of the British masses (and the Party itself!) as to what exactly the Communist Party’s goal was. And in fact this is what happened elsewhere in the Anglosphere as will be demonstrated later.

As for Lenin’s second mistake, we can clearly see even in 1920 that the English masses and the Russian masses were incredibly different in terms of their ability to understand how parliamentary action and anti-capitalist and anti-state critiques could compliment one another. The most glaring indication of difference is that the Russian masses had managed to have a revolution, whereas the English masses had yet to even establish a Communist Party. Add to this the experience of 1905 and the presence of Soviets, themselves anti-state or dual-power institutions, and a comparison between the English masses and the Russian masses seems strange at best.

By conflating the two Lenin misses the point; there clearly are situations where the tactics being espoused by Lenin are too subtle and too complicated for the masses to understand, and parliamentary activity is not always the way forward.

Lenin’s third mistake is perhaps the most glaring. Even if we were to accept the comparisons between the English and Russian masses, Lenin’s argument still falls apart based on the fact that a Constituent Assembly is not a bourgeois parliament. A Constituent Assembly is a temporary body whose only role is to draft a constitution; after that, the Constituent Assembly is folded and the constitutionally decided organs are put in place. In the context of Russia in 1917, the class nature of the Constituent Assembly was uncertain. Russia was a society poised on the brink of revolution; had the Bolsheviks won a majority within the Constituent Assembly, the drafted constitution could very well have been Soviet and working class in nature. For Lenin to suggest that British communists engage in bourgeois parliament because their Russian comrades engaged in the Constituent Assembly mis-represents the nature of the two societies as well as the role played by each body.

VI. A Parliamentary Path for Canada?

Having shed light on Lenin’s position circa 1920 in regards specifically to Britain and Germany, it is now time for our gaze to be shifted to something more concrete: Canada in 2009. In order to discern whether or not, within the context of Lenin’s position, a parliamentary way forward is possible within Canada we must look at the conditions that Lenin put forward in analysing the political situations in Germany and Britain. Three aspects need to be examined: first, whether or not the masses are engaged in the parliamentary process; second, whether or not the masses have moved beyond a bourgeois-democratic frame of reference; and third, whether or not the space exists within the Canadian parliamentary experience for an anti-state and anti-capitalist message to reach the masses.

On the first condition, that of whether or not the masses are engaged in the bourgeois parliamentary process in Canada, it can safely be said that they are not. The most recent federal elections in 2008 saw a record low for the last 100 years in terms of voter turnout: only 58.8% of those eligible to vote did so18. This was down from an equally pathetic 64.7% in 2006. In fact, within the last 30 years the highest voter turnout occurred in 1979, where 75.7% of Canada’s electorate voted. Indeed, in the entire history of Canada’s federal elections, 1958 holds the record for the highest voter-turnout with 79.4%19. Even in the historical best case scenario, over 20% of the electorate was not engaged in parliamentary activity. In more normal situations, such as the past 10 years, anywhere from 35%-40% of the people of Canada have not voted.

Distaste for the bourgeois political system is pervasive; not only is voter-turnout down, but membership in political parties is also dwindling20. What this means is that under normal conditions, 35%-40% of the electorate in Canada finds the parliamentary process so disengaging that they can’t even be bothered to cast a ballot. This clearly shows that in Canada, the masses as a whole are not eagerly engaged in the parliamentary process. Only a fringe element is intimately engaged, and only a small majority have any engagement at all. The first condition established by Lenin for communist involvement in the bourgeois parliamentary process is not met in a modern Canadian context.

The second condition, that the masses in Canada have not moved beyond a bourgeois democratic frame of reference, is still the case. Indeed, there is no mainstream political party or movement in Canada that even questions the basic assumptions behind a bourgeois democratic framework. While the masses are not engaged in the current bourgeois parliamentary framework, due to the non-existence of palatable alternatives (namely Soviet democracy), the masses still find themselves within a bourgeois democratic framework.

The third and final condition established by Lenin, that the space for an anti-state and anti-capitalist critique exists within the context of parliament, can unquestionably be said to be false. The Canadian state has a long history of anti-communist action; when the Communist Party was at its peak popularity, and on the eve of the election of the first Communist MP, the Communist Party of Canada (CPC) was banned under the War Measures Act. The banning still went forward even after the CPC and its constituent labour organisations not only supported the war effort, but agreed not to strike for the duration of the war! The CPC was forced to re-organise under the name of the Labour-Progressive Party (LPP).

In terms of actual representation in the House of Commons, one of only two Communist MPs to ever be elected, Fred Rose who was elected in 1943 on the LPP ticket, was accused of being a Soviet spy and was imprisoned mid-way through his term in 194521. Following his release from prison he was tailed from job to job by the RCMP; as punishment for having the audacity to win an election as a Communist, his life was destroyed. He eventually returned to Poland. Doris Nielson, the other Communist who was elected in 1943, ran initially for the Progressive Unity Party22 but once in office shifted her allegiance to the LPP. She was not re-elected.
As can be seen, the Canadian state goes out of its way to ensure that there is no anti-state, anti-capitalist space within the Canadian parliamentary framework. This is something that even the CPC, a party heavily involved in parliamentary cretinism, admits in its program:

State-monopoly capitalism undermines the basis of traditional bourgeois democracy. The subordination of the state to the interests of finance capital erodes the already limited role of elected government bodies, federal, provincial and local. Big business openly intervenes in the electoral process on its own behalf, and also indirectly through a network of pro-corporate institutes and think tanks. It uses its control of mass media to influence the ideas and attitudes of the people, and to blatantly influence election results. It corrupts the democratic process through the buying of politicians and officials. It tramples on the political right of the Canadian people to exercise any meaningful choice, thereby promoting widespread public alienation and cynicism about the electoral process.23

Even if interference in the electoral process by the Canadian state was not an issue, one still faces the problem of the lack of saturation of the Canadian working class with anti-state and anti-capitalist influences. Much like Britain in 1920, it is quite reasonable to predict that an anti-state message would become confused if pushed through the medium of parliament. The Canadian working class does not have any conception of life beyond capitalism; all of the reasons to not engage in parliamentary activity in Britain in 1920 apply more-so to Canada in 2009. The active involvement of the Canadian state in anti-communist activity, as well as the lack of class consciousness amoungst the Canadian working class amount to the fact that within the Canadian parliamentary system there is no space for an anti-state and anti-capitalist critique. Lenin’s third condition is not satisfied.

To recap: in modern Canada the masses are not engaged in parliamentary activity. While they may not have moved beyond a bourgeois-democratic framework, they certainly have not embraced the currently existing bourgeois-democratic framework. The Canadian state has historically also engaged in anti-Communist activity whenever a Communist has had a chance of being elected to the House of Commons. This, when coupled with the fact that there is no long history of anti-capitalist agitation in Canada, shows that the space for an anti-capitalist and anti-state critique does not exist within the current Canadian parliamentary system. Within Lenin’s framework then, a parliamentary path is not the way forward. It is not a Leninist position to suggest parliamentary involvement in Canada in this particular historical context.

VII. Is Lenin’s Position Correct?

Thus far, we have only looked at the issue of parliamentary participation in the context of the framework that Lenin advanced nearly 90 years ago. It has been the assumption that communists should work within the bourgeois parliamentary system should the possibility present itself. But is this the case? Or should communists refrain from parliamentary involvement even in the best circumstances? This is the question that will now be explored, as we move towards an actual tactical position for our modern context
Pushing aside the assumption that parliamentary involvement is always good given the chance, there are three main dangers that struggling within the bourgeois parliamentary system brings: the first is that parliamentary struggle brings the wrong kind of attention towards the Party; the second is that parliamentary struggle can take the place of struggling for alternative organs of power; and the third is that the Party risks internalising their own rhetoric around parliamentary struggle, and in so doing, loses sight of the goal of establishing a state based around organs of workers power. Each risk will be explored in further detail.

Struggling within a parliamentary context inevitably brings a certain type of focus towards the Party. Within Lenin’s framework, it is suggested that one engages in parliamentary activity as a way of spreading revolutionary ideas throughout the masses. However, those that will receive the message being put out by the Party in a parliamentary context will be those that are engaged in the parliamentary process to begin with. And while some of them may be won over to the revolutionary ideas, the vast majority of people seeing the message will not be disillusioned in the bourgeois-parliamentary system. One runs the risk then of the message being lost on the masses due to the medium it is being transported through. One also runs the risk of wasting time all-together; assuredly it is easier to convince those that have no interest in bourgeois-democracy about the failings of parliamentary systems than those that do.

On the second danger, in a context of limited time and resources certain types of struggle need to take precedence over others. If our goal is the establishment (and subsequent withering away) of soviet democracy, then one would hope that our limited resources would be going towards that end. Unfortunately, electoral politics take up massive amounts of time and resources. In so far as time and resources are being spent on electoral politics, they are not going towards the establishment of workers’ councils or a mass movement capable of smashing the state. And indeed we see this; the parliamentary presence of the CPC and other parties on the left is felt, but there is no mass movement being invested in.

The third risk is the most dangerous and therefore deserves the most amount of attention and analysis. The danger lies in the notion that in the process of engaging in parliamentary struggle, the Party will become so wrapped up and enamoured with this form of action that it will come to espouse parliamentary struggle above all else. This is especially dangerous in a context where liberalism is as pervasive as it is, as well as in a context where limited resources force the Party to prioritize certain actions over others. While this may seem like the most far-fetched danger associated with struggling within the bourgeois-parliamentary system, it is also the most common. To prove this, it is worthwhile to look at the program of the CPC.

The Communist Party of Canada has an undoubtedly revolutionary and progressive history; amoungst its many achievements we can include support for the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, mobilisation to crush fascism in Europe during WWII, and the creation of the Workers Unity League. It is likely the most important revolutionary organisation in Canada’s history; with all criticism it is important to give credit where credit is due. However, found within its most recent program, the CPC takes a position that elevates parliamentary struggle beyond merely usefulness as a propaganda tactic. The CPC puts forward:

A democratic, anti-monopoly, anti-imperialist alliance will have as its objective the democratic restructuring of Canadian society so that the interests of the majority of Canadians come first, and the stranglehold of finance capital on every aspect of life is broken. It will seek to advance the working people’s interests through all available avenues of struggle, based on massive and united extra-parliamentary action.

The alliance will strive to score electoral advances, and the winning of power by a people’s government dedicated to carrying out sweeping measures to democratize society and transform economic relations in the interests of the working class and the Canadian people as a whole.

Such a breakthrough will be difficult to accomplish given the sophisticated means at the disposal of the ruling class to manipulate public opinion, discourage political activism and otherwise influence the outcome of bourgeois elections. A crucial task for the alliance will be to defend and expand democracy and to fight against corporate and governmental attacks on the electoral process.

A democratic, anti-monopoly government, based on a parliamentary majority, and acting in concert with the united and militant extra-parliamentary movements of the people, would signal a qualitative shift in the balance of class forces in Canadian society, and open the door to the revolutionary transformation to socialism. It would involve the people in a truly meaningful way.

The people’s government would be committed to a program of action geared to serve people before profit. That program would arise in the course of the social, economic and political struggles of the working class and its democratic allies, and be subject to the widest discussion and approval among all of the forces of the alliance.24

The CPC suggests, as the way forward, the creation of a massive anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly, and democratic parliamentary bloc. Upon this bloc winning a majority in parliament, that is to say upon the bloc gaining control over the legislative branch of the state, it would institute a series of reforms designed to promote the creation of a socialist Canada. Indeed, according to the CPC, this parliamentary bloc would “open the door” to a socialist Canada. The CPC even goes so far as to refer to the supposed parliamentary bloc as the “people’s government”; a far cry indeed from Marx’s warning in The Civil War in France “that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes.”25.

The CPC’s program, in its current parliamentary-oriented context, does not differ in any meaningful way from the program of a social democratic party. Despite mentioning extra-parliamentary activity in passing, the CPC has elevated bourgeois-parliamentary struggle to the place of prime importance. The CPC has substituted any notion of change from below with the concept of change from above; the parliamentary bloc “opening the door” for a socialist Canada. And in doing so, the CPC has abandoned any revolutionary theory of the state as an organ for one class suppressing another and has replaced Leninism with class-collaborationalism. Instead of building alternative organs of power, such as the Workers Unity League of over 50 years ago, the CPC suggests taking control of the bourgeois state and using the bourgeois state to somehow further proletarian ends. The CPC’s position is thoroughly revisionist and inexcusable.

To further highlight the ridiculousness of the CPC’s parliamentary fixation, and the dangers of going down the parliamentary road, it is worthwhile to briefly look at the WFDY’s26 statement regarding the acension of Madhav Kumar-Nepal to the position of Prime Minister of Nepal27. The WFDY remarks:

Nepal has achieved in recent years a tremendous magnitude of political changes by the strength of Great People’s Movement 2006 in a greater consensus and understanding among political parties. We do believe that those achievements can only be consolidated after a more upgraded understating among all political parties to put the peace process in a logical end and by carrying out the agendas to a progressive restructure of the state.28

Completely ignoring the brutally collaborationalist content of the statement, including calls for cooperation with reactionary parties (and therefore classes) and an end to the revolutionary process, what strikes one most strongly is the similarity of the statement with that of the recommendations of the US State Department in regards to increased “friendship” (i.e. renewed imperialist exploitation) between the US and Nepal:

And I think one of them is that the Maoists renounce violence and terrorism. The second would be that they stop the violent activities of the Young Communist League. And the third would be that they actively participate, and work together with the other parties, to support the peace process. There are other things, but those are the main factors that likely will go into our consideration.29

Focusing on the parliamentary process has clearly put the WFDY, and by extension the YCL and the CPC into the reactionary camp in regards to Nepal. It becomes clear that the fetishization of the parliamentary process can only lead an organisation down a path of revisionism and eventually reaction. We can however learn from our mistakes: the Social Revolution Party does not need to repeat the follies of the past.

VIII. The Social Revolution Party on Bourgeois-Parliamentary Involvement

The Social Revolution Party is against struggling within a parliamentary context both in terms of focusing on parliamentary activity as a means of progress and running for office in bourgeois-democratic institutions. Struggles within the parliamentary medium can only lead to revisionism and reaction; either the Party risks attracting the wrong kind of attention, risks spending limited resources on reformist ends, or risks internalising the message of parliamentarism. Furthermore, the Social Revolution Party does not believe in legitimising institutions that serve only to uphold the rule of capital and the ability of the ruling class to oppress, exploit, and alienate the people of Canada.

To this end, the Social Revolution Party puts forward an alternative: instead of worrying about bourgeois organs of power, we should be busy constructing our own proletarian organs of power. The Social Revolution Party believes that investing power in workers’ councils is the only way forward; “All power to the soviets!” is more than just a catchy phrase. Therefore, the efforts of members are best spent building the Popular Action Movement. A new world is possible, but it is up to us to build it; nobody will build it for us. Onwards!

1Particularly the Two-Line Struggle within the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist, as well as the recent debate on Kasama titled Can Our Revolution Use Elections to Organize? (September 7, 2009). Clearly the two aren’t of the same magnitude on the international level, but within the Anglospheric Communist Movement, debates on Kasama punch above their weight, so to speak.
2“They were therefore reduced to moving within strictly parliamentary limits. And it took that peculiar malady which since 1848 has raged all over the Continent, parliamentary cretinism, which holds those infected by it fast in an imaginary world and robs them of all sense, all memory, all understanding of the rude external world — it took this parliamentary cretinism for those who had destroyed all the conditions of parliamentary power with their own hands, and were bound to destroy them in their struggle with the other classes, still to regard their parliamentary victories as victories and to believe they hit the President by striking at his ministers.”
Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.”
3The Sovereign being the Queen of Canada who is represented by the Governor General; this position is, in most cases, purely ceremonial. The Senate is appointed by the Sovereign on recommendation of the Prime Minister, and is in modern times essentially a rubber-stamp for the House of Commons; except on issues dealing with Senate reform it would seem. The House of Commons is directly elected by the people of Canada and is usually what is meant when the Communist Party of Canada talks about winning a parliamentary majority.
4Indeed, chapter 7 bears the name “Should We Participate in Bourgeois Parliaments”. Lenin’s work is extremely illuminating; it is worthwhile for comrades to read not only this chapter, but the entire piece.
5Lenin, “Left Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder. 51
6Ibid, 50
7Ibid, 51
8Ibid, 52.
9Ibid, 49. It is worth mentioning that Lenin’s quote here is extremely intellectually dishonest; he has purposely mis-represented what the German “Lefts” meant by “reversion”. The German “Lefts” were actually referring to an inner-movement reversion to focusing on parliamentary activity as opposed to mass-based activities, as opposed to a reversion to parliament from Soviet democracy as Lenin implies.
10Both Phillip Snowden and Arthur Henderson were prominent members of the Labour Party at the time Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder was written.
11Ibid, 87.
12Ibid, 91
13Ibid, 51.
14Ibid, 77.
15In particular, the Lib-Labs (Liberal Party members with the backing of trade unions), and the Labour Representation League provided, amoungst many other groups, the ideological basis for the formation of the Labour Party.
16Ibid, 91.
17We should remember that as early as 1858, Engels in a letter wrote: “and the fact that the English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that the ultimate aim of this most bourgeois of all nations would appear to be the possession, alongside the bourgeoisie, of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat.”.
Frederick Engels, letter to Marx, October 7, 1858,
18Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums
Elections Canada, Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums, 1867-2008
19At the time, “eligible voters” did not include the first nations people, who were only given the right to vote in 1960.
Canadian Human Rights Commission, Aboriginal Rights
20While there are no concrete numbers available, one of the biggest issues amoungst the intellectuals of the Canadian parliamentary elite is lack of engagement in the political system, including political parties. One can be sure, however, that the number of people registered as members of political parties is only a small fraction of those who vote.
21This was referred to as the Gouzenko affair; indeed, the state-run media in Canada was still slandering the name of Fred Rose well into the 1980s.
22The Progressive Unity Party was an attempt at a united front between the CPC and the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). CCF riding associations that attempted to participate in the united front were shut down.
23Communist Party of Canada, “Canada’s Future is Socialism!: Program of the Communist Party of Canada”
24Communist Party of Canada, “Canada’s Future is Socialism!: Program of the Communist Party of Canada”
25Marx, The Civil War In France, 64
26World Federation of Democratic Youth; an international organisation that the youth-wings of many “official” Communist Parties are involved in world-wide. The Young Communist League is a member.
27Madhav Kumar-Nepal is a member of the Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist and Leninist, a reactionary and revisionist organisation that actively struggled against the Nepalese Revolution. He was elected to the position of Prime Minister after Prachanda and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) stepped out of the bourgeois parliamentary system.
28World Federation of Democratic Youth, “Congratulatory Message to the New Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal”
29US Department of State, Friendship Between the U.S. and Nepal <>

Advance from strategic defensive to strategic stalemate

Message to the New People's Army from the Central Committee, Communist Party of the Philippines, March 29, 2010

On the occasion of the 41st founding anniversary of the New People's Army (NPA), we salute the Red commanders and fighters and pay our highest respects to our revolutionary martyrs and heroes. We congratulate the rank and file for the victories won in the past year and urge them on to garner further victories in the revolutionary struggle for national liberation and democracy.

Since we announced our strategic plan to advance from the stage of strategic defensive to that of strategic stalemate in the protracted people's war, our Party cadres and members, Red commanders and fighters, mass activists, allies and the broad masses of the people have been enthusiastically discussing the basis, political requirements and strategy and tactics for the advance. Why and how shall we succeed?

First, the chronic crisis conditions of the world capitalist system and those of the domestic ruling system serve as the basis for our strategic plan and its implementation in the next five years. They continue to worsen and are increasingly favorable conditions for advancing the people's war.

Second, the CPP has maintained the correct ideological, political and organizational line and effectively leads the people and the revolutionary forces. It has rich revolutionary experience and all-round strength gained from more than 40 years of people's war for fulfilling the political requirements for people's war.

Third, the people's army under the leadership of the CPP has the correct strategy and tactics set forth by the Party for advancing the people's war. The Red commanders and fighters have high morale and are determined to inflict blows on the enemy and carry out the strategic plan.

I. Crisis conditions in the world capitalist system

The world capitalist system has been shaken from base to rafters by one serious economic and financial crisis after another since the mid-1970s. The policy shift from Keynesianism to neoliberalism has merely deepened and aggravated the recurrent crisis.

The full restoration of capitalism in several revisionist- ruled countries has been touted by the monopoly bourgeoisie as proof that the socialist cause is hopeless and that the world capitalist system is stronger than ever before. But in fact, the increase of industrial capitalist countries has made the world more cramped for capitalism and has aggravated the crisis of the world capitalist system.

The economic and financial crisis has become extremely destructive in the imperialist countries and more so in the less developed and underdeveloped countries. It is pushing the imperialist powers to become more plunderous, more repressive and more aggressive than ever before. The crisis is generating conditions similar to those that brought about the two world wars of the 20th century, with the difference that there is far higher potential for peoples to wage revolution, nations to fight for liberation and non-imperialist countries to assert independence.

The class struggle between the monopoly bourgeoisie and the proletariat is surfacing in the imperialist countries. The imperialist powers have become frenzied in their competition for economic territory and for spheres of influence. The interimperialist contradictions are becoming more intense and more violent.

However, the imperialist powers are still avoiding direct violent clashes among themselves and are directing their violence towards oppressed peoples in the neocolonial and underdeveloped countries. Even as China has become the main US global partner in carrying out the US policy of "neoliberal globalization, " the bankruptcy of this policy is pressing China to secure its own markets; sources of fuel and other raw materials; and fields of investments. This tends to upset the balance of forces among the imperialist powers.

The ongoing economic and financial crisis of the US and the world capitalist system is not being solved as the imperialist powers stick to their neoliberal dogma. The bailout money from public coffers is being used merely to improve the balance sheets of the big banks and corporations in the military-industrial complex instead of reviving production and employment. Thus, the crisis of global capitalism is protracting and deepening.

Having become a big debtor, the US is vulnerable to efforts of China to adopt economic, trade and finance policies serving its national interest. Of long term importance to the Philippines are ASEAN-China economic relations as a departure from the sole dominance of US imperialism in East Asia. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization can be a counterweight to US hegemonism in the whole of Asia.

The US continues to be sucked in by the quagmires made by its wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its military interventions in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and South Asia are adversely affecting its overall dominance. Certain countries have been asserting their national independence in East Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The people continue to wage armed resistance against the US and its puppets. In other countries like India, the Philippines, Peru, Turkey and Colombia, the people persevere in armed struggle for national liberation and democracy. Revolutionary parties of the proletariat are waging or preparing to wage people's war in a growing number of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The social and political turmoil and the rise of revolutionary armed struggles in the world capitalist system will favor the advance of the new democratic revolution in the Philippines. The high propensity of the US and other imperialist powers to unleash wars of aggression and state terrorism against the people drive the people to engage in revolutionary war.

II. Crisis conditions in the domestic ruling system

The Arroyo regime has been extremely reactionary and obscurantist in misrepresenting the character of the ruling system in the Philippines. It has brought upon the people the crushing weight of foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism under such US-dictated policies as "neoliberal globalization" and "global war on terror."

And yet the regime has harped on turning the Philippines into a "first world country" and perversely puts the blame on the people's resistance to oppression and exploitation as the cause of underdevelopment and poverty. And it is using such a big lie as the rationale for seeking to destroy or reduce the revolutionary movement to inconsequentiality through brutal campaigns of military suppression since 2001.

Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) has utterly failed in all its counterrevolutionar y objectives. The New People's Army has successfully launched tactical offensives nationwide, thus belying the regime's psywar claims and demonstrating the growing strength of the armed revolutionary movement.

The people dismiss the psywar claims of the reactionary military about so many "NPA camps overrun," "NPA mass surrenders," "social integration of rebel returnees" and the like. Abductions, torture and extrajudicial killings of social activists and ordinary people are passed off as legitimate actions against the "enemies of the state" and the perpetrators rewarded and cited as "heroes."

The chronic crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system in the Philippines will persist and continue to worsen. Nothing in sight indicates that a new administration would arise from the current presidential elections to make the Philippines truly independent and take the path of industrial development through land reform and national industrialization. Those in power at the highest level tend to monopolize bureaucrat looting and increase their take by further exploiting and oppressing the people, especially the toiling masses.

The abject semicolonial agrarian character of the Philippines provides the conditions for the development of people's war. The absence of genuine thoroughgoing land reform guarantees that the peasant masses follow the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines in carrying out agrarian revolution and participating in the people's war.

The chronic socioeconomic crisis of the ruling system will generate an unprecedentedly worse political crisis enough to render the ruling classes of big compradors and landlords incapable of ruling in the old way. Factions of the ruling classes have become more violent against each other as spoils of political power are reduced as a result of the worsening crisis.

As exposed by the Ampatuan massacre, the reactionary factions can use parts of the military, police and paramilitary forces as their private armed groups and build their own undisguised private armies by taking military supplies from the armories of the state. The rampancy of private armies has been generated by the US-Arroyo policy of state terrorism against the people.

The current presidential elections will not muffle but will intensify the contradictions among the reactionaries. The periodic elections for officials of the reactionary government have served to ensure the dominance of the politicians who are pro-imperialist and are representatives of the big compradors and landlords and have been a process for excluding the representatives of the working people and for redistributing and rotating power among the political dynasties and factions.

But the current presidential elections are becoming the gateway to further crisis of the system and further violence among the reactionaries. The competing political factions are spending more heavily than ever before on the electoral campaign. The winners will try to recoup and profit from their government positions. The losers will become bitter with disappointment.

Whichever reactionary faction captures the presidency in May will continue the US-dictated policy of state terrorism against the people and the revolutionary forces. Not one among the four major presidential candidates is expressing a determination to carry out peace negotiations to address the roots of the armed conflict through social, economic and political reforms.

The resistance of the reactionaries, especially the pro-imperialist militarists and clerico-fascists, to serious peace negotiations is a good thing. It serves to cast away false illusions about peace negotiations and to drive the revolutionary forces further on to the great task of waging people's war.

The worst among the reactionaries and their pseudo-progressive followers, including the renegades exposed by the Second Great Rectification Movement, have long claimed that the people and forces in the new democratic revolution have been undercut and debilitated by the unarmed people's uprisings in 1986 and 2001 and the succession of pseudo-democratic post-Marcos regimes.

The detractors of the new democratic revolution through protracted people's war obscure the fact that the revolutionary forces have contributed greatly to the success of the unarmed people's uprisings and that the NPA has not only preserved but has also expanded its revolutionary armed strength to stand out in Philippine history as the largest ever revolutionary army of the people.

Oplan Bantay Laya I and II have failed to suppress the armed revolutionary movement. The reactionaries unwittingly admit the significant strength of the people's army every time they declare that it remains the biggest threat to the ruling system. They merely make fools of themselves by endlessly repeating the lie that the NPA had 25,000 fighters in the mid-1980s and is now reduced to a few thousands.

From week to week, from month to month and from year to year, the NPA has demonstrated its capability to wipe out enemy units and will continue to do so under the policy and strategic plan of advancing from the stage of strategic defensive to that of the strategic stalemate. The NPA is bound to grow in strength ever more rapidly by continuing to apply the specific line of extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare on the basis of an ever expanding and deepening mass base.

III. Political requirements of people's war

The No. 1 political requirement for the new democratic revolution in the Philippines and for the advance from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate in the protracted people's war is the revolutionary political leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The Party has laid out the general line of new democratic revolution against the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.

Under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism- Maoism, the Party has accumulated experience and achievements in leading the new democratic revolution. By carrying out the Second Great Rectification Movement from 1992 to 1998, it has recovered the mass base it previously lost through grave errors of "Left" and Right opportunism in the 1980s and has revitalized the armed revolutionary movement since the 1990s.

The key task of the Party in the next five years is to recruit at least 200,000 Party members in order to strengthen the revolutionary leadership and core of the revolutionary mass movement. The Party membership is an adequate base for reaching this goal within two years under the policy of expanding the Party membership boldly without letting in a single undesirable. The Party must recruit and swear in as Party candidate-members the activists in the mass organizations who accept the Constitution and Program of the Party.

Candidate-members of worker and peasant origin become full members within six months and those of petty-bourgeois origin, within one year. During the period of candidature, the concerned Party organ or unit must verify the good character and militancy of the candidate members in the mass movement and must provide to them the basic Party education. All leading Party organs and units must work fast to elevate to full membership both the backlog and the new crop of Party candidate-members.

There should be no unnecessary delays for Party candidate-members to become full members. The delays in elevating someone from candidature to full membership are often caused by negligence and lack of concern for the desire of candidate members to become full members. It suffices that the candidate-member gets the basic Party education and proves serious in carrying out his/her assigned tasks in the Party unit and mass organization.

To be able to build the Party rapidly, we must accelerate the building of the mass organizations for peasants, workers, youth, women, children, cultural activists and other sectors. It suffices at the start for the applicants/recruits to become members by accepting the program and constitution of the mass organization. Without a growing mass movement from which it can recruit candidate-members, the Party cannot expand and perform the task of arousing, organizing and mobilizing a still greater number of people. Relative to the strategic task of advancing from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate, both our Party organization and organized mass base are small. But they are more than adequate for us to aim for the level of strength necessary for reaching the threshold of the strategic stalemate in less than five years if we sum up well the causes of the slow growth of the Party and the organized mass base and if we set the tasks for maximizing our strength and overcoming errors and weaknesses.

The expansion of the Party organization and organized mass base in both urban and rural areas can run ahead of the expansion of the people's army. The Party and the organized mass base can grow in all congressional districts of the reactionary state. Wherever they exist, their membership must be increased. Subsequently, some of the Party members and mass activists can be redeployed from time to time in order to cover areas where the Party and mass organizations do not yet exist and are too small.

In the next five years, Party branches must be built in at least 20,000 villages and Party cadres must be developed at the regional, subregional, provincial, district or guerrilla front and section levels through various levels of Party education and through work in the mass movement. The Party cadres and members in the localities must be able to lead the work of the mass organizations, organs of political power, people's militia, barrio self-defense corps, and self-defense units of mass organizations. The people's militia assume the role of serving as the principal forces in launching local guerrilla warfare and standing as centers of gravity of the barrio self-defense corps and the self-defense units of the local mass organizations.

They must enable the units of the NPA to carry out tactical offensives. Thus, new fighting units can be created with the firearms seized from the enemy. We must depart from the old practice of overloading units of the people's army with tasks that can be performed by the local Party branches, the mass organizations and the local organs of political power that take charge of public education, economic affairs, health, self-defense, cultural activities and arbitration.

Under the leadership of the Party, the organs of political power can form and administer the people's militia and barrio self-defense corps for the purpose of internal security and police work. The mass organizations can also form and administer their own self-defense units. The members of the people's militia and barrio self-defense corps should run into tens of thousands, with every village having a militia platoon and a self-defense corps platoon. The self-defense units should run into hundreds of thousands, with every mass organization in every village having a self-defense platoon.

The NPA must put its units through distinct periods of politico-military training, combat, mass work and production. It must provide politico-military training to its combat units as well as to instructors for the people's militia and the self-defense units. NPA units may be rotated and deployed for battles for three to six months, depending on the situation. The point is to accelerate the seizure of weapons from the enemy forces. NPA units must also be rotated in mass work and production so that they remain close to the people and produce part of what they consume.

It is necessary for the Party to sum up its experience and current situation and to draw up the guidelines and plans for the NPA in every regional, subregional, provincial and district or guerrilla front level with definite reasonable targets for the number of weapons to seize from the enemy forces. What is reasonable is based on previous experience and current capabilities of the NPA units. An NPA command, for instance, may recommend to the Party committee a 10% increase in the number of weapons every three months.

Soft targets for raids, ambushes and disarming operations abound. These include police stations, small army detachments, paramilitary units, private security agencies, private armed groups and armed individual reactionaries. There are even softer targets for attritive actions to sap the strength and morale of the enemy forces, force them to do guard duty and commit mistakes in deploying troops and resources. Operations can be easily launched on the basis of intelligence buildup and timely reconnaissance.

It is by entrusting mass work and the mass movement to local Party branches, local organs of political power and the mass organizations, that the NPA can be confident that the mass base is being maintained and developed while it is concentrated on fighting and destroying the power and apparatuses of the reactionary state on a wide scale in the localities. Thus, the NPA can inspire and enable the people in the localities to take revolutionary power.

The revolutionary organs of political power grow stronger and more secure when reactionary power is destroyed and the reactionaries flee or are deprived of their local power and authority. The organs of political power should be based mainly on the mass organizations of the working people and are augmented through united front relations at various levels against the worst reactionaries.

IV. Strategy and tactics

The Party has correctly set the politico-military strategic line of protracted people's war. This means encircling the cities from the countryside and accumulating strength over a long period of time until enough strength and capability have been accumulated to seize the cities on a nationwide scale in the stage of strategic offensive.

This line is based on the reality of the Philippines where the majority of the people are peasants, and the countryside offers the social and physical terrain for building the people's army and carrying out the people's war in stages.

The correctness of the strategic line is well proven by the fact that the New People's Army has been able to preserve itself and has grown from small to big and from weak to strong against brutal enemy attacks. Such attacks include campaigns of division-size task forces to nip the people's army in the bud from 1969 to 1972, the 14-year fascist dictatorship of Marcos and the series of national counterrevolutionar y military campaign plans launched by the successive pseudo-democratic regimes after Marcos.

In the long course of the Marcos fascist dictatorship, we were able to build the people's army that started with only nine automatic rifles and 26 inferior firearms (single-shot rifles and handguns) in early 1969 and reached the national total of 5,600 automatic rifles in 1985. Since 1985, however, it had become obvious that the NPA was being debilitated by such "Left" opportunist lines as the "strategic counteroffensive" and the "Red area-white area" line.

These "Left" opportunist lines undermined the strength of the NPA and wrought havoc on the revolutionary mass base and caused the reduction of the mass base by more than 60% in the 1980s. They played into the hands of the enemy that carried out Oplan Lambat-Bitag (OLB) I, II and III designed to put the NPA units under strategic encirclement and "gradual constriction, " and hunted them down with "special operations teams."

The Second Great Rectification Movement criticized and repudiated the "Left" opportunist lines as engaging in self-constriction and separation from the masses under the guise of strengthening the NPA through unwarranted verticalization and premature formation of larger units. In areas where the "Left" opportunist lines took hold, the need for the horizontal spread of NPA units was laid aside, thus undermining and destroying our close links with the masses. The organized mass base of the revolutionary movement shrank even as the prematurely formed companies had bigger logistical demands.

Under the direction of the Party in the rectification movement, the NPA had to go back to the basics of guerrilla warfare. It was reoriented, reorganized and redeployed to carry out intensive and extensive guerrilla warfare on the basis of an ever widening and deepening mass base. The enemy knew about the return to small units and was emboldened to deploy its scout ranger teams against these units. But the NPA was able to preserve itself and recover the mass base precisely by adhering to its correct line during the entire period of the Ramos and Estrada regimes.

The stress on the horizontal spread of small NPA units in order to counter the harmful results of the premature verticalization and to recover the mass base was not without any negative aspect. It engendered guerrilla-ism or the roving rebel mentality and conservatism, especially where there were no conscious and resolute efforts to develop the revolutionary forces in a balanced way and the necessary correlation of the center of gravity and dispersed units in the work of the people's army. However, so long as the mass base was growing, it was much easier for the Party to rectify conservatism and guerrilla-ism.

The next big test of the NPA has been Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) with its brutal campaign against legal social activists and forced displacement of peasants and indigenous people in the countryside. OBL far exceeded OLB in scope, duration, intensity and brutality. The US and the Arroyo regime (agitated by militarists and clerico-fascists who are US CIA assets) harped on the line that progressive social activists are NPA fighters in disguise and calculated that the military campaigns would be more effective in the countryside if such social activists were suppressed through abductions, torture and extrajudicial killings.

OBL has proven the inadequacy of the reactionary military, police and paramilitary forces to cover even only 10% of Philippine territory at every given time. The NPA can easily move about in 90% of the territory. Thus, it has been able to grow in strength and defeat the objectives of OBL. With OBL, the Arroyo regime has gained notoriety throughout the world for its gross and systematic violations of human rights.

But we must learn well the lessons from the various tactics the enemy has used in OBL, such as the "shock and awe" tactics of General Palparan in Oriental Mindoro, Eastern Visayas and Central Luzon, the "convergence" approach of General Gomez in Bohol, the "center of gravity" approach of Colonel Dagoy and the "sitio" approach of Colonel Bustillos.

From a strategic view, all these are paper tigers. But at the tactical level, where they pounced upon the guerrilla fronts and the masses, they were real brutal tigers inflicting a measure of damage, generating real problematic conditions for the revolution and causing errors and weaknesses on the part of the subjective forces of the revolution.

The Party has brought together and analyzed the reports from the regions concerned and has come up with plans to overcome the problems and to further strengthen the revolutionary forces. We have learned valuable lessons in overcoming the attacks of the enemy, preserving and upgrading our forces and mass base, launching full-scale guerrilla warfare and advancing the revolutionary struggle. Our difficult experiences have tempered us and we have emerged stronger, continue to inflict more widespread and heavy blows against the enemy, and are ever determined to advance and win our people's war.

At present, the NPA stands as the largest people's army that the Filipino working people have ever been able to put up, surpassing the number of riflemen in the revolutionary army of 1896 to 1902 and the old people's army of 1942 to 1952. To claim false credit, the reactionary forces keep on repeating the lie that the NPA had 25,000 fighters in 1986 and that they have succeeded in cutting the number down to 5,000 or even less.

The NPA rifle strength in 1986 was only 6,100 (an increase of 500 over the 1985 figure of 5,600), with no accurate accounting of the consequence of the "Left" opportunist lines and anti-informer hysteria, particularly Kampanyang Ahos in Mindanao. From figures of the 1985 Central Committee plenum, Mindanao had accounted for about 50% of NPA armed strength.

The current strength of the NPA is of critical mass in terms of its thousands of fighters with high-powered firearms. With proper deployment and employment, it can rapidly grow and advance in waves and in well-defined phases (middle and advanced) of the strategic defensive and the threshold and early phase of the strategic stalemate. Wherever NPA units exist under any level of command: barrio, section, guerrilla front, interfront, provincial, subregional and regional, there must be a relatively concentrated force as center of gravity. The center of gravity must be situated on the best available terrain. As wide areas are saturated with adjoining company-strength guerrilla fronts and transformed into subregional military areas and later further on into fluid war fronts, their centers of gravity develop larger vertical forces.

At the same time, the further development of horizonal forces consisting of a full-time guerrilla platoon at the municipal level would be beefed up with the proliferation of platoon-size people's militias, barrio self-defense corps and self-defense units of mass organizations at the barrio level, and the deployment of armed city partisans in urban centers within guerrilla fronts.

The current number of guerrilla fronts is more than adequate a base for aiming to cover almost all if not all the 179 rural congressional districts of the reactionary state with the Party, mass organizations, alliances and units of the people's army within the next two or three years. The strength of the NPA must not be divided and dissipated just to cover said congressional districts in an absolutely equal and even way. The NPA must grow in strength where they are and advance wave upon wave or deploy advance or seed units in such districts on the best available terrain.

In the next five years, the NPA is bound to deliver more telling lethal blows on the reactionary military, police and paramilitary forces that would belie the false claims of reactionaries, pseudo-progressives and renegades that the NPA has been undermined and weakened by the post-Marcos antinational and antidemocratic regimes and by their military campaigns. Most importantly, the Party and the NPA are determined to increase the armed strength and political power of the working people.

The probable stages of development for the people's war is from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate and from the latter to the strategic offensive. After being at the strategic defensive for four decades, we have developed the basis to aim at and reach the stage of strategic stalemate in the next five years and then strive to move onward to the final stage of strategic offensive.

We must sum up our fighting experience and current situation and develop guidelines and plans at the levels of the Central Committee, the Military Commission and NPA operational command; at the level of the regional Party committees and the regional operational commands; and at the subregional, provincial and district or guerrilla front levels for the purpose of launching tactical offensives and increasing the armed strength of the NPA to enable us to advance from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate.

It is feasible for us in the next five years to have a guerrilla front in each of the 179 rural congressional districts and to deploy armed city partisans in all urban congressional districts. The coverage of a rural congressional district by a guerrilla front is facilitated by the existence and growth of guerrilla fronts in adjoining districts. The emergence and growth of guerrilla fronts will be uneven but we must always strive to realize the standard requirements and raise the general level of development. The regional Party committee and NPA operational command must make sure that centers of gravity at the regional, subregional, provincial and guerrilla front levels are located on terrain favorable for maneuver.

The guerrilla fronts would have more breadth and depth and become relatively stable as they become better coordinated under the interfront, provincial, subregional or regional levels of the Party leadership and NPA command. The enemy forces would still have the capability to concentrate forces on the entirety or a part of a particular guerrilla front. But the interconnection and coordination of several adjoining guerrilla fronts under commands higher than that of the guerrilla front and the availability of strike forces for counterattacks by regional, subregional, provincial or interfront commands will be crucial for preserving, strengthening and expanding the guerrilla fronts and launching coordinated tactical operations in the areas covered. Adjoining guerrilla fronts would be more easily coordinated than before and have an echelon of commands, such as the regional, subregional and provincial.

The enemy will always try to put our forces on strategic encirclement and launch strategic offensives. But the NPA would have increased initiative and ability in launching tactical encirclements and tactical offensives as the levels of regional, subregional and provincial commands are developed. Our increased offensives will compel the enemy forces to increase personnel for the defense of camps, police stations and vital installations and reduce the number of enemy armed personnel for offensive operations. And yet the enemy lines of patrols and supplies will remain vulnerable to NPA tactical offensives.

Wherever the enemy forces choose to encircle our forces, we engage in tactical counterencirlements and fight on exterior lines. At the same time, we can take the initiative of launching tactical offensives elsewhere. We maintain a war of fluid movement. We continue to master and apply the tactics of concentration, shifting and dispersal in order to achieve our objectives according to concrete circumstances.

Whenever necessary, we trade space for time. We do not engage in any hard-headed defense of territory and allow ourselves to be forced into battles that put at risk any main unit of the NPA in any guerrilla front, province, subregion or region. At all times, our small units that are dispersed for mass work must be vigilant against being caught by surprise and forced to fight purely defensive battles or chance encounters.

We wage only those battles of quick decision that we can win. We give priority to delivering blows on the weakest points of the enemy forces. The enemy is blind and deaf because it is hated by the people. They cannot tell when and where our forces are poised to strike. We take the full initiative in waging battles of annihilation, which would yield weapons for further strengthening the people's army and would inflict casualties that reduce the strength and weaken the morale of the enemy forces.

We have a wide array of tactics, which are more complex and more unpredictable to the enemy than a single-occasion ambush, raid and arrest operation, which may have its own complexity in the deployment of blocking, containing and close-in units. The complex tactics we refer to include the following: luring the enemy in deep and leading it to our zone of fire; ambushing or raiding one enemy force and as prelude to a bigger strike against the reinforcements; feigning to attack the east in order to attack the west; inducing an enemy force to go out of its base and destroying the base; tiring the enemy force by letting it march deep into our territory and ambushing it when it tries to return to base; and so forth.

Our principal objective is to wage and win battles of annihilation against the enemy forces. We must also wage attritive actions that serve to weaken and demoralize the forces of the enemy. These include sniping at enemy personnel by sniper teams or sparrow units, use of explosives against enemy vehicles, burning enemy fuel and motor depots and so on. We can make the monster bleed to death from battles of annihilation and attritive actions.

The advance of our people's war in stages and phases will mean the advance of our military tactics and technique. We learn our tactics from the summing up and analysis of our positive and negative experiences. We capture weapons, communications equipment and other forms of logistics from the enemy.

Even now we have access to sophisticated electronic equipment for communications and storing and retrieval of information. We must be strict in using these properly in our communications, work and offensives. Used irresponsibly, the same equipment can facilitate the infliction of harm on us by the enemy. We must never neglect the use and development of primitive but more reliable forms of communication such as the courier system on the basis of organized mass base and alliances.

We must conduct political work to recruit medical personnel and other professionals and technicians for various departments of the people's army and to develop alliances to enable us to have access to various types of professional and technical services. We must promote production by the people's army for its own needs and by the people to support the people's army and families of our Red fighters. We must gather the contributions of the working people who have benefited or stand to benefit from the policies of the revolutionary government and movement.

The people's government has the power of taxation in order to control and regulate enterprises and assets that earn rent and profit and in order to collect the resources for the delivery of social services much needed by the masses, including the administration and support for the programs of production, education, health, defense and cultural development. When certain political groups and individuals make donations to the people's government, these are used for social purposes and are not payment for the right to campaign or win a position in reactionary elections.

Aside from combat operations to wipe out units of the military, police and paramilitary forces and private armed groups, we must carry out operations to arrest for trial and punishment the exploiters and oppressors who have incurred blood debts, violators of human rights, the plunderers, landgrabbers, destroyers of the environment and the top purveyors of prohibited drugs. We must dismantle the reactionary organs of political power and antipeople enterprises that grab land and destroy the environment.

We must remove the incorrigible oppressors and exploiters from our guerrilla fronts. We expand and consolidate Red political power by eliminating or driving them away from the guerrilla fronts. We must prepare ourselves against the further increase of US military intervention forces as we succeed in advancing from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate. We must be prepared against all-out US military aggression.

Take advantage of the crisis conditions by intensifying the people's war!

Fulfill the political requirements under the leadership of the Party!

Continue extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare!

Advance from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate!

Carry forward the new democratic revolution through people's war

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"In memory of comrade Issa (Yousef Momand)"

29 March 2010. A World to Win News Service. We have received the sad news that after resisting serious health problems for several years the veteran revolutionary comrade Yousef Momand from Afghanistan died of a heart attack in Frankfurt, Germany. Following is an excerpt from a statement issued by the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan on 11 March.

Comrade Yousef Momand, the secretary of the Committee of Supporters of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan in Europe, passed away. The kind and sincere comrade is no longer among us but his memory will be alive and stay with us.

Comrade Yousef was very ill with diabetes and related heart problems. But even after several operations, he did not leave his responsibilities and tasks and despite many pressures he remained in the trench of revolutionary ideas and struggle until his last moments.

Comrade Yousef started his political activities when he was a student in Kabul University, where he became one of the activists associated with Shola Javid. (Shola Javid – Eternal Flame – was the very popular newspaper of the Maoist-led Progressive Youth Movement in the 1960s that trained a generation of Maoists in Afghanistan. Many veteran Maoists first became involved in politics through this movement.)

After the 1975 coup d'├ętat by the pro-Soviet revisionist party, like many other Shola Javid activists, comrade Yusef's life was in danger and he finally had to leave the country. Nevertheless he continued in the revolutionary struggle and joined the organization called Struggle for the Salvation of Afghanistan (one of the groups that united to form the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan) . He participated in revolutionary democratic activities in Europe, first in the Union of Students and Afghans abroad, and then in the National Democratic Organization of Afghan Refugees and also in the United Front against Imperialism and Reaction, in which along with his other comrades he played a leading role.

After the start of the process of unifying the communist (MLM) movement of Afghanistan, comrade Yousef was one of the first to support this process. A short while after the Unity Congress of the Communist (MLM) Movement (in Afghanistan) he took the responsibility of serving as secretary of the Committee of European Supporters of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan and he remained at this position until the end.

We are determined to turn the sorrow and sadness due to the loss of this veteran and experienced comrade Yousef Momand into a struggling force and to keep alive his memory as a revolutionary Maoist who remained committed to the revolution and the line of the Party until the last moments of his life