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OUTLINE OF LECTURES

General Subject:
WAR AND PEACE: A MARXIST APPROACH

1st Topic:
Imperialism leads to war

We lay bare monopoly capitalism as the essence of modern imperialism, its development from the basic laws of capitalism, its aggressive character and propensity for war.

  1. 1st Lecture:
    Definition of imperialism: five features

    Free competition capitalism peaked from the 40s to the 60s of the 19th century and developed into monopoly capitalism or imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The economic crisis of 1873 and 1900 pushed the rise of monopoly capitalism.
  1. Monopoly capitalism has become dominant in the economy of the leading industrial capitalist countries.
  2. Monopoly industrial capital has merged with bank capital to form finance capital and with it the financial oligarchy.
  3. The export of capital (direct investments and loans) is gaining in importance over the export of surplus goods.
  4. The monopolies have formed such international combines as cartels, syndicates and trusts and have begun their competition.
  5. The world has been completely divided among the imperialist powers and the struggle for a redivision of the world among the imperialist powers has begun. The imperialist powers compete for sources of raw materials, fields of investments, markets, stragegic points and spheres of influence and they turn countries into colonies, semicolonies and dependent countries
    Having developed monopoly capitalism, the latecomers (US, Germany and Japan) in the colonial game tended to upset the global balance of power among imperialist countries.
  1. 2nd Lecture:
    Monopoly competition, crises and wars

    The struggle for a redivision of the world goes through monopoly competition, crises of overproduction and wars.
  1. The advent of modern imperialism at the beginning of the 20th century was characterized by rapid global expansion of capital, the severe crisis of 1900 in Europe and by the wars from 1898 onward in the era of imperialism; namely, the Spanish-American war (1898), the Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902) and the Russo-Japanese war(1904-05).
  2. The economic competition among the monopolies and the struggle for a redivision of the world led to WWI and this in turn led to the Great October Socialist Revolution, proving the moribund character of imperialism. Late in entering the war, the US collected most of the spoils and strengthened itself as an imperialist power alongside England.
  3. The Great Depression occurred in 1929, and generated the rise of fascism and WWII, which in turn resulted in powerful armed revolutionary movements led by communists and the rise of several socialist countries and the great wave of national liberation movements.
  4. The US launched the Cold War in 1948 to bind its imperialist allies and puppet regimes and oppose/contain socialism and the anti-imperialist movements with a wide array of ways and means, like the strategic containment of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, nuclear blackmail, military encirclement, economic blockades, the use of neocolonialism, major wars of aggression (short of high-intensity global war) and repressive puppet regimes.
  5. The revolutionary wave rose up to the victories of the Indochinese people and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China but the revisionist betrayal of socialism and the gradual restoration of capitalism caused the former socialist countries to degenerate and fall into stagnation, due to the corruption of the new bourgeoisie, the misallocation of resources and the worsening crisis in the world capitalist system.
  1. 3rd Lecture:
    Imperialist globalization and wars from 1980 onward

    The neoliberal policy stress has further aggravated and deepened the crisis of the world capitalist system. This crisis has impelled the US and its imperialist allies to launch wars of aggression.
  1. The US and its imperialist allies could not solve the problem of stagflation in the 1970s, blamed so-called wage inflation and government social spending for the problem and shifted economic policy stress from Keynesian to neoliberal.
  2. The neoliberal myth of "free market" has been used to unleash the most rapacious forms of exploitation, extracting superprofits from the dominated countries at an accelerated rate and accumulating and centralizing productive and finance capital in the hands of the monopoly bourgeoisie, in conjunction with the adoption of higher technology, increasing constant capital and decreasing variable capital.
  3. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and the retrogression of the former socialist countries have emboldened the US and its imperialist allies to become more avaricious and aggressive than ever before.
  4. In so short a time, there is now a grave crisis of overproduction in all types of goods and services and financial collapses in all types of countries. The crisis is already comparable to the Great Depression, threatening to be more prolonged and more conducive to wars of aggression.
  5. The US is bent on solving the crisis by expanding military production, deploying US military forces abroad and unleashing wars of aggression. The US is using the September 11 attacks as pretext for requiring imperialist allies and puppet regimes to adopt draconian laws and for engaging in military intervention and launching wars of aggression.
  6. The US made concessions to its imperialist allies during the Cold War. But since it adopted a neoliberal policy stress, the US has grabbed for itself most of the spoils from the superexploitation of the third world countries and from aggressive wars. It is creating the conditions for bitter struggle for a redivision of the world among the imperialist powers.

 

2nd Topic:
The Social-democratic (kautskyite) and Trotskyite approaches

By being able to extract profits from its own proletariat and the oppressed peoples and nations, imperialism can promote and manipulate a labor aristocracy and the petty-bourgeois stratum in its own homeground. These provide the ground for social-democratic and Trotskyite currents within the working class movement in the imperialist countries.

  1. 1st Lecture:
    Description and critique of the social-democratic or Kautskyite approach

    The Kautskyite or social-democratic approach to the question of war and peace runs counter to the Marxist-Leninist approach of revolutionary change and opposition to imperialist wars and is biased towards class reconciliation and reformism and social pacifism.
  1. After gaining prominence and authority in the Second International by criticizing Bernstein’s revisionist notion of evolutionary socialism, Kautsky himself became revisionist as he increasingly glossed over the Marxist theory of state and revolution,and went for opportunism and reformism.
  2. Kautsky’s classical revisionism or social democracy has a petty-bourgeois class basis. It is bourgeois liberalism cloaked in Marxist phraseology. It proceeds mainly from Right opportunism and reformism or subordination to the imperialist state of the monopoly bourgeoisie.
  3. Kautsky turned his back on his 1909 writings against imperialism and war and his signature on the 1912 Basle Manifesto by pushing the social chauvinist line of "defense of the fatherland" for the social democrats to support their respective imperialist governments in WWI which started in 1914. The social-democrats voted for war credits aned supported their imperialist governments.
  4. In the course of WWI, Kautsky and his social-democrat followers advocated social pacifism and in that connection the theory of ultra-imperialism in order to support the imperialists in general, help Germany in particular to recover from the war and oppose revolutionary civil wars led by the proletariat.
  5. The Mensheviks for a long time waved the flag of the Second International and played the role of Kautskyite social democrats in Russia. They were reformists. They discredited themselves totally when they supported the continued participation of Russia in WWI in "defence of the fatherland". They degenerated further as they, together with the socialist revolutionaries, sided with the armed counterrevolution against the Bolsheviks.
  6. After WWI, the mainline social democrats opposed the Bolshevik revolution and violently suppressed the workers’ uprisings led by Leftwing social democrats in the period of 1918 to 1921. Kautsky slandered the Bolshevik revolution as the instrument of personal dictatorship rather than of democracy. The Kautskyite social-democrats continuously opposed the October Revolution, the Communist International and the German communists. The monopoly bourgeoisie used the social-democrats as the principal special agents against proletarian revolution until the fascists gained the upper hand over them in certain capitalist countries.
  7. When the fascists took advantage of the global economic crisis that began in 1929, the social democrats refused the communist offers of united front and in fact acted as social fascists in breaking up communist mass actions and in effect paving the way for the rise of the Hitlerite fascists.
  1. 2nd Lecture:
    Description and critique of the Trotskyite approach

    The Trotskyite approach to the question of war and peace runs counter to the Marxist-Leninist approach. In times of revolutionary upsurges, Trotsky tended to be adventurist. In times of defeat or grave difficulties, he tended to expose his hidden Kautskyite or Menshevik character.
  1. Trotsky had a long record of taking the "centrist" position and the blatantly Menshevik position against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. In 1905, he started to toy with his own core notion of "permanent revolution" in opposition to the Marxist theory of permanent revolution, which means continuous and distinct stages of the revolution, from the bourgeois-democratic revolution to socialist revolution and onward to communism. He believed that the socialist revolution could not win in Russia, unless it could depend on continuous revolutions in the major capitalist countries of Europe.
  2. Trotsky capitalized on his prestige as having been the chairman of the loose Petrograd soviet during the 1905 revolution and on his petty-bourgeois erudite but eclectic style of writing and speaking. But in 1917, he expressed allegiance to the Bolshevik party and was allowed to take a prominent role in the October Revolution. He was regarded as a figure for attracting the petty-bourgeoisie to the revolution. In the period of April to October and onward, he and his followers tended to be impetuous and to overlook the development of factors for the Bolsheviks and the proletariat to win power.
  3. Trotsky used his specious notion of "permanent revolution" to oppose the line of building socialism in one country, to deny the revolutionary role of the peasantry, to attack Lenin’s line of building the worker-peasant alliance and realizing the dictatorship of the working class and the peasantry and to insist that the life of the Soviet revolution depended on the revolution of one or several more advanced capitalist countries in Western Europe.
  4. As in 1905,Trotsky characteristically called for workers’ uprisings and at the same time ignored or expressed contempt for the peasantry. He could not understand the necessity of winning over the soviets of peasants and soldiers in order to win the October Revolution and defeat the counterrevolution on a long-term basis. Indeed the peasant mass support spelled victory for the proletariat in the civil war and the war against the interventionists.
  5. As commissar of foreign affairs, Trotsky negotiated under the direction of Lenin the Brest Litovsk Treaty with Germany and then refused to sign it, prompting Lenin to use all his persuasive powers to require him to sign it. Russia needed the treaty to gain respite from the war and to enable the revolution to consolidate its position and prepare for the counteroffensive. Trotsky had been panic-stricken by the Russian defeat at Brest and took an adventurist stance, unmindful of the need to limit the damage and consolidate the position of the Bolsheviks.
  6. During the civil war, the Bolsheviks had to reduce the responsibilities of Trotsky because he had the propensity to redeploy forces for dramatic actions on less important objectives and lose sight of the more important strategic objectives, like destroying first the enemy forces in the Urals to prevent them from consolidating their position and taking advantage of the industries there.
  7. In line with his notion of permanent revolution, Trotsky led the so-called Left opposition to the New Economic Policy that was then needed to revive production and prepare the forces for socialist industrialization and the collectivization and mechanization of agriculture. He argued that the policy would only regenerate the strength of the bourgeoisie through the peasantry and would fulfill his prophecy that socialism is not possible in one country.
  8. Trotsky’s attacks against Stalin, the Bolsheviks and the Soviet Union jibed with those of the imperialists and the fascists before WWII. During and after the world war, the Trotskyites were actively in the service of the US imperialists in carrying out anti-Soviet propaganda attacks and preparing plans for the postwar containment of the Soviet Union.
  1. 3rd Lecture:
    Current manifestations of the social-democratic and Trotskyite approaches

    It is important and useful for communists to understand the position of the Kautskyite social-democrats and Trotskyites and to foil their lines and tactics of blocking or disrupting the revolutionary movement of the proletariat and the rest of the people.
  1. In imperialist countries, social-democrats continue to serve as special agents of the monopoly bourgeoisie and as exponents of reformism and social pacifism. Their main task is to pretend to be for socialism in order to preempt the communists and to push antisocialist measures that the barefaced conservatives fail to push. They seem to have given up all pretensions to Marxism and socialism since the political isolation or disintegration of those communist parties afflicted by modern revisionism. They have advocated the US line of neoliberalism under the pretext of pushing the "third way" or "reforms with a conscience".
  2. In the few underdeveloped countries where they exist, social-democrats proclaim themselves as reformists out to prevent communists from taking power. But the backward conditions do not provide them with ample basis for raising the signboard of social democracy. Those that insist on raising that signboard are usually small parties, more interested in debating with and slandering communists more than in anything else. Sometimes, anticommunist governments reward them with appointive posts.
  3. Trotskyites in imperialist countries are usually grouplets with a propensity for penetrating other parties and organizations but they keep on splitting their own ranks. They continue as phrasemongers in the service of imperialism and they specialize in inserting themselves in situations or penetrating progressive organizations in order to attack the name of Stalin and slander communists as Stalinists by their definition. Nowadays, they try to be more subtle by picking issues like ecology, gender equality, bourgeois labor rights and the like. They are well subsidized by anticommunist agencies. They have engaged in activities to attract petty-bourgeois elements for recruitment or for cooperation.
  4. In underdeveloped countries or in semicolonial and semifeudal countries, Trotskyites are insignificant because they oppose the new-democratic revolution and thereby limit their chances of gaining a mass following. What they do is to pick up rejects and dropouts from the revolutionary movement and agitate prematurely for workers’ uprisings. They have a mania for penetrating and disrupting united front arrangements.
  5. It is necessary for communist and workers’ parties to overcome the obstacles put up by the social-democrats and Trotskyites. They have to strengthen themselves ideologically, politically and organizationally. They also need to use flexible tactics in dealing with situations where social-democrats and/or Trotskyites are active.

 

3rd Topic:
Marx and Lenin on Pacifism

Marx and Engels first laid down the Marxist theory of state and revolution. Employing historical materialism, they traced how one exploitative social formation had replaced another through class struggle until the bourgeoisie and the proletariat appeared and became locked in class struggle. Lenin inherited the Marxist theory of state and revolution and further developed it through ideological and practical struggles.

  1. 1st Lecture:
    Fundamental critique of pacifism

    Together with Engels, Marx explained that the revolutionary essence of what would eventually come to be known as Marxism is the employment of revolutionary violence by the proletariat in order to overthrow the bourgeoisie, retain power and pursue socialist revolution and construction in the great transition from capitalism to communism.

  1. The Communist Manifesto of 1848, points out in general terms that the proletariat must take political power to make social revolution. In 1852, Marx wrote The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon to draw lessons from the 1848-1851 workers’ uprisings and foretold greater victories in future uprisings aimed at the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In his letter to Weydemeyer, Marx pointed out that bourgeois writers had discovered the class struggle but the new thing in his own discovery was that the class struggle would lead to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
  2. Marx wrote The Civil War in France to celebrate the short-lived victory of the Paris Commune of 1871 and to draw lessons from it. He made it indubitably clear that the proletariat cannot simply lay hold of the readymade bourgeois state machinery and wield it for its own purposes but must smash it. Marx makes this absolutely clear in his l871 letter to Dr. Kugelman and in the preface to the 1872 edition of the Communist Manifesto.
  3. In line with the teachings of Marx and Engels on state and revolution, Lenin led the Bolsheviks through the stage of the bourgeois-democratic revolution and in proceeding to carry out the proletarian revolution and to establish the class dictatorship of the proletariat. He wrote State and Revolution to put forward the fundamental teachings of Marx and Engels and to combat the opportunists and reformists in Russia and the Second International. Further, he wrote The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky. His work Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, was also a major weapon in the arsenal against revisionism (including social pacifism) because it debunked Kautsky’s view that imperialism (in his word, ultra or supra imperialism) generated peace rather than war.
  4. Lenin upheld and developed the Marxist theory of state and revolution against the betrayal of Marxism by Kautsky and then by the Second International: from the opportunism and reformism involving the espousal of class reconciliation and social peace to the social chauvinism under the "defense of the fatherland" slogan which led the social democrats to vote for war credits and support their respective imperialist governments in World War II. He consistently contended with Kautsky when the latter raised the slogan of social pacifism with the obvious purpose of keeping intact the rule of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat at the time that Germany was indecisively bogged down in the war. Lenin also had to contend with Kautsky when he pushed further his theory of "ultra-imperialism" which misrepresented imperialism as a progressive force and which tried to spread the illusion that there would be no more wars upon the dissolution of national boundaries.
  5. From the Marxist-Leninist vantage, social pacifism is a form of bourgeois pacifism. Lenin had to contend with Kautsky and his revisionist kind who, in rationalizing the continuance of opportunism and reformism, espoused it distinctively. They glossed over the class character of the imperialist states and the inter-imperialist war. They opposed the struggles of the working class to convert the imperialist war into a revolutionary civil war. Social democrats like Noske, Scheidemann, Severing, etc. violently suppressed the workers’ uprisings by butchering workers and their leaders. Kautsky slandered the Bolshevik revolution as socio-economically unwarranted and as something giving way to personal dictatorship rather than democracy.
  6. Marxist Leninists consider as just and necessary revolutionary civil wars to overthrow the bourgeoisie and install the class dictatorship of the proletariat, support war of defense by a socialist country to ward off imperialist aggression or to suppress armed counterrevolution and wars of national liberation against imperialist domination or imperialist war of aggression. When the imperialist state of one’s own country is at war, the proletarian revolutionaries must take advantage of the situation to strengthen the revolutionary forces and convert the imperialist war into a revolutionary civil war.
  1. 2nd Lecture:
    The issue of peace in past cases

    We take up past cases of wars of major importance in the history of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. We must understand the general significance of these wars and how the question of war and peace arose in concrete conditions.
  1. The proletariat of Paris took advantage of the Franco-Prussian war. It established the Paris Commune of 1871. It was the first instance when the proletariat was able to seize power. It prototyped the dictatorship of the proletariat. Marx summed up and analysed the experience of the Paris Commune and drew from it positive and negative lessons for guiding future proletarian revolutions. The Paris Commune would inspire the Bolsheviks.
  2. In Russia itself, the 1905 revolution was the direct precursor of the October 1917 revolution. After the defeat of the former, the legal forms of struggle had to be mainly carried out for the armed proletarian revolution that the Bolsheviks resolutely aimed for. Under the conditions of defeat, the Mensheviks and other bourgeois parties became even more reformist. The first world war among the imperialist powers and the resultant losses of tsarist Russia in the battlefield provided the favorable conditions for revolution in Russia, at first especially for the bourgeois democratic revolution. Then, when the Kerensky government decided to continue the participation of Russia in the war, the Bolsheviks would further mobilize the workers and peasants for the seizure of political power.
  3. After the victory of the October Revolution, Lenin agreed to peace negotiations with Germany and subsequently to the signing of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty. This treaty was necessary for the Bolsheviks to gain respite from the war and consolidate gains of the revolution. After the retreat to consolidate its position, the Bolsheviks would be able to fight effectively.
  4. World War II was basically an inter-imperialist war. But the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was the primary target of Germany and the fascist Axis powers. It had to ally itself with the imperialist powers opposed to the Axis powers. This fact made the war different from World War I. The Soviet Union succeeded in defending itself at such a high cost and in launching a counter-attack to destroy the fascist forces. At any rate, WWII generated the conditions for the rise of several socialist countries and a great wave of national liberation movements.
  5. During and soon after World War II, the revisionists within communist ranks called for "democratic peace" and demanded the disarming of partisan organizations and people’s armies that the communists had built in the course of fighting the fascist forces. At the same time, the US and its imperialist allies were already plotting the Cold War and the campaign to contain and defeat the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. It is interesting to compare the Chungking negotiations and other negotiations or settlements with communist parties after WWII (e.g., the Communist Party of Italy.
  6. Throughout the Cold War, the US-led imperialist alliance avoided a blatant world war of high intensity, especially after the Soviet Union tested its atomic bomb in 1949. However, the US-led alliance adopted and implemented the most cruel policies against the socialist countries and national liberation movements. Such policies involved wars of aggression, subversion, economic blockade, nuclear threats, creation and support of repressive puppet regimes, and so on. Whenever its war of aggression started to fail, the US was willing to negotiate and make agreement to end the war. For example, it ultimately agreed to sign the Korean Armistice in l953 and then the Paris Agreement in 1972 to end the US wars of aggression in Korea and Vietnam, respectively.
  7. The Khruschov revisionist general line of peaceful coexistence and the three slogans of "peaceful transition", "peaceful competition" and "peaceful coexistence corroded the revolutionary will of the Soviet Union and led so many communist and workers" parties towards the road of modern revisionism. The revisionist betrayal of socialism proceeded in an all-round way even when the Soviet Union under the Brezhnev regime appeared formidable with advanced military and space technology and appeared active in helping national liberation movements.
  1. 3rd Lecture:
    The issue of peace in the current situation

    The US started to go into a strategic decline since 1975. But this has been obscured by the seeming success of the US in aggrandizing itself with the shift of policy stress to "free market" globalization, in maintaining initiative in the development of high tech weaponry and in spreading the notion that socialism has permanently become a lost cause. But now the US has gone into a deep and prolonged economic crisis like Japan and Euroland and is becoming more and more aggressive.
  1. The current grave economic crisis of the world capitalist system, is creating conditions for more and bigger wars in the horizon. The US considers increased military production as the way to stimulate the US economy and is becoming more and more aggressive. It has launched wars of aggression with impunity against Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan and has grabbed the extremely important sources of oil and oil supply routes. It is preparing for a large-scale war against Iraq in order to grab its oil resources.
  2. The rapidly worsening crisis of the world capitalist system is causing widespread mass discontent in the third world countries and former revisionist-ruled countries. Revolutionary movements are arising here and preparing to fight the imperialists and the local reactionaries. Countries assertive of national independence are being threatened by the US and are holding their ground against US threats. Because the US. has been getting most of the spoils of war, in due time the contradictions among the imperialist powers will grow beyond control.
  3. The imperialists continue to raise the "slogan of peace, security and stability" in order to impose an imperialist peace on the people of the world. Even as they prepare for war and launch wars of aggression, they use pretexts, such as peacekeeping, humanitarian mission, antiterrorism, protecting human rights and even defending the sovereignty of the country that it subjects to aggression.
  4. The bourgeois and social pacifists avow themselves to be against all wars but they in fact often choose as the targets of their antiwar or peace campaigns the anti-imperialist forces that they either denounce strongly or put at par with the imperialists and reactionaries. The three "peacefuls" (although not always acknowledged as Kautskyite or Khruschovite) continue to deceive the petty bourgeois masses.
  5. Imperialist-funded NGOs and religious institutions promote notions of "civil society" against revolutionary violence and counterpose the "culture of peace" with the "culture of violence".
  6. Broad anti-war or peace movements are arising to fight imperialism as the source of war. They are initiated and led by communists and are sustained by the most reliable anti-imperialist forces and people. The broad masses of the people are joining the struggle against the imperialist wars of aggression and for national liberation and democracy.



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