From Unity & Struggle No. 25, Spring/Summer 2013
The proletarian revolution is the result of the conscious action of the workers and peoples, and can only succeed if the revolutionary theory and practice are combined. The greatness of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was that they provided the oppressed with a theory to transform the bourgeois capitalist world and to free themselves.
Marx and Engels wrote the Manifesto of 1848 as a program of action of the Communist League. This document and other works of the great teachers formed the theory of revolution in the conditions of that epoch. According to the revolutionary postulates of that time, the revolution would take place simultaneously in the countries where capitalism was most developed, with the greatest industrial growth, where the proletariat was the largest, culturally most advanced and with the highest level of organization.
The creators of our doctrine devoted special attention to the formation of social-democratic labor parties in such countries and with them as affiliates, in 1864 the International Workers Association, that is, the First International, was formed, which existed for twelve years.
The conclusions of the fathers of Marxism could go no further and were those that corresponded to the reality of that historic moment. They had put in first place the contradictions between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, but the capitalist system was still on the rise, it was in the stage of free competition, some European countries had just achieved national unity and imperialism had not yet emerged.
For its part, the workers’ movement was taking its first steps as an independent force, because it was fighting together with the peasants against the nobility, but under the political leadership of the bourgeois that was a rising class. In those days it was said that the proletariat was fighting against the enemies of its enemies. Moreover, the national and democratic movement of the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America was scarcely taken into consideration and the revolution was considered mainly confined to Europe and North America. Marx and Engels’s theory was of the revolution that corresponded to the realities of their time, to the stage of pre-monopoly capitalism and free competition.
Later conditions changed. Since the last quarter of the 19th century, the forces of capitalism grew to levels previously unknown, monopolies emerged, the size and power of finance capital increased, the export of capital to the broadest areas of the globe began, and the world was definitely bound by the chain of the global economy. It was what might be called the economic globalization of that epoch.
Between the publication of the Manifesto and the emergence of imperialism a whole period of colossal struggles went by, including the rich experience of the Paris Commune in 1871. It was an epoch of advances and retreats, stumbles and falls, confusion and betrayal, with the aggravating factor that, from that very movement sectors had emerged that renounced the most valuable foundations of Marxism.
As has happened in our time, given the impressive growth of the forces of capitalism, the same defeatist voices as ever made their appearance, claiming that the system had become invincible, that the revolution had no purpose and was only an aspiration of dreamers and social malcontents.
In 1889, after the death of Marx and under the guidance of Engels, the Second International was formed. That International accommodated itself to the conditions of peaceful development of capitalism, while Engels was still alive and opposed to this; it threw the principles overboard and later, when World War I broke out in 1914, its leaders supported the bourgeoisies of their respective countries and caused enormous damage to the movement. Lenin proclaimed the bankruptcy of that international. In 1919, with Soviet power already established, he led the resurgence of the international unity of the communist movement, and the Third or Communist International was formed, which remained active until 1943.
Let us point out some similarities that can serve as historical references. At that time a bloc of parties, an entire international degenerated and succumbed; something similar to what happened in our time with the degeneration of the former socialist bloc. But the difference is that, instead of a bloc of parties, now a bloc of countries where the working class had established its power fell into the abyss. In passing another similarity should be noted. Just as it was the party of Lenin’s homeland which led to the abandonment of principles in the middle and late 20th century, in the earlier epoch it was the Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Germany, the birthplace of Karl Marx, that led the betrayal and from whose ranks emerged the worst renegades, such as Bernstein and Karl Kautsky, who proclaimed that the Marxist doctrine was obsolete and went on to revise it to adapt it to the interests of the bourgeoisie.
The revolution seemed buried forever in the abyss of obscurity and uncertainty, until Lenin emerged who started from a faction formed in 1903, the Bolsheviks, in the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party; he rescued the doctrine of Marx and waged a successful battle of everlasting value against its distorters.
It is up to us communists of today to create another similarity between that period and the present, and to make the movement recover, revitalize itself and reach new heights, as Lenin, Stalin and their followers did in their time in the various parts of the world.
With the militant stance that he assumed against the opportunists and traitors, Lenin swept away the rubbish of the old parties and revisionist leaders, analyzed the new reality of the world, denounced imperialism, exposed the brutal nature of that system and proclaimed the necessity and possibility of defeating it by the revolution of the workers, nations and peoples. Based on Marx’s teachings, Lenin developed the Theory of the Revolution under new conditions, in the era of imperialism. Since then, under the name of Marxism-Leninism, Lenin’s name was inextricably linked with that of Karl Marx.
According to the Leninist theory of the revolution, now it is not a matter of the revolution breaking out just in the developed capitalist countries simultaneously. Instead, the revolution has become a universal phenomenon, and to bring it to victory one must strike at the weakest link in the chain of imperialist domination, whether or not it is in a highly developed country. Just as Lenin did in the old Russia in 1917, which was the most backward capitalist country in all Europe.
For the revolution to succeed, the Leninist doctrine also maintains that a revolutionary situation must be created. The crisis of power of the ruling classes and, at the same time, the willingness of the masses to launch the assault for political power, that is, that those above cannot continue to rule as before and those below no longer wish to live as before. Together with these and other conditions that are the objective factor of the revolution, for the crisis to end in a successful revolution, it is essential to include the subjective factor, the revolutionary consciousness, organization and political leadership that should position itself at the vanguard of the process. In clearest terms, one must have the clear and correct leadership of the communist party, whose features and characteristics were defined by Lenin himself.
In the same way, in the Leninist theory of the revolution, to determine the character of the revolution is very important. In this respect, the Teacher wrote works of great theoretical value on this question, such as Two Tactics of Social Democracy, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky and other of an equally scientific character.
It is worth repeating that the strategic objective to which Lenin and the Bolsheviks were aiming was always socialism, but it was after the victory of the democratic revolution of February 1917 against the Czar, when he declared the change in character of the revolution and he proclaimed socialism as the next step. Before, and despite all the accusations that were made against them, he maintained with the full strength of his arguments that this was a revolution of a democratic character and not directly socialist.
This was vital to the success and further development of the movement. From this were derived, among other essential things, the policy of allies, the central and secondary tasks and the nature of the provisional government that the Bolsheviks were setting as the immediate goal.
Lenin had the merit of supporting the validity of the theory of the revolution that he elaborated with facts. At the head of his party he led it to victory in his country, and after the Great October Revolution, the world revolutionary movement entered a new phase. It had three main components: 1. The struggle for socialist construction in the country of the Soviets; 2. The workers’ movement in the capitalist countries, and 3. The democratic and national liberation movement in the countries and nations oppressed by the imperialists.
The Leninist theory of revolution served as general orientation to the communist and workers’ parties for the development of their struggle, and our Communist Party of Labor has followed that general guide since the moment of its foundation.
When it emerged 32 years ago, our party proclaimed its adherence to the Leninist conceptions. It had a generally correct view. It knew its enemies, knew the general course to follow and knew clearly the supreme goals for which it fought. But it suffered from certain deficiencies in its general line and this resulted in a heavy degree of schematism and rigidity in some aspects of its tactics. This problem dragged on for some time, even after the First Congress and the abstentionism, the lack of flexibility in relations with certain political forces, as well as the vision with which the Revolutionary Popular Front was conceived that the party encouraged, are examples of those faults.
Looking back to the past, maybe it was impossible to avoid these defects in line, given the difficult conditions and the hostile environment surrounding the emergence of the party, which entered onto the scene as a new force, which defended its right to exist in a real environment of siege, fighting blow for blow to win spaces that its opponents denied it. Yet this was not to excuse our faults in the hostile environment around us, but to overcome them and better define the general line of the party.
At first we had a major deficiency in not having defined the character of the Dominican revolution in this epoch. Some of these positions came from that lack of clarity, but to solve this theoretical problem was not easy. The other left-wing parties and groups had dealt with this by the expedient method of copying formulas and schemes of other parties. The pro-Chinese with their slogan of New Democratic Revolution, as Mao Tse-tung had raised in his country in the 1940s. Almost all the others raised the rigid and strict slogan that the Dominican revolution had no choice but to move directly to socialism. The latter theory had spread like an ideological plague and it was against this that the PCT had to fight its fiercest theoretical and conceptual battle.
The PCT categorically separated itself from a mechanical copy of the pro-Chinese concepts and the semi-anarchist concept of immediate socialism. It took seriously into account the Leninist principles of the democratic revolution and its uninterrupted progression to socialism. It thoroughly studied the experiences of the national liberation movements in other countries and especially subjected the historical process and the concrete reality of our own country to study.
As a summary of its reflections it published a document entitled The Character of the Dominican Revolution, published as a draft in October 1982 and made official as the general line and programmatic basis and approved as a textbook for the theoretical training of party members three years later at our first congress in 1985.
Anyway, the challenge is today. The party has reiterated with renewed emphasis its policy of a Broad Front, but always being clear that the outcome of any revolutionary process always depends on the role that its vanguard plays; for us, the communist party. But it should be made clear once again that a party is not the vanguard merely by proclaiming it or by considering itself predestined to be such. The recognition of the role of vanguard is not imposed, it is won based on political intelligence and clarity and tenacious and consistent work.
The Broad Front is a matter of advanced politics and cannot succeed if one does not have a clear awareness of the problem. It is much more comprehensive than a coalition or a left front. From the theoretical point of view, by its technical definition, the Broad Front is the organ of political collaboration of the communists with other forces of various natures and identities. They have different interests and ultimate goals in many cases, but important points of agreement in which we must support each other in order to advance together for them. Here there is no room for narrowness or sectarianism. We must study the matter thoroughly and consciously master it as a science.
One must give historical meaning to our present struggles. The Broad Front should give continuity to the national movement that comes from the times of the First Republic, taking its precedents as a reference and a school from which to learn to fight and carry out what the patriots of the past could not bring to a successful conclusion, due to circumstances that should also be studied.
That is not just any task. Today’s task is greater than at any other time in our past history of national struggles. In previous episodes as glorious as the War of Restoration, for example, that ended in military victory in 1865, national liberation was won. But it was not possible for that great fight to lead to a sovereign and democratic state, because national liberation was not accompanied by economic changes and social emancipation.
That glorious war achieved its national political objectives, to the immortal glory of its protagonists, but after the victory the economic and social bases, the large estate and ranch owners, the old reactionary oligarchy, the political and military warlordism based on them, remained little changed, and because of that, neither a sovereign Republic nor a democratic state nor substantial economic changes could be achieved. Even worse, the annexationist current, which had seemed to die with the defeat of the Spanish colonial forces, maintained its roots and continued to live. Then, just two years after the end of the Spanish occupation, it was necessary to wage a new, longer war, the Six Years War, from 1868 to 1874, against the traitor Buenaventura Baez and the threat of a new annexation, this time by our worst enemy, U.S. imperialism.
As one can see, ours is a formidable task. To achieve national liberation, political emancipation, economic and material progress and social salvation, all in a single process that can only be the fruit of consciousness and work by us and the entire people.