RA Cuckoo In The OP Nest (Issue 10)


As it suited our polemical agenda the Editorial Board of Open Polemic in OP No.2 of April 91, exercised its discretion and opened up a polemic by publishing a 4 page response, from the anarcho-communist organisation Red Action, to two articles, totalling 20 pages, from individual contributors published in the first issue of the journal. Over a two year period, in issues 4 to 8, a further four contributions, totalling 26 pages, from Red Action were published. Over the same period, in issues 2, 5 & 7, we published seven responses to Red Action from individual Marxist-Leninists. These responses amounted to 8 pages of material. So it can be said that 'both sides' in this particular polemic had been given roughly the same amount of space.

With limited space and the need to sustain balance, and considering that Red Action had been afforded ample space to advance its position, the Editorial Board decided not to publish an additional article from Red Action in issue No. 8. Following protests from Red Action, which we published, the Editorial Board confirmed that it would be continuing to exercise its discretion in publishing contributions from Red Action if they opened up new ground.

In a recent issue of its paper, Red Action published an article which was generally critical of Open Polemic and which also accused the Editorial Board of the suppression and censorship of its views. We are publishing Red Action's article with the omission of that section which deals with Red Action's differences with an individual contributor to the journal.

Where necessary, in the interests of greater accuracy, we have expanded Red Action's quotations from Open Polemic's material. Red Action's actual quotations are denoted by italics. Also, for ease of reference, we have included journal numbers and dates where necessary. Other interjections by Open Polemic are denoted by asterisks.


From Red Action No. 67.

Some readers of Red Action will be aware that members of RA have contributed a number of articles to the journal 'Open Polemic' (OP).

OP was founded by a group of shell-shocked Stalinists after the fall of the communist empires in Russia and Eastern Europe. The political regimes that they had devoted their lives to defending lay in ruins. The workers, supposedly the 'ruling class' within these regimes, didn't lift a finger to save them.

The Open Polemic project was a product of this demoralisation. Due to the 'anti-sectarian' nature of the organisation, much of its business had to be conducted in public. In this way, the history of OP provides a rare opportunity to see the inner workings of the 'democratic centralist' structure* favoured by Stalinist, Leninist and Trotskyist organisations of all complexions.

(* Open Polemic does not have a 'democratic centralist,' structure. It has a 'centralist' operating structure like Marx's 'Rheinische Deutsche Zeitung' and Lenin's 'Iskra'.)

OP's opening edition, like a penitent sinner, acknowledged the need for the fundamentals' of MarxismLeninism, 'to be subject to assessment and elaboration. 'The general brief of the journal was to contribute to the formation of a' Future Party of a New Type' [OP leaflet January 93] by means of:
'aims to facilitate progress towards the integration of the revolutionary movement, nationally and internationally, through the publication of theoretical elaborations that sharpen the polemic around contemporary revolutionary questions.'
[OP No.1. January 91]

The editorial board emphasised its independence pledging;
'(OP) will not intervene in the movement in any way other than by facilitating theoretical and political discussion across the movement.' [OP No. 1. January 91]

The editorial board of OP believed that in 'marked contrast' to other organisations, its own,
'approach to the revolutionary movement is essentially non-exclusive, precisely because it is not attempting to, and does not have to, prejudge which organisations, groups or individuals are revolutionary; because it has a general rather than a particular perspective.'
[from OP statement at the open debate of the 'Leninist'. Dec 90]

All OP wanted to do, was to:
' Firstly - our criteria recognises that adherence to the interrelated, fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism, which we have clearly defined, will help, in the era of imperialism to distinguish the revolutionary from the reformist and, today, to distinguish the revolutionary from the revisionist '. [ From OP statement DEC 90]

Brave words. OP has indeed succeeded in distinguishing revolutionaries from reformists - but hardly in the sense which its editorialising envisaged. So far from founding 'a future party of a new type', the editors have even failed to found a journal of a new type. Red Action's contribution's to the project always conceived as being in the nature of a Trojan horse, or as it turned out, a boisterous cuckoo in the Stalinist nest - began as a long keynote article* of immense condescension by one Jan Wachla

(* This was not a keynote article by Open Polemic.)

And what do we read in the OP leaflet reproduced in edition (no.8)?
'The political struggle of Open Polemic has been first and foremost of a theoritical nature carried out among the more conscious revolutionary elements of the working class and those sections of the intelligentsia
allied to it.' [OP leaflet May 93]

First and last more like it. This already amounts to a sufficient condemnation of the 'Open Polemic' project. Worse was to come. Despite the characteristically self-congratulatory, liberal tone of pronouncements such as this:

'The journal Open Polemic is at the service of the movement, its columns open to all those organisations with the courage and the integrity to advance and defend their ideological and political positions before the movement - as a whole'.

There remained the deep suspicion that a Stalinist outfit such as OP would always, sooner or later, revert to type. For a while, the liberal Dr. Jekyll appeared to be in control of his demonic alter ego, the Stalinist Mr. Hyde. Soothing words were still being offered in OP No. 5.

'Ironically Red Action, who never tire of divorcing themselves from the content of Leninism have also seriously engaged the issues of the communist movement in a healthy Leninist spirit . Although Red Action, by their own definition, fall outside the theoretical ambit of the journal, the editorial board has continued to publish their contributions as a way of sharpening our own communist understanding of the key relation between party and class.' (May 92)

But with the first shockwaves of the communist collapse having died away, Mr. Hyde was becoming restless; the old Stalinist reflexes were preparing to lash out. In edition No.1 of OP, the editorial board had reassured its readers of the purity of its intentions in merely,

'stimulating .... If Open Polemic stimulates a demand from the members of the various (communist) organisations for an honest polemic between those organisations it will have served a useful purpose, for it is our contention that much greater clarity is needed of the differences between them if any worthwhile progress is to be made towards achieving unity of ideas. On our part, we do not stand in opposition to any of these organisations and we have no pretensions to forming yet another organisation from this project.'

In edition No.8, Open Polemic says that it has now formed an 'Association of Communists for Revolutionary Unity' (ACRU). What a turn up.

OP complain:
'In the endeavour to set up an Association of Communists which could act both as a focus for communist agitation and, more importantly, as an added catalyst to the process of open polemic, all the contradictions that currently confront the communist movement in this country immediately made themselves felt. In particular, the deeply fragmented state of the revolutionary movement into a plethora of hostile fragments, each with its own centralist discipline, loomed large concerning a working constitution for the association.' (ACRU Inaugural Address 20 June 93)

In their founding statement, the scientific socialists of OP proclaimed its continuing support for 'the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism'. First among these principles, OP listed 'the political and organisational principle of democratic centralism.'

In OP no. 8, they ask 'A political party presupposes a fair degree of political cohesion around an agreed programme. Our Association presupposes the opposite - a multitude of conflicting programmes and very little evidence of cohesion other than an adherence to the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism. It is to these fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism that we seek to rally the maximum number of communists. As for the Journal, so for the Association.

What form of organisation is best suited for this purpose?' to the new 'Association' they had declared they would never form, OP answers, 'Quite clearly not a democratic centralist one -' having chided other Stalinist and Leninist organisations for being, 'prone in varying degrees, to an authoritarian stress on centralism at the expense of inner party democracy'

In OP no. 8, the same editorial board disarmingly informs us that,
We toyed (!) with various models of participatory democracy ... (but) The solution that kept presenting itself(!) was centralism without apology.' *

(The complete passage when it is put back together reads:
'Quite clearly, not a democratic centralist one - that would be a recipe for continued stalemate - one position set against another in endless repetition, lobbying, factionalising, and eventual disintegration and demoralisation.
We toyed with various models of 'participatory democracy' with various voting patterns and countless checks and balances but, in the final instance, each would leave the Association prey to sectarian assault. We have seen it in the broader, anti-fascist, anti-racist and anti-apartheid organisations. It would be ten fold - a hundred fold - worse in a specifically communist organisation. The solution that kept presenting itself was centralism without apology ...'(ACRU Inaugural Address) )

Democratic centralism would be a (quote) 'luxury'.
'For those who howl for more formal democracy, we can only sympathise and say look elsewhere. Our fragmented movement does not allow us such luxuries at the present moment' (ACRU Inaugural Address)
Bloody hell, they don't care do they?

The bankruptcy of the Leninist and Stalinist traditions being so complete, no amount of subjective hand-wringing, breast-beating etc., as to the necessity of openness, unity and so on in the wake of the traumatic collapse of existing Stalinism, could defeat the objective logic of vanguard organisation and structure. OP says they have no intention of suppressing the democratic element within a 'democratic centralist' structure. But they do. They could do no other. Specific organisational structures are not neutral as between competing social forces. They incorporate social dynamics which first stultify, then defeat any and all inconsistent subjective intentions of the individuals within them. Even the sincere ones. That is why Marx famously insisted that the institutions of bourgeois democracy must be 'smashed'; not taken over. The ideological and historical essence of Stalinist structures, being authoritarian, sectarian and centralist, the intentions of individuals who stand outside them, dissolve like spring snow once they go back inside.

Regrettably for those already dizzy from this ideological merry-go-round, the turnabouts don't stop there. The editorial board also announced in OP no. 8, that contributions from Red Action, despite their 'healthy Leninist spirit' would no longer be accepted. Red Action possessed the best track record of any of the contributors, both in respect of the number of articles submitted, including the only contribution on Ireland, and the quantity of the discussion generated in response. Why, after seven issues, the last six of which were dominated by Red Action contributions, and discussions around the agenda set by Red Action, was the decree of exile imposed? Precisely because the cuckoo got too big for the nest. It was taking over. RA replied in full to every attempt to repress its insistence on the indispensability of Marxist principles, even in a journal avowedly hostile to its politics. In announcing their 'suspension' of further Red Action articles, OP omit to tell its readers that two RA contributions, contrary to publicly declared editorial policy, have already been suppressed. The editors of OP loftily claim that Red Action have 'opted out' from the dispute.* Bollocks. We was pushed.

(* What the Editorial Board actually said is in our letter to Red Action, which we published in O.P. No. 9.)

Ostensibly, OP maintains that RA are now revealed as 'utopians'. So why is RA now, in the opinion of OP, 'utopian'? Because RA's contributions were increasingly orientated around the political principles of Marx himself. For the 'marxist-leninists' this is heresy. Red Action apart, contributions to OP almost never talk about or quote Marx -always Lenin. The Marxist 'dictatorship of the proletariat' and the leninist party dictatorship, are two completely different things. The reason OP itself gives for its charge of 'utopianism' reveals this key dilemma. They continue:

'Gordon (RA) always harks back to the 'simpler' world of the 19th century and it is astounding yet true that, in the long polemic with Danes and Young, Gordon makes not a single reference to imperialism and the divisions in the working class in the imperialist countries.
Revolution in the 20th century becomes not just a matter of mobilising the working class against capitalism, but rather of defeating the imperialist ideology of social democracy within the working class, Lenin was in a position to grasp this new reality, whereas Marx was not. ' [Same letter to Red Action. O.P.No.9.]

For OP, Marx was living in a 'simpler' world than Lenin. The implication (whether fully realised by OP or, not) is that since Lenin lived in a more complex world. Leninist thought is also more complex than 'simple' Marxism. Marx if anything, actually says the opposite: class divisions (though not the 'world') become 'simpler' with the development of capitalism, not the reverse. Marx refers to the 'simplification of class antagonisms that work to: 'reduce the whole of society to the simple opposition between a class of capitalists and a class of propertyless workers.' This tendency, Marx felt, would eventually lead to the 'naked conflict between capital and labour.' Second, any organisation that can claim that Marx was 'unaware' of the divisions and 'imperialist ideology' of the working class, disqualifies itself as marxist A short selection of key passages from both Marx and Engels serves to kick this particular 'simplification' into touch. How well this analysis of 'Imperialist ideology within the working class' has stood the course of time hardly needs emphasising. Take this from Engels:

'the English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois ... For a nation that exploits the whole world this is of course to a certain extent justifiable.' For in these Imperialist conditions, English workers: 'gladly share the feast of England's monopoly of the world market and the colonies.'

These features, so bluntly and sharply stated, are the precise developments that the 'scientific socialists' of OP blithely declare Marx to be 'unaware of'.

What underlies OP's egregiously mistaken allegation, is the presumption that the dictatorship of the proletariat has to be exercised over the 'Imperialist' working class itself! It is a presupposition shared by all the 34 varieties (OP's figure) of Marxist-Leninists or 'democratic centralist' groups. For if the working class itself is an 'imperialist' class, then it too must be crushed alongside the imperialist bourgeoisie by the substitute proletarians in the party vanguard. In this way the ideological proletarians become, as history conclusively demonstrates, the actual enemy of real proletarians. The fact that the emancipation of the working class, reactionary sections and all, must be the work of the workers themselves, is totally submerged. Finally, OP has recognised that Red Action are at the sharp end of virtually every violent confrontation with the state and fascism that ever occurs in this country. The contrast between the passive leninism of the outfit and its allies, and the active non-Leninism, of Red Action, was becoming too embarrassing, yet the editorial board accuses Red Action of being 'utopian', while the Stalinist crew which will continue to ponce about in the pages of any future editions of Open Polemic, are - what? The very idea of calling Wachla and the rest, revolutionary activists demonstrates the topsy-turvy world of these Marxist-Leninists

Open Polemic Responds to Red Action

Red Action, in issue No. 67 their paper, make a number of criticisms of Open Polemic, each of which has some content despite the quotational manipulation and their somewhat churlish delivery, and therefore warrant a considered response.
The criticisms, in the order that they are presented are as follows:

1. That OP 'Was founded by a group of shell-shocked Stalinists after the fall of the communist empires'
2, That OP was a product of demoralisation.
3. That OP has failed to establish either a party of a new type or a journal of a new type.
4. That OP contrary to its original statements, has set itself up as another vanguardist organisation. i.e. ACRU
5. That OP recommended a centralist structure for ACRU as opposed to a democratic centralist one.
6. That OP perpetuates 'Stalinist' structures.
7. That OP censored Red Action contributions.
8. That OP advocates substitutionism, i.e. the dictatorship of the party for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
9. That OP presupposes that the dictatorship of the proletariat has to be exercised over the 'imperialist' working class itself.
10. That OP represents passive Leninism.

Point 1.That O.P was founded by a group of shell-shocked Stalinists after the fall of the communist empires..

Open Polemic was formed some twelve months prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, although it is true to say that the obvious crisis in the communist parties of Eastern Europe and Western Europe, including Britain, prompted our recognition that the time had arrived for the reappraisal of the whole of the revolutionary movement and the formation of the Open Polemic project.
As for the term 'Stalinist', it is a term that we do not use in our analysis of revolutionary history because we argue that it obscures more than it reveals. The Editorial Board is drawn from a number of revolutionary traditions, but we all consider ourselves Marxist-Leninists. We all identify with the establishment of the Third International and the revolutionary replacement of the totally discredited Second International. Having said that, there are differing historical interpretations and shades of opinion within the Editorial Board as to when the Third International outlived its revolutionary role. So, rather than use the blanket and ill-defined term 'Stalinism', we analyse instead the more precise categories of 'revisionism', 'bureaucracy', 'left and right opportunism' and the 'dictatorship of the proletariat'. All of these categories make up the arena of communist open polemic - a polemic which we suspect is still in its infancy. As for being 'shell-shocked' as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union - that is a difficult emotion to quantify. Each communist responded to the events in their own way - but it is safe to assume that no Marxist-Leninist could have remained untouched by the final demise of the Soviet Union, no matter how far they may have considered it to have strayed from Lenin's original conception of the Union.

Point 2. That Open Polemic was a product of demoralisation.

As to the state of mind of individual members of the Editorial Board of OP, it is difficult to comment. The final demise of the Soviet Union as a political entity no doubt solicited a range of emotions, demoralisation probably being just one of them. However, the Open Polemic project itself is, by definition, a project of extreme optimism. Why so? Firstly, because it seeks to overcome the deep-seated sectarianism within the existing communist movement in this country. Secondly, because it seeks to contribute to the momentous task of constructing ideological clarity within the body of ideas commonly referred to as Marxism-Leninism. Thirdly, because it envisages as an end result of its labours, the formation of a single communist party capable of acting as a revolutionary vanguard to the working class and other progressive strata. To embark on any of the above takes endless resources of revolutionary optimism. No, we don't accept the label of demoralisation!

Point 3. That Open Polemic has failed to establish either a Party of a New Type or a Journal of a New Type.

As to the first half of the allegation we stand wholly guilty. The Future Party of a New Type is not even a blip on the distant horizon. Instead, we still have a whole range of organisations of varying size and vintage. Offset against this grim picture of fragmentation and sectarianism, we can say that no less than seventeen organisations have voluntarily participated, in some way, in the process of open polemic, either by contributing to the journal, attending OP conferences, subscribing to the journal or affiliating to ACRU. In addition, an encouraging number of individual Marxist-Leninists from across England and Scotland have hitched their wagon to the process of open polemic. So, no future party of a new type as yet, but we firmly believe that the seeds are being sown.

As for our having 'failed even to establish a journal of a new type', that is a different question. While it is difficult to agree with or refute Red Action's claim, given our entirely biassed standpoint, we can say with certainty that, within Marxist-Leninist circles, there is no publication of the nature of Open Polemic that opens its pages to all shades of communist opinion and actively promotes a polemic between the contending protagonists. Sales and distribution, attendances at conferences and the increasing number of written contributions indicate to us that OP does indeed serve an essential function for communists in this country. The leader centralist structures of the competing vanguards continually mitigate against an open polemic between communists, and so it must be concluded that the journal Open Polemic does represent a Marxist-Leninist journal of a new type.

Point 5. That OP, contrary to its original statements, has set itself up as another vanguardist organisation.

The Editorial Board's modus operandi has not changed. It is a centralist collective that works for a consensus view within itself and seeks advice and criticism from those around it. The Editorial Board has developed a general line i.e. a polemic across the revolutionary movement for those who accept the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism. We are not another vanguardist organisation and those who try to portray us in that way do so out of either ignorance or wilful misrepresentation.

As for ACRU, it was established by the Editorial Board and the Advisory Committee of Open Polemic for the purpose of promoting communist Action-in-Common while the protracted process of communist open polemic evolved. ACRU was established in recognition that even in a period of intense ideological division and an epoch of global communist retreat, communists could not afford the luxury of remaining outside the anti-imperialist, antifascist and anti-racist struggles. Further, that action-in-common may act as a catalyst to the process of open polemic, to help chip away at the deeply entrenched sectarianism within the communist movement. But ACRU, like Open Polemic, is most definitely not another disciplined, vanguardist organisation. Red Action is well aware that no one is bound by the decisions of the Coordinating Committee of ACRU. Consequently, the Committee seeks agreement among affiliates and associates only to a level sufficient to be able to conduct a minimum level of communist action-in-common. It does not presuppose a lessening of the ideological demarcations.

Point 6. That OP recommended a centralist structure for ACRU as opposed to a democratic-centralist one.

Yes, we did! There are a number of forms of organisation available to a revolutionary organisation. Open Polemic has consistently argued that democratic centralism is the most appropriate form for a revolutionary vanguard party both prior to the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat and during that dictatorship. We, and all the comrades around OP have spent considerable time in elaborating the principle of democratic centralism and that task continues. We have forwarded a set of constitutional principles for democratic centralism for discussion, and that document is currently being discussed and amended.

However, it is plain to all that no single, communist vanguard party exists at present. Even within the broad groups of 'Third Internationalists', 'Fourth Internationalists' and 'Maoists', there are many organisations competing for the status of vanguard. Each one believes it has the closest approximation to reality. Each one believes it will win the masses to its banner. OP rejects this scenario and has put forward its own strategy for revolutionary advance based on the slogan, 'Open polemic - Action in common'. In order to advance our strategy, we had to adopt political and organisational forms that would take into account the high level of fragmentation within the Marxist-Leninist camp, while at the same time not contributing to its perpetuation. In our opinion, an openly declared centralist organisation based on clearly established principles had the best chance of success. Democratic centralism presupposes a reasonably high level of ideological cohesion - which simply does not exist at present. Centralism on the other hand, while always working for a level of consensus among Marxist-Leninists is the form of organisation most suitable for advancing an entirely new communist strategy. Broad participatory democracy, we believe, would have only perpetuated the existing ideological divisions within ACRU and, as such, should be regarded as little more than tokenism. Adopting centralism now while advocating democratic-centralism later may seem a paradox, but the logic of our decisions are plain for all who wish to see.

Point 7. That OP perpetuates Stalinist structures.

Marxist-Leninists will support the leadership of the Bolshevik party under Stalin to the extent that he upheld the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism and will be critical of his leadership to the extent that he may have departed from or distorted those fundamentals. Open polemic considers that we should not judge history by the action of this or that individual, but rather we should see all human activity within the context of the full complexity of the prevailing socio-economic epoch. That we believe to be the Marxist method. Open Polemic argues that in the same way that Communists today will have varying interpretations and shades of opinion as to the events of say the English Civil War or the Paris Commune, so we will have to learn to accept differing interpretations on the history of the Soviet Union. If there is sufficient ideological consensus around a body of ideas - MarxismLeninism - then that will be sufficient for us to move collectively into the next millenium. Heretics and witchunts belong to this one.

If, in the view of Red Action, centralism equals 'Stalinism', then yes, we have set up 'Stalinist' structures. But, it is common knowledge that, from the time of Marx, when conditions made it necessary, communists have introduced centralist organisation; they would be naive to do otherwise. Popular democracy, democratic centralism and openly declared centralism, all have a place in the armoury of revolutionaries. We therefore feel no need to be defensive on the organisational structure of ACRU.

Point 8. That OP censored Red Action's contributions.

Any serious and honest observer of the Open Polemic project will know that Red Action has had ample opportunity to put its view and respond to criticisms made. At one point Red Action articles represented 10% of contributed material. That is to its credit. It offered a sustained defence of its position. Maybe the Editorial Board itself should be criticised for over-using its discretion in this area.

Now to the question of censorship. For issue No. 8. we had two substantial articles from Red Action, one of which we considered to be more contemporary to the current Polemic than the other. We opted to publish the one and not the other. Yet Red Action accuses Open Polemic of censorship. Well, our readers and the readers of Red Action, when they have studied all the relevant material that we have already published in Open Polemic, must determine whether we acted appropriately or not.
Red Action's arguments have been fairly put in the journal, and distributed at our expense both nationally and internationally. More generally, we have and will continue to publish all criticisms of Open Polemic as soon as they are made. We do not think the charge of censorship stands. In the light of the above, Open Polemic asks Red Action to withdraw this particular criticism.

Point 8. That Open Polemic advocates the substitution of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat with the Dictatorship of the Party.

This really gets to the heart of the differences between Red Action and the communists around Open Polemic. This is the political meat in the Red Action sandwich. Without wishing to pre-empt the coming conference debate on the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, our position is succinctly this. The vanguard party draws its members from the most conscious elements within the class and from the intelligentsia allied to that class. Given the impact of universal state education (with all its persistent inequalities) the distinction between the two is considerably less than it would have been at the beginning of the century in Russia and elsewhere. We can say categorically that the party is of the class but initially in touch only with its most advanced elements, i.e. class conscious workers. In Imperialist centres like Britain that number may be extremely small. Having gathered the advanced workers to its banner, the vanguard is then in a position to proselytise amongst the much wider intermediate strata and at this stage the connection between party and class becomes that much more obvious. It is true that the advanced elements with their Marxist-Leninist consciousness may often be in conflict with the intermediate and backward strata with their social democratic, chauvinistic and even fascistic outlook but, objectively the advanced elements are part of the same class. Our objective economic position in relation to the means of production dictates this.
Even those comrades, either by circumstances or choice, that have become removed from the immediate point of production, and that is increasingly happening in the technologically advanced, imperialist centres, should not be categorised as non-proletarians It is precisely through this error/slight of hand that the party can be counterposed to the class. That bourgeois literature and Eurocommunist revisionists should do this is no surprise. That revolutionary anarchism should make the same error is of greater concern to communists.

Having re-established the proletarian essence of the vanguard party, the theory of substitutionism looks very shaky. That is not to say that a vanguard party cannot become divorced from those outside of the party. But, Open Polemic has no difficulty with accepting that under particularly unfavourable conditions the vanguard party may need to organise itself in the most authoritarian and centralist manner. To do so would not be the 'preferred' choice of this or that leadership faction, but simply the only option for the dictatorship of the proletariat to survive against the highly militarised and viscious dictatorship of capital.

We reject the seductive theory of 'substitutionism', a theory which if adopted by the revolutionary masses will most certainly rob them of their chief weapon in the forthcoming revolutionary class struggle - their general staff.

Point 9. That OP presupposes that the dictatorship of the proletariat has to be exercised over the 'Imperialist' working class itself.

We are tempted to simply say 'bollocks' to this 'egregiously' convoluted concept of the class exercising its dictatorship over itself as an 'imperialist' class. This seems to arise from the inability of the theorists of Red Action to grasp the fact that the simplification of class antagonisms does not necessarily lead to the simplification of ideological and political struggle. The ruling classes are constantly struggling to check the simplification process and complicate class antagonisms, not simply by ideological and political persuasion, but by siphoning workers out of their class and into the ranks of the petty bourgeoisie and the self-employed.

Of course Marx and Engels were aware of imperialism, that England was 'a nation that exploits the whole world'. Every Marxist-Leninist learns that from day one, but it fell to Lenin to produce the definitive work on imperialism as the higher stage of capitalism, which sharpened our awareness of the role of the labour aristocracy and the ideology of social democracy. But, whatever its extent, both at the national or the international level, the labour aristocracy remains part of the proletariat. (See OP response to MIM in this issue)

Point 10. That OP represents passive Leninism.

Marxism-Leninism can never be passive. It may assume different forms and different emphases according to conditions. Sometimes legal work may predominate over illegal work. Sometimes visa-versa. At certain junctures in the revolutionary struggle theoretical work will predominate over agitational work. To counterpose one against the other in terms of passivity and activity is incorrect. It is our assessment that the theoretical struggle is now paramount. For us, communist open polemic is the most practical activity for communists at this point in time. Our anti-imperialist, antifascist and anti-racist work within ACRU helps to keep the contemporary political content to the fore. Neither communist open polemic or communist action in common can be described as 'passive Leninism'.

Open Polemic