[MIM received the following from the chair of another organization. This is an excerpt of the letter.]
"The growing masses of the petty bourgeoisie possess no class standpoint of their own in capitalism. So an ever growing number of people are developing forms of consciousness representing a mixture of the class interests of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
"Even under today's changed conditions of class society do these facts point towards the importance for the revolutionary proletariat and its party of preparing the alliance with the petty bourgeoisie."
International Minister responds
for the Maoist Internationalist Movement October 2004:
We believe it is unwise to say this to Amerikans and others in similar countries. To our mind, it is an example of a how a reflexive populism and bourgeois democracy has worked its way into the thinking of people who should be scientific communists.
It is basically saying to MIM: OK, the petty- bourgeoisie is growing, but we have no choice but to go after a majority and ally with it. From MIM's point of view, the central ideological problem with this point is a lack of internationalism and the central strategic expression of this problem is a failure to understand the nature of this particular stage of the class struggle against imperialism.
When Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and other leaders of major importance signed off on the Comintern statement that semi-proletarians are less revolutionary than peasants, many did not appreciate the significance of that statement. It is a sign of weakness in our international communist movement that people were not able to interpret that statement in context, even as clearly as it was laid out.
No one had ever said that peasants have a particular role in advancing beyond imperialism in the imperialist countries. Peasants became central to the national struggle and thus the anti-imperialist struggle in the semi-feudal countries. There is no major Marxist leader who ever said that peasants have a direct role in advancing the imperialist mode of production. Quite the contrary, Marx is famous for making remarks that peasants cannot even advance early capitalist modes of production. Hence, at the very most we can imagine a petty-bourgeoisie playing a progressive role where backward remnants of pre-capitalist modes of production can be found. Ditto the semi-proletariat, unless that semi-proletariat is simply mixed among a substantial and genuine proletariat, in which case organizing one brings along the other.
In other words, in the most generous circumstances, we could see a semi-proletariat having an auxiliary role in a country like Russia of Lenin's day where there were many small producers and backward remnants of feudalism to mop up. We simply will not find in Lenin, Stalin & Mao a notion that peasants (never mind more reactionary semi-proletarians) play a role in the advanced capitalist countries themselves. It thus goes without saying that the petty-bourgeoisie in its various parasitic forms has no progressive role to play in an imperialist country; hence, the proletariat cannot ally with it, only disintegrate it and rip away some pieces.
Reflecting the influence of imperialist parasitism, far too many people become scientifically stuck when populism does not coincide with Marxism- Leninism-Maoism. Instead of allying with imperialist country exploiters, we should be thinking more internationally. For example, Marx organized in England to prevent England from providing any aid or trade to the South during the American Civil War. Marx thought internationally. It was the most important class struggle of his day. In almost any situation, there is something someone can do to help someone somewhere.
In World War I, as even Trotsky admitted, Lenin's ideas about imperialism matured. Again and again the social-democrats and centrists derided Lenin and the anti-war minority he led, because the worker majority clearly expressed its preference for going to war. What's more, the European workers obtained social welfare guarantees in exchange for war. There was no denying the lack of popularity to Lenin's position.
At the same time, Lenin knew there was too much issue of leaders separating themselves from the workers, and so he only went so far in saying it was legitimate for leaders to hold different views than the people they claim to represent. Rather than go down that road deep into an abyss of delusion, Lenin said he does not represent the labor aristocracy, only the proletariat, and he was content to grant that the labor aristocracy could be the majority in Germany. Zinoviev even implied it was OK to see the bourgeoisie in Germany as dominating 80% of the workers' own parties. The point was this: Lenin was an elitist and he pushed that to its maximum progressive extent possible in the midst of the most nutty war in history up to that point, but there came a point where he recognized that labor bureaucrats would take advantage of situations like Russia's if he were not careful. We cannot be ultra- elitists and then complain when labor bureaucrats stab exploited workers in the back. If we allow the gap between leaders and led expand too far, then we provide justification for those labor bureaucrats. Writing off the labor aristocracy was an important contribution to closing the gap between Lenin's leadership and the people who followed it. If Lenin required such a tactic to close the gap between leaders and led, those of us who are less great leaders than Lenin need that tactic even more.
Thus, there came a point in the given European war where Lenin was fully willing to concede that the exploiters had the majority. In fact, not conceding that point only opened other cans of worms, including an expanding gap between leaders and led. Lenin's solution also took care of another problem--any sense of delusion. Without a clear sense of its position and goals, the proletariat would not be able to conquer the heights.
World War II provided the third and final lesson-- the first two major lessons being the American Civil War and World War I-- along these lines of why it is not possible to ally with small exploiters. To obtain a majority in Germany, it would have been necessary to attempt some maneuver of Nazi leaders against Hitler. We now know that the predecessor to the CIA was active in such plots--that did not work. The CIA was unsuccessful and so were the German communists trying the same thing. We should not share the CIA's mistake of going for a majority. It was the failure to think internationally that doomed a proper class analysis of the Hitler problem. The key to advance was again writing off small exploiters with no progressive thrust of their own because of the nature of imperialism. The answer to Nazism as we all know was an international alliance that ended up occupying Berlin. That alliance needed concrete help. Getting Hermann Goring's social base to go against Hitler was not the solution. Quite the contrary, the plots along that line were a profound waste of time. There were other progressive alternatives--including joining the Red Army, doing translation for it, etc.
This brings us to the final point. In reality, the chair who suggested the above to MIM is far from unique. Such suggestions pour into MIM it seems almost hourly.
If we think about this suggestion calmly, the Nazi example should come to mind. What is more, it should come to mind that if we are going to ally with exploiters we might as well think globally on that as well. Why anyone at this time would go to Amerikans and tell them to ally with small Amerikan exploiters is beyond us. We should think about the Norwegian imperialists, the Swiss bankers etc. before we think of Amerikkkan exploiters--at least as far anyone with basic strategic commonsense about who is number one enemy should know. In reality, Bu$h is making that happen as we speak. We shall have to see how the election plays out to see if that is really the alliance the u.$. imperialists want to see aligned against themselves.