A few weeks ago, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) celebrated its twelfth anniversary. This event is, every year, an opportunity for our organization to gather its forces before launching them again into the struggle of the coming months. This year, we have launched the slogan to break the ceilings of the past and climb the historic levels. This motto is of paramount importance to our organization: it sets an objective whose achievement will mark the conclusion of the period of intense activity, reorganization and political clarification in which the RCP inevitably engaged when it split with the Canadian opportunists two years ago.
Indeed, since 2017, we have been engaged in a process we call the reconstruction of our Party. We are talking about the reconstruction of the RCP, because the split with Canadian opportunists has caused the Party to lose manpower and territory. In many ways, the split we have experienced has forced us to take a step aside. It has forced us to accept as an objective fact the political struggle that is now traversing the Canadian Maoist movement, making possible a multitude of transformations that can allow us to bounce back and regain the lost path. This political struggle has opened a path that would otherwise have been inaccessible. Agreeing to lead the struggle came with the obligation, in the long run, to come back stronger than we have been in the past.
The idea of rebuilding a communist party is linked to a true conception based on concrete and valuable experiences in the history of our movement. Recently, this term has gained renewed importance in the international movement. This is normal because the slogan of reconstruction is inspiring: it represents the widely shared objective and hope of seeing a swarm of communist parties overturn the world as we saw in the 20th century. It is a kind of rallying cry for all those who have chosen to continue the struggle despite all the dangers and challenges. Let’s rebuild! Let us unite under this slogan by remembering that there is no impassable obstacle, no matter how damaged the camp of the revolution may temporarily be! Let us rally behind this call to go through difficult times with patience and confidence, qualities that only fighting for a just cause can bring!
Reconstruction in history: continuing or abandoning the struggle at decisive moments
The notion of reconstruction is an aspect of theory with varied foundations in the history of the revolutionary proletariat. The experience that has provided the fundamental basis for it is undoubtedly that of the fight against modern revisionism. After the Second World War, large sections of the communist parties, which were set up in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution and the creation of the Communist International, slowly deviated from the revolutionary path. The fight against this revisionist deviation opened a complex period during which many splits and expulsions took place in the various parties. At that moment, the communists had to choose between denying the line struggle with the right of their party or assuming it and bringing it to an end. It was not uncommon for those who had to make this difficult choice to be largely in the minority. Deciding to fight therefore implied losing a considerable amount of manpower and organizational gains to preserve revolutionary forces from the liquidation of the revolution. Sometimes it was a monumental loss. The revolutionaries then had to take the initiative and rebuild the organization. The period following these moments of rupture was then usually referred to as a period of reconstruction or reorganization.
One of the most significant experiences – and from which we draw much inspiration in the reconstruction of our own party – is the process of rebuilding the communist party in Peru. In the case of Peruvian comrades, the break with the revisionist leadership of the party took place in 1964 (the Party was founded in 1927). It was followed by a long period of reconstruction, reorganization, transformation and political preparation. It is this period, with the vitality and political force it produced, that brought the Peruvian revolutionary movement to the outbreak of the People’s War in 1980. Breaking with revisionism and methodically rebuilding itself on a revolutionary basis is what allowed the Communist Party of Peru to be the only organization that succeeded, in the period of reflux of the world revolution in the late 1970s, in taking the initiative and opening up by itself a new path for the exploited.
Thus, in the conception we draw from these experiences, the reconstruction of the party involves a stage of difficulties and challenges. It is a period in which the struggle continues, despite the loss of gains and personnel, and which allows a return in strength, with the possibility of reaching a stronger and more important situation than at the beginning if the fight is well conducted. Reconstruction is a kind of consequence of the retreats, difficulties, relative failures and obstacles encountered in the class struggle. Let us think of the comrades who are trying to reorganize the camp of revolution in Nepal. Let us also think of classic historical examples where the term reconstruction has not necessarily been used but where the same process has taken place. Some of the strongest political moments in the history of the communist movement followed the most difficult periods when it was necessary to rebuild what had just been built.
For example, the Bolsheviks, after the great revolutionary rise of 1905-1906 in Russia, had to go through a very difficult period of reflux as the mass movement faded and the bloody Stolypian reaction fell upon them. In the years that followed, a fierce struggle developed within the Bolshevik leadership. Lenin and his supporters had to, among other things, fight against the Bogdanov group and its allies who openly rejected dialectical materialism in favour of idealistic conceptions. They also had to fight against the new liquidating position, dominant among the Mensheviks, according to which the party organization had become cumbersome, dangerous and unnecessary. To give an idea of the consequences of this struggle, there was, in practice, no central committee meeting for almost two years within the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). The Prague Conference in 1912, which marked a definitive break with the Mensheviks and the idealistic currents, brought together delegates from local organizations (city committees) in Russia with pain and misery. Without adopting the term reconstruction, this conference launched a vast reconstruction work of the party (relaunching its basic capacities, replacing its organizational structure, developing new departments, redeploying cells, launching a new daily newspaper – La Pravda -, taking over responsibility for a coordinated revolutionary action among the masses) to embrace the developing mass movement and the new revolutionary flow. However, the Bolsheviks were not at the end of their sentences, since two years later, in 1914, the outbreak of the First World War took place. The party was then greatly weakened in organizational terms (conscription of party members, intensification of repression, difficult general context, almost complete destruction of some committees, preventive arrests of local leaders, etc.) This period was also a time of political isolation for the Bolsheviks, while almost all parties and social democratic organizations sided with their national bourgeoisie. Nevertheless, it is the reconstruction work during all these years of adversity that constituted the precious school that allowed the Bolsheviks to face the storm from February to October 1917 and the first years of Soviet power.
Another important example is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which, while in full expansion, was betrayed by the Kuomintang (KMT) and the national bourgeoisie in 1927. The two organizations had so far allied in the First United Front to liberate China from its semi-colonial state and unite the country through the Northern Expedition and the fight against warlords. After the death of its founder Sun Yat-Sen, the KMT, under the new leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, attacked the CCP while the latter was not at all prepared. The communists then suffered a real massacre. The choices of the CCP leadership, which decided to try to launch insurrections in the cities that had been lost in advance, made the situation worse. The communists under Mao’s leadership redeployed to Kiang-si with the Red Army. This allowed them to accumulate a few years of concrete experience of people’s war and the construction of base areas, until the fifth campaign of encirclement and annihilation led by the KMT in 1934. The right then forced the CCP to deviate from its usual military practices, resulting in a monumental defeat. The communists were forced to make an eccentric manoeuvre (The Long March) and abandon their position in Kiang-si, with all the gains they had made there (the first steps of the Soviet republic, the experience of social transformation in peasantry and agriculture, etc.) to take refuge in the Yenan. At that moment, they had just lost more than 60% of their strength. It was then through the Anti-Japanese United Front that the communists launched a skilful and bold reconstruction work. Thanks to this work, they manage to climb the slope to launch what would become the greatest assault that the bourgeoisie and the exploitative social classes have ever had to endure.
What is common in these two examples is that in the face of incredible challenges, the communists had the choice to abandon or continue an experience. What was at stake was the continuity or the end of a revolutionary experience. It is this challenge that constitutes the essence of reconstruction. Examples like these can be found throughout history. For example, the unification of the socialists around the political consolidation of Marxism after the defeat of the 1848-1850 revolutions in Europe, the heroic fighting experience of the KPD in Germany during the Second World War after the almost complete destruction of the party by the Nazis, or the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution in China as the right of the CCP tried to stop the progress of the socialist experiment and isolate the revolutionary left. At each of these moments, the revolutionaries chose to continue the struggle. On a larger scale, the same type of process took place after Mao’s death and the restoration of capitalism in China. A gathering of small ML groups then began to rebuild the international communist movement. These small groups were uniting by adopting Maoism, opening a new cycle of fighting and clashes.
The essence of party reconstruction: preserving the common thread of the revolutionary experience
To fully understand the challenge of reconstruction (to continue or stop the revolutionary experience), we must look back in history and look at the consequences of stopping, even if only temporarily. One of the closest examples of the RCP is the end of the ML movement in Quebec. Lacking a firm strategic vision and refusing to initiate an attempt to rise to power during a period of reflux of the world revolution, the MLs agreed to liquidate their organizations. When the communist organizations (En lutte, PCO) dissolved, it would have been possible for a group to reorganize itself. It would certainly have been necessary to go through a certain period (1 year, 2 years, 3 years, etc.) with a large number of challenges and no guarantee of success, but by playing its cards well, it would have been possible for this group to preserve a large part of the accumulated political gains. The political work of Action Socialiste (the political ancestor of the RCP) began in 1986. The ML organizations ended in 1982-1983. 1986, it is still only 3-4 years later, but there is a gap between the two. When the experience stops completely, it is no longer possible to return as easily to where you were.
Moreover, what makes the leading force of the avant-gardes is the persistence of their revolutionary action and experience with the transmission of this experience. In our case, it is possible to imagine a world in which the younger comrades of our Party would have been cut off from the experience accumulated by the older comrades during the period of Action Socialiste and during the period of the establishment of the RCP: they would then form a simple committee or even scattered circles on the territory! It would be a completely different political reality. What makes us what we are (a communist party in reconstruction), in a period of adversity, is that we have continued the revolutionary experience and preserved its guiding principle. It is with this common thread that the revolutionary movement is built and it is it that allows us not to keep returning to square one.
Reconstruction must first be used to preserve this common thread. It is not a question of starting all over again, but on the contrary of preserving the political gains of a party and an experience even if they have been reduced in quantity. This quantitative loss is inevitable in many situations. In the case of a split, the amputation of part of the organization is more often than not the only way to preserve the accumulated revolutionary forces. The bet the communists then make is as follows: if they succeed in the operation, by relying on the room for manoeuvre and the political force they have gained by breaking with opportunism, it is possible for them to return even stronger than in the moment before the split. Every time revolutionaries encounter great obstacles and choose to continue the struggle, the same phenomenon occurs and this is historically demonstrated. At the beginning, there is a period of adversity to face and at the end, we find ourselves with incredible political potential because we have managed to preserve and propel even further the fundamental elements of an experience. We only have to look at the example of the Bolsheviks and the Chinese communists to see this for ourselves: history speaks for itself.
In the case of our Party, the RCP, we split with Canadian opportunists to preserve the common thread of our revolutionary experience. It is this same kind of common thread that was preserved by the Prague Bolshevik Conference and the Long March of Chinese Communists. It was also to take up this common thread again that the Peruvian revolutionaries fought hard to return to the shining path of Mariategui, the founder of their party. Each time it was a matter of life and death. Rebuilding the party in Canada means, above all, preserving the common thread of the experience of those who refused the wait-and-see attitude of the period of reflux of the world revolution. Today, in many places, it is this thread that has been broken. This is what makes revolutionary work so difficult. To rebuild, for many comrades, is to rebuild parties that fell long ago. Everywhere, it is a struggle to replace the missing historical links: to rebuild the country’s historical party and assimilate the common thread of international experience (Maoism). In the case of Canada, the idea was to return to the fundamental conceptions of the party (the Protracted People’s War, the complete communist Party, workers centrality, the four objective forms of revolutionary action, the initiative of the vanguard) and let the actions resulting from the application of these conceptions speak for themselves.
Finally, if we are talking about rebuilding the party to preserve this common thread, it is because it is the party that is the framework for the revolutionary experience. It is the one that allows there to be enough continuity in time and space for us to talk about the same experience. Even if several years pass or if hundreds of kilometres separate the different battles, the party makes it possible to preserve the experience and transmit it. This is what happened in Russia: in this case, the common thread linking the moment of the seizure of power to the earlier period when activists were beginning to learn the ABCs of political unrest was preserved by the Bolshevik Party. By ensuring the continuity and persistence of the experience, the Bolsheviks succeeded in advancing the revolutionary movement from the birth of the first social democratic circles to the founding of the Soviet republic!
The objective of reconstruction: to break the ceilings of the past and climb the historical levels
Where should reconstruction lead? In our case, we consider that it should lead our Party to become a genuine party of professional revolutionaries. This expression should not be taken lightly. On the contrary, its use requires that all its practical implications be assumed. The objective of professionalization is not just one of many, set without much thought. This is a decisive objective for the contemporary vanguards. The awareness of the need, greater than ever, to succeed in this operation (professionalization) is a valuable lesson in the struggle of recent years in Canada. The missing historical links, here as elsewhere, make this objective even more important than in the past. It is therefore in the political struggle to achieve this objective that our Party is engaged.
Although we have just outlined the importance of basing ourselves on the historical experience of the communist movement, the conception we defend is a teaching of recent practice, even more so than a teaching of the past. Indeed, the current revolutionary practice only confirms more clearly what the victories and defeats of the past have taught us about centralism, discipline and the need for a party of professional revolutionaries. The objective of professionalization is what is required by the current, common practice of the various revolutionary vanguards and those of the imperialist countries in particular. The reason for this is that since the 1970s, within the imperialist countries, a historical level has developed that revolutionaries have difficulty climbing, an objective ceiling to break at the risk of never again succeeding in relaunching attempts to rise to power. Communists must be aware of the concrete challenge of crossing this level and their thoughts must be used to overcome this difficulty. This awareness is all the more necessary because it is this difficulty facing all the recent revolutionary waves that produces and encourages opportunistic conceptions proposing strategic liquidator detours, such as those we have encountered in Canada.
Moreover, it is in order to face this great challenge that the different organizations influence each other, emulate each other and hope to see a sister party move forward. Once the ceiling is broken, everyone will have to rush into the breach that has just been opened. Each organization will, in its own way, have to find a way to develop, in the struggle, the political strength and experience necessary to transform itself into an authentic organization of professional revolutionaries, equal to the tasks before it. In view of the difficulty of our times and the relative weakness of the communist movement, we do not need more laissez-faire and softness; on the contrary, we need the highest political and organisational level. The political struggle for professionalization is the struggle against all opportunistic currents, against all confusion and misconceptions that generate and reinforce relaxation, indiscipline and lack of method. This political struggle has only just begun!
Long live the reconstruction of the Revolutionary Communist Party!
Let us fight everywhere to continue, preserve and strengthen the revolutionary experience!
Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Protracted People’s War are the common thread of our movement!
Let’s break the ceilings of the past and climb the historic levels!
The challenges of the epoch require professional revolutionaries!
The statements of the ISKRA editorial board serve as a point of communication between the Party and the revolutionary proletariat. It is simply a matter of talking without filters, of making the situation understood, of explaining the current stage of work with its challenges, of presenting the objectives of an initiative and the steps that must be taken in the Party’s progress. When the RCP leads a movement and launches an offensive, its political perspectives and objectives are presented in these statements.