A WORLD TO WIN    #30   (2004)

RIM Circular:
Advancing Amidst Storms

The following document, prepared by the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (CoRIM), was originally circulated internally to RIM parties and organisations in April 2003. An edited version of this circular was provided to A World to Win for publication.

Dear Comrades,

We are writing this circular two weeks after the beginning of the US-UK war on Iraq. It is clear from the opening salvoes of the war, as well as the months of fierce political and diplomatic struggle that preceded it, that the Iraq war represents a major turn in world events, heavy in consequences for the people's struggle and for our Movement.

The Iraq war is a direct result---and intensification---of the world situation our Movement analysed&in the year 2000 [see A World to Win 2000/26], a situation which itself underwent a qualitative intensification following 11 September and the US imperialists' declaration of an open-ended "war on terrorism" in which they proclaimed the right to attack any state, movement or organisation that might pose a "potential" threat to the interests of US imperialism and its drive for world hegemony.

The analyses made in [previous reports] have been completely borne out by subsequent developments.

Of great importance has been the phenomenal growth of massive opposition to the US imperialist war plans. The movement has been of particular breadth and strength in Europe, the Middle East and the US itself, but no region of the world has been untouched by this mighty upsurge.

Although the mass opposition to the war did not prove powerful enough to stop the war before it began, it did result in several extremely important accomplishments:

1) It completely exposed the unjust, predatory nature of the US war plans and stripped off the cloak of "victim" the US had tried to hide behind since 11 September. The mass movement demonstrated clearly and convincingly that the imperialist war against Iraq is opposed by the vast majority of the people of the world.

2) The mass movement greatly intensified the contradictions within the imperialist camp itself, notably between the US and UK on the one hand and France, Germany and Russia on the other. Although these latter powers have their own imperialist interests pushing them to oppose the US war on Iraq, it is fairly clear that without the strength of the international mass movement these states would have found some form of accommodation with the US war efforts. In fact, even now these countries are co-operating to different degrees with the war effort. France and Germany have granted over-flight rights, Germany is allowing the use of many key bases for the war, and other countries are collaborating in one form or another with the US war machine. In those European countries most directly implicated in the aggression --- the UK obviously, but also Spain and Italy --- the anti-war movement has been of even greater magnitude, with the masses directly demanding the resignation of the reactionary governments and increasingly taking measures to directly oppose the war machine (blocking troop shipments, etc.).

3) The fact that a number of imperialist powers have gone to war or supported it against the expressed will of the people of those countries (the UK is a particularly notable example where public opinion was overwhelmingly opposed to the war) has shown the shallowness of their mask of democracy and helped reveal that their bourgeois dictatorship is ultimately based on military force.

4) In many countries, especially in the Middle East, the mass movement has lit a fire of opposition under the puppet regimes on whom the US imperialists count to police the people and generally protect their imperialist interests. This can be seen in Turkey, where the massive opposition of the people severely disrupted US war plans, when Turkey's parliament found it prudent not to allow the US army to march through the country on the way to Iraq, and in Egypt where the government has been feigning neutrality or even opposition to the US all the while it is protecting the Suez Canal, so vital for the US movement of troops and war materiel to the Gulf theatre.

5) The masses of people in Iraq itself have proven that they are not easily cowed by the "shock and awe" of the imperialists and have put up a fierce resistance to the aggression. This in turn is giving heart to the people of the world, underscoring the fundamental weakness of the imperialists and fuelling further opposition to US-UK aggression.

A number of commentators have described the mass movement as having "emerged from nowhere" and as having become a major factor in world affairs that the imperialists must take into account in determining all of their political, diplomatic and even military moves. Of course, this movement did not "come out of nowhere" but has been gestating and building in opposition to the intensified imperialist exploitation and oppression of the 1990s. In the West, in particular, this took the form of an intensifying "anti-globalisation" movement that more and more sharply focused on imperialism itself as the source of the misery of the majority of the world's people --- even if the solution to imperialism was not clearly seen by most of the participants in the movement. In the oppressed countries, the opposition to intensified imperialist exploitation and oppression accompanying the collapse of Soviet social- imperialism was manifested in a growing discontent among the masses, the searching out of alternative political models (even if in many cases important sections of the masses gravitated toward non-revolutionary solutions such as religious fundamentalism), and explosions of struggle in different forms. In some still too infrequent but nonetheless very important cases, it translated into the armed struggle for political power, notably in Nepal.

When analysing the First World War, Lenin stressed it was impossible to understand the nature of that war without first examining the thirty years of economic, diplomatic and political history that preceded it, of whose "politics" the First World War was a continuation. Similarly today's war (and by this we mean not only the invasion and occupation of Iraq but also the whole military/political offensive by US imperialism since 11 September) is a continuation and concentration of the politics of US imperialism, especially over the last twelve years, which has increasingly placed the US directly in the role of the exploiter and policeman of the oppressed nations and peoples. It is this reality, an expression of the principal contradiction in the world today, which is shaping and propelling the other main contradictions in the world, as we have seen in the last few months of crisis followed by the war in Iraq. The conflict between the US and the other imperialist countries has been heating up and has been shaped immeasurably by the struggle of the people, just as the war moves of the imperialists have further propelled a new round of struggle of the proletariat and its allies within the imperialist citadels themselves. This latter contradiction, also, does not "come out of nowhere" but has intensified in the past period with the important struggles in many of the advanced countries around the rights of immigrants, against police repression, against attacks on living standards of the people and so forth.

To return to the analysis [which appeared in AWTW 2000/26], "While we are not yet experiencing the same kind of high tide of revolutionary struggle on a world scale that we have witnessed in the past and will surely see again, we can speak with confidence of an emerging new wave of the world proletarian revolution." Our Committee called attention to the likelihood of a mass upsurge developing in our November 2002 statement on Iraq when we said that a US war of aggression was "likely to ignite a world-wide storm of resistance such as has not been seen for many years". Today, we can affirm that this storm of struggle has indeed materialised. The possibilities for revolutionary struggle are opening up, in the Middle East, certainly, but also in many countries across the globe. Although the struggle will certainly not develop in a straight line and will inevitably go through ups and downs and be met by fierce resistance from the class enemy, the reality of the advance of the tide of revolutionary struggle is inescapable.

Again it is worth referring to Lenin's outstanding essay, "The Collapse of the Second International" and his analysis of the First World War and the revolutionary opportunities that accompanied it. "&[T]he objective war-created revolutionary situation, which is extending and developing, is inevitably engendering revolutionary sentiments; it is tempering and enlightening all of the finest and most class-conscious proletarians. A sudden change in the mood of the masses is not only possible, but is becoming more and more probable, a change similar to that which was to be seen in Russia early in 1905 & when, in the course of several months and sometimes of several weeks, there emerged from the backward proletarian masses an army of millions, which followed the proletariat's revolutionary vanguard. We cannot tell whether a powerful revolutionary movement will develop immediately after this war, or during it, etc., but at all events, it is only work in this direction that deserves the name of socialist work." (Collected Works, Vol. 21, pp. 257-58.) And earlier in the same work when discussing the importance of the struggle going over to direct assaults on state power, Lenin stresses, "It is not so often that history places this form of struggle on the order of the day, but then its significance is felt for decades to come. Days on which such method of struggle can and must be employed are equal to scores of years of other historical epochs." (Collected Works, Vol. 21, p. 254, emphasis in the original.)

In their own perverse way, the imperialists themselves recognise the importance of the moment and how their actions will set the stage for the future. On the eve of war, Tony Blair, addressing the UK's parliament for approval for British forces to participate in the attack on Iraq, stated, "&on this decision hangs the fate of many things: Of whether we summon the strength to recognise this global challenge of the twenty-first century and meet it&.Of the institutions and alliances that will shape our world for years to come."

In a similar vein Jacques Chirac, president of France, spoke days before the war explaining why France would, if need be, exercise its veto at the United Nations. His first point was that a "unipolar world", i.e. US world hegemony, was intolerable. Behind the diplomatic manoeuvring was a dispute over the emergence of a "counter power" to US might. It is this that explains the venom with which the US and UK reacted to the French, German and Russian moves. And it also explains the fear of these other powers to go all the way in their opposition to the US --- even though they oppose an unbridled US hegemony, they are also painfully aware that at this time only the US can prop up and protect the world imperialist system.

Of course the parallel with the situation Lenin analysed during the First World War, while remarkable in many ways, is far from complete in all its aspects. First, the current war is not yet "straining" the entire capacity of the imperialist societies in the way that the First World War and Second World War did --- there is not the same widespread immiseration among the masses of these countries nor the evident possibility of "defeat" of these same ruling classes at the hands of imperialist enemies. On the other hand, the arousal to action of broad masses of the people is all the more remarkable given that the crisis has yet to unleash its full fury on the masses in these countries.

Why, then, do the US imperialists feel compelled to carry out such an adventure? After all, no one takes seriously the charges that Iraq represented a real threat to the US or that it had "weapons of mass destruction"? Further, some of the representatives of US imperialism, including a number of those grouped around Bush senior, had cautioned against the dangerous and unforeseen consequences of the military adventure. Those voices have since been silenced by the US ruling class "consensus at gunpoint".

Despite the occasional flashes of reason of different imperialist spokespersons, there is a compelling reality pushing the US into its "war on the world". If a single country, or even a small group of countries, is to monopolise so much of the world's wealth it is also compelled to exercise its political control over those countries it exploits and oppresses. It must be prepared and willing to police these countries and impose its will. It has to be ready to attack not only the workers and peasants of these Third World countries but even those strata of the exploiting classes who fail to do the bidding of the US. Further, it is not always enough to rely on the local ruling class authorities; increasingly the US is both threatening and employing direct use of the overwhelming force of its military.

It is impossible for such an empire to be expanded, consolidated and policed without intensified opposition from the people themselves, without massive discontent, protests, rebellions and ultimately wars of resistance being waged against the US. While all of the imperialist powers have common interests in opposing and suppressing the growing upheavals of the people (hence their collusion), they have sharpening contradictions (contention) with each other, including how best to protect their specific interests amidst the intensification of world contradictions. Further, we have seen in the last few months how the conflict among the imperialists themselves has created some favourable openings for the people's struggle, fissures in the enemy camp (to paraphrase Lenin) through which the discontent of the masses can burst forth. The dispute in the UN over weapons inspections in Iraq is one such example: although the terms of the debate were completely reactionary, as they were all premised on the need to disarm Iraq and maintain the monopoly of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a select group of reactionary powers, it is nonetheless the case that the dispute over these questions fuelled the growing anti-war movement among the masses of all countries.

The crucial importance of a revolutionary situation and revolutionary crisis in the imperialist countries is generally accepted in our Movement: our Declaration points out that Lenin "analysed that the possibility for making revolution in the capitalist countries was linked to the development of revolutionary situations which appear infrequently in these countries but which concentrate the fundamental contradictions of capitalism". The dynamics of the revolutionary process in the oppressed nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America (the "Third World" for short) are different in important ways. Our Declaration stresses, "In the oppressed countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America a continuous revolutionary situation generally exists." Because of the continuous revolutionary situation it is generally possible to initiate and sustain armed struggle in one or more pockets of a Third World country. We have correctly opposed those who in the name of the "lack of an objective revolutionary situation" would postpone forever the initiation of the armed struggle or fail to see the decisive importance of the preparation and initiative of the proletarian vanguard forces. We have seen, both in the history of our Movement, as well as in the decades preceding our formation, that the conditions have, in fact, been favourable for initiating, sustaining and developing the armed struggle of the people for power. The most recent case in point is the dramatic growth and success of the People's War in Nepal, begun in 1996 at the very height of US imperialist strength in the post-Cold War epoch. It stood as a stunning refutation of the thesis of the Right Opportunist Line that emerged in the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) and argued that conditions in the world were such that world revolution was going into a great retreat that required the communist forces to abandon revolutionary struggle and solicit peace accords.

In the same passage discussing the continuous revolutionary situation in the oppressed countries, our Declaration goes on to point out that, "&it is important to understand this correctly: the revolutionary situation does not follow a straight line; it has ebbs and flows. The communist parties should keep this dynamic in mind."

It is important to stress that a crucial factor in determining the "ebbs and flows" of the revolutionary situation is the international situation. It has always been a tenet of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism that the situation in a given country is inextricably connected to the world situation as a whole. Mao himself, despite acting in a country that comprised almost one fourth of the world's population and had a vast geographical expanse, and despite the fact that in the earlier decades of imperialism the world was far less tightly intertwined than it is today, paid great attention to analysing the world situation and examining the interrelation between the situation in China and the world as a whole.

The underlying basis for carrying out a correct strategy of protracted people's war is rooted in the socio-economic character of the given country, including the penetration of imperialism into that country; an economic, political and military consideration is of the utmost importance in understanding the dynamics of any oppressed country in today's world. But the ability to launch the armed struggle for power, the pace of development of the struggle, and the final seizure of nation-wide power is very much linked to the overall international situation and the intensification of the country-wide situation it can give rise to, including in the mood and revolutionary energy of the masses.

We can see today in a number of countries that the conditions created by the Iraq crisis and war have become clearly more favourable for revolution. In many countries the masses are aroused to a great extent, the reactionary regimes are more isolated than ever, and the alignment of the class forces is generally favourable to the proletariat. Furthermore, the US imperialist enemy, while remaining on a vicious world-wide offensive, is forced to concentrate on Iraq and is not capable of intervening everywhere to the same degree.

In his famous work "A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire", Mao opposed pessimistic tendencies in the party that failed to see the possibility of maintaining the armed struggle and the base areas. He wrote, "The objective situation today is still such that comrades who see only the superficial appearance and not the essence of what is before them are liable to be misled. In particular, when our comrades working in the Red Army are defeated in battle or encircled or pursued by strong enemy forces, they often unwittingly generalise and exaggerate their momentary, specific and limited situation, as though the situation in China and the world as a whole gave no cause for optimism and the prospects of victory for the revolution were remote. The reason they seize on the appearance and brush aside the essence in their observation of things is that they have not made a scientific analysis of the essence of the overall situation. The question whether there will soon be a revolutionary high tide in China can be decided only by making a detailed examination to ascertain whether the contradictions leading to a revolutionary high tide are really developing. Since contradictions are developing in the world between the imperialist countries, between the imperialist countries and their colonies, and between the imperialists and the proletariat in their own countries, there is an intensified need for the imperialists to contend for the domination of China. While the imperialist contention over China becomes more intense, both the contradiction between imperialism and the whole Chinese nation and the contradictions among the imperialists themselves develop simultaneously on Chinese soil, thereby creating the tangled warfare which is expanding and intensifying daily and giving rise to the continuous development of the contradictions among the different cliques of China's reactionary rulers." (Selected Works, Vol. 1, pp. 120-21.) He ended his article with a scientific, but revolutionary romantic, conclusion: "How then should we interpret the word 'soon' in the statement, 'there will soon be a high tide of revolution'? This is a common question among comrades. Marxists are not fortune-tellers. They should, and indeed can, only indicate the general direction of future developments and changes; they should not and cannot fix the day and the hour in a mechanistic way. But when I say that there will soon be a high tide of revolution in China, I am emphatically not speaking of something which in the words of some people 'is possibly coming', something illusory, unattainable and devoid of significance for action. It is like a ship far out at sea whose mast-head can already be seen from the shore; it is like the morning sun in the east whose shimmering rays are visible from a high mountain top; it is like a child about to be born moving restlessly in its mother's womb." (Vol. 1, p. 127.)

The question facing many comrades now is to understand how the increasingly favourable international situation can accelerate the revolutionary process. Under these circumstances, it is possible to foresee two basic kinds of deviations. One error would be, under the pressure of the moment and the rising activity of the masses, to abandon a party's basic strategic orientation, vision and plan. As comrades in one party put it, this kind of error is "tactics eating up strategy" and "policy eating up politics". In other words, in the understandable effort to make progress in linking up with the immediate struggle of the masses, the long-term interests of the masses are sacrificed. This error can take a classic right form or a "left" form as well. Maintaining our strategic orientation and strategic planning will be an important fight if the vanguard forces are, on a correct basis, to be able to seize the initiative at the current juncture.

At the same time an equally damaging tendency also exists, which is to fail to adjust and apply the strategic orientation to the concrete developments in the class struggle, and to fail to use the favourable international conjuncture to accelerate and advance the party's strategic orientation, but instead to go on with "business as usual" as if we are not experiencing exceptional moments in the international class struggle. Mao pointed out, "when a certain objective process has already progressed and changed from one stage of development to another, they [true revolutionary leaders] must also be good at making themselves and all their fellow-revolutionaries progress and change in their subjective knowledge along with it, that is to say, they must ensure that the proposed new revolutionary tasks and new working programmes correspond to the new changes in the situation. In a revolutionary period the situation changes very rapidly; if the knowledge of revolutionaries does not change rapidly in accordance with the changed situation, they will be unable to lead the revolution to victory." ("On Practice", Selected Works, Vol. 1, p. 306.)

If communists in any country, and especially those most affected by the current vortex of contradictions, were not to take into account the rapid and dramatic changes in the international situation and their interpenetration with the class struggle in their country, and if they were not to develop the policies, slogans and tactics that corresponded to these changes, then "persevering in the strategic orientation" could become a smokescreen covering conservatism and passivity and the "strategic goal" will remain mere wishful thinking.

RIM Must Advance Amidst Intensifying Contradictions

The Revolutionary Internationalist Movement has existed for eighteen years and its accomplishments are undeniable. But we can by no means rest content with what we have achieved until now. As [an internal report put it in] January 2002, "Thus our Movement is placed before a historic responsibility, opportunity and challenge. Will the Maoists be able to step forward and lead the masses of people in resisting the imperialist onslaught, and through the course of the struggle further advance the cause of the world proletarian revolution?&

"In this light it is impossible to overstate the importance that our Movement has for the people of the world and the importance of the decisions and actions (or lack of same) that we take in the coming period. In short, the Movement is facing its greatest test since its formation."

No progress is painless - every step forward, especially at critical junctures, can only come amidst fierce struggle, not only with the enemy but also against counter-currents that inevitably arise in opposition to a correct understanding. Mao pointed out that it is not enough to grasp the correct line, it is necessary to grasp it firmly. He went on to say, to not grasp the line firmly means to not grasp it at all. If our Movement is to play the role that it must, it is necessary that we "grasp firmly" both the correct political and ideological line that we have been forging and our understanding of the favourable, if contradictory, international situation. We also need to firmly grasp the possibility of achieving breakthroughs precisely in connection with the current intensification of contradictions and fight to preserve and maintain this understanding. Finally, and most importantly, we need to find the means and vehicles to link this advanced understanding with the masses and push the whole revolutionary process forward.


It is worth briefly examining the interrelation between the revolutionary advances in Nepal and the overall situation of the world revolutionary movement. This is a point that our Committee has addressed frequently in past reports and statements. Today, however, the living link between the earth-shaking developments in Nepal and the overall world situation comes into sharper relief.

It is clear that Nepal is not presently the focus of world events, as the US-UK imperialists have, for reasons analysed previously, felt compelled to focus their attention, including especially their military aggression, against Iraq, as well as the Middle East more generally. But does this mean that the reality of people's power emerging in vast expanses of Nepal and the real possibility of nation-wide victory has no relation to the overall situation in the world? No, it does not.

As Mao put it, "Ever since the monster of imperialism came into being, the affairs of the world have become so closely interwoven that it is impossible to separate them& today international support is necessary for the revolutionary struggle of any nation or country.&In the past, the Chinese revolutionary forces were temporarily cut off from the world revolutionary forces by Chiang Kai-shek, and in this sense we were isolated. Now the situation has changed, and changed to our advantage. Henceforth it will continue to change to our advantage. We can no longer be isolated. This provides a necessary condition for China's victory in the war against Japan and for victory in the Chinese revolution." ("On Tactics Against Japanese Imperialism", January 1934, Selected Works, Vol. 1, pp. 170-71.)

We can see that the emergence of an international movement against the US imperialist war moves is of great significance for the future development of the people's struggle in all countries, including in Nepal. The millions of masses who have been propelled into motion have, to a great degree, done so despite being "saddled" with the thankless task of objectively defending the Sadaam Hussein regime, a regime widely exposed and hated for its crimes against its own people. Those who have fought so hard to stem the hand of the US-UK aggressors can, through education and struggle, be won to fight with all the more determination and enthusiasm to protect the genuine accomplishments of the Nepalese people and especially the red political power they have brought into being. While only six months ago it may have seemed a mere pipe dream to imagine the masses of the people of the world "coming to the rescue" of the revolution in Nepal if and when it faces the massive intervention of imperialism and/or other reactionary states, today such a movement on the part of the people seems not only possible but an achievable task. It cannot simply be willed into being, it will depend a great deal on the actual unfolding of events, but if the imperialists attack the revolution and as the people resist in a way that shows the nature of the revolution they are waging, fertile ground will exist for mobilising support for the Nepalese revolution, in South Asia and all over the world.

This shows the correctness of the slogans the Committee has raised ---"Hands off Nepal" --- and calling on the advanced masses the world over to "Look to the Himalayas, A Better World's in Birth." The more the masses are aware of the completely different kind of struggle and completely different kind of society being built in Nepal, that truly a "better world's in birth", the more courageously and the more far-sightedly the masses will struggle on all of the vital battlefronts of today, especially in the crucial battle to defeat the US-UK aggression in Iraq. And the more powerfully the struggle against US-UK aggression and occupation in Iraq is waged, the more the people sense their own strength and the enemy's underlying weakness and the more the masses will come to understand the importance and possibility of beating back the imperialists and reactionary plans against the revolution in Nepal.

The Iraq crisis and war, as pointed out earlier, succeeded in bringing to the surface the cracks and fissures among the imperialists and reactionaries themselves. Indeed, this is one of the remarkable differences between the current war and the 1990 Gulf War, when the US was able to orchestrate virtually the entire "international community" to take part directly or indirectly in its aggression. The difference cannot be attributed to Iraq's diplomatic efforts. Rather, the increased cleavage in the imperialist camp has been dramatically sharpened by the just struggle of the masses of people of all countries, which has interacted with the very real conflict these different powers have over how best to pursue their own imperialist interests. We can see that the determined resistance of the Nepalese masses, led by their vanguard party, will win the support of the progressive and revolutionary people the world over --- this is an inescapable law. It is this resistance and this bedrock of support around the world that will create real obstacles to the imperialists and reactionaries uniting against the revolution. While it is never possible to rely on any imperialist or reactionary powers, it is true that through the intensification of the struggle and the building of a genuine revolutionary movement of support, it will become more possible to divide the imperialists and reactionaries, which will, in turn, provide new openings for the people's struggle.

We must persevere in the correct policy of focusing our attention against the US war against Iraq while at the same time seizing every opportunity to weave education about, and support for, the Nepalese revolution into our overall work.&

Comrades, we will end with this verse from a poem by Mao Tsetung:

We can clasp the moon in the Ninth Heaven

And seize turtles deep down in the five seas:

We'll return amid triumphant song and laughter.

Nothing is hard in this world

If you dare to scale the heights.

Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement

5 April 2003