Note on publication: This letter was sent to the editors of the Nuova Egemonia website on August 28th, 2023 and simultaneously to the editorial board of Communist International. We have waited one week before publishing it on our own website, in order to allow the authors to consider a response.
In January 2023, Revolutionary Communists, Norway (RK) published a document entitled «Notes on the Founding Declaration of the International Communist League (ICL)», which I will refer to as «Notes«. It was sent to the Communist International website with a request that they publish it. This was not done, and consequently it was published on the website Maoisme.no and later in the journal Two Lines Struggle.
One month later, the Italian online magazine Nuova Egemonia published a document entitled «Critical Remarks Regarding the Communiqué «Notes on Founding Declaration of the International Communist League [LCI]» of the Organization of the Revolutionary Communists Norway», which I will refer to as «the Critical Remarks«. The document was published in English, Italian and Spanish, and is available to read on the Nuova Egemonia website.
We apologize for not replying in a timely manner, but we were not made aware of this document until very recently.
On criticism, «radical» and otherwise
To the editors of Nuova Egemonia, you have written that:
In some cases [the foundation of the ICL] is also provoking critically oriented responses, sometimes radically critical. Also some groups and organizations that refer to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism have taken the field to express their dissent. Among them in addition to the UOC(mlm) and «Maoist Road» also the Promoting Committee for the construction of the Maoist Communist Party of Galicia.
The magazine [Two Lines Struggle] managed primarily by the Communist Workers Union (MLM) of the Colombia, by Proletari Comunisti-PCm Italia and by comrades of the Promoting Committee of Galicia, represents the attempt to accelerate the construction of a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organization opposed to the ICL. The Norwegian «Revolutionary Communists» Communiqué within this framework going to side with this latest trend. (p. 2)
This claim is made without any kind of documentation, because it is false. Even though we do not consider the ICL to be the unifying center of the ICM at this time, we have not once proposed that there should be established an alternative Maoist grouping opposed to the ICL. Moreover, we greeted the ICL cordially upon its founding, and emphasized that our criticism was made in the interest of promoting genuine unity of the Maoist forces and with no intention of intrigue. In our Notes…, we wrote:
«Our position that the founding of the International Communist League (ICL) is premature; that the founding Declaration is not suitable as a basis of unity for the International Maoist Movement; that the ideological unity required for organizational unity has not yet been reached, and that an international organization at this stage will only include a section of the International Maoist movement (in the best case) and possibly hinder further efforts at unity (in the worst case).
We raise our criticisms of the ICL’s line not in the interest of creating intrigue, but in the interest of creating unity among Maoists according the the principle «unity, struggle, unity». Grounded in our desire for higher political unity, what follows is our assessment of the founding declaration of the ICL.»
These criticisms apply not only to the ICL, but also any other attempt to prematurely establish an international organization that will only unite a section of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoists internationally.
We invite you to compare this with the statement of the CPI(Maoist) (which, to be fair, was published three months after your Critical Remarks):
Lastly, we are conveying our critical views on the declaration of ICL only with the intention to develop principled unity among MLM parties and organisations all over the world as a part of achieving the objective of world socialist revolution. We request all the MLM parties and organisations to clearly express their opinions on the important aspects of International Communist Movement and on the formation of ICL, to reach a common understanding on a proper basis; come forth with concrete proposals as a part of efforts to achieve unity-struggle-further higher unity in ideological and political aspects. (p. 31)
Can one speak of fractionalism towards the ICL if today, apart from the ICL itself, there is no unified international organization? Why would the formation of the ICL be a fractionist and splinter act? Compared to whom? (p. 3)
This is a dishonest framing of the question. Firstly, it is inaccurate to portray the criticism toward the ICL’s approach to unity as a charge of fractionalism; as most we have criticized them for sectarian tendencies. In fact, you won’t find the words «fractionalism» or «sectarianism» mentioned even once in our Notes… document. The Maoists of India were much more direct in this regard (see the quotation later in this document).
Secondly, you seem to dismiss the idea out of hand that the ICL could possibly have a sectarian approach, with the proof being that no other existing international grouping of Maoists exists. If this is the standard we’re going by, then logically it would be impossible for the ICL to have a sectarian approach. And conversely, now that a grouping exists, even if it has only unified a section of the international Maoist movement, any criticism coming from outside is «sectarian». Do you see how this framing is problematic? How is unity-struggle-unity possible when debate is framed in these terms?
Those who argue that the ICL is fractionist aim to present their particular positions as universal and seek to speak of themselves as the true and only representative of the aspirations to unity of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist movement as a whole. If this type of thesis were supported by a large Marxist-Leninist-Maoist party at the head of a great proletarian revolution and the centre of a ongoing process of building a new communist international, such theses could be, at least in part, justified. But who supports these theses today? Who seeks to imply that the ICL is fractionist? Only small groups who set themselves as representatives of the m-l-m movement make these speeches. (p. 3)
Firstly, the RK has never set ourselves as «representatives of the m-l-m movement». Secondly, it is clearly false that only «small groups» have criticized the positions of the ICL and the attempt to form an international Maoist grouping in the current state of the ICM. Indeed, you yourselves have cited the Communist Party of the Philippines, one of the most advanced Communist parties on the globe, who have been waging people’s war for over fifty years, yet you dismiss them.
As for the Indian Maoists; at the time of the publication of the Critical Remarks…, the CPI (Maoist) had not yet made a public statement on the founding declaration of the ICL. A statement was made on May 19th, and subsequently published in the TLS journal. I will quote it at some length, with emphasis added:
Marxist-Leninist-Maoist communist parties, the Communist Party of Philippines, UOC (MLM), PCM Italia, Maoist Communist party of Galicia,Revolutionary Communists, Norway (RK), Direction Committee of Communist Workers’ Union (MLM) Columbia, TKP/ML informed their stand on the draft proposal and ICL declaration related to the current general political line that International Communist Movement has to adopt. Prior to this our party published a document in which it clearly wrote about the experiences of International Communist Movement, synthesised the present international situation and of the movement and about the formation of International communist organisation appropriate to it, it means about a proletarian international organisation comprising Maoist parties, organisations and the related ideological, political and
organisational aspects. ICM published this too. Communist Party of Nepal (Revolutionary Maoist), Tunisia, PCR-RCP Canada-Isra, Communist Party (Maoist) of Afghanistan, Union Obrera Communista (MLM) made responsible study and observation, wrote critical notes and sent to CUMIC for debate. But there was no response from the organisers and supporters. They did not continue debate on these stands, contradictions and differences of opinion that came forth among revolutionary communists.
Our party feels that the lack of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist work style that
applies the method of unity-struggle-unity, of ICL is creating hurdle to international unity and that it is unfortunate. Our party opines that we cannot achieve wide and strong unity with these sectarian attitudes and wrong methods and that the formation of ICL basing on the declaration representing the stands and special interests of one kind of Marxist-Leninist-Maoists. It opines that the formation of ICL basing on a declaration that represents their special interests is immature. It also opines that ICL must definitely work where there is no way for hegemony between the parties and keeping in view that proper comradely relations of mutual respect and equality depending upon ideological, political line. (p. 26)
We request with a good-heart that ICL keeps in mind the critical views of those parties
and organisations that did not join ICL and work with the aim of unity in International Communist Movement (ICM) and the objective of development of World Socialist Revolution. We declare our critical view on ICL with the same view. (p. 24)
So, the ICL formed in the name of ‘unified’ reflects only the attitude of one kind of Marxist-
Leninist-Maoists. It does not represent the unified understanding of several parties. (ibid.)
We welcome the declaration of ICL for having a correct understanding of several ideological, political and organisational issues regarding ICM and world socialist revolution. We hope this would contribute to unity in ICM and to achieve the objective of world socialist revolution. However, we clearly inform that ICL must rectify the above mentioned mistakes of understanding in its declaration and serious shortcomings and strongly needs to adopt MLM work style […] (p. 31)
The mistakes and shortcomings of ICL in the beginning itself indicate its unilateral emphasis and sectarian approach. We opine that ICL needs to rectify these too. (p. 31)
As you can see, the CPI(Maoist) have criticized the ICL’s sectarian approach in much clearer terms than the RK ever did, and the Indian Maoists can hardly be considered a «small [group] who set themselves as representatives of the m-l-m movement»…
On People’s War
As for the question of the universality of people’s war, you write that the RK reduces the universality of People’s War to that of «revolutionary civil war». Indeed, our position is that revolutionary civil war is universal, and that this takes different form according to different conditions, and that this generally means armed insurrection in capitalist-imperialist countries, and protracted people’s war in semi-colonial countries. This is in line with the position of Mao Zedong, who emphasized that the revolutions of capitalist-imperialist countries and semi-colonial, semi-feudal countries follow follow different paths.
You criticize us for seeing «only the specific forms taken by the Chinese revolution, but deny[ing] its universal value», yet you do not explain of what this universal value consists. It seems dishonest to speak generally about the universal contributions of Mao Zedong without concretely defining what these contributions consist of. Is «People’s War» synonymous with Protracted People’s War, as it was practiced in China, Peru and Nepal, and as it is being practiced in India and the Philippines? If this is the case, how can such a revolution be waged in a capitalist-imperialist country such as Italy? Or does «People’s War» have a broader meaning, referring to revolutionary civil war under the leadership of the Communist party more generally? If this is the case, then how is it different from «revolutionary civil war»?
The comment from the Indian Maoists is appropriate:
«Coming to the question of applying the theory of Protracted People’s War (it is very strange that ICL removed the word ‘Protracted’ from Protracted People’s War that Mao said, and shrunk it to mere People’s War) to practice, ICL comrades totally ignored ‘concrete analysis of concrete conditions’.»
On Trotskyism and other -isms
A fundamental error in the Critical Remarks is that every position of the CWU(mlm), PCm (Italia) and the UOC(mlm) are taken to also be the positions of RK, seemingly because the Notes… were published in the journal Two Lines Struggle. But this is hardly proof of anything, as TLS is precisely a journal for line struggle and debate. Naturally, the contributions to the journal must not be assumed to present identical lines. Moreover, the Notes… were sent to the Communist International website with a request that they publish it on the «Tribune of Debate» section. If CI chose not to publish it, then the RK is hardly to blame for that.
You claim that there are streaks of Trotskyism, Hoxhaism and even post-Avakianism (?) in our document. We invite you to provide documentation for these claims, and please be concrete. We honestly do not know where you simultaneously find Trotskyism and Hoxhaism in our document. This would be a very serious aberration indeed, and we will be grateful to whomever can point it out precisely!
World to win,
E.S., on behalf of the Revolutionary Communists, Norway (RK)
Referenced documents (in chronological order):
The Revolutionary Communists, Norway. «Notes on the Founding Declaration of the International Communist League (ICL)». January 13th 2023. Published at Maoisme.no: https://www.maoisme.no/2023/01/notes-on-the-founding-declaration-of-the-international-communist-league-icl/.
Nuova Egemonia. «Critical Remarks Regarding the Communiqué «Notes on Founding Declaration of the International Communist League [LCI]» of the Organization of the Revolutionary Communists Norway». February 4th, 2023. Published at Nuova Egemonia: https://nuovaegemonia.files.wordpress.com/2023/02/critical-remarks.pdf.
Communist Party of India (Maoist), Central Committee. «The Stand of CPI (Maoist) on the formation of International Communist League (ICL)». May 19th, 2023. In Two Lines Struggle, 2023/2. Available at Maoist Road: https://maoistroad.blogspot.com/2023/07/two-lines-struggle-2-edited.html.