A Contribution to the Critique of Mariateguism

This is a polemic against the Geronimoite dogmato-revisionism of the Committee Red Flag, which was originally published on the blog dersperling.noblogs.org in February 2022. Our Editorial Board holds that the use of the term «Mariateguism», like the term «Gonzaloism», is incorrect, as it attributes the dogmato-revisionism to genuine Marxists like Comrades J.C. Mariategui and Gonzalo, because this revisionism emerged out of their deviations, although they themselves did not create this revisionism.

Moreover, we disagree firmly with the characterization of the Youth Resistance movement in Germany as «National-Bolshevik», a characterization which we hold to be a remnant of the dogmato-revisionist, sectarian line of the Committee Red Flag. The Youth Resistance movement, in spite of its deviations (which deserve to be criticized, but in an honest manner), represented a progressive force in Germany at the time of its existence, and it is not true that it, on the whole, took a nationalist standpoint.

We also have certain other disagreements with the text, which we think are remnants of the dogmato-revisionist line of the Committee Red Flag.

In spite of these disagreements, we have decided to publish this unofficial English translation of the polemic, in order to serve the current struggle in the international Communist movement between Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Geronimoism. Furthermore, we salute the comrades' efforts to criticize the Geronimoite line, and we hope that they will take steps to rectify the remnants of dogmato-revisionism in their group and toward getting rid of sectarianism and uniting with the broader Marxist-Leninist-Maoist movement in Germany, particularly the Red Youth movement.


#The Sparrow
#15th of February, 2022


In Germany, the catchphrase «Marxism-Leninism-Maoism-Gonzalo's Thought» is used to describe forces that consider themselves Maoists, but embellish dialectical materialism with set pieces of Fascist philosophy, because their philosophy is based on the texts of Jose Carlos Mariategui. This philosophical error is reflected in their reading of all Marxist texts, their relationship to ideology as a whole, and their understanding of Scientific Socialism. Therefore, an examination of a text from the Klassenstandpunkt [Class Standpoint], No. 6 on Jose Carlos Mariategui is central to understanding the bizarre opportunism of these political groups.

However, the theoretical process of degeneration of the Editorial Board of the Class Standpoint has reached its climax in the current issue of its magazine. Attention must be paid to this, because it reveals their inability to do mass work and explains the development toward the Focus Theory.

However, the development toward the Focus Theory is already rooted in an earlier text. The text People's War and Revolution by the Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction), which was printed in a miserable translation in Class Standpoint, No. 16, asserts specifics of people's war in oppressed nations as being universally valid. Thus, the lack of application of people's war to the conditions in an imperialist country becomes the Focus Theory.

Finally, we want to show that the emergence of the National-Bolshevik «Youth Resistance» was no coincidence, but was based on the philosophical errors of the Editorial Board of the Class Standpoint.


In Class Standpoint, No. 6, various essays by Jose Carlos Mariategui are quoted, all from Vol. 2 of the Spanish Edition of his Works. We have read these essays in their entirety, but we have not carried out a complete study of the entire edition and cannot evaluate it in its entirety, only the essays in question. Elsewhere, Mariategui definitely said some correct things and defended Marxism, so this is explicitly not a condemnation of his entire Thought.

The essays in question are about the relationship between proletarian revolution and Fascism, the crisis of parliamentarism, and the myth concept of Georges Sorel.


Georges Sorel was «one of the highest representatives of French thought of the 20th century»,1 according to Mariategui, or a «notorious muddler»,2 according to Lenin. He was a dirty opportunist who turned his back on the Socialists after the anti-Semitic Dreyfus Affair, out of disgust for their bourgeois leaders and out of an opportunism that was indifferent to why the masses were moving, what the reason, purpose, and content of their action was. Thus, he became enthusiastic about the anti-Semitism of the Catholic Church, since it moved the masses. Sorel's political writings are not based on the dialectical materialism of Marxism, but on Bergsonian irrationalism. Through Mariategui's texts, this hostility to reason also finds its way into the opportunism of the «Maoist» forces in Germany.3

Fortunately, they haven't adopted Sorel's appreciation for Bernstein, his «Left»-opportunist rejection of the Party, and his confused summary of Marxism, and have so far refrained from spreading this as well. So far, they've also refrained from spreading this as well.

His main work, On Violence (1906), or rather, the letter that precedes it as a preface, is the most detailed elaboration of his theory of the myth, to which Mariategui and the Editorial Board of the Class Standpoint refer positively. What is important for understanding this writing is that it was written after Sorel's turn to the anti-Semitic Right wing in the wake of the Dreyfus Affair of 1894-1906. However, Sorel was never a Marxist, but first a Conservative, then an eclectic muddler and opportunist, a Syndicalist, and a revisionist, and then, to top it off, an anti-Semite. He was so much of an unprincipled, stupid dog that he could admire both Lenin and Mussolini. What is significant here is that this admiration was only reciprocated by Mussolini, and Sorel thus became the philosophical pioneer of Italian Fascism.

Of course, you will always find set pieces among an eclectic «Left-wing» opportunist's work that turn against bourgeois intellectuals and bourgeois parliamentarians and which are not entirely wrong ─ such is the essence of eclecticism and «Left-wing» opportunism. But its essence is also that it's a Right-wing deviation from Marxism.

Sorel defines his concept of myth the most elaborately in his letter to Daniel Halevy, which precedes the Cambridge edition of On Violence as a preface. In the following, Sorel's concept of the myth is criticized on the basis of quotations from the letter.

In the first quotation, Sorel defines the myth as a form of images of battle, in which the triumph of the movement is guaranteed:

In the course of these studies, one thing seemed so evident to me that I did not believe that I needed to lay much stress on it: people who are participating in great social movements always picture their coming action in the form of images of battle, in which their cause is certain to triumph. I proposed to give the name of «myths» to these constructions, knowledge of which is so important for historians: the general strike of the Syndicalists and Marx's catastrophic revolution are such myths. As remarkable examples of myths, I have given those which were constructed by primitive Christianity, by the Reformation, by the [Great French] Revolution, and by the followers of Mazzini. I wanted to show that we should not attempt to analyse such groups of images in the way that we break down a thing into its elements, that they should be taken as a whole, as historical forces, and that we should be especially careful not to make any comparison between the outcomes and the pictures people had formed for themselves before the action.4

One could accept this as an empirical fact, if it were true. What is remarkable here, however, is that Sorel immediately makes the transition to saying that the various myths of different movements should not be analysed. Instead, they should be taken as a whole and as historical forces, and they should especially not be measured against practice. This takes a stand in favour of opportunism. Neither the class character nor the result of a movement and its myth should be of interest, but merely the fact that people are moving, and passionately so.

In the next quotation, what is interesting is not so much his disappointment with the reactions to his concept of the myth as the hope he associated with its use:

By employing the term «myth», I believed that I had made a happy choice, because I thus put myself in a position of refusing all discussion with the people who wish to subject the general strike to detailed criticism and who accumulate objections against its practical possibility. It appears, on the contrary, that I had a very bad idea, since while some tell me that myths are only appropriate to a primitive society, others imagine that I thought the modern world might be moved by dreams analogous to those which Renan thought might usefully replace religion; but there has been a worse misunderstanding, and it has been believed that my theory of myths was only a lawyer's plea, a falsification of the real opinions of the revolutionaries, an intellectualist sophistry.4

This is where his opportunism breaks out in a rude manner. He openly admits that he wanted to evade the struggle between two lines by using the term myth. This is contrary to the dialectics of practice and theory in Marxism. In Marxism, theory should proceed analytically from practice in order to serve synthetically as a guide to practice, the results of which are then in turn tested and raised to a higher level, in order to be a guide to improved practice. This is how the relative truth of theory is to be developed further. Sorel wants to avoid this through a belief in the ultimate triumph of the movement that is ignorant of the successes and failures of practice. This also explains the previous rejection of the analysis of myths.

The next quotation deals with the standpoint of the parliamentary cretins, whom Sorel calls «Socialists», on the revolution:

As long as there are no myths accepted by the masses, one may go on talking of revolts indefinitely without ever provoking any revolutionary movement; this is what gives such importance to the general strike and renders it so odious to Socialists who are afraid of revolution; they do all they can to shake the confidence felt by the workers in the preparations they are making for the revolution; and in order to succeed in this, they cast ridicule on the idea of the general strike, which alone has a value as a motive force. One of the chief means employed by them is to represent it as a utopia; this is easy enough, as there are very few myths which are perfectly free from any utopian element.

The revolutionary myths which exist at the present time are almost pure; they allow us to understand the activity, the sentiments, and the ideas of the masses as they prepare themselves to enter on a decisive struggle; they are not descriptions of things, but expressions of a will to act.4

The correct part of this quotation is that there can be no revolution as long as the masses do not believe that it's possible. Without an awareness of the possibility of revolution among the masses, they will not take revolutionary action.

It's equally correct that the revisionists are always trying to deny the possibility of revolution and sow doubts about it.

The problem here is that Sorel separates the analytic and synthetic aspects of theory. The relationship between theory and practice is initially analytic. Theory takes practice as material and explains it. Practical conclusions are in turn drawn from the analysis. This is the synthesis; the leap from theory back to practice. Sorel isolates these two aspects of theory from each other by crossing out the «descriptions» and isolating the «will to act».

In Marxism, Scientific Socialism, the method of revolution, is a conclusion from political economy. Sorel's myth is an irrationalist decision to act, which is supposedly not based on any idea or worldview.

Having told us of his unwillingness to analyse myths a few pages earlier, Sorel now goes on to blame his lack of will or ability to do so on the matter itself ─ a common trick used by revisionists to present their depraved subjectivism as the reason of the matter. In doing so, he allows himself some contradictions:

A myth cannot be refuted, since it is, at bottom, identical to the convictions of a group, being the expression of these convictions in the language of movement; and it is, in consequence, unanalysable into parts which could be placed on the plane of historical descriptions. A utopia, on the other hand, can be discussed like any other social constitution; the spontaneous movements it presupposes can be compared with those actually observed in the course of history, and we can in this way evaluate their verisimilitude; it's possible to refute it by showing that the economic system on which it has been made to rest is incompatible with the necessary conditions of modern production.4

A myth cannot be refuted, since it's identical to the convictions of a group, being the expression of these convictions in the language of movement; and it is, in consequence, unanalysable. When you read this, you are no longer surprised that Lenin had little more to say about this scribbler than that he was a muddler. There is simply no substantive, logical connection between his premises and his conclusions.

His comparison to utopia is also telling. Since he doesn't have a clue about political economy, he would fail in an argumentative debate about the possibility of socialism, and he turns this subjective inability into an argument for the superiority of an irrational myth. There is also some truth to this, because those who hold up their faith and myth like a rosary in response to the sophist criticism of revisionists and parliamentary cretins make themselves immune to it in a certain way by simply running away from the struggle between two lines. However, he thinks very highly of his capitulation.

The following quotation is about the extent to which Sorel sees himself as a continuator of Marx, and the extent to which he sees Marxism as a continuation of religion:

For a long time, socialism was scarcely anything but a utopia; and the Marxists were right in claiming for their master the honour of having changed the situation: socialism is now being prepared by the masses employed in large-scale industry who wish to do away with the State and with property; it's no longer necessary therefore to discuss how people must organize themselves in order to enjoy future happiness; everything is reduced to the revolutionary apprenticeship of the proletariat. Unfortunately, Marx was not acquainted with the facts which have now become familiar to us; we know better than he did what strikes are, because we have been able to observe economic conflicts of considerable extent and duration: the myth of the general strike has now become popular and is now firmly established in the minds of the workers; we have ideas about violence that it would have been difficult for him to form; we can therefore complete his doctrine, instead of making comments on his texts, as his unfortunate disciples have done for so long. In this way, utopianism tends to disappear completely from socialism; the latter has no longer any need to concern itself with the organization of industry, since capitalism does this. I think, moreover, that I have shown that a general strike corresponds to sentiments which are closely related to those that are necessary to promote production in a very progressive form of industry, that a revolutionary apprenticeship may also be an apprenticeship as a producer.

People who are living in this world of myths are secure from all refutation; something which has led many to assert that Socialism is a kind of religion. For a long time, people have been struck by the fact that religious convictions are unaffected by criticism; and from this, they have concluded that everything which claims to be beyond science must be a religion. It has also been observed that, in our day, Christianity tends to be less a system of dogmas than a Christian life, that is, a moral reform penetrating to the roots of one's being; consequently, a new analogy has been discovered between religion and a revolutionary Socialism, which aims at the apprenticeship, preparation, and even reconstruction of the individual, which takes place with this gigantic task in mind. But Bergson has taught us that it's not only religion which occupies the profounder region of our mental life; revolutionary myths have their place there equally with religion.4

What he disguises here as a rejection of utopia is a rejection of the synthetic aspect of theory, of Scientific Socialism in Marxism, and to a certain extent, also of the aspect of construction in the revolution.

He succeeds in rejecting synthesis in general, and Scientific Socialism in particular, by simply ignoring them and equating both with revisionism or Utopian Socialism. However, he does not succeed at all in isolating the moment of destruction from the moment of construction in the revolution. Because he rejects synthesis and Scientific Socialism, he arrives at an affirmation of bourgeois society by claiming that there is no need to worry about the organization of the economy, that capitalism will take care of that. This idiot, who is just as enthusiastic about the strike revolt as he is about the anti-Semitic revolt, who likes Lenin as much as Mussolini, knows so little about political economy that he doesn't even understand that the revolution is there to smash the Old State, establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, and use it to reshape the relations of production.

His praise of the revolutionary myth functions by equating it with religion in the abstraction that both are somehow a mythical basis of life. He abstracts completely from the class character of ideas, and is as enthusiastic about the direct apologists of class society as he is about the direct apologists of its abolition.

The next quotation provides the most insight into what the Mariateguists like so much about Mariategui and Sorel. Here, Sorel talks about the immense usefulness of a myth if one aims for industrious activity without insight into necessity, for slavish obedience, and for the sacrosanctness of one's own line:

Renan was very surprised to discover that Socialists were beyond discouragement: «After each abortive experience, they begin again; the solution has not been found, we will find it. The idea that no solution exists never occurs to them, and therein lies their strength.» The explanation given by Renan is superficial; it sees socialism as a utopia, as a thing comparable to observed realities; we can hardly understand how confidence can thus survive so many failures. But, besides utopias, there have always existed myths capable of leading the workers on to revolt. For a long time, these myths were based on the legends of the revolution, and they preserved all of their value as long as these legends remained unshaken. Today, the confidence of the Socialists is much greater than it was in the past, now that the myth of the general strike dominates the true working-class movement in its entirety. No failure proves anything against Socialism, as it has become a work of preparation; if it fails, it merely proves that the apprenticeship has been insufficient; they must set to work again with more courage, persistence, and confidence than before; the experience of labour has taught the workers that it's by means of patient apprenticeship that one can become a true comrade at work; and it's also the only way of becoming a true revolutionary.4

The revolutionary optimism that Renan describes has its basis in historical materialism, in particular the insight that the dependence of the bourgeoisie on the proletariat is absolute, whereas the dependence of the proletariat on the bourgeoisie is relative, that is, the bourgeoisie cannot destroy the proletariat, whereas the proletariat can destroy the bourgeoisie, and will do so because of the necessary struggle between the two classes.

The general strike, on the other hand, has been refuted by history as the road to the dictatorship of the proletariat. If Sorel had his way, the proletariat would still be trying to bring about the revolution by means of the general strike, believing, caught up in the myth, that its failure was due to a lack of enthusiasm and courage ─ just as the Mariateguists see their failure as a subjective shortcoming and not due to their flawed line.

In the following quotation, Sorel speaks out against theory and educational work:

This Anarchism was then intellectually entirely bourgeois, and it was for this reason that the Guesdeites attacked it; they said that their adversaries, while proclaiming themselves the irreconcilable enemies of the past, were themselves the servile pupils of this detestable past; they noted, moreover, that the most eloquent dissertations of revolt could produce nothing and that literature cannot change the course of history. The Anarchists replied by showing that their opponents had entered on a road which could not lead to the revolution they had announced; by taking part in political debate, they argued, the Socialists will become merely reformers of a more or less radical kind and will lose the sense of their revolutionary formulas. Experience was not slow in showing that the Anarchists were right about this, and that, in entering into bourgeois institutions, revolutionaries have been transformed by adopting the spirit of these institutions: all the parliamentary deputies agree that there is very little difference between a representative of the bourgeoisie and a representative of the proletariat.4

He succeeds in rejecting theory by equating it with revisionism, and in rejecting any discussion and enlightenment of the proletariat by equating it with the agitation and propaganda of revisionism.

In the last quotation, he reiterates the separation of theory and practice, praises spontaneity, and once again separates construction and destruction:

The Anarchist writers who remained faithful to their former revolutionary literature do not seem to have looked with much favour upon the passage of their friends into the trade unions; their attitude proves that the Anarchists who became Syndicalists showed real originality and that they did not apply theories which had been fabricated in philosophical coteries. Above all, they taught the workers that they need not be ashamed of acts of violence. Up to that point, it had been usual in the Socialist world to attenuate or to excuse the violence of strikers; the new members of the trade unions regarded these acts of violence as normal manifestations of the struggle, and, as a result, the tendencies pushing them toward trade-unionism were abandoned. It was their revolutionary temperament which led them to this conception of violence; it would be a gross error to suppose that these former Anarchists carried over into the workers' associations any of the ideas associated with propaganda by the deed.4

The decision to engage in trade-unionist practice stems from the originality of the Syndicalists and not from a theory. One wonders why he is even doing theoretical work. He then claims that the «revolutionary temperament» of the workers, that is, their emotionally transfigured, spontaneous consciousness, brought them to this «concept of violence» and that it was not brought into the class from the outside. Hence the rejection of the Party.

All in all, what we have here is a glorification of spontaneity, an opportunist equation of bourgeois and proletarian ideology, a rejection of the dialectics of practice and theory, a rejection of analysis and also of synthesis, a rejection of the aspect of construction in the revolution, the attempt to set a wrong military theory (the general strike) in stone by blaming all problems on the subjectivity of the revolutionaries, and the claim to be the continuator of Marx. In short, we have Syndicalism as a form of revisionism.


As mentioned at the beginning, Mariategui considered Sorel to be a great thinker, while Lenin considered him to be a muddler. The following section is about what Mariategui thought was so good about Sorel:5

The religious, mystical, metaphysical character of Socialism has been recognized for some time. Georges Sorel, one of the highest representatives of French thought of the 20th century, said in his On Violence: «A new analogy has been discovered between religion and a revolutionary Socialism which aims at the apprenticeship, preparation, and even reconstruction of the individual which takes place with this gigantic task in mind. But Bergson has taught us that it's not only religion which occupies the profounder region of our mental life; revolutionary myths have their place there equally with religion.» Renan, as Sorel himself recalls, warned of the religious faith of the Socialists, noting their impregnability to all discouragement: «After each abortive experience, they begin again; the solution has not been found, we will find it. The idea that no solution exists never occurs to them, and therein lies their strength.»1

What we have here is above all an approval of Sorel's mistakes, which have been sufficiently criticized above. Mariategui enjoys Sorel's confused quotations, because he shares Sorel's need to inspire the masses for the revolution without having to explain anything to them. This need stems from the fact that he also does not believe that Marxism can be explained to the masses. He explains this contempt for the masses in the following quotation:

Pirandello, a relativist, offers the example of adhering to Fascism. Fascism seduces Pirandello because, while democracy has become sceptical and nihilistic, Fascism represents a religious and fanatic faith in the hierarchy and the nation (Pirandello is a small-bourgeois Sicilian who lacks the mental fitness to understand and follow the revolutionary myth). The writer of exasperated scepticism does not love political doubts. He prefers violent, categorical, passionate, brutal assertions. The crowd, who is even more skeptical than the philosopher, more than the relativist philosopher, cannot dispense with a myth, cannot dispense with a faith. It's not possible to distinguish the subtle truth of the true past or future. All that exists for the myth is the truth. Absolute, unique, eternal truth. And, according to this truth, their struggle is really a final one.

The vital impulse of people answers to all the questions of life before the philosophical investigation. Illiterate people do not care about the relativity of this myth. It would not even be possible for them to understand it. But generally, they do a better job of finding their own way than the writer or philosopher. Since they must act, they act. Since they must believe, they believe. Since they must fight, they fight.

Nothing is known about the relative insignificance of their efforts in time and space. Their instinct is to deviate from sterile questions. They have no more ambition than what everyone should have: to carry out their work and do a good job.6

Before discussing the content, some attention should be paid to the form. Mariategui uses the writing style of the irrationalists, as we have already seen in Sorel's work, and as we may know it from Friedrich Nietzsche or Ernst Jünger. This kind of writing is not aimed at understanding, but at a diffuse sense of foreboding; it does not clarify, but rather befuddles; it wants to make an impression through chatter laden with meaning.

First, Mariategui gives an example of a desperate small bourgeois who finds salvation from their despair in Fascism. There is nothing wrong with the content of this. The small bourgeoisie, who want to remain on the side of the bourgeoisie, regularly despair at the senselessness of their decadent existence and find philosophical, ideological, and therefore also emotional redemption in the direct apologists of Fascism. Lukacs said everything necessary about this better than Mariategui.

From this correct point, Mariategui makes a transition to the need of the masses for a myth. The need of the masses for myth and faith is first asserted, not only as a given, but also as greater than that of the small bourgeoisie. This assertion is then justified by the masses' alleged lack of ability to grasp the relativity of truth. It's a recurring moment that intellectuals blame the masses for their inability to explain Marxism by claiming that the masses are too stupid to understand it. However, this is not the Marxist mass line, but small-bourgeois contempt for the masses.

In passing, Mariategui makes a very important point: «The vital impulse of people answers to all the questions of life before the philosophical investigation.»6 Due to the back and forth between the languages, it's unclear to us whether Bergsonian elan vital, Bergsonian intuition, or something else is meant here. What is relatively clear, however, is that this is a repetition of Sorel's disdain for revolutionary theory and a glorification of spontaneity.

At the end, a semblance of reason is once again created by stringing together apparent conclusions: «Since they must believe, they believe. Since they must fight, they fight.»6 Yes, that's probably the case. It just doesn't matter, because the goal here is to prove a metaphysical need of the masses for a myth ─ but nothing is proven. If you must believe, then you will probably believe. If you must fight, then you will probably fight. Nothing has happened argumentatively except hot air.

As for the last sentence, it would be a disaster for the revolution in the imperialist countries if the masses here merely wanted to «get on with their day». If they are not interested in anything else, then there will be a stable, relative social peace here in the long term. Fortunately, the masses want a little more than that.

The next quotation equates Fascism and Communism as fighting movements:

The revolutionaries, like the Fascists, intend, for their part, to live dangerously. In the revolutionaries, as in the Fascists, one notices an analogous romantic impulse, an analogous Quixotic humor.

New humanity, in its two antithetic expressions, shows a new intuition of life. This intuition of life does not appear exclusively in the belligerent prose of politicians. In some ramblings of Luis Bello, I find this phrase: «It seems appropriate to correct Descartes: I fight, therefore I am.» The correction is, indeed, appropriate. The philosophical formula of a rationalist age had to be: «I think, therefore I am.» But in this romantic, revolutionary, and Quixotic age, the same formula is no longer useful. Life, more than thought, nowadays wishes to be action, that is, combat. Contemporary humanity needs faith. And the only faith that can fill its deepest self is a combative faith. The times of gentle life will not return, who knows for how long. The gentle pre-war life created nothing but skepticism and nihilism. And from the crisis of this scepticism and this nihilism is born the harsh, strong, peremptory need for a faith and a myth that moves people to live dangerously.7

In the abstraction that a social crisis produces a different form of worldview and, accordingly, a different attitude to life than a stable, relative social peace does, this is correct. It's also correct that Fascism, as a direct apologist of imperialism, as a «conservative revolution», aims at an enthusiasm, a passion, which in form has similarities with the revolutionary enthusiasm of the labour movement. Mariategui does not follow Sorel's road to total opportunism to the end here, he lacks consistency, but he takes the first step by abstracting the class character of this enthusiasm from the content, and leaving only the emptied form, disregarding all differences in form, too. Truth is always concrete, and this is so abstract that it becomes untrue.

Mariategui is babbling on so abstractly that the burning houses of Jews during a pogrom and burning barricades during a strike become the same thing in his babble: an expression of the need of those involved to live dangerously.

It's important to realize that Mariategui was also contradictory, had Right-wing and Left-wing positions, and had to detach himself from end-of-century thinking on his road to Marxism. Accepting all his standpoints without examining their content does not lead to Marxism, but to eclecticism.


The Editorial Board of the Class Standpoint has uncritically adopted Mariategui's standpoints on Sorel, and have therefore produced eclecticism. We want to call this eclecticism Mariateguism, because they've further developed a mistake of Mariategui's into a system of standpoints.

The authoritative legitimization for this is provided to them by the Communist Party of Peru, whose numerous merits for the proletarian world revolution include the initiation of the People's War in Peru and a Left-wing standpoint in the struggle between two lines in the international Communist movement with regard to Maoism in general and the universality of people's war in particular. Nevertheless, the Communist Party of Peru also made mistakes, such as its standpoint on Sorel's myth:8

Finally, speaking of people, he considers them the most precious thing on Earth and the primary aspect in every economic process, and that, grouped in multitudes, in masses, they are the great force of history. Furthermore, the masses, given concrete form in the working class, are mobilized toward a goal, toward a modern myth. In his own words: «The proletariat has a myth: the social revolution. It moves toward that myth with a passionate and active faith.»9

Throughout the above, we see that, at the bottom of all these attitudes, there is a standpoint, a mass line, which is a fundamental but little known question in Mariategui's Thought. It is enough to emphasize, here, that Mariategui considers that the presence of the masses fills the contemporary epoch, that the crowds, as he says, are the protagonists of the current scene; that the immense majorities, curdled as a working class, have a myth, a goal, the social revolution, a goal that the proletariat raises and marches toward with «a passionate and active faith», in contrast to bourgeois scepticism and decadence. He considers that the masses fight for «the last fight», sure of their victory, stating: «The line from Eugene Pottier's song (The International) takes on historical significance: ‹And the last fight let us face!› The Russian proletariat greets the revolution with this ecumenical cry of the world proletariat, this hopeful war cry of the multitudes that I have heard in the streets of Rome, Milan, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, and Lima, containing all the emotion of era. The revolutionary crowds believe they are fighting the last fight.»9

This is a confirmation of Mariategui's reception of Sorel, that is, the same opportunist blending of the philosophy of Marxism with bourgeois irrationalism. It should also be noted that the second quotation is the first paragraph of the «Mass Line» section of the document. It's interesting that they've transformed Sorel's myth of the general strike into the social revolution. The question is, if that were the real consciousness of the masses, why doesn't it turn into material violence, why hasn't the revolution long since come to pass?

We cannot judge to what extent this philosophical error was carried out as systematically in Peru as it was in Germany. In view of the different external contradictions of the Party in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country, it certainly had a different effect, because the masses of the peasantry and the proletariat in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country (some of whom first learned how to read and write from the Party) were not trained in bourgeois worldview as systematically as German workers and especially small bourgeois. They also have more and weightier reasons to fight, because they live in a society with sharper contradictions. There are cashiers in Germany who own a car, live in a heated apartment with running water, and read reactionary literature in their free time. They don't have to fight. No myth will do.

We do not deny that there is much to learn from the Communist Party of Peru, but this mistake should not be adopted. The editors of the Class Standpoint are incorporating this error into Marxism and creating their Mariateguist eclecticism through the idea of the system, which degenerates into dogma in their hands. They claim that the Communist Party of Peru is a Marxist political party, and that, therefore, everything that the Communist Party of Peru has published is Marxist, including this idea. In this way, they've created a dogmatic argument from authority that spares them the concrete substantive proof that this concept of the myth is Marxist. The idea of the system is reduced to a dogmatic phrase and becomes a justification for eclecticism.

The Editorial Board of the Class Standpoint wrote down its reception of Mariategui's remarks on the Sorelian myth in the article, Notes on the Study of Some of Mariategui's Writings, in issue No. 6 of the journal Class Standpoint.10 This serves mainly as evidence from here on.

The Mariateguists correctly understand ideology as class standpoint, worldview, and method. However, they dissolve the dialectical relationship between class standpoint and worldview one-sidedly toward the standpoint, because they do not want to know anything about reason.

The objective relationship between class standpoint and worldview is dialectical, insofar as the worldview follows from the class standpoint that one adopts and, as it were, justifies it. The adoption of the standpoint of the proletariat consists in the readiness to accept all the necessities of the proletarian revolution and the subordination of oneself as an individual to the proletarian revolution. On the basis of this decision, this will, the theoretical truths of Marxism, which small-bourgeois individualists so foolishly oppose, are accepted. At the same time, the adoption of this standpoint is theoretically justified. The decision to accept the necessities of revolution is based on an understanding of them. Those who have not understood that they belong to a class that is exploited and oppressed, that they must liberate themselves by conquering political power, and that the way to do this is through people's war, will not agree to break with their old lives, to carry their lives on their fingertips, and to dedicate their entire lives to the revolution.

If one crosses out the dialectical relationship between class standpoint and worldview, then one sets the class standpoint as something immediate, so that any deviation from the line is merely a false class standpoint and small-bourgeois individualism. In this way, one's own line becomes a proletarian sanctuary, a mythical belief, and any deviation becomes small-bourgeois individualism and intellectualism that needs no refutation.

The struggle between two lines becomes a ritualized repetition of the same old accusation that all theoretical deviations from the predetermined line, all problems, are due to small-bourgeois individualism. Every particular contradiction is drowned in this general judgment, so that the result is always that the line was definitely not the problem.

The accusation of small-bourgeois individualism spares one of any particular examination of the concrete mistakes and any analysis of concrete reality by repeating the moral accusation that the people in question do not correspond to the ideal taken from the Three Constantly Read Articles. Nothing is connected with reality, except for the negative determination that it doesn't correspond to the ideal contrasted to it. The corresponding feeling is indignation, and the corresponding form is the earful. The comrades do not know what they could do better and how, because nothing has been done to correct their mistakes, but they promise to do better. Although this does not create a conscious discipline based on an understanding of Marxism and a recognition of the necessities of the revolution, this ritual, combined with the Prussian servility of the German comrades, creates a slavish obedience that keeps things running smoothly.

If the dialectical connection between class standpoint and worldview is negated, the reason of the masses is not addressed either. Reason is frowned upon; instead, the immediate standpoint, immediate experience, myth, and faith are glorified. It goes like this:

If you're at a demonstration taking a beating from the cops, then in a very small and very humble way, you're being martyred. You know you're going to be «crucified», but you go there because you believe. Otherwise, you wouldn't go there. The recognition of that is also expressed when people then say: «These guys are crazy.» Giving your life and taking a beating are different things, but the idea, the fundamental attitude, is the same. You don't stand at the front and tell yourself «Hooray! The quota of profit [sic!] is falling!» No, science is not enough. It is science and yes, the quota of profit [sic!] is falling, that's true, but that's not what makes you do it. It's the belief, the conviction. It's the truth that I stand here for. You're the enemy, we're the good guys, and that's a good thing.10

The argument is a sophist sleight of hand. The people to whom the text is addressed have no idea about the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, so this will not be the reason for any of their actions. It's safe to say that none of them are going to take a beating at a demonstration and think: «Hooray! The rate of profit is falling!», regardless of whether this is historically true or not. The author knows that, too. That is precisely why they use statements from Vol. 3 of Capital as an example. They are aware of their audience's complete ignorance of these passages, and they use it to make the point that the science of Marxism is not the reason for the comrades' combative actions using this obviously absurd example.

It's also possible that the Mariateguists' combative actions actually have nothing to do with Marxism. But then, they are not reconstituting the Communist Party of Germany on the basis of the highest level of Marxism, and doing something else instead. In any case, the determination of a Communist is based on their Marxist worldview, their class-consciousness, their love for their class, their recognition of the necessity of revolution, and on their historical-materialist certainty that the enemy cannot win, because they cannot destroy the proletariat, but conversely, the proletariat can destroy the bourgeoisie, must rebel, and will therefore also win. They are optimistic, because they have a well-grounded faith in the masses. That is science. This is what we risk our physical integrity, our freedom, and our lives for. That is why we get up every day and do what is necessary.

If you read a little further, you might think that the author has got their act together. Because it says:

Marxism is a scientific ideology, that is, this belief, this faith that the revolutionaries have, arises from a material basis. That is the difference from idealism. Our ideology is based on materialist dialectics and historical materialism. But what must be understood is that there is a difference between understanding theory and transforming it into a material force. The material basis makes the difference from religion. The faith of the revolutionaries corresponds to the truth of the reality of the class struggle in today's society. It is a scientific faith, so to speak. But science is not enough. A person can have memorized all of Marx's books without being a Marxist. Someone can even be convinced that all of it is correct without lifting a finger. How many of the people who fought in the past are still convinced today that Marxism is correct? Many! But they think the battle is lost. They talk about having been young and having believed in victory. It's these people who have grown old, not Marxism. They didn't embody Marxism.10

A Marxist is constructed who knows that Marxism is correct, but does not want to draw any consequences from it. Such a person must then say quite brutally and openly that, although they know that the proletarian revolution is necessary to resolve the contradictions of bourgeois society — to abolish hunger in spite of an abundance of food, growing poverty in spite of growing productive forces, and crises of overproduction — and that they also know that the revolution is possible, even that it will necessarily be victorious, but that they want nothing to do with it, because they speculate that they can live more comfortably as an individual if they settle into bourgeois society as best they can, despite its sharpening contradictions. Such a person does exist, but it's rather rare. Such a person decides, despite their scientific knowledge, that they consider themself more important than the proletariat and the peoples of the world. This is indeed a problem of class standpoint, but not of faith. People are free to consider themselves the most important thing in the world.

Most people who turn away from the revolution in spite of their recognition of Marxism do so in a way that lets them sleep at night, namely, with an ideological justification, with a revision of Marxism. They justify their unwillingness to accept the necessities of revolution by negating them. One doesn't simply not believe in the revolution. As the author themself admits, one thinks the battle is lost; either because one thinks that the masses are too stupid or too blinded or whatever to win (Adorno), or because one thinks that the enemy is too strong to be defeated (Hrusev), or because one thinks that free will allows the masses to eternally decide against the revolution (Left-wing Hegelianism), or some other metaphysical or idealistic quirk. But without thought, there is no will.11

But the Mariateguists are not interested in thinking. The connection between capitulationism and revisionism is denied, and instead, the problem is seen in a lack of «embodiment». This also makes it clear that the scientific nature of faith is not far off and that the introduction to the paragraph is simply a lie. For embodiment is now something mystical, an absolute idea. Or to put it another way: «Fake it 'til you make it!»

If faith and myth are to be used to create the faith of the masses in the vanguard, which is necessary according to Stalin's definition of the Party in The Foundations of Leninism, then faith and myth must come from somewhere. They attempt to incite this faith and this myth by cultivating a dramatic style of writing that has no precedent in the history of the workers' movement beyond the Communist Party of Peru, by exaggerating successes to the point of absurdity (and regularly and involuntarily caricaturing themselves in the process), and by demanding that the ideology be «embodied».

They imagine this embodiment as follows:

When ideology is embodied by us, it becomes a material force through us. This means that the task for each individual is to embody Maoism and to ensure that it is embodied in other comrades and in the masses. The problem here is not the formal recognition and also not the understanding as a formal realization that this ideology must be applied, but precisely the embodiment, or more precisely, how we embody the ideology of the proletariat in ourselves and how we understand the power of the ideology.10

This quotation alludes to Marx's sentence from the Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right, which is quoted incompletely in the Class Standpoint article above and will be quoted in full here:

The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism by weapons, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.12

This is giving concrete form to the dialectics of thinking and being in relation to the revolution. In the revolution, thinking becomes the primary aspect of the contradiction, because the thinking of the masses, through their collective action, becomes a material force (quite literally, in the sense of collectively executed armed force) and overthrows the conditions that form the basis of thinking in the form of a revolution. What does this have to do with embodiment? Nothing really, except that both are somehow related to thinking and being.

The reference to Marx's sentence contributes nothing at all to the matter in terms of content, but merely serves as authoritative window-dressing, which is supposed to give the idea higher consecrations it, in fact, doesn't have. However, we want to take the idea seriously even without these higher consecrations. It could be interpreted benevolently as follows: If someone is a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, and out of recognition of the necessity of revolution, makes the decision to break with their old life, to carry their life on their fingertips, and to dedicate their whole life to the proletarian revolution, then a corresponding form of behaviour should also follow from this. A Communist should be aware of the seriousness of their decision, and this should be recognized. A Communist should be aware of their responsibility for other people's lives, and this should be recognized. They should have a certain sovereignty in their actions based on their understanding of the world, and this should also be noticeable. In short, they should radiate that they are a Communist and thus inspire confidence beyond the understanding that the masses have of Marxism. Incidentally, this is the place that faith actually has. Not as a substitute for knowledge, but as its supplement.

Unfortunately, that is not what is meant.

In the quoted paragraph, it says that the problem is not cognition, but embodiment; what is meant is that cognition is basically irrelevant. The point is that you embody the ideology, regardless of whether you have understood the worldview, and ensure that others embody the ideology simply by embodying it yourself. Of course, one contributes to the struggle between two lines by the practical example one sets, by the tone with which one speaks, even the posture one adopts. It's not about denying that. It's about realizing that, for the Mariateguists, these supplements to reason are supposed to replace reason. The vanguard convincing the masses is to be replaced by a stereotyped prestige that is to be emulated without any understanding of Marxism ─ for the embodiment is supposed to create a myth that inspires the masses, who supposedly have no interest in science. It's the irrationalist contempt for the masses from the philosophy of Fascism that is expressed here.

Furthermore, embodiment without understanding the worldview turns into posing. Actors are brought up to mime the vanguard and try to cover up their insecurity due to their ignorance with empty phrases and lip-service. The caricatures of the vanguard sometimes become grotesque. Since the dialectical connection between worldview and charisma (or, more generally, between thinking and being, between theory and practice) is not understood, the lack of «embodiment» is also not understood as a problem of worldview.

For these people, the class standpoint and «embodiment» degenerate into arbitrariness without a worldview, and so, it becomes a metaphysical property of the subject that it just somehow has. That is will without thought. That is irrationalism. That is the philosophy of the bourgeoisie, at times when it no longer wants freedom, but domination.


In his reckoning with German irrationalism from Schelling to Hitler, Comrade Lukacs gets to the heart of the Marxist standpoint on reason:

These perspectives will determine our mode of treating the subject-matter. The primary issues, above all with regard to the selection of material, are social genesis and function. It will be our task to bring to light all the intellectual spade work done on behalf of the «National-Socialist worldview», however far removed (on the face of it) from Hitlerism it may be and however little (subjectively) it may cherish such intentions. It's one of this book's fundamental theses that there is no such thing as an «innocent» philosophy. Such a thing has never existed, and especially not in relation to our stated problem. This is so in precisely the philosophical sense: to side either with or against reason decides at the same time the character of a philosophy as such and its role in social developments. Reason itself can never be something politically neutral, suspended above social developments. It always mirrors the concrete rationality ─ or irrationality ─ of a social situation and evolving trend, sums it up conceptually, and thereby promotes or inhibits it.13

Reason was the battle-cry of the bourgeois revolution, and irrationalism was the field of the reactionary aristocracy. Only when the bourgeoisie had to justify its rule and could not do so by means of reason, when it became a reactionary class, did it discover irrationalism for itself.14 Marx took up the revolutionary content of German idealism and developed Marxism as the highest form of worldview up to that time, and founded a new revolutionary reason, the reason of the proletarian revolution. How else could Marxism be a system if it were not rational, but arbitrary?

Lukacs's work The Destruction of Reason,15 is generally good, but unfortunately, he devotes only very scant attention to the irrationalists Bergson and Sorel, who are important for us here.

Comrade Gramsci,16 on the other hand, devotes himself somewhat more extensively to Sorel's thoughts and their Bergsonian origins and makes some remarks on Sorel's myth in the slavish language of the Prison Notebooks. Gramsci emphasizes the following points:

  • The Sorelian myth leads to a practice of mere negation; Sorel's general strike wants to be mere destruction without having the aspect of construction in itself.
  • The rejection of theory, both of analysis and of synthesis, which leads him to irrationalism (arbitrariness, elan vital, spontaneity).
  • The rejection of the Party and of scientific, historical prognosis.

A study might be made of how it came about that Sorel never advanced from his conception of ideology-as-myth to an understanding of the political party, but stopped short at the idea of the trade union. It is true that, for Sorel, the «myth» found its fullest expression, not in the trade union as an organization of a collective will, but in its practical action ─ a sign of a collective will already operative. The highest achievement of this practical action was to have been the general strike ─ that is, a «passive activity», so to speak, of a negative and preliminary kind (it could only be given a positive character by the realization of a common accord between the various wills involved), an activity which does not envisage an «active and constructive» phase of its own. Hence, in Sorel, there was a conflict of two necessities: that of the myth, and that of the critique of the myth ─ in that «every pre-established plan is utopian and reactionary». The outcome was left to the intervention of the irrational, to chance (in the Bergsonian sense of «elan vital») or to «spontaneity». (At this point, an implicit contradiction should be noted between on the one hand the manner in which Croce poses his problem of history and anti-history, and on the other hand, certain of Croce's other modes of thought: his aversion to «political parties» and the way in which he poses the question of the «predictability» of social facts [...]. If social facts cannot be predicted, and the very concept of prediction is meaningless, then the irrational cannot but be dominant, and any organization of people must be anti-historical ─ a «prejudice». The only thing left to do is to resolve each individual, practical problem posed by the movement of history as it comes up, and with extemporaneous criteria; opportunism is the only possible political line [...].)

Can a myth, however, be «non-constructive»? How could an instrument conceivably be effective if, as in Sorel's vision of things, it leaves the collective will in the primitive and elementary phase of it mere formation, by differentiation («cleavage») ─ even when this differentiation is violent, that is to say, destroys existing moral and juridical relations? Will not that collective will, with so rudimentary a formation, at once cease to exist, scattering into an infinity of individual wills, which in the positive phase then follow separate and conflicting paths? Quite apart from the tact that destruction and negation cannot exist without an implicit construction and affirmation ─ this not in a «metaphysical» sense, but in practice, that is, politically, as a Party programme. In Sorel's case, it is clear that, behind the spontaneity, there lies a purely mechanical assumption, behind the liberty (will ─ life-force) a maximum of determinism, behind the idealism an absolute materialism.17

The end of the quotation states, in the form of questions, that a «myth» ─ interpreted benevolently as the revolutionary passion of the masses ─ can be constructive and need not disintegrate into individual wills if there is a political party to unite and lead it. He hints here in the form of questions at what he makes explicit elsewhere, which we will quote later.

The following quotation is in the text surrounding the previously quoted passage. By The Prince, Gramsci is referring to Machiavelli's writing, which he discusses on the pages preceding this quotation. He interprets this writing as the theoretical draft of a bourgeois-national revolution. Jacobinism here stands for the vanguard or the Party.

The abstract character of the Sorelian conception of the myth is manifest in its aversion (which takes the emotional form of an ethical repugnance) for the Jacobins, who were certainly a «categorical embodiment» of Machiavelli's Prince. The Modern Prince must have a part devoted to Jacobinism (in the integral sense which this notion has had historically, and must have conceptually), as an exemplification of the concrete formation and operation of a collective will, which at least in some aspects was an original, new creation. And a definition must be given of collective will, and of political will in general, in the modern sense: will as operative awareness of historical necessity, as protagonist of a real and effective historical drama.17

Gramsci does something very laudable here, going beyond the destructive critique of false consciousness that we have previously made on the basis of the quotations from Sorel. He acknowledges the objective content of false consciousness. For false consciousness is also consciousness of the world; the bourgeois worldview is also a worldview. This means that one can come out of the confrontation with false consciousness wiser than one went in, because there is something true in everything that is false.18

This objective content of Sorel's false consciousness is brought out in a paragraph that follows on from explicit remarks on Sorel. In it, he summarizes the Marxist mass line, illuminating the objective dialectics of thinking and feeling, which Sorel and Mariategui raise as a myth in metaphysical one-sidedness:

The popular element «feels», but does not always know or understand; the intellectual element «knows», but does not always understand, and in particular, does not always feel. The two extremes are therefore pedantry and philistinism, on the one hand, and blind passion and sectarianism, on the other. Not that the pedant cannot be impassioned; far from it. Impassioned pedantry is every bit as ridiculous and dangerous as the wildest sectarianism and demagogy. The intellectual's error consists in believing that one can know without understanding and even more without feeling and being impassioned (not only for knowledge in itself, but also for the object of knowledge): in other words, that the intellectual can be an intellectual (and not a pure pedant) if distinct and separate from the people-nation, that is, without feeling the elementary passions of the people, understanding them, and therefore explaining and justifying them in the particular historical situation and connecting them dialectically to the laws of history and to a superior worldview, scientifically and coherently elaborated ─ that is, knowledge. One cannot make politics-history without this passion, without this sentimental connection between intellectuals and people-nation. In the absence of such a nexus, the relations between the intellectual and the people-nation are, or are reduced to, relationships of a purely bureaucratic and formal order; the intellectuals become a caste, or a priesthood (so-called organic centralism).

If the relationship between intellectuals and people-nation, between the leaders and the led, the rulers and the ruled, is provided by an organic cohesion in which feeling-passion becomes understanding and then knowledge (not mechanically, but in a living way), then, and only then, is the relationship one of representation. Only then can there take place an exchange of individual elements between the rulers and ruled, leaders and led, and can the shared life be realized, which alone is a social force ─ with the creation of the «historical bloc».19

Gramsci here, although difficult to understand, nevertheless masterly sums up the correct standpoint on the problem raised by Sorel and Mariategui ─ unfortunately, he does so in the cryptic, slavish language of the Prison Notebooks, which represents an attempt to make a contribution to the struggle between two lines inside the Communist Party of Italy under the conditions of Fascist imprisonment.

The spontaneous consciousness of the masses often does not correspond to the science of Marxism. But a Marxist who does not take the standpoint of the proletariat, who does not want to live, fight, and work together with the masses, who does not feel connected to them and does not share their passions, is not, strictly speaking, a Marxist, and they will never be able to actually play their role as the vanguard of the class, because they refuse to become part of the class. Instead, they will only preach dry, dead theory, will not be able to make themselves understood by the masses, and will not be able to inspire the masses or drive them to action.20

The dialectics of thinking and feeling21 must find its echo in an appropriate relationship between form and content in the entire propaganda work, in the texts and demonstrations, in the general style of work, and in the individual behaviour of the Communists. The form must correspond in every respect to the content, the political purpose of Communism, and everything that is necessary for it. At the end of this document, after criticizing Radek's Schlageter line, we will return to this point.


The article on the decay of imperialism is the culmination of the process of theoretical degeneration. The economic part is no masterpiece, but it roughly fulfils its political purpose. It's presented in a reasonably comprehensible way that imperialism produces more and more frequent and more severe crises, and necessarily so. It's problematic, but not revisionist, to believe that one can summarize the tendency of the rate of profit to fall (which Marx describes in the course of Vol. 3 of Capital for around 60 pages) in a few words in its imperialist form (that is supplemented by Lenin's further development of political economy) and then to string together mainly historical facts. A lack of theoretical classification isn't revisionism, it's just sloppy.

The section on the political situation of imperialism is even relatively good, because it was possible to mainly copy it from the International Line of the Communist Party of Peru, or at least this provided enough orientation, so that one could not go too far astray. The crisis of parliamentarism is correctly recognized and described.


The section on ideological decay is such a catastrophe that it's incredibly hard to imagine how this could have even happened. For all the mistakes of the political groups that orient themselves around the Class Standpoint, there are supposedly still people on its Editorial Board who have read The German Ideology, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism or Stalin's texts against Trotskij before. In view of the fact that one would like to believe this, one is simply left speechless when a text is published that copies from Wikipedia that «immanent critique» is a peculiarity of Adorno's critical theory; then claims that «immanent critique» has nothing to do with Marxism; only to present not a single immanent argument against Foucault's concept of discourse, instead proving that one has not understood it; and, finally, to then denounce the opponent as gay and possibly a paedophile. This is so vile, witless, and ignorant of all the writings of the classics that it makes one lose one's composure. Nevertheless, we must go into more detail here.

The fundamental rules of the handling of texts established by Spinoza were taken up by the concept of «immanent critique» put forward by representatives of the «critical theory» of the Frankfurt School. One of the most important representatives of the Frankfurt School was Theodor Adorno, who also devoted himself to «immanent critique». In this concept, the main focus is on criticizing texts and their statements by checking the statements of a text for consistency, or for insufficient justification of theses and the like. What further emerges here is a strong detachment from practice, since it is no longer about proving the correctness of a statement with actual results (that is, in practice), but the question of argumentation comes to the foreground. This concept has strong overlaps with Deconstructionism, but is clearly a continuation of Spinoza's rules of writing treatises.22

This paragraph is copied almost verbatim from the Wikipedia article on the subject. One wishes that they had also read the Wikipedia article on Deconstructionism, then they might have noticed that deconstruction would castigate the described procedure as logocentric. One wishes even more that they had read enough writings by Marx, Engels, and Lenin to know that immanent critique is to the Marxist concept of the struggle between two lines what destruction is to war.

Comrade Lukacs summed up the Marxist standpoint on immanent critique as follows:

To reveal this social genesis and function is of the greatest importance, but in itself by no means sufficient. Granted, the objectivity of progress will suffice correctly to condemn as reactionary an individual phenomenon or orientation. But a really Marxist-Leninist critique of reactionary philosophy cannot permit itself to stop at this. Rather, it must show in real terms, in the philosophical material itself, the philosophical falsity and the distortion of fundamental philosophical questions, the negation of the achievements of philosophy, and so on, to be inevitable, objectively philosophical consequences of such standpoints. To this extent, an immanent critique is a justified and indeed indispensable element in the portrayal and exposure of reactionary tendencies in philosophy. The classical Marxist authors have constantly used it. Engels, for example, in his Anti-Dühring, and Lenin in his Empirio-Criticism. To reject immanent critique as one element in an overall survey also embracing social genesis and function, class characteristics, exploration of the true nature of society, and so on, is bound to lead to a philosophical sectarianism, to the attitude that everything which is axiomatic to a conscious Marxist-Leninist is also immediately obvious to their readers. Lenin wrote of the Communists' political attitude: «But ─ and that is the whole point ─ we must not regard what is obsolete to us as something obsolete to a class, to the masses23 And this also applies in its entirety to a Marxist presentation of philosophy. The antithesis between the various bourgeois ideologies and the achievements of dialectical and historical materialism is the self-evident foundation of our treatment and critique of the subject-matter. But to prove in factual, philosophical terms the inner incoherence, contradictoriness, and so on, of the separate philosophies is also unavoidable if one wants to illustrate their reactionary character in a truly concrete way.22

From the Mariateguists' false understanding of «immanent critique» follows a false understanding of the struggle between two lines and of mass work, because whoever rejects immanent critique wants to build proletarian ideology in the struggle between two lines detached from the destruction of bourgeois ideology, and will therefore not educate Marxists, but eclectics, who merely supplement their bourgeois ideology with proletarian set-pieces. The rejection of argumentation justifies a dogmatic didacticism, which, when it gets nowhere with theoretical weapons, simply refers to practice, that is, myth. On the other hand, whoever truly embodies Marxism, whoever has actually grasped the analysis of bourgeois society and the necessities of the proletarian revolution, whoever acts and behaves in this consciousness, is happy to defend Marxism, to criticize bourgeois ideology, because the revolution is a joy to them.

It's also clear that you can't win anyone over this way, aside from small groups that are already looking for a revolutionary organization anyway and whom you just have to tell with a puffed-up chest: Look, that's us! You can indeed win over small groups like these ─ by convincing them that they have no answers, while you yourself know everything, and mythically making yourself bigger than you are.


But they even manage to top themselves by not saying a word about anti-Semitism in the section on the Right-wing form of bourgeois idealism. In Germany, there is an anti-Semitic mass movement which believes that the Jews want to kill the world's population with a «plandemic» (that's not a spelling mistake, but a play on words by the anti-Semites) and a «poisonous vaccine». The Nazis are using a reheated version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to capitalize on the justified rebellion of the masses against the abolition of fundamental rights and the shifting of the costs of the crisis onto the people, and are leading this movement by committing it to total opportunism, thereby making themselves acceptable, and unleashing their propaganda. And the Mariateguists talk about UFOs. It would be funny if it weren't so tragic. One wonders what internal contradiction produced this omission?

By capitulating to anti-Semitism, one also deprives oneself of the opportunity to intervene sensibly and successfully in the protests against the campaign of the ruling faction of the bourgeoisie in the course of this crisis. This is only consistent if one rejects immanent critique. Anti-Semitism is not being smashed, but rather supplemented with Marxist set-pieces. Congratulations if this bears fruit.


Concerning the «day before Liberation Day», our only remark is the following quote by Marx:

Bourgeois revolutions, like those of the 18th century, storm swiftly from success to success, their dramatic effects outdo each other, people and things seem set in sparkling brilliants, ecstasy is the everyday spirit, but they are short-lived, soon they have attained their zenith, and a long, crapulent depression seizes society before it learns soberly to assimilate the results of its storm-and-stress period. On the other hand, proletarian revolutions, like those of the 19th century, criticize themselves constantly, interrupt themselves continually in their own course, come back to the apparently accomplished in order to begin it afresh, deride with unmerciful thoroughness the inadequacies, weaknesses, and paltrinesses of their first attempts, seem to throw down their adversary only in order that they may draw new strength from the Earth and rise again, more gigantic, before them, and recoil again and again from the indefinite prodigiousness of their own aims, until a situation has been created which makes all turning back impossible, and the conditions themselves cry out: Hic Rhodus, hic salta! [Here is the rose, here dance!]24

Is that the spirit in which you look at the history of the labour movement?

It is not. Because the Mariateguists want to make a myth out of the history of the labour movement, any doubt is a threat to them. That is why they cannot follow Marx's call for self-criticism. Instead, they have to talk themselves up. By deviating from Marx, they condemn themselves to repeat all the mistakes and to stop the progress of the relative truth of science.


The greatest problem of the proletariat in Germany is the reconstitution of the Communist Party of Germany and the initiation of the people's war. How these two tasks are to be accomplished must be answered by the vanguard, and it must solve them practically.

The Editorial Board of the Class Standpoint talk their heads off about these two necessities and never tire of emphasizing that the universality of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism must be applied to the concrete conditions of the revolution in Germany, but they leave the revolutionary movement in the dark about what this means.

No application happens. Instead, they claim that the partly correct, partly incorrect application of Maoism to reality in Peru by the Communist Party of Peru in the form of Gonzalo's Thought is universally valid and must also be applied in Germany. This is how they pull themselves out of the mess.

The only problem is that Peru is a semi-feudal, semi-colonial country and thus belongs to the storm centres of the world revolution at a time when the primary contradiction on the world stage is that between imperialism and the oppressed nations. Germany is an imperialist country, in which a relative social peace is bought with the profits from the international export of capital and the State apparatus asserts itself as a nationwide monopoly of violence.

If one then publishes a translation of the Brazilian text, People's War and Revolution, without criticism, one must expect this text to be taken as the line of the Editorial Board of the Class Standpoint.

The most important quotations from it are given below. The italics are our own:

The problem of initiation implies two factors: that of overcoming the inertia of moving from mainly unarmed forms of struggle to mainly armed forms of struggle, and the other, of focusing on learning to wage war, above all in war. Of course, this is not a negation of the necessity of preparation; on the contrary, one must take this problem seriously, but not to the point of making it absolute, thus transforming it into an insurmountable obstacle and negation of its attainment. However, in addition, we must pay attention to a practical and no less important factor, as Chairman Gonzalo warns us, namely, to correctly choose the moment of conjuncture to proceed to the initiation. The most sensible and favourable moment is characterized by a certain level of crisis, instability, and weakness of the government, within a certain revolutionary situation that develops unevenly across the world.25

The stage of the strategic defensive starts from the recognition of the relation of forces between revolution and counter-revolution, where, just like in the first case, the proletariat, the poor peasantry, and the other masses of the people are generally still in a very weak degree of organization, the fundamental weapons of the revolution are still weak and at a low level of development, embryonic, or even non-existent. In these conditions, there is the danger of the destruction of revolutionary forces, requiring conduct and direction to avoid the enemy's strategic offensive, flee from it, and act offensively at the tactical level. Utilizing the concept of absolute superiority in each battle, the enemy can be annihilated bit by bit.25

In the case of the backward and oppressed countries, these contradictions and their development are derived from four general characteristics, which determine the prolonged character of the people's war:

  • Their semi-colonial condition, in which bureaucrat capitalism develops, with underlying semi-feudal relations.
  • The enemy forces are large, strong, and have developed great experience in the struggle against subversion and revolution.
  • The revolutionary forces are initially weak, taking stock of the low level of development and backwardness, not yet having a guerrilla army.
  • The people's war depends on the established minimum presence of the Communist Party, so that it can exercise its absolute leadership.

As Chairman Gonzalo formulated well, in establishing people's war, the first and fourth characteristics permit the People's Guerrilla Army to grow and to vanquish the enemy, and the second and third conditions mean that the People's Guerrilla Army cannot grow rapidly, demanding time to develop and incorporate the masses into the war, changing the balance of forces in favour of the revolution step by step.

In the case of developed capitalist countries (generally imperialist), only the first characteristic differs from the case of the backward countries, since it is the very distinctive factor of the nature of the two types of countries which exist under monopoly capitalism, imperialism; in other words, its nature is the distinction between the vast majority of backward and oppressed countries, on the one hand, and the handful of dominant powers and superpowers, the advanced capitalist countries, on the other. In these countries, by their nature, with the advancement of their decay, which directs the relations of production as well as all the other relations which are derived from it in the superstructure, crises are created in the course of ever-shorter cycles, sharpening the internal contractions, the disorders, and the repression of the struggles of the masses, these tend to be radicalized more and more. That is to say, the increasing degree of exploitation, along with the reduction of rights, the tendency toward fascism, and reactionary violence against democratic freedoms of assembly, repression of strikes and demonstrations, characterized by the accentuation of injustices against the proletariat and the masses of people, an increase in racism, chauvinism, and all kinds of reactionary prejudices, launch great waves of struggle that permit and favour the development of the revolutionary struggle in general and of the revolutionary political party of the proletariat and its army.25

The main problem with the first quotation about the right moment of initiation only becomes apparent in connection with the other quotations, which is why we will discuss them together. The choice of the right moment of initiation is made dependent on the external contradiction. The decisive factor, however, is the internal contradiction of the proletariat, the contradiction between the vanguard and the masses. The question is not the weakness of the bourgeoisie, but the strength of the proletariat, its development from a class-in-itself into a class-for-itself, which expresses itself in its organizations and their mass basis. That they actually mean this in the way we understand it becomes clear when one reads through the next quotation. For they believe that a people's war can be launched even though «the fundamental weapons of the revolution are still weak and at a low level of development, embryonic, or even non-existent». The Communist Party of Peru has proved that this is possible in oppressed nations. This is due to the internal contradiction of the enemy, to the territorial scope of State power, and, above all, to the different contradiction between the vanguard and the masses in the oppressed nations.

The first base areas could be established in the People's War in Peru, not because the enemy was crushed, but because they fled. The example of the Islamic State in its fight against the Iraqi army also confirms this experience. That will not be the case here.

Furthermore, there is no territory in Germany where the State is not present. There are no jungles and no mountains. This does not mean that people's war is impossible! It means that the masses are our jungle. But the problem is that you need a mass basis before you can launch a people's war. For only in this way is it possible for the Communists «to avoid the enemy's strategic offensive, flee from it, and act offensively at the tactical level». If you do not have a mass basis when launching armed struggle in an imperialist country, then you are not launching a guerrilla war, but a positional war; this is not a people's war, this is Focus Theory. For if you don't have the «Three Revolutionary Weapons» at your disposal and you don't have a mass basis, the enemy needs neither military nor police; Uniter is sufficient for the selective liquidation of known targets. In Peru and Brazil, things are different, because, first, the presence of State power is not absolute, and, above all, the masses have more and more urgent reasons to fight and are therefore easier to mobilize, educate, and organize for armed struggle than here.

The even greater problem ─ as the experience of the Red Army Faction has amply demonstrated ─ is that it's impossible to form a rear area in an imperialist country as a shock force of the revolution. The belief that this is possible is based on a false understanding of the law of the incorporation of the masses. What is correct about the law of the incorporation of the masses is that revolutionary practice, and especially the people's war, creates a reality that is a different being, a different material basis for the development of the thinking of the masses. Consequently, the initiation and development of the people's war will create different and, in a way, better conditions for the management of the contradiction between the vanguard and the masses. However, this remains a contradiction, and the question of who has hegemony over the masses, whether they are led by the proletarian vanguard or the bourgeoisie, remains a question of struggle, of the struggle between two lines. And if, in a country with compulsory education, media monopolies, a revolutionary movement led by revisionism, exclusively corporatist trade unions, and many other instruments of the bourgeoisie used for the ideological struggle, the armed struggle is launched without having its own public support, without having its own instruments that can destroy the bourgeois ideology and build up the proletarian ideology in the struggle between two lines, and, above all, can organize the distribution of corresponding texts, carry out demonstrations under wartime conditions, and fulfil many other corresponding tasks, then one loses the sympathy of the masses. Because then, the new reality of the armed struggle is interpreted by the enemy, and its interpretation wins over the masses for lack of an opponent. The Mariateguists have no grasp of the fact that the bourgeoisie in the imperialist States aims to rule by popular consensus, let alone how the material conditions necessarily produce false consciousness, so they underestimate the role of ideological struggle. But even if they understood its necessity, they lack the immanent critique of bourgeois ideology to conduct this ideological struggle for the masses effectively.


The National-Bolshevik group Youth Resistance is a result of imposing the Fascist philosophy of the myth and then failing with it in mass work. Then you get a splinter group that clings to the myth, but prefers to fall back on one that is already established, namely, the national myth. They had their historical model in the Schlageter speech by the Trotskijite Karl Radek. It's a capitulation to Fascism.

The following section is a documentation of Karl Radek's Schlageter speech, including commentary. The speech is an expression of the National-Bolshevik line within the Communist Party of Germany in the 1920s. It's brilliant in its rhetoric, selling Right-wing opportunism in a way that only a very educated listener or reader can object to. The repetition of this tragedy as farce called itself Youth Resistance. All the following quotes are from said speech:

I can neither supplement nor complete the comprehensive and deeply impressive report of our venerable leader, Comrade Zetkin, on international Fascism, that hammer meant to crush the head of the proletariat, but which will fall upon the small-bourgeois class, who are wielding it in the interests of big capital. I could not even follow it clearly, because there hovered before my eyes the corpse of the German Fascist, our class enemy, who was sentenced to death and shot by the hirelings of French imperialism, that powerful organization of another section of our class enemy. Throughout Comrade Zetkin's speech on the contradictions within Fascism, the name of Schlageter and his tragic fate was in my head. We ought to remember him here when we are defining our attitude toward Fascism. The story of this martyr of German nationalism should not be forgotten nor passed over with a mere phrase. It has much to tell us, and much to tell the German people.26

Without saying anything substantive against Zetkin's criticism of Fascism, Radek slags her off. He calls her speech «far-reaching», calls the comrade «old», and then admits that he didn't listen to her. It's also interesting that the Fascist pig Schlageter, this Communist-hunter, is merely an opponent for Radek, while the French bourgeoisie are enemies. From an opponent, Schlageter then turns into a «martyr of German nationalism», which is probably meant as praise.

We are not sentimental romanticists who forget friendship when its object is dead, nor are we diplomats who say: by the graveside, say nothing but good, or remain silent. Schlageter, a courageous soldier of the counter-revolution, deserves to be sincerely honoured by us, the soldiers of the revolution. Freksa, who shared his views, published in 1920 a novel in which he described the life of an officer who fell in the fight against Spartacus. Freska named his novel The Wanderer Into the Void.

If those German Fascists, who honestly thought to serve the German people, failed to understand the significance of Schlageter's fate, Schlageter died in vain, and on his tombstone should read: «The Wanderer Into the Void».26

Radek turns against «sentimental romanticists, who forget friendship when its object is dead», only to do just that! But with this introduction, he makes it difficult for his critics to expose his Right-wing opportunism. «Schlageter, a courageous soldier of the counter-revolution, deserves to be sincerely honoured by us, the soldiers of the revolution.» From the standpoint of patriarchy, Schlageter can be honored in a stereotyped, more precisely militarist way using the criterion of «courageous soldier», whereby an abstraction from his class standpoint is achieved. Schlageter fought in the service of the German bourgeoisie against Polish and German workers, and against the French bourgeoisie ─ but courageously, combatively, honestly, manly!

It is then with the assertion that the small-bourgeois and proletarian masses of Fascism «honestly thought to serve the German people» that things get wildly Right-opportunist. It may be that some of the Fascist masses take and have taken the starting point in the damaged interests of the people, but when they have worked their way through to the Fascist worldview, they have necessarily taken the standpoint of the bourgeoisie, which means that the starting point of their criticism only appears in their consciousness in a suspended form. If someone has become a Fascist, it may be because they are disturbed by the situation of the working class or the small bourgeoisie, but with the adoption of the Fascist worldview, they decide to focus on the unity and not on the struggle in the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the people. That is why Schlageter was a counter-revolutionary and not a revolutionary. But Radek at least speaks correctly of the German people, because a Fascist wants to serve the people at most as the rat's tail of the bourgeoisie, so their struggle is not national in form, but in content. This has nothing to do with serving the people from the standpoint of the international working class.

Here, the bourgeois concept of the people is confused with the proletarian concept.27

Such masses can certainly not be won back with sentimental-romantic appeals to their honest masculinity or male honesty or whatever, but at best with a Marxist critique of their bourgeois ideology!

Incidentally, the word masculine is certainly not interspersed here by chance, considering that Clara Zetkin was his previous speaker. In his courageous soldierhood, Radek not only makes common cause with the Fascist Schlageter (and his comrades who celebrated him, such as Adolf Hitler), but he also excludes Comrade Clara Zetkin from this honest male association of courageous soldierhood.

Germany lay crushed. Only fools believed that the victorious capitalist Entente would treat the German people differently from the way the victorious German capitalists treated the Russian and Romanian peoples. Only fools or cowards, who feared to face the truth, could believe in the promises of Wilson, in the declarations that the Kaiser and not the German people would have to pay the price of defeat. In the East, a people was at war. Starving, freezing, it fought against the Entente on 14 fronts. That was Council Russia. One of these fronts consisted of German officers and German soldiers. Schlageter fought in Medem's Volunteer Corps, which stormed Riga. We do not know whether the young officer understood the significance of his acts. But the then German Commissar, the Social-Democrat Winnig, and General von der Golz, the Commander of the Baltic troops, knew what they were doing. They sought to gain the friendship of the Entente by performing the work of hirelings against the Russian people. In order that the German bourgeoisie should not pay the victors the indemnities of war, they hired young German blood, which had been spared the bullets of the Great War, to fight against the Russian people. We do not know what Schlageter thought at this period. His leader, Medem, later admitted that he marched through the Baltic into the void. Did all the German nationalists understand that?

At the funeral of Schlageter in Munich, General Ludendorff spoke, the same Ludendorff who even today is offering himself to England and to France as the leader of a crusade against Russia. Schlageter was mourned by the Stinnes press. Mr. Stinnes was the colleague in the Alpina Montana of Schneider-Creusot the armourer, the assassin of Schlageter. Against whom did the German people wish to fight: against the Entente capitalists, or against the Russian people? With whom did they wish to ally themselves: with the Russian workers and peasants in order to throw off the yoke of Entente capital for the enslavement of the German and Russian peoples?26

Radek speaks of the young officer, if not with admiration, then at least not with bile in his mouth, and excuses his anti-Communist mercenary service for German capital with an absurd presumption of innocence. Once again, Radek finds a way to ignore the bourgeois ideology of the Fascist masses.

His apology to the German bourgeoisie is even more blatant. Apparently, the German bourgeoisie is beyond the contradiction between capitalism and socialism, but unfortunately, it was forced by inter-imperialist contradictions to rent out «German blood».

Schlageter is dead. He cannot supply the answer. His comrades-in-arms swore at his graveside to carry on his fight. They must supply the answer: against whom and on whose side?26

A question that Radek should have asked himself! Not on Zetkin's side, but on Schlageter's and Hitler's?

Incidentally, it's interesting how he uses the word «comrades-in-arms» to give the impression that Fascist comradeship is similar to proletarian comradeship.

Schlageter went from the Baltic to the Ruhr, not in the year 1923, but in the year 1920. Do you know what that meant? He took part in the attack of German capital upon the Ruhr workers; he fought in the ranks of the troops whose task it was to bring the miners of the Ruhr under the heel of the iron and coal kings. The troops of Waters, in whose ranks he fought, fired the same leaden bullets with which General Degoutte quelled the Ruhr workers. We have no reason to believe that it was from selfish motives that Schlageter helped to subdue the starving miners.

The way in which he risked his life speaks on his behalf, and proves that he was convinced he was serving the German people. But Schlageter thought he was best serving the people by helping to restore the mastery of the class which had until then led the German people, and had brought such terrible misfortune upon them. Schlageter regarded the working class as the mob that must be governed. And in this, he shared the view of Count Reventlow, who calmly declared that no war against the Entente was possible until the internal enemy had been overcome. The internal enemy for Schlageter was the revolutionary working class.26

This section is a Right-opportunist gem! Radek says quite openly what a shabby pig this Schlageter was. This murderer of our class siblings! He admits the bourgeois worldview of this scumbag. But the most important two sentences are these: «We have no reason to believe that it was from selfish motives that Schlageter helped to subdue the starving miners. The way in which he risked his life speaks on his behalf, and proves that he was convinced he was serving the German people.» By using the negative term, non-bourgeois-individualist, he suggests that Schlageter took the standpoint of the people. This is yet another confusion of the bourgeois and proletarian concept of the people! Once again, there is sentimental and romantic talk of the «way in which he risked his life» in order to paint over whom he risked his life against: the working class!

Schlageter could see with his own eyes the results of this policy when he returned to the Ruhr in 1923 during the occupation. He could see that even if the workers were united against French imperialism, no single people could fight alone. He could see the profound mistrust of the workers toward the German Government and the German bourgeoisie. He could see how greatly the cleavage in the nation hampered its defensive power. He could see more. Those who share his views complained of the passivity of the German people. How can a defeated working class be active? How can a working class be active which has been disarmed, and from whom it is demanded that they shall allow themselves to be exploited by profiteers and speculators? Or could the activity of the German working masses be replaced by the activity of the German bourgeoisie?

Schlageter read in the newspapers how the very people who pretended to be the patrons of the German nationalist movement sent securities abroad, so that they might be enriched and the country impoverished. Schlageter certainly could have no hope in these parasites. He was spared reading in the press how the representative of the German bourgeoisie, Dr. Lutterbuck, turned to his executioners with the request that they should permit the iron and steel kings to shoot down children of Germany, the people who were carrying out the resistance in the Ruhr, with machine-guns.26

Instead of criticizing Fascism, Radek recommends himself as the better leader of Fascism! Radek shares the Fascists' concern for the unity of the nation! He diagnoses the «cleavage in the nation» and recommends corporatism as a cure. He measures the success of the class struggle from above by the criterion of the active enthusiasm of the working class for the national cause, and condemns it on that basis! He measures the suppression of the proletarian revolution and the disarmament of the proletariat against the criterion of a working class fighting for the national cause and condemns it on that basis! And he measures the bourgeoisie by the relativization of particular interests to the overall national interest (of the bourgeoisie) and condemns it on that basis! And here, he no longer merely ennobles a Fascist by bourgeois criteria, but adopts the Fascist worldview himself.

Now that the German resistance has become a mockery due to Dr. Lutterbeck's rogue prank and even more so due to the economic policy of the propertied classes, we ask the honest, patriotic masses, who want to fight against the French imperialist invasion: How do you want to fight, on whom do you want to rely? The fight against Entente imperialism is war, even when the guns are silent. You cannot wage war at the front if you have the hinterland in turmoil. You can hold down a minority in the hinterland. The majority of the German people consist of working people who must fight against the misery and hardship brought upon them by the German bourgeoisie. If the patriotic circles of Germany do not decide to make the cause of this majority of the nation their own and thus create a front against Entente and German capital, then Schlageter's path was a path to nowhere, then Germany would become a field of bloody internal struggles in the face of foreign invasion, of constant danger from the victors, and it will be easy for the enemy to smash and dismember it.26

Radek recommends that those taking the standpoint of the nation, which is only a cipher for the standpoint of the bourgeoisie, keep the workers quiet in order to pursue their goal! This is honest, not in Radek's sentimental romantic sense, but in the profane sense that Radek is not pulling the wool over the eyes of the people here.

What is very dishonest in this profane sense is how it continues, because Radek is actually suggesting that this line is directed against German capital. How cozying up to the supporters of the more brutal form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is supposed to be directed against this content remains a mystery.

For Radek, the main enemy is no longer in his own country, but west of the Rhine. The class struggle should be decided in order to better master the defense of the homeland. That is not the line of Liebknecht and Luxemburg, that is the line of Ebert and Noske. Only they were less mendacious.

When, after Jena, Gneisenau and Scharnhorst asked themselves how the German people were to be raised from their defeat, they replied: only by making the peasants free from their former subjection and slavery. Only the free German peasantry can lay the foundations for the emancipation of Germany. What the German peasantry meant for the fate of the German nation at the beginning of the 19th century, the German working class means at the beginning of the 20th century. Only with it can Germany be freed from the fetters of slavery — not against it.26

The Prussian reforms were the initiation of the alliance between the military-feudal landlords and the bourgeoisie that was later to found the Empire, and it's very telling that Radek refers to them positively.

Schlageter’s comrades talked of war at his graveside. They swore to continue the fight. It had to be conducted against an enemy that was armed to the teeth, while Germany was unarmed and beaten. If the talk of war is not to remain an empty phrase, if it is not to consist of bombing columns that blow up bridges, but not the enemy; that derail trains, but cannot check the armoured trains of Entente capital; then a number of conditions must be fulfilled.

The German people must break with those who have not only led it into defeat, but who are perpetuating the defeat and the defencelessness of the German people by regarding the majority of the German people as the enemy. This demands a break with the people and political parties whose faces act upon other peoples like a Medusa head, mobilizing them against the German people. Only when the German cause becomes the cause of the German people, only when the German cause becomes the fight for the rights of the German people, will the German people win active friends. A powerful nation cannot endure without friends, all the more so a nation which is defeated and surrounded by enemies.

If Germany wants to be in the position to fight, it must create a united front of workers, and the brain workers must unite with the hand workers and form a solid phalanx. The condition of the brain workers cries out for this union. Only old prejudices stand in the way. United into a victorious working people, Germany will be able to draw upon great resources of resisting power which will be able to remove all obstacles. If the cause of the people is made the cause of the nation, then the cause of the nation will become the cause of the people. United into a fighting nation of workers, it will gain the assistance of other peoples who are also fighting for their existence. Whoever is not prepared to fight in this way is capable of deeds of desperation, but not of a serious struggle.

That is what the Communist Party of Germany and the Communist International have to say at Schlageter's graveside. It has nothing to conceal, for only the complete truth can penetrate into the suffering, internally disintegrated masses of Germany. The Communist Party of Germany must declare openly to the nationalist small-bourgeois masses: whoever is working in the service of the profiteers, the speculators, and the iron and coal magnates to enslave the German people and to drive them into desperate adventures will meet the resistance of the German Communist workers, who will oppose violence by violence. Whoever, from lack of comprehension, allies themself with the hirelings of capital, we shall fight with every means in our power.

But we believe that the vast majority of the nationalist-minded masses belong, not to the camp of the capitalists, but to the camp of the workers. We want to find, and we shall find, the path to these masses. We shall do all in our power to make people like Schlageter, who are prepared to go to their deaths for a common cause, not wanderers into the void, but wanderers into a better future for the whole of humanity; that they should not spill their hot, unselfish blood for the profit of the coal and iron barons, but in the cause of the great working German people, which is a member of the family of peoples fighting for their emancipation.

This truth the Communist Party will declare to the great masses of the German people, for it is not a political party fighting for a crust of bread on behalf of the industrial workers, but a political party of the fighting proletariat fighting for its emancipation, an emancipation that is identical with the emancipation of the whole people, of all who toil and suffer in Germany. Schlageter himself cannot now hear this declaration, but we are convinced that there are hundreds of Schlageters who will hear it and understand it.26

The central sentence in this section was: «If the cause of the people is made the cause of the nation, then the cause of the nation will become the cause of the people.»

This is the complete confusion of the bourgeois and proletarian concept of the people. The vague blabber in the paragraph around it does not once contain the formulations proletarian revolution or dictatorship of the proletariat, so that it would somehow become clear whether Radek has in mind the reconstitution of the nation as the dictatorship of the proletariat or as corporatism.

We shall do all in our power to make people like Schlageter, who are prepared to go to their deaths for a common cause, not wanderers into the void, but wanderers into a better future for the whole of humanity; that they should not spill their hot, unselfish blood for the profit of the coal and iron barons, but in the cause of the great working German people, which is a member of the family of peoples fighting for their emancipation.26

Here again, we find the Right-opportunist ignorance of the content of Schlageter's «general cause», which may not have been based on the standpoint of the individual, but on that of the bourgeoisie. To suggest that a struggle from such a standpoint could be put at the service of the proletarian world revolution through mawkishly ingratiating blabber is to expose it in order to allow more ranks to march honestly, manly, and combatively ─ but, unfortunately, in the wrong direction.

Radek's method here is to take the correct standpoints, but to use the incorrect criteria. In this way, he paralyses the Marxist-trained reason of the audience and appeals to Prussian sentiment. He strengthens the Right-wing line in his German audience without arguing for it. This method has been used less elegantly in the recent past by Youth Resistance. They fought honestly, saluted, remained steadfast, and stood their ground with honour. Then as now, they pandered to German Fascism. And what we must not forget is that Radek, that pig, got what he deserved.

It's no wonder that the Mariateguists, with their mythical enthusiasm, have brought forth this new National Bolshevism. Fortunately, it's already disappeared again.


The problem for the Communists in Germany is to choose a form that promotes a militarized Communist Party of a new type as the vanguard of the proletarian revolution and the people's war as the only road to liberation, without promoting German bourgeois militarism. The romantic-sentimental pathos of Germanness is hostile to reason. But the Communists should not simply stand up and say «we don't like it», but should refer to this aspect of the German national character in an appropriate way. We can't say: «We're dissatisfied with the people and are choosing different one.» Germans get goosebumps when people march in rank and file, in uniform, when flags wave, when pathetic speeches are made, when people stand tensely rather than limply. On the other hand, Germans enjoy the ironic disparagement of all this and a theoretical zealotry that serves nothing but itself and the self-esteem of the theorist, which is what the Left-wing intellectuals in particular stand for. That is why an organization like the Gegenstandpunkt [Counter-Standpoint], which does not turn Hegel on his head, but imitates him, is relatively successful. Our task is to inspire the masses to the point of goosebumps with a military form of practice and a derivative form of theory without ever relativizing the content, the proletarian ideology, that is, the class standpoint, worldview, and method. The form must first and foremost correspond to the content, and only on this basis can it be geared to the audience.

This military form is appropriate to the content of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as an expression of discipline and seriousness and a display of the consciousness of the necessity of the people's war. It uses the national character of the German masses to inspire them, and on this basis to mobilize, educate, and organize them; that is, to fight Prussian servility by means of proletarian ideology. Bourgeois goose-stepping must be smashed and replaced by conscious, proletarian discipline. The bourgeois obsession with theory must be eradicated and a theoretical seriousness and scientific honesty in the service of the people and the development of the revolution as part of the proletarian world revolution must be developed. The myth and the embodiment of the Mariateguists, on the other hand, use a hollow stereotype to force the masses into an organization of Prussian servants by means of slavish obedience. But we must eradicate slavish obedience stump and stalk; however, this can only be done with the reason of proletarian revolution.

  1. Source: J.C. Mariategui: Humanity and Myth (Before the 16th of January, 1925) 

  2. Source: Nikolaj Lenin: Materialism and Empirio-Criticism (February-October 1908) 

  3. See: Georges Sorel: Decomposition of Marxism (1910) and On Violence (1915) 

  4. Source: Georges Sorel: On Violence (1915) 

  5. Translator's Note: In the original German edition, the authors added the following section: «Conscious of our poor knowledge of Spanish, we have included the original quotations, so that if we make a mistake, it does not give the impression that we are trying to deceive the reader.» We have not reproduced the Spanish quotations along with the translations, since enough English translations of the quoted works exist already (as opposed to German ones) and we are confident enough in our ability to translate from Spanish to take on this task wherever no English translations existed yet. 

  6. Source: J.C. Mariategui: The Final Struggle (Before the 20th of March, 1925) 

  7. Source: J.C. Mariategui: The Feeling of Our Times (Before the 9th of January, 1925) 

  8. Translator's Note: In the original German text, it says here: «The quotations that refer to this are presented here in the original and in the best English translation we know:», then proceeds to quote the original Spanish text along with the English translation. We have only reproduced an improved version of said «best English translation» the authors could find online; a translation from redsun.org that we deemed too bad to not be improved. 

  9. Source: Gonzalo: Reclaim Mariategui and Reconstitute His Party! (October 1975) 

  10. Source: Editorial Board of the Class Standpoint: Remarks on the Study of Some of Mariategui's Writings (July 2015) 

  11. See: G.W.F. Hegel: Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1820) 

  12. Source: Karl Marx: A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (End of 1843-January 1844) 

  13. Source: György Lukacs: The Destruction of Reason (1952) 

  14. Author's Note: That doesn't mean that it's stopped trying. So-called Neo-Liberalism argues with «economic constraints», ergo with the reason of capital, and the abolition of fundamental rights in the course of the Corona pandemic was justified epidemiologically. 

  15. Author's Note: Potential critics of this text should note that this book was published in 1954, after Lukacs had self-criticized for his past «Left-Communist» deviations. If you're going to attack it, attack its content. 

  16. Author's Note: Gramsci was a Marxist-Leninist. Whoever says otherwise either can't read or is lying. 

  17. Source: Antonio Gramsci: The Modern Prince (1933) 

  18. Author's Note: This approach is also expressed in his general assessment of Sorel: «The essay published in Nueva Antologia [New Anthology] reproduces all of Sorel's strengths and weaknesses: he's meandering, erratic, incoherent, superficial, sibyllic, and so on; but he offers original standpoints or stimulates them, finds unthought-of and yet true connections, forces us to think and to delve deeper.» (Antonio Gramsci: Historical Materialism and the Philosophy of Benedetto Croce

  19. Source: Antonio Gramsci: Problems of Marxism (1932-33) 

  20. Author's Note: The same problem is raised by Mao Zedong in his Talks at the Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art (May 1942). 

  21. Author's Note: We are here referring to Hegel's elaborations in his psychology; he definitely grasped the matter more profoundly, dialectically, and even more materialistically than Sorel. 

  22. Source: Editorial Board of the Class Standpoint: The Ideological Decay of Imperialism (13th of January, 2022) 

  23. Source: Nikolaj Lenin: «Left-Wing» Communism, an Infantile Disorder (April-May 1920) 

  24. Source: Karl Marx: The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (December 1851-March 1852) 

  25. Source: Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction): People's War and Revolution (May 2014) 

  26. Source: Karl Radek: Leo Schlageter, the Wanderer into the Void (June 1923) 

  27. See: Nikolaj Lenin: Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution (June-July 1905), in which he states: «Marx speaks of the ‹people›. But we know that he always fought ruthlessly against small-bourgeois illusions about the unity of the ‹people› and the absence of a class struggle within the people. In using the word ‹people›, Marx did not thereby gloss over class distinctions, but united definite elements capable of bringing the revolution to completion.»