The escalation of the opportunist drift and the consequent revisions of revolutionary theory.

On some objective and subjective conditions of developing or undermining the subject. Dimitrios Patelis | Revolutionary Unification (Greece) [December 2023] ‘The Platform No.7, December 1, 2023, pp 44-56.

Written version of the presentation at the International Seminar of the World Anti-imperialist Platform, Drapetsona, Greece, 2023.11.19.


Introductory remarks: opportunism, dogmatism, and revisionism. 1

Brief mention of the case of Nikos Zachariadis. 4

Reference to some aspects of the escalation and imposition of the opportunist drift. 5

The 4 pillars of preventing the formation of the subject. 6

Degradation of theory and revisionism. 7

The ‘zone of proximal regression’. 8

The gradual introduction, escalation and foundation of the drift and its consolidation by revision. 9

In conclusion. 12

Introductory remarks: opportunism, dogmatism, and revisionism.

In modern ‘partisan’/sectarian jargon, the word ‘opportunist’ is used merely as an insult, as a reproach, which is used with prejudice against anyone who does not blatantly, and submissively, in terms of pack mentality, conform to the ‘correct line’ of a leadership… As a rule, the ones that are out of breath stigmatising those that are diverging from the line as ‘opportunists’:

  1. are also unable to grasp this concept/category in the literal sense of its meaning, within the context of Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory, as indicative of a) the practice of various forms of promoting the interests of the bourgeoisie within the labour movement, b) the drift of the movement into positions convenient to the bourgeoisie, imperialism and the financial oligarchy at national and international level, c) adventurism, d) the absence of revolutionary theory/methodology (and its substitution with revisionist versions, apologetic for the practices of the pro regime drift), e) the absence of a dialectical link between strategy/practice, means/ends, etc.
  2. fail to realise that such a pack/conformist mentality and behaviour is a blatant symptom of opportunist bureaucratic degeneration of formerly revolutionary partisanship; and
  3. have the illusion that they themselves are not the literal embodiment of opportunism…

Opportunism (French: opportunisme, from the Latin: opportunus, meaning favourable, advantageous) in the labour movement, is that ‘theory’ and practice which contradicts the actual interests of the working class and pushes the labour movement along a path beneficial to the bourgeoisie. Opportunism, in various ways, directly or indirectly adapts and subordinates the labour movement to the interests of the bourgeoisie: ‘Opportunism in the upper ranks of the working-class movement is bourgeois socialism, not proletarian socialism. It has been shown in practice that working-class activists who follow the opportunist trend are better defenders of the bourgeoisie than the bourgeois themselves. Without their leadership of the workers, the bourgeoisie could not remain in power.’ (July 1920, Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 31, pages 213-263)

After the victory of Marxism in the labour movement, opportunism, as a rule, appears under the cover of Marxist phrases.

In its class nature, opportunism is a manifestation of petty-bourgeois ideology and politics within the workers’ movement.

As far as theory is concerned, opportunism manifests itself initially as dogmatism, and then evolves into scepticism and revisionism.

Dogmatism and revisionism are two at first sight diametrically opposite and mutually exclusive tendencies of the degeneration of revolutionary theory. In reality, they both involve doctrines and ideological constructions that are fabricated and employed by opportunists to justify their respective drifts into positions that serve the interests of the class enemy of the workers’ revolutionary movement.

The dogmatists advocate the unconditional and absolute validity of their ‘truth’ everywhere and always, reducing revolutionary theory to a reservoir of fragmentary, incoherent, disconnected, ahistorical and irrefutable ‘positions’, e.g., passages from the works of the classics of Marxism-Leninism free for any use…

The revisionists promote the unconditional and absolute relativity of every truth, invoking the historically variable character of every theory, ultimately rejecting truth in itself. Thus, they strive to underestimate, to ignore the qualitative and essential differences of Marxism from any previous, contemporary or more modern bourgeois philosophy and theory, they strive to pair Marxist science with bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideologies, in order to finally arrive at commonplace, vulgar bourgeois positions.

The dogmatists who will stumble upon circumstances, which are presented or perceived as overturning the validity of their dogmas, easily shift to revisionism. The ease of this shift constitutes an inevitable tendency of degeneration, having as a common basis the inability to grasp and apply Marxist dialectical logic and methodology. The common methodological foundation of dogmatism and revisionism is metaphysics.

In the organisational field, opportunism is initially presented as sectarianism, in order to evolve into practices of undermining and dismantling the party and the movement (into ‘liquidarism’). The opportunists do not hesitate on occasion to instrumentally employ sectarian and disruptive practices as long as they promote the strategic interests of the ruling class within the movement.

Regarding the political direction of its influence on the movement, opportunism shows itself to be ‘flexible’: sometimes as ‘left’ and sometimes as right opportunism. Indeed, it is common to see opportunist degenerative drifts towards sordidly conservative or even reactionary positions, draped in ‘left’ or even ‘leftist’ phraseology.

Right opportunism is swimming in a slurry of reformist practices and compromising tactical positions, which are aimed at the direct subordination of the labour movement to the interests of the bourgeoisie, and which abandon the fundamental and strategic interests of the working class in the name of temporary and secondary benefits. This is why right-wing opportunists resort to a variety of revisionist dogmas, such as: the fatalistic conception, which substitutes the sober study of the contradictory nature of the objective conditions of the development of society with the worship of spontaneous economic evolution (economism, evolutionism), which projects certain micro-reforms within the bourgeois system as the ‘gradual realisation of socialism’, which effectively rejects the leap of revolutionary transformation, replacing it with gentle continuity and gradual evolution, and is basking in the expectation of the ‘automatic ripening of conditions’, with the ‘evolution of capitalism into socialism’.

The ideological basis of right opportunism is: the principle of ‘cooperation’ of the classes, the renunciation of the idea of socialist revolution, of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the rejection of revolutionary methods of struggle, the devaluation or disregard of the role of the subjective factor in the revolutionary process, the gradual resignation from the preparation itself (theoretical, practical, social, political, ideological, cultural, etc.) of the formation of the subject, since history is seen as a ‘process without a subject’; the adoption of bourgeois nationalism and/or the substitution of communist internationalism with the cosmopolitanism of capital, with the ideologies of imperialist regional integrations (e.g. the EU); and finally, the fetishisation of legality and bourgeois democracy.

More often than not, right-wing opportunism is a reflection of the dispositions of those strata of the petty bourgeoisie or certain groups of the working class – labour aristocracy and bureaucracy – who have relatively tolerable living conditions and privileges.

‘Leftist’ opportunism is a rather volatile mixture of ultra-revolutionary ideological schemes/dogmas and adventurist tactics, which force the revolutionary workers’ movement into unjustified actions and unnecessary sacrifices and defeats. ‘Leftist’ opportunism is animated by bourgeois concepts that overvalue and/or absolutise the subjective factor (with a corresponding undervaluation and/or disregard for objective conditions), which rely on the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses. It is unilaterally oriented towards the fetishisation of ‘revolutionary violence’ as a panacea for all ills. It ignores the contradictory process of the socio-economic law of development through stages, emphatically advocating discontinuity, ‘pure strategy’, ‘rupture and overthrow here and now ‘regardless of the conditions, as well as for the hasty acceleration of the revolution, looking forward to immediate conquests of the ‘cavalry charge’ type in the economic sector, etc.

‘Left’ opportunism expresses, as a rule, the psychology, and dispositions of those groups of the petty bourgeoisie, the peasantry, the representatives of the middle strata, who, under the pressure of brutal exploitation and insecurity, or in view of the difficulties of socialist construction, drift towards anarchist-like ‘radicalism’.

Right and ‘left’ opportunism are two interconnected tendencies of degenerative drifts of the movement, which clash, alternate, complement and reproduce each other in various historical forms, through which the manipulation and subordination of the movement to the interests and strategic aims of capital and the financial oligarchy is achieved.

Lenin in his work ‘Left-Wing’ Communism: An Infantile Disorder’ (1920) highlighted the essence and the various forms of ‘leftist’ opportunism during the period of the formation of the world communist movement. In his works devoted to the degenerative phenomena of legalism, economism, evolutionism, the fetishisation of parliamentarism and peaceful means of struggle in social democracy and the bankruptcy of the Second International, he thoroughly analysed the characteristics of right opportunism.

Let us briefly see how opportunism manifests itself and how it acts in the revolutionary workers’ movement.

Reference to some typical degenerative drifts into opportunism.

‘Cult of personality’?

Here it is appropriate to make a clear distinction between degenerative phenomena and drift into opportunism in ruling parties of early socialist countries and corresponding processes in parties that have acted and are acting in capitalist countries. In socialist countries, these phenomena require a different type of specific study, with emphasis on the historical specificity of each country and the existence or non-existence in them of a subject capable of bringing about the resolution of their fundamental contradiction. In any case, I offer a few brief remarks on the subject. To the extent that the process of socialist construction is accelerating, the very existence of the working class as we know it under capitalism is called into question (wage labour does not exist as a commodity, hence, without its counterpoint in the fundamental contradiction of labour vs capital, the pole of labour ceases to be a social class, to the extent that both the mode of production that gave rise to it, and the formation that shaped labour as a class, are sublated and therefore do not exist), and therefore also the party of the working class existing as an element of the superstructure. Under socialism, the party, and its allies – to the extent that they exercise their new role – are transformed into a cadre devising strategy and tactics of planned development, into an organic element of the administrative apparatus, while the very process of command and control gradually loses its characteristics established under capitalism.

In any case, the approach that reduces the problems of the right or wrong direction of socialist construction or even the course of a large social formation – such as a historical communist party – exclusively to individual will, is metaphysical rather than scientific and Marxist. The decisions and actions of a leading personality, however brilliant or sinister the latter may be, cannot justify in full the existence or otherwise of a ‘correct line’, viewed irrespective of the objective and subjective conditions under which this line was drawn and established, in terms of actual social needs and specific historical balance of forces.

There are, for example, certain traditions which, while identifying themselves as ‘anti-revisionist’, attribute the ‘right line’ exclusively to the will of a leading personality of the movement (Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Enver Hoxha, etc.) in a rather metaphysical, and therefore revisionist way. In some cases, for example, there are people who claim that until Stalin’s death on 5/3/1953 there was socialism in the USSR, while the next day, 6/3/1953, the USSR suddenly became ‘capitalist’, ‘social-imperialist’, and so on! The scientific Marxist-Leninist approach, without underestimating the specific role of personality in history, never elevates it to the main and decisive role. For communists, Stalin’s contribution to the achievements of the rise of socialist construction, to the triumph of the anti-fascist victory, to the epic reconstruction after the enormous catastrophe suffered by the USSR in World War II, etc., is undoubtedly extremely important. However, the above is neither reducible to, nor condensed exclusively into the personality of any great historical leader. They are organically integrated into the comprehensive and concrete historical study of the laws governing each era, the correlation between the forces of revolution and counter-revolution in connection with the resolution or not of the contradictions of socialist construction by the heroic Soviet people under the guidance of the Bolshevik Party.

The same ‘cult of personality’ and its ‘critique’ under Khrushchev is a clearly metaphysical idealist ideology and practice with disastrous consequences. Thus, the recognition of the unique historical achievements of the USSR under Stalin versus certain post-Stalin transitions and decline may well be a necessary condition for a scientific understanding of the correlation between revolution and counter-revolution, but not a sufficient one.

Of course, also after Stalin, starting with Khrushchev, we have a sequence of a generally downward trend in the depth and reach of the leaders of the USSR. However, for the science of Marxism, this fact is a manifestation of deeper processes within society and leadership rather than the decisive factor towards the eventual prevalence of bourgeois counter-revolution. Quite simply, scientifically, both the revolutionary and the counter-revolutionary process cannot be metaphysically and idealistically reduced to the subjective-personal factor and voluntarism. Moreover, revisionism and counter-revolution did not and could not come to the surface instantaneously after Stalin’s death. It takes rudimentary knowledge of the subsequent historical achievements of the USSR to shatter this view: the formation of the military-industrial complex, development of the ‘nuclear triad’, aerospace, the peaceful use of nuclear energy, internationalist assistance (economic, political, military, technological, scientific, etc.), to the world revolutionary and anti-imperialist movement (China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, Angola, Mozambique, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, India, etc.).

Brief mention of the case of Nikos Zachariadis.

Equally complex, for different and partly similar reasons, is the process of degeneration and drift into positions of opportunism and revisionism, of a historical communist party operating in a capitalist country. The course of the formation and development of the working class movement and the Communist Party of Greece, especially what we call the ‘Bolshevisation of the party’, with the catalytic help of the Third International, a course of heroic struggles and sacrifices, which led the party to the leading position of the massive national liberation and revolutionary movement against the Axis, against the triple occupation during WWII and afterwards, in the heroic civil class war against the new occupation (by the Anglo-American imperialists), is of course linked to the great heroic figure of our leader Nikos Zachariadis. However, in no way can it be reduced to it. The same applies to the subsequent leaderships of the KKE and its gradual drift towards ever more pro regime and opportunist positions, until we reach the unprecedented wretchedness of the current leadership…

Zachariadis’ leading figure is undoubtedly a landmark in the history of the revolutionary movement of the country. This figure is organically integrated into the contradictory course of the movement in extremely adverse conditions. Here I will simply point out a tragic aspect of history. Zachariadis served for 25 years as General Secretary of the CC of the KKE. Naturally for communists, no great leader is above criticism. However, the way in which this leader was deposed and ousted from the party that was actually consolidated and had developed under his leadership, is unacceptable in every respect. He was faced with unsubstantiated accusations, vilified, and sentenced to 17 years of exile and solitary confinement until he was driven to death (by suicide?), without even given the opportunity to answer, to respond to the party base.

All this took place in the small community of Greek partisans who, as political refugees, found refuge in the USSR (Tashkent) and other European socialist countries. There were then two broad plenary sessions of the KKE (6th, 11 – 12/3/1956 and 7th, 18 – 24/2/1957), where in a blatant coup d’état, with the crude intervention of the CPSU and summary procedures, it was decided to remove Nikos Zachariadis from the position of General Secretary and to expel him from the KKE, invoking ‘arguments’ corresponding to the deplorable ‘fight against personality cults’ in the CPSU!

Special research is required into the mechanisms and processes through which a historical revolutionary party finally accepts such putschist actions and manipulative machinations, where revolutionaries are ultimately transformed into passive conformists, into people ready to accept any ‘new leadership’ and any ‘new line’ as correct by definition, with a manner reminiscent of a disciplined herd and/or congregation of believers…

According to the decision of the Panhellenic Conference of the KKE 16/7/2011 for his reinstatement, ‘N. Zachariadis had a significant contribution to the development of the KKE in the period 1931-1936. He was a pioneer in the creation and heroic struggle of the Democratic Army of Greece in 1946-1949, showed unwavering faith in the existence and strengthening of the illegal organisations in the period 1949-1956, in the combination of illegal and legal action… He was a popular leader, with an uncompromising, pioneering, and militant spirit and disposition… However, N. Zachariadis demonstrated an inability to lead the KKE to draw comprehensive conclusions in relation to the contradictions in the party’s strategy, with weaknesses in programmatic elaboration that weighed negatively on the Party during the decade of the 1940s. He is also responsible for having shown weakness in formulating a programme at the 7th Congress in 1945 that would have included the experience of assessing the mistakes of the three agreements, Lebanon, Caserta and Varkiza!’

Essentially, here, Zachariadis is accused of ‘opportunism’ because as a communist and internationalist he applied the strategy and tactics of the Third International for the frontal anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggle. It is precisely for this reason that the current leadership of the KKE accuse him of having ‘made programmatic mistakes’… based on the now infamous ‘theory of stages’! It is clear once again that for the current leadership of the KKE this ‘rehabilitation’ of our historical leader is also part of its generalised effort to escalate the manipulation of the masses by using and abusing the symbols and heroes of the movement. The ‘rehabilitation’ is nothing but another miserable ritualistic act of hypocrisy, which is effectively annulled by the ‘new’ indictment of Zachariadis 50 years after his unjust death, now also accusing him of ‘opportunism’!

Reference to some aspects of the escalation and imposition of the opportunist drift.

Let us return to current events and to the urgent need to form a front of the forces of anti-imperialism and socialism.

Any delay, oversight, inefficacy and – above all – any divisive intervention on the formation of this militant subject, any undermining action against it – irrespective of intentions and motives – constitutes a strategic objective of the financial oligarchy, a loss of forces of the movement, an act of war in favour of the attacking axis. Preventing the formation and development of this front, with the leading role of the actual revolutionary communist forces within it, constitutes a strategic decision of the axis.

More broadly: in conditions of decay and degeneration, the regime of capital bases its domination not so much on the popular active support of the perspective it advocates for, but mainly on the timely and effective hindrance and dismantling of any actual or potential subject that can challenge its domination and overthrow in a revolutionary direction.

Here we will refer to some elements of the second degenerative process that takes place under capitalism.

The 4 pillars of preventing the formation of the subject.

This prevention of the formation of a subject is based throughout time on 4 proven pillars:

  1. The takeover of leaderships and groups (intellectuals, academics, trade union and political cadres, etc.) of those ‘below’ by those ‘above’ and their overt or covert integration into the mechanisms of the superstructure of the capitalist regime. This is achieved in terms of the creation of a ‘labour aristocracy’ (as was demonstrated in a classic way in the works of F. Engels and V.I. Lenin on the degeneration and bankruptcy of the Second International) through the sharing of resources from the monopoly super-profits of the imperialist countries and their satellites, especially after long peaceful periods of the movement and integration into bourgeois parliamentary mechanisms, with emphasis on peaceful – consensual modes of action, bureaucratic degeneration, corruption, etc. Extremely widespread is the buy-out/corruption using state and transnational (e.g., EU, NATO, etc.), public and private resources (‘sponsorships’, ‘official’ privileges, conference tourism, contingency aid/allowances, financial packages, ‘representation expenses’), which ultimately lead to the transformation of political and social organisations, parties, etc. into ‘non-governmental organisations’ (NGOisation of politics) controlled by the state and capital. Generalised corruption, involvement in scandals, etc. lend themselves to the creation of records of defamatory intelligence and/or disinformation, which are used for extortion in order to secure desired positions on the part of cadres, activists, etc.
  2. Deception and manipulation through demagogy, based on the distinction between words and deeds, on the use and abuse of historical revolutionary traditions and symbols, etc. This manipulation is made effective by means of political marketing, flexibly adapted to the idiosyncrasies, traditions and perceptions, and even to the conditioned reflexes of portions of clients, supporters, voters, etc. The more the critical mindset, the rational/scientific and conscious element is weakened against the element of integration in terms of faith, the visceral, the irrational and the collective unconscious of the pack, the more effective the pacification of the public and its readiness for further manipulation becomes.
  3. Application of ‘divide and rule’ variants, cloning, causing splits and subversion – dismantling of any subject dangerous to the regime when it is strengthened and threatens to become massive. Sowing discord and causing confrontations with adjacent ideological-political groups, in a cultivation of pack mentality where each group determines themselves through negating the position of the opposing group. This leads to mutual cannibalism and the extermination of those below, leaving those above in the clear. To this end, the personal weaknesses, ambitions, vanity and toxic petty-bourgeois attitudes of intellectuals and leaders, capable of sacrificing every cause of the working class, the movement and society for the applause of a small group, are duly exploited.
  4. Where the above ‘consensual’ means fail, direct violence and repression are employed: persecution, extortion, terrorism, imprisonment, exile, torture, exemplary physical extermination of dissidents, even genocide, to force compliance upon the rest.

From the above it becomes clear that the systematic undermining of any potentially dangerous for the regime collective subject is a complex and multilevel task, which cannot be carried out only from the outside and from above, by its main mechanisms (state, transnational, deep state, media, education, administration, local government, etc.). Its implementation also requires the involvement of members and cadres from the party base, being manipulated by the aforementioned 4 pillars. This involvement can be conscious and/or unconscious, in a commissioned capacity or in the form of ‘useful idiots’ who think they are performing a ‘function’ and a ‘revolutionary duty’ with naive sincerity and self-denial.

For the revolutionary movement, the subjective motives of the individuals and groups involved in this manipulation and subversion of the movement are of little or negligible importance. What matters is that the drift of parties and organisations into positions and roles undermining the movement and acting as agents of the interests of the regime, of the financial oligarchy from within its ranks, is most effectively carried out by individuals and groups with mentality of janissaries[i].

Degradation of theory and revisionism.

Here we will concentrate on some aspects of the drift of formerly revolutionary parties into opportunist positions, accompanied by the corresponding veneer of revisionist ideology/propaganda.

In some circles, any reference to Marxist revolutionary theory and methodology, to scientific philosophy and to any science is viewed with suspicion as something foreign and unwelcome. This is not by chance. It is organically linked to that aversion to authentic dialectical science which is an indispensable condition for the degeneration of the left in countries under Euro-Atlantic imperialist control, such as Greece.

How did this come about? The process that led to such a lamentable outcome, while very simple, is not directly visible on the surface, unless its deeper law governed mechanism is scientifically diagnosed. Here I will briefly touch on some aspects of the manipulative mechanism of the law governed association of degenerative drifts with the necessary for their consolidation, revisions of Marxism.

Actual revolutionary theory performs its fundamental scientific functions: description, explanation and especially prediction (anticipatory conception of the laws and the imminent range of possibilities for the optimal revolutionary engagement of the subject). For the authentically revolutionary action established by the classics of Marxism-Leninism, it is precisely these functions of theory that constitute an indispensable condition for establishing and formulating the dialectical relationship between strategy/tactics, politics and organisational practice.

On the contrary, in the escalating degenerative routine of integration into the capitalist regime, linked to the consolidation and reproduction of practices of long-term peaceful operation in terms of legality and bourgeois parliamentarism (in combination with the phenomenon of ‘labour aristocracy’), law governed phenomena emerge, which have been scientifically described/explained by the classics, and especially by Lenin, with reference to the degeneration/breakdown of the Second Socialist International. A characteristic feature of the ideologues of the latter (of Austro-Marxism, Kautsky, Bernstein, etc.) was the gradual drift towards tactics of managing protest and negotiating the conditions of the movement and the party within the regime, a de facto renunciation of the revolutionary programme, to practical and ideological collusion with the bourgeoisie and its imperialist coalitions, with a corresponding muddying of the waters, with lofty oaths of loyalty to the working class, to ‘pure class struggle’, ‘Marxist orthodoxy’, ‘unmediated strategy’, and so on.

The ‘zone of proximal regression’.

This process of manipulation is based on objective tendencies of mass integration of the workers by the regime at the level of production and everyday life. However, in order for this manipulation to be effective, in order for it to be led in directions desired by the regime, it also requires planned, systematic, and gradual intervention by its special agents (‘commissioned’ and/or ‘volunteers’).

After more than a century, admittedly, the methodical interventions have been scientifically optimised, into effective manipulative technologies of subconscious imposition and suggestion (employed by bourgeois ‘scientific marketing’), but the law governed manipulative degenerative path is still intact, taking into account the respective ‘zone of proximal regression’ of the public, the supporters, the electoral clientele targeted by the manipulators, always with an emphasis on emotion and the cultivation of intolerance to rational critical approach in all sciences.

Here I introduce the ‘zone of proximal regression’ as the reverse and diametrical antithesis to the category of L. Vygotsky’s cultural-historical school of Soviet psychology, the ‘zone of proximal development’. The latter is considered as the range of possibilities of optimal creative contribution to the psycho-pedagogical development of the personality (in terms of learning, consciousness, emotions, practice, etc.). This contribution is achieved within the collective and with the catalytic intervention of the ‘more knowledgeable other’ (parent, teacher, etc.). In order for it to work, the level of psychosomatic development of the trainee, the acquired level of knowledge, skills, perceptual representations and abilities is taken into account, so that by basing the approach on this acquis, in a suitable way, and by activating motives that are linked to needs, an upgrading of the subject can be achieved in the process of development of the whole personality and also of the collective as a reference group.

It is a creative activity of psycho-pedagogical science and art par excellence, which, by analogy, does not only concern pedagogy. It can also be used, adapted, and developed in the field of the science and art that is the ideological and political activity, of the theory and practice of the revolutionary movement. It can function as a gradual, step-by-step constitution, formation, and development of the revolutionary subject. Throughout time, it has been linked to the consciousness and practical struggle of the collective subject for the accomplishment of the tactical and strategic tasks of the movement.

On the contrary, in the manipulative interventions of the above degenerative type, what is sought is the more effective manipulation of each personality and of the collective, the imposition of and subjection to opinions, stereotypes, dogmas, ideological constructions and especially attitudes to life, which downgrade and ultimately deconstruct any critical and creative abilities (learning, consciousness, emotional, practical, etc.). Thus, those who attempt such manipulations seek through technical means to have an understanding of the level of perceptual representations of the individuals and groups of the ‘manipulation target group’, i.e., the range of possibilities of the ‘zone of proximal regression’, within and through which effective manipulation in the desired direction is achieved.

This manipulation, to the extent that it becomes effective, leads to skepticism and aversion towards any logically coherent dialectical research, substantiation and proof, while it presupposes classification reflexes of inclusions and exclusions on the basis of demarcating ‘red lines’ of distinction between allies/enemies, etc., at the level of conditioned reflexes.

The more this drift/degeneration in opposition to revolutionary thought and practice escalates, the more methods of repetitive ritual reaffirmation of the unanimity/uncritical acceptance of the a priori ‘eternally correct line of the leadership’, which presents itself and is perceived as the unconditional and unlimited embodiment of the ‘collective wisdom of the party’, are employed…

The drift/degeneration in question may concern:

  • the relationship between strategy and tactics (where appropriate, the reduction of the former to the latter, and the opposite, with the common denominator of creeping tacticalism),
  • the relationship between the strategic objective and tactical means, ways, subjects, intermediate tasks/stages of achieving the strategic objective (without which this objective becomes a metaphysical principle of the beyond, an unscalable peak, a moral imperative of Kantian type, a co-expressive element of manufactured identity, etc.),
  • the wholesale rejection of early socialism based on the adoption of the bourgeois view of equating the existence of all types of commodity and monetary relations with capitalism,
  • the rejection of the anti-imperialist/anti-colonialist movement as a necessary component of the world revolutionary movement (through the revision of the Leninist approach to imperialism and the renunciation of Marxist political economy of global capitalism),
  • the rejection of the dialectic of development through law governed stages (shadow boxing with some construction called in neo-Marxism ‘theory of stages’) and the passage to metaphysical evolutionism,
  • the adoption of neoliberal bourgeois institutional arrangements that deconstruct/degenerate the social & cultural functions of the family through the undermining of the very biological core of personality and the family (on the basis of reactionary postmodern ideologies/doctrines) etc.

The gradual introduction, escalation and foundation of the drift and its consolidation by revision.

This drift/mutation is being carried out on the one hand deliberately, consciously, and methodically by members of the regime’s staff, but also through the routine of a bureaucratised mechanism, in terms of a spontaneous reaction to each problem that arises within the daily drudgery of this mechanism[1]:

  1. At the beginning, a predetermined decision is taken from above to drift into unfamiliar, unacceptable, and repugnant regime positions (tentatively formulated by a representative of the leadership) in a mild way, among a number of other positions familiar to the specific target audience (members, executives, and supporters/voters) and generally correct and acceptable positions, based on the given perceptual representations and views.
  2. In case of a serious reaction from the audience, follows a partial and temporary fold, pending a better opportunity, possibly with different phrasing. In the meantime, this unacceptable position, which triggers reactions of taboo in the relevant audience, is ostensibly transferred to the scientific field, where ‘there are no taboos’. The verdict of the ‘sage community’, the ‘ideological committee’, will initially find and invoke the proposed drift as existing in principle under certain conditions.
  3. Then the relevant reports of cadres and ‘those in charge’ in the media and in public statements/ceremonial events become denser, until the preselected drift begins to be put forward as a topic tolerated for discussion, until it becomes established through repetition and reinforcement in a ‘critical mass’ of the target audience, to the extent that it is considered initially an existing, then debatable and then ‘scientifically valid’ position.
  4. The storm of repetition is accompanied by hints and whispers against those who continue to object, as if they were ‘old-fashioned’, ‘uncompromising’, ‘stubborn’, ‘fanatics who oppose the development of theory’ as well as irredeemably quaint…
  5. Gradually the drift becomes an established position of the political body, something universally accepted and respectable, presented as ‘reasonable in principle’ and ‘popular’. Eventually, the imposition of opportunist drift as a reasonable and now self-evident ‘innovation’ also acquires the official validation of the institutions.
  6. Then, in parallel with the escalation of the relevant references, cadres in charge of the ‘ideological work’, i.e., propaganda in terms of religious indoctrination, undertake the role of consolidating and reinforcing the ‘validity’ of this practical and/or organisational drift. They are responsible for providing a veil of a posteriori scientific and theoretical coverage to the drift that originates from above and imposed as a predetermined decision.
  7. Here the fragmentary and detached from the specific historical period and context selection, invocation, and quotation of such passages from the classics of Marxism-Leninism is employed, which seem to conform to and confirm the ‘validity’ of the drift. Any anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist, etc. position ought to be plumed with passages from the classics and marketed as ‘the one and only orthodox Marxist-Leninist position’.
  8. If this type of ‘foundation’ is not enough, i.e. if the opposition of the words and meanings of the classics to the drift becomes evident, the ideological leaders begin to spread rumours of the obsolescence of, if not all, at least some of the positions of the classics, even censoring the latter, suggesting ‘what we should and should not read from the classics’, but also promoting guidelines/recipes on how we ought to ‘interpret’ them, so that the self-evident correctness of the predetermined drift is duly ‘brought out’. Thus, Lenin’s works such as ‘The Two Tactics of Social Democracy…’, ‘Left-Wing’ Communism: An Infantile Disorder’, etc. may be banned.
  9. However, this entire package of eclecticism, one-sided manipulations, blatant distortion of revolutionary theory and methodology, must not be seen for what it is: a brutal revision of Marxism. That is why the whole project is blatantly presented as a ‘creative development’ of revolutionary theory, as a further confirmation of the ‘collective wisdom of the party’, i.e., of a leadership that is always infallible and above criticism…
  10. This is why systematic measures are taken which are inscribed in the degenerative mutation. Measures that prioritise administrative/bureaucratic control and repression, the prohibition of any criticism and dialogue ‘on such issues that have already been resolved’! The measures move to the level of imposing taboos and terrorising dissidents, which leads to the gradual abandonment of the principles of democratic centralism and the establishment of manipulative practices of authoritarian bureaucratic centralism. Measures that lead to a practical degeneration to the point of eliminating any trace of independent, innovative scientific thought and action.

Besides, the fruitful study, the critical adoption, creative development and application of revolutionary theory and methodology presuppose corresponding organisational arrangements favourable to scientific research as ‘universal labour’ (Marx) and a climate of fruitful, cooperative, genuinely functional public dialogue on the most contentious issues of theory and practice. This atmosphere requires organisational principles of genuine electoralism, thorough bottom-up control, systematic and effective public accountability of the responsible organisational and ideological bodies to the base and the mass circle of influence, rotation in positions of responsibility, genuine recall of bodies and cadres not fulfilling the tasks assigned to them by the base, etc.

Thus, every degenerative practical/organisational drift into positions of integration into the state and transnational structure and functions of the regime of capital and its dominant ideology, in a ‘coherent package’ with the necessary apologetic revision of revolutionary theory, is projected, imposed, and submitted as a self-evident fact. Every possible question, criticism, opinion, etc., that can be perceived as questioning of the aforementioned factual package is practically cancelled and forbidden from the outset.

In the past, existed conditions, albeit problematic, of acceptable internal and broader public, written and verbal debate on a number of key issues of theory, practice and current affairs. All this has now been nullified (in the rapidly mutating bureaucratic opportunist apparatus), by summary ritualistic and authoritarian procedures, with little short-lived room for deviation/release of pressure during the pre-conference debates. On the basis of the prevailing procedures, even the very submission of questions and/or interventions in party assemblies, in meetings of bodies, in party cadres, in public events of broad appeal, even in controlled mass organisations, associations, etc. is systematically prevented.

The proactive prevention of any possible or improbable ‘deviation’ from the approved and hierarchically sanctified package of institutions/revisions is recommended. Thus, any questions/interventions ‘should’ have been discussed/approved in individual ‘collaborations’ with the leadership, always in a close circle. Only some of these, having passed through such filtering may be pronounced as ‘safe and fully subscribed’ to the one and only ‘correct line’. Anything else is perceived as suspect, against the party and divisive and is stamped out. Thus, an audience is nurtured, which regards the above as ‘party normality’ and the consequent revisions of the ‘coherent package’ as ‘development of theory’… If these revisions even overturn previously established principles and traditions, they are presented as ‘proof of a courageous self-criticism that led to a bold change of position’!

In this way, the most important contentious issues are considered by the above mechanism as once and for all ‘solved’ by means of taboo, at least until the next drift, which, in order to function as such, must be set in the above terms of a well-timed escalating mithridatism[ii]. Any other approach, criticism, opinion, etc. is to be banished as ‘opportunist’, ‘anti-party’, ‘anti-communist’, ‘deceitful’, etc.

Where the above are not sufficient, the ad hominem ‘argumentation’ is used in tandem. In other words, a campaign that focuses the attention of the ‘specific target group’ of the manipulation, on insulting, defaming and/or vilifying the person or group/collective that expresses a differing opinion and not the viewpoint espoused by the leadership. The ad hominem ‘argument’, in the most innocent case, constitutes a logical fallacy, where inadvertently, incidentally or due to ignorance, etc., someone thinks that a direct insult to the person making an ‘annoying’ argument is supposedly a response to the argument itself, taking any denigration of the person as a valid reason for rejecting the argument outright as false, without even bothering to make any substantial demonstration of any flaws in the argument.

As such it is deliberately chosen by nimble manipulators to invalidate the opinion of ‘dissenting’ individuals, not through open, public, rational, and scientific confrontation with it, by means of developing arguments, but by morally, etc., smearing, undermining, and denigrating them, by reducing their whole attitude to ‘vicious qualities, deceitfulness, and despicable intentions’. This not only avoids confrontation with a theory, a scientific view, etc., but also prevents a public susceptible to such manipulation from its very reception through principle.

Do these manipulative methods seem to be a sign of security and self-confidence on the part of their carriers? Not at all. The more blatant the degenerative drift/regression, the more insecurity possesses its bearers. An insecurity that manifests itself more and more intensely as the above decalogue of disaster escalates…

The audience, conditioned in such terms of instrumental use and revision of revolutionary theory, perceives science, Marxism …as words, aphorisms, stereotypical expressions, slogans, which simply signal predetermined decisions, positions and views beyond any criticism and suspicion…

In conclusion.

Without the activity of opportunism, without the successive drifts of the movement into positions that serve the strategic interests and choices of capital, imperialism could not maintain its domination.

Various forms of dogmatism and revisionism are constructed as an ideological coating of these degenerative drifts.

We have found that the great revolutionary achievements and the degenerative phenomena in the revolutionary movement and socialist construction are linked to the work of specific historical personalities, but they cannot be universally reduced to the position and role of the latter.

In the stage of decline and decay of imperialism, the ruling class resorts to methods that allow it to manipulate effectively in the direction of preventing the formation of a revolutionary collective subject. An organic part of this obstruction is opportunism.

The imposition and prevalence of opportunist drifts is not achieved instantaneously. A necessary condition for this, is the degradation and the eventual rejection of revolutionary theory, through various versions of its dogmatic and revisionist ideological distortions.

The probing of the respective ‘zone of proximal regression’ and Overton Window style of manipulation techniques are necessary for the gradual introduction, escalation, and consolidation of any opportunist drift, and for it to be cemented by dogmatism and revision.

There can be no revolutionary movement today in which the forces of anti-imperialism and socialism are not organically integrated as component parts. And yet today there are leaderships of parties and forces that deny the necessity and the very existence of forces of anti-imperialism and socialism. These forces have been led to such positions through successive drifts into opportunist positions and corresponding revisions.

This is an unprecedented and extremely dangerous retreat from the revolutionary movement. Those who reject these components of the present movement not only place themselves out of it, but also act as forces for its subversion and disintegration. Any undermining action within the front under the conditions of the WWIII constitutes a hostile act of war.

Without exposing and smashing this column, which pretends to be communist while in practice it acts in the interests of the US-led imperialist axis, it is impossible to unite the victorious anti-imperialist front promoted by the WAP.

[1] This machination has many similarities with the mass manipulation technique used in politics, usually referred to as the Overton Window, after Joseph Overton (1960-2003) who first described it.

[i] Originally an elite military unit of the Ottoman empire made up through child levy, enslavement of children of occupied Christian populations, then converted to Islam and made to serve the sultan, its use here meaning ‘radicalised converts viciously attacking their groups of origin’.

[ii] Mithridatism is the practice of protecting oneself against a poison by gradually self-administering non-lethal amounts, here meaning the process by which (unpleasant) changes that come gradually, very slowly, over time become imperceptible.

By epanen

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