The case of parties and organizations who, although objectively currently collaborating with national and transnational right-wing in their efforts to restore the status quo before 1999, insist to call themselves “progressive” or “left”, deserves special attention. We refer in particular to the degenerate remnants of old organizations that achieved their peak in previous decades with a progressive and even revolutionary speech and style, but have been unmasked by history as the product of opportunistic outbreaks without real revolutionary substance.
The most tragic of them, but probably not the most important by their numbers or influence, is called Bandera Roja (BR). This is a group with roots in the movements that persisted in the tactics of armed struggle after the military withdrawal of PCV in 1967, and is the result of successive splits and recombinations of the defunct Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR, result in turn of a division of Social-Democrat AD), plus various adventurous groups of heterogeneous origin who were adding to it over the years. In its ideological composition we could identify elements of Maoism and Guevarism (doctrine called “focalism”).
Since the mid 1970s, isolated from the working-class background and virtually unconnected to any important mass movement, the main arena of political action BR was the student movement, where it had a certain influence and where it recruited most of its cadres. Our Party and our youth repeatedly censored opportunism and adventurism of the actions of BR, and sought wherever possible to engage in political debate with their leaders.
During the 1980s, increasingly isolated, cornered and infiltrated by state security forces, BR and its surrounding suffered severe blows at the hands of the police and military repression that caused them heavy casualties, particularly in the so-called “massacres of Cantaura and Yumare”, denounced at the time by our Party as State crimes against humanity. Since then, dismantled its military wing, BR retreated to exclusively student university scenarios, were it starred in provocative actions of great courage but without constructive political content, which were almost unanimously rejected by the population.
From far-left opportunism, BR went to far-right in the late 90s, on the imminence of the election victory of President Chavez. Some of its cadres then broke with the organization and joined the political project of the President (and now occupy important positions in the PSUV and the government), while others were declared in opposition to the new government and became, in the practice, the shock troops at the service of those who had persecuted and killed them in previous decades.
We must also consider the case of an organization called the Radical Cause (La Causa-R or LCR). Founded around 1972 as a result of disagreements and conflicts between the renegade leadership expelled from our ranks in 1971 (especially Maneiro on the one hand, and Petkoff, Marquez and Munoz on the other), LCR was during his early years an organization in the shadow of the MAS, which was much bigger.
Taking advantage of the void left by the Communists in the labour movement during the armed struggle (error from which we have not managed to completely recover), LCR grew rapidly in the trade unions during the 1970s and 1980s, and managed to achieve important influence especially among the workers of large metallurgical industries in the Guayana region. There the opportunistic nature of LCR showed up again and was then in evidence which was to be their political fate: their particular practice at the forefront of the union movement was increasingly workerist and demanding and increasingly remote from the genuine class unionism.
The degeneration of the LCR-controlled unions led them even to openly corrupt practices and the progressive deterioration of their influence. In the early 90's, LCR had a brief heyday as a national political party, in their own or supporting individual right-wing figures, but their lack of ideological and political coherence prevented them from further growth and led to their decline almost immediately. They were part of the alliance that supported the presidential candidacy of Hugo Chávez in 1998, but in the early years of the new government they broke with the President and joined the opposition, where it remains today.
An important group of their leaders chose to stay with President Chavez and formed a new organization, the party Patria Para Todos (PPT), which after at least two splits, has finally joined LCR in the ranks of the opposition. Some of those who were part of the PPT decided in 2007 to join the PSUV and today remain beside the President.
MAS and its derivatives, with BR and LCR and their descendants, now claim to use their remote left-wing past to hoist allegedly “progresive” flags and pose as the “left wing” of the opposition to President Chávez. This maneuver, another demonstration of the opportunistic nature and classless nature of such elements, tries to confuse some sectors of the working class and the wide people, and therefore should be denounced and unmasked.
Time to close with some conclusions and lessons to be learned from our history of struggle against opportunism. The first and foremost is the confirmation on our own experience of Lenin's assertion as to the origin and nature of opportunism as an expression of the inescapable presence in the ranks of the revolutionary parties of petty bourgeois layers, with their own conceptions and trends:
“...in every capitalist country there are always wide layers of petty bourgeoisie, of small owners, side by side with the proletariat [...] So it is very natural that the petty bourgeois conceptions of the world burst once and agains in the ranks of the big workers' parties” [1908: 26-27].
Each petty bourgeois layer present in our Party with enough force automatically tends, unless it is stopped in time, to develop their own variety of opportunism, in accordance with their characteristics, interests and profiles. Radicalized university intellectuals tend to left opportunism, as officials, professionals and other relatively established and prosperous sectors, tend to the right-wing variety.
From this diagnosis the prophylaxis and medicine for the disease is clear without too much effort: comprehensive proletarianization of our Party. We do not refer only to the deep assimilation of the views and proletarian ideology of Party members not originally coming from the working class, but especially to the effective and dominant presence of worker cadres in the Party leadership bodies in such high proportion as circumstances permit. The latter is what Comrade Alvaro Cunhal called the “golden rule”:
“An important guarantee for the class policy of the Party is the determinant participation of working class militantes in the leadership, i.e., a party leadership with a working class majority.
[...] The most frequent (and the general rule) is that bourgeois ideology has more influence in the intellectuals than in the workers and therefore the determinant participation of workers in the leadership guarantees more solidness in the principles than the determinant participation of comrades from a different social origin” [1985: 62].
And such a rule, as we have seen, was precisely the medicine that PCV prescribed to himself in the 4th National Congress of 1971. In this sense, our 13th and 14th Congresses, and our 11th Conference, have insisted in recent years on the need to increase the proletarian presence in the ranks of our Party, and have prioritized and worked among the working class as first task of the PCV. But we must recognize that, although we have recently had some major successes in this regard, our Party today is still not able to fully comply with that golden principle.
The second major lesson from our experience is that implacable dialectic of history, sooner or later, is imposed on all opportunists, even against their will, and eventually pushes them to the camp of the bourgeoisie; ie, all opportunism always ends up being right-wing, regardless of the forms and slogans initially adopted. And this is because they all have in common a central element: their rejection or ignorance of the point of view of the proletariat, leaving them unable to appreciate the historical perspective of the overall development of societies .
Indeed, as Lenin himself says, all opportunism, one way or another, with varying theorizing emphasis, with varying degrees of subtlety, always “falsifies Marxism amputating everything that the bourgeoisie can not accept” [1918: 490]. And of course, the first thing to be maimed in our doctrine to win acceptance of the bourgeoisie, is precisely the class analysis, center and cornerstone of all Marxism.
It is therefore imperative to exercise the utmost vigilance in terms of theoretical and conceptual rigor in our analysis, and the use of accurate scientific categories of Marxism-Leninism. Experience shows that outbreaks are usually announced with opportunistic deviations or “innovations” in the level of discourse and analysis, even before they become visible in the field of practical action.
This does not mean in any way that we dogmatically resist the legitimate and necessary development of revolutionary science, or that we should close ourselves to the natural healthy debate and exchange of ideas both inside and outside our ranks.O n the contrary, it means that we address all debate and all potential doctrinal development with the utmost seriousness and rigor. Science can and must grow and develop, but it is our obligation to exercise critical vigilance so, among the legitimate innovations there is no infiltration of ideological smuggling that denatures the tested foundings of Marxism-Leninism, especially in what has to do with class analysis.
Finally, we note that our battles against liquidationism have reaffirmed us in the importance of maintaining the independence and the organizational and programmatic autonomy of the political party of the working class. As demonstrated by the subsequent development of events, giving in to liquidationist pressure, however powerful and seductive it was at the time, would have been a catastrophic failure, which would have left the working class politically disarmed, and in an even higher level of distress and disruption in face of the petty bourgeois and bourgeois forces and positions.
We make our own, in this sense, the words of Comrade José Carlos Mariátegui:
“...the vanguard of proletariat and the conscious workers, faithful to the action in the field of the class struggle, reject all tendency meaning the merger with the political forces or organisms from other classes. We condemn as opportunistic all policy that promotes the temporary renounce of proletariat to its programme and activity independence, which must be integrally safeguarded at all times” [1930: 201].
Today, once the positions that wanted to liquidate our Party have been defeated and the influences that aspired to dilute or distort our class profile and get us away from the Marxist-Leninits ideology have been submitted, the PCV grows stronger with new energy, and the compass pointing firmly into the perspective of socialist revolution and communist future.
1908. Vladimir I. Lenin. «Marxismo y revisionismo». En: Obras escogidas. Moscú: Editorial Progreso, 1974: 20-27.
1918. ----------. «La revolución proletaria y el renegado Kautsky». En: Obras escogidas. Moscú: Editorial Progreso, 1974: 400-494.
1924. Gyorgy Lukács. Lenin: Estudio sobre la coherencia de su pensamiento. Buenos Aires: La Rosa Blindada, 1968.
1930. José Carlos Mariátegui. «Sobre un tópico superado». En: Ideología y política. Caracas: Ediciones del Ministerio de Comunicación e Información, 2006: 199-201.
1946. Partido Comunista de Venezuela. El Congreso de Unidad de los Comunistas. Caracas: Comisión Nacional de Educación y Propaganda.
1970. Pedro Ortega Díaz y Antonio García Ponce. Las ideas antisocialistas de Teodoro Petkoff. Caracas: Editorial Cantaclaro.
1971-a. 4o Congreso Nacional del PCV. «Informe del Comité Central (A cargo de Jesús Faría)». En: 4o Congreso Nacional del PCV. Documentos y Resoluciones. Caracas: Gráfica Americana: 77-112.
1971-b. ----------. «Resolución de expulsión del grupo fraccional renegado (Declaración del 4o Congreso sobre la reciente deserción)». En: 4o Congreso Nacional del PCV. Documentos y Resoluciones. Caracas: Gráfica Americana: 211-223.
1976. Rafael José Cortés. «¿Proceso a la izquierda o desbandada hacia la derecha?». En: El MAS, desbandada hacia la derecha. Caracas: Ediciones Centauro, 1979: 75-106.
1979. ----------. En defensa del socialismo (Respuesta a las «Conversaciones»). Caracas: Gráficas Río Orinoco.
1980-a. Fernando Key Sánchez. Fundación del Partido Comunista de Venezuela. Caracas: Fondo Editorial Carlos Aponte.
1980-b. 6o Congreso Nacional del PCV. Programa del PCV. Caracas: COTRAGRAF.
1985. Álvaro Cunhal. O Partido com paredes de vidro. Lisboa: Editorial Avante, 2006.
2007-a. 13o Congreso Nacional (extraordinario) del PCV. «Tesis sobre el Partido de la Revolución». En: Documentos fundamentales del Partido Comunista de Venezuela. Caracas: Departamento Nacional de Educación e Ideología del PCV, 2009: 99-112.
2007-b. ----------. «Resolución Política». En: Documentos fundamentales del Partido Comunista de Venezuela. Caracas: Departamento Nacional de Educación e Ideología del PCV, 2009: 97-98.
2007-c. 11a Conferencia Nacional del PCV. «Informe Central». En: Documentos fundamentales del Partido Comunista de Venezuela. Caracas: Departamento Nacional de Educación e Ideología del PCV, 2009: 117-130.
2011. 14o Congreso Nacional del PCV. «Línea Política». [En proceso de publicación].