Forwarded on behalf of George Pennefather ...


The communist programme is central to communist politics. It is an
expression of the theoretical and political character of communism at any
given conjuncture or under any given epoch. The programme constitutes the
essence of communism and is a summation of communism at any given
conjuncture. The communist programme is an expression of the political
strength of communism and is evidence that communism is not a mere exercise
in theoretical activity. It is revolutionary practice. The communist
programme is evidence of the inseparable unity between theory and politics.
The programme is the element that brings theory and practice into an
integrated unity. Communism, then, contains an inescapable programmatic

The communist programme consists of a set of aims together with the strategy
by which these aims can be achieved. All communist programmes, independently
of any particular conjuncture in which they are lodged, have as their  goal
the establishment of communist relations. The strategy, together with its
corresponding system of tactics, must correspond with the intricate
combination of conditions that may prevail at any given conjuncture.
Communism must inform the strategy employed. Consequently a particular
strategy cannot be inconsistent with the ultimate aim of achieving communist
relations of production. All strategic and tactical action cannot compromise
principled communist politics. Various tactics such as the united front,
strikes and picketing, rank and file opposition movements, popular militias,
factory committees and workers' councils have been jointly deployed under
many different circumstances as a means to promote and develop mass
mobilization on a revolutionary basis. Such  principled tactics are forms by
which a correct internal relationship between communism and non-communism is
established. This relationship implies that non-communism contains communism
within it.

The communist programme embodies the strategic goals of communism. The
communist programme  focuses on the practical tasks flowing from these
fundamental principles based on the concrete historical conditions that
obtain in capitalist society at any given time. It embodies the strategy and
tactics to achieve the general goals and does not separate these questions
off from the programme. There is no chinese wall between principles,
strategy and tactics  in the communist programme.

The minimum-maximum programme

The minimum-maximum programme was characterised by the rigid separation of
the minimum demands (economic or political reforms achievable within the
framework of capitalism) and the maximum goal of socialism.
This separation of the two elements of the programme, enshrined in German
Social Democracy's "Erfurt Programme", was the basis of the opportunist
politics of the developing reformist wing of the Second International.
Present day Social Democracy differs from its classical forebears only in
the ever increasing feebleness of its pleadings for minimal reforms and in
the ever decreasing use it has for holiday speechifying about socialism.
In the epoch of classical liberal capitalism the working class, especially
in Europe, fought for a series of economic and political rights as part of
its struggle to organize and defend itself against the bourgeoisie. However,
in this very process a reformist bureaucracy  crystallised out of the labour
aristocracy. For this bureaucracy selected elements of the minimum
programme, achieved by purely peaceful, legal and parliamentary methods,
were ends in themselves. This stood in sharp contrast to the position of
revolutionary communism for which these demands were the forms by which the
needs of the working class are met in the actual struggle for communism. In
the course of the emergence of the imperialist epoch the reformist
bureaucracy was strengthened considerably. The minimum-maximum programme was
the programmatic basis for the reformist bureaucracy's enforcement of the
rigid separation of the struggle for reforms from any revolutionary
perspective for the overthrow of capitalism. The minimum-maximum programme,
then, provided the ideological basis for Social Democracy's reformism and
consequently invested it with a legitimacy. This rendered the task of
combating reformist politics much more difficult. The minimum-maximum
programme provided the reformists with a strategic goal to ensure a position
of influence for itself within capitalism. To this end it attempted to limit
the struggles of the working class by transforming parliamentary electoral
tactics into a central strategy for obtaining reforms under capitalism.
The significance of this development in the history of the working class is
one that tends to be neglected. It was one that was to exercise an
enormously significant impact on the  character of the historical
development of the working class. It was to modify the revolutionary
character of the working class to  such an extent that the prospects for the
emergence of a confident and strong revolutionary working class movement was
seriously impaired. As a result of this negative development the working
class was infected, in an institutionalized way, with bourgeois and petty
bourgeois ideology and politics that was to render the development of a
revolutionary culture and politics of the working class a much more daunting
task. The inculcation of this reactionary reformist feature on the working
class movement constituted one of the more serious defeats inflicted on the
working class that has left a virtually permanent imprint on the character
of the working class movement. Clearly a combination of objective and
subjective factors explain this historic defeat. This defeat meant that the
bourgeoisie, to a large extent, had succeeded in putting the working class
in an ideological and political cage.
Stalinism was to use a variation of the minimum-maximum programme to mislead
the working class: the programme of stages based on the theory of socialism
in one country.  This programme and theory was fashioned by the conservative
bureaucracy of the USSR in the 1920s during the period of its political
counter-revolution against the working class. According to the programme of
stages, the existence of the Soviet Union means that it is possible for
revolutions to pass through a democratic stage prior to a transition towards
The theory argues that this democratic stage (variously called advanced
democracy, people's democracy, anti-imperialist democracy) is rigidly
separated from a socialist stage. Capitalism must be preserved during the
democratic stage and socialism can then gradually and peacefully evolve
according to the unique laws operating in each country.  The programme was a
cynical policy by the bureaucracy to limit the struggles against capitalism.
This variation of the minimum-maximum programme, even in its most "left"
form, which argues that the implementation of the democratic stage cannot be
left to the bourgeoisie but must be realised by Stalinism.
The consequence of this "democratic stage" is always counter-revolution
either by a capitalist class able to regroup during the "democratic stage"
(Chile, Portugal, Iran) or by a Stalinist force that can only defend itself,
and ultimately world capitalism, by liquidating capitalism in a form meant
to contain the scale and quality of the revolutionary process by the
political expropriation of the working class-as in Eastern Europe, China,
Indo-China, and Cuba.
The Stalinist or Social Democratic version of the minimum-maximum programme
is a means for obstructing not only the fight for socialism, but even an
effective fight to win or defend reforms. Capitalism can provide neither
permanent systematic social reforms nor lasting and fully-fledged bourgeois
To solve recurrent economic crises the bourgeoisie is obliged to attack the
political rights of the working class in its struggle to undermine the
living standards of the working class. The trade union bureaucracy's
accommodation to such a system can only mean sacrificing even the minimum
programme to the needs of the profit system. The defence of the class
interests of the working class demands economic and political warfare
against capitalism, even to achieve a decent wage or to secure a job. The
limits of the minimum-maximum programme are felt over the entire globe.
Imperialism is incapable of overseeing radical and consistent agrarian
reform or sustaining parliamentary democracy in much of the neo-colonial
To confine the struggle to minimum demands is to suppress the demand for
communism that lies concealed within minimum demands. To suppress this
implicit aspect of the minimum demands is to, in effect, fail to fight for
the minimum demands. The only real way to fight for and defend the minimum
demands is by conducting a struggle that entails fighting for the maximum
demands. In effect there is no essential difference between minimum and
maximum demands within the programmatic content of communism. To fight for
minimum demands is to fight for  maximum demands. This is the dialectical
character of the communist programme.
To fight for minimum demands is to fight for maximum demands. This is
because to fight for minimum demands entails particular methods of
organizing and struggling in order to achieve these demands. But this
particular form of struggle is a form is one that implicitly entails the
struggle for maximum demands.
In contrast to the trotskyist programme we do not draw such distinctions.
The trotskyist programme is a disguised version of the Stalinist
minimum-maximum programme. The distinction between these two programmes is
that  trotskyism includes what are called transitional demands. Consequently
Trotskyists, in contrast to the Stalinists, set up three programmatic
layers.  Both programmes entail the separation and thereby limitation of the
class struggle. They both conceive struggle as divided into stages. In the
case of Trotskyism there are as much as three stages. The stage of minimum
demands, the stage of transitional demands and the stage of socialist
demands. The three stages are externally linked to each other. Trotskyism's
essential criticism of the stalininst programme is really a derivative one.
It is really a criticism of the Stalinist programme from within the
Stalinist programme. Both programme lack a dialectical character unlike the
communist programme.
Communists must regularly in the light of experience and changing conditions
refine and  re-elaborate its programme. They must produce a sharply focused
action programme addressing the key questions of the day in the context of
the struggle for communism.
Our programme must stand on the shoulders of the preceding gains of the
revolutionary working class movement. It forms the only basis from which to
build action programmes for particular countries, situations or sections in
struggle. Such action programmes contain all of the key elements of the
general programme itself but will sharply focus them to a particular
situation or country. Our programme is a world programme for the world party
of communist revolution, focused towards the burning problems characteristic
of the imperialist epoch. It is a programme of transition towards communist
revolution and as such applies with full force to imperialist and
non-imperialist countries alike. It is a programme that can pave the way to
a society based on the satisfaction of human need, not one based on either
the lust for profit or the satisfaction of the needs of a parasitic
bureaucracy. This programme, which in its method, its analysis, its demands
and its tactics and strategy, embodies the living spirit of revolutionary
communism and lays the basis for the re-establishment of authentic
revolutionary communism on a world scale.

Comradely regards

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