Written by two activists, November 2018. Translated for Tjen Folket Media by an associate.
On November 4, 1923, the Communist Party of Norway (NKP) was first established. It has been 95 years since. There is an organization that continues to use this name, but it is no longer a communist party. Therefore, the most important goal of communists is to reconstruct the Communist Party of Norway, to organize and establish this party anew, and this time as a Maoist party.
“NKP” is not a communist party
The communist party is the proletariat’s party. The party’s task is to lead the proletariat through revolutionary war and seize political power. The party can only serve as a leadership as long as it organizes the most active and self-sacrificing within the class, and to organize them with strict discipline and on the basis of democratic centralism, principally centralism. The core in the party’s organizing is the ideological line, the scientific socialism, today Maoism.
Today’s “NKP” does not meet any of the particular conditions of being a communist party. There is no qualitative difference between them and parties like Rødt [Red Party] or SV [Socialist Left Party], other than the fact that they are much bigger than “NKP”. The program of the party is not a program for revolutionary war. They write that revolution is when “a new class takes the power and the leadership of society through revolution, peacefully or otherwise”, i.e. they disregard Marx and Lenin and other classics, who have demonstrated that a revolution is a war and that it cannot be “peaceful”. Their program further goes on to state that before this “peaceful or otherwise” upheaval, we must first have reforms.
“NKP” writes that “in order to limit and thereafter break monopoly-capitalism’s power and develop democracy, extensive democratic reforms must be implemented to tie the struggle for democracy together with the struggle for socialism.” The theory is that reforms and demands of the state will intensify the class struggle. The more reforms, the more class struggle, and thus the closer we become to socialism. The party’s program is, in other words, pure reformism. And it stands in stark contrast to reality, where reforms within capitalism have been one of the two primary methods for repressing the class struggle and revolution. Since Bismarck, state reforms and welfare have been conscious methods for giving the masses a few crumbs, to prevent them from seizing all of the power.
It is even reformist in practice. They have no security policies and they have placed all their focus on participating in the election, even if they do poorly. Both in theory and in practice, it is a social democratic group. The reason for this situation can be found in a series of errors and shortcomings with the original party.
From fundamental errors to a revisionist party
The only ones who never make any errors are those who already lie in the grave. All parties will make mistakes. But some mistakes are more serious than others. And serious and fundamental errors lay the basis for parties changing their colors and becoming their own contradictions. NKP was established as a party with some extremely serious weaknesses that the party was never able to fully break with and which laid the basis for the party ceasing to be a communist party. NKP was established without making a complete break with reformism. They had an influential right wing which was particularly strong within the party’s parliamentary group and within the leadership of the labour unions. The party was created as a result of the Labour Party’s break with Comintern and the connection between Comintern and the Soviet Union cast a shadow over all other political questions in the split between the DNA and the establishment of NKP.
The party was furthermore not able to produce a strong leader that could apply Marxism-Leninism creatively on the basis of Norwegian conditions, initiate the armed struggle, and lead forth a leftist line for the party’s development. As a number of other parties in the same epoch, the party leadership was apparently dominated by Comintern-loyals who “merely” wanted to fight for the Comintern-line, as well as a variety of right opportunists like Hallvard Olsen, Sverre Støstad, Emil Stand, Olav Scheflo, and eventually Peder Furubotn.
The party’s first leader, Støstad, went back to the Labour Party in 1927. The party’s deputy, Olsen, was expelled one year after its establishment (1924) for his betrayal of the iron workers strike, joined the Labour Party in 1927, and in 1940 ended up with the Nazi party, Nasjonal Samling (NS).
The party had representatives for a leftist line and the party had activists and leaders who deserve great respect. But the party was not able to produce this leadership, nor the leadershp that they would need in order to succeed in initiation a people’s war and leading the proletariat to their victory. To make matters worse, several leaders were also heavily traumatized by Nazi terror and imprisonment in concentration camps.
The party ended up as a normal reformist party, a revisionist party that followed the Soviet Union’s capitalistic rightist line after Khrushchev’s coup in 1956. But even after this complete transition to revisionism, the splits continued and leaders like Jørgen Vogt, Hans I. Kleven, and Reidar T. Larsen were expelled or left the party freely. Not as opponents of Soviet revisionism or reformism, but because the party did not go far enough to the right for their liking.
To summarize briefly: a party that neither works for revolution or even sees the difference between capitalism and socialism; a useless party for the proletariat. Such a party can obviously never lead the proletariat to power and develop the class struggle all the way until communism. It is not a communist party if it mistakes Khrushchev’s capitalism gilded in a thin layer of red with a dictatorship of the proletariat.
The party’s errors and communists’ heroism during the war
When the Labour Party left the Communist International (Comintern) and NKP was established, the party was already off to a late start as a communist party. Many countries had already built their communist party. In Germany, communists in 1919 and 1920 had already led massive rebellions which were unfortunately brutally repressed. But in 1923, the wave of proletarian revolution that followed in the aftermath of the October Revolution in 1917 had begun to regress. The revolutionary movement in Europe was back on the rise. NKP was established in the middle of this retrogression and it did not change the trend. Most of their foremost leaders who had formed the party in 1923 disappeared from the party within the next 15 years.
When Germany invaded Norway in 1940, it was a particularly weakened NKP that received the task of forming a proletarian politics to meet the fascist occupation. This failed miserably within the first year. They spend all of their efforts on continued legalistic struggle, including labour union work and negotiations regarding the possibility of joining a new government when the social democratic government was exiled to England. NKP’s errors in 1940 was not theirs alone. This failure also belongs to Comintern. But the Norwegian leaders must bear the primary responsibility, as they were the ones who were in charge of the party. It was not until 1941 that the party began carrying out an armed resistance against the occupiers, then under the leadership of Peder Furubotn. Before this, he was an on-and-off member of the central leadership of NKP and the leadership on Comintern. He was controversial and was on several occasions recalled from his leadership positions due to this.
In 1949, Furubotn was expelled from NKP, along with a number of his compatriots. He had advocated for a “national communism”. During the war, he led the party’s armed struggle with great success. After the war’s end, the party’s illegal apparatus was shut down, the weapons were handed in, and the party joined the unity government with all the bourgeois parties. After 1949, he led a group that clearly stood for a reformist line. He developed his own theories claiming that increased productivity would strengthen the proletariat’s position in the workplace, and that it would show the way forward to more democracy and therefore towards a more socialistic future. A purely reformist line, with striking similarities with the revisionist’s rightist lines in the Soviet Union and China. In these two countries as well, productivity was placed before the class struggle as a supposed driving force for socialistic development. This is the “royal thought” of the today’s Chinese leaders and big capitalists, where they claim that the primary contradiction in China is not between classes, but rather between a backward productive base and a modern socialistic superstructure.
To be clear, it was not a leftist line in NKP that lead the armed struggle against the German occupation. That leadership was torn to pieces by fascists. The leaders were sent to concentration camps. Several died. Furubotn was able to convince the leadership of the party as the sole voice in support of the correct line for the armed struggle against occupation, and even then too little too late. The Marxist-Leninist movement in the 1970s developed a criticism of NKP’s role during the war. And the party was also self-critical in its aftermath. This does not contradict the honor owed to all the brave communists who gave themselves to the fight against fascism. Thousands demonstrated great heroism. Hundreds lost their lives. These are martyrs not only in the struggle against fascism, but in the communist movement’s proud history.
But the party NKP did not honor the sacrifices that were made. Not in an honest communist manner. There were even tendencies of a shameful concealment of the struggle, since it had not been lead by the party leadership itself. The most active, for instance, were in the Osvald Group, the Pelle Group, and the partisans in Finnmark. Osvald received their orders directly from the NKVD (Soviet intelligence services). The partisans were led directly by the Red Army. And the party’s own opposition work was eventually led by Peder Furubotn, a man who was never particularly popular among the party’s or Comintern’s actual leadership, neither before or after the war. Historians describe a man who was both problematic on an individual level, as well as in terms of the political line De that he stood for.
Revisionism is revolution’s mortal enemy
The party’s popularity among the people was multiplied by ten during the war. Communists won a lot of respect for fighting against fascism. But the party was not forged into a revolutionary fighting party. They went directly back to their “old sins”. Election campaigns and campaigns for positions in the labour unions became the party’s primary focus. There was no real understanding of the proletariat only are able to take power by seizing the gun, and that the party must therefore be built around the gun. Instead, the party built itself up around the exact same forms of activity as every other party: parliamentarianism. What happened to Lenin’s thesis: “a party of a new type”? There was nothing new with this type of party that NKP eventually capitulated to. The party stopped being a communist party and thereby lost its right to bear the name of the proletariat’s party.
In the 1970s, one could often hear that “NKP” was the echo of the Labour Party in national politics and the echo of the Soviet Union in foreign policy. They willingly supported social democratic “labour governments”. They obediently followed the Soviet Union when it began garnering support for its social imperialistic and hegemonic politics. Under the cover of “peaceful coexistence” and the “peaceful road to socialism”, these Soviet-revisionists fought against revolution on all continents. Their support for political parties and movements was the same that all great powers had always offered – support on the condition that it served their own interests. They gladly intervened militarily, whether it was Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, Cuba, or Afghanistan. And they were welcomed by politicians who wished to work on the behalf of Soviet bayonets. Those were as traitorous as the ones who wanted to work on the behalf of Yankee-imperialism. The only exception must have been those who allowed themselves to be fooled by silver tongues and empty promises. But political naivety is nothing to be honored, even if it is marginally less rotten than blatant and conscious betrayal.
The shadow of “NKP” that persists does have members that deserve respect for this or that. But the party manifests itself as a supporter for the reactionary union of false “communist and labour parties”. Their allied parties have served directly as agents for social imperialism on all continents, like the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia, which killed revolutionaries in the thousands. Or like CPI (Marxist) in India, that has sent death squads against Maoists and peasants in West Bengal. Or the state capitalist monarchy in North Korea, a sworn enemy of the Chinese cultural revolution. Or Vietnam, that invaded Cambodia and subjugated the country as a semi-colony. Or the PDPA in Afghanistan, which murdered thousands of young communists.
Within revisionist movements one can find many people with good intentions. A number of them remain within these revisionist movements because they believe that since there as so few communists in Norway today, they must gather where they can. They perhaps believe that we must simply gather all those with good intentions and those who sympathize with a sort of “communist thought” so as to not split the left. They perhaps believe that anything would be better than the US-led imperialist capitalism. And many of them believe that it is wrong to wage the line struggle because they fear splitting.
Revisionism is the mortal enemy of communists. Not only in the past, but in the here and now. Revisionist parties persecute, imprison, and kill our comrades today, in our own times. And instead of reconciling with revisionism, communist must advance the line that maintains that there may only exist one communist party, that the proletariat may only have one leadership, and that this leadership in our epoch must be guided by and apply Maoism.
The demand to reconstruct a party as a Maoist party stands opposed to the principle of pleasing everybody. It stands opposed to the fear of line struggle and opposed to unprincipled unity. The demand is to treat scientific socialism as the science that it is, and to acknowledge that a combative revolutionary party must have one leadership and one ideology, unite the proletariat around them, and break with, struggle against, and smash revisionist lines and leaders.
On all continents, revisionism has manifested itself as infiltrators and agents. It has manifest itself as an apologist for Soviet imperialism. It has legitimized fascist oppression in the Soviet Union and China, particularly against true revolutionaries. This entire movement is rotten to its core. That it shamefully continues to abuse revolutionary symbols only makes this worse. It is the duty of all communists to reveal this false image. Revisionism is revolution’s mortal enemy. Whether it operates “from within” or without, it has for its entire existence legitimized capitalism, supported it, and murdered scores of revolutionary leaders.
From Maoism to victory
Furthermore, it is the duty of communists to dedicate themselves fully and entirely to reestablishing the communist party. The Communist Party of Norway must be reconstituted and reconstructed, this time on the basis of today’s Marxism, namely Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism. It must be reconstructed as a party that initiates people’s war, because this is the only way to the proletariat’s seizure of the political power. If there exist other ways, then we have not seen them for over a hundred years. On the contrary, we have seen that people’s war leads to victory. And the party must, if it is to initiate people’s war, be a militarized party.
That the old must die and the new must be born is not in and of itself something to mourn. It is the way of both life and history. It is the most natural thing in the world. That we today are without communist parties in most of the world’s countries is not a qualitatively worse situation than the one we faced in the 19th century, when there did not exist a single such party in the world. But today, we are in a qualitatively much better position, as we now have over a century of rich experiences to learn from. We have people’s wars that are being waged in Peru, Turkey, the Philippines, and India. The proletariat’s ideology has undergone a new qualitative leap, lifting it to a much higher level: Maoism.
Maoism comprises itself of the systematization of these rich experiences, and enables us to set the correct course ahead of us. And it it implemented creatively by the greatest, most self-sacrificing among the world’s poorest masses in India’s and Brazil’s rainforests, in Turkey’s mountains, in Peru’s valleys, and in the Philippines’ thousands of islands. There were always exist “geniuses” who claim to make all the discoveries on their own. Who lives relatively isolated from the great revolutionary struggles, but who have somehow managed to find “their own way” at their desks in imperialist countries. They are influenced by their class interests and a corresponding compulsion to subordinate the scientific discoveries of the classics. They are often incapable of offering a criticism of the great communist leaders, but will “find something new” in order to avoid having to answer for it. For the most part, they are fooling themselves and they never measure up to history’s true geniuses.
If one is a humble revolutionary, one who has as their highest goal to serve the people, one would rather opt to learn from the leaders that the proletariat itself has forged. And furthermore, they will passionately seek to apply their studies to the material conditions where they themselves live and work. Most importantly, they will fight to reconstruct the leadership that is required to advance, and then to advance the proletariat’s own party, the Communist Party of Norway. This party will again be established and this party will lead the revolution to victory in Norway as a part of the world proletarian revolution.
We are condemned to win, and our first great victory will be the reconstruction of the Communist Party of Norway. When this will happen, how long it will take, will depend on the initiative and sacrifices of Norwegian communists, along with our ability to apply Maoism creatively to our conditions. It is nonetheless not a question of IF we will win, but WHEN we will win.
Smash opportunism and revisionism with two line struggle and revolution!
Reconstruct the Communist Party of Norway as a Maoist party!