By Revolutionary Communist Youth, 2011
This text is from 2011 and was written for and by Revolutionary Communist Youth (RKU), then the youth organization for Tjen Folket. The text’s ideological limitation is that the league had then not fully grasped the essence of Maoism. Therefore, the article’s greatest weakness is that it does not clarify and argue for people’s war as the only way to communism.
Yet, despite its weaknesses, it demonstrates that the so-called “anti-monopolistic strategy” is bourgeois reformism in a clear manner. The subject has again been made relevant by people like Rødt Party member Ivar Espås Vangen, who has written about it in Radikal Portal and raised the question at an open meeting at the Hoxhaist-influed organization KPML.
Image: The Kremlin in Moscow, which was taken over by revisionists and served as the center for global modern revisionism for several decades.
RKU on Anti-Monopolistic Strategy
Norway’s Communist Youth League was earlier the youth organization of NKP and in those days discusses the old NKP line for the “anti-monopolistic strategy”. RKU has been asked to write about our position on the strategy.
Modern Norwegian Revisionism
In 1956, the Soviet Union changed its colors. Stalin’s closest allies were purged from their positions of power. Thousands of Bolsheviks followed suit, when Khrushchev and his group of revisionists and bureaucrats constituted themselves as a new ruling class in the Soviet Union. It was relatively peaceful, but nonetheless fully bourgeois counterrevolution, that quickly changed Soviet policies. In the course of a few years, the economy was fundamentally changed, from maximal satisfaction of the peoples’ and socialism’s needs to director-led enterprise and profits for the bosses.
This counterrevolution was an enormous support for revisionism’s development in all communist parties around the world. The so-called Euro-communist current in the largest European communist parties, in France, Spain, and Italy all won through and these parties were turned into their countries’ foremost social democratic parties. Their strategy became the parliamentary way with cooperation with social democrats, instead of revolution.
It is in the context of this modern revisionist breakthrough that we must consider the so-called “anti-monopolistic strategy” of the Communist Party of Norway (NKP). In NKP’s program, the “anti-monopolistic strategy” remains the strategic main line. The “new” theory for a peaceful transition to socialism was thoroughly torn to pieces in AKP(ml)’s theoretical organs Røde Fane and Materialisten in the 1970s.
Hans I. Kleven was the foremost proponent of this strategy in Norway. Even after having abandoned NKP, Kleven was still in practice the chief ideologue for the party. In his books, he attempted to give this Norwegian revisionism a “Marxist” layer of credibility. His analysis, which is now being recirculated by people in NKP/Norway’s Communist Youth League and NKU is a completely useless analysis for communists. It builds on a fundamentally incorrect analysis of the concrete conditions and two grave deviations from Marxism.
Strategically Allied Capitalists?
Hans I. Kleven and NKP claim that unity in the bourgeoisie has been torn apart, and that the monopoly bourgeoisie is sharply separated from the rest of the bourgeoisie. It is claimed that this lays the basis for an alliance between the proletariat, the petit bourgeoisie, and the non-monopolistic parts of the bourgeoisie. They actually believe that the small and intermediate capitalists can be united with the rest of the people in a peaceful transition that takes state power from the monopoly capitalists and puts it in the hands of communists in the leadership of society. This is not a correct analysis of Norway, and it is a pipe dream thought up to paint a thin layer of Marxism over clean-cut reformism.
It is correct to say that the monopoly bourgeoisie has power in Norway today. It is a logical consequence of imperialism’s development. It follows as well that direct state power is in the hands of this general staff – a minority of the finance oligarchy of top leaders, directors in the state’s companies, and the top layers of a smelted mass of banking and industry. They do not share this power with the rest of the bourgeoisie, but they nonetheless have strong support among the entirety of the bourgeoisie.
The non-monopolistic capitalists hate socialism and communism. They often work their workers harder and are often even more despotic in their business. Lenin describes the manner in which the smaller capitalist will often pursue more petty exploitation of their workers. This is partially due to the fact that they are closer and more intimately tied to their business, partially because they often take a more active role in it than the finance oligarchs do, and partially because they cannot live off of monopoly-capitalists’ super-profits. They are cut off from super-profits and must therefore exploit their workers maximally in order to stay afloat in the competition. The non-monopolistic capitalists will by and large support stability and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie against everything and anything that smacks of communism. A party that agitates for an “anti-monopolistic stage” as the first stage of socialism will not be able to fool or pressure them into removing monopoly capital from power.
The claim that non-monopolistic capitalists constitute a strategic ally for the proletariat, or even a tactical ally, cannot be seen in contemporary Norway. We don’t see it in their party preferences, where they are herded into monopoly-capital’s parties, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party – and the Progressive Party. We don’t see it in the political question, where they do not seem to participate themselves to any large degree – and if they do, it is often as strong supporters for the monopoly bourgeoisie. Is there truly any group that more strongly supports law and order as these small and intermediate capitalists? Is there any other group that so strongly opposes labour rights, tariffs, and concessions, even among the most corrupted elements of the labour movement?
Kleven and anti-monopolists wish for a non-monopolistic bourgeoisie that simply does not exist. The only revolutionary bourgeoisie that exists today can only be found in a number of third world countries, who have seen an opportunity to grow by casting out foreign imperialists. They do not exist in Norway, and have not existed in Norway for over 100 years.
Peaceful Revolution is a Fundamental Contradiction against Marxism
On the basis of this pipe dream, the Klevenists assault Marxism, first through spreading illusions about the bourgeois state’s class character, and then by establishing a false equivalency between state ownership and socialism.
Kleven and co. say that there is an opportunity to take state power itself out of the hands of the monopoly bourgeoisie – through parliamentary elections and peaceful mass mobilization. Mao says that one cannot disarm a tiger without clipping off its claws one by one. Why in heaven’s name would the monopoly-bourgeoisie give away its state power, and all of its companies, without a fight? When in history has anything like this happened before? Why wouldn’t the monopoly bourgeoisie use this very same state power, along with its numerous international relations, its power over the legal and justice system, its monopoly on violence and its enormous resources, to crush all such attempts? Or if they do not wish to take the risk to crush the attempt – what would stop them from simply buying off large portions of the front? Does Kleven’s followers believe that the non-monopolistic bourgeoisie can be incorruptible and steadfast allies for the proletariat?
The peaceful expropriation and dethronement and the monopoly-bourgeoisie is not only a pipe dream, but it is also a fundamental deviation from Marx and Lenin. Marx would on occasion be open for something similar in some exceptional counties without strong and centralized state power and without a military apparatus and militarism, but in Norway? Smack in the middle of the European imperialist fortress? NATO Norway, with 3000 billion kroners in its fund? Should the monopoly-bourgeoisie smile and hand over the keys to Parliament, the banks, the stock exchange, and the monopoly companies to a motley crew of furniture factory owners, teachers, social democrats, and communists? Which concrete analysis, which historical experiences, could possibly support this theory in any way?
State Enterprise is Not the Same as Socialism
If we put aside the fact that splitting the bourgeoisie is a utopia and the fact that peaceful transition is and will always be clear-cut reformism and a betrayal of communism, universally reviled by all communist classics and especially Lenin – we nonetheless are left with the fact that the goal of this strategy is not a socialist society, but merely the taking over of the capitalist state and the capitalist companies. The goal is not to smash the state and put the dictatorship of the proletariat in its place. Which class has power after the anti-monopolistic take-over, which the anti-monopolists say will ready the basis for a peaceful socialist revolution? When the state (and not the dictatorship of the proletariat, but the old state), with its new anti-monopolistic rulers, have taken over private monopoly capital as well, are these rulers the petit bourgeoisie and non-monopolistic capitalists? The answer is no, because those who defeat monopoly capital and the monopoly-capitalists’ state are de facto the monopoly bourgeoisie. If you make a handyman the director of Statoil, then they will of course leave the proletariat.
Already today, finance capital and the state leadership have been tightly woven together, and we have what Lenin refers to as a state monopoly-capitalist bourgeoisie. There is no qualitative difference between Statoil and Aker Kværner. Monopoly capital – both state and private – are, despite nuances, united as one monopoly capital. The only thing that the anti-monopolists will succeed in doing in their first phase of their two-phase peaceful “revolution” is to formalize the smelting together of capital that is already packed closely together and operated by the same parasites. Whether or not the old directors continue or are replaced by others, the monopoly-capitalistic, imperialist relations of production persist. In short – the new rulers are no longer representatives for an “alliance of non-monopolistic classes”, but are on the contrary a new monopoly bourgeoisie.
We have seen a bureaucratic monopoly bourgeoisie before in the Soviet Union, and we see it today in China. In these countries, this was never a stage that prepared for socialism, but rather a stage for the betrayal of all that socialism stands for. The new monopoly bourgeoisie in its red garments used the fruits of socialist construction to create a strong imperialist state monopoly capitalism – with fascist terror used against its own proletariat. These revisionists claimed – and continue to claim – that this was socialism all because the state dominated the economy. The top players who flooded themselves in luxury and ruled through their own directors and factory functionaries, through public officials of all sorts, would simply act as if the companies were the peoples’ property. But this is just as false as Statoil, Statkraft, and Telenor being depicted as the Norwegian proletariat’s companies. One must be terribly blinded by reformism and social democracy to nurture such tender thoughts for companies that plunder people in the third world, but also make good profits on Norwegian workers’ surplus labour.
State Capitalism and Social Imperialism’s Strategy
The logic behind the “anti-monopolistic strategy” is clear and consistent. Kleven’s theory is well positioned to cash in on Soviet revisionism, the bourgeois ruling worldview, and pass it as Marxism. And in a period where the Soviet Union was on the rise (the 60s and 70s), the theory might have worked as the ideological superstructure for new “peoples’ democracies” at the ends of Soviet bayonets. It might have worked as a strengthened Soviet Union managed to pressure parts of the bourgeoisie in Western countries to push the US out, to the benefit of the Soviet Union and to establish “anti-monopolistic” governments, and a new state monopoly-capitalist governance following the Soviet model.
In today’s Norway and today’s Europe, this theory is anachronistic. The etchings on the gravestone that lies above modern revisionism. People who truly wish to fight against capitalism can study it for shock value or as a warning, but all attempts to put it in use will only create confusion and disorganization – or it can even serve as a disguise for classic social democratic politics.