Chile: An Attempt at Historic Compromise-The Real Story of the Allende Years, by Jorge Palacios (1926-2004).
Published in Spanish language edition in 1977, the first in English was produced by the Canadian-based Norman Bethune Institute connected to Hardial Bains-led CPC (ML), as well as an English translation of the RCP Chile: Open Letter to the Communist Party of China .
Its National Publications Centre assisted in other Spanish language publications of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile produced by its Ediciones Marxista-leninistes publishing house in Toronto. One such text was the collection, “50 issues of EL PUEBLO clandestinely” covering the years 1974-1977 of the Chilean paper. There was also the use of material from ANCHA, monthly of the Chilean Anti-Fascist News Agency, produced by the external section of the Frent Del Paeblo (People’s Front) established by the RCPC.
However the relationship faded as the RCPC, although aligned with the anti- three worlds position of the Albanian party, gradually moved away as Albanian criticism expanded to encompass condemnation of Mao Zedong. The organisation’s paper, El Pueblo carried its view in the article “Comrade Mao Tsetung was a great Marxist-Leninist and a great internationalist” (#101 October 1978). Such an appreciation differed from the trajectory in Enver Hoxha’s book Imperialism and the Revolution , first published [in Albanian] in April 1978 for distribution within the PLA, then multi-language editions distributed internationally in the December.
The Chilean party did not become part of the Albanian grouping but joined with the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) led by Avakarin in efforts to establish an international alignment of Maoist parties who rejected the successors of the Mao Zedong as they drew up a joint declaration with the RCP setting forth, “Basic Principles for the Unity of Marxist-Leninists and for the Line of the International Communist Movement.” The RCP-Chile played an important formative role in the regroupment of Maoists after 1976 (according to one participant)
“presenting a form of communist thinking and politics that was marked by its both creative and fiercely revolutionary character. A few of the RCP-Chile’s writings have been broadly available. In the crucial period around 1980, the RCP-Chile (and its leading figures in post-coup exile in Europe) actively helped regroup Maoists internationally, in the project that would give rise to the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.” [i]
The RCP run Chicago publishing house, Banner Press took on Chile: An Attempt at Historic Compromise and published its English language edition in November 1979. The book was made available in the U.S. in conjunction with a nationwide tour by the author being sponsored by El Frente del Pueblo, a mass organization of the Chilean resistance abroad as well as in Chile. It helped pave the way to the U.S. tour by Jorge Palacios with the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA actively building support for the tour.
The favourable RCP, USA review of “an excellent Marxist analysis” notes: “The book documents in painful detail the efforts of the CP to restrain and derail the mass movement of the workers and the oppressed, all the while protecting the bourgeois state and other reactionary institutions from the attack of the masses. As Palacios points out, this was a policy which the CP had pursued for many decades and for which it was rewarded by being allowed to be one of the few Communist Parties in Latin America that enjoyed a long period of legal, open activity…. While An Attempt At Historic Compromise correctly concentrates on unmasking the falsifiers of Marxism and the revisionist CP, it also serves as excellent material exposing the U.S. imperialists’ crimes and intrigues in Chile.” [ii]
An academic review thought that,
“This is by no means a scholarly work. There is no pretense to objectivity. This should not deter scholars from using Palacios’s work, however, in order to learn still more of the inside story of recent Chilean political history. As an inside view, it is quite valuable.” [iii]
And indeed, there is a section in the book where Jorge Palacios also discusses the views and activities of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile all during this period. The account Palacios provides found expression in English, French and Spanish editions.
There was another consequence in the appearance of the Banner Press edition as it was the focus of a letter from Joseph Green, for the leadership of COUSML, the Central Organization of U.S. Marxist-Leninists, to their fraternal comrades in the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). Dated December 1st1979 raised their astonishment and register protest at
…. the recent action of the CPC (M-L) in selling the rights to the book by Jorge Palacios entitled Chile: An Attempt at “Historic Compromise” to the utterly corrupt and rotten to the core American neo-revisionist and “three worlder” sect known as the so-called “Revolutionary Communist Party of the U.S.A.” ….was carried out without consultation with us. Indeed, it was carried out without even notifying us. It in fact amounted to a violation of the most elementary norms of fraternal relations between parties. ….” [iv]
In their exposition of some of the issues involved in the sale of the rights of the book by Palacios to the “RCP, USA.”, the aggrieved comrades argued that Hardial Bains led CPC (ML) had failed to foresee the difficulties that have come up in this question of the selling of the rights to the Palacios book involve a major tactical blunder as well as a violation of principles.
The points these slighted comrades made were that the Palacios tour had great significance. With it, RCP of Chile unilaterally and by surprise, broke its relations with the COUSML in a very unprincipled manner and publicly concluded an alliance with the “RCP, USA.”. Although the reason behind the break was clearly understood:
“… it has broken relations with us because we stand for carrying the struggle against Chinese revisionism through to the end, because we have denounced Mao Zedong Thought, and because we defend socialist Albania.”
“Instead of carefully sorting out the issue of Mao Zedong Thought, it has instead gone onto a very dangerous anti-Marxist path…..We are in no hurry to come to a final conclusion on the RCP of Chile, and we hope that they desist from the path they have taken. It would be a pity and a loss to the international movement if this Party which has shed its blood in the struggle against reaction, does not stop and reconsider this very dangerous and slippery inclined slope that it has set foot on.”
Joseph Green told his Canadian allies they did not regard the selling of the rights to the book as just a run-of-the-mill business dealing related to the routine commercial operations in the book and pamphlet trade which are part and parcel of the operation of the National Publications Centre. They saw it first and foremost as a political act.
With the rights to the Palacios book in the hands of CPC(M-L) it had been “a definite thorn in the side of the “RCP, USA” a political embarrassment for them, instead COUSML faced the aftermath of the action of the Chilean party, its “unprincipled dropping of relations with us and the establishment of relations with the “RCP, USA” and what that signified”.
“….the “RCP, USA’s” publishing of this book was used as a way to make it appear that the “RCP, USA,” which in actual fact had never done any work at all for the support of the resistance movement of the Chilean people, was actually a supporter and enthusiast of the solidarity movement.”
“Helping the “RCP, USA” to find a way to promote itself internationally, especially among certain forces in Latin America which are still considering the question of Mao Zedong Thought and which have respect for the RCP of Chile, although they do not presently follow the position of the RCP of Chile.”
“…. furthermore the CPC(M-L) puts itself in the apparent position of having worked with the “RCP, USA,” even though only on this transaction, even though for the present apparently neither the “RCP, USA” nor you yourself wish to publicize this particular transaction.”
COUSML complained this act violated the elementary norms of fraternal relations which were to deteriorate and eventually broken off.
“You did not even notify us about it. Finally it came up in discussions in early November between our two Parties because our delegate, asked you a direct question about how the “RCP, USA” got the lights to the book.
To us, this lack of consultation is truly astonishing.”
…. Our two Parties may not always agree on certain tactical issues, but that does not give you the right to unilaterally undertake actions such as the selling of the rights to the Palacios book that affect us first and foremost and undermine our stands and struggle.”
… This question of consultation and cooperation is important in itself in the strengthening of the relations between our two Parties. But it is also important in particular in the question of the struggle against revisionism and opportunism.”
[i] Mike Ely of the now defunct Kasama project (2007-2013) highlighted the theoretical work of Chile’s Revolutionary Communist Party as they summed up their experiences in the Allende years, the Pinochet coup, and the international communist movement. These essays are from the period of the late 1970s to 1981 when the RCP of Chile was seeking to help regroup the international communist movement, and thinking through the implications of events in China in the post-Mao period. Kasama, thanking those who did the work of making this material available and Rosa Blanc, provided pdfs in Spanish of several issues of the organization’s theoretical journal Causa Marxista-Leninista.
[iii] Frederick M. Nunn Hispanic American Historical Review (1981) 61 (2): 330–331.
[iv] The truth about the relations between the Marxist-Leninist Party of the USA and the Communist Party of Canada (M-L)