The private Cultural Revolution of a Chinese intellectual

The Arab Spring and its downturn is sometimes compared with the “revolution” and its “defeat” on Tiananmen Square in 1989. If a comparison can be made, then I would insist that the review of a participant of “Tiananmen 1998” and his “conscientisation” should be studied, so an similar historical materialist analysis could be made of the Arab Spring. I am reffering to the book “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy” by MINQI LI (to read and to download on http://digamo.free.fr/minqili08.pdf)
to read and to download on http://digamo.free.fr/minqili08.pdf

Some interesting parts out “Preface My 1989”... (subtitles are mine)

From”neoliberal democrat” to revolutionary Marxist
I belong to the “1989 generation.” But unlike the rest of the 1989 generation, I made the unusual intellectual and political trajectory from the Right to the Left, and from being a neoliberal “democrat” to a revolutionary Marxist. I was a student at the Economic Management Department of Beijing University during the period 1987–90. This department has now become the Guanghua Economic Management School, a leading Chinese neoliberal think tank advocating full-scale market liberalization and privatization. At Beijing University, we were taught standard neoclassical microeconomics and macroeconomics, and what later I learned was termed “Chicago School” economics—that is, the theory that only a free market economy with clarified private property rights and “small government” can solve all economic and social problems rationally and efficiently.
We were convinced that the socialist economy was unjust, oppressive, and inefficient. It rewarded a layer of privileged, lazy workers in the state sector and “punished” (or at least undercompensated) capable and smart people such as entrepreneurs and intellectuals, who we considered to be the cream of society. Thus,
for China to have any chance to catch up with the West, to be “rich and powerful,” it had to follow the free market capitalist model.
State-owned enterprises were by nature inefficient and should all be privatized. State-sector workers should be forced to participate in market competition and those who were incapable, too lazy, or too stupid, should just be abandoned.
The 1980s was a decade of political and intellectual excitement in China. Despite some half-hearted official restrictions, large sections of the Chinese intelligentsia were politically active and were able to push for successive waves of the so-called “emancipation of ideas” (jiefang sixiang). The intellectual critique of the already existing Chinese socialism at first took place largely within a Marxist discourse. Dissident intellectuals called for more democracy without questioning the legitimacy of the Chinese Revolution or the economic institutions of socialism.
After 1985, however, economic reform moved increasingly in the direction of the free market. Corruption increased and many among the bureaucratic elites became the earliest big capitalists. Meanwhile, among the intellectuals, there was a sharp turn to the right. The earlier, Maoist phase of Chinese socialism was increasingly seen as a period of political oppression and economic failure. Chinese socialism was supposed to have “failed,” as it lost the economic growth race to places such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Many regarded Mao Zedong himself as an ignorant, backward Chinese peasant who turned into a cruel, power-hungry despot who had been responsible for the killing of tens of millions. (This perception of Mao is by no means a new one, we knew it back in the 1980s.)1

The “neoliberal” intellectuals were in favour of Zhao Ziyang ....and Deng Xiaoping
The politically active intellectuals no longer borrowed discourse from Marxism. Instead, western classical liberalism and neoliberal economics, as represented by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, had become the new, fashionable ideology. Liberal intellectuals were all in favor of privatization and the free market. But they disagreed among themselves regarding the political strategy of “reform” (that is, the transition to capitalism).
Some continued to favor a call for “democracy.” Others had moved further to the Right by advocating neo-authoritarianism, the kind of authoritarian capitalism that existed in South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, which denied the working class democratic rights but provided protection of the property right (or “liberty”). Many saw provided protection of the property right (or “liberty”). Many saw Zhao Ziyang, then the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, as the one who could carry out such an “enlightened despotism.” Such were the ideological conditions in China before the emergence of the 1989 “democratic movement.”
In 1988, I was already active in the campus student dissident activities, and in early 1989, restiveness grew on university campuses.
The death of Hu Yaobang (the former “reformist” general secretary of the Party) was taken as an excuse by the students to initiate a series of political demonstrations. At that time, there was a degree of genuine desire on the part of ordinary students for some form of democracy; there were still many students attending Beijing’s top universities who came from workers’ and peasants’ backgrounds.
Thus, there was pressure from below to push the movement in a more radical direction. The liberal intellectuals were in favor of the capitalist-oriented “reform.” To accomplish this, they were generally inclined to rely upon an alliance with the “reformist” wing of the Party which was led by Zhao Ziyang. But the liberals also hoped to win over the support of Deng Xiaoping, the de facto leader of the Party. The liberals initially attempted to contain the student demonstrations, but without
success. While the student leaders were ideologically influenced by the liberal intellectuals, they were politically inexperienced and also
very much driven by their personal political ambitions.2

The Chinese workers, considered “passive”, “obedient” and “ingnorant” by the students.....supported the rebelling students
As the student demonstrations grew, workers in Beijing began to pour onto the streets in support of the students, who were, of course, delighted. However, being an economics student, I could not help experiencing a deep sense of irony. On the one hand, these workers were the people that we considered to be passive, obedient, ignorant, lazy, and stupid. Yet now they were coming out to support us. On the other hand, just weeks before, we were enthusiastically advocating “reform” programs that would shut down all state factories and leave the workers unemployed. I asked myself: do these workers really know who they are supporting?
Unfortunately, the workers did not really know. In the 1980s, in terms of material living standards, the Chinese working class remained relatively well-off. There were nevertheless growing resentments on the part of the workers as the program of economic reform took a capitalist turn. Managers were given increasing power to impose capitalist-style labor disciplines (such as Taylorist “scientific management”) on the workers. The reintroduction of “material incentives” had paved the way for growing income inequality and managerial corruption.
However, after the failure of the Maoist Revolution, the Chinese working class was politically disarmed. The official television programs, newspapers, and magazines now positively portrayed a materially prosperous western capitalism and highly dynamic East Asian capitalist “dragons.” Only China and other socialist states appeared to have lagged behind. Given the collaboration of official media and the liberal intellectuals (and certainly aided by mainstream western academia and media), it should not be too surprising that many among the Chinese workers would accept the mainstream perception of capitalism naively and uncritically. The dominant image of capitalism had turned from one of sweatshop super-exploitation into one synonymous of democracy, high wages and welfare benefits, as well as the union protection of workers’ rights. It was not until the 1990s that the Chinese working class would again learn from their own experience what capitalism was to mean in real life.
While many Chinese workers might be ready to accept capitalism in the abstract from its depiction on the television, in reality they certainly understood where their material interests lay. They cherished their “iron rice bowls” (that is, lifetime job security and a full set of welfare programs) and their initial support of the student demonstrations was partly based on the belief that the students were protesting against corruption and economic inequality. However, once politically and ideologically disarmed, the Chinese working class was not able to act as an independent political force fighting for its own class interest. Instead, they became either politically irrelevant or coerced into participating in a political movement the ultimate objective of which was diametrically opposed to their own interests.
The Chinese working class was to learn a bitter lesson, and pay the price in blood.3

The students left the rebellion-scene.... the workers were suppressed
By mid-May 1989, the student movement became rapidly radicalized, and liberal intellectuals and student leaders lost control of events. During the “hunger strike” at Tiananmen Square, millions of workers came out to support the students. This developed into a near-revolutionary situation and a political showdown between the government and the student movement was all but inevitable.
The liberal intellectuals and student leaders were confronted with a strategic decision. They could organize a general retreat, calling off the demonstrations, though this strategy would certainly be demoralizing. The student leaders would probably be expelled from the universities and some liberal intellectuals might lose their jobs. But more negative, bloody consequences would be avoided.
Alternatively, the liberal intellectuals and the student leaders could strike for victory. They could build upon the existing political momentum, mobilize popular support, and take steps to seize political power. If they adopted this tactic, it was difficult to say if they would succeed but there was certainly a good chance. The Communist Party’s leadership was divided. Many army commanders’ and provincial governments’ loyalty to the central government was in question. The student movement had the support of the great majority of urban residents throughout the country. To pursue this option, however, the liberal intellectuals and students had to be willing and able to mobilize the full support of the urban working class. This was a route that the Chinese liberal intellectuals simply would not consider. So what they did was … nothing. The government did not wait long to act. While the students themselves peacefully left Tiananmen Square, thousands of workers died in Beijing’s streets defending them.4

Trying to understand the failure of the 1989 “democratic movement” discovered Marxism, in prison becoming revolutionary
Two years later, as I read Marx’s The Class Struggle in France, 1848–1850 in prison, I was struck by the similarity between the French petty bourgeoisie in the mid-nineteenth century and the Chinese liberal intellectuals in the late twentieth century in their political ineptitude, which was ultimately a reflection of the social conditions of their lives and class interests. (....)
The ideas of the intelligentsia, not unlike the ideas of everyone else, are first of all reflections of the material conditions of their lives and social surroundings.
An intellectual’s ideas, thus, are inevitably limited by their narrow personal perspectives and biased by their class interest. A person who grows up in a materially privileged environment, like myself, does not naturally tend to understand and appreciate the interests of the working class. It is only with the intensification of capitalism’s social contradictions, and as sections of the intelligentsia (or the middle class) are threatened with proletarianization or downward social mobility, that many among the more privileged social classes begin to take a political stand against their own class and identify themselves with the cause of the working class.
In my case, soon after the failure of the 1989 “democratic movement,” I reflected upon this failure and tried to understand the underlying causes. I became a leftist, a socialist, a Marxist, and eventually, a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. A year later, I gave a political speech on the campus of Beijing University, which cost me two years of imprisonment. However, there were two advantages concerning incarceration. For the first time in my life, I had the opportunity to live with people from various underprivileged social strata. This experience was of immeasurable value. Secondly, in prison, I had ample time to read, a privilege I have not been able to enjoy since then. I read Marx’s three volumes of Capital three times, in addition to many other classical writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Mao, Baran and Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital, Arghiri Immanuel’s Unequal Exchange, G.A. Cohen’s Karl Marx’s Theory of History, and Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy.
For Marxists “after the Fall,” an inescapable question is how to evaluate the historical records of twentieth-century socialisms.
As I started to reject neoliberal economics and accept Marxism, I attempted to move beyond my own narrow class perspective and reconsider many issues from the perspective of the working class. For example, instead of seeing the “iron rice bowl” as a paternalist labor regime that repressed individual freedom and encouraged laziness and inefficiency, I began to understand that it was a great historical right won by the Chinese working class through revolutionary struggle and had served as a safeguard of the workers’ basic interests, protecting them against bureaucratic and capitalist exploitation.
I started to question both the official Communist Party’s account and the liberal intellectual’s account (which was essentially the same as the western mainstream account) of the Maoist era. A critical question was how to evaluate the period of the Cultural Revolution. The official account and the liberal account were virtually the same.5

Discovering the historical LIES of the official Communist Party, being identical to those of the “liberal intellectuals” and to those of the “western mainstream”
Mao Zedong, either because of his thirst for power or his obsession with class struggle, singlehandedly initiated massive nation-wide persecution, killed millions, and destroyed the educational system and the economy. The decade of the Cultural Revolution was referred to by both liberal and official accounts as the “Ten Years of Havoc” (Shi Nian Haojie). Readers will certainly be familiar with the many books, novels, and movies that denounced the Cultural Revolution along this line of thinking.
Even before 1989, I read an article in a provincial intellectual journal which questioned these mainstream versions of the Cultural Revolution and argued that Mao’s original intention was to mobilize the masses to fight against bureaucratic privilege. That was the first time I’d ever heard that Mao was committed to highly egalitarian and democratic ideals. In 1992, I was released from prison, and I spent the following two years traveling around the country, debating with remaining liberal dissident activists; I also had the opportunity to make contact with both state-sector workers and migrant workers employed in the new capitalist sector.
In the meantime, I conducted my own research into political, economic, and social development in modern China, using fake identification to visit the provincial and city libraries (many Chinese libraries at the time required employee or student ID cards forentrance, while I had been expelled from Beijing University and was unemployed). I started to view Maoist China primarily as arevolutionary legacy rather than a historical burden for future socialist revolutionaries. (...)
I celebrated the great social and economic achievements of Maoist Chinese socialism, and pointed out that the nature of China’s ongoing economic reform was the transition to capitalism and that the capitalist relations of production had already become dominant by the early 1990s. 6

First conclusion: The 1989 “democratic movement” was NOT a popular democratic movement
I made a Marxist analysis of the 1989 “democratic movement,” arguing that the movement was by no means a popular democratic movement, but that it could not be understood without an analysis of the three-way class relationship between the ruling bureaucratic capitalist class, the urban middle class (the liberal intellectuals), and the urban working class. The liberal intellectuals and the bureaucratic capitalists shared many common interests. The liberal intellectuals were unable to lead the “democratic movement” to victory exactly because of their fear of the democratic potentials of the working class. The urban working class was unable to self-consciously fi ght for its own interest and suffered a tragic historical defeat. This defeat in turn paved the way for China’s transition to capitalism. I refuted neoliberal economics and the myth that private property is indispensable for economic rationality. I discussed the inherent contradictions between democracy and capitalism, and the social and material conditions that had contributed to China’s capitalist economic expansion and I speculated about the conditions for the future Chinese revolution. I concluded with a chapter criticiziing market socialism and advocating democratic socialist planning. In short, I made a complete political and intellectual break with the Chinese liberal intellectuals as well as their political representatives, and firmly put myself in the camp of revolutionary Marxism.7

China, now part of the capitalist world, accelerating the structural global capitalist crisis... will lead to its demise?
In 2001, a research group of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences published a study on China’s “social strata.” The study rejected traditional Marxist social analysis and argued that China was moving towards a “middle-class society.” The study was believed to have provided theoretical justification for Party leader Jiang Zemin’s new theory, which no longer claimed the Party to be the representative of the class interests of the proletariat and officially opened the way for admission of private-sector capitalists into the Party. When the editor of a leading Chinese leftist journal asked me to write a critique of the study. I wrote “China’s Class Structure from the World-System’s Perspective.” Towards the end of this critique, I included a section “The Rise (Modernization) of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy.” I argued that China’s economic rise would in fact greatly destabilize the capitalist world-economy in various ways and contribute to its fi nal demise.
Building upon the two earlier papers, I wrote another—“The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy: Historical Possibilities of the 21st Century”—this time in English. The paper begins by pointing out that the rise of China as a major player in the capitalist world-economy has been one of the most significant developments in the early twenty-first century and that this development raises a set of questions of world-historic significance.
How will China’s internal social structure evolve as China assumes different positions in the existing world-system? Will China’s current regime of accumulation survive the potenttial pressures that will arise out of such a transformation? As China moves upwards within the hierarchy of the existing world-system, how will other peripheral and semi-peripheral countries be affected? Will China become the next hegemonic power? Will the twenty-first century turn out to be the “Chinese Century”? Most importantly, how will the rise of China affect the underlying dynamics of the existing world-system itself? (...)
(T)he so-called “rise of China” in fact reflects as well as greatly accelerates the structural crisis of the capitalist world-economy that will lead to its eventual demise.8

1“Preface: My 1989 - Minqi Li, June 2008, in “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy”, First published 2008 by Pluto Press 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA www.plutobooks.com Copyright © Minqi Li 2008. http://digamo.free.fr/minqili08.pdf
2“Preface: My 1989 - Minqi Li, June 2008, in “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy”, First published 2008 by Pluto Press 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA www.plutobooks.com Copyright © Minqi Li 2008. http://digamo.free.fr/minqili08.pdf
3“Preface: My 1989 - Minqi Li, June 2008, in “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy”, First published 2008 by Pluto Press 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA www.plutobooks.com Copyright © Minqi Li 2008. http://digamo.free.fr/minqili08.pdf
4“Preface: My 1989 - Minqi Li, June 2008, in “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy”, First published 2008 by Pluto Press 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA www.plutobooks.com Copyright © Minqi Li 2008. http://digamo.free.fr/minqili08.pdf
5“Preface: My 1989 - Minqi Li, June 2008, in “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy”, First published 2008 by Pluto Press 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA www.plutobooks.com Copyright © Minqi Li 2008. http://digamo.free.fr/minqili08.pdf
6“Preface: My 1989 - Minqi Li, June 2008, in “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy”, First published 2008 by Pluto Press 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA www.plutobooks.com Copyright © Minqi Li 2008. http://digamo.free.fr/minqili08.pdf
7“Preface: My 1989 - Minqi Li, June 2008, in “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy”, First published 2008 by Pluto Press 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA www.plutobooks.com Copyright © Minqi Li 2008. http://digamo.free.fr/minqili08.pdf

8“Preface: My 1989 - Minqi Li, June 2008, in “The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy”, First published 2008 by Pluto Press 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA www.plutobooks.com Copyright © Minqi Li 2008. http://digamo.free.fr/minqili08.pdf


The complete degeneration of the Workers Party of Belgium (WPB/PVDA/PTB), a warning negative example for communist parties.

On 17 August 2015 on the website of Solidair (the former weekly appearing but now monthly appearing newspaper of the Workers Party of BelgiumWPB/PTB/PVDA) the interview of Peter Mertens (president of the WPB) and Raoul Hedebouw (elected WPB-parliamentarian) with KNACK-journalist Walter Pauli can be read1 (the interview is even translated in French for the French WPB/PVDA/PTB-website2). So the statements of Mertens and Hedebouw in that interview has to be seen as in line with the official party-line. The interview appeared in the KNACK the week before.
Walter Pauli knows the WPB very well. When he was a student in Louvain he was journalist for the student-newspaper VETO. In that time the student-organisation of the WPB, the Marxist-Leninist Movement (Marxistisch-Leninistische Bewegiing -MLB) was very active, certainly at the Catholic University of Louvain (KULeuven).VETO was in fact the newspaper of the General Student-Council in which on different levels (yearly)chosen delegates of the students were active in a syndical structure. In the actions, demonstrations, meetings organised for democratisation of university-education, against racism, against the increase of the registration fees, .... the MLB played a vanguard-role. Although Walter Pauli had sympathy for the MLB, he never would be a member nor of the WPB. In fact he likes now more the “new” WPB. So his questions are in a certain way “prepared” and “provocative” in order to give Peter Mertens and Raoul Hedebouw the opportunity to propagate the “new” WPB.

All changed, also the WPB. Until in the nineties she was calling herself official “Marxist-Leninist” and was openly flirting with Stalin.
Only after the young generation had said it so could not continue, the innovation was deployed in 2008 at the Eighth Party Congress. With some success, because today has the Partij van de Arbeid / Parti du Travail - she stands on her bilingualism - two MPs, six elected members in the Walloon and Brussels parliament and a whole slew of provincial, municipal and district councillors. There is even one WPB-member with an executive mandate: in Borgerhout is Zohra Othman councillor in the left district administration of SP.A (social-democrats), Groen (ecologists) and WPB.
Peter Mertens is recognised by friend and foe as the architect of that success. On 13 June he was elected again as president of the WPB with 93,9 percent of the votes. 'A Stalinist score' the newspapers noted, referring to the doctrinarian past of the party.(...)
Walter Pauli: And say that the WPB ever did contemptuously about elections. They were an instrument of bourgeois parties. A communist would never do 'electoralism.
Peter Mertens. Such forms of leftist childishness were our very own. We did obstinately ignore elections because the fundamental power relations are not resolved in this country in the polling station. Of course, that's still true: the power of the financial world is the day after the elections not essentially different from the day before. But although you can not solve those fundamental injustices in society at the ballot box, elections can have an important place in our society. History has given our party wrong. Only from the moment the WPB began to see elections as part of her political strategy, we have made progress. Today we stand politically infinitely stronger than a decade ago. And we do this without betraying ourselves: it's not because we are in the parliament, that we stopped thinking in a radical way.

Peter Mertens did not correct the statements which Walter Pauli made. After just once, in the BEGINNING of AMADA (founded in 1970 being the predecessor of the WPB, founded in 1979) of a no-participation at elections, the WPB always participated at elections, and very seriously! And of course the WPB admitted always – as did Lenin himself in “Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder” - that elections were “an instrument of the bourgeoisie”.....
But in 1999, after an (by a lot of cadres) as disappointed considered electoral result, the political conclusion was made that the party had to make a program tailored to elections with reform-demands...in fact a “left” kind of POPULISM, which was used in an extreme RIGHT way by....fascist parties. No energy or time had to be invested in the renewal of the FUNDAMENTAL program (of 1979). This was upcoming OPPORTUNISM in the WPB.
I wrote here about “a lot of cadres”, because Ludo Martens made a totally other political/ideological appreciation of the elections and their results of 1999.

In Solidair nr. 24 • 16 June 1999. Ludo Martens: We dont strive after easy victories.
A short speech of Ludo Martens in Brussels on a WPB-meeting
« In 1979, by the founding of the WPB, Kabila was here. He was sought by the police of Mobuto and had to hide himself.
In Zaire it was impossible for him to let the massed know of his program. He had not any possibility to mobilise the masses for his just cause. He had no public that he could convince. Mobutu and his mates had all the state power in their hands and their blind violence caused hundred of thousands of deaths. At the same time they worked with a devilish demagogy. Those elements are going together.
This is a characteristic of fascism. Hitler had Goebbels. Several months before the war, in 1939, he still organised with his Nazi-party a « peace-congress ».
Today we see how the whole imperialist world gets more and more characteristics of fascism.
With blind violence Yugoslavia has been bombed, and is presented to us as a humanitarian intervention to save the peace.
Imperialism is breaking today with all rules of the international justice. Nine year ago they attacked Iraq, in name of the international justice.
Who could imagine, twenty years ago, that the NATO, against al rules of international justice would start a most barbaric war of aggression in the heart of Europe?
The Congolese people have made innumerable sacrifices, under the 32 years of Mobutu-dictatorship, to choose finally to chase that individual with the weapons.
But before it was so far, they have seen pass al kinds of liars and demagogues. You cannot predict when the people have enough of all those lies and violence of the bourgeoisie. Those who strive for easy victories find what they want in the bourgeois parties and are doing just that what the bourgeoisie is asking them to do.
Just by the beginning Agalev3 has taken that road and today that party is a speaking-tube of the big bourgeoisie and of imperialism. Hopefully they get into the government. Everybody will see that in no way they dare to attack the fundaments of this unjust society, of capitalism and imperialism.
The WPB has led an outstanding campaign. In that spirit we have to go yet more to the masses, place ourselves on their level and convince them of the necessity to organise themselves and to fight. We have to have confidence in the fact that the masses one day will have enough experience to see the criminal nature of the economic system that is exploiting and suffocating the world. »

In 2003 the leadership of the WPB thought that there existed a broad public sympathy for the WPB, because of her actions she undertook and positions she had expressed against the war in Iraq and that could be reflected in a good election-result for a anti-war/anti-racism electoral cartel (RESIST) certainly because -as the WPB-leadership speculated – just in the period of the elections, the imperialist alliance (lead by the US) would have to deal with a 'Stalingrad-like' resistance in Bagdad, which would defeat the imperialist war-machine. But by the course taken by the war and because principal anti-racism was not “popular” enough among the electors, the election-result (for RESIST) was a “debacle” (as was formulated by the WPB-leadership.
In fact was the electoral-cartel RESIST a petty-bourgeois radical initiative. This petty-bourgeois radicalism could easily be condemned as “left-opportunism” by the already present right-opportunism, using in a dogmatic way “Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder “ from Lenin and so formulate a “analysis” formulated in Marxist-sounding phrases. This evolution is now re-phrased by Peter Mertens (aided by the interviewer Walter Pauli by the way he formulate his “questions”) in “a untrue historical MYTHE”:
"(T)he WPB ever did contemptuously about elections. They were an instrument of bourgeois parties. A communist would never do 'electoralism.(...) Such forms of leftist childishness were our very own. We did obstinately ignore elections because the fundamental power relations are not resolved in this country in the polling station. Of course, that's still true:(....) But (.....) elections can have an important place in our society. History has given our party wrong. Only from the moment the WPB began to see elections as part of her political strategy, we have made progress. Today we stand politically infinitely stronger than a decade ago. And we do this without betraying ourselves"

About “her political strategy”:
1. The former strategy of the WPB was revolutionary, although it was subjected to a certain dogmatism, which was the most important reason that upcoming right-opportunism not could be detected or recognised... could not been fought properly.
2. The “political strategy” so finally became: “create a good IMAGE”, “a good APPEARANCE for the WPB”.... to the electoral public, which would result in increasingly better election-results. The “political strategy” is not any longer formulated in a revolutionary program but in a program of “popular” demands of reforms.

Further the interview, where the interviewer Walter Pauli is functioning as the “declarant” (in the manner he formulates his “questions”) by a comical duo, giving the other comedian the opportunity to make his comical phrase:

W.P. You present yourself as left and anti-establishment and you pretend to “do politics in an anternative way”. But is what is happening in Greece not a fundamental lesson for a party as the WPB? The left Syriza gets one third of the votes. But still she is, in moments when it really matters, crushed by the big powers.
Peter Mertens. Yet it is not because Angela Merkel put a Prussian helmet on her head and want to control whole Europe that the WPB has to change her point of view? I learn from Greece in particular that it remains important not to fall into the trap of social democracy: they also thought they could change the game by playing it the first time. Syriza, a leftist party of idealists and humanists, has tried to take her position in a rational way. She cherished the idea that they could convince social-democratic strongholds as the French President Francois Hollande and the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, as they just would use the right arguments.

When Syriza was scoring good in the elections, she was an example to follow for Peter Mertens: ” The WPB is Syriza at the Schelde” (The Schelde is the river near Antwerp...) But after Syriza disown her election-promises, Peter Mertens, and the PVDA-leadership, had to find an explanation...”The underestimation of the relations of power...

W.P. So that was a bad estimate.
Peter Mertens. Yannis Varoufakis told afterwards that he as finance minister has tried to build a coherent argumentation, but he got not any substantive response to any argument. "I might as well had sung our national anthem," said Varouflakis, "it just would had the same effect as my elaborate explanation: not any at all." Syriza has finally learned that these negotiations were not ordinary conversations, but part of an economic war. One even has drained Greek banks: it is a hard lesson for all countries from the eurozone. At the same time, since the beginning of the euro there has never been a government so openly taking the glove against the German monetarism. So I have every respect for a featherweight as Syriza which has dared to box above its weight class. Without SYRIZA there was never a so profound debate about Europe as there is now. In every Irish pub, in any Spanish tapas bar the talking was about the Greek resistance against the German march-direction.

So Peter Mertens 'explains': “The problem was that nobody would listen to Syriza and that they want openly humiliate Syriza”....About the critic which the KKE (a former 'sister'-party...) made IN ADVANCE ànd about the other “strategy” (namely that of the communists!) nothing (yet) is been said.

W.P. Is the WPB still stimulating the reading of the famous book of Lenin “What is to be done?”
Raoull Hedebouw. (sighing) I've got my hands full with all those things I still have to do. And then I allow myself to be inspired by every interesting thinker, from Marx to Piketty. It should not always be about economics. I've also taken a lot of inspiration from the biography of Nelson Mandela.

Walter Pauli, who had close and “friendly” contacts with WPB-members and who was at least sympathising with the WPB in his time as student at the Catholic University of Louvain is not “just” referring to a book “What is to be done?”, but is asking if the WPB is still stimulating her members to study Lenin and the October-revolution, the history of the Bolsheviks and the analysis of actual imperialism (as highest stage of capitalism ...as Lenin analysed) and if the WPB-position is still, to use Marxist analysis for “an analysis of the concrete actual situation in order to come to a strategical acting to change the society” ... and of course Raoul IS KNOWING THIS. So, in fact Raoul is answering: “Lenin? We are not any longer basing ourselves on him. Marx? Is 'just' an interesting thinker....about economy as there are a lot other “interesting thinkers”....about economy”. About a view on the whole actual (but apparently not imperialist?) society ...but a view which is “more than only economy”, for Raoul Hedebouw, the biography of Nelson Mandela is a source of inspiration. Here Raoul Hedebouw is provocative! Every party-member from BEFORE - say- 2004, knows, that Ludo Martens has written the “biographies” of African anti-imperialist revolutionaries: Thomas Sankara, Pierre Mulélé and Laurent Kabila. But for Raoul Hedebouw ... not a source of inspiration!. Apparently, even a biography of, ...say, Ernesto 'Chè' Guevara or of Fidel Castro could not inspire him.
....In fact, as we will see, Raoul gives the opportunity to Walter Pauli to chose a formulation for a question, in order to give Peter Mertens the opportunity to disown anti-imperialism, the (former)revolutionary character of the WPB ànd the legacy of Ludo Martens in ONE stroke, and DEFINITIVELY.

W.P. Ludo Martens, predecessor of Peter Mertens as president of the WPB has written that Mandela was an agent of American imperialism.
Peter Mertens. Today you will never again read such an absurd analysis in any publication of the WPB. With sectarianism like that, we have broken definitively.
This time offers more than ever opportunities for progressives who want to colour outside the lines. Even in academic circles there is refreshing critique on German liberalism. I devour the books of Rutger Bregman. Not that I agree with everything he posits in The History of Progress or Free Money for Everyone, but it is superbly written.

In fact he says that anti-imperialist analyses as Ludo Martens made are no longer permitted in the WPB, because it is “absurd” and “sectarian”.
So it will not be anymore allowed for EPO (the printing and publishing office of the WPB, in fact the former non-profit association “Proletarian Education”) to publish anti-imperialist and revolutionary analyses as:

Sankara, Compaoré et la révolution Burkinabè

Pierre Mulele, ou la seconde vie de Patrice Lumumba

Kabila et la révolution congolaise: panafricanisme ou néocolonialisme?

Only petty-bourgeois litany of Peter Mertens as “How dare they” can by published

Also in Solidair, never can be published an article as was done in Solidair no 22 of 21 May1997 (red-fat by me):

Long live Kabila! Long live the free Congo!
After 37 years of tyranny imposed by the West finally new hope

With the intake of Kinshasa, Kabila has completed a remarkable campaign. The story thus takes revenge. Thirty-seven years, the Mobutu regime hunted down and killed the partisans of Lumumba and Mulele. He wanted to delete all knowledge about their work out of the memory of the people. The victory of Kabila is the historical revenge of Lumumba and Mulele.
The Americans wanted to use Kabila to shake interlacing the Mobutu regime and to create a “legal transition" by the assembled opposition.
The Americans have used Kabila, a man they distrusted otherwise. After all, he represents the popular uprising of the sixties against the Belgo-American interference. Kabila has so far avoided all the traps which the imperialists conspired to him. As of March, there was constant pressure so that the Alliance would accept a cease-fire, that a political 'dialogue' would take on, would be part of a 'transitional regime' and would accept 'free' elections. The goal was clear: to save as much as possible the pro-imperialist forces in the vicinity of Mobutu, to organize the continuation of imperialist domination.
The 3000 US, French and Belgian soldiers in Brazzaville were primarily aimed to intimidate the Alliance and to force the 'dialogue'. Kabila has not capitulate for this.. Then the Americans sent their South African stooges Mandela et Mbeki to increase the moral pressure on Kabila. But he coped with them. Both the Americans and the French have had the opportunity to wait to send their troops to Kinshasa and so influence events. There were two possible pretexts for this aggression 'from strictly humanitarian considerations': save or rescue the 'endangered' whites or the Hutu refugees "who were planned to be killed". Kabila has deftly managed to manoeuvre to avoid such an operation.

Then Walter Pauli gives, with his question, opportunity to Peter Mertens to confirm again this orientation of the WPB.

W.P. Ten years ago, the PTB still swore by the reading of Marx, Engels and Lenin, which would be the basis of the so-called "scientific socialism."
Peter Mertens. I've never liked that term. It gave the impression that Marxism was a matter of formulas. Who just is busy with books from almost two hundred years ago, does not understand what is happening today and soon has no message for the people of today. But I hasten to add: who just only is surfing on the waves of the daily news, misses a fundamental analysis. So I remain to recommend the reading of Marx and Engels. But also that of Owen Jones, the young British sociologist who takes Cameron's government under fire and want pull Labour more to the left. Whether he will succeed is another question.

So Peter Mertens “recommend (still) the reading of Marx and Engels” ....but not anymore that of Lenin (he is silent about it although Lenin was mentioned in the question)
But Marx and Engels for Peter Mertens and Raoul Hedebouw (and so been propagated to the rest of the WPB-members) are 'just' “interesting thinkers”..about “economy”....but because from “almost two hundred years ago” there are perhaps MORE interesting “economic thinkers” today.
To study Lenin is NOT recommended, because Peter Mertens en Raoul Hedebouw could be unmasked, and sleeping dogs (drugged by dogmatism) be wakened.

Lenin about Marx and Marxism and unmasking revisionism and revisionists
In his “State and Revolution” (the book which study in the WPB also was recommended in earlier days) Lenin let explain Marx himself that he was NOT 'just' an “interesting thinker about economy”:

In 1907, Mehring, in the magazine Neue Zeit[4] (Vol.XXV, 2, p.164), published extracts from Marx's letter to Weydemeyer dated March 5, 1852. This letter, among other things, contains the following remarkable observation:
"And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists, the economic anatomy of classes. What I did that was new was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with the particular, historical phases in the development of production (historische Entwicklungsphasen der Produktion), (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, (3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society."
In these words, Marx succeeded in expressing with striking clarity, first, the chief and radical difference between his theory and that of the foremost and most profound thinkers of the bourgeoisie; and, secondly, the essence of his theory of the state.4

And Lenin unmasking revisionists -as Peter Mertens and Raoul Hedebouw – here by the example of ...Karl Kautsky (italic-fat by me):

Kautsky, the leading authority in the Second International, is a most typical and striking example of how a verbal recognition of Marxism has led in practice to its conversion into ‘Struvism’, or into ‘Brentanoism’ [i.e., into a bourgeois-liberal theory recognising the non-revolutionary “class” struggle of the proletariat, which was expressed most clearly by Struve, the Russian writer, and Brentano, the German economist]. Another example is Plekhanov. By means of patent sophistry, Marxism is stripped of its revolutionary living spirit; everything is recognised in Marxism except the revolutionary methods of struggle, the propaganda and preparation of those methods, and the education of the masses in this direction. Kautsky reconciles in an unprincipled way the fundamental idea of social-chauvinism, recognition of defence of the fatherland in the present war, with a diplomatic sham concession to the Lefts—his abstention from voting for war credits, his verbal claim to be in the opposition, etc. Kautsky, who in 1909 wrote a book on the approaching epoch of revolutions and on the connection between war and revolution, Kautsky, who in 1912 signed the Basle Manifesto on taking revolutionary advantage of the impending war, is outdoing himself in justifying and embellishing social-chauvinism and, like Plekhanov, joins the bourgeoisie in ridiculing any thought of revolution and all steps towards the immediate revolutionary struggle.
The working class cannot play its world-revolutionary role unless it wages a ruthless struggle against this backsliding, spinelessness, subservience to opportunism, and unparalleled vulgarisation of the theories of Marxism. Kautskyism is not fortuitous; it is the social product of the contradictions within the Second International, a blend of loyalty to Marxism in word and subordination to opportunism in deed” (G. Zinoviev and N. Lenin, Socialism and War, Geneva, 1915, pp. 13–14).5

Where on the 8th WPB-congress in 2008, Marxism was - in a very formal way – was called as the base for her view to the world, and where then, there was 'some” superficial reference to Lenin, now the degeneration is complete. And the rest of the party, which lost more and more their vigilance (overwhelmed by the influence of dogmatism), was completely sleeping after the 8th congress, is now not anymore alarmed by this ANTI-Marxist and PRO-reformist position.
I reported since 1999, the evolution I noticed in the party towards a very formalengagement” by a lot of cadres, who were apparently not anymore focused on raising consciousness by the workers in the factories and in the moments of class-struggle and who were, in the best cases, just promoting a “radical” syndicalism....Since 2001, while studying the documents of the 7th congress in 2001, I reported elements of revisionism, against which I wanted to warn the cadres. Not any report was answered!....And in 2005 I was expelled. (This I will elaborate and document later...some documentation or reference to it, but mostly still in Dutch, can be found on my (Google-)site Cultural Revolution.)

The actual development goes quicker than the analysis...Peter Mertens let enter Trotskyite-ideology enter the WPB/PVDA/PTB
My analysis is that Peter Mertens is preparing to be in the next elections in the role of “Syriza at the Schelde”. On the “left” news-website De Wereld Morgen (The World Tomorrow) were made a lot of “analyses” about the WPB (and Peter Mertens) with “advices” and “critics” to the WPB-cadres, written by people who are situated in what earlier days was called, “the Trotskyites”. Well, Peter Mertens has studied well all those articles and has used those “advices” and “critics”.
First he named a “party-ideologue”, Marc Vandepitte, someone who is situated in “left to the Belgian (...O no, Flamish) social-democrats (Spa)” and who, in his student-time (I know him from there) never pronounced himself in those days, in favour for “the Trotskyism” of the SAP nor the LSP (the 2 Trotskyite organisations) but NEITHER for the “Marxism-Leninism” of the WPB/PVDA/PTB.
Secondly was the order to Herwig Lerouge to “abjure” Lenin, and to focus from now on Gramsci in Marxist Studies6. Herwig Lerouge has to use Gramsci in order to promote and to praise Syriza again (where he, in former analyses he put Syriza away as “incorrigible reformists”.
To become “Syriza at the Schelde” (Schelde is a river flowing in the Flanders an through Antwerp), Marxism is abjured and Trotskyism is introduced. With Marc Vandepitte, Peter Mertens is also hoping to get rid of the label “Stalinists”, coming out of the anti-communist (“left” social-democratic) corner.

In his article (on the WPB-website) Marc Vandepitte is first repeating the reformism-protecting “protest” to the “latest austerity-measures”.
He describes (and is protecting, not unmasking) how since the begin of the austerity-measures, the actual government the united union-leadership is focusing the anger of the workers on “Against the BLIND austerity-measures and for a JUST tax-shit (with a tax on fortunes)”, as did the WPB already before in 2014. I commented this in 06-12-14 Kapitalistische belangen ideologisch en politiek beschermd door OBJECTIEVE burgerlijke alliantie van uiterst rechts tot uiterst (reformistisch) links.
There was only indignation for what “the last austerity-measures” cost to the workers.
Not is fought “the necessarily of austerity-measures” in general, only is fought the “unjust and unfair character” of these austerity-measures.
And then Marc Vandepitte (as “left-social-democrat”? Or by the Trotskyist strategy of “enterism”?) will make the WPB apply not anymore Marxism.

To understand what we are experiencing today and what is at stake, you should look at the broader historical picture. The distribution of wealth is the socio-economic key issue of any society. At the time of Daens, just over a hundred years ago, the gap between rich and poor was revolting. Prolonged and sustained social struggles of the nascent labour-movement then made it a gradual improvement in the extremely unequal distribution. It reached its peak after World War II. Fascism was defeated, (extreme) right was severely discredited and the labor movement was stronger than ever. Fearing Communism were the elites when too many concessions made. (...)
It was in those circumstances that the social welfare state has expanded.
But that was not to the liking of the top layer in the society. They saw their share of the wealth decrease sensitively7 They were seeking revenge. (...) Neoliberalism. (...) Economic and social policies characterized by less tax on capital, cuts in social benefits, reducing government spending, privatization, deregulation and free trade. (....) The condition for the deployment of their policy input consisted in neutralising the guards of the welfare state: the unions. Thus these socio-economic ideology got also an anti-democratic component.
(Since) ... the severe economic crisis of 1973. (...) the high unemployment meant(...) a significant weakening of the unions. The neoliberal ideology, which was marginally after World War II, was now fully launched, this time successfully. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 gave this ideological offensive an extra boost. Gradually this extreme antisocial neoliberal ideology got its prevalence in the public opinion. At the same time the labour-movement became more and more on the defensive.
It is in this context that you need to insert the current taxshift and the dismantling of the welfare state. It is part of an offensive that takes place in all developed countries. It is a well-camouflaged attempt by the elites to their 'lost wealth "recapture. The right-wing populists are emerging more and more as masters of camouflage. They play cunning in on insecurities and fears among the public and divert attention to another issue: a (whipped) terrorist threat, a (self- organized) refugee crisis ... Their antisocial offensive is wholly in line with the neoliberal theory, coupled with attacks on unions and putting at the sidelines of the civil society. (...)
The current course is based on the law of the jungle. The policy is cruel, heartless and unacceptable. Another policy is urgently needed and possible.8

Imperialism as highest stage of capitalism? Never heard off! ....Off course, because you abjured Lenin!
The capitalist relations of production, with the capitalist exploitation as base... are disappeared!... Imperialism as highest stage? ...Is not existing! Colonies? Never heard of! So, the “de-colonisation” and afterwards the neo-colonisation with the plundering of the Third World, the extra-exploitation of the people there, has not to be a part of the analyses of the anti-Marxist, the anti-Leninist (but NOT the anti-imperialist) Marc Vandepitte.
The same imperialism which divide the world and re-divide the world, first by colonisation, afterwards by “neo-colonisation”, by war and plundering and which is laying at the base of the need that big groups of people feel to migrate/flee of the created poverty, of the hunger, of the theft of all possibilities to build a liveable existence, thàt same imperialism produced the funds, out of its piled extra-profits coming of the extra-exploitation of the “neo-colonised” part of the world, for having in Europe (certainly Europe because laying just beside the “communist world”) the possibilities to bribe the union-leadership and the social-democratic parties and to give the governments of the European countries the means in order to take away all revolutionary inclinations with social security, cheap housing, health care,... and also to give at the “refugees” of Eastern Europe, full citizenship to prove that it was a right choice to flee to the capitalist world
But it would be also the reformist leadership of the unions who after 1980 each time again could shutdown the struggle against austerity-measures (in fact the step by step increase of the level of exploitation) and based on certain concessions make accept each time the essence of the austerity-measures and the decreases of the relative height of the wages.
Now is expressed by the leadership of the unions and also by the WPB (here by Marc Vandepitte) what is costing to an average family, just “the last austerity-measures”. But what it has cost the workers in general and since 1980, nothing is said. All the actual existing poverty, the actual unemployment,
all the actual benefits which do not accrue, the actual existing exclusions, the actual suspensions,the actual reductions, the already long-standing problems in many families for education costs, housing costs, health costs, energy and water costs (EVEN if "only" 6% tax will be levied), the actual costs for the residents in retirement and nursing homes, the actual inadequate pensions for a"quality of life" .... are a result of all those savings, all those employer contributions reductions, for which the trade union leadership have already capitulated before, and for which they already in earlier times make stop the workers with striking, and for which they have already in earlier days sanctioned combative union-stewards in their own unions. (The WPB has forgotten the manner by which THE communist union-stewards are sanctioned, sometimes expelled out of their unions by the union-leadership and were sometimes “sacrificed” by allowing that they were fired,...like as it happened by me!)
It is THE SAME anticommunism ànd THE SAME possibilities of economic growth in Europe after the Second World War (and the necessity to compete with the US) that resulted in the Social Security as well as in the Convention of Geneva for the displaced, after WWII, coming out of those regions from BEHIND the “Iron Curtain” (as Churchill called it) ànd “the refugees from communism” (like the 200.000 Hungarians in 1956.
And it is the same capitalist/imperialist “urge” in the by the crisis sharpened struggle of competition, to increase the level of exploitation for which has to be abolished as well the Social Security as well as the Convention of Geneva.
Marc Vandepitte is now lancing the Trotskyite analysis of “neo-liberalism” IN the WPB, which was fought by the WPB herself in earlier days in Marxist Studies.9 10

1http://solidair.org/artikels/knack-peter-mertens-bart-de-wever-laat-graag-uitschijnen-dat-antwerpen-een-rechtse-stad, Knack | Peter Mertens: “Bart De Wever laat graag uitschijnen dat Antwerpen een rechtse stad is, maar dat is helemaal niet zo”, BELGIË17 augustus 2015 PVDA
2http://solidaire.org/articles/knack-peter-mertens-ptb-bart-de-wever-fait-croire-qu-anvers-est-une-ville-de-droite-mais-ce, Knack | Peter Mertens (PTB) : « Bart De Wever fait croire qu’Anvers est une ville de droite, mais ce n’est pas vrai »
3Agalev - Anders GAan LEVen, ‘to live in an alternative way’ was the name of the ecologist party in the Dutch-spoken part of Belgium.. Her name is now GROEN (GREEN)
4https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/ch02.htm#s3, In Lenin's "State and Revolution": 3. The Presentation of the Question by Marx in 1852.
5https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/prrk/index.htm, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky. Written: October—November, 1918.. First Published 1918 in pamphlet form by Kommunist Publishers, Moscow. Published according to the pamphlet checked with the manuscript.. Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 28, 1974, pages 227-325. Translated (and edited): Jim Riordan. Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala, Online Version: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive, 2002.Second proofreading: Steve Iverson, 2014
6http://marx.be/nl/content/gramsci-en-de-griekse-crisis, “Gramsci en de Griekse crisis” in Marxistische Studies nr. 111, Auteur: Herwig Lerouge
7 Piketty T., Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Londen 2014, p. 324.
8http://solidair.org/artikels/7-oktober-en-de-wraak-van-de-rijken-0, 7 oktober en de wraak van de rijken, Marc Vandepitte
9http://marx.be/fr/content/%C3%A9tudes-marxistes?action=get_doc&id=40&doc_id=156, Études marxistes, Revue n° 44, date de publication: 1998-11-30 Copyright © EPO, Études marxistes et auteurs — La reprise, la publication et la traduction sont autorisées pour des buts strictements non lucratifs,"Quelle réponse à l’offensive néo-libérale?", par Thomas Gounet

10http://marx.be/fr/content/%C3%A9tudes-marxistes?action=get_doc&id=40&doc_id=157, Études marxistes, Revue n° 44, date de publication: 1998-11-30 Copyright © EPO, Études marxistes et auteurs — La reprise, la publication et la traduction sont autorisées pour des buts strictements non lucratifs, "La théorie sur le néo-libéralisme n’est-elle pas ´néo-réformiste'?", par Thomas Gounet