Revisionism as applied to the Communist movement is, essentially, inadvertent or purposeful revision of basic Marxist-Leninist-Maoist principles. Maoist principles include:
The universality of protracted people’s war as a strategy for making revolution. When we say universal we mean that it is not a magic weapon that can be applied the exact same way all the time, but rather the general principles of PPW are applicable only if they are applied with the concrete conditions of the country in question in mind.
The necessity of the three weapons of the revolution: the Party, the United Front, and the People’s Army.
The continuance of class struggle under socialism — meaning that there must be cultural revolution to root out and smash the bourgeois line in the Party and in society as a whole.
The primary contradiction in the world being between the imperialist countries and the countries oppressed and exploited by the imperialists.
Rejection of the “actually existing socialism” thesis and the upholding of the position that a country can only be socialist if it is actively and consciously moving towards communism, bourgeois relations of production are consistently being struggled against and replaced with proletarian, communist relations, and proletarian internationalism is upheld.
The building of the Party through deep and thorough mass work, by which we mean organizing the people to combat class enemies in open class struggle, winning concrete gains and building fighting organizations of the proletariat, oppressed nationalities, and other exploited/oppressed sectors.
The universality and primacy of contradiction.
The necessity of rectification movements and criticism/self-criticism being practiced to protect the Party from revisionism and erroneous tendencies.
Of course, this is in no way a thorough exposition of what Maoism is but these are generally the most commonly agreed upon principles of Maoism upheld even by Maoists that disagree on other points. The Gonzalo/Peruvian left-deviation in the International Communist Movement considers the principle of “great leadership”, the “universality of Gonzalo thought”, and the “militarization of the Party” as being additional principles of Maoism, but other than their small groups, no other Maoist formation in the First World nor the Third (including every Party that is actively waging People’s War) considers these universal principles and has rejected them as being the products of sectarians justifying their own existence. It is also the habit of these creatures to use revisionism as a cheap slur, hurled towards anybody who disagrees with their attempts to impose a dogmatic mirror of revisionism into the ICM — we’ve seen everybody from Joma Sison to Huey Newton to J.Moufawad Paul to even myself labeled as revisionists for a variety of reasons, most of which have something to do with rejecting the dogmatic and infantile antics of the left-opportunists. Revisionism is a real threat, not a slur.
Back to revisionism — we consider revisionism to be bourgeois ideology in the Communist movement. It was old school revisionism of Karl Kautsky and Eduard Bernstein which rotted the Second International, leading to the Socialists in Europe to vote to throw proletarians of various countries (along with colonial subjects) into the slaughterhouse of the First World War. These revisionists willfully ignored the Marxist call for proletarians of all countries to unite and instead, from their comfortable perches in the British, French, and German parliaments, voted to fund the war. The old revisionists were also supporters of German, French and British imperialism, again forsaking proletarian internationalism for the sweat and blood of the colonies. Revisionism of the old type is represented best in the United States by the Democratic Socialists of America and the Jacobin magazine, which has been attempting to resurrect Kautsky from the dead for the better part of a decade. Old type revisionism is prominent in the “communist” sects that orient towards unions such as SEIU and the various teachers’ unions. Old type revisionism in practice is marked by cynicism, rejection of any confrontation that is not passed through legal channels, electoral politics, rejection of all militancy (some even go so far as denouncing New Afrikan looters and street rebels during combative protests), chauvinism, and tailism behind the most reactionary segments of the proletariat/semi-proletariat. The worst of the old type revisionists end up becoming appendages of the Democrats, the best end up becoming proletarian revolutionaries through struggle and consistent defeats as a result of erroneous line and practice.
Modern revisionism developed in the USSR after the death of Stalin in 1953. The Stalin era laid the foundations for the rise of modern revisionism inadvertently by giving rise to a large technocratic bureaucracy from which revisionists such as Khrushchev and Brezhnev could spring. Stalin tended to be undialectical in resolving contradictions, seeing mistakes and problems caused by the new, rising nomenklatura/managerial class which would eventually transform into the new bourgeoisie as instead being caused by the long discredited Trotskyites, or foreign imperialist spies. By declaring the class struggle in the USSR to be over and the abolition of class with the new constitution of 1936, the USSR erred and laid the foundations for modern revisionist proclamations such as “the state of the whole people” — of course hindsight is 20/20 and we know what Stalin and the CPSU didn’t in the 1930s. Mao also did, and saw the consequences of the failure to see that class struggle continues under the socialist period. Hence the development of the Maoist principle that we must constantly struggle against the rising and old bourgeoisie. Mao said that the Party can give rise to new bourgeoisie if class struggle is not firmly grasped and carried out, and this is precisely what occurred in the Soviet Union of his day and has happened in the PRC of our day. The ideological hallmarks of modern revisionism are: defense of social imperialism (socialism in words, imperialism in deeds); playing fast and loose with what socialism is (“Laos is socialist, Cuba is socialist, Venezuela is socialist, Bolivia is socialist, China is socialist, Vietnam is socialist”, etc.); promoting peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism or giving lip service to armed struggle sometime in the distant future; justifying capitalist reforms such as those of Deng Xiaoping or those which recently happened in Cuba; and deriding actually existing Maoist/armed struggle movements as being “ultra-left”. The United States’ representatives of modern revisionism are groups such as the Marcyite WWP/PSL, FRSO, and the variety of extremely online revisionist groups on Facebook which contribute nothing to the proletarian movement besides sharing old memes and lusting after Xi Jinping.
There is also the trend of dogmato-revisionism. Dogmato-revisionism was first used to describe the antics of Enver Hoxha, former partisan and leader of Albania during the mid-late 20th Century. Hoxha is famous for wasting concrete on stupid bunkers that he thought would be useful in a future war with revisionist Yugoslavia (which was too busy getting rich to care what the broke-ass country next door to them was doing). During the Sino-Soviet Split, Albania sided with the Chinese, but after Mao’s death, Hoxha turned on his old ally and labeled Mao a revisionist, leaning heavily on Stalin. Essentially, if you don’t uphold Stalin 100%, you are a revisionist. Dogmato-revisionists turn Marxism from science into religion, placing emphasis on the correct interpretation and fealty to the “Great Teachers” and denouncing all who criticize said “Great Teachers” in oftentimes hilarious fashion. Dogmato-revisionism is a fad among some so-called Maoists in the imperialist metropoles who say stupid shit like “Chairman Gonzalo is our Chairman” and consider his understandable but still fucking weird harangue from the cage in 1992 to be some kind of guiding ideology. To them, Gonzalo and adherence to his “thought” is the litmus test, and if you fail the litmus test, you are a revisionist at worst and “progressive” at best. Much like Hoxha labeled Mao a revisionist, the Gonzaloites label Joma Sison a “rightist” and a “revisionist” for criticizing their dogmatism and audacity at lambasting the Party that he founded for alleged revisionism. In the United States, dogmato-revisionism is represented by the “Committee to Reconstitute the Communist Party of the United States” and the 3 people who are still delusional enough to walk around calling themselves “Hoxhaites” in the year 2021. Even Albanians have forgotten about that guy and they use his bunkers as pop-up bars.