From Working Class USA: The Power and the Movement (p. 95)

By Gus Hall

In a period of ebb in social, political and economic struggles it is not always easy to judge what are necessary adjustments in tactics. And it is not easy to separate tactics that correctly reflect the new problems, the new relationship of forces of the ebb period, from actions that are motivated by an opportunistic retreat from the difficulties of struggle of such a period. What adds to the difficulty is that there are pressures for both.

Opportunistic retreat and a shift in tactics appear simultaneously because they are reactions to the same realities. It is further complicated by the fact that in most cases the paths of opportunistic retreat starts with very necessary and correct steps of tactical adjustment. Where one ends and the other begins is at times very difficult to determine because there also are periods when one individual can reflect a mixture of both and also because the rationale for a retreat often sounds very much like the rationale for a tactical shift.

The key word in determining one from the other is “struggle.” A correct tactical adjustment is not a shift away from struggle. It is a shift of tactics for and in struggle. Tactics after all have meaning only when they are an integral part of the struggle. On the other hand an opportunistic retreat is an edging away from struggle. It is a process of giving up positions, making unnecessary concessions, and all this without struggle. A correct tactical shift is to find a new path to struggle, while an opportunistic retreat is a way of avoiding struggle, and giving up positions, thinking this will placate the enemy.