First Published: Progressive Labor Vol. 5, No. 5, October-November 1966
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings of August 16-19th, 1966, were a victory for the American people’s movement against the genocidal war on Vietnam and a defeat for the U.S. ruling class which is conducting that war.
A victory because the intent of the Johnson Administration was to split the movement by redbaiting; to divide moderate opponents of the war from the revolutionary communists who are not just against this war but are uncompromisingly against the U.S. imperialist system that produces these wars. The outcome of the hearings was unity in the movement–united support of the subpoenaed people and united opposition to the Johnson Administration and its tool HUAC. Hundreds came to Washington in the middle of the summer, during working days, on very short notice, in order to ruin the hearings. Solidarity rallies were held throughout the country.
A victory because the intent of the Johnson Administration was to cow the peace movement; to scare us into loyal opposition. The outcome was history-making militancy. Although political demonstrations are illegal in the entire capitol area, the hundreds of supporters who were barred from the hearings started a chanting march in the halls of the congressional hearings’ building and then continued on to Johnson’s White House. For the first time, the movement carried our demonstrations into the pig-pen of Congress itself.
A victory because the intent of the Johnson Administration was to muster support for the reactionary repression of the peace movement (the Pool Bill). The grossness and clumsiness of HUAC’s response to our movement’s aggressiveness resulted in their alienating even many people who might have given support to the cesspool bill. Even reactionary newspapers like the Washington D.C. Daily News were neutralized to the stage that their editorial cartoon pictured HUAC as Keystone Cops.
A victory because the intent of the Johnson Administration was to smear the peace movement as unpatriotic, disloyal, cowardly, furtive–in order to separate our movement from the masses of American people. Through these "hearings" they attempt to get their points to the American people via the mass media. The outcome of the hearings was that, due to our actions, the mass media were forced to report who we are and what our ideas are–a very unusual twist.
The only un-Americans around are those who make this war and their flunkies. Patriotism and loyalty are reserved for the majority of the American people and their interests–not for the ruling class and its interests. The cowards are those who make and support this most cowardly of all wars. Anyone with guts opposes it–inspired by the example of the most heroic people in the world, the Vietnamese fighters for national liberation and socialism. Furtiveness characterizes those whose position can’t honestly be presented to the American people for judgment. Furtive, sneaking Johnson who resorts to peace slogans in order to abuse the good instincts of good Americans. Furtive Fulbright & Kennedy who talk out of both sides of their mouths and look for a cheaper way to attain U.S. imperialism’s aims. Furtive HUAC which tries to mask the issue of U.S. imperialism’s wars for world domination under a cloud of red-baiting.
Our position is clear, honest, unashamed, correct; it’s patriotic and it’s popular–and we will even use their rotten HUAC hearings to get it heard. Their propaganda platform, their mass media, were used to make these points to the American people.
So the hearings were a victory. But, what kind of a victory?
A temporary victory. A tactical victory.
Temporary because the basic material reality is unchanged. The need of U.S. business to exploit the people and the resources of the world is unchanged. Thus their need to defeat the Vietnamese people is unchanged, and therefore their need to suppress domestic political opposition is unchanged. They won’t stop fighting to destroy the peace movement.
A tactical victory because their tactic of using HUAC has been defeated. Because the ruling class is unscientific, is out of touch with reality, its tactics are mechanical. HUAC worked in the past so they try it now. When their stupid maneuvers fail they learn and try new tactics. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, new methods of counterrevolution were devised. If HUAC isn’t up to the job they will cook up new and better ways to attack us.
Our job is clear. We must grow, expand our base so that we can with equal vigor win the new battles that are in the cards. We must tie students and intellectuals’ opposition to imperialist wars to U.S. black people’s fight for national liberation to U.S. workers’ struggles for security and dignity. The morale boost of the HUAC victory must give a spurt to our urgent work of organizing masses of American people to fight for their interests against the ruling class’ coercion and terror. We must build a force that can win this fight by destroying the ruling class’ state power, that can preserve its victory against capitalist counterrevolution by working class state power and that can lead our people to a classless society.
For the Progressive Labor Party:
George Ewart, Merrit City College, Oakland, California
Rick Rhoads, City College of New York
Steven Hamilton, University of California (Berkeley)
Steven Cherkoss, Berkeley, California
Jeff Gordon, Brooklyn College