First Published: Revolutionary Cause, Vol. 1, No. 12, February 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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On December 11, 1976 the August 29th Movement held its first midwest forum in Chicago, Illinois on the subject of the Chicano National Question. The forum was attended by about 75 people, including workers and political activists from the Chicano national movement. Among the audience were representatives of the Workers Viewpoint Organization, the Workers Congress (M-L), the October League, and the Revolutionary Communist Party.
ATM gave a presentation which layed out the history of development of the Chicano nation from the time of U.S. annexation of what is now the southwestern United States, up to present struggles for self-determination. We explained the relationship of the struggle for a correct line on this question to the struggle for a new Marxist-Leninist Party. We refer comrades to REVOLUTIONARY CAUSE, volume 1, #10 for a fuller explanation of the substance of our forums on the Chicano national question. What we would like to address in this article is the role played by the Workers Viewpoint Organization at our Chicago forum; and secondarily the role played by the other groups listed above.
WVO is racing around the country to tell everyone that they are the leading communist organization in the U.S. Let us take a look at some of the comments made by WVO during our forum and see what conclusions we can draw.
1. The WVO said that the August 29th Movement just pays lip service to party-building. By stressing the importance of the Chicano national question we are diverting the movement from the struggle for the party. By thus pitting the national question against party building, they show they understand nothing about either question. The struggle to build our party is precisely a struggle for its political line. As the Albanians have stated, a party’s political line, is its strategy and tactics. A correct line on the Chicano national question speaks to the question of the alliance of the working class with the revolutionary national movements in the U.S. This is a question of strategy.
Without a correct line on this question, and on the Afro-American national question as well, we cannot have a correct strategy and we will not have a correct political line for our Party. But this means little to WVO, which would rather confine the struggle for the Party to discussions on the “ideological plane”. By placing the national question against party-building, WVO reveals another trait characteristic of opportunism — chauvinism. Here we are discussing a question which has NEVER BEEN PRESENTED IN A MARXIST-LENINIST MANNER. We are discussing a national movement which has a revolutionary history over a century long. We are discussing the v* question of the most bitter oppression and exploitation of an entire nation. But all this is not important to the WVO, which can only see “nationalism” in such a discussion. If this is not the stand of imperialism we do not know what is!
2. The August 29th Movement is “using nationalism to unite the class”, WVO said. We really had to blink our eyes when we heard this statement. WVO is actually saying, that we are using “nationalism to unite the class” because we call upon all workers, but most especially Anglo-American workers, to raise, support and advocate the right of the oppressed Chicano nation to political secession. Marxism-Leninism defines such a stand as Internationalism, but to this latest off-spring of the Progressive Labor Party this amounts to “nationalism”. This is outright liquidation of the national question and social-chauvinism pure and simple.
3. The particularity of the national question calls for the leading role of the working class, said WVO. Now what a most learned observation! Here we have a situation in which political activists and workers come to communists to get concrete theoretical and practical direction for their work and the WVO feeds up inane generalities like this. And yet they insist on calling themselves the “leading circle”. By the way, they never did speak to the question of HOW the working class is to win the leadership of the national movement. But to academics who have no interest in revolution such a question is obviously not important.
4. The task of the proletariat of the oppressed nation is to struggle against nationalism, according to WVO. Like true imperialists WVO spends its time lecturing the proletariat of the oppressed nations as to their duty. But they forget (!) to tell us about the tasks and duties of the proletariat of the oppressor nation. Once again, their social-chauvinism is revealed. What is more, when have Marxist-Leninists reduced the tasks of the proletariat to defeating “nationalism”? Rather it is the task of the proletariat of the oppressor nations to unite with their class brothers and sisters throughout the US and to lead all the oppressed classes and strata of the oppressed nations in the struggle to overthrow imperialism. With their view of tasks – is it any wonder that our “leading circle” has absolutely no ties in the Chicano national movement?
5. WVO stated ATM makes the error of pitting reformism against nationalism as the main danger in the Chicano national movement. But of course! Nationalism must be the main danger in the Chicano national movement. After all, in a superpower which has plundered and raped nations and colonies around the world, we do not want to overlook the danger of the “nationalism” of the oppressed nations. What disgusting chauvinism! These chauvinists who have not one second of history, or one particle of connection with the Chicano national movement, now presume to tell that movement that nationalism is its main danger. Their position reflects subjectivism, that is, reaching a conclusion without one bit of analysis of the subject under discussion; and it reflects chauvinism, that is the standpoint of the oppressor nation which also fears the “nationalism” of the oppressed nations.
6. We are not really surprised by the chauvinism of the Workers Viewpoint Organization. The same organization which can turn out hundreds of pages on the “split in the wing” within a matter of weeks has not yet been able, after two years, to develop a thought-out and documented position on either the Afro-American or Chicano national questions. What is this if not chauvinism? The same organization which claims to have done the most precise analysis of the periods of party-building, “forgot” to analyze the bitter struggle over the Afro-American national question. It was a struggle against the chauvinist position of the Revolutionary Union waged by the Black Workers Congress and the August 29th Movement – and, not by the Workers Viewpoint Organization. The same organization which calls itself the “leading circle” attacks those communists who stress and uphold proletarian internationalism as “nationalists” who put too much emphasis on the national question!
As to the other communist organizations in attendance at our forum, they didn’t act, in substance, any differently than the WVO. When asked directly by our speaker to state their positions on the Chicano national question they all sat silent. NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THE GROUPS ATTENDING OUR FORUM AT ANY TIME EXPRESSED SUPPORT FOR THE STRUGGLE OF THE CHICANO PEOPLE IN THE SOUTHWEST! And we don’t mean that they just didn’t unite with ATM’s position; we mean that they expressed no position of support for the Chicano national movement at all.
After the presentations, time was allowed for questions and struggle. Many communists, revolutionary nationalists and other progressive forces raised sharp and difficult questions about the practical implications and application of ATM’s position on the Chicano National Question. The WVO, on the other hand, insisted on disrupting. They consistently exceeded their given speaking time allotments, (made so that all forces would have a chance to speak, and so that the forum would not turn into a two-sided debate between ATM and WVO), and they continually interrupted other speakers. They were repeatedly warned to end their wrecking activities and were told twice that one more disruption meant their removal. When they didn’t heed the warnings they were thrown out of the forum. On their way out the door, the leading circle kept yelling: “Gangsterism, fascist-gangsterism! Is this what ATM calls principled struggle? ATM, take a stand on this!” Which, of course, we did: We bid them a good night.
Interestingly enough, the October League and the Revolutionary Communist Party, who had refused to address the question of the national rights of the Chicano people or to say what the communist stand should be toward their movement, wanted us to let the WVO continue their disruptions. These chauvinists, who refuse to speak on a burning question of democratic rights — called for “democracy” for the WVO.
ATM has participated in forums sponsored by the WVO. We have never disrupted a single one of their forums, or the forum of any other group for that matter. It is our view that forums are places where all revolutionaries can come to wage common and principled struggle over the burning questions of our movement. We make a conscious effort to see that class-conscious workers and other revolutionaries come to these forums for theoretical and practical guidance and to struggle for the correct line. We refuse to allow any set of clowns, or opportunists to smear mud on the name of communism, or to drive the workers away from these forums through any type of infantile antics. We hope that this position is clear to the WVO and to any other group which may have ideas about disrupting our political events.
WORKERS AND OPPRESSED PEOPLES OF THE WORLD UNITE!
BUILD THE NEW MARXIST-LENINIST PARTY OF THE WORKING CLASS!