First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 36, September 19, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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“To some, Mao Tsetung was a great bulwark that frustrated their evil dreams of world domination. To others, he was a great invigorator of rebellion and revolutionary thought... Most of all, he was our brother.”
With these words Robert Williams, long-time Black liberation fighter, eulogized Chairman Mao on the first anniversary of his death. Williams was the keynote speaker at a militant salute to China’s victories held on Chicago’s Southside September 10.
Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of 250 people, Williams was joined on the program by Michael Klonsky, Chairman of the CP(M-L). Both speakers stressed Mao Tsetung’s great concern for the struggle of oppressed nationalities and workers in the U.S.
“When I was a fugitive from U.S. racial injustice.” Williams declared, “and all the world closed their doors to me, the great Chinese people, under the leadership of Mao Tsetung, opened their doors and hearts to me.”
Williams spent three years in China in the 1960s after trumped-up charges forced him to leave the U.S. He was persecuted for advocating the use of armed self-defense against Klan violence in Monroe, North Carolina.
“All nations that saw fit marched into China and planted their flag,” Williams said, commenting on China’s history of oppression. He called Mao a “titan” who “agitated and agitated” until “all China became a land of titans. The people of China stood up and began their long march to glory.”
Mao’s concern extended to all oppressed humanity. Williams pointed out. In 1963, when four Black girls were burned to death in a Birmingham, Alabama, church, Williams appealed to many world leaders to speak out against racism. Only Chairman Mao responded. He did so in his famous statement of support for the Afro-American struggle. In 1965, he made a second statement following the assassination of Martin Luther King. Jr.
On China’s National Day in 1967, Williams himself addressed a rally of over two-and-a-half million people in Peking.
“Our Chinese friends told me that even though I was not a communist,” Williams remarked, “they could get along with me. They said that Krushchev called himself a communist, but they could not get along with him.”
The ability to unite many different forces and distinguish friends from enemies were what Williams saw as especially important teachings of Chairman Mao for our movement. Fighting dogmatism, sectarianism and arrogance, Mao “believed unswervingly in the ability of people to change and correct their errors, in behalf of service to the people,” said Williams.
The “gang of four” were exactly the opposite. Williams recently returned from a three-month visit to China. He reported that, thanks to the “spirit of Mao Tsetung” and the leadership of Chairman Hua Kuo-feng, these enemies and their plot to restore capitalism have been smashed.
Michael Klonsky, who recently met with Chairman Hua Kuo-feng in China, spoke in detail about the crimes of the “gang.” They were factionalists, with no respect for the masses. Going against Chairman Mao’s teachings on how to resolve contradictions among the people, they tried to slander and overthrow all the veteran Party cadre.
The “gang” opposed production, saying it was synonymous with revisionism. “If a country was industrialized and grew strong,” Klonsky explained, “they said it had to take the road of the Soviet Union. This view has nothing in common with Marxism.”
Klonsky personally experienced the jubilation of the Chinese people at the defeat of the “gang.” He attributed the defeat to the Chinese masses, guided by Chairman Mao’s “legacy”–his great teachings, particularly on the question of classes and class struggle continuing throughout the historical period of socialism.
“The main lesson about the ’gang of four,’” Klonsky said, “is not that they were able to get high positions, but that they were stopped. This reaffirmed that the Chinese people are a great people, tempered in the storms of revolution, educated by Chairman Mao’s teachings.”
Klonsky also spoke about Mao’s great interest in the U.S. revolutionary struggle. Mao’s statements on the Afro-American struggle, Klonsky pointed out, are part of the great Marxist-Leninist tradition of support for the revolutionary struggles of oppressed nations and nationalities. They go back to Karl Marx’s statement: “Labor in the white skin can never be free as long as labor in the black skin is branded.”
Another important lesson from Chairman Mao, Klonsky added, is the need for a Marxist-Leninist party. In old China, there were many spontaneous outbursts. But only after the Communist Party of China was formed in 1921, Klonsky said, did the people’s forces get organized for victory.
“We have some of the same ailments here as in old China,” Klonsky concluded. “Our people are disunited.” Only a genuine communist party can forge unity between the national liberation movements and the workers’ movement, he stressed.
“This is why the Chinese gave such a welcome to our delegation,” he explained. “They know the CP(M-L) is small and young, but they see it has brought back the principles of Marxism-Leninism and is disseminating them among the masses.”
In addition to the two speakers, the program honored Chairman Mao through two songs and two short films.
Robert Williams summed up the militant spirit of the evening when he said that Chairman Mao “would admonish us to honor ourselves by resolutely getting on with the business of liberation.”