First Published: The Guardian, March 19, 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Having failed–by virtue of an overloaded elevator–to bring their particular brand of “proletarian revolution” to the Guardian last fall, the Revolutionary Union (RU) has chosen a less perilous path of communication.
The latest (March 1975) issue of the organization’s newspaper, Revolution, contains a special 12-page supplement devoted entirely to an attack on the Guardian. Entitled “Rushing Headlong Into the Swamp,” the supplement starts out by charging that “the Guardian today has set itself dead against the development of a revolutionary workers’ movement and united front and the founding at this time of a new, genuinely revolutionary communist party to lead it.”
Twelve pages later, they conclude that the Guardian is now “mainly reactionary” and is guilty of “open class collaboration with the bourgeoisie.” In between the Guardian is charged with “social pacifism,” “out and out cowardliness,” “promoting the CPUSA” and reprinting cartoons from the New Yorker. The political line of the Guardian is described as “the stand of traitors who despise the working class.”
One section of the supplement is devoted to Guardian staff writer and columnist, Carl Davidson, described with yet another murky image as the “creature from the ’white skin privilege’ lagoon.” The RU pores over Davidson’s “history” and renews old polemics from the waning days of SDS, but it’s clear that Davidson’s exposure and criticism of the RU’s racist line in the recent events in Boston have been the particular goad to their current outrage.
All of this pales, however, before the Guardian’s cardinal crime. “What we object to most,” says the RU, are the Guardian’s “nauseating cries of ’independence, independence’ at exactly the time when the task of communists is to put an end to the ’independence’ of genuine communist forces” and form a new communist party.
Not so coincidentally, the RU announces in the very same issue of Revolution that its “Draft Programme for the Party of the U.S. Working Class proposed for the founding party congress” will be available March 31.
The special supplement is a hodge-podge of half-truth, poorly digested history, out-of-context quotations, a few outright lies and endless pages of the kind of invective that has so endeared the RU to the hearts of the masses over the past two years.
While the attack has been leveled at the Guardian, its real target is any organization or individual which will dare to stand up against the “left in form, right in essence’’ opportunist political line and bully-boy tactics of the RU. Clearly preparing to announce their “true” communist party before the end of 1975, the RU is lashing out in blind fury at those who have observed and tried to work with them–and found them a pompously arrogant band of petty bourgeois “super-revolutionaries” with little to offer the working-class movement but self-serving rhetoric and a parody of Marxism-Leninism.
Their latest venture–the much-vaunted “expose’’ of the Guardian–substantiates the growing view on the left that not only has the RU become politically irresponsible, it has become politically irrelevant.
The RU’s historical “documentation” of how the Guardian proceeded down the path of revolutionary perdition is shot full of holes. A few examples should suffice to make the point:
The RU version of Guardian history: “The Guardian approvingly reprinted Fidel Castro’s speech in support of the invasion of Czechoslovakia and took no stand of its own.”
The truth: The Guardian reprinted extended excerpts from Castro’s comments and also wrote editorially: “The Guardian condemns without reservation the invasion and occupation of socialist Czechoslovakia by the armed forces of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies.”
The RU: In the late 1960s “the Guardian welcomed everything . . . [including] the Woodstock rock festival.”
The truth: The Guardian wrote that Woodstock was a “tragicomic scenario of music, mud, marijuana and mating . . . [that] may very well turn out to be the first step in a massive retreat from the developing revolutionary struggle in America.”
The RU: On Vietnam, “the Guardian pushed the line of relying on the so-called ’liberal’ U.S. bourgeoisie, the revisionists and the social imperialists, strongly implying that the Vietnamese people could not win by relying on their own forces and that the U.S. people could never force an end to the war without the help of a section of the ruling class.”
The truth: The articles and war dispatches of Wilfred Burchett and the constantly reiterated political themes of Guardian viewpoints from 1967 until today make the RU’s statement absurd on the face of it. What the RU is really talking about is its own sectarian position toward the antiwar movement which was to actively boycott or sabotage the major protest demonstrations of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The piece de resistance of all this nonsense–and a not inconsequential factor in the vitriolic style of this specious document–is the RU’s version of how some of its own adherents on the Guardian staff in 1973 were expelled from this newspaper. According to the RU, these Guardian staffers who are euphemistically described as being “close to RU,” conducted a struggle within the paper “for a real communist line” and that eventually they were expelled for “ultra-leftism.”
There is no denying that these “friends of the RU” were engaged in a six-month campaign of harassment of the Guardian which was characterized by ultra-“leftism.” But in point of fact, they were removed for extreme and aggravated factionalism. More particularly, they were expelled for deliberately violating the Guardian’s internal security by bringing internal documents to the RU leadership in violation of the Guardian’s norms and after being explicitly instructed not to do so by the Guardian staff. Further, when confronted with the situation, the staffers “close to the RU” freely admitted their actions and boasted that they would do the same in the future no matter what the Guardian staff said.
One could go on almost indefinitely demonstrating not only the hollowness of the RU’s charges, but the hypocrisy which informs them. It is all reminiscent of that Trotskyist “What-about-?” style of argumentation which searches through crevices in order to discredit those who uphold Marxism-Leninism.
Has the Guardian made its share of errors? Unlike some others, we’re the first to admit it. But since the essence of dialectics is to judge all things in terms of their development, we think the history of the Guardian irrefutably demonstrates a deepening and growing understanding of and commitment to Marxism-Leninism and proletarian revolution.
It’s just too bad that the RU, an organization for which many revolutionaries had high hopes, should in the process of “exposing” the Guardian only expose its own political and organizational deterioration.