First Published: 1966
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The importance of August 11, 1965, must firmly be remembered and understood by the people. The Watts’ uprising was far more than a riot. It represents for the American proletariat a new level of struggle against U.S. imperialism.
The significance of the Watts’ uprising rests on the following points:
1) The non-violent and pacifist approach was rejected decisively. The people showed their determination to answer the oppressive violence and force of the police and state by waging a tit-for-tat struggle in the streets. The people showed their willingness to struggle with nothing more than their hands against the well armed state apparatus.
2) Integration was decisively rejected by the people as a social solution to their exploitation and oppression. It is not possible to integrate the poor with the rich, to integrate the exploited with the exploiters. Integration has meaning for the bourgeoisie, for the rich, and not for the working people. Integration is a ruse to assimilate the American Negro bourgeoisie with the rest of the American bourgeoisie, under the pretext of assimilation of all Negroes in the American nation. With the failure of “integration,” U.S. imperialism has dropped that hoax and adopted the “Black Power” hoax to divide workers on the basis of “color” as the last line of defense for U.S. imperialism. This new line prop? up the reactionary nationalists as the mainstay of the capitalist system in the U.S. by calling for “Black” capitalists, as Floyd McKissick of CORE, along with Stokely Carmichael and Adam Clayton Powell who are leading spokesmen for this new imperialist ruse.
3) The rejection of the U.S. imperialist lackeys such as Martin Luther King. Roy Wilkins, and the strongest advocates of non-violence and integration, reveals clearly that a decisive break was made with the bourgeois leadership of the civil rights’ movement, and a decisive division had developed along class lines.
What other lessons must be learned from the Watts’ uprising?
1) The attack on U.S. imperialism lacked a direct political expression. It was not politically expressed as a list of political demands on behalf of the people against U.S. imperialism,
2) There existed no organised anti-imperialist movement to provide a basis for the leadership of the people of Watts and, nationally, against U.s. imperialism.
3) Most importantly, there was an absence of a Marxist-Leninist Party to provide the basis for the political and ideological leadership of the masses. Without such direction, a mass anti-imperialist organisation could not be successful nor could an anti-imperialist united front successfully carry out the struggle.
The most decisive, important lesson to be learned from August 11, 1965 is the concrete need for revolutionary political direction which embodies the concrete needs and interests of the working class–presenting a clearcut line of struggle for the total and complete defeat of U.S. imperialism.
The heroic struggle of the people of Watts on August 11, 1965, sums up clearly for us the nature of the problem facing the American proletariat and the national liberation struggle in the U.S. today. Concretely stated, it is a need for a specific line of political struggle against U.S. imperialism and its lackeys, and for a specific form of organisation which fosters that struggle, and in which the masses may join and participate.
The PEOPLE’S VOICE, Volume 1, Number 1, on Monday, August 23, 1965, called for the formation of the August 11th Movement as the People’s weapon against U.S. imperialism.
The formation and development of an August 11th Movement, taking as its point of inception and basing itself on the lessons of the heroic Watts’ uprising, can and will serve as the basis for forming a mass national organisation of the people against U.S. imperialism, while carrying out a concrete line of class struggle and opposition to U.S. imperialism. The August 11th Movement must represent the concrete application of the revolutionary, mass political line of the Party of the proletariat, and form its organisational embodiment so that the people may have the widest possible opportunity to play an active role in overthrowing U.S. imperialism.
1) The movement must firmly and resolutely without reservation oppose and fight for the total and complete destruction of U.S. imperialism. This means that our brothers and comrades in Africa, Asia, and Latin America must be completely supported in their struggle against U.S. imperialism (i.e. the Vietnamese people, the Arab people, the Congolese people, and the Dominican people).
2) The movement must fight for the equal rights of all the national minorities and nationalities in America without hesitation, and resolutely oppose all forms of discrimination.
3) The movement must fight for the right of self-determination of the Negro nation in the South (the Black Belt) and Puerto Rico. This means to support the complete right of national liberation for the Negro and Puerto Rican nations which includes their right to secede, federate or amalgamate.
4) The movement must resolutely oppose all agents and lackeys of U.S. imperialism. There must be no joint action with the political and ideological agents of U.S. imperialism: the modern revisionists (CPUSA), the Trotskyites (SWP), and their conciliators (PLP), nor with the direct political expression of imperialism, the Democrats and Republicans, whether liberal or conservative. For it is impossible to oppose imperialism and defeat it by collaborating with its agents.
5) The movement must support the struggles of all working people for their emancipation from imperialism.
The membership should be open to all working people who endorse and support Its program.
The movement should concentrate its organising among the most exploited and oppressed sections of the working people, especially among the areas of the Negro, Mexican-American, and Puerto Rican national minorities. It must and should encourage the broad participation of wide sections of the people.
1) It must carry out the widest possible education of the people to its program
2) It should seek to educate the people culturally and in practical matters of their interests.
3) It must help to train the people in their active defense. It must take tm active hand in training its members in self-defense, and assist in the formation of People’s Armed Defense Groups which will also form part of its activity.
The Communist Party, U.S.A. (Marxist-Leninist), seeks to foster the development of the August 11th Movement precisely to further the struggle against U.S. imperialism, and to bring about its destruction. We call upon our members, sympathisers, and friends to actively assist in the formation and development of the August 11th Movement nationally, and to carry the line of the Party to the masses.
The Party supports and fights for the development of an anti-imperialist united front comprised of all class forces opposed to U.S. monopoly capital in order to oppose U.S. imperialism and the rise of fascism. The C.P.U.S.A. (M.-L.) is taking decisive steps to foster such development. The Party and August 11th Movement will play a decisive role in bringing about such a development.
The C.P.U.S.A. (M.-L.) calls for the commemoration of the deaths of our martyred working class comrades and brothers who were shot down by the U.S. imperialist national guard and police. The U.S. imperialists have, on the other hand, called for a “darkie” carnival–the Watts’ Summer Festival–to humiliate the heroic people of Watts and to cover up for the police and national guard murder of the 34 workers in Watts in August 1965. Our Party views the imperialist sponsored “Watts’ Summer Festival” as a direct provocation against the proletariat.
We will be conducting activities, along with the August 11th Movement, in commemoration of our martyred dead and in opposition to the imperialist carnival. As we stated in the first issue of our newspaper, the PEOPLE’S VOICE, on August 23; 1965: “We pledge to carry forward the struggle that our dead brothers and comrades have begun ... In their memory we pledge to destroy U.S imperialism!”
Homer Ellis, 35 Leon Posey, 21 Carrol Shaw, 30 George Fentroy, 21 Curtis Gaines, 24 Joseph Maiman Joe Horn, 20 Carlos Cavitt, 18 Joseph Wallace, 29
Calvin Jones, 31 Charles Shortridge, 15 Alfred O’Neal, 23 Andrew Houston, Jr. Willey Hawkins, 35 Aubrey Griffin, 38 Frederick Hendricks, 19 William King, 40 Juan Fuentes, 30
George Adams, 45 Thomas Owens Carlton Elliot, 17 Leon Cauley, 31 Paxil Harbin, 53 Miller Boroughs, 31 Albert Flores, 40 Charles Smalley, Neill Love
WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE! POWER TO THE PEOPLE ! !
DOWN WITH U.S. IMPERIALISM ! !
Issued by the COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE U.S.A. (MARXIST-LENINIST) 9122 SOUTH COMPTON AVENUE L.A., CALIF. 90002 213-569-2542