First Published: Progressive Labor Vol. 5, No. 2, December 1965
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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U.S. rulers are fighting to save their system. Counter-revolution is their method. Imperialism is locked in a death-struggle with revolution.
At this moment the hardest and most important battles are in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The pivotal point of this struggle is in Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam. If the United States accomplishes its immediate goal of destroying the revolution in Vietnam, it will be greatly encouraged to pursue, with greater vigor, the counter-revolutionary perspective of world domination. If the United States imperialists are defeated in Vietnam it will be a staggering blow to the forces of reaction and a great boost to the revolutionary forces all over the world.
Consequently, the stakes in Southeast Asia are very high. The defeat of U.S. imperialism will not be accomplished by any slight of hand; it will require fierce revolutionary struggle all over the world, and enormous action by the people in our own country. It is increasingly necessary for those of us, in our country, who are fighting U.S. imperialism, to have a clear, long-range outlook to bring our efforts to successful conclusion.
At the outset, let us say that we do not believe the dangers imperialism brings upon humanity can be overcome with any finality until imperialism is defeated. In its place working people must build a new political system which satisfies the needs of most people in our country. We believe that only socialism can accomplish this. This means that a new state apparatus must be built upon the strength of the working class.
It is imperative that militant forces and communists in the United States develop a class approach to the political questions at hand, otherwise their efforts will be greatly hampered; and, in fact, they will be using subjective, pragmatic methods which govern bourgeois thought. In the first place we must dispel the notion that foreign policy of the government is determined by the personality of one man or another or as a result of stupidity as opposed to cleverness.
Some people say that the U.S. is in Vietnam because our leaders are “idiotic and stupid.” Others claim that the government has been sucked into the “mess” in Vietnam because of “pride.” That is, the U.S. does not really want to be there, and the only reason that the U.S. is still there is because it is losing. Then, once the tide is turned, there will be created an “honorable” basis for U.S. withdrawal.
Still others tell us that if a “good” man were elected president we would have a “good” foreign policy. If a “bad” man is elected then we will have a “bad” foreign policy. And we suppose that if someone were elected who was in-between, we would have a “middle” foreign policy.
Prior to the last presidential election, this non-class subjective approach reached its zenith. The revisionists and other liberals swore that if Goldwater were elected the war in Vietnam would be enlarged. It was said he was a “very bad man” representing “very bad people.” Johnson was pictured to be a nicer man, “sober, rational, liberal, moderate, peaceful, sincere,” etc. And of course, the people he represented in high places were like-minded.
Still another, but more “sophisticated” line is projected. A “Marxist economist,” Victor Perlo, claims that U.S. monopolists can make more money out of “peaceful” construction than “armaments.” Others of a similar stripe, claim U. S. policies in the underdeveloped countries are “stupid” and that the U.S. imperialists do not have to be so bellicose.
The idea, once hopefully entertained, that economic development in the dependent countries can be successfully promoted by reforms within the existing framework, plus aid from advanced countries, can now, after two decades of bitter experience, be seen for what it is–ideological eyewash. (Monthly Review, November, 1965)
By pursuing these wrong approaches many are disarmed about the objective situation. The result is to rely on the ruling class for a “solution” to the very aggressions they committed. In fact, these liberal forces made Johnson the leader of the peace camp. This approach obliterates the need to see what the ruling class’ objective interests are in any given situation (in this case, Vietnam), thus enabling militants to develop the necessary strategy and tactics.
Since the end of World War II, one billion people have established socialism as their political and economic system. Hundreds of millions are taking (and have taken) the path of colonial and national liberation. Tens of millions are now pursuing these various paths to freedom. This robs the imperialists of the opportunity to exploit and subjugate other peoples and amass huge profits. Without maximum profits imperialism is threatened. Its existence becomes questionable. Therefore, it tries by hook or crook to reverse the revolutionary process. When the imperialists say they are menaced, it is true. There is a danger to imperialism. It is menaced by the forces of revolution. Counter-revolution is imperialism’s “answer.”
After World War II, the U.S. emerged as the strongest imperialist power in the world. It was quickly confronted with many contradictions. Socialism embraced a third of humanity. The revolutionary process was accelerated–given a big boost by the Soviet Union’s historic role in defeating Nazi Germany.
All other imperialists, “friends” and enemies, were greatly weakened by their varying roles in the war. Workers in some capitalist countries were in a revolutionary mood. U. S. rulers were compelled at that time to shore up the economic and political institutions, of “friends” and enemies alike, to prevent socialist revolutions. This was especially true of France and Italy. Additionally, U. S. rulers wanted to create the political and economic means to eventually confront and destroy the Soviet Union. In quick succession U. S. troops and bases sprang up all over the world. In no time at all United States materiel was being used to halt the revolutionary process from Greece to Guatemala.
In short order the U. S. government took over the Hitler slogan of “making the world safe from Bolshevism” and, in fact, took over the Hitlerite scheme to dominate the world politically and economically. Of course, the U. S. tried to cover up its aspirations behind the glib phrases of bringing “freedom and democracy ” to all people. This was similar to Hitler who had to embelish nazism by referring to it as “National Socialism.” And he too was bringing “a New Order” as Johnson brings “The Great Society.” In reality, Hitler was a tool of the entire German ruling class, trying to carve out sections of the world for German exploitation, just as Johnson and the government (state apparatus) serve only the interests of the U.S. ruling class.
This is why the United States rulers are conducting a war of extermination in Vietnam, and how it relates to their over-all perspective of world domination. Further:
1. Since the end of World War II, the revolutionary movement has swept Asia. China is the most important example. However, the revolutionary process has triumphed in north Vietnam, and has gained varying but significant footholds in Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and India. Obviously, imperialism is threatened with losing a continent.
2. The first task of U.S. imperialism is to crush the revolution in south Vietnam. This will accomplish, they hope, the following purposes: Secure that area for a base of aggression against north Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia; demonstrate to other aspiring revolutionary forces that, if they follow the path of Vietnam, they too will be confronted with total U.S. involvement. This means a war of genocide against an entire people. U.S. rulers feel that this will be a severe deterrent. By securing their base in Southeast Asia, U.S. rulers feel they will have the strategic means to launch an attack against China.
China is the basic target of U.S. imperialism in Asia. Not only does socialist China represent a fantastic loss in markets, raw material, and the ability to exploit 700,000,000 people, but China is the living example of successful revolution. China, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, has in a relatively short time been able to transform the Chinese nation from one of dependence and servitude to independence and self-sufficiency. This is a feat unmatched in Asia. Additionally, China is to imperialism today what the Soviet Union was in the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, i.e., China is supplying ideological guidance to those seriously opposing imperialism. China stands today as the main bulwark against imperialism, in spite of the fact that the Chinese economy is far from being fully developed. By raising the threat of “evil Red Bolshevism” in Asia, the “humanitarian” U.S. government is conditioning the American people for atomic strikes against China.
Southeast Asia today occupies a somewhat similar position to the lowlands in Europe in the 1940’s. If Hitlerism was smashed in those lowlands then World War II would not have materialized to the degree and in the form that it did. Defeat United States imperialism now in Southeast Asia, and the ability of U.S. imperialism to carry through its worldwide aggressions will be severely limited.
3. United States imperialism needs the economic and enormous manpower of Asia to be able to impose its political, economic, and military will over Europe. Without the ability to exploit Asia, the U.S. is relegated to a secondary position vis-a-vis other capitalist powers in Europe. It also limits U.S. ability to dominate the socialist “bloc” in Europe. European capital has made an important comeback since World War II. The economies of the socialist countries in Europe, despite their retardation due to revisionist policies, are also able to enter goods on the world markets under varying conditions. Due to this heightened competition for world markets, U.S. imperialism needs the Asian continent more than ever.
4. Since World War II the United States economy has not been the stable entity its bourgeois economists and liberal apologists would have us believe. On five occasions cyclical crises of a lesser nature have occurred; unused plant capacity is the rule. Mass unemployment among young black people, and to a lesser extent among young white workers, is high. Millions have become permanently unemployed. The Korean War was launched by U.S. rulers in such a decline. Recently, forecasts by eminent economists have predicted that the U. S. economy was headed for trouble. Hence, the escalation of the war. This is U.S. imperialism’s “answer” to economic problems, unemployment, etc. It is predicted that in a short time the draft will be at least a million people each year. And, of course, those young men who will be killed by the thousands will no longer be an “unemployment problem.” As the war escalates, however, stories appear on the financial pages of the papers hailing rising profits and continued business “stability.”
For instance an article written by New York Times Financial Editor M. J. Rossant, appearing in the Toronto Globe and Mail (as a result of the New York newspaper strike) and reprinted in Monthly Review (November, 1965):
U.S. NEAR SLUMP, THEN VIETNAM SAVES THE DAY
It was a close call. Little by little it has become clear that the longest peacetime expansion in U.S. history was in danger of petering out until the escalation of the war in Vietnam gave it a new lease on life.
President Lyndon Johnson’s administration is not admitting that a boom came within a breath or two of expiring. But it has let slip a revealing hint or two. The latest batch of economic statistics confirm that activity has slowed and that a prolonged pause, if not a serious decline, was in the making before Vietnam changed the situation.
The August figures, the latest available, (the article appeared on September 28th– Ed.) show that after rising sharply in the first two thirds of the year the Federal Reserve’s index of industrial production levelled off. At the same time, housing starts and orders of durable goods declined.
Without the recent step-up in military spending, which also boosted business confidence, the slowdown in August would have been much more noticeable. It could have marked the beginning of the end of the expansion. Business spending, which now is climbing, could have slipped. And production might have fallen further as consumers curbed their appetites...
Summarily, U.S. imperialism hopes to crush the tide of revolution in Vietnam. They believe by doing this they can “solve” their problems at home and abroad. Therefore, they are throwing everything into this fight. This does not primarily reflect stupidity, pride, ruthlessness, etc.–although U.S. rulers have all these characteristics–but most important, reflects a well-conceived strategy to save their system.
U.S. imperialists are trying to turn back the wheel of history. Their attempt is not so different from the feudal lords who were unsuccessful in their attempt to stop the rise of capitalism. As we indicated, two billion people are in various stages of the revolutionary process. This is an invincible force. The U.S. has now committed a good part of its military potential to halt the revolution in Vietnam. The U.S. is opposing only 10,000,000 people in the South. They are finding it impossible to cope with them. In a recent analysis in the New York Times, Hanson Baldwin, military analyst, speaks of the need of a million men to defeat the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam. Walter Lippman, in a recent article, qualifies this. He says, a million men can only contain not defeat the NLF.
Recently, in the Dominican Republic, 40,000 U.S. troops were sent in to contain a manifestation of bourgeois democracy. Can one imagine how many would have to be sent to that tiny country if a total revolutionary situation emerged? Neither the U.S. nor anyone else has the power–no matter in what form–to contain or halt the tide of history. The more the U.S. enters into counter-revolutionary actions, the weaker it becomes militarily and politically. This is not to underestimate the destructiveness of U.S. weaponry; but oppressed people of the world can no longer be intimidated by the mere display of U.S. “military might.” In this sense the recent article by Chinese Marshall Lin Piao characterizing Africa, Asia, and Latin America as the key revolutionary centers of the world is valid. And when the revolutionary process triumphs there, the U.S. in fact will be surrounded by a sea of revolution. This will be completely in accordance with the needs and aspirations of the masses of U.S. citizens. Of course, U.S. rulers will fight might and main to retrieve their “lost lands.” Hopefully, by then U.S. workers and their allies will have developed sufficient resources to squash any counterrevolutionary manifestation and will be able to achieve power in our country.
U.S. imperialism is the most isolated political force in the history of international politics. While the U.S. was compelled to help restore capitalism in Europe and Japan after World War II, this did not create the basis for any basic merging of interests between rival capitalists. Revitalized capitalism in Europe and Japan has resulted in increased competition for what is left of the world’s markets. U.S. capital has, to some extent, penetrated the economies of its “allies.” This fact has only tended to increase the rivalries between the “allies.”
NATO, SEATO, and all of the aggressive alliances of the capitalists are in a chaotic state. Not one of the “allies” of the United States is willing to support, in any meaningful way, U. S. aggression in Vietnam. For instance, one of the key issues in the recent Canadian elections was the question of Canadian troops in Vietnam; both candidates swore that Canadian troops would not go there and fight.
It would be very difficult for European capitalists to commit soldiers from their countries to fight in Vietnam, even if they wanted to. Workers, students, and intellectuals in these countries might topple any government that went this route. (A recent television program, included student panels from France, Britain, Mexico, and Yugoslavia. The topic was U.S. policies at home and abroad. “Representing” the United States was Eisenhower, Goldberg and Thurgood Marshall. All the students lambasted U.S. policy in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. What they lacked in political acumen was more than compensated by their contempt and derision of U. S. spokesmen and policies.)
However, even the ruling class of these countries would be loath to commit any serious support to the U.S. In the first place, it is a drain on their economies and would tend to undercut an important advantage that they now hold over the U.S. The simple fact is that European capitalists spend far less percentage-wise on arms than the United States. This enables them to place a larger proportion of their profits back into expansion and modernization of their plant facilities than the U.S., enabling them to compete more favorably with the U. S. Additionally, it allows them more capital to invest in their own home industries making it increasingly difficult for U.S. funds to penetrate their economies. Also, foreign capitalists have had the sad experience of U.S. capital replacing them in various areas of the world and are not about to help United States competitors spread their economic base. European capitalists, a la De Gaulle, will continue, as much as possible, to follow independent programs.
Finally, the U.S. policy of having “Asians fight Asians” has ended in virtual failure. Not even the puppet troops of Saigon have any significant value. The war in Southeast Asia is exclusively between the United States and Asia. This is another clear demonstration of the “nakedness” of United States policy and a final pronouncement that the U.S. is on its own.
The inability of the United States to achieve meaningful alliances stands in sharp contrast to the Hitlerites. Even Hitler was able to form an “axis” with Italy and Japan. This axis had the outward appearance of stability for a short while. Quick and easy military victories helped to momentarily create the image of “invincibility.” The U.S. can’t even accomplish this. There will be no easy wins. In this period of “wars of revolution” people determine everything; revolution embraces whole populations. Imperialism simply doesn’t engage in “military operations–the ones with most guns wins.” Imperialism has to take on an entire people. Today, millions of people are armed with the revolutionary ideology of Marxism-Leninism, guiding them to “dare to fight to win!” This is a far more potent force than weapons–the A and H bombs included.
If the United States resorts to atomic war, which is a distinct possibility, they will be defeated faster than ever. Virtually the entire world, including the U. S. people, will rise up and snuff out imperialism. Shall the revolutionary people of the world tremble in the face of the atomic blackmail, or shall they pursue their revolutionary goals, thus strengthening the entire camp of revolution? The stronger the forces of revolution, the less likely atomic destruction; the weaker the forces of revolution, the more likely imperialists will be encouraged to pursue their aggressions against the people of the world.
Would the United States imperialists dare to be so aggressive in Vietnam if the Soviet Union took a different tack? Didn’t the United States pull out of Korea like a whipped dog in the face of united world socialist support in the 1950’s? Chinese volunteers combined with thousands of Soviet MIGs which “blackened the sky,” and artillery, backed up by the Soviet’s powerful atomic arsenal and the resolve of the whole Korean people, forced a pull-out Adverse public opinion on the Korean War was another important factor achieving a United States withdrawal.
Perhaps even more important than various military aid is the failure of the Soviet Union to use its strength and influence to organize politically against United States imperialism. The Soviet leaders speak of “improved relations” with the United States as the latter systematically acts to destroy a socialist country. This is to say nothing of previous acts and utterances by the Soviet Union’s “leaders” as to the “peaceful intentions” of LBJ as opposed to the “war-like” Goldwater. Recent Soviet statements of “militancy” are a poor veneer for their essential cover-up of U.S. imperialism.
Unquestionably, Soviet revisionism makes the task of defeating imperialism more difficult. Despite this, the forces of revolution are stronger than the forces of counter-revolution, although here and there temporary set-backs will occur. The United States is essentially forced to go it alone. U.S. imperialism increasingly exposes itself as the enemy of mankind. No camouflage by revisionists or liberal apologists for imperialism can obscure this fact.
Many more people in our country see that the danger to their security comes from the policies of the U.S. government. After twenty years of being flooded with anti-communism, more of our people understand (as never before) that international or domestic communism is not the real danger. The government claims that it is pursuing policies in the “interests of the whole people.” But this transparent lie is its very undoing. The Vietnam war, as no other issue, is undermining the political grip of the ruling class over large groupings of our people. Many are beginning to link-up the relationship of a barbarous foreign policy to oppressive conditions at home. In the face of this the Johnson gang is running scared.
Millions of our citizens oppose the war of genocide in Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands are acting to stop it This is only the beginning!
U.S. citizens in ever-increasing numbers are coming to see that this war of extermination is similar to Hitler’s wars of extermination. Millions also recognize that the consequences of the war will not only result in the death of thousands of Vietnamese, but thousands of young Americans as well.
Many are rapidly concluding that the war is not in their interests, but benefits only a small number of industrialists, their generals, and their state apparatus. Because of this the Johnson gang has stepped up the attack against militant peace forces. The attack is developing outside and within the peace movement.
Lately the peace fighters have been recast by the Washington image-makers from “kooks” to “traitors.” The growing anti-imperialist trend in the peace movement (as opposed to the desired “loyal opposition”) has sent a shiver down the spines of those who have a stake in the war. Additionally, those who support the rights of others to determine their own destiny–such as the Vietnamese people–begin to be “infected” by similar ideas. Thus, the growing radical-pro-socialist trend within the peace movement has given the administration still more fits.
Another serious worry is that the base of the peace movement is expanding among students and intellectuals, despite the attacks, conditions are being created for uniting this movement with the black people fighting for freedom at home. Recently, increasing numbers of organized workers are rejecting the “national interest” pap of the Administration, and are resorting to militant strikes. Consequently, another front is opening up and other possibilities will mature for unity between all three sections of the population.
Heroic young people are taking the “bull by the horns.” They are organizing against the draft. Some few have resorted to individual acts of defiance, like burning or tearing up draft cards, or by simply not turning up for induction. Others are organizing a broadly based anti-draft movement based on the concept of “Get Out of Vietnam Now!”
Some plan to organize “anti-draft unions on college and high school campuses, including demonstrations in front of draft boards, actions in support of those who refuse to be inducted, and opposition to college administrations who cooperate with the selective service system. (May Second Movement–M-2-M–statement, Oct. 26)
The Attorney General’s office has launched an “investigation” of this anti-draft activity. They have already singled out the militant Students For a Democratic Society (SDS), the M-2-M, and others. However, they are really aiming at all anti-war activity and are trying to stop its expansion and then crush it.
Recent articles in the Sunday News, Journal-American, and other mouthpieces of the ruling class have singled out the PLP for “honorable mention.” Let us just say that these attacks will inspire still greater efforts on our part to help defeat the Johnson gang.
We have no illusions. We know the state apparatus (the government) will resort to additional attacks against us and other radicals. One of the principal ideas behind the wave of anti-communist hysteria launched against the PLP is to drag the old red-herring into the peace movement. The ruling class recognized that key sections of the new radical peace forces have rejected anti-communism as the “opiate of the people.” This is a serious set-back for those in power. Anti-communism has always been one of their most effective weapons for isolating, dividing, and defeating radicals in this country. They are not about to give up on this method.
To buttress their attacks from outside the peace movement, the government is turning to ever greater efforts through their agents within. The danger is two-sided–from the “left” and the right.
On the one hand the traditional reformist leaders (whose stock-in-trade was, and is, red-baiting) are seeking to impose anti-communism and false slogans onto the backs of the peace forces. The leaders of these forces are Norman Thomas, Michael Harrington, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, Norman Cousins, David McReynolds and numerous others of this type. They would like to convert the movement into the “loyal opposition.” They use several approaches to do their dirty work.
In the first place they try to exclude communists from the movement, thus dividing and diverting the movement from the only danger–U.S. imperialism.
Secondly, they raise the baloney of a “plague on both your houses,” that the U.S. and the South Vietnam National Liberation Front and other revolutionary forces “share equal blame” for the war. Consequently, they imply that the President isn’t so bad and would like a negotiated settlement This raises a bogus cry for “negotiation” when “get out” is the sole issue. In other words, behind the cloak of “objectivity” and “impartiality” they apologize for the system.
Finally, with these tactics they try to take over the leadership of the movement by raising the false notion that following their line will broaden out the peace movement. Thus, “quantity is posed against quality.”
Two blatant examples of this have developed. The Sane Nuclear Policy Committee (SANE) has proposed a march in Washington on Nov. 27th. It has already done two things to turn this effort into a parade of the “loyal opposition.” It is redbaiting, and it is raising the phoney line of “negotiations.” This flies in the face of real experiences of the recent past. Demonstrations have continued to grow where there has been an absence of redbaiting and where the issues have been clearly drawn, thus enabling people to determine what was what.
Secondly, Norman Thomas and Co. have set up a new campus peace organization. This transparent maneuver is called “Americans for Reappraisal of Far Eastern Policy.” These advocates of “democracy,” who glibly hurl around “slick” terms like “Stalinist” and “Stalinoid” expose themselves as the real bureaucrats and outside agents of the ruling class. They seek to impose their rule over the peace movement by hook or crook.
Paradoxically, U.S. Communist Party leaders play right into their hands with their own phony apologies for Johnson as “the lesser evil fighting the ultra-right,” and endorse the same incorrect “coalition” tactics within the Democratic Party as the previously mentioned charlatans.
A new but lesser attempt to confuse and disarm the peace movement comes from a noisier, but franker wing of the Trotskyite movement. A recent piece, widely distributed by the Spartacists, raises a series of propositions which are essentially the same as the right-wing’s. The piece is called “Imperialists and Stalinists in Vietnam.”
The very title immediately raises the notion that there is an equal danger to the people of Vietnam from the U.S., and the NLF and the Ho Chi Minh-led government in the north. At a time when the Vietnamese people have united as never before, these “revolutionaries” say “Ho Chi Minh, ’liberator’ of his country, and the Vietnamese leadership are a part of the Stalinist world. Their record is far from admirable...Twice Ho Chi Minh turned over power in Vietnam to the imperialists...”
Referring to the 1954 Geneva Agreements as “sell-outs,” they say the Chinese “Maoists who pretend to very revolutionary Leninism” signed this “sell-out” (The Chinese Communist Party “pretended” so cleverly that after thirty years of fierce fighting the workers and peasants hold political power in China. Compare this effort to those of the “really revolutionary” Trotskyites).
Earlier in the piece these “militants” throw cold water on the efforts of the NLF by attacking the idea that the revolution is “invincible.” Without taking into account historical lessons and political questions, they conclude that the revolution is hopeless. They say “the cold fact is that the U.S. has the military power to smash the revolution in Vietnam, and to do this would not mean, in reality, the liquidation of the Vietnamese people... The dangers of the Vietnam revolution are overwhelming. Externally there is U.S. aggression and internally there is treacherous Stalinist leadership.” (emphasis added–Ed.)
The Vietnamese people cannot and will not distinguish between themselves and the NLF. They clearly see the attempts of the U. S. killers to destroy the entire population. And they will fight to the end despite these arrogant Trotskyite advisors who try to create the illusion that the U.S. will distinguish between the people and the people’s army. The entire population is at war with imperialism.
And how reminiscent of the Khrushchev baloney that weapons determine everything, instead of the valid Marxist-Leninist concept that the people determine the course of revolution. If we follow the Spartacists’ “logic” the Cubans would still be under Batista, the Chinese under Chiang, the Algerians under French landlords, and of course all other revolutionaries would stop efforts in the face of “overwhelming” U.S. force. While the Trotskyites denounce the Vietnamese leaders, the NLF grows stronger and ever-growing sections of the population enter the battle.
One last example of sophistry: These Trotskyites, in a final display of supreme arrogance only outdone by their stupidity, tell oppressed people to wait ...“If there were successful revolutions in imperialist countries, the Stalinist bureaucracies would soon be replaced. Thus a socialist revolution in the U.S. would liberate not only the U.S. but also end the role of both imperialists and Stalinists in Vietnam.” Undoubtedly this is the Trotskyite “theory” of “uninterrupted revolution”–“do nothing until you hear from me.”
This “frankness” has a “virtue” in being an accurate reflection of what all wings of the Trotskyite movement believe. In its “openness” it reflects only a difference in tactics. And even some of these tactics are similar.
The various Trotskyite groups in the U.S. have long wept over the so-called “Stalinist betrayals” which have “split” the workers’ movements, such as the one they claim allowed Hitler to seize power in Germany. Yet in their current activities in New York City, for example, we have seen how one of their splinters (the Spartacists) denounced and withdrew from the committee that organized the massive parade down Fifth Avenue of more than 20,000 New Yorkers. (It might be added that this committee did not practice a policy of exclusion and was sponsored by many individuals representing scores of organizations).
The same splinter group also wrecked the Garment Center Committee to End the War in Vietnam, and another one (the Young Socialist Alliance) did a similar job on the Washington Heights Committee to End the War in Vietnam. Under the guise of revolutionary slogans, they succeeded in driving every single person not a member of their own organizations, out of these peace groups–and many of them out of activity altogether.
This is the logical consequence of pursuing a policy hostile to revolutionary movements.
Both the right and the “left” dangers in the peace movement tend to accomplish the same goal. Confuse the issues. Get U.S. imperialism off the hook. Undermine the morale of peace fighters. Slander the heroic revolutionary efforts of workers and peasants in oppressed countries. And raise yet another form of U.S. arrogance–the patronizing belief that “after all is said and done, only we Americans know what’s good for you dunces.”
U.S. peace fighters are, in practice, rejecting both these false trends, much to the discomfort of U.S. rulers. The liberation army that “swims in the sea of the people,” as one mighty wave, is what makes revolutions ’invincible.
It is not difficult to be a revolutionary when the revolution has already flared up and is raging, when everybody joins the revolution simply because they are carried away by it, because it is the fashion and sometimes even because it might open the way for a career. After the victory, the proletariat has to exert extreme effort, to suffer pain and one might say martyrdom to ’liberate’ itself from such sorry revolutionaries. It is much more difficult–and much more useful–to be a revolutionary when the conditions for direct, open, really mass and really revolutionary struggle have NOT YET matured, to be able to defend the interests of the revolution (by propaganda, agitation and organization) in non-revolutionary bodies and even in downright reactionary bodies, in non-revolutionary circumstances, among the masses who are incapable of immediately appreciating the necessity for revolutionary methods of action. –Lenin, What is to be Done
In the first place, we want to state categorically that people of the United States have a vital role to play in defeating imperialism. There are within the left those who postulate that the workers in this country are totally corrupt, and therefore we should sit back and wait for the oppressed people to make their revolutions. Implied in this is that outside forces would then “export” revolution to our country. This is a false notion. Its consequence is to impose passivity and cynicism upon the class struggle in our country. This position means capitulation. This would weaken the revolutionary struggle on a world scale as well by denying revolutionary forces basic support in the heart of imperialism.
Additionally, it plays into the hands of the ruling class by tending to substantiate the “big lie.” They say revolutions are “exported”; therefore revolution is an outside phenomena, and not an internal development. In this regard, the ruling class is trying to make a field day with the important speech of Lin Piao, Vice Premier, Minister of Defense, and Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Lin Piao’s speech was made in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japan (Peking Review, September 3, 1965). In this speech Lin Piao generalized on the Chinese experience of building revolutionary bases in the countryside, and then surrounding the cities. He said: “In a sense, the contemporary world revolution also represents a picture of encirclement of cities by rural areas. In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African, and Latin American people who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.” In a previous passage he defined “cities” as “North America and Western Europe,” with “Asia, Africa and Latin America constituting the rural areas of the world.”
The ruling class, as well as its revisionist and liberal stooges, is trying to make something sinister of this position. Revolutions are not “exported.” U.S. workers and their allies will have to make their own revolution. And if the United States is eventually encircled by a number of revolutionary states, so much the better. We, together with ever growing numbers of United States citizens, welcome the fact that hundreds of millions can and will determine their own destiny.
Our country is the center of counter-revolution. We have a special responsibility to our own class and the international working class to try to do our utmost to help defeat United States imperialism.
During the past few years, millions of black workers have manifested a sharp antagonism to the oppressive foreign policy of the United States. Not only do they view the examples of Vietnam and the Dominican Republic, but they also witnessed the “humanitarian” expedition of the United States and its friends in the Congo. This bit of “humanitarianism” cost the Congolese people countless tens of thousands, in addition to momentarily setting back revolutionary forces. The late Malcolm X and others did and are doing much to relate the efforts for black liberation in our country to revolutionary action elsewhere. Black people voice their opposition to the war in Vietnam in the ghettoes and in southern areas. “Our fight for freedom is at home.” “Burn, baby burn.” “No ’great society’ for the Vietnamese.” These are slogans of black people. This key development, creating a basis for unity between the liberation movement and students and intellectuals, is more easily grasped.
Not as clearly recognized is the growing possibilities to win white workers away from the cold war policies of the government and labor “leaders.” Despite the fact that there may be a small upturn in employment due to the escalation of the war, basic contradictions operate in the economy. Employers still drive to make maximum profits and they try harder to squeeze them out of the hides of U. S. workers.
This will happen because competition between rival capitalists will continue to accelerate. Also United States bosses will continue to lose more areas of exploitation. As they squeeze their own workers, the home market will continue to shrink. Recent production figures show that the steel industry despite the enlargement of the war, produces at 60 per cent of capacity. Thousands of steel and other workers are being laid-off do to curtailment in production, intense automation, and speed-up.
In spite of various efforts of the bosses, government, and labor “leaders” to bust, stop, and outlaw strikes–strikes continue to grow in numbers and intensity. In each case, workers were forced to choose between the “national interest” or their own interests, in most cases choosing their own. Objectively, the cold and hot wars have not solved the needs of workers and, in fact, have intensified their problems.
This situation creates greater opportunities for winning workers to political class consciousness. The growing intensity of class struggle makes it quite possible to reach workers on the question of the war. Objectively, the war is opposed to the interests of the workers. This is true, not only in the immediate economic sense, but also from the more than obvious fact that workers and workers’ sons are going to be the chief source of cannon-fodder.
The recent election in New Jersey in which the issue of Professor Eugene Genovese became paramount, is a good case in point. New Jersey is one of the most highly industrial states in the union. Northern New Jersey is one of the most highly industrialized complexes in the country. Governor Hughes’ plurality in the working class districts was very high. The vote for Hughes was more than just a rejection of vitriolic red-baiting, it also demonstrated that people who openly oppose the war, even in a militant manner, can get a hearing, can win support. If all workers were so “anti-communist” and “corrupt,” as some of our radical friends would have us believe; if workers felt that they have a “great stake” in the war, as so many of our radical friends would have us believe; if workers had no regard for “civil liberties,” as some of our radical friends would have us believe– then the election would have been won in an overwhelming fashion by Dumont.
One of the chief needs of the day is to build a “new left” in the labor movement. Conditions exist to speed this decisive development (See the Progressive Labor Party Trade Union Program in this issue). The key task is to help destroy the Meany-Dubinsky-Reuther stranglehold over the unions. If this could be done around a meaningful class program, it would unhinge the entire base of U.S. imperialism at home. A student-worker-black alliance is absolutely necessary to defeat United States foreign policy. Students and intellectuals, who are waging a heroic fight, can’t win alone. Consequently, more effort should be made to reach organized workers about the war. Workers need help to find the political and organizational means to circumvent the union mis-leaders.
In order to reach a qualitative change in the level of battle against the war, struggles of an economic character for the workers’ self-interest must be expanded and significant groupings of workers must be won to active opposition to the war in Vietnam.
The battle to defeat United States imperialist policies is not a short term affair. It will be a long drawn out effort. In order to go all the way –“dare to win”–all of us who are presently in this effort must be armed with a clear ideology. We cannot sustain long range efforts, in the face of many problems and attacks, on good intentions alone, or even with sharp political and tactical judgments. Without the development of working class ideology we will be engulfed by bourgeois ideology. Bourgeois ideology is older and has deep roots. The ruling class is able to reach us every moment of the day in a myriad of forms with their thought. Those who reject ideology, with the best of intentions, are wrong. The notion of “non-ideology” is false. Either you operate with the ideology of the ruling class or the ideology of the working class. Working class ideology is called Marxism-Leninism. Those in the left who encourage the notion of “non-ideology” do new young militants a disservice.
The development of revolutionary and stable cadre who choose to fight this system to the end is a protracted process. It requires many-sided experiences, a great deal of study, and the ability to analyze and discuss collectively the forms for developing revolutionary activity.
Many forces today in the academic community have learned through their own efforts the class character of the university. If, in fact, the university is a factory turning out technical-intellectual robots, and stereotyped apologists for the United States war machine, the next logical question is: who should the students and intellectuals serve and ally themselves with? It becomes increasingly impossible for honest intellectuals and students to be “loyal” to a small group of industrialists. They only want to expropriate the mental and labor power of students and intellectuals. Loyalty to this oppressor class is called “patriotism,” however. We believe that the loyalties of intellectuals and students should rest with those who built the universities, and created the wealth of our country– the working class! Loyalty to the working class is the highest form of patriotism. Additionally, it is the only way in which honest intellectuals and students can achieve their fullest creative and use-full potential.
The choice is becoming clear: to align or to be “neutral” to imperialism, places one on the side of retrogression–counter-revolution; to align oneself with that section of humanity which is opposing or can successfully oppose imperialism, places one on the side of progress and revolution. United States imperialism, which develops more intense oppression at home and abroad, is bringing this choice closer and closer.
This choice is being made by millions daily. Many in our country are not faced with this decision today or tomorrow, but we will not be able to escape it. United States imperialism must go! This is the route we must travel!
Revolution does not fall out of the sky. It requires organization–an organization committed to this goal. There are those among the left, many who are our friends, who say that in general we are correct “but now is not the time for a revolutionary party.” Others say, that a “revolutionary party, based on Marxism-Leninism is not applicable to our country.” At this point we would like to deal with the former question, as this proposition is dealt with by Ed Clark in another article in this issue.
We would like to ask those of our friends, like the Editors of Monthly Review, whose opinions we truly value, when is the time? We believe that the class struggle exists in our country now. One might not be satisfied with its progress and development. One might wish that our working class would be more class conscious. On would desire that those who practice Marxism-Leninism would be more developed, qualified, expert in its practice. One could wish that everyone who says that he is a Marxist-Leninist could band together in one movement. All of this would be good. But life and the application of Marxism-Leninism to the real world is difficult. Revolutionary parties are not “born,” but developed over years of struggles and continuous efforts to apply Marxism-Leninism to a particular country.
The development of a revolutionary party, in virtually every country, was a protracted development. It transgressed through many different periods, and developed with many internal struggles between many different tendencies. In the final analysis, the revolutionary party–the party that guided the revolution–was the one that developed a complete rapport with the masses. The one that was able, based on many circumstances, to learn how to apply revolutionary theory to specific matters.
It is very easy and good to become enamored with revolutionary movements elsewhere. However, our development in the United States, in some respects, is more difficult than others. We are trying to build this movement under the noses of the strongest ruling class in the world. Is it foolish? Should we try? Or should we retreat into militant observation and not attempt to answer these problems?
We too could say, “look at the past–what a mess the CPUSA made of things.” We are trying to learn from those errors. We will do our best. But we could do even better with the assistance and encouragement of those who have consistently opposed United States imperialism–from those who always supported the cause of revolution.
There will be no mystical development of revolutionary forces in this country. They will arise from what exists–from battles against capitalism. Each new wave can and will continue and elaborate upon what preceded them. If their thought and action are in accord with the needs and aspirations of the working class, they will be honored by playing a useful role in transforming society.
In the preamble to our constitution we made the following observation. Its validity becomes increasingly clear.
We recognize that the fight will be long and hard. The kings, queens and bishops of modern finance capital and their political pawns have made it clear they will use every form of force and violence in their desperation to hold onto their stolen billions. We will be prepared to continue the struggle on whatever level and with whatever forms are necessary. Surrender is a word we will not know.
To win, we will have to work closely together, disciplined by the urgency of the goal before us; we will have to study and learn to utilize our communist principles and the science of Marxism-Leninism to evaluate honestly our own strengths and weaknesses and those of the enemy at each new stage of the campaign.
Regardless of personal sacrifice, we resolve to demonstrate through constant organized action that the struggle can be carried–and won–to defeat the present system of war and oppression; that the working class can–and will–control its own destiny.
We know full well that with this resolve we fix our fates in a future of fire.
Yet we know, too, that from the very flames of our fight–the fight of all honest working people, students, housewives and intellectuals of our country and the world– a new society shall be built–in which our children, our children’s children, and the billion billion children to come will never be forced to hunger for food or shelter or love–a new society without exploitation of man by man, a society, a nation, a world of revolutionary socialism.
To this end, we here resolve to give our energy, our resources, and our lives.