Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Lincoln Webster Sheffield

Black liberation and peace debated by SDS

Published: Daily World, [newspaper of the CPUSA] June 21, 1969. 
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

CHICAGO, June 20 – The national convention of Students for a Democratic Society yesterday was given to basic theoretical debate. The day was organized primarily into panels and workshops on the fight against racism and a general strategy for defeating U.S. imperialism.

Highlights of the day were speeches by leaders of the Puerto Rican Young Lords organization of Chicago and the California Chicano group, the Brown Berets. Both speakers criticized the convention and its factions for arrogance regarding oppressed minority people and the working class.

Progressive Labor and the “Worker-Student Alliance,” especially, came under fire from the community speakers. This was mainly because PL is fighting against SDS support of the Black Panther Party and the right of self determination for the black people.

This question is perhaps the most hotly debated in the convention.

PL takes the position that black liberation is mainly a class question and that SDS must lead an attack on the racist institutions that serve imperialism, such as universities.

Klonsky’s position

Michael Klonsky, outgoing SDS secretary, articulated the national SDS position in the panel. He said that black people have essentially the same relation within the U.S. as a colony has to the mother country, and that the struggle against chauvinism among white workers must include support of the black people’s right to self determination.

Klonsky, and other speakers after him, called for a sharp attack on “white-skin privileges.” Citing Lenin and Marx, they claimed that workers will never be united against imperialism in the mother country until they reject all such privileges and fight for the equality of all workers.

The other big debate took place over Vietnam. The national office has proposed national anti-war actions in the fall, and PL has sharply attacked this idea, along with the support given by SDS to the National Liberation Front policy in negotiating with U.S. imperialism, chanting “Ho-Ho-Ho Chi Minh, no deals in Vietnam.”

The PLers came close to breaking up the convention at tense moments in the debate. The feeling of most SDSers at the convention seemed to clearly indicate that they prefer a position giving aid to the Vietnamese without trying to tell them how to fight imperialism.

The next two days will see relatively abstract debates translated into concrete terms when resolutions, proposals for action and program, and the election of new leadership will be the main points.

The convention which appears almost evenly split between PL and other “revolutionary” tendencies with few “independents,” was headed for an early showdown today over challenges to credentials.