Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Vanguard

New Left Maoism: Long March to Peaceful Coexistence

The Revolutionary Union

First Published: Workers Vanguard, No. 31, October 26, 1973
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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For a considerable period the Chinese Communist Party, and Mao Tse-tung in particular, enjoyed an undeserved reputation as a militant revolutionary force standing considerably to the left of the reformist Russian bureaucracy. This reputation was based on Mao’s successful overthrow of Chiang Kai-shek in the late 1940’s (against Stalin’s instructions); the Sino-Soviet dispute of the early 1960’s, when the Chinese attacked Khrushchev for advocating a “peaceful road to socialism”; and the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” during which Mao and Lin Piao told Red Guards “it is right to rebel” against “rightist” party bureaucrats (i.e., those who had not yet assimilated Mao thought).

But for the last several years, the “Great Helmsman” has been progressively disillusioning thousands of his erstwhile followers by zigzagging to the right both domestically and internationally. Thus he turned off the Cultural Revolution with a flick of the wrist by imposing the so-called “Three-In-One” Combination, giving control of the country to the army and “reformed” bureaucrats. Internationally Mao has been pushing the Chinese version of peaceful coexistence, which has involved the People’s Liberation Army orchestra’s serenading Richard Nixon with “Home on the Range” while U.S. B-52s bombed North Vietnam; calling for the strengthening of NATO in order to increase imperialist military pressure on the Soviet Union; sending tanks and guns to the “anti-imperialist” militarist butchers of Pakistan, arms which were later used against the masses of Bengali peasants and workers with the approval of Mao; and endorsing the Ceylonese government’s brutal repression of a 1971 uprising of student and peasant youth.

These moves amply confirm the Spartacist League’s characterization of Maoism as a reformist, Stalinist current of the workers movement. Unlike various fake-Trotskyist tendencies which have characterized Maoism as “centrist,” supported the Chinese against the Russians in the Sino-Soviet dispute of the early 1960’s or sided with Mao against Liu Shao-chi, the SL has consistently maintained that Mao represents the interests of a parasitic bureaucracy which, while based on the property forms of a workers state, continually seeks compromise with imperialism as opposed to pursuit of a policy of class struggle.

Maoism does, of course, have its own specific features as a Chinese version of Stalinism. Its apparent militancy in earlier years was derived from the unwillingness of U.S. imperialism to accept the overthrow of capitalism in the key country of mainland Asia. As we termed it, Maoism is “Menshevism under the gun,” Likewise its guerrillaist strategy of peasant-based “people’s war” and the “anti-imperialist united front” is simply a translation into the conditions of backward countries of such traditional Moscow-line Stalinist standbys as the “popular front” and “anti-monopoly people’s coalition.”

For years Mao tried to arrange a coalition government with Chiang, even agreeing (in 1945) to overwhelming Kuomintang domination of the government and unified army. It was Chiang who rejected the popular front. And the Maoists’ support for the bourgeois nationalist Sukarno in Indonesia, leading to the 1965 massacre of over 500,000 Communists, is no different than Moscow’s support of the Allende pop-front government. The fumed Cultural Revolution, in turn, was a conflict between two wings of the bureaucracy which were not qualitatively differentiated (whence the ease with which this “revolution” was terminated and the reappearance in high government positions of leading “capitalist-roaders” of yesteryear).

Western Maoists in Search of a Strategy

While the end of the Cultural Revolution and Nixon’s trip to Peking have led many former Maoists to drop out of politics and others (such as the Communist Working Collective and Buffalo Marxist Caucus, who subsequently fused with the SL and RCY) to examine Trotskyism, leaderships of Western Maoist groups have been forced to explicitly reaffirm their fundamental Stalinist policies. But here the Maoists are faced with an intractable problem: they agree with the Moscow-line Communist parties on the key questions (such as socialism in one country, popular front-ism), yet they must simultaneously appear as a left opposition to the blatantly reformist pro-Russian CPs. And they are saddled with the fact that there is no specific Maoist strategy for the advanced capitalist countries.

As a good reformist and nationalist, Mao has never seen the need to form (or even call for) a united world party of socialist revolution (Stalin, for his part, dissolved the Communist International in 1943 as a favor to Churchill and in practice subordinated the Comintern to the interests of Russian state diplomacy some 15 years earlier). Moreover, Mao has never even bothered to make pronouncements on any of the key questions facing communists in the West save one: the need for armed struggle. But what about syndicalism? Are blacks in the U.S. a nation? Is feminism partly progressive? U.S. Maoists dispute these questions, but Mao remains silent and there is nothing in Maoism that in resolving such disputes can provide a consistent revolutionary strategy in the industrialized countries.

In practice Western Maoists are reduced to empirically tailing after various petty-bourgeois movements and capitulating to the present backward consciousness of the working class. The result has been marked national differences between the Maoist movements of different countries and an inability even to unite various currents into a single Maoist party in any major Western country. Thus in Italy, for instance, there are several different Maoist-syndicalist groups, while in France Maoist-anarchist collectives predominate. In West Germany the 40-odd Maoist organizations by and large represent Stalinist opposition to the reformist policies of the East German bureaucracy and its satellite in the Federal Republic, but in Sweden the Maoist movement grew out of support for the Vietnamese NLF.

In the United States, one can identify three broad currents of Maoism – namely New-Left Maoism, Stalin Maoism and Third-World Maoism. The largest category is the first, including principally the Revolutionary Union (RU) and October League (OL), but also terrorist-Maoists such as Weatherman, guerrilla Maoists such as Venceremos, syndicalist-Maoists such as the Sojourner Truth group and others. All of them tail black nationalism as a key aspect of their politics, and all were earlier part of the RYM wing of SDS. The leading Stalin Maoist organization is the Communist League (CL). In an earlier phase Progressive Labor (PL) could have been classed in this category as could (loosely) the former American Communist Workers Movement (Marxist-Leninist)–ACWM(ML). By and large the Stalin Maoists tend to have a more militant rhetoric without differing qualitatively from the politics of the New-Left variety. Finally, among the politically less-defined Third-World Maoists the largest groups are the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization (PRRWO–formerly Young Lords) and the Black Workers Congress (BWC–a wing of the former League of Revolutionary Black Workers).

Despite the various rumors of imminent fusions, notably between the RU and OL on the one hand and the CL and ACWM(ML) on the other, none of these groups have succeeded in uniting. The OL, RU and ACWM(ML), however, have all succeeded in picking up a number of local Maoist collectives over the past two years.

Maoism in SDS: Waving the Red Book Against the Red Book

As the student movement began to radicalize and grow on a mass scale during the mid-1960’s its main organizational focus was the New-Left Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Two currents formed within the organization, one pro-working-class and led by Progressive Labor, the other a loose conglomeration of student-power advocates. The latter wing tailed after black nationalism, arguing that the white working class had been “bought off” by U.S. imperialism. The PL-led wing, however, grew steadily in influence, and by late 1968 it was evident that it would soon have a majority. This led to the formation of the “National Office Faction,” headed by Bernadine Dohrn and Mike Klonsky, which operated initially as a secret clique with little political agreement except common hatred of PL.

During the spring of 1969, PL’s “Worker-Student Alliance” faction made rapid nationwide gains, particularly as the result of its domination of the Harvard student strike. Meanwhile, in the anti-working-class wing, subterranean maneuvering had reached mammoth proportions, with Dohrn reportedly switching cliques several times. But even though the maneuvering in large part may have derived from personal hunger for power and the desperate effort to “stop PL,” political struggle usually requires some sort of programmatic rationale. In consequence there arose three different sections of what became, at the June 1969 split convention, the RYM wing of SDS.

Klonsky led the RYM-II group which argued that a mass youth movement must be built on the program of support to the Vietnamese NLF and the Black Panthers. A group around the Columbia student strike leadership (Rudd and others) and the Michigan-Ohio region formed Weatherman, which called for an urban guerrilla army of white youth whose job would be to aid “third-world” struggles by confrontations with the police and (eventually) terrorism. The third group was the Bay Area Revolutionary Union, led by Bob Avakian, which argued for working-class community organizing although agreeing that the “principal contradiction” in the world was not that between proletariat and bourgeoisie but between oppressed peoples and the imperialists.

The RU had grown out of several working-class community-and factory organizing collectives which had earlier spun off the Berkeley New Left and white supporters of the Black Panther Party. Although the RU made its public debut at the April 1969 SDS National Council meeting, the initial leaders had begun working together during 1967 to build an alliance of the Berkeley white left with the BPP. They first opposed work inside the Peace and Freedom Party, a petty-bourgeois group with a classless reform program which ran Eldridge Cleaver for president in 1968, because it was dominated by the anti-communist social-democratic International Socialists. However, their opportunist appetites won out later as they became a mushy Radical Caucus of the PFP. At Berkeley they formed an equally programless Radical Student Union to fight PL influence.

The RU sided with RYM-II and against Weatherman in the coalition which led the June 1969 split in SDS. However, it never sharply counterposed an alternative line to the urban guerrillaism of Rudd and Company. Part of the reason W*B the fact that the RU itself included a proto-Weatherman section centered around Stanford University professor Bruce Franklin, While Franklin had been involved in community organizing, Bob Avakian was connected to the factory-organizing groups. There were continuous sharp debates between these sections, but little political clarification. Their binding tie was support for the Panthers, who they believed would lead in the formation of the vanguard party. Although RU leaders were privately critical of the Panthers for allying with the reformist Communist Party to build the “United Front Against Fascism” conference in Oakland during the summer of 1969, all public criticism of the BPP was suppressed.

Without going into the SDS split itself (see “New Left’s Death Agony,” Spartacist No. 13, August-September 1969), it should be mentioned that the RYM wing immediately split again as Weatherman headed toward its terrorist orientation and soon disappeared altogether. Indicative of the lack of seriousness of the various forces leading it was the fact that Klonsky, who had been leading the youth-movement forces, soon turned toward Maoist “learn-from-the-people” factory agitation in California, while the other RYM-II leader, Noel Ignatin, turned toward syndicalist factory organizing in Chicago.

And despite the RU’s words about the role of the working class, when at the SDS split convention it was proposed that the RYM wing adopt in its list of principles (which included support for North Korea and Albania!) a statement about the leading role of the industrial proletariat in the socialist revolution, Avakian denounced this as “sectarian”!

Revolutionary Union: CP Reformists in Mao Suits

Although it has recruited primarily from New-Left students, the RU has its roots in the same reformist Communist Party it now claims to 0ppose. A key section of the RU leadership consists of a layer of veteran CPers, two of 20-year standing. Many of these ex-CPers passed through the Fosterite PLP, joining the RU as PL moved left in the late 1960’s. They represent an important element of continuity with orthodox Stalinism. To day they are acting as apologists for the Chinese bureaucracy and its policy of peaceful coexistence with U.S. imperialism, just as they fronted for Stalin and the Russian bureaucracy’s identical policies when they were in the CP, It was likewise in the Stalinized Communist Party that they first learned the theory of socialism in one country (which denies the need for a real International) and the practice of tailing after “progressive” trade union bureaucrats characteristic of the RU today.

Many of the RU’s ex-CPers left the party during the late 1950’s, in the wake of Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin at the 1956 20th Congress of the CPSU. In this country there were several attempts to rescue Stalinist “orthodoxy” from Khrushchev revisionism, which led to a series of splits and expulsions during 1958-61. Among these groups were Hammer and Steel in Boston, the Negro-Labor Vanguard group in New Jersey and the Progressive Labor Movement in New York.

The ideological roots of both the RU and the OL go back in particular to the first pro-Stalin opposition in the CP, a grouping which, having been expelled in 1958, became the Provisional Organizing Committee to Reconstitute the Marxist-Leninist Vanguard Party in the USA (POC), This left faction, which included many of the old-time CP black and Latin worker-activists, was particularly attached to Stalin’s “Third Period” call for a “Negro Nation” in the U.S, South.

While nominally to the left of the CP leadership (which at the time confined party activities largely to work inside the Democratic Party), it did not provide a Clear class opposition by rejecting characteristic Stalinist policies of “popular fronts” and “peaceful coexistence.” Subsequent to its expulsion the POC decomposed into a myriad of tiny splinter groups, its only direct descendant today being the Communist League.

The POC’s “black-nation” mania is in one form or another characteristic of virtually the entire present-day U.S. Maoist movement. It appears in disguised form in both the RU’s original position that blacks are an “internal colony” and in their later view that any concentration of blacks constitutes part of this suppressed nation for which, however, because of its dispersal, proletarian revolution will offer the sole course to liberation; more openly in the OL’s position that a black nation does exist in the South, though separation should be opposed; and quite unabashedly in the CL’ s position that the old southern Black Belt (with today a majority of “white Negroes”!) constitutes a “Negro Nation” whose national liberation should be supported. In the case of the RU and OL, the function of these theories is to provide a means and excuse for tailing after black nationalism; while for the CL they express more a rejection of the CP’s latter-day liberal integrationist legalism in favor of a more radical “Third-Period” policy.

The RU quotes Mao as saying that nationalism is “applied internationalism” and thus calls for support for “revolutionary nationalism” both in backward countries and in the U.S, In a 1969 reply to Weatherman Jim Mellen, two RU leaders devoted several pages to the argument that workers were not “bought off” as “white-skin privilege” theories maintained, instead accepting as their starting point the Maoist tenet that:

The most basic truth that all revolutionaries must grasp, the starting point for our action, is the fact that the principal contradiction in the world today is between the oppressed peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America and the imperialists, headed by U.S, Imperialism. What distinguishes Marxists from pseudo-Marxists is the question of support for the national liberation struggles .... Within the U.S. this means support for the third world liberation struggles... – Bob Avakian and Marv Treiger, “Revolutionary youth and the Road to the Proletariat”

In fact the dividing line between Marxists and pseudo-Marxists is the recognition that the fundamental contradiction is that between the two principal classes, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and that the role of the communist vanguard is to struggle for the political independence of the workers, from their class enemy. By supporting black nationalism, the RU, OL and other Maoists tie black workers to black capitalist politicians like the FordFoundation-backed Imamu Baraka (Leroi Jones) and poverty agency-financed Reverend Jesse Jackson, as well as to nationalist reformists like the Black Panthers’ Bobby (“I am a Democrat”) Seale. Because they have not yet been able to exploit the black masses on a large scale and thus reveal their political essence, bourgeois nationalists are in fact the most dangerous enemies of the oppressed racial minorities whose liberation depends on a united class struggle led by the most exploited sectors of the workers.

In addition to falsely locating the “principal contradiction” between oppressed nations and U.S. imperialism (leaving U.S, workers somewhere in the middle), the RU was initially characterized by three other propositions: criticism of Khrushchev’s “peaceful coexistence” policies, support for “revolutionary nationalism” against PL’s assertion that all nationalism is reactionary and the strategy of an anti-imperialist united front.

Claiming to support the Chinese against the Russians, the RU wrote:

Not satisfied with only pursuing its own Great Power interests, the Soviets have developed a series of ’theories’ which are no more than modern extrapolations of the old Second International’s fight against Leninism .... “Peaceful transition”, “Peaceful Coexistence”, and “Peaceful Competition” have become the rallying cries for right opportunists everywhere. –“Against the Brainwash,” Red Papers No.1, 1969

The problem with this statement is that it does not represent the real Chinese position, nor that of the RU’s hero Stalin. In their principal document of the early 1960’s Sino-Soviet dispute, the Chinese leaders wrote:

Since its founding the People’s Republic of China too has consistently pursued the policy of peaceful coexistence with countries having different social systems, and it is China which initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence ....

It is absolutely impermissible and impossible for countries practicing peaceful coexistence to touch even a hair of each other’s social system. –“A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement,” 1963

This is identical to Stalin’s philistine comment in an interview with an American journalist in 1935 that it was impermissible to “export revolution.” While Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Mao occasionally have made orthodox-sounding remarks about separation of party and state relations, the essence of their common policy of long-term peaceful coexistence with imperialism is to sacrifice international revolution to the immediate diplomatic appetites of the bureaucracies of the deformed workers states.

Behind the RU’s support for “revolutionary nationalism” stands the classical Stalinist concept of a two-stage revolution. Instead of struggling for socialism, workers in the backward countries must first join with the “national bourgeoisie” in a “democratic” revolution against feudalism, claimed Stalin and Mao. Trotsky held the opposite position, namely that because of the dependence of the colonial bourgeoisie on imperialism and the feudalists, the democratic tasks of national liberation and agrarian revolution could be accomplished only by the proletariat’s establishing its own class rule, supported by the peasantry. According to the RU:

They [PL] maintain they support the Vietnamese by ’supporting the dictatorship of the proletariat as the only solution’, It is here that they degenerate into classical Trotskyism, The Vietnamese, the Chinese, and all oppressed peoples must fight, or in the case of the Chinese, have fought, for the new democratic revolution as the only way to reach socialism” The Chinese Trotskyites called for the dictatorship of the proletariat and claimed thereby that they supported the revolution, when in fact they cast themselves as the pariahs of the revolution, mistaking one stage for another and objectively sabotaging the struggle. –“Against the Brainwash”

It is certainly true that the Chinese Trotskyists fought for the dictatorship of the proletariat, and that Mao until the very last moment vainly tried to form a coalition government with the “patriotic bourgeoisie” led by the butcher Chiang Kai-shek. This is why Mao has kept the Trotskyists in jail for the last 20 years: This is why Mao never had any support in the Chinese working class before the revolution and took power on the back of a peasant uprising rendered possible by the complete collapse of the hopelessly corrupt Chiang government. But although PL broke empirically with Stalinism on the national question, it has been unable to generalize this into a consistent Leninist strategy of proletarian independence. Instead it is currently tailing after various left-talking union bureaucrats and participated in McGovern’s Democratic Party election campaign during 1972. But no one can accuse the RU of such inconsistency: since 1967 it has only reinforced its commitment to the Stalinist stages-theory and its policy of unconditionally tailing after nationalists and reformists of all stripes.

An important part of the RU policies, one which ostensibly divides it from the OL, is the concept of a strategic anti-imperialist united front. On the one hand, this has been a device to permit the RU to claim it rejects the Communist Party’s reformist “two-stage” strategy in this country (while supporting it for China), but maintaining it in practice. Thus:

The United Front Against Imperialism is the strategic road for the proletariat in establishing its dictatorship..., a minimum program, short of the dictatorship of the proletariat, provides the basis at this time for struggle against imperialism. Communists, of course, also have a maximum program–socialism and communism–which we always advocate and propagate, but our basis for uniting in this period is the minimum anti-imperialist program....

No one can predict exactly when or how the dictatorship of the proletariat will come to the fore in the mass movement, but we can say that it will develop dialectically through the struggles led by the proletariat around the united front line and program. –“The United Front Against U.S. Imperialism: Strategy for Proletarian Revolution,” Red Papers No. 2, 1970

We do not reject the united front. As the continuators of the tradition of Lenin and the early Comintern, Trotskyists have always upheld its importance as a tactic to unite the workers organizations in action around a specific, usually defensive, goal (e.g., to defend the unions against the bosses’ state). But as the CI resolutions repeatedly stated, this must be a proletarian united front against capital; it is not an excuse for class collaboration.

The “stratgic anti-imperialist united front” is used by the RU in order to justify downgrading the struggle for the communist party. For Lenin and Trotsky the united front was, rather, a tactic to build the vanguard party and win support for its program of class independence. If successful in forcing the participation of reformist and centrist workers organizations, it will unite the proletariat against the common class enemy and open a contradiction between this particular action and the remainder of the reformist program–whose general perspective is to tie the workers to the bourgeoisie. If, however, the reformists do not agree to a united struggle, for objectives that are clearly in the interest of all workers, the defeatist consequences of their policies will stand openly revealed to their own memberships. But to talk of a strategic united front can mean only liquidating the vanguard into the class, And this is precisely its function for the RU, which opposes “united-front work” to “party building”:

At the present time, the building of collectives on a local basis, and the exchange of experiences between them, can contribute the most to the creation in the near future of a Marxist-Leninist party. –“Statement of Principles,” Red Papers No.1

Reformism and Anti-Communism

In line with its perspective of a “strategic united front,” the RU has focused on publishing a number of local community papers such as the Bay Area Worker, People Get Ready, (Cleveland), People’s Voice (Chicago), On the Move (New York), etc. Supposedly limited to “anti~imperialist” politics, these papers breathe not a word about socialism–not to mention the need for a Marxist-Leninist party. The RU itself did not even have a newspaper until early this year when it began publishing Revolution.

Another expression of the RU policy is its tailing after the Chavez leadership of the United Farm Workers Union. At a time when Chavez is actively sabotaging the grape strike, endangering the very existence of the union itself (see “Defend the Farmworkers!” WV No. 27, 31 August 1973) and substituting pacifist-religious vigils and middle-class boycotts for a militant defense of the picket lines, the RU not only does not criticize the UFW leadership but ignores it altogether, hardly even bothering to mention the existence of a union (Revolution, September 1973)! The RU has developed non-criticism of the reformists into a fine art. Having shamelessly tailed after the Panthers for years, when BPP leader Bobby Seale ran for Oakland City Council as a Democrat earlier this year Revolution simply avoided the issue.

While refusing to criticize opportunist, fake-militant labor bureaucrats, the RU (like Stalin) uses physical violence against socialist opponents in blatant defiance of workers democracy. In June RU supporters attacked Workers Vanguard salesmen at the Fremont, California GM plant and reportedly attacked salesmen of the Workers League’s Bulletin at the Milpitas, California Ford plant. Afraid to let the workers read anything more militant than its own reformist pablum, the RU adopts the methods of the union bureaucrats. When a union-inspired goon squad at the Parma, Ohio Chevrolet plant recently attacked not only WV salesmen but also those of the RU-supported People Get Ready, the Revolutionary Union categorically refused any joint action with the Trotskyist Spartacist League despite our common victimization by the same anti-communist bureaucrats.

By capitulating to the bureaucrats the RU simultaneously bows to the existing backward consciousness of the working class. Thus in Spring 1972 at the Glass Bottle Blowers Association Local 141 (Owens-Illinois in Oakland, California) a motion was proposed to send union officials to a $25-a-plate fund-raising dinner for COPE (the AFL-CIO support group for the Democratic Party). Union militants opposed the motion with arguments for an independent workers party and against any support to either capitalist party. RU supporters, however, spoke against this and voted to send the union officials to the dinner.

At the following union meeting a motion was introduced to instruct the GBBA delegate to the Central Labor Council to introduce a motion for a one-day general strike in Alameda County to protest the wage freeze and the war. This was opposed as premature by both the local bureaucrats and RU supporters, since “the workers aren’t ready.” Instead, the RU supporters suggested an amendment calling for a “day for labor to express opposition to war and call a gathering of all working people to discuss further action to take against the war”–in other words, one more antiwar rally.

This policy of supporting only those minimal reform demands which can win instant popularity has led the RU to tail after a variety of would-be bureaucrats in recent union elections. Notably these ostensible revolutionaries gave “critical support” to Arnold Miller in last December’s United Mine Workers’ elections. Miller was the candidate of Miners for Democracy, which had sued the UMW in the capitalist courts to force a rerun of an earlier election and was braintrusted by Joseph Rauh, a prominent liberal Democratic lawyer. His program consisted of no more than those few vague promises about “democracy” which are the stock-in-trade of every fake militant (see “Labor Department Wins Mine Workers’ Election,” WV No. 17, March 1973).

At Fremont GM, this policy led the RU to give enthusiastic support to the Brotherhood Caucus, a bloc of OL and RU supporters with leaders of three different local cliques which is headed by a former bureaucrat. The Brotherhood won the elections and has subsequently become increasingly negative toward its OL/RU tail. Like the “progressive” bureaucrats supported by the Communist Party in the 1930’s, these fake-militants may soon turn on their radical hangers-on and give them a taste of old-fashioned McCarthyism in a vivid demonstration of the need for an independent class-struggle opposition in the unions rather than Stalinist lesser-evil tailism.

This reformism (along with its anti-communist consequences) is also reflected in the RU’s student work. Following out the logic of its anti-imperialist strategic united front, the RU created the Attica Brigade, whose program consists of nothing but warmed-over New Leftism. During demonstrations against budget cuts at the City University of New York (CUNY) last year, liberals refused to let the Revolutionary Communist Youth (youth section of the SL) march with signs calling for “Open Admissions with Stipend,” “Nationalization of the Universities under Worker-Teacher-Student Control,” “Only the Working Class Can Defeat Capitalist Attacks,” and “Fight for Socialism.” When the liberal leaders called the cops to remove RCY supporters from the picket line, the Attica Brigade showed its appetites by uniting with the liberals and the cops. The consequences of this anti-communism are now becoming manifest as the Queens College chapter of the Attica Brigade has joined the liberal anti-communist New America Movement (NAM).

Mao’s Foreign Policy: Liquidate Revolution

Since Mao set out after a “Third World”-Nixon-French alliance against the Soviet Union during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Maoists in the U.S. have had a much more difficult time of simultaneously fronting for Chinese foreign policy and maintaining a pretense of revolutionary politics. A hilarious example of the acrobatics to which this can lead is the RU’s 1972 pamphlet “China’s Foreign Policy: A Leninist Policy.” No longer able to attack the Russian revisionists for seeking peaceful coexistence with the U.S., RU leaders argued that “the Chinese uphold peaceful coexistence as the correct basis for relations only between countries with different social systems,” whereas:

.. the Soviets try to make peaceful coexistence the general line for all relations with the imperialists, even between the imperialists and the people and nations oppressed by imperialism....

The Chinese line is to make diplomacy serve the struggle of the people, in all parts of the world. When diplomatic relations come into conflict with support for the struggle of the oppressed people, diplomatic relations must take a back seat.

Then the pamphlet goes on to explain that although the Bengalis of East Pakistan suffered national oppression this was an internal affair of Pakistan. India’s invasion of East Bengal, however, was expansionism, thereby, according to the RU, justifying China’s aid to the Pakistani government against India! A revolutionary policy would have been to call for revolutionary defeatism on both sides in the Indo-Pakistani war while maintaining the right of Bengali self-determination.

The writers also attempt to explain why it was correct for China to send representatives to the Shah’s celebration of 2,500 years of monarchy in Iran at the same time as the RU was supporting demonstrations of Iranian students against the celebrations. In 1971 a mass uprising by Ceylonese students and peasant youth was brutally put down by the “anti-imperialist” Bandaranaike government. Despite platitudes about diplomatic policy taking a back seat to the struggle of the people, the RU justifies China’s aid to crushing the rebellion on the grounds that the objective effect of the uprising would be to create a crisis enabling the old right-wing government to come into power. Similar explanations are given for why China supported the Sudanese military government at the time of its massacre of Communist Party leaders in 1971 and for Mao’s support to Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie who is currently suppressing a liberation movement in Eritrea.

Reform or Revolution?

Increasingly the Maoist Revolutionary Union is finding it difficult to distinguish its own policies from those of the arch-reformist Communist Party. Internationally it is attempting to play the same role for Peking that the CP plays for Moscow–shameless apologist for secret deals behind the backs of the masses, two-faced exculpator of bloody betrayals. Mao separates state diplomacy from the revolutionary struggle in other countries, and the former “takes a back seat” to the latter? Look at Ceylon or Bangla Desh.’ Mao advocates only peaceful coexistence between states but not a peaceful transition to socialism? What about Indonesia? Study history!

The conflict between the revolutionary pretensions of the RU and its cravenly reformist practice also reveals itself domestically. In left-wing unions led by supposed “progressive” and even “socialist” bureaucrats like Chavez’ UFW and Bridges’ ILWU, RU supporters are barely distinguishable from the CPers. Not only do they oppose any but the most minimal sub-reformist demands, but whenever the bureaucracy counterattacks they simply collapse (see “’Progressive’ Bridges Announces No-Strike Agreement,” WV No. 22, 8 June 1973). During recent farmworker support activities their reformist frenzy has led RU supporters to offer themselves to the UFW bureaucracy as thugs to keep away communists in the hopes of ingratiating themselves with Meany-Chavez. Such policies may make the RU temporarily tolerable to anti-Communist union leaderships as a kept opposition or as boot-licking toadies, but they can never lead to victory for the working class in the struggle against the class enemy and its agents in the workers movement.

Gooning for the labor tops and apologizing for massacres of communists and workers versus an intransigent struggle for working-class independence and the program of Trotskyism– these are the alternatives. Only by reexamining the fundamental aspects of Stalinism and assimilating the lessons of the struggle of the Left Opposition and the Fourth International can this conflict be resolved in the interests of socialist revolution.