Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

August 29th Movement

A Brief Review of Some Agitation and Propaganda


First Published: Red Banner, No. 2, Summer 1977.
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.


We would like to share with our readers some of the agitation and propaganda materials which we have developed for our work. We would like to examine and concisely analyze both the content and style of this agitation and propaganda, in order that we may draw some lessons which might be of value to other comrades. We refer comrades to an article which we reprinted in the last issue of the RED BANNER, entitled, “More Agitation, More Propaganda”. Taken together with this brief review we hope that we can contribute to the quality of our movement’s agitation and propaganda.

We want to caution our readers against drawing general conclusions from the agit/prop examples which we shall be reviewing. In order to properly evaluate the work of a comrade or comrade organization, we must know not only the circumstances under which the work is being conducted, but also ALL aspects of that work. For instance, an organization may issue agitation or propaganda which is politically perfect and “correct”. But they also may be worthless organizers of the actual struggle – totally incapable of giving the struggle of the workers a planned and conscious direction. Therefore the net effect of their work – their leaflet notwithstanding – may be to fail to gain the confidence of the advanced workers and to fail to win the leadership of the masses of workers. That is why we must try to avoid jumping to conclusions based on fragments of information about an organization’s work – we must base our judgments on an all-sided picture of their work. (By the way, we should also always try and take into account the inexperience of many of our organizers. This often plays a large part in explaining the weaknesses of our movement. This does not, of course, excuse our errors; nor does it mean that we should not be ruthless in criticizing them, but only that we keep a proper perspective in judging ourselves.) We would suggest that a proper criteria for judging ours (or anybody else’s) work be as follows: (1) Is their work guided by a Marxist-Leninist political line; (2) Do they carry out lively, moving, correct and mobilizing agitation and propaganda; (3) Are they able to convince the masses of the correctness of their line by their revolutionary activity and by their example; (4) Are they able to develop sound and organized ties to the masses. As the Albanian comrades say, “Only the ties with the organized masses are sound and stable ties.” Guided by this perspective, (and taking our inexperience into account), we should be able to make scientific and correct judgements about both our own work and the work of others.

Lastly, we would like to stress the importance of developing the propaganda and agitational work of our movement both qualitatively and quantitatively. The advanced workers are far outstripping us in their revolutionary activity. The desire for knowledge of the entire working class is nowhere near being fulfilled by communists. But it is being met by the capitalists and opportunists who, every single day, give the working class their corrupted perspective on all important social and political questions. We must meet this head on with greatly expanded agit/prop work – most especially by the organization of nationwide political agitation, but also by expanding our national propaganda work, and by increasing and improving our local agitation and propaganda work. This work, taken as a whole, is our most effective weapon in the struggle with the capitalists. If we can organize this work correctly we will undoubtedly start to assume the real political leadership of the working class movement. In order to build the party of the proletariat which will ultimately lead that class to its own emancipation we must set ourselves to the task of organizing nationwide political agitation as the means by which our movement will be able to unite into a single organization.

It is this task alone, of training the class in communist class consciousness, which can lead to the unification of our movement. With this in mind we offer to our readers these small examples of our work, and we invite your criticisms and your contributions in this field.

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From Fremont To South Africa – Their Fight Is Our Fight!

This leaflet was issued by a rank and file autoworkers caucus of which ATM is a part. The leaflet was put out mostly due to the impetus of ATM. This agitation was distributed at the height of the Soweto rebellions in Azania around the issue of being forced to speak Africaans. The caucus which issued this flyer is a multinational caucus, composed of Anglo, Black and Chicano workers. The caucus had been active in some struggles at the plant, most notably around the question of forced overtime during contract negotiations. It is important to note that there are large numbers of Afro-Americans at this particular plant – they constitute the largest percentage of any nationality at the plant.

I. “FROM GENERAL MOTORS TO SOUTH AFRICA, THEIR FIGHT IS OUR FIGHT”

In Soweto, South Africa (S.A.) on June 16, 1976, 10,000 black high school students and their supporters, took to the streets to protest another act of racist oppression, the imposition of Afrikaan (Dutch) as the official language in their schools. In the next 3 days, 100 people, mostly all black, all demonstrators were shot dead by South African police. 1000 others were wounded. It was the worst massacre since police murdered over 70 black people in 1960 at Sharpesville when 250,000 black people demonstrated against racist pass laws (black people must carry passes or be thrown in jail. Under this law, over 3,000 black people are arrested daily).

The racist regime of S.A. can only exist because its economy is supported by U.S. capitalists. In the late 1960’s when the economy of S.A. was near bankruptcy and thousands of black workers were demonstrating against racist oppression, U.S. corporations like the Chase Manhatten Bank, Union Carbide, Polaroid, Ford, Chrysler and general Motors gave economic support to S.A. G.M. alone invested hundreds of millions of dollars and built 3 factories in Port Elizabeth, S.A.

In a country where the cost of living is very close to that of the U.S., blacks in S.A. were paid 53 cents an hour by Ford in 1973 and today G.M. pays them less than $2.00.

Here, in the U.S., black people are suffering similar oppression all over, but especially in the Black Belt South (BBS) black people are still subject to racist attacks by such terrorists as the KKK, murders of black leaders, ruthless murders of black students at Jackson State, racist “justice” as in the case of 17 year old Gary Tyler, etc. Black people have been fighting for democratic rights since they were brought to the U.S. and their fight must escalate especially within their homeland, the Black Belt South.

Their homeland is being invaded by U.S. corporations who are swarming into the BBS to take advantage of black people’s lack of political and economic control of their nation. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, 7 of the last 9 plants, G.M. has built since 1973 have been built in the “right to work” BBS. G.M. has actively fought against unionization in these plants and as of this writing none of these 7 plants have been unionized.

In this contract year (contracts expire Sept. 14) it becomes evident that the capitalist corporations like G.M. can stop at nothing in order to make profit, even murder. Thus, as we the working class fight the capitalist attempt to shift the burden of the economic crisis on us by resisting forced overtime, speedups, layoffs, etc., we know that we are not fighting alone. The capitalists are forced, because of their hunger for profits, to exploit the S.A. people’s and the black people’s lack of political and economic control of their nations. But if they had to treat them as equals, for example, pay them equal and allow unionization, our strength would prevent the capitalists from closing down factories and running away to S.A. and the BBS. Every victory by the South Africans (Azanians) and by black people inside and outside the BBS is a victory for us. And a strong contract for us which puts the burden on G.M. by making them pay while we’re laid off is a victory for the people of Azania and the BBS.

Our Tasks: 1. Mobilize support for the liberation struggle of the Azanians. 2. Fight for the right of political secession for the BBS (political and economic control by black people over their nation). 3. Fight for full democratic rights of black people. 4. Organize the unorganized. 5. Make G.M. pay if they lay us off-demand a minimum of 1 year SUB for all auto workers laid off. 6. Increased COLA 7. Volunteer lay off with full benefits for seniority people so low seniority people can get seniority. 8. Shorter work week with no cut in pay. 9. No mandatory overtime. 10. Make G.M., not other workers, pay for G.M.’s history of discrimination against women. Full SUB for all workers, plus 10% penalty paid by G.M. to women who are the first laid off.

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First of all the leaflet was TIMELY. It was issued during the heat of the struggle going on in Azania, and during the time when the capitalists were doing all that they could to get the workers to view this issue from a capitalist perspective.
The leaflet is concise. The comrades who helped draw it up adhered to the slogan: “say a few ideas and say them well”. They did not try to cover every political question under the sun in one agitational leaflet. They did not, for example, try to bring in the danger of fascism, world war, the need for a communist party, the issue of cut-backs, government corruption, the woman’s question, etc., etc. In other words they avoided the temptation to say a million things without saying a one of them well.
The leaflet AGITATES. It begins with a statement of the brutal facts about the repression in Azania. This serves to immediately arouse the indignation of the workers. At the same time they present a brief and clear picture of the resistance of the masses.
The leaflet gives the workers FACTS. It not only lists the major U.S. corporations which have invested in Azania, but also gives concrete figures on the particular role of General Motors. Very often our agitation sounds like a bunch of assertions because we do not illustrate our (correct) assertions with facts.
The leaflet very clearly draws out the parallel of the struggle in Azania and the struggle of the Black nation. In this case the role of General Motors in both cases is documented with facts. The leaflet, (again clearly and concisely) provides examples of the type of oppression faced by the Afro-American nation, and it points out that that nation is fighting for democratic rights.
The leaflet points out why imperialism does what it does, without going into a long dissertation on the five features of imperialism. It points to the economic basis for the political oppression of the Black nation – the drive for superprofits. It connects up the struggle of the Azanian and Afro-American peoples and shows the workers why a victory for them is a victory for the working class and vice versa.
It is important to realize that the leaflet draws much of its significance from the fact that the struggle in Africa occupies a particularly significant place of importance to many Afro-Americans. Hundreds of thousands of Blacks have marched in solidarity with the liberation struggles in Africa during past African Liberation Day. The kinship that many Blacks feel with the Black people of Africa is a valuable sentiment, and can neither be ignored or downplayed. Rather we must build on this sentiment, develop it among all workers and utilize it to broaden the political scope of the working class. It is the Black workers who, with the proper leadership, should be able to lead the entire class in providing active and material support for the liberation struggles in Southern Africa.
It is important to note that this leaflet was the first one issued by the caucus and got an overwhelmingly positive response from the workers. This goes to prove that it is not necessary to begin our work exclusively from an economic standpoint; but that politics too provides a very effective “beginning” for our work.
The leaflet makes a particular call to action to the workers of the plant. Most importantly it calls upon the workers to “Mobilize support for the liberation struggle of the Azanians”, and to ”Fight for the right of political secession for the Black Belt South”. Since the communists are at the “place of action”, i.e., involved in the actual struggle of the autoworkers they are in a position to not only issue such calls but to help put them into effect. It is hard to call the workers “into action” if we are not there at the place of action, to lead them, and to organize that action. It is a weakness of the leaflet that it does not make any concrete proposals for developing support for the Azanian and Afro-American peoples, such as donating blood, money, passing resolutions, demonstrations of mass support, etc. What results from this failure is that they develop the MORAL support of the workers but are not able to turn this moral support into ORGANIZED support. It is entirely correct to issue general calls for action in a national political organ – but we must issue concrete calls to action when we are at the place of action. Since conditions differ at all “places of action” these concrete calls will necessarily also differ.
The leaflet helps the workers to broaden their political scope; to see beyond the narrow boundaries of their local trade union struggle. It shows the workers exactly what stand they must take on this important question and WHY. Until the working class begins to take up questions such as this one it will not be able to call itself the “leading class” in society. It is only through the work of communists that they can begin to take up these questions, and to take them up correctly. This leaflet did just that – it brought the workers scientific socialism (a communist perspective on the struggle in South Africa and the Afro-American nation) from without, (from without the confines of their trade union struggle).
We think that the leaflet is weakened by including the long list of demands at the end. The demands should have centered on developing support for the struggle in Azania and the Afro-American nation. It seems that the comrades did not want to “lose” the workers by not speaking to their immediate struggles. This need not happen if we provide concrete guidance on supporting the Azanian people; and if we issue other leaflets which speak to the trade union demands of the workers. It would perhaps have been better to issue a separate trade union (or political) leaflet in order to raise the particular trade union demands. At the very least the list of trade union demands should have been shortened to one or two, (e.g., organize the unorganized, etc.)
As to the style of the leaflet we found the illustration to be very effective – a case of one picture saying more than 10,000 words. However the layout was not too good. Particular ideas should be separated by subheadings which briefly summarize the idea being conveyed. For instance, the paragraphs talking about the Black Belt South could have been headed “General Motors Invades the Black Nation”, or some such. As it is, everything runs together and makes it harder to read. We must keep in mind that the workers get flooded with leaflets, newspapers, and so forth all the time. Very often the attractiveness and readibility of a leaflet will induce a worker to read one leaflet and not another. While the political content of our agitation is always the most important factor we cannot overlook the question of style and form.
Lastly, we liked the language of the leaflet. It was popular without being vulgar. It is simple and clear. For example, instead of saying that “the racist regime in South Africa is propped up by the pillar of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class”, they simply say, “The racist regime of S.A. can only exist because its economy is supported by U.S. capitalists.” Short, clear and to the point. That’s the way we like it.

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August 29th Movement Supports Struggle Of Western Yarn Workers!

This leaflet was issued during the course of a wildcat strike at a small textile plant which employed mostly women workers, the majority of whom were Mexicano, and many of whom were immigrant workers without papers. ATM openly led this strike as a communist organization, helping the workers not only to formulate their demands, but also to organize their fight. Because of certain errors that we committed in leading this strike our agit/prop was insufficient to enable us to build a strong communist base at this plant. Our most significant error was to incorrectly assess the concrete conditions of the workers before calling them on strike. We failed to pay sufficient attention to the workers lack of militant struggle in the past; to the fact that having no documents inhibited many of the workers from active participation in the strike, (we do not blame the workers for this, but the communists for failing to find the ways to enable them to participate); a lack of attention to the woman’s question, as well as other errors of judgement which caused us to fail to lead the strike to victory and undermined the confidence which many of the workers had in communist leadership. We should add that this is not absolute – many of the workers have continued the struggle and are not hesitant to turn to communists for leadership. As one advanced worker told us at the end of the strike: “We might have lost the strike economically, but we won politically. If it hadn’t been for you communists we would have never learned the political things that you taught us.”

It is important to keep in mind that during the course of the strike we also issued other agitation which raised particular economic demands of the workers and which directly addressed their concrete tasks during the strike. The intent of this leaflet which we are reprinting was to put the strike into perspective for the workers, to show them the significance of it and of certain demands which they had raised. The strength of the leaflet was that it brought out the significance of the political demands being taken up by the workers – EQUALITY OF LANGUAGES, EQUALITY OF PEOPLES, AND EQUALITY OF MEN AND WOMEN! This helps the workers to see the importance of their small fight with the capitalist; and to broaden their perspective beyond their trade union demands. The leaflet assisted the workers to recognize their POLITICAL DUTY AS PART OF A CLASS. The leaflet also intended to point the workers in the direction of socialist revolution based on their own experiences, while raising the necessity of a communist party to lead this revolution. The way in which socialism and the party was raised to the workers left a great deal to be desired.

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II. “AUGUST 29TH MOVEMENT (M-L) SUPPORTS THE STRUGGLE OF WESTERN YARN WORKERS”

The August Twenty-Ninth Movement (M-L) completely supports your just strike and demands. We are a communist organization made up of various nationalities. Since 1973-74 ATM has been acquainted with Western Yarn struggles in the days when we were involved with the Congreso Obrero.

We would like to address the question of why are strikes important in the struggle for socialism.

In the first place, we live under capitalism. Capitalism is the social-economic system under which the land, factories, tools of production and banks are owned by a few capitalists. The vast majority of people possess little or no property and must therefore hire themselves out as workers to these capitalists in order to survive. Because the capitalists seek only greater and greater profit, they are constantly trying to keep wages at a bare minimum. The lower the wages – the greater the profit! Workers fight to get the highest possible wages merely in order to feed their families and provide themselves with a decent living standard. Therefore, a constant struggle goes on between the workers and the capitalists. We must strike just to get a decent wage and to reduce some of our oppression, (like stopping the foremen from harassing our sisters at Western Yarn).

What then is the significance of your strike against the capitalists of Western Yarn? First of all, your strike is a declaration to the rich parasites that you refuse to be slaves and to submit to their continuous exploitation and oppression. You are declaring your humanity and that you wish to live like human beings and not like the plough horses of a handful of exploiters. Your strike is a blow at the authority of the capitalists. It is a reminder to them that the future master of society will not be them but you, the workers.

Secondly, you are fighting for the equality of languages and an end to the abusing of our sister workers by the supervisors. These are important demands because you are not only fighting for a few more pennies but against national oppression and women’s oppression. The rich divide our class with these weapons, and gouge extra profit out of oppressed nationalities and women. You are demanding not only equality of languages, but the equality of peoples. You are demanding not’ only an end to the abuse of women, but the equality of men and women. You are fighting for the unity of the whole working class, and between all the nationalities. This is the significance of your struggle.

And remind yourself during this particular battle that you are not alone. You, the workers of Western Yarn are part of a great working class army which is allied with millions of oppressed peoples in this country and around the world who are daily fighting back against Imperialism (the world-wide capitalist system led by the U.S. and Soviet Social Imperialists). We only need to point to the heroic struggles waged by the Vietnam workers and peasants, the African peoples struggle against white minority rule in their country, and the struggle of Black, Chicano, Mexicano, and other oppressed people within our own country.

This strike will soon show the true nature of the Teamster leadership. They try to pass off as the “defender of the working class,” but their actions in recent weeks have exposed the truth1. Tim Williams has consistently attempted to smother the initiative of the workers at Western Yarn and opposed the strike from the beginning. We all know he is a sell-out, but is it just a question of Tim Williams alone? Would another Teamster leader act differently? Our answer is no! The current trade union bureaucrats are agents of the capitalists within our working class movement. They are bought and paid for by the rich.

America is an imperialist country. It has set up huge corporations around the world to get huge profits by stealing the wealth and exploiting the labor to be found in many of the poor countries. An example is Mexico. The huge super-profits (profits above and beyond those normally gained in this country) stolen from the poorer countries do not remain in those countries. They are brought back here where a certain amount is used to help prop up their rule over us. Another part of their profits is used to buy off ($) a very small minority of workers with very high wages and special privileges so they will act as mouth-pieces of the capitalists.

The large trade union bureaucracy usually comes from this bribed section of our class. These trade union bureaucrats receive fat salaries (Williams gets $26,000 a year) and have no interest in making changes. They simply want to protect their fat paycheck and therefore have as much interest in preserving capitalism as the capitalist does. These bureaucrats not only get fat salaries but also political privileges. Teamster president Frank Fitzsimmons gladly sat on Nixon’s Wage Control Board and had all his expenses paid while he helped Nixon hold down our wages. George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO lives like a capitalist, getting around $100,000 a year in salary and owning a luxurious mansion and a fleet of automobiles. For this “pay” Meany gladly worked closely with the C.I.A. to try and crush the trade union movement in Latin America. He is chairman of the American Institute for Fair Labor Development (AIFLD) which is the AFL-CIO branch in Latin America and an arm of the C.I.A. We can never rely on the trade union bureaucrats to assist us in our struggle. Until we throw them out and replace them with workers who act in our interest, we must force them to do what we want.

Capitalism is a corrupt and bankrupt system. After 200 years of existence we still see unemployment, poverty, racism, disease, illiteracy, war, etc. Capitalism is the source of these problems.

What path then for the working class?

The road of progress points towards socialism. Socialism is a society where the workers hold political power in their hands. They are the masters of the factories and the country in general. Is there a dictatorship you ask? Yes, there is. It will be a dictatorship of the workers over the rich capitalist class. Is there democracy? Yes, and it will be a genuine democracy where for the first time workers and poor people will run the factories, mines, schools, and all institutions including government institutions. That is why it is a class dictatorship. The capitalists and their corruption will be swept from political power and put to work (many for the first time in their corrupt, profiteering lives). Only then will we be able to do away with poverty, national oppression, the oppression of women, unemployment and all the other sicknesses of capitalism.

All long journeys begin with a first step, (and the struggle for socialism will be a long, protracted struggle). In any struggle we are engaged in we need leadership, (just as the capitalists have their leadership); more so for the complex political struggle in which we will all take part in the near future. This leadership can only come from a new Communist Party. We say “new” because it must yet be built with the direct participation of class conscious workers, because it is a party for and by the workers. It will be your political representative, because Communism stands for the interest of the working class and nothing else.

This strike at Western Yarn is a battle in the fight for socialism, but it is not the war. Let us learn from this battle – how to sacrifice, how to organize, how to struggle for socialism and to the immediate task of building a new Communist Party. We urge all class conscious workers to participate with us in this great historic task. The road before us is narrow and treacherous. Let’s build our party so that we can march forward to victory!

VICTORY FOR THE HEROIC WORKERS OF WESTERN YARN!!! WORKERS AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE UNITE!!!

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The leaflet comes off in a preachy style much like a teacher rather from the standpoint of an organization which is directly at the head of the struggle and one which the workers are familiar with. It tends to place distance between the workers and the communists. This is bad and inexcusable for communists, ALL OUR agit/prop work must be done with feeling, like we are one with the masses.
The above bad style is exemplified by stereotyped language such as “First of all, your strike is a declaration to the rich parasites that you refuse to be slaves and to submit to their continuous exploitation and oppression.” This is not the vivid language of the U.S. working class and particularly the Mexican immigrant worker who we are addressing. In preparing this leaflet, careful attention should have been given to this all important question.
The major weaknesses of this leaflet is its failure to address in a deeper way the issue of the immigrant workers and the woman’s question. These were important issues affecting the outcome of the strike and we did not take this opportunity to show them how communists view these questions. Oh, we mention the woman’s question, and we make reference to the U.S. rip-off of Mexico – but that is all. If we really wanted the masses of workers at this place to develop a vital interest in socialism, we should have devoted the greater part of the leaflet to this question. We could easily have done this without having to leave out the question of strikes, imperialism, the role of the trade union bureaucrats, etc. In fact, we could have driven these points home more sharply to the workers if we had linked up the questions of the immigrant workers and the woman’s question. For instance, the actions of the bureaucrats around these questions showed more vividly than anything else the treacherous role they play in dividing our class and doing the bidding of the capitalists. We would have done better to cut out half the material that we devote to exposing the labor bureaucrats and taken up the other questions instead and linked those questions to the role of the bureaucrats. Then when discussing socialism we could have said what socialism would mean specifically for immigrant workers and for woman. It is true that we would be presenting only a partial picture of what socialism would mean for the working class, but that’s all right. We need not try and give workers a total picture of socialism in every leaflet that we put out – it is better to hit it from different angles, and to create in the course of the struggle, a more or less complete picture of socialism for the workers.
The section on the need for a new communist party is weak. We never do explain why the “old” Communist Party is no good. We only tell the workers that we need a new party because one hasn’t been built yet. This gives no clarity at all. It sounds like we are intent in “raising the question of the party”, without trying to make this question clear and concrete to the workers. If we are going to tell the workers that they need political leadership, we had better explain what we mean. If we tell them that a Communist Party will be their party – we better explain what this means. We must get away from just throwing out phrases which get us not a single step nearer to the party we are trying to build. We must get away from making assertions to the workers and then expecting them to accept them on faith: for example, “It will be your political representative, because Communism stands for the interest of the working class and nothing else.” And we could have added, “And you can believe us because we tell you so.”

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Native American Leaders Framed Skyhorse & Mohawk Gain Mass Support In Their Struggle

This article appeared in the March 1977 issue of our paper. It represents our first article ever dealing with the struggle of Native Americans. That in itself is the subject of a serious self-criticism. The purpose of this article was to expose to the working class a particularly vicious outrage being committed by the capitalists against a group which stands as an ally of the workers – the Native American peoples of the U.S.

III. “SKYHORSE AND MOHAWK GAIN MASS SUPPORT IN THEIR STRUGGLE – An Article From The Revolutionary Cause

Oxnard Prison, Oxnard, California, March 1975:

In a society that makes up this country, we have been arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced. We have been found guilty. We have been put in foster homes, boarding schools, reform schools, prisons, and psychiatric wards. We have been labeled incorrigible, delinquent, unsociable, unrehabilitatible, and insane. We have been threatened, punished, guarded, tortured and mistreated.
Now, as a final insult to our dignity, we are being held under threat of a death sentence. Anyone even vaguely familiar with an accurate history of this country knows that since the first drop of Indian blood was let back in the 1400’s the policy against Native Americans has been one of genocide. The indiscriminate killing, the wholesale slaughter, and finally the legalized murder of our people has been the rule, rather than the exception.
Rooted in imperialism and flourishing with oppression, this government is indeed a cancer to the universal principles of mankind. The institutional, social, and moral oppression practiced on our people with inherent racism will surface, finally, as the generating force to solidify our one-mindedness.
There is not one of us who has not experienced the terrorism of the ruling elite. The spirits of Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph, and Geronimo joined with those of Frank Clearwater, Buddy Lamont, and Pedro Bisonnette, are a glowing testimonial to this fact. Because of the ever-mounting concern of our warriors, we can expect to have more casualties and prisoners of war. The judicial branch of this regime continues its coercive pursuit of our people.
Presently we are being held under a murder indictment that is a viciously contrived lie to put an end to our lives. We have no fear of death.
Until such a time as we can no longer do so, we will continue to strike out at this government and all others of the same misguided persuasion. – Skyhorse

When this letter was being written, the men were in solitary confinement in separate prisons. They were frequently beaten by guards. Mohawk can no longer straighten one arm, because after a beating he was chained to bars for days, with his arms cuffed up. behind his back. Skyhorse was beaten, stripped, and thrown into a punishment cell in shackles, with an inch of water on the floor. Both men were forcibly drugged with “prison pacifiers” which they later had to kick. In court, the men were “subdued” (beaten, choked, and dragged out) when they tried to speak for themselves. The courage of the Indian people remains alive in these men, despite all attempts of the authorities to break and degrade them.

MURDER IN VENTURA COUNTY: FACT AND FICTION

On October 10, 1974 a cab driver by the name of George Aird was murdered in Ventura County, California. At the scene of the crime were three people who had, been riding in the cab, their clothes covered with blood stains. They were also carrying a knife with Aird’s blood on it and their shoes were smeared with blood from kicking the victim around. They were arrested by the Ventura County police and interrogated.

All three suspects, Marvin Red Shirt, Holly Broussard, and Marcella Eaglestaff are now walking the streets free and immune from any serious charges.

The week following the murder, Paul Skyhorse and Richard Mohawk, co-founders of the Chicago Chapter of the American Indian Movement (AIM, an organization active in the struggle for sovereign rights for Native Americans) were apprehended at an American Indian educational rally in Phoenix, Arizona. They were told that they were needed as material witnesses in a murder investigation in Ventura County. They willingly waived their extradition rights and were brought back to California. Upon their arrival, they were charged with murdering George Aird. Shortly after this, the other three suspects were granted immunity and are now the “star witnesses” for the prosecution.

Skyhorse and Mohawk have fought for the past two years on their own behalf demanding that the prosecution hand over all investigative files, tapes, and evidence compiled by the D.A.’s office and the F.B.I., and possibly the CIA. They have succeeded in stopping a railroad into the electric chair. Now that the pretrial hearings are over, the defense has asked that the trial be moved to Los Angeles due to the racist campaign that has been waged against them by the Ventura Press and the Ventura County Bar Association.

“JUSTICE” IN THE COURTS

On November 10, the Ventura County Bar Association held its annual dinner for all of the judges, lawyers, prosecutors, public defenders, defense attorneys, and “money lawyers” in Ventura County. At the dinner they performed a skit called “People vs. Tonto”: the “stupid Indian” Tonto is making his 2,001 motion in order to stall the workings of justice. He moves for a mistrial on the grounds that the gavel of the judge is made from a company which polluted Lake Erie, which wiped out the means of living for the Indian people of the area – hence, the gavel, the company and the judge are connected in discrimination against the defendant, an Iroquois-Chippewa Tonto. “Motion denied!” cries the judge, and the banquet room explodes into laughter and applause. And so goes the entertainment for the Ventura County Bar Association. The judge presiding over the Skyhorse-Mohawk case, Marvin Lewis, is rocking with laughter in the front row. The skit was developed by Stephen Perren, the attorney who negotiated the immunity agreement for Holly Broussard in exchange for her testimony against Skyhorse and Mohawk.

Norma Gonzalez, an Indian-Chicana has contacted Mohawk to tell him that she had been in jail with Marcella Eaglestaff and Holly Broussard on the days right after the murder had been committed, and that she had heard them confess their crimes: ‥I could cut them loose if I wanted to,” Eaglestaff had told her, “But I’m going to say they did it, like they want me to, so I can get my immunity and get out . . . I’m going to disappear and not testify against them.”

On top of all this, the state has taken other “measures” to stop the growing support and struggle to free the two brothers. Women who have gone to interview and talk to the brothers have received death threats by phone, are thoroughly searched when they go to the jail, have had dope planted on them and are in fear of losing their jobs. Ken Littlefish, who is coordinating defense efforts, was beaten up and told to get out of town by what he thinks were out-of-uniform deputies.

WIDE SUPPORT GROWS

Despite all the efforts of the state to suppress the truth, to cover over their vicious scheme to wipe out the leaders of the American Indian struggle for their lands, the basic democratic rights and the fulfillment of the treaties violated by the U.S. imperialists, the truth has spread like wild fire across the country. In February of this year, a state-wide caravan went from city to city demonstrating on the steps of the county courthouses and offices of the FBI (because of its corrupt involvement and failure to turn over the files that they posses on the case). People went from Los Angeles to Ventura, to Santa Barbara, to San Luis Obispo, San Jose, the Bay Area, Davis, and Sacramento where 2,000 people marched to the steps of the Attorney General’s office demanding that: All charges be dropped, the Attorney General’s office make available all files pertaining to the case; the government find Doug Durham for the purpose of a subpoena (Durham is an FBI agent who maneuvered the brothers into the case and testified against them. ATM); disciplinary action be taken against D.A.’s Peter Kossoria and J. Debroth for misconduct; the Attorney General’s office refrain from helping the Ventura County prosecutor in researching the typing motions; the Attorney General’s office assist in the investigation of all missing and tampered evidence; the Attorney General support efforts to disqualify all Ventura County judges from presiding over the Skyhorse-Mohawk trial who participated in any way in the Ventura County Bar Association skit known as “The People vs. Tonto.”

Recently, Skyhorse and Mohawk were brutally beaten and taken to a hospital.

They were returned to their cells three hours later but one of the brothers was so badly beaten that he had to return to the hospital. This brutal and disgusting attack must meet with the most widespread and determined resistance All workers, all revolutionaries must demand the immediate release of Skyhorse and Mohawk and the drop-ping of all charges against them. Their defense committee is calling for mass actions and demonstrations in support of their cause. We must take up this call. We must defend the Native American people from attack and support their just struggle for freedom.

Defense contributions can be sent to: Paul Skyhorse or Richard Mohawk, Box 1875, Ventura, California 93001. Telephone: (805) 487-4107. Speakers are available through the Skyhorse-Mohawk Defense Team (213) 225-0324.

Demands put forward on the state-wide march: Stop all FBI and repressive attacks on Indian people!! Free all political prisoners!!

Support self-determination, sovereignty and independence for Indian nations!!

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The strength of this article lies in its clarity and brevity. In a clear and agitational manner it brings to the workers a striking picture of one of the thousand of outrages heaped upon the Native American peoples by the capitalists. This article appeals to both the MIND and the FEELINGS of the people.
Politically the strength of the article lies in showing the workers that they share common cause with the oppressed Native Americans. The clear message of the article is that the working class must take up, not only the defense of Skyhorse and Mohawk, but the defense of the rights of all Native Americans. The workers are called upon to see beyond the scope of their narrow self-interests and to actively intervene in the struggle of the Native Americans against the capitalists as DEFENDERS OF the rights of the Native American peoples – as their staunchest allies.
The article is powerfully written. It is not a dry and lifeless commentary of events, but an image of savage brutality is presented – of the most degrading cruelty of which the capitalists are capable – being visited on the backs of two Native American brothers. It opens with a moving statement of struggle by Paul Skyhorse, one of the subjects of the article. This statement represents not only the sentiments of one political prisoner but also the strength and resolve of the Native American peoples. It concisely sums up the historical barbarities suffered by Native Americans, points the finger of blame on imperialism, calls to mind the heroes of the Native American people and ends with a statement of determination to continue the struggle until victory.
The section describing the skit performed by the Ventura County Bar Association is a classic case of catching the culprit “red-handed”. This section, by recreating the circumstances of the skit, stands as a condemnation of the entire capitalist legal system – from judges, to district attorneys, to the so-called public defenders – all of whom laughed at this disgusting and chauvinist skit. What gives this section added punch is the fact that it exposes that the judge in the Skyhorse-Mohawk case sat in the front row, howling with laughter during the skit; while the actual skit itself was developed by an attorney for the witnesses against Skyhorse and Mohawk. This little narrative does more to arouse the anger and indignation of the working class than does a dozen normal articles.
Rather than listing all of the demands which the supporters of Skyhorse and Mohawk presented at the California demonstration it would have been better to discuss in some detail their MAIN demands, to show the workers why they are making these demands, and WHY they should support them. Not much is added to the article by running the list of demands. ONE mark of good agitation is that it knows WHAT TO LEAVE OUT, and what to ACCENT in an article. This article is generally good – in that it highlights the viciousness of capitalism and the determination of the Native American peoples.
We would suggest that our readers study this article to see a good example of how to AGITATE. This is an art, but it is an art which can be learned. How often have we seen the dry as dust “agitation” which not only has a missionary tone to it but bores its readers to tears? This article shows that Communism need not be boring. Again, we want to caution comrades to always make the distinction between POPULARIZITATION and VULGARIZATION. We suggest that comrades study Lenin’s brilliant short article in volume 5 of his collected works – it is called “The Journal Svoboda”. He clearly explains in that article the difference between popularization and vulgarization. Every agitator and communist writer should commit that article to memory.