Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

August 29th Movement

The Betrayal of the “Communist” Party U.S.A. on the Chicano National Question

First Published: The Red Banner, Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 1976-77.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The history of the ’Communist’ Party U.S.A. in regard to the Chicano national question is a history of chauvinism and betrayal. Although the party was instrumental in its earlier days in organizing and leading trade union struggles among Chicanos, and actively waged struggle against oppression from police attacks and deportations, they kept the struggle within the confines of militant partial reformist demands.

In 1935, rank and file party members from Texas, drafted a revolutionary position on the Chicano national question. This draft upheld the right of political secession for Chicanos in their historic homeland. We would like to quote from a document written by a former member of the communist party in 1935. This document describes the adoption of this revolutionary position on the Chicano national question.

On October 13, 1935, in San Antonio, La Covencion Constitutive Pro Derechos Mexicanos de Texas was convened. Delegates from labor unions, Worker Alliance branches, unemployed councils, and sociedades beneficias came together from all over Texas and the Southwest. Mostly proletarian, it adopted resolutions on all subjects including the land question, and adopted a resolution which called for the right to political secession in south Texas and the border region.

Thus, we in the Party recognized the similarity of the status of the Mexican people in Texas with that of the Negro people in the South and concluded that the remedy would be a similar one. We reached the conclusion that the struggles of the Mexican people in Texas must embrace the demand for the return of the land, for language and cultural rights and the right for political self-rule, even to the point of separation in the South Texas area where Mexican people constitute a large percentage or the majority of the population. These conclusions were elaborated into the form of a Draft Party Resolution and it was decided to implement it with action. A date for a conference was set to which were invited delegates from various organizations, sociedades beneficias, unemployed councils and Worker Alliance branches and labor unions. This conference, known as the “Convention Constitutive Pro Derechos Mexicanos de Texas”, met in a hall on the west side of San Antonio in an all day session on October 13, 1935. With minor amendments, the conference voted approval of the Draft Resolution and delegates were pledged to report, discuss and popularize it to their organization membership and people in general. I regret not to be able to include with this a copy of this Resolution; many of our papers were lost or disposed of during the repressive McCarthy years and FBI harassment.

Despite the fact that the Chicano people had already recognized their right to self-determination and even made a call for armed struggle and independence, as far back as 1915, the national leadership of the CP., headed by E. Browder, liquidated the 1935 Draft Party Resolution. Instead, in 1939 it took up the struggle for partial demands of the Mexican national minority. This chauvinist stance was taken at a time when the CPUSA was tailing the New Deal policies of Roosevelt and the Democratic Party. It set the stage for the later liquidation of the Afro-American national question. This liquidation must be seen within the context of the Party’s history, the class character of its leadership, and its opportunist policies.

It was the Communist International under the leadership of Stalin, who waged a struggle with the chauvinist leadership of the CP. to adopt the Cominterns revolutionary position on the Afro-American national question. In 1929 the Comintern once again had to struggle with the leadership of the CP. for its opportunism, particularly that of Pepper and Lovestone. The struggle this time centered on their opportunist theory of “American exceptionalism” which was “their opportunistic presentation of the question of the inner contradictions of American capitalism, their underestimation of the degree of the radicalization of the workers, and finally their covering of the right danger.” (Stalin’s speeches on the American CP.) Struggle also had to be carried out with the William Foster grouping for their factionalism and opportunism. Upon adopting and carrying out a correct revolutionary line on the Afro-American national question, the C.P.’s work in the Black Belt South leaped forward. The leadership of this revolutionary movement could only be won by the proletariat and its vanguard party through struggle. It was precisely in such mass campaigns as that to save the Scottsboro boys, against lynchings, the struggle to organize Black proletarians and tenant farmers, that communists came to the head of the movement. This was also true of the C.P.’s work within the Chicano nation when a revolutionary line was carried out in practice.

In 1938 the CP. began to liquidate its factory nuclei (the basic form of party organization) and trade union fractions. This was followed bv the liquidation of the party itself in 1944, with the renegade Browder putting forth the position that the bourgeoisie and capitalism were still “democratic and progressive”. This renegade then drew the criminal conclusion that there was no necessity for a party of the proletariat. This move toward consolidated revisionism was carried one step forward in the mid-fifties with an attack on the Party’s revolutionary position on the Afro-American national question and its liquidation. All of this right opportunist motion was finally culminated at the Party’s sixteenth convention in 1957.

It was in the context of this motion towards revisionism, that the CP. published in March of 1939 its position (in the Communist) which liquidated the Chicano national question. The basis given by the CP. for the non-existence of a Chicano nation was: “The population districts are separated by large but thinly populated mountains and arid regions.” This was simply a use of bourgeois lawyer logic and word shuffling on the part of the chauvinist leadership as the same conditions could exist for almost any country in the world. Since when do we find large concentrations of people living on top of mountains or in the middle of deserts! Secondly, the CP. held that Chicanos in the southwest had a common economic life and cohesion. However, this cohesion was not separate and distinct from that of the oppressor nation, and therefore no basis existed for nationhood and the right to political secession. This is a common argument used by chauvinist or confused people to deny Chicanos the right of political secession. But since when do we find an oppressed nation have “a separate” and “distinct” economic life apart from the imperialist nation! Imperialism dominates all aspects of life in the oppressed nation, including the economic life of the oppressed nation. To give an example, we will quote from our pamphlet on the Chicano national question:

An example is the New Mexico and Arizona Land Company. Owned by the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (The Frisco), the land holding company was established in 1890 from land grants of the old Atlantic & Pacific Railway. The “Frisco” holds 50% of the land holdings of the company (totaling 1.4 million acres) and is one of the largest absentee landowners in the Chicano nation. Owning mineral rights to this huge area (twice the size of the state of Rhode Island), for years it granted exclusive exploration rights to the Arkansas-Louisiana Gas Co. on the land. In Arizona, Arkla found and has developed deposits of potash, copper, molybedenum and uranium. Since 1970 exploration on NM & AL Co.'s holdings have been extended to other giants of mining and energy. (FAN THE FLAMES, pg. 57)

The CP. in analyzing the Chicano national question, failed to draw a distinction between the oppressed nation and the oppressor nation, and thus liquidated the Chicano national question. The position adopted was for a program of reforms which were in agreement with Roosevelt’s policies, that is, those of the bourgeoisie. This is how the opportunist CP., using academics to cover their chauvinism, declared the Chicano nation out of existence, and by this negated the existence of a Chicano revolutionary national movement aimed at the heart of U.S. imperialism. The CP. shamelessly advocated that the interest of the oppressed Chicano nation was the same as that of the oppressor Anglo-American nation. Speaking of the Chicano nation they say:

Their common economic life inextricably connecting them, not only with one another, but with the Anglo-American population in each of these separated communities. Therefore, their economic (and hence their political) interests are welded to those of the Anglo-American people of the southwest.

What better help could the imperialist bourgeoisie ask for in order to push their white chauvinist poison that “all our interests coincide and that all nations can be equal under imperialism”? This great nation chauvinism being pumped into the ranks of the proletariat by the decaying CP. was in direct contradiction to the tasks of proletarian internationalism required of all Marxist-Leninists. Comrade Stalin in pointing out these tasks emphasized that:

The victory of the working class in the developed countries and the liberation of the oppressed peoples from the yoke of imperialism are impossible without the formation and the consolidation of a common revolutionary front, and that, the formation of a common revolutionary front is impossible unless the proletariat of the oppressor nations renders direct and determined support to the liberation movements of the oppressed peoples against the imperialism of its own country, for no “nation can be free if it oppresses other nations. (Foundations of Leninism)

These a,b,c,’s of Leninism on the national question were of course rejected by the leadership of the CP. They adopted a bourgeois liberal and reformist position which objectively called for the forced integration and assimilation of the Chicano nation into the imperialist oppressor nation through a series of gradual reforms. Thus the revolutionary potential existing in the Chicano national movement was cut out and negated by these so-called “communists”. It is not the task of communists to do what the imperialists pay their social props to do, that is, to stifle and restrict this revolutionary national movement to partial reforms.


Upon liquidating the Chicano national question in 1939 and depriving this national movement of communist leadership and a revolutionary perspective, the moribund CP. proposed to solve this “problem” through means quite acceptable to the imperialist. The CP. now laid out to its cadres that:

The task now is to build the democratic front among the Mexican masse through unifying them on the basis of specific needs and in support Of the social and economic measures of the New Deal. (1939, CPUSA resolution)

What were the effects of the CP. abandoning the Chicano national movement during a time when all oppressed classes and strata such as the industrial and rural proletariat, peasantry, urban petty-bourgeoisie, and the intelligentsia were in motion struggling against increasing imperialist oppression? Essentially, it was to submerge the leadership of the proletariat and communists, and open the door for the Chicano bourgeoisie and reformist sector of the petty-bourgeoisie to take the lead of the movement. The consequences of this liberal-reformist leadership has been to tie the Chicano masses to the Democratic party and place the struggle for the land, right to political secession and socialism in the background.

After World War II, the Chicano civil rights movement began to pick up under the leadership of the Chicano reformists. The imperialists rewarded them with crumbs and in turn the reformists led the national movement away from a revolutionary solution to national oppression. Reformist organizations representing the class interest of the Chicano bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie came to the forefront, such as the League of United Latin American Citizen; G.I. Forum; Mexican American Political Association, etc. It has been the Chicano reformists who narrow the scope and content of the struggle to voter registration drives, elections, court suits, etc. Through organizations such as Mexican American Political Association, the Democratic party is able to consistently win the votes of a large majority of the Chicano people. As usual the class collaborationist CP. gave its whole hearted support to the efforts of organizations such as M. A.P.A. to tie the Chicano people behind the leadership of the Democratic party. Today, the national movement continues to be under the influence of bourgeois reformists, such as governors Mondragon, Apodaca, Sanchez, ex-senators Montoya, Lujun, Chavez.

During the strike wave of the late forties, the bourgeois counter-offensive and mass deportations of the early fifties, the Chicano national movement was still left without proletarian and communist leadership. As a result, the movement spontaneously followed the course chartered by the reformists and their bourgeois masters in the Democratic party.

The revisionist theoreticians of the CP. by this time were busy churning out such poison as the old productive forces theory. They were preparing for the assault on the revolutionary position still held on the Afro-American national question. This opportunist theory, in essence, put forward that national oppression and the land question would be resolved peacefully by the imperialists industrializing the south (and southwest). This would have the effect of moving the rural population into the urban factories and eventually integrating the oppressed nationalities into the oppressor nation, thus ’resolving’ the national question. This opportunist theory was used in the twenties and thirties against the Afro-American and Chicano national questions to try and show that the contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations, rather than intensifying national oppression, could be smoothed over and actually resolved under imperialism through industrialization and a series of gradual reforms. This flow of poison flowing from the pens of the CP. ’theoreticians’ was but the prelude to the all out attack on comrade Stalin and Marxism-Leninism. This attack was carried out under the guise of correcting “dogmatism, sectarianism”, and the use of “foreign” formulas and stereotypes which did not apply to the U.S. What resurfaced then was the old theory of American exceptionalism held by Pepper and Lovestone. All these theories in the mid-fifties were being used to cover the chauvinism and rejection of Marxism-Leninism and class struggle by the CP. Since the revolutionary Leninist theory on the national question did not apply to the U.S., then neither could such trifles as the struggle for and expropriation of the land; the right to political secession; nor developing the revolutionary potential of these movements against imperialism. These were “foreign” models which were “dogmatic and sectarian”, (only to the imperialist). Thus the Chicano national movement was not approached from the perspective of a revolutionary and international movement against imperialism, but rather as a particular problem of the “exceptional” United States, which could be resolved as an internal state question with no relation to other revolutionary national movements throughout the world. Later of course, within the anti-revisionist movement, variants of this opportunist position would rear their ugly heads.

During the sixties and early seventies the Chicano national movement, moved into a period of active struggle. The increasing national oppression and growing consciousness of the imperialist nature of the Vietnamese war brought into action the different classes and strata within the Chicano movement. These struggles found definite form with the birth of such organizations as the United Farmworkers Union (although not restricted to Chicanos), Brown Berets, La Raza Unida Party, Alianza, M.E.C.H.A., etc. The forms of oppression which were the basis for a Chicano revolutionary national movement were still present and intensifying through such forms as: racism; outright segregation; discrimination in employment; housing; police repression; repression of the language; etc. It is important to point out here that it is this specific common oppression that has formed the material basis for the development of a common psychological outlook. Since the annexation of the southwest in 1848, the Spanish speaking people of that territory began to suffer national oppression, different in character to that of the Mexican nation. For 128 years the Chicano people have been robbed of their democratic rights. This fact of life could not but develop in them a distinct outlook, different from the Mexican people. The character of the movement against national oppression could be summed up as a struggle for basic democratic rights. The increasing national oppression encountered resistance as the Chicano masses fought the imperialists in the factories, fields, streets and schools.

The role played in these spontaneous struggles by the revisionist CP. was that of an outside pressure group lacking deep influence within the movement itself. The revisionists attempted to indirectly influence the movement through such forms as the Venceremos Brigades or through influential miners in the state of New Mexico. In the early 70’s, they also tried to peddle their revisionism through immigration work done through C.A.S.A, an L.A. based national movement organization. Through C.A.S.A. the CP. continually tried to maneuver its reformist politics into the La Raza Unida Party and undermine the work of the Marxist-Leninists, who were trying to give LRUP an anti-imperialist direction. Turning to wrecking, C.A.S.A. was exposed as opportunist by LRUP and a position paper circulated among the movement, showing C.A.S.A.’s factionalizing and divisive practice.

The key lesson is that during this whole period of spontaneous upsurge against imperialism, the Chicano national movement was not led by the proletariat and its Marxist-Leninist party. Secondly, it was not organized and led toward a strategic direction of national and Socialist revolution. Although there were Marxist-Leninists in the movement who struggled with the revisionists and trotskyites at every twist and turn and consistently tried to give a revolutionary direction to the movement, these forces were still young. The lack of political development and experience and a Marxist-Leninist line on the Chicano national question held back the full unleashing of the revolutionary potential within the Chicano movement.


Today we still find the CP. trying to tie the Chicano national movement to the liberal strings of the Democratic party and to the reformist anti-monopoly coalition geared to the “peaceful transition” to socialism. In the Nov. presidential elections, we once again witnessed the spectacle of Gus Hall running for president as the loyal “opposition”. These revisionists are still proposing the same peaceful solution to the national oppression of Chicanos within the confines of capitalism that they have been proposing since 1939. This peaceful solution to imperialist oppression of the Chicano nation is to be achieved by the implementation of the liberal reforms contained in their programme for Chicanos entitled “Toward Chicano Liberation” which was adopted by the CP. at their twentieth convention held in 1972. These series of reforms are not to be struggled for and won in the process of waging a mass revolutionary struggle for the armed overthrow of imperialism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Instead the CP. proposes that these reforms will be won within the context of the CP. anti-monopoly coalition which would gather together all “anti-monopoly” forces. The coalition would include the “progressive” liberal capitalist and their democratic party in order to elect an anti-monopoly government. Once elected this anti-monopoly government, comprised of various classes (and in all probability minus workers), would then be allowed by the bourgeoisie to dismantle the big monopolies and the state apparatus. Upon completing this first stage, the “peaceful transition” to the second stage of socialism would then be led by the CP. revisionist party with national oppression being resolved in one smooth, easy, and nonviolent process! How easily these social-traitors and idealists forget how this revisionist line led to the slaughter of the Chilean workers and opened the door to fascism there. There is a fundamental law of revolution which is that the bourgeoisie does not give up its privileges, state power, and total control without a violent and fierce struggle.

We must not be lulled into thinking that the revisionists are ignoring the Chicano national movement or that they are not a force to contend with. They will use every method possible such as money, organization of defense committees, fronts such as the Venceremos Brigades, etc., to channel this revolutionary movement into the dead end of reformism. Revisionist forces such as C.A.S.A. who’s line is in essence in unity with the CP. (July 4th Coalition, etc.) will also be a big aid in spreading the influence of the CP. within the Chicano national movement. In order to carry out the line of “detente” between the two superpowers, as put forth by the head revisionist party of the Soviet Union, and to push the opportunist lie that detente will create jobs and peace, the CP. must also try and lead the Chicano national movement into detente with U.S. imperialism. The CP. continually tries to tie the revolutionary struggle of the Chicano people to the foreign policies of the Social-Imperialist Soviet Union, (e.g., Angola). This is done through trying to picture the Soviet revisionists as friends of the Third World peoples by giving arms (for a price, i.e., naval bases or other concessions) and loans to the growing liberation struggles, and therefore they are also friends and allies of the Chicano people. What is never explained by the CP. and their flunkies, is the underlying reason for this “aid”, i.e., to expand the influence and domination of the Soviet imperialist at the expense of U.S. imperialism. The role of the treacherous CP. in trying to pose the Soviet imperialist as allies of the Chicano people must be seen within the context of the struggle of these two superpowers for world domination. What the Soviet revisionists want the CP. and their fronts to build is a fifth column in the U.S. The task of such a fifth column within the Chicano movement would be to struggle only against the U.S. imperialists in the event of a war between these two superpowers, thus helping the “allies” from the Soviet Union win the imperialist war.

The Chicano people must be on guard against the possibility of revisionist forces resurrecting the once popular ’internal colony’ theory of the early 70’s. According to this view, the immediate demand Chicanos must fight for is ’independence’ from the Anglo “colonizer”. The danger this poses to the national movement is that 1) Chicanos are in fact not a colony and therefore misleads the national movement, and 2) opens the door for the revisionists and their allies to gain a foothold within the Chicano movement. The logic behind this theory is that if Chicanos are a colony demanding ’independence’ then it is possible that this question can be brought before the United Nations Organization for resolution. Of course this would be an opportunity for the Soviet imperialists and their apologist, the Cuban CP., to “champion” the cause of the Chicano people. For the CP. in this country, it would provide more poisonous propaganda on the Soviet Union being an “ally” of the Chicano people trying to “unselfishly” help.

We must even view a secessionist movement in the southwest within the context of the struggle against the two superpowers. Under Marxist-Leninist leadership a national rebellion would take a stand opposing the two superpowers and imperialist war. However, in the case of a secessionist movement under revisionist leadership, the duty of Marxist-Leninists and revolutionaries is to oppose such a secessionist movement. Such a movement would objectively be a fifth column of Soviet social imperialism within the U.S. In the interest of proletarian revolution our task would be to oppose such a movement. On this question comrade Stalin stated:

The question of the rights of nations is not an isolated, self-sufficient question; it is part of the general problem of the proletarian revolution, subordinate to the whole, and must be considered from the point of view of the whole. In the forties of the last century Marx supported the national movement of the Poles and Hungarians and was opposed to the national movement of the Czechs and the South Slavs. Why? Because the Czechs and the South Slavs were then “reactionary peoples”, “Russian outposts” in Europe, outposts of absolutionism; whereas the Poles and the Hungarians were “revolutionary peoples”, fighting against absolutism. Because support of the national movement of the Czechs and the South Slavs was at that time equivalent to indirect support for tsarism, the most dangerous enemy of the revolutionary movement in Europe. (Foundations of Leninism, Page 74, Peking Ed.)

As communists we uphold the democratic right of nations to self-determination, including their right to politically secede. As the same time we do not view this question formally, but as part of the problem of world wide proletarian revolution. It is from this standpoint that we appraise the question of a secessionist movement.


In analyzing the CP. programme today we see that it does not fundamentally differ from their 1939 democratic New Deal position of limiting the struggle to partial, reformist demands. If we also look at the October League’s “Programme of Democratic Demands for Chicanos” (CLASS STRUGGLE, no. 2, “Chicano Liberation”) we will find that the only difference with the CP. demands is the wording and certain particular demands. The only O.L. demand different from the CP. demands in “Toward Chicano Liberation” is the demand for drug pushers out of the community. Even the CP. at least mentions the land question in the southwest which the O.L. fails to mention at all in their “analysis” of the Chicano national question.

Some comrades may ask; what is fundamentally incorrect in only putting forth a programme of democratic partial demands? Such a programme, if followed by the masses, will divert the revolutionary national movement into reformism and foster democratic illusions about capitalism. The only revolutionary demands for the Chicano people of the southwest are; confiscation of all the land and natural resources in the southwest from the U.S. capitalists; state unity for the southwest; and the right of political secession of the Chicano nation. Comrades, only a revolutionary struggle by the Chicano people of the southwest, aimed at overthrowing imperialism, will guarantee the realization of these demands. The same cannot be said about the C.P.’s or the O.L.’s programme of democratic demands. These particular demands can be met without waging a revolutionary struggle against imperialism. In fact these demands have been put forward in the past by Chicano reformists and in many individual cases have been met by the imperialists. But comrades, we have discovered nothing new, the Comintern drew this lesson for the world communist movement and, in particular, U.S. communists, back in 1930. The Comintern stated:

One should not venture to draw up a complete programme of some kind or a system of “positive” partial demands. Such programmes on the part of petty-tourgeois politicians should be exposed as attempts to divert the masses from the necessary hard struggles by fostering reformist and democratic illusions among them. Every positive partial demand which might crop up is to be considered from the viewpoint of whether it is in keeping with our revolutionary fundamental slogans, or whether it is of a reformist or reactionary tendency. (The 1930 Comintern Resolution On The Negro Question in the United States)

What Lenin said about opportunism continually cropping up under different forms is as true as ever in the case of the O.L. We see little to distinguish them from the revisionist CP. on the Chicano national question. (For your reference there is an appendix at the end of this article with the democratic demands for Chicano liberation, of both the revisionist Communist Party and the October League.)

Is this great nation white chauvinism limited to the CP. and the October League? We believe the essence of the 1939 chauvinist position drafted by the CP., which declared the Chicano nation out of existence, has been adopted by a number of groups of the ’left’ today. It is not within the scope of this article to analyze all these positions. We see a common thread running through the positions of the October League, revisionist Communist Party, “Revolutionary” Communist Party, and the Communist Labor Party; and that is great nation white chauvinism. There is a long history of great nation white chauvinism within the communist movement, which even predates the 1939 resolution of the CP. Why so much chauvinist poison among the ’left’ and where does it come from? The material basis lies in the fact that an advanced imperialist country such as this one is able to bribe and corrupt a section of the petty-bourgeois and upper-strata of the working class with the immense superprofits stolen from the oppressed nations. This is the material basis for the development of opportunism and the channeling of bourgeois ideology in the form of reformism, national chauvinism into the ranks of the working class and even the national movements. We should approach the national chauvinism of the October League, Communist Party (revisionist), Communist Labor Party, and ’Revolutionary’ Communist Party not as an isolated and recent phenomenom, but as a deeply ingrained ideological outlook with long and deep roots in this country. The origins of white chauvinism in this country has its roots in the history of Black slavery, the genocide of Native Americans, and in the sweat and blood of Asians and Chicanos. It is exactly this historical past, this ideological outlook of white chauvinism and opportunist political practice that the left has not broken with. This is exactly why we must hunt down these guardians of the imperialist borders and property and drive them from our ranks. As Lenin said: “The only Marxist line in the world labor movement is to explain to the masses the inevitability and necessity of breaking with opportunism, to educate them for revolution by waging a merciless struggle against opportunism.”

This is exactly our line in the working class and Chicano national movement and the method by which we will deal with the traitorous CP. and the other friends and defenders of the imperialist. It is our task as communists not only to drive these renegades out of the movement, but to lead and direct the revolutionary Chicano national movement towards socialist revolution. In the course of this struggle we will explain to the Chicano masses that this is the only solution to their national oppression. We must also make clear to the Chicano national movement that the only method which will allow us to achieve this strategic aim will be a violent armed overthrow of U.S. imperialism, and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the only road toward a socialist society, which will free us from national oppression, exploitation, and injustice.