Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

ATM (M-L) Forums on Chicano National Question: Communists Must Lead Fight Against National Oppression!

First Published: Revolutionary Cause, Vol. 1, No. 10, November 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The August 29th Movement (M-L) commemorated the great anti-imperialist Chicano moratorium and demonstration of August 29, 1970 with a series of forums on the Chicano National Question. In addition to being dedicated to the historic Chicano uprising against the imperialist war then being waged by the U.S. against the people of Vietnam, the forums were also held in honor of the battle of camp Tal El Zaatar in Lebanon where the heroic Palestinians fought to the last man against the fascist forces as a part of their ongoing struggle to regain their homeland. The forums were held in San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego in California, as well as in Denver, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas.

The August 29th Movement adopted its revolutionary position on the Chicano National Question at its second Congress. These forums showed that, for the first time in history, this key question had been placed on a scientific, Marxist-Leninist plane. Forum speakers stressed the necessity for further testing and development of the line in order to develop to a higher level the necessary theoretical and practical basis for uniting Marxist-Leninists and advanced workers in the struggle for the party and for proletarian revolution. The speakers stressed that a correct line on the Chicano National Question will help to arm us to forge the revolutionary alliance of the multinational proletariat and the revolutionary national movements in this country. But it was pointed out that the line itself was valueless if it was not actively implemented in the course of waging the struggle against the effects of the deepening capitalist crisis and the rising wave of vicious national oppression. ATM received a particularly warm response from the majority of the audiences for its stress that party-building cannot occur in isolation from an understanding of the Chicano National Question, nor in isolation from Communist work in that movement. This was a sharp rebuff to those intellectuals in our movement who see the development of political line as somehow a process of simple reasoning and study, rather than as a process of actual involvement in the struggle done in connection with our study and reasoning. This point was stressed over and over again by both speakers and audience at our forums – that all of our talk about party-building, program and fusion, etc. was JUST TALK if we fail to win the respect and following of the masses in the fire of struggle against class and national oppression, the danger of war and fascism. It is this work alone that is our guarantee of fusion, and ensures that we will really win over the advanced fighters from the class.

The forums reviewed the centuries-long history and development of the Chicano nation in the Southwest; a review which revealed how the development of that nation had been stunted by U.S. imperialism. Speakers explained the crucial significance of the National Question under the era of imperialism – a system which can live in no other way than by the exploitation of nations and peoples. This is an important difference from pre-imperialist capitalism during which the National Question was not as significant, in which it was mostly a question of note to the particular country concerned. Now that capitalism has become the world-wide imperialist system, any blow by an oppressed nation against its immediate oppressor weakens the WHOLE SYSTEM.

The ATM speakers addressed the question of one or two stage revolution in the southwest and stressed that we are fighting a one-stage socialist revolution which has the overthrow of imperialism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat as its aim. But in order to reach our goal Communists must mobilize the Chicano people to fight for the basic demands of their movement (state unity, self-determination and confiscation of the lands and natural resources of the oppressor nation capitalists), and to link this struggle to the struggle for socialism. This alone gives that national movement a conscious planned character and the strategic direction which will guarantee its alliance with the struggle of the working class.

In response to questions about the basic demands speakers pointed out that we cannot neglect the partial day-to-day demands arising from the bitter national oppression faced by the Chicano people. But they pointed out that we cannot limit ourselves to those demands which in and of themselves represent no threat to the power of the imperialists. This, it was explained, is exactly the muddle of the October League which seeks to confine the struggle of the Chicano people onto the narrowest path of “drugs out of the barrio”, and for childcare centers. This is reformism pure and simple and has the effect of diverting the powerful revolutionary energy of the Chicano people onto the narrowest channels of reform rather than bringing those partial struggles together in the struggle for the basic demands. The October League was also exposed for its chauvinist stand that neither self-determination nor regional autonomy were “possible” under capitalism. Fortunately the Vietnamese people never believed such nonsense, nor did the majority of the audiences at our forums.

All of our forums concluded with polemics against a wide range of right opportunist forces such as the Communist Party U.S.A., the October League (some points of which we have already mentioned), the Revolutionary Communist Party, all of whom promote national chauvinism and reformism with their positions; as well as with organizations such as Centro Accion Social Autonomy (CASA) which pushes narrow nationalism, bundism and reformism, tied to support for the Social-imperialist Soviet Union.


Discussion at the forums were held in a principled fashion with unrestricted debate and struggle. This contrasted sharply with the series of forums on party-building and the Chicano National Question held at about the same time by the October League. We have all heard lots of opportunists mouthing by the OL about principled ideological struggle and their “growing unity trend”, but their actions at these forums tore this flimsy veil off and exposed their hegemonism and their chauvinism. With OL chairman Klonsky in the lead all open discussion at their forums was stifled. All who questioned the line of the OL or raised criticisms of it were automatically labeled agents, opportunists, splitters and wreckers, etc. Those who were allowed to speak had to first submit their questions in writing to Klonsky, and this guaranteed neither a clear response or even any answer at all. This chaos clearly revealed OL’s “disunity trend” in action.

The ATM forum in San Jose, California was attended by over 200 people, many from the Chicano national movement, who gave a warm and positive response to ATM’s position and methods of struggle. The OL represented the rightist forces and brought in people from Atlanta and Chicago to defend their sociology report on the Chicano National Question. They fought to the bitter end for their position that no Chicano nation existed. Unfortunately they offered only bitterness as proof but not one single FACT to support their position. They insisted that Chicanos struggle only for their list of partial demands until the grand day when the chauvinist OL “party” grants them equality under socialism.

The banner of “left” opportunism and chauvinism was carried by the Revolutionary Workers League who brought in a carload of petty-bourgeois declassed intellectuals, who remained true to their class outlook, and kept yelling and screaming in frenzy that they “were bored” hearing about the Chicano movement and were “tired” of hearing about the National Question at all. Rather they wanted to carry on “two-line struggle” on their central and only task, and this is in the abstract of course. They never did understand that the struggle for a correct line on the Chicano National Question is a key aspect of the struggle for the party. And they never will understand this. It was a criticism of us that we let these asses be disruptive for as long as they did. We should have thrown them out early on, the only way to treat trots. We shall do so in the future.

In Los Angeles, close to 250 people showed up with a large number from the Chicano and Asian movements. The OL walked out when unable to defend their position. They repeated their act in Denver when many people from the national movement criticised them for their chauvinism. This was expecially effective because these forces had worked for some time with the OL and found out about their hegemonism and chauvinism first hand.

The forums were well received in other parts of the Southwest as well, especially in El Paso. Ours was the first Communist forum ever held in that city and was given entirely in Spanish with a good proletarian composition to the audience. The RCP was the main social-prop in attendance and they coughed up such gems as, ”ATM wants to lead the national movement to a suicide mission by trying to organize revolutionary struggle for the basic demands”; “I’ve never seen any peasants or land question in the Southwest”,

ATM was trying to divide (!) the working class by struggling for the Chicano nation’s right to political secession. Besides their self-exposures the RCP was exposed for their theft of the film belonging to, the Farah workers, and their opportunist efforts to use it to promote themselves as the “leadership” of the Farah strike. One brother in the audience summed, it up best when he said, “First you (RCP) steal the workers film, and now you’re trying to steal our national rights!”


The positive response to the forums reveals both the growing enthusiasm for Marxism-Leninism on the part of the workers and national movement and helps to confirm the correctness of ATMís position. They also revealed the common thread to the positions of all the social props who came to struggle – reformism in content masked by different forms such as chauvinism, narrow nationalism, and revisionism. The effect of their reformist line and practice is to blunt, or to attempt to blunt, the revolutionary struggle of the Chicano national movement, to hold back their drive for democratic rights and for socialism.

The forums also brought out the necessity for clarity on our tasks as Communists; what we must do to forge the alliance of the U.S. proletariat and the Chicano and other national movements. In carrying out these tasks we must resolutely expose and isolate these social-traitors and watch dogs of imperialism and drive them completely out of the working-class and national movements. Otherwise the victory of the proletarian revolution is unthinkable.