Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

League for Proletarian Revolution (M-L)

Social Chauvinism in U.S. & Nicaraguan Revolution

First Published: Resistencia, Vol. 10, No. 9, September 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The national liberation struggles are just wars that weaken imperialism. At this moment they are, in fact, the main force fighting imperialism and superpower hegemonism.

In order to defeat imperialism in the U.S. we have to establish a common front of struggle between our struggle for socialism in this country and the struggles of the oppressed third world peoples and nations against imperialism (especially U.S. imperialism). To support national liberation struggles means to go a lot further than general declarations of support. We have to give concrete support. That means opposing the policies of our own bourgeoisie in relation to the particular struggle, provide material support (money, medicines, books, clothes, etc.) and organize and mobilize the masses in support of those struggles.

Whoever fails to consistently provide that support, especially when the struggle is spearheaded against its own bourgeoisie, is objectively a social chauvinist. And social chauvinism has proven to be a very strong trend within the “left” in this country. The practice of this “left” during the recent revolutionary upheaval in Nicaragua speaks eloquently to the fact. Proletarian internationalism has become an empty slogan for many of the forces that claim to be the “parties” or would-be parties of the U.S. multinational proletariat.

In the recent struggle in Nicaragua, most of the organizations that claim to have broken with modern revisionism and Trotskyism didn’t carry out any support work whatsoever. In fact, it was the different Trotskyite organizations, especially the Workers World Party, the SWP and the revisionist CPUSA and others, who were more active in that support work.

Although our involvement was reduced to New York (and we know first-hand what went on in Colorado from the comrades of COReS), we have evidence that these states do not represent an exception to the rule, but in fact, are representative of the complete inactivity of most of the “left” forces.

It is important that we understand that social chauvinism transcends any particular line on the international situation. It is no accident that, both, the great majority of the organizations that support the three worlds theory in this country, as well as those who have made the attack of the three worlds. Chairman Mao and the CPC their central and only task, were completely inactive in the support work for Nicaragua.

Thus, we have the COUSML and the CPUSAML (read MLOC) conducting a holy crusade against the social chauvinism of the three worlds holders in general, and the CPML in particular. But they allied with their own bourgeoisie, denying support to the Nicaraguan revolution because it was not led by the party of the proletariat. And the CPML, on the other hand, has spent reams of paper talking about what good defenders they are of the three worlds, Chairman Mao and the CPC, but when they have a chance to prove it in practice, they are nowhere to be found. And this holds true for almost every organization, collective and individual who upholds one or the other of these two lines, the three worlds and the ’“two camps”, in our movement.

The debate around the international situation is left up in the clouds by many comrades. It is reduced to a matter of phrasemongering everybody to death. The “two camps” holders say that the three worlders doublecross national liberation struggles and they “demarcate” themselves from this “social chauvinist” position by refusing to support national liberation movements like the ones in Iran and Nicaragua which have given death blows to U.S. imperialism and soviet social imperialism. And many of the “supporters” of the three worlds give credibility to the charge of social chauvinism and class collaboration by not making a move in support of the national liberation struggles.

We are sure that most of the organizations which in fact did not carry out any work in support of the Nicaraguan revolution would have a lot of theoretical justifications for this. Some would claim that it is a matter of priorities. Thus proletarian internationalism from this standpoint is something to be practiced, not as a primary thing but whenever the ideal conditions exist. Others would claim that they in fact were giving support. They would point to this or that article in their newspapers. Others would reduce the argument to the question of “unity with revisionists and Trotskyites”. They claim that they did not participate in this or that coalition because the leadership was in the hands of the Trotskyites or the revisionists. But they don’t want to deal with the fact that the masses were working in those coalitions. And that one of the reasons for the hegemony of Trotskyites and revisionists in those coalitions was the lack of involvement by the genuine Marxist-Leninists forces. Others will say “you are distorting our line, which is in support of the Nicaraguan revolution”. But the deeds necessary to back up their position do no appear anywhere.

Our experience in doing support work for the Nicaraguan revolution gives us a good understanding of how real and to what extent social chauvinism exists in our country. We understand that this social chauvinism can take various forms and is reflected in various political lines. The Trotskyites and the revisionists are by nature social chauvinists. But all those who for whatever reasons, don’t come forward to fulfill their proletarian internationalist duties are also social chauvinists. It’s very clear: either you support in words and deeds the just national liberation struggles against your bourgeoisie, or you are, independently of your will, a social chauvinist.

In the many demonstrations and picket lines, fund raisers, forums, etc. held in New York, New Jersey and Washington in which we participated, the influence of the Trotskyites, especially the Youth Against War and Fascism (Workers World Party) was evident. You saw their propaganda all around, many of their fronts spoke at the events, the security was mainly in their hands, the finances, etc., etc., But all the Trotskyites and their revisionists brothers were in no way the majority of the people participating in those events. Hundreds of Nicaraguans who live in the area participated in those events, and the great majority of them don’t belong to Trotskyite organizations nor even have clear sympathy for Trotskyism. The same holds true for a lot of other participants in support work. There were many Latin Americans that were not affiliated to any organization. The same was true for people of many nationalities, Afro-Americans, whites, etc, who also participated. In most of them, we were the only US based organization that upholds Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought and the three worlds participating. (The comrades from Linea Roja of the Revolutionary Movement 14th of June, from the Dominican Republic, were also carrying out support work.)

We were not in a position of leadership in any of the coalitions. We did not even have many allies in them. But that did not stop us from carrying out all our work. We didn’t make the “exposure” of Trotskyites and revisionists the main aspect of our work, but rather to build the support work for Nicaragua. In all events we put our independent propaganda and agitation in which we laid out our particular views on the struggle. In fact, in some discussions with some of the most conscious elements when the question of Trotskyism was brought up by us, we found real difficulty in showing why the Trotskyites were all bad when in practice in that work, they were championing the struggle against our bourgeoisie and the support of the Nicaraguan revolution at the time in which the so-called “genuine” M-Ls were folding their arms, very busy fighting against every everybody except the U.S.’ bourgeoisie.

Let’s make this point clearer. We are not saying that the Trotskyites were giving support principledly to the Nicaraguan revolution. In fact, their unprincipled maneuvers isolated them from many honest forces, including some Nicaraguan organizations, who even stopped working with coalitions that were clearly in the hands of the Trotskyites. What we are saying is that you cannot go to the masses in struggle and give them a dissertation on why the Trotskyites are scum when they see the Trotskyites in the picket lines with them, raising funds, printing the leaflets of the coalitions, mobilizing hundreds to Washington, etc., while the real Marxist-Leninists that you talk about are reduced to a very tiny contingent that are not even capable of mobilizing other Marxist-Leninists who, like them, claim to be the champions of national liberation struggles.

On the eve of the overthrowal of Somoza, and under the initiative of Linea Roja, a coalition was formed to call for a demonstration in front of the Nicaraguan embassy. There were some very positive aspects to the event for which we supported it and participated fully. It was an attempt to draw in specifically many of the M-L forces who up till then had not been involved in the support work. The initiators of it, Linea Roja, were involved in the struggle already, and we saw in their attempt an opportunity to convince other forces to join the broader coalition. This would provide a considerable force in opposition to the Trotskyites and revisionists.

But there were some clear weaknesses to the “M-L” coalition. Although it did bring some forces to the event who otherwise were not concretely supporting the Nicaraguan revolution, it was objectively sectarian. Sectarian towards some forces that should have been invited (only certain Marxist-Leninists and anti-imperialists that were considered “genuine” were invited) And it was an attempt to organize the “left” support, in isolation of the masses, and to make it worse, the event was held very near to the time of the Sandinista victory, which made it look like an attempt to leech off a struggle which in the main those forces had not consistently supported.

The event was one of the least attended of those held in New York during the Nicaraguan struggle. Although many M-L organizations “sponsored it”, most of the participants were brought by the Dominican organizations (including some that were excluded from the coalition). The CPML, the self-proclaimed party of the U.S. proletariat brought to the event the grand total of one person who, to make matters worst did not even participate in the picket line because the person was busy selling THE CALL. After the event, in the sum-up meeting, we struggled against the idea of keeping this narrow coalition and proposed that it join the broader coalition. The CPML did not attend this meeting. The others agreed to the liquidation of the coalition, but did not respond directly to our argumentation. Instead, they decided to end the coalition because by that time Somoza had already fled the country. Obviously this was also incorrect and led to a continuation of the practice of not supporting the Nicaraguan Revolution, which although in fact has defeated Somoza, was at that time, and still is, in great need of our political and material support.

As for groups like the COUSML and the MLOC, you can forget it. They peddle a clear Trotskyite line in relation to national liberation struggles. They don’t support any struggle unless it’s led by the proletariat and its party. The fact is that there is no national liberation struggle in the world at this time which fulfill the prerequisites of these organizations–a super social chauvinist Trotskyite position.

The storm center of revolution today is definitely the third world, and not the advanced capitalist countries. This is a reality which only those “Marxists” who approach things from quotes learned by heart, and not from living reality, can deny. National liberation struggles against the superpowers will be with us for a long time to come. There’s a great upheaval in whole third world. Just, this year, we have witnessed victorious struggles in Iran and Nicaragua. Things are very hot in El Salvador and Guatemala, in the backyard of U.S. imperialism. The peoples of Nambia, Azania, and Zimbabwe are determined to end colonialism, racism, and apartheid. The heroic Kampuchean people are not giving respite to the Vietnamese invaders. The Eritrean masses continue their long and heroic struggle which today has the Soviet Union as its principal enemy. The Palestinian people are making things impossible for the Zionists and their imperialist masters.

Revolution is rising in the third world. Who practices social chauvinism and who practices proletarian internationalism is a question that is solved not in the realm of pseudo Marxist phrasemongering but in the realm of a correct revolutionary theory, which in words and deeds organizes the struggle against our own bourgeoisie, and in support of the just wars of national liberation of the oppressed peoples and nations of the third world. Practice, comrades, is the sole criterion of truth.