Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Spartacist League

MLOUSA, SL Defend Against Philippine Nationalists

First Published: Workers Vanguard No. 31, October 26, 1973
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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SAN FRANCISCO – On Saturday September 22 a coalition of groups dominated by Philippine nationalists held a march and demonstration in San Francisco on the basis of “opposition to martial law” in the Philippines and for the “restoration of civil liberties.” The September 22 Coalition which issued the call for the rally, made it clear by its actions, as well as in its printed pamphlet, that it is interested only in the restoration of “normal” bourgeois order via parliament, which would maintain Philippine subservience to U.S. imperialism. According to the Coalition’s pamphlet:

The only way that such a tragedy [another Vietnam] can be prevented is if Marcos steps down from power at the end of his elected term on December 30, 1973, and restores civil liberties and democratic processes. The U.S. government should condition its policy of giving aid to the Philippines upon the restoration of democracy there....

Here in the United States, we patriotic Filipinos and freedom-loving Americans have consistently opposed the anti-popular and unjust policies of Marcos’ Martial Law dictatorship.

The Coalition leaders quickly made it clear that they are opposed to civil liberties for the working class in general and communists in particular. When SL/RCY salesmen arrived, a large goon squad emerged and physically harassed our comrades–pushing, shoving and ripping away papers. Not surprisingly, among the goon squad were members of the Maoist Revolutionary Union, who explained that there had been a “decision” that no one should be allowed to sell papers at the demonstration (no doubt in the name of “civil liberties”!).

Thus the logic of Stalinist/Maoist theory–the “anti-imperialist” bloc with the bourgeoisie–emerged in practice as full-blown anti-communism. The organizers even denounced us with a bullhorn as “provocateurs” and “wreckers.” The SWP was allowed to sell the Militant after explaining in cringing reformist fashion that, of course, it has nothing critical to say about the Coalition or China!

After a brief march, the Coalition played the Filipino national anthem while the goons again engaged in highly provocative threats and harassment– RCY salesmen were pushed, papers torn up, glasses knocked off and one member was struck in the face. An organizer at the mike again denounced us as “divisive” elements, and this was followed by playing once more the Filipino national anthem in an attempt to whip up chauvinist hysteria.

As could be expected, the ex-Trotskyist SWP refused our request for a united defense bloc, as it has totally abandoned the concept of workers democracy. Similarly, the NCLC remained non-committal when approached. The only group present which agreed to and carried out a united defense bloc was the Marxist-Leninist Organization of the USA (MLOUSA), a mostly black group which traces its ideological lineage to Stalin. It is also a group which is seriously interested in open political discussion within the workers movement and has criticisms of Maoism.

The single MLOUSA member originally present accompanied an RCY salesman as we sold our respective press and explained why the RCY was being banned. This took considerable physical courage in the face of intense harassment from a growing goon squad. Several more MLOUSA supporters soon arrived and joined in the common defense effort, during which a member of MLOUSA had leaflets torn from her hands. This menacing situation ended only when our defense bloc aroused sufficient sympathy in the crowd to force the Philippine-nationalist and Maoist leaderships to pull back. Afterward a member of MLOUSA stated that at first he thought he didn’t want to get involved with a “Trotskyite” group, but then realized that if we couldn’t sell our papers criticizing Mao, they too could be stopped from selling their literature critical of Mao. He correctly considered workers democracy a matter of principle.

The Bay Area Spartacist League subsequently wrote to MLOUSA thanking it for its principled defense of workers democracy during the September 28 march and repeating our proposal of last December for joint MLOUSA/SL discussions. We noted the serious differences separating ourselves as Trotskyists from a group which considers itself to represent the continuity of Stalin’s policies in the current period. However, MLOUSA’s positions on international work and the question of blacks and other racial-ethnic minorities in the U.S., as well as its serious attitude toward the building of a vanguard party, do provide a basis for discussion between the two organizations.