Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The Central Committee of Venceremos

On the Freeing of Angela

Published: Pamoja Venceremos, Volume 2, Issue 12, June 10-24, 1972.†
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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When Angela Davis was freed, people all across the United States celebrated For Third World and poor and working white people, she represented the oppression suffered by all political prisoners and her acquittal gave these prisoners and their families and friends the hope that they, too, might be freed.

Point #3 of the Venceremos Principles of Unity explains why. We say the overwhelming majority of Third World, working class people, and youth now imprisoned have not been tried by their peers, and have received only injustice from this system. We consider them all political prisoners, and their freedom is part of our revolutionary program.

Angela’s case, in a superstar kind way, is similar to the cases of most political prisoners.

She was fired from her teaching job at UCLA by Ronald Reagan for her member ship in the Communist Party.

Less than a year later, Jonathon Jackson tried to spring three black San Quentin inmates from a Marin County courtroom. Only one man, Ruchell Magee, survived–to become Angela’s co-defendant on murder and conspiracy charges.

Supposedly having supplied the weapons and planned the attempt, Angela was jailed for the next year and a half – without bail and without trial.

But Angela had two things Ruchell didn’t: money to buy a strong defense in court and world-wide publicity that made her a symbol of all political prisoners and gave her the support of the masses of people.

While Angela was occupying cells built specially for her, Ruchell was being beaten in the San Quentin “Adjustment Center.”

While Angela was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a team of brilliant and politically sympathetic lawyers, Ruchell was pleading vainly in court to be allowed to defend himself.

In fact, Ruchell is a much more typical prisoner of the state than Angela.

Arrested in 1963 for kidnapping (he and a friend tricked a dope dealer into taking a ride in his car so they could steal back the $10 they’d been burned for), Ruchell’s court-appointed lawyer pleaded guilty for him. Ruchell screamed he was innocent, but the judge instructed the jury to ignore him.

Ruchell fought for the next ten years to overturn his conviction. In the process, he became a skilled and knowledgeable criminal lawyer. In the process, judge after judge called him a “moron” and worse, often literally telling him he was “wasting the time of the court.”

(Ruchell has just been given the honor of having a law passed to shut him up. State Proposition #3, which was approved in the recent state election, allows the legislature to pass a law giving judges the power to appoint the defense lawyer of their choice in all felony cases in which the defendant can’t afford a lawyer of his own. When this law is passed, Ruchell will be stripped of his hard-earned right to-defend himself.)

With his painfully gained understanding that court-appointed lawyers were on the side of the state, Ruchell tried to keep himself out of the gas chamber by demanding that his case be separated from Angela’s. He believed that, with Angela getting all the publicity and having an enormous defense team, his defense would go unnoticed and unheard.

After months of maneuvering he finally did win the right to defend himself. Shortly thereafter, Angela’s lawyers asked her judge to let him become one of the defense team. He agreed.

Now, while Angela is walking the streets, Ruchell is still in San Quentin, still waiting for his case to come to trial. His name wasn’t even mentioned in the parties following Angela’s acquittal.

Yet he and Jonathon Jackson, Willie Christmas, and James McLain were the heroes of the slave rebellion that gave Angela the mass support she needed to win.

Even if Angela and the Communist Party won’t spend a penny of their millions to defend him, the people must donate their nickels and dimes.

When a man devotes himself so completely to the service of the people, that’s the least we can do.


Our joy at Angela Davisí acquittal should not blind us to some very real dangers presented by her role as a representative and member of the Central Committee of the “Communist” Party. The VENCEREMOS Central Committee believed that it would have been divisive and sectarian on our part to raise the question of the CP (“Communist” Party) while Angela was fighting for her freedom in the jails and courtrooms of the ruling class. We did not want to do anything that would put her in greater danger by splitting her mass support. But now we believe that we would be betraying our duty to the people if we did not make certain very serious dangers clear.

The CP is the representative within the U.S. of the second greatest imperialist power in the world, the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is not a communist or a socialist society, but a ruthless dictatorship of state capitalism, very similar in form to our own society. When the people of Czechoslovakia rose up to gain national independence, the Soviet empire sent tanks and troops to smash them and to impose a puppet government. When the fascist overlords of Indonesia slaughtered three quarters of a million communists, workers and peasants, the Soviet Union supplied their ammunition and the spare parts for their modern military equipment. When the generals and capitalists of Brazil overthrew the legally elected progressive government, the Soviet Union and the United States, in one of their many secret deals, each provided an immediate loan credit of $100 million to the newly established fascist government. The Soviet Union has attempted for fifteen years, using all available means, to overthrow the people’s government of China, even going so far as to invade Chinese territory. The CP within the U.S. totally supports Soviet imperialism, and continually slanders and attacks the government and people of China, and the main leader of the world revolution, Mao Tse-Tung, whose thought guides our daily practice. Angela Davis herself, both as an individual and as a member of the Central Committee of the CP, has participated in the defense of Soviet imperialism and in attacking the vanguard forces of the world revolution.

But the main danger presented by the CP has to do with its internal role, particularly if people maintain the illusion that it is part of the revolutionary movement. As we all know from our daily lives, false friends are far more dangerous than open enemies. That’s why we say, “With friends like that, who needs enemies?” The CP is a false friend of the oppressed people, bringing into the movement, in a very subtle form, the ideology of the ruling class. What does the CP, and Angela as a member of its Central Committee, stand for?

First, they deny to the Black nation and to the Chicano nation the right of self-determination. The CP maintains that the Black and Chicano nations have already exercised their right of self-determination and have chosen to become part of an integrated United States. VENCEKEMOS believes that unity is essential between the oppressed Third World nations and national minorities on one hand, and the exploited masses of poor and working white people on the other. But we believe that this unity can only come about if poor and working white people recognize the inalienable right of Third World nations to be free and separate, if they so desire. And we believe that no one has the right to say that the Black nation, the Chicano nation, or any other oppressed nation has already used up their self-determination, because the oppressed nations within the U.S. empire have never had the opportunity to make their desires known. While we defend the right of the oppressed nations” to be separate if they wish, we do not claim that separation would be desirable. On the contrary, we stand for multi-national revolution. We have the same position here as we do on the right of divorce. We believe that a true marriage must be based on the freedom of the partners to be separate if either chooses and not on one partner’s legal or physical power to prevent the other from leaving.

The CP denies the goal of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the rule of poor and working people. They ask us to follow the example of the Soviet Union, whose capitalist rulers call their government “a state of the whole people,” just as our capitalist rulers call this dictatorship a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” In fact, the CP goes along with the outrageous idea that we here in the very belly of the beast live in a democracy. They tell us flat out that “in the United States there is no military dictatorship, the government has come to power by popular vote.” (Gil Green, “Terrorism – Is It Revolutionary?”, p. 37.) Did the native people of this continent vote for their own extermination? Did the people of Aztlan vote to be conquered? Did Black Africans vote to be slaves if they survived the trip across the Atlantic? Did the workers vote that all the products of their labor should be owned by the capitalists and used against poor and working people throughout the world? In fact, this is the essence of the counter-revolutionary line and practice of the CP, which leads people sooner or later into collaboration with the U.S. ruling class, the most vicious bunch of gangsters in human history.

It follows then that the CP denies the necessity of armed revolution, and seeks ideologically and physically to disarm the oppressed people. The CP infiltration of the Black Panther Party, and the social pacifism it pushed on the Panthers from inside and outside, was a major factor in destroying the Black Panther Party as the vanguard of the U.S. revolution. Gus Hall, General Secretary of the Communist Party and its candidate for President of the U.S., gave the official line when he said in his speech to the founding convention of the CP front, the Young Workers Liberation League (February, 1970), that the slogan “’Pick up the gun’” would only “alienate” the people “who are moving into struggle.” It follows then that the CP would use Angela Davis’ trial as a way of covering up the revolutionary significance of Jonathan Jackson’s actually picking up the gun, and inspiring the oppressed people with a heroic attack on the state. So at the end of the trial, one of Angela’s lawyers said that the state has made “a damned good case against Jonathan Jackson.” The CP does not just attack the heroic acts of small numbers of true revolutionaries like Jonathon Jackson. It also takes exactly the same line as our rulers on the heroic revolutionary violence of masses of people acting in internationalist solidarity with the people of Indo China, or in their own defense in the ghettos and barrios:

“To throw a bomb at a bank, to burn down a building, to break plate-glass windows without cause, is not to conduct revolutionary activity but to play at it; it is “revolution for the hell of it.” It does not raise revolutionary class consciousness, does not hurt the war effort of cripple the system, despite hallucinations to the contrary. (Green, p.29) What the CP assumes is that these acts of revolutionary violence are “without cause.” Of course this is perfectly consistent with their position that we live in a democracy whose government we ourselves have chosen. But those of us who think that we live in an extremely violent dictatorship of the big bankers and businessmen, intent on subjecting all people to capitalist slavery, think that there is plenty of cause to bomb banks, to burn down ROTC buildings, Stanford Administration buildings, induction centers and courthouses, and to break windows of the Hoover Institution, finance companies, ITT and the FBI. And when the Chinese people tell us that these are important acts in the world revolution, and when Hanoi calls us to say that these acts inspire their fighters on the battlefield, those of us who call ourselves revolutionaries can only apologise for not doing much more to help destroy the common enemy.

So VENCEREMOS feels duty-bound, at the very moment of our celebration of the acquittal of Angela Davis, who was falsely accused of participating in a great revolutionary act, to remind the people that in fact the party she represents is not revolutionary. The ability to tell real revolutionary ideas and organizations from fake “revolutionary” ideas and organizations is a life and death matter for the masses of people.