First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 38, October 3, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Five years ago this week, the first issue of The Call/El Clarin rolled off the presses. Its front page articles–“Who is to Blame for Munich?” and “Atlanta Workers Fight Back,”–boldly proclaimed the newspaper’s revolutionary stand against imperialism and for the liberation of the working class.
We have certainly come a long way since then. A monthly newspaper with a circulation of about 5,000 has been transformed into a weekly, (and with this issue, a 20-page weekly), with a circulation of close to 15,000.
A newspaper which was not firmly rooted among the masses has deepened its ties to the point where literally dozens of worker correspondents are writing for it every week.
Perhaps most importantly, a newspaper which could only propagandize about the need for a new Communist Party has this year become the central organ of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist).
Our staff and our Party comrades have worked very hard to bring about all these developments. But the decisive factor pushing The Call forward, has always been the masses.
A look at some of the developments in The Call over the last year testifies to how the newspaper has improved through the growing participation of the masses in every aspect of it.
The two best-selling issues ever published were the April 4 issue, which was entirely devoted to the Draft Program for the new Party, and the June 20 issue which announced the news of the founding Party Congress.
Each of these issues sold over 20,000 copies. Each of them got to every state in the country, penetrated every major prison, and were read and discussed inside many of the biggest auto plants, steel mills and coal mines in the country.
How was it done? It couldn’t have been accomplished without the networks of factory workers, which each took responsibility for distributing hundreds of copies.
The new features that began in the newspaper over the last year were also the product of increased mass discussion and criticism of the paper. Many readers suggested to us that we start a children’s corner and a sports report, and now these features are a regular part of The Call.
The tremendous response we received to our series of articles analyzing Roots and Black history also demonstrated to us the importance of the cultural question and the need to devote more space to it in the newspaper.
The development of the 20-page paper has especially meant the expansion of El Clarin. This was a mass demand among our Spanish-speaking readers. In addition, our work in minority languages made other new breakthroughs with the publication of a bilingual supplement in English and Tagalog concerning the Filipina nurses case.
A different kind of step forward was taken with the special supplement published in preparation for the UAW convention. It contained six resolutions, drafted by groups of auto workers in different cities, detailing a program of class struggle unionism and a critique of the Woodcock-Fraser leadership. It was immediately a weapon in organizing the rank-and-file movement. Some 20,000 copies were distributed in one week.
The masses were also the decisive factor in broadening and deepening our struggle against revisionism and opportunism over the last year. For example, after a series of Call articles exposed the revisionist line of opportunist Martin Nicolaus, our readers eagerly took up this debate.
This mass criticism of revisionism helped lay the basis for The Call conference last April, attended by 400 revolutionary agitators and propagandists.
At this conference, a call was made to deepen the criticism not just of Nicolaus but of modern revisionism itself. The result has been the establishment of anti-revisionist committees and correspondents in many cities.
Finally, a word must be said about how our readers have enthusiastically pushed forward the banner of proletarian internationalism.
After the death of Chairman Mao last year, The Call worked to popularize his immortal contributions to Marxism and the revolutionary example he set. This was immediately taken up by our readers who came by the hundreds on short notice to memorial meetings for Chairman Mao. Since that time, many have gotten organized to study the material published by The Call about Chairman Mao as well as the struggle in China against the reactionary “gang of four.”
In like manner, when The Call presented the news of the Azanian liberation struggle, through articles and interviews with leaders of the Pan Africanist Congress; when we called on our readers to denounce the frame-up of Uruguayan communist leader Mario Echenique; when we popularized the work of Europe’s Marxist-Leninist parties through a series of Call articles–on all these occasions, our readers have built support for these causes wherever they live and work.
We have many shortcomings and weaknesses we must work hard to change. Our articles are still too long, although they have gotten shorter over the last year. Much of our writing remains formalistic or dry, and lacks the vitality of the language of the working masses. We have also made errors in our articles–sometimes small points of factual detail, occasionally major points of political emphasis or line. We encourage our readers to point such mistakes out to us, so that they can be corrected.
Our biggest shortcoming is that the newspaper must still go more deeply among the masses. Our writers must increasingly come directly from the front lines of struggle, and our experienced writers must increasingly go out to the front lines of struggle. Our newspaper must become the best possible tool for collective agitation, propaganda and organization wherever the fight against capitalism is raging.
We want to use this occasion of our anniversary to thank all our supporters for their past contributions. We appeal once again to eve/y reader to become a subscriber, a distributor, a writer and a financial sustainer of the weekly Call.