First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 2, May 10, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Chicago, May 1–Speaking before an enthusiastic May Day crowd in St, Margaret’s Church on this city’s South Side, Chairman Michael Klonsky spoke of the important advances being made in the struggle of the working class for socialism.
“It’s important,” said Klonsky, “to come together like this on May Day to commemorate this great holiday of the working class and also to remember the Haymarket martyrs who laid down their lives in these significant early battles between the working class and the capitalist class.”
Klonsky observed that the reactionary nature of capitalism hadn’t changed any since May 1, 1886, and that the “state apparatus, the police and the courts were still an instrument through which the capitalist ruling class maintained its rule, its oppression and exploitation over the working people.”
To demonstrate this point he cited the example of Gary Tyler, a 17-year-old Black youth in New Orleans who was scheduled to be executed by the state on May 5. Tyler was framed for the shooting death of a white student because of his militant opposition to school segregation and racism.
Klonsky observed that, “Although some concessions have been forced from the ruling class, the basic conditions of exploitation of workers and the national oppression of the Afro-American, Puerto Rican, Chicano, Native American, Asian and other peoples remains fundamentally un-changed. The principal contradiction in this country is still between the working class and the bourgeoisie.”
He commented that while the ruling class uses the state as its special organization of force, “we must also recognize how they combine their rule by force with the use of reformism to pacify the working class.” He said that, “We must oppose the enemies without guns as well as the enemies with guns. Sometimes the sugar-coated bullets of the reformists can be even more deadly than the violent terror of the police.”
Klonsky exposed the example of the revisionist Communist Party and the reactionary labor bureaucrats. ’Today,” he said, “while we are holding our meeting, there is another meeting taking place organized by the revisionists. The CPUSA today is trampling upon the graves of Parsons, Spies and the other Haymarket heroes. Their May Day meeting is nothing but a parade of labor misleaders onto the stage to sing the praises of capitalism and to preach the concept of ’working within the framework of the constitution.’” He stressed mat replacing mis-leaders of the Abel and Meany type with those of the Sadlowski and Miller type is no solution. “We must turn our unions into instruments of class struggle and smash the rule of the labor lieutenants of capitalism whether they be of the open type or the militant-sounding reformists or revisionists.” He said: “These agents of the ruling class are the most dangerous elements within our struggle because unlike the police, they wear no badge on their shirt and in fact parade themselves as workers and even as communists.”
Klonsky explained how the labor aristocrats were bribed from the superprofits of imperialism’s plunder over the colonies and, therefore, are the loyal servants of imperialism. The revisionists, he said, “have become the willing fifth-column of Soviet social-imperialism.”
Calling the two superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, “the main enemies of the peoples of the world,” Klonsky said that, “imperialism is a system characterized by the division of the whole world among a few great powers.” He added that ”imperialism is a system of wars,” and that the contention between the two superpowers “is bound to lead to a new world war.” He called on people to become vigilant and to oppose the view that “detente” or “world peace” is on the rise.
Klonsky paid tribute to the “great victories won a year ago by the peoples of Indochina.” He said that “these victories have sent U.S. imperialism reeling and show that it is an imperialist power on the decline. On the other hand,” he pointed out, “the Soviet Union is the newcomer to the imperialist feast. Capitalism has been restored there only in the past few decades. Everywhere U.S. imperialism is being defeated, the Soviet social-imperialists are trying to move in the back door.”
To withstand the difficult conditions in the coming period and to lead the working class to its victory over capitalism, Klonsky pointed to the organization of the new Marxist-Leninist party as “our central and most pressing task.” He said that important strides forward were being made in building Marxist-Leninist unity both in the U.S. and in the young communist movement growing up around the world.
He added that, “The basis for such a party now exists. In the past five years, the communist movement has grown significantly larger and has expanded its influence among the most advanced workers. Important struggles have been waged against revisionism and all forms of opportunism and the political level of the communists has been greatly advanced.”
Klonsky said that this month representatives of several Marxist-Leninist groups would be meeting to work on the development of a communist program. “The basis for such a meeting is the minimum points of unity laid out in the November Call for Unity. But the party itself can only be based on a Marxist-Leninist program which would have to be discussed and debated in the pre-Congress period following the May meeting.”
The OL chairman strongly criticized the opportunists who stood opposed to the building of the party. He singled out the “Revolutionary Wing” and the “centrists” of the Guardian variety for sharp criticism.
“The Wing,” he said, “is an unprincipled anti-party block with nothing in common but their vicious opposition to the party and to the October League.” He added that, “In studying their program, you can see that the groups in the Wing disagree with each other on every point of Marxist-Leninist principle, and on such important questions as busing in Boston, women’s rights, and even on the question of strategy for revolution. They raise splittism and disunity to the level of a principle.”
In response to a question from the floor, Klonsky criticized the Guardian’s complaints that they are being “suppressed” by certain bookstores. He said, “Suddenly they have become ’democrats’ and advocates of free speech. But we should examine what ideas these ’democrats’ want freedom to promote. It is nothing but slanderous attacks on the Marxist-Leninists in the U.S. and in China, and on the right of Afro-American people to self-determination. The bourgeoisie will give them plenty of freedom to promote these anti-communist and white chauvinist ideas.” He added that the centrists were nothing but “apologists for revisionism and Soviet social-imperialism.”
Klonsky concluded that: “On this May Day we must rededicate ourselves, not simply to the fight for the eight-hour day or other reforms of capitalism–but to the building of a new Marxist-Leninist party which will lead the way forward to the overthrow of the capitalist system and the establishment of socialism.”