First Published: Unite!, Vol. 2, No. 3, June-July 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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On March 27, 1976, the Coalition for Angolan Self-Determination (CASD) sponsored a forum in Oakland California, at which it advanced a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the situation in Angola. The Guardian, which holds the opposing, and opportunist, viewpoint on this question, reported a distorted and slanderous account of this event. All coalition members agreed to publish the following letter in response to the Guardian’s charges.
The Guardian covered the March 27, 1976 forum sponsored by the Coalition for Angolan Self-Determination in the S.F. Bay Area. The Guardian article (entitled “Bay Forum Alleges Soviet-Cuban Aggression,” 4/7/76, page 15) was filled with distortions and outright lies, which only serve to cover over the real differences between the Guardian and our coalition around line and stand on Angola, and in particular over the role of the Soviet Union in the world today. We unanimously agreed that a rebuttal was necessary, and submit this letter to correct the Guardian’s lies and distortions and to clarify the essence of our differences with the Guardian.
First, we would like to briefly review some of the concrete errors that the Guardian article makes in its efforts to discredit the Coalition for Angolan Self-Determination and its line. In its estimate of the number of people in the audience, the Guardian cites 400 with one-quarter being against the line of the coalition. In actuality, there were 800 people there, with only a small minority of Trotskyite, revisionist, centrists and otherwise unfriendly forces present.
The Guardian also stated that only 6 organizations sponsored the program, rather than the actual 15 organizations plus individuals who made up the coalition. In fact, nearly every anti-revisionist organization in the Bay Area and a significant sector of the anti-revisionist revolutionary movement in the United States today participated in the coalition. The Guardian’s article was obviously an attempt to downplay the significance, the unity, and the impact of the Coalition for Angolan Self-Determination, which holds as its two principles of unity: 1) Superpowers (U.S. and Soviet Union) out of Angola, and 2) Self-Determination for the Angolan People!
The Guardian also distorted the line of the program, attempting to give the impression that the Coalition only opposed one superpower, the Soviet Union. The Guardian called the Coalition’s line a “class collaborationist line” with the U.S. ruling class. This is an outright distortion of our line which holds both superpowers as the main enemy of the people of the world and the people of Angola in particular. We oppose both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. It is the Guardian that uses such arguments to cover up their own line on the Soviet Union which fails to recognize their objective role in inciting the civil war in Angola and sees only one superpower. To give further evidence to their distorted assessment of the program, the Guardian lied about the ALSC Cultural Collective’s skit and the audience response in order to give the impression that any mention of opposing U.S. imperialism was met with “boos” from the coalition.
These lies and distortions were used by the Guardian to slander the coalition.
Why has the Guardian stooped so low and gone so far to discredit and slander our coalition? Because the Guardian has increasingly been acting as a cover for the Soviet Social Imperialists’ role in Angola, and as a mouth piece for the revisionist line that the Soviet Union merely entered the war in Angola to help drive out the hated South Africans. The Guardian is participating in an objective attack on the leading role of the People’s, Republic of China, and objectively promoting the Soviet revisionists. The Guardian is taking this path, and their line on Angola only confirms it.
As we stated before, our two slogans and principles of unity are:
1) Superpowers out of Angola, and
2) Self-Determination for the Angolan People.
Based on this, then, what do we see as the essence of our differences with the Guardian?
Every group in our coalition sees the Soviet Union as a Social Imperialist power, a superpower like the United States which incited the civil war among the liberation forces in Angola for its own imperialist self-interests. How did the Soviet Union do this? By concretely sabotaging the plans for a coalition government among all three liberation organizations who had actively fought against the Portuguese colonialists. By holding the MPLA above the other liberation forces, and attacking UNITA and FNLA as reactionary in order to justify their divisive stand. By dumping tons of heavy armaments and mercenaries into Angola as a time when the three liberation organizations were planning to merge their armed forces into one unified national army.
These armaments were far in excess of the tiny amount of arms that the Soviet Union gave in all the years the MPLA, UNITA and FNLA were fighting against Portugal. The Soviet Union never gave such “aid to national liberation” when the war against 500 years of Portuguese colonialism was being waged. But when unity was being reached by the liberation groups, the Soviet Union stepped in to break it up and to further its own interests in the natural and human resources and the strategic South Atlantic location of Angola.
It is the Soviet Union and the United States – the two superpowers – who are the main enemy of the people of the world today. It is the Soviet Union which is showing itself around the world to be the rising and therefore more aggressive and dangerous of the two superpowers – for everywhere the Soviet Union seeks hegemony, it must come into fierce contention with the U.S. imperialists who have been there longer and will not give up without a fight.
In justifying the murderous aggression of the Soviet Union, the revisionists throughout the world are mouthing a line that the Soviet Union was enlisting Cuban support for Angola in the spirit of “proletarian internationalism” to help the Angolan national liberation movement (the MPLA only) to fight against the South African invaders and the threat of U.S. imperialism. This is the line used to cover up the murderous aggression of the Soviet Union. This is the line that the Guardian objectively puts forward as well, and points out the danger of not seeing the Soviet Union for what it really is – a Social Imperialist superpower.
As for our coalition, we take a stand for justice, for an Angola for the Angolan people, for true self-determination. We have stood for the unity of all three liberation organizations – FNLA, MPLA and UNITA. Contrary to the slanders of the Guardian, who say that FNLA and UNITA were merely fabrications of the U.S. CIA and collaborators with South Africa, we see that all three liberation organizations fought concretely in the war against the Portuguese colonialists. We saw the coalition government which was being forged in 1975 and formalized in. the Alvor, Mombassa and Nakura agreements as the way through which the three organizations could overcome their differences and the Angolan people could settle their own internal affairs without any outside intervention.
We have strongly condemned all foreign intervention. We condemn the two superpowers’ hegemonistic designs and intervention in Angola. We condemn the invasion by the racist South African regime in an effort to protect its own interests in Southern Africa. We condemn the Cuban mercenaries who were brought to serve the interests of the Soviet Union, as a result of Soviet domination over the economic and political life in Cuba today. This is the only correct stand to take to ensure genuine self-determination for the Angolan people to settle their own internal affairs free from imperialist intervention.
The Guardian, on the other hand, objectively covers up for the Soviet Social Imperialists. The Guardian analysis flies in the face of reality and denies self-determination to the Angolan people by covering up the continuing and murderous intervention of the Soviet Union. The Guardian further counterposes the role of the People’s Republic of China in supporting all three liberation forces and opposing all foreign intervention against the role of the Soviet Union who invaded Angola to “help” in the struggle against South Africa. The Guardian engages in the same slanders on the People’s Republic of China as it does on our coalition. The Guardian says that to criticize the Soviet Union’s role in Angola is to side with South Africa and the U.S.
We would ask the Guardian, then, what did the Soviet Union do in Angola if it did not forcibly intervene in Angolan affairs to further its own imperialist designs in Southern Africa? Did the Soviet Union and their Cuban mercenaries wage a war against the South Africans as the Guardian claims? No, they did not. The Soviet Union waged a fierce battle against two out of three liberation organizations of the Angolan people. Contrary to Moscow’s arguments, the Soviet Union intervened in Angola before South Africa invaded on October 23, 1975. By January, 1975, at the time of landmark agreements to form a coalition government among the three liberation forces, the Soviet Union was already sending 100 Soviet military advisors into Angola. By March, 1975, the heavy armaments followed. By September, the Soviet Union brought large groups of Cuban mercenary troops into northern Angola. From September 25 to October 23, 1975, the Soviet Social Imperialists sent five shiploads of weapons and over 2,400 mercenaries into Angola. Therefore, if South Africa did not invade until October 23, 1975, then who did the Soviet Union fight against with all those weapons and all those troops? The Soviet Union fought first against FNLA and then against UNITA. Over 150,000 Angolan people have died as a result of the Soviet-incited civil war. And yet the Soviet Union never engaged in battle against the South African invaders. They merely used the South African invasion as a rationalization for their own invasion of Angola. After the South African invasion, the Soviet Union simply made their intervention more overt, less secret, and fanned up the line that they were protecting Angola from South Africa.
We would ask the Guardian, what will the Soviet Union do after the South African racists’ troop withdrawal? Will they peacefully withdraw to leave Angola to determine its own future? Of course not. Unlike the claims of the Guardian, imperialism is not just a policy followed at times by the Soviet Union. It is part and parcel of the monopoly capitalist system, which has been restored in the Soviet Union. Therefore, the Soviet Union is not a socialist country, but a social imperialist country which has already spent several hundreds of millions of dollars in its intervention in Angola thus far, and expects even greater returns. The Soviet Union will not abandon its imperialist interests in Angola. But, as the People’s Republic of China has pointed out, the going will be tough for the Soviet Union and all imperialists. The Angolan people will not stand for their intervention.
It is this treachery of the Soviet Union that the Guardian insists on covering over and apologizing for. Yet the Guardian claims to be “independent.” Independent of what? The Guardian is independent of genuine proletarian internationalism, but it is certainly not independent of the arguments of the revisionists – the Soviet Union and the “C”PUSA themselves. The Guardian position on Angola is the clearest example to date of the incorrectness and danger of the Guardian’s line and role as a cover for Soviet Social Imperialism and modern revisionism. The Guardian’s distortion of the coalition’s event is further evidence of their bankruptcy.
SUPERPOWERS OUT OF ANGOLA.
SELF-DETERMINATION FOR THE ANGOLAN PEOPLE!