Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

July Fourth Demonstrations Trying to Save Capitalism

First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 10, July 5, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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On the Fourth of July, two demonstrations have been called in Philadelphia under slogans which reflect attempts at reforming the system of capitalism.

The largest of these demonstrations is being organized by the July 4th Coalition, a broad group ranging from a few honest reformers to such reactionary opportunists as the revisionist Communist Party, the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, the centrist Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP), arid the various Trotskyist groupings. The other demonstration is being called by a few groups based around the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), which last year declared itself to be the “only” communist organization in the U.S.

What all of these forces have in common is a program aimed not at revolution but at “saving” capitalism from itself. To the main organizers of the July 4th Coalition, such as PSP and the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, the questions of war, exploitation and national oppression of Black and other minority people all stem from unexplainable “mistakes” being made by faulty leadership. In effect, the slogans they are putting forward on July 4 serve to prettify the very system of capitalism which has caused these centuries of oppression.

For example, the Coalition claims in their July 4th Bulletin: “It is time to end the irrational squandering of our resources on weapons of war and in the pursuit of profits.” But war and profits are not the product of “irrationality.” Rather, they are inherent features of a system which was built upon the exploitation of man by man. War has become synonymous with imperialism, and as long as imperialism exists, there will be wars.

Rather than uniting with the cause of the working and oppressed people throughout the world to do away with this system, the Coalition puts forth the notion that the working class should fight only “to recover a share of the wealth that is stolen from us daily and used in the interests of a privileged few.” But the truth is that, after 200 years of exploitation and oppression, the working class struggle has to be aimed at taking all the wealth and not just “a share.”

The same belief in the positive potentials of imperialism are reflected in the Coalition’s demands of “A Bicentennial Without Colonies” and a “Bicentennial Without Repression” which originated with PSP. Both of these slogans spread the illusion that imperialism can end its colonial policies towards other countries as well as its repression of the people this year – in other words, under the present system. Unless the demand for the freedom of colonies like Puerto Rico is linked to the revolutionary struggle against imperialism, it is reduced to reformist appeals to the liberal politicians. No country has-ever been freed in this way.


Finally, the demonstration spreads the myth of “detente” by putting forth the view that war is another “irrational” policy and also by failing to prepare or warn people of the approach of a new imperialist war. While correctly calling for an end to CIA and U.S. military intervention in other nations, such as Angola, the opportunist Coalition leaders, following the lead of the CPUSA, make no mention of the Soviet Union, which stands today as the main source of a new world war.

In effect, this demonstration, while taking in many honest people who are quite justifiably fed up with the conditions of life under capitalism, is really building nothing more than a loyal opposition to the ruling class. It is a safe opposition, armed only with a few band-aids to patch up a thoroughly diseased and cancerous system.

The second demonstration in Philadelphia is being sponsored by the “Rich Off Our Backs Coalition.” This coalition is headed by the RCP in league with groups it has influence over, such as Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Unemployed Workers Organizing Committee and the Revolutionary Student Brigade. The significance of this march is that the RCP is using it as its first major test of organizational strength. Their narrow, incorrect view of party building can be seen in the fact that they chose to build the demonstration in isolation from the hundreds of other communist forces who are working to build a single unified party in the U.S.


As a result, the opportunist line of the RCP leadership dominates the slogans and line of the demonstration. It therefore fails to provide a real alternative to the reformist July 4th Coalition. Aside from their general slogan (“We’ve Carried the Rich for 200 Years-Let’s Get Them Off Our Backs”) RCP, WAW and the rest pose the same type of reformist answers to the problems of war and exploitation.

The propaganda of the “Rich Off Our Backs” Coalition claims that it is posing “the real demands” of the people. Yet their neglect of the demands of Black, Puerto Rican, Chicano and other oppressed nationalities exposed the deep chauvinism of the RCP. This has been seen time and time again in RCP’s opposition to integration in Boston.

Their slogan about the war danger (“We Won’t Fight Another Rich Man’s War”) poses non-participation as a solution. This is a social-pacifist line rather than a line of class struggle. By opposing the very real preparations of the two superpowers today, we must prepare the working people and soldiers to turn the imperialist war into a revolutionary war against capitalism.

Like the July 4th Coalition, the RCP-led coalition also focuses only on the U.S.-imperialists, letting Soviet social-imperialism off the hook. From the centrists and revisionist CPUSA this is not surprising. They have long covered for the Moscow revisionists. But from the RCP, which stands as an anti-revisionist organization, it is a shock.

Along with these aspects of opportunism, the RCP raises the struggle for jobs in the same reformist way as the July 4th Coalition’s “share the wealth” plan. Nowhere, around its demand for jobs or anywhere else, does the coalition or RCP raise the final aim of the struggle-socialism. This is true even while RCP bills this march as “the first communist-led workers’ demonstration in decades.”

The lack of a communist-led demonstration on July 4 (RCP turns around and poses VVAW as the initiators of the march) is in many ways a reflection of the present period when our party is just in the process of formation.

A real alternative to reformism is in the making. A revolutionary leadership for the people’s struggle against imperialism is being born.