Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Silber speaks on liberation fights

First Published: The Guardian, February 4, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Support for national liberation movements struggling against U.S. imperialism remains the cornerstone of proletarian internationalism for the American left.

This was the political essence of a speech delivered here by Guardian executive editor Irwin Silber to an overflow meeting of more than 250 people in Boston on Jan. 24. The meeting, sponsored by the Boston Guardian Bureau, was on the topic: “Liberation Movements in the 1970s–Angola and Puerto Rico.”

Silber outlined the history of the Angolan national liberation movement, pointing out that the MPLA historically had been the leading fighting force in the anti-Portuguese struggle. He said that the U.S. had cultivated the rival “liberation” groups– FNLA and UNITA–for a long period of time as imperialism’s “fall-back” position in order to impose a neocolonial solution on Angola in the event of Portuguese defeat.

“The present war in Angola,” he declared, “is a continuation of the national liberation struggle. Only now South Africa has taken the place of the Portuguese with U.S. imperialism continuing to play the decisive role.”

Concerning the Soviet role in Angola, Silber said: “While U.S. imperialism is the main enemy of the Angolan people, there can be no doubt but that Soviet social-imperialism is trying to take advantage of the situation to extend its own influence in Angola and in Africa in general. But the best way to help the Angolan people defend their independence from all outside forces is by building a broad international support movement for the MPLA so that the People’s Republic of Angola is not placed in a position where it may be forced to rely solely on Soviet aid.”

On the question of Puerto Rico, Silber criticized the October League (OL) for its statement that Puerto Rico is “one of the Latin American areas of sharpest contention between the two superpowers.” He charged that their analysis was in keeping with the attacks by the U.S. imperialists on the growing independence movement because of their view that the Soviet menace to Puerto Rico was the result of the USSR’s alleged domination of that movement.

OL members in the audience reacted angrily to Silber’s remarks. In the course of a question-and-answer period that followed his speech, they asserted that in their view “Soviet social imperialism is the main danger to the world’s peoples.” They also said that “every Marxist-Leninist party in the world believes that the principal contradiction in the world is between the two superpowers and the people of the world.”

Silber agreed that the question of the principal contradiction in the world today was a fundamental ideological dividing line between the Guardian and the OL. In the view of the Guardian, he said, “the principal contradiction is between the oppressed peoples and nations of the world and U.S. imperialism” and that this view was based on seeing which enemy most oppressed peoples are actually fighting at this time. “The real content of the united front against the two superpowers,” he declared, “rests in the defense of national sovereignty and political independence from all attempts to subvert them,” whether by U.S. counterrevolutionary schemes or Soviet hegemonic designs. He also pointed out that the OL’s position excluded the Vietnam Workers Party and the Workers Party of Korea from the ranks of Marxist-Leninists.