Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Guardian executive editor tours midwest
Role of U.S. left discussed

First Published: The Guardian, May 26, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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”What is the principal task facing the world revolutionary movement–and U.S. revolutionaries in particular?”

This was the question posed by Guardian executive editor Irwin Silber at a series of public meetings in seven Midwestern cities May 7-16. The meetings, sponsored by Guardian supporters and various independent Marxist-Leninist organizations, were held in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Madison, Columbus and Ann Arbor.

Silber asserted that three different answers were being offered in response to the question.

The first, he said, emanating from the Soviet Union and dutifully echoed by the CPUSA and other revisionist parties throughout the world is that “making detente irreversible” is the principal strategic goal of revolutionaries. “No genuine communist is–or can be– opposed to peaceful coexistence,” he stated. “But to make this the cornerstone of revolutionary struggle, rather than only one aspect of it, is bound to come into contradiction sooner or later with the revolutionary struggles of oppressed peoples and nations.”

Inevitably tied to the “detente” strategy, Silber said, is the theory of “peaceful transition” from capitalism to socialism, abandonment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and an attempt to force peoples struggling for their independence and liberation to become dependent upon the Soviet superpower.

The second view being offered, he stated, was that “the principal task was the defeat of U.S. imperialism while guarding against the danger of Soviet hegemonism.” Silber pointed out that on a world scale this was precisely the task that revolutionary and liberation movements had set for themselves, inviting Soviet aid in the principal struggle but at the same time–as in Vietnam and Angola–vigorously making it clear that the objective of each struggle was genuine independence and nonalignment. This is the view, he declared, that the Guardian held and which it saw as one of the indispensable conditions for uniting U.S. Marxist-Leninists in a new communist party.

The third position, Silber asserted, has heretofore been presented as seeing the struggle against both superpowers equally–U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism–as the principal task of the world revolutionary movement. This has been the view of the People’s Republic of China and others. “But we must face the fact,” he said, “that in the past year this view has undergone significant modification–if not explicitly in words, certainly in actions and in the stand being taken both by the People’s Republic of China and many organizations here in the U.S. which follow its lead on certain specific questions.”


That “modification,” he said, has been the development of a view which “sees the struggle against Soviet social-imperialism” as the principal task, with the struggle against the U.S. relegated to a secondary role and the possibility even held out that the U.S. might, at some future time, be welcome in a worldwide anti-Soviet united front. This outlook was stated explicitly recently by William Hinton, chairman of the U.S.-China People’s Friendship Association, as being the view of the People’s Republic of China.

In putting forward its own views, said Silber, the Guardian was certainly aware of the fact that its position was different from China’s. “But in a period in which there is no center in the world revolutionary movement,” he declared, “each party has the special obligation of trying to formulate its view of the world situation independently, applying Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions of its own struggle as well as the international struggle. In such circumstances, we should not be surprised if good friends disagree. We believe that in developing this position–and applying it concretely as it did in the case of Angola–the People’s Republic of China has made a serious error. But the Chinese Communist Party is a revolutionary party and China is a soundly developing socialist country and we are confident that this error will be corrected before long.”


Silber stressed that Marxist-Leninists in the U.S. could not avoid their own responsibilities for developing a genuinely proletarian internationalist line merely by saying that they supported China’s position. He particularly criticized the October League (OL) for its “slanders against the Puerto Rican independence movement,” and the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) for “providing a left cover” for a threatened U.S. military attack on socialist Cuba. But the largest portion of his talk was devoted to a specific point-by-point analysis of the struggle in Angola demonstrating the scientific validity of the Guardian’s view that the principal contradiction in Angola was between the Angolan people on one side and the forces of U.S. imperialism, the agents of Angolan neocolonialism, South African racialism and Portuguese colonialism, on the other.

In response to questions from the audiences, Silber stated that the time had come for Marxist-Leninists holding views similar to those of the Guardian to bring into being an appropriate organizational form with the strategic aim of building a new, antirevisionist, nondogmatic Marxist-Leninist communist party in the U.S. He said that the Guardian would put forward more explicit views on this subject.

In Chicago, 200 people listened to. Silber’s talk at a meeting organized by the New World Resource Center, an anti-imperialist group composed of supporters of various national liberation struggles. In Detroit, where 125 attended, the meeting was sponsored jointly by the Guardian and the Detroit Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee, a recently formed multinational democratic centralist organization in that city. About 125 people also attended the Madison event, which was presented by several local organizations including the Wisconsin Socialist Alliance, the American Workers Party, the Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee and CALA, a Latin American support group.

Smaller meetings, ranging from 50 to 75, were held in other cities. The St. Louis meeting was presented by Workers Unity, an independent Marxist-Leninist organization which is associated with the Midwest Federation of Marxist-Leninists. In Cincinnati, the Arab Students Association sponsored Silber’s talk.

In addition to the public meetings, Silber conducted discussions on behalf of the Guardian with various local groups particularly around questions of party building.