Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Kampuchea Takes the Socialist Road

An interview with Dan Burstein


First Published: Class Struggle, No. 10, Summer 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

Following is an interview with Dan Burstein, editor of The Call, after his recent return from a visit to Democratic Kampuchea. Burstein headed a delegation of four members of the CPML, the first Americans to visit Kampuchea since the victory of the revolution three years ago.

The slander campaign being directed against Kampuchea by both superpowers is well-known. Burstein and others on the delegation have been exposing these lies since their return, both in The Call and through public appearances on the national TV networks. Here in this interview, Burstein gives some in-depth answers to a number of political questions on the minds of revolutionary activists and others working to promote friendship and solidarity between the American and Kampuchean peoples.

You recently visited Democratic Kampuchea at a time when the U.S. imperialists are waging an intense slander campaign against the revolution there, filled with tales of “forced labor” and “genocide.” Briefly, what were you able to see and what is the real situation there?

The Kampuchean revolution is a brand new revolution. It is very young, having won its victory just three years ago. And yet it has already made very significant achievements.

The most basic achievement is that political power has been put in the hands of the masses of people for the first time in more than 2,000 years of Kampuchean history. Only a few short years ago, Kampuchea was a country dominated by four feudal families in league with French and U.S. imperialist interests. It was a society in which poverty and starvation were the lot of the great majority of people.

But this picture has changed completely with the unfolding of the socialist revolution. Although the bourgeois press speaks negatively of Kampuchea as “the most radically altered country in the world,” the statement is actually a true one, but in a very positive sense. It is a society in which the millions of workers and peasants who have had nothing for so long, now have the means to gain everything. The handful of old exploiters and reactionary elements, meanwhile, have been stripped of their power and wealth.

As with every socialist revolution the world has witnessed so far, such radical changes in the social order strike fear in the hearts of capitalists everywhere. It is no surprise that the press in this country raises a big hue and cry about “forced labor,” when the landlords and capitalists in Kampuchea are told they must work for a living instead of being parasites on the people. But those who voice such protests were never concerned one bit about the real forced labor–the labor of the millions of workers and peasants who were enslaved by feudalism and capitalism in the old society. So we can see that all the attacks and slanders on the new Kampuchea are stamped with the brand of the capitalist class, with its infinite hatred of everything that is truly liberating for the masses of people.

For the broad masses in Kampuchea, labor is not being carried out under coercion or threats–just the opposite. Everywhere we went– and we covered 700 miles in 6 provinces–we saw the most boundless determination and spirit of self-sacrifice in building up the country. Even under a hot sun, and even without machines, the people are working with their bare hands to raise the standard of living of the new society in which they are now the masters.

When you travel in Kampuchea, you cannot help but be impressed by the way the whole country is at work. Old people and young people, men and women, the whole population is engaged in massive agricultural and water conservancy projects. With their bare hands they are building an irrigation system that is catapulting the country forward from the dark ages of feudalism into modern times. They are rebuilding and reshaping a country that everywhere shows the signs of the destruction caused by more than 550,000 tons of U.S. bombs dropped during the war.

The revolution in Kampuchea has put adequate food on the tables of the people for the first time in their history. Peasants who once had to make do many months of the year with only leaves and herbs for food, are now engaged in two-crop and even three-crop rice farming. Dams, canals and reservoirs that could never be built in the old days, even with billions of dollars of imperialist “aid,” are now being built by the peasants themselves.

Important steps have also been taken in improving the people’s standard of living on many other fronts as well. Malaria, the scourge of the country before liberation, has been 90% eliminated. An intensive literacy campaign has seen a population that was 80% illiterate becom 80% literate, at least in terms of basic knowledge of the alphabet and reading skills. New housing has been built for millions of people–very comfortable, very solid, single-family wooden homes.

The cooperative system, which was actually initiated in the liberated zones in 1973, has now been firmly established throughout the entire country. About 90% of the population lives in agricultural cooperatives which are able to provide most of the daily necessities needed by their members.

The cooperative system has also, been a great tool for tapping the enthusiasm of the masses and educating them in Marxism. Very broad democracy exists in the cooperatives. Every three days there are mass meetings of the whole cooperative to discuss practical tasks, and every 10 days there are meetings to make long-range plans, carry out study, and hold criticism and self-criticism sessions. Through this system the people speak their minds freely with the result that new ideas and innovations come forward at every cooperative.

These are just a few of the achievements of the revolution in its first three years. What is all the more remarkable is that these steps forward have been made in the face of overwhelming odds–including the invasions and incursions of superpower-backed armies on all of Kampuchea’s borders, and numerous attempts at sabotage and coups d’etat by CIA and KGB forces within the country.

Of course these successes of the revolution don’t mean that there have been no failures, mistakes and problems. There are plenty of shortcomings and the Kampuchean people and Communist Party leaders are well aware of them. But the overall picture is very bright. The revolution is going forward full speed.

The charge of “genocide” seems to be the main slander that the capitalist press is making against Kampuchea. What is your opinion about this?

First of all, the charge of “genocide” is a wild fabrication when hurled by the imperialists against today’s Democratic Kampuchea. The real “genocide” was the death of more than 800,000 people–12% of the population–during the U.S. war of aggression there.

The U.S. would like to forget about its crimes in Kampuchea and hide them from public view. One method for doing this is to try to stand truth on its head and charge that genocide is now taking place in Kampuchea.

Today’s Kampuchean population is roughly the same as it was at the time of liberation–close to eight million. The idea that two million people have been killed since 1975, as charged by some CIA-paid experts, (or 1.2 million or 1.4 million by some academics who want to sound less sweeping but actually get their information from the same reactionary sources), is a total fraud. It has been cooked up as part of U.S. efforts to oppose socialism, to isolate Kampuchea internationally and create the climate for renewed American intervention there.

The fact that there has been no genocide, however, does not mean that there has been no bloodshed since liberation. In fact, the last three years have seen acute class struggle in Kampuchea. I have no doubt that these struggles have been very complicated and at times very bloody.

You have to remember that because of the strategic location of Kampuchea, the imperialists paid a great deal of attention to developing counter-insurgency forces inside the country for more than two decades. The Khmer Serai (Free Khmers) that the CIA established in the early 1960s to undermine Sihanouk’s policy of neutrality had thousands of armed soldiers as well as operational networks in almost every city and town. These Khmer Serai went through long years of CIA training, where they were taught to oppose communism at all costs and kill all communists or suspected communists on sight.

Beside those who were actually members of this particular CI A front, the success of the 1970 U.S.-backed coup d’etat brought about the development of a sizable bureaucracy in Lon Nol’s army and government that thrived off its collaboration with U.S. imperialism.


U.S. bought-and-paid for agents were also not the only reactionaries at work in Kampuchea. The Soviet KGB also had its hand deeply enmeshed in Kampuchea, often in conjunction with Vietnamese agents. And besides the direct operatives of the two superpowers, wartime Phnom Penh was also a hub of activity for agents of the Thieu regime, French intelligence, Japanese intelligence, south Korean CIA, right wing Thai militarists and even the agents of the Taiwan clique.

A number of these forces fled the country just before liberation, but most stayed. Equipped with all types of arms and electronic communications equipment, they plotted to overthrow the revolution.

The new government, fighting for its very survival against all this counter-revolutionary activity, had to deal swiftly and sternly with every instance of sabotage and subversion. Undoubtedly, this was a bloody process that may well have entailed some excesses and mistakes. But without revolutionary violence against the enemy, the revolution itself would have been crushed in its infancy.

Despite the efforts of some of today’s myth-makers to paint a picture of Kampuchea as a “gentle land” before the revolution, it was anything but gentle and peaceful. Whether it was under the rule of the French colonialists, the Japanese fascists, the Sihanouk government or the U.S.-Lon Nol regime, starvation, repression, massacres, and wars were the order of the day.

If you want to make a comparison between the old society and the new, you must see that whatever violence has been carried out since liberation is much, much less quantitatively, and completely different in its nature from that carried out by those who ruled Kampuchea before. Revolutionary violence in the present period has been carried out to defend the people’s political power, i.e., to ensure that the people will have enough to eat, that their conditions of life will improve and that the revolution will go forward. The counter-revolutionary violence that dominated society before liberation, by contrast, was violence carried out to enforce misery on the masses of people and keep them working for the profit of a few.

Armed with this understanding, we can better evaluate the fantastic tales told by the reactionaries about “genocide” and “mass murder.” When those who plot coups d’etat or sabotage the revolution are imprisoned or executed, this is looked on by the imperialists as “violations of human rights.”

Many of the stories now being spread in the press are carbon copies of what the imperialists said about the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution and all other revolutions that enforced the dictatorship of the vast masses of laboring people over the handful of exploiters.


In fact, some of Lenin’s observations about the slanders that were hurled at the USSR in its early days are very relevant to understanding what the imperialists are saving about Kampuchea today.

In 1918, Lenin wrote his “Letter to the American Workers” in which he exposed the hypocrisy of the imperialists who were accusing the Russian revolutionaries of carrying out “terror.” He said that when the British bourgeoisie and the French bourgeoisie had used revolutionary violence against the feudalists and monarchists in the revolutions of 1649 and 1793, that was all justified to them. But when today’s proletariat and poor peasants must resort to violence to smash the resistance of the capitalists, suddenly revolutionary violence becomes something monstrous and criminal in the eyes of the bourgeoisie.

Lenin made some other important points in that same letter to the American workers. He pointed out, for example, that after the imperialists had waged a war in which 20 million people had been slaughtered, they tried to justify the righteousness of that war that was really fought for no other purpose than for imperialist profit. At the same time, Lenin said that if the proletariat’s revolutionary war against the bourgeoisie resulted in just half a million deaths, this would be portrayed as something terrible and unjustifiable.

Finally, Lenin dealt with the problems and mistakes of a young revolution. He said that “People have not become saints because the revolution has begun.” He showed that the Russian revolution was making plenty of mistakes, but that for every 100 mistakes, 10,000 great and heroic deeds were being performed.

But Lenin went even further than that. He said that even if there were only 100 great deeds and 10,000 mistakes, the revolution would still be great because it was the masses of people who were for the first time, exercising real political power and building a new life.

I think these ideas of Lenin’s are very valuable in understanding what is happening in Kampuchea today.

The existence of the Communist Party of Kampuchea was not announced publicly until last year, although it was founded in 1960. Does this mean that the Party was completely clandestine for 17 years? How did it lead the struggle under those conditions? What were the special circumstances of its founding?

In 1951 the Party known as the Indochina Communist Party was formally dissolved, leaving no communist party in Kampuchea. In point of fact, the Indochina Communist Party had never really been the party of the Kampuchean people. It had no Kampuchean cadres and paid little or no attention to the development of the revolution in Kampuchea. It was overwhelmingly made up of Vietnamese cadres and its work was centered on the Vietnamese revolution.

In the 1950s, there were many efforts to build up anti-imperialist organizations, and a great deal of revolutionary struggle was waged by the masses. But most of the organized revolutionary forces were wiped out by government repression and betrayal from within.

Summing up the lessons of this bloody repression, many of those who survived began to see that no other forces besides the workers and peasants could be relied on. The Sihanouk government, despite its progressive neutralist stance, could not bring about fundamental change in the lives of the people. Under these conditions, more people began to study Marxism-Leninism Mao Tsetung Thought.

In the late 1950s, the Marxist-Leninists openly published some united front newspapers that put forward the demands of independence, non-alignment and neutrality. But in secret meetings they also began to talk of the futility in the parliamentary road and of the need to mobilize the people to wage armed struggle to win genuine liberation and establish socialism.

The more Marxism they studied, the more convinced the Kampuchean revolutionaries became of the need to found a communist party. In 1958 a preparatory committee was set up to lay the groundwork for the founding party congress. The key ideological question in this period was to defeat those who, having taken their cue from Khrushchev’s 1956 speech at the 20th Congress of the CPSU, were now promoting the line of “peaceful transition to socialism” in Kampuchea.

It was hoped that the Party could be founded in 1959, but the conditions of political repression had grown so intense that it was impossible to actually organize the congress. Finally in 1960, at a three day meeting in late September, the founding congress of the CPK was secretly held in an old railway building in Phnom Penh. The line of “peaceful transition” was completely rejected, and the CPK was initiated on a clearly anti-revisionist basis. Although the Revolutionary Army was not actually organized until 1968, the CPK recognized from its founding the absolute necessity of the armed struggle.

In the period that followed the founding of the Party, the CPK had to work under very harsh conditions and surmount many difficulties. The first Party Secretary was assassinated by enemy agents in 1963, and the Party had to flee Phnom Penh completely. Pol Pot, the present Secretary of the CPK, became the leader at that point, organizing the Party’s forces to go to the countryside in the northeast to begin building up revolutionary base areas.

Faced with such severe repression, the Party decided to keep its existence secret. The masses, especially the peasants in the countryside, however, came to know of the Party as the “Revolutionary Organization.” So while the Party itself maintained complete organizational secrecy, it was not secret from the masses. Secret communications, newspapers and even radio broadcasts passed through the liberated areas regularly.

Many people I met told me that they had known the line of the Party very well, even in the 1960s and the early 1970s. But the enemy had great difficulty learning about the Party’s activities. Even today, the so-called “Cambodia experts” of the CIA admit that they are not really sure who Pol Pot is. But the masses know Pol Pot very well.

Prince Norodom Sihanouk has played a complicated role in the history of the Kampuchean struggle. What is his position today? What about the past, both before and after Lon Nol’s coup?

First of all, as to Sihanouk’s present role. He is alive, contrary to some fabricated reports in the U.S. press that he had been executed. He lives in his old palace in Phnom Penh and has had the title of “hero of the Kampuchean people” conferred upon him. He is in retirement and even collects a pension of $8,000 a year.

Even though Sihanouk was a feudal prince and a part of Kampuchea’s bourgeoisie, he gave complete support to the people’s revolutionary war against U.S. imperialism and its Lon Nol puppet clique. Because of these past contributions, the new Kampuchean state has treated Sihanouk as a special case, even allowing him to continue living in the palace and receive a pension when other officials receive no salary at all.

Periodically, Sihanouk leaves Phnom Penh to tour the countryside and inspects some of the new projects the peasants are working on. He has said that he is very impressed with what he has seen, and that the problems which he could never solve in the old days have now been solved by the people under the leadership of the CPK.

Furthermore, Sihanouk supports the Party. He issued a message last year when its existence was made known, praising the role the CPK played in bringing about the liberation of Kampuchea.


In terms of Sihanouk’s past, the best way to sum it up is that it reflected the duality of his class–the national bourgeoisie. On the one hand, he opposed imperialism’s efforts to dominate his country. But on the other hand, he at times collaborated with imperialism and opposed the masses of people when they rebelled against his rule.

In the 1960s, there were three tendencies among the Kampuchean ruling class. There were those like Lon Ndl, who was a complete lackey of imperialism, a comprador element. There were also those like Khieu Samphan, today’s State Presidium president, who was at that time part of the old ruling class. He took a firm stand against imperialism and sided with the workers and peasants.

Sihanouk lay between these other two tendencies. He opposed communism, but he also opposed Lon Nol. As the war in Vietnam developed, Sihanouk continued to resist U.S. efforts to enlist his support for it. The result was that the U.S. began cultivating Lon Nol to take power.

As early as 1967, the CPK predicted that Lon Nol would stage a coup d’etat. This understanding of the political situation gave impetus to the founding of the Revolutionary Army in 1968 and the unfolding of the armed struggle. Although Sihanouk was in name the leader of the national government, the CPK and the Revolutionary Army dealt their main blows at Lon Nol.

This created good conditions for bringing about a united front with Sihanouk after the CIA-led coup d’etat which placed Lon Nol in power in March of 1970. In the five years of war that followed, Sihanouk maintained a united front with the Kampuchean communists, and they with him, despite the many twists and turns of the struggle.

For these reasons, Sihanouk is still respected by the Kampuchean people, even though he himself recognized that his old outlook and ideology have no use under today’s revolutionary conditions.

The Communist Party of Kampuchea has declared itself to be based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. How has this Party taken up the fight against revisionism?

The CPK has been fighting revisionism all through its 17 years of existence. As I mentioned before, it was founded in struggle against Khrushchev’s line of “peaceful transition to socialism.” The Kampuchean comrades studied Lenin’s writings on the state and Chairman Mao’s contributions on people’s war. Armed with these weapons, they resisted all efforts by the revisionists to force them to abandon the armed struggle.

Even in 1972, when both the Soviet Union and Vietnam were putting great pressure on the Kampucheans to abandon the war and go to the Paris peace talks, the CPK held firm. They were not afraid of Kissinger’s threats to “blow Cambodia off the face of the earth in 72 hours,” nor did they buy the revisionist logic of Khrushchev and Brezhnev that to fight against U.S. imperialism meant to touch off a “nuclear conflagration.” The Kampuchean Party’s adherence to the armed struggle, its confidence in the masses of people, its boldness and bravery in standing up to fight a big imperialist war machine like the U.S.–all this reflected the Party’s firm stand against revisionism.

The Kampuchean Party studies the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tsetung carefully, but has resisted the temptation to dogmatism. In my talk with Ieng Sary, the Deputy Prime Minister, he stressed the importance of “fighting both empiricism and dogmatism.” Both, he said, “are forms of revisionism.”

Creatively applying Marxism to their own conditions, the CPK has dealt with many complicated problems and found new solutions for them. For example, Ieng Sary told us about the decision to seize Phnom Penh at the climax of the war. He said that some revisionist elements argued against this, saying that it was impossible to seize the capital without first seizing the provincial capitals. But Sary told us, “While in general our revolution followed the course of encircling the cities from the countryside, at this particular juncture, we could see that the concrete conditions made it possible to capture Phnom Penh and triumph in nationwide liberation in this way.”

In terms of the main questions in today’s international communist movement, I found a very high level of unity between our Party and the CPK. The CPK, for example, upholds Chairman Mao’s theory of three worlds. It targets the two imperialist superpowers as the main enemies of the world’s people, recognizes the third world as the main force fighting imperialism, and correctly distinguishes between the superpowers and the lesser imperialists of the second world.

The CPK is also very well aware of the true nature of the Soviet Union, as a country where capitalism has been restored and where a once socialist country has been turned into a social-imperialist country.

The CPK has also taken a clear stand in support of socialist China, opposing the reactionary attempts of the “gang of four” to restore capitalism there.

Furthermore, the CPK has been a fighter for the unity of all the genuine Marxist-Leninist parties and socialist countries throughout the world. It has often expressed its solidarity with the Marxist-Leninist parties in different countries, including ours, which have grown up in the struggle against modern revisionism.

In sum, I think that the CPK has made big contributions to the worldwide struggle against revisionism, and there is much we can learn from them in this regard.

Kampuchea has recently been a victim of aggression from Vietnam. What’s behind this conflict? What did you learn about it on your trip?

The conflict between Kampuchea and Vietnam is a very unfortunate one. These two former allies in the struggle against U.S. imperialism are now at war with each other. This is a regrettable situation, but we must seek to understand the factors that lie behind it.

We had a very good opportunity to learn about the fighting between Vietnam and Kampuchea, because we traveled right to the border in Takeo province. We toured the area and talked with armymen and peasants there. We also had a full discussion of the situation with Ieng Sary.

First of all, let me say something about what we actually saw in Takeo province, which is one of the areas where heavy fighting took place last winter.

As deep as 30 kilometers inside Kampuchean territory, we saw the Vietnamese tank tracks which had torn up rice fields. We saw buildings that had been blown apart by 105mm howitzer fire from the Vietnamese tanks. We also saw houses and cooperative buildings which had been razed completely.

Littering the battlefield were bullets, shells, artillery cartridges, cannisters and the debris from all types of U.S. and Soviet weapons used by the Vietnamese troops. We searched the area ourselves and even dug up a gear from a Soviet tank.

It is no coincidence that the weapons of the two superpowers are strewn across Kampuchean rice fields thousands of miles from Washington or Moscow. The two superpowers, each in their own fashion, are dead set against the Kampuchean revolution and are doing their best to overthrow it.

As for the U.S., its hostility towards Kampuchea is relatively obvious. Refusing to resign itself to the loss of its once-profitable and strategically located “paradise,” the U.S. has engaged in several open acts of aggression against Kampuchea, such as the Mayaguez incident in May 1975 and the bombing of Siem Reap in February 1976.

In addition, U.S. CIA agents in Thailand have made repeated contacts with Kampuchean CIA agents and plotted several coups d’etat. The U.S. has also encouraged the Thai militarists to carry out incursions on the Thailand-Kampuchea border. Furthermore, the propaganda offensive launched by the U.S. is nothing but an attempt to isolate Kampuchea internationally and prepare opinion for renewed U.S. aggression in Southeast Asia. Like the U.S., the Soviet social-imperialists have no interest in seeing a genuinely independent and socialist Kampuchea. They have opposed the CPK ever since it was founded and even supported the Lon Nol clique until its last days. Now they are trying to exert their hegemony over all of Southeast Asia and encircle China. But Kampuchea remains a place they cannot penetrate. Kampuchea’s fierce defense of its independence is a direct check on Soviet expansion as well as an example to other countries that it is possible to build socialism without reliance on the USSR.

Unable to dominate Kampuchea, the Soviet Union has resorted to its own attempts to overthrow the new Kampuchean state. KGB men have been involved in at least two attempted coups d’etat. But is has become obvious to both the U.S. and the USSR that their reactionary agents inside Kampuchea cannot mobilize any mass support. The revolution has already endured its most difficult years and enjoys broad support among the people. Attempts at subversion from within are pretty much doomed at this point.


It is against this backdrop that I think the Soviet Union decided to step up its encouragement for a Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea. When the first major invasion came in 1977, Soviet commanders and advisers even participated in the aggression. Even though the Vietnamese used helicopters to ferry out bodies of Russians killed inside Kampuchea, three dead Russian soldiers were found and identified by Kampuchean troops.

Since that incident, the Soviet Union has tried to maintain an even lower profile in subsequent invasions. Soviet commanders now stay inside the Vietnamese border, only communicating via radio with the Vietnamese troops who cross into Kampuchea.

The Vietnamese army now has 11 divisions ringing the Vietnam-Kampuchea border. In Laos, the Vietnamese army has installed another four divisions on the Lao-Kampuchean frontier. The more than 7,000 Russian troops and advisers in Laos and Vietnam are in large part attached to these divisions. So I think it is quite obvious who is behind the war between Vietnam and Kampuchea.

Of course, the Soviet Union has not stirred up this fighting without pretext. There are long standing political as well as national differences between Kampuchea and Vietnam. Even during the liberation war, these differences often flared up. Most importantly, the Vietnamese have historically favored the creation of an “Indochina Federation” in which Kampuchea would be a junior partner. Kampuchea sees this as a manifestation of big-nation chauvinism and opposes any infringement on its independence and sovereignty. Besides this question, there are also disagreements over boundaries.

Although Vietnam and Kampuchea agreed to a treaty in 1967 spelling out the borders of the two countries, Vietnam has now renounced these agreements.

But for whatever differences these two revolutionary third world countries have–and there are many–there is no reason to believe that they couldn’t be resolved peacefully if it weren’t for the Soviet Union encouraging Vietnam to resolve them through military force.

As to the Soviet and Vietnamese charges that it is Kampuchea which is the aggressor, this is an effort to stand truth on its head that is so out of conformity with reality that it cannot be treated seriously. Kampuchea has no reason whatsoever to aggress against anybody. It needs peace and stability more than anything to advance its work of national reconstruction. But at the same time, Kampuchea will not tolerate any violations of its borders and has successfully defended itself against all the attacks so far.

The Soviet Union is also using the present situation to increase its domination over Vietnam. This can only have adverse effects on the Vietnamese revolution. There are already many signs that the Vietnamese people themselves are opposing the war in Kampuchea and other policies of the Vietnamese government where Soviet influence can be seen.

For those who went through the antiwar movement in this country and drew so much inspiration from the struggles of both the Vietnamese and Kampuchean peoples, it is a tragic situation to see the two countries now at war with each other. But we must guard against emotional and subjective reactions to these events. Rather than growing frustrated, we should redouble our opposition to revisionism and Soviet social-imperialism which are the real culprits that are behind the fighting.

The solidarity between the American people and Kampuchea, especially the struggle of the American youth in the early 1970s, played an important role in defeating U.S. imperialism and its puppets there. What tasks does our movement have to continue this solidarity today?

When we arrived in Phnom Penh, Ieng Sary held a banquet in honor of our delegation. At the banquet, both he and I made speeches, and both of us made reference to the students who laid down their lives at Kent State and Jackson State protesting the U.S. invasion of Kampuchea.

Afterwards, Ieng Sary said to me, “It’s no coincidence that we both recalled the struggles at Kent State and Jackson State in our speeches. We share the same revolutionary outlook. You in your country and we in our country are both fighting the same imperialist system.”

Everywhere we went, we found that the Kampuchean people distinguished between the American government which carried out the war against them, and the American people, whom they know opposed the war.

But there is a great deal of work to do to build and strengthen the friendship of our two peoples. Right now, the ruling class in the U.S. is using every means available to it–from the pages of American newspapers to presidential speeches–to try to turn the American people against the Kampuchean revolution.

The reactionaries hope that through constant repetition of their wild stories about “genocide” and “barbarism” in Kampuchea, the people will come to accept them as true. This propaganda machine is very dangerous, but I don’t believe it will succeed. After all, the same propaganda machine was only able to fool the American people about the war in Indochina for a brief time. Eventually, the masses saw through lies and misinformation spread by the government in the 1960s.

Through a series of articles in The Call, we have tried to bring the truth about the situation in Kampuchea to the American people. I hope more people will read these articles, circulate them and discuss them with more people.

I think it’s also important to read Pol Pot’s speech on the history of the Kampuchean Party which Liberator Press has published in an English edition, and other materials that come directly from Kampuchea. Our bookstores around the country are stocking these works, so that more people can have access to them.

Wherever there are opportunities to challenge the slander campaign against Kampuchea and present the truth, this work should be taken up. Whether it’s in the form of public meetings, debates on the college campuses, or letters to the editors of the newspapers that are printing outrageous lies, many ways can be found to combat the propaganda war.

Also, I think it’s important to give organized form to the deep feelings of friendship towards Kampuchea which people have. I think it would be a very good thing for friends of Kampuchea to come together in a committee or organization which could concentrate on doing broad education about Kampuchea.

The liberation struggle in Kampuchea provided our movement with tremendous inspiration and encouragement. For many people, the U.S. war of aggression laid bare the real nature of the imperialist system. For others, the fact that a small country like Kampuchea could stand up to a big imperialist superpower like the U.S., showed that revolution was possible inside that superpower itself.

Now, the Kampuchean people are embarked on the road of building socialism. Their accomplishments and achievements continue to enrich our movement and the whole world struggle against imperialism. Learning more about the revolution there and heightening the solidarity between our two peoples, is a very important political task on which our Party places great weight.