Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L)

Editorial: Past year presents important tasks for 1979

First Published: Unity, Vol. 2, No. 2, January 26-February 8, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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1979 finds the U.S. revolutionary movement facing a new period of intensified struggle and big tasks confronting it. The working and oppressed people across the country are bringing about a new upsurge of mass struggle. Attacks are increasing against the masses as the capitalists try to make the people pay for the worsening crisis. Mass resistance to these attacks is growing day by day. The world and domestic situation presents favorable conditions for revolutionary work, but also presents to revolutionaries many challenges and important tasks.

1978 – Increased turmoil in the world

Internationally, the factors for both war and revolution are on the increase. 1978 saw the two superpowers’ rivalry to dominate the world rapidly escalate. The U.S. was out mainly to protect its imperialist foothold in different parts of the world, while the Soviet Union launched new offensives – sending mercenaries to instigate wars of aggression in Africa, stirring up conflicts in Asia and other parts of the world, and trying to grab new territories to set the stage for a new world war. The myth of detente became more exposed as SALT II talks broke down and both superpowers stepped up their military arsenals and war preparations.

The contention of the two superpowers brought opposition from all quarters. The third world continued to put up the mightiest opposition to the two superpowers’ aggression, bullying and domination. At the same time, the countries and peoples of the second world became more awakened to the danger of a new world war and the need to strengthen their defense of territorial sovereignty and independence.

Overall, the U.S. imperialists suffered a number of blows in the world this past year. Some areas traditionally under U.S. domination were in upheaval. The U.S. was forced to grant recognition of Panama’s sovereignty over the Canal, long considered U.S. property. In Nicaragua, mass struggle is tottering the Somoza regime, backed by the U.S. for decades. The liberation movements in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), Namibia and Azania (South Africa) made great advances this past year. The mass movement in Iran forced the Shah to leave the country and will undoubtedly contribute to a decline of U.S. influence in the region.

The U.S. was unable to do much about these developments although it tried to strengthen its position through various diplomatic moves such as promoting a phony “internal settlement” for Rhodesia or the Camp David talks for the Middle East; its “human rights” moral offensive; and by bolstering its 1979 military spending. But 1978 confirmed that the U.S. overall is declining in world position, unable to affect world affairs as it had in the past.

While the U.S. was having difficulties the other superpower, the Soviet Union, made headway in a number of areas. The Soviets were particularly active in Africa this past year. They promoted a mercenary invasion of Zaire in Central Africa. In Northern Africa, the Soviets and their Cuban forces incited Ethiopia to go to war against neighboring Somalia and then the Soviets and Cubans participated in suppressing the Eritrean liberation movement.

Later in the year, the Soviets engineered three coup d’etats in South Asia and the Red Sea area which resulted in South Yemen and Afghanistan being brought into the Soviet orbit. Most significantly, the U.S.S.R. instigated and backed up Vietnam’s aggression against Democratic Kampuchea, a move which aims to further Soviet power in Asia. All of these regional actions were part of the Soviets’ desire to advance their plan for worldwide domination, and in particular part of their strategy to outflank Europe.

The increase in Soviet aggression and expansionism, however, have served only to awaken many more people to the danger of social-imperialism. This past year for instance, the Zairean people received widespread support and assistance in their victorious resistance to the Soviet-backed invasion. More and more countries and people came to realize that Soviet advances were a common threat. Anticipating the 6th Conference of Non-Aligned Countries to be held in Cuba this year, .several countries have already denounced Cuba as a Soviet lackey. This is proving to be a great embarrassment to the Soviets. And most recently, the invasion of Kampuchea provoked universal condemnation around the world.

The people of the world are familiar with one superpower already, the U.S., and therefore are more able to perceive the global danger of the Soviet social-imperialists, the rising new superpower.

In contrast to the war, aggression and subversion of the two superpowers stood the policies of peace and anti-hegemonism of the socialist countries, particularly of China. China has played a principled and leading role in denouncing all the various moves of the superpowers, the Soviets in particular, and in encouraging the formation of a broad united front against the superpowers.

In her domestic policies, China successfully concluded the campaign against the “gang of four” and shifted its attention to focus on building China into a modern, powerful socialist country by the end of the century. This great task is being closely watched and supported by progressive and revolutionary people around the world.

1978 ended with a great victory for the people of the world when the U.S. finally recognized the People’s Republic of China and normalized diplomatic relations. This major change in U.S. foreign policy ended 30 years of official U.S. ties with the Chiang regime on Taiwan and was the result basically of the achievements of the Chinese people in constructing a stable and unified socialist country. The U.S. policy change also reflected the general weakness of the U.S. in the international arena, which forced it to alter some of its outmoded policies.

A year of crisis and struggle in the U.S.

The crisis the U.S. faced internationally took its toll at home, with contradictions throughout society sharpening. 1978 saw continuing serious economic problems for the U.S., the emergence of some new reactionary political trends and some significant struggles in the mass movement and advances in the communist movement.

The U.S. economy as a whole remained unstable and further deteriorated over the year. While the official unemployment figures declined somewhat from 1977, inflation persisted, averaging nearly 10% over the year. In the fall the inflation danger became so serious that it caused an international crisis over the dollar. As a consequence, the federal government has had to pay more attention to the economic affairs of the country.

But the measures which the government has taken to deal with some problems have only aggravated other problems. Carter’s anti-inflation measures will contribute to causing a recession in 1979.

The economic difficulties of the U.S. were well symbolized by the default of the city of Cleveland in the early winter. It became the first major U.S. city to be in such a condition since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

These economic difficulties most seriously hurt the masses of people. The cost of living skyrocketed. The 1978 Consumer Price Index showed that prices doubled since 1967.

But rising prices were only one way the masses had to pay for the economic crisis. Workers throughout the country faced heightened exploitation through speedups and worsening working conditions as the capitalists tried to maintain or increase their profit margin.

The capitalists also tried to completely break a number of workers’ unions. This was seen in the national coal miners’ strike early in the year and the postal workers contract struggle, as well as in numerous local strikes such as the food truckers in California and the newspaper workers’ strikes in New York and St. Louis.

Many vital social services in areas such as medical care and education were cut by local and state governments which used measures such as California’s Proposition 13 property tax measure to justify the attacks. These coincided with the federal government’s steady eroding of job training, poverty, welfare and other programs.

At the same time, the ruling class launched several political campaigns against the masses in 1978. The most serious one was the Bakke case. During the summer, the Supreme Court decided in favor of Allan Bakke, which resulted in the termination of many of the affirmative action programs for minorities that had been won in the 1960’s. The Bakke case also whipped up the reactionary “reverse discrimination” idea to make it seem that whites are now being discriminated against.

Labor reform laws and women’s rights bills, especially abortion rights, also suffered this past year.

To try to confuse the masses, the ruling class also promoted cults such as the People’s Temple and others to side-track dissatisfaction onto a path acceptable to the system. Along these same lines was the appearance of a series of some of the most costly movies in history, such as Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. These spectaculars aimed to momentarily divert people’s attention away from the realities of U.S. society today.

Mass movement growing

The mass dissatisfaction with the present situation in the U.S. was well expressed in the November general elections. Voter turnout was the lowest in U.S. history, reflecting the general discontent with the present political situation.

In the workers’ movement, while the number of strikes was not as great as some previous years like 1974, which had a record number, the strikes which did occur were generally of a longer and more bitterly contested nature. The capitalists not only opposed the workers’ demands for improvements but actually tried to roll back wages and benefits. The capitalists fought for “takeaways” and as a result a number of strike battles were aimed at just maintaining the workers’ conditions.

Due to the sharp attacks on the workers and the inaction of the union bureaucrats a number of rank and file movements in the unions developed to challenge the conservative leadership. In both the two major national workers’ actions this past year, the coal miners and the postal workers, the rank and file movements played a very significant and active role.

The movements of the oppressed nationalities in 1978 were some of the most active in the mass movement. This last year saw a number of major events, including the nationwide anti-Bakke decision struggle, which mobilized tens of thousands of people across the country; the Native American “Longest Walk” across the U.S.; and the Chicano Houston Rebellion in May in which hundreds protested the police killing of Jose Torres in the Southwest.

There were also struggles which indicated a rise in the Afro-American movement. In the North, the Crown Heights struggle in New York over the killing of Arthur Miller attracted widespread support. In the South, the struggle for Black rights, justice and land in Mississippi is attracting national attention and support.

Many other sectors of U.S. society were in action this past year. There was much concern about the attacks on women’s rights and the failure of the passage of the ERA. As a result over 100,000 people demonstrated in Washington, D.C. in July for women’s rights. The student movement was also active, especially around deteriorating education, tuition increases, and divestiture of university stocks in corporations doing business in South Africa. Small farmers and independent truckers also mobilized on several occasions to fight against their impoverishment.

All in all there was wide expression of discontent and resistance in the U.S. in 1978. And significantly, Marxist-Leninists played an increasingly active and influential role in many of these struggles.

However the communist forces were still lagging behind the need for consistent, all-round and unified leadership to the mass movements. The U.S. Marxist-Leninist movement had still not done enough towards forging a living line for the U.S. revolution through the integration of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought with the concrete conditions of the U.S. revolution. And most importantly the absence of a single, unified vanguard communist party was deeply felt. The communist movement today is still composed of a number of organizations both larger and smaller. Communist unity is still in a process of being forged.

1978 – a year of Marxist-Leninist advances

A vanguard party – one that bases itself on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and is unified around a correct revolutionary line, that has deep roots among the masses and unites the vast majority of genuine Marxist-Leninists into its ranks – still has to be constructed in the U.S.

The absence of such a party in the U. S. is due in part to historical reasons. The U.S. working class once had its communist party, the CPUSA, but in the 1950’s the CPUSA degenerated into revisionism and abandoned revolutionary struggle. In the 1960’s a new communist movement emerged from the great upsurge of the mass movements in that period. A number of different communist organizations and groups were formed. Today while certain basic principles are held in common among the various Marxist-Leninist organizations, ideological and political differences still divide them.

In 1978 efforts intensified to construct a single, unified vanguard party. The struggle was carried out on different fronts.

For the first time since the late 1960’s and early 70’s in the U.S., two of the major Marxist-Leninist organizations were able to conclude a process of principled struggle to resolve differences and unite. The merger of the August Twenty-ninth Movement (M-L) and I Wor Kuen to found the League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L) showed the concrete possibility of forging principled unity among the Marxist-Leninist forces in the U.S. Seize the Time Collective announced this week it was dissolving and uniting with the League. These accomplishments in uniting Marxist-Leninists are a major contribution to the party-building struggle.

Another important step forward was the announcement of plans by ATM, IWK and the Communist Party Marxist Leninist (CPML) to initiate a Committee to Unite Marxist-Leninists. This Committee does not yet exist and will be formed this year after consultation and discussion with as many communist organizations and groups as possible in the U.S. Its purpose will be to facilitate a process of principled discussions and debate among the established communist organizations over the key issues of ideological and political line facing our movement, and to help resolve differences in line towards uniting on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.

An important development was the split in the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) when a large section of it, including parts of the leadership, left and regrouped into a new Marxist-Leninist organization, the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters (RWH).

Other developments also helped to strengthen and improve the prospects for broad Marxist-Leninist unity. The objective conditions in the world proved daily the correctness of the Marxist-Leninist theory of the three worlds and the bankruptcy of the revisionists’ and centrists’ attacks. The day-to-day mass work of Marxist-Leninists also demonstrated that it was the Marxist-Leninists who were serious about leading the masses. There is also increased dissension and disintegration in the camp of the revisionists and centrists, and more and more honest revolutionaries are turning to Marxism-Leninism. Yet it would be a grave error to paint everything as all roses. Important tasks face us in the coming year if we intend to move forward vigorously the struggle for Marxist-Leninist unity.

The struggle for a correct ideological and political line to unite the U. S. Marxist-Leninists must still be placed at the center of the party building efforts this coming year. Such a line has not yet been fully and clearly demarcated from incorrect lines and tendencies in our movement. The level of experience and understanding of the objective conditions of the mass movement, and U.S. conditions, is still at an early stage.

We need to deepen the study of the objective conditions in the U.S., summarize the experience of the revolutionary forces to a higher level and deepen the integration of the revolutionary truths of Marxism Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought with the realities of the U.S. revolutionary movement. A correct revolutionary line and program cannot be just at the level of generalities but must address and answer the concrete questions posed by the mass movement at any particular stage. More work has to be done by the communist forces in forging a concrete and living line for the U.S revolution.

The principles of “Practice Marxism, not revisionism; unite, don’t split; and be principled and above board, don’t intrigue and conspire” must be taken to heart and put into practice. It will be impossible to unite all Marxist-Leninists unless these principles are struggled for and adhered to.

During this next period of time, we must wage a struggle against sectarian and narrow tendencies which have historically plagued our movement. The single, unified vanguard party we need will not be built through the simple proclamation of any one group as the vanguard or leading center, but by proving in practice a correct revolutionary line, and uniting Marxist-Leninists around that line. Some important, steps were taken for Marxist-Leninist unity in 1978 and we look forward to greater victories in 1979.

1978 was a year of advances for the people of the world, including the people of the United States. As we enter 1979, the Soviet imperialists stand increasingly exposed and the U.S. is increasingly weakened, in the face of the struggles of the world’s people.

The mass movements in the U.S. of the workers and other movements of oppressed nationalities, women and youth gathered momentum in 1978 and are vibrant signs that 1979 will be a year of even greater struggle.

For U.S. Marxist-Leninists, 1978 saw many advances and offered tremendous challenges for 1979. U.S. Marxist-Leninists must hold firmly to principle, take steps to unite, vigorously combat revisionism and opportunism, and lead the masses to resist all attacks and fight for an end to all oppression and exploitation.

Down with the U.S. monopoly ruling class!
Down with the two superpowers!
Marxist-Leninists unite!