Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Opportunists Flaunt Reformism in ALD Actions

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First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 10, July 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In sharp contrast to the African Liberation Day marches and rallies sponsored by ALSC and the African Liberation Day Coalition, were several opportunist-led rallies. Although the turnout for two of these rallies held in Washington D.C. were testimony to widescale support for the struggles of the people in Africa, all of them shared in common a heavy dose of bourgeois liberalism and nationalism, overlaid with a thin veneer of pseudo-revolutionary posturing.

In Washington, Stokely Carmichael and his All African Peoples Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) reran his usual rap to a smaller-than-usual audience of 3000. Carmichael’s line is that all Blacks anywhere in the world constitute one nation, whose single goal is a socialist society in their African homeland. It is a line that can only draw Black people away from the struggle against oppression in the U.S. and away from the actual struggle against imperialism. And his vision of “socialism” is clouded to say the least.

More significant than this tired replay was another rally in Washington which managed to rival Carmichael’s in numbers, sponsored by the “National Coalition to Support African Liberation,” initiated by the Workers Viewpoint Organization (WVO). Just a year ago, WVO was testing the limits of pseudo-revolutionary ultra-“left” phrase-mongering. Apparently they reached those limits and have bounced back to a get-rich-quick form of comfortable rightism combined with heavy appeals to narrow nationalism.

The focus for these opportunists was entirely on the particular personalities and policies of the imperialists, with no emphasis at all on either the system of imperialism or the contention of the two imperialist superpowers. WVO specifically dropped a slogan on the two superpowers to facilitate their tailing behind certain nationalist forces. Thus their main slogans were “Death to Apartheid–Support the Zimbabwe Patriotic Front” and “Carter, Vorster at it Again–Can’t Silence Biko or the Wilmington 10.”

Besides showing the exclusive emphasis on persons and policies, these slogans also illustrate the single-minded focus on apartheid, with WVO taking the struggle in South Africa out to the masses as essentially a civil rights fight against the “discrimination” of the apartheid system, rather than as the revolutionary anti-imperialist national liberation struggle which it really is.

All this is connected with the view, put forward in their newspaper, that “the cutting edge in the support movement is the question of breaking state-to-state relations with South Africa” (May, 1978 issue). The liberal reformist nature of this analysis speaks for itself.

With this as their line, it comes as no surprise to find the platform at WVO’s companion rally in Oakland, California crowded with speakers like Ron Dellums, Congressman from Berkeley, and Wilson Riles, Jr., Superintendent of Schools for California and a thoroughly bourgeois politician.

In Chicago, meanwhile, a group at least equally rightist and equally opportunist in character managed to attract a few people for a rally. This African Liberation Day event was sponsored by a coalition including the “Revolutionary Workers Headquarters,” perhaps better known to readers of these pages as the Mensheviks who attempted to capture the RCP and use it for their own reactionary purposes. This coalition who included the New Chicago African Liberation Support Committee, closely allied with the “R.W.H.” and the CP(ML), which just recently endorsed the French Foreign Legion’s excursion into Zaire. The back-slapping and mutual embraces among these groups were a fine example of where a revisionist line leads.

With such a collection as this in the driver’s seat, it is no wonder that their truck was steered straight into the same mire that we just observed in Washington.

A leaflet put out by the “New Chicago ALSC” to build for their ALD action purports to draw the links between the struggle in South Africa and in the U.S. by drawing up a list of “charges.” These include such telling indictments as, “Jimmy Carter has failed to make proposals that will solve the problems of cities like Chicago!” (to which we will add our own!); “Jimmy Carter has failed to fight the attacks against Black people!” and “Jimmy Carter is escalating the U.S. policy [!] of ripping off the natural wealth and labor of the African Peoples!” Here we see the line of the Mensheviks of attributing all of the wrongs in the world to the evil genius of Carter carried from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Another feature of the Menshevik-CP(ML) action in Chicago was the shameless trailing behind Black churches, which were also praised to the skies in yet another gem put out by the “New Chicago ALSC”. The same leaflet praises Martin Luther King’s role. Apparently yet another hat has been thrown into the ring where the CP(ML) and WVO compete for the title of True Inheritors of King’s counter-revolutionary mantle.

In Philadelphia the Mensheviks sponsored another ALD march, this one under the slogan, “Hey, Rizzo [Philadelphia’s mayor], have you heard? Philly ain’t Johannesburg!” What’s the matter, Rizzo, didn’t you know that we live in the land of democracy over here, not like that fascist South African state? If you hadn’t heard about the wonders of bourgeois democracy, Mr. Mayor, the “Revolutionary Workers Headquarters” will be glad to tell you!

In Philadelphia these parasites on the revolutionary movement claimed an attendance of 350, and in Chicago the Call, organ of the CP(ML), said that 300 attended. Both claims were much inflated, and only show that combination of self-glorification, wild ambition and deliberate distortion which both the Mensheviks and the CP(ML) share so abundantly.

The Mensheviks in particular consider themselves hot-shot organizers without whom no demonstration can succeed and with whom none can fail–that is, fail to be a big show. When they were still in the RCP they could not grasp that demonstrations which they played a part in building and which were successful in mobilizing masses in struggle against the imperialists were due not to their gimmicks and their role as “great organizers” but to the overall correct line and work of the Party as a whole. Now that they have fully broken with the Party and its correct line this truth is being rudely taught to them by reality.

However, the fact that few came to their rallies is not as significant as the fact that their line is one which negates the building of conscious, broad and strong support for the struggle of the African people, as well as the goal of revolution in this country.