Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Guardian’s Contribution to Attack on Bob Avakian

First Published: Revolutionary Worker, Vol. 1, No. 29, November 23, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In a moving expression of “concern” for the well-being of the Revolutionary Communist Party and its Chairman, Bob Avakian, the Guardian, in its November 7 issue, worried out loud that “the strategy and tactics of the RCP and its mobilization around the upcoming trials... raise serious questions whether the RCP will build needed support for the trial or lead to adventuristic and self-defeating actions.”

“Like the Weathermen,” Guardian scribbler John Trinkl sadly concludes, “the RCP seems intent on becoming a small, ultra-militant group isolated from the mass struggle and eventually fading into no more than a brief, misguided footnote to history.”

The Guardian’s earnest solicitude is touching, but why is it that each time the Guardian offers up one of its ritualistic predictions of doom for the RCP it sounds more and more like a fervent and desperate hope?

Of course, Trinkl’s fear that the Party would fail to build needed support for the trial might have appeared to be well-founded—if one took Trinkl’s article itself as a typical example of such “support.” Perhaps we should have clarified to John Trinkl and the rest of our Guardian friends that when we called upon all forces to become actively involved in work around the trial, we didn’t mean as witnesses for the prosecution.

Even the one tiny paragraph describing the attack Comrade Avakian and the sixteen other Mao Tsetung Defendants were facing, while omitting such “trivia” as the total possible sentence of 241 years, could not resist sniping that the charges stemmed “out of the RCP’s ultra-’left’ demonstration against Chinese Vice-Premier Teng Hsiao-ping in Washington in January.”

To be fair, we should admit right off that the Guardian is not the only force that considers the anti-Teng demonstration ultra-“left”. Teng Hsiao-ping thought so too. So did the State Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Given this unanimous condemnation of our action, clearly the Guardian is more than justified in condemning our “isolation.”

But, even at the risk of offending Teng, the U.S. ruling class, and the Guardian in the bargain, the RCP struck a powerful blow on January 29, fulfilling our internationalist duty to the masses of people in China, in this country and throughout the world. This has been made even clearer since by statements from revolutionaries the world over. We held high the banner of Mao Tsetung at a time when it was under severe attack in the wake of the counter-revolutionary coup in China; we exposed the vicious new imperialist war alliance contracted between the United States and the Chinese revisionists during Teng’s visit. All this while the Guardian was helplessly moaning about “disunity in the socialist world” and throwing its hands up as Vietnam invaded Kampuchea and China invaded Vietnam, wondering what all the unpleasantness could possibly be about.

But if consideration of what the Party has already done elicits clucking and eye-rolling amongst the Guardian staff, they positively freak when pondering the RCP’s plans for the future. “Let’s not only die, but let’s kill to make revolution,” is the slogan Trinkl finds particularly ultra-“left.” Perhaps Trinkl would prefer “let’s all just die” as a more responsible approach—but somehow we doubt that such a slogan would be the cure for “isolation from the masses” that Trinkl and the Guardian might imagine it to be.

Trinkl’s indignation builds as he relates that “the RCP is aiming at a revolutionary May Day 1980, a day on which classrooms will be vacated, the unemployment offices empty, because many would have found a job to do. These thousands will set fire to the aspirations of millions more who on that day may be on their porches but tomorrow will burst out, guns in hand, to seize hold of the future.’” To Trinkl, the idea of mobilizing thousands of workers and other slaves in revolutionary struggle on May Day is so ultra-“left” that it can only be compared to “the Weathermen’s 1969 call to bring the war home.” The fact that the RCP, in contrast to Weatherman, is calling on the masses of workers to step forward on May 1 is apparently irrelevant—or still more, disturbing—to the Guardian.

The venom really flies when Trinkl gets around to Comrade Avakian’s nationwide speaking tour. Trinkl is appalled that “at the New York City speech by Avakian... there were even more testimonials by people ’whose lives had been changed’ by ’Bob Avakian and the RCP.’” Preposterous, isn’t it, these ignorant worker’s who think that revolution can and should change their life, these slaves who stupidly believe, like converts at a “religious revival,” that any future stretches out before them not decreed by their masters.

All this, for Trinkl and the Guardian, could only be “an extreme cult of the personality around Bob Avakian,” that is “something new for the U.S. Left.” Is it possible that Trinkl’s memory is as weak as his polemics? Does he really forget, or just “forget to remember” the tremendous emphasis the Black Panther Party put on its leadership, especially Huey Newton, during the period when the Black Panthers were a powerful revolutionary force that played a tremendous role in inspiring, galvanizing, and “changing the lives” of many thousands?

In fact this “cult of the personality” around Huey Newton was overwhelmingly correct at the time. First off, Huey Newton was the focus of severe attack in the courts—an attack that spearheaded government blows against the Black Panther Party and the entire revolutionary movement at the time, particularly the Black liberation movement. Secondly it was correct to give Huey Newton such prominence because the masses of people want to know who their leaders are. And because the Black Panthers were providing a thrust of revolutionary leadership to the movement at the time, it was correct to bring forward Huey Newton in this way. Huey Newton then—and Bob Avakian much more so now—stood for something that the Guardian seems determined to stand against and bitterly attack, revolutionary leadership for the masses of people.