Tuesday, July 29, 2008

News from Nepal - New Issue of CPN-Maoist's "The Red Star"

Here is the perspective and analysis of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) of the situation in Nepal as it develops. Several people have asked me about the recent developments there, the presidential elections, and so on. I think this is helpful in understanding what is happening.
Vol - I, Issue - 12, July 25-August 10, 2008

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Revolution at the Roof of the World: New Freedom Road Pamphlet on Nepal

Freedom Road Socialist Organization has released a new pamphlet on Nepal. There is a screen viewable and printable pdf and a pamplet layout pdf. The pamphlet contains articles and analysis on the revolution in Nepal. Here is the introduction from the pamphlet:

The people of Nepal have stood up.

The people of Nepal have swept the despised monarchy into the dustbin of history and are proceeding with their revolution. A decade long people’s war led to fair elections and the construction of a Constituent Assembly. Now led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Nepal stands on the verge of becoming the first new socialist country of the 21st Century. Nepal, sandwiched between China and India, is one of the poorest countries in the world, but is now on the road to building a new society in which the working people have power.

The core of the CPN (Maoist) strategy was people’s war in the countryside. Beginning in 1996, they progressively grew stronger as they engaged police outposts with hunting rifles. Later they challenged the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) with the full force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). This was accompanied by preparing students and workers in the cities for general strikes and insurrection.

The war ended in 2006 when a peace deal was signed to form an interim government. This government elected a body to draft a new constitution, abolish the monarchy, and establish Nepal as a republic. The Maoists swept the elections to the Constituent Assembly, winning the most seats, but not quite a majority.

The major question since the election of the Constituent Assembly revolved around the control of the military. The CPN (Maoist), based on Mao Zedong’s statement that "without a people’s army the people have nothing," demanded the merger of the PLA and the Nepal Army. The Nepali Congress Party (NCP), the major bourgeois party in the Assembly, worked diligently to stop revolutionary changes. For instance, the Congress Party demanded the Maoists dissolve the people’s power structures in the countryside and disband the PLA. The Maoists have stood firm and after considerable struggle, the Congress Party Prime Minister Koirala stepped down.

Through all of this, the hand of U.S. imperialism has been present. The CPN (Maoist) is designated a terrorist organization by the White House. Furthermore, the U.S. trained and equipped the RNA since the people’s war began. The U.S. wants nothing more than to build and maintain an empire all over the world, and sees Nepal as a part of that. But like others all over the world, the people of Nepal have a thirst for independence and liberation.

The CPN (Maoist) bases its practice on the theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. They have applied Marxism to conditions in Nepal and call this "Prachanda Path" after the founder of their party. They work to fight against slave-like labor conditions in the countryside and fight diligently for the rights of oppressed nationalities in Nepal. Additionally, they are making considerable strides towards women’s liberation and the emancipation of the dalits (‘untouchables’). Bringing these oppressed groups into the political life of the country is instrumental to the continuing successes of the revolution.

The Freedom Road Socialist Organization, in our meetings with representatives of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), expressed solidarity with the Nepali people in their continuing struggle against feudalism and imperialism. We are proud to release this pamphlet, highlighting some of our analysis of the revolution in Nepal.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization

More pamphlets from Freedom Road can be found here: http://www.frso.org/about/literature.htm

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Awesome SDS Slideshow!

This video/slideshow has been created for the upcoming Third Students for a Democratic Society National Convention coming up in College Park, Maryland, July 24-27. The slideshow reviews the past year of organizing and activism from the biggest and most dynamic national student organization in the U.S. since the original SDS of the 1960s. Now SDS is a major force, a multi-issue network composed of every Left ideological shade, from communists to anarchists to social-democrats and left-liberals, united under a banner of anti-imperialist activism and participatory democracy. SDS has led local militant actions and huge nationally coordinated actions. It is hard to believe that SDS has come so far and grown so much since the first National Convention in Chicago back in 2006.


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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Documentary about Colombia's Patriotic Union: The Red Dance

With the mistaken impression that they have the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC-EP) on the ropes, the imperialists and the Colombian oligarchs are raising a cry for the FARC to put down their arms. But there are very clear reasons why this will not happen. This is explained quite well in James Petras' article, "Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army (FARC-EP): The Cost of Unilateral Humanitarian Initiatives", which dates back to the murder of FARC commander Raúl Reyes. But even some Marxists have become a little confused, so it is necessary to say a little more and look a little deeper at the experience of the Colombian people's struggle.

The Red Dance: Memory of the Silenced is about the systematic assassination of thousands of Unión Patriótica (Patriotic Union - UP) activists. The UP was founded by the initiative of the FARC out of a desire for peace, and because of its popularity and its electoral victories against the Colombian ruling classes, it was destroyed. This documentary tells its story.

Watch "The Red Dance"

In addition to the video, I want to suggest that my readers check out this excellent interview with a former UP leader, Imelda Daza-Cotes, who is also featured in the video.

In that interview, Daza-Cotes says, "The electoral results of the UP became its death sentence. After that the crimes were daily. In the country, the UP grew to 400,000 votes. The left previous to this had never been able to get more than 150,000 votes in any election. It was a huge advance. It was after that the police and the army began to kill members of the UP daily. Even our presidential candidate was killed. 3000 leaders in total were killed."

This interview demonstrates how the killing of UP activists closed the door on any electoral path to peace and justice for the Colombian people, and led activists like Ricardo Palmera, to take up arms and join the FARC.

Now Ricardo Palmera is held in a U.S. prison as the result of a neo-colonial extradition policy. The United States, under "Plan Colombia" gives billions of dollars of aid to the Colombian death-squad government in order to protect U.S. corporations like Drummond Coal, Occidental Oil, Chiquita Banana, and Coca Cola. This documentary is particularly useful now. This history of the UP is important to consider and this documentary does well demonstrate why it would be a mistake for the FARC to disarm, and why the armed struggle is the only viable course for the Colombian people. All progressive people should consider the history of the Colombian people's struggle and support their just fight for national liberation.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

The facts about the Ricardo Palmera case

The following is a fact sheet put out by the National Committee To Free Ricardo Palmera. You may also download it in Microsoft Word format for printing out and distributing here.


We demand the U.S. government free Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera, a political leader and negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Professor Palmera has done nothing wrong. To the contrary, he consistently defends the sovereignty of his country, Colombia's independence, and the rights of the Colombian people.

Ricardo Palmera's extradition, imprisonment, and trials are part of the U.S. Pentagon's counter-insurgency war. Palmera is the latest victim of the Bush Administration's so-called "War on Terror"; an unending war that respects no national boundaries and leads to repression and death around the world.


Imposing "Plan Colombia", the U.S. government is intervening directly in Colombia's civil war -- arming, training, and commanding the Colombian Military and backing the corrupt government of a small wealthy elite. The Pentagon's Southern Command gives orders to Colombia's generals. President Bush has doubled U.S. military advisors to 800 and contract mercenaries to 600. The U.S. government's dirty war in Colombia costs over $5 billion in taxpayers' money. It goes to the Colombian Military and its death squads who torture and kill trade unionists, students, and peasants. The paramilitary death squads are part and parcel of the Colombian state, serving the interests of U.S. corporations like Occidental Oil, Chiquita Banana, Drummond Coal, and Coca-Cola. Plan Colombia is a plan for poverty, misery and death. It rains down terror upon Colombia's poor.


The imprisonment of Ricardo Palmera is a direct result of U.S. intervention in Colombia's civil war. The FARC formed in 1964 after Colombia's elites and their U.S. allies violently attacked an independent peasants' movement. Ricardo Palmera joined the FARC in 1989 after seeing most of his friends and comrades of the Patriotic Union political party murdered or exiled. The Colombian Military and their death squads murdered more than 4000 candidates, members, and elected officials of the Patriotic Union. Today, the FARC is a rebel army of 28,000 fighting for national liberation. It consists mainly of peasants and one-third of its fighters are women. However, FARC members come from all walks of life, including leaders like Professor Palmera. The FARC fight for social justice, seeking democratic social and economic change, organizing the poor to overthrow the rich and become the rulers of society. The FARC opposes the U.S. Empire -- where U.S. corporations steal the oil, coal, minerals, gems, and agricultural products that belong to the Colombian people. The FARC appeals to the American people to demand peace, not war, from Bush and other leaders.


Bush and the U.S. government are desperate. They know the forces of revolution grow as "Plan Colombia" fails. To try to salvage their dirty war in Colombia, the U.S. State Department rides roughshod over Colombian sovereignty. U.S. courtrooms are being used to intervene in Colombia.

It is absurd that the U.S. Government has extradited Mr. Palmera on the basis of hostage taking and providing material support to terrorists. The specifics of the charge concern U.S. contracted mercenaries who were shot down in their plane over FARC territory while providing "real time" information on the FARC to the Colombian Military. A firefight ensued in which one U.S. contractor and a Colombian sergeant were killed, while three U.S. mercenaries were captured. The U.S. Justice Department is trying to claim that this small battle in Colombia's civil war amounts to hostage taking, and that the long-running guerrilla war is now a "terrorist" action! This makes a mockery of international law, as Bush attempts to impose U.S. sovereignty in Colombia.

Professor Palmera's trials are outrageous. At times, it is not just Ricardo Palmera on trial, but the FARC in its entirety. In the first trial Judge Hogan initially bought advertising space in Colombian newspapers and magazines, demanding the FARC appear in his Washington D.C. courtroom! They are attempting to criminalize the struggle of the Colombian people, but end up looking arrogant and foolish in front of the whole world.

Ricardo Palmera is held in solitary confinement -- no family, no friends, no reporters, not even his own Colombian lawyer can visit. However, by speaking the truth in court, FARC leader Palmera has consistently beaten the Bush administration. Palmera won a victory when the first trial ended in a hung jury. American jurors could not find Palmera guilty on the three "terrorism" charges and the two "kidnapping" charges. It was supposed to be a "slam-dunk" for the U.S. prosecutors, but turned into a big loss on their home turf.

Next the U.S. government re-tried Palmera on the same exact charges. However before the 2nd trial could even begin, Judge Hogan was caught cheating with U.S. prosecutor Ken Kohl and had to step down, to recuse himself. Hogan's replacement, Judge Lamberth refused to allow Palmera any witnesses. The U.S. prosecutor had dozens of witnesses -- paid informants, lying convicted drug runners, and corrupt Colombian government officials. At the end of the 2nd trial, the jury could not find Palmera guilty of "terrorism" charges or the actual kidnapping charge related to three U.S. military contractors captured and held by the FARC. Unfortunately, based upon the FARC capturing its enemies in combat, the jury convicted Palmera of "belonging to a conspiracy to kidnap". Judge Lamberth added every year of time the U.S. Prosecutor asked for, producing a 60-year sentence while emphasizing his "judicial independence and impartiality". At his sentencing Ricardo Palmera gave a moving and heroic speech, defending himself and his principles, the FARC and its leadership, and the revolution of the Colombian people. Ricardo Palmera's speech will one day appear in history books across Latin America.

The third and fourth trials of Ricardo Palmera involved "drug" charges, claiming Professor Palmera is part of a vast conspiracy to import cocaine to the U.S. This claim is like the "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. It is the big lie with no evidence. The FARC are simply not involved in the production or trafficking of drugs. This time, seven American jurors declared Ricardo Palmera "not guilty". Another hung jury, another mistrial, but the U.S. Prosecutor put Ricardo Palmera on trial again. For the same charges! Another million-dollar trial with no evidence, only paid informants and corrupt government officials. In this fourth trial, Palmera won another hung jury and the U.S. State Department finally gave up and requested that the charges be dropped.


The extradition, imprisonment, and trials in Washington D.C. of Ricardo Palmera show the lapdog relationship of Colombia's government to the U.S. This extradition and the four trials is a threat to movements for social justice around the world. The "visible" and direct involvement by the U.S. Government in Colombia threatens to set a precedent where popular movements around the world will be under the unilateral and direct dictates of the U.S. government and U.S. law without regard to national independence or international law. We ask people who stand for peace with justice, who support democracy, and who know right from wrong, to join our campaign for the immediate release of Ricardo Palmera! We repeat again, the only fair trial is no trial. The only fair sentence is no sentence. Free Ricardo Palmera! Stop Plan Colombia!

The National Committee To Free Ricardo Palmera

[see also: Fight Back! Newspaper - Articles on Palmera Case: http://www.fightbacknews.org/topic/palmera.htm]

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Fidel Castro and the FARC: Eight Mistaken Thesis of Fidel Castro

I'm reposting this article by James Petras because I think it illuminates a larger problem Leftists have been suffereing from (take the ISO for example). This is what Mao Zedong once called the "It's terrible!" theory. I'm a supporter of Fidel Castro, but these statements of his need to be looked at more closely. That said, while the overall thrust of the article is good, I think some of what Petras says about Cuban elections is unfair. Nonetheless, I encourage people to read it.

Fidel Castro and the FARC:
Eight Mistaken Thesis of Fidel Castro

by James Petras

I have been a supporter of the Cuban Revolution for exactly fifty years and recognize Fidel Castro as one of the great revolutionary leaders of our time. But I have never been an uncritical apologist: On several crucial occasions I have expressed my disagreements in print, in public and in discussions with Cuban leaders, writers and militants.



Fidel Castro’s articles and commentaries on the recent events in Colombia, namely his discussion of the Colombian regime’s freeing of several FARC prisoners (including three CIA operatives and Ingrid Betancourt) and his critical comments on the politics, structure, practices, tactics and strategy of the FARC and its world-renowned leader, Manuel Marulanda, merit serious consideration.

Castro’s remarks demand analysis and refutation, not only because his opinions are widely read and influence millions of militants and admirers in the world, especially in Cuba and Latin America, but because he purports to provide a ‘moral’ basis for opposition to imperialism today. Equally important Castro’s unfortunate diatribe and critique against the FARC, Marulanda and the entire peasant-based guerrilla movement, has been welcomed, published and broadcast by the entire pro-imperialist mass media on five continents. Fidel Castro, with few caveats, has uncritically joined the chorus condemning the FARC and, as I will demonstrate, without reason or logic.

Eight Erroneous Theses of Fidel Castro

1. Castro claims that the ‘liberation’ of the FARC political prisoners “opens a chapter for peace in Colombia, a process which Cuba has been supporting for 20 years as the most appropriate for the unity and liberation of the peoples of our America, utilizing new approaches in the complex and special present day circumstances after the collapse of the USSR…” (Reflections of Fidel Castro, July 4, 2008).

What is astonishing about this thesis (and the entire essay) is Castro’s total omission of any discussion of the mass terror unleashed by Colombia’s President Uribe against trade unionists, political critics, peasant communities and documented by every human rights group in and out of Colombia in both of his recent essays. In fact, Castro exculpates the current Uribe regime, the most murderous regime, and puts the entire blame on ‘US Imperialism’. Since the “collapse of the Soviet Union”, and under the US-led military offensive, a multitude of armed revolutionary movements have emerged in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nepal, and other pre-existing armed groups in Colombia and the Philippines, have continued to engage in struggle. In Latin America, the “new approaches” to revolution were anything but peaceful – massive popular uprisings overthrowing corrupt electoral politicians in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela…costing many hundreds of lives.

The “liberation” of Betancourt has strengthened the iron fist of the Uribe regime, increased the militarization of the countryside, and covered up the on-going death squad murders of trade unionists and peasants. Contrary to Fidel Castro, the US and Colombia’s death squad president have used their ‘success’ to buttress their arguments in favor of joint US-Colombian military action. Fidel’s celebration of the Colombian regime’s action as an “opening for peace” serves to deflect attention from the Colombian Supreme Court decision claiming that the re-election of Uribe was illegal because of the tyrant’s bribing Congress people to amend the constitutional provision allowing the president a second term.

2. Fidel Castro denigrates the recently deceased leader of the FARC, Manuel Marulanda, as a “peasant, communist militant, principle leader of the guerrilla” (Reflections). In his text of July 5, 2008 (Reflections II), Castro condescendingly refers to “Marulanda of notable natural intelligence and leadership qualities, on the other hand never had opportunities to study when he was an adolescent. It is said he only finished the fifth grade. He conceived (of the revolution) as a long and prolonged struggle, a point of view which I never shared.” Castro was the son of a plantation owner and educated in private Jesuit colleges and trained as a lawyer. He implies that education credentials and higher status prepares the revolutionary leadership to lead the peasants lacking formal education, but with ‘natural leadership qualities’ apparently sufficient to allow them to follow the intellectuals and professionals better suited to lead the revolution.

The test of history however refutes Castro’s claims. Marulanda built, over a period of 40 years, a bigger guerrilla army with a wider mass base than any Castro-inspired guerrilla force from the 1960’s to 2000.

Castro promoted a theory of ‘guerrilla focos’ between 1963-1980, in which small groups of intellectuals would organize an armed nucleus in the countryside, engage in combat and attract mass peasant support. Every Castro-ite guerrilla foco was quickly defeated – wiped out – in Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay (urban focos), Bolivia and Argentina. In contrast, Marulanda’s prolonged guerrilla war strategy relied on mass grass roots organizing based on close peasant ties with guerrillas, based on community, family and class solidarity, building slowly and methodically a national political-military people’s army. In fact, a serious re-examination of the Cuban revolution reveals that Castro’s guerrillas were recruited from the mass of urban mass organizations, methodically organized prior to and during the formation of the guerrilla foco in 1956-1958. Although reliable figures on the FARC are available, Castro underestimated by half the number of FARC guerrillas, relying on the propaganda of Uribe’s publicists.

3. Castro condemns the ‘cruelty’ of the FACR tactics “of capturing and holding prisoners in the jungle.” With this logic, Castro should condemn every revolutionary movement in the 20th century beginning with the Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese revolutions. Revolutions are cruel but Fidel forgets that counter-revolutions are even crueler. Uribe established local spy networks involving local officials, as was done in Vietnam during that war. And the Vietnamese revolutionaries eliminated the collaborators because they were responsible for the execution of tens of thousands of village militants. Castro fails to comment on the fact that Ms. Betancourt, upon her celebrated ‘liberation’ embraced and thanked General Mario Montoya. According to a declassified US embassy document, Montoya organized a clandestine terrorist unit (‘American Anti-Communist Alliance’), which murdered thousands of Colombian dissidents, almost all of them ferociously tortured beforehand. The ‘cruelty’ of FARC captivity did not show up in Betancourt’s medical exam: She was in good health!

4. Fidel claims “Cuba is for peace in Colombia but not US military intervention”. It is the Colombian oligarchy and Uribe regime, which has invited and collaborated with the US military intervention in Colombia. Castro implies that US military intervention is imposed from the outside, rather than seeing it as part of the class struggle within Colombia, in which Colombia’s rulers, landowners and narco-traffickers play a major role in financing and training the death squads. In the first 6 months of 2008, 24 trade union leaders have been murdered by the Uribe regime, over 2,562 killed over the past twenty years since what Castro describes as the “new roads of complex and special circumstances.” Fidel totally ignores the continuities of death squad murders of unarmed social movement activists, the lack of solidarity from Cuba toward all the Colombian movements since Havana developed diplomatic and commercial ties with the Uribe regime. Is balancing between Cuba’s state interest in diplomatic and economic ties with Colombia and claiming revolutionary credentials part of the “complexities” of Cuban foreign policy?

5. Castro calls for the immediate release of all FARC-held prisoners, without the minimum consideration of the 500 guerrillas tortured and dehumanized in Uribe’s and Bush’s horrendous high security ‘special prisons’. Castro boasts that Cuba released its prisoners captured during the anti-Batista struggle and calls for the FARC to follow Cuba’s example, rather than the Vietnamese and Chinese revolutionary approach. Castro’s attempt to impose and universalize his tactics, based on Cuban experience, on Colombia lacks the minimum effort to understand, let alone analyze, the specificities of Colombia, its military, the political context of the class struggle and the social and political context of humanitarian negotiations in Colombia.

6. Castro claims the FARC should end the guerrilla struggle but not give up their arms because in the past guerrillas who disarmed were slaughtered by the regime. Instead, he suggests they should accept France’s offer to abandon their country or accept Chavez’ (Uribe’s ‘brother’ and ‘friend’) proposal to negotiate and secure a commission made up Latin American notables to oversee their integration into Colombian politics.

What are ‘armed’ guerillas going to do when thousands of Uribe’s soldiers and death squads ravage the countryside? Flee to the mountains and shoot wild pigs? Going to France means abandoning millions of starving vulnerable peasant supporters and the class struggle.

7. Fidel Castro totally omits from his discussion the manner in which every political leader involved in the ‘humanitarian mission’ used the celebration of Betancourt’s ‘liberation’ to cover up and distract from their serious political difficulties. First and foremost, Uribe’s re-election was ruled illegal by the Colombian Supreme Court because he was accused and convicted of bribing members of Congress to vote for the constitutional amendment allowing his running for a second term. Uribe’s presidency is de facto illegal. Betancourt’s release and delirious embrace of Uribe undermines the judicial verdict and eliminates the court injunction for a new Congressional vote or national election. Sarkozy’s popularity in France was in a vertical free fall, his highly publicized intervention in the negotiations with the FARC were a total failure, his militarist policies in the Middle East and virulent anti-immigrant policies alienated substantial sectors of the French public (as did rising prices and economic stagnation). The release of Betancourt and her effusive praise and embrace of Sarkozy revived his tarnished image and gave him a temporary respite from the burgeoning political and economic discontent with his domestic and foreign policies.

Chavez used the release of Betancourt to embrace his ‘enemy’, Uribe, and to put further distance from the FARC, in particular, and the popular movements in Colombia, as well as to build bridges with a post-Bush US President. Chavez also returned to the good graces of the entire pro-imperialist mass media and favorable comments from the right-wing US Presidential candidate, John McCain, who “hoped the FARC would follow Chavez demands to disarm.” Cuba, or at least Fidel Castro, used the ‘liberation’ of Betancourt to display his long-term hostility to the FARC (dating at least from 1990) for embarrassing his policy of reconciliation with the Colombian regime.

8. Striking a humanitarian and quasi-electoral posture in celebrating Betancourt’s release, Castro lambasted the FARC for its ‘cruelty’ and armed resistance to the terrorist Uribe regime. Castro attacked the FARC’s”authoritarian structure and dogmatic leadership”, ignoring FARC’s endorsement of electoral politics between 1984-90 (when over 5,000 disarmed activists and political candidates were slaughtered), and the free and open debate over policy alternative in the demilitarized zone (1999-2002) with all sectors of Colombian society. In contrast, Castro never permitted free and open debate and elections, even among communist candidates in any legislative process – at least until he was replaced by Raul Castro. The abovementioned political leaders were serving their own personal political interests by bashing the FARC and celebrating Betancourt at the expense of the people of Colombia.


Has Castro clearly thought through the disastrous consequences for millions of impoverished Colombians or is he thinking only of Cuba’s possible improvement of relations with Colombia once the FARC is liquidated? The effect of Castro’s anti-FARC articles has been to provide ammunition for the imperial mass media to discredit the FARC and armed resistance to tyranny and to bolster the image of death squad President Uribe. When the world’s premier revolutionary leader denies the revolutionary history and practice of an ongoing popular movement and its brilliant leader who built that movement, he is denying the movements of the future a rich heritage of successful resistance and construction. History will not absolve him.

July 2008

See also Petras' article, "President Chavez and the FARC: State and Revolution".

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Harry Haywood: "For a Revolutionary Position on the Negro Question"

Harry Haywood wrote the pamphlet, "For a Revolutionary Position on the Negro Question" in 1957 to fight back against the revisionist assault on the CPUSA. It deals mainly with attacks on Harry Haywood's revolutionary line which come from James Allen, Eugene Dennis, and James Jackson. It was intended for a discussion at a meeting, following the 16th National Convention, which was to adopt on position on the African American national question. That meeting was never held, the paper in question was suppressed, and Harry Haywood, who first developed the theory that African American constituted an oppressed nation while working in the Comintern, was expelled, along with many other revolutionaries. This left the CPUSA as the hopelessly reformist organization that it is today.

This pamphlet was republished by Liberator Press in 1975, the publishing house of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), which was one of the important parties and organizations that made up the New Communist Movement. Harry Haywood, after his expulsion form the CPUSA, went on to be a leader of the Mao Zedong-oriented CPML. His main theoretical work on the African American national question, Negro Liberation, is available online as a PDF file, and can be found relatively cheaply used. His autobiography, Black Bolshevik, is also obtainable. This pamphlet is difficult to find these days, but since its contents are significant in their application of Marxism-Leninism to the revolutionary movement in the United States I wanted to post a few short excerpts here in the hopes that interested persons would try to find the pamphlet and learn more about Harry Haywood and the revolutionary line he has come to represent.

Here are some selections from the pamphlet.

'The key question involved in projecting a solution for the Negro question is the universal problem of reform or revolution. The reformist position on the Negro question claims that it is being solved on the basis of gradual, progressive gains within the framework of the existing monopoly dominated system. There are variations on this theme, ranging form the Southern "liberal" gradualists to the assimilationist line of the NAACP, the most recent variation of which is solution of the Negro question through "full integration into every aspect of American life."
'While we Communists fight for every possible democratic demand of the Negro people, and welcome all advances made, we have pointed out that the Negro question is at bottom the question of an oppressed nation in the South and a national minority in the North. Therefore, the Negro question can only be solved on the basis of a revolutionary change in the Deep South. This difference is fundamental.
'When our Party adopted the position that the Negro question is in essence the question of an oppressed nation, it made a great leap forward from the bourgeois liberal view, which regarded it solely as a question of race that had to be resolved through education and humanitarian uplift. Characteristically, this bourgeois liberal view placed the main onus of racial prejudice not on the ruling class oppressors but on ignorance of the white masses.
'The Party's position was also a sharp break with the Social-Democratic viewpoint, in which racist oppression was considered of no relevance in defining the position of the Negro people in the United States. According to this view, the plight of the Negro people was regarded as purely a question of class, the same as that of the working class in general. Thus, in the name of the general class struggle it denied the specific character of the Negro question, regarding the fight for special demands of the Negro people as divisive and tending to distract workers from the struggle for socialism.
'Both views are not only scientifically incorrect but conceal the profound revolutionary and anti-imperialist character of the struggle for Negro rights which could only be finally resolved through the land revolution and the right of self-determination in the Black Belt, the historic area of Negro majority, and through winning equal rights in the North.
'The formulation of the Negro question by the Party as in essence a question of an oppressed nation correctly related the struggle of the Negro people to the class struggle of the American working class against capitalism, imperialism, and for socialism.
'Our revolutionary position on the Negro question has been challenged only during the three periods of major crisis in the Communist Party, all three of which were caused by the deeply embedded right-revisionist liquidationist trend in our Party, which has its roots in the corruptive influence of the leading imperialist bourgeoisie, to which the U.S. working class is directly subjected. It also has its roots in the overwhelmingly predominant petty-bourgeois and highly skilled worker composition of our Party and its leadership, and the low level of theoretical development of both the leadership and the rank and file' (pp 1-2).


'The right-revisionists are hard put to explain the fact it was on the basis of our revolutionary position on the Negro question that we led these great mass struggles, and won the respect of the Negro masses as the most militant, consistent fighters for Negro rights: the accolade of "The Party of the Negro People." They try to explain this phenomenon in terms of "our militancy" or "the mass upsurge of the crisis years."
'What they refuse to see is that our militancy, our orientation in the South as the fountainhead of Negro oppression, and our ability to rally the white workers in defense of Negro rights was based upon our placing of the Negro question as a revolutionary question, vital to the interests of the entire working class.
'In sum, our militant and effective struggle flowed from our understanding that the Negro question was a question of national revolution in the Deep South. It was only on the basis of this line that we were able to lead the masses in struggle for Negro rights during the 1930's' (p 35).

'This is the programmatic significance of our position that the Negro question is a question of national revolution in the Deep South. The correctness of our approach to the Negro question was proved during the struggles of the 1930's.
'The line of the C.P. brought the issue of Negro equality out of the realm of bourgeois humanitarianism, where it had been the special property of the bourgeois philanthropists and professional uplifters who sought to strip the Negro struggle of its revolutionary implications and to make it a feeble adjunct of safe and sane reforms - all obtainable presumably within the existing imperialist-dominated system. It grounded the issue of Negro liberation firmly in the fight of the American people for full democracy and in the struggle of the working class people against capitalism' (p 36).


'We, Negro Communists, do not accept the status of "aliens" to which the [revisionist] Negro Resolution relegates us. We are an integral part of the Negro movement, embodying the great revolutionary traditions of Nat Turner, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, etc. We do not become "foreigners" when we become Communists.
'It is therefore, not only the right, but the duty of Negro Communists to project forms and methods of struggle consistent with the great revolutionary traditions of the Negro people. As true patriots, we call for a consistent fight against U.S. imperialism as the main enemy of the Negro people. We call for an alliance with the white working class based upon common revolutionary aims. We call for international solidarity with the heroic struggles for national liberation, peace and Socialism which embrace the vast majority of mankind' (p 38).

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Harry Haywood on Trotskyism

"Trotskyism is taking action now in order to discredit Bolshevism and to undermine its foundations. It is the duty of the Party to bury Trotskyism as an ideological trend." - J. V. Stalin, "Trotskyism or Leninism?"

The great African American Marxist-Leninist theorist Harry Haywood is particularly known for his work on the African American national question, but he made contributions on other issues and was involved in the other struggles of the day. Here's what Harry Haywood, who lived in the Soviet Union for four and half years as a member of the Comintern, said in the chapter of his autobiography, Black Bolshevik, entitled "Trotsky's Day in Court" regarding Trotskyism.

First, he says that "[Trotsky's] writings were readily available throughout the school [KUTVA, where Haywood and others were studying], and the issues of the struggle were constantly on the agenda in our collectives. These were discussed in our classes, as they were in factories, schools and peasant organizations throughout the country" (p. 182).

He goes on to say that "The struggle raged over a period of five years (1922-27) during which time the Trotsky bloc had access to the press and Trotsky's works were widely circulated for everyone to read. Trotsky was not defeated by bureaucratic decisions or Stalin's control of the Party apparatus - as his partisans and Trotskyite historians claim. He had his day in court and finally lost because his whole position flew in the face of Soviet and world realities. He was doomed to defeat because his ideas were incorrect and failed to conform to objective conditions, as well as the needs and interests of the Soviet people" (ibid).

Haywood describes the Seventh Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International in 1926:

"Stalin made the report for the Russian delegation. Trotsky then asked for two hours to defend his position; he was given one. He spoke in Russian, and then personally translated and delivered his speech in German and then in French. In all, he held the floor about three hours.

"Otto said it was the greates display of oratory he had ever heard. But despite this, Trotsky and his allies (Zinoviev and Kamenev) suffered a resounding defeat, obtaining only two votes out of the whole body. The delegates from outside the Soviet Union didn't accept Trotsky's view that socialism in one country was a betrayl of the revolution. On the contrary, the success of the Soviet Union in building socialism was an inspiration to the international revolution. (...)

"The American Party united across factional lines in support of Stalin. The Trotsky opposition, already defeated within the Soviet Union, was now shattered internationally. From there on out, it was downhill for Trotsky. I witnessed Trotsky's opposition bloc degenerate from an unprincipled faction within the Party to a counter-revolutionary conspiracy against the Party and the Soviet state. We learned of secret, illegal meetings held in the Silver Woods outside of Moscow, the establishment of factional printing presses - all in violation of Party discipline. Their activities reached a high point during the November 7, 1927 anniversary of the Revolution.

"At the Tenth Anniversary, Trosky's followers attempted to stage a counter-demonstration in opposition to the traditional celebration. I remember vividly the scene of our school contingent marching its way to Red Square. As we passed the Hotel Moscow, Trotskyist leaflets were showered down on us, and oraters appeared at the windows of the hotel shouting slogans of 'Down with Stalin.'

"They were answered with catcalls and booing from the crowds in the streets below. We seized the leaflets and tore them up. This attempt to rally the people against the Party was a total failure and struck no responsive chord among the masses. It was equivalent to rebellion and this demonstration was the last overt act of the Trotskyist opposition.

"During the next month Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev were expelled - along with seventy-four of their chief supporters." (pp. 183-184).

Other helpful articles on Trotskyism are here:

"Preface to Trotskyism or Leninism?" by Harpal Brar of the CPGB-ML.

Similar but more concise:"Trotskyism or Leninism?: An Historical Outline" by Tim Logan (CPGB-ML) to the Stalin Society (UK)

See also:"Critiques of Contemporary Trotskyism" - a collection

On Trotskyism: Problems of Theory and History by Kostas Mavrakis

"Trotskyism or Leninism?" by J. V. Stalin

"The Trotskyist Opposition Before and Now" by J. V. Stalin

Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre: Heard Before the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R.

Another View of Stalin by Ludo Martens

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Zhou Enlai: How to be a Good Leader

April 22, 1943
[Editorial note: The outline of a talk to cadres of the Southern Bureau of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, originally entitled "Outline of a Talk on Leadership and Review of Work"]

I. The definition of a leader

Any cadre may at some time have to take up the work of leadership, and very likely he is already doing such work. Therefore, the work of leadership concerns leading cadre at all levels, whether the lower, middle or upper.

Among the staff members at Hongyan and Zengjiayan there is only a difference in the kind of work each does, but no distinction is drawn between the leaders and the led, still less between cadres and non-cadres. Although some comrades working in Hongyan and Zengjiayan and in the office of New China Daily are not directly shouldering the responsibilities of leadership, they are in fact leaders.

II. The stand a leader should take

A leading cadre must proceed from the standpoint of the Party in everything he does. But this is only a general statement. More specifically, a leading cadre should have the following qualities:

  1. A firm Marxist-Leninist world outlook and a revolutionary out-look on life;
  2. Devotion to principle;
  3. Faith in the strength of the people;
  4. Dedication to study;
  5. A tenacious fighting spirit; and
  6. A high sense of discipline.
III. The leaders and the leading organizations

  1. Collective leadership and leadership of each level by the next higher level - unified leadership, centralization and democracy (discussion and division of labour).
  2. Individual responsibility and individual leadership - this is especially needed in the Great Rear Area and is by no means negated by collective leadership.
  3. Direct personal intervention and decision from above - this is not the usual practice but one employed under special circumstances, or to set an example.

IV. What is correct leadership

I shall now elaborate on the three points Stalin once made:

  1. Decisions made must be correct. First, leaders should evaluate the situation and anticipate possible changes, seeking out the characteristics of a given place at a given time. Second, they should relate all this to the general task of the Party and determine the tasks and policy for a given period. Third, in line with this policy, they should formulate slogans and tactics appropriate to the current situation. Fourth, they should then work out realistic plans and instructions. They should do all this through in-depth investigation and study of actual conditions, linking up the results with Party tenets and principles.
  2. Correct decisions must be implemented. First, leaders should organize discussions of ways to implement the plan and carry out instructions. Second, they should carefully select capable persons and put them in charge of the plan's implementation. Third, they should organize efforts to realize the Party's plan. Fourth, they should organize efforts to realize the Party's plan. Fourth, they should personally take part in the implementation so as to set an example. By so doing, they can discover through practice whether the Party's line and tactics are correct or whether they should be modified.
  3. There must be review of the actual implementation of the decisions. Methods of making such reviews: (a) we must note tangible results of work rather than promises; (b) we must not merely look at plans on paper, but inquire whether tasks are being performed conscientiously or only perfunctorily; (c) we must pay attention to content rather than to form and examine whether a decision is really being correctly carried out or is being distorted; (d) reviews should not only be conducted from top to bottom, but also from bottom to top; (e) reviews should be systematic and regular; and (f) leader should personally participate in reviews.

As Stalin has said, leaders must maintain close ties with the masses, and the experience gained by both leaders and masses must be synthesized. Only thus can there be correct leadership.

V. The tasks of leaders

Comrade Mao Zedong says that the tasks of leaders consists in using cadres well and implementing policies. This is true. Breaking the down, I think, they are as follows:

  1. Leading cadres should pay close attention to ideological and political leadership. This requires that they constantly raise their own ideological level and strengthen their own political training. We ask our comrades to concentrate on the following: (a) placing emphasis on important matters; (b) sharpening political vigilance; (c) raising their theoretical level; (d) intensifying ideological struggle both inside and outside the Party; and (e) actively publicizing the policies and achievements of the Party.
  2. Leading cadres should give careful thought to organizational leadership. Once the political line is laid down, organizational work decides everything. We draw our comrades' attention to the following points: (a) organizational leadership should be raised to the level of political leadership; in other words, all kinds of work should be put on a principled basis and connected with political tasks; (b) all organizational and day-to-day work should serve to guarantee the fulfilment of the Party's political tasks and the realization of its work plans; (c) importance should be attached to the Party's day-to-day leadership, so that Party organizations stay close to the grass roots and their work becomes even more concrete; (d) Party organizations and the masses must be mobilized to strive to surmount all difficulties; and (e) we should combat all forms of opportunism (such as perfunctoriness, empty talk, arrogance, bureaucracy, formalism, and red-taped routinism), corruption, degeneration, etc.
  3. Prudence should be exercised in selecting cadres and assigning work. This is also part of organizational work, but it can be taken separately. Both political qualifications and work competence are indispensable criteria for selecting cadres, but political trustworthiness takes precedence. Stalin once pointed out the harm done to the Party when people made appointments not in accordance with principle. He said that such persons were followed by a large "entourage" wherever they went and that they employed only those whom they regarded as their "own" men. In one of his reports on the rectification movement, Comrade Mao Zedong, too, criticized such persons for being "dishonest". That was the failing of those "imperial envoys who rushed everywhere". Given a cadre's political trustworthiness, it is still important to use him properly (in the light of time, place and circumstances).
  4. Work should be reviewed. The performance of working personnel and the implementation of the work plan must be reviewed. As Stalin has said, the objectives of the review are: first, to get to know the qualifications of the cadres; second, to determine the virtues and defects of the executive apparatus; and third, to determine the virtues and defects of the tasks or instructions that are set. Some leaders think reviews of this sort are likely to expose their own weaknesses, marring their prestige or shaking their self-confidence. This is incorrect. Leaders enhance their prestige by correcting their mistakes, not by covering them up, and by immersing themselves in hard work, not by bragging or boasting. Confidence will only be strengthened and not weakened through the correction of mistakes. It is only those who are vain and concerned with face-saving who fear the exposure of mistakes.
  5. Go among the masses. The leaders should not only educate the masses but should also learn from them. The reason is that the leaders' own knowledge is incomplete and their experience insufficient. Leading positions in themselves cannot bestow knowledge and experience, so it is essential to go to the people and draw experience from them. We ask that comrades: (a) get close to the people, maintain contact with them, and to some extent become one with them; (b) heed the voice of the people; (c) learn from them; and (d) educate them instead of tailing behind them.

VI. Leading the masses and befriending them

  1. The masses are not lead in the same way as Party members. The way we lead the masses and the attitude we take towards them should not make them feel that we are exercising leadership.
  2. The basic method of leading masses in persuasion, and definitely not command. Only in situations when it is necessary and when the majority agree while a minority still do not, may we compel the minority to carry out the decisions of the majority.
  3. The leaders themselves should play an exemplary role in giving leadership to the masses and befriending them.
  4. When necessary, leaders should ignore insults hurled at them.
  5. Leaders must never underestimate the role they play or the influence they exert, and must work prudently and cautiously.

VII. The art of leadership

According to the art of leadership as expounded by Lenin and Stalin, leaders should not run too far ahead of a movement, nor should they lag behind. Rather, they should grasp the key task and push the movement forward.

According to the art of leadership as expounded by Comrade Mao Zedong, they should take into account the over-all situation, think in terms of the majority and work together with our allies.

VIII. Work methods

  1. Examine theoretical tenets and principles in the course of struggle;
  2. Determine and review policies in the course of concrete work;
  3. Improve work in a revolutionary spirit;
  4. Promote democracy and encourage criticism and self-criticism;
  5. Employ mainly persuasion and not administrative fiat. Resort to orders only in emergency situations.
IX. Work style

  1. Lenin's style of work consisted of: Russian revolutionary sweep; and American efficiency
  2. Comrade Mao Zedong's style of work consists of: The modesty and realism of the Chinese people; the simplicity and industriousness of the Chinese peasants; the love of study and deep thought of the intellectual; the flexibility and cool-headedness of the revolutionary soldier; and the tenacity and staunchness of a Bolshevik.
  3. Combat all forms of opportunism manifested in day-to-day work. At present, we must especially combat perfunctoriness, empty talk, arrogance, formalism, routinism and all acts which sabotage the fine traditions of the Party and army.
[To my knowledge, I am publishing this article by Zhou Enlai on the internet for the first time. Thanks to Mike B. "How to be a Good Leader" is also being added to the Zhou Enlai Internet Archive at MIA. It is from Selected Works of Zhou Enlai, Volume I, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing: 1981. pp. 146 - 150. I have ommitted the explanitory notes. Please see also Liu Shaoqi's similarly titled How to be a Good Communist as well as Mao Zedong's articles Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership, and Methods of Work of Party Committees, as well as Some Points on the Mass Line by Freedom Road Socialist Organization.]

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Friday, July 04, 2008

American Empire: A post for the 4th of July

I've written already about Independence Day, in "The Fourth of July: A Marxist-Leninist look at the Revolution of 1776", which looks at some of what U.S. Marxist-Leninists William Z. Foster and Harry Haywood had to say about the bourgeois-democratic revolution in the United States. But since today's the day, I wanted to cap that off with this video, "A People's History of American Empire by Howard Zinn"

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