Compass Points North

A brief blossom appeared in the Chinese media in May 1971 that proposed Programme for Anti-Imperialist Struggle. Was here the international lead and guidance that some in the international communist movement had desired from Mao’s China? Referencing the 1970 statement “People of the World, Unite and Defeat the US Aggressors and All Their Running Dogs!”[i] it asserted it had “become a programme for the anti-imperialist struggle waged by the Chinese people together with the revolutionary people throughout the world.”

It voiced the constant refrain that the “danger of a new world war still exists…but revolution is the main trend in the world today.” However it targeted the common enemy as only U.S. imperialism and argued that “revolution is the main trend in the world today”. It identified Indochina as the main battlefield in the world people’s struggle against U.S. imperialism wrongly asserting that “the battlefields in the whole of Indochina have merged into one”. Equally it conflated the struggles in America , describing them rhetorically as “violent revolutionary storms” :

“The people of the United States are dealing heavier and heavier blows from within at U.S. imperialism, the world’s ferocious enemy, – and they have become an important vigorous force in the world people’s struggle against U.S.imperialism.”

This heightened exhaltation and hyperobole full of “fresh victories” contained a solidary reference to “social-imperialism, too, finds the going tougher and tougher.”

This “Programme for Anti-Imperialist Struggle”[ii] clearly stated the strategic line that “the international united front against U.S. imperialism is an important magic weapon for the world people to defeat U.S. imperialism and all its running dogs.”

It was a rhetorical address behind the times, not synchronised to the political compass, a misleading media appearance at a time when China was recalibrating its strategic foreign policy concerns, partly following a report submitted by Four Marshals that assessed the strategic threat to China.

1969, in mid-May, Zhou Enlai at Mao’s behest asked four veteran marshals— Chen Yi, Ye Jianying, Xu Xiangqian, and Nie Rongzhen—to “pay attention to” international affairs. He urged them to meet “two to three times a month” to discuss “important issues” of international security and to provide the CCP Central Committee (CC) with their suggestions.[iii]

Only Mao, Zhou, the four marshals, and their two assistants—Xiong Xianghui, a high-ranking intelligence and foreign service officer and Yao Guang, the director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of European and American Affairs—knew about the study group.

Mao reading the People’s Daily in his study room (Apr 20, 1961)

The tense international context in which they met was for China a war scare.

The four marshals first focused on relations with Moscow just as the Sino-Soviet border clashes were breaking out; although they saw the Soviets as dangerous, they doubted that Moscow intended to launch war against China. The incidents brought the two countries to the brink of a major military confrontation.

Soviet leaders even considered conducting a pre-emptive nuclear strike against China. Henry Kissinger claimed in his memoirs that in August 1969 a Soviet diplomat in Washington inquired “what the U.S. reaction would be to a Soviet attack on Chinese nuclear facilities.” [iv]

Later that year the Western press also reported rumours of Soviet plans to strike at Chinese nuclear bases. The Soviet leadership had a track record: the Brezhnev doctrine provided post-facto justification for Soviet tanks in Prague and regime change to defend “existing socialism”. Whether these overtures reflected actual planning or were merely part of a disinformation campaign to exert psychological pressure on Chinese leaders is uncertain.

When the border fighting intensified in August 1969, marshals Chen Yi and Ye Jianying worried about a confrontation with Moscow and proposed playing the “card of the United States.” [v] In a separate report, Chen proposed high-level talks with the U.S. in order to solve basic problems in the relationship. The ideological confrontation of the anti-revisionist struggle had taken on a new character when it took on the character of conflict between nation states: the Soviet Union by the late 1960s had become China’s number one threat, whereas the United States was perceived as becoming less threatening.

When a group of four marshals recommended that Chairman Mao “play the American card” against the Soviet threat and even undertake high-level talks with the U.S.- to improving relations with the United States—the number one imperialist country- they faced a receptive opponent. Nixon had sent a signal as far back as 1967 in a Foreign Affairs article discussing the need to normalize relations with China, he had written “There is no place on this planet for a billion of its potentially able people to live in angry isolation.”

On the orders of Mao Zedong, People’s Daily published a translation of the full text of Nixon’s inaugural address. In the address, Nixon said,

“Let all nations know that during this administration our lines of communication will be open. We seek an open world–open to ideas, open to the exchange of goods and people–a world in which no people, great or small, will live in angry isolation.”

The report by the Four Marshals’ Study Group provided Chinese leaders with a strategic assessment that emphasized the benefits of improving Sino-American relations. As subsequent developments revealed, the marshals’ reports to Mao and Zhou was the catalyst for important decisions regarding the United States, paving the way for the Sino-American rapprochement.

In an interview with Time magazine in October 1970, Nixon declared that he viewed China as a world power. He observed,

“Maybe that role won’t be possible for five years, maybe not even ten years. But in 20 years it had better be, or the world is in mortal danger. If there is anything I want to do before I die, it is to go to China. If I don’t, I want my children to go.”

Mao set the foreign policy agenda and guidelines on his own: a front page photograph in the People’s Daily intended by Mao as a signal to the Americans (which they missed), on 1 October 1970 (National Day), Mao had journalist Edgar Snow stand by him at the Gate of Heavenly Peace during the parade.

Mao, together with Lin Biao (right) chatting with American journalist Edgar Snow on the top of Tian’anmen Tower (Oct 1, 1970)

Several months later, Snow met with Mao for five hours of talks on 18 December 1970 during which the Chairman was reported as saying:

[T]he foreign ministry was studying the matter of admitting Americans from the left, middle, and right to visit China. Should rightists like Nixon, who represented the monopoly capitalists, be permitted to come? He should be welcomed because, Mao explained at present the problems between China and the US would have to be solved with Nixon. Mao would be happy to talk with him, either as a tourist or as President.

Snow made it public in Life magazine at the end of April 1971.

In sending China’s ping-pong team to Japan and inviting the U.S. team to China in the spring of 1971, Mao overruled the recommendations of the Foreign Ministry. The advent of ping-pong diplomacy – political use of a sport in which the Chinese were world champions, and thus were ‘number one

There were confidence building measures, expressions of friendship and dismantling of isolationist measures (such as recognition of passports) detailed in Yafeng Xia account of the developing renewed relationship between China and America.[vi]

By July 1971 Kissinger was in China in conversation with Zhou Enlai making assurances on Taiwan that the Chinese saw as a precondition for normalization. It opened the way for Nixon’s February 1972 trip.

Yafeng Xia[vii] argued that: Although the radical leftists may have been wary of an abrupt change of policy toward the erstwhile “number one enemy,” the United States, they deferred to Mao’s views and competed for Mao’s favour. Their dependence on Mao’s patronage greatly limited their room to oppose him. Thus, although they were strong supporters of the Cultural Revolution and of radical policies abroad, they were unwilling to confront Mao on policy toward the United States.

Nixon and Jiang Qing during his visit to China in 1972.                           Nixon and  Jiang Qing during his visit to China in 1972.

Throughout this period, Mao made all important decisions regarding China’s policy toward the United States. Chinese documents and memoirs confirm that neither Lin nor other radical leaders played any appreciable role in, or mounted any opposition to China’s policy toward the United States. Western academics argued that the evidence indicates that Lin himself was not opposed to the Sino-American rapprochement. Whatever the convenient charges made after his death, Lin’s flight north after the failed assassination planning is seen as an act of survival not allegiance.

Through Ambassador Huang Zhen in Paris, the Chinese leaders notified Washington that the Lin Biao incident in September 1971 would not change China’s attitude toward the United States and that China would proceed with the preparation for Nixon’s visit.

 China’s changing perception of its national interest’s largely determined Sino-American relations, with the Soviet threats to China, epitomised by the Sino-Soviet border clash in March 1969 and the Soviet-Vietnamese defence treaty in November 1978, facilitated Richard Nixon’s historic trip in 1972 to normalisation of relations in 1979. And the US played the China Card as Soviet third-world interventions, especially in Africa, were also factors in the U.S. opening to China.

The chairman considered Sino-American rapprochement an ultimate success of his long-term struggle against US imperialists, as it compelled Nixon to drop US anti-China policy. Upon hearing Nixon’s triumphant remark that his trip to China ‘changed the world’, Mao, therefore, satirically observed that ‘I think the world changed him’[viii]

Mao’s foreign policy goal as ‘mobilizing the Third World against both the capitalist-imperialist power, the US, and the social-revisionist power, the USSR’. That focus narrowed: In February 1973, he famously urged Kissinger to forge ‘a horizontal line’, consisting of the United States, Japan, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and Western Europe, to ‘commonly deal with a bastard’[ix]

Observers schooled in the rhetoric of the Cultural Revolution evoke the anti-Japanese war and alliance with the Kuomintang to couch policy in an ideologically coherent way; tactical united front with a less immediately dangerous adversary (the “secondary enemy”) against a more dangerous foe (the “principal enemy”). For political opponents a “tacit alliance,” as Henry Kissinger characterized it, quickly took shape between Beijing and Washington.[x]  

Some foreign policy concerns and positions that shaped China’s foreign relations were the very public hostility to the intentions of the Soviet Union that identified “competition between the two superpowers” (and promoted the strategic focus of U.S.-Soviet rivalry as in Europe) . China said U.S. economic and political influence in the world had declined. However Superpower rivalry for ‘world hegemony’ had become ‘more fierce’, with détente as ‘camouflage’. China increasingly throughout the 1970s identifying the Soviet Union as the aggressive power. The Chinese kept warning about the peril of potential war: China’s hostile attitude towards détente did not subside even as China’s domestic revolutionary ideology disappeared.

Mao’s well-known theory of the three worlds, first laid out in his talk with Zambian Mao and FriendsPresident Kenneth Kaunda February 1974, symbolised his abandonment of the ‘horizontal line’. In part, the Three Worlds Theory implied a retreat from Mao’s united front strategy against the United States in the 1960s aimed at assisting local insurgents and arousing proletarian revolution around the world. Nor was it simply a focus on the strategic state relations or reiteration of his previous international statements that reflected on “international class struggle.” Arguably the theory’s basis highlighted “development” as a question of fundamental importance for China. In early 1975, with Mao’s approval, “Four Modernizations” (first publicly raised in 1964) re-entered China’s domestic affairs. In a speech at the National People’s Congress the target was set that China should aim to modernize its industry, agriculture, national defence, and science and technology by the end of the century.

September 1977, again restored to leadership, Deng Xiaoping explained that ‘the international situation has undergone many changes; many old concepts and old formulas do not reflect reality, and past strategies are also not consistent with the current reality’. Deng redefined China’s domestic and foreign policies and re-embarked on ‘the great march toward the four modernizations’ with a strategy to modernize China by turning to the West. As Chen Jian’s study of the changing relations between the two countries notes:

“A historical review of the development of Chinese-American relations reveals that during four-fifths of the twentieth century, China and the United States were allies, tacit allies, or constructive partners. Only during one-fifth of the time were they adversaries.”[xi]

Chen suggests that from a Chinese perspective, the global Cold War ended in many key senses during the mid-to-late 1970s. That post-Mao transition in policy explored by Minami (and in line with most observers) concludes “After late 1978, however, Mao’s China was no more”



[i] Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong)

People Of The World, Unite And Defeat The U.S. Aggressors And All Their Running Dogs  Peking Review (23 May, 1970)

[ii] Renmin Ribao (1971) A Programme for Anti-Imperialist Struggle Peking Review No.21 May 21st 1971

[iii] Xiong Xianghui, (1992) “The Prelude to the Opening of Sino-American Relations,” Zhonggong dangshi ziliao [CCP History Materials] No. 42 (June 1992), formerly an aide to Zhou Enlai, had been the secretary to this special study group tasked by Chairman Mao in 1969 to review China’s strategic policy.

[iv] See Kissinger, White House Years Simon & Schuster .2011: 183

[v] “Report by Four Chinese Marshals, Chen Yi, Ye Jianying, Nie Rongzhen, and Xu Xiangqian, to the Central Committee, ‘Our Views about the Current Situation’ (Excerpt),” September 17, 1969, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Zhonggong dangshi ziliao, no. 42 (June 1992), pp. 84-86.

[vi] Yafeng Xia (2006) China’s Elite Politics and Sino-American Rapprochement, January 1969–February 1972 Journal of Cold War Studies Vol. 8, No. 4, Fall 2006, pp. 3–28

 [viii] Personal Experience and Eyewitness Account: Memoirs of Huang Hua. (Beijing: Shijie zhishi chubanshe, 2008).   Quoted in Kazushi Minami (2016): Re-examining the end of Mao’s revolution: China’s changing statecraft and Sino-American relations, 1973–1978,  Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 359-375

[ix] Memorandum of Conversation, February 17–18, 1973, FRUS, 1969–1976, vol. XVIII, Doc. 12. Quoted in Kazushi Minami (2016): Re-examining the end of Mao’s revolution: China’s changing statecraft and Sino-American relations, 1973–1978,  Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 359-375. 

 [ix] Chen Jian. From Mao to Deng: China’s Changing Relations with the United States .CWIHP Working Paper 92 November 2019

[x] Kissinger to Nixon, “My Trip to Peking, June 19-23, 1972,” 6/27/72, Box 851, NSF, Nixon Presidential Material, p. 2, National Archive. Quoted in Chen Jian. From Mao to Deng: China’s Changing Relations with the United States . CWIHP Working Paper 92 November 2019


Mao and Zhou Enlai meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Feb 17, 1973)93780

Just Read………….. The China Triangle

Herbert Feis (1953) The China Triangle: the American effort in China from Pearl Harbour to the Marshal Mission. Princeton University Press.

Two things are immediately clear when reading The China Triangle: why Herbert Feis was described as “a court historian”, and that release of official records often adds to the texture but not the substance of journalistic first drafts of history.

Feis has the establishment background to be scholarly and accurate in demolishing the claim that the American Government was responsible for the collapse of the Chinese Nationalists and the triumph of the communists led by Mao Zedong.

A Harvard academic economist, staff member of the Council on Foreign Relations, State Department economic advisor, Feis’ contribution to the “who lost China” debacle, that convulsed Washington’s political circles in the early 1950s, points the finger in the direction of Chang Kai-shek.

The China Triangle explores and substantially supports US policies arguing that America’s policy priorities lay in winning the war, supporting Chang Kai-shek, preserving the independence and unity of China.

After the great retreat to Taiwan by the Nationalist forces and the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949, Senator McCarthy amplified the charges raised by Patrick Hurley, frustrated ambassador to China, defender of Chang Kai-shek ; in 1950, McCarthy brandished a sheath of papers and declared that he had in his hand “a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”

The China Triangle obliquely addresses the charges by reviewing, and justifying, state policy. Feis has no disagreement with the administration’s objective of a world beneficently organised by the United States but the unsubstantial accusations, the slanders and lies of McCarthyism offends the sensibilities and insults the intelligent analysis of state officials.

McCarthy’s shrieking denunciations and anti-communist fear-mongering created a climate of fear and suspicion across the USA.  The Foreign Service reports on the rival forces battling the occupying Japanese — Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists and Mao Zedong’s Communists — that observed the corruption and weakness of the former, came under particular scrutiny: ”Selfish and corrupt, incapable and obstructive,” were a few of the words used to describe the Chiang Government in a 1944 memo to General Stilwell. In July 1944, John Service[i] managed to get to Mao’s headquarters in Yanan. He wrote that he felt he had ”come into a different country,” one marked by hard work, cooperation and ”the absence of banditry.”

Recording his first impressions, he wrote: ”There is an absence of show and formality, both in speech and action. Relations of the officials and people toward us, and of the Chinese themselves, are open, direct and friendly. Mao Zedong and other leaders are universally spoken of with respect (amounting in the case of Mao to a kind of veneration).”

This was in sharp contrast to the ”crisis” of the Chiang Government he described in a crucial memo to General Stilwell that Oct. 11. ”Recent defeats have exposed its military ineffectiveness and will hasten the approaching economic disaster.”

It was not solely the Yenan Observer Mission – often referred to as the Dixie Mission because it was in rebel territory – reporting on a dictatorial suppression of dissent in Nationalist-controlled areas, the corrupt political and military elite that made the Republic of China Government vulnerable. The Chinese Communist Party for its part, experienced success in its early efforts at land reform and was lauded by peasants for its unflagging efforts to fight against the Japanese invaders. Eventually Service drafted a letter, signed by the rest of the diplomatic staff in the Nationalist capital, Chongqing, urging that the United States provide aid to the Communists in order to reduce casualties in an expected Allied invasion from the sea. General Hurley charged betrayal and got him recalled, this time for good. Telling it as it was saw loyal US officials like John Service accused of being communist sympathisers. Service, John Vincent, John Davies, Oliver Edmund Clubb were all forced out of the Foreign Service. All were eventually vindicated: cleared by a State Department loyalty board — by his count Service would eventually pass nine such inquiries. [ii] Critical reports from American military leaders – General Albert C. Wedemeyer, who assumed command over US forces in China following the dismissal of the equally critical General Joseph Stilwell in October 1944- concluded that China was lost:

“Notwithstanding all the corruption and incompetence that one notes in China, it is a certainty that the bulk of the people are not disposed to a Communist political and economic structure. Some have become affiliated with Communism in indignant protest against oppressive police measures, corrupt practices and maladministration of National Government officials. Some have lost all hope for China under existing leadership and turn to the Communists in despair. Some accept a new leadership by mere inertia.”[iii]



Mao Zedong had a different take on things describing The White Paper as a counter-revolutionary document which openly demonstrates U.S. imperialist intervention in China:

“China is in the midst of a great revolution. All China is seething with enthusiasm. The conditions are favourable for winning over and uniting with all those who do not have a bitter and deep-seated hatred for the cause of the people’s revolution, even though they have mistaken ideas. Progressives should use the White Paper to persuade all these persons.”

The Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung contains five commentaries written by Mao Tse-tung for the Hsinhua News Agency on the U.S. State Department’s White Paper and Dean Acheson’s Letter of Transmittal. The White Paper supplied the material in ‘Cast Away Illusions, Prepare for Struggle’ (August 14, 1949) , “Farewell, Leighton Stuart!”, “Why It Is Necessary to Discuss the White Paper”, “‘Friendship’ or Aggression?” and “The Bankruptcy of the Idealist Conception of History” to exposed the imperialist nature of United States policy towards China, criticized the illusions about U.S. imperialism harboured by some of the bourgeois intellectuals in China and gave a theoretical explanation of the reasons for the rise of the Chinese revolution and for its victory. The press campaign sought to discredit the United States for everything it had done in China since the Treaty of Wanghia in 1844, and especially for its recent actions. In a fair summary, Mao wrote,

“Acheson’s White Paper admits that the U.S. imperialists are at a complete loss as to what to do about the present situation in China. The Kuomintang is so impotent that no amount of help can save it from inevitable doom; the U.S. imperialists are losing grip over things and feel helpless.”

In the narrative of the American effort in China from Pearl Harbour to the Marshal Mission, Feis writing mainly from the official record substantially follows the 1,054-page ‘white paper’ titled United States relations with China, with special reference to the period 1944-49. Published in early August 1949, it outlined the situation in China, detailed American involvement and assistance to the Chinese and suggested reasons for the failure of the Chinese Nationalist government was that it was so corrupt, inefficient, and unpopular that no amount of U.S. aid could save it. Nevertheless, the communist victory in China brought forth a wave of criticism from Republicans who charged that the Truman administration lost China through gross mishandling of the situation,

Dean Acheson (1893-1971) introduction to the White Paper stated otherwise:

“… This is a frank record of an extremely complicated and most unhappy period in the life of a great country to which the United States has long been attached by ties of closest friendship…

By the beginning of the 20th century, the combined force of overpopulation and new ideas set in motion that chain of events which can be called the Chinese Revolution. It is one of the most imposing revolutions in recorded history and its outcome and consequences are yet to be foreseen…

Representatives of our government, military and civilian, who were sent to assist the Chinese on prosecuting [World War II] soon discovered that the long struggle had seriously weakened the Chinese government, not only militarily and economically but also politically and in morale… It was evident to us that only a rejuvenated and progressive Chinese government which could recapture the enthusiastic loyalty of the people could and would wage and effective war against Japan…

When peace came, the United States was confronted with three possible alternatives in China: it could have pulled out lock, stock and barrel; it could have intervened militarily on a major scale to assist the Nationalists to destroy the Communists; [or] it could, while assisting the Nationalists to assert their authority over as much as China as possible, endeavour to avoid a civil war by working for a compromise between the two sides…

The second objective, of assisting the Nationalist government, we pursued vigorously from 1945 to 1949. The National government was the recognised government of a friendly power. Our friendship, and our right under international law alike, called for our aid to the government instead of to the Communists, who were seeking to subvert and overthrow it…

The reasons for the failure of the Chinese National government… do not stem from any inadequacy of American aid… The fact was that the decay which our observers had detected… early in the war had fatally sapped the powers of resistance of the Guomindang. Its leaders had proved incapable of meeting the crisis confronting them, its troops had lost the will to fight, and its government had lost popular support.

The Communists, on the other hand, through a ruthless discipline and fanatical zeal, attempted to sell themselves as guardians and liberators of the people. The Nationalist armies did not have to be defeated, they disintegrated. History has proved again and again that a regime without faith in itself and an army without morale cannot survive the test of battle…

The unfortunate but inescapable fact is that the ominous result of the civil war in China was beyond the control of the government of the United States. Nothing that this country did or could have done, within the reasonable limits of its capabilities, could have changed that result; nothing that was left undone by this country has contributed to it. It was the product of internal Chinese forces, forces which this country tried to influence but could not…”

That perspective has never been accepted by the China Lobby. Although the basic premise should be that China wasn’t America’s to lose in the first place, when the Chiang Government disintegrated, the search for culprits intensified. This historic episode – “Who Lost China?” is one repeatedly returned to in academia, less so in mainstream publishing occasional sellers like Sterling Seagrave’s The Soong Dynasty.


This bibliography taken from an FromTheDixieMissionToTheMarshallMission-1943-1946  on the events:



Annexes to United States Relations with China, with Special Reference to the Period 1944-1949. Published by the Department of State, with a “Letter from Secretary of State Acheson to President Truman Transmitting the Record,” 30 July 1949 (“The China White Paper”).

Barrett, Colonel David, Dixie Mission: The United States Army Observer Group in Yenan, 1944. The Center for Chinese Studies: University of California at Berkeley, 1970.

Buhite, Russell, Patrick Hurley and American Foreign Policy. Cornell University Press, 1973.

Carter, Carolle, Mission to Yenan: American Liaison with the Chinese Communists, 1944-1947. The University Press of Kentucky, 1997.

Ching-kuo, Chiang, My Father. Taipei, 1956.

Claudin, Fernando, The Communist Movement: From Comintern to Cominform, Volume II , New York, 1975.

Davies, John, China Hand: An Autobiography. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.

Davies, John, “Memoranda by Foreign Service Officers in China, 1943-1945,” in The China White Paper.

Dedijer, Vladimer, Tito Speaks, 1953.

Feis, Herbert, The China Tangle: The American Effort in China from Pearl Harbor to the Marshall Mission. Princeton University Press, 1965.

Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), 1944 and 1945.

Garver, John, Chinese-Soviet Relations 1937-1945: The Diplomacy of Chinese Nationalism. Oxford University Press, 1988.

Gauss, Clarence, “The Ambassador in China to Secretary Hull,” 31 August 1944 in The China White Paper.

Harding, Harry and Ming, Yuan editors, Sino-American Relations, 1945-1955, SR Books, 1989.

Hurley, Patrick to Chou Enlai, 11 December 1944, Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) 1944, 6.

Jian, Chen, Mao’s China and the Cold War. The University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

Joiner, Lynne, Honorable Survivor: Mao’s China, McCarthy’s America, and the Persecution of John S. Service. Naval Institute Press, 2009.

Jun, Niu, From Yen’an Marching toward the World: The Origin of the CCP’s Foreign Policies, 1935-1949. Fujian People’s Press, 1992. Passages translated in English by Chen Jian in Mao’s China.

Kai-shek, Chiang, China’s Destiny, 1943, published in English in 1947. New York, Roy Publishers.

Kai-shek, Chiang, “Statement to the Fifth Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang,” 13 September 1943 in The China White Paper.

Koen, Ross, The China Lobby in American Politics. Harper & Row, 1974.

Levine, Steven, Anvil of Victory: The Communist Revolution in Manchuria, 1945-1948, Columbia University Press, 1987.

Marshall, George, Marshall’s Mission to China, Volumes I and II, December 1945-January 1947, including “Appended Documents.” University Publications of America, 1976.

People’s Political Council, “Report by the Representative of the National Government and the Report by the Representative of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party,” 15 September 1944 in The China White Paper.

Pepper, Suzanne, “The KMT-CCP Conflict, 1945-1949” in The Nationalist Era in China, 1927-1949. Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Pepper, Suzanne, Civil War in China: The Political Struggle, 1945-1949. University of California Press, 1978.

Peterkin, Colonel W. J., Inside China: 1943-1945, An Eyewitness Account of America’s Mission to Yenan. Gateway Press, 1992.

Reardon-Anderson, James, Yenan and the Great Powers: The Origins of Chinese Communist Foreign Policy, 1944-1946. Columbia University Press, 1980.

Schaller, Michael, The U.S. Crusade in China, 1938-1945. Columbia University Press, 1979.

Service, John, “Memoranda by Foreign Service Officers in China, 1943-1945,” in The China White Paper.

Service, John, Lost Chance in China: The World War II Despatches of John S. Service, edited by Joseph Esherick, Random House, 1974.

Sheng, Michael, Battling Western Imperialism: Mao, Stalin and the United States. Princeton University Press, 1997.

Snow, Edgar, Red Star Over China. Grove Press, 1961.

Stilwell, Joseph, The Stilwell Papers: General Joseph W. Stilwell’s Iconoclastic Account of America’s Adventures in China. Edited by Theodore White. Shocken Books, 1948.

Taylor, Jay, The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China. Harvard University Press, 2009.

Truman, Harry, Harry S. Truman: Years of Trial and Hope, 1946-1952. Doubleday & Co., 1956.

Tse-tung, Mao, “On Coalition Government,” 24 April 1945, Selected Works, Volume III. Foreign Languages Press, 1975.

Tse-tung, Mao, “On the Chungking Negotiations,” 17 October 1945, Selected Works, Volume IV. Foreign Languages Press, 1969.

Tse-tung, Mao, “Build Stable Base Areas in the Northeast,” 28 December 1945, Selected Works, Volume IV.

Tse-tung, Mao, “Smash Chiang-shek’s Offensive by a War of Self-Defense, 20 July 1946, Selected Works, Volume IV.

Tse-tung, Mao, “The Truth About U.S. ‘Mediation’ and the Future of the Civil War in China,” 29 September 1946, Selected Works, Volume IV.

Tse-tung Mao, “A Three Months Summary,” 1 October 1946, Selected Works, Volume IV.

Tse-tung Mao, “Greet the New High Tide of the Chinese Revolution,” 1 February 1947, Selected Works, Volume IV.

Tse-tung, Mao, “Speech at the Tenth Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee,” 24 September 1962,

in Chairman Mao Talks to the People, Talks and Letters: 1956-1971, edited by Stuart Schram. Pantheon Books, 1974.

Tsou, Tang, America’s Failure in China, 1941-1950, Volumes 1 and 2. University of Chicago Press, 1963.

Tuchman, Barbara, Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945. Grove Press, 1970.

Tuchman, Barbara, “If Mao Had Come to Washington: An Essay in Alternatives,” Foreign Affairs, October 1972.

Wallace, Henry, “The Vice-President’s Discussion with President Chiang,” 23 June 1944 in The China White Paper.

Westad, Odd Arne, Cold War and Revolution: Soviet-American Rivalry and the Origins of the Chinese Civil War, 1944-1946. Columbia University Press, 1993.

Yu, Maochun, OSS in China: Prelude to Cold War. Naval Institute Press, 1996.

Yu, Maochun, The Dragon’s Tail: Allied Operations and the Fate of China, 1937-1947. Naval Institute Press, 2006.

Zhang Shuguang and Jian, Chen, Chinese Communist Foreign Policy and the Cold War in Asia: New Documentary Evidence, 1944-1950. Imprint Publications, 1996.




[ii] In the Sixties Service enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley, received a master’s degree and became library curator of its Center for Chinese Studies. He published several books on China, including a volume of his wartime dispatches, ”Last Chance in China”.

Esherick, Joseph W., ed. (1974) Lost Chance in China: The World War II Despatches of John S. Service New York: Random House, 409 pp.

[iii] ‘Report on China-Korea’, 1947, Appendix VI in Albert C. Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer Reports!, New York: Holt, 1958, p.464.

Chinese Nationalist soldiers

LLCO: an Extended Footnote

On the Internet even the marginal can be on somebodies favourite list even if little known outside the orbit of their own ego. Not all individual commentators should be categorised together or warrant the attention they receive; their value may be entertainment rather than thought provoking. But sometimes you cannot but follow the white rabbit down the hole…..

The political genealogy of the Leading Light Communist Organization is in various small, mostly Maoist North American groups, with much of the core idea goes back to the mid-1990s from early shaping experiences with MIM, It’s Right to Rebel “think tank” experience and web journal, Monkey Smashes Heaven. There was political work in Mexico, without really establishing deep roots, along the way. There was a fifteen year development as “the best of the best, warrior geniuses” developed “Maoist-Third Worldist” positions as “the new line we were creating.” From Denver USA the first group calling itself Leading Light Communist Organisation was formed in 2010. Bibliographical background, mostly an unverifiable account was supplied in an interview with fellow LLCO member in 2017.

Internet criticism on Redditt of LLCO that “long story short, the Leading Light Communist Organization really has nothing besides a nice website” had the unsatisfyingly self-serving reply from a supporter of the clandestine organization, “Prairie Fire” that “I doubt any answer I give will satisfy you. If you don’t see the light, you don’t see it. The advanced do see it.”

Eventually the anonymity of “Prairie Fire” gave way to the self-aggrandisement that saw the self-publishing website Lulu carry the endorsement that:

Brennen Ryan, “Leading Light,” “Prairie Fire,” “El Hector,” is one of the most important theorists of revolution in our age. His works span many topics ranging from political economy to epistemology to environmentalism to history to aesthetics. He has been described as “the Marx of the present epoch.”

Stalwart  and founder-leader of the Leading Light Communist Organization, Brennen Ryan’s self-identifying revolutionary genius is based on thin ground: he has put into the public domain a couple of pieces of secondary research work largely hung around the line struggles in Maoist China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, principally Seas are rising, Clouds and Waters Raging, but more generally produces writings of a preacher’s revivalist tone with bald assertions that soon become ritualistic frequent. However, the emphasis of self-cultivation – to live according to our best selves – speaks with a voice that seemingly has an audience in Bangladesh and Ghana, and has a friend in fellow sensation-in-his-own-mind Jason of Maoist Rebel News (so far not prosecuted under the Trade Description Act).

Brennen’s analysis, rooted in the idea of the global rich versus the global poor, built upon a sense that the world is deeply unjust and is informed by an analysis of the class struggle in China in the Sixties particularly when

“Lin Biao died in 1971. China’s support for people’s wars around the world is replaced by an opportunistic, nationalist calculation not unlike the Soviet revisionist one. China begins aligning with the Western imperialists. This nationalist opportunism is sometimes associated with a doctrine called “Three Worlds Theory,” but the theory was really just window dressing for the practice.”

Brennen said of Seas are rising, Clouds and Waters Raging, “the book traces the development of not just the Cultural Revolution ideology of the Maoists, but also the dual institutions that allowed the Maoists to bypass and challenge the traditional, bureaucratic chains of command. Once examined closely, it is hard to imagine how the Cultural Revolution could have happened without Lin Biao.”

A position not dissimilar to some bourgeois scholars of the Cultural Revolution, who also acknowledge – as did Mao – that there was no masterplan that unraveled and the accidental nature of the developments driven by the mass movements involved. And he is not the first to raise the point that “Obviously there is a lot of deception going on in the post-Lin Biao Maoist narratives.”

“There are a couple reasons I have focused on Lin Biao in my work. The first reason is that Lin Biao was a revolutionary. He represented some of the best of the Maoist era. He symbolized the Cultural Revolution and worldwide people’s war. That’s good stuff. Secondly, I view Lin Biao as a kind of barometer. How you view Lin Biao really reflects whether you are stuck in the dogma of police narratives and metaphysics or whether you have genuine scientific potential. If you are afraid to question dogma, then you are not very useful to the proletariat. If you are comfortable with dogma, injustice, police narratives, etc., then, again, you are not really leadership, vanguard, Leading Light material.”

His message contains reasonable, logical and pertain observations like

“We cannot reform our way to revolution. Revolution is a deep, fundamental reorganization of all of society, it means disempowering the reactionary classes. It means empowering the revolutionary classes” and

The next wave of revolution is not going to be made by dogmatically repeating the past. We need to learn from the past, but also go beyond it. Those who are stuck in the past really do a disservice to the masses”


Brennen argues in the same vein as earlier Third worldist trends that extended the concept of a Labour Aristocracy to embrace all working people geographically located in the Global North regardless of their local relationship to the means of productions and actual standard of consumption in a “Global Class Analysis” that echoes Lin Biao’s “global countryside” that opposed a “global city.” Leading Light’s line is not that there is no proletariat in the First World countries. Rather that there is no significant proletariat in the First World countries.

“In fact, the last century of revolution has taught us that revolution will happen in the weakest links of the system, on the edges of global economic power. Lenin’s prediction that the storm center of world revolution moving eastward came to past. Mao spoke of the east wind prevailing over the west wind. Today, the entire world economy is a single entity. Understanding the question of friends and enemies, Mao’s first question requires a class analysis that is truly global. It is not just First World capitalists who are reactionary enemies, but most people in the First World. Ordinary people in the First World have far more to lose than their chains. They have wealth, privileges, houses, cars, electronics, security, leisure, opportunities, mobility. They have access to capital. They have social wealth, infrastructure, land, modern institutions. Ordinary people in the First World do not have a class interest in revolution.”

Amongst the sensible soundbites there are the messianic expression of a medieval true believer in revelatory truth.

“After much difficulty, we continue to assemble the greatest revolutionary minds and hearts alive. The most thoughtful, the most daring, the most caring will be with us. We are Leading Lights, the warriors, the martyrs. We are the Leading Light, the organization of the new type to initiate the Global People’s War, to purge the world of all suffering, so that a new humanity and land will flourish. Our future is our own because we have the science, the leadership, the organization, the loyalty, the discipline, the daring, the courage to really win. There is an oath, a command that we have written on our souls: One Earth. One people. One organization. One leadership. One life to give. My life for the masses, for the land, for the Leading Light.”

Like the Avakianists and their “New Synthesis,” Brennen claims that Leading Light Communism represents a new breakthrough in revolutionary science, one that makes previous ones obsolete. The appeal of Maoism said to be that it romanticises guerrilla struggles in the third world in a pseudo-intellectual rhetoric which suggest a shallow understanding of what constitutes Maoism. So they claim to transcend their ideological roots in Maoism and regard those who still have an identification with it as part of the ideological opposition. Brennen sees the left as stuck in dogma. In 2011, writing as Prairie Fire he criticised the experienced Communist Party of the Philippines as

“armed revisionists. While they may be landing some blows against imperialism, they are not communists. Besides being completely dead intellectually, they are crude dogmatists, especially Jose Maria Sison.”

He is equally dismissive and critical of the newly emerged radical First-World based Maoists and Gonzaloist trends:

“The idea that Maoism is some kind of “third, higher stage” is not a new idea. Many Maoists today think this “new stage” stuff is from Gonzalo in Peru. It isn’t. Before Gonzalo was talking this way, India’s Charu Majumdar was. And Charu Majumdar just got it from his contemporaries in China. The idea goes back to Maoist discourse that was popularized in the mid and late 1960s. The “new stage” idea is specifically from Lin Biao. It is mentioned over and over in such obscure texts as the original introduction to Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong. Yes, the “red book.” It is even in Lin Biao’s “Report to the Ninth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party” in 1969. The inability to deal with history honestly is part of the comical nature of Maoism today.”

brennen ryan

I think of Maoism a lot like Maoists once used to think of Hoxhaism, as “dogmatic revisionism.” I see it as a dead trend and a dead end.


LLCO has produced a body of literature to substantiate its Third Worldist political orientation. The Maoist adjective now dropped.

A free introductory booklet, Forward! breaks down the basics of Leading Light Communism. It addresses many of the most frequently asked questions, and advises that “All new cadre and supporters should familiarize themselves with these answers. These answers are the beginning of knowledge, not the end. Keep advancing. Prove yourself. Follow the Leading Light all the way. Be the Leading Light.”product_thumbnail

Publish in various languages, illustration is AVANTE: Questões Frequentes parte 1: O que é a Luz Guiadora?” is Frequently Asked Questions of LLCO in Portuguese.

Other publications include the Leading Light magazine that focuses on a main topic. See

Leading Light 1:  The General Line
Leading Light 2:  Science In Command
Leading Light 3:  Orientation
Leading Light 4:  Revolutionary History
Leading Light 5:  Practice

Available in various languages including Bengali e.g.

A theoretical publication, Monkey Smashes Heaven saw two issues consisting of reprints of web-based articles attributed to “Prairie Fire”. In addition there are

Casting Pearls 2015 Lulu. By Prairie Fire

We are proud to announce the publication of Casting Pearls: philosophy, science, art, revolution by Leading Light Commander Prairie Fire. This work outlines some of the biggest breakthroughs in contemporary revolutionary science, product_thumbnail (3)Leading Light Communism. This volume also contains important, significant, unpublished materials. All over the world, the revolutionary movement is discovering the importance of science once again. From Bangladesh to Brazil, from Myanmar to Germany, from India to Canada, from Mexico to Russia, from the Philippines to the United States the masses are waking up. It is a must read for all those who seek a better world.

By whatever name he goes by, Brennen is offering the world an answer. He is confident and full of self-belief similar to other American leaders whose ideas and practice of leadership stem from privilege and entitlement. So far less people have bought into the version of LLCO that is being marketed via the world wide web.

“I embrace the best in all the Leading Lights of the past. In that sense, I am a Marxist, a Leninist, a Maoist, and a Lin Biaoist. However, that is not all that I am. Not only do I embrace what is the best in the revolutionary tradition, I embrace the most advanced breakthroughs today. I am a Leading Light Communist, a revolutionary scientist. Truth, as best as it can be understood, is my great leader.”

“…as Leading Lights, we are condemned to lead. We carry the world on our shoulders. We need to understand the past, but if we are to have victory, we must go beyond it. Elevate the science. Advance the science. Science. Science. Science. Leading Light Communism is the key to the future, our great destiny.”

Unverified Afternote

The website Soviet Broadcast posted this item:

April 20 2019, 11:12 AM

For those unaware former figurehead of the LLCO Prairie Fire (Hector) passed away on April 18th due to a heroin overdose.

MLM Line Struggle USA


Line struggles involving American Maoist collectives


   Documentary material on radical themes & occurrences

Returning to a subject explored in America’s Maoist Mushrooms, not just Facebook entities as with the impression given by third Worldists trend, but small activists group, network building involving Maoist pre-party formations. They have drawn some local media comment along the line of Red Guards and the Modern Face of Protest and varying degrees of criticism from the Left:

  1. Reply Austin red guards CONTERPRO attacks and slanderous attack against the PSLThe Party for Socialism and Liberation, a Marxist–Leninist group formed in 2004 as the result of a split within the ranks of the Workers World Party.
  2. The ecumenical Communist Labor Party, a multi-tendency political organization founded in 2015, compared RGA to the ultraleft Bordigist elements
  3. Black Red Guard is a native of Ferguson, Missouri, and became involved in political organizing as a result of the 2014 uprising. He runs a YouTube channel and asks: Why do People Continue to Take the US Red Guards Seriously

However summarized here is a  Recent History of US MLM Movement  before a selection of documents from their polemical engagement in line struggle.

“Our political development mirrors that of the entire contemporary Maoist movement” – RGLA-4-year-summation  (2017)

cropped-red-guards-pgh-cityscape-wide-copy-e1537219980144The contemporary Maoist movement began roughly around 2012/13 mainly in the east coast, particularly in New York City – with the NCP-OC’s first congress being held in 2013. But the Maoist movement back then – with its centre in student organizing – only now exists as a memory and contains valuable lessons on not repeating those errors. Today the U.S. Maoist movement is an integral part of the countrywide antifascist and anti-gentrification movements. U.S. Maoism, as it is now, sparked in the heart of the proletarian urban centres, mostly populated by oppressed nationalities.

RGLA – Red Guard Los Angles -was founded in October 2014 as a Maoist pre-Party cadre/ the first Maoist collective to start up, was immediately followed by our comrades-in-arms RGA – Red Guard Austin -, and then followed by and under their leadership Red Guards Philadelphia (now defunct), then Red Guards Pittsburgh, Red Guards Kansas City and most recently Red Guards Charlotte. While no summation as of yet exists for the liquidation of Red Guards Philadelphia, the Red Guards principally Maoist movement continues to be growing. This network of like-minded autonomousfile_327ff2a1de_400w collectives remain ideologically connected whilst organisational independent. The publishing programme of Fourth Sword publications reflective of their define Maoism, the Maoism brought to the world principally by the Communist Party of Peru (In Spanish, the acronym is PCP) and Chairman Gonzalo. There was a lot of struggle within the 2018 inaugural Maoist Conference for Line Struggle held in Kansas City and by the end of the conference it was eventually agreed upon by all collectives that it is not yet the appropriate time to form a National Organizing Committee.

In the aftermath of the conference there has been intensified polemical interventions that have taken on an international dimensions on websites. They sided with criticism that emerged of Sison, founder-leader of the Communist party of the Philippines. They took sides in the split in the Canadian RCP. They repost the joint statement from various parties and groups in defence of the life of imprisoned PCP Chairman Gonzalo which appeared on the website Dem Volke Dienen . Organised co-ordinated protests in November 2018 against the disappearance, Dr. Sernas—a professor of constitutional law at Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca—in the midst of defending twenty-three Maoist militants of Corriente de Pueblo Sol Rojo, a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organization based in Oaxaca.2018 coordinated protest at mexican consulates

The RGA Summation tagline includes a reference to the forthcoming protracted people’s war. This was the topic of an earlier collection of documents focused on an element in the construction of what constitutes “Maoist” amongst the fragmentary groups who self-identify as such, and the physiology of twenty-first century Maoism, by identifying arguments and positions attempting to shape the political strategy for the decades to come.

 Dissenting View

 Mass Proletariat

Document 1  | “A Course Correction for Maoism in the US

Document 2   |   On correcting mistaken ideas in Boston

Document 3   |   RGA Is Not an MLM Organization

Document 4   |   One More Time for Those in the Back . . .

Document 5   |   Once Again on Red Guards Austin: Lackeyism and U.S. Empire

Deterioration Relations

 Document 6 |Red Guards Kansas City | 2018 A Critique of the KC Anarchist Milieu

Document 7   |The New Line of Red Guards Kansas City

Document 8 | 2017 Deterioration in Relations

Document 9 | Statement on the History of the Tampa Maoist Collective and its Dissolving: If You Don’t Dare to Struggle, You Don’t Deserve to Win. 

Document 10 | A Critical Reading of the Tampa Summation


Document 11   | the-chicano-national-question

Document 12   | Updated position on the Chicano Nation



We recognize the PCR-RCP and its historical leadership based in Montreal as the sole representative of the Canadian proletariat, and as the only Maoist Party in North America.”

Document 13   |   2018 Communique on the veiled “criticism” from the phony-Maoists in Canada

Document 14   |  2018 RGA LA Maoism from below On the right opportunist, revisionist, and liquidationist, theory of J. Moufawad Paul

Document 15   |   Sided with criticism that emerged of CPP from a small German group which was defended in the Joint declaration of the Red Guards Collectives from the USA. 2018 Regarding the class combat of left and right lines in Germany and the incidents following May 1


1979: The Mao Defendants


In January 1979 Avakian was amongst 75 arrested at a demonstration against (old style: Teng Hsiao-Ping) Deng Xiaoping’s visit with Jimmy Carter at the White House and charged with assaulting a police officer. In the party’s narrative this demonstration of 500 people, called by the Revolutionary Communist Party, came at a crucial time when the U.S. ruling class was arrogantly and smugly parading Deng Xiaoping around as living proof that the Chinese revolution, in particular, and revolution in general was dead and a useless pursuit.

Upholding the revolutionary line of Mao Zedong, chanting “Mao Tsetung Did Not Fail – Revolution Will Prevail” the Washington demonstration was classed as an extremely significant and powerful event of worldwide and historic importance; “At a crucial juncture it not only exposed Teng Hsiao-ping as a revisionist-traitor and his enlistment of China on the side of the U.S. war bloc, the demonstration declared that revolution was very much alive and determined to overcome the reversal in China and everything else in its path.

RCP literature presented Avakian as the most dangerous man in America, that he was the best leader the U.S. working class has ever had, that the U.S. government intended to “railroad” Avakian and the other “Mao Tse-tung Defendants because the RCP was seen by the government as “the most dangerous revolutionary organization in this country.”

The RCP and Bob did not always get comradely support from others from the new Communism Movement. The Communist Party, USA (Marxist-Leninist) article, dismissingly headlined, “Bob Avakian, The Jerk is Loose” Bolshevik Revolution, No. 1, December 1979.

While the RCP’s “infantile leftism” was condemned in a polemical piece headlined,

A Reply to the RCP: “Mao Defenders” Sow Ideological Confusion and Provoke Reaction.

“The RCP’s arrogant, self-inflated view of itself as the maker of revolution contradicts reality as well as the Marxist-Leninist understanding of who it is that really makes revolution. Unite! Vol. 5, No. 17, October 1, 1979.

The relentless activism of the organization intensified in the year following the arrests: RCP cadre and supporters attacked the Chinese Embassy in Washington, disrupted a press conference with Deng Xiaoping and marched through the streets of Washington, San Francisco and Seattle in red blazers and berets waving the “little red book” and posters of Mao Tsetung and the Gang of Four. From coast to coast, in the build up to nationwide MayDay disruptions, the RCP’s strived for its name to be become synonymous with that of Mao Tsetung. In its campaign, “A Fitting Welcome for Teng”, its main slogan was “Uphold Mao and the Gang of Four”. Those arrested in the course of these demonstrations are known as the “Mao Defendants.”

Revolutionary Worker No.88 January 16th 1981

Major events

“We do not want to be convicted! That would be a crippling blow against our Party and against building a revolutionary movement in this country.”

The defense brought out the legal question of prosecutorial vindictiveness—a term referring to any action of a prosecutor in response to the assertion of a legal right by a defendant which can appear to be a reprisal against the defendant for asserting that right. The prosecution had originally indicted the Mao Defendants in two separate groups of nine and eight, with one group charged with eleven felonies and another with fifteen (this itself was an escalation from the original charges of one misdemeanor and one felony).

When the defendants asked for a joint trial and won—a move that clearly signaled the intent of the Party and the defendants to treat this as the political trial it was and to take every opportunity to expose the politics behind it—the prosecution responded by upping the charges against all 17 to 25 felonies, one misdemeanor and a possible 241 years of jail time.

The RCP newspaper, the Revolutionary Worker covered the speech by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA at the Free Bob Avakian and the Mao Tsetung Defendants rally held in Washington, D.C., on November 18. 1979. It was also published as a separate pamphlet, Bob Avakian Speaks On The Mao Tsetung Defendants Railroad And The Historic Battle Ahead. Bob said,

They saw a disciplined, militant, powerful march of 500 people going down the street in unison chanting and delivering a clear political message, and they saw twice that number of pigs surrounding the march. And all of them to a man and woman’ said, “Goddamm, something motherfucking heavy must be going on here. I’d better check it out!” [Revolutionary Worker No.57 May 30th 1980]

Only a few days before the rally the case against the <Mao Tsetung Defendants> was dismissed in a lower court and immediately appealed to a higher one. This was a real victory- the Government had been forced to back off.  poster

The party-initiated, Committee to Free the Mao Tsetung Defendants described the trumped up charges totalling up to a possible 241 years of jail time, and the government using legal means (with pending hearings in federal appeals court) against the Chairman and the 16 other Mao Defendants as part of a continuing plot and manoeuvre as the ruling class decides its next move.

Shortly after the dismissal, the prosecution appealed. And while the brief sat in the higher court, the ruling class went about the business of laying the basis to either get the Chairman in some other way or to bring back this particular attack on a more favorable basis for them. This began shortly later with a Secret Service investigation of Comrade AvaWan based on an L.A. Times article with a so-called quote proven—even later admitted—to have been false, concerning a. threat against Carter, continued through the 800 arrests of Party members and supporters in the course of building for revolutionary May Day 1980 and the murder of Damian Garcia just a week before it; and recently intensified both with a concentrated media campaign to brand the RCP as terrorists and with the arrest of 2 revolutionaries in Atlanta on the charge of advocating the overthrow of the government—carrying a 20-year jail term—with the main piece of evidence a poster publicizing the Revolutionary Worker with a quote from Comrade Avakian on it.

Revolutionary Worker No.77 October 24 1980

Damián García, who was closely associated with the RCP and who had raised a red flag on top of the Alamo a few weeks earlier as part of building for RCP-sponsored demonstrations on May Day 1980, was murdered in Los Angeles. Avakian told the Washington rally of the attacks that the party had withstood,

And even since the Greensboro incident, these attacks have continued to intensify, with firebombs being thrown into our offices, with bullets being shot into our offices, with direct threats being made to attack and destroy our Party headquarters in various parts of the country. And direct attacks have, for example, been made on one of the other Mao Tsetung Defendants not far from Greensboro in Durham, North Carolina.

Bob Avakian Speaks On The Mao Tsetung Defendants Railroad And The Historic Battle Ahead 1981

According to Avakian’s memoirs, within this same period there were growing reports of death threats against him from various quarters.

We know that they’re still carrying out COINTELPRO stuff”

The party was coming under intense scrutiny including a Secret Service “Investigation” of Bob Avakian.

Five hundred thirty-four pages of Secret Service documents concerning Bob Avakian and the RCP which were recently released through the Freedom of Information Act, makes clearer the top level government conspiracy to crush this revolutionary Party and wipe out its leadership.

Revolutionary Worker No. 46 March 21,1980

The majority of the materials released deal with the RCP and its activities in only the last two years, in particular since the January 29th demonstration in Washington, D.C. against Deng Xiaoping. This was said to be

merely the obvious tip of a giant, submerged iceberg of political surveillance, harassment and repression being carried out against the Revolutionary Communist Party, with special focus on its Chairman, Bob Avakian, in a coordinated nationwide massive effort by the U.S. Secret Service.

What did the material reveal? In part: clear indications of both informants and actual government agents infiltrating RCP activity and prosecution being actively considered against the RCP and its members on the charge of advocating the violent overthrow of the government. While fighting these charges, Avakian went on a national speaking tour in 1979 and while in Los Angeles, gave an interview to an L.A. Times reporter. In her article, the reporter attributed statements to Avakian that were distortions, which the Secret Service then used as a pretext for an investigation, the Secret Service’s ongoing attempt to frame Bob Avakian on the charge that he allegedly “threatened the life of the president.” After being threatened with a lawsuit, the L.A. Times printed a partial retraction. The Secret Service investigation was challenged in court, and nothing ever came of this investigation

campaign ad

“And I want to emphasize-politically-we’re going to be creating political turmoil and creating public opinion around this whole case and all the issues. Because this touches on all the fundamental issues of society and the world. It touches on the developments towards world war. It touches on the nature of the dictatorship in this country. It touches on the question of revolution. Many of the fundamental questions, political questions, of society and world affairs are going to be brought out in this trial.”

BA Interview with the Washington Post given in October 1979.

However, at the time of state attention and repression, after receiving an arrest warrant, Avakian “jumped bail” and fled to France. For years the only image was a picture of a bearded Avakian, wearing a flat cap, gazing solemnly at the camera, describing : “[t]he author in exile, in front of the Wall of Communards in Paris, 1981.”

And so he remains in exile, a man persecuted in his own land.untitled

Except he wasn’t. All charges against Bob Avakian were dropped in 1982, as he admits in his book, From Ike to Mao and Beyond. My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, a memoir by Bob Avakian [2006].

In 1982, after a three-year court battle, 17 members, the “Mao Tse Tung defendants”, were acquitted of felony charges for allegedly violent activity at a demonstration in Washington, D.C.

But the chairman was still on the run, even if nobody is chasing him in self-imposed exile in France for nearly 40 years until his return to the US where “Chairman Bob” is revered by his small party in terms suggestive that he is the architect of a New World. They have established the Bob Avakian Institute to promote his words and analysis. The hyperbolic presentation of Avakian [e,g, ] maintains that there is an ongoing and ever present danger to the person of Chairman Bob and the organization he leads. The propaganda campaigns to ‘defend BA’ – as Avakian is affectionately referred too – has included a relentless poster and publicity campaign and media stunts such as back in 2007 when a group of people including well known personalities like Chuck D, Cindy Sheehan, Cornel West and others 710YHPsNKOL__UX250_had signed an ad in the New York Review of Books urging everyone to “engage” with the thoughts of Bob Avakian, and calling for the government not to suppress his freedom of speech across a full page of The New York Review of Books: an advertisement featuring the boldface words, “Dangerous times demand courageous voices. Bob Avakian is such a voice.”

All this activism contrasts with where the RCP came from: during the New Communist Movement in the US they were the most significant movement outside of the Black Panthers when in the 1970s the RU/RCP-USA had a significant presence that was embedded in the working class throughout all of the US. The government considered them a threat from their foundation; the FBI eventually decided that they were the number one threat, worse than the Weather Underground: the declassified documents that illustrate how the FBI infiltrated and helped wreck the RCP-USA were explored in the book Heavy Radicals. Of course it is also worth pointing out that the RCP-USA’s degeneration into the cult of Avakian that it is today was not just the responsibility of counter-insurgency but, as Heavy Radicals makes this point, also of unhealthy internal practices. Avakian was one of four leaders of the original RU/RCP-USA and it is not until the final split, around the post-Mao leadership in China, that he ended up being the sole authority. It degenerated into a political sect that, based on the memory of its once importance, still imagines it represents communism itself. And because of its American exceptionalism imagines it is imposing Bob’s ideas (eg, the “new synthesis“) upon the entire international communist movement.

1968, Grosvenor Square – that’s where the protest should be made

Vietnam comic here

The opposition to the Vietnam War in Britain had begun as early as 1953 when a vietnam comiccommunist sympathizer, Commander Edgar Young, formed the British–Vietnam Committee (BVC) and began publishing the Vietnam Bulletin. The CND – Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – also raised Vietnam as part of their protests. CND’s position sought to strengthen the United Nations’ role in the conflict for the ‘implementation of the 1954 Geneva agreements’ and ‘the holding of national elections in north and south Vietnam’.

In 1962 the BVC held a rally with 70 protesters outside the US embassy in London. The movement grew in intensity after the US began bombing North Vietnam and introduced ground troops in February 1965, sparking protest demonstrations at universities around the country and the formation of the Communist Party dominated British Council for Peace in Vietnam (BCPV) in April 1965. The British Council for Peace in Vietnam (BCPV) that was set up by a group of people close to CND had been the main campaign groups that addressed the Vietnam War until the mid-1960s.

Under its president Labour MP Fenner Brockway, the BCPV called for a negotiated settlement and British dissociation through a concerted poster and newspaper campaign.

The English philosopher, Bertrand Russell was an early campaigner on Vietnam, tearing up his Labour Party membership card in disgust at the failure of Labour to take an independent stand on Vietnam. More importantly Russell used his connections and money for a new initiative in support of the Vietnamese people.

The first formal call to the British Left for the setting up of a solidarity campaign came on 20 December 1965, in a special public meeting of nearly 200 people organised by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the founding of the National Liberation Front.

why vietnam solidaritywhy-vietnam-solidarity [text]

“On the platform of this boisterous affair were Ken Coates, Mark Lane, an American, well-known on both sides of the Atlantic for his writing about the Kennedy assassination, and Ralph Miliband, who along with John Saville, had just begun publishing the Socialist Register.  Miliband’s presence on the platform was significant in that he represented an important segment of the new left.” [i]

Founding the solidarity movement

The founding conference of the VSC took place on 4-5 June1966 in Mahatma Gandhi Hall in London. Over 200 delegates that included a number from Labour Party constituencies, Labour Party Young Socialist groups and a few trade union branches. Notably over 40% of delegates came from several Maoist groups led by Manchanda, editor of the West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian News.

The group, around the Nottingham journal “The Week” who were IMG Trotskyites, had a narrow majority at the 1966 VSC conference. They believed that the South Vietnam NLF was not a revolutionary organisation, refused to endorse the four-point programme of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the five-point programme of the South Vietnam Front for Liberation. They characterised the government of North Vietnam as “Stalinist”. One did not have to be a great theoretician to work out that their chairmanship of the founding conference of the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign might lead to a walk-out.

Manchanda, who had foreseen such an eventuality had booked another hall nearby where the conference was reconvened immediately. Chinese observers from the embassy and the Hsinhua news agency, the Vietnamese News Agency journalists resident in London who were the unofficial ambassadors of the country in London, representatives of solidarity groups in Asia, Africa, Haiti, the Caribbean, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Switzerland. All the African Liberation Movement delegates who were in the pro-Chinese camp, including the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, SWAPO and ZANU, walked out together. The CPGB and other pro-Soviet groups remained with the Trotskyist-dominated meeting.

The two organisation had been created in 1966, both emerging from the same conference.

Manchanda has often been reviled in leftist gossip and blamed for splitting the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign. Unfortunately, not many of people who repeat this story correctly remember the circumstances.[ii] In a statement explaining their actions, Manchanda emphasised the political support given to the National Liberation Front,

“We found ourselves in a position of being unable to participate in the conference when a faction sought to impose on the movement a set of aims which were contrary to the views expressed by Lord Russell in his opening statement to the conference and as agreed previously in the Preparatory Committee. “We, as always, dearly wish to co-operate with all those who desire to see a successful conclusion to the just struggle of the Vietnamese people, which can only end in complete victory for the National Liberation Front, the sole representative of the people of Vietnam. “At the same time, we must resolutely oppose all those who refuse to accept the programme of the Vietnamese people as the only basis for waging a successful campaign for solidarity in Britain, and so contributing to the inevitable victory of the Vietnamese people and a just and lasting peace.[iii]

Leading VSC member Ernest Tate observed,

“Their exit, though not unexpected, came as quite an astonishing turn of events when it actually happened. Still, the conference remained in session and went on to adopt a series of proposals to take the campaign forward.”[iv]

On that day two organisation in solidarity with the Vietnamese emerged: Vietnam Solidarity Campaign (Trotskyist-led, the IMG’s Black Dwarf newspaper, on Carlisle Street, offering temporary staff headquarters) and the Britain-Vietnam Solidarity Front (Maoist-led based at Manchanda’s house).

Britain-Vietnam Solidarity Front

Initially the smaller BVSF was less prominent than the dominant VSC, and the BVSF did not really function at all until the beginning of 1968. By the year of the great mass demonstrations against US imperialism, the Britain Vietnam Solidarity Front had grown into a national organisation with strong international links. Their national conference, according to the BVSF Bulletin, Summer 1968, was “attended by 34 delegates from London, the Midlands, North and South England as well as 14 fraternal delegates and 12 observers from the Republic of Ireland, Portugal, Denmark, Mozambique, Kenya, Azania and Malaya … Telegraphic messages were received from Afro-American leader Robert F. Williams …. the South Vietnam Peace Committee and the Federation of Trade Unions of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.”bvsf bulletin

The main organisation to express unqualified support for the Vietnamese people’s struggle and for the NLF, was the Britain-Vietnam Solidarity Front (BVSF). Manchanda and others  attacked the Communist Party [CPGB] position that followed the Moscow line of promoting peace talks.

“If the Vietnamese people refuse to ‘negotiate’ and submit to the aggressor, then there is a danger of a world nuclear holocaust – as some people put it ‘a single spark can lead to a world conflagration’ (Krushchev). Hence, not only the people of Vietnam, but the whole world, is being asked to submit to the nuclear blackmail of US imperialism. That for the sake of world peace, the independence of Vietnam is expendable.”

Anything other than victory to the NLF was seen as denying the self-determination of the Vietnamese people. As it was argued in a Britain Vietnam Solidarity leaflet:

“Using the slogan ‘Peace in Vietnam’ is in fact demanding that the Vietnamese people give up their struggle for the independence of their country. It implies racial arrogance, denying the people of colour of Vietnam the same right to defend themselves and their homes that is accepted for white North Americans and Europeans.”

Interviewing Manchanda  in his bed-sitter in Hampstead Mary McCarthy records,

“He explained with patience the doctrinal differences between them. It was a question of correct slogans about the Vietnamese war. For a long time, the Trotskyists of the Vietnamese Solidarity Campaign had refused the slogan “Victory for the NLF,” on the ground that the NLF, a coalition of a number of class elements, had a bourgeois nationalist complexion; their slogan was “Support for the Vietnamese Revolution,” i.e., for a non-existent phenomenon. Similarly with the Maoist slogan, “Long Live Ho Chi Minh,” rejected by the Trotskyists on the ground that Ho had betrayed the revolution at Geneva in 1954, also that he exemplified the cult of personality and was a “bureaucrat.” “If Ho is a bureaucrat,” observed Mr. Manchanda, with glee, “I wish we had more bureaucrats in this country.”[v]

March 17, 1968: Vietnam War comes to London as demonstration turns violent

It began with the marches assembling in orderly fashion with an estimated crowd of around 80,000 gathering in Trafalgar Square to protest against American action in Vietnam and the British government’s support for the United States. This was an immense upsurge in support and activism. Vietnam became an issue, an important expression of the youth radicalisation of those years. The previous VSC demonstration in London on 2 July 1967 attracted 5,000 protesters and resulted in thirty-one arrests after clashes with the authorities.[vi] One participation saw momentum building for the campaign:

The demonstration of October 22nd 1967, however, went better than we expected. The numbers were not fantastic, perhaps a couple of thousand, but there was a militant spirit; we took over the streets, in contrast to the marching 4 abreast and stop at traffic lights of the CND. Turning into Grosvenor Square we found that the police had put a cordon diagonally across part of the road, creating a restriction. This caused some pushing and shoving, but the march was moving on. The park in the square was surrounded by a box hedge which in those days was only about two feet high, and was guarded by only a thin line of police. I jumped over the hedge and ran into the park. A policeman chased me but soon stopped and turned back to see that the rest of the marchers were pouring through the gap he had left. We had nearly an hour of confrontation. I got as far as the parking meters just outside the US Embassy building before being pursued by a policeman charging on horseback. Eventually enough police arrived to push us out of the square. Militant opposition to the war was front page news and the activist layer was greatly energised.[vii]

Bruce Robinson at Trafalgar Square described the scene,

“The Square is full of the flags of the National Liberation Front (the “Vietcong”), who, only weeks previously had launched the Tet Offensive that had taken a largely rural guerilla war into the cities of Vietnam, getting as far as the gates of the US Embassy in the capital Saigon. Someone throws red dye into the fountains to symbolise the blood shed in the war.”[viii]

There they heard speeches from the likes of Tariq Ali, leader of the UK’s Vietnam Solidarity Campaign, and British actress Vanessa Redgrave, who announced that they would be delivering a letter of protest to the US embassy. The pair then led around 8,000 protesters to Grosvenor Square. Near the front a contingent from the German SDS, with arms linked chant, “Victory to the NLF”, “Hey, Hey LBJ [US President Johnson], how many kids have you killed today?” and, in honour of leader of North Vietnam, “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh” — accompanied by jogging up and down.

Redgrave’s group was allowed through to deliver the letter, but the crowd was held back and then refused to back off.

Bruce Robinson recalled,

Reaching Grosvenor Square, they found the US embassy surrounded by hundreds of police, standing shoulder to shoulder in a vast cordon. The front of the march heads through the police cordon and privet hedges and makes for the Embassy, meeting lines of police with arms linked. Waves follow pressing harder. From two other sides of the square, lots more police, including horses, randomly lay into anyone they can, even those watching from the sidelines. Stones, earth, firecrackers and smoke bombs were thrown as mounted police officers were called in to disperse the crowd.battle ground

By the time order was restored some four hours later, there were over 250 arrests and over 50 protesters and 25 police officers had been hospitalised.

The ‘Punch Up’

It is wrong to say the violence on the streets of London knew no precedent [ix]– for a start that would displays a shocking lack of knowledge about the protests of the 1930s – but it did shocked the watching public reading the lurid press coverage. Majorie Holt for the VSC referred to the March 17th events in Vietnam Solidarity Campaign Bulletin 13 (published in April1968):

“V.S.C. has been subject to a great deal of criticism, in the press and from organisations who have “come along with us” about the militancy of Sunday’s demonstrations. On the issue of Vietnam it is obvious that all other protest channels have reached an impasse, since enormous numbers of people ( particularly the young) have joined our already massive backing. We have, since October 22nd, made it clear that the V.S.C. Ad hoc Committee is an umbrella movement, covering all shades of opinion and protest. Nobody is compelled or expected to support militancy – all that is necessary if violence breaks out is for those who disapprove to retire from the scene!”

As Diane Langford pointed out….Tariq, Robin Blackburn and others were whistling The Red Flag in Hyde Park while the battle raged outside the lair of American imperialism, the Grosvenor Square embassy.[x]

All this was documented in a contemporaneous article, by Mary McCarthy who judged that “The Trotskyites, in slogans and stance to the “left” of the Maoists, in practice were to the right of them. The Maoists, generally thought of as inflexible revolutionary extremists, showed pragmatic wisdom and adaptability. The style of Tariq Ali was radical; the style of Mr. Manchanda was modest petty bourgeois, recalling the home lives of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky himself.”

With the increase of violence and Tariq Ali’s declared intentions to invade the American Embassy ‘for as long as the Vietcong held the American Embassy in Saigon,’[xi] condemnation of the VSC and student activism was widely publicised by the press. Newspapers were declaring that ‘this kind of thing has to be stopped’ [xii] and The Times redistributed their crime reporters to maximise coverage for the 27 October 1968 demonstration taking place in London. The establishment used a hysterical media campaign focusing on the threat of bloodshed and revolution to combat the escalating support for demonstrations.

According to Tariq Ali, however, ‘never at any stage did anyone seriously involved in VSC imagine that the October demonstrations would be anything more than a show of the anti-imperialist left’s strength. But the establishment embarked on a campaign of black propaganda and disinformation. They did it for two reasons: to isolate the march from the bulk of the population by raising the fear of violence, and because they over-reacted, panicked after May (Paris 1968). France shook the ruling classes throughout Europe, and the British decided to take no chances that the disease would spread. Hence their ferocious attacks on VSC and on me personally.’[xiii]

21st July Demonstration

July 21st March on the embassy is less well remembered than the VSC organised demonstrations. It began as an initative of the Young Communist League in an attempt to tap into the growth of militant student action in the UK. In inviting various groups to join them in forming a broad committee to organise a demonstration in London on July 21, they intended to head the coalition and secure support for a Communist Party plan to send bikes to Vietnam via a forthcoming Communist Festival in Bulgaria. But the plans back-fired when they failed to get a majority on the July 21 Committee. Organisations such as the BVSF, Folk Singers for Freedom in Vietnam, and the Internationalists secured a majority on the Committee and adopted a line of policy and slogans giving complete support to the NLF and calling for victory against imperialist aggression. This went against the negotiation line of the Communist Party and the YCL leaders pulled out of the ’July 21 Committee for Solidarity with Vietnam’. In the tradition of the Left, the YCL went on to form their own similarly named committee.

The Britain Vietnam Solidarity Front had emerged as a new force to be reckoned with and played an important part in mobilising militants through the genuine ’July 21 Committee for Solidarity with Vietnam’.

Following the July 21 demonstration, plans were made by the VSC for the big march on October 27. The October 27 Ad Hoc Committee initially decided that the march would be organised under the slogan ’Victory to the Vietnamese Revolution’ and that it should not go to the US Embassy. The BVSF was excluded from the Ad Hoc Committee. The three main organisations which were finally represented in the Ad Hoc Committee were the International Socialists (IS), the International Marxist Group (IMG) and the Young Communist League (YCL).

On the initiative of the BVSF, another Committee was formed – the ’27 October Committee for Solidarity with Vietnam’, which began to plan for a parallel march aimed at demonstrating outside the US Embassy. During the weeks prior to October 27, press, radio and TV devoted more space and time to the forthcoming event than they had to anything similar for many years. The BVSF was singled out as a dangerous firebrand bunch of fanatics whose only purpose was to rush into a punch up with the police. The Trotskyist-Revisionist Troika at the head of the Ad Hoc Committee for the round-London ramble helped out by labelling the BVSF as disruptionist and adventurist. [xiv]

So two co-existent marches occurred on October 27th: the VSC inspired “Ah Hoc Committee via Downing Street, and the ’27 October Committee for Solidarity with Vietnam’, which plan for a parallel march aimed at demonstrating outside the US Embassy.

Several weeks before October 27 a sharp controversy had developed about the target of the demonstration – whether or not the march should go to the US Embassy. Despite the bravo headline of Black Dwarft – “We shall fight, we shall win, London, Paris, Rome, Berlin” – McCarty accurately described the perception of many observers, not only on the far left:

“Tariq Ali, ……………..Having attacked Grosvenor Square in March, he did not wish to “repeat himself” in October, for the only way of topping the previous performance there would be by a heightening of violence. Hence he spoke of Grosvenor Square as “a death trap,” to which he was unwilling to commit his followers. De-escalation, according to this reasoning, then became inevitable—a change of pace and direction, to Downing Street and Hyde Park, rather than to the US Embassy, and in disciplined, orderly formation, instead of in fighting salients.”

Mary McCarthy thought Tariq Ali

“ was thinking, clearly, in terms of showmanship…. Moreover, in his concentration on the manner of the demonstration, he lost sight of the matter: the US war in Vietnam.”[xv]

This demonstration was the subject of more advance press and television publicity than any similar event for years. It was a media drama, Tariq Ali, a young mustached Pakistani, leading the way to Downing Street, and Abhimanya Manchanda, a middle-aged clean-shaven Indian, to Grosvenor Square. The general impression was created that on October 27 London was to see a repetition if not of the student uprising in Paris, then certainly of the fighting in Berlin.

The observation of fellow Maoists from the JCC on the October 27th march 1968 noted the media hype around the protest. [xvi]

“For weeks previously the newspapers had been preparing their readers for the big day with stories of conspiracies and intrigues involving the occupation or destruction of buildings, bomb plots, and plans for the total disruption of communications in London. Special TV programs were devoted to ’The October Revolutionaries’” .

A Metropolitan Police Special Branch report noted,

During the early planning stages of this demonstration it was apparent that the question of the use of calculated violence as a political weapon was causing division in the ranks of the V.S.C members. The Maoists felt that violence was inevitable and said so. The more cautious representatives of the International Socialism and International Marxist groups paid lip service to the vision of a peaceful demonstration. In the event the Maoists did not gain any places on the National Council or the national ad-hoc committee, and are outpaced as apostles of violence by the more volatile anarchists. All the indications are that the Maoists and anarchists will disregard any sort of instructions – from Police or march leaders – and take an independent line on the day.[xvii]

The American author, Mary McCarty touched on this subject in her long piece for the press:

“On the issue of violence vs. non-violence, there did not seem to be a real theoretical difference. The Manchanda group had been described in the newspapers as favoring violence, and the Tariq Ali group not, but actually Tariq Ali was organizing dramatically for violence—that list of first-aid stations, the instructions published in The Black Dwarf on what to do when gassed—on the supposition, amounting to prophecy, that the police would start or “provoke” it, whereas Mr. Manchanda, when I asked him whether it was true that he planned to storm the US Embassy, shrugged and said simply, “We are too few.” In Grosvenor Square, the next day, a lilting voice I thought I recognized as his could be heard urging restraint on the crowd, though possibly this was merely pro forma. “

Mary McCarty’s recollection was similar to that of Diane Langford’s experience upon entering Grosvenor Square:

When we reached the US Embassy the police were waiting, riot shields poised. Horses were snorting and steaming and we felt the terrifying thunder of hooves resonate under our feet. Mounted police were waving batons and, as the crowd poured into the square, we came face to face with a wall of shields and sticks. Charge after charge was launched, the police lashing out with furious, twisted faces. Batons connected with heads, blood poured. A lilting voice I recognised as Manchanda’s was calling, ‘Don’t be provoked! Remain calm.’ [xviii]

The attitude of those Marxist-Leninists who participated in the October 27 demonstration was that a genuine demonstration of solidarity with the Vietnamese people’s struggle should concentrate its main attack on the main enemy -US imperialism. Therefore the main target of the demonstration could only be the US Embassy in London.

“Tariq Ali is a revisionist playboy who’s planning to take people on a guided tour of the West End and into Hyde Park. The lair of U.S. imperialism is the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square and that’s where the protest should be made.”    

 Manchanda –


October 27 1968: Police clash with anti-war protesters

Mike Martin remembers: There was so much publicity in the media for what was billed as the “October Revolution” that there was little incentive to campaign; after all the Evening Standard carried a centre spread showing the route. … We did what we said we would and marched on the agreed route*1. There was no violence apart from having to deal with a group of fascists who tried to attack the platform. Meanwhile, the Maoists had their fight in Grosvenor Square. The day was something of an anticlimax especially for anyone who took the “revolution” hype seriously[xix]

 ‘Street Power’: Briefing to all demonstrators, 1968  street power

Advice to marchers from the October 27 Ad Hoc Committee. An earlier demonstration against the Vietnam War, on 17 March 1968, had led to violence outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London. The 27 October demonstration was mostly peaceful but very heavily policed.

“wait until they left”

The breakaway group led by the Maoist Britain-Vietnam Solidarity Front was almost thwarted by the march organisers who were aware of the plan and feared violence would erupt. Ernie Tate of the VSC recalled the plans in hand to counter the BVSC and ensure the large majority were persuaded to march from the Charing Cross Embankment on a roundabout route via Whitehall, to Hyde Park:

We took action to ensure that the ultra-left would not try and divert everyone to the American Embassy. We placed recognized leaders – myself included — immediately behind the ultra-left contingent. Tariq Ali played an invaluable role here. When they made their move at Trafalgar Square to head towards the American Embassy, we simply turned around and stopped the demonstration and let the Maoists and their friends head off and Tariq took up a megaphone to explain what was happening to those behind us. The ultra-left and anarchists hesitated a little while and began yelling insults at us, but we told the people around us to wait until they left. I estimate they took around 5000 people..”[xx]


The protesters had broken away but were confronted by a wall of police. Security for the march was high. A thousand-strong team of police was stationed outside the US Embassy and policemen lined the route of the march with back-up following in coaches.

Petition to Downing Street

The rest of the march, which was organised by the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign, continued peacefully to Hyde Park. On route, Tariq Ali, the head of the VSC, handed in a 75,000-signature petition to 10 Downing Street to ask the government to stop supporting the U.S. in its war against Vietnam.

A record from contemporary newsreel of the demonstration: [xxi]


Once in Grovesnor Square the protesters formed a human chain and charged at the police wall but failed to break through. McCarty recalled “the pushing and shoving and squeezing, which occurred whenever a charge of demonstrators was driven back into the square or into South Audley Street or when the police, having yielded ground, surged forward in a double wedge. At those moments I was conscious of a fear, for us all, of being crushed or trampled”[xxii]

Clashes continued for around three hours, with some of the violent protesters throwing stones, fireworks and other objects. But the 1,000 officers on guard, who included mounted police, were able to hold back the protestors led by the Maoist Britain-Vietnam Solidarity Front, and, after hours of stalemate, they all dispersed. Was it true the police joining the demonstrators in singing “Auld Lang Syne” as they prepared to call it a night?


In the event, October 27th was a successful anti-climax: successful in terms of numbers and atmosphere, but an anti-climax in that it was ultimately just a demonstration and none of the political problems had been dealt with.

Following the October 27th demonstration, the editorial of Vietnam Solidarity Campaign Bulletin 19 (published November 1968) in a piece of political spin, stated:

“The demonstration on October 27th represents a sweeping vindication of the work of our campaign, and a significant contribution to the world-wide movement of support to the fighting people of Vietnam…….the fact the demonstration did not become a riot was due to the fact that the authorities conceded our right to occupy the whole street unhindered.”

However, there were more sanguine judgements carried by those who rightly saw the march as marking a critical time for the campaign, pointing out that “it was hoped that prior to the demonstration new people would be involved in …political preparation for the demonstration. This failed to materialise in any significant degree. …our aim to provide an alternative view of Oct.27th to that disseminated by the news media, has proved largely illusory.”  And there were complaints regarding the “bureaucratic nature of the VSC organisation and the gulf which separates the organisation and the mass support it has”.  Political  opposition to the VSC positions had been expressed by the existence of the BVSF. [xxiii]

The Vietnam Solidarity Campaign declined rapidly, reviving as at the time of the invasion of Cambodia in 1970. The single issue protest cannot continue indefinitely mobilising people on issues without giving them a political perspective and linking them to the social forces that can make their aspirations reality. Otherwise, no matter how large, militant or imaginative, they will drift away.

Coverage of the events of that October 27th created further antagonism towards student activists, and enthusiasm for protest diminished from 1968 onwards with the London demonstration on 16 March 1969 only managing to attract 4,000 protesters. The memorial meeting called for Ho Chi Minh, who died in October 1969 saw its end as an active coalition. Chris Harman of IS pointed out Uncle HO had been responsible for the massacre of the Vietnamese Trotskyists in the nineteen forties. The Communist Party and official North Vietnamese speakers left the platform, and Bob Purdie of the IMG, a different variant Trotskyist group, declined to support Harman when he spoke next.

The collapse of movements that had been focal points in the course of ‘68 was not unique to Britain. The peak of mobilising significant numbers was recognised at the time. But the experience had energised a new generation of activists, Phil Hearse put this growth into context :

One has to have a sense of proportion however. The Communist Party had around 30,000 members still (with about 5000 in the Young Communist League), despite the trauma of the Hungarian 1956 revolution, which saw thousands of its activists leave. By contrast the SLL at around 300 members was much bigger than the other revolutionary groups, but only because these groups were tiny. IS, later the SWP, had only a few dozen members and their leader, Tony Cliff would say they could have the annual conference in his front room.[xxiv]  

It was the International Socialists led by Tony Cliff who recruited most successfully from the VSC according to Tarqi Ali. IS went from 450 in 1967 to over 1,000 by the end of 1968, in contrast, the IMG, which was much closer to the common student-oriented politics of the year and was also central to the VSC, grew much more slowly until later in 1970.

On the far left there were other divisions than just the radical Maoist opposition.[xxv] While fellow Trotskyists in The Militant organisation remain stubbornly in its Labour Party grove aloof from the VSC but still selling papers on the sidelines, Gerry Healy’s Socialist Labour League distributed a leaflet, Why we are not marching, to the Vietnam demo on October 27th; Because the march was, they claimed, just a stunt to distract attention from the SLL,

“The Socialist Labour League refuses…to participate in the demonstration. Our task is to direct all young workers and students towards serious consideration for the theory and role of Trotskyism and the Fourth International towards the building of the revolutionary party.”


The BVSF itself went into decline. Behind the BVSF was the small maoist group led by Manchanda, the Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist League. In quick successions two separate groups of activists were to break away and added to the Maoist constellation of small planets in London[xxvi]. As Sam Richards made a common observation that [xxvii]    

“the RMLL working in the BVSF had confused the single issue campaign with the wider strategic task of building a revolutionary party. Such solidarity activity was treating the broad front as the party organisation. Such an approach was seen repeated again as with the INSLF, North London Alliance and other occasions as the movement learnt how to work more appropriately and effectively in the broad movement and amongst the working class and people.”

The BVSF saw common errors in the work of the young activists particularly the sectarianism evident in the policy statement of the BVSF, which pledged the organisation to fight for the ‘unity of the whole working class in defence of their living standards and democratic rights and in their struggle for social advance’. This, a commitment appropriate to a revolutionary party of the British working class, reflected the confusion about what constituted a broad front organisation of solidarity with the people of Vietnam. There were lessons about Left Sectarianism to be learnt as The Marxist noted:

The statements produced by the BVSF are all too frequently written in a heavy-handed cliche- ridden style which is of no use to convinced Marxist-Leninists and frankly unintelligible to the broad mass of people for whom the statements are presumably intended….. Such a writing style either reflects or can lead to a sectarian working style…. Perhaps the worst example to date of what we mean is to be found in the October 1968 Bulletin of BVSF which was distributed on the march. One article in this bulletin has a full headline which reads ’YCL Revisionist Leaders Unmasked as Police Agents and Stooges of US imperialism’.

People cannot be won if they are not permitted to develop in struggle, but are simply told: “We are correct, join us.” We must instead show how we are correct both through concrete work and by drawing correct conclusions from this work. Winning people to our position does not mean their passive acquiescence, but rather their lively participation. Marxism-Leninism cannot be learned by rote.

As the Joint Committee of Communists later explained:

The ‘Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist League’, for a short time a member group of the JCC, attempted to promote a strategy built solely around the issues of the national liberation struggle in Vietnam. Primarily because of its petty-bourgeois base it was (and is) unable to build up links with the working class or in any way develop the internal contradiction between Labour and Capital on which the proletarian revolution in Britain will be based. It also epitomised the ‘leftist’ error of which Lin Piao reminds us: that is, one-sidedly pursuing struggle’ to the exclusion of ‘unity’.

* *

Ironically, in 2008, when it was announced that the US embassy was withdrawing from its central London fortress, moving to south of the river in the Nine Elms area of Wandsworth  , Tarqi Ali suggested ” When it finally happens, Grosvenor Square veterans should make sure there is a properly organised wake with proper music, etc. They should be sent off in style. Old memories must not be obliterated. ”

He did not remind people that it was Manchanda, not Tarqi Ali who argued that

“The lair of U.S. imperialism is the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square and that’s where the protest should be made.”



[i] Ernest Tate, Building the VSC. Delivered at the Left Before 1968 conference, organised at UEA by the Socialist History Society and the University of East Anglia Department of History, February 13/ 14, 2016

[ii] Diane Langford & Claudia Manchanda. Letter to Marika Sherwood (2000)

[iii] “The following is a statement CONCERNING THE VIETNAM SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN issued by all those who found it necessary to walk out from the conference called on June 4-5, 1966, at the Mahatma Gandhi Hall, Fitzroy Square, London W.1. to launch a Vietnam Solidarity Campaign in Britain……………..”

[iv] Ibid. Ernest Tate, Building the VSC.

[v] Mary McCarthy, Letter from London: The Demo .The New York Review of Books, Volume 11, Number 11 · December 19, 1968 reproduced at

[vi] VSC Bulletin, July-August 1967, no. 6, p.1

[vii]  Mike Martin. A short account of the International Marxist Group

[viii] Bruce Robinson, 1968: Vietnam solidarity and the British left

[ix] See: Clive Bloom, Violent London: 2000 Years of Riots, Rebels and Revolts 2010

[x] Diane Langford, Letter to The Observer 4th October, 1998

[xi]  The Sun, 19 March 1968, p. 16

[xii] Daily Mail, 19 March 1968, p. 6

[xiii] R. Fraser, 1968: A Student Generation in Revolt, p. 279

[xiv] The Vietnam Movement: Report from Glasgow Communist Movement and South West London Marxist-Leninist Group. The Marxist, Vol. 1, No. 9, Spring 1969.

[xv] Mary McCarthy, Letter from London: The Demo .The New York Review of Books, Volume 11, Number 11 · December 19, 1968 reproduced at

[xvi]  The Vietnam Movement: Report from Glasgow Communist Movement and South West London Marxist-Leninist Group. The Marxist, Vol. 1, No. 9, Spring 1969.

[xvii] Metropolitan Police Special Branch, Vietnam Solidarity campaign “Autumn Offensive” Reference to papers 346/68/15 (2) 10th day of September 1968

James Callaghan, Home Secretary in 1968, later admitted that the 17 March demonstration caught the police totally unprepared. In an interview for Peter Taylor’s BBC documentary ‘True Spies’, one Special Branch officer remembered: ‘We had no training at all for demonstrations. We were just bussed in in a coach, didn’t know what we were going to do; no preparation for it whatsoever’. Echoing this, another noted: ‘We underestimated how many were coming. We were ill-equipped at the time and couldn’t bring enough men in to control it consequently when the violence erupted. We were amateurs then’.

[xviii] Diane Langford, The Manchanda Connection July 2015

[xix] Mike Martin. A short account of the International Marxist Group


[xxi] A British Pathe newsreel shows the beginning of the march in Trafalgar Square, where peace activists, including actress Vanessa Redgrave, assembled. And the reporter claimed that among them were “trouble maker” and filmed those with bushy beards carrying anarchist and communist flags. Then, in a smoke-filled Grosvenor Square, police were shown tacking to the ground and carrying away some protesters amid a hail of noise and firework missiles. In the streets surrounding the square fireworks and other missiles were thrown but no injuries were caused and police considered them to be isolated incidents. Some of the 117 policemen injured during the clashes were also filmed being stretchered away.

[xxii] Mary McCarthy, Letter from London: The Demo .The New York Review of Books, Volume 11, Number 11 · December 19, 1968 reproduced at

[xxiii] Vietnam Solidarity Campaign Bulletin 19 published November 1968

[xxiv] Phil Hearse, The crystallisation of a new militant left. Delivered at the Left Before 1968 conference

[xxv] Points made by Ian Birchall in Against the Grain, the British far left from 1956 p201

[xxvi] The Association of Communist Workers, launched in 1969 and led by Harpal Brar and Edward Davoren, who in August 1969 went on to lead the Irish National Liberation Solidarity Front that had at its core the Communist Workers League of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) that publicly emerged in 1972-73.

[xxvii] Sam Richards, The Rise & Fall of Maoism: the English Experience


32. America’s Maoist Mushrooms

Observers of the revolutionary Left in the USA saw around 2016 a flourishing internet presence by the emergence of nearly a dozen collectives in the U.S. which aspire to promote Maoist politics. The newly emerging forces of mainly student and young people organising in local collectives . Far greater details and named individuals are discussed in the polemical documents from the myriad of organisations that have sprung up throughout the US. This post provides the broad contour of developments and issues that have engaged these newly emerging Maoist forces.

NCP(OC) to MCG & beyond

The founding congress of the East coast based New Communist Party (Organising Committee) had been held in early 2013. It described itself dramatically  as “inside the belly of the U.S. imperialist beast”,  a new group of US-based communists established to struggle for the construction of a genuine proletarian revolutionary party guided by the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and equipped with the basic programme of socialist revolution. untitled

These new Maoists drew upon the symbols and iconography of the Chinese Cultural revolution. Clearly internationalist in outlook, it expressed its desire “to learn from the revolutionary and peoples’ struggles presently in India, Nepal, Peru, the Philippines, Turkey, and other countries”.

The Congress Report (released May 1st) stated, “Delegates began with a sober assessment of the present numbers and minimal influence of communist revolutionaries among the proletariat and oppressed masses in the US.” The NCP (OC) identified the necessity for “the coalescence of the dispersed advanced elements of the class into a revolutionary party”. It clearly saw the need to build the party, and it had national aspirations: “Rather than engaging in wishful thinking for a future party to arise spontaneously out of the mass struggles, every communist has the responsibility to immediately take up and share the effort in the central task of party construction. This is possible only with the organized accumulation of subjective forces for a proletarian revolutionary party guided by MLM.”

It placed its birth within the context of “the decisive defeat of the 1960s-1970s wave of class and nationality struggles. The New Communist Movement, unable to produce a genuine proletarian revolutionary party or at least set the course for the construction of such a party, was co-opted into the left-wing of the state apparatus and dissolved into today’s brokers of capital in Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Fragments of the New Communist Movement also ended up in self-marginalization, as a result of their lack of a mass line practice. Other leading elements of the nationality struggles, as well as groups of anti-imperialist guerrillas, without a clear guiding theory, proletarian party, political strategy for revolution, practice of mass line, and military strategy for People’s War were separated from the masses and easily smashed by the state, leaving in their wake only a scattering of prisoner support committees.” [ Document | Political Resolution, April 30th 2013]

Drawing upon the conceptual heritage expounded most systematically upon in Moufawad-Paul’s Continuity And Rupture and Marxism Leninism Maoism and Mao Tse Tung Thought are not the same by Comrade Ajith , the organisation’s self-identification argued that “to be a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist is not to ‘add up’ the achievements of Marx, Lenin and Mao. Rather, MLM draws out lessons, in the form of ruptures, from the practical experience of the proletariat and the people, concentrated in the events of the Paris Commune, the October Revolution and the Chinese Revolution, in particular the sequence of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. In the uniform cloth of history, these events constitute knots of accumulated and intensified contradictions.” There was a conscious stress on the ideological basis for guiding the organisation’s practice, and within the year the founding text, Principles of Unity, was criticised for containing :

…an empiricist distortion of Maoism, in which we conceived Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as a simple and undifferentiated addition of the various historical achievements of Marx, Lenin, and Mao. This descriptive—that is, ideological—account of Maoism …. We are now approaching the problem of constructing a genuine theoretical concept of Maoism via the opposite path, namely: what are the ruptures through which Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is constituted?     [Document | Maoist Communist Group Founding Statement 2014]

ncp lc


In an echo of the “Fight Revisionism, Fight Self” subjective line that was evident in the Cultural Revolution, and the recognition that the “personal is political”, the organisation adopted resolution against patriarchy, and ratified its Principles of Unity upholding a proletarian feminist position, and a resolution on the queer struggle.” Its involvement in identity politics and around the campaign for Trans rights identified the continuing tread of western Maoists involvement in the “personal is political” that initially surfaced in the Ninteen Sixties Women’s Movement and Gay Rights campaigning. The caveat to support was that while “identity politics names real forms of oppression, because it lacks a materialist analysis, identity politics cannot formulate an effective practice to challenge the basis of oppression. Thus it lapses into liberalism, proscribing recognition and reform where we need revolutionary advance.” Course_Correction (2016)]

In 21st Century Maoism the intensity of the line struggle was more to the fore and given an ideological importance that had been underplayed in earlier organisations and parties. The inability to address the liberatory rhetoric with the practice of individuals came to paralysis and split the new Maoist trend in the US.  [ The positions against patriarchy were explained in a text accompanying the Anti-Patriarchy Rectification Campaign, July 13, 2013: and Self-Criticism and Summation on Patriarchy March 2014.  ]

Following the First Congress, the NCP(OC) was involved in two major contradictions;

that with a student organisation it influenced, and within ten months, the organisation “expelled multiple founding members in multiple cities for male chauvinism. The expulsions and related discussions consumed much of the internal activity of the organization. This rendered the central organs and particular units otherwise dysfunctional for substantial periods of time”.

The error of commandism was  said to be applied with the New York based Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, although this was explained as: “the problem of our lack of effectiveness was referable to a bureaucratic-technical separation rather than so-called ‘militarization’ or ‘authoritarian control.’”  [ On Rectifying Past errors: Document by the New York City branch of the NCP(OC) Regarding the recent split in our organisation. March 2014]

Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee RSCC Document – was founded in February 2012 as an organization uniting revolutionary-minded youth and student activists throughout the City University New York’s 24 colleges and graduate schools located across New York City’s five boroughs. It identified as an anti-capitalistic, anti-imperialist and Proletarian Feminist organization. Its activism included CUNY student protesters filmed confronting former four-star General and Director of the CIA, David Petraeus on the streets in September 2013. In the midst of internal patriachical struggles, the RSCC secretariat disintegrated as four out of five members got suspended from CUNY. It dissolved in April 2016.

In February 2014 a faction resigned its membership in the New Communist Party (Organizing Committee). It charged the NCP(OC) leadership with an inability to resolve the issues without reverting to a bureaucratic suppression of the isues e.g. “an ex-member of the OC harassed several Maoists in the US, for which the OC only issued apologies to the victims they were favorable to, neglecting to take responsibility and apologize to those they personally disliked”. The party building orientation and exercise of mass line was set aside for “it acted as a clandestine organization and objectively set on the path of building a militarized party”. There were charges bad political practices, of violating democratic procedure and respect for organisational independence e.g. “An OC member sat in on and participated in an entire RSCC meeting without being a member with democratic rights in the organization.” The contradictions between those, who would work as the Liaison Committee, and the NCP(OC) had been “careful to identify the principal contradiction so as to avoid making these mistakes in the future. The issue is that the mass leaders, all of proletarian background, were subjected to the incorrect line of the formal leadership, who are of petit-bourgeois backgrounds. While we all constitute the vanguard of the proletariat, our social classes will inform our political lines. Thus, the leadership put into command the politics of a Gonzaloite deviation (which failed in Peru).”            

[Preliminary Statement of the NCP(LC) Regarding The Split With The NCP(OC) March 7th 2014]

Gonzaloite Deviation?

March 2014 , Maosoleum website declared itself an organ of the New Communist Party (Liaison Committee), NCP(LC) Documents “ formed after a split with the NCP(OC) on the basis of a line struggle between a Gonzaloite deviation and Maoism proper… We now span several cities and are leading mass work in NYC guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism through our student mass organization, the  Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee (RSCC) and internet mass organization, Maosoleum.” There was National Liaison between the NYC Branch, Kansas City and Red Guards – Los Angeles.

Liaison Committee was said to be formed due to fundamental differences over the question of party building: “Our main difference was that whereas the OC chose to pursue a path of clandestinity with an insular focus, we argued for a need to be open to the masses and to have an outward focus to uniting the advanced.”  NCP (LC) Document TOWARDS A MAOIST PARTY

When challenged it was the PCP who first put forward Maoism as a higher stage of Marxism, and were struggling for a decade for the RIM and later others to take that position, so “What exactly do you mean by gonzaloite deviation?”

maosoleum replied, We have described Gonzaloism thus:

1) Commandism – “Jefatura” line

2) Armed Monolithic Party – Party argued as clandestine by nature under all conditions and the armed struggle as the primary organizational goal of the revolutionary party – no separation between army and party, and no separation between politics and gun, but a unified command. This is opposed to Mao’s “politics in command” perspective, and Lenin’s criticism of Blanquism, which is the origin of the idea of the unification of the military and political.

3) Unified People’s War – the Hoxhaist perspective, counterpoised to protracted people’s war – we touch upon this in our article “What is Protracted People’s War?”

4) Third period revivalism without the actual social force – a form of left opportunism. Most clear in the declaration of governments like Venezuela’s as social-fascist.

Interestingly, Chairman Gonzalo rejected the universality of Pensamiento Gonzalo making it clear it was an application of M-L-M to Peruvian conditions and nothing more, and indeed Gonzaloism is more identified with the Proseguir line in the PCP, the line that Gonzalo and Asumir rejected.

While the internal matters of the PCP are their and only theirs, we do feel that the application of these principles as universals is an error. Of course, some of the Gonzaloites deny they are Gonzaloites, but for us it shorthand for that set of politics which we consider not to be a correct application of M-L-M to the conditions of the USA today.

Gonzalo and the PCP stand in our history as shining examples of struggle, but ultimately, as we point out, defined principally by historical failure. While even in historical failure there are successful and positive experiences, it is dogmato-revisionism to embrace without summation and criticism those experiences. A full summation of the Peruvian experience has not been made, but we have made a partial summation of its application to our conditions, and identified Gonzaloism as a left opportunist deviation, and we would be liberal if we didn’t combat it.


A critique of the internal life of the NCP(OC) summarised the dysfunctionality of the organisation and political liberalism:

The NCP(OC) has been decimated and rendered invalid as a real Organizing Committee, and instead has alienated and isolated itself from the masses, including the masses of women, queers, and other people directly oppressed by patriarchy, not principally because it incorrectly handles the contradictions among the people, but because it has assumed a line of whateverism and commandism in its internal functioning, refuse to make self-criticism in good faith, and uses the communist struggle against patriarchy as an opportunist shield to avoid dealing with all other questions, including the patriarchal behavior on the part of its leadership on the basis of alleged allegiance to proletarian feminism.

[NCP(LC) A response to the NCP(OC): Gender Whateverism is not Proletarian Feminism. March 2014 ]

The NY Branch was said to have sought to promote its initial admonitions against patriarchal behaviour, issued in 2014 as the correct basis for resolving the contradictions that surfaced in the LC prior to its dissolution. [NCP (OC) “Self-Criticism and Summation on Patriarchy,” March 5, 2014.]

The remnant of the NCP(OC) quickly become rebadged as the Maoist Communist Group. From its perspective, the primary contradiction driving the split of the “Liaison Committee” from the New Communist Party-Organizing Committee (NCP-OC), which led to the formation of the Maoist Communist Group (MCG), was the refusal of the LC to accept the expulsion of individuals guilty of misogynist violence. Clearly, in the experiences of the NCP(LC) and MCG(NY) was illustrated the phenomenon of self-declared leaders of the movement , divorced from the actual needs of organizations and of the class struggle. For a while the NCP(Liaison Committee) seemed to be the more relevant, effective organization. However, after a polemic authored by an autonomous Marxist-Leninist-Maoist collective based in Texas, the Red Guards AustinRed Guards Austin Documents We Will Not Integrate into a Burning House: Polemic on Bad Gender Practice in the Liaison Committee for a New Communist Party (NCP-LC) April 2016, it became clear that the some members of the Secretariat were clearly guilty of sexual assault while others covered for them. It came out the organization was being run in a commandist, patriarchal, and dogmatic direction. This formed only the most apparent aspect of a fundamentally reactionary and patriarchal political and ideological line, which resulted in the implosion of the Liaison Committee. The NCP(Liaison Committee) disbanded.

In April 2016, following the dissolution of the New Communist Party – Liason Committee (NCP-LC), the Boston and Richmond branches of the Maoist Communist Group (MCG) published a document titled “The Externalization of the Anti-Revisionist Struggle is the Negation of Proletarian Politics”. Although this document was an attempt to sum up the disagreements that the Boston and Richmond branches had developed with the New York branch, further criticism from Boston MCG of the Richmond contribution to the joint text drew attention to its opposition to ‘Left Adventurism’ and concern of drawing upon the anti-maoist politics of the Brigate Rosse.

[The_Externalization  and   Self-Criticism: Unprincipled Struggle and ‘The Externalization’ Piece July 2016]

Following these experiences, the NCP (OC) was dissolved upon the founding of the Maoist Communist Group, the “new name reflects the central task of the moment: ideological consolidation, and in particular, the forging of a principled unity regarding what we mean by ‘Maoism.’ Only in this way can we lay the foundation on which a Maoist Communist Party can be built.” MCG in action : “Our tactical slogan, Struggle Committees Everywhere!, guides our mass work. We support the organization of struggle committees – autonomous people’s organizations – in neighborhoods, buildings, workplaces and schools, everywhere that the people are engaged in struggles against the class enemy. We seek to unite the broad masses in mass organizations under proletarian leadership. The development of the advanced into communist cores will form the basis of a future party.”


To summarise , and draw upon Revleft cyberchat : it suggested that while it may have appeared that the work of NCP(OC) and -(LC) was leading the development of Maoist politics in the US, the adoption of Maoist theory had gained momentum beyond what either of those organisations had accomplished, as many of the self-identified communists out of this new generation were also self-identified Maoists.

The largest Maoist presence was in NYC however their network of mass organizations and fronts extended far beyond. RSCC Philly had a network of probably around 30-40 people in its various organizations (SJP, Students Without Borders) while it had a core membership of about a dozen people. NYC RSCC alone had 40 members which commanded the SJP’s and SWB along with a number of other organizations and network, at their height the total amount of students in organizations controlled by the NYC branch was at least 100 probably more. The Red Guards in Austin, LA and also the Kansas City Progressive Youth Organization was affiliated with them. Saying it was one of the largest US party building attempts in the 21st century is not inaccurate.

The split between LC & MCG saw repudiation of NCP(OC) practice by both organisations, as well as polemical criticism by the city collectives. A Summation of the Kansas City Revolutionary Collective’s Experience with the Former NCP(LC) was published as Bury the Ashes .

It may be sad that the NCPs are gone, but given the behaviour of some of the leadership, the organisations needed to die and it is clear that the Maoist movement lives on without them. While there may be no single Maoist national organization,  there are developing organizations in different parts of the country: the Progressive Youth Organizations in Kansas City [ StP Kansas City Document ] or St Louis (both founded by Maoists), or the Red Guards in LA and Texas. Although relationships between these groups have seen deterioration with polemical exchanges between Red Guards Austin and  Saint Louis Revolutionary Collective .

The Red Guards Austin do not seem to have many problems with misogyny but within RSCC and the LC-NCP it more or less allowed people with enough charismatic authority to claim a mastery of feminism while very few people were educated in what misogny actually looked like on an intrapersonal level. For example there were constant comments from the male comrades about how the woman comrades “Weren’t politically developed enough” . One Philly RSCC comrade noted that although RSCC had near gender parity (for those not familiar, a close to 50/50 ratio of men and woman) strangley the woman comrades would almost never talk. In an observation – not restricted to the US left experience – the reluctance to talking in political circumstances because of male cultural dominance. It is not an uncommon remark for ex-rscc woman to make.

The Red Guards Austin operate a Serve the People programme which consists in providing people free things and trying to get them to read communist literature. When described as red charity, RGA comrades will respond that it is all quite political and that also they interview residents to ask what their concern is.

The anti-gentrification work targets small business owners who are perceived as gentrifiers for example they are targeting a cafe for offering cat cuddling services.

Red Guards Los Angles has similar efforts and have similar practice in that they have Serve the People programs and their anti-gentrification work “Save Boyle Heights” which largely consists in disrupting art venues which open up in the area and propagandizing against “bourgeois art” and artists.

 RGLA , like other groups elsewhere are challenging the settled Left – the youthful idealism, energy and crass militancy and ideological fervour is reminiscent of their role models from the Cultural Revolution , and they evoke similar responses. Hence the ‘Right To rebel’ entitlement to challenge existing politically forces e.g. the political attacks in Boyle Heights expressed in the article Be with the people, stand against Carlos Montes! By Red Guards – Los Angeles:

“Long-time Chicano activist, former Brown Beret, current member of Centro Community Service Organization and supporter or member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back) (FRSO-FB), Carlos Montes has repeatedly attacked members and supporters of Red Guards – Los Angeles (RGLA) through slander, libel, consistent snitch-jacketing (which appears to be standard protocol within FRSO-FB) and even sending his supporters to physically intimidate our supporters and wreck RGLA-affiliated events or actions.”

One cybergossip opinion was that “They are active that is no doubt and they orient towards the correct people, the working class neighborhoods of Austin. However their political work is crude volunteerism maintained by hyper discipline which I can not imagine is healthy. Some of these comrades do political work from 8 in the morning till 6 or 7. All work and no play does a good gonzaloite make apparently. Speaking of such I’d argue that most of their volunteerism stems from their gonzalo admiration. All of their organizations are bent to propagating towards people and recruiting them yes but I don’t see attempts at organizing the working poor. Organizing on behalf of them yes, by giving them free food and harassing gentrifies but not organizing them into tenant unions, solidarity networks, trade unions, or any other form of organizations where average people fight for their issues by themselves for themselves.”

Maoist Communist Group, the other attempt at building a Maoist Party. Unlike the LC-NCP and to a lesser extent the Red Guards and even a lesser extent the Progressive Youth Organisations, they are quite quiet about themselves. The other branches accused them of not communicating with them: “ the NYC chaps are a bit recluse”.  Yet in their defence, the  largest concentration of members in NYC MCG did put a great deal of emphasis on summing up experience, engaging in protracted mass work, and forging a mass political line out of that mass work, rather than simply undertaking propaganda around a pre-existing political line.  see Maoist Communist Group’s Three Documents that briefly reviews the split.

 The MCG Richmond branch had ran the now defuncted website blog that publicised  struggles worldwide, particularly the CPI(M) in India, and were involved in prison support work . And the MCG Boston branch evolved into “Mass Proletariat” Mass Proletariat Document . It published a document which was a veiled jab at Red Guard Austin. RGA responded and they have remained quiet ever since disdaining online communication as they do.

Other city collectives such as Kansas City Revolutionary Collective self-identify as Maoist propaganda group. This is the cadre formation that formed after the dissolution of the LC. Previously the Progressive Youth Organization was led by a person who was supposed to be the local liaison to the national LC although the LC did not have a branch in Kansas.

May 1st, 2016.

“Today we are excited to announce the formation of a new Marxist-Leninist-Maoist collective in the Kansas City metropolitan area: The Kansas City Revolutionary Collective (KCRC). This is no small announcement as Kansas City has been without a Communist movement for some time now.”

The St Louis Progressive Student Organization  formed a Revolutionary Collective instead of an Red Guard grouping. It is suggested that the choice of group name partly reflects a political orientation in that ‘Revolutionary collectives ‘ are perceived as generally not holding as high an esteem for President Gonzalo as the Red Guard Austin and Red Guard LA have. The Red Guards – Philadelphia even include an excerpt from the Fundamental Documents issued by the Communist Party of Peru in 1988, along with Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism! as representing the basis for ideological unity of Red Guards – Philadelphia.

Still, other third stage Marxism-Leninism-Maoism formations are appearing in TacomaTacoma Maoist Collective Document] Queen City [ Queen City Maoist Collective Document] and Tampa [Tampa Maoist CollectiveDocument] While these groups are small in membership and reach, they are active groups facing up to the challenge of class struggle in modern America; as yet it is probably too early to claim a new Maoist tide is rising in the US, but the resistance is growing.



APPENDIX : NCP(OC) 2013 Anti-Patriarchy Rectification Campaign

Like other bourgeois and reactionary ideologies that must be continuously defeated through two-line struggle, the patriarchal values and male chauvinist practices that dominate this society have their reflection inside the communist movement and within communist organizations. They must be confronted and overcome through class struggle, inner-organization struggle, and inner-struggle. Like those who “wave the red flag to oppose the red flag,” groups, tendencies, and individuals can pose intellectually as feminists while at the same time failing to politicize women, commodifying and objectifying women, and engaging in abusive male chauvinist behavior.

Maoists are not afraid of criticism. Truthful criticism from others should be embraced without anger, in order to strengthen oneself, to improve one’s practice, and to better serve the people and the proletarian revolution. Self-criticism should be made openly and willingly whenever one has done wrong, without prompting by comrades and the masses. There is no place for the individualist ego, a belief in one’s own self-importance that throws up a defensive barrier in the face of truthful criticism, refuses to conduct genuine self-criticism and hides one’s mistakes, and evades rectification.

Practicing criticism and self-criticism, communists in general are guided by the principle that we do not fear criticism “because we are Marxists, the truth is on our side, and the basic masses, the workers and peasants, are on our side” (Mao Zedong).

For our anti-patriarchy rectification campaign, the NCP (OC) in particular is guided by our Resolution Against Patriarchy stating: “We call upon communists who have made patriarchal errors in their lives to carry out honest accounting, self-criticism, and rectification of their mistakes.”

In the inner-organization struggle and inner-struggle against patriarchy, we have noticed several manifestations of liberalism that must be identified and rooted out. We point these out here because they prevail among many communists in the US and are also by no means exclusive to communists.

-Failing to criticize male chauvinism among comrades when it appears that there are no immediate political consequences for lack of criticism or that there are negative social consequences for making criticisms.

-Consistently giving lower priority to the struggle against patriarchy, especially to the inner-struggle to transform oneself in practice into a proletarian feminist, even though this is a central and strategic question for the socialist revolution in the US. The communist movement in this country largely exists as a scattering of committees and advanced individuals. In such a landscape, unremolded male chauvinist thinking and practice in even a single individual has an exaggerated effect and can function as an obstacle to the immediate advance of the movement.

-Discussing the need for revolutionary women’s organizations in the abstract, or pointing to women’s mass organizations in other countries as models of what need to be built in the US, when the main problem in a particular situation centers instead on the thinking and practice of individual communists. This involves reducing the women’s question from a political matter into simply an organizational matter. It is an easy way to avoid the difficult process of reflecting on individual beliefs and actions, their origins in social practice and life experiences, and what needs to be done to consciously transform them.

-Posturing as a militant against women’s oppression and even verbalizing extreme positions when there is a broad injustice in society against women, but becoming guarded when one’s own practice is questioned or one’s own patriarchal privileges are at stake.

-Resting content with areas of political work that have over a period of many years achieved little to nothing in the development of women’s participation and leadership as communists. Justifying this prolonged stagnation with the notion that politics is traditionally an arena for men of the ruling classes and that it will take a long time to change this situation, failing to recognize that Maoists struggling in far more unfavorable conditions have made far greater advances.

-Failing to study the Marxist position on the women’s question, despite years of being a communist and gaining a theoretical and historical grasp of many other subjects.

-Resting content with having a familiarity with various contemporary feminist theories, which have little to do with the mobilization, organization, and politicization of the masses of toiling women from a Maoist perspective. Believing that theoretical familiarity with different feminist trends makes one a feminist in practice. Paying lip service to feminism while still using male chauvinist language.

-Promoting images of women engaged in militant struggles far away in other countries, but doing little to nothing to develop the capacity of the women around oneself to take up more and better political work.

-Viewing organizational work, planning, and logistics as “bureaucratism,” preferring informality in their place. Using social settings for political strategizing and decision-making, leading to a “boy’s club” of the self-selected. Consistently failing to follow through on organizational tasks in a timely fashion and being unable to meet deadlines. Consistently conducting work in a frenzied and last-minute manner, without the advance preparations necessary for those who have little experience in political work, have domestic responsibilities, etc. to become full participants.

-Finally, using the process of rectification, and its emphasis on remolding rather than strictly punitive organizational measures (e.g. suspension, expulsion), as a way to in fact evade rectification.

Each of these manifestations of liberalism must be identified by communists and uprooted through inner-organization struggle and inner-struggle. Some of them are likely to be familiar to other revolutionaries, such as anarchists and revolutionary nationalists. Problems of liberalism are compounded by amateurishness, a major shortcoming among communists in the US, many lacking developed experience in revolutionary struggle.

This is not an exhaustive list. It addresses only some of the main types of liberalism among communists and within communist organizations. It is not meant to assess the contradictions confronted in mass work among women, which have their own particularities and deserve a separate summation in their own right, investigating for example how the notion of “sisterhood” in capitalist society often covers up the reality of competitive individualism among women of the oppressed classes and determining how to fight against this.

As its first major internal campaign, the NCP (OC) carries out its Anti-Patriarchy Rectification Campaign to strengthen our organization along the line of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and proletarian feminism. It involves regular criticism and self-criticism that examines individual thinking and practice, behavior in personal relationships, the impact of patriarchal values and male chauvinism on our lives from childhood on, the division of domestic work, and the division of different types of organizational work, e.g. administrative work vs. theoretical work. It also involves a renewed focus in the fields of theory, propaganda, agitation, and struggles on the strategic importance of the battle for women’s emancipation.

As stated in the Resolution Against Patriarchy of our founding congress, “Women of the exploited and oppressed classes must be politicized and organized into a proletarian feminist movement. A revolutionary movement of women must emerge to play a decisive role in the struggles of the proletariat and the oppressed masses, and these struggles must make themselves into indomitable weapons for women’s emancipation.” None of this can be achieved if the initial accumulation of forces is carried out on a basis that allows patriarchal values and male chauvinism to fester and does not continuously wage struggle against liberalism in this area.


Mabel & Robert F. Williams: Monroe to Beijing.*

One of the earliest and most important black militant leaders in the modern United States, Robert F. Williams, the civil rights activist and militant revolutionary nationalist moved to China with his wife Mabel at the invitation of Mao Zedong in 1966 at the early stages of the developing Cultural Revolution. The Williams lived in China for three years.mabel-robert

In China, Robert and Mabel visited communes and factories and spoke about the civil rights struggle in the United States. Williams was named international chairman of the Revolutionary Action Movement and elected president-in-exile of the “Republic of New Africa.” In this role, he traveled throughout the developing world building solidarity with the struggles in the USA. During the Vietnam War, the activist-in-exile met with Ho Chi Minh and made radio broadcasts to African-American soldiers against racial oppression in the United States.

Finally in 1969, the Nixon administration, desperate for knowledge of what was going inside China, offered Williams and his wife amnesty in exchange for information. The Williams agreed and returned home that year.

The journey from Monroe to Beijing, via Havana.

Robert Franklin Williams (1925–1996), the grandson of a former slave, was born in 1925 in Monroe, Union County, North Carolina. He was trained as a machinist in the National Youth Administration, and later attended West Virginia State College and Johnson C. Smith University.

In the 1940s, he moved to Detroit to work in the auto factories and it was there he met and married his wife, Mabel. Born in Monroe, NC in 1931, Mabel married Robert in 1947. Mabel Robinson Williams, (1931-2014), along with husband Robert F. Williams (1925 – 1996) led a campaign for self-defence that shaped the 1960s. Robert Franklin Williams work in partnership with Mabel having a profound influence on civil rights activists, sharpening the militancy and resistance to racial oppression.  Mabel Williams, who in her writings acknowledged the double oppression faced by black women, was sometimes asked how she felt about working in the shadow of her husband. She discussed her reaction to that question during a speaking engagement that was recorded and posted to Freedom Archives.

“The power structure used that, I think, to split up our movement,” she said. “I feel fine. I’m fighting for my rights just like he’s fighting for his. We’re fighting together for the rights of our people.”

Following a tour of duty in the segregated Marine Corps, Williams returned to Monroe in 1955. In the same year he was elected president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The Williams would remain committed to the struggle for civil rights the rest of their lives. They were leaders of the Monroe, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP during the 1950s until early 1961, very much involved in the struggle for Civil Rights and self-determination in Union County, North Carolina during the 1950s and early 1960s when they were targeted by local authorities and the FBI.

Williams gained national notoriety for forming rifle clubs that met racist violence with armed self-defense. The civil rights organizers became advocates of armed self-defense against racist violence perpetuated by the Ku Klux Klan and law-enforcement personnel in the city. The Williams organized a militant local chapter of the NAACP and an armed self-defense unit called the Black Guard in Monroe, hometown of segregationist U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, whose father served as police chief.

As president of the Union County NAACP, Williams not only revitalized the organization, but also began a non-violent campaign to integrate the county’s public facilities. He gained national attention for the notorious “Kissing Case,” defending two  young black boys (ages seven and nine) who were jailed for letting a white girl kiss them on the cheek. Although eventually pardoned the state refused to apologize for its harsh treatment of the boys. The attempts to integrate the public facilities, such as the swimming pool, were largely unsuccessful and often were met by violent resistance.

While organizing with the NAACP, Rob Williams also helped found the Union County Council on Human Relations, bringing the races together to work for black freedom. Mabel Williams served as secretary for the group, which eventually fell apart due to white supremacist backlash.

In 1959, after a jury in Monroe acquitted a white man for the attempted rape of a black woman, Rob Williams stood on the courthouse steps and declared the right of black people to defend themselves. As he said later at a press conference:

“I made a statement that if the law, if the United States Constitution cannot be enforced in this social jungle called Dixie, it is time that Negroes must defend themselves even if it is necessary to resort to violence.

That there is no law here, there is no need to take the white attackers to the courts because they will go free and that the federal government is not coming to the aid of people who are oppressed, and it is time for Negro men to stand up and be men and if it is necessary for us to die we must be willing to die. If it is necessary for us to kill we must be willing to kill.” (Sturgis April 25, 2014)

Repudiating the NAACP policy of passive non-resistance, Williams advocate a stronger means of self-defence. He urged that Afro-Americans arm themselves and meet white supremacists violence with violence. Williams’ stand on this question eventually forced a minor split in the NAACP because many black leaders had become increasingly impatient with passive non-resistance. Williams was temporarily suspended from the NAACP, but many in Union County heeded his advice and did arm themselves. The Black Guard mobilized hundreds of African Americans to defend their community against the racist violence of the Ku Klux Klan and the police.

His stance sparked a debate between himself and King on the efficacy of non-violence.

Following King’s refusal to join the Freedom Rides, Williams wrote in his newsletter The Crusader that many freedom riders were angered by King’s refusal to join the campaign because they, too, had suspended sentences:

“It is pathetic that some of the students are under suspended sentences and some are three and four time losers for freedom, yet they are participating. Maybe, in King’s estimation, they are just students and only stand to lose their lives or careers while he stands to lose a fortune in struggle and blood money” (The Crusader 2, no. 31 [5 June 1961]).

Williams also criticized King for wanting to “ride the great wave of publicity but not the buses” and purported that if King is the “undisputed leader as the white folks claim he is,” he needs to ride the buses or “quit the scene” (The Crusader, 5 June 1961).

Though SNCC representatives pleaded with King to join them on the Freedom Rides, he declined, citing his probation for a May 1960 traffic violation. In this telegram, Williams, who had clashed with King in 1959 over the role of self-defense in the movement, calls King a “phony” for refusing to participate and challenges him to “lead the way by example.”

Telegram from Robert F Williams to Martin Luther King





Robert and Mabel Williams pictured in Cuban exile.

Needless to say, a militant civil rights leader urging African-Americans to form armed militias throughout Dixie did not sit very well with local politicians or law enforcement. When the Freedom Riders brought their nonviolent campaign to integrate interstate bus travel to Monroe in August1961, they were met by Klan violence and turned to Williams’ Black Guard for protection. On August 26th violence exploded. Williams and others fought back with guns. During the height of the violence, a car containing a white couple inadvertently wandered into the black neighbourhood. Williams sheltered a white couple from an angry African-American mob only to be accused later by local and state authorities of kidnapping them .Rather than risking arrest Williams fled to New York City. With interstate flight from a warrant – a federal crime – the FBI became officially involved. Williams went to Canada and then onto Cuba, with Mabel and their two sons, where Premier Fidel Castro offered him political asylum.

Cuban Exile

The exiled activists made pirate shortwave radio broadcasts to the southern United States as Radio Free Dixie, broadcasting news, music and commentary throughout the eastern United States. They also collaborated on the book “Negroes With Guns”, an important influence on Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton.

The Williams continued to publish The Crusader, an underground newsletter they had launched in Monroe and for which Mabel Williams drew editorial cartoons. Frazier observed that in the self-produced newsletter:crusader0365

“They highlighted the racial injustice experienced by blacks in the South, emphasizing the increasing waves of racialism that were emerging from Southern blacks, and connected these struggles to international movements against imperialism, colonialism and racial oppression.” (Manning :92)

The Crusader was widely read by an emerging generation of revolutionaries who would lead the urban rebellions and form organizations such as the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), the Black Panther Party and the Republic of New Africa.

From his Cuban base, Robert Williams reached out to the international community of national liberation activists and progressive expatriates and reached a worldwide leftist audience to seek support for the black liberation struggle in the United States.

Robert F. Williams, the former NAACP leader in Monroe, North Carolina and editor of the Crusader newsletter, stated in a speech on October 10, 1963, that “The same savages who rain death and destruction on the innocent women and children of Cuba, the same savages who rain death and destruction on the helpless women and children of south Viet Nam, the same savages who supply the implements of death and destruction to South Africa and Portugal, are the same who blow off the heads of little black girls in the homes and churches of Birmingham, Free World U.S.A. U.S. racism is a cancerous sore that threatens the well-being of humanity. It can only be removed and a cure effected by a surgical operation performed by the great masses of world.” ( Azikiwe  2016)

Chairman Mao Zedong, after receiving a letter from Robert Williams in 1962, responded by issuing his “Statement Supporting the Afro-American in Their Just struggle Against Racial Discrimination by US Imperialism” just days before the August 1963 March on Washington for jobs and freedom.

Mass rallies were held in China communicating their solidarity with their black brothers, and the Williams were invited to China’s 14th anniversary National day celebrations in Beijing.

Back in Havana there were deteriorating personal relations with the Cuban authorities because, Frazier explains, of the Williams criticism of anti-black racism in Cuba and their political sympathy of black nationalism; this position saw some Cuban officials refer to them as “black racists”.  (Manning :24)


Robert F. Williams, 9 Tai Chi Chang, Peking, China.

In 1965, the Williams family moved to The People’s Republic of China at the invitation of Mao Zedong. They were treated like unofficial cultural diplomats and guests of the state.

In Beijing, The Crusader printing increased from 15,000 copies in Havana to 30,000 in Beijing. The Crusader’s original masthead of a sword-wielding Crusader, printed and distributed from Cuba, was replaced in the October 1966 edition, after Williams left Cuba for China, by a machine gun & flaming torch.

Their radio show was broadcast periodically to African countries, and China’s short wave radio output aimed at black Americans was increased. A documentary of their extended tour of China in 1964 was made, Robert Williams in China. There was attendance at seminars like that held to honour William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois (1868-1963) a leading African-American sociologist, writer and veteran civil rights activist.


DuBois on his third visit to China was greeted by Mao Tse-tung in early 1959.

dubois-seminar                                                              Above: Celebrating the 100th birthday of Dr. W.E.B. DuBois in Peking. Left to right: Shirley Graham DuBois, editor of Freedomways; R.D. Senanayake, Secretary General of Afro-Asian Writers’ Bureau; Chen Yi, Foreign Minister of People’s China; and Robert F. Williams.

At a 91st birthday commemoration in China DuBois made a speech at a state-sponsored banquet which was broadcast through the national media. DuBois was quoted as saying that “Come to China, Africa, and look around. You know America and France and Britain to your sorrow. Now know the Soviet Union and its allied nations, but particularly know China. China is flesh of your flesh and blood of your blood. China is colored, and knows to what the colored skin in this modern world subjects its owner. In my own country for nearly a century I have been nothing but a nigger.” (“Du Bois, 91, Lauds China,” New York Times, March 5, 1959)

On China’s National Day celebration on Oct 1, 1966, Robert huey_chouWilliams, another civil rights leader and a revolutionary, was invited to speak at Tiananmen Rostrum, with Mao standing at his side. In 1971, then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai met in Beijing with Huey Newton, leader of the Black Panther Party.

“This is the era of Mao Zedong, the era of world revolution and the Afro-American’s struggle for liberation is a part of an invincible world-wide movement. Chairman Mao was the first world leader to elevate our people’s struggle to the fold of the world revolution,” Williams said in 1967, as quoted in the article Black Like Mao: Red China and Black Revolution. In the article, the authors described how Mao’s theory inspired African-American leaders in the 1960s and ’70s, resulting in the many Maoist organizations.


Chairman Mao Zedong signs U.S. civil rights leader Robert F. Williams’ copy of the ‘Little Red Book’ at the National Day celebrations, October 1, 1966.

In a speech given at a demonstration in Peking on Aug. 8, 1966, Robert Williams asked, and answered,

“What is the meaning of this cry BLACK POWER in a land dominated by the unmerciful power of white intruders who murdered and all but exterminated the rightful owners, the American Indians? Black Power means that black men want to have some control over their own lives, to have a respected voice in public affairs that affect them. We resent being a colonial people, treated as third class citizens in our native land. We resent being forbidden to speak for ourselves, even in black belts where we constitute as much as 85 percent of the population. We resent being deformed by a white man’s mould in a degenerate white supremacy society that derides and belittles our African heritage and make us ashamed of our ethnic characteristics. Black Power is the vehicle by which we hope to reach a stage wherein we can be proud black people without the necessity of an apology for our non-Anglo-Saxon features. The dominant society in racist America is reactionary, imperialist, racist, and decadent and we wish to disassociate ourselves from it. Black Power is a dissident force challenging the racist white power structure that is so heinously exterminating the people of Vietnam and threatening the world with nuclear destruction.” (Peking Review, Volume 9, #33, Aug. 12, 1966, pp. 24-27)

While in exile Robert Williams became the international chairman in exile of the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) The Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) was the first independent Black revolutionary Marxist organization of the 1960s. Organized in 1962 by Muhammad Ahmad (Max Stanford), a close associate of Malcolm X and Queen Mother Audley Moore, RAM was a national semi-clandestine organization which articulated a revolutionary program for African Americans that fused Black nationalism with Marxism-Leninism.

Although it was not a large organization, RAM influenced a wide range of groups, including the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Black Panther Party, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, and the Black Workers Congress. RAM dissolved in 1969. As Max Elbaum notes, “RAM’s significance had not resided in its organizational strength, but in its popularization of revolutionary nationalist, Marxist and Maoist ideas during a critical period of the Black freedom movement.” (Revolution in the Air :65)

Williams also served as a president-in-exile for the Black separatist organisation Republic of New Africa (RNA) that advocated the creation of an independent African-American-majority country situated in the south-eastern United States, in the heart of black-majority population. A position similar to that argued in the 1930s Comintern and the Black Belt nation position that found favour among some organisations in polemics on the Afro-American National Question and Racism   in the Maoist-inclined New Communist Movement in the 1970s.


Mao’s “Statement in Support of the Afro-American Struggle Against Violence” was both a condemnation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder and racial oppression in the US, and an insistence that:

“The Black masses and the masses of white working people in the United States have common interests and common objectives to struggle for. Therefore, the Afro-American struggle is winning sympathy and support from increasing numbers of white working people and progressives’ in the United States. The struggle of the Black people in the United States is bound to merge with the American workers’ movement, and this will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.”  This position was at odds with a Black separatist perspective as the Chairman’s orthodox perspective was that “The Black masses and the masses of white working people in the United States have common interests and common objectives to struggle for. Therefore, the Afro-American struggle is winning sympathy and support from increasing numbers of white working people and progressives in the United States. The struggle of the Black people in the United States is bound to merge with the American workers’ movement, and this will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.”

Robert Williams travelled to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in May 1968. Here he met with representatives from southern African liberation movements that had established logistic bases in the country.  In a visit to North Vietnam, where he met Ho Chi Minh and broadcast anti-war propaganda to black soldiers in South Vietnam.

He authored a pamphlet titled Listen, Brother! (1968), which deemed the war in Vietnam “a Honky trick worked up against the other oppressed colored people”. Filled with scenes of total devastation of “colored humanity” where bodies burned with napalm, Listen, Brother! urged African American soldiers to realize that participation in the war made them part of a “big mob of savage klansmen who maim and kill in the name of Christian democracy”. Critiquing the dominant cold war ideology of a bipolar power struggle as well as a perceived crisis in representative democracy, Williams hoped to turn cold war violence back against itself. He saw the war in Vietnam as a model for minority revolution in the US, where “black saboteurs” and “guerrilla enclaves” were a second front in the war for a lasting world black revolution. While he was criticized for advocating unpredictable revolutionary violence, Williams was also profoundly affected by the Cultural Revolution in China and turned increasingly to art and culture as a means to sustain the coming revolution. In Chinese propaganda, Williams found a model in which he could imagine the African American man and woman of his future nation, the Republic of New Africa.

Listen, Brother! pdf


Back to the USA

Mabel Williams and sons John and Bobby, returned to the United States in August 1969 and settled in Lake County Michigan.

Robert Williams followed soon after and was arrested on the outstanding kidnapping charge at Detroit Metropolitan Airport:

“Wearing a blue Chinese suit similar to that worn by Mao, Robert walked down the tarmac, clenched fist raised high in the Black Power salute. He was immediately taken into custody by the FBI and released on a personal recognizance bond of ten thousand dollars.” (Manning : 97)

In 1975 efforts to extradite him to North Carolina to stand trial on the1961 bogus kidnapping charges was resisted and despite a large campaign to stop Williams’ extradition, Governor William Milliken of Michigan extradited him. Following his acquittal, Williams returned to Baldwin.

In 1970-71 Rob Williams had taken a research position at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Chinese Studies. Drawing from his extensive stay in China, Williams was questioned by Allen Whiting who in turn advised Henry Kissinger shortly before Kissinger’s first trip to China in the opening of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China.

For the next twenty years, Robert F. Williams wrote books and articles about his experiences and continued his work as a civil rights activist. He spoke at the Chicago memorial meeting for Mao Zedong  in 1976, “Chairman Mao was our brother” .In the 1980s and 1990s, Williams remained active in community affairs in Baldwin and took up the cause of Clyde Cleveland, a prisoner on death row in North Carolina. When he died in 1996, hundreds of people attended services in Detroit and New York. Civil rights leader Rosa Parks delivered his eulogy, hailing “his courage and for his commitment to freedom.”  An Obituary in The New York Times said:

Mr. Williams was a ”revolutionary black nationalist” but was never a Communist, even though he sympathized with some of Communism’s goals, said his son John.

During their time in Lake County they had engaged in community activism and Mabel continued to work tirelessly until her death on April 19, 2014. She was 82.

mabel-and-robert-f_-williams-greeted-by-mao-tse-tungIn an obituary distributed at Mabel Williams’ memorial, it described, in part, their partnership and goals: The funeral service for Mrs. Williams was held  April 25 2014.

 “Mabel and Robert worked tirelessly together as one, in their contribution to the struggle to uplift black people and marginalized humanity. It is impossible to speak of Rob Williams accomplishments and exploits in the civil and human rights struggle without simultaneously discussing the significant role this warrior woman played by his side, at his back, out in front, and behind closed doors as she followed Rob all around the world advocating and sounding the alarm for our people.” Azikiwe (April 29, 2014)

 * * *

* Heavily indebted in use of the following sources

Abayomi Azikiwe , Mabel and Robert Williams: A Legacy of Revolutionary Struggle and Community Service. The Pan-African News Wire April 29, 2014.

Abayomi Azikiwe  China and the Struggle of Oppressed Nations for Self-Determination, National Liberation and Socialism

Cold War China in the Black Radical Imagination: An Interview With Robeson Taj Frazier

Elbaum, Max (2006) Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che

Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Robert Williams Speaks in Chicago. Chairman Mao Was Our Brother Says Black Liberation Fighter.

Speech by U.S. Negro Leader Robert Williams, at a rally on August 8, 1966

Frazier, Robeson Taj, “Black Crusaders: the transnational circuit of Robert and Mabel Williams” in Marble, Manning & Hinton, Elizabeth Kai (2011) The New Black History. Revisiting the second reconstruction. London: Palgrave Macmillan pp91-98

Kelly, R. & Esch, B.  “Black like Mao: Red China and Black Revolution” Souls Fall 1999

Robert F Williams: Self Respect Self Defense and Self Determination; An Audio Documentary as told by Mabel Williams. Audio CD and 84 page booklet. Produced by Freedom Archives. Distributed by AK Press.

Sturgis, Sue (2014) Remembering Southern Black freedom fighter Mabel Williams 2014

Tyson, Timothy B. (2001) Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power.  University of North Carolina Press

Williams, Robert Franklin

The Crusader

Negroes With Guns. (1962)

Listen, Brother! (1968)







First speech by Robert F. Williams in China’s Great Hall of the People in 1968 on the third anniversary of Mao Zedong’s speech against racial discrimination in the United States and in support of African Americans in their civil rights struggles. Topics include black power; history of African Americans; President Lyndon B. Johnson; Robert F. Kennedy; and Vietnam.

The second speech by Williams pays tribute to Mao Zedong and China and addresses the topic of the revolution against race discrimination.

DECLASSIFIED: organized political warfare

IN 2007, when the Central Intelligence Agency – CIA – released declassified files known as the ‘Family Jewels’, the 693 pages, were mostly drawn from the memories of active CIA officers in 1973 on assassination plots, secret drug testing and spying on Americans. It attracted the media spotlight, it was details from two decades of some of its most infamous and illegal operations. However, accompanying that release, and getting less publicity were an additional over 11,000 pages of declassified material, the product of the agency’s analytical branch comprising of documents from the CAESAR, ESAU, and POLO series.

These reports represented the CIA’s efforts from the 1950s to pursue in-depth research on Soviet and Chinese internal politics and Sino-Soviet relations. There were 147 documents in this collection representing the attempt to understand their Cold War opponents. They were the product of men successful in the intelligence career and of some academic achievement engaged to wage “organized political warfare”.

Assigning a few analysts in the Office of Current Intelligence in CIA’S Directorate of Intelligence to establish Project CAESAR in 1952 represented its first in-depth research endeavour.

 Sino-Soviet Studies Group

In September 1956, Ray S. Cline, then-Director of Office of Current Intelligence, decided to establish a small new research staff designated as the Sino-Soviet Studies Group (SSSG). Ray S. Cline’s agency career included service in covert operations overseas, notably as a station chief in Taiwan from 1958 to 1962 — his official title was chief, United States Naval Auxiliary Communications Center — and from 1966 to 1969 as chief of station in Bonn. He believed passionately in the cause of the Chinese Nationalists, and in retirement served as head of the Taiwan Committee for a Free China.

The Sino-Soviet Studies Group he authorised was to continue the CAESAR project while initiating two new research endeavours: POLO, instituted in 1956 to study the Chinese Communist hierarchy, and ESAU, launched in 1959 to examine the Sino-Soviet relationship. They should always be read with a scepticism especially where the research resembles little more than speculation. The politics of such work demands the elasticity of qualification and the vague assertion that employs possibility rather than certainty. But overall the impression is creating the substance of a conclusion. As chief of the agency’s staff on the Sino-Soviet bloc from 1953 to 1957, Cline’s team of analysts accurately predicted that Beijing and Moscow would go their separate ways. In his judgement;

This staff [Office of Current Intelligence’s the Sino-Soviet Studies Group] compiled the data that permitted CIA to lead the way-against furious opposition elsewhere-in charting the strategic conflict between Soviet and Chinese styles of dictatorship and doctrine that was basic to the definitive split in 1960.”

Ray S. Cline, Secrets, Spies, and Scholars: Blueprint of the Essential CIA
(Washington, DC. Acropolis Books, 1976). p. 151.

The “furious opposition” was the dominant (erroneous) judgements of CIA’s counter intelligence head, James Angleton convinced of the opinions of Soviet defector, Anatoly Golitzyn. Golitsyn was a Russian KGB Major who defected from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961. It wasn’t until 1984 with the publication of his first book, New Lies for Old, that Anatoliy Golitsyn became known to the public. He told Angleton that the public disagreement between the Soviet Union and China, and any liberalization of the Soviet Bloc were a strategic deception, part of a KGB masterplan.
There was an equally disturbing paradigm with regards to China that was held by critics of US foreign policy; it suggested a “friendly attitude towards Communism on the part of many prominent officials in the Roosevelt-Truman administrations” had contributed to the coming of power of Mao Zedong. [SEE: Antony Kubek, How the Far East Was Lost: American Policy and the Creation of Communist China, 1941-1949 (London: Intercontex Publishers 1971)] That erupted in McCarthyism, the anticommunist witch hunt of the late 1940s and 1950s in the US, with dire consequences as many were stigmatized and attacked by their political enemies as ‘subversive’ and ‘Un-American’ whether actual communists or not, thereby effectively removed from public discourse.

The research-based rebuttal of Golitsyn’s views was recalled (and celebrated) in fellow spook, Harold P. Ford’s study “The CIA and Double-Demonology: Calling the Sino-Soviet Split”. The staff analysts had provided evidence of the reality of Sino-Soviet dispute against “furious” opposition elsewhere in CIA and the intelligence community and despite great scepticism among policymakers. As early as 1953, Bingham, Cohen and Leonard Jaffe had signalled latent tension in the relations between the Soviet and Chinese leadership, underlining the divergent regarding theoretical matters.

That report was later placed in the public domain in the form of an amended article years later under the title, Mao’s Road and Sino-Soviet Relations: A view from Washington, 1953. [China Quarterly Oct-Dec 1972: 670-698.]

This research effort was led by Walter P. (Bud) Southard, a senior intelligence officer who had had unique experience stationed in China 1945-1948 as a naval intelligence officer dealing with senior Chinese Communist liaison.

In its first years, the staff was quite small, comprising three or four senior specialists on China and the Soviet Union. While Southard, was the acting coordinator of the group, Philip L. Bridgham developed the Chinese positions and Donald S. Zagoria, before his entry into a successful academic career, developed the Soviet positions.

After 1961, the core group became Southard, Bridgham, Harry Gelman, who moved on to Senior Staff Member at The Rand Corporation, and Arthur A. Cohen.

Each paper would acknowledge the group input and solicit “written or oral comment”: The writer, Philip L. Bridgham, has had the benefit of an intensive review of his paper by two of his colleagues Arthur A. Cohen and Charles F. Steffens, and of discussions with them and with several other colleagues.

Walter P. Southard (1920-1999)

Born February 18, 1920 in Cleveland, Ohio, after graduating from Kenyon College (Garbier, Ohio) Bud enlisted in the Navy and was sent to the Navy Language School in Boulder, Colorado. He then served in the Aleutians and in China.
In 1948 Bud joined the Central Intelligence Agency where he worked for 30 years as a political analyst on problems associated with Sino-Soviet relations and the Chinese Communist Party. His work was so highly regarded that in work on US – China relations he was referred to as “the legendary analyst.”

 Harry Gelman

Author of The Conflict_a survey Problems of Communism (March-April 1963). He was described as “an American student of Indian affairs” Gelman had his study, “The Indian CP Between Moscow and Peking” published in Problems of Communism (November-December 1962),“Indian Communism in Turmoil” (May-June 1963) and
Mao and the permanent purge (November 1966). There was a return to its pages with “Outlook for Sino-Soviet Relations” (September 1979) and a change in focus with “The Rise and fall of détente “(March 1985). Other Soviet titles included Brezhnev Politburo and the Decline of Detente (1984), East Europe and Soviet leadership contention: Implications for the West (The EAI papers)1985 and Gorbachev’s Policies Toward Western Europe: a Balance Sheet : Executive Summary (A Project Air Force report) 1987.


 Arthur Cohen

Cohen contributed to What is Maoism? A Symposium (Problems of Communism, September 1966)  that saw him opposing Stuart Schram’s views. Cohen‘s ‘HOW ORGINAL IS Maoism had appeared in Problems of Communism Nov-Dec 1961 a propaganda journal published throughout the Cold War published by the United States Information Agency in Washington, D.C. from 1952 to 1992.Its author was studying at Stanford University, on leave from his day job as in-house CIA intellectual contributing intelligence staff studies and briefing papers produced by the China Division of the Sino-Soviet Bloc Area. Arthur Cohen, promoted co-ordinator of the Sino-Soviet Studies Group, went on to publish his 210 paged study, The Communism of Mao Tse-Tung with Chicago University Press in 1964.
Philip L. Bridgham (1921-2003)

a member of the Sino-Soviet Studies Group in the period 1959-1961, before he joined the Department of Defense late in 1961. Product of the US Navy Japanese / Oriental Language School, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1942-1946. During WWII, he was a Japanese Language officer in the Navy and saw service in Japan, Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. He taught at the University of Hawaii for two years before becoming assistant professor of political science at Dickinson college, Carlisle, Penna. 1951, he was awarded the degree of doctor of philosophy by the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Harvard University for his Ph.D. dissertation, “American Policy toward Korean Independence, 1866-1910”. He joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1952. He learned Chinese and became a China specialist. He has published articles concerning China’s domestic politics and Sino-Soviet relations and was the first to appear in print publicly as a CIA analyst. After 32 years of working for the CIA, he retired in September 1984.

China Quarterly, a respectable academic outlet for studies undertaken by the intelligence research departments published Bridgham’s views on China’s National People’s Congress in 1965 [The China Quarterly 05/1965; 22:62 – 74.]

Bridgham contributed a chapter on The international impact of Maoist ideology at 5th conference sponsored by the Subcommittee on Chinese Government and Politics of the Joint Committee on Contemporary China of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council, held at Santa Fe, N.M., Aug. 2-6, 1971. Produced as Conference papers, Ideology and politics in Contemporary China (1971)

In a practice not restricted to American academia, the cross fertilisation between the academic experts and intelligence communities has been well documented with a nexus of discreet meetings and briefings for their mutual benefit. The CIA was providing long-term covert financial assistance to radio stations and publications as well as the intellectual support network for the cold war propaganda placed in what were seen as neutral academic journals.
For a number of years, the Special Research Staff was CIA’S primary representative interacting with the academic world, often taking sabbatical year to write (at favourable colleges like St. Anthony’s College, Oxford). Some members or former members of the Staff (Zagoria, Bridgham, Cohen, and Gelman) published books or articles in academic journals on matters concerning the Chinese and Soviet leaderships. The very public and prolific publishing career of Donald S Zagoria partly illustrates those interactions and dependencies that comprise the intellectual hegemony that sustained the security concerns in the Cold War era.

Donald S Zagoria

The author of “seminal work” The Sino-Soviet Conflict, 1956-1961 published in 1962 by Princeton University Press when a member of the Social Science Division of the Rand Corporation, then a major policy think tank in the industrial-military complex.

By 1965 Donald S. Zagoria, was teaching government at Columbia University while a Fellow of its Research Institute in Communist Affairs. Outside interests include membership of the influential policy think-tank the Council on Foreign Relations; his article, “Communism in Asia,” appeared in the February issue of Commentary was the one of more than 200 articles. In a flourish academic career, Donald S. Zagoria serves as a Trustee of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. He went onto writing and lecturing for thirty-five years on international politics with a particular focus on relations among the major powers in the Asia-Pacific region: the United States, Russia, China, and Japan. In addition to five books on this subject, he is the author of which have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Asian Survey, The American Political Science Review, Current History, International Security, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and The American Journal of Sociology.

The Sino-Soviet Conflict (Princeton, 1962)
Vietnam Triangle (Pegasus, 1968)
Soviet Policy in East Asia, ed. (Yale, 1982)
U.S.-Japan Relations in Multilateral Organizations, co-ed. (Bunche Institute on the United Nations, City University of New York, 1994)
Breaking the China-Taiwan Impasse, ed. (Praeger, 2003)
 William E. Griffiths (1920-1998)

Another Cold war scholar working elsewhere in the CIA media network was William E. Griffiths also engaged in the analyst business based in Munich, providing reports and interpretation through reports from Radio Free Europe.

William E. Griffith born on February 19, 1920 in Remsen, NY, received the BA in liberal arts from Hamilton College in 1940 and the MA in history from Harvard in 1941. His international career began as a US Army officer in France and Germany during World War II, after which he served as the chief of the Denazification Branch of the US Military Government for Bavaria from 1947-48. After his tour of duty in Bavaria, he returned to the United States to complete work on his PhD in German history at Harvard. In 1950 Griffith joined the staff of the Free Europe Committee in New York. The Committee had been established the previous year as an anti- Communist campaign group under the chairmanship of Joseph Grew. Ostensibly a private foundation, the bulk of its funds came from the CIA. The Committee oversaw Radio Free Europe, which beamed news, encouragement and propaganda into the Communist-run countries of Eastern Europe from its studios in Munich. Griffith moved back to Germany as the chief political adviser at Radio Free Europe in Munich when it was still operated by the Central Intelligence Agency from 1950 to 1958, the height of the Cold War.*
He came to MIT in 1959 as a senior research associate at the Center for International Studies and Director of the International Communism Project at M.I.T. (which received some CIA support) and had published ‘‘Albania and the Sino-Soviet Rift” (1963). There was also a two volume study edited by Griffith Communism in Europe: continuity, change and the Sino-Soviet Dispute published 1964 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology & Pergamon Press. While at MIT, he wrote and/or edited 11 books and numerous articles; the publications he contributed to range from the Atlantic Monthly to the Boston Globe to the Reader’s Digest.
He became a professor of political science in 1966 and was appointed the Ford International Professor of Political Science in 1972. He had served as an adviser to the State Department from 1967 and, as a professor, had taught students who went on to careers as senior government officials and experts in the field. He was one of many American professors to cross the line between academe and government. Griffith would commute to Washington once a week from his home in Lexington, Massachusetts when he returned to government in 1979 as an advisor to President Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a longtime colleague. Professor Griffith assumed emeritus status at MIT in 1990. After retirement from MIT in 1990 he moved to Germany for four years.
Described in his obituary by the New York Times as “a historian and political scientist who was an authority on Communism, the cold war and Central and Eastern Europe” died on Sept. 28th 1998.

A friend said, ”Bill Griffith was a very dedicated anti-Communist”.

Like the other Cold War scholars.



*Selected Bibliography
Collins, Larry D. “The Free Europe Committee: An American Weapon of the Cold War.” PhD dissertation, Carleton University, 1973.
Cummings, Richard H. Cold War Radio: The Dangerous History of American Broadcasting in Europe, 1950-1989. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.
Kádár-Lynn, Katalin, ed. The Inauguration of “Organized Political Warfare”: The Cold War Organizations sponsored by the National Committee for a Free Europe/Free Europe Committee. Saint Helena, CA: Helena History Press, 2013.
Puddington, Arch. Broadcasting Freedom: The Cold War Triumph of Radio Free Europe. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000.
Wilford, Hugh. The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013.