Southern California Young Communist League Statement on the Israeli war on Gaza
After heavy Israeli bombing on Gaza argued as retaliation for the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers, the Israeli cabinet voted to accept a ceasefire after a deal was brokered between Israel and U.S.-allied Egypt—without consulting Hamas or any other Palestinian representation.
The Southern California Young Communist League (SoCal YCL) strongly condemns the ceasefire discussion between Egypt and Israel while deliberately ignoring Hamas or any other Palestinian voice. We also strongly condemn the bombing of Gaza in supposed retaliation for the killing of three Israeli teenagers, which there was no investigation or trial. This was used as merely another premise for Israel to act with aggression toward the Palestinians.
As of July 17, there have been more than 220 deaths in Gaza with more than 1,400 injured as a result of the bombing, according to news reports and the UN. Approximately 80 percent of these deaths and injuries are Palestinian civilians. There have been reports of only one Israeli fatality thus far.
Contrary to Zionist and Zionist-apologist media, Israel is not strategically attacking Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets. They are attacking areas in Gaza to result in as much death as possible with little remorse or concern, in spite of global outcry. As the infamous war criminal Israeli General Moshe Dayan has famously said in the past, “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.” This is Israel’s very nature of supposed self-defense.
The apartheid state of Israel is one of the world’s leading purveyors of contemporary crimes against humanity and perpetuating genocide against indigenous people, the Palestinians.
This isn’t a war. This isn’t an issue of retaliation and equal peace on both sides. This is an Israeli blitzkrieg on the smaller, less prepared, less armed, densely populated, ill-equipped and oppressed and colonized people of Gaza.
Pictures, video and stories of slain Gazans have surfaced all over social media—arguably the only outlet where Pro-Israeli propaganda doesn’t drown out the suffering of the Palestinians. Family members are seen carrying the remains of their loved ones, crying out for peace and justice.
But perhaps the most disturbing image, one of the most disturbing scenes, was devoid of a single drop of blood, devoid of a single slain Palestinian body. It was a picture taken by Allan Sørensen, Middle Eastern correspondent for Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagbladof. The photo shows Israelis in Sderot, which sits less than a mile from Gaza, gathering at a hilltop celebrating, clapping and eating popcorn at bright lights in the sky and fiery explosions in the distance. Each flash of light, each blast, is a bomb killing Gazans.
This is the true nature of the conflict where Palestinians are dehumanized into acceptable collateral damage, acceptable statistics of the dead and injured in the name of protecting Israel.
The SoCal YCL stands with the people of Gaza and all Palestinians who struggle to fight for freedom, for peace and for liberation by any means necessary. We support the Gazans and all other Palestinians right to self-defense and self-determination. We support the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) ongoing armed struggle against Zionist aggression and settler-colonialism.
Victory against Zionism!
No room for patriotism in capitalism-imperialism-colonialism
By the Southern California Young Communist League
Every year people in the United States come together to celebrate the Fourth of July, this country’s independence from British rule, this country’s white men—and to a lesser extent white women—independence from British rule, this country’s occupying white patriarchal settler-colonialist independence from British rule. The indigenous people of this territory were not asked as to whether they considered their land under British control, but they found out quite immediately with the full weight of history what that would mean for their people later on.
Many authors of non-European descent have eloquently posed the critique and question of American independence: what about people of African descent, what of the immigrants from vast Asia and the islands of the Pacific and of course what of the indigenous people of the Americas?
Arguably perhaps one of the best responses from a person of color to American patriotism, in speaking specifically on the issue of this country’s independence, Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852, delivered the historical speech to the Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, New York, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
And while scholars, critics and patriots are quick to say that Douglass’ speech, which highlighted the criminal hypocrisy of a nation supposedly founded on the values of justice and liberty which has committed genocide and chattel slavery (among other crimes which we shall address later on), he defends the potential idea of the U.S. Constitution as a “glorious liberty document.”
Notwithstanding, yes, the Constitution can be a source of great liberty and freedoms. But, like most things under Western power structures, they are monopolized by a special class of men, of traditionally white, property-owning, cisgender, heterosexual men.
In the speech Douglass writes:
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
For the complete speech, you can read it here.
As politically conscious and active people in the United States it might appear that we are in a difficult position, to say the least. But as communists, as Marxists-Leninists, as anti-imperialists, studying Lenin’s work on imperialism laid out in Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism, with a guiding analysis of world division and domination by competing powers, we find ground, we find our tasks, in our agreement with his thesis.
Nonetheless, the most powerful imperialist nation in the world is the U.S. So what does that mean for us, for our strategy and analyses, for the ones inside the belly of the beast?
Oppressor and oppressed nations
First and foremost it is important to start off with the distinction of oppressed and oppressor nations. Simply stated, as all Marxists should be in agreement with but are probably not (which we blame on strong tendencies of revisionism, reformism and American Exceptionalism), as all the great Marxist theoreticians from Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and others have argued, the more developed nations, operating with an ever-searching quest for raw materials, natural resources and forms of increasing profit (the natural extension of which is the view of inhabitants/workers of oppressed nations as the very raw material from the standpoint of a capitalist either in the oppressor nation or as part of the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation).
Secondly, the world is divided further-still into several alliances of power with competing fellow oppressor nations. Several nation-states and alliances come into conflict with competing interests, and have always done so (See WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, etc.). Much of the world’s wars and military conflicts are born from this (See: Syria, the Middle East and Africa).
And while workers and exploited people inhabit all nations of the world, those belonging to oppressor nations are at an advantage in many facets to those in oppressed nations. If this sounds rudimentary or boringly basic, we apologize. But this all bears repeating when tackling the question of patriotism and nationalism—which the main purpose of this written piece is to examine this and we will come back to it shortly.
Now, the U.S. is distinct in its nation-statehood for its nature in being an oppressor nation with oppressed nations within it, such as African Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Mexicans/Chicana/os, Puerto Ricans, other people of Latin American descent (which really just means indigenous/native people of non-U.S. territory) and indigenous people to both the territory of the U.S. and also below its border.
While to a narrow-minded Marxist, probably of European descent engulfed with white chauvinism, this may seem daunting, annoying, distracting, divisive or flat-out wrong. But it is not. The tasks of communists, of Marxist-Leninists, is to understand national oppression, in other words the national question.
As pointed out in an article titled “Imperialism and the Integration of Oppressed Nations: Some Comments” published in anti-imperialism.com by Klaas V., the distinct and systemic oppression faced by oppressed people, people of color, is tantamount to new age genocide. And, so, the tasks of revolutionaries in the U.S. is to understand and stand against colonization as the preliminary step in the struggle for liberation.
“The task of communists in regards to oppressed nations is assisting them in their liberation, forming an independent political force, exposing comprador bourgeois elements as agents of finance capital, and lead the united front against imperialism. Remembering Lenin’s advice, communists must actively support the right of nations to self-determination as a transit point to the overturning of imperialism globally.”
But what of self-determination “of an oppressor nation? Can, or should, communists and other revolutionaries in the U.S. support U.S. patriotism, “nationalism?”
Different circumstances for patriotism
Lenin himself, then later on echoed and further developed by Stalin, Mao and others, proclaimed the difference between nationalism of oppressed nations and oppressor nations. In this distinction, Lenin made it clear that there is a priority which has to be given of the proletariat of oppressed nations above the oppressor nations, that of which the proletariat of the oppressed nation must see that proletarian internationalism guides the right for oppressed nations to be able to forge their own path.
Here in Lenin’s 1922 essay, “The Question of Nationalities or “Autonomisation,” he explains the dichotomy and inherit privilege of oppressor nations over oppressed nations:
That is why internationalism on the part of oppressors or “great” nations, as they are called (though they are great only in their violence, only great as bullies), must consist not only in the observance of the formal equality of nations but even in an inequality of the oppressor nation, the great nation, that must make up for the inequality which obtains in actual practice. Anybody who does not understand this has not grasped the real proletarian attitude to the national question, he is still essentially petty bourgeois in his point of view and is, therefore, sure to descend to the bourgeois point of view.
Mao added to this cannon of communist philosophy on national liberation and patriotism by denouncing “narrow patriotism” and “narrow nationalism,” understanding that all countries and nations, oppressed and oppressor, have a tendency to embrace patriotism. But, Mao says in his writings on “Patriotism and Internationalism,” “In the fight for complete liberation the oppressed people rely first of all on their own struggle and then, and only then, on international assistance. The people who have triumphed in their own revolution should help those still struggling for liberation. This is our internationalist duty.”
And, so, we are not proud to be “American,” which is a white European title used to describe assimilated groups within the U.S. Furthermore, as we have argued, we are entitled to this resentment as some of the most oppressed, directly affected people of this oppressive nation-state have the right to be.
While all of us living in the U.S. benefit from Third World exploitation, although none so more than white U.S. citizens, most immediately as consumers, in our analysis we make the distinction between those in power in this country and those under its social-democratic boot.
Some of us in the Southern California Young Communist League met with comrades from the Cuban YCL once upon a time who said that they don’t hate the U.S. They stand and fight against the U.S. ruling forces and the government that protects these interest. They, being well-learned Marxist-Leninists, understand that our government and country is not a representative democracy but an imperialist oligarchy, as widely made known by a Princeton study.
Should U.S. communists be patriotic?
Now the question comes down to: can we as communists of oppressed nations within the U.S. hold up U.S. patriotism, while it’s the world’s “greatest” oppressor nation?
The answer is a resounding, unequivocal no.
We hold up the fight for national liberation of every single oppressed nation within the U.S. Communists of color, which is of belonging to oppressed nations, shouldn’t be patriotic for the U.S.
The argument of patriotism and nationalism in oppressed nations is a different argument in places like Cuba, Vietnam, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, India, countries in Africa and all places throughout the world where indigenous peoples fight against invasion, occupation and imperialism. This of course includes the U.S.
Patriotism for the U.S. as the world’s leading oppressor nation is irreconcilable with promoting proletarian internationalism.
We say to oppressed people within the U.S., to all people of color, to all communists of color, to communists belonging to and fighting for oppressed nations, refuse to participate in the celebration of U.S. Independence Day. Renounce all forms of U.S. patriotism! Denounce imperialist military! Fight against cultural hegemony, capitalism, white supremacy and the legacies of colonialism and neocolonialism! Power to all oppressed nations in the U.S! Power to all national liberation movements, in and outside of the U.S!
May each Fourth of July only remind us of the colonization of this continent and the genocide of the indigenous people and enslavement of the African people, and may that embolden us to act with the privilege, with the revolutionary and historic task, of living in the First World and rallying forces of the Third World to fight for their own, our own, liberation.
DISCLAIMER: With the upcoming 30th National Convention of the Communist Party, USA, (CPUSA) there was a call for articles to be written on issues pertaining to the Party in regard to politics, policy and practice. Several members from local chapters of the Party and Young Communist League submitted articles. Dozens were published. However, an article written by one of our members, Juan Pablo Guevara of the Southern California Young Communist League, was not. The Discussions and Resolutions Committee of the CPUSA refused to publish the article, citing that it “strayed from the guidelines” and the mentioning of fellow comrades acting out in harmful and chauvinistic ways was “casting aspersions.” We replied in saying that in not publishing the article, the Committee is acting as apologists for that very behavior. People of color have a hard time organizing in spaces, including radical ones. When issues of chauvinism come to surface they ought to be dealt with, examined and discussed. If this very basic premise is not respected, it is very troubling and unsafe. We therefore have decided, after a careful and sober analysis, to publish the article in its entirety. We welcome feedback and comments. We, as a democratic organization, strive to operate and be guided by principles of openness and transparency, even if it shows how certain members have negatively behaved. We call each other out because we love the Party, the communist movement and especially those ideals which we fight for. We publish the follow with respect to these ideals and for any people of color in the Party and other radical spaces that have unfortunately dealt with unsafe organizing spaces.
White Chauvinism or Marxism-Leninism?
By Juan Pablo Guevara, Southern California Young Communist League
A spectre is haunting the CPUSA, a spectre of white chauvinism.
It may be hard to fathom that many of our dearest comrades are guilty of perpetuating oppressive attitudes, but it has happened. And we must address it.
With the recent national and local discussions on changing the Party’s name and dropping “Leninism” as part of the CPUSA’s guiding ideology, much has been said. However, the recurring motif for these arguments has been for making our Party more appealing to the American working class.
There are many reasons to why this is problematic and rampant with white chauvinism. Firstly, who is this American working class that proponents of name-change and dropping Leninism are seeking to reach out to? When I see the U.S. working class I see an ever growing population of immigrant/migrant Latinos, people of African descent, and others who come from so-called third world countries. Many of these workers bring with them their national identity and culture. Specifically in Central and South America, where revolutionary movements have played and continue to play a dominant role in contemporary life and in the recent past. Ask a Salvadoran or a Nicaraguan immigrant if he or she acknowledges any of their national heroes, and they would with much certainty say yes and proceed to give you a miniature history lesson.
Additionally, I, like many of us, am in agreement with CPUSA Executive Vice-Chair Jarvis Tyner in his recent article in defense of the Party name and its guiding ideology here.
When we talk about the American working class, let us remember that it is comprised of more than 23 million Latino immigrants. Revolutionary ideology isn’t something that will alienate them. On the contrary, a push toward “Americanizing” the Party may actually dissuade immigrants from joining out of fear of belonging to a predominantly white-led political organization.
Another point that comrades talk about when reaching out to the American working class is that an ideology and culture linked to the Soviet Union and the Cold War is outdated and unnecessary. I would refute that by saying that the premise that we have to distance ourselves from the socialist bloc and Cold War, now 23 years dead, is absurd.
Additionally, regardless of Party name-change or ideological shift, we’re always going to be considered communists. A simple Google search will reveal everything. There’s no room to hide in the 21st Century.
But on the issue of how to better resonate with the American working class, I would suggest we focus more on the political shoulder-to-shoulder struggle of workers and their rights, with an emphasis on immigrant workers, and not so much on the aesthetic of our Party.
It is also important to understand that everything under a capitalist society is a reflection of its values. In other words, the superstructure (e.g. courts, religious institutions, media, schools, etc.) is a direct proponent in the ideological makeup of the masses. It has a powerful influence over culture, particularly its values and beliefs. This dominant culture (ruling class worldview) is then used to justify the political, social, and economic status quo as natural and inescapable. Therefore, what the advocates of “Americanizing” the Party also fail to realize is that Marxism, along with its historical symbolism (e.g. hammer and sickle) and theoretical developments, in its very essence, is the antithesis necessary to defeat capitalism (the base) in order to create a synthesis of proletarian hegemony. This is not obstructive dogmatism, this is dialectics.
But, many comrades will correctly argue that nothing is static; neither is our culture, nor our superstructure or its values. What good, then, is it to focus on preserving the historical symbolism of Marxism and Marxism-Leninism, such as the hotly debated hammer and sickle? Well, for one thing, our base has remained the same—capitalism. So if we are to efficiently combat the base, our economic system, we have to create our own counter-hegemony in order to fight capitalist cultural hegemony. We must create our own superstructure in order to proletarianize the ideological makeup of the masses and wither away any cultural remnants of a society that was built on indigenous genocide and the oppression of people of color.
Whenever anyone calls for the “Americanization” of an organization that claims to fight alongside the oppressed peoples in their nation and abroad, we should consider the following about him or her: 1) Motives 2) Justifications 3) Childhood 4) Family background 5) Ethnicity. We can pretend that these factors are extraneous and perhaps even unimportant, but on the contrary, these are the personal and background factors that influence our views about politics and the government; this is part of our political socialization. For example, it is easier for a person of European descent to advocate for and embrace American culture, values, traditions, and history. In fact, this is part of having “white privilege(s)” such as being born into a multi-generational naturalized American family, seeing people of your ethnicity widely represented in society, and learning about a national heritage or a “civilization” that was built by people of your color. So it is no coincidence that those who are the most vocal about Americanizing our Party are generally of European descent, and in various cases, it has come off as either white chauvinism, culturally insensitive, or racist.
In 2013, we (Southern California Young Communist League) had someone from the Party National visit our YCL commune located in Skid Row, Los Angeles. As revolutionary young people of color we naturally set the decor of our commune to appeal to our revolutionary ideologies and cultural backgrounds (family origins) which included posters, murals, and photographs of national liberation movements from El Salvador, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. Upon arrival, our visitor from National proceeded to tell us that he felt as if though we were stuck in a different era. Although we declined to refute his comment at the time out of indiscriminate feelings of respect for an elder who is supposed to have more experience and knowledge than us, we later concluded that his comments were unnecessary, disrespectful, and culturally insensitive.
Enough time has passed now that I can express how uncomfortable this comment made us feel. For those who think that the images of national liberation heroes of Latin America, such as Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Farabundo Marti, Emiliano Zapata, Augusto Sandino and others are outdated, you have to understand how incredibly offensive and chauvinistic that sounds. We do not display these images on our clothing, inside our homes, or on our murals out of romantic nostalgia for war, but rather as reverence for our fallen heroes who fought against colonialism for the right to self-determination.
In 2014, the Southern California Young Communist League has recently undergone aggressive attacks by a member of the Southern California Communist Party. These attacks were made by a white comrade who felt that the Southern California YCL use of images of Latin American national liberation fighters were “highly repulsive,” “not representing the day-to-day politics of the CPUSA,” “not corresponding to the present-day consciousness of American workers and probably no other organized sector of the working class anywhere in the world,” and “a cult of romantic revolutionary violence.”
Need we remind comrades that the history of Latin America is a history of violence. With is long history of capitalist abuses and military dictatorships, our people cannot deny the working class men and women militants that died in the direct struggle for national liberation and working class emancipation from imperialism. To deny us our history and dismiss it as irrelevant to the present-day consciousness of American workers is not only racist, but smacks of American Exceptionalism. Especially when the fastest growing members of the working class are of Latin American descent (in Los Angeles Latin Americans are the majority).
I therefore propose that comrades, including our white comrades, stop referring to Marxist-Leninists that uphold the self-determination of oppressed nations as being “radical nationalists” and instead take a mature and sober analysis of the role that Marxism-Leninism has played in national liberation movements of the so-called third world.
Additionally, I propose that we maintain the name Communist Party, USA, keep our international symbol of the hammer and sickle, and uphold Marxism-Leninism because as Salvadoran communist revolutionary Roque Dalton has said, “Marxism-Leninism is, besides being the theory of the proletarian revolution and other things like that, the science of the history of the proletariat.”
Lastly, I urge all of our white comrades to more critically examine their privileges and chauvinism in organizing with your fellow comrades of color.
The Southern California Young Communist League stands in full support of the Zapatistas and are in solidarity with the important work they do.
Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Jose Luis Solís López, teacher killed in the recent attack and all those affected by it.
We encourage our followers to read the article and support Zapatista solidarity work.
More information regarding how to support the Zs coming soon.