Big Factors in the Sino-Soviet Split, circa 1968

The smallest New Left group is the New England Party of Labor which publishes Hammer and Steel, a memeographed sheet that some people believe expresses “pure Maoist views.”  The man behind the organization is Homer Chase from New Hampshire.  He wants to have a hammer and sickle carved on his father’s headstone and has been fighting the town fathers for years on this issue.  “The headstone seems more important to Homer than anything else,” says critic Communist Gus Hall.  “but he gets written up by the press as a big factor in the Sino-Soviet split.”  For once perhaps Gus Hall is right.

— George Thayer, The Farther Shores of Politics, 1968

Hm.  This is an entirely different interpretation of the group than what we see on wikipedia.  That Gus Hall quote seems relevant to place into the wikipedia article on said organization — see “Ray O Light Group“, which has all the appearances of having been pieced together by members of the organization.

Originally called Hammer & Steel (H&S) or, more infrequently, New England Party of Labor, they split from the CPUSA following Krushchev‘s Secret Speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU. After several name changes (Youth for Stalin in 1968 and Stalinist Workers Group for African-American Liberation & a New Communist International from 1969-1976) which reflect shifts in both composition and political line, they became the present Ray O. Light Group. Many of its members were Northern Communists who came to the South to organize. Hammer & Steel was a small editorial board which grew out of the struggle against what it saw as revisionism in the CPUSA. It criticized the CPUSA for liquidating the revolutionary line on the African American national question, and for returning to a position of “American Exceptionalism” (by supporting the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy) which had previously been upheld by Earl Browder. Though it was a small group, H&S was the only group to be attacked by name by Krushchev in his polemics against the Communist Party of China (CPC) for siding with the CPC and Party of Labor of Albania (PLA) in the Sino-Soviet Split. H&S was the only revolutionary group in the US to have a representative at the 5th Congress of the PLA in 1966. Hammer & Steel argued that there was a focal contradiction (see, contradiction) around the oppressed peoples fighting for national liberation. This was reflected in the United States in the African American struggle for self-determination.

Why, they were a big factor in the “Sino-Soviet Split”!  According to their literature, backed up by Kruschev himself.  Take that, Gus Hall, you old Communist you!  Must have been the jack-boot from the Soviet propaganda he was spurring forth, minimalizing their role in the Soviet — Sino split.

One Response to “Big Factors in the Sino-Soviet Split, circa 1968”

  1. Donald Forbes Says:

    Who the hell are you?

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