From the Marxism-Leninism Today Editors
Friday, August 22, 2014
Western Pennsylvania has a rich history of class struggle. The region has witnessed, for example, the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, the Homestead Steel Strike of 1892, the growth of the CIO in the 1930s and 1940s, and the fierce attacks on organized labor and the Left by McCarthyism in the 1950s.
Meeting in Pittsburgh on Saturday August 16, 2014, readers and supporters of the Marxism-Leninism Today (MLT) website — www.mltoday.com — many of them former Communist Party leaders and activists, met to form a new Communist organization.
Those attending came from Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Greetings were received from those in Texas and Indiana who could not attend. Ten former members of the National Committee of the CPUSA either attended the conference or helped to plan it. More than half of those attending were union activists or union officers.
The conference heard and discussed presentations by convenors from the MLT Collective who presented three resolutions which, after discussion, were amended and formally adopted unanimously.
The key conference decision was adoption of a resolution to create a pre-party formation, tentatively called the Network of Communist Clubs (NCC). It will be led by Temporary Coordinating Committee (TCC), composed of the MLT Collective and two additional members who were added at the meeting to ensure a more balanced leading committee.
TCC’s main task will be to undertake necessary actions to create conditions for the birth of a full-fledged Communist Party operating on Leninist principles. The TCC will guide and nurture a network of Communist clubs. To some extent, a network of such clubs already exists.
Two of the opening presentations focused on the ten-year period since the founding of the MLT website, what led to its founding, and how it has tried to uphold the traditions of struggle of the CPUSA. Also included was a more detailed report on the growth and development of the MLT website, which since 2004, has enjoyed a five-fold growth in readership, two-thirds of it in the US. It has a lengthening list of regular writers, and growing international contacts. Since 2010 it has made several attempts to take the next step, from a political web site to organization.
A labor historian offered the long-term view, describing the untidy process by which the first CP came into being in 1918-21. He compared the favorable and unfavorable factors influencing the birth of a new organization, then and now. He reviewed the party’s recurrent battles against opportunism, a political illness always resurgent when the fortunes of US imperialism were on the upswing. He enumerated Lenin’s key ideas on what kind of vanguard political party the working class movement needs. With all our limitations and shortcomings, he concluded, it is our responsibility to try to rebuild.
A four-member panel of the Pittsburgh Club reported how the club came together in 2010. They outlined the essence of what an ideal Communist club ought to be and gave a report on the Pittsburgh club’s attempts to turn the ideal into reality, with substantial success.
The timing of the Pittsburgh meeting was influenced by the 30th CPUSA Convention in June 2014, which formally wrote into the Party Constitution new language taking the Party even further away from Lenin’s ideas about revolutionary organization. About one year ago, MLT editors announced their aim of refounding a Communist party. In the last year they have visited activists in almost all parts of the country to test sentiment.
Speakers from the floor spoke of the worsening objective conditions in the country, against a backdrop of upheaval against racial injustice in Ferguson, Missouri and the US-led aggressions, old and new, under way in dozens of countries. Not a single people’s movement has remained unaffected by the absence of a CP in the United States. The US labor movement despite some signs of struggle, remains in decline and retreat, and mired in class collaborationism.
Participants at the meeting agreed that the stress will be on a bottom-up approach to the creation of functioning clubs involved in mass struggle. The TCC was charged in the coming period with involving people in mass work in such areas of political work as labor, peace & solidarity, equality, and independent political action. Many in attendance are already involved in such work.
The TCC will create and supervise a working committee to write an expanded statement of principles, looking toward a full Party program. It will look at ways to alter the nature of the ML Today web site to begin to serve NCC organizational needs. It will recruit volunteers and strive to put the organization on a more stable and sustainable basis. It will work toward obtaining a physical location and address as soon as possible.
The Pittsburgh meeting agreed to hold a follow-up meeting in three months at a site still to be determined.