Category: About the CPUSA
Political Independence of Parties and Gus Hall

By A. Shawgushall


Gus Hall (October 8, 1910 – October 13, 2000) was a leader and Chairman of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and its four-time U.S. presidential candidate. During the Great Repression of the 1940s and 50s, Hall was indicted under the Smith Act by the bourgeois regime in Washington D.C. and was sentenced to eight years in prison. After his release, Hall led the CPUSA for over 40 years, often taking an orthodox Marxist-Leninist stance which intensely annoyed most of his comrades.


The concept of political independence varies when applied to individuals, groups, or states. With individuals, a candidate is independent when he or she is not affiliated with any political party. Again, an independent voter is a voter who does not align him or herself with a political party. However, proletarian parties commonly called their candidates “independent” as long as their candidate isn’t affiliated with a bourgeois party or another proletarian party. In the USA, when “independent” is applied to a group, it seems to mean a group that is separate from the two old bourgeois parties [the DP and GOP], even if the group is somehow affiliated or allied with other third parties.



AIMING TO WINAngela-Davis-with-Gus-Hall



“In every case the Party should focus on offices it aims to win — if not [this year] then over the course of the next few elections,” Gus Hall wrote in “Unity! The Only Way.”


Hall applied this rule in 1988 to CPUSA, but it applies today to a number of political organizations.


Under the rule which he formulates, Hall must have concluded that his party should not have focused on any of his four campaigns for president of the USA.


What does “in every case” mean?


It means in no case should a left party focus on offices it doesn’t aim to win. It also means in no case should a party focus on offices it doesn’t aim to win either now or over the course of the next few elections.


“Such a proposition requires a basic change in how we conduct our campaigns,” Hall wrote.


Why is this change in the conduct of campaigns basic?


Before the aiming-to-win strategy, campaigns aimed to lose or aimed merely to run. If so, then an aiming-to-win strategy is indeed a basic change.


Does the rule about a party not focusing on campaigns where the candidate can’t win, either now or over the course of the next few elections, apply also to Communists?


Hall’s answer to the question of whether the rule applies to Communists is tough to interpret, even though the rule applies to every case and a Communist candidate is a case.


Here’s Hall’s answer:


“The fact is we have now overcome the barrier that ‘Communists cannot be elected.’ Even though our candidates’ votes and constituencies took a big leap in recent elections, most of us still do not think in terms of Communists actually getting elected. This is the necessary next stage in the development of Communist campaigns,” Hall wrote.


Hall seems to be saying that Communists have recently won a number of elections, running as candidates of the two old bourgeois parties. These wins prove that the alleged barrier “Communists cannot be elected” is false. But most Communists still don’t see these wins as Communists actually getting elected; they see these wins as candidates of bourgeois parties actually getting elected. In other words, most Communists want and expect Communists to run as Communists, not as candidates of bourgeois parties.



Under the rule, as formulated above by Hall, a Communist running openly as a Communist also has to win because winning is the key thing, not merely running or losing. Further, a winning Communist, running openly as a Communist, satisfies the rule. A winning Communist, running as a candidate of a bourgeois party, also satisfies the rule.


But a losing Communist, no matter how he/she runs, is just a loser.


Lenin dealt with phony participation in political struggle in his “Leftwing Communism” and his “What Is to Be Done.”  Obviously, aiming to lose is phony participation. Lenin called it a baby disease, an infantile disorder, pseudo anarchism, quasi-anarchism, and semi-anarchism.




Hall rejects the explanation that the label of Communist is the chief cause of a loss when the candidate exposes his or her Communist affiliations.


Hall points to the political incompetence and bungling of Communists as the main cause of the losses when Communists campaign openly as Reds.


“Generally, we are good on program, but come up very short on the mass organization side of running campaigns … To reach a new, higher stage we must raise the level of professionalism in the use of media, literature, posters, and in fund raising. We must master campaign organization techniques to identify, mold and hold a Communist electoral constituency.

We must establish an apparatus to get out the vote on election day. We must focus more on door-to-door canvassing and involving non-Party volunteers,” Hall wrote, explaining why Communists who run as Communists lose.


Hall wanted Communists to master all of the specialties of the art of campaigning, even though he didn’t mention all of the specialties in the preceding paragraph.


Hall understood that amateurs are unlikely to prevail over political professionals.


Hall’s proposals were unwelcomed but quietly tolerated in 1988 when he presented them. They haven’t been acted on at all since their 1988 presentation.




Today, revolutionaries must aim to win, not the foolishness of much of the US Left of aiming to lose or aiming merely to run.


Revolutionaries can win either running as revolutionaries or running as supporters of political tendencies other than revolutionary.


The label of revolutionary pinned on a candidate is usually not the principal cause of a loss at the polls


The principal cause is that the advanced elements of the electoral base in the USA are untrained and misdirected.


Most of the US Left are incapable of doing anything.


Here is a video of Gus Hall

President Obama, let the heroes go!
| September 1, 2014 | 9:38 pm | About the CPUSA, Action, Cuban Five, International | No comments


By James Thompson


President John F. Kennedy wrote a landmark book called Profiles in Courage. He studied the lives of a number of political leaders in the United States who stood up to negative forces and did the right thing even though it may not have been in their best political interest.


President Obama is reportedly an admirer of John F. Kennedy. President Obama is also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.


It is puzzling to many why the president has not responded to the mass movement demanding the release of the Cuban 5 (a.k.a. Miami 5). The mass movement is very large and is international in scope. Many high-ranking celebrities and political leaders both in the United States and around the world have united with a single demand “Free the 5!”


The Cuban 5 are five heroes who came to the United States to gather information on right wing terrorists located in Miami who were plotting violence against Cuba. Indeed, they carried out many attacks on this sovereign nation and killed many people and destroyed much property. The Cuban 5 were successful in gathering crucial information which they supplied to the Cuban government so that they could prevent these violent attacks. These courageous men fought international terrorists toe to toe and saved many innocent lives.


On September 12, 1998, the Cuban 5 were arrested. They received a trial which many maintain was unfair and they received astronomical sentences compared with others convicted of similar charges. One of the 5 completed his sentence in 2011 and was released and returned to Cuba. Another completed his sentence and returned to Cuba in 2014. Three remain in prison and have been there since 1998.


A US government operative, Alan Gross, was apprehended by the Cuban authorities for attempting to incite Cubans to overthrow their government. He has been languishing in prison for many years now and has been ignored by the Obama administration. The Cubans appear eager to make a swap of the three remaining Cuban 5 for Alan Gross. However, the effort of the Cubans has fallen on deaf ears.


President John F. Kennedy was faced with a similar situation when he took office. A high-ranking leader of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), Henry Winston, had been apprehended during the McCarthy era and was imprisoned for a number of years before Kennedy took office. There was an international outcry at this injustice and there were demands to release Mr. Winston. On June 21, 1961, President Kennedy granted Winston executive clemency and he was released. This was at the height of the Cold War and there was great reactionary pressure to leave Mr. Winston in prison inzzz-cuban5 spite of his serious medical problems. President Kennedy demonstrated his courage and fairness in reversing this injustice even though it was not in his best political interest.


In a few days, we will reach the 16th anniversary of the arrest of the Cuban 5. This would be an excellent time for President Obama to demonstrate to the world that he has the courage that President Kennedy had by releasing the 5 and arranging for a swap for Alan Gross. The world could then see that President Obama is a Nobel Peace Prize winner not only in name but also in action. He could follow this courageous act by working with Congress to end the blockade of Cuba and lift travel restrictions so that US citizens could travel freely to one of our country’s closest neighbors. President Obama campaigned for office on themes of “Change” and “Progress.” Mr. Obama, show us some Change and Progress!

We’re moving again
| August 28, 2014 | 8:35 pm | About the CPUSA, Announcements, National | No comments

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 —  — 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.

Those interested in contacting the TCC for more information can reach it at << This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >>.

Convention Discussion: Some thoughts on changing our name

by: Jarvis Tyner
May 29 2014
Submitted by Jarvis Tyner, Executive Vice-Chair, CPUSA

I am not for changing our name.

I think we can build a large and influential CPUSA in the 21st Century.

We can change our name but there is no way it won’t be widely viewed by right, left and center as a retreat from the struggle against the menace of anti communism.

I assume that comrades pushing for dropping “Communist” from our name see it as positive step forward. I don’t think it will be. I think it will send the message that we no longer think it is possible or necessary to overcome the slanderous attacks against our courageous Party.

Defeating anti Communist intimidation and fear is connected to the fight against racism, for peace and social progress in general. It remains a basic part of the struggle toward advance democracy and Socialism.

There is uneven development but our actual party experience today is that we are growing, we do have influence and we are not isolated. This is a reality that comrades in every region of the country are experiencing on one level or the other.

But even if we were stagnating organizationally and with diminishing influence politically, I still don’t think we should panic. We need a measured and sober assessment of our real situation and fact-based analysis of how we should improve our situation and ultimately accelerate our rate of growth and influence.

We need to study the polls not just recite the numbers. The numbers mean something. There are real human beings expressing views today that 30 year ago were only whispered.

The polls on Socialism I’ve seen are very promising. Most people think socialist and communist are cut from the same ideological cloths and while Socialism is more popular, they are related.

I am encouraged by those polls that show our country trending towards a more favorable attitude towards Socialism. The results that show most youth prefer Socialism to Capitalism are very important to our Party. How could it be otherwise?

Our goal is Bill of Rights Socialism and it is in harmony with what is trending among the youth.

There was also a Rasmussen poll, conducted March 12-13 2011 on Capitalism vs Communism as reported in the People’s World article by Dan Margolis.That poll showed that 11% of those polled consider Communism “morally superior to Capitalism”.

The fact that more than 1 in 10 adult Americans ( we assume they did not poll children) thought Communism was morally superior to the system they are living under everyday should have set in motion a serious effort by our Party to analyze and figure out the real meaning of those figures. Those polls have pages of data and information that could be very valuable to us in developing a campaign to build our party in a new way. But we did not take it seriously.

We kind of let it pass us by. We all should be self critical on that point.

If 11% think Communism is morally superior, what is the percentage that does not support anti-communism or don’t like the right wing red baiting every decent ideal that’s proposed. The media is definitely playing the new anti-communist/anti-Russian card on the Ukraine crisis. Does the lack of any enthusiasm for US military intervention there have to do with the diminishing impact of anti communism? I think it does.

That 2011 poll showed an additional 13% said they were not sure which system is morally superior. I consider, the “not sure” people to be a group in political transition. It is safe to assume that most people have not heard an honest presentation of existing Socialism nor of our Party’s views. These are people living in the richest and most powerful capitalist country in the world in the midst of all the anti communist propaganda yet they are “not sure”. That says a lot.

In pure numbers not counting children 11% is around 25 million people.

And it is very important; that the 2011 poll was taken 20 years after the tragic collapse of the Soviet Union and most of the other Communist Party led Socialist countries. It was a big set back.The collapse was supposed to have made world communism “irreversibly irrelevant.” I don’t think it did.

If we all agree that we need a larger party to play the role we must play in order to advance towards greater democracy and socialism I think we must take these poll results seriously. A lot of most active comrades will tell you that these polls results do reflect their experiences.

Every day people are joining our party on the internet.Where comrades are successful building the size and influence of our party today they are tapping into that 1 in ten group (a group that is growing). The People’s World now has over 64,000 likes.

Through honest struggle, coalition building, debate and discussion, we can convince many more that the slanders against our Party are wrong and our party is a force for good.

The view that as long as we are called Communist Party we will have no future I don’t think can be proven. There is 95 year of struggle that refutes that. The polls and political trends among the American people are saying it is other wise.

Today, more progressive, left-of-center, openly socialist, are winning elections even when they are viciously red-baited. A year after the 2011 poll, Obama ran and was red-baited and he won reelection. Again these polls need to be thoroughly analyzed.

The polls certainly mean a lot more than the empirical arguments like, “comrades don’t feel comfortable admitting they are communist.” Or, “some people think being a communist is silly”.

We all know that everybody doesn’t have to be public to be effective. And of course some people who don’t agree love to make cynical and slanderous remarks about our Party. The question is, do we answer them and engage them? We cannot give in to these cynical insults.

Rather than panic and change the name; a move that will cause great division and raise many more negative questions, we need to unite around a long-range effort to intensify our mass work, to greatly elevate our internet presents with our focus on the primacy of the working class and the immediate fight against extreme right. We need to build the party and the YCL.

Back in the mid 90’s Gus Hall gave his New Years’ speech on CSPAN and we put our 800 number right under Gus as he was speaking.

When it was aired Joe Sims and I were at the national office to answer the calls.We thought we would get a few dozen mostly negative calls. Within a few minutes of Gus’s speech our phone system was overwhelmed with 100s of calls.

We were able to talk to maybe 20% and there were very few right wingers calling.

We did set up a few new clubs but did not have the structure then that we have today to follow through and build functioning clubs.

The CSPAN experience took place just 4 years after the tragic collapse of the USSR and 13 years before Obama’s run for President.

Today the struggle is on a higher level. The historic battles against inequality that helped defeat the right 08 and 12 have created whole a new movements.

To me these developments bring with it heighten consciousness and the necessity to reject racism, anti immigrant, homophobia, anti Semitism: all forms of bigotry and anti communism in order to build unity. Most significantly, today these movements do not exclude Communist.

Where is our evidence that changing the name will bring great results for us? I think calls to change the name are also related to proposals to stop calling our ideology, Marxism Leninism.

I think we need to be very careful that what may be intended to be a change in style and approach, can easily evolve into a change in our ideology and the basic character of the Party.

I know most of the comrades who are pushing for the name change have the best interest of the party at heart. But I think to change our name is objectively a retreat from a principled and honorable struggle for our right to exist, that we have waged for 95 years.

I propose that we table the issue of name change, make a real study of the growing mass sentiments against anti communism. That we examine the many options we have to seriously think through not only why people don’t join our party but why people are joining our party and how to step up our efforts to combat anti communism and build unity of all the progressive forces.

We must step up our efforts to build our party.


Regrets, I’ve Had a Few, but Then Again,…
| May 10, 2014 | 7:34 pm | About the CPUSA, Action, Analysis | No comments

May 1, 2014

By the Austin Hogan Transit Club, NYC

“My Way”
And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way…
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention…

Frank Sinatra’s lyrics, above, came to mind when the national chair of the CPUSA recently wrote, “Whatever mistakes – and mistakes are inevitable – we have made, we haven’t made big mistakes, that is, mistakes of a strategic nature, like some others on the left have and a few in our party have advocated…”

Let’s start with a dose of reality and a pinch of common sense:

It’s probable that, no matter what we say or write in this Pre-Convention Discussion period, the clique now in charge will do as it damn well pleases. The upcoming convention will merely go through the motions of debate. Like a wrestling match, the phoniest of spectacles, the outcome is pre-determined.

Nevertheless we can still honor the memory of the heroes and heroines who built this once-important Party by fighting to the last bullet, as it were.

What questions should real Communists ask, as the 30th Convention nears? Not the pre-fabricated questions in “Guidelines for Pre-Convention Discussion.” They are unacceptable. They are meant to steer discussion into safe channels that do not challenge the basic misdirection of the party since 2000.

Instead, ask these questions:

· No big mistakes? Few in the world Communist movement accept the national chairman’s big idea, “A Party of Socialism for the 21st Century.“ It is obviously a social democratic political vision. It has been openly rejected by major voices in the international Communist movement, and privately rejected by dozens of other parties, who choose to be tactfully silent. It is no accident the NB is organizing internal discussions of social democracy, merger talks with CCDS and other social democratic groups, and planning a big presence at the social democratic Left Forum, not to mention, at the convention dropping Marxism-Leninism, the term, the substance, or both.
· Have we grown stronger or weaker? Weaker.
· Are we bigger or smaller? Smaller. Even the national chair of the Party admitted not long ago the Party is “dangerously small.” How can this be reconciled with the upbeat reports from top leaders that the Internet recruiting is bringing in many new people? Answer: It can’t be reconciled. Internet recruiting is a revolving door.
· Are we older or younger? Older
· Are our Party grassroots – the clubs — getting stronger? No, they are shriveling up. As well, club expulsions are taking place, but only clubs that question the line.
· Are our roots in the working class, the nationally oppressed and other specially oppressed groups getting stronger? No. We don’t give a lead on the struggles against racism. Instead, we cozy up to Obama, exaggerating his (rare) positive steps and ignoring most of his dreadful policies, which are countless.
· Is our trade union work better organized? No. The Labor Commission of the Party seems to be reduced to a cheerleader for the AFL-CIO.
· Are these negative trends caused by external factors? No. There is no anti-Communist persecution. The damage is self-inflicted
· Are we leading any movements? No. We’re not even trying. “Followership” is now the supreme principle, it seems.
· Have the estimates of the party leadership proved correct? Not long ago, the national chairman was predicting under the present Administration we would see “an era of democratic reform.”
· Is Party growth impossible? No. Objective conditions for party growth are excellent. If masses of people are suffering and want to discuss “socialism” — however understood by un-informed people — why is the Party vanishing?
· Is our anti-war work stronger and more effective? Hardly. A few comrades carry on valiantly against Obama’s warlike policies. There has been no sizable anti-war demonstration in Washington DC in ages.

Who, or What, is to Blame?

The problem facing the CPUSA, what little remains of it, is its fundamental political direction. The line is wrong. Four more years of this direction will surely kill the Party off.

The leaders who pushed for and presided over this debacle should not just retire; they should do penance and make restitution. They should be down on their knees, begging us for forgiveness. In a just world, they would be held accountable. But, alas, the world is not just. Instead, we see them maneuvering to ensure that successors are chosen who will continue to carry out the disastrous policies. Some call that “Taking Care of the Future.”

“Party of 21st Century Browderism.” The miscalculating Browder liquidated the Party abruptly. He soon faced a revolt. More cunning than Browder, the present leadership, arriving in 2000, has injected the opportunist poison into the arteries of the organization, in small doses. The sickening and enfeeblement of the Party over 14 years have rendered it moribund. Now death is at hand.

It is hard to hold out much hope for this 30th — and perhaps last — CPUSA Convention. One hears reports that certain districts are being assigned ridiculously inflated voting weights that in no way reflect the shrunken and demoralized membership.

Our Wish List

Should leaders be held accountable for outcomes of their policies? Well, they are in every other sphere of democratic life. Why not in the CPUSA?
Here’s our wish list for this convention:

1. The whole NB should be removed. If there are any “good” people on the NB, they kept their mouth shut for years. Therefore, they’re not good revolutionary material. From among what is left of healthy forces on the NC, an opposition slate should be formed, composed of real Communists.
2. The first priority of a new leadership should be to change the Party line from this absurd ”unity against the ultra right“ (which means, in practice, work for the Democrats) to our classic position, the anti-monopoly strategy.
3. It will probably take an emergency 31st CPUSA convention to undo the top-to-bottom wreckage and reverse the liquidation under way in the CPUSA for so long. That will be the mission of the 31st Convention, which will have to take place soon.

But, for the delegates at 30th Convention, the watchword has to be: “change course or die.”

Dear delegates, don’t say you weren’t warned.

The whole Austin Hogan Transit Club, after expressing interest in attending the NYS District convention, was dropped without warning from the CPUSA last month, on the demonstrably bogus charge of non-payment of dues. The Club is appealing the decision, under the Party Constitution. Its appeal so far is being ignored.

Convention Discussion: The Communist Party & the road ahead
| April 21, 2014 | 9:47 pm | About the CPUSA, Action | No comments


by: Garon Archer
April 20 2014

Submitted by Garon Arhcer, of Johnson City, TN

As we enter 2014 and the 30th national convention of the Communist Party, we should be asking ourselves the important questions. Has the working class gained significant ground in the democratic struggle against the far-right agenda? How has the playing field changed post Occupy? Are we seeing a resurgence of militant working class struggle? What does this mean for the Communist Party?

Has the working class gained significant ground in the democratic struggle against the far right agenda?

The answer to this question is far too complex to be answered simply. Struggles for immigrants rights, LGBTQ equality, for higher wages and democratic representation have all taken place. But the struggle isn’t one-sided, reactionary representatives of the transnationals have not ceased in their attacks on the gains and democratic rights of the American people. Supreme Court attacks on the Voting Rights Act, failure to extend unemployment benefits, drastic billion dollar cuts to the food stamps and other social welfare programs, Supreme Court deregulation of campaign finance, etc… All of these attacks on working and oppressed Americans have taken place without real and lasting opposition. Much has been lost, but the attacks have spurred a militant resistance and given birth to struggle on a scale not seen in this country in decades.

How has the playing field changed post Occupy?

Just a few years ago an explosion of working class struggle took place on a scale not seen in decades. Taking place under the banner of a massive social movement known collectively as Occupy, the movement brought hundreds of thousand into struggle. Oppressed nationalities, immigrants, low wage workers, the bread & butter of the American working class launched a full scale resistance to the right-wing agenda. They popularized the class struggle with a call for the struggle of the 99% against the 1% and the corporate right-wing agenda. Unfortunately, the movement ultimately failed to offer a solid critique of the capitalist system, an electoral challenge to the far-right agenda, and the leadership required for concrete social change. As a result it dissipated, leaving the masses without leadership. Despite the failures of the Occupy movement, it will have an everlasting effect on American politics. It represents a left turn for many working Americans, a resurgence of working class militancy, and a new willingness for struggle outside of the normal channels.

Is there a resurgence of working class militancy?

Today it’s no doubt that widespread dissatisfaction with the system is growing. We live in an America where 49% of people aged 18-29 favor the concept of socialism over capitalism, according to a recent Pew Poll. An America where over 40% of Americans identify as independent rather than Republican or Democrat, according to a recent Gallup Poll. First we saw the Wisconsin Uprising and the Occupy movement, both examples of mass working class resistance. We’ve seen the heroic struggle of low wage workers through movements like Our Walmart and Fight for 15, both growing rapidly. We’ve seen highly successful independent labor and socialist campaigns in Ohio, Washington State, Mississippi, New England and beyond. We’ve seen the Chicago teachers fight back, we’ve witnessed UAW Volkswagen workers in Tennessee struggle against right-wing repression in a bid to form a union. Many important struggles have taken place lately, more than one can count. It’s clear that we are seeing a resurgence of working class militancy and a willingness to fight back against injustice and exploitation.

What does all of this mean for the Communist Party?

We have entered a new phase of the democratic struggle. The Democratic Party is increasingly pandering to the most reactionary sections of the transnational corporations, becoming increasingly hostile to progressives and the American worker. While the progressive wing of the Democratic Party remains essential in the struggle against the far-right agenda, it has become is increasingly necessary for the Communist Party to offer a left-wing challenge to reactionary Democrats. Many Democrats are lining up to appease capital, calling for compromise with Republicans and joining in on the war against the workers. The Communist Party has historically represented the most advanced sections of the American working class. We are duty bound to provide a challenge to the far-right agenda, be it Republicans or Democrats who are fostering it. We are duty bound to build and lead a mass movement capable of tackling the challenges of our generation.

Change in the political landscape means change for the Communist Party.

Now that the substance of the struggle is changing, so to must the party. The policy of building up an all-people’s front against the far-right has never been as important as it is right now, but we must consider how we can best approach this daunting task.

After witnessing the success of local progressive & socialist campaigns, it’d be foolish not to participate local electoral struggles. Exclusive support of non-Communists through standard progressive channels isn’t enough. The Communist Party should be fielding Communist candidates, supporting progressive candidates, and building a united progressive electoral bloc. Only the Communist Party can take on the task of building a progressive electoral bloc.

The rise of movements like Fight for 15 and Our Walmart mean that the party policy of industrial concentration has become somewhat outdated. We should be concentrating on low-wage workers in the fast-food & retail industries. The mass struggles of our generation are unfolding at super stores and burger joints, not factories and steel mills.

In conclusion, we must build a strong and independent Communist Party. A party capable of leading the working class into a new phase of struggle against the increasingly vicious far-right agenda. Most importantly, we must remember that struggle against the right-wing agenda is also taking place in the party. The right-wing of our party is fighting for the liquidation of the party into the broader progressive movement, a move that would no doubt have a devastating effect on real working class politics in this country.

Convention Discussion: No to social democracy
| April 21, 2014 | 12:55 pm | About the CPUSA, Action | No comments


by: Jim Lane
April 20 2014

Submitted by Jim Lane, Dallas Texas.

If I have misunderstood the direction that the present leadership seems to be taking us, I apologize. As for the main thrust of party work today, defending the working class against the worst of the capitalist class and standing up for democracy, I agree with it. But I am not alone in believing that leadership has been taking our party away from being a revolutionary organization and toward joining the social democracy.

It isn’t just one or two comrades asking, “Why should people join CPUSA?”

For the human race to prosper, capitalism must be overcome. For capitalism to be overcome, the Communist Party must choose the best possible and clearest political path. I would like to be wrong, but I think we have been meandering since shortly after the 2010 convention. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, instead of going forward into 21st century thinking, we are regressing into 19th century social democracy.

For the present purpose, I’ll take the Merriam Webster definition of social democracy: “a political movement advocating a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means.” This was the methodology of the minority of the Russian socialists before the majority took a revolutionary course, and it is the ideology of the old American Socialist Party that more or less kicked us out for being too revolutionary in 1919. It was the ideology of the ruling party of the German government that terminated in the Hitler takeover. Social democracy was one of the trends of our own CPUSA minority during the split of 1991. CPUSA Chairman Sam Webb, at that time, sided with the Marxist majority, but has since then indicated that he has rethought his position.

Social democracy is nothing new, and is certainly not 21st century.

Chairman Sam Webb has periodically written long rambling statements that are often more taken up with what he does not mean than what he means, It’s hard to see what he’s getting at, but some themes seem to repeat. For example, he is opposed to our using Russian symbolism and French vocabulary. I agree, even though I don’t think it’s worth nearly the volume of words that Webb has expended. It’s come up so many times that one can only conclude that we aren’t just talking about vocabulary.

I would point out, while we’re on vocabulary and semantics, that “communist” and “revolution” are neither Russian nor French and can’t be stamped out under that particular ruse.

While carrying out our immediate struggles, we must also be clear that our ultimate purpose is to remove the capitalist class from power. We are not social democrats because social democratic ideology has never worked and never will. It ignores the ruthlessness and determination of the ruling capitalist class.

Another point that Comrade Webb has mentioned many times is that the U.S. is in a certain stage of development. That may seem true on the face of it, but how do we define this stage beyond saying, over and over, that “socialism is not on the horizon.” Marxists know that everything is constantly changing and that political horizons, like everything else, are not fixed in time nor space. The suddenness of the government overthrows in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya all occurred since Comrade Webb started defining the horizons. Some of the news reports indicate that modern communications had a great deal to do with these very rapid and unexpected events. The point is that things can change rapidly.

Should a revolutionary party sideline the need to overcome capitalism because it does not immediately appear on somebody’s definition of a horizon?

Comrade Webb has made it very clear that he believes the Soviet Union imploded from its own fault, and that Stalin, whom our party steadfastly supported, was a “monster.” He dismisses the role of capitalist imperialism in quashing the Soviet Union. But do we not see the hand of imperialism today in attempting to overthrow the gains made in Central and South America? If imperialism succeeds in overthrowing the Cubans and Venezuelans, are we going to blame them?

The same can be said of the gains that the American working class has made in our unions. Are not the capitalists forever and always seeking to destroy those unions and those gains? If an American union fails completely, are we going to blame them?

Is Chairman Sam Webb for revolution in the United States? I once heard the question put to him in a meeting. He failed to answer. Later, I asked the questioner why he didn’t push Webb for a response and he replied, “I was afraid of what the answer would be.” I, too, am afraid of what direction the leadership of CPUSA is taking us.

For the human race to prosper, capitalism must be overcome.