Category: About the CPUSA
Play it again, Sam

By James Thompson


Response to:  Bernie Sanders, socialism and the 2016 elections


“As Time Goes By”

music and words by Herman Hupfeld

  [This day and age we’re living in Gives cause for apprehension With speed and new invention And things like fourth dimension.

Yet we get a trifle weary With Mr. Einstein’s theory. So we must get down to earth at times Relax relieve the tension

And no matter what the progress Or what may yet be proved The simple facts of life are such They cannot be removed.]

You must remember this A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things apply As time goes by.

And when two lovers woo They still say, “I love you.” On that you can rely No matter what the future brings As time goes by.

Moonlight and love songs Never out of date. Hearts full of passion Jealousy and hate. Woman needs man And man must have his mate That no one can deny.

It’s still the same old story A fight for love and glory A case of do or die. The world will always welcome lovers As time goes by.

Oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers As time goes by.

© 1931 Warner Bros. Music Corporation, ASCAP

These words which were immortalized by Dooley Wilson in the film Casablanca live on loud and clear in the current political situation in the United States.


On November 11, 2015 former chairperson of the CPUSA, Sam Webb, offered his ideas about the current political situation. He unabashedly carries on his reactionary political ideology in his most recent writings


Sam Webb seems mired in a demented, anti-Communist, anti-Marxist view of the current political situation in the United States. He has done, is doing and will do great damage to the world political situation by failing to confront capitalism and its apologists.


He starts out by saying “I find it hard to buy the idea that one potential outcome of next year’s elections-the right wing gaining control of all three branches of government-is less significant than the opportunity of the left to debate its understanding of socialism.… To make such a claim isn’t ‘blasphemy’-it’s stupidity.”


Former Chairman Webb has repeatedly argued that the most important political objective in the United States is to defeat the right wing.


Although it is difficult to argue with this objective, Chairman Webb’s choice of tactics in the political struggle in the United States leaves something to be desired.


Former Chairman Webb has argued repeatedly for flexible Marxist tactics and has even invoked his perverted understanding of Marxist dialectics. He continues to “Play it again, Sam” even as people on the left in the US vote with their feet.


Former Chairman Webb’s myopic view that the Republicans are the only ones who embody the right wing in this country is easily refuted by reviewing the presidency of Barack Obama. Equating the defeat of the right wing with the defeat of the Republican Party is simplistic at best. This line of thinking represents a dangerous, inflexible view of the country and the world.


When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, Chairman Webb hailed this is a magnificent victory for the working class and even characterized it as a “sea change” in the political struggle in this country. After the elections were over, Chairman Webb stubbornly maintained his and the CPUSA’s allegiance to the bourgeois politician, Pres. Barack Obama. He vigorously fought and routinely expelled anyone within the CPUSA who disagreed with this party line.


He refused to confront Pres. Barack Obama on any of his anti-working class policies. This tactic was a major failure in the class struggle in the United States. Chairman Webb seeks to continue this policy in his most recent article about Bernie Sanders.


Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a crucial meeting with A. Philip Randolph and it is widely reported that Pres. Roosevelt said to Mr. Randolph “I agree with you. Now you have to make me do it.” This led to the first March on Washington which was an important juncture in the civil rights struggle.


No pressure from the left on Pres. Obama has resulted in disastrous policies for the working class in the United States and for working people around the world. There has been virtually no opposition to the endless wars perpetrated by Pres. Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize Winner by people on the left or right.


As a result, the world is now on the brink of World War III. NATO countries are engaged in a full out assault and continuous provocation against their bourgeois rivals, Russia and China, in an effort to achieve global domination.


Chairman Webb ends his pathetic paper by stating “Everyone has to make up his or her mind on this issue, but my hope is that the left will sooner rather than later take its lead from Bernie.”


Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders has some very progressive campaign positions and appears to be the only progressive presidential candidate that has any reasonable chance of winning. He appears to be most closely aligned with the interests of the working class currently, but this is not a rational reason for people on the left to uncritically support his candidacy. Bernie Sanders is a bourgeois politician and should be viewed in this way before making any further political decisions.


For the former Chairman of the CPUSA to call for people on the left to take their lead from a bourgeois, Democratic Party candidate is indeed blasphemy and stupidity. We know very well what happened when people on the left took the lead from the first African-American bourgeois President of the United States. It led to endless wars, increased militarization both at home and abroad, increased incursions on the civil rights of the people of this country, a tremendous burgeoning of the right wing and their various sycophants, increased terrorism at home and abroad, increased anti-immigrant policies and actions, increased mass incarceration and a devolution of education and healthcare in the US today.


Indeed, Chairman Webb has blood on his hands for his spineless capitulation and class collaboration with the right wing in the Democratic Party in the United States.


Hopefully people on the left will see through his lies and prevarications and work to build a mass movement which will put pressure on whoever is elected President of the United States to do the right thing. Only a well organized and ideologically sound movement of the working class can “make the POTUS do it.”

Sam Webb: Bernie Sanders, socialism, and the 2016 elections

Bernie Sanders, socialism, and the 2016 elections

Little surprises me these days — I don’t know if it’s age, or what. But the long quote below from a recent post in Jacobin has me shaking my head.

“We need to understand this point well if we want to make the most of the opportunities presented by the Sanders campaign, especially if Bernie follows through on his plans to give a “major speech” about socialism. [This] will be a great occasion for the Left to debate our own meanings of socialism — but only if we silence our inner Anderson Coopers and discuss Bernie’s ideas on their own terms without worrying about how they impact his electability.”

“Here’s a piece of blasphemy,” the author continues: “there are bigger political stakes this year than the winner of the next presidential election. We have a rare opportunity to redefine and revitalize socialism for a new generation and set the terms for an opposition movement that can really change the world.”

Bigger stakes?

I find it hard to buy the idea that one potential outcome of next year’s elections — the right wing gaining control of all three branches of government – is less significant than the opportunity of the left to debate its understanding of socialism.

To make such a claim isn’t “blasphemy” – it’s stupidity.

If the Republicans win the presidency and retain their majority in the Senate and House, politics will quickly become really nasty. After all, consensus and civility aren’t their governing style. Breaking heads and using power ruthlessly is. And it’s no mystery what will be in their crosshairs: the democratic rights and living standards of the American people and the organizations that defend and fight for them.

Thus, the idea that the main mission of socialists next year is to tweak their vision of socialism given these “stakes” and while everyone else is beating the bushes to defeat the right strikes me as a modern day version of Nero fiddling as Rome burned. It is fundamentally misguided.

This may seem a bit harsh, but only someone very detached from the everyday lives of working people, only someone camping out in the world of political abstractions, only someone who fails to understand that politics is more like algebra and physics than simple math, and only someone who is clueless about the role of the left would suggest that the outcome of the presidential election and the elections in general isn’t of paramount importance.

Fortunately, this sort of thinking isn’t representative of many people on the left, starting with Bernie Sanders himself. Here’s a self-identified ‘democratic socialist’ drawing huge crowds, speaking to millions of people, and polling very well, but his main message isn’t his socialist pedigree.

While Sanders doesn’t run away from his socialist identity, it isn’t the first thing out of his mouth on the campaign trail, or even the last thing. Instead, his main pitch is his relentless opposition to inequality, austerity, unemployment, and the declining living standards of working people.

When he walks into an auditorium, his thunder against the right wing and the billionaire class is accompanied by proposals for reforms, many of which are far-reaching and bold. He offers a powerful challenge to the reigning orthodoxy of the past thirty years of both parties – neoliberalism, at the core of which is wealth redistribution upward, privatization, financialization, and deregulation.

Sanders, in other words, isn’t stumping for socialism in the first or last place. He knows that social transformation isn’t on the agenda of the American people at this moment. But he also knows what is: a message that locates their plight in the corporate pillaging of our economy and government and offers solutions that go beyond what either party has proposed up to now.

Moreover, Sanders, shrewd as he is, also knows well that his vision of change requires the dislodging of the right wing from its perch in the nation’s capital first of all. The ultra-right isn’t the only debris on the road to progress, not the only political grouping supported by, and giving support to, the billionaire class, but he knows from his own experience that defeating the right is an absolutely necessary task on our way towards securing substantive political, economic, and, not least, social equality.

His candidacy then isn’t a story of socialism, but a tale of taking down the right wing, challenging the billionaire class, making a passionate case for justice and equality, and appealing to ordinary people to become the authors of their own democracy and lives. But in doing this, Sanders is giving the socialist brand a new legitimacy in the minds of tens of millions of Americans and thus making an inestimable contribution to a socialist future.

Luckily, most people on the left appreciate this. They understand that it can only help the process of socialist transformation as he argues for radical anti-corporate reforms and asks the American people to join him in reclaiming their democracy and economy.

Which brings me to my final point. If there is a rift between Bernie and the left it pivots around his assertion that Hillary, who is now embracing many of his campaign themes, isn’t an enemy, but an ally when it comes to overriding imperative of defeating the Republican right and reigning in some of the worst excesses of corporate practices. Everyone has to make up his or her mind on this matter, but my hope is that the left will sooner rather than later take its lead from Bernie.

Hope for a left revival?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hope for a Left Revival?

   – from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:
Fifteen years have passed since the zenith of capitalist triumphalism, the peak moment of capital’s successful penetration of nearly every inhabitable area of the globe. Not unlike the beginning of the last century, the wealthy and privileged saw few storm clouds on the horizon, a future of unlimited accumulation and placid rule. While there were some risings in the hinterlands and some rebelliousness in the air, they were easily suppressed or marginalized.
At the center of this capitalist utopia stood the world’s gendarme– the US Goliath– with bases, military power, and unmatched technology, ensuring that the world was a secure haven for monopoly corporations. Moreover, the US sought and enforced international dominance. They pledged to bring “democracy” to the world with the same self-righteous hypocrisy and hubris that the earlier imperialists had masked their economic voraciousness behind religious missionary zeal.
But matters went awry in the new century.
The support for religious zealots organized by the US, NATO, and their allies against Middle Eastern secular, independent movements boomeranged. Unlike earlier puppets who were quickly jettisoned when their usefulness was exhausted, Islamic fundamentalists struck their erstwhile masters before they could be betrayed by them. Under the guise of a “war on terror,” a perpetual overt and covert war against Middle Eastern states and populations– a veritable modern-day crusade– continues to this day. The US, NATO, the EU, and a motley collection of scavengers cynically used the excuse of terrorism to reconfigure an entire region, destroying stable societies, killing millions, and leaving millions homeless.
At the same time, a global economy resting on the triumph of nineteenth-century economic thought and practices began to falter. Faith in the bright future was shaken by the destruction of trillions of dollars of nominal value, a disaster brought on by the foolish speculations of a gang of the oracles of a new era of technological advance.
Before the effects of the so-called “dot-com” crisis subsided, the global economy was struck with another downturn, shaking the capitalist underpinnings like no other blow since the Great Depression. To answer this catastrophe, capitalism spun off millions of workers, stripped wages and benefits, and shredded an already meager social safety net. The wake of the 2007-2008 collapse continues to drown the hopes and aspirations of millions, with even more turbulence on the horizon.
To any sober observer, capitalism is in the throes of a deep, profound, multi-faceted crisis. The celebration of fifteen years ago was a hollow and unwarranted declaration of the unstoppable success of capitalism. War, deprivation, and uncertainty are the legacy of those hailing that moment. Few alive today know a time when the future looked so unsure.
The Basis for a Left Revival?
Years of disillusionment following the decline of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies produced an era of navel-gazing and an extreme dilution of the socialist vision for the left, especially in the US and Europe. Murky enemies like “globalization” or “empire” replaced “imperialism” and “capitalism” in public discourse. Gradualist programs, market-centered reforms, and a trivialization of diversity toward micro-identities guided a dispirited left. Revolutionary politics were smothered by a sense that a “humane capitalism” was the best that could be gotten.
Sure, the left rallied around the anti-imperialist project in Latin America, particularly the heroic rise of Hugo Chavez, and later, Evo Morales and Rafeal Correa. The broad-based defiance of the North American gendarmerie served to inspire millions who had lost hope. But the leftist “Spring” that swept through the South has yet to spawn a real replacement for capitalist economic relations, not to mention, an irreversible socialism, such as that in Cuba.
Now with capitalism on the ropes, one might expect a left upsurge. With political and economic crisis– endless war and near-depression– one would expect a revitalized left to emerge today.
It hasn’t happened.
In Europe and North America, two flawed, failed currents dominate the left ideological landscape: anarchism and social democracy. The anarchist tendency is not the revolutionary anarchism of Bakunin, but a tame version based on the utopian idea that all that stands in the way of a just and fair society is restraint on the freedom of the masses– authority, and not capitalism, is the ultimate oppressor. For the modern day anarchists, social change lies in radical democracy, removing the encrusted bureaucracies that rule over our society– civil servants, agencies, union leaders, politicians, etc.
Of course there is some truth in this critique, but without a greater vision, without a plan to replace capitalism, overturning a bureaucracy simply invites another one. And insofar as its enemy is authority, modern anarchism differs little from its anti-government counterpart on the extreme right. The social base for this contemporary strain is, as it was in the 1960s, students and the economically marginalized. The failures of the 1960s New Left are reproduced today in the meteoric rise and quick collapse of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its European counterparts. Its clarion calls, as in the past, are spontaneity and “horizontalism.”
A second dominant strain in our time is social democracy, a posture that traces its origins and draws its life from hostility to Bolshevism. As an antidote to revolutionary socialism, it attempts to awkwardly straddle the divide between working class advocacy and accommodation to capitalism. It offers an evolutionary road map– a socialism-lite– that depicts capitalism as gradually eroding and giving way to a growing public sector. Moreover, the mechanisms established to insure capitalist rule are to be somehow harnessed to this end. The social base for social democracy is the ossified union leadership, opportunist politicians, and a neutered, cowed working class made impervious to revolutionary ideology.
For much of the twentieth century, social democracy rivaled Marxism-Leninism. But after decades of advocating market solutions and supporting imperial belligerency, social democracy– in the form of center-left political parties– stands discredited and unpopular.
Where successful campaigns of anti-Communism and fear-mongering had taken root, social democratic parties did thrive. However, when periods of deep crisis appear, social democracy invariably fails the working class. We are in such a period now.
The last gasp of social democracy arose with the election of SYRIZA in Greece. Garbed in a militant swagger and an outlaw persona, SYRIZA quickly became both the darling and flag-bearer for the left wing of social democracy. For Die Linke, France’s Left Party, Spain’s PODEMOS, and other European movements seeking to revive the social democratic corpse, the Tsipras government of open-collared and casual intellectuals promised the rescue of a spent political philosophy.
But as quickly as SYRIZA rose, it crashed and burned, delivering the Greek people a fate even more onerous than that delivered by earlier governments. But more than a failure, the SYRIZA tenure was a fiasco with an ill-considered national referendum giving the party a mandate to resist, only to be followed immediately by a humiliating surrender.
Not to be deterred by the debacle, the admirers of SYRIZA— the last bastions of social democracy– spun a web of apologetics, excuses, and obfuscations worthy of the best confidence artists. Where sober-minded observers drew critical lessons, these sycophants chose to deflect and deny.
Writing in the Peoples World (9-11-2015), Sam Webb, recently retired chair of the Communist Party USA, wrote: “Nevertheless Tsipras still hoped that the large ‘no’ vote of the Greek people in a referendum a week before the negotiations began might give German leaders reason to pause, to reconsider their draconian bargaining posture, and maybe, just maybe, consider some form of debt relief.
Or, alternatively that the vote would nudge France and Italy, as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to show some backbone and stand up to the German capitalist juggernaut.” (my emphases)
“Nudge”? “Reason to pause”? “Reconsider”? “Maybe, just maybe…”?
Are these the considered negotiating objectives of serious leaders confronting the resolute and naked power of European monopoly capital? Do you “nudge” a bully? Do you chance that “maybe just maybe” a ruling class will show compassion? Webb sees history as not the history of class struggles, but the history of class “nudges.”
And then there is Oscar La Fontaine, the godfather of Germany’s Die Linke party, writing on Jean-Luc Melanchon’s blog (Melanchon is the leader of France’s Left Party): “We have learned one thing [from the SYRIZA debacle]: while the European Central Bank, which claims to be independent and apolitical, can turn off the financial tap to a left government, a politics that is oriented towards democratic and social principles is impossible.
It is now necessary for the European left to develop a Plan B for the case where a member party arrives in a comparable situation.” (my emphases).
“Claims to be independent”? Did La Fontaine only recently discover that the ECB is a tool of monopoly capital? Like the cynical Captain Renault in the film Casablanca, La Fontaine is shocked, shocked that the ECB is neither independent nor apolitical! And how dare the ECB deny “a politics that is oriented toward democratic and social principles…” That’s not cricket! Like Webb, La Fontaine does not see monopoly capital as the enemy, but as a partner acting unreasonably.
It should be no surprise, accordingly, that La Fontaine’s “Plan B” depends upon the EU oligarchs agreeing to disarm the ECB, an outcome as likely as their acceptance of SYRIZA’s original plan. Thus, the circle is complete: the Euro-left needs to secure an agreement from the very same forces that “shockingly” denied a moderate agreement in the first place. Could anything be more futile?
Curiously, the former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, sees things differently and yet the same! In a long-winded speech in France (Festival of the Roses, 9-23-2015), Varoufakis locates the roots of Europe’s problems in its unification: “Why? Because we let our rulers try to do something that cannot be done: to de-politicise money, to turn Brussels, the Eurogroup, the ECB, into politics-free zones.” (my emphasis). So where Germany’s La Fontaine faults the European oligarchs for politicizing their decisions, his Greek counterpart faults Europe for de-politicizing its institutions! He goes on incoherently: “When politics and money are de-politicised what happens is that democracy dies. And when democracy dies, prosperity is confined to the very few who cannot even enjoy it behind the gates and the fences they need to build to protect themselves from their victims.
To counter this dystopia the people of Europe must believe again that democracy is not a luxury afforded to creditors and declined to debtors.”
So the debacle arose from a shortage of democracy. And the remedy is for the people of Europe to “…believe again that democracy is not a luxury afforded…” to the few. Varoufakis conveniently deflects the blame that he and his colleagues share for the Greek tragedy onto the people of Europe and their lost belief in democracy. “We do not have to agree on everything. Let us make a start with an agreement that the Eurozone needs to be democratised.”
If only there were more democracy! If only Europe’s rulers would see the need to cooperate! And if only the people of Europe would make them act democratically! Smothered by Varoufarkis’ petulant burst of disconnected ideas is the simple truth that rulers rule. They rule for their own interests and not to please or recognize supposed oppositional forces like SYRIZA or their ilk.
All three commentators, like many others who fawned after SYRIZA, are now left harboring wild illusions and offering shallow, unimaginative answers to the crises of capitalism.
A Path of Renewal
SYRIZA’s harshest critic offers a different answer to the challenge of a wounded, but ruthless capitalism. From surveying most of the left press in Europe and North America, one would not know that the leaders of a Greek political party clearly analyzed the SYRIZA program and accurately predicted its failure. One would not know that only one Greek party now offers the only program even remotely hopeful of resisting the further impoverishment of the Greek people. One would not know that only one political force in Greece gives the Greek people a dignified path forward that does not depend on the “fair-mindedness” of monopoly capital or the condescension of European elites.
That party is the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), a party with both a long history and deep ties with the Greek people.
Shamefully, most of the leaders of the Western left ignore the KKE and its alternative program, a reflection of the deep strains of anti-Communism infecting political thought and the obdurate close-mindedness of the neo-anarchists and social democrats. Thus, the KKE is objectively blacklisted from the Western discussion of a road forward.
With Greek elections coming on September 20, KKE has adopted the campaign slogan: “You have tried them… Now the solution is to be found on the path to overthrow the system, joining forces with the KKE.” This slogan reminds the Greek people and others that finding a solution within capitalism is not only a bad idea, but a proven failure.
KKE is stressing that the people must not give a ‘second chance’ to the parties that support the path of capitalist development and the EU, the path that brings the memoranda and the anti-people measures. They must not approve the implementation of the new anti-people memorandum with their votes. They must not give a ‘second chance’ to those who, in the recent past as well, sowed illusions about the ‘humanization’ of capitalism.” With the Greek people’s standards of living approaching the tragic levels found after the Second World War, we are witnessing a preview of where the capitalist crisis is taking the rest of the world. For those who are open to seeing it, the collapse of SYRIZA is a demonstration of the futility of finding a way out of the crisis within the system of capitalism. KKE understands this and offers an alternative; not an easy road, but one more promising than following the dead ends traveled in the past.
KKE electoral success this coming weekend will shorten that road immeasurably as well as provide an inspiration for those of us seeking an alternative to the bankrupt model of social democracy.
KKE gains will improve the chances for a real left revival.
Zoltan Zigedy
Aim to win or to lose or to run

By A. Shaw

Parties aim to win or to lose or merely to run.
It’s important to ask what kind of party we’re dealing with.
Clearly, GOP and DP, the two old bourgeois parties, aim to win.
A party that aims to lose is obviously a crackpot party or anarchist.
A party that aims to run for the sake of running pretends to be the media, not a party.
In 1988, the late Gus Hall wrote “In every case the party should focus on offices it aims to win — if not in 1988, then over the course of the next few elections.”
The quote above refers to both the selection of offices to be contested as well as the selection of strategies and tactics to be used in the contest for offices.
The quote suggests if we have no chance to win, then don’t aim for the office, but if we have a chance, then go for it. Obviously, a party that aims to lose will despise this suggestion because it sees losing as a worthy and desirable outcome.
The quote further suggests that if certain strategies and tactics result in losing “over the course of the next few elections” then try other strategies and tactics.
To parties and candidates who aim to lose, these two suggestions seem to be utter nonsense.
Note that Gus Hall believed these suggestions apply “in every case.”
Work in the Two-Party System
| May 28, 2015 | 9:54 pm | About the CPUSA, political struggle | No comments


Editors’ Note: A reader called our attention to an article by William Z. Foster. Despite some old-fashioned terms here and there, sixty five years after its publication, it has a remarkable echoes in present-day politics and debates in the union movement.

By William Z. Foster
Political Affairs, January 1959

It is a peculiarity of the American labor movement that the trade unions have no mass Labor Party, or other mass party. For many years past – for well over half a century, in fact – they have concentrated their political work heavily upon voting for the policies and candidates of the two old bourgeois parties, Democratic and Republican, with the emphasis on the former.

The general result is that the workers as a whole, following variations of the Gompers “reward your friends and punish your enemies” policy, have remained deplorably weak politically. They have had very little representation in the various governmental bodies, their political policies are inadequate and sketchy, and their understanding of the class struggle is heavily tinctured with bourgeois illusions.

On the other hand, the various radical parties (and there are several of them) are frustrated in their growth and are essentially sects. This process has gone on until the present day, when the so-called two-party system is deeply entrenched in the labor movement, and the workers have built up much political machinery in all the key industrial states within the framework of the Democratic Party.

Throughout the bulk of these years, the Left parties generally followed the policy of attempting to build independent mass parties (they originally got this idea from the German Socialist Party over two decades before), instead of working with the masses. For many years, up until the latter 1930’s, this was also the definite policy of the Communist Party, which had inherited it from its forerunners.

The result was a serious split in the ranks of the working class, with almost the entire Left on the sectarian end of the split, and defending it with all sorts of so-called revolutionary arguments; while on the other hand, most of the organized workers, who were chiefly conservative, insofar as they were politically active, supported one or the other of the two old parties. This has gone on until the present day, until now the two-party system is more marked than ever.

The Communist Party, with its Marxist-Leninist spirit and policy, was the first of the several Left parties (except for the scraggly policy of the Socialist Party) to begin to make a break with this long-prevalent policy of having no truck whatever with the two-party political system, regardless of the isolationist consequences of their attitude.

In the latter 1930’s, when the CIO began to develop, the Communists, who were in working alliance with the progressive or middle group in the CIO unions, began to participate in PAC and in the manifold working-class formations inside the Democratic Party, supporting certain candidates, advancing policies, etc. This continued on a large scale in the CIO unions, with the Communists as participants in the political work, until the split of 1949 (with the partial exception of the American Labor Party period).

The weakness of the Communists in this work, however, was that they did not theorize it, and undertook it only half-heartedly. Undoubtedly, this active participation in the workers’ formations within the two-party system was one of the major factors in the building of the mass strength of the Communist Party during the 1930’s and 1940’s.

In 1948, the Communists made a partial and disastrous departure from their policy of working within the framework of the two old parties, by the establishment of the independent Progressive Party. The formation of this party was one of the most serious errors made by the Party during the entire period. This isolationist policy pulled large numbers of members out of the Democratic Party, and most of them never returned; it also broke up the Left-Center alliance in countless unions.

The weakening of the work of the Communists in this vital branch of mass political activity was hastened by a series of events of the period: by the Browder revisionism of 1943-1944; the Progressive Party split of 1948; the split of the CIO in 1949; the Party mistakes, both Left and Right, of the 1940’s and 1950’s; and the revisionist Party crisis after 1955.

The development of revisionism had definitely as one of its major results the weakening of the Party work in the old political parties – characteristically, the revisionists had their eyes focused on the Right-sectarian bastardization of the slogan of the united party of Socialism, and the prevention of the Party from getting into real mass work.

The Two-Party System

The great bulk of the workers support the two old party tickets, with two-thirds or more supporting the Democratic Party, and hardly one-third, if that, supporting the Republican Party. In the recent November election, of the approximately 45 million votes polled by the two old parties, probably in the neighborhood of 20 million or more were cast by workers, with another 10 million or more cast by farmers, Negroes, and other Labor Party elements – with the usual huge majority going to the Democrats.

On the other hand, of the five independent, Left-wing parties (Communist, Socialist, Socialist-Labor, Trotskyite, and Independent-Socialist), hardly one hundred thousand votes were cast, combined, all over the United States, which obviously is not the total Socialist strength in this country.

This shows at a glance that the enormous majority of the workers, insofar as they vote at all, are voting the two old tickets. It also indicates that the main electoral mass work of the progressives, as things now stand, lies within the scope of these two mass parties, which control the election vote of the great toiling masses. And of course, these two parties are the controlling parties of the government.

In the work of the progressives, functioning in the unions and mass organizations, within the two old parties, consideration should be given to the following:

The Left forces should propagate their progressive program and line in the old parties, with the stress upon the one which currently contains the mass of the workers, and undertake to mobilize the workers and their allies in these parties for the eventual formation of the Labor Party at an appropriate political time.

The CP works upon the theory that it is impossible for the workers to win complete control of either the Democratic Party, or the Republican party, they being too closely controlled by the monopolists, and that eventually the workers and their allies will have to form an independent Labor Party. It is possible for labor, however, to win control of many key sections of the organization, to win some significant political concessions, and to raise important class issues, as was done in the recent election within the Democratic Party on the question of anti-right-to-work laws.

Undoubtedly, strong organization can be built up in such states where the working masses are politically active, as, for instance, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, California, Washington, and other states.

The progressives should actively combat all illusions among the workers and others in the old parties (without making them splitting issues) that the Democratic Party, or may it be the Republican Party, can be won as a bloc by the workers. We must focus the attention of the masses on the eventual perspective of the Labor Party, as their next big step to a mass and class political organization, without rushing into premature, split movements.

It is important for progressives to work definitely at building strong worker organization and program inside the Democratic (and where possible, the Republican) Party. This they should do in such a way as not to play into the hands of the reactionaries, who are quick to use the demagogy that the workers are out to “capture” the organization, and to carry through various political “plots.”

The workers in these parties should work firmly and persistently, and not rush hastily and without proper consideration, into splitting movements.

Reformists and opportunists of all shades have long since dabbled with political activity within the Democratic and Republican Parties. For the most part, however, they have immediately shed therewith their previous radical pretensions.

The Left-wing has worked with labor and others functioning politically through the Democratic Party (and also in the Republican Party) as early as 25 years ago and it has continued it ever since, especially since the workers began to be active in the building of the CIO.

The difficulty of the Left at the time was that it did not clearly theorize its course in the old parties. The general result was that its work was spasmodic and sketchy, and it made many needless and harmful opportunist and Left-sectarian mistakes. When it realizes clearly where its political action can take them, such errors and lost motion can readily be avoided.

In this general work, the Left must especially seek to cooperate with the middle or progressive group of workers and their leaders. Many conservatives are now displaying a measure of political activity, and they should be worked with; but the center forces are vastly more active and effective, both in their program and their organizational work.

The Labor-Negro-Farmer Party

The Communist Party should orient (as it has done for the past 40 years, not always too clearly) upon the proposition that the American working class will eventually free itself from the bourgeois control of the two-party system, and build a mass party of its own. This, as American labor history indicates, probably will eventually take the form of a combination of workers, Negroes, farmers and petty-bourgeois elements. These will comprise a large majority of the American people as a whole, and such a party would have the potential of securing a majority in the elections on an anti-monopoly program.

The formation of the Labor-Negro-Farmer Party (whatever its eventual popular name may be) in the United States, would mark a huge step forward for the American working class and its allies. It would enormously increase their representation in innumerable governmental institutions, as well as facilitate in general their political fight, and clarify their understanding in the class struggle.

The Labor Party in the United States will probably not have, certainly at first, a Socialist program – owing to the non-Socialist ideology of the American working class. The Communists, however, should actively propagate Socialism in all their Labor Party work. Under no circumstances should this point be neglected. But Socialism should not be presented as a splitting issue.

We should not assume, also, that the development of the Labor Party in the United States will be directly parallel with that of Great Britain. The work of the Left in the two old parties, for the Labor Party, should be characterized by firmness, persistence, and resolute advocacy of the Labor Party. It should not be made the object of thoughtless and light-minded splitting movements.

The building of the Labor Party will undoubtedly represent a serious struggle and cover various phases. Past experience shows that many working class organizations will be built up in the process within the ranks of the old parties. Examples of this are the AFL and CIO, COPE and PAC. A number of other organizations will develop.

This was the case with the old Progressive Party, the Commonwealth Federation, the EPIC movement of California, state and local Farmer-Labor Parties, etc., in the past. At the present time there are the workers’ independent organizations in Michigan, and many other forms in other states. All these should be supported, bearing in mind the need to avoid useless, harmful and premature splits.

A special form of intermediate organization developed between the building of primitive formations within the old parties, and the formation of a definite Labor Party; this was the American Labor Party in the State of New York. Such organizations, while actively striven for, should not be organized until there is the proper groundwork. The life experience of this organization, which has been but little studied by working-class leaders, should be carefully gone into.

In the Labor Party work, inside of the old parties and independently, a major effort should be concern with dovetailing the work in both spheres. This was one of the strong points of the earliest years of the New York ALP. The workers in the ALP could work in complete harmony with their brothers and sisters who had not yet taken similar steps by breaking with the old organization and setting up an independent organization.

In the Labor Party work, in all stages, it must not be forgotten that the trade-union movement is the backbone of the Labor Party. Consequently, all organizations looking to the strengthening of the movement must have a solid core of organized labor strength.

Especially is this the case when the movement reaches the point of actually forming the Labor Party. It is impossible to establish an effective Labor Party movement without a solid trade-union foundation. This the workers have experienced time and again in their several generations of effort to create the Labor Party.

When the situation is deemed ready for the formation of the Labor Party, as nearly as possible the whole labor movement must be involved. A characteristic attempt to form the Labor Party without a solid trade-union backing was the Progressive Party of 1948.

In the labor movement, it is important that the principle of independent action be established so that labor and its allies shall not be controlled by hostile class elements. There should be active campaigns begun to establish working relations between all the anti-monopoly elements, which could eventually come to make up a Labor Party.

The membership of the Labor Party should be based upon the affiliation of organizations as well as the formation of groups on the principle of individual membership. The Communist Party would seek affiliation with the Labor Party, but it would not let this become a splitting issue.

The Communist Party

The Communist Party must be actively built in every phase of the Labor Party movement – to create the organization of the workers in the major parties, to build the Labor Party, and to fulfil the thousand and one tasks that the Party confronts in the class struggle. We must remember that the independent role of the working class is the ultimate status we are driving at, and that hence the importance of the Communist Party must not be underestimated.

The Communist Party, with its Socialist objective, should operate on the principle of the Vanguard Party, and play an independent role. Its members should permeate every phase of the Labor Party work. It should strive to win all the other Left forces to its Labor Party policy. The entire Left and radical movements should have one – a substantially unified – policy.

In general, the CP should oppose the putting up at this time of general Left-wing election tickets, covering all offices. Such a tactic puts the Left forces in direct opposition with the body of the workers who are still supporting the Democratic Party. So far as possible, the various branches of the movement – old parties, Labor Parties and independent tickets – should dovetail with one another.

Independent tickets should be put up, both of a general and specific character; but so far as practical, these should be directed against reactionary elements on the old part tickets. Above all, the Labor Party movement must aim at a unified strategy throughout all its phases.

The CP should take an energetic stand against useless splitting tactics on all levels of the movement. It cooperates freely with other Left forces, but it does not support them in splitting tactics which conflict with the interests of the workers. The CP at all times should retain full freedom to propagate its Labor Party policy, as well as its general line. It combats illusions of the workers as to the permanency and other alleged benefits of the two-party system.

In keeping the Labor Party issue to the fore at all times, the CP should make no agreements with other parties soft-pedalling this issue. It shall not, however, introduce the Labor Party issue into any given situations regardless of the effects it may have upon the general movement.

The system of election primaries, as well as all other such machinery, need to be fully utilized, to see to it that workers and Negroes are nominated in greater numbers on the old party tickets.

The CP should carry on a permanent and active educational campaign for the Labor Party.

During the course of the history of the labor movement, there have been numerous issues upon which the Left-wing forces found themselves taking a very different line from that followed by the masses. Often this could be corrected, to the general profit of the labor movement and also of its most advanced sections.

It has fallen to the task of the Communist Party, to have corrected some of these sectarian errors. Now it is necessary that this whole matter of electoral policy be very deeply probed and analyzed, and clearly stated.

It is high time that this was done. The Party needs to probe the entire political situation, especially all its two-party system aspects. The Party should examine its own experience, as well as that of others, in this matter, and draw all necessary conclusions.

It is fitting that the Communist Party, as it has done on many other occasions, should take the vanguard position in bridging the gap between the electoral work of labor, functioning in the Democratic Party, and that of the independent Left.

If this is done promptly and well, it will mean the material strengthening of the Party and the general labor movement in many respects

The CPUSA engages in an effort to split splits in order to become a party of two
| May 22, 2015 | 8:17 pm | About the CPUSA | 1 Comment

The following is an unedited conversation which occurred within the leaders of the CPUSA. It is very instructive as to the thinking (or lack of thought) among CPUSA leaders. We must note that the newly anointed leader, John Bachtell, who is an obvious shill for Sam Webb is absent from the clown show.

The discourse starts off with a statement and document from Chairman Sam:

Dear Friend,

Attached is an unedited excerpt from a longer article that I wrote a while back. It is one of the readings that I’m suggesting for an online class that begins this week and that I’m facilitating.

Like something I sent out earlier, it’s not for everyone – an understatement. But I’m sending it anyway in the event that you have nothing better to do – coffee or good ale or wine with friends, even if they annoy you at times, leisurely reading by your lonesome, hanging out with grand kids, exercise – yes, a regular routine is good for the body and noggin, last episode of Madmen, and I mean LAST, or whatever delights your fancy – on what is here a slightly humid Sunday.

That said, hope you’re having a good day. Sam

Here is Sam Webb’s attached document:

A few thoughts on how we approach problems

A left that hopes to take care of the future in the struggles of the present should understand that categories of analysis and struggle — democracy and socialism, or democratic struggle and class struggle, or struggle against right wing extremism and struggle to curb the power of corporate capital as a whole, or race, gender, and class — are interconnected and interactive. I like to say that they interpenetrate one another at a conceptual and concrete/practical level. In other words, while each has a particular genesis, autonomy, and features, they are also historically and dialectically constituted and coevolve in complex ways in the context of a larger process of capital accumulation and social struggle. In other words, they are close cousins rather than distant relatives.

Much the same could be said about the main political components and movements of social change and socialism — the working class, people of color, women, and young people. Each has its own origins, features, and autonomy, but each also interpenetrates the other thereby creating conditions for deep unity, broad alliances, and a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

All this sounds abstract, and I guess it is. But in accenting the interpenetration or interconnectedness of these categories of analysis and struggle, and in such a way that retains their distinctiveness, we give ourselves a leg up in understanding the present moment and effecting radical social change.

We should choose, therefore, complexity over simplicity in our analysis even if it compels us to rethink our earlier assumptions and views.

Lenin, (who by the way, shouldn’t be turned into a iconic figure) argued that pure forms and categories never appear in real life; reality “is always richer in content, more varied, more multiform, more lively and ingenious than is imagined by even the best parties, the most class-conscious vanguards of the most advanced classes.” (Lenin, Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder). Only at high levels of theoretical abstraction far removed from the concrete and motley realities of day-to-day life, he wrote, do we find them. And, at that level, they represent, at best, no more than a first approximation of reality.

All of which makes me think that we have to rescue Lenin from some versions of “Marxism-Leninism.” To be more concrete, we have to reclaim the world historic personality who thought in dialectical, historical, and strategic ways, the politician who insisted on an exact estimate of the balance of forces and utmost tactical flexibility; the astute leader who was quick to modify his thinking if new realties and experience compelled it; the realist who didn’t allow subjective desires to overwhelm and crowd out objective processes; the revolutionary who took advantage of divisions in the capitalist camp and engaged in struggles for reforms in order to advance the revolutionary process; the theorist who allowed for complexity, contradiction, new experience, and contingency; the creative thinker who displayed a keen eye for new patterns of development and was suspicious of the inevitable, the uninterrupted, the irreversible, and “lawed” outcomes; the scientist who considered generalities no more than a first step in the scientific process that includes successive steps from the abstract to the concrete in order to comprehend reality; and the human being who made mistakes – sometimes big ones.

It is this Lenin that should inform our theoretical work and political practice, along with other Marxist and radical social theorists in the U.S. and elsewhere.

I have gotten into a quarrel with some over the term and substance of Marxism-Leninism. It can claim some theoretical innovations in the 20th century, but it also became a closed and completed system that is antithetical to marxism in particular and to the methods of scientific investigation in general.

Still worse, it turned into little more than a political identity for some that relieved them of ongoing theoretical inquiry, allowed them to ignore (even mock) other Marxist and radical traditions, and served to separate them — “the real revolutionaries” — from other Marxist and socialist wannabes — who didn’t have the stomach for “hard class struggle.”

It brings to mind times long past when communists gloatingly (myself included) said that the difference between what a communist and socialist is that “a communist means it.” At that time it was a tragedy; today such thinking is a farce as more and more people come to anti-capitalist thinking and as our capacity diminishes.

It bothers me that we are so anxious to accent our differences rather than our similarities with people of similar mind. If we want to distinguish ourselves, let’s demonstrate it by thinking creatively and non-dogmatically, by explaining complex ideas in understandable terms, by articulating a realistic strategy, flexible tactics, and a modern vision of socialism, by building broad and deep unity, by fighting against racism and male supremacy, and by focusing on the day-to-day struggle of working people.

Here is a response from a staunch supporter of CPUSA:

Dear All,

These notes from Sam demonstrate an ideological bent to a number of recent classes sponsored by our party.  The National Committee has not discussed this ideological orientation in the party educational classes.  This ideological bent does not serve the interests of the party.  If we are to remain a democratic party, then the membership should make those types of decisions and participate in their development. Lenin is being used as a ramming rod against Lenin by cherry picking among his works.  The main target is Marxism-Leninism, a body of scientific socialist thinking developed through historical ideological and working class struggles and proven in practice.  The main trust of the ideological bent is against the “left”, while our own party history shows clearly that the main ideological danger to our party comes from right opportunism (see Gus Hall’s, Opportunism: The destructive Germ).  If we apply science to history, we will see ample evidence of right opportunism in the history of the party: Jay Lovestone and his “American exceptionalism”, Earl Browder and his liquidation of the communist party, right sectarians split of the CPUSA in 1991.  Now we have an ongoing effort by Sam and others to liquidate the CPUSA as a Marxist-Leninist party.  Recently, Fidel Castro said the following:

“In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War, I wish to put on record our profound admiration for the heroic Soviet people, who provided humankind an enormous service.  Today we are seeing the solid alliance between the people of the Russian Federation and the State with the fastest growing economy in the world: the People’s Republic of China; both countries, with their close cooperation, modern science, and powerful armies and brave soldiers constitute a powerful shield of world peace and security, so that the life of our species may be preserved.

Physical and mental health, and the spirit of solidarity are norms which must prevail, or the future of humankind, as we know it, will be lost forever.  The 27 million Soviets who died in the Great Patriotic War also did so for humanity and the right to think and be socialists, to be Marxist-Leninist, communists, and leave the dark ages behind.”

Where are our rights to be Marxist-Leninist in our party?

We should study and learn from Lenin about all the ideological struggles of his lifetime against both from left and right philosophical Idealist thinking.

We should also study Lenin’s What is to be Done where is talks about reformism:

“The essence of the “new” trend, which adopts a “critical” attitude towards “obsolete dogmatic” Marxism, has been clearly enough presented by Bernstein and demonstrated by Millerand.

Social-Democracy must change from a party of social revolution into a democratic party of social reforms.  Bernstein has surrounded this political demand with a whole battery of well-attuned “new” arguments and reasoning’s. Denied was the possibility of putting socialism on a scientific basis and of demonstrating its necessity and inevitability from the point of view of the materialist conception of history. Denied was the fact of growing impoverishment, the process of proletarisation, and the intensification of capitalist contradictions; the very concept, “ultimate aim”, was declared to be unsound, and the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat was completely rejected.  Denied was the antithesis in principle between liberalism and socialism. Denied was the theory of the class struggle, on the alleged grounds that it could not be applied to a strictly democratic society governed according to the will of the majority, etc.

We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to advance almost constantly under their fire. We have combined, by a freely adopted decision, for the purpose of fighting the enemy, and not of retreating into the neighbouring marsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation. And now some among us begin to cry out: Let us go into the marsh! And when we begin to shame them, they retort: What backward people you are! Are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you to take a better road! Oh, yes, gentlemen! You are free not only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place, and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. Only let go of our hands, don’t clutch at us and don’t besmirch the grand word freedom, for we too are “free” to go where we please, free to fight not only against the marsh, but also against those who are turning towards the marsh!”

Sam wants us to march towards the “marsh”.  Before we go there, lets make sure that is where we want to go.  I for one have no intention of going there.


Here is Sam Webb’s response:

Hi Everybody,

A short note to apologize. Mistakenly I thought I bcc’ed everyone, but as I didn’t, you have gotten one response to my mailing, and maybe others will come. The last thing I want to do is involve everyone in a discussion of what many of you might consider of no interest or even inane. In the future I will be more careful in how I send emails, and more judicious as far as what I send. And if you prefer not to be on the list, let me know.

For the record, I do think that the culture as well as too much of the thinking and practices of the left, and I include the Communist Party, are self-marginalizing. But that isn’t anything new. I have been saying that for a while now.

Anyway, sorry for the mistake. Sam

Sam Webb clearly wants to drive for ideological purity, i.e. merger with the Democratic Party. He clearly wants to stifle anyone who would dare to disagree with his wisdom.

Here is a response from a CPUSA stalwart:

HI Al,

I have to agree with you completely, even though I wouldn’t have backed it up with the quotes. Sam’s effort includes the idea that any reference to scientific socialism, except for the isolated quotes he selects, is proof of sectarian dogmatism. Since immediately after the 2010 convention, Sam has been undemocratically undermining the materialist basis and revolutionary intent of CPUSA. None of these far-reaching changes has been voted on. In fact, the 2010 program is still theoretically in effect, even though it is a far cry from Webb think.

My main hope is that the good people of CPUSA will see Webb’s chronic misleading as history, the best teacher, unfolds before us. Until then, I encourage everyone to hang on, do their own thinking, and stay in the class struggle.

In solidarity

Jim Lane

Party leader, John Case, chimes in with his view of Marxism-Leninism:

Parable of the ship: why so-called “Marxism-Leninism” fails.

Many “Marxists-Leninists”  — not to be confused, frankly, with either Karl Marx, or Vladimir Lenin,  look to classic Soviet economics for answers to life’s persistent questions, because they find their preferred positions explained with clear moral stories. But the great fault of “Marxism-Leninism’s” “scientific socialism” is that it is not scientific. Science is a better way of knowing how you know something than when it was still in the province of natural philosophy, because scientific theories have to explain close to all the scientifically collected data, and there is now, unlike in Marx’s, or even Lenin’s time,  a lot of data. For all the faults of conventional economics, it is far closer to a science than much if not most of “Marxist-Leninist economics” —  because it relies heavily on data. “Marxist-Leninist” methodology has  acquired a disrespect of data that deepens with each passing year since the collapse of the USSR. It is now structured the same as a medieval philosophy based on authority, rather than systematic adherence to real-world data. One could write volumes documenting and detailing the “Marxist-Leninist” errors  that contributed as much to the collapse of the USSR as the plots of its adversaries. But a parable may better serve. The owner of a ship noticed that his ship was filling with water. Being an educated man (if not nautically trained) he knew there were many possible causes for water in a ship: leaks in the hull, the bilge pump being broken, waves washing over, condensation, and even the crew urinating in the hold. He heard the bilge pump running, he saw water from waves pouring in the open hatches, but worst of all he smelled urine in the hold! Being sensible, he ordered the crew to shut the hatches and then gave them a lengthy, stern harangue on hygienic use of the head. While he was lecturing the crew, his ship sank due to a combination of causes: large, unobserved leaks in the hull, a bilge pump that was running but not pumping correctly, and condensation that had shorted out warning circuitry. Now, it’s easy to write a story to justify or ridicule any course of action, any philosophy.  But, in the parable, the owner did not investigate condensation; he presumed the pump was working correctly without measurement; he did not attempt to measure leaks; he presumed (again without measurement) that the water sloshing in the hatches was the right amount to explain the filling; and he distracted the crew from finding the real problems with his own assumptions and moral haranguing. Since “Marxist-Leninists” are innumerate, instead they must rely on their assumptions, which needless to say tend to have a very left wing bias. Sorry. Science, since its evolution from natural philosophy, does not work that way. Nor can “Marxist-Leninists” really defend their assumptions: no assumption about the real world, indeed no abstraction,  is totally true which means that there is a fallacy, and an error factor in their logic about the real world, an error whose magnitude cannot be known from within the assumptions. They make up for this in bluster and old-fashioned appeal to their own authority. When confronted with real-world problems that could have multiple causes, logical verbal models are insufficient. You MUST introduce evidence, measurement and mathematics into your models if you want to have any hope of valid answers. Logical verbal models are sufficient to specify possible chains (or networks) of causation, but telling which are significant is a quantitative problem that requires measurement. This is not a new position: it is basic to science and ought to be basic to philosophy.  Marx founded his economic ideas on extensive research in the British Museum, the worlds largest repository of “data” in his time. As he said, “turning Hegel on his head!” David Hume said it very clearly 260 years ago:

Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

David Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 12, “Of the Academical or Sceptical Philosophy”

John Case Harpers Ferry, WV

Here we find another party stalwart responding to Sam Webb’s views:

Replying to John Case, who e-mailed the whole original list. 1. I disagree with the imputation that all who consider themselves “Marxist-Leninists” are ultra-leftist dogmatists.  For example, the South African Communist Party, the Cuban Communist Party and others we know designate themselves as Marxist-Leninist organizations and are by no means inflexible dogmatic outfits, but very creative in their approaches.   At one time, some of our US Maoists used to try to monopolise the phrase Marxist-Leninist, but they are long gone. I do not think, either, that the phrase was exclusively Stalin’s, my recollection was that people like Mikhail Bukharin and Nadezhda Krupsaya also had a hand in formulating those concepts and the vocabulary that went with them.   I personally was satisfied with the compromise solution in the preamble to our new Draft Party constitution passed by our convention lst year because Lenin stayed in, but I don’t think that those who prefer the term “Marxist-Leninist” should be automatically stigmatized as dogmatists or ultras. 2.  I don’t know anybody in any kind of a leading position in the CPUSA who doesn’t understand that we have to be willing to work with social democrats, liberals, minority nationalists, populists and what have you; anybody who is playing a positive role, or can be induced to.  We all do work with those people and have for many years.  This is different, however, from abandoning our own ideas based on careful analysis and historical experience.  That goes for our working in unions, with the Democratic party and all of those things.  That is the important distinction between us and the ultra-left.  The rest is details, which we should not allow to divide us.  Differences of opinion can be very useful — thesis, antithesis, synthesis, that sort of thing — if they are handled right.  3, Though we all work with a variety of people and forces, I think that we should not one-sidedly criticize only ultra-leftism and not guard against the danger of shifting too far in the other direction, which has destroyed a number of communist and workers’ parties, especially but not exclusively since the collapse of the USSR and Eastern European socialism.  Entities like the Communist Party of the Netherlands and the old Brazilian Communist Party were destroyed not by ultra-leftism but by moving too far to the right.  I could elaborate if anyone so desires, on these and other cases, but I think most know what I mean. 4. We have a huge amount of work to do so I really don’t think we should be reviving the whole fight we had about these matters in the preconvention discussion prior to our 30th Party Convention in Chicago last year.  Those who were convinced one way or another by those discussions  will not be swayed by an e-mail exchange.  If people really want to go over these things again, we should establish a moderated discussion venue in which these discussions can go on in a non-divisivbe way. Emile S

Here is another CPUSA voice who deserves consideration:

I feel the need to chime in for some clarification–

Using a mistakenly forwarded bcc list serve for a class in methodology as a forum to broadcast unsolicited snipes against the instructor is what I’d call “undemocratic”. Sam is not the Party chair and has no more inordinate amount of power to shape party theory than many other Party educators, so these attacks are unwarranted and inappropriate, especially in this venue.

This e-heckling is pointless; the arguments are baseless. One chastised Sam for cherry-picking quotes, then concluded by …cherry picking quotes. The second one neglects to provide any (cherry or non-cherry-picked) quotes where Sam equates scientific socialism with sectarian dogmatism.

Also, I was under the impression that the Party Program of 2005 was still in  effect.



Bernard Sampson, from Houston, re-posts the original post from Emile:

Replying to John Case, who e-mailed the whole original list. 1. I disagree with the imputation that all who consider themselves “Marxist-Leninists” are ultra-leftist dogmatists.  For example, the South African Communist Party, the Cuban Communist Party and others we know designate themselves as Marxist-Leninist organizations and are by no means inflexible dogmatic outfits, but very creative in their approaches.   At one time, some of our US Maoists used to try to monopolise the phrase Marxist-Leninist, but they are long gone. I do not think, either, that the phrase was exclusively Stalin’s, my recollection was that people like Mikhail Bukharin and Nadezhda Krupsaya also had a hand in formulating those concepts and the vocabulary that went with them.   I personally was satisfied with the compromise solution in the preamble to our new Draft Party constitution passed by our convention lst year because Lenin stayed in, but I don’t think that those who prefer the term “Marxist-Leninist” should be automatically stigmatized as dogmatists or ultras. 2.  I don’t know anybody in any kind of a leading position in the CPUSA who doesn’t understand that we have to be willing to work with social democrats, liberals, minority nationalists, populists and what have you; anybody who is playing a positive role, or can be induced to.  We all do work with those people and have for many years.  This is different, however, from abandoning our own ideas based on careful analysis and historical experience.  That goes for our working in unions, with the Democratic party and all of those things.  That is the important distinction between us and the ultra-left.  The rest is details, which we should not allow to divide us.  Differences of opinion can be very useful — thesis, antithesis, synthesis, that sort of thing — if they are handled right.   3, Though we all work with a variety of people and forces, I think that we should not one-sidedly criticize only ultra-leftism and not guard against the danger of shifting too far in the other direction, which has destroyed a number of communist and workers’ parties, especially but not exclusively since the collapse of the USSR and Eastern European socialism.  Entities like the Communist Party of the Netherlands and the old Brazilian Communist Party were destroyed not by ultra-leftism but by moving too far to the right.  I could elaborate if anyone so desires, on these and other cases, but I think most know what I mean. 4. We have a huge amount of work to do so I really don’t think we should be reviving the whole fight we had about these matters in the preconvention discussion prior to our 30th Party Convention in Chicago last year.  Those who were convinced one way or another by those discussions  will not be swayed by an e-mail exchange.  If people really want to go over these things again, we should establish a moderated discussion venue in which these discussions can go on in a non-divisivbe way.
Emile S

It appears that Bernard agrees with Emile since he reposted his comment. However, this is not clear since Bernard does not offer us a comment to consider.

Here is another comment from a distinguished history professor which should be considered:

Thanks Emile.  You said it better than I could have.  We are caricatured enough by anti-Communists of all kinds  so it  is self-destructive to caricature ourselves.  I don’t agree with Sam’s analysis but I accept his right to have that analysis and also his apology for sending the material to the whole list. I think we should leave it at that and get back to  focussing on what Mao Tse-tung called the “primary contradictions,” (which doesn’t mean I am espousing Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse -tung throught) instead of focussing on the secondary condradictions among ourselves, which only benefits the enemies of the working class.

Norman Markowitz

The Houston Communist Party encourages responses to the above discussion. Please send comments to:

Response to: “History lessons”
| May 16, 2015 | 7:56 pm | About the CPUSA, political struggle | No comments

For a long time I/we have wondered why the CPUSA has hitched its hopes to the Democratic Party. The ways of the Lord are wonderous but I am not a believer. It’s Browderism without the obituary.

Zigedy sees electoral politics in a creative and postive way without  selling one’s ideological soul.
Andre Brochu