Category: Party Voices
The CPUSA throws out the baby with the bathwater and then throws out the tub

Response to recent articles by CPUSA leadership

By James Thompson

The USA is in a highly unusual period. There is a global economic crisis which reaches from Asia to the Middle East to Africa to Europe to South America and North America. No capitalist country is immune to this looming disaster. Oil prices are down, inventories are up, sales are down, stockmarkets are down, interest rates are in purgatory, profits are down, unemployment is up and, understandably, the working class is angry.

At the same time, there is no organized communist or socialist movement on the globe. Historically, communist parties around the globe have fought for the interests of the working class. However, at this juncture, no such party or movement is effective or even exists. To some, it might seem that after years of repression, wars and rumors of wars, the working class has capitulated since the bourgeoisie has the workers on their knees.

The CPUSA has distinguished itself by becoming the vanguard party of the bourgeoisie. The so-called leadership of the CPUSA has recently posted a number of articles which are blatantly anti-Communist and anti-socialist. Let’s take a look.

Susan Webb

The first article appeared on January 4, 2016 to welcome in the New Year. It was posted on the People’s World website since the CPUSA no longer has a printed newspaper. It has been reproduced on this blog in an effort to promote public discussion. It was written by Susan Webb who is the ex-wife of former CPUSA chairman, Sam Webb. Sam Webb and his new partner, Elena Mora, have been slowly, meticulously and surely dismantling and liquidating the CPUSA. Ms. Mora recently wrote a letter of resignation from the CPUSA. Susan Webb has been standing by her man (even though he is no longer her man) and at times seems to be attempting to outdo Mr. Webb and Ms. Mora in their efforts to destroy the party. Susan Webb’s article is entitled “Everyone’s talking about socialism, but what is it?”

Ms. Webb’s article sings the praises of Bernie Sanders while condemning the great socialist experiment which was called the Soviet Union. Ms. Webb attempts to outdo the apologists for capitalism by condemning anything which might be considered socialist. She even condemns what she calls “cheesy ‘socialist realism’ paintings.” In doing so, she condemns the likes of Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, Charles White and John Biggers. These artists painted some of the greatest murals in the world. A recent article in the Houston Chronicle puts a value on one of John Biggers’ murals at over $1 million.

Ms. Webb quotes Bernie Sanders as he praises Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and Pope Francis. In a speech that, according to Ms. Webb, Sen. Sanders delivered at Georgetown University, he stated “Our government belongs to all of us, and not just the 1%.” He also said, according to Ms. Webb, “you cannot have freedom without economic security” and detailed this as “the right to a decent job at decent pay, the right to adequate food, clothing, and time off from work, the right for every business, large and small, to function in an atmosphere free from unfair competition and domination by monopolies. The right of all Americans to have a decent home and decent healthcare.”

Those of sound mind will quickly recognize here a mixture of fantasy and reality. In the USA, under capitalism, the government serves only one function: To protect the interests of the bourgeoisie. In the history of the USA, there has never been a period in which working people have had any economic security. Unemployment in the USA varies, but has always been high. Access to food, clothing, paid leave, freedom from unfair competition and the right to a decent home and decent healthcare has always been nonexistent.

The problem here is not to achieve a kinder, gentler capitalism. The problem is to chart a reasonable, feasible path of struggle to the goal of socialism. Reforming capitalism can never result in the goals that Ms. Webb and her idol, Bernie Sanders set. Exploitation, repression, wars, racism, sexism, unemployment and other forms of hatred and abuse are inherent in any capitalist society.

Ms. Webb attempts to reduce socialism to co-ops, privately owned companies, individually owned businesses and sets tactics to achieve these goals to include worker decision-making, expanding town halls, implementing proportional representation, taking money out of political campaigns and making voting easy.

Such simplification is merely obfuscation of the main strategic goal of any Communist Party which is to bring about socialism.

Ms. Webb, in her article, returns to a maniacal rant against the Soviet Union. Interestingly, all of her criticisms of socialism and the Soviet Union are based on US propaganda. Her criticisms could have been written by Joseph McCarthy or J Edgar Hoover. She even goes so far as to say that the Soviet Union was not “socialist.” This may be an historical first.

She throws out red flags, Che and Lenin with the bathwater. She does not condemn Democratic Party president Harry Truman for the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and betraying the US ally, the Soviet Union, after their great contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany. After FDR’s death, Truman changed the course of US foreign policy which resulted in a very expensive Cold War and nuclear arms race which drained the resources of the working class and did irreparable damage to the planet. She did not condemn Democratic Party governor George Wallace for his virulent racism. She did not condemn the nasty, degenerate, vicious Dixiecrats.

You get the picture. Ms. Webb’s article is filled with filthy, destructive anti-communism which has always been a knife in the heart of the working class.

Let’s look at how Ms. Webb’s article measures up to Lenin’s 21 conditions (previously posted on this blog).

Lenin maintained that the political work of the party should have a “really communist character” and should be devoted to the cause of the proletariat. He stated “in the columns of the press, at public meetings, in the trades unions, and the cooperatives-wherever the members of the Communist International can gain admittance-it is necessary to brand not only the bourgeoisie but also its helpers, the reformists of every shade, systematically and pitilessly.” Ms. Webb obviously violates this condition. She seems to want to do away with the CPUSA and instead support a progressive candidate of the Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders apparently wants to reform capitalism to make it more comfortable for some sectors of the population in the USA. This is not a bad thing, but it is hardly the only thing that needs to be done. No one knows whether Sen. Sanders has any chance of attaining state power, and if he does, whether he will use that power in the interest of the working class. He is certainly not a communist or socialist.

Lenin goes on “Every organization that wishes to affiliate to the Communist International must regularly and methodically remove reformists and centrists from every responsible post in the labor movement (party organizations, editorial boards, trades unions, parliamentary factions, cooperatives, local government) and replace them with tested communists, without worrying unduly about the fact that, particularly at first, ordinary workers from the masses will be replacing ‘experienced’ opportunists.”

Ms. Webb advocates elevating a reformist, centrist opportunist, Bernie Sanders, to the highest office of the land.

Lenin discusses the class struggle but Ms. Webb seems to think that the class struggle is irrelevant to working people.

Lenin discusses the role of the Communist Party in working to prevent new imperialist wars. Apparently, Ms. Webb must believe that imperialism is also irrelevant.

Lenin advocates the elimination of petty bourgeois elements within the party. Ms. Webb embraces not only petty bourgeois, but fully bourgeois elements.

Lenin clearly states “all those parties that wish to belong to the Communist International must change their names. Every party that wishes to belong to the Communist International must bear the name Communist Party of this or that country.” He goes on “The Communist international has declared war on the whole bourgeois world and on all yellow social Democratic parties. The difference between the Communist Parties and the old official ‘social Democratic’ or ‘socialist’ parties that have betrayed the banner of the working class must be clear to every simple toiler.” Again, Ms. Webb extols the virtues of the social Democrats while damning socialists and communists.

Lenin wrote “those party members who fundamentally reject the conditions and theses laid down by the Communist International are to be expelled from the party. Ms. Webb and her partners in crime, Mr. Webb, Ms. Mora and Mr. Bachtell have worked diligently to expel any members of the party who have expressed opposition to collaboration with the social Democrats.

Sam Webb

On January 29, 2016, Sam Webb, former chairman of the CPUSA, and his hand-picked puppet, John Bachtell, the current chairman of the CPUSA, launched two articles simultaneously. These articles have been reproduced on this blog in their entirety in an effort to promote public discussion. Webb’s article is entitled “Bernie or Bust”. As background information, it is important to know that Mr. Webb has advocated publicly abandoning the use of the words “communist” or “Leninist.”

The thrust of his article is to maintain that the only viable strategy of people on the left is to fight the ultra right. His concept of the ultra right equates to members of the Republican Party. He maintains that if Sen. Bernie Sanders does not prevail in his effort to be the Democratic Party nominee for president, people on the left, particularly communists, should fall in lockstep with Hillary Clinton or anyone else that the DNC chooses to anoint. Presumably, if the DNC could resurrect George Wallace and nominate him for president, by Webb’s reckoning, communists should throw all their support behind him.

Webb argues that Hillary Clinton is a far superior candidate than any of the Republican contenders. He allows that Clinton’s foreign policy would most likely be “more aggressive and military-inclined then Obama’s.”

Mr. Webb’s convoluted, contradictory thinking is exemplified in this paragraph: “In sharp contrast to her Republican adversaries, Hillary has a democratic sensibility and the commitment, even if hemmed in by her centrist politics and class leanings. She may not want to break up banks too big to fail, or rein in US military presence and activity worldwide, or embrace single-payer health care (arguably for good reasons), but she will fight for the full range of democratic rights-collective bargaining rights, wage rights, job rights, women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, voting rights, immigrant rights, and, not least, health rights-as well as defend the integrity of democratic structures, governance, and traditions.

Que contrar, Mr. Webb. It is well known that the Clintons have fought the unions, failed to support the employee free choice act, and as you have cited, opposed single-payer health care. However, even if a hypothetical President Clinton II took office, if she led the USA in further and more intense military provocation of Russia, and China, all humans on the planet could be transformed into cockroach food. As Pete Seeger sang “we can all be cremated equally.” After mass cremation, all of the above reforms become moot issues.

Mr. Webb does not seem to recall that former Secretary of State Clinton committed international war crimes when she presided over the destruction of a sovereign state, Libya, and the barbarous assassination of its leader, Moammar Qaddafi. He doesn’t seem to recall that Hillary Clinton’s husband, former Pres. Bill Clinton (who would return to the White House if his wife is elected president) presided over the destruction of the sovereign state of Yugoslavia and the persecution of its leaders. He does not recognize that this set the stage for George W. Bush to preside over the destruction of the sovereign nation of Iraq and the barbarous assassination of its leader, Saddam Hussein.

He only recognizes the extreme right elements within the Republican Party. He turns blind eyes and ears to the extreme right elements within the Democratic Party.

Again, Mr. Webb, like Ms. Webb, violates Lenin’s conditions by denigrating the Communist Party and touting Social Democrats and reformists while working tirelessly to liquidate the CPUSA. One of the tactics Mr. Webb has employed was to elevate his favorite henchman, John Bachtell to the position of chairman of the CPUSA.

John Bachtell

It is no coincidence that Mr. Bachtell posted his article “Taking a sober look at the 2016 election” on the CPUSA website on the same day that Mr. Webb posted his article on his own personal blog. Both articles make reference to “Bernie or Bust.”

Mr. Bachtell apes the Webb line of “defeat the extreme right” which translates into support for the Democratic Party candidates, no matter how reactionary they may be. Much of the article is extremely poorly written with grammatical errors that would make anyone blush. His sentences don’t have any logical cohesion. They are presented in a staccato fashion which is highly confusing and raises party obfuscation to a new level.

Bachtell writes “We have to continue to emphasize the issues, promoting the best of both Sanders and Clinton, especially the most advanced positions. For example, there is growing discussion among the candidates about a financial transaction tax on Wall Street.” Bachtell does not seem to think that the class struggle is an issue worth discussing. Imperialism, socialism, and/or Leninism are not on the table for discussion either. However, the class struggle, and imperialism/fascism are the evils which plague the working class. Marxism Leninism and socialism are the tools which historically have been most effective in fighting the evils mentioned above.

Bachtell fecklessly quotes the New York Times and other sources of the bourgeois media and continues to confuse these voices of the bourgeoisie with the voices of the working people.

Bachtell talks about building a grand coalition to defeat the ultra right. Unfortunately, his predecessor, Sam Webb, has been very successful in dismantling and almost liquidating the party. It would be interesting to know what the party has done over the last 10 years to build any coalitions. The only coalitions that the party seems capable of building is a convergence of various sources of hot air. They also have been successful in infusing reality with a heavy dose of fantasy about their own importance.

Again, Bachtell follows in Webb’s footsteps and violates Lenin’s conditions in all regards.

On this eve of the Iowa primary and caucuses, is there any hope that the working class will inch towards the achievement of state power in the coming election cycle in the USA? Lenin said bourgeois elections do not solve anything. The great CPUSA chairperson, Gus Hall, urged communists that choose to engage in electoral struggle to “Aim to win.” When he said that, the CPUSA fielded candidates for various electoral offices around the country with little success. It is likely that he would be horrified at the state of the CPUSA today. Communists and socialists have been reduced to the position of deluding themselves into thinking that if a Democrat wins office, it is a victory for the working class. On the contrary, some might argue that support of bourgeois candidates is “Aiming to lose.”

The choices we must make are disgusting at best. It is like being forced to make a decision whether to drink poison and die or drink castor oil and get sick. The reality is that it is better to get sick and recover rather than to die and be gone forever.

Mr. Bachtell and Mr. Webb seem to think that there is no danger of fascism in the USA. Some might argue that it is already here. Much of Pres. Obama’s foreign policy might be characterized as fascist. His failure to support working people on many levels is not antithetical to fascism. The same can be said of both Sen. Sanders’ and former Secretary of State Clinton’s platforms. Sen. Sanders is clearly more progressive on more issues than former Secretary of State Clinton.

Will working people decide to drink castor oil or drain the poison? We will know more tomorrow. For sure, the class struggle will be very intense in the coming years.

 

Focus on Ukraine – fascist militias, civil war & economic chaos

Klansmen, Communists, and Civil Liberties

Vol. CXIX, No. 3 Southwestern Historical Quarterly January 2016

Klansmen, Communists, and Civil Liberties

in Dallas, 1931

By Dick J. Reavis*

* Dick J. Reavis is a retired Texas journalist and author, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and

a former professor at North Carolina State University.

 

About 8:20 p.m. on the night of Wednesday, March 4, 1931,

three Dallas men—an attorney and two Communist clients—were

kidnapped at gunpoint as they emerged from the Dallas jail, located

in the city hall. Even though their abductors, fourteen men in four

cars, wore neither robes nor hoods, they were presumed to be members

of the Ku Klux Klan. The controversies that ensued over the next few

weeks provide a good example of how racism in the Jim Crow era helped

blind many white Dallasites to gross violations of civil liberties. The abduction

was far from a perfect crime. Because it was staged on the steps of

the jail and coincided with the unannounced release of the Reds, police

complicity was suspected. And in taking attorney George Clifton Edwards

the kidnappers snatched a man whose disappearance was bound to be

noteworthy.

Edwards, then in his mid-fifties, was as much a pillar of his community

as any man of his opinions could have been. Most civic leaders knew

his background because they read about him in newspapers two or three

times a year. He had grown up in Dallas, the son of a prominent attorney,

earned a master’s degree from Harvard, studied for the Episcopal ministry,

then changed his mind and dedicated himself to teaching. He founded

a night school for textile workers in South Dallas, taught Latin and

algebra in the public schools, served as both a football coach and a debate

coach, and became the principal of Oak Cliff High School. In 1906 he

had been the gubernatorial candidate of the Socialist Party, and a year

later he was elected to the commission that wrote the Dallas city charter.

After that, Edwards became a lawyer. He made his debut as a criminalcourts

barrister in a trial that went badly awry on March 3, 1910. Edwards

had been appointed to defend Allen Brooks, an elderly and demented

African American who a week earlier had been accused of raping a threeyear-

old white girl. As Edwards was interviewing his client in a vacant jury

room on the second floor of the county courthouse, some 500 men from

a crowd outside stormed past sheriff’s officers, broke into the jury room,

put a rope around the defendant’s neck, and pushed him out of a window.

Brooks landed on his head, eyewitnesses reported, “with a thud that could

be heard above the shouting of the mob.” The crowd then dragged him

several blocks to a telephone pole near the Elks’ Arch, which stood on

Akard Street, where someone hoisted his corpse for all to behold. In later

reminiscences about the affair, Edwards observed that “the Court House

is directly across the street from the Sheriff’s office, and the ‘Elks’ Arch’

less than a block from the then Dallas Police headquarters. The sheriff’s

office and the police could not have been unaware of the whole business

but not one officer did one thing.” His conclusion no doubt colored his

handling of the 1931 abduction.

Not without misgivings, Edwards had undertaken the defense of the

two Reds only days before. “I am not a Communist. I regard the Communists

as a misguided and ignorant and almost foolish set of doctrinaires,”

he said at the time.4 His clients were not natives of Dallas or men of any

distinction. Although both, like him, were white, they were newcomers

who in a month’s time had become infamous as troublemakers.

We cannot be sure who they were. In those days, before most Americans

drove cars, before the Social Security system, and before the national

security state, people could assume identities almost as easily as they

could adopt dogs. By the thousands, immigrants had assumed Anglicized

names—and sometimes, entirely new names—and members of the Communist

Party, especially those who were on the organization’s payrolls in

the South, frequently adopted what were called “Party names.”

Charles J. Coder, age thirty or perhaps thirty-four, sometimes said that

he was from Robertson County, Texas, had been a farmer, and was a veteran

of the Thirty-eighth infantry. He told comrades in San Antonio that

he was from Waco, in McLennan County. But neither census nor military

records bear out any of his claims.5 According to files of the Communist

Party’s Central Control Commission—the best available records for him—

Coder, a Texan, had joined the Party under the name Carl Miller during

the fall of 1930 in Philadelphia. He had quickly “gained some confidence

when he was arrested at Camden, N.J., together with other comrades,”

but soon in Trenton, the records say, “he got hold of about $75 of organization

funds, which he then took for himself and disappeared.” Miller

was expelled. Reverting to or adopting the name Coder, he afterward

turned up in Kansas City, the Party’s District 10 headquarters.6 Records of

the American Communist Party preserved in Moscow by the Communist

International (Comintern) show that in early 1931 District 10, which ran

south to Laredo, north to Omaha, east to Houston, and west to El Paso,

claimed only 210 members, 50 of them in Texas. Coder and his partner,

Lewis Edward Hurst, had been sent to Dallas to organize a campaign of

recruitment through contacts and colonization; Coder was apparently the

first of the duo to take up residence there.

Comrade Hurst, 21, is more easily traced. He was born in or near Marshall,

Texas, on June 23, 1909. According to the 1930 U.S. Census, he was

working at odd jobs in rural Brown County and was living with his parents

as late as April 3, 1930; his father’s occupation was listed as “general farming.”

The date and place of the census report make it unlikely that Hurst

had been an active Party member for very long.

However, the Communists were not without a Dallas presence, small

though it may have been, even before Coder and Hurst came onto the

scene. On January 17, the Southern Worker, an underground Party weekly

published in Birmingham and Chattanooga, carried an article entitled

“Long Hours, Low Pay,” by “a Worker Correspondent”—a phrase that

often in its pages was a euphemism for Party membership. The brief

article complained that male shellers at the Squirrel Pecan Company in

Dallas were earning some $2.50 per day, and women, only about $1.50.

“Some Mexican girls are walking thirty-five blocks to work and back again

at night,” the article said. According to the Southern Worker’s January 31

edition, Dallas was also home to a branch of the International Workers

Order (IWO). As everywhere, the Party in District 10 sought to promote

its growth not only in its own name, but also through front organizations,

the most important of which in the South were the International Labor

Defense (ILD), the Party’s civil liberties arm; the Trade Union Unity

League (TUUL), its labor organization; and the IWO, a mutual insurance

association that catered to wage workers and small businesses.10

In a letter written to the headquarters of the TUUL on March 4, the

day before the kidnapping, Coder said that he and Hurst began their Dallas

agitation on February 5. In that missive, he listed Harold Sunshine,

64, a Dallas grocery clerk, and an “unemployed” or retired 72-year-old

William Grove—Grive by other accounts—as comrades. Sunshine, a Russian

immigrant, was Party secretary and probably Coder and Hurst’s initial

contact in the city.

These three and perhaps others were also in touch with the city’s “Mexicans”:

the lexicon of Anglo Texans did not distinguish between immigrants

and Mexican Americans in those days. Even by reports in the mainstream

press, at least a few residents of the city’s Little Mexico neighborhood

were early, enthusiastic, and important contacts. The leaflets that

the Party distributed, Coder’s letter said, were printed by “Mexicans.” At

the request of the Mexican consul, who was interested in Communist activity

by his country’s expatriots, Police Chief Claude Trammell interviewed

two employees of a Little Mexico printshop, but released them because

“I determined that they were simply employees and that neither was the

individual whom I really wanted to talk to.” Within days, however, the

Daily Worker, the Party’s official national organ, noted that immigration

agents had deported Rafael Zetnia, a member of the ILD, to Mexico.

The Communist grouplet’s first goal in Dallas was to answer a coast-to coast

call for February 10 demonstrations of the unemployed to demand

cash relief and to collect signatures on a Party-authored proposal, the

Workers Unemployment and Social Insurance Bill, arguably a predecessor

to the measure that in 1935 became the Social Security Act.13

According to the Dallas Times-Herald, on the morning of February

10, Coder for about two hours “addressed a curious crowd of 1,000 idle

negroes and whites from the steps of the city hall.” Only two arrests were

made, that of a bystander and of George Clifton Edwards, whom the

police detained when he intervened on the bystander’s behalf. Coder

went untouched. The turnout had caught the comrades unprepared. In

his letter to the TUUL, Coder reported that “we didn’t even have a copy of

the Daily Worker, let alone Labor Unity”—TUUL’s monthly—“and

application blanks. However, we signed applicants on ordinary writing paper,

backs of envelopes, etc.”

The Dallas Communists were not alone in Texas that day. Comrades

also staged rallies in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, where, the Morning

News reported, “Ranger Captain Frank A. Hamer”—three years before

his Bonnie and Clyde renown—“confiscated placards reading ‘Equality

for the Negro Masses.’” It also noted that “One speaker urged the opening

of Federal and State buildings at night to give shelter to the unemployed.”

The Dallas Reds probably did not face arrest on February 10 in part

because the authorities did not believe that their advocacy would draw

many supporters. In a February 11 story, the Times-Herald reported that

“Police and Fire Commissioner W. G. Graves announced . . . [that Coder]

may speak as often and as loudly as he pleases for the establishment of a

Soviet Union in America, so long as he doesn’t preach sedition or violation

of the Jim Crow laws and so long as he and his followers don’t become

disorderly or block traffic.” He also proclaimed: that “Our people, white

and black, are native-born Americans who are too fond of the blessings of

liberty as they have been handed down to us from our forefathers to pay

any attention to the misguided efforts of Russian agitators.”

This nonchalant attiude toward communist agitation was likely a result

of Dallas’s relative insulation from the dire economic conditions elsewhere

in the United States. The notion that the nation had entered a depression

of long duration was only dawning in Texas. As historian Donald

Whisenhunt pointed out, “The depression descended so gradually that

most Texans did not realize its existence until it was already serious.”

Although prices for agricultural products had been in a slump since the

end of World War I, as Dorothy De Moss noted in a 1973 collection, “During

the early years of the Great Depression most Dallasites were spared the

severe suffering, hardship, and desperation common to many people in

urban centers of the North and East. Because Dallas had historically keyed

her economic life to trade and service functions, major industrial unemployment,

such as haunted New York, Chicago, and Detroit during these

years, did not occur.” The great East Texas oil boom had begun in October

1930, and city boosters had attracted its financial and supply offices to

Dallas, contributing to a record value of building permits. Unemployment

for 1930 averaged only 4.7 percent. But portents of hard times were evident

by late that year. In December 1930, when the post office post office

advertised for 300 temporary workers to handle its Christmas rush, a thousand

people had applied. By the end of 1931, the construction industry

had suffered a 25 percent decline. Wage cuts hit the building trades in

1932.

Despite their indifferent reaction to Coder’s address on February

10, the authorities decided to take action a couple of weeks laters—for

a reason that they calculated would win widespread approval. On the

morning of February 25 policemen under the orders of Commissioner

Graves broke up a gathering of “several hundred unemployed whites and

negroes” who had congregated in front of Fair Park to conduct or watch

a parade or demonstration. The Morning News reported that five would-be

demonstrators were arrested, while the Times-Herald put the number at

nine. Both dailies noted that paddy wagons had made three trips from

the fairgrounds to the jail. It appears that both newspapers reported only

those arrests that resulted in court settings.

Coder, in his March 4 letter to the TUUL, provided a more precise

accounting of the detentions: “Of the 20 arrested,” he wrote, “10 were

Negro (including a Negro woman). These 10 were released at City Hall.

Seven arrested were Mexicans, 2 of whom were released. The other 5 given

$100 fines and sentences suspended.” According to the Morning News,

Judge Calvin Muse, instructing an interpreter for one of the Mexicans,

said, “Tell him we have no objection to his living in Dallas but don’t want

him listening to the wail of a man who is trying to fan his people into a

mob.”23 Three Anglos were also taken into custody, Coder noted in his

letter: comrades Hurst, Sunshine, and Grive. After he posted his letter a

fourth was collared: police arrested Coder at the room where he was staying.

The aborted outing provided the authorities with an opportunity to

announce a new ground rule for demonstrations and a motive for suppressing

them. As the Morning News paraphrased the ground rule, “Police

and Fire Commissioner W.C. Graves does not want to interfere with the

right of free speech, but he doesn’t want the public streets used for Communist

activities. If they want to assemble they can hire a hall,” he said.

The new motive for harrassing the Reds was that they were race-mixers.

Dallas authorities had perhaps fretted, in the years between 1910 and the

onset of World War I, over the racial liberalism of the city’s branch of the

Socialist Party, which had focused on labor issues and electoral campaigns.

But most Dallas labor unions excluded African American members, and

few African Americans were enfranchised. The city had been home to

a chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored

People since 1918, but membership in the organization had dwindled

during the 1920s and by 1931 was dormant. Socialists, in Texas and elsewhere,

had not pictured racial integration as an urgent cause, but with the

Communists, it had become just that for both blacks and whites among

the Party’s faithful.

In 1928 the Comintern, which styled itself as a Bolshevik League of

Nations, had issued a statement to the American party, ordering that “the

Negro problem must be part and parcel of all and every campaign conducted

by the Party,” and calling for “active resistance against lynching,

Jim Crowism, segregation and all other forms of oppression of the Negro

population.” Its edict had been followed by a campaign of internal education,

show trials, and purges of dissenting and recalcitrant comrades, and

by the inauguration, in early 1929, of efforts to organize the South. Unlike

members of the less-disciplined Socialist Party, Coder and Hurst had little

room to ignore the Communist Party’s national stance. Challenging white

supremacy was integral to their task.

When Dallas officials used Communist interracialism as a pretext for

repression, the press had no difficulty following suit. The Morning News

frequenty showed its bias in headlines of the era like “Black Mammy’s

Neighbors Jubilant as Oil Enriches Her,” and a Times-Herald story about

an African American querying a police officer on the whereabouts of a

stolen car put his conversation in dialect: “Cap I’se suttenly sorry to bother

you so much, but las’ nite I dreamed you had found my cah. Is yo?” Both

newspapers closed their stories about the February 25 arrests with paragraphs

citing police seizure of anti-segregation literature. “Lewis Hurst,

who claimed to be the secretary of the Texas communists was arrested first

when officers found him distributing circulars advocating race equality

and abolition of ‘Jim Crow’ and negro segregation laws,” the Times-Herald

explained. The Morning News spelled-out the lawmen’s fears: “Sergeant D. Garrison said that the defendants were urging ‘Abolition of Jim Crow

laws . . . and ‘of all laws which disenfranchise the negroes, abolition of laws

forbidding intermarriage of persons of different races and preventing

negro children or youths from attending general public schools or universities.’”

Reviewing the situation several weeks later, the New York Times,

which covered the affair in half a dozen back-page articles, editorialized

that “when Coder and Hurst mentioned racial equality, their troubles in

this community began.”

According to a story in the Daily Worker and to grand jury testimony,

Coder had told comrades from San Antonio and El Paso that on February

28—three days after the ill-fated Fair Park rally—he had been kidnapped

by five pistol-toters, presumably Ku Kluxers, then driven fifty miles into

the country, stripped of his clothing, robbed of his cash ($4.50), and

warned to get out of Texas. Distrusting the “bourgeois” criminal justice

system, Coder had not reported the event to the police.30

Unlike the Communist Party, its tormentor, the Ku Klux Klan, had

an extensive history in Dallas. The lapsed Reconstruction-era organization

began a revival in Georgia following the release of filmmaker D. W.

Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation in 1915. The Klan spread from Atlanta across

the South and Midwest, reaching Houston in 1920. Within a year, in the

words of historian Charles C. Alexander, “Dallas was the star Klan city”;

its klaverns claimed some 13,000 members. The Dallas Klan was arguably

the largest in the nation, and certainly the leader in per-capita numbers.31

Local klaverns conducted some five dozen floggings, mostly of whites,

in South Dallas river bottoms and at a clearing in the countryside near

Hutchins that apparently doubled as an after-hours hangout for the

Realm’s more visceral members. Dallas’s downtown district hosted nighttime

parades of white-robed members, male and female, and in October

1923, the city drew some 75,000 Ku Kluxers and their family members to

the Fair Park for “Ku Klux Klan Day.” So prominent was the city in Klan

affairs that in 1922, a Dallas dentist who was a former city Cyclops and

Great Titan was elected Imperial Wizard of the national organization.32

But the most important legacy of the Klan was its entry into electoral

contests. Candidates it endorsed swept the Democratic primary and

November elections—then largely a second thought—in 1922, and in

1923, Ku Kluxers captured city hall, too. They met with similar success

2016 Klansmen, Communists, and Civil Liberties in Dallas, 1931 263

in Fort Worth, Wichita Falls, and other Texas locales. Alexander’s 1965

work, The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest, speculates that “the order probably

had a majority in the house of representatives of the 38th Texas Legislature,

which met in January of 1923.” The lasting result of the Klan’s brief

electoral success in Dallas County was that it seeded members in police

forces and judicial bureaucracies.

During its ascent, the Klan twice raised its hood, providing a peek into

the mysteries behind its usual anonymity. In a 1921 recruitment attempt,

an Atlanta Klan official mailed former Dallas mayor Ben Cabell a carbon

copy of a document listing the initials and surnames of 106 Dallas Ku-

Kluxer policemen. The Dallas police force would not hire its first African

American patrolman until World War II had ended, and in 1930 at least

forty-six of the former Klan cops were on the still lily-white force, including

two as captains and eight as detectives. Either for internal purposes

or for distribution during the 1922 elections, the Invisible Empire also

printed a handbill listing thirteen members of the group’s executive committee,

and a “Steering Committee of 100,” which included the county’s

Democratic Party chairman, the sheriff, and a district judge. Lewis Turley,

police commissioner at the time, was listed in both categories.35

Although a few promiment ministers and businessmen praised the

KKK’s rise, “a revived Klan threatened Dallas’ image as a forward-thinking,

cosmopolitan city—ripe for eastern investment capital—and alarmed

many of the moderate business leaders,” historian Patricia Evridge Hill

has pointed out. In 1922, opponents formed the Dallas County Citizens

League to nominate and field anti-Klan candidates, who eventually prevailed.

Klan rivalries in state elections disunified the Texas Empire, and

by 1925, financial scandals—and a sensational rape by an Indiana Klan

leader—had besmirched the group’s public image. Dallas historian Darwin

Payne, whose chronology of the rise and fall of the city’s Klan is the

most thorough to date, found that by 1926 Realm membership in the city

had fallen by 90 percent. Dropping out from an organization speaks to

its functioning, but does not testify to disillusionment with its aims: Dallas

became a city of Klan fellow-travelers, while about a thousand stalwart Ku

Kluxers hung on, waiting for another revival.

The Klan came out of the shadows on March 3, the day before Coder and Hurst disappeared. That morning passersby in East Dallas found

handbills someone had nailed to telephone poles overnight. The bulletins

bore the caption “White men, What are you going to do about it?” and carried

the name of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

The following afternoon, Coder and Hurst were rounded up and

hauled to jail again. A March 5 Times-Herald story titled “Red Agitators Are

Beaten Up In Dallas Jail” detailed the event. Apparently written on information

supplied by police and fellow prisoners, it reported:

Coder was arrested Wednesday afternoon by Policeman Paul Adair while handing

out literature in the negro quarter at Elm street and Central avenue, and sent to

jail. A few minutes after being locked up he was attacked and beaten by H. Holland,

another prisoner, when the two got into an argument over their ideas of

intermarriage of whites and negroes. . . . Holland was released shortly after the

fight when arresting officers completed an investigation of a case in which he was

supposed to have been involved and it was found that he had no connection with

it.

A few hours later, “Hurst was arrested . . . at Elm and Akard streets. When

he arrived at the jail he had some of the Party’s anti-racist literature under

his shirt. One of the other prisoners found out and a fight started. Hurst

was roughly handled when he argued his views on racial equality and

intermarriage,” the article stated. “Coder and Hurst will be given a chance

to leave town,” the article concluded, “upon promises of refraining from

attempting to hold public gatherings.”

The offer to exile the two Reds was perhaps in keeping with a Dallas

tradition of dealing with racial dissidents dating to 1859, when two Methodist

ministers, Solomon McKinney and Parson Blount, were jailed for

abolitionism and told to exit the region. In White Metropolis, Dallas historian

Michael Phillips noted that when the pair “mysteriously disappeared

from jail, the Herald”—an early-day Dallas weekly—“suggested that this

happened through the aid of ‘the Prince of Darkness’ or perhaps ‘the

assistance of outside pressure.’”

About 6:00 p.m. on the day of the beatings, George Clifton Edwards,

perhaps conscious of himself as the era’s Prince of Darkness, upon reading

that his clients faced peril in the hoosegow, paid a visit to their cells.

He found them in the bruised and battered condition that the Times-Herald

had described and proposed that they be released, as the authorities

had offered, on the condition that they leave town. He then went home

and about an hour later telephoned the jail to learn that his request had

been granted. About 8:00 p.m. he presented himself at its booking desk,

and after a short delay, he and the Communists walked up the stairs that

linked the booking desk, in the basement, to the sidewalk on Harwood

Street. Then they disappeared.

Edwards got off lucky. His kidnappers drove east on Main Street, turned

right to Fair Park, then headed south. On the edge of town, near a landmark

of the day, the Wig-Wam Tourist Camp, they untied him and put

him out of the car. As the rest of the Klan convoy passed, he spied Hurst

through the rear window of one of its vehicles.42 But he made no report

to the police because, like Coder, he did not trust them. Instead, the following

morning, hoping to involve a higher power, he told his story to a

Dallas federal district attorney.

The release of Edwards may have been serendipitous—but it might also

have been planned. In his 1974 biography of his father, George Clifton

Edwards Jr. wrote: “At one point one of the abductors noticed that Dad

had a Masonic emblem in his buttonhole and asked him what degree.

Dad answered ‘Thirty-second.’ That seemed a satisfactory enough answer.

Shortly afterward the car stopped on a dark piece of country road, and

they put Dad out, telling him to go home and to talk to no one about the

events of the night.” But both the father and son recounted an exchange

with a darker implication. George Jr. had driven his father to the jail, and

according to the elder’s instructions, had parked their car at the front of

the municipal library, just a block away. George Jr. saw three cars parked

across from city hall but did not think anything was unusual because “after

all, we were in downtown Dallas, literally within a stone’s throw of the central

headquarters of the Dallas Police Department.” About half an hour

later he went into the station to see what had become of his dad. A sergeant

at the desk told him, “Don’t worry. Your father will not be hurt.”

This story, of course, implies that the officer knew what was happening on

the outskirts of town.

Although Edwards had yet made no public statement about the event,

news of the kidnapping broke in an exclusive story carried by an early edition

of the city’s third-ranked daily, the afternoon Dallas Dispatch, whose

reportage of the incident is known today only through excerpts in other

publications. Its account was written by longtime Dallas reporter Edmund

Barr and carried a byline, a rare gesture in those days. Barr’s story, quoted

in the Morning News, said:

The Ku Klux Klan came back to life Thursday night when fourteen men, occupying

four large sedans kidnapped C. J. Coder and Lewis Hurst, San Antonio Communists,

when they were released from jail, drove them to a secluded spot south of

Hutchins, beat them with a doubled rope and left them bleeding and tied.

For his story Barr visited the spot where he had been told the beating took

place, at a wooden bridge over Cooke’s Branch Creek about a mile south

of Hutchins. He reported finding footprints and signs “that a struggle had

taken place.”46 But something was missing from Barr’s sensational lines:

he did not name the sources of his information or say whether Coder and

Hurst were dead or alive.

Having gotten no satisfaction from his meeting a day earlier with the

federal district attorney, on Saturday, March 7, Edwards appeared before

the executive committee of the Dallas Bar Association, a written statement

in hand. He explained his circumstances and his suspicions, and

persuaded the group to wire Governor Ross Sterling, asking for a state

investigation. On Monday, Sterling dispatched two Texas Rangers, James

  1. Huddleston and the legendary Manuel T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas to

investigate.

Always image-conscious, Dallas leaders were outraged by Sterling’s

move. Mayor J. Waddy Tate telegraphed the governor in protest: “No

doubt you realize the sending of Rangers to our peaceful, law-abiding city

without their being asked for is injurious and a reflection upon our good

city. . . . We respectfully request that you withdraw them at once,” his wire

said. In a show of concern, Sheriff Hal Hood dispatched three deputies to

the bridge that Barr had cited as the scene of the flogging. They returned

saying that they had found only pig tracks.

A grand jury was already in session at the Dallas County courthouse

and on Wednesday, March 11, it began hearing testimony about the

affair. Reporter Edmund Barr was called, but he refused to name his

source. Judge Calvin Muse fined him $100 and jailed him for contempt of

court.50 The following day, Barr, having been instructed by his publisher,

was again brought before the grand jury, and this time he testified: Norman

Register, a sixty-year-old district court clerk, had been his source, he

said. According to the Times-Herald, “Register, well known for his activity

in fraternal and political circles here for many years, is a former cyclops

of the Oak Cliff Klan. That organization still uses as its meeting place an

Oak Cliff building leased to the organization by Mr. Register,” the story

alleged.

Register was then called to testify. The Morning News drew a poignant

picture of the scene: “Barr assisted Register, who is crippled with rheumatism,

across the street from the criminal court building to the grand

jury quarters in the old courthouse.” Register denied that he had spoken

to Barr for the story, and a few days later so did Owen George, a Dallas

County assistant district attorney with whom Barr said he had confirmed

Register’s report.54 At the end of the day, Police Commissioner Graves

may have summed up the gendarmarie’s attitude. “I don’t think anything

even bordering on what has been reported in the newspapers ever happened,”

he said.

However, for several days the grand jury continued to hear from varied

witnesses, including policemen who had been on duty at the jail on the

night of the abduction. A figure who surprisingly came forth was twentyfive-

year-old George Papcun, whom both the Morning News and Times-Herald

described with the same pair of words: “bushy-haired.”

Correspondence from the files of the Party’s District 10 office shows

that Papcun, an organizer for the TUUL, was at the time a fellow traveler,

not a comrade; he had been expelled by a northeastern district in 1930.

Probably because he was a miner, the TUUL had stationed him in El Paso

as an organizer. It dispatched him to Dallas a few days after the Edwards-

Coder-Hurst kidnapping to manage publicity and to raise protests, he

said. He was joined there by a correspondent for the Daily Worker, Sam

Littcin, as the grand jury learned when it subpoenaed telegrams from the

city’s Western Union and Postal Telegraph agencies.

On the afternoon of March 11, Littcin had sent a dispatch to the

Worker alleging that Coder and Hurst were “brutally murdered by a mob

which kidnapped them Thursday night. One arrest made.” But Littcin’s

telegram, and another by Papcun, did not name the arrestee, nor reveal

sources for those claims. Nevertheless, the next day the Worker carried a

banner-headline story that took their reports as gospel, “Coder and Hurst

Brutally Murdered By Lynch Mob.”

Three days later the Worker broke news of a very different kind: Coder

and Hurst, it said, were in Kansas City. Based on information from District

10 Party organizer Paul Cline, the newspaper said that the pair arrived

the day before, riding a freight train. About dawn on the morning of their

kidnapping, it claimed, African American farmers had run across the two,

tied and lying in a field, delirious. The farmers had taken them to their

nearby home and for several days nursed them back to health.

On Saturday morning, March 14, three Dallas men—pilot Harry Fowler,

Times-Herald city editor E. K. Mead, and Dallas County district attorney

William McCraw—left the city in an enclosed five-seat Bellanca monoplane

loaned to them by Dallas stockbroker Royal A. Ferris Jr. They were

bound for Kansas City. Upon their arrival about four hours later, they

made their way to the District 10 offices, where under Cline’s supervision,

they interviewed Coder and Hurst. A photo taken during the Kansas

City sitting does not show trauma on the face of either man. “Both of

them look and act like Texas country boys of the tenant farmer type,”

Mead wrote in a column upon his return. According to him, Coder was

“young and his thin, sharp face, topped with a busy crop of blond hair,

. . . lacks all marks of high intelligence.” This description coincided with

an earlier remark by lawyer Edwards, who said that Hurst was a “poor, frail

and rather dull country boy who had no friends” and with that of Richard

Potts, editor of an idosyncrtic Dallas magazine, The Common Herd, who had

spoken at the Red’s first rally. Hurst would later charge that the Dallas

trio had gained entry by claiming that they were reporters. During their

chat, Coder told his interviewers that when he and Hurst were brought to

the jail’s booking desk on the night of March 5, a man who had apparently

been waiting for them to appear had rushed outside to signal the kidnapping

crew. He also said that in Hutchins, one of his captors boasted that

“the Klan begins where the law ends.”

According to Hurst, only after Cline badgered McCraw into confessing

his identity did the district attorney propose the deal that provided

speculation in the newspapers for days. He asked the two Communists

to return with his party and to testify before the grand jury. When Coder

and Hurst frowned at his proposal, he offered to buy them train tickets.

Stories subsequently published about the flight and the interview drilled

into details: McCraw offered the two Reds protection by Dallas police and

sheriff’s officers, and when they snubbed that, showed them a telegram

from Governor Sterling’s office, promising that, if they liked, Texas Rangers

would meet them at the state line. Hesitant to make any decision, they

telephoned Edwards, who said that he did not trust the local authorities

or believe that the Rangers could guarantee the pair’s safety in Dallas.

The Bellanca returned to Dallas without them, carrying a half-humbled

McCraw. “I do not believe those men were flogged, although there seems

to be little doubt that there was a kidnapping,” he said. On the day when

stories about the Kansas City interview appeared in the Dallas papers, the

Daily Worker also published an exclusive, a statement signed by Coder and

Hurst, describing their beatings in jail, their abduction, and their flogging.

Its details largely matched Barr’s March 6 report.

George Edwards had been absent from Dallas trying a case in Eastland.

But on Monday, after he went before the grand jury to give an account

of his kidnapping, Dallas officials and the press began speculating about

pledges from the two Communists to return—not to testify, the two said,

but to stage another demonstration. Police Commissioner Graves repeated

his injunction against street protests, and over the next few days, Cline

and the Daily Worker made a series of statements about the two Texans’

plans. They said that Coder and Hurst would hitchhike, that they would

come back by freight, that they would take a passenger train, and that

Hurst was already en route by auto. But neither man showed.

On the eve of the last grand jury session two weeks later, Edwards

received a telephone call from Hurst, who said that he was in Dallas.

According to a subseqent report by Common Herd editor Potts, Hurst also

contacted him and dropped by the publication’s office the next morning.

He afterward went to Edwards’s office, bringing a typewritten letter he

said he wanted to mail to the press. Edwards, concerned for his client’s

safety, promptly drove Hurst to Fort Worth, where, after Hurst dropped

his missive in a letterbox, Edwards left him on the streets. The lawyer

would later report that neither he nor Hurst were aware that about the

same hour, the grand jury released its finding:

It is our conclusion that no physical violence was done to any of the parties. As to

the abduction, it appears from the testimony and subsequent developments that it

was done by the Communists themselves for publicity purposes. . . . The presence

of agitators of this type and the presentation of their doctrines is destructive to the

social and proper interest of this country.

United Press International, to which Hurst mailed his statement, later

told the Times-Herald that the opening line of the letter was “The grand

jury investigation turned out just the way I expected it to be, a well-planned

whitewashing scheme.” The following week a Morning News editorial belatedly

expressed a similar conclusion: “The News takes it as an undisputed

fact that free speech in Dallas depends in large part upon whether the

character of the speech is pleasing to the economic and political palate of

the officials of Dallas.”

Editorialists at the News probably knew what Hurst only surmised, that

grand juries in those days were blue-ribbon panels stacked against people

like him. None of the twelve men who sat on the grand jury were wage

earners, nor were any of them members of the minorities to which the

Communist made special appeals. Among them were a cotton broker,

an investment broker, and J. B. Wilson, a man sometimes described in

the area press with the words “Dallas capitalist.” Also on the panel were

a county commission clerk and a police captain who was one of the men

named on the Klan’s 1922 list of police for members.

The grand jury’s mention of “publicity” may have been a reference to

a March statement by Commissioner Graves that “the whole matter is a

hoax, framed as a double-barreled publicity stunt to promote sympathy

for the Communists and Edwards’s candidacy for the City Council.”

Although it is doubtful that his brief association with the Communists

provided the kind of publicity Edwards wanted, he indeed had filed for a

seat on the council. On April 9, when ballots were canvassed, he came in

second among three candidates, with only 7 percent of the vote.

Charles J. Coder remained in Missouri. In October 1931, in the company

of other Communists, he was arrested and sentenced to a year in jail.

But in early 1932 he was sent to Arkansas, where he headed the Party’s

campaign to put candidates on that state’s ballots. Central Control Commission

records indicate that he was restored to full Party membership

in 1932, an indication that during his weeks as the Party’s Dallas heromartyr,

his status with the organization had been irregular. His disappearance

from Party and public records thereafter suggests that the former

Carl Miller adopted yet another name—or that was never been Coder nor

Miller, but someone else.

 

 

Repost: Reply to an attempt to critically analyze the Houston Communist Party club
| July 14, 2012 | 10:13 pm | Action
http://houstoncommunistparty.com/reply-to-an-attempt-to-critically-analyze-the-houston-communist-party-club/

By James Thompson

Dave Adkinson writes in his critical analysis of the Houston CP club:

“If those you criticise are as malicious as you say the i wonder why i cant find anything on the web where “they” sling mud at you and your former club.”

We applaud Mr. Adkinson’s efforts to provide some critical analysis of our club, but his arguments fall a bit short. Here is a posting from our Texas district leadership about our website which was posted on 11/28/11. The link is: http://tx.cpusa.org/houstonweb.htm .

We recently received the following statement from CPUSA leadership:

Statement on Houston Phony Web Site

The web page calling itself the Houston Communist Party (http://houstoncommunistparty.com/ ) and the associated Facebook page and Twitter feed are not affiliated with the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). The person or persons behind the web site know full well that the site does not reflect the views and positions of our party. By undemocratically and falsely identifying the site as affiliated with the CPUSA they are deliberately sowing confusion and misinformation.

The Texas Communist Party web site at (http://tx.cpusa.org/ ) is a web site of the CPUSA that is endorsed and supported by the party membership in Texas and the National Committee of the CPUSA.

National Board CPUSA

It should be explained that the reason Houston put up its own website was that the Texas District leadership repeatedly refused to send us the names of people from Houston who contacted the national website. I spoke directly to Sam Webb, Jarvis Tyner and many others and made the simple request that the names of people who contacted the national website or state website from Houston be provided to us so that we could attempt to recruit them into our club. This was at a time when I was writing many articles for the PWW and PW. At this time, I was also invited to and was attending party conferences at various locations around the country to include the conference on African American equality in St. Louis, Missouri, and regional conferences in El Paso, Texas and Oakland, California. I spoke to Sam Webb at the meeting in Oakland and to Jarvis Tyner at the march on Wall Street in NYC. I also made up the slogans for the signs used in the march on Wall Street as requested by Libero della Piana. I was also a delegate to the 2005 convention in Chicago and wrote the front page article for the PWW about the CPUSA support of the strike against the Congress Hotel in Chicago. We elected a delegate from Houston to the 2008 CPUSA convention. This individual is an accomplished journalist and could have put various party leaders on the Pacifica network. In fact, I suggested this to leadership and it was ignored.

The reason for putting up the website was simple. We wanted people in Houston to be able to contact us.

One of our current members attempted to contact us through the national website and state website within the last year and a half. He was ignored by the national office. When he contacted the state directly, he was told that our club in Houston did not exist. He found us by our website.

When we put up our website, we were told by district leadership in Dallas that we should take it down and that the party should file a lawsuit against us for putting up the website.

I wonder how many people in the party really think that these actions by party leadership represent a real desire to build the party and fully support one of its most active clubs. Instead of expressing appreciation for the hard work of comrades in Houston, leadership has chosen to split and divide our original club and fecklessly attempt to depose its elected leader.

Nevertheless, we continue to survive and thrive. We will continue to fight for the working class no matter what CPUSA leadership does to us. We will not surrender. We will not back down. We will continue to build our club since we believe the Communists will take up their historical role as the vanguard party of the working class. We believe that once again the CPUSA will fight for peace, civil rights and will return to an anti-imperialist stance. We believe the CPUSA will fight once again to enact legislation for working people such as single payer health care or a national health care system and the employee free choice act. We believe the CPUSA can and will fight anti-communist laws and other forms of voter suppression. We believe the CPUSA can and will field candidates for public office on its own ticket. We believe the CPUSA can and will be a fully democratic organization and operate from the bottom up rather than the top down.

Reply to: Elena Mora resigns from the CPUSA
| January 18, 2016 | 8:12 pm | About the CPUSA, Party Voices, political struggle | 1 Comment

By a CPC member

This letter was depressing to read.  How did she expect anyone to join the CPUSA after Webb and his crew started dismantling the party, ceased running candidates, liquidated the PW and became cheerleaders for the Democrats.  And how about all the loyal comrades they expelled or pushed out.  Even if the party does change its name, people will still know, or find out that it is the old CP.  The media will certainly let people know that.   And this new organization she wants to launch, will it only function at election time to back the democrats ?

Communist Unity and its false friends

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Communist Unity and Its False Friends

 http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/2014/03/communist-unity-and-its-false-friends.html
To paraphrase de Maistre, every political party has the leadership it deserves. It is confidence in the wisdom of this maxim that keeps me from commenting extensively on the continuing effort to retreat from Marxism-Leninism on the part of Chairman Sam Webb and the rest of the Communist Party USA top leadership. As the membership continues to shrink– discounting internet “friends” and “likes”– one can only marvel at the dogged loyalty of most of the remaining membership, a loyalty perhaps leftover from times when the Party was under attack from all sides. But the Party is under attack from no one today, especially since the Party’s entire body of work coincides with working selflessly for Democratic Party election victories while slavishly following (off-electoral season) the leadership of the AFL-CIO.
Apparently changes are afoot in the CPUSA as it approaches its June National Convention. There will be leadership change. Unfortunately, it does not promise to be accompanied by a shift in ideological perspective. Nonetheless, some will entertain an unfounded “hope” in a new direction, a hope that will immobilize dissent.
There is also talk of dropping references to “Communism,” the final barrier, if the Webbites are to be believed, to the CPUSA becoming a party with mass support.
For an honest, critical discussion of the latest musings of Sam Webb, go here: Houston Communist Party.
Apart from its continual decline, the CPUSA counts as a small voice, but an authoritative voice, to the US left on matters pertaining to the World Communist Movement. Recently, Sue Webb, who represented the CPUSA at the International meeting of Communist and Workers Parties held in Lisbon in November of last year, gave a report of that meeting, highlighting the CPUSA’s and other parties’ assessments and views on the current situation and the way forward.
Much of Sue Webb’s commentary is a thinly-veiled attack upon the Greek Communist Party (KKE) under the guise of supporting diversity and independence in the world movement. At the same time, she exploits differences between Parties to justify the CPUSA’s exodus from Marxism-Leninism.
Now the KKE needs no one to defend its honor or its positions; it is supremely capable of supporting both. However, it is important for all Communists and friends of Communism to examine carefully and critically the views represented in Lisbon. Sue Webb’s commentary fails to reach those standards.
She disparagingly suggests that the KKE obstinately and unreasonably thwarted a final, unifying statement: “The Greek party’s criticisms were so strong that it rejected and blocked issuance of any consensual final statement summarizing the thinking of the conference. In doing so, the Greek party and its supporters from a few other countries clearly went up against the thinking and policies of the overwhelming majority of parties represented at the meeting.”
At the same time, she heralds the diverse roads taken by various Parties and their relative autonomy from a single path, citing Lenin copiously as well as her Party’s reliance upon “our own experiences and conditions of struggle.” In other words, she faults the KKE for not acceding to the will of others by drawing upon its “own experiences and conditions of struggle.” Apparently, she finds no inconsistency in touting the old Euro-Communist line of national Communism while chiding the KKE for its principled, independent stance in the Lisbon meeting.
The charge of instigating disunity is particularly spurious when the KKE’s big role in revitalizing the international meetings, conferences, and exchanges is recognized.
Lost in Sue Webb’s simplistic account is the singular contribution that the KKE brings to any discussion of the path to socialism. Without judging the merits of its every conclusion, one must respect the deep analysis that the KKE has made of the collapse of mass European Communist Parties since the Second World War. While most Parties have wrestled with the lessons of the loss of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European socialist community, few explore the theoretical consequences of the near-complete self-destruction of powerful mass Communist Parties in Italy, France, and Spain as thoroughly as does the KKE. The process of evisceration of Marxism-Leninism in non-ruling Communist and Workers Parties began well before the fall of Soviet power. It is the KKE that draws the most profound lessons from this experience. Webb ignores it entirely.
Failure to grapple with the lessons of the collapse of Eastern European socialism and the failure of Euro-Communism leads to a one-sided, distorted map of the road ahead.
It is in this context that the KKE challenges the position that there are “stages” between capitalism and socialism. After World War Two, many Parties projected an anti-monopoly stage in the transition to socialism. Still others sought to construct a stage built on a “democracy of a new type,” a system of rule that was neither bourgeois nor socialist. These strategies entailed a focus upon parliamentary struggle and collaboration with all non-monopoly capitalist forces. The Italian “Historic Compromise” was the symbolic culmination of this perspective, engaging a strategy that opened the door to the bourgeoisification of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and consequently its inevitable demise.
One of the ideological salesmen of this approach, Giorgio Napolitano, demonstrates, with the trajectory of his life, the cruel tragedy of the PCI’s failure: once a member of a university fascist youth group, Napolitano engaged with the resistance, joined the PCI, assumed a leading role in its new direction, and today reigns as the President of the Italian bourgeois Republic. With measured civility and dignity, he legitimized the government of the buffo-fascist, Silvio Berlusconi. His many honors, decorations, and prizes testify to his service to capitalism.
In an interview in 1975, Napolitano, then the economic spokesperson for the PCI, deftly danced around hard questions posed by Eric Hobsbawn: “I believe that in any country the process of socialist transformation as well as socialist regimes have to be founded on a broad basis of consensus and democratic participation… My argument about the principles and forms of democratic life to be upheld in the context of an advance to socialism and the construction of socialist society refers more concretely to the countries of Western Europe in which bourgeois democracy was born, where representative institutions have a more or less strong tradition and diverse democratic,ideological, cultural and political currents have operated more or less freely… [and] which are characterized in varying degrees… by the presence of sizable intermediate groups between the proletariat and a big bourgeoisie controlling the basic means of production.” Only a mere thirty years after Communists played a key role in the fall of anti-democratic European despotism, Napolitano vigorously celebrates the dubious Euro-tradition of bourgeois democracy while catering opportunistically to the interests of the middle strata. Unfortunately, these illusions still linger with many Communist Parties. It is this failed perspective that is vigorously opposed by the KKE.
Similarly, the mass Spanish Party, under the leadership of Santiago Carillo, collapsed into near irrelevancy thanks to the fetish of bourgeois democracy and the pandering to non-proletarian strata. Carillo argued that ”… the Communist Party should be the party of freedom and democracy…We must bring into our programme as an integral part, not only the demands of the workers, but also those of all sections of society which are under privileged.” These vacuous, shallow slogans serve the bourgeoisie well, as they do when inscribed in the platforms of modern bourgeois congressional or parliamentary parties. No wonder workers fled the PCE in droves; they understood Marxism far better than did the Party leaders.
Reflections on these tragic miscalculations should lead one to heed the warnings against opportunism issued by the KKE:
It leaves them defenseless against the corrosive work of the bourgeois and opportunist forces which are trying to assimilate the CPs into parliamentarianism, to castrate them and make them a part of the bourgeois political system, with unprincipled collaborations, with participation in governments of bourgeois management which have a “left”-“progressive” label, with entrapment in the logic of class collaboration, with support for imperialist centres, as is happening e.g. with the CPs of the so-called European Left Party, as well as other CPs that are following the same path. (G. Marinos, Member of the PB of the CC , KKE)
In the wake of the deepest global economic crisis since the Great Depression, the idea that Communist and Workers Parties should struggle to lead capitalism out of the weeds– to better “manage” capitalism– is an absurd strategy guaranteed to further marginalize the prospects for socialism. If only the Communists (or Communists in alliance with others) can rescue capitalism, why would they do so?
Sue Webb fails to frame the KKE positions in the context of class partisanship, an error that guarantees confusion and misunderstanding. She fails to find a difference between fighting for reforms in the framework of capitalism and refusing to take the side of a bourgeois class, a distinction that the KKE sharply makes. Where reforms benefit working people– increases and improvements in public education, social welfare, public health, etc,– Communists fight harder than anyone and accept allies unconditionally. But where workers are asked to stand with the bourgeoisie– in sacrificing wages and benefits to make their employer more competitive, in boycotting products produced by foreign workers– Communists urge that workers stand aside.
Sue Webb charges the KKE with discounting emerging economies as rivals to Western imperialism: “the concept of the BRICs countries… or others, such as in Latin America, emerging as challenges to Western imperialism is rejected.” But this is absurd; Communists see these countries as imperialist rivals to Western imperialism. That is, they have their own designs upon the global economy, their own expansionist interests. At the same time, Communists oppose aggression and war on the part of imperialist powers in every case and of every stripe. For example, Communists fervently oppose US intervention in Venezuela; they oppose EU and US meddling in Ukraine. However, they do not support the respective national bourgeoisies. This is in contrast to some “Marxist” organizations that vacillated on or capitulated to regime changes or “democratic” missionary work in countries such as Iraq or Libya.
Sue Webb scoffs at the KKE rejection of the term “financialization.“Identifying financialization as a particular feature of today’s capitalism is a hoax, a diversion. Capitalism is capitalism.” One might well ask her: if capitalism is not capitalism, then what is it? I’m sure it’s lost on her that the notion that there is good capitalism and there is bad capitalism is alien to Marxism. Social Democracy and its genetic relatives all attempt to find a good capitalism to ride toward socialism. Of course in every case they have failed– capitalism doesn’t go in that direction.
Profit is the driving force of capitalism; it is impossible to imagine capitalism without profit. And profit-seeking shapes the trajectory of capitalism. Like a rabid predator, capitalists seek profits everywhere– in the capital goods sector, in the consumer goods sector, in the service sector, and in the financial sector. The fact that the financial sector played a bigger role in profit-seeking in recent times sheds little light on capitalism’s fundamental operation. Rather, anointing financial activity as a unique species of capitalism only obfuscates the basic mechanisms of capitalist accumulation. It adds nothing.
That the global crisis first broke out in capitalist financial centers is undeniable. But the fact that the initial eruptions were the result of processes long set in motion is equally undeniable. Social democrats would have us believe that the crisis was caused by aberrant behavior, a feverish fixation on financial maneuvers easily repaired by regulation and reform. This is nonsense. This is not Marxism.
Thus, the term “financialization” is a kind of hoax. A term favored by those too lazy or too afraid to examine the inner workings of a rapacious system.
One does not have to agree with every perspective, every formulation of the KKE to recognize that they are taking the lead on issues facing the World Communist Movement; they are asking the hard questions that challenge old habits, easy assumptions, and unexamined positions. Yes, they challenge convenient beliefs that make for easy interaction with other left forces, but they do so from fidelity to the Communist tradition. Yes, they do not put consensus-for-the-sake-of-consensus ahead of principle. But those of us who want to restore vitality to the Communist movement must show a deep appreciation– and not contempt– for their selfless commitment to resurrecting a militant Communism based upon the foundations laid by Marx and Lenin.
For all its self-congratulatory bluster about escaping from dogmatism, sectarianism, and “alien” ideas, Sue Webb’s Party is about to sink into oblivion. As with a sinking ship, the CPUSA ‘s leadership is jettisoning its deck chairs and cabin furniture as fast as the water rises. Gone are the Party archives, the Party newspaper, Party bookstores, Party organizations, education, and even Party meetings. Gone are the Party symbols, the organizational principles, the ideology, and even the greetings of comradeship. In their place are Facebook and Twitter communications, telephone and video conferences, and common cause with liberal groups between the mandatory efforts in support of Democratic Party election campaigns.
Sue Webb says: “The outlook and policies of our party fit well into the mainstream of the world communist movement as expressed at the Lisbon meeting last November.”
Would that it were so! The current CPUSA leadership rejects audacious approaches to reaching socialism while waiting passively for the second coming of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and The New Deal. They draw their strategic line from the desperate, defensive measures necessitated by the rise of fascism eighty years ago, a temporary front with non-working class forces that quickly betrayed that alliance after World War II and the fall of fascism. Sam Webb and his leadership coterie remain locked in the thinking of another time.
Well into the mainstream”? I think not. The World Communist Movement is growing again thanks, in part, to lively, frank conversations about the way forward, as occurred in Lisbon. While consensus remains illusive, the process of discussion is, nevertheless, clarifying and unifying. But for those captured in the web of opportunism, the future is bleak.
Zoltan Zigedy
Repost: The poverty of ideology
http://houstoncommunistparty.com/the-poverty-of-ideology/
| February 24, 2014 | 11:01 pm | About the CPUSA, Action, Analysis, National, Party Voices

by James ThompsonWorker and Collective Farm Woman

As the CPUSA proceeds towards its 30th annual convention in Chicago, a number of “preconvention discussion documents” are appearing on the CPUSA website. It certainly appears that the CPUSA fully intends to continue down its self-destructive, reactionary and bourgeois boot licking path. Sam Webb has posted an essay titled “Toward a Modern & Mature 21st Century Communist Party.” http://www.cpusa.org/convention-discussion-toward-a-modern-mature-21st-century-communist-party// Although an essay is generally thought to be the personal opinion of the individual writer, since it is written by the chairperson of the party, we can assume that this will be the roadmap for the immediate future of the CPUSA.

The essay is filled with contradictions which Webb himself identifies. It is almost as if someone has tried to write an ideological bombshell which will eventually implode based on its internal contradictions and inconsistencies.

Let us examine some of these contradictions and view them through Marxist-Leninist lens.

Marx and Engels on alliances with the petty-bourgeois

It would seem appropriate to start with a quote from Karl Marx and Frederick Engels “Address of the Central Authority to the League (March, 1850)” (MECW, IP, volume 10, page 280) since Webb characterizes the CPUSA as “Marxist.” Marx and Engels wrote “The relation of the revolutionary workers’ party to the petty bourgeois democrats is this: it marches together with them against the faction which it aims at overthrowing, it opposes them in everything by which they seek to consolidate their position in their own interests.” On page 283 they continue “In a word, from the first moment of victory, mistrust must be directed no longer against the defeated reactionary party, but against the workers’ previous allies, against the party that wishes to exploit the common victory for itself alone.” On page 284 they spell it out “Even where there is no prospect whatever of their being elected, the workers must put up their own candidates in order to preserve their independence, to count their forces and to lay before the public their revolutionary attitude and party standpoint. In this connection they must not allow themselves to be bribed by such arguments of the democrats as, for example, that by so doing they are splitting the democratic party and giving the reactionaries the possibility of victory. The ultimate purpose of all such phrases is to dupe the proletariat. The advance which the proletarian party is bound to make by such independent action is infinitely more important than the disadvantage that might be incurred by the presence of a few reactionaries in the representative body. On page 287, Marx and Engels concluded “But they themselves must do the utmost for their final victory by making it clear to themselves what their class interests are, by taking up their position as an independent party as soon as possible and by not allowing themselves to be misled for a single moment by the hypocritical phrases of the democratic petty bourgeois into refraining from the independent organization of the party of the proletariat.”

Let’s see how Sam Webb’s proposals stack up against the words of Marx and Engels.lenin

More “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” or “Back to the future”

Chairperson Webb wrote on the first page of his document “For the past 25 years, our strategic objective has been the building of a labor-led people’s coalition against Republican right wing domination of our nation’s political structures. Its aim isn’t to bring us to a gate on which is inscribed ‘Doorway to Socialism.’” He continues “But again, our current strategy-which envisions the broader movement in a tactical, but necessary alliance with the Democratic Party against right wing extremist candidates and initiatives-is only one stage in a longer-term process whose goal is to radically reconfigure class relations as well deepen and extend the democracy (probably understood as the right to a job, living wage, healthcare and housing, right to organize into unions, quality integrated education, reproductive rights, comprehensive immigration reform, affirmative action and an end to all forms of discrimination, green environmental policies, etc.). He follows the statements up with “While we favor a socialist solution, a far more likely political possibility in the near and medium term is a series of measures that radically roll back corporate power, privilege, and profits and overhaul the priorities of government, but still within the framework of capitalism.”

Instead of a modern Communist Manifesto which someone should be writing, the CPUSA chairperson has once again authored a paper which should be titled the Capitulation Manifesto or Class Collaboration Manifesto. He openly and unabashedly advocates an “alliance with the Democratic Party.” He would have us believe that such an alliance will lead to a reconfiguration of class relations and a deepening and extension of democracy. He also openly advocates for a continuation of capitalism. Lenin’s teachings, which he would like to drop, tell us that all reforms can be rolled back by the ruling class when it is politically expedient. This has certainly become clear in recent years.

Marxist Leninists view democracy as a form of the state. They view the state as the means by which one class, i.e. the ruling class, oppresses another class. In our current situation, this would translate to the capitalist class oppression of the working class. For a thorough discussion of Marxist-Leninist views of democracy, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoQN4mKBJtc  . Webb obfuscates the meaning of democracy by defining it as a string of reforms as indicated above. He makes no mention of the fact that in this country we have bourgeois democracy, in other words democracy for the wealthy, by the wealthy and of the wealthy.

Since Webb advocates “an alliance with the Democratic Party,” we should examine this and understand it more clearly. Amazingly, Webb clarifies by stating “the top circles of the Democratic Party are anchored to the outlook, needs, and policies of major sections of the capitalist class, thereby making it an unreliable and inconsistent ally… My point is to underscore the importance of expanding the network of progressives and liberals at every level of government, and further building the independent parents and formations in and outside the Democratic Party-while at the same time, stressing the urgent (and hardly mundane) task of building a broad coalition against right-wing extremism, in which the President and the Democrats play a necessary role.

As for the formation of an independent People’s party at the national level, we should keep it in the conversation even if it isn’t yet on the horizon…”

Webb also says “Ours is a party that places a high priority on independent political action. Now I am not suggesting that we do an about-face with respect to the Democratic Party. At this stage of struggle that would be a stupid mistake-strategic and tactical. The Democratic Party is an essential player in any conceivably realistic strategy for defeating the Republican Party and right-wing extremism… Although the Democratic Party comprises diverse people and interests, it has a class gravity and anchorage about which we shouldn’t lose sight.

The main seats at its table are occupied by political players and powerbrokers who by disposition, loyalty and worldview are committed, and then, to creating favorable conditions for the accumulation of capital (profits) and for the smoothest reproduction of capitalism on a national and global level.

Neoliberalism, globalization, and financialization-all of which deepened inequality, severely aggravated economic instability and crisis, undid many of the reforms of the previous century, and disempowered people-are simply creatures of the Republican right.

Now, the election of Reagan and the ascendancy of the right did play a big role in the process, and the Republican right is a leading edge of the current ruling class offensive. But the Democrats were not bystanders either. While they resisted the more extreme measures of their right-wing counterparts, they also embraced some of the main assumptions and practices of neoliberalism, financialization, and globalization.

The Carter administration was the first out of the gate, but it was the Clinton administration and the Democratic Leadership Council that really greased the skids for the rise of finance and speculation, globalization, and the reduction of government’s responsibility to the people.

And even today, the president and his advisers and leading Democrats in the Senate and House are far from free of such thinking and practices.

And as for foreign-policy, the differences between the two parties are more tactical than strategic. While such differences can be of enormous consequences to the preservation of a peaceful world and thus shouldn’t be dismissed by progressive and left people and organizations, it is also a fact that both parties are committed to US global dominance and the growth of the national security state.”

Untangling the Webbkarl marx

So, let’s see if we can untangle this Webb of ideas. He admits right away that the strategic objective of the CPUSA is not to seek Socialism at this stage in the struggle. He indicates that the strategic objective of the party is to combat the demons of the right wing. The fatal contradiction in this thinking becomes apparent when Webb himself asserts that right wing elements are very visible and influential within the Democratic Party. Although Webb’s obfuscation makes clarity a stranger to the party, it appears that he is telling us that in order to further the interests of the working class, we workers must ally with our class enemies. What would have been the outcome of World War II if Stalin had commanded members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to ally themselves with the fascist elements in the Soviet Union? What would have been the outcome of the struggle against the Vietnam War if the Communist Party leadership had advocated uncritical support and alliance with the imperialist administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was a progressive Democrat, because he was a progressive Democrat? President Johnson helped move the civil rights struggle forward, but at the same time his policies resulted in the unnecessary deaths of many people of the working class in the United States and Vietnam.

Webb himself notes that there is little difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party in terms of foreign-policy.

This hypocrisy and contradictory thinking cannot in any sense be characterized as Marxist, Marxist-Leninist, communist, or socialist and it certainly does not promote the interests of the working class.

Webb has a history of surrender before the battle even starts. In an interview with Glenn Beck several years ago he announced that “socialism is off the table.” Even though a large percentage of the US population favor socialism over capitalism according to recent polls, Webb has not budged from this negativistic position. What would have been the outcome of the 1917 Russian Revolution if Lenin had said “socialism is off the table?”

Fighting the right wing is a necessary and ever present part of the struggle for socialism. The history of socialist countries instructs us that the struggle against the right wing continues after socialism has been achieved. Webb also states that the CPUSA places a priority on independent political action. One Democratic Party candidate for president asked the question some years ago “Where’s the beef?” We must apply this question to the CPUSA in the current situation. It would be one thing if the CPUSA was attempting to confront the right wing ideologically, politically, or any other way. However, rather than criticizing the right wing, Webb and other party writers concentrate on criticizing left thinkers such as Chris Hedges. Instead of mounting a program to train party cadre in political struggle, and running communist candidates for public office, members are told to merely “vote Democratic!” Their slogan appears to be “All power to the Democrats!”

Webb has mired the Communist Party in this idea of an unholy alliance with the Democrats and has repeatedly expelled party members who speak out against this twisted path. I should know since I was expelled for this reason in August, 2012 on the same day that I received a diagnosis of oral cancer. Commanding party members to support the Democrats is tantamount to the Pope telling Catholics to convert to Judaism. This is a slick way to destroy the identity and mission of an organization, i.e. simply ally the organization with an organization with which members do not identify. Once the self-destructive edict is issued, the next step is to excommunicate any member who refuses to follow the edict. This is the modus operandi of the CPUSA currently.

What would an alliance with the Democrats mean?

Realistically speaking, if an alliance could be forged with the Democrats, what would this mean? For example, a few years ago in Germany the leading Social Democratic Party was unable to form a majority coalition in the legislature. The Communist Party offered to join a coalition with the Social Democratic Party in order to achieve a majority coalition. The Social Democratic Party refused to form a coalition with the Communist Party even though this would have meant that they would have stayed in power. Such a coalition would have prevented Angela Merkel of the right wing Christian Democratic Union from taking power.

In the United States, such an alliance between the Communist Party and the Democratic Party might be characterized as an annoying tick attaching itself to a donkey. The donkey would be periodically irritated by the presence of the tick which would appropriately be attached to the donkey’s tail. The donkey would swish the tail in an effort to rid itself of the tick. Eventually, if the tick was irritating enough, the donkey might go to extraordinary lengths to get rid of the parasite.

If the CPUSA was able to form an alliance with the Democrats, it would be a parasitic relationship and it is clear that the CPUSA would be the parasite. It is clear that the Democratic Party does not need any more parasites. Indeed, it has plenty of leeches from the capitalists which weigh it down and make it difficult for it to operate effectively. If there was a recognizable and visible alliance between the Democratic Party and the Communist Party, this would become a very effective weapon that the neofascists could use against the Democratic Party. A party member once told me that the Communist Party “does not want to be the issue.” If the CPUSA formed an alliance with the Democrats, it is quite likely that the CPUSA would be the issue in the struggle against the ultra-right. This strategy is not only anti-Communist, and divorced from Marxism Leninism but it is also divorced from reality.

What do workers need?

Progressive workers in the United States need a Communist Party which serves them by acting as a guiding light in the struggle for workers to gain state power. Workers need a Communist Party which fearlessly and unflinchingly fights for the interests of working people. Workers need a Communist Party which critically analyzes its own work and the policies of Social Democrats as well as the right wing reactionaries. Indeed, as in the past, workers need a Communist Party which leads a movement to oppose the antiworker policies of whatever bourgeois political party is in power, Republican or Democrat. Certainly, the right wing, which is merely the guard dog for the ultra-wealthy class, is not shy about applying pressure for the interests of the wealthy. It would be beneficial if the Communist Party was not shy about applying pressure for the interests of the workers.

But here Webb departs from Marxism Leninism again. In his paper he admits that the CPUSA has jettisoned the idea of a vanguard party of the working class. In addition to disavowing the leading role of the party, he notes that “a few decades ago we scrapped the hammer and sickle, mothballed the red flag, and dropped phrases like ‘dictatorship of the proletariat.’ We worked hard to get rid of leftist jargon, and change the names of our collective bodies and leaders’ titles.” He goes on to state “In recent years, many party leaders, myself included, have dropped the term ‘Marxism Leninism’ and simply use ‘Marxism.’” There have been reports from around the country that Webb has strongly advocated at various meetings dropping the word “communist” from the CPUSA. Apparently, he has met with some resistance among party members who realize that if the current leadership sheds the skin of the party, there will be nothing left and nothing left to do but dissolve the party.

Rather than celebrate the glorious history of the party in leading the struggle for socialism and against fascism/nazism, Webb says “It is a party that utilizes slogans, symbols and terminology that resonate with a broad audience. And it should shed those that no longer fit today’s circumstances or are freighted with negative connotations, and not only because of the mass media, but also because of the practices of the communist movement in the last century.” Here he dismisses not only the achievements and contributions of various socialist states ruled by Communist parties such as the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, Vietnam, Laos and many others, but also dismisses the achievements and contributions of communist parties in non-socialist countries such as the United States, Canada, Greece, Mexico, India, South Africa, Venezuela, Brazil, England, France and Germany and many others. If there ever was an anti-Communist statement, this would be it.

Summary

In summary, this preconvention discussion document which is the roadmap for the future of the party since it is written by the party’s highest leader is full of contradictions and self-destructive actions. It jettisons almost all of the central ideas of Marxism Leninism and damns the history of the party. It argues that workers should ally themselves with their class enemy in order to struggle against the class enemy. He promises “a pie-in-the-sky when you die” to party members as well as the working class if they subscribe to his prescription for disaster.

Instead of this idealistic claptrap, the working class has earned through struggle a party which will lead it and prepare it for its historic mission which is the winning of state power for working people. Workers need education and training in political struggle so that they can fight for their interests without being confused by anti-worker parasitic parties. Workers are becoming increasingly aware that their interests are not advanced by financial bailouts of multinational corporations, expanding wars which serve to protect and increase profits, rollbacks of the social network, interference in the affairs of sovereign nations, and an ever-increasing military industrial complex and national security state. Workers know which parties have implemented these policies and are growing increasingly hostile to those leaders responsible. An alliance with those leaders would be poison to any organization which claims to be a worker’s party.

Hopefully, the CPUSA will come to its senses and resist the contradictory and irrational proposed program at its upcoming convention. The future of this country and the world depends on the development of a realistic workers party program. Without socialism, the world will continue to see ever-increasing economic and social crises which will lead to catastrophe. The slogan of the CPUSA convention should be “Forward to a Socialist USA!”

PHill1917@comcast.net 200px-Hammer_and_sickle_svg