Category: Party Voices
The poverty of ideology
| February 24, 2014 | 11:01 pm | About the CPUSA, Action, Analysis, National, Party Voices | 1 Comment

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.” 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  . 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.


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!” 200px-Hammer_and_sickle_svg

Houston we have a problem…
| July 21, 2012 | 10:27 pm | Action, Party Voices | 1 Comment

Los Angeles Metro Club

2437 Centinela Av., #2

Santa Monica, CA. 90405



We, the members of the Los Angeles Metro Club of the CPUSA write this appeal to you, the National Board of the CPUSA, in the spirit of party unity, fairness, and comradeship. We understand the complexity and sensitive nature of the issues of the most recent flareup in Houston but we do not consider the matter settled. We believe that there must be a fuller discussion within the party about our role as communists in American society and our relationship to the working class, the class we purport to represent. Censorship and intimidation are not conducive to having this discussion.

We have been told that we can’t struggle in the world as we wish it to be. That we must accept the political terrain as it is and that we must “be realistic.” We ask ourselves what if Marx, Engels, and Lenin had said that? What if they lived in a politically “realistic” world. Marx said in regard to this problem, “philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, the point, however is to change it.” Theory then evolves into a discussion of how fast or how slow society should move. The Chinese with their ‘cultural revolution’ tried to accelarate the pace of their socialist development. History proved them wrong. At the time, our party, the CPUSA supported the CPSU position and rejected the cultural revolution.

Our party did not support Leon Trotsky or his famous theory of ‘permanent revolution’ either. Lenin spoke against Trotsky and his theory several times. Later it was found that Trotsky was not only a spy for Germany, Poland, and Japan up to the beginning of WWII, but was also a rabid anti-communist that had nothing in common with the Bolsheviks. He later worked for the Hearst capitalist press as an expert on Soviet Russia. Some expert! So why is this ancient history so important? Because now, we understand that Bernard Sampson, the Chair of the newly recognized CPUSA club in Houston is a Trotskyite; an anti-communist! A friend of Bernard in Los Angeles, Mr. Grady Daughtery has told us that he was in the Trotskyite Sparticist League in Los Angeles with Bernard and that the Sparticist League campaigned actively against the United Farm Workers union. Further, Bernard advocated that workers should break strikes of the workers because they were lead by a ‘bourgeois union leader’, Cesar Chavez.

How did the Los Angeles Metro Club get involved in the activities of the Houston CPUSA club? Two ways. We are involved in the U.S. Peace Council and we participate with the Houston Peace Council in activities like the anti-NATO campaign. We know about their fine work with the Cuban 5 case. We learned about their website and put a link on our website and became friends with them on Facebook. Although we were told that the problem in Houston was with one individual, we know that this is untrue because of their relationship with us in the U.S. Peace Council. So, you see, there is always more than one side to every story.

We are very disappointed with the decision of the CPUSA National Board to intervene in the internal affairs of the Houston club. We are more disappointed that they have chosen to intervene in our club’s internal matters. We have done nothing but try to carry on the fight against war, fight imperialism, and build proletarian solidarity. Along the way we have met some great comrades. This all seems legitimate to us; on the up and up. There is no conspiracy as intimated by the comrades investigating the problems in Houston. Although, we do wonder why the comrades on the National Board would accept the version of events of known Trotskyites without interviewing others.

Our club stands firmly against censorship. Censorship is un-American and a return to the McCarthy era. We don’t want to go there and we don’t want our party to go there. We hope that as Marxist-Leninists our party has matured since then. Are we wrong? We hope not, but we are concerned. Since when does the national party tell clubs what groups they can associate with? Since when does the national party tell clubs what links and other information to put on its website and Facebook page? We are a club of communists with a healthy collective leadership, so why not trust us to decide what groups and clubs to associate with and what to put on our website or Facebook page? We don’t post irresponsible or counter-revolutionary articles or information there. We don’t have any relations with right-wing reactionary organizations. We participate fully in the activities of our district, and support its political line. However, when we receive information from other clubs around the country that don’t fully agree with the thought that is disseminated by the national party centre we feel it is our duty as communists to publish it. There are legitimate concerns about the party’s future and the party’s relationship with the working class. We have written previously on this in another letter to Political Affairs.

We do not see how frank, open discussion of communist history hurts our party. Our history is important to us. Our party’s relationship with the USSR and the CPSU is important to remember. It is a part of us. To deny it is to succumb to anti-communism and plays into the hands of the bourgeoisie. To say that America is somehow exceptional to the rest of the world is not communist ideology and those that hold this point of view are not communists. They shouldn’t be in our party. We do not need to pander to elements that are anti-communist to build the party unless our objective is to destroy the CPUSA: the party of a new type envisioned by Lenin. We are not Social-Democrats. We are not populists. We are not progressives. We are communists: builders and leaders of mass movements that fight for a world beyond capitalism. We are not satisfied with our present situation of high unemployment, cuts in our Social Security and our social safety net and pensions, and of endless racism , sexism, and imperialism. As part of our struggle, we include electoral work. We consider this to be one tool in our arsenal of defense of our class interest, but by no means the only one. There are other things that we must do simultaneously to win workers to our side. We must be seen and we must earn the trust and respect of the workers. There is only one way to do that. We feel that the leadership of our party has forgotten this lesson and has embarked on a cynical downward spiral and that our party has ceased to be a revolutionary party. We see liquidation and retirement on the horizon and are reminded of comrade Hall’s words that “communists don’t retire.” Being in the party is not a job. It is a devotion to our class: the working class. It is a devotion to a historical inevitability. As Eugene Debs said, “socialism is as certain as the setting of the sun.”

Where does this cynicism and sense of entitlement come from? Why do comrades in leading positions in our party feel that their personal status is more important than the ideological health of the party? Why does our party editorialize against other communist nations, namely the DPRK? Don’t these nations have a right to defend themselves against imperialist aggression? Perhaps this is what the leaders of the Houston club are concerned about. Is the CPUSA saying that the Houston comrades have no right to be concerned? Are they saying that to point out weaknesses in our leadership contradicts the party line and promotes factionalism? If they are, they are wrong. We happen to believe that some of the criticisms of the Houston club have merit. We believe that the National Board has acted in its own self interest, and not in the best interest of the whole party. We further believe that there needs to be a wider discussion within the party of why people are not joining the party in greater numbers and why many don’t stay after they join. This discussion would lead to a finding that there needs to be change in the thinking at the top. Democratic centralism is a two way street. It also must work from the bottom up. There can be no top down solution.

When our club discussed the report to us by our club chair concerning his meeting with the directors of the California district about Houston, we were immediately insulted when it was reported that the problems in Houston were “just like Evelina.” Evelina Alarcón was replaced in a similar autocratic manner as was the New York Arts & Entertainment club and Houston club. We were promised by Sam Webb and others that things would be different, that there would be a more transparent approach to party problems. So far, this has not been the case. In fact, it is less transparent now than before. There is less communication, not more. Comrades in the Metro club were used in the battle to remove Evelina and now our situation is much worse. People have lost respect for us since Evelina’s arbitrary removal. We never took a vote on whether or not to remove her, and we never elected the leadership of the Southern California collective that has replaced her.Although we have never met the Chair of the Houston club, we can sympathize with him.

Finally, we say that although we disagree with the demand to remove content from our website, we have done so. We will, however, continue to work on the mass activities that we are involved in and we hope to have many more discussions in the party on the topic of party unity and action. We hope that it is not against policy of the National Board to help our comrades in the former Soviet Union and other people fighting to restore socialism in their countries, and to help in building peace organizations. These activities we will never cease. It is our proletarian responsibility to fight for our our class around the world! We hope that we have your blessing as we carry on this important work.

Communist Party,
Los Angeles Metro Club

Internal struggle within the CPUSA
| July 18, 2012 | 9:46 pm | About the CPUSA, Action, Party Voices | No comments

Here is a list of links to articles regarding the current crisis in the CPUSA:

Sam Webb’s vision for the CPUSA
| June 20, 2012 | 9:28 pm | Action, Party Voices | No comments

Check out these links to articles by Sam Webb on the CPUSA:

Feel free to make comments as well.

Communists and Social Democracy
| February 13, 2011 | 9:00 pm | Action, Party Voices | No comments

by Eric Brooks, January 2011

Dolores Ibárruri, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Spain, in the context of the Siege of Madrid (10/1936-3/1939) made famous the slogan “¡No Pasarán!” – fascists shall not pass. The call resonates today, evoking a spirit of revolutionary optimism and defiance: Exploiters shall not pass!
– Eric Brooks

I have walked in that hinterland of despair that is unemployment. I have felt the cold hand of fear clasp my heart as needed services disappear one by one and finally the cupboards are bare and the lights are turned off and there is no more gas for the car.

While the social democrats speak of process and winning small battles, the battle at hand is big, and the urgency of now demands fundamental change in our society and in the priorities that inform our social decisions.The necessary tasks facing us as members of the working class, working women and men, we who do not exploit others for our enrichment, are immense.

The material conditions required for sustaining human life, our beautiful planet and its necessary environment, are a casualty of capitalist exploitation. US wages don’t meet the basic needs of great masses of people who find themselves making choices between shelter and food, necessary medicines and heat.

Our youth are indentured to the banks for the cost of education, their aspirations to develop themselves and build a foundation for a stable life turned against them. Many find that stability beckons but is always and increasingly beyond reach.

Read more »

Gus Hall on the “united front”, “opportunism” and “liquidating the party”
| December 28, 2010 | 10:09 pm | Party Voices | No comments

From Labor Up-Front: In the people’s fight against the crisis (page 94)

By Gus Hall

Main Weakness-Sectarianism

…for the present period the nature of the main weakness that holds us back from measuring up can be characterized as sectarianism-a deficiency that comes in many varieties-Left and Right.

The deficiency derives from both a lack of appreciation of the level and the scope of the mass trends and a lack of understanding of the new features of the mainstream and the Left current, as well as from not understanding or fully appreciating the unique and necessary contributions we Communists can and must make to these movements. So the deficiency is both an underestimation of the mass upsurge and the Party’s role in it.

When masses are not in motion, when the waves of struggle are at ebbtide, it is necessary to pursue policies and tactics that sometimes go sharply against the stream-tactics and policies of an opposition, policies that one could call sectarian, as Karl Marx once did. We have experienced such periods. This, however, is not one of those periods. In a period of high tide such policies and tactics turn into their very opposite. They do not lead. They tail events.

The struggle against sectarianism requires the conscious and consistent, never-ending seeking out and nurturing of allies, especially allies who are ready to work with us as Communists.

One of the very important features of this period, as I indicated previously, is that the number of such people on the Left is growing very fast. Increasingly such people are seeking us out and expressing the desire to consult with us. These are people who will and do disagree with us on some questions. They may be ready to work with us in only one or two areas. They will have ideological flaws of many kinds. They may have had, and may still express, anti-Party concepts and slanders. But the real truth is that if we cannot work with such people, then who the hell can we work with. The fact is that if we cannot work with such people we are not going to work with anyone-except ourselves.

In mass work, the words “working with and giving leadership to” are a very important concept. If we do not practice this concept, if we do not respect the independent character of the mass movements, we can never win their respect for our leadership. Even in mass organizations in which Communists are in leading positions they cannot be viewed or characterized as “our movements.” Only the Party is ours.
Our relationship with mass organizations and movements must be shaped by the fact that we are not out to “take over,” or to dominate administratively, because it does not serve any useful purpose. Communists must be the very best of team players. The push for Communists to run for elective office, whether in a trade union or in an ad hoc committee, must come from one’s co-workers. It must be earned.

Of course there are times when differences must be discussed. But we must always remember who is the main enemy. We must be careful in our judgments. We must always use the explanatory tone. We must always take into account the sum total of facts before resorting to criticism. We must continue to master the art of discussing-not debating or arguing-while working together as allies and friends.

We must put subjective and personal feelings on the back burner. They must not be permitted to become obstacles to working with people who may sometimes irritate us. We must always meet people more than halfway in order to win them, to convince people that it is possible, necessary and even enjoyable to work with us, even if we do not agree on everything. We must never assume that we are always right.

We must not follow the petty-bourgeois Maoist line of treating all who are not one hundred percent with us as being one hundred percent against us. We simply must not tolerate such attitudes.

In this context, for example, a policy of building only Left unity in a period when Center forces are in motion is sectarianism. Left unity is a very important concept. And in the context of building Left-Center unity it is a necessary concept. But a Left unity that rejects working with the Center forces is sectarian.
Experience in united front struggles shows that differences are lessened if the Party carries on independent propaganda on issues on which there are differences. Thus, Party propaganda in the form of leaflets, pamphlets and lectures is most necessary and very helpful in our united front work, especially if our materials are explanatory and convincing.

United front, wrote Lenin, is a method of mobilizing working people who either have no special or specific philosophy but who are for democracy, or people who are under the influence of reformist, revisionists or opportunists.

On the united front, Lenin said:

The purpose and sense of the tactics of the united front consist in drawing more and more masses of the workers into the struggle against capital, even if it means making repeated offers to the leaders of the Second and Second-and-a-half Internationals. (V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 42, p. 411)

At a recent Conference of Communist and Workers Parties (Moscow, 1969) the resolution stated:

Communists should not regard everyone who is critical of the Soviet Union or the Communist Party, or who differ on one or another issue as being anti-Communist and who must be fought and rejected as far as the united front is concerned.

In this period, when the Party is pursuing a mass policy and when the members are involved in mass movements, there are of course other kinds of problems that emerge that are of a Right-opportunist nature.

When involved in mass movements there are always pressures for Communists to act and even talk like just good old plain progressives, to talk like good anti-monopoly fighter, like good democrats, like good trade unionists, like good national liberation fighters, like good old liberals.

Now there is nothing wrong with talking and acting like good trade unionists or progressives. It becomes a weakness if our activities are limited to that level. (emphasis is admins) We have more to say about reforms than reformists do. For us tactics are related to strategic objectives. Our exposes are not limited to the boss or the corporation. We expose them as links in the system.

Some who work on the level of reformists continue to go to club meetings, read our press and quote Marxist classics. But the fact is that very often the opportunism begins to corrode the ideological and political innards. Such comrades will begin to lose their class and socialist consciousness, and in time slip into a fantasy world where they think they can get along as well and even better outside the Party. This of course is opportunism and it is also liquidating the Party.

There are warning signs of this weakness. When comrades work in mass organizations and movements and never get a subscription to the Daily World, People’s World or to Political Affairs, never recruit a new member-that is a warning signal that such comrades need help. They need political and ideological help. We cannot accept as natural that a comrade works in a shop, is a member of a trade union or a mass organization for 15, 20 and even 25 years and never recruits enough to start a club of the Communist Party. Some retire without ever recruiting anyone.

Such comrades were good old trade unionists, or good old democrats and democratic fighters for all those years, but they did not live and work as Communists-ideologically, politically or personally.
We must be clear that although working with mass movements may lead to problems of Right opportunism, that must never be permitted to become a conscious or unconscious excuse for not pursuing a mass policy, for not being involved in mass struggles. That would be like deciding not to plant a garden because you may have problems with opportunistic bugs and worms.

Gus Hall on “Opportunism”
| December 27, 2010 | 10:17 pm | Party Voices | No comments

From Working Class USA: The Power and the Movement (p. 95)

By Gus Hall

In a period of ebb in social, political and economic struggles it is not always easy to judge what are necessary adjustments in tactics. And it is not easy to separate tactics that correctly reflect the new problems, the new relationship of forces of the ebb period, from actions that are motivated by an opportunistic retreat from the difficulties of struggle of such a period. What adds to the difficulty is that there are pressures for both.

Opportunistic retreat and a shift in tactics appear simultaneously because they are reactions to the same realities. It is further complicated by the fact that in most cases the paths of opportunistic retreat starts with very necessary and correct steps of tactical adjustment. Where one ends and the other begins is at times very difficult to determine because there also are periods when one individual can reflect a mixture of both and also because the rationale for a retreat often sounds very much like the rationale for a tactical shift.

The key word in determining one from the other is “struggle.” A correct tactical adjustment is not a shift away from struggle. It is a shift of tactics for and in struggle. Tactics after all have meaning only when they are an integral part of the struggle. On the other hand an opportunistic retreat is an edging away from struggle. It is a process of giving up positions, making unnecessary concessions, and all this without struggle. A correct tactical shift is to find a new path to struggle, while an opportunistic retreat is a way of avoiding struggle, and giving up positions, thinking this will placate the enemy.