communist movement [En, Ru, Es, Pt, It, Ar]
Monday, 07 July 2014 15:01 Communist Party of Greece
Some questions on the unity of the international communist movement
[En, Ru, Es, Pt, It, Ar]
The fact that it was not possible for the 15th International Meeting
of communist and workers’ parties that took place in Lisbon in 2013
to issue a Joint Statement intensified the discussion concerning the
situation of the international communist movement and the question of
In the framework of this discussion we see completely schematic and
simplistic positions that avoid using the specific criteria that
arise from our worldview, from historical experience, from the
contemporary development of capitalism, and the necessity to resolve
the basic contradiction (between capital and labour) that governs
capitalism as this would require a self-critical examination of
strategic guidelines and the monitoring of whether they respond to
the current needs of the class struggle, the struggle for
The effort to slander the communist parties that struggle against
capitalism and highlight the necessity and timeliness of socialism is
a sign of great weakness. Even more so when the 15th IMCWP is used
in a selective way despite the fact that many parties exposed the
bankrupted strategy of “left governments”, highlighted the necessity
of the struggle for revolutionary change and opposed the effort to
impose a joint statement which was far removed from the principles
our worldview and functioned against the political, ideological
independence of several communist parties.
However, things have always been more complex than the scholastic
assessments like “right-wing or left-wing opportunism” as some of our
comrades in other countries sought to present the controversy that
took place at the 15th International Meeting, comrades who refuse to
draw conclusions from the course of the communist movement. Because
opportunism must be exposed in a concrete way and not with “centrist”
aphorisms, taking into account that in the history of international
communist movement e.g. in the period when Lenin was trying to form
his party there was also a “quagmire” between the revolutionary and
opportunist current. Later (1921-1923) there was the two and a half
International which had formally distanced itself from the
opportunist Second International while later on it joined it creating
the so-called “Labour and Socialist International”. Lenin wrote: “the
gentlemen of the Two-and-a-Half International pose as
revolutionaries; but in every serious situation they prove to be
counter-revolutionaries because they shrink from the violent
destruction of the old state machine; they have no faith in the
forces of the working class”.
The steps of the KKE in the elaboration of its strategy
It is well known that the communist movement had been facing various
ideological deviations already before the overthrow of socialism in
the USSR and the other socialist countries like the currents of
Trotskyism, Maoism and “eurocommunism”. The CPSU and other communist
and workers’ parties struggled against these ideological-political
currents in one way or another. However this does not mean that these
parties, amongst them the KKE, were free from weaknesses, mistakes,
ideological shortcomings. The KKE is one of those CPs which after the
overthrow of socialism showed great interest and studied the causes
of the defeat. It examined them carefully, studying many party
documents of that period in the framework of an arduous collective
At its 18th Congress, after a rich inner-party discussion, the causes
of the overthrow of socialism were embodied in a respective
resolution of the Congress. According to the resolution causes are
related to the economic basis of the socialist society, to mistakes
made in this field (see the restoration of the instruments of
“market” in socialist economy), as well as to the political
superstructure, the role of the party and the Soviets (see the
decisions of the 20th and 22nd congress of the CPSU). Our party has
also focused its attention on serious problems that existed in the
strategy of the international communist movement: the mistaken view
on the stages towards socialism which has never been confirmed as
well as the mistaken view on ” peaceful transition” that fostered
many parliamentary illusions combined with the mistaken division of
social democracy into a “left-wing” and a “right-wing” and the
equally schematic and mistaken distinction of the bourgeois class
into a “national” and a “comprador” section etc
It is necessary to carry out a substantial discussion
We would like to pose several serious issues in order to contribute
to a substantial discussion in the communist movement.
First, our party argues that the revolution in our country and in all
countries where capitalism has developed into its monopoly,
imperialist stage (imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism)
has a socialist character. This arises from the character of our era,
the sharpening of and the necessity to resolve the basic
contradiction between capital and labour, the indisputable maturation
of the material conditions for socialism today.
It is self-evident that there is no scientific basis that allows the
characterization of this analysis as sectarian and labels as
revolutionary the analysis that sets the communist movement back many
years, undermines the basic criteria of our worldview and supports
the mistaken view “about stages” on the grounds that the strategy of
a communist party is not determined by the solution of the basic
contradiction of our era but by the correlation of forces.
This is a big problem. The rationale of stages objectively (despite
any intentions) entails the search of pro-people solutions on the
terrain of capitalism on the grounds that the “intermediate stage”
will contribute to the maturation of the subjective factor and will
operate as a bridge to socialism, something that in many cases is
regarded as a result of parliamentary processes. This approach has
not been confirmed anywhere and in any period. It is in contradiction
with the lessons of the Great Socialist October Revolution in 1917.
The worst thing is that the rationale of stages leads to the search
of solutions for the management of the system e.g. of
“left-progressive or patriotic governments” that will (objectively)
manage the interests of the monopolies which will continue to have
the ownership over the means of production and the political power.
This choice fosters illusions; it does not contribute to the
preparation of the labour movement for fierce class confrontations;
it condemns it to backwardness and makes it vulnerable to bourgeois
ideology and politics, it entangles it in the web of parliamentary
Second, our party argues that the revolution in Greece will have a
socialist character and thus it determines the line for the rallying
of forces and struggle, placing emphasis on the regroupment of the
labour movement and the reinforcement of the class orientation, on
the strengthening of the class unity of the working class. At the
same time, it works for the construction of the people’s alliance,
i.e. the alliance between the working class, the poor farmers, the
small self-employed, women and young people from the working class
families. In the current conditions this alliance is expressed
through the coordination of the struggle of the militant rallies:
PAME in the working class, PASY in the farmers, PASEVE in the
self-employed in urban centres, MAS in students, OGE in women.
The people’s alliance is a social alliance and has an
anti-capitalist, antimonopoly orientation. It will be reinforced in
the daily struggle concerning all the problems of the people, it will
adapt and prepare itself so as to play the leading role in the
conditions of the revolutionary situation (which has an objective
character and all parties must prepare themselves for it), in the
popular uprising for the overthrow of the capitalist barbarity.
In this direction, the KKE, the class oriented movement and the
people’s alliance are in the forefront of the struggle in Greece.
They mobilize hundreds of thousands of working people, forces that
come in conflict with the forces of capital, the parties and its
governments, the imperialist European Union. There are numerous
examples of this struggle. The positions that try to incriminate the
revolutionary struggle with the slander about sectarianism,
downplaying the vanguard, mass activity of the KKE and PAME and the
other militant rallies that struggle for specific goals concerning
all the problems of the people against the monopolies and capitalism
are causing damage to the communist movement.
Obviously the struggle for socialism cannot be postponed for the
indefinite future neither is it a matter of proclaiming it.
For example unemployment is a scourge and torments millions of
working people. What should the communists say? Should they say that
this problem can be solved in the framework of capitalism with a
“left government”? This has no basis because the causes of the
problem continue to exist. The solution of the problem of
unemployment and generally the satisfaction of the contemporary needs
of the working class and the popular strata requires the solution of
the central problem of power, the socialization of the means of
production, central planning. Thus the necessity and timeliness of
socialism emerges from the very developments.
The development of capitalism has led to the maturation of the
material preconditions for the construction of the new, socialist
society. This is undeniable. It is also a fact that a revolutionary
situation has not been formed and that the creation of class,
political consciousness in the ranks of the working class is delayed
and that the consequences of the counterrevolution are negative.
Consequently, the maturation of the subjective factor is a very
With what line and with what content can the maturation of the
subjective factor be carried out? Can it be achieved on the basis of
positions concerning left governmental solutions which objectively
will manage the system, will be assimilated or will be politically
bankrupted? Can it be achieved through vague references concerning
“deep anti-monopoly transformations” on the terrain of capitalism?
What are these transformations? The nationalization of enterprises,
the increased taxation on the profits of capital, the restriction of
its “unaccountability”, as certain parties argue?
All these things have been tried and constitute different aspects of
the system’s management. The basic problem will remain unsolved. And
the basic problem is which social class will possess political power
and the means of production.
The actual experience of “left governments” demonstrates that (left)
management of capitalism even with the use of “revolutionary slogans”
not only can not provide an answer regarding the paving of the way
for socialism, but on the contrary functions as a means of
assimilating the people’s consciousness into parliamentarianism,
fosters false hope and delays the organization of the working class,
its struggle in the direction of challenging the exploitative system,
its preparation for the overthrow of capitalism.
Even a positive electoral result of a CP does not constitute a
guarantee of a substantial change in the correlation of forces, when
e.g. the popular forces are rallied around positions, slogans that
express the political line of adopting a “humane” management of
capitalism at a national level and does not pose the issue of
overthrowing the system and withdrawing from the imperialist unions
The example of Brazil itself, which in this period is in the news due
to the World Cup, is characteristic. A “left government” is managing
capitalist power in Brazil. It is apparent according to the
statistical data that the country’s richest 10% possesses 42.5% of
the national income, 40 times more that that possessed by the poorest
10%, while 5% of the richest possess an income larger than that of
the poorest 50%. The monopolies are dominant in Brazil despite the
“left” government. The gross profits of ten big business groups in
sales turnover amounts to 25% of the GDP. These groups prevail in
industry, mining sector, in the trade of agricultural products as
well as in trade and services in general. This means that monopolies
prevail in all sectors of the economy of Brazil.
At the same time, the low salaries of the working people do not at
all correspond to the Brazilian economy’s rate of development as the
profits of the businessmen rank amongst the highest in the world. The
social problems are on a long-term trajectory which will lead to even
What does the KKE do in Greece?
The KKE is trying to contribute to the preparation of the subjective
factor (Party, working class, alliances) for revolutionary
conditions, for the realization of its strategic tasks.
For this reason its insists on the timeliness and necessity of
socialism, not through phraseology “devoid of content”, but by
popularizing issues regarding working class power, socialization,
central planning with examples from important sectors of the economy.
It insists on its position for the regroupment of the labour movement
and the strengthening of its class orientation so that the labour
movement does not limit itself to negotiating the conditions for the
sale of labour power, but so that it becomes a force that will
struggle for the overthrow of capitalist barbarity.
It works for the social alliance, the alliance of the working class
with the poor farmers and urban self-employed, in order to strengthen
the struggle in an anti-monopoly-anti-capitalist direction, focusing
on the development path which has the people’s needs and not profits
as its criterion.
The KKE’s struggle against the EU is not being waged from the
standpoint of utopian solutions that a union of the monopolies can be
transformed into a union of the peoples. Nor is it restricted to the
confrontation against the “integration processes” of the imperialist
union but poses the issue of withdrawal from the EU and NATO with
working class-people’s power and socialization of the concentrated
means of production.
This is also related to issues of sovereignty, independence. Our
party approaches these issues from a class standpoint, from the
standpoint of changing the class in power and the utilization of the
productive potential of the country and this is connected to the goal
of disengagement because otherwise the people’s sovereignty can not
be safeguarded, the bourgeois class will remain dominant, dozens of
ties of dependency will remain in place.
The fact that the KKE has ceased to separate social-democracy into
two sections -“good” and ‘bad’- and does not divide Greece’s
bourgeois class into a “national” section and a section “subservient
to foreigners” does not mean that the KKE does not take into account
and does not seriously study the differences that the political
parties in Greece have, as well as the existing contradictions inside
the bourgeois class, as well those amongst the strong capitalist
countries and amongst the imperialist unions. On the contrary! What
we have completely abandoned is the management of capitalism in any
form, a management that is linked to the rationale of
“left-progressive or patriotic governments”. We openly struggle so
that the working class in our country and internationally does not
fight “under a false flag”.
Someone could say: fine, these are the positions of the KKE but we
have other conditions in our country.
What is the basic issue?
We live in the era of monopoly capitalism, imperialism, the
characteristic feature to a greater of lesser extent of the economic
base of the capitalist state is the monopolies, which dominate all or
many sectors of the economy and own the means of production.
The bourgeois state is the “collective capitalist”, it is the state,
the power of the monopolies.
The working class is the exploited class.
Consequently, whatever “national specificities” exist they do not
change this situation, they do not change the basic rule, the
necessity of the socialist revolution, of the construction of
socialism, so that the exploitation of man by man is abolished and
the conditions for a classless society are formed.
The KKE does not refer to “models” of revolution, or to a mechanistic
transferring of the revolutionary experience. It assesses the
difficulties, the complex character of the revolutionary process. But
the basic issues are the following:
Are the laws of socialist revolution and construction valid or not?
Will the working class conquer power or not?
Will it struggle together with its allies, obviously in difficult
conditions and in conflict with the counterrevolution, for the
socialization of the means of production?
Will working class power attempt to implement central planning?
These are the problems which we are obliged to discuss, and we can
say that aphorisms regarding sectarianism impede this discussion,
conceal retreats and strategic impasses.
On the Crisis in the International Communist Movement
The KKE studied its history, the issues of socialism, the strategy of
the international communist movement. It came to useful conclusions
regarding the past, present and future and plays the leading role in
the struggle of the working class in Greece. Its positions and
experience, which are reflected in its party documents, public
statements in international forums, are recognized by many CPs.
Other CPs followed other paths. Some of them have cut the “umbilical
cord” with the October Revolution and abandoned our worldview (e.g.
CP USA) and our symbols (PCF). Some are in coalition governments or
seek to take part in such governments together with social-democrats
inside the framework of capitalism. They laud the imperialist EU and
fight to make it “better”. They support the imperialist
interventions, for example, in Libya and in the Central African
Republic (as parties from the ELP and GUE have done). These parties
have crossed the “Rubicon”, in the sense of their acquiring bourgeois
Other CPs did not take care over the last 25 years to focus on and
study the developments, to draw conclusions. So we see that some of
these parties repeat, for example, the positions of Gorbachev circa
1985 about “openness” and “democracy” to explain the causes for the
overthrow of socialism in the USSR.
Nevertheless, when conclusions are not drawn, the corresponding
changes to strategy and tactics on the basis of dialectical
materialism are not made. These CPs continue to “dogmatically”
support the strategy which most CPs had in the 1960s and 1970s and
which has assimilated all the mistaken viewpoints that we mentioned
above. And this leads them, despite the “revolutionary rhetoric” and
expression of loyalty to Marxism-Leninism, to struggle for the
improvement of capitalism through the rationale of its
“transformation”, through various versions of “left-progressive or
patriotic governments” on the terrain of capitalism.
The strengthening of opportunism is reflected in the
ideological-political and organizational crisis of the international
Of course, there are CPs that in very difficult conditions study the
developments, follow the discussion in the international communist
movement, take steps in the elaboration of their tactics and strategy
in the struggle to strengthen the labour and communist movement in
their countries and internationally.
On this basis, the unity of the communist movement can not be
constructed with faulty material, with parties that, even if they
keep the communist title, have abandoned Marxism-Leninism, use
bourgeois arguments concerning the history of the communist movement.
The unity of the international communist movement can only based on
the defense of Marxism-Leninism, on the struggle for the
revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, for the socialist revolution.
Despite the differences of the historical period, the experience
gained in confrontation against the opportunism of the 2nd
International is important for today because now an even greater
concentration of forces and discipline is required for the struggle
against opportunism, which is reinforced in various ways by the
imperialist powers, like the EU. A glaring example is the “European
Left Party” (ELP), which is funded by the EU. What unity can be built
with parties that are in the leadership of the ELP and have made
their choices? On what basis, with what goals?
What can be the goal, for example, of a Joint Declaration on the EU
parliamentary elections with parties of the “hard core” of the ELP,
this instrument that has been created in the EU’s framework for
“European Parties” and works to castrate the revolutionary communist
We leave to one side the fact these parties participated actively in
the election campaign of SYRIZA for the EU parliamentary elections
against the KKE, even if this is not insignificant, but we will focus
on the essence, the choices that create space for the development of
opportunist positions, fostering confusion amongst the workers and do
not in any way help the unity of the international communist movement.
The unity of the international communist movement in order to be
robust and stable can not be merely based on a minimum of issues,
where there may exist a consensus. What is required is a deeper
ideological-political unity of the CPs on the principles of
Marxism-Leninism, proletarian internationalism, the elaboration of a
modern revolutionary strategy.
Of course, the KKE has very responsibly dealt with forms that can
contribute to the exchange of views, and the development of joint
activity , like the International Meetings of the CPs and for this
reason it made great efforts from the very first years of the
counterrevolution up to today, efforts that have been appreciated by
The KKE also seeks joint activities on various issues with CPs that
have differences with it. In any case this is not something new. It
even seeks the study of serious topics for the development of the
strategy of the communist movement, the stable development of the
joint struggle against the EU, the forces of capital in Europe, it
participates in and supports the effort of the “INITIATIVE” of 29
Communist and Workers’ parties.
However the unity of the international communist movement goes beyond
this and has enormous demands. Even more so, it must be clear that
unity does not mean the imposition of positions via Joint Statements
when there are intense differences on positions of strategic
importance, as was attempted at the last International Meeting. This
attempt met with the opposition of the KKE and other CPs, not because
the KKE seeks the role of a “guide” or “leading centre”, these are
not serious assessments and have no relationship with reality. The
opposition of the KKE and other parties to the draft Joint Statement
was due to the fact that there were positions contained within it in
contradiction with the positions of the KKE and dozens of other CPs,
as well as with our theory. And the respect for the political line of
these CPs alone should have led to the option of reaching an
understanding, as the KKE has done several times in the past in the
Meetings in Athens, by not insisting on the issuing of a joint
In the run up to the 16th International Meeting of CPs in Guayaquil,
Ecuador, it is necessary for the correct conclusions to be drawn so
that there will not be a similar situation that is unpleasant for
everyone. Because unity can not be imposed, it must be built!
International Relations Section of the CC
by: Jarvis Tyner
May 29 2014
Submitted by Jarvis Tyner, Executive Vice-Chair, CPUSA
I am not for changing our name.
I think we can build a large and influential CPUSA in the 21st Century.
We can change our name but there is no way it won’t be widely viewed by right, left and center as a retreat from the struggle against the menace of anti communism.
I assume that comrades pushing for dropping “Communist” from our name see it as positive step forward. I don’t think it will be. I think it will send the message that we no longer think it is possible or necessary to overcome the slanderous attacks against our courageous Party.
Defeating anti Communist intimidation and fear is connected to the fight against racism, for peace and social progress in general. It remains a basic part of the struggle toward advance democracy and Socialism.
There is uneven development but our actual party experience today is that we are growing, we do have influence and we are not isolated. This is a reality that comrades in every region of the country are experiencing on one level or the other.
But even if we were stagnating organizationally and with diminishing influence politically, I still don’t think we should panic. We need a measured and sober assessment of our real situation and fact-based analysis of how we should improve our situation and ultimately accelerate our rate of growth and influence.
We need to study the polls not just recite the numbers. The numbers mean something. There are real human beings expressing views today that 30 year ago were only whispered.
The polls on Socialism I’ve seen are very promising. Most people think socialist and communist are cut from the same ideological cloths and while Socialism is more popular, they are related.
I am encouraged by those polls that show our country trending towards a more favorable attitude towards Socialism. The results that show most youth prefer Socialism to Capitalism are very important to our Party. How could it be otherwise?
Our goal is Bill of Rights Socialism and it is in harmony with what is trending among the youth.
There was also a Rasmussen poll, conducted March 12-13 2011 on Capitalism vs Communism as reported in the People’s World article by Dan Margolis.That poll showed that 11% of those polled consider Communism “morally superior to Capitalism”.
The fact that more than 1 in 10 adult Americans ( we assume they did not poll children) thought Communism was morally superior to the system they are living under everyday should have set in motion a serious effort by our Party to analyze and figure out the real meaning of those figures. Those polls have pages of data and information that could be very valuable to us in developing a campaign to build our party in a new way. But we did not take it seriously.
We kind of let it pass us by. We all should be self critical on that point.
If 11% think Communism is morally superior, what is the percentage that does not support anti-communism or don’t like the right wing red baiting every decent ideal that’s proposed. The media is definitely playing the new anti-communist/anti-Russian card on the Ukraine crisis. Does the lack of any enthusiasm for US military intervention there have to do with the diminishing impact of anti communism? I think it does.
That 2011 poll showed an additional 13% said they were not sure which system is morally superior. I consider, the “not sure” people to be a group in political transition. It is safe to assume that most people have not heard an honest presentation of existing Socialism nor of our Party’s views. These are people living in the richest and most powerful capitalist country in the world in the midst of all the anti communist propaganda yet they are “not sure”. That says a lot.
In pure numbers not counting children 11% is around 25 million people.
And it is very important; that the 2011 poll was taken 20 years after the tragic collapse of the Soviet Union and most of the other Communist Party led Socialist countries. It was a big set back.The collapse was supposed to have made world communism “irreversibly irrelevant.” I don’t think it did.
If we all agree that we need a larger party to play the role we must play in order to advance towards greater democracy and socialism I think we must take these poll results seriously. A lot of most active comrades will tell you that these polls results do reflect their experiences.
Every day people are joining our party on the internet.Where comrades are successful building the size and influence of our party today they are tapping into that 1 in ten group (a group that is growing). The People’s World now has over 64,000 likes.
Through honest struggle, coalition building, debate and discussion, we can convince many more that the slanders against our Party are wrong and our party is a force for good.
The view that as long as we are called Communist Party we will have no future I don’t think can be proven. There is 95 year of struggle that refutes that. The polls and political trends among the American people are saying it is other wise.
Today, more progressive, left-of-center, openly socialist, are winning elections even when they are viciously red-baited. A year after the 2011 poll, Obama ran and was red-baited and he won reelection. Again these polls need to be thoroughly analyzed.
The polls certainly mean a lot more than the empirical arguments like, “comrades don’t feel comfortable admitting they are communist.” Or, “some people think being a communist is silly”.
We all know that everybody doesn’t have to be public to be effective. And of course some people who don’t agree love to make cynical and slanderous remarks about our Party. The question is, do we answer them and engage them? We cannot give in to these cynical insults.
Rather than panic and change the name; a move that will cause great division and raise many more negative questions, we need to unite around a long-range effort to intensify our mass work, to greatly elevate our internet presents with our focus on the primacy of the working class and the immediate fight against extreme right. We need to build the party and the YCL.
Back in the mid 90’s Gus Hall gave his New Years’ speech on CSPAN and we put our 800 number right under Gus as he was speaking.
When it was aired Joe Sims and I were at the national office to answer the calls.We thought we would get a few dozen mostly negative calls. Within a few minutes of Gus’s speech our phone system was overwhelmed with 100s of calls.
We were able to talk to maybe 20% and there were very few right wingers calling.
We did set up a few new clubs but did not have the structure then that we have today to follow through and build functioning clubs.
The CSPAN experience took place just 4 years after the tragic collapse of the USSR and 13 years before Obama’s run for President.
Today the struggle is on a higher level. The historic battles against inequality that helped defeat the right 08 and 12 have created whole a new movements.
To me these developments bring with it heighten consciousness and the necessity to reject racism, anti immigrant, homophobia, anti Semitism: all forms of bigotry and anti communism in order to build unity. Most significantly, today these movements do not exclude Communist.
Where is our evidence that changing the name will bring great results for us? I think calls to change the name are also related to proposals to stop calling our ideology, Marxism Leninism.
I think we need to be very careful that what may be intended to be a change in style and approach, can easily evolve into a change in our ideology and the basic character of the Party.
I know most of the comrades who are pushing for the name change have the best interest of the party at heart. But I think to change our name is objectively a retreat from a principled and honorable struggle for our right to exist, that we have waged for 95 years.
I propose that we table the issue of name change, make a real study of the growing mass sentiments against anti communism. That we examine the many options we have to seriously think through not only why people don’t join our party but why people are joining our party and how to step up our efforts to combat anti communism and build unity of all the progressive forces.
We must step up our efforts to build our party.
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.”
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.”
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!”
Los Angeles Metro Club
2437 Centinela Av., #2
Santa Monica, CA. 90405
HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM…
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.
Los Angeles Metro Club
Here is a list of links to articles regarding the current crisis in the CPUSA:
Check out these links to articles by Sam Webb on the CPUSA:
Feel free to make comments as well.