John Case’s view of the CPUSA under John Bachtell’s leadership via the Socialist Economics listserv:

With the best of intentions and sentiments, CP leader Bachtell delivers a typically impotent CP rebuke to fascism. The fascist threat will be rebuked when its driving cause, 40 years of Austerity, is directly addressed and reversed. Not before. Bachtell does not even mention that. Doing that would mean raising, not burying, effacing, minimizing or damning with faint praise, class politics in the midst of reveling in the abundance of “resistance” movements. Hat tips from “Communists” to these movements are no doubt elevating to the tipper. But who in the movements cares? the CP represents no class, none,  Airy speculations about all-peoples fronts and such from those with no base, and no prospects of one, are just that: hot air.

I suspect the faction online advocating that the whole Trump affair, and now the fate of democracy, is mainly about race and not class is loud in party ranks. I guess THEY won’t be contending, like Sanders, “the new center” — Joe Manchin— in the coalfields of West Virginia. Or engaging the gas fields either, with those evil pipeline workers and their building trades unions  begging Trump — not the “multi-class allies” — for jobs at a living wage.

Bachtell offers this, for those who might be tempted to criticize, like Sanders, the new “center”: Senator Joe Manchin, of West Virginia:  “These approaches [that] advocate war against the political center at a moment when center-left unity is absolutely necessary…”
 
Unity on what? Does the “unity” include  — first — reversing austerity, which, by the way, does NOT require overthrowing capitalism, but does require a determined class struggle against the rights and prerogatives of billionaires? If not, it won’t amount to dogshit in repairing working class disunity. And if that is not repaired, all the “multi-class” coalitions in the world won’t remove the fascists, and the fetid petri dish of austerity in which they thrive and are reborn. If you do not use a class approach — who are YOUR people, YOUR way of life — if ordinary people are not drawn into motion in the millions, you wont ever know what the basis of popular unity really is. For example — you might find that fixing austerity HAS TO COME BEFORE bathroom rights in North Carolina, if you were listening to millions, not the “left”.
 
Of course this discourse is all a waste of time with the CP and some similar orgs — orgs with no base have no real way of politically verifying their positions, and thus can remain firmly planted in mid-air for lifetimes. It was effectively liquidated in the 50’s by a combination of repression and sectarianism. It revived a half Zombie existence in the sixties at the pleasure of the  CPSU and a quid pro quo with the Kennedy Administration. It’s leaders got out of jail. It succeeded in getting Angela Davis out of jail — its singular post-war actual accomplishment, beyond a repository of militant memories. Soviet cash helped pay for the paper and presidential campaigns of Gus Hall. Which makes the CP going after Trump for foreign interference a bit, well, compromised to say the least.
But I offer it as an example of what not to do as the resistance goes forward.
Stay away from sectarian outfits with “profound world-scale views” but no legs, and giant suitcases of dead weights they will ask you to carry for them on the way to “liberation”.
jcase
Joes Sims response to John Case’s view of John Bachtell via the Socialist Economics listserv:

I was surprised and dismayed by John Case’s recent rebuke of John Bachtell’s article and more broadly the Communist Party.  Allow me a brief personal reply.
First it is absolutely untrue that the Communist Party downplays austerity now or in the past. I, for example, essayed an extended critique of this very subject, its influence on GOP and Democratic neoliberal politics and on the Clinton’s in particular. Combating the fascist danger as Case correctly emphasizes was its point of departure. So too with various articles in peoplesworld.org by many writers including Bachtell.  His most recent, taken to task by John Case, is no different, albeit its consideration of how to conduct this fight in the current dispensation, an issue that’s ignored at our collective peril.

What’s the basis of this fight? Clearly it will not be giving up on the fight for 15, Obamacare, acceptance of national stop-and-frisk, approval of right to work, etc.  In a phrase, we cannot stop saying no to neoliberal austerity.  These demands have had much room for initiative and setting the agenda – even for the most advanced elements of the political center.  This fact is suggestive of the danger of getting stuck in the middle of constricted phrases and formulas. My own view is that we’ve entered an unprecedented period where the defeat of fascism may well require radical radical reforms: or as John Case puts it,  a defeat of austerity, a moment when for a time,  the anti-right and anti-monopoly stages of struggle could combine.

It’s all the more curious then why John Case critiques  challenging the basis for Trump vote. Doing so does not necessarily undermine the anti-austerity motives behind sections of the vote.  An understanding of this vote is not written only in black and white, but also in many shades of grey.  A denial of one leads necessarily to a misunderstanding of the other. Not seeing the greys may obscure all.  Hence my complete disdain for the “identity politics” critique as if people of color, women, lgbtq people do not have the same economic claims and anxiety as working-class whites. In fact we have more. John Case knows that and in fact has written eloquently on it himself, which makes me wonder as to why the tenor, tone and content of his attack, a fusillade that goes beyond the present moment but dates a half a century back into the dark corners of the Cold War.

Speaking now as the son of a steelworker at Youngstown Sheet and Tube and coming of age in the direct shadow of Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn I have to directly challenge Case’s allegations about the Communist Party, its working class influence and its source.  Coming from a party family in a  small industrial town in the 60s I witnessed the daily work of my mom and dad from a unique vantage point. I saw first hand their daily work on school reform, model cities, welfare rights, police violence, union rights, even questions of war and peace. I heard the phone ring and watched their grassroots defense of our class, work which won them respect and even election to community organization and union positions. And all of this was after having been twice hauled before HUAC. Dad was a grievance man for Local 2163; mom an activist and trustee in AFSCME, both members of the NAACP, CBTU, SANE FREEZE and many other organizations. When dad died the then USWA sent Oliver Montgomery from the Pittsburgh International to speak at his funeral. Montgomery reflected on dad’s work on the consent decree and importantly on the issue of black white unity urging him at a difficult time not to give up on his white union brothers.  Tributes were also brought from other community and religious leaders, including Ron Daniels. The same can be said for my mom, who twice ran for city and countywide office and was an elected leader in her union. Even today when dining out her lunch and dinner are bought by community figures who on occasion happen upon us – an offering of admiration and respect.

Here’s what I came here to say: this respect was not bought with  Moscow gold. Not in Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago or any other town were communists worked and struggled. And these  tales are not unique but are the stories of Frank and Bea Lumpkin, George and Denise Edwards, Wally Kauffman, George Meyers, Lorenzo and Anita Torres and hundreds if not thousands of communist trade unionists  who labored in the factories and mines of our country.

So no John I can never agree with your charge that the U.S. working class doesn’t give a damn about the Communist Party.

No, respect cannot be bought. This I know. But I’ve learned something else. Lies come cheap, especially big ones.  And that’s what troubled me more than anything else when reading your critique.  We live in an age of the Big Lie, in a time when facts give way to unbelievably dangerous flights of fantasy. We cannot in any way accommodate them.  The facts I offer instead are small ones, grains  of truth really, anecdotal sure, but taken together they weave an undeniable pattern of struggle, one that challenges your narrative John, then and now. These same truths obtain today as the CP experiences an uptick in membership brought about in response to the Trump election. Just last weekend we phoned some 5000 of them several hundred of whom joined since November 8th.

Winter is here and we must huddle together to avoid the cold. And for that reason I will end by reminding of you of my father’s lesson upon dying learned through the tears of  Oliver Montgomery’s eulogy: no matter how difficult the time or how low the blow I will not give up on you my erstwhile comrade but remaining class brother.  Let’s not give up on each other.

Joe Sims