CPUSA moving the Democrats left
- The Communist Party USA is the party of and for the U.S. working class, a class which is multiracial, multinational, and unites men and women, young and old, employed and unemployed, organized and unorganized, gay and straight, native-born and immigrant, urban and rural, and composed of workers who perform a large range of physical and mental labor—the vast majority of our society. We are the party of the African American, Mexican American, Puerto Rican, all other Latino American, Native American, Asian American, and all racially and nationally oppressed peoples, as well as women, youth, and all other working people…“
- “Founded in Chicago in 1919, the Communist Party of the United States has an outstanding history in the struggles for peace, democratic rights, racial and gender equality, economic justice, union organization, and international solidarity. Our Party is organized on the principle of democratic centralism, combining maximum democratic discussion and decision-making with maximum unity of will and action, ensuring our ability to play a strong organizing role in the class struggle. We focus our efforts on increasing our ability to organize millions into struggle, fighting anti-communism as a divisive weapon of the capitalist class. With Marxism-Leninism guiding our actions, the Communist Party strives to build the broadest unity against global capitalist imperialism now headed by U.S. imperialism, for immediate gains and reforms that benefit working people, and for a progressive democratization of the government, the economy, and society of our country on the road to and after winning socialism…”
Work in the South
The party played a leading role in organizations like the Southern Negro Youth Congress, the Southern Conference for Human Welfare, and the Sharecroppers Union and in the organization of the tobacco industry in Virginia and steel in Birmingham, Alabama. The role of the party is well known in defense of the Scottsboro Youths but it was involved in many other struggles too – to register voters, organize unions, defend civil liberties, stop lynching, etc. People like Esther Jackson and James Jackson, Edward Strong and Augusta Strong and Louis Burnham and Dorothy Burnham were in the forefront of the party’s work in the South.
One very relevant congressional hearing was held by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and entitled “Communist Infiltration and Activities in the South“, HCUA, Hearings, July 29, 30, & 31, 1958, including Index. It featured the testimony of a mixed group of witnesses, but the three top Communist Party members whose testimony are extremely important to read to understand CP operations in the South, were:
The Communist Party has a history of working with “religious activists and communities of faith”. According to an article from the Communist Party’s newly re-established religious commission, “many of our members are people who are active in religious communities, or have connections with faith-based groups. Gus Hall was a baptized Lutheran who, although he was not religious as an adult, supported close working relationships with religious communities, and spoke highly of the role played by U.S. churches in the progressive movement. The Rev. Arnold Johnson, a Methodist minister, joined the Communist Party while he was in jail during the Harlan County, Kentucky coal miners’ strike, and he went on to be an outstanding leader of the Party. Paul Robeson never lost touch with his roots in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. His work combined an appreciation of scientific socialism with the spiritual dimensions of the Black Church. Robeson’s funeral was held at the AME Church where his brother was the pastor. Among his pallbearers was Gil Green, a longtime leader of the CPUSA. Because of his public role, he was not in a position to publicly acknowledge his Party membership. But Robeson was a leader and Party supporter, and both a Communist and a Christian for all of his adult life, and in the best senses of both.
It has been the intention and the result of the Religion Commission that we are religiously diverse and racially diverse. We are a part of the mix of what the Party needs to be.
Religious activists, both in and outside of the Party, have played significant roles in the peace, civil rights and labor movements. Meetings of movement groups, including Party meetings, are often held in churches which are at the center of community life. There have been Passover seders hosted by Party members in Party buildings, which celebrate the liberating tradition of Exodus. Religious leaders, including many clergy, have supported the right of the Communist Party to be on the ballot in several states, and have served as Presidential electors for the Party. Many of the leaders of the American-Soviet Friendship Society were clergy. And Party members have been active in several movements that have been led by people of faith, especially in the civil rights movement, where the Southern Christian Leadership Conference played the leading role under the great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “
According to contemporary New York Communist Party member John Pietaro, “Communist Party cultural workers have always been part of organizing and agit-prop efforts and a glance at the incredible list of artists who have fought in the trenches alongside–or as–Party activists speaks volumes. While many of the Party cultural workers were actual members, others were not–needing to avoid the stigma due to professional pressures and a fiendishly reactionary entertainment industry. Such fellow travelers took a stand within their actions, writings, performances, which all served as a new and often global kind of widespread outreach. Giants like Paul Robeson, Woody Guthrie, Howard Fast, Mike Gold, Meridel Le Sueur, Pete Seeger, Aaron Copland, John Howard Lawson, Tillie Olsen, Charles Lewis Seeger, and an endless supply of others, in and out of organizations like the John Reed Clubs, the Almanac Singers, the Theatre Union, the New Theatre, the Composers Collective of New York, the Red Dancers, the Workers Film and Photo League and on and on. Some of these organizations, and organs like the New Masses, Partisan Review and a bevy of smaller, short-lived titles, reached out directly to a socially conscious public, while others were designed specifically for inner Party functions. These varying levels of activism–some on the front lines of political and social action, others further back and acting as a means of commentary and awareness–allowed Party cultural workers to have a powerful voice in serious activism…and a means toward the ultimate goal of socialism.
With this, the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party, I state unequivocally that the Party needs to take a closer look at not only its history of cultural programming, the work of artistic leaders such as Mike Gold and V.J. Jerome, but further back to the Party’s roots. The two organizations which begat our current Communist Party USA counted two powerful cultural workers among it’s earliest founders…and what better way to celebrate this Party than by taking note of its cultural heritage. I have proposed for months now that a cultural discussion should be paramount in the line-up for this coming convention. And during this discussion that a Cultural Commission be adopted without question. In a climate of reactionaries desperately seeking out the evils of “socialism” and “Marxism” in the Obama Administration, its of great importance that we speak directly to the American public-and to do so effectively we need to make full use of the artists of conscience. The word of such dedicated cultural workers is by far the most visceral communication there is. It speaks directly to us all via the colors of the visual, the pulsations of rhythm, the soaring of melody, the power of drama, the wonder of literature and the vastness of movement. It speaks from the heart, the mind and the soul. Art is a weapon-an important one-and needs to be part of our revolutionary political and social change.”
CPUSA Printing Shops
Information on CPUSA Printing Shops, Union “Bugs”, and those who used CPUSA printing establishments to publish their literature.
Prompt Press – Allied Printing Trades Union – Bug 209 and its Counterpart Bug 412:
The CPUSA established several unionized printing shops in the Allied Printing Trades Union, and each shop was given a union ‘Local’ number. The one for the CPUSA’s main print shop was “209”, representing Prompt Press. This number showed up on the various CPUSA newspapers Daily Worker, Daily World, Peoples Daily World and the Peoples Weekly World. West Coast weekly versions of the old Daily Worker, sometimes called the Peoples World or possibly the Weekly World had a shop number from that region.
Official citations of Prompt Press as a CPUSA print shop were found in The Guide to Subversive Organization  on p. 142, as follows:
- 1. “A printing union identification symbol described as “Bug 209” appears on many of the (Communist) Party publications including Party membership cards, and pertains to the printing plant of Prompt Press, a Party publishing organization.”
Source: Subversive Activities Control Board, Docket No. 108-53, Report and Order with respect to the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, December 21, 1955, p. 8; and Docket No. 111-53, Report and Order with respect to the United May Day Committee, April 27, 1956, p. 65; see also p. 73.”
- 2. “Prints the bulk of the literature issued by the Communist Party and its affiliates and is reliably known to be owned by the Communist Party.”
Source: Attorney General Francis Biddle, “Congressional Record”, September 24, 1942, p. 7685
Several different “bugs” used by the CPUSA include the following:
A fundraiser letter from The Daily World DW dated April, 1972 was sent out to ask “readers” to donate towards A $150,000 fund to keep the newspaper going. Signed by Si Gerson, Executive Editor, and Dorothy Robinson, Administrator, the letter had a printing bug 209. However, the mailing envelope, also from the Daily World, 205 W. 19th Street, New York, New Yorik, 10011, featured a new printing bug, S142 of the Allied Printing Trades Union. This number would be used in tandem with 209 in many of the CPUSA printings/mailings for years. Another bug that was often used with 209 was 412, a parallel CPUSA print shop.
A fundraising letter from the YWLL postmarked May 7, 1980, 235 West 23rd Street – 5th Floor, NY, NY, 10011, featured the union bug number [, while its return envelope had a bug numbers S142.
- Long View Publishing Co. Inc. LVPCo at 239 West 23rd Street, New York, New York, 10011, (selected mailings from 1980 and 1982) featured the union printing shop bug [. This was the publishing company of the CPUSA’s newspaper Daily World and 443 appeared on its subscription renewal envelopes and notices.
In a mailing postmarked November 6, 1981, from Long View Publishing Co., Inc, same address as above, the “Bug was 209. The letter was a “Holiday Greetings” asking for people to buy holiday greetings and/or to give a gift subscription of the “Daily World” and all the enclosures had 209 on them, including the letter by Pat Barile, Business Manager of LVPCo.
A fundraiser letter dated April 1980 by Daniel Spector, Organizational Secretary of the CPUSA’s youth arm, the Young Workers Liberation League, asked for money to support the publication of their bi-monthly newspaper Young Worker (which was later changed to Dynamic. The union bug used on this letter was illegible.
The address of the YWLLwas: 235 W. 23 St., 5 Floor, New York City, New York, 10011. A subscription/donation return envelope was addressed as: Post Office Box 544, Old Chelsea Station, New York, New York, 10011, Bug 209.
A letter “From the desk of Tim Wheeler, Editor of the People’s Weekly World, postmarked July 18, 1999, was asking “readers” to donate at least $100,000 of their $400,000 goal to keep the paper going. While there was no printing bug on the letter, the mailing envelope did have an almost illegible bug without any shop number. The return envelope, address to [[LVPCo] did have a union label/bug 490M but the shop name was illegible.
A People’s Weekly World subscription renewal letter postmarked Sept. 11, 2000, from the PPW at 235 West 23 Street, New York, New York, 10011, had a printing bug of 318 on the envelope, nothing on the letter, and bug 318 on the return envelope.
The 1972 issues of the CPUSA theoretical journal Political Affairs had the Prompt Press printing ship bug number 209 on it.
Communist Party fronts
See individual KeyWiki pages.
- American Youth for Democracy AYD
- National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression NAARPR
- National Coalition to Fight Inflation and Unemployment NCFIU
- National Committee for a Drastic Cutback in Military Spending
- National Chile Center
- Trade Union Action and Democracy TUAD
- Southern Conference Education Fund SCEF
- Southern Institute for Propaganda Organizing SIPO
- Training Institute for Propaganda Organizing TIPO
- U.S. Peace Council USPC
- National Committee to Abolish HUAC – NCAHUAC pre-1969
- National Committee to Abolish HUAC/HISC NCAHUAC/HISC – 1969
- National Committee Against Repressive Legislation NCARL – successor to NCAHUAC/HISC
- Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights CCDBR – chapter of NCARL
- National Lawyers Guild NLG
- National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee NECLC aka Emergency Civil Liberties Union or Committee
- Citizens Committee for Constitutional Liberties CCCL – New York
- National Negro Congress
- Civil Rights Congress
- National Committee to Secure Justice for the Rosenbergs and Morton Sobell
- American Dialog – magazine
- Freedomways – magazine
- Political Affairs – magazine
- New World Review – magazine
- National Council of American-Soviet Friendship NCASF and local chapters
- Angela Davis Defense Organization ADDO precursor to NAARPR
- Emergency Committee to Defend the Right of the Black Panther Party to Exist
- Women for Racial and Economic Equality WREE
- Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade VALB
Events run by the CPUSA are detailed below. However where an event has clearly been run by a state affiliate of the CPUSA, it will be listed on that state affiliate’s page. Click here for a list of KeyWiki‘s pages on state affiliates of the CPUSA.
The CPUSA got involved in environmental activism in the late 1970’s with a major focus on it as an agitating issue against “big business” and corporations in the 1980’s. Among the names associated with this effort were:
- Ann Braden – longtime identified CPUSA member in the South, and leader of CPUSA fronts/successor organizations SCEF, SIPO/TIPO and SOCEJ Southern Organizing Committee for Economic Justice
- Rev.Benjamin Chavis – formerly United Church of Christ. Wilmington 10, National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression , NAACP and in the new century, with the Nation of Islam
In 2002, the Communist Party USA claimed 20,000 registered members and groups in 28 of the 50 US states.
In a 1974 issue of “Saturday Review”, in a somewhat benign story on the Communist Party USA, CPUSA, the author, Roger M. Williams wrote the following regarding Party membership:
“By its own count, the CP now has a slowly growing membership of 16,000 – down from the 100,000 it boasted in the Thirties, up from the few thousand it hung onto under the heaviest of the MaCarthyite pressures. Its appeal among the young was virtually wiped out by the “unstructured” New Left philosophy that ruled radical politics in the mid-Sixties. Today’s radical youth still tend to regard the party as establishmentarian, but they no longer dismiss it out of hand.”.
Mr. Williams not only parrotted the CP’s language, but also showed a great lack of historical understanding of what the CPUSA really was, i.e. an arm of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party, a fact that would devastatingly revealed in much greater detail and documentation in the 1990’s when both the Mitrokhin Archives and the Venona Papers would finally be published.
Daily World 50th Anniversary celebration
The Daily World 50th anniversary celebration was held on December 8, 1974 in New York and was marked by the participation of large numbers of non-Communists and New Daily World readers. These included many prominent personalites. The following in a list of those personalities from the main article “3,000 Hail 50 Years of the Marxist Press” and another one, “And in the audience.” (The front page of the “3,000 Hail” article is missing but the tag piece and the complete “Audience” article are available at the moment).
- Angela Davis – CPUSA
- Gus Hall – General Secretary, CPUSA
- Carl Winter – Editor, CPUSA
- Dorothy Robinson – Business Manager, CPUSA
- Len DeCaux – author of “Labor Radical” – id. CPUSA
- Anton Refregier – artist and CP member
- Leonardo Rivera – guitarist
- Eric Schoenberg – guitarist
- David Laibman – guitarist, CPUSA
- Jolly Robinson – singer
In the audience:
- Carl Braden – SCEF Southern Conference Education Fund, Co-chair, National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression NAARPR, id. CPUSA
- Edward Bragg – V.P. of Local 1199 Drug and Hospital Workers Union
- Jane Benedict – Metropolitan Council on Housing, id. CPUSA
- Jarvis Tyner – national chairman of the Young Workers Liberation League, CPUSA
- Dorothy Cacchione – widow of Peter Cacchione, “the first Communist City Councilman in New York City (but not the last)
- Lorenzo Torrez – chairman, CP’s Chicano Commission
- Rev. William Howard Melish – Reverend, – “at whose home Angela Davis lived when she attended high school here” (which is basically how she was recruited into the CPUSA), id. CPUSA
- Henry Winston – National Chairman, CPUSA
- Bill Scott – committeeman of the Tarrytown GM local, then an id. CPUSA member; later an open one in Chicago
- State Senator Sidney Von Luther – “expressed his solidarity with the “Daily World” by coming to the platform.” Well documented Communist Party sympathizer
- Morton Sobell – “who served 18 years in jail as a result of McCarthyite repression” (and who, later in life, admitted that he was indeed a Soviet spy) and CPUSA member
- Dr. Philip Foner – history professor and longtime CPUSA fronts supporter
- George B. Murphy, Jr. – Washington Afro-American newspaper,id. CPUSA
- Joe Walker – New York editor of Muhammed Speaks, the official newspaper of the Nation of Islam, and a CPUSA fronts supporter (which made him an anomaly among the Communists as he may have been one of their rare Black Muslim supporters. (Betty Shabbaz) and a handful of Harlem Black Muslims also supported the CPUSA at times.
- Hyman Lumer – editor of Political Affairs, the CPUSA theoretical journal and editor of Jewish Affairs, the publication of the CP’s Jewish Commission
- Carl Bloice – editor of People’s World on the West Coast. He will later show up in the CPUSA split-off faction, Committee of Correspondence COC in the 1990’s
- Jessica Smith – editor of New World Review NWR, id. CPUSA member, married to two Soviet spies (See NWR section at Keywiki for more on Smith’s background.
- Esther Jackson – editor of Freedomways, another CPUSA publication
- Dr. Herbert Aptheker – director of the American Institute for Marxist StudiesAIMS, theoretician of the CPUSA and father of Bettina Aptheker, CPUSA youth leader
- Walter Lowenfels – poet and id. CPUSA
- Judy Edelman – editor of the Young Worker, the publication of the YWLL and eventually an open CPUSA member
- Dr. James E. Jackson – James Jackson, former editor of the“Daily Worker” DW, open CPUSA
- Si Gerson – former executive editor of the Daily World and open CPUSA
- Stanley Faulkner – attorney, “a leader in the fight for legal rights of anti-fascists in Chile, and longtime supporter of both the CPUSA and the SWP, among other communist groups and fronts
- Mary Kaufman – civil rights lawyers and a member of the American prosecution staff at the Nuremberg trials against the Nazis after WW2, longtime CPUSA supporter. She could easily have been a key influence on her boss at the Nuremberg Trials, Prosecutor Telford Taylor, who later became irrational in his denunciation of the US concerning the Vietnam War and actually went to Hanoi in an act of solidarity with them (despite his denials of such an act). (NEED to check and see if she was ever publicly identified as a member of the CPUSA. Possibility that she was a “cardless” member as a tactical measure)
- Dr.Irving Crain – a Fellow in the American Academy of Psychotherapy;longtime supporter of the CPUSA and its fronts, along with his wife Eleanor Crain
- Eleanor Crain –U.S.-Cuba Health Exchange, a CPUSA dominated, Castro-support front; longtime supporter of the CPUSA and its fronts
- Alfred Sherman – artist who co-created the backdrop at the DW celebration; longtime CPUSA supporter
- Lucy Mahler – artist who co-created the backdrop at the DW celebration; longtime CPUSA supporter
- Hugo Gellert – “contributor of drawings to the “Daily Worker” and “Daily World”, and id. CPUSA
- Henry Gottlieb – “humanist artist” and longtime CPUSA supporter
- John Randolph – actor, and one of the top CPUSA (identified) leaders in Hollywood/movies/TV
- Suni Paz – Among the “participating artists”, longtime marxist
Other CPUSA friendly artists/cartoonists mentioned by Refregier in the main article as having “worked with the “Daily Worker” and “Daily World” were:
Communist Party infiltration of the Democratic Party
Communist Party USA plans to infiltrate and manipulate the Democratic Party can be illustrated by direct quotes from Communist Party literature.
In 1972, Gus Hall, then leader of the Communist Party USA, wrote in his book, “A Lame Duck in Turbulent Waters,” describing what had been the long-time party policy:
- Our electoral policy has for 25 years been expressed in the phrase, ‘the three legs of a stool’….The stool was constructed at a time when the Party was under sharp attack….a reflection of the Party’s response to the difficulties.
- The flexibility was contained in the idea that no one leg of the stool was the main leg. Depending on the political pressures, one could choose a particular leg or legs. In fact the concept was built on the idea that when the other two legs, namely, the Communist Party and the forces of political independence, got strong enough, then and only then would the stool sit on three legs. But until that day comes the one operating leg would be the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.
Hall, writing this in 1972, at that time claimed that he had decided the policy was wrong. It is apparent, however, from later quotes and actions of top Communists, including Hall, that the policy was in fact been continued and even augmented.
Gus Hall himself said at the time:
- We are going to work towards independence, but I think it is clear we are going to work with people who for some time will be ‘riding two horses’ in the field of political action.
Mitchell on moving the Democrats left
- To date, most of the debate has centered on the personalities of potential Black candidates and the pros and cons of such a challenge. The thrust of such a candidacy must be to develop the popular electoral base to prevent the Democratic Party from continuing its shift to the right and force a more progressive platform and program in the 1984 campaign.
Mitchell went further in the March 1989 issue of Political Affairs, the monthly theoretical journal of the Communist Party USA;
- We see building political independence based on the alliance of labor with the African-American community as the aim for changing the relationship of forces in elected office. The Party Program maintains the ultimate expression of this would be a mass anti-monopoly people’s party…
- From the standpoint of process, even if it is currently developing primarily through the Democratic Party, the fact that labor, the Rainbow Coalition, and the African-American community are the main generators of the new developments substantiates our policy and our historic approach of basing the building of political independence on the alliance of the trade union movement and the African-American people...
- Should the party strive to play a leading role helping those forces gain and consolidate new positions of strength, even inside the Democratic Party or shouldn’t it?, I think it should.
- How is our party going to develop its all-sided electoral presence? This cannot and should not repose solely on Communist or Left-independent candidates. Not if there is any intention of emerging as an integral component of the overall progressive coalition. especially in view of the fact that the Jackson-led progressive wing of the Democratic Party is that coalition’s major organized. component.
In the September/October 1988 issue, Political Affairs states:
- Beyond the rhetoric, politics in the United States invariably reflects the class struggle. Even as parties of capitalism, the dynamics between and within the Democratic and Republican parties express the interests and demands of competing sections of the ruling class, on the one hand; and cross-purposes of contending class forces vying for control of the Democratic Party, on the
- During the Reagan-Bush years the Republican Party has become the party of the ultra-Right. Organized forces of the working class and people are almost totally absent from it.
- For the last fifty years the Democratic Party has housed a broad mix of class and social forces that are often in conflict with each other. This has given rise to a sometimes subtle, sometimes sharp struggle over direction.
- The status and intensity of this struggle depend on the level and strength of the political independence of the labor movement and other people’s forces operating inside the (Democratic) party.
Political Affairs for March 1989 contained the following statement:
- Organized mass movements, especially the African American community, the Rainbow Coalition, labor on all levels, SANE-Freeze, and other mass organizations- became more independent of the Democratic Party establishment on policy and political direction. but more organizationally involved in the Democratic Party.
The same issue also contained the following:
- This much is clear – the overall movement will grow. So will the role of the Rainbow Coalition and the labor movement. And it will unfold in the 1989-1992 quadrennial cycle primarily, but not exclusively-through the medium of the Democratic Party.
In the late 1980’s Communist Party USA publications also specifically described a party apparatus for directly influencing the votes of Congress and even Congressional and Presidential Elections. This was called CPLAN, or the Communist Party Legislative Action Network.
This network was organized to influence other mass organizations cooperating with the Communists through the “All Peoples Front” to stimulate telephone networks and letter writing campaigns to influence Congress on legislation and even to reach voters regarding election campaigns.
The May 1987 issue of Political Affairs described CPLAN in more detail:
- Every party organization should assign a comrade to be in touch with the legislative and political action department of the Central Committee. This could be a key for rapid mobilization.
- The aim is to activate within a day or two all party organizations, as well as our mass movements connections, to pressure their Senators and Representatives. . .
- Nationally, CPLAN would be ableto generate tens of thousands of letters, telephone calls, mailgrams, etc….There are few questions on which CPLAN cannot make the difference in how at least 5 to 10 Senators or Representatives would vote…
- CPLAN is an important means of strengthening the unity of the independent forces, and this could have a great bearing not only on the l00th Congress but on the 1988 electoral struggle.
The same issue of Political Affairs went on to say:
- When account is taken of the Party district and club organizations, as well as the thousands of trade unions, coalitions, and mass organizations on the grassroots, citywide, and national levels that Communists belong to, help lead, are active in, have friends, relatives, and contacts in, then the answer as to how to organize a Party legislative apparatus, as well as the Party’s potential for influencing the legislative scene, become clear. . .the basis for an extraordinary legislative action network that could impact on the l00th Congress in a major way.
Working through the Quad caucus”
The Communist Party aims to exert pressure on “progressive” Democratic congressmen in the so called “Quad caucus” to get desired legislation passed. According to an April 2010 CPUSA Political Action Commission report submitted as part of the discussion leading up to the Communist Party USA’s 29th National Convention May 21-23, 2010;
- The formation this year of the Quad Caucus within Congress is a reflection of a growing demographic and progressive shift within the electorate. The collaboration of the Congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian-Pacific and Progressive caucuses creates a strong counter-force to the conservative element within the Democratic Party.. Here, the support for single-payer among a section of members, and the push for “public option” from the majority of members of those caucuses, while unsuccessful, kept the pressure on until a final bill was passed.
- Many of our clubs are located in Congressional Districts of Quad Caucus members. A labor-people’s electoral force working within the broad alliance and relating with members of Congress can project specific legislation like passage of the Local Jobs for America Act to restore one million jobs in cities and towns, and bigger goals like shifting military funding to human needs with massive public works job creation.
- Such creative applications of our electoral policy build working relations and respect with the labor/people’s forces and further political independence in a fundamental way. Similar approaches can be developed in relation to problematic policies of the Obama administration including the direction for public education, energy resources and military funding.
- As Communists, we look for the key demand that will put the maximum number of people into motion and help to move other demands. At this moment that key demand is for good job creation. Working class families are hanging on to survive this economic crisis. Young people are being shut out of the economy. A huge infusion of funds is required to put people back to work and restart the economy.
- Working with the labor movement, civil rights, environmental and other organizations to create a groundswell that can push positive initiatives through Congress is the most important way to meet needs and prevent a right-wing takeover in the 2010 elections.
Running as Democrats
- Currently, the conditions rarely if ever allow us to run open Communists for office. When members do run for office, it is within the auspices of the Democratic Party. Otherwise, we find ourselves supporting progressive (and in some instances not-so-progressive) Democratic candidates. Despite how much many of us would love to run comrades for office as Communists, we all agree that this is how we currently have to function in this political climate.
Party USA Discusses Obama and Democrats, at Int’l Communist Meet
A report praising Barack Obama, and the changes wrought by him, was delivered at the 14th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties, held in Beirut, Lebanon, November 22-25, by Erwin Marquit, member of the International Department, CPUSA.
- We express our gratitude to the Lebanese Communist Party for hosting this important meeting under the present difficult conditions.
- The Communist Party USA not only welcomes the reelection of President Barack Obama, but actively engaged in the electoral campaign for his reelection and for the election of many Democratic Party congressional candidates. We regarded the 2012 election as the most important in the United States since 1932, an election held in the midst of the Great Depression.
- The election of President Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 led to the legalization of the right of workers to organize labor unions and to bargain collectively with employers. It led to the establishment of a compulsory employer-worker funded pension system for retired workers. It also introduced measures that enabled unemployed families to survive the Great Depression, among which were employment in the public sector for the unemployed, work camps for youth, and food provisions for the poverty stricken. Except for the youth camps, which ended with the onset of World War II, all of these are measures that the 2012 Republican Party agenda would have eliminated or greatly weakened. We believed that if the Republican candidate for President were elected and if both houses of the Congress fell under the control of the far right, racist sector (calling itself the “Tea Party”) that now dominates the Republican Party, the nation’s return to pre-1932 conditions would be a real danger.
- Because of this danger, we viewed our participation in mainstream electoral activity as obligatory, even though both major parties in the United States are dominated by capital, with no effective competition from a mass-scale social-democratic party, We are aware that some on the Left in the United States thought that the correct approach to the elections was either to boycott them, or as a protest, to run or support small-scale left-wing candidacies with no possible chance of winning. We Communists rejected this strategy because too much was at stake.
- The most import success of the Obama Administration since its election in 2008 was the introduction of a major expansion of the people’s access to financing of their health care. As a result of this legislation, 25 million people now have access to health care who previously did not have it. The repeal of this health care law was one of the main points in the programs of the Republican Party presidential and Congressional candidates in the 2012 election. Even without a repeal, there is still the danger that it will be ruled unconstitutional by the present Supreme Court even though the lower courts have upheld it. Whatever the present Supreme Court might not rule, a Supreme Court loaded with right-wing justices appointed by a Republican president would still be able to do so.
- Obama has opposed Republican attempts to introduce austerity programs similar to those in the European Union. The Republicans have opposed his efforts to use government funds as economic stimuli to reduce unemployment, as well as his attempts to remove the special provisions of the income tax code that have allowed the rich to be taxed at a lower percentage of income than the average working person, and to eliminate of tax benefits that the corporations get when exporting of jobs abroad. The Occupy movement, with its slogan, “We are the 99 %,” that swept through the country in 2011, sharply drew attention to the power of the top 1%” of the population and stimulated support for Obama’s efforts to require higher taxes for the wealthy. The Republicans have blocked all proposals to reduce global warming, environment destruction, industrial pollution, and other actions arising from corporate greed that that threaten to destroy the biophysical basis of human existence. Republicans even want to privatize the FEMA, the federal agency for disaster mitigation.
- Another important issue is that of justice for immigrant workers and their families. There are between 10 and 11 million irregular immigrants in the United States, mostly from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Our Party supports the regularization of their status, with full rights in the workplace and in the community, and access to U.S. citizenship. The Obama administration has moved too slowly on this issue (and the CPUSA has been sharply critical of this), but it is now taking some modest but real steps. The Republicans, on the other hand, have whipped up a racist frenzy against immigrants that has led to vigilante action and in some cases the murder of immigrant workers. Romney had promised to make life so hard for undocumented immigrants that they would all “self” deport.
- Faced with a choice between the victory of either the Democratic Party or Republican Party, the Communist Party viewed a victory of the far-right Republican Party as an extreme disaster. In this situation, we saw the necessity of a policy of center-left alliances in order not to separate ourselves from the people’s struggles for dealing with the far right onslaught, The basis of such an alliance now includes the labor movement, organizations of African Americans and Latinos, the women’s movement, gay and lesbian civil rights groups, and organizations of the elderly and retirees. On some issues, these groups are joined by a few far-sighted elements of capital.
- What do we mean by “far-sighted” elements of capital? As in all capitalist countries, big capital is not a monolith of common interest. Not only are elements of capital in competition with one another, but differences in their investment policies give rise to conflicting political interests. Corporations with investments in the oil, coal, and natural gas industries tend to have the most right-wing orientations. Corporations with heavy investments in China are somewhat wary of China bashing by the Republicans and even by Obama. Some corporations derive their superprofits by operations that do severe environmental damage and contribute heavily to global warming, while others depend on a relatively healthy environment for their maximum profits. That is why some elements of big capital support the Republican Party, while others support the Democratic Party because they can see a limited common interest some issues with the working-class base of support for the Democratic Party. Our present strategy is build alliances both inside and outside the Democratic Party to curtail the dominance of big capital over the lives of our people.
- We are well aware that mass political activity on issues of social justice domestically and anti-imperialist solidarity internationally will not spring from within the Democratic Party. The Communist Party must continue to work with other components of this alliance to generate mass activity independently of the two parties to pressure the president and the Congress to act on its demands.
- In our electoral policy, we seek to cooperate and strengthen our relationship with the more progressive elements in Democratic Party, such as the Progressive Caucus in the U.S. Congress, a group of seventy-six members of the Congress co-chaired by Raúl Grijalva, a Latino from Arizona, and Keith Ellison, an African American Muslim from Minnesota. We also will strengthen our relationship to the Congressional Black Caucus (formed by African Americans in the Congress), which has been the point of origin of innovative policies including an end to the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, and with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. In its domestic policy, for example, the Progressive Caucus has put forth a program for using the public sector to deal with unemployment. It has opposed the use of the so called “war on terror” to incarcerate U.S. citizens indefinitely without criminal charges. In its foreign policy, the Progressive Caucus and the Black Caucus are outspoken in their opposition to U.S. imperialist policies abroad. The Progressive Caucus, now that Obama has been reelected, will be playing an important role in contributing to the mobilization of mass activity on critical issues to bring pressure on the Congress and administration to act on them.
- In this year’s elections, the labor unions made vigorous efforts to involve their members and their retirees in phoning and door-to-door visits to campaign for Obama and the Democratic Party candidates for the Congress and state legislatures. In my state, our Party members preferentially participated in the election campaign through these labor-union channels.
- In our foreign policy, U.S. Communists consistently oppose all U.S. imperialist activities abroad. We participate in the Cuban solidarity movement and demand the end of the U.S. economic blockade against Cuba and the freeing of the Cuban Five. We opposed the NATO intervention in Libya and oppose U.S. intervention in Syria. We support immediate withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan and oppose the use of drones for assassination and bombing. We call for the end of sanctions against Iran. We oppose the intrusion of the United States militarily and politically in the affairs of Southeast Asia. We oppose the China-bashing policies of the U.S. government. We welcome the election of several progressive, anti-imperialist governments in Latin America and oppose U.S. attempts to undermine them. This leftward shift in Latin American, opening a path to possible socialist development, is of tremendous importance in the worldwide anti-imperialist struggle.
- We call for the replacement of U.S. support of the apartheid regime in Israel by support for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with the right of return of Palestinians to their native cities and villages. The day before the elections, the New York Times, in discussing the prospects of a Palestinian/Israel agreement, wrote: “Whatever chance exists of a new American peace initiative after the election is likely to vanish if Mitt Romney wins; at private fund-raising event, he said that the Arab-Israeli conflict was ‘going to remain an unsolved problem’ and seemed unconcerned about it.”
- With the elections now over, there is a prospect that growing support in the United States for a just Middle East solution can induce President Obama once again to put pressure on the Israeli government to end the settlement expansion and resume negotiations leading to such a solution. An indication of such growing support is the letter on 19 October 2012 signed by fifteen leaders of the principal U.S. Christian churches calling upon the Congress to reconsider giving aid to Israel because of human rights violations. Reverend Gradye Parsons, the top official of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) said, “We asked Congress to treat Israel like it would any other country, to make sure our military aid is going to a country espousing the values we would as Americans—that it is not being used to continually violate the human rights of other people.” The letter said that Israel had continued expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem despite American calls to stop claiming territory that under international law and United States policy should belong to a future Palestinian state. This is a sharp contrast to the evangelical Christian churches, which have been part of the core of the far right support of the Republican candidates for president and the Congress. A Jewish-American organization called “J Street,” first organized six years ago as a “pro-Israel pro-peace” organization, has been gaining growing support among Jewish Americans for its advocacy of an end to the settlement expansion and a two- state solution based on the 1967 borders. In the 2012 elections, it contributed 1.8 million dollars to support the election of 72 candidates for the U.S. Congress, of which 71 were elected,
- A key element of the Communist Party’s strategy of alliances is to imbue the struggles of these alliances with enhancement of the democratic rights, and to promote the increasing use of the public sector to extend the acceptance of a socialist consciousness. Obviously the Communist Party needs far more growth than it has been able to achieve. We are, however, effectively using our participation in people’s struggles and the Internet to recruit new members. We have an online daily news publication, People’s World, http://www.peoplesworld.org, a monthly online theoretical journal Political Affairs, http://www.politicalaffairs.net, as well as national and district Websites. As a result of our online activities, we have been forming Party clubs in states in which we previously had very few or even no members. This influx of new members led us to have a national Party school earlier this year to acquaint new members with the Marxist-Leninist orientation of the Party.
- The reelection of Obama places before us the high-priority task of reversing the decline in labor-union membership by securing the enactment of the law requiring the recognition of labor unions when supported by the majority of workers of an enterprise and securing passage of other legislation that benefits the working people. The fact that the composition of the new Congress did not change ideologically enough to facilitate passage of this law still presents us with a difficult struggle. The fact that Republican Party still controls the lower house of the Congress and has enough votes in the upper house to block legislative changes of a highly progressive nature presents an obstacle that we will have to combat until it can be changed in the 2014 elections. We still have the task of strengthening the center-left alliance and enriching its anti-imperialist character.
- While the victory of Obama is a welcome aid for us in our domestic struggles, we still face the challenge of mobilizing mass pressure on his administration to reverse the imperialist character of U.S. foreign policy. The CPUSA will pursue this formidable task vigorously in alliance with domestic progressive forces and with our comrades in the Communist and Workers’ Parties and their allies throughout the world.
Relations with China and Vietnam
A Communist Party USA delegation to China and Vietnam returned to the United States on Dec. 12 2006, with a “wealth of political and cultural experiences they say they hope to share with the U.S. public in order to build better understanding and friendship between the peoples of the U.S., China and Vietnam.”
The delegation, made up of National Chair Sam Webb, Executive Vice Chair Jarvis Tyner, International Secretary Pamella Saffer and Labor Secretary Scott Marshall, visited at the invitation of the Communist Parties of China and Vietnam.
In China, they were hosted by the CPCs international department and were able to meet with leaders of the All China Womens Federation, the All China Federation of Trade Unions including a leader of the now famous Wal-Mart union and other leaders, party members and everyday citizens.
Saffer said that, although shed been to China before for a UN conference, this was the fist time she had ever had the chance to experience China. While much of the U.S. news media portrays China as a land of freewheeling capitalism and exploitation, Saffer said she was impressed by the country’s socialist construction.
You have to get out of the mindset that socialism looks a certain way, and that we know what it looks like, she said. In China, laws are made to support working people.
While no one would deny China’s current problems, such as the gap between urban and rural areas, or the hardships faced by migrant workers, Saffer said that the Chinese leadership seemed to be determined to solve them.
This is what CPC leaders mean, she said, when they talk about building a harmonious society. She added, Theyre lifting people out of poverty. Its an enormous task, if you picture the population of 1.3 billion.
Chinas Communist leaders expressed a desire for peace and better state-to-state relations. Saffer added, The Chinese were pretty clear on that. They’re not into getting into any conflicts or confrontations. They want to develop their own country, continue to lift people up to a better standard of living.
The entire delegation engaged in cultural activities, such as a visit to the Peking Opera and a visit to the China Folk Cultural Heritage Village, which showcases the culture of Chinas 55 minority ethnic groups.
The delegation then traveled on to Vietnam. While the CPUSA has sent people to Vietnamese party congresses, and Tyner himself had visited Vietnam in 1972 while bombs were falling, this was the first official CPUSA delegation to ever visit. They described it as a moving experience.
All of us were of the generation that had opposed the Vietnam War, Saffer said. Its astonishing, the progress that Vietnam has made. One of the things that was very clear to me, and very moving, was how they have always made a distinction between the government that dropped bombs and Agent Orange on their people, on the one hand, and the American people, on the other.
One of the challenges for Vietnam is how they are taking care of victims of Agent Orange, and their children, she said. These are disabled people. How do they fit them into society, to be contributing members of society? This is a challenge.
Saffer noted Vietnam’s stunning progress since the war. It has been able, despite immense destruction wrought by the U.S. during the 1960s and 70s, to become one of the most economically dynamic nations in the world. In doing so, it has brought huge swaths of its population out of poverty and has plans to eradicate all poverty within a few decades.
Saffer and Webb both said that relations with between the CPUSA and the Chinese and Vietnamese parties had been further strengthened, and they look forward to building even stronger relations in the future.
Possibilities under Obama
In a speech given at the Peoples Weekly World ’s Better World Awards banquet in New York City, May 17, 2009, entitled “the impossible becomes possible”, Communist Party National Chair Sam Webb, explained the possibilities opened up under the Obama administration.
It came down to a point by point Communist party USA agenda for the Obama administration;
- On the heels of the first 100 days of our new President, we heard nearly endless commentary and analysis. Much of it was favorable; and some wasn’t.
- I would like to briefly add my two cents
- After the first 100 days I would say without hesitation or qualification that the political atmosphere, landscape, conversation and agenda compared to the previous eight years of the Bush administration have changed dramatically.
- To borrow an expression of Jarvis Tyner, the executive vice chair of our party, “What was once impossible during the Bush years has become possible, thanks to the election of Barack Obama.”
- In this new political climate, we can foresee winning a public option, like Medicare, in the current legislative fight over health care reform.
- We can visualize enacting tough regulatory reforms on the financial industry that brought the economy to ruin.
- We can imagine bringing the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, while being part of a regional process that brings peace and stability to the entire region.
- In this new political climate, the expansion of union rights in this legislative session is not only sensible, it’s doable.
- Much the same can be said about winning a second stimulus bill, and we sure need one, given the still rising and likely long term persistence of unemployment with the heaviest burden, as usual, falling on communities of color.
- Isn’t it possible in the post-Bush era to launch a vigorous attack on global warming and create millions of green jobs in manufacturing and elsewhere?
- Can’t we envision taking new strides in the long journey for racial and gender equality in this new era, marked at its beginning by the election of the first African American to the presidency?
- And isn’t the overhaul of the criminal justice and prison system – a system steeped in racism and employing punitive treatment as it organizing principle – no longer pie in the sky, but something that can be done in the foreseeable future?
- All these — and many other — things are within our reach now!
- We can dream again, knowing that the gap between our dreams and reality is bridgeable.
- We can turn King’s words — that “justice roll down like a mighty stream” — into a living reality for every American.
- We can re-bend the arc of history in the direction of justice and peace.
- But only if we, and millions like us, do our part in these struggles, much like we did last year.
- Neither President Obama nor progressive congress people can do it by themselves — they can’t be the only change agents.
- After all, they are up against formidable opposition.
- On the one hand the extreme right is badly weakened, but is still a poisonous and reactionary political presence in our nation.
- On the other hand, the Obama change coalition includes people and groups that want to cut down on the scope and sweep of the reform agenda.
- So both the new president and new congress need our help. Our responsibility is support them as well as prod and constructively take issue with them when we have differing views.
- But more importantly – and this is the nub of the problem – we have to reach, activate, unite and turn millions of Americans into change agents who can make the political difference in these struggles.
- Changes of a progressive nature, especially major ones— if history is any guide —usually combine the bottom up and the top down.
- So the challenge facing the discontented of our land is to be the bottom up change agents this year and in the years to come.
- Our parents and grandparent did exactly that in the Depression years. Not happy with the pace and substance of change, they sat down in plants and in the fields, marched on Washington, petitioned local relief agencies, lobbied for a social safety net, established unemployed and nationality (immigrant) groups, organized industrial workers, opposed discrimination and racism, elected New Dealers to Congress and re-elected Roosevelt in a landslide in 1936, and turned (not all at once and not perfectly) multi-racial unity into an organizing principle.
- I am confident the American people in their millions – reeling under the weight of this terrible economic crisis and yearning for a more decent, equal, peaceful and just world – will follow their example and turn this country into a more perfect union.
- Yes we can — Si se puede!
Solidarity with Sept. 24 FBI Raid Activists
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression lists Communist Party USA as one of the organizations that has issued a statement of solidarity in support of the activists raided in the September 24, 2010 FBI Raids.
- ↑ Communist Party USA Constitution
- ↑ http://www.cpusa.org/article/static/15/
- ↑ http://www.peoplesworld.org/james-and-esther-jackson-and-the-long-civil-rights-revolution
- ↑ Convention Discussion: Religion in the Current Period by: CPUSA Religion Commission April 13 2010, This article is part of the discussion leading up to the Communist Party USA’s 29th National Convention May 21-23, 2010.
- ↑ Convention Discussion: The Communist Party and the Visceral Weapon of Culture, by: John Pietaro April 20 2010, This article is part of the discussion leading up to the Communist Party USA’s 29th National Convention May 21-23, 2010.
- ↑ [[Guide to Subversive Organizations and Publications (and Appendixes), House Committee on Un-American Activities HCUA, December 1, 1961, House Document No. 398]]
- ↑ http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?p=249251
- ↑ “Saturday Review”, February 23, 1974, pp. 10-14 & 46, “What’s Happened to the Communist Party USA?” (It is up and about again, the beneficiary of detente and a dramatic decline in public paranoia), Roger A. Williams,
- ↑ “New York Times”, “Figure in Rosenberg Case Admits to Soviet Spying”, Sam Roberts, Sept. 12, 2008; “Los Angeles Times”, “Case Closed on the Rosenbergs”, Ron Radosh, Sept.17, 2008,
- ↑ Communists in the Democratic Party, by Concerned Voters Inc., Wilson C. Lucom, Chairman, Box 40309, Washington, D.C. NW, 20016, 1990, page 21, ISBN 0-9627427-0-8
- ↑ Communists in the Democratic Party, page 26
- ↑ Convention Discussion: Building Labor / People’s Electoral Power by: CPUSA Political Action Commission April 13 2010
- ↑ Convention Discussion: A Time to Grow by: YCLers in transition February 2 2010
- ↑ Solidnet.org, Contribution of the Communist Party USA, 14th International Meeting of CWP, Presented by Erwin Marquit,, member of International Department, CPUSA, 25 November 2012
- ↑ CPUSA Delegation returns from China, Vietnam, Dan Margolis, Peoples World, December 23, 2006
- ↑ Committee to Stop FBI Repression: Solidarity Statements (accessed on Oct. 6, 2010)