This ultra-leftist had the nerve to try to instigate an uprising against my leadership.
This is an outright attack on me personally and my very good leadership abilities.
I order this insubordination to cease and desist immediately.
Let me be clear; there is no crisis in our Party. Membership is holding firm or at least it is not dropping as rapidly as the U.S. economy is shedding jobs. All members are fully satisfied.
Don't believe anything you read hear it is lies, all lies.
National Chair, CPUSA
The Crisis of the CPUSA Part 1
Written by Edward A. Drummond
Part 1: This is What Liquidation Looks Like
Startling new documents by the CPUSA National Chair Sam Webb, above all,
The Mentality of Marginalization,[ 1] so candid in its opportunism, are
his most revealing writings in a long time.
They reveal that the top-down changes imposed at the National Committee
(NC) of the CPUSA in June 2009 -- over significant protest from Party
leaders and members -- are, in reality, Party liquidation, not Party
building. A new stage has been reached. Mounting evidence shows that
Party liquidation – the dismantling of the CPUSA -- has begun in earnest.
Consider the question: “Are these changes Party liquidation or Party
building?” How on earth can such a question even arise? To reach for an
analogy, isn’t the difference, for example, between house demolition and
house construction perfectly obvious to all?
Actually, in the early stages, it is hard to tell the difference between
construction and demolition. Demolition of an old building requires as
much preparation as building a new one: performing asbestos abatement,
obtaining the needed municipal permits, submitting necessary
notifications, disconnecting utilities, vermin removal, and development
of site-specific safety and health plans. The preparatory processes can
be hard to tell apart. 
The analogy is imperfect. Party demolition is harder to see also because
those carrying it out deny that demolition is what they are doing. House
demolition does not have to be denied.
In June 2009 the early stages of Party liquidation ended. The likely
trajectory of liquidation has become much clearer. Even the shape of the
organization the present top leaders are striving for is coming into focus.
To sift through Sam Webb's writings in "Mentality of Marginalization,"
in "Observations on Reconfiguring and Restructuring Our Work" (OPRRW),
and in his speech at the Chautauqua Institute, "The Communist Party: a
Work in Progress, " is to find a tangle of specious arguments for
dismembering the Party. Almost any argument is pressed into service, no
matter how disingenuous, far-fetched, and inconsistent with other
arguments and previous statements. Together, these writings and a closer
look at what the June 2009 NC meeting actually did -- not what it
claimed to be doing -- shine a light on the real meaning of the new
Party course. Moreover, the transformation of the CPUSA into something
other than a communist party is accelerating .
Elsewhere the present writer has discussed the history of opportunism in
the US Communist movement and the debilitating changes Sam Webb and
his closest allies have been arguing for. Alas, gloomy forecasts in
those two earlier articles have proven accurate.
What is Liquidation?
Party liquidation can be political, ideological, organizational, and
physical, or all of the above. An excerpt from a long out-of-print CPUSA
pamphlet, “The Communist Party and How it Works” states:
There are constant pressures of ruling class and petty bourgeois
ideology on the Party. Occasional errors of Party organizations and
individuals can, if not corrected, become tendencies and even general
departures or "deviations” from Marxism-Leninism. Ideological struggle
against such tendencies is permanently necessary for the Communist
Party. Though the forms constantly change, in the United States
opportunism has been the main character of ruling class pressure on the
Party and the working class movement. This involves adapting the working
class movement to the interests of the ruling class. It also means
capitulating to the difficulties created by the ruling class and
learning to “live with" those difficulties. Tendencies to liquidate the
Communist Party as a Leninist party, to be replaced by an ideologically
and organizationally amorphous “broader socialist" organization, have
been one of the principal expressions of opportunism historically. 
“Tailism” is to follow the political line and to accept the ideological
leadership of a section of the capitalist class. It is a form of class
collaboration. Up until spring 2008 the foremost manifestation of the
present opportunist Party general line has been 1) to tail the Democrats
by dropping any CPUSA struggle for political independence, and 2) to
tail the Democrats specifically on the Iraq War, uncritically endorsing
them as the vehicle for ending the war.
Since 2008 when Barack Obama emerged as the leading candidate, the CPUSA
controlling group has tailed the Obama campaign and now the Obama
Signs of Liquidation Are Everywhere
Political and ideological liquidation has been under way for some time.
For example, in 2005 the principle of the struggle for the leading role
of the Party, a cornerstone of Leninism, was cut out of the new Party
Program under false pretenses. Out the window, also, went the
struggle for the political independence of the labor movement and its
allies. The 2005 Program sees the Democratic Party as the final resting
place of working class activism, for as far into the future as anyone
can see. The changes in the new program were sold to members with
many quotations from Dimitrov. But Dimitrov never said that a Communist
Party in a multi-class coalition has to trim its ideological sails to
whatever is acceptable to more conservative social classes and political
forces also opposed to the main enemy, be it fascist or ultra-right. He
said the opposite.
Political Affairs, once a Communist theoretical journal, is now (despite
a few remaining principled contributors) mostly a quirky liberal
magazine. It is available online only. Often enough, its writers seem
more devoted to distancing themselves from Marxism-Leninism, than using
it to understand the world. The name Lenin is seen less and less in
The ideological unity of the party is a thing of the past. De facto
there are two trends, the dominant one, is that of the rightward-moving
top leadership. The other trend, struggling, is the Marxism-Leninism of
many members and leaders.
Prompt Press, a printing press that has traditionally printed the
Party's newspaper and pamphlets, is on its way out. The Party Archives
were given away for free four years ago to a wealthy private university.
There has been no Party candidacy for any public office in perhaps 15
years. There are no bookstores. There are few or no pamphlets. There are
no mass public meetings -- even by today’s modest definition of "mass"
-- and no attempt to organize them. There is no mass distribution of the
Party paper. There is no industrial concentration policy. 
A little discussed form of liquidation is the abolition of left and
intermediate forms. This is a conscious policy: when attempts are made
to revive them, for example, US Peace Council chapters, the leadership
pounces, denouncing “sectarianism.” These forms, such as such as
NAIMSAL, WREE, NAARPR, TUAD, USPC and others have been allowed to
wither and die. Only remnants survive. With mass radicalization from
Bush’s attacks on working people and with global capitalist economic
crisis laying bare the rottenness of the capitalist system, the CPUSA
should be growing. It is not. One reason for that is that it has no
periphery. A Communist Party recruits from among people on the left, not
from center forces. With Communists one-sidedly working with center
forces unready to make any commitment to Party membership, it is harder
CPUSA antiwar work has been stalled since before Obama’s election. The
Party has a noble tradition of leadership in antiwar work. With the
CPUSA leadership so preoccupied these days with trying to orchestrate
membership contentment with the Administration’s Iraq "withdrawal"
policy, and Party leaders in complete denial on the expanding US
aggressions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, the antiwar
movement, deprived of its natural leader, is rudderless.
No multi-racial US political organization can boast of a better record
on fighting racism than the CPUSA. Now African-American working people
are being hammered by mass unemployment and unprecedented housing
foreclosures and evictions. Affirmative action, for 35 years an
effective policy for achieving racial equality, is under fresh attack by
reaction. Nobody denies that the breaking of the racist color bar on the
White House by Obama's election was a splendid democratic achievement
for the US people. Understandably, it was uniquely gratifying to tens of
millions of people of color in the US. Missing is a special Party class
analysis of racism as a barrier to class unity in the new
circumstances. Instead there is endless 23rd Street jubilation at
the Obama election, and irritation at members who raise questions about
the persistence of racism, especially institutionalized racism.
New examples of physical and organizational liquidation can be seen.
Headed for the scrapheap today is the print edition of the People's
Weekly World (PWW). Fury at this autocratic decision from many
clubs, districts, and individuals -- after Party leaders had recently
and publicly denied that any such move was planned -- went
unreported at the NC meeting, by a leadership famous for claiming
"democracy matters." The Party’s finest comrades have been faithfully
carrying out the PWW's distribution in the wee hours of the morning in
foul and fair weather for decades. If “a Communist Party’s prime task is
to unite its science with the class,” the PWW represented a transmission
belt to basic workers on the shop floor, on a picket line, at a
demonstration, or on an unemployment line. It is the most obvious and
outrageous way so far that the present CP leaders are severing Party
links to the working class.
Phony Rationales for Change
At the NC meeting in late June, concrete measures to enfeeble the CPUSA
were rammed through. In recent months there had been a leadership
epiphany regarding the communicative powers of the Internet. From the
podium, NC members heard puerile hype about Twitter and Tweets, and
Facebook, and MySpace. The simple truth is the party, like all living
organizations, has been on the Internet since the early 1990s. Nobody
denies that smart use of new information technology is important for any
organization. The present writer is unaware of any other Communist Party
in the world, big enough to have print publications, discarding such
print publications to go to "Internet only." In reality, the newly
discovered technological imperative is merely a bogus excuse to get rid
of the print PWW. The paper’s announced demise sparked a degree of
opposition in some sections of the leadership, though not enough to
Back in 1989 Gus Hall said this:
About our press -- articles from three clubs in one way or another
raised the question of doing away with the People’s Daily World because
it “takes too much effort, money, and time..” And, as one article said,
“We don’t have the time to visit the contacts we make with the paper
To do away with the People’s Daily World would be the first step in
liquidating the Party. I don’t see any alternative to our press -- or
our Party. Here again, the influence of the People’s Daily World is much
greater than its subscriptions alone.
The Spanish-language editor of the PWW (Nuestro Mundo)was dismissed.
This will hurt the Party’s outreach to the growing and often militant
Spanish-speaking population in the US.
Other steps by the cyber-Communists threaten to be just as enfeebling.
Perhaps most harmful of all is the decision to abolish the Organization
Department – and to hand its function over to a committee with many
other functions. This giant stride toward Party liquidation rips the
heart out of democratic centralism. Few Party functions are as important
as the Organization Department, subordinate only to the National
Convention, NC, and NB. Its checkup-and-control mission is to turn
Party policy into organizational reality. The Organization Department
has the responsibility for the daily implementation of the policy
decisions of National Conventions, the NB and the NC. It makes the
difference between an organization of doers and an organization of talkers.
Ominously, the June NC meeting saw the first tentative steps to a new
party name, “People Before Profits," whose advent will be cloaked as
merely a new mode of self-presentation on the Internet. Cleverly, the
edict is put forth in a plausibly deniable way. The giveaway is that
the dreaded C- word, "Communist," will be downgraded, most likely before
it is discarded altogether.
The 42 percent cut in staff is a massive cut (29 people down to 17
people). This means the Party's influence will be torn to shreds in many
spheres of its work.
The YCL is the party’s future. If, as claimed, these proposals are about
accepting austerity for a period in order to create more favorable
conditions for future growth, why is the YCL staff being shrunken?
“Observations and Proposals...” and the Chautauqua speech  In the document that Chairman Webb circulated on the eve of the June NC
meeting "Observations and Proposals on Reconfiguring and Restructuring
the Work "(OPPRW) he argues: 1) the changes made since 2000 have allowed
us to successfully adapt; 2) we have been on this road for years -- this
is only one more step; 3) The budget crisis makes the end of the print
PWW necessary; 4) a cyber-CPUSA is a technological imperative.
Taken together, these arguments make no sense whatsoever.
Is a “budget crisis” driving Party economy moves? Anyone who can do
arithmetic could have and should have foreseen it. Sam Webb stated, "We
are not doing anything new; it’s just reconfiguring.” But he gave the
game away when he also said “I’d be in favor of these cuts even if there
were no budget crisis.”
If management blunders caused a deficit requiring drastic remedial
measures, those responsible should have been required to submit their
resignations. But there will be no resignations. The changes imposed
were not in fact driven by technology or budget. The present leadership
has no wish to be called to account and no intention of self-criticism.
We should not lose sight of the fact, finally, that there was no
pretense of a Leninist basis for any of the organizational changes,
for example, to perfect democratic centralism.
Why take further steps along the same road if nine years of similar
steps only caused the organizational difficulties to deepen? If we have
successfully “adapted” to a harsh political climate since 1991, why do
we have a shrinking party and a budget crisis, requiring a new round of
Sam Webb states, “We have not had a sustainable budget for as long as I
can remember.” Who has been national chair since 2000?
Who in Party leadership signed off on salary increases for a sizable
paid staff, as if it was unforeseeable that, in time, the wage bill
would be unsustainable and require a 42 percent cut (currently 29
people, down to 17 people) in paid staff headcount?
This “emergency,” then, was completely foreseeable. In most
organizations, incompetent management, not foreseeing such a shortfall,
would be sacked. Frankly, it looks more like a contrived emergency than
a real one to achieve other, unstated goals. That possibility is
The Mentality of Opportunism
The grandiose historical argument in Mentality of Marginalization is
that the present-day lack of political success of the US Left (which Sam
Webb presumes to speak for, not merely for the CPUSA) is due to a
holdover mindset, “mentality of marginalization.” At an earlier
stage, marginalization, he claims, was caused by objective factors such
as “McCarthyism, the Cold War, and the long economic expansion following
WW II…” But now it is resistance “to thinking anew” that is causing the
persistence of the “mentality of marginalization.” In other words, the
Party's problems are the fault of an unwilling Party membership.
This notion suggests Webb’s broader analysis, which he has openly stated
elsewhere. He believes many of the stock slanders of the Party are
justified, that the present day Party is in crisis because of its
dogmatism, sectarianism, bureaucracy, and rigidity, that it may not
survive unless it abandons its out-dated dogmas. It should emulate
social democracy; its differences with social democracy are not that
great, and it should seek to merge with the "broad left," a favorite
He congratulates himself for pushing the Party in this direction,
apparently undisturbed by the contradiction that the road he chose has
led the Party to this crisis. In OPRRW he states: “A glance at history,
after all, reveals that the landscape of the class struggle is littered
with working class formations that didn’t adapt to new realities. But to
our credit we choose change, we choose innovation which is not
surprising since we are a party of innovators. We could have clung to
familiar moorings, long held views, and our place in the scheme of
things, but we choose a different road.”
Abruptly -- only at the end of Mentality of Marginalization -- does the
reader discover the article is a rationale specifically for
opportunistically abandoning the Party’s longstanding commitment to
achieve health care reform by ousting the parasitic private insurers
from the system, for example, by the single-payer proposal. But
Mentality of Marginalization sounds themes of a much broader
significance than health care reform, important and timely though that
At root it is a plea to continue the Tail Obama CPUSA general line that
Webb has been pursuing since Obama emerged as Democratic front-runner in
early 2008. Before then, the tailing of the Democrats took the form of
all-out, uncritical electoral support for Democrats in 2006 and 2008,
supposedly as a way of ending the Iraq War and reversing attacks on the
US people by ending Republican ("ultra-right") control of the White
House and Congress. The Democrats came into office in 2006 and 2008 all
right, but neither the wars nor domestic attacks on working people have
Webb’s writing has been predictable. He always tries to justify his
opportunism by depicting it as a struggle against “sectarianism." That
mask is now dropped. He no longer bothers with arguments invoking
Dimitrov’s reasoning about the Popular Front. He observes that the
“ultra right” -- George Bush and his would-be successor John McCain --
was ousted from The White House in November of last year. He worries
that to demand more tailism by calling anew for "unity against the
ultra-right," because it might come back, would seem too flimsy an
argument to Party members. So his argument has mutated. It is “Tail
Obama because he is the leader of the people’s coalition, and you risk
isolation if you don’t support him.”
Be a “Player”
Opportunism sacrifices long-term and fundamental class and revolutionary
goals for temporary and partial advantages. In this case, principle is
exchanged for “player” status. In his own raw formulation:
A player of consequence; a player whose voice is seriously considered in
the debates bearing on the future of the country; a player that is able
to mobilize and influence the thinking and actions of millions.
But all or almost all CPUSA position have been shifted over the last few
years, either explicitly or by gradually filling them with new content.
To accommodate the Democrats and top union leaders Webb has been slowly
shifting the CPUSA’s positions from the left to the center: on the Iraq
and Lebanon wars, on the socialist goal, on revolutionary
strategy, on racism, on Cuba solidarity, on the economic crisis and the
auto crisis, and by giving up on both political independence and
industrial concentration. The phrase “class struggle” is not only
used less often; it is not even a frame of reference.
The retreat continues today. For example, there is CPUSA silence about
US imperialism’s role in the Honduras coup; muted criticism of the
expansion of Bush’s wars into Afghanistan and Pakistan; about
Administration retreats on US democratic rights and liberties, on
closing Guantanamo, and on and on.
Foster: Intentions Don't Count. Outcomes Count
It has puzzled the present writer that friends in the Party have
expressed unease with the word “liquidation.” One good friend remarked,
“serious as the problems are, we want to avoid talk of 'liquidation' and
place our entire stress on strengthening the Party politically,
organizationally, financially, in its class composition and
consciousness…” Why the unease?
Liquidation is a precise scientific word in Marxist-Leninist theory, yet
it receives a negative reaction. Is it too abstract? Too little
understood by a party whose educational standards have dropped?
Some believe, with good reason, the basis of the negative reaction is
the party-wide drift away from Marxist-Leninist analysis and therefore
Marxist-Leninist language. Scientific terms appear less often in CPUSA
publications, even such elementary terms as "capitalist class," "the
national question," even "right opportunism" or "imperialism." This
typifies the Party’s ideological decline, slowly succumbing to the
surrounding ideological pressure in the wake of the break-up of the USSR
and other socialist countries.
It seems likely the main cause of unease is that the idea of liquidation
is counterintuitive. People simply have a hard time believing that any
leader would seek to dismantle the very organization he is leading. Do
union leaders liquidate trade unions? No. Do leaders of the nationally
oppressed liquidate civil rights organizations? No. Do anti-war leaders
liquidate peace organizations? No. True, such leaders may make this or
that organizational blunder, but they never shoot the horse they are
riding. Liquidation appears to suggest conscious bad intentions. And
it’s always hard to prove intentions. So, to assert “liquidation is
under way” evokes skepticism. Such skepticism is honest and merits an
answer. Nevertheless, it is contended here the use of the word
liquidation still makes sense.
Amidst the fight against Browderism, William Z. Foster stated,
Of course Comrade Browder does not want any such situation [that
American imperialism would eventually dominate the world - EAD] , but
Lenin has long since taught us that the objective results of political
policies bear no necessary relation to the subjective desire of the
The motive of liquidation is the same. In 1944-46 Browder wanted to
reduce the CPUSA to a “progressive” current within the Democratic Party.
It can be shown that Webb's policies, objectively, have the same outcome.
The organizational changes Webb seeks are actually more radical than
Browder's. Browder merely changed the name to Communist Political
Association (CPA), and gave up the Party's right to run candidates,
something parties typically do. Most of the rest of the work of the
CPUSA went on as usual in the brief existence of the CPA, 1944-45. Webb
seeks a fundamentally different kind of organization, as we will see below.
The mode of liquidation is different. Returning to our earlier metaphor,
Browder liquidated quickly. His method was dynamite and the wrecking
ball. Stealthier and more gradual, Webb's “deconstruction” policies
amount to 21st century Browderism.
Gus Hall who lived through the Browder debacle, once stated, "The most
dangerous liquidationist trend is not disbanding the Party structure,
but eliminating the Communist essence in our mass work." He noted that,
in end-stage opportunism, the party itself becomes the obstacle .
Thus, the Browder-led process of liquidating the Communist Party set in.
The process of liquidation did not start with organization or physical
liquidation. The process was at first one of liquidating the role, the
functions of the Party. Slowly, the Party gave up taking independent
positions. Less and less it took positions in its own name. More and
more it became only the supporter of movements led by other forces.
There was an acceptance of the cockeyed idea that the Party narrowed
down mass movements and that anything non-Party was "broad." Even a
unity with small "Left" sects who influenced no one became a "broader"
movement. Finally, the Party became an obstacle to Browder's
opportunism. Browder kept denying he was liquidating the Communist
Party. Each new opportunist step was presented as necessary as a way of
giving the party a broad a mass base, but it became an obstacle to “the
alliance of intelligent men.“ Opportunism reduced the Party's influence
and warped its policies so they would be acceptable to the most backward
sections of the people. However, as the Party began to move toward the
less politically developed sections of the population, it began to lose
its influence with the politically and ideologically more advanced
sectors of the people. This is always the result of opportunist
Intentions Do Not Matter.
Let us give Sam Webb the benefit of the doubt. He has devoted his adult
life to the US Communist movement. The last thirty years have been hard
times for proponents of revolutionary change. It is possible he thinks
he is saving the Party. It is possible he is not fully conscious of the
implications of his liquidation policies. He has spoken of
“adaptation.” He may believe that his “adaptation” strategy is the
only realistic strategy for the CPUSA in the long haul. He often says
socialism is not "on the agenda." He evidently expects nothing more of
US politics than a low-intensity, slow-tempo class struggle, with
national politics consisting of little more than alternation of
Democratic and Republican Administrations, for decades to come. But
Lenin, and Foster, and Hall are all saying the same thing: subjective
intentions do not matter. Declared intentions do not matter.
Objectively, Webb and his supporters are dismantling the Party. That is
all that matters.
If such pessimism is indeed the outlook underlying liquidation, it is an
outlook of despair. It leads straight to a "Socialism of Modest
Aspirations," as one writer aptly labeled it. It leads to the
willingness to settle for crumbs from the table of the Democratic Party.
Consider the timeline. Webb and others came to hold their present
political beliefs in the awful 1990s. They came into office about 2000.
One of the inner circle then was heard to state, “We have ten years to
remake the Party.” The irony is that they are carrying out their plans
-- now speeding them up --- at the very moment that possibilities for
radical change in the country and in the world are fast reviving. With
the world economic crisis, the possibilities are multiplying
exponentially. The whole ideological crisis in the CPUSA, therefore, has
a curious anachronistic quality.
A fuller discussion of the origins of opportunism can be found elsewhere
on this website. Opportunism has roots in the material position of a
revolutionary party in a non-revolutionary situation. In such a
situation, there is always pressure to move toward opportunism and
reformism, at first by revising revolutionary theory. The dominant
ideology in society remains that of the dominant class. There is a
natural and understandable pressure on revolutionaries to be relevant,
to not isolate themselves from the working class, and thus a natural
tendency (that revolutionaries must consciously resist) to adopt the
ideas, vocabulary, and positions of non-revolutionary workers, or
liberals, or social reformists. Superimpose on that lasting reality
these historical circumstances: the blow to revolutionary
self-confidence stemming from the downfall of socialism in Europe twenty
years ago, and the problematic course of People's China in the last
three decades. The upshot: at the beginning of the 21st century
opportunistic pressures on Communist parties in imperialist countries
are a mighty force.
Why do Communist leaders go further and try to shoot the horse they are
riding, that is to say, liquidate the parties they lead? It is an
international phenomenon in the Communist movement. In France the Robert
Hue leadership, aping the French Socialist Party, has reduced the CPF to
a shadow of its former strength. In 1977-88 the "Eurocommunists" wrecked
the CP of Great Britain, requiring a British Communist movement to be
rebuilt almost from scratch. After 1989-91 the once mighty Italian
Communist Party shattered like glass into successor fragments, some
Communist, most reformist. And why did Gorbachev liquidate the CPSU?
Liquidation is an advanced form of opportunism. Concretely, what propels
this leader Sam Webb to move beyond the revisionist conclusions he drew
after the events of 1989-1991, (but has never admitted forthrightly), to
move not merely to opportunist policies and revisionist theories, easy
to trace in his writings over the last few years, but now to actual
dismemberment of the Party?
Here is the answer: a Communist Party, organized along Marxist Leninist
principles, is not an ordinary organization. Lenin developed the theory
of a Marxist-Leninist party “of a new type” in fierce ideological
struggle with Second International opportunism. The Leninist theory, and
the fortress-like organization designed by that theory, is based on the
whole history of the European and world working class movement over many
decades. Uniquely, a Communist party’s democratic centralism, its rules,
its structure, its traditions, its practice of collective leadership,
its criticism and self-criticism, its insistence on realistic all-sided
estimates, its check-up and control, its reliance on revolutionary
theory tested in class struggle around the world, the clarity and
precision of its terms -- all represent built-in organizational
safeguards aimed at resisting opportunist degeneration.
Therefore, opportunism, meeting such steely organizational resistance,
sooner or later tries to liquidate the Party.
Next time: The Crisis of the CPUSA Part 2: What Kind of Organization Do
 When the CPUSA is reconstituted on a Marxist-Leninist basis, “The
Mentality of Marginalization” should be part of the curriculum of party
schools, in the class dealing with party history and inner-party
ideological struggle. It vividly illustrates opportunism in the US
 In a slightly different form, its ideas were included in his June
2009 remarks to the National Committee of the CPUSA and in his
Chautauqua speech. They are, therefore, his considered position.
 Demolition is not exactly the same as de-construction.
De-construction involves taking a building apart while carefully
preserving valuable elements for re-use. The current drive toward Party
liquidation is more like de-construction.
 Reflections on Revisionism <<
 From Revisionism to Party Liquidation <<
 Party veterans say this superb pamphlet was written by Danny Rubin.
Let us give credit where credit is due.
 William Z. Foster observed, "trailing after the big bourgeoisie is
the historic error of social democracy." William Z. Foster “On the
Question of Revisionism.” In Marxism-Leninism vs. Revisionism, by
William Z. Foster, Jacques Duclos, Eugene Dennis, and John Williamson.
Foreword by Max Weiss. New Century Publishers, Feb. 1946, 9.
 In calling for change in the organizational structure of a
Marxist-Leninist Party they have invoked the Obama campaign as an
organizational ideal. They still refer to an "Obama movement." It does
not exist. They confuse a 2008 email list of small contributors with a
mass movement. The genuine wave of enthusiasm for Obama in the early
stages of the 2009 campaign came from his perceived stronger anti-Iraq
War stance. Democratic primary voters are liberal and antiwar. Since
Inauguration Day his anti-war reputation has suffered.
 The lame argument, which sad to say, a majority of delegates bought,
was that in the name of modesty, the Party should earn the leading role,
not merely claim it.
 He believes political independence should be limited to work within
the Democratic Party. Any attempt to go outside the two-party system is
sectarian and futile. Third party efforts, particularly those with an
anti-monopoly thrust, are no longer of strategic importance; they may
actually impede the struggle. Running Communists and workers is
especially narrow and self-defeating. Electoral struggle in the
Democratic Party is the main arena of progressive struggle in this
period. OPRRW: “… a sea change occurred on Election Day  and
nothing that has happened since then suggests anything else. We live in
a new era of struggle, filled with immense opportunities. … Is there any
doubt that Gus, Winnie, Jim Jackson, Helen, George, Elsie, Lou, Carl,
Vic, Fred, Jim West, Tommy, and many others would have hailed our
election policy, the election of the first African American President,
and the broad coalition that elected him?”) To invoke the first names of
revered Party leaders whose policies he is reversing is deeply offensive
to this writer.
 "Communists, of course, cannot and must not for a moment abandon
their own independent work of communist education, organization, and
mobilization of the masses." "Content and Form of the United Front."
Dimitrov on United Front (New Delhi: People's Publishing House, 1971), 27.
 Last August an editor of Political Affairs ran a lampoon of
Marxism. He became highly indignant when some Party members expressed
 Webb’s OPRRW makes a fleeting reference to “labor concentration.”
This could leave the misleading impression that there is still a CPUSA
policy of industrial concentration. There isn’t one. Ask the YCL. Ask
the industrial districts. It’s gone.
 Younger readers may be unfamiliar with these organizations and
their initials: NAIMSAL (National Anti-imperialist League in Solidarity
with African Liberation) , WREE (Women for Racial and Economic Equality)
, TUAD (Trade Unionists for Action and Democracy), USPC (the US Peace
Council, an affiliate of the World Peace Council) , NAARPR (National
Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression) and others.
 Old timers can recall the Party's emergency focus on the
ideological defense of affirmative action in the late 1970s when the
Bakke and Weber cases threatened to undo civil right progress. No like
effort exists now.
 Some don’t regret the loss of the print PWW much. Not to regret its
loss is a mistake, in the present writer’s view, though to be sure its
ideological decline has been steep. The editorials and coverage show
little fighting spirit, which can only be found in the articles of a few
 At the next meeting NC members could demand to know the extent of
protests from around the country. There were many, and they did not
 Gus Hall, “The Power of Ideology: Keynote Address to the First
Ideological Conference of the Communist Party USA," July 14-16, 1989,
Chicago, New Outlook Publishers, 1989, 57.
 The current Organizational Secretary will be reassigned to work on
new fund raising work, big donor development and a campaign to raise
$100,000 by the end of the year.
 “The Communist Party and How it Works: a Handbook on its
Organization and Functioning,” March 1976, 53.
 The former PA editor has been openly advocating a name change for
 The NB proposal was: "Single website (People before Profits) with
multiple domains – CPUSA, PWW, PA, and YCL featuring on line news,
commentary, education, theoretical discussions, action initiatives,
podcasts, u-tube interviews, downloadable materials, etc. "
 The NB proposal was: "Reduce staff of YCL to one position; discuss
reconfiguring of the work and structure of YCL with its leadership and
membership; and explore further the feasibility of an additional staff
 The Chautauqua Institute speech, given to a non-party audience in
Western New York, restated the Mentality for Marginalization thesis.
This is odd; the thesis is aimed at the supposedly self-marginalizing
Left, not the public.
 At Chautauqua he characterized the Communist Party as "a work in
progress," as if organizational changes would be determined by
pragmatism and the needs of the moment, not a theory of what a
revolutionary organization must be and must do. He also began the speech
with the curious comment that “if any of you are expecting militant
rhetoric and passionate appeals to storm the barricades, you will be
 Inconsistency does not bother him. Are the changes he demands a
response to failure, or simply movement along a continuum of successful
adaptation? Both, he seems to believe.
 The very fact that he wields The Straw Man weapon against his
opponents shows the weakness of his argument and the strength of his
opponents' views. He cannot win against their actual arguments, so he
invents an argument he can defeat.
 Ever flexible, he announces his retreat. He comes out in favor of
the Administration’s weak "public option" proposal, which leaves the
private carriers in the system, supposedly to be regulated by
competition. In truth, the “public option,” whatever its details, barely
constitutes reform at all. Of course, Webb prefers single-payer in his
head, but is unwilling to struggle for it. It might isolate him from
Obama. The health care struggle has demonstrated the strategic weakness
of the Party's policy of being in bed with the Obama Administration. Not
fighting for a strong HR676 single-payer initiative makes the "public
option" the most "left" option and the target of right wing attack. It
is difficult to mobilize people for a vague public option. Many cannot
grasp it or else distrust it, due to the closed negotiations and the
changing details. In other words, people are not sure what they are
fighting for, other than that they don't want the insurance companies
and Big Pharma to dictate the "reforms." Moreover, the single-payer
advocates are a real movement. They can and do mobilize. With their huge
resources, the insurance companies mobilize coached, fake "grassroots
protestors" and various ultra right thugs and cranks at Health Care Town
Hall Meetings. But having tossed aside the single-payer movement, Obama
and his allies are without a comparable mass force.
 Some say that the ultra right is still strong in the larger US
political system and Obama has to be defended to help him overcome it.
That Obama needs pressure from left and independent forces is, of
course, correct. It is quite another thing to adopt and defend Obama's
centrist positions, which is what Webb does. The argument carries
another implication: that the US left must forever stay within the
confines of Democratic Party as long as the ultra right threat exists,
that the struggle for political independence must be delayed
indefinitely, inasmuch as only the Democratic Party is a practical
electoral vehicle to defeat the ultra right. This is a trap. The
material basis of the ultra right -- finance capital, oil giants,
weapons manufacturers, etc., which have a stranglehold on state power --
will be a reality until a radical or revolutionary movement takes them
over. The ultra right will exist for a very long time. This way of
thinking is to put off the fight for a labor-based independent formation
forever. Moreover, in tailing Obama, the CPUSA is ignoring its own 2005
Program, which states: "U.S. capitalism is presently in the monopoly
capitalist, imperialist stage of development, and in the transnational
monopoly phase of that stage. Once the most reactionary ultra-right
transnationals, who dominate political life today, receive a major
defeat, it will be both necessary and possible to take on the
transnationals as a whole; it will be possible to move on to the
anti-monopoly stage of struggle. Building an anti-monopoly coalition is
the next key step in the road to socialism in the U.S." If ousting
Republicans from the White House was not a major blow, why all the
political ecstasy? If it was a major blow, why is the Party not back in
the anti-monopoly stage of struggle?
 Not that he hasn’t tried it, referring to an "ultra right" that
threatens "to derail the Obama administration." Hence, any criticism
would be out of bounds as long as the ultra right exists.
 Bill Miller, "For Anti-Imperialist Partisanship in the CPUSA" (
 His previous writing suggests he believes much bourgeois criticism
of socialist democracy and economic planning is essentially correct. He
distances the Party from the Soviet Union. OPRRW: “We began
re-envisioning the path to socialism and socialist society, based on
present day challenges and a critical examination of the socialist
experience in the 20th century.”
 George Meyers, a great Communist trade unionist, is tendentiously
misquoted to justify the CPUSA's present satisfaction with the centrist
positions of the AFL-CIO. To be sure, Meyers was correct to state that
"left-center unity is built on the most advanced position of the center
forces." He was referring to unity on action program, not ideological
unity. Communist and other left-wingers don’t drop their ideology when
they coalesce with center forces.
 William Z. Foster “On the Question of Revisionism” Marxism-Leninism
vs. Revisionism, William Z. Foster, Jacques Duclos, Eugene Dennis, John
Williamson. Foreword by Max Weiss. New Century Publishers, Feb. 1946 , 39.
 Political Affairs.
 Implicit in the "adaptation" talk is the social democratic notion:
the capitalist system is not moribund, but strong. It is not in general
crisis. Its direction is upward. Therefore, the Party’s strategy should
be to win attainable reforms within the system rather than advocate
capitalism’s revolutionary replacement with socialism. OPRRW: “We could
have clung to familiar moorings, long held views, and our place in the
scheme of things, but we choose a different road. While embracing our
traditions and history, which admittedly help us navigate stormy seas,
we also eagerly searched for new angles of looking at, thinking about,
and reshaping the world.”
 Zoltan Zigedy,
 Foster discerned the pattern. Periods of upswing of US imperialism,
coupled with setbacks/defeats for socialism, correspond to bouts of
opportunism in the US Communist movement. He cited "The Roaring 20s"
(Lovestone); World War II military success (Browder); the conservative
1950s when a top-dog US ruled the postwar world (Gates). One can add:
The Booming 1960s (Healey and Richmond ); the downfall of socialism and
emergence of US as sole superpower (Committees of Correspondence). Only
the present bout is exceptional, for the reasons indicated.
 Reflections on Revisionism<<
The Crisis of the CPUSA Part 2
Written by Edward A. Drummond
Part 2: What Kind of Organization Do the Present Leaders Want?
Revelations and decisions at the June NC meeting make it now possible to
discern the organizational model that the Party's leading group has in
mind. They want a re-named, non-profit, progressive entity ("People
Before Profits," the C word will be first downgraded not jettisoned,
yet) that needs only passive members, and certainly no pesky "clubs."
The growing reliance on investment income means the Party can, over
time, dispense with a dues-paying membership base. Reportedly, about
eighty percent of the Party's income is from investments. It will have a
core staff, reasonably well paid. It will have a web presence. It will
be a multi-issue group.
Class orientation will be watered down. For example, there will be no
industrial concentration policy to seek to influence the trade unions.
Objectively, this will throw away the Party's future influence. Present
influence is already suffering from "adaptation." Even now, there are
few or no differences with trade union officialdom whose positions are
declared to be "left."
Hard copy? With no bookstore distribution network, printed political
pamphlets on key ideological questions are seldom seen. There are fewer
neighborhood forums and paper distributions. Marxist-Leninist education,
already abysmal, will vanish. Already Party schools are said to feature
mainly the works of Webb.
People Before Profits, if that proves to be the quite awkward new name,
will run no candidates. It will lead no struggles. Fact is, the CPUSA
leads few struggles now,  waiting for whatever the imaginary
"Labor-Led People's Movement"  or the Democrats decide to do.
Another NC member ruefully remarked: "Haven't people noticed that,
nowadays, after an NC Main Report, there is never anything to do? No
mobilization. No tasks. It is just a shallow current-events survey, full
of expressions of joy at the arrival of the Age of Obama." An example:
while 30 million unemployed people languish the Party leadership has not
taken a single step toward responding to the crisis in its own name.
Contrast that with the 1930s.
All in all, one senses an evolution into a second Committees of
Correspondence (CoC), though one with more real estate assets. The
present CPUSA top leadership has sought to maintain close relations with
the CoC, suggesting an eventual merger, wholly logical given the similar
If it isn't stopped, the liquidation endgame can be a morally squalid
affair. In the US there are disturbing parallels to what happened in the
UK in the early 1990s. The Eurocommunist clique which folded up the
Communist Party of Great Britain changed its name to "Democratic Left."
Soon they realized Democratic Left had no reason for being. So the
scoundrels in London sold off all the physical assets, gave themselves
generous pensions, and went off to build careers, for example, in
A New Landscape?
Because of the new political landscape, the Left has an opportunity to
step from the edges into the mainstream of U.S. politics. Sam Webb
This is not the place for a full analysis of the politics of the Obama
Administration. Rather, these notes are concerned with the CPUSA
analysis of Obama, and why it assumes the disingenuous form it does. One
can hear supporters of the line say, "he [Obama] never promised us he
would be an anti-imperialist." The last point is true enough, but what
is shocking is not Obama's limitations, but the CPUSA apologetics
about those limitations. The defense of imperialism in the working class
movement is the historical role of Right Social Democracy.
Is the CPUSA cheerleading for Obama, dissolving the Party in broader
coalitions, opportunism? Of course. The former left wing positions of
the CPUSA required struggle, strategy, leadership, intellectual honesty,
realism, self-sacrifice, risk-taking, contact with masses, and political
toil. Now, the center positions require little more than going with the
flow of spontaneous mass movements. Whenever it is needed, to justify
this retreat from struggle, the inane phrase "Labor-led People's
Movement," is invoked. Politically, the phrase is worse than worthless,
it is destructive. It justifies yielding political leadership to center
One Big Straw Man
Supposedly, the trial lawyers have a saying:
If you have the facts on your side, but not the law, pound the facts. If
you have the law on your side, but not the facts, pound the law. If you
have neither the law nor the facts on your side, pound the table!
Webb is notorious for depending on the Straw Man tactic. If you can't
win an argument on the merits, then attribute to your opponents a weak
argument (a Straw Man) that superficially resembles the one which they
actually hold. Then refute the weak argument and claim victory.
His words below add up to one big Straw Man. Their abstractness
("amorphousness, elusiveness," Lenin might say) is also noteworthy. No
one is accused by name. Clearly going after his critics in the Party and
nobody else, Webb pounds the table about the mentality of marginalization:
How does this mentality express itself? In a number of ways.... 1. In spending too much time agitating the choir; 2. In dismissing new political openings; 3. In thinking that partial reforms are at loggerheads with radical
reforms; in seeing the glass as always half empty;
4. In thinking that our outlook is identical with the outlook of millions; 5. In turning the danger of co-optation into a rationale to keep a
distance from reform struggles;
6. In enclosing ourselves in narrow Left forms; and
7. In damning victories with faint praise .
and he says that the mentally marginalized think that:
• Politics has few complexities.
• Change is driven only from the ground up.
• Winning broad majorities is not essential.
• There are no stages of struggle.
• No social forces possess strategic social power.
• No divisions [in the ruling class are] worth noting.
• Distinctions between the Democratic and Republican parties are either
of little consequence or disdainfully dismissed.
No one in the CPUSA holds such preposterous views. Many in the ultraleft
do hold them. Webb is attributing to critics in his own party views they
in no way hold. Webb warns his own party's members and "the left" that
unless they change, success will continue to be elusive: Unless the Left
- and I include Communists - sheds this mentality, it will miss a golden
opportunity at this moment to engage and influence a far bigger audience
than it has in the past six decades This reasoning is absurd. How
exactly does a political party seeking to overturn a social order
increase its influence by adopting the views of its class opponents who
rule the selfsame social order? It doesn't. Maybe it obtains "access"?
No, the CPUSA, for all its tailist pains, has not won even that trivial
crumb. Only in its imagination does this confused Party leadership join
the winners circle, and get to be a "player." The truth, as Communists
have always known, is the exact opposite. One wins political power for
one's class by struggle, not the cessation of struggle.
Organizational Difficulties: Caused by the Line
The present leaders go to great lengths to deny the obvious causal link
between Party organizational crisis and the political line of the Party.
The present general line -- unjustified, obsequious support for Obama,
and its organizational corollary narrowing differences between the
Administration's positions and CPUSA positions, leads straight to
organizational crisis. There is no Party growth because primarily
because there is no incentive to join the Party.
One can draw comfort from the fact that at the deepest level the line is
not only wrong. It is probably futile. The CPUSA is seeking to tail the
Democrats and somehow make its own members rest content with the present
US Administration. Sam Webb's dilemma: how does one sell class
collaboration when the class struggle is sharpening? Look around the
world: depression and mass unemployment in the US; the leftward trend in
Latin America; strikes of unprecedented militancy in other major
capitalist countries; spreading wars of US aggression, and so forth.
He tries to escape the dilemma by means of oratorical sleight of hand.
Hence, the sophistry that characterizes Webb's writing. He relies on
ever-bigger buckets of bilgewater about the joy of the political moment.
There is shabby maneuvering too. He conjures up fake budgetary
emergencies, so liquidationist steps can be pushed through. He relies on
staff loyalists to deliver a majority at an under-attended NC meeting.
He ignores failure. He celebrates non-existent success. This can only be
done by being fact-free and abstract, as for example, OPRRW is, page
after apologetic page. He appears to deny causation. The putative party
budget crisis is an orphan, with no father and no mother. No one's to
blame. He insists: press ahead with the same policies. Presumably, the
past is no guide to the future.
No one denies that the Party's difficulties are real: No growth. A tiny
membership of perhaps a thousand in a country of over 300 million souls.
Budget crisis, contrived or uncontrived. But above all, above all, the
greatest problem is the demoralization and political disorientation. In
most regions of the country, club life has declined. People are voting
with their feet and becoming inactive, or joining organizations that do
The latest changes adopted in June are being billed as "efforts to make
the Party grow." But a party cannot grow if the reasons for working
people to join it have been -- and continue to be -- removed.
In other words, tailism has consequences. No wonder few want to join a
party which conceives its chief mission to be electing Democrats. No
wonder members are drifting away. Owing to the world capitalist economic
crisis, the class struggle is sharpening at home and abroad. The warlike
tendencies of monopoly capitalism are coming to the fore. Working people
and oppressed people want to fight back. Honest Communists want to lead
the fight. Under attack, working class people want far-reaching change
-- real change, not campaign-slogan "change."
But, by abandoning struggle, the CPUSA is missing opportunities for
recruitment among masses of people moving into struggle.
US working people are not the only ones with a stake in this inner-party
ideological struggle. The world Communist movement understands full well
that there is a need for a revolutionary organization in the heartland
of imperialism, one that can lead mass struggles. The CPUSA suffers from
growing international isolation. Two ideologically steeled mass
Communist parties that, since 1991, have unselfishly rallied the
Communist movement, the Greek and the Portuguese, are continually
badmouthed in private conversation by CPUSA leaders. It is known that
foreign Communist leaders are watching the drama in the CPUSA with
growing concern, dismay, and alarm.
How to Recover
A growing number of Party members at all levels believe the present
course must be changed. Privately, though they do not relish an internal
fight, they will admit that if the present leaders will not or cannot
change course, then the leadership must be changed. What might a
recovery plan carried out by a new leadership look like? A few
suggestions, in no particular order:
• Replace the struggle against the ultra-right by the perspective of
struggle against monopoly, especially in light of the world economic
crisis. To achieve whatever reform potential  exists under the
present Administration, it needs pressure from the Left. It's getting
plenty of pressure from the Right.
• Re-study the CPUSA 's role in the Great Depression. The Party is today
doing the opposite of what it did then. Then, it supported FDR's good
initiatives, opposed his bad ones, but mainly it led and organized from
below among masses in struggle. Carry out a sober analysis of the class
forces represented by the Obama Administration. Fashion a CPUSA
anti-crisis program for this moment.
• Stop tailing the Democrats. Resume the struggle to build political
independence in all its forms, including, where possible and
appropriate, Communist candidacies. Project the Party's own advanced
demands for anti-monopoly democracy and for socialism. Fight for
leadership of people's movements, including trade unions. Never leave
out that any reforms under capitalism, even if won, are never secure.
Only socialism can bring real change.
• Revitalize the industrial concentration policy. The cream of the YCL
and other younger members should be encouraged to go into key industries
to win positions of union leadership and influence for the future.
• Revamp the labor policy. There is a complete muddle about what is
"left" and "center." The center forces will settle for whatever is on
offer from the Democrats. Without the voice of a conscious Marxist
current, center forces vacillate, the endless retreat of UAW top leaders
being only the latest egregious example. The Party's labor staff in
Chicago has better things to do than recycle AFL-CIO press releases. The
most militant tactics (plant occupations, e.g.) are rarely publicly
advised by CPUSA leaders though once under way, such tactics are
supported by all, and intensely admired by rank and file CPUSA members.
• Restore Marxist-Leninist education at all levels. The rightists in the
leadership have gotten this far because of the woeful theoretical
development of US Party members.
• Restore the PWW and PA as the voice of Communist militancy, with new
chief editors who have Communist politics. Smart use of the Internet is
important, but it cannot substitute for direct mass contact with workers
through print publications. Imagine telling workers at a plant gate or
on a picket line, or unemployment line that they can read it all at
• Renew and reinvigorate proven left forms and create new ones with more
advanced positions than the mass movements, especially in matters of the
highest priority such as: equality for African-Americans and other
nationally oppressed groups; anti-imperialist solidarity, Free the Cuban
Five and end the blockade; health-care reform worthy of the name;
disarmament; an immediate end to the various US aggressions in the
Mideast; rank-and-file union action and democracy; women's equality;
democratic rights and civil liberties, and so forth. Left-center unity,
key to social change, is not built by a self-renouncing Left. Left forms
are also one of the keys to Party growth.
An article as forthrightly opportunist as "The Mentality of
Marginalization" reflects the Party's ideological decline.
The CPUSA is in a deep crisis. In a crisis, a contradiction sharpens to
the point that it soon must be resolved. The contradictions here are two
interrelated ones. One is the contradiction, on the one hand, between
the leadership circle that, with sheer chicanery, is speeding up its
drive to remake the CPUSA into something other than a Communist Party
and, on the other hand, the honest members who think they are in the
same Communist Party they joined. In June 2009 the leadership
miscalculated by attacking the print edition of the Party newspaper.
Many more members now see the truth, or at least are open to hearing it.
That represents progress.
The other contradiction -- helping to open up Party members' eyes -- is
the gap between reality and the Party's rose-colored political line. The
line is not only unrealistic. It thwarts Party growth. These two
contradictions will sharpen. They will be resolved, one way or another.
The present situation cannot last.
The present CPUSA leadership is calling for more of the same policies.
Moreover, to their shame, they are blocking the channels of inner-party
democracy. With the May 2010 national convention not far off, in a
frenzy to pre-ordain the outcome, under pressure from national Party
officials, reportedly one large district is abolishing industrial clubs,
creating unwieldy "community clubs" under the control of loyalists who
will vote for the more of the same at the convention. It is likely that
such clubs will be directed to carry out electoral work for Democrats,
and do little else. Thus, for two reasons, tactically, to weaken critics
and potential convention opponents, and longer-term, to turn the Party
more fully into an electoral helpmate for the Democrats, the hard-won
industrial roots of the Party are being ripped up.
This article will not presume to tell CPUSA members what to do. They can
figure that out. Only Party members will decide the fate of the CPUSA.
But, first, they must recognize the calamitous path that the current
leadership has mapped out.
In the view of more than a few Party members, the incumbent leadership
needs to be held accountable for nearly ten years in office. Their
record is: a nonsensical political line, no growth, dwindling influence
on the left and in mass movements, political disorientation and
declining morale, recurrent budget crises, fraying international ties,
and a headstrong determination to steer the Party straight into the
iceberg. Surely, it is possible to find a few fresh leaders who are
accountable and politically sound.
Every time a function of the Party is shut down, it makes it harder for
healthy forces to recover lost ground. If the changes voted for in June
2009 are any indication of things to come, goodness knows what they have
planned for May 2010. As one observer noted, a plane can be dismantled
one piece at a time. A four-engine jet can fly with one engine
malfunctioning, or perhaps with a damaged tailfin. But at some point,
the absence of key parts causes the plane to fall to earth. The Party is
reaching that point.
If anyone is tempted to walk away in disgust, resist the temptation.
Real revolutionaries don't quit. Walking away only makes the victory of
the Party-wreckers easier. There is not an infinite amount of time to
right this starboard-listing ship. Every comrade is needed is in this
struggle. Let the motto of this struggle be what a CWA worker shouted
not long ago at a strike rally: "We will fight until hell freezes
over...and then we will fight on the ice!"
Words to live by.
 OPRRW: "We took a fresh look at the labor movement, noting the new
positive developments, even asking ourselves whether quantitative
changes were reaching a qualitative turning point in terms of labor's
outlook and practical activity."
 Individual Communist activists soldier on in antiwar work, health
care reform work, labor work, solidarity work, often with little
direction from the national center. Out of self-discipline and
commitment these loyal individuals keep engaged in struggle. It one of
the reasons not all of them see the metamorphosis at the national center.
 This notion is at best ten percent true. Labor unions, being the
biggest, most stable, best-funded, and often best-organized people's
organizations, often bulk large in larger coalitions. But in so many
arenas of non-economic struggle, (anti-war, anti-imperialism,
anti-racism, etc.) unions do not lead at all, although they could do so,
with Left leadership. The Left must win leadership in all arenas of
 Line of March: a Historical and Critical Analysis of British
Communism and its Revolutionary Strategy by Max Adereth (London: Praxis
Press, 1994). Passim. Another lesson of the British tragedy was that a
generation of radical youth can be lost to ultra-leftism. If US
liquidationism wins, the effects will be felt for decades. It can happen
 The apologetics extend to domestic policy. Obama is for "charter
schools," i.e., privately-managed public schools, a panacea promoted by
the Right to weaken teacher unions. So, siding with Obama, the Party
goes silent on the charter school issue. For decades, teacher unions
have done their best to fend off charter schools and defend the public
school system, with mixed results. The urban public school system,
underfunded though it is, remains a major achievement of US democracy.
 The foreign policy landscape is hardly new. True, the domestic
policy landscape can boast some welcome changes, but it is not entirely
new either. The CPUSA inner circle simply declares that a glorious
morning of new politics has dawned. This explains its refusal to
concretely analyze the class nature of the Obama Administration, i.e.,
the monopoly capitalist interests he represents. It would hinder the
idolization of the fictitious Obama they have created. In the 2008
campaign when some CPUSA members quite naturally referred to him as "a
bourgeois politician," the label was hotly rejected by Webb and his
associates. Instead they heap outlandish praise on Obama and the
Democrats. The titles of speeches are silly: "The Impossible Becomes
Possible," "Change is Here; Change is on the Way!" The country just went
through "The Springtime of Possibility." Obama's "a friend," a "people's
advocate." During the campaign his speech on racism was "a speech for
the ages." Such mad hyperbole expresses contempt for the intelligence of
party members. It is supposed to convince them to ignore the facts under
What are those facts? In foreign policy, little is new. One can point to
a changed atmosphere. There is welcome shift to diplomacy, and less of
the reckless, brutal shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later of the Bush
years. In domestic policy, many Obama policies can be praised. The
picture is mixed. Unemployment rates have soared above 20 percent in
many US cities. Thanks to both Obama and Bush, the biggest bank
monopolies are brazenly gorging themselves on profits and bonuses
derived from taxpayer bailouts. Tens of thousands of autoworkers, many
of whom surely worked hard to get him elected, have been tossed to the
wolves. Obama's election, breaking the racist color bar on the White
House, admittedly was a democratic achievement. But, for the
overwhelming majority of Americans of color, the burden of special
oppression and class oppression remain a material reality, as the Black
unemployment rates double the white unemployment rate (true for decades
The two big domestic reforms that working people and progressives care
most about -- health care reform and the restoration of union organizing
rights through the Employee Free Choice Act -- are both in trouble.
Their best features have already been compromised away by the
Administration under corporate pressure. Covering up, denying,
minimizing, and distorting these realities is a big part of the present
 Opportunism is not only a political phenomenon. It has a psychology.
Lenin wrote: When we speak of fighting opportunism, we must never forget
a characteristic feature of present day opportunism in every sphere,
namely, its vagueness, its amorphousness, elusiveness. An opportunist by
his very nature will always evade taking clear stand. He will always
seek a middle course, he will always wriggle like a snake between two
mutually exclusive points of view and try to 'agree' with both and
reduce his difference of opinion to petty amendments doubts innocent and
pious suggestions, and so on and so forth.
 The likeness between the Obama Administration's positions and CPUSA
positions is the source of endless glee and fascination on the web sites
of the ultra right anti-Communist lunatics stuck in a Cold War time
warp. They claim it proves Obama is a Communist. Not at all. It suggests
certain Communist leaders have reinvented themselves as Democrats.
 It has not escaped notice in the world movement that the CPUSA,
often citing the positions of an Iraq Communist Party leadership that is
part of the puppet government, is willing to sign fewer and few
international statements on Iraq, on Gaza, on anything.
 The CPUSA Progam, 1984, more radical than the one adopted in 2005,
contained the following 11-point anti-monopoly program:
A program of radical reforms would include, but not necessarily be
limited to, the following:
1. Negotiate comprehensive arms limitations and reductions. Drastically
slash the bloated military budget and apply the savings to constructive
public use, such as providing employment and training; guaranteeing
affirmative action with firm quotas and timetables so as to overcome
past discrimination and rapidly achieve full equality; building
low-rent, quality housing; vast improvements in mass public
transportation and public services.
2. Close all tax loopholes for the rich and end public subsidies to the
corporate profits heavily; end all giveaways of natural resources to the
monopolies and reclaim past grants wherever possible.
3. Strengthen labor's right to organize, to enforce contracts and to
strike. Curb "management prerogatives" on such questions as plant
closings, automation, job safety, environmental protection, product
quality and similar questions which vitally affect the lives of workers
and the whole people.
4. Nationalize the energy monopolies so as to provide adequate energy
supplies at the lowest possible cost. Build modern power plants
providing conditions of maximum safety.
5. Public ownership of the hospitals, drug and medical companies.
Provide free, quality, comprehensive health care for all.
6. Abolish the CIA and the FBI; enact measures to prohibit racist or
political repression of the people's movements.
7. Enact and enforce measures to protect the exercise of full economic,
political and social equality for all races and nationalities and for
8. Extend aid to family-type farms through grants, long-term government
guarantees of parity prices for products. Make similar credits and loans
available to other small producers and service enterprises.
9. Rescue our cities from the grasp of the banks and wealthy bondholders
and provide funds to improve the quality of urban and rural life.
10. Remove unequal barriers to foreign trade and promote interchange
with other nations on terms of mutual benefit.
11. Enact a National Youth Act guaranteeing- the right of youth to earn,
learn and live a full life.
 The current no-struggle-be-happy-with the-Democrats policy is
arguably unfair to Obama. He has a reasonably progressive background. If
the US Left including the CPUSA, instead of writing love letters, were
mounting pressure on him, they would help him and he might welcome it.
To paraphrase what FDR famously told A. Philip Randolph. "Mr. Randolph,
the reform you propose would a good idea. Now make me do it."
 Webb's OPRRW makes a fleeting reference to "labor concentration."
This could leave the misleading impression that there is still a CPUSA
policy of industrial concentration. There isn't one. Ask the YCL. Ask
the industrial districts. It's gone.