Friday, August 27, 2010

The great thinkers

We have decided to do away with the labels like Party Theoretician.

We will now have Party Thinkers.

I will be designating the Party Thinkers.

Joining me as Party Thinkers are:

Joel Wendland from Podunk Town, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

John Case the loony lonesome hobo from Blueberry Hill.

Erwin Marquit from the Twin Cities.

Bruce Bostick our thinker extraordinaire.

I hereby proclaim these people to be our official Party Thinkers.

Sam Webb
National Chair, CPUSA

Overlooked item

We need to vote to give Carl Davidson permission to speak for the CPUSA.

Let me hear from the Nays first.

Ok, now the Yeas.

The yeas have it; Carl Davidson now has permission to speak for the CPUSA.

Sam Webb
Chair, National Board, CPUSA

Two items today

Everyone has been asking about Bruce Bostick. We gave Bruce a couple of bottles of anti-depressants and told him to come back to us when he feels up to working for the Democrats and Obama.

This other gem is being distributed against my orders. Some delegates to our convention have taken steps that will bring them into conflict with my explicit orders that no one is to bad mouth me.

If anyone knows who these delegates are please give me or one of my Special Agents a call.

Of course everyone is entitled to their opinions as long as they agree with me.

I think I might now who this is from Kentucky. I have thought about this for two weeks. I think I have it figured out.

Here is what they say. A Trotskyist of all people is mailing this around:

Impressions of the CPUSA convention

Written by A Group of Delegates

Many friends and comrades have asked us: what really happened at the CPUSA Convention on May 21-23, eleven weeks ago, at Party headquarters in New York City?

So far, there are only the self-congratulatory appraisals, one by Party chair Sam Webb and another by his supporter John Case. Both are champions of the social reformist trend in the Party.

In the view of the Communist (that is, the Marxist-Leninist) wing of the CPUSA, however, the May 21-23, 2010 convention was a disaster. We see the Convention as a scandalous retreat from the US Party’s honorable history of principled struggle. The Convention was a retreat from socialism, class struggle, political independence, and internationalism. The Convention gave up ground on the fight against racism, imperialism, and monopoly.

It was not a convention rich in substance. What little substance there was, was objectionable, and came in the Main Report and the Composite Resolutions, which are available in full at and

The Main Report
Sam Webb’s report could have been written by any liberal. When his followers dutifully referred to it as "brilliant," many a delegate could barely believe it.

It is known that one or more members of the National Board (NB) urged Sam Webb to take into account preconvention discussion critical of his line. He refused, calling such criticism the outpouring of a “small minority.” In the old days many ideas in preconvention discussion -- even if critical of the leadership -- would have been taken into account and discussed in the Main Report. That did not happen this time.

His Main Report is full of Straw Men deployed against his left critics in the Party. Skillful at writing opportunist double talk, Webb can compose sentences that, to the unwary reader, sound like common sense. Read more closely, however, his formulations throw open the door through which have marched the reformism, tailism, and American Exceptionalism that are aggravating the crisis in the CPUSA. For example:

Enclosing him [Obama] in a narrowly defined, tightly sealed political category – as many on the left and right do – is a also goes in the direction of pitting the president against the working class and the people. That the right does this is no surprise. But when left and progressive people do it, it is wrong strategically and thus extremely harmful politically.

Our vision of socialism is a work in progress…

Our socialist vision should have a contemporary and dynamic feel; it should be rooted in today’s conditions and our national experience. If it has a “foreign” feel to it, people will reject it.

What I want to do is correct one-sidedness in our thinking. A transfer in class power -- which will more likely be a series of contested moments during which qualitative changes in power relations in favor of the working-class and its allies take place...


Webb began his report with a list of what he views as “advances” since the last CP convention in 2005. Many of these he credits to the Obama Administration which took office in January 2009.

It’s a curious list. Much of his list is simply Obama’s promises or hopes hailed as if they were achievements. The Administration talks about “reining in Wall Street.” It aspires to the abolition of nuclear weapons. Global warming has been put “on the agenda.”

Much of the list is less than earth-shaking in importance. For example, the White House issued a proclamation on Workers’ Memorial Day.

Some items are wholly imaginary: “The pendulum of power has shifted.” He claims “progressives are on the offensive.” “Torture was prohibited.”

2005 versus 2010: Some Facts
His list of “advances,” of course, purports to be evidence justifying the CPUSA policy of tailing Obama and the Democrats. Here is counterevidence:

In 2005 the US didn’t have 30,000 fresh troops in Afghanistan. Now it has, all told, nearly 100,000 there, not counting mercenaries.

In 2005 the US had a military budget of around $600 billion. Now it is around $708 billion.

In 2005 there was the blockade of Cuba. In 2010 there is a reauthorized blockade of Cuba.

In 2005 Honduras had a constitutionally elected government. Now it has a usurper government installed by the US and its Honduran allies.

In 2005 Guantanamo was open. In 2010 Guantanamo is still open.

In 2005 the Cuban Five were in prison. In 2010 the Cuban Five remain in prison.

In 2005, in the housing bubble, predatory lenders targeted people of color. In 2010 mortgage delinquencies, and foreclosure and evictions are at an all-time high, and the victims are disproportionately people of color.

In 2005 the unemployment rate of Black workers was double the unemployment rate of white workers. In 2010 Black workers’ unemployment rate was still double the white unemployment rate, if not more.

In 2005 we needed health care reform. In 2010 we got a new health inurance "reform" law that entrenches the private, profit-making insurance carriers, the most parasitic sector of finance capital.

In 2005 with Bush in the White House and Republican control of Congress, the war in Iraq wasn’t winding down. In 2010 with Democratic control of Congress and a Democrat in the White House, the Iraq War is still not winding down. It is being re-branded.

In 2005 we had a president who had recently launched a war of aggression in Iraq; in 2010 we have a president who escalated a war of aggression in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In 2005 before the housing bubble burst, investment bankers and other lords of high finance were raking in billions by fraudulent means. In 2010, two years after the crash exposed them, the same lords of finance, their bonuses fattened by taxpayer billions, walk in and out of Congressional hearings fearing no one. They thumb their noses at the Congress and the public.

In 2005 the party had weekly newspaper we could give out at plant gates. Now it has a cyber newspaper.

If there was anything new in Webb’s report it was the reaffirmation of tailism, more emphatically than ever. Webb stated that for the CPUSA there is only to be “independent politics inside the Democratic Party.”

The Official “Composite” Resolutions

The content of the composite resolutions pushed through by the leadership illustrate vividly the political decay.

Historically, in the US working class movement, the chief features of right social democracy are 1) the defense of imperialism and 2) the soft-peddling of the struggle against racism. This convention marks a big shift in that direction.

The original resolutions from the Party grassroots were combined with similar resolutions and “edited” by the Resolutions Committee. But the “editing” destroyed the original political thrust of the submitted resolutions. It would be an exaggeration to say the Composite Resolutions bore any resemblance to the original resolutions. No original resolutions were read to or voted on by the Convention body.

One hour was allowed for discussion of the resolutions. The resolutions committee spent 45 minutes reading the edited resolutions, word-for-word out loud. Discussion was cut off after 15 minutes, even though many people were lined up to speak.

“Composite” Resolution #5, the long resolution on Peace and Solidarity is the most disgraceful and dangerous of all the resolutions. It is the most removed from anti-imperialist principles. It defends the Obama foreign policy against the facts. When facts don’t conform to the tailist policy, it adjusts the facts, asserting, for example, that the US withdrawal from Iraq is “on track.”

The underlying fiction put forth by the leadership is: the Obama Administration is never guilty of any crimes. The Obama Administration only does bad things “under pressure from the right wing.”

This Peace and Solidarity resolution will be of great interest to the international Communist movement, which can only conclude that it no longer has a Communist Party ally in the belly of the beast.

This resolution means the CPUSA leadership is consciously choosing alignment with Obama instead of the struggle against imperialism. The CPUSA leaders do not want to struggle against imperialist war, which Obama is waging and expanding.

It is easier for the CPUSA to make common cause with the US Administration on the basis of the golden words of his various speeches calling for nuclear arms cuts. The CPUSA wants “a new peace movement,” as Party peace leaders have stated, one that will dodge the issue of imperialist aggression. It will, instead, support nuclear disarmament and stress the wastefulness of military spending in terms of funds unavailable for economic and social needs.

This, then, is the most shameful consequence of this opportunist leadership's loss of its working-class and Marxist-Leninist bearings. It is de facto acquiescing to the criminal U.S. imperialist occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Fight for Jobs, Resolution #1, was supposed to be showcased at the Convention. It is little different from the AFL-CIO program. A clear Marxist approach, for example, would entail the class-struggle demand to cut the workweek with no cut in pay. Such a remedy would expand jobs at the expense of corporate profits. This notion is nowhere to be found. Worse, while the resolution takes note of the especially high unemployment rates among Blacks, Latinos, women, youth, etc. it opportunistically does not call for affirmative action in hiring and re-hiring them, the classic CPUSA position for many decades.

The Special Report on the Fight against Racism (Resolution # 2) True to the key policy of Webb and his allies -- Tail Obama and the Democrats -- this resolution sees the upsurge of racism (SB1070, the Arizona racial profiling law, the wave of anti-Muslim discrimination and repression) as a response from the ultra-right to the election of Obama. With this resolution, the CPUSA fight against racism is no longer primarily motivated by the necessity of building working class unity. Rather, the CPUSA leaders fear the ultra right is trying to “disrupt” the workings of the new Administration. In other words, the Obama Administration’s political interests, not working-class unity, are the main preoccupation. This resolution also dodges the question of affirmative action.

The Resolution on Political Action (Resolution # 3), equates the ultra- right with the Republican Party and shuns a class analysis of the Obama Administration. This resolution could have been written by the Democratic National Committee. It pledges to “extend and defend” the “victories” won in the November 2008 election. It is, simply put, more tailism.

The Resolution on Immigrant Rights (# 4) merely restates the AFL-CIO position in favor of immigration reform. It leaves out the highly relevant fact that deportations of undocumented workers have increased under an Obama Administration eager to appease nativist sentiment. According to figures from the federal immigration enforcement agency, in 2009 the Obama Administration deported 389,834 people, about 20,000 more than in 2008, the final year of the Bush Administration.

Resolution # 6, on Party-building, manages to discuss the “challenges” to Party growth without acknowledging that the Party membership is in steep decline. An honest discussion of why recruitment is failing was omitted.

How many party members are there? In a report on Party Internet work and Internet “recruiting,” one NB member inadvertently gave away the real size of this declining party, a number often lied about. In 2005 the CPUSA had 2500 members, according to Sam Webb. At the 2010 convention the NB member in question declared “3 times a week a new application comes by Internet, and at this rate the party could double its size in three years.” Do the math. If there are 150 yearly Internet applications, the current membership may be reckoned to be around 450-500 at most.

The present leaders would have us believe, of course, that the steep decline has nothing to do with the politics of the leadership. Rather, it is subtly implied that it is the members who must change their ways. Members are to blame, and they must work differently.

More on the Character of the Convention

The grim reality we face is that, in the May 2010 convention, the right-wing faction in the leadership led by Webb, for now, has consolidated its hold over the party.

The outcome was dreadful, but it was not entirely surprising. Opportunism has been the increasingly assertive trend in this party for years. This is the same right opportunist direction taken by some other parties.

In the pre-convention discussion, articles like “Save the Party,” give chapter and verse of our critique of the Party’s political decline (see, and what has to be done to turn matters around.

The current Party leadership is a faction. Factions and factionalism are not limited to oppositions to leaderships. In such cases, however, official factionalism functions in the form of bureaucracy. Bureaucracy stifles party democracy and membership criticism. It uses charges of “disruption,” and, of course, “factionalism” against its left critics. The present leaders have not -- in so many words -- repudiated democratic centralism. They will enjoy the democracy. We may expect to be on the receiving end of the centralism.

In June 2009 the factional nature of the Webb leadership was most clearly revealed when it rammed through a policy of ending the print edition of the Party’s weekly paper, the People’s Weekly World. It also withheld information at subsequent National Committee (NC) meetings on the extent of leadership and membership opposition to the move. This is one of a series of abuses for which they still have not been held accountable.

A notorious example from 2005, a CP convention year. The Illinois CP, after adopting a resolution calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, forwarded it on to the national convention for adoption. Although efforts were subsequently made by a clearly uncomfortable national Party leadership to have the maker of the motion change it ("to reflect the security interests of the Iraqi people" - i.e. to acknowledge the legitimacy of the U.S. occupiers), the maker refused, pointing out that even if he had wanted to do so (which he did not), it was already out of his hands. The resolution ultimately came before the national convention in a bundle of resolutions approved by the resolutions committee. That bundle was adopted unanimously.

Subsequently, that resolution was willfully disregarded by the Party's leadership and editors. Its content was never reflected in the Party's own newspaper. Efforts to have this position reflected in the Party's publications were repeatedly quashed. Nor was the resolution implemented in the Party's mass work, particularly on the national level. It remains a dead letter to this day.

The justification for this willful neglect was that Sam Webb, in his report to the convention, suggested a "different approach" -- one acceptable to Democrats -- calling for a "timetable" or an "exit strategy" from Iraq. This approach was and essentially remains a stalling tactic, an indefinite postponement of U.S. withdrawal that has resulted in many thousands of additional Iraqi and U.S. deaths and the continued presence of over 100,000 U.S. troops (and a similar number of "contractors") in Iraq up to this very day.

Webb's report, which was presented without any opportunity for substantive amendment, was perfunctorily adopted. His report was then used to invalidate the clear antiwar resolution.

And this from a Party leadership that purports to champion democracy!

Stifling Convention Democracy

The convention, a caricature of democracy, was tightly controlled by the present leaders.

It was small: only 158 delegates and 50 guests. Convention managers filled the three days with ludicrous time wasters, such as a bagpipe-playing session. They contrived delegate selection rules to give regions with no clubs a vote, especially if they were reliably pro-incumbent. For example, a defender of the right-wing line represented the state of West Virginia.

Unlike previous conventions, the mood of this convention showed little sense of internationalism, and little sense of outrage against the imperialist wars being waged by the US. The convention was stacked, as much as possible, with people willing to go along to get along, as well as the current leadership and its flatterers.

What was the mood? One Party worker, a man in his 50s stated:

At the convention, I felt like an outsider. My "home in this rock," to quote Paul Robeson, seemed to be no longer my home. My political home has been transformed without my consent or agreement. It has been stolen. They have put an end to the necessary tools of our trade, so to speak, the party paper and timely class-oriented pamphlets on the important issues facing our working class. Tailing and nonsense analysis replaced class-struggle analysis and leadership. In general, it seemed to me that our misleadership has lost their class-conscious common sense.

Clearly, the goal, which conference organizers achieved, was to run a top-down, stage-managed convention that would squelch free debate, waste time, and run out the clock.

There was little time devoted to face-to-face discussion at the convention. People could not engage in discussion to collectively shape an agenda on how to best move the organization forward.

Most of the Convention’s time was squandered on self-congratulatory speeches from the leadership that took credit for general political trends way beyond any conceivable CPUSA influence. The “calls to action” amounted to nothing more than calls for legislative lobbying and electioneering for Democrats.

Yet the rightists in leadership had been worried about loss of control the convention, though, regrettably, their worries proved unfounded. In a preconvention comment one of their supporters voiced the worry:

A narrowly based, but very persistent campaign has been waged on the Internet and in the comments sections of CP publications — by my count nearly 20% of commenters and discussants and much more if you count the number of words — with the sole effective purpose being to distract the Left, and especially the CP, from working within the broadly defined Obama coalition, or from focusing on a majority-based agenda of reforms.

The right had reason for anxiety. Most of the resolutions, like most of the pre-convention discussion (available at the www. website), opposed the reformist line of the present leadership. It opposed the shutting down of the print edition of the People’s World. It supported ending the fawning tailism of Obama and the Democrats. It called for the Party to shed right opportunism and to return to its anti-imperialist, class struggle, and anti-war principles.

We believe the convention outcome does not reflect the political balance in the Party membership as whole. The grassroots opposition sentiment, which is substantial, was barely reflected. The convention delegates were carefully chosen by procedures that guaranteed majority support of the incumbents. In all organizations incumbents have certain advantages. This was done by various means, quite a few of them flagrantly dishonest, such as completely ignoring the content of properly submitted resolutions from the Party grassroots.

That the national convention would be a travesty of democracy was predictable, perhaps, from the chicanery at the state conventions that preceded it – the Illinois District convention being one of the worst cases. In the Illinois convention, the organizers killed time by watching videos and holding tutorials on how to send email. In Illinois and elsewhere the Webb faction maneuvered to keep key, articulate leaders opposed to the rightist trend away from the national convention.

The national convention was held in a room small in size, allegedly for economy reasons. The Webb faction has vacillated between 1) declaring a financial crisis that rules out face-to-face meetings and 2) denying any financial crisis exists if they are claiming that there is no problem with their stewardship. The spin depends on needs of the moment. Truth and consistency are not the guiding principles.

They smothered debate not only by ignoring preconvention resolutions and discussion, but also by making the convention smaller and less representative. Rural areas of the country, even if there was only one party member in a given state, got a voting delegate. But some industrial clubs were completely unrepresented.

They also isolated those critics of the Party line who were at the convention. One of the strongest of their opponents, an NC member from Kentucky, objected to adding to the NC a Midwesterner who evinced no understanding of the role of clubs in Party structure. He also objected to another candidate involved in questionable financial activity. He was overruled and the two were added to the NC. For his pains, he himself was dropped from the NC. Whenever he rose to speak, he was surrounded by Webb loyalists.

An Air of Unreality

Most leadership speeches proclaimed a mad eagerness to work in an imaginary coalition with the liberal wing of Big Business. In his Main Report, Webb boasted, “Broadly speaking, our view of the general conditions of struggle and the strategic path forward was and is on the money.”

A long-time Party peace movement leader made such delusional statements as: “Obama is listening to us [e.g., Peace Action, Military Families Speak Out]. He meets with us. We can’t close this door by criticizing him.” “We need to help Obama resist being pushed to the right.” “Obama’s sentiment on Afghanistan is shifting our way.” “Obama has realistic assessment on the withdrawal of troops.”

Thus, the content of the convention was remarkably unconnected to the Party’s real mission – leading struggle. Such pressing issues as climate change, one billion hungry people, a waning labor movement, a health care system given over to major profiteering, populations displaced and migrating, US militarization of the planet, and more received little or no discussion.

A Dearth of Internationalism

In the Convention’s deliberations there was little discussion of developments abroad: the multiplying wars, global economic crisis, struggles like that of the Haitian people for survival against racism and colonialism, resistance to US bases and militarization, popular resistance to the coup government in Honduras, and a real push to end the blockade and free the Cuban Five.

As for our relations with other Communist parties, Convention organizers minimized the number of observers from the international Communist movement. When realistic comrades pointed out that, if budgetary considerations were paramount, then inviting the UN or consular staff resident in New York from such counties as China, Vietnam, Cuba, and North Korea was an option, for the price of a subway ride. The Party leadership resisted that obvious solution.

In the end, several parties did appear to give short greetings. The Vietnamese delegate spoke.

Convention managers minimized delegates’ knowledge what the international Communist movement was saying to the CPUSA.

For example, the Webb circle tried to suppress the full Greek Communist Party (KKE) greetings, especially the paragraphs that dealt with opportunism in the international Communist movement. When the full KKE text was handed in writing to the delegates (thanks to the fact that the KKE had speedily posted the greetings in English at its website) Webb and his supporters were forced to issue a message of solidarity to the KKE and eventually to post the whole KKE statement at the CPUSA web site. Of course, now that it is there, they are making no effort to call attention to it.

One of the most active YCLers expressed alarm at the lack of young delegates at the convention. There were, of course, YCL guests (and a few delegates) but participation from youth was scant. A healthy and vibrant Communist Party would give special attention to the training and support of young leaders and cadre. The lack of youth participation is a portent that the current political line of the leadership has no future.

The convention was stacked, as much as possible, with people willing to “go along to get along,” as well as the current leaders and their hangers-on. YCLers were given a code to register as guests, and when some leaders of the YCL tried to register they were denied access to the convention for the reason that “there was no room.” This was systematically done for political reasons.

Resistance to the Line

With plenary sessions a choreographed sham, what rebellion there was could only take place in skirmishes in the workshops and panels, not the plenaries. There were good discussions in the workshops. However, there were no minutes taken or reports given back to the larger body.

In one workshop, for example, the information technology panacea was challenged by an Arizona delegate who pointed out the reality of the digital divide.

In the “Club Life and Education” workshop the majority of participants steered the discussion towards theory – i.e., the leadership’s failure to incorporate and develop it and the need to focus on the Marxist-Leninist theoretical education of existing and new members. Indeed, the consensus of this workshop was that the leadership needed to be told that the Party needs to pay more attention to theory. The YCL co-convener of the workshop attempted to shift the discussion and assert control a number of times, without much success

Two Controversies

Two controversies burst out into the open at the Convention. One was the censorship of the KKE greetings, mentioned above.

The other was the treatment of the resolution on independence for Puerto Rico. The Massachusetts District resolution on Puerto Rican liberation was substantially the same as in the last convention. However, the nervous chair, People’s World editor Terrie Albano, perceived the resolution as an act of insurrection from rebel districts (Massachusetts, Kentucky, Indiana). Afraid of debate, Albano shut down discussion. This enraged Party members of Puerto Rican descent and other backers of the Massachusetts resolution, several of whom walked out.

One mendacious “special resolution” deserves a word. It emanated from the national leadership, commending the New York District for helping to re-launch May Day. New York trade union comrades familiar with the facts pointed out that national Party leaders had done their best not to participate in May Day on the grounds that “Obama need support; he doesn’t need criticism.” Sam Webb and Scott Marshall, Party labor secretary, had rejected early pleas for help from the trade unionists and immigrant groups trying to relaunch it.

More Liquidation

The “Composite” resolutions represent ideological liquidation. All the resolutions repudiate the idea that the CPUSA will seek to play a leading role in anything or initiate anything. It will merely “participate in,” “help,” “encourage,” “join in,” “give support to,” and so on.

But there was physical liquidation too. The convention decided henceforth to hold only one National Committee meeting a year. The other three meetings will be conference calls, which are, of course, easier to manipulate.

It was clear from the comments of Roberta Wood, Party secretary-treasurer, that the Party will rent Winston-Unity Hall, a floor of the New York City headquarters building, to finance a pay raise for Party staff. It increasing appears that the paid staff is asserting its group interests regardless of the consequences to the organization or its rank and file members who were not present as delegates.

The CPUSA leadership composition became more skewed with near total removal of independent and critical voices from the NC. The leadership is now quite inbred, both politically and otherwise. The daughter of Sam and Sue Webb -- a schoolteacher in Boston who plays little or no role in Party life there -- was put on the National Committee.

There was an unsuccessful effort by Danny Rubin, an ideological ally and mentor of Webb, to enhance the powers of the National Board (NB), which has become really a rubber-stamp council of Webb loyalists. Rubin wished to centralize power at the expense of the NC on matters of Party constitutional change.

The incoming NC’s size remains about the same, still 82 or 84. The convention dropped 12 or 14 NC members, and added a like amount. Some departing NC members were not removed, they resigned in disgust.

Party veterans noted that the reports on local activity, customary at such gatherings were not “what we are doing” They were “what’s going on,” that is, what others are doing. It was another expression of the Party’s loss of purpose.

At the convention younger comrades barely spoke, most wondering what to make of the proceedings. Veterans of many Party conventions saw no -- or at any rate few -- new faces in key districts

Forty-five minutes of Webb's keynote remarks were taped for C-SPAN. His supporters considered this to be of great importance. It seems to us that inviting C-SPAN to tape Webb’s presentation demonstrated that his intended audience is the TV-viewing public, not specifically Communists. His generalizations and lack of analysis could only be directed to non-Communists.


The Convention was undemocratic, scripted, non-Communist (in fact anti-Communist at times), and devoid of Marxist analysis of present conditions. One delegate, completely disgusted, predicted, “They won’t even bother to hold another convention.”

Validating our pessimistic analysis, since the convention, matters have continued to slide down the slippery slope. The first NC conference call took up the topic of “re-branding” the Party, as if the Party were a tube of toothpaste requiring a more modern name, like changing “Ipana” to “Aquafresh.” Reportedly, a consultant will be hired to advise on re-branding, including re-naming.

As one seasoned comrade who has subsequently resigned said privately to us, the convention result shows “the political gangrene of opportunism has spread very far indeed.”

Gangrene looks like this: one of the most appalling moments in this appalling convention came when Joel Wendland, editor of Political Affairs, a “Journal of Marxist Thought,” stated: “Isn’t it great we can have a CPUSA convention and not hear ‘Marx said this’ and ‘Lenin said that’?!” “We need to shed old skin on theoretical level.”

Evidently, Wendland is following his own advice. A few weeks back, he abandoned any theory of imperialism. He posted without criticism a proclamation from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Venezuelan Independence Day, as if the US State Department were a champion of Venezuelan independence. We believe the real State Department view is expressed in the seven new US military bases in neighboring Colombia, authorized by Obama and Clinton, aimed at strangling Venezuelan independence and democracy.

We view this convention as a hijacking of the Party by a faction of the leadership. Many good Party members are wondering: Can this party be saved?

We don’t know. It will take a fierce struggle. But most of us intend to try.

The present leadership is already in consultation with social reformist groups (DSA, CCDS, the reformist Freedom Road). It’s obvious that most of the present leaders don’t want a Communist Party. They view Leninism and even the name CPUSA as “baggage.”

As for us, a few voices among many, we are urging the healthy forces in the Party not to quit, but to stay and fight. How many will leave we do not yet know. Those who have left are honorable comrades who see resignation as a matter of principle. We have resolved to stay close to them and to work together closely. They have welcomed that.

Matters are serious. Yet, there are factors on our side. Here are a few: our opponents often miscalculate. For example, delaying the convention for one year proved a miscalculation on their part, insofar as it more easily enabled the left opposition in the Party to point out how absurd the official CPUSA “analysis” of Obama and the Democrats is. The international Communist movement is on our side. It is looking on with dismay and alarm at the deterioration within the CPUSA leadership. As the present US Administration moves steadily rightward, to justify its policies becomes ever more difficult. Disgusted by a Party that sees its sole mission the election of Democrats, people walk away or give up. The membership dwindles, and the organizational crisis deepens. The class struggle is sharpening in the US and around the world. Reformism has no solutions for US working people.

We doubt that there can be any recovery in the CPUSA until Sam Webb and his allies are removed from their present positions.

The daunting immediate task ahead for Marxist-Leninists in the US is to figure out how to move forward inside and outside the CPUSA.
August 18, 2010

Sam Webb
Chair, National Board, CPUSA

Monday, August 23, 2010

A little late in sharing this beautiful summation of our National Convention

This summation of our National Convention is my own written by one of the outstanding movement organizers theoreticians of our time, the brilliant John Case:

Reflections on the 29th Convention of the CPUSA

By John Case

[Submitted to Portside by author]


The US Communist Party held its 29th Convention this
past weekend in New York city on the 90th anniversary
of its founding. I last attended a CP convention in
1991, a time of great turmoil throughout all parties
and movements that identified with socialist or
communist ideals. The collapse of the USSR and the fall
of quite a few socialist led governments had persuaded
many that the entire socialist experiment had failed,
that Marxism was false.

For those who had came to view the vision and theories
of Karl Marx, and Vladimir Lenin, more as religion than
contributions to economic and political science; for
those who followed dogma over facts; for those who
believed political regimes by will alone were capable
of leaping over the real laws of economic and social
development -- a reckoning was certainly due.

Return of the Specter

But time has not been kind to those forces who believed
Bush the First when he proclaimed the dawn of a new
world order in love with the vicissitudes of
capitalism, and lawless globalization. Despite vigorous
attempts to bury the socialist and communist movements
-- and social democratic regimes too -- and poison the
atmosphere against their ideologies, both organization
and ideas on the Left appear to be returning in new,
more robust and energetic forms, judging by the new
wave of activists and rebels attending the 29th CP

Of course the CP has been around for a long time. But
it gives every evidence of shedding old skin and
reinvigorating itself. It takes multitudes of working
people, of many races and nationalities, men and women,
gay and straight, youth and seniors -- together --- to
move the mountains of inequity and injustice arising
from the past 35 years of financialization of the US
economy, and the greatest economic crisis since the
1930's. And the end of this crisis is not yet in sight,
which in itself gives rise to new thinking about the
nature of capitalism, and its ability to reproduce
itself. This convention marked a sharp break with any
remaining legacy within the party for narrow or
defensive conceptions of party organization. It
rejected notions of the path to US socialism other than
through the struggles to defeat the ultra right, and
raise the wealth and democratic rights of working
people, at the expense of monopoly corporate power.

Both old and new defenses from the ideologists of
capitalism are being broadly challenged. Robert Rubin's
well-managed society whose economy rests in the hands
of liberal investment banks has crashed. David Brooks
can't decide what to think. The right wing crazies are
probably too agitated and medicated to even be allowed
to drive a car. In this atmosphere of permanent hot
media and ceaseless information streams, no wonder
Obama's coolness stood out as a virtue voters thought
we might need! Thus, no surprise that Karl Marx, and
revised, more democratized conceptions of socialism,
are gaining renewed interest as the economic crisis
once again confronts society with the grave
difficulties of reining in capitalism's terrible
instability. Under the right constraints, capitalism
has been shown to generate great innovative successes.
Yet as each technological revolution overthrows and
succeeds a previous order, the conflicts between
private anarchy and public stability appear to have
grown sharper, to become destabilizing on an ever
greater scale. Globalization, left to the management,
or non-management might be a better term, of a few
large powers and central banks greatly aggravates this
conflict on a worldwide scale. Vladimir Lenin,
liberated in recent years from the grim Stalin legacy
that followed him in Russia, also seems to be making a
comeback via diverse and mixed socialist parties and
governments from China and Vietnam, to the popular
social-democracies in South and Central America.

Emulating the Working Class, Diversity and Equality

The beautiful and diverse composition of the delegates
to the CP convention was its most striking feature.
Always striving to reflect the character of the US
working class in its own composition, the Communist
Party has been one of the most integrated political
organizations in the United States -- going all the way
back to its founding. Of all left organizations in the
US, a CP meeting is the most like a union meeting --
there is a century long and deep commitment to
strengthening the organized section of the working
class. The party focuses much of its work on, and draws
much of its strength from, the US labor movement.
Working people need strong unity to exercise power, and
organizing multi-national, multi-racial cooperation and
solidarity are values that the CP in particular has
long placed front and center in every political fight.
No change there. Except the breadth and depth of the
Obama coalition, building on the always deepening
diversity of the US population, makes the CP not so
unique in this respect. Perhaps it even makes this part
of its task easier. Inequality and inequities abound.
Yet young people are raised in a much less segregated,
and much more diverse, culture than the generations

Delegates to the convention appeared steeped in trade
union and working class movements. The African
American, Latino, Asia and Pacific island, LGBT, Native
American, gender, youth and senior, immigrant and
naturalized composition genuinely reflected the real
colors and shades, cultures, traditions, lifestyles,
dialects and languages of this land. Watching them
struggle and reach for agreement on an advanced but
realizable progressive platform gives one hope about
our country, despite the many storms and furies that
seek to divide us.

Sam Webb's Report

The convention opening report of Chairman Sam Webb
focused on the compelling need to accelerate the
democratic upsurge of working people and all
progressive forces combating persistent joblessness,
which stands near 20% of the workforce when all are
counted, and to defeat a resurgent ultra right-wing,
racist offensive designed to derail and destroy the
entire Obama progressive reform agenda, and Obama's
historic presidency as well. Webb targets the 2010 mid-
term elections were as the focus of political activity
for the next 6 months. Both the ultra-right challenge,
and the prospects for deepening reform and kicking up
the strength of the coalition that elected Obama, will
meet their next big test on November 2, 2010. That's
just 160 days from now.

Chairman Webb made strong appeals not to underestimate
the important and positive changes in the political
environment since the campaign and election of Barack
Obama. The broad coalition that gave birth to the Obama
phenomenon went to sleep for a while after the
election. But if the recent primary elections are any
sign, it is waking up again! And none too soon! This
movement is taking us all to school in the art of
grassroots majority politics.

The Ultra-right, racist danger

The dangers posed by unambiguously racist propaganda
emanating from not just the fringes but the leadership
of the Republican Party -- were specifically addressed
by Executive Vice Chairman Jarvis Tyner. He argued that
the so called "tea party" forces' unchecked resorts to
vicious slurs, threats of violence, and provocations
are well organized and are picking up steam in some
areas of the country. The goal being to distract and
divide folks who are in near panic over the prolonged
economic crisis. Rand Paul, an open opponent of the old
Republican establishment, wins the Kentucky Senate
primary. Like his father, so-called Libertarian Ron
Paul, this "Tea Party" candidate is a front and cover
for outright white supremacist organizations, as was
revealed in press conferences following the election
where Paul criticized the foundations of de-segregation
laws. Fox news pundits and the Limbaugh-talk radio,
drug-crazed crowd running the new Republican Party are
also riding these racist diversions to challenge
longstanding civil rights legislation on affirmative
action and bars against public segregation, as well as
celebrations of the Confederacy.

Tyner, and many speakers, noted the intense anti-
immigrant fever that has broken out like an infected
sore in Arizona. The state legislature and Governor
enacted a draconian law directing state law enforcement
to arrest and demand "papers" of anyone they "suspect"
is "illegal". A large, multi-racial and multi national
movement to "legalize Arizona" has emerged in
response, gaining a hat tip from President Obama, and
direct pledge of support from the President of Mexico
and other international forces. Yet, as convention
participants noted, polls currently show two to one
support for the law, both in Arizona and across the US,
reflecting again both a profound level of panic over
jobs, and frustration with failure to pass
comprehensive immigration reform.


Despite warnings about the danger from the ultra right,
the mood was upbeat at the convention. Convention
reports noted the results of the recent primary
elections that, in the main, repudiated Republican and
ultra right campaigns, and asserted that the majority
of voters, while divided on some questions, are in
support of the Obama reform agenda and in many cases
moving toward even more progressive proposals.

Expressions of greeting and solidarity were received
from many communist, socialist and workers' parties,
including remarks from an official rep of the Communist
Party of Vietnam.

Highlights also included reports of many rich
experiences of delegates in electoral, grassroots,
trade union, health care, May Day, financial reform,
and varied community struggles and campaigns.
Communists are winning or in serious contention in
several races across the country. They are running
primarily in the Democratic party. There were strong
messages of solidarity from UE Republic Windows,
victorious sit-down strikers in Chicago, and from
organizers and leaders in the immigrants rights
movement, and from the many moving and emotional song,
letter and speech tributes, from many nations, at the
Saturday evening international solidarity and 90th
anniversary celebration.

Reports on the struggle for peace focused on
accelerating and advancing the withdrawal from Iraq,
returning to regional diplomacy over war in
Afghanistan, and addressing the urgent needs to
implement the two state solution in Israel-Palestine.
The world wide improvement in unity in preventing the
proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass
destruction needs to be buttressed with legislation.

Much attention was paid to building and expanding
online media initiatives and responding to increased
demands for flexibility in tactics.


Sometimes in reports on political conventions,
especially those on the Left, there is a tendency to
overstate, or perhaps mis-characterize the overall
impression of unity. Of course all political parties
can only move decisively forward on those matters where
there is the broadest agreement. There is indeed broad
CP unity on strengthening the democratic upsurge behind
a reform agenda that is friendly to that of the
president. But the convention was not a boring
recitation of people rising to associate themselves
with the remarks of the chairman. There are very
diverse, and quite different, conceptions of how
socialism, or mixed market - socialism, or the
transition to socialism, is developing in the United
States, and around the world.

Sam Webb, Jarvis Tyner and Roberta Wood were re-elected
as officers, Chair, Exec Vice-Chair and Secretary-
Treasury, respectively.

The meeting opened singing "This land is your land",
and closed on the "International".

How come not bigger?

It's an odd and somewhat uneasy juxtaposition of
thoughts and feelings that witnesses the truly
beautiful composition and spirit of the delegates to
this CP convention alongside the small size of the
Communist Party --- which has not enjoyed a strong base
of strength since the beginning of the McCarthy
repression in the late 1940's and the 1950's.

I keep asking -- how come? How come such a lively
outfit as this crowd does not have 20,000, or 100,000
members? The same question could be asked about the
organized Left in general. But I think when its
answered for the CP, it will be similar to the answer
for the Left too. The most important part of the answer
is rejecting all political doubts about the importance
of the democratic struggle for workers, and not
picturing the path to socialism as in any way separate
from the tasks of this struggle. The CP focus on labor
and its explicit class orientation has always been the
essence of its survival strategy even in the darkest
times. And now --now that the time for an offensive is
at hand --- the class base and focus is helping it make
the necessary adjustments in political program,
strategy and tactics. This convention got that done!
Which should alone enable it to grow its membership if
folks do as they have pledged!

The name "Communist"

Beyond that, while it did not come up on the agenda, or
in speeches, one of the elephants in the room --not far
from my own mind, at least -- is the linkage between
the name "Communist" and the failed USSR, so identified
with it. To ask American workers to find their way
through all of cold war history in order to help work
with and lead the class and democratic fight that the
delegates to the CP convention committed themselves to
-- is asking too much, in this writer's opinion.
However, even if that association were to fade with
time and be overtaken by the record of sound, sober,
serious and solid leadership in this struggle before
us, its hard to picture a large workers party in the US
calling itself "Communist". Why? Because such a party
is tasked in this era chiefly with fully exhausting the
democratic struggle to raise workers incomes and rights
under capitalism. Further, even strategically such a
party must be willing and able to participate in and
help lead coalitions capable of running a sustained
mixed -- part capitalist, part socialist --- economy
for a likely lengthy transition period. Naming this
party "Communist" before such time as the tasks of
constructing a society reflecting the communist ideal
are fully prepared, is premature in a mass context, at
least in the US. However, since all political
obstacles to full participation in this great
democratic upheaval of our time have been set aside, I
am sure this one too will in due course be set aside if
it remains a block to the growth that the CP's program
and broad approach most definitely deserves. I
recommend its serious consideration by all.

Single slate elections

The other elephant in the room, from this writers point
of view, is the single slate method of electing
leadership. To most Americans familiar with trade
unions or other political parties, it would seem
strange. Most of the latter have a more "federal" style
of electing leadership. That is, geographical and other
established party or union organizational components
are each given some proportion of seats on the leading
committees. Delegates to conventions of more federal
organizations do not vote on leading committees as a
whole, but by district, state or other type of sector.
Officers are typically elected at large, and with a
broader mandate than members of leading committees. The
CP in the US does it differently, due to three factors.
First, preserving a balanced class, racial, national,
gender, youth and cultural composition in leadership
has always been a high priority -- a priority that can
sometimes be sacrificed to regional or other sectarian
tendencies. Second, the repressions against the CP for
years made it very difficult to operate as other
organizations. And a fully open or transparent process
still poses some risks -- although these are declining
in the current period --- of retaliation from members'
employers or other forces meaning harm. Third, the
slate method arguably constructs a more harmonious
leading collective able to perform multiple tasks, both
regional and national, with better coordination. In the
single slate election a presiding committee, elected by
the delegates, prepares a proposal for the entire
incoming national leadership, subject to amendment by
the convention.

So, there is cause to proceed carefully and in a manner
that does not provoke unnecessary division. But it is
hard to see the single slate method adaptable to a
larger party without risking bureaucratic distortions.
Yes --- becoming more "federal" might weaken
collectivity and give more ground to factions. But
dealing with factions, and building unity, is a never-
ending task in all mass organizations. Further, single
slate methods can weaken individual leadership
accountability to members. Lastly, I don't see the
single slate method adapting easily to a party much
more focused on elections and electability, as a mass
party must be.

Si Se Puede!!

I will no doubt be accused of quibbling about less
important matters by some, or exposing liberal
ideological tendencies by others. But I remain
convinced these are important quibbles, weighty
elephants indeed!

Nonetheless, it is clear from this convention that
these challenges will be addressed in order, and
constructively. These delegates are serious, and
practical. They elected officers completely committed
to the democratic tasks before working people. They are
bowing to no authority but reason and necessity. The
enthusiasm, the si se puede!! spirit, the stubborn
determination and grit of the delegates and leaders
gathered in New York for the 29th Convention of the
CPUSA do not look like folks who will be stopped, or
driven in any cultish or sectarian direction. They have
the main tasks down! And they seem ready to lay it all
on the line to move the working class and popular
democratic movement forward, for peace, and a higher
standard of living. From this convention, I predict
they will not be blocked by any trees fallen across the
road that stand in the way!

As Robert Frost wrote:

"...And yet [Nature] knows obstruction is in vain: We
will not be put off the final goal We have it hidden in
us to attain, Not though we have to seize earth by the
pole And, tired of aimless circling in one place, Steer
straight off after something into space."

...and across the Universe

yes we can! si se puede!

With deep appreciation to my most loyal follower and my most trusted adviser John Case,

Sam Webb
National Chair, CPUSA

Monday, August 16, 2010

More on our beautiful country

I am receiving some flack about my trip.

I am being asked why I never stopped in and met with workers at the sugar beet refineries of American Crystal Sugar to see how they liked their pay and working conditions.

In fact, we have a member of our National Committee, Mark Froemke, who is a big shot in the Grain Millers union and the AFL-CIO who sees to it that these workers get a nice hefty 3% raise every few years. For the big money these people make a little bad air isn't going to hurt them.

I don't like breathing the air in these refineries. I would just as soon ride down the highway with my air conditioner on.

All this talk about working conditions comes from ultra-leftists and I have previously explained I don't think their questions are worth answering.

I think it is important we look for what is good in our country so we don't have to protest so much while Obama is our President. Barack will take care of all of us. Let's not sweat the little problems like working conditions when we have a major problem in front of us like how we are going to re-elect the Democrats.

Let's pray for clear blue skies and clean air.

Sam Webb
National Chair, CPUSA

Friday, August 13, 2010

America the beautiful!

This article below I wrote has received rave reviews from my most loyal admirers.

I forgot to notice if affirmative action was being enforced as I drove down the highways and by-ways but as we know President Obama can't be too out front on such things because it might jeopardize his re-election.

There is nothing like a wedding. Divorces are good, too.

Being as how I am a national officer of the CPUSA I don't think I should comment about the way Mark Dayton defeated our favorite candidate in Minnesota, Margaret Anderson-Kelliher. I will defer a discussion of this to our distinguished scholar, Erwin Marquit.

Happy Trails to all of you. Next time I will be riding my favorite horse.

Sam Webb
National Chair, Chairman of the Board, CPUSA

Road trip in the heartland

It was a road trip! Not in the raucous style of Jack Kerouac ("On the Road") or Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters ("Electric Kool Aid Acid Test") or Neal Cassady, the legendary driver on both trips. This trip, by comparison, was tame, even dull. The only pills were for high blood pressure, my drink of choice was water and Pepsi, and marijuana is not on my menu.

Beginning in Chicago, I drove to the Twin Cities, then on to Fargo, North Dakota. From there I steered down the east side of North and South Dakota in my orange-red rental car at a 80-mile-an-hour clip (75 mph is the speed limit), landing myself in Des Moines - all in the space of 36 hours and three meetings to boot.

The next morning I zoomed off to Davenport, Iowa and then on to Michigan - Detroit and Grand Rapids - and back to Chicago, where I grabbed a plane for New York City. The End!

In the course of this trip, I met wonderful people - teachers, office workers, writers, real estate agents, academics, retirees, young people, union activists and leaders, political candidates, old and new mothers, fathers and grandparents, students of all ages and sizes, people of different races and nationalities, a radical clergyman bedecked in very formal cloth who gave a wicked good homily - it was America in the heartland. Next time I will kiss a baby!

So what did this blue-eyed, gray-haired son (paraphrasing Bob Dylan) observe?

Observation: Motel 6 is good value, the price of gas isn't outrageous, cruise control makes driving long distances easier, snoozes in rest stops are delicious ... and stimulus dollars are at work repairing highways in every state I drove in. My biggest complaint is that the Obama administration doesn't publicize this fact - no big (or even modest-sized) signs bringing this to a driver's attention, thus making the stimulus monies invisible - something that the "Party of No" and its amplifiers take advantage of. Sometimes you have to toot your own horn - and loudly!

Observation: Driving down the eastern side of the Dakotas impressed on my eye the beauty of this land - as Woody Guthrie says: "Our land." No matter what the changes in the topography (plains grass to farmland) this swath of the country is as pleasing and glorious to the eye as the magnificent mountains and coasts. I'm sure some of you "sipping lattes" in "New York and Berkeley" will disagree, but as the late and inimitable Peoples World writer Fred Gaboury would say, "You have a right to be wrong."

The big sky, the heavenly sunsets, the fields bathed in green and gold, the solitary farmhouse, the empty, straight and seemingly endless farm roads, the flat land and the rolling hills - all this filled me with awe for the web of life of which we are only a link, despite our pretentions.

The high grass of the plains (first nature) is rare now, replaced by the huge, rectangular tracts of farmland (second, third, fourth ... nature) on which grow corn, sugar beets, wheat, and much more. Moreover, because of the rise of huge agribusinesses and the use of machinery that would comfortably fit on a Star Wars set, it is easy to forget that successive peoples, beginning with Native Indians (who were displaced by superior military power and forced onto reservations) lived, worked and transformed (sometimes for better, other times for worse) the ecology, land, politics, economics and culture of this geographic space that we call the Great Plains. On this land and in the commodities that originate here enormous amounts of past and present sweated labor are embedded. Which makes me think that by any measure of justice, the land, its bountiful gifts and its way of life belong to the people of the Great Plains rather than to the predatory and profit-maximizing corporations that systematically degrade and destroy the heartland's two sources of wealth - nature and labor. In the headquarters of Monsanto or Tyson Foods, no one talks about the Plains as Mother Earth, as the first peoples did.

Observation: The trip would have been lonely, but I had some companions: my imagination which was on roaming, music - a lot of country, which as Ray Charles says, tells interesting stories if you listen closely, and a heavy dose of right-wing radio talk. Oops, I'm forgetting ESPN which featured incessant commentary on Brett Favre's decision to retire - something I will believe when I see it.

But back to talk radio, where I heard the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and lesser lights - ugh! Talk about a scary bunch! To say that they are a fascist-like, slimy gang is not far from the truth. I like to think that their message is too shrill and extreme to resonate broadly. But, even assuming that is so, this gang still represents a present danger and could easily become a much bigger danger down the road. In their sights are, no surprise, President Obama (Ingraham was outraged that he wore sandals on one occasion), the Democratic (or as they say, the Democrat) Party, the alleged ethical indiscretions of Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel, immigration (draconian measures against the undocumented), the deficit (eliminate the "welfare state"), and tax cuts, especially for the wealthy (their answer for nearly everything).

All of them weave the fall congressional elections into their harangues. The possibility of the Republicans regaining control of the House makes their mouths water.

Just imagine, they say, how much more effective Republicans will be, not only in wrecking every initiative of the administration, but also in positioning the GOP to defeat the president's reelection bid and to take over both houses of Congress in 2012.

Even with a minority in the House and Senate, their record of obstruction is the pride of Wall Street, Big Oil, the military-industrial complex, and right-wing moneybags. Only recently the passage of a $26 billion bill to help state and local governments make Medicaid payments and avoid laying off 140,000 teachers came at a high price - some would say too high. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was only able to break a Republican filibuster by promising offsets largely through - if you can believe it - $12 billion in cuts to food stamps.

You heard right - food stamp cuts taken from poor working people who are already living at best on the edge, fighting to survive in a very hostile economic environment.

If they can do this as a congressional minority imagine what they will do if they have a majority. Everything will be blocked, while at the same time they will heap blame on the president for the economic crisis.

This possibility has the right-wing mouthpieces of hate and pain acting like crazed tigers as their prey comes into sight.

Observation: The highlight of my excursion, hands down. was the marriage of two beautiful women in Iowa. I left the ceremony thinking how outrageous it is that something so natural and beautiful could still be illegal in many other states. The whole notion that heterosexual marriage, families and sex is superior to homosexual marriage, families and sex is simply ludicrous. As far as I'm concerned, it is an anachronism, best left as a relic of the 20th century. Joy, intimacy, deeply felt desires, and marital unions are private matters that society should respect and support.

There is much more I could comment on, for example, how much I like Subway's 12-inch veggie with no lettuce (poor quality) and lots of hot peppers (spicy is good), but enough is enough. Happy Trails!