Why We Need a New Communist Party

The following is a section from the October League (Marxist-Leninist)’s pamphlet Building a New Communist Party in the U.S., from the Encyclopedia of Anti-revisionism Online’s growing collection of U.S. New Communist Movement material.

In 1949, Mao Tsetung, Chairman of the Communist Party of China, summed up the experiences of the past three decades leading up to the victory of the Chinese revolution:

A well-disciplined Party armed with the theory of Marxism-Leninism, using the method of self-criticism and linked with the masses of people; an army under the leadership of such a party; a united front of all revolutionary classes and all revolutionary groups under the leadership of such a Party-these are the three main weapons with which we have defeated the enemy.[1]

Today, in many respects, the U.S. is different from China. China, of course, was a backwards, semi-feudal, semi-colonial country while the U.S. is an advanced capitalist country. China was a country oppressed by foreign domination while the U.S. today is one of the two main superpowers in the world which dominates the smaller countries. These differences (just to name a few) change the form of the class struggle here in the U.S. from that of the Chinese revolution, but the principles which have been accurately summed up by Comrade Mao Tsetung still apply and remain universal.

For revolution to be successful here in the U.S., for the imperialists to be overthrown and for a socialist government, a workers’ government, to be established, the three weapons of revolution must be taken up by the masses. A Party armed with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought (Marxism-Leninism in this epoch), using the method of self-criticism and linked to the masses of the people; a United Front of all those that can be united to oppose imperialism and its policies of war and fascism; and the Armed Struggle of the masses aimed at the dictatorship of the imperialists – all three are necessary for final victory.

THREE MAGIC WEAPONS

All of these weapons must be developed simultaneously according to the level of the struggle. However, at each stage of development, one of the three must be stressed. At this period, it is the central task of U.S. communists to build a new communist party and all other work must be developed in accordance with this task. Because like the people in China before 1921 (the founding of the Chinese Communist Party), the people in the U.S. are fighting against exploitation, war and racism, without conscious leadership, without a Communist Party to guide them through the difficult twists and turns of class struggle.

Stalin, in his work, Foundations of Leninism, equated this to an army going to battle without a “general staff.” He pointed out that a party must be built which can “see farther than the working class; it must lead the proletariat and not follow in the tail of the spontaneous movement.” In other words, the Party is the “political leader” of the working class. It brings the concentrated experiences of the class to the economic struggles which develop among the workers spontaneously.

It is, in fact, those very opportunists who worship the spontaneous economic struggles of the workers and who are afraid of the working class moving beyond that stage, to the stage of revolutionary consciousness, who most strongly resist the idea of a party.

Without such a vanguard, disciplined, united organization at the head of the working class movement, embodying the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and the militant fighting spirit of the working class, the masses will be left at the mercy of the capitalists and their agents who will foster disunity and the deadening spirit of class collaboration instead of struggle.

The struggle to build a new party is also opposed by the present Communist Party of the U.S.A. who tells us, “There already is a communist party. What do we need another one for? ”

HISTORY OF CPUSA

Let’s stop and examine the record of this “party” and see if this conclusion bears truth. The CPUSA was founded in May, 1921, in Woodstock, New York, as a merger between the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party. For more than 25 years, the CPUSA led the struggles of the working people for the 8-hour day, for the building of the CIO, in the fight for the rights of the Afro-American and other minority peoples and in the struggle against fascism.

Today, however, this once proud party of the U.S. proletariat has been taken over by a pack of opportunists who have abandoned the principles of Marxism and have attempted to become “respectable” in the eyes of their own ruling class. The present struggle to reconstruct the Party is a part of the continuing history of the U.S. communist movement against revisionism and opportunism of all kinds.

It was in a series of struggles against revisionism and opportunism that the Party was born and in which it grew strong. What is opportunism? Lenin described it as “the sacrifice of the fundamental interests of the masses to the temporary interests of an insignificant minority or in other words, the alliance of a section of the workers with the bourgeoisie against the mass of the proletariat.”[2]

The basis for such an alliance came about with the rise of imperialism because imperialism, through the domination of its colonies, was able to generate enough super-profits to bribe the upper-strata of the working class within the imperialist country. These super-profits (profits above and beyond the normal profits for the capital invested) created the basis for the imperialists to live in elegant splendor while the masses of people were going hungry. However, it also enabled them to create a section of parasite workers who earned much more than they produced, if they worked at all. These labor lieutenants of capital were totally beholding to imperialism for their crumbs and hateful of the colonial peoples who were rising up in revolution.

It was among this labor aristocracy that the old social-democratic parties of the Second International based itself, as well as among the middle class intellectuals. This was the source of racist and chauvinist ideas within the working class.

OPPORTUNISM OF LABOR LEADERS

Because of this, these parties stunk from chauvinism and every time the ruling class of those countries would go to war to extend their goal of world domination, the parties of the Second International would call upon the workers to “Defend the Fatherland” or side with capitalists against the workers of other countries. This social chauvinism became the main form of opportunism under imperialism, pitting the workers of one country or race against another.

The most recent example of this kind of opportunism was the support of the U.S. trade union leadership, Meany, Fitzsimmons, etc. for Nixon’s barbarous policies in Indochina. The present leaders of the CPUSA have rooted themselves among this bribed strata of the labor movement and through them they are tied to the lead strings of the U.S. imperialists and the Soviet social imperialists.

When the parties of the old Second International took the road of class collaboration, Lenin led a determined struggle against them and led the formation of a “party of a new type,” the Bolshevik Party. This party of a new type broke with national chauvinism, parliamentarism and bourgeois respectability.

The communist movement in the U.S. has a similar history of struggle against opportunism which goes back to the period of slavery, when such opportunists as Weitling, Kreige and others refused to take up the freedom struggle of the Black slaves. This opportunist line called on the white workers to avoid the ”contamination” of politics (i.e. the abolition of slavery) and concentrate on its “own economic struggles.”

This degenerate thinking was opposed by Karl Marx himself, who called on the U.S. workers to fight alongside the Black slaves saying, “Labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin when in the black it is branded.”

The sharpest struggle against opportunism in the U.S. communist movement took place during the Second World War, when the leadership of the CPUSA was usurped by Earl Browder. The then General Secretary of the Party led it down the path of revisionism during this period, when the Party abandoned the revolutionary theories of Marxism-Leninism. From 1943 onward, Browder advocated the line of “peaceful transition to socialism.”

He abandoned the Leninist theory of imperialism, that imperialism is the moribund, decadent, monopoly stage of capitalism headed for its final collapse. In April, 1944, he declared in “Teheran,” his right opportunist program, that U.S. monopoly capitalism was still “progressive,” retaining “some of the characteristics of a young capitalism.” He claimed that there was therefore a “common interest” between the workers in the U.S. and the big bourgeoisie and that together they could save imperialism from its inevitable crisis and collapse.

In his haste to “save the imperialists” from destruction, his main act was to liquidate the Communist Party. In May, 1944, Browder presided over the dissolution of the CPUSA, the party of the proletariat and formed the non-party organization, the Communist Political Association of the U.S.A. To smash the working class movement he and his boss Roosevelt knew that first they had to destroy the party.

In this attempt to liquidate the Party and Marxism-Leninism in the U.S., Browder was met with the resistance of the whole international communist movement and those within the CPUSA who defended the proletarian line, like William Z. Foster. Under Foster’s leadership, the party was reconstituted and Browder was expelled in 1946. Foster summed up the effects of Browderism upon the party’s work.

In the work among the Negro masses Browder’s theory that the Negro people, having abandoned (satisfied) their national aspiration, were now integrated into the white population, threw confusion into the ranks of the Communists and their sympathizers and undermined their fight for the rights of the Negro people. In the field of women’s rights, Browder’s reliance upon the progressive role of the bourgeoisie tended to liquidate all conception that the women would actually have to fight for their rights in order to get them… In the South, where the Communists had carried on so heroically for so long, work was practically abandoned.[3]

Browder’s line also had its effects on trade union work, liquidating the party organization in the unions and opening the doors of the party to a flood of disenchanted middle class radicals who showed only disdain for the working people whom the party spoke for. The CPUSA ceased to be a left force in the union movement and called upon the workers to settle things through cooperation with the company. Browder told the working class that socialism could only come through “peaceful transition” through the elections. This was the respectable way.

BROWDER’S DOWNFALL

Following Browder’s defeat within the party, Mao Tsetung sent a telegram to Foster congratulating him and the Party on their victory. In this telegram in 1945, Comrade Mao pointed out that the opportunists (revisionists) were doing their utmost “to extend their influence to China too.”[4] Mao Tsetung saw that revisionism represented a world-wide phenomenon and foresaw the attempts, which came to a head in the 1950’s to liquidate socialism in the Soviet Union and later attempts by Liu Shao-chi to turn the Chinese Communist Party into a party of the capitalist roaders.

While Browder was defeated, the CPUSA never fully drove Browder-ism out of the party and it never again regained its stature among the working class and the minorities. With the death of Joseph Stalin, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was taken over by the Khrushchev revisionists who abandoned Leninism and have taken the once proud birth place of socialism down the road of capitalist restoration.

Modern revisionism (the same politics as the Second International as applied to today’s conditions) has consolidated itself into a powerful counter-current against Marxism-Leninism. Faced with the McCarthy attacks and anti-communist witch-hunts of the early fifties, the Gus Hall leadership once again liquidated the party, wrote revolution out of the party constitution and has now turned the party into an organization of labor bureaucrats and petty-bourgeois reformists, following the path of the party of the Soviet Union.

The new Browderites have called on the workers to “work things out peacefully” with the imperialists, saying that the future of the workers no longer lies in socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, but in a series of “radical reforms” (pressured out of the capitalists by electoral lobbying) through which socialism can evolve peacefully. In the CPUSA’s own words,

Of course, we advocate social change by peaceful means, through political institutions and peoples organizations within the American constitutional framework.[5]

As always, the opportunists and revisionists were met with the resistance of honest working class forces everywhere around the world. As in the periods of the collapse of the Second International, and the rise of Browderism, sharp struggles and splits developed in Communist parties everywhere in the world, including the CPUSA. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, where the modern revisionists suffered a major defeat, set the stage for the emergence of a whole new group of communist parties and organizations.

In the United States, there were several splits from the CPUSA whose objectives were the reconstruction of the Communist Party along revolutionary lines. So far, none of these groups have succeeded. Several of them have degenerated into ultra-leftist sects and have died a quiet death. Several others have begun to root themselves among the masses and are leading some important struggles within the working class movement.

Endnotes

[1] Mao Tsetung, “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship,” Vol. 4, SW, p. 422.

[2] Lenin, “The Collapse of the Second International.”

[3] William Z. Foster, “History of the Communist Party of the United States,” p. 432.

[4] Mao Tsetung, “Telegram to Comrade Wm. Z. Foster,” Vol, 3, SW, p. 287.

[5] “New Program of the Communist Party USA,” May, 1970, p. 92.

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3 responses to “Why We Need a New Communist Party

  1. A good analysis. I only wonder about using the term Marxism-Leninism. Since MLs usually uphold Stalin and recognize Mao as a theorist and great leader, organizations like the October League say they are ML and uphold Mao Zedong Thought as a modern application of it. If Lenin was applied Marxism in a revolution and Mao represents yet another continuation, then won’t we also be adding people like Prachandra or a FARC leader at some point? I just think maybe we should adopt the simple mantle of “communist” to emphasize unity, since right now, a temporary alliance of the supporters of Cuba and the major historical workers’ states is needed. If someone can’t accept workers states or the vanguard party then we shouldn’t accept them as communists. I feel there is a divide now between Trotskyist groups who repeat Cold War propaganda and the fragmentation of communists who would otherwise upset the status quo: how many small ML groups exist at the moment who are separated by the degree of revisionism in the PRC? Critical support of the PRC an defense from imperialism alongside upholding the 1954-1991 USSR for the same reason is enough for me. This is more important than other factors. I also shy away from ML and Maoism since I feel like “Maoism” can alienate Hoxhaists who disavow China because of the 1972 meeting with Nixon. I also think we can use the term “communist” since the only competition is from the CPUSA.

    Sorry for the rant.

    Anyhow, this pamphlet seems to be fit for recruitment or founding principles for a party today. This is represents a place in history. Do we now need to declare a new communist party? Isn’t one of them suitable?

    Could the site maybe release some essay about or from communist groups today without a flame war? Perhaps the time has come for more to join with an organization. I think there are enough options. The USA is large, and surely several regional organizations can co-exist and collaborate at times. The FRSO, for example, I’m sure is absent from much of the North, especially since the West and the South is where national liberation’s biggest battles are. (Not denying there are many groups fighting for liberation like the Lakota in the Dakotas and Montana, but the large Chicano and Black aren’t centered in the North or Northeast.) Correct me if I’m wrong.

    How about commentators? How do you feel? If you’re a fan of some of the site’s material and you’re in the USA what organizations do you think are good? Are they compatible? Open to mergers? From what I’ve seen so far from readings a couple meetings, the PSL seems good. I know they differ from FRSO in that the FRSO isn’t critical towards current PRC leaders (the individuals) and they split off from WWP for reasons I don’t know.

  2. This post, along with others criticizing the CPUSA bear no resemblance to Marxist analysis but look very much like ultra-left sectarian garbage. What a rant. Thank Christ the CPUSA have their feet on the ground.

  3. Building a New Communist Party is part of the New Left. It is revisionist and opportunist in itself

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