The following is the report from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization to the International Communist Seminar. The topic of the 2011 seminar was “The strengthening of communist parties in times of a deepening capitalist systemic crisis”:
Building A Communist Party in the United States, 2011
The Freedom Road Socialist Organization Faces U.S. State Repression
The Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) is currently facing a campaign of repression by the United States government. On September 24, 2010, under orders from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided homes and activist offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. 14 anti-war and international solidarity activists, including two in Michigan, were subpoenaed to appear at a secretive Grand Jury investigation. Nine more Palestine solidarity activists, most Arab-Americans, were subpoenaed to appear on January 25, 2011, bringing the total to 23. The 23 refuse to appear at the Grand Jury inquisition where U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald claims to investigate “material support for terrorism”, focused on the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In actuality, the FRSO is the target of political repression by the U.S. government. Comrades are facing indictments, a trial, and possibly Federal prison. The main issues are free speech and the right to organize, recently narrowed by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project case. The trial will center around the testimony of a Federal Agent who infiltrated the mass groups and the FRSO.
The international solidarity activists and the FRSO have done nothing wrong and refuse to be criminalized. Threatened with fifteen-year and longer prison terms, the FRSO is fighting back by organizing a broad front opposed to war and political repression. In the face of U.S. government repression, the FRSO is attempting to unify in struggle all the forces, especially Arabs and Muslims, who are under attack from the U.S. legal system and repressive apparatus. While defense work is the main mass activity of the FRSO, the repression is bringing significant interest to our politics and organization, and providing new opportunities for party building.
The Freedom Road Socialist Organization is an anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist group founded in 1985. As reported in our newspaper Fight Back! and at www.FRSO.org, the members of FRSO are very active in movements fighting for justice–particularly in labor, oppressed nationality, anti-war and anti-imperialist, and student movements. Our strategy for revolution is to form an alliance of the workers and oppressed nationalities movements, especially the African-American and Chicano national movements, led by a communist party to seize state power. We want the working class and its allies to rule society instead of the small class of wealthy elites. Our central task is to build a new Communist Party.
The FRSO 6th Congress
Six months prior to the FBI raids and Grand Jury repression, the FRSO held its 6th Congress, our most successful ever. We assessed that in the previous five years growth was faster than at any time since the group was founded. While most new recruits are students, some are workers. Prior to the raids, spirits were high and cadres were excited about recruiting to the FRSO and other aspects of party building.
In the context of the great economic crisis, the FRSO 6th Congress decided it was important to focus on fusion–the unity of the Marxist party and the working class movement. With the recruitment of many students, our policy is for them to concentrate in working class jobs, to transform their class and participate directly in the class struggle. Like other imperialist countries, the American communist movement is very swayed by petite-bourgeois and bourgeois ideology. Again and again, revisionism raises its ugly head. Disguised as “new thinking” or “fresh ideas”, the corruption of scientific socialism degenerates into reformism, and eventually into counter-revolutionary activity. Historically the Communist Party in the U.S. made a temporary comeback from the revisionist ideas known as Browderism and “American Exceptionalism”, only to take the path of revisionism in the late 1950’s again. As a new revolutionary movement swept the U.S. in the 1960’s and 1970’s, there was renewed interest in Marxism-Leninism and the New Communist Movement arose. In the 1980’s, as the period of struggle receded, many groups fractured, folded, or turned to reformism and Social Democracy.
Through the 1990’s, Marxist-Leninists in the FRSO argued polemics against the so-called “Left Refoundationism”, an Americanized Euro-communism. In 1999, the older folks adhering to “Left Refoundationism” held a split meeting. Other “rejectionists” soon followed, and the FRSO moved forward, re-affirming Marxism-Leninism with a stronger, highly unified core of leaders. The FRSO charted a revolutionary path and began to grow steadily. Today, the FRSO is able to attract and unite with Marxist-Leninists–both new ones and veterans from other parties and groups. Given the modest size of the revolutionary movement in the U.S., the FRSO is meeting with success in party building. While conditions and spontaneous struggles inside the U.S. provide many opportunities for revolutionaries, the state repression against FRSO is disruptive.
Current Conditions in the U.S. for Party Building
The United States is an imperialist state, the sole superpower today, ruled by a dangerous criminal class. This monopoly capitalist class seeks to dominate the world in pursuit of ever more profit. Currently the U.S. imperialists are confronted by the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. They are gripped by the fear of losing their ill-gotten gains, blaming workers, teachers, immigrants and oppressed people for the crisis. The U.S. imperialists tremble in the face of powerful workers marches, peoples’ rebellions, and the coming revolutions around the world that threaten their ability to exploit labor and rob natural resources. The U.S. Empire is in crisis and its domination of whole regions like the Middle East and Latin America is threatened. White House strategists are scrambling to contend with and suppress the growing mass rebellions, national democratic movements and anti-imperialist governments, and armed revolutionary insurgencies led by communists. Country by country, the people’s movements are advancing, unity against imperialism is growing, the socialist countries are developing and strengthening, while revolutionary and communist parties deepen their ties to the masses and extend their influence.
Bailouts, Cutbacks, and Workers’ Struggle
In the U.S, the Federal government bailed out Wall Street and the Big Banks, giving away $700 billion in one day. Hundreds of billions more were spent in secretive bailouts, and the Federal Reserve (the U.S. central bank) flooded the financial system with more than a trillion dollars of cash. But once the worst of the crisis was over, there was a shift to put the burden of the economic crisis onto the working class. The Federal government is slashing funding, pushing the financial crisis down onto State governments. State Governors are pointing to the budget crisis and cutting workers jobs, lowering pay, and taking away benefits. The politicians give tax cut after tax cut to the wealthy capitalists and corporations, while slashing programs that benefit working people. Everyone knows where the money is though. It is sitting in the big banks and corporations who have more than a trillion dollars of profits that they are hoarding. So while the bosses make huge profits and take home millions of dollars in bonuses, the workers are made to pay for the capitalist system’s crisis. The bought and paid for politicians are implementing the austerity program of the billionaires and multi-millionaires. In Wisconsin, Governor Walker unleashed the biggest capitalist offensive against unions and the working class since before World War Two.
Due to the extreme attacks by the rich and powerful, the American workers movement has come alive again, starting in Madison, Wisconsin, but also in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and many other states. When Governor Walker and the Republican Party attacked the right to collective bargaining, union members saw themselves being made outlaws and mobilized by the tens of thousands to fight back and occupy the Wisconsin State Capitol building.
The Freedom Road Socialist Organization mobilized from around the Midwest to help take the protests as far as militants were willing to go. FRSO student and union cadre responded immediately, encouraging local union leaders to take to the streets with mass protest marches. In a good example, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in coalition with campus workers, graduate employees, and professors, led a walk out that 3000 joined, the largest mobilization since the Vietnam War protests. High school students walked out in small towns and big cities in support of their teachers, the unions, and their own education. Hundreds of schools closed as students and teachers rushed to the Capitol. The University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate teachers’ union occupied the State Capitol, and then public sector union members by the tens of thousands soon surrounded it. The FRSO mobilized union workers from Minneapolis, Minnesota and Chicago, Illinois to join the fight in Madison and other towns around Wisconsin. At the peak of the struggle, there were 150,000 workers, farmers, and their supporters chanting, “Kill the bill! Shut it down!”
For the first time in decades the possibility of a general strike was raised, but the leadership and conditions do not exist yet. It is also clear that the class-consciousness of American workers is rising due to the battle in Madison. The movement spread to a dozen states, from Illinois to New Jersey, and from Florida to California. Every week public sector protests are making national news.
Given its growth in capacity, the FRSO is able to position itself to support and sometimes lead major struggles of the workers and oppressed in the U.S. With cores of determined revolutionaries we are able to make an impact on the mass movements, sometimes nationwide. The FRSO does this by working well with others, and finding ways to persuade even the reluctant. The FBI raids and Grand Jury investigation by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is serious and threatening, but we have a historic task as Marxist-Leninists to live up to, and we have friends throughout the world who we are calling upon for solidarity!
Stop FBI raids!
Call off the Grand Jury!
Down with the new McCarthyism!