Tag Archives: Provisional Organizing Committee

Harry Haywood: The Degeneration of the CPUSA in the 1950s

The following article is an excerpt from Harry Haywood’s Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist. It is reprinted here from the theoretical journal of the October League (Marxist-Leninist), Class Struggle: Journal of Communist Thought, Spring/Summer 1976 #4-5. It is being posted here, as part of the Harry Haywood Internet Archive (for the time being hosted by The Marxist-Leninist blog) for the first time online.

October League (Marxist-Leninist) Introduction:

At what point did the building of a new anti-revisionist communist party become the principal task of Marxist-Leninists? What were the main features of the ideological, political, and organizational degeneration of the Communist Party, USA in the 1950s that made it necessary to do so? These are some of the questions discussed in this article by Harry Haywood, a veteran Black communist who has led and been active in the movement for more than 50 years. The article is a slightly condensed version of a chapter [Chapter 22: “Revisionism Takes Command” in the final published version] from the unpublished manuscript of his autobiography, “Black Bolshevik.”

The Degeneration of the CPUSA in the 1950s

The April 1956 National Committee meeting saw the Communist Party in its most serious crisis since 1944. The meeting itself was historic in that it was the first time the top party leadership had met together since 1951. With the exception of Gil Green, Bob Thompson, Gus Hall and Henry Winston who were still in jail, the National Committee was up from underground and out of prison.

Right opportunism, which had been thriving and undergoing continuous growth in the ’50s, erupted here into a full-fledged liquidationist line whose only logical conclusion would be the complete destruction of the Party as a revolutionary force.

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Letter from Harry Haywood to the POC from the new Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism Online

A new Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism Online has been launched  as part of the Marxists Internet Archive. It includes a history of anti-revisionist politics and an archive of anti-revisionist documents and newspapers. The new encylcopedia is divided into sections by country. The U.S. section includes “The First Wave of Anti-Revisionism: 1946-1958” and “Second Wave: The POC, 1956-1962” with two more sections in the works: “Third Wave: 1960-1969” and “Fourth Wave: Maoism and ‘The New Communist Movement,’ 1969-1989”.

Here is an important document from the encylopedia of anti-revisionism by Harry Haywood, the great communist theoretician of the African American national question:

cs1-haywoodLetter from Harry Haywood to the Provisional Organizing Committee

Class Struggle, theoretical journal of the October League (Marxist-Leninist), No.1, Spring 1975

October League (M-L) Introduction: Harry Haywood is a veteran Black Marxist-Leninist, now living in Detroit. He has spent several decades as a leading member of the Communist Party USA and as a fighter against modern revisionism.

In 1928 and 1930, Haywood helped draft the Resolutions of the Communist International as well as the position of the CP on the Afro-American national question. His thoughts on this question were summed up in his famous book, “Negro Liberation.”

Haywood broke from the CPUSA in the late 50’s after the party had thoroughly abandoned the revolutionary struggle for socialism and Black liberation. Along with other anti-revisionists, he helped form the Provisional Organizing Committee (POC). The POC, like many of the new communist organizations of today set as its main task, the building of a new Marxist-Leninist party.

The POC failed in this first attempt at a new, anti-revisionist party. Haywood’s letter upon leaving the POC shows some of the reasons why it failed and serves as a lesson to those who might try to follow in the ultra-“left” footsteps of these sectarians.

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