As the CPUSA slides off into ideological, philosophical and political
obscurity and isolation, we in Houston have been privileged to witness
the party in action, no pun intended. CPUSA leadership has received
sharp criticism from Houston as well as around the country and across
There has been no detectable response from leadership to the
sharp criticism. However, there has been a recent flurry of
self-destructive activity rather than any kind of logical, reasonable
advocacy of their untenable positions or any attempts to engage in fair
and open dialogue and debate.
The CPUSA, under the leadership of Sam Webb, has embarked upon tactics to deal with their local clubs which might be characterized as similar to the mindless game shows that people watch on TV. The script goes like this: anointed party leaders arrive unannounced in cities where there are clubs which challenge the political line of the leadership.
At this point, they start the game show which might be called “Will the real Communist Party please stand up?” They typically meet with the most troubled and troublesome members of the club they are trying to dissolve. They also contact people who have contacted the party website recently. They meet with these people individually, not as a group. The attempt is to isolate the members of the original club and split off the weaker and newer members.
As they meet with these individuals, the fun starts. They denounce the original club as not being recognized as a legitimate club of the CPUSA. They announce the formation of a new club which is fully recognized and anointed by CPUSA leadership. They attempt to peel off the members of the original club and fold them into the new club. They also seek to swallow the club’s resources with one gulp and attempt to slander the original club’s leadership.
The end of the game show is always disappointing because only the most craven sycophants of the party leadership win the kiss of death from the CPUSA leadership. And kiss of death they do get. Once the fun is over, the new club is left to fend for itself without any support from leadership. Typically, these new clubs fade out quickly and cease to function.
In Houston, the story follows the rigid script as discussed in an earlier article by A. Shaw posted on this website [<<www.houstoncommunists.com>>].
This script has been played out in many cities and is currently playing in Houston and the Northeast and the West. It is probably playing in other areas of the country as well.
In Houston, I am the elected chair of the Houston Communist Party. Leadership arrived in Houston on June 29, 2012 and started meeting individually with club members. They did not respond to an invitation issued by me on June 13, 2012 to plan and organize a meeting with all the members of the club.
Instead, they contacted me by phone and e-mail on June 30, 2012 and proposed to meet with me individually and immediately. At the time they contacted me, I was in San Antonio on vacation with my wife. I responded that I was not available and that they should show me courtesy and respect when they request a meeting with me. I told them I would be happy to organize a meeting of the entire club to hold a reasonable and respectful dialogue with them, but needed advance notice in order to plan such a meeting. They persisted in only requesting an individual meeting with me. They made no mention of any charges against me in this contact.
On July 10, 2012, one of the party leaders sent me an e-mail informing me that I had been “dropped” from membership in the CPUSA. In doing so, they clearly violated Article VII of the party constitution which reads:
ARTICLE VII – Disciplinary Procedures and Appeals
SECTION 1. Subject to the provisions of this Article, any member or officer of the Party may be reprimanded, put on probation, suspended for a specified period, removed from office, dropped or expelled from the Party for actions detrimental to the interests of the Party and the working class, for factionalism, for making false statements in an application for membership, for financial irregularities, or for advocacy or practice of racial, national or religious discrimination, or discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.
No action, including dropping, may be taken against a member without notifying him or her of the action and the reason for it. Assistance should be given to help comrades to overcome weaknesses and shortcomings, when possible.
SECTION 2. Subject to the provisions of this Article, any member shall be expelled from the Party who is a strikebreaker, a provocateur, engaged in espionage, an informer, or who advocates force and violence or terrorism, or who participates in the activities of any group which acts to undermine or overthrow any democratic institutions through which the majority of the American people can express their right to determine their destiny.
SECTION 3. Charges against individual members or committees may be made by any member or Party committee to the club of which the accused is a member or to the appropriate higher committee having jurisdiction.
All such charges shall be handled expeditiously by an elected trial committee of the club or appropriate higher body. The trial committee shall hear charges, make recommendations and then disband.
SECTION 4. All accused persons concerned in disciplinary cases, except publicly self-admitted informers and provocateurs, must be notified of the charges against them, shall have the right to appear, to bring witnesses, including non-members if agreed to by the trial committee, and to testify. The burden of proof shall be on the accusers.
SECTION 5. After hearing the report of the trial committee, the club or leading committee having jurisdiction shall have the right to decide by a two-thirds vote upon any disciplinary measure, including expulsion. Disciplinary measures taken by leading committees shall be reported to the club of each accused member. Higher bodies must be informed of all disciplinary actions above a reprimand. There shall be an automatic review of all expulsions by the next higher body.
SECTION 6. Any member or committee that has been subject to disciplinary action has the right to appeal to the next higher body up to the National Convention, whose decision shall be final. The National, State (or District) or other leading committee shall set a hearing within 60 days from the date of receipt of the appeal and notify the appellant of the hearing date. When, however, the appeal is to a State, District or National Convention, the appeal shall be acted upon by the Convention following the filing of the appeal, provided that such appeal is made at least 30 days prior to the convention.
So, in Houston, the game show evolved into a new twist. The new twist is “Will the real Communist please stand up?” It should be noted that the leader of the new, officially recognized club of the CPUSA, according to reports from party members in other parts of the country, is a former member of the Spartacist league in California. He has a history of campaigning against the United Farmworkers and called for workers to break the strike of the farmworkers because Cesar Chavez was a “bourgeois sellout.” This individual has not written a single article for the party press. I, on the other hand, have a history of writing hundreds of articles for the party press to include the People’s Weekly World and People’s World. Many of these articles were reproduced on the Texas Communist Party website. More recently, I have published articles in the Morning Star, People’s Voice and Unity, the paper of the Irish Communist Party.
The leader of the newly christened club in Houston has attacked me for not following “Democratic Centralism.” It should be remembered that Democratic Centralism refers to “diversity of opinion and unity of action.” Currently, the CPUSA viciously quashes any diversity of opinion and proposes no action which might unify the party. Indeed, leadership turned up its nose at an effort to overturn anti-Communist laws in Texas proposed by this writer. Instead of supporting this effort, they dropped me from membership in the party. Which side are they on?
One of the prominent members of the newly christened club contributed to the article posted on the Houston website entitled “Sam Webb: which side are you on?” Indeed, all club members fully supported the article at the time it was posted including the new leader of the split off sycophantic club. The treachery and hypocrisy of this new club created in the image of CPUSA leadership is obvious.
People in Houston are perplexed by the heavy-handed party process. They are having a hard time believing that national leadership can blow into town unannounced and collude with the sneakiest and most negative elements of the club to split and divide a functioning and growing club. They are not used to being robbed of their basic democratic rights and being subjected to the dictates of an Imperial CPUSA.
Although the party leadership has proposed the abandonment of basic party concepts such as the vanguard role of the party, class struggle, Leninism, democratic centralism and seeks to censor any discussion of party policy, a few individuals can always be enlisted in an attempt to undermine a truly working class organization. Indeed, people like me who disagree with the policy of supporting uncritically the imperialist Obama administration are quickly dropped from party membership without regard to the constitutional process.
This says nothing about the destruction of the party press and publications and the failure to fight against anti-Communist laws across the country. This says nothing about the delivery of important party documents and artifacts to a bourgeois university for safekeeping. This says nothing about the failure of the party to run candidates for public office since the 1980s. This says nothing about the proposal of party leadership to drop the words “Communist” and “party.” This says nothing about the four international Communist Parties (Greece, Mexico, Canada and Germany) who have sharply, publicly and openly criticized the political line of the CPUSA.
The Houston Communist Party has been attacked from the left by anarchists and Trotskyites who have sought to demoralize us. We have been attacked by CPUSA national leadership. We have been attacked by right wing ideologues such as Glenn Beck.
We view these attacks as confirmation that we are headed in the right direction.
We are here to stay. We are growing. We will not back down. We will continue to stand up for the working class because we are of, by and for the working class. It is clear which side our attackers and detractors are on. It is clear which side we are on. Our interests and the interests of the CPUSA leadership are irreconcilable.
July 11, 2012