There’s no avoiding an ideological struggle in our Party over twentieth-century socialism.
The CPUSA’s partisan view of the Soviet Union (1917-1991) is rooted neither in nostalgia nor obsession, nor unthinking habit. It is a commitment to the truth and to principle.
The class struggle is sharpening. Working people will be entering our movement. Most people join Communist Parties because they admire the people in our parties who are waging Â often leading Â struggles.
Sooner or later, if we wish to hold new people, we must offer a convincing explanation of the debacles of 1989-91. If we don’t, our ideological adversaries Â bourgeois and right wing social democrats Â certainly will. They will try to sow confusion by means of defamatory pseudo-explanations.
Some Party writings imply Â inaccurately Â that our Party and the world movement haven’t a clue about what caused the downfall of socialism in Eastern Europe and the USSR in 1989-91.
To its credit, International Publishers has published three fine books on the subject (Perestroika: Its Rise and Fall; Heroic Struggle, Bitter Defeat; and Socialism Betrayed) although these books are treated with contempt by reformist elements in our leadership, they have been translated into dozens of languages by Communists around the world who hold these books in high esteem.
Several parties including notably the Greek Communist Party have held conference after conference of Marxist scholars to arrive at a satisfactory historical materialist explanation of the 1989-91 calamities. Reflecting more than a decade of collective work, their recent Theses on Socialism (http://inter.kke.gr/News/2009news/18congres-resolution-2nd.) merit careful study by all.
In the former lands of socialism, the misery inflicted by gangster capitalism has caused tens of millions people to think again. Not many months ago, it was evident in the spate of articles on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.Â Even conservative observers conceded that the working people of most lands in Eastern Europe and the USSR, by large majorities, believe their lives were better under socialism. In the most extreme case, capitalist Russia, the re-imposition of capitalism has caused a demographic collapse.
Communists struggle over historical memory. History was a terrain for ideological struggle in Lenin’s time too. He defended the Paris Commune (1871) and generalized its political lessons in State and Revolution. Before him, Marx too was a fierce partisan of the Paris Commune. Both, of course, acknowledged and studied the mistakes that contributed to its downfall.
Twenty-century socialism is not a matter of ancient history. It is alive in such countries as Cuba, China, Vietnam, and Korea in all their diversity. Class solidarity with these existing socialist states, especially those most threatened by US imperialism, is the absolute duty of all US Communists.
This convention must reject any opportunistic distancing of the CPUSA from the Soviet experience. This convention must not accept such opportunistic and evasive formulations, for example, as "In some ways we were prisoners of the experience of Russia in 1917," ("Democracy Matters," interview, Political Affairs, 2004)
We have not been "prisoners" of anything. Our steadfastness in solidarity, will someday mark us out as principled revolutionaries who stand by the truth and do not bend with the winds of political fashion.
We US Communists are not embarrassed that we defended the USSR when it was a living reality. We defend its memory now. We proudly re-affirm that Soviet socialism was the twentieth century’s noblest and most important experiment in "democracy for the many," working-class democracy.
Like the entire world, we especially honor the monumental struggle of the Soviet people in the vanquishing of the Nazi/fascists who invaded the land of socialism, leading to the deaths of 25 million Soviets and the suffering of an entire people. Such selfless sacrifice has never been witnessed in the history of the world. It will forever be an inspiration to working people the world over as we continue to fight for communism.
This convention must insist that our Party leaders and our Party publications, without exception, speak and write in that partisan spirit.
Dr. Angelo D’Angelo, Ed Wliody, Kevin Keating