Editors’ Note: at readers’ requests, we are printing, in one place, four major international criticisms of the Sam Webb article.
Greek Communist Party (KKE)
International Relations Section, Central Committee,
Athens, April 13, 2011
To the members and cadre of the CPUSA,
To the workers that struggle in the USA,
To the communist and workers parties, Dear comrades,
In February 2011 the chairperson of the CPUSA, Sam Webb, published an article in Political Affairs, the electronic publication of the CPUSA, entitled "A Party of Socialism in the 21st Century: What It Looks Like, What It Says, and What It Does".
Even if the specific article is accompanied by an editorial note, which claims that "The following article represents the views of its author alone.Â Â It doesn’t necessarily reflect the official views of any organization or collective." It is obvious to us that the public position of the head of a Communist Party concerning such an important issue requires special attention.
On the 16th of February we received a letter from the editorial team of Political Affairs, which invited us to send in our opinion. Our party, after studying this article and the reactions it has provoked within the ranks of communists both in the USA and internationally, considers it necessary to take a public position through this letter, as is required by its responsibility as a part of the international communist movement.
Our assessment is that we are dealing with a comprehensive liquidationist platform of 29 theses, which has been placed before the international communist movement and proposes the total revision of the principles and revolutionary traditions of the communist movement.
The KKE (Greek Communist Party), as a section of the international communist movement, considers as its duty the refutation of this platform, which questions the need for the existence of a party of the working class in the USA, and in general is directed against the revolutionary and anti-imperialist movement internationally.
The 18th Congress of our party stressed that "The battle against social-democratization tendencies in Communist Parties Â through the intervention of imperialist mechanisms, anti-communism and the bourgeois media Â must be fought firmly and consistently by defending the historic role of the working class and its organized vanguard, the principles of Marxism-Leninism and of socialism. This task takes on even greater significance in face of the growing anti-communist offensive in the EU and internationally."
The platform that has been presented today, through the article of the chairperson of the CPUSA, constitutes the culmination of a course of "adjustment" in the last decade as the author himself points out. There have already been developments in this intervening period which communists in Greece, as well as in the USA and other countries have monitored with concern, such as:
oÂ Â Â The handing over of the Party’s archives to the imperialists, the bourgeois state of the USA in 2007.
oÂ Â Â The closure of the print publication of the newspaper (People’s Weekly World) and the journal Political Affairs, with the simultaneous alteration of its character.
oÂ Â Â The organizational shrinkage and dislocation of the party.
oÂ Â Â The political "tailing", behind one of the two pillars of the bourgeois political system of the USA, that is to say behind the Democratic Party.
oÂ Â Â The stance in relation to the ambitions of US imperialism (e.g. rejection of the demand for the immediate withdrawal from Iraq)
The blocking of the Joint Statement of the Emergency Meeting of the Communist and Workers’ Parties in Damascus, because in the final text there was the position for the withdrawal of the imperialist occupation forces from Iraq.
These elements intensified after the 29th Congress of the CPUSA. It was not by chance that immediately after the congress, an article was published in Political Affairs which called into question not only the need to maintain the name of the party, but the possibility and even the necessity of a Communist Party’s existence in the USA today. Today the Webb platform comes as the culmination of this course and openly propagandizes the abandonment of the Marxist-Leninist worldview, the abolition of democratic centralism, and the undermining of the principles of the party of a new type. We would like to draw your attention to the following basic aspects of this platform:
ON THE QUESTION OF THE THEORY OF THE PARTY
It proposes the replacement of our theory by an eclectic hotchpotch which does not go beyond the limits of liberal bourgeois ideology. It attacks Marxism-Leninism directly, which constitutes one of the central laws of the existence and activity of the party of the new type, as V.I. Lenin pointed out "Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement… role of vanguard fighter can be fulfilled only by a party that is guided by the most advanced theory." In this specific platform various extremely old opportunist positions are promoted as new (e.g. Marxism-Leninism is foreign, anti-democratic, it is a distortion of Marxism by Stalin etc.), these are positions which disarm the labor movement and surrender it, without theoretical tools, to the claws of the exploitative system. ON THE
QUESTION OF THE POLITICAL PROPOSAL OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY:
It promotes the view that there can be solutions in favor of the working class within the framework of capitalism. In this way, it promotes as an alternative solution the line of the so-called "green" capitalist restructurings. In addition, the Webb platform considers the characterization of the crisis as a capitalist crisis of overproduction insufficient. It distorts the essence of the over-accumulation of capital as it associates it with…. A lack of investment opportunities. It states characteristically: "Short of a new New Green Deal on a global level, it is hard to see where the dynamism for a sustained upswing, let alone a long boom, is going to come from."
These views recycle social-democratic and opportunist theories on economic recession and development which whitewash capitalism and conceal its class essence, leading the Communist Party to give up on its strategic goal and support political proposals, which have as their goal the acquisition of new super-profits by the capitalists, in the name of "ecology", at the same time when they are turning nature and natural wealth into commodities, and destroying the planet in various ways.
THE QUESTION OF THE SOCIALIST PERSPECTIVE:
It renounces the struggle for socialism. The notion of revolution is entirely absent. It proposes an endless process of successive stages, in which the alliances will be formed not on the basis of the criterion of the era and the class interests of the working class. Webb proposes working for "- the balance of forces is to shift in a progressive direction".
This view condemns the party to submit itself to the temporary circumstances and not to work with a strategy for the overthrow of capitalism through the concentration of forces. Nevertheless, it is obvious to us, that the tactics of a Communist Party must serve its strategy, which is the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of a socialist-communist society.
The position of Webb in practice abolishes the strategic goal of the Communist Party, and finally aims to shake the very character of the Communist Party. Socialism is in any case on the agenda, from the moment that we live in the era of imperialism, the highest and final stage of capitalism. The timeliness and necessity of socialism-communism is projected by the impasses of capitalism, the imperialist wars, the economic crises, the huge social, economic, environmental, ecological and other problems which capitalist society gives rise to.
A Communist Party must form tactics and alliances which facilitate the concentration of forces, the class unity of the working class and the social alliance with the popular strata, with the aim of maturing the subjective factor for the acquisition of power by the working class, and not to be trapped in alliances and stages, which will lead it to struggle under a "foreign flag" in the logic of managing capitalism.
ON THE QUESTION OF THE FORMATION OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY
The Webb platform proposes moving beyond the Communist Parties. It says that "A party of socialism in the 21st century embraces Marxism, understood as a broad theoretical tradition that reaches beyond the communist movement." A party that does not struggle for the interests of the working class but "fights for the interests of the entire nation." This position denies the necessity of the existence of the Communist Party in the USA and indeed in the entire world.
The KKE successfully dealt with similar views, when they emerged in our party 20 years ago under the influence of "Gorbachevist" theories. The communists of Greece fought hard to repel these opportunist views, for the preservation of the KKE, for the preservation and strengthening of its revolutionary, class and internationalist character.
Today, 20 years later, the communists not only in Greece but all over the world can judge the positive results that the outcome of this battle had for the KKE. The KKE was able to stand on its feet, to elaborate serious theoretical and political issues, without deviating from the principles of Marxism-Leninism. It approved its new programme and came to important conclusions concerning the causes of the overthrow of socialism, enriching its conception of socialism. It has taken significant initiatives for the unity of the communist movement at a regional and international level. It strengthened its bonds with the working class and the other popular strata. The influence of its positions and its prestige has been strengthened as it plays the leading role in the regrouping and development of the class-oriented labor-trade union movement and in the tough strike mobilizations of the workers in our country. None of the above would have been achieved, if opportunism had prevailed 20 years ago in the KKE. The KKE would have gone down the road of dissolution and the labor-popular movement would have lost its basic pillar of support.
ON IDEOLOGICAL STRUGGLE
The Webb platform renounces the struggle against bourgeois ideology and opportunism. The party which Webb describes surrenders from the ideological struggle. He writes "A party of socialism in the 21st century doesn’t turn Â liberals, advocates of identity politics, single issue movements, centrist and progressive leaders of major social organizations, social democrats, community based non-profits, NGOs, unreliable allies, and the "people" (according to some, a classless category concealing class, racial, and gender oppression) Â into enemies." But can a Communist Party enlighten the working class, the other popular strata, if it does not have an ideological front against views, which present capitalism as the only way, which simply promote different types of management of the exploitative system?
The answer of the KKE to this is that it is impossible for the struggle of the people to develop without a firm and consistent ideological front against unscientific bourgeois and opportunist theories. This is especially true in today’s conditions, when the role of the various NGOs has become obvious, which are connected financially and in other ways with the imperialist organizations. In conditions when social democracy has been in government and has demonstrated in practice that is a pillar of support for the bourgeois political system. In these conditions the communists not only must not give up on ideological work and struggle, but they must intensify the struggle even further against these forces.
Webb rejects the Leninist organization, the organization of the vanguard of the working class, which corresponds to the needs of the class struggle for the abolition of exploitation. He rejects the Leninist organization because he rejects the struggle for socialism and has taken sides with the bourgeois class for the perpetuation of capitalism. And so, a state machine which is both experienced and powerful will be opposed by a "party", according to him, based on the Internet, with an open door policy for new members as an organizational principle: "Joining should be no more difficult than joining other social organizations".
Thus we can see that not only does he reject the tried and tested organizational principles of the Communist Party of a new type, which were established in the era of Lenin, but he promotes the idea of a party of an NGO type, which corresponds to the content which he himself proposes and is in the direction of a "Communist Party" assimilated into the bourgeois system, which will work for the salvation and "correction" of capitalism and not for its overthrow.
A PARTY OF REVOLUTION OR REFORM?
Reform is the answer given by Webb to this fundamental question, which was posed a hundred years ago. His view denies that the party is the vanguard of the working class and subordinates its activity to the lowest level of class consciousness ("A party of socialism in the 21st century takes as its point of departure the issues that masses (relative term) are ready to fight for"). Of course a reformist line is proposed as well as the prioritization of the intervention in the institutions of the bourgeois state. The struggle for reforms within imperialism is acclaimed not only as a ÂmeansÂ but an end for this "new" party.
In reality, when has the path of reforming the capitalist system ever led to the abolition of the exploitation of man by man and the vindication of the workers’ desires? The "recipe" of reforms has been tested by the peoples through various social-democratic and centre-left governments, which in practice have been proved to be the main vehicles for the imposition of anti-people and anti-worker measures, and as pillars of support for the imperialist organizations and wars.
Webb calls the class nature of bourgeois democracy into question. As he writes: "What I’m challenging is the notion that everything is subordinate to class and class struggle no matter what the circumstances." He questions the class nature of the bourgeois state, that is to say the dictatorship of the US monopolies and claims that "Thus the nature of the struggle isn’t simply the people against the state, but the people winning positions and influence in the state and then utilizing them to make changes (within and outside of the state)". This is an old opportunist position, which Marx had already rejected in his era, and was revived by the bankrupt Eurocommunist current. And this alone would be enough for us to come to the conclusion that the "Marxism", which is mentioned as being the theoretical basis of the "party of the 21st century", has nothing to do with Marx and his theoretical contribution but aims at its vulgar distortion, the burying of revolutionary theory, and the deception of the workers.
ILLUSIONS CONCERNING THE ROLE OF THE US GOVERNMENT AND THE MONOPOLIES:
The Webb platform fosters illusions and works for the submission of the people to the government of the USA, that is to say the world’s leading imperialist power: "The point isn’t for the U.S. government to simply to crawl into a national shell, but to reinsert itself into world affairs on the basis of cooperation, peace, equality, and mutual benefits…" At the same time he fosters illusions concerning a " humanized" version of the monopolies: "big sections of the transnational corporate class have pulled the plug on the American people, economy, and state…the commitment of major sections of the transnational elite to a people-friendly public sector, a vibrant domestic economy and a modern society has waned…"
As the Chairperson of the CPUSA has given up on a class approach to society, the above mentioned positions are to be expected. These are positions which not only have nothing to do with the history and struggles of the party he represents, but they bear no relation to reality either. The continuing occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the new imperialist war in Libya, demonstrate what kind of activity the US government has developed outside its "national shell". And it conducts similar anti-people activity for the defense of the interests of the monopolies inside its own country.
ESCALATING THE LINE OF "TAILING" CAPITAL AND THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
The strengthening of political reaction, which is intrinsic to imperialism and is intensifying in the conditions of crisis, is interpreted as "ultra-right extremism". This leads to conclusions which violate the truth and reality, such as "we say too definitively that the independent forces stand no chance whatsoever of taking over the Democratic Party. That still may be the case, but it is a mistake to rule it out completely at this point." The equation of the working class and its movement with the trade union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO is consistent with the political line of alliance with sections of capital. TURNING TO
Webb’s article marks an overt siding with the class enemy and a complete alignment with contemporary state-level anticommunism. It calls for "an unequivocal break with Stalin" and lines up with the slanderous assault on socialist construction which offered so much to the Soviet peoples and played the decisive role in the anti-fascist victory of the peoples. In essence, these positions attempt to conceal the reality, the complex problems of the class struggle in the USSR and the tough confrontation of working class power with the bourgeois class in the countryside, the kulaks. It adopts, in essence, every kind of slanderous simplification of complex problems, such as the sharpening of the class struggle in the USSR.
The article goes a step further and joins up with Havel, Walesa and all the reactionary anticommunists of the EU who talk of "crimes against humanity". It lines up with the tendency that attempts to criminalize the Communist Parties and the defense of socialism: "to describe these atrocities as a mistake is a mistake Â criminal". As is well known the opportunist current in Europe that forms the so-called Party of the European Left (ELP) holds a similar anti-historical position.
Dear comrades of the CPUSA,
Members, friends and cadre of the CPUSA,
Conscious Workers of the US,
At this very critical moment for your party the KKE calls on you to take into account that the ideological attack against the Party of a New Type focusing on its identity, its character and its organizational principles was unleashed from the very first moment of its existence. The revisionists have always supported the dissolution of the party of the working class; they have always been a pillar of support for the bourgeoisie. The bourgeois class and its supporters understood from the very first moment the role of the party in the political emancipation of the working class and its movement.
The ideological attack which was unleashed continues up to the present day as is demonstrated by Webb’s article. We call on you to take into account the fact that the party can only fulfill the role of the proletarian vanguard on the condition that it is equipped with unity of will, unity of action, and unity of strict discipline. Its internationalist character stems from its nature; it constitutes an integral part of the world communist movement.
Experience confirms and practice, which is the yardstick of truth, proves that the revolutionary line of struggle not only does not restrict mass work but it reinforces it. It strengthens the expectations of the working people, it provides a way-out and a perspective, it contributes to the change of the correlation of forces. The independent action of the party is a prerequisite for the formation of a policy of alliances that will be subordinated to and serve the strategy for the overthrow of capitalism.
In addition, we consider it necessary to take into account that the necessity of the socialist revolution and the construction of the new communist socio-economic formation is not determined by the correlation of forces, which is shaped at the various historical junctures, but by the historical need to resolve the basic contradiction between capital and labor.
The counterrevolutions in the USSR and the other socialist countries have not altered the character of our era which is an era of transition from capitalism to socialism which is timely and necessary as shown by the tragedy of the millions of workers and unemployed who suffer from exploitation and the intensification of the problems that the exploitative system causes.
We believe that the replacement of the principles of Marxism Leninism by revisionist approaches in the name of national peculiarities caused a great deal of damage to the communist movement and continues to do so. No national peculiarity can negate the necessity for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, the necessity for the conquest of political power by the working class, for the socialization of production and central planning.
The economic crisis that broke out in the capitalist world and the intensification of the inter-imperialist contradictions further highlight the timeliness of socialism. Under these conditions the driving back of the new wave of state anticommunism, the defense of the socialism we knew, of its great contribution to the world working class, of the identity and the revolutionary traditions of the communist movement acquire a special importance.
Historical experience, the developments themselves have refuted the views that spoke of "the end of history", the "obsolescence of Marxism-Leninism" and the "end of the Communist Parties". On the contrary, today there is a stronger need for the existence of Communist Parties that have roots in the working class and the workplaces, which believe in Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism.
The labor movement must consciously act and rise to the challenge to ensure the existence of a revolutionary party of the working class. This is a crucial duty and a challenge for the most advanced workers and for communists in all the countries of the world and of course above all in the USA.
The consistent confrontation with and rejection of this opportunist-liquidationist platform is a requirement which springs from the historical traditions the labor and communist movement in the USA, it is a condition for the revival of revolutionary communist ideals in the US labor movement and society.
The International Relations Section of the Central Committee of KKE
Regarding the Liquidationist Theses of a ÂParty of Socialism in the 21st CenturyÂ by Sam Webb
The Communist Party of Mexico Â
April 16, 2011
At the invitation of Joel Wendland, editor of Political Affairs, who made us aware of the essay by Sam Webb "A Party of Socialism or the 21st Century: What It Looks Like, What It Says, and What It Does," we state some opinions.
It seems to us that, in any rounded evaluation, this is not only an internal matter of the Communist Party of the USA, but poses questions of interest to the whole of the Communist movement.
We express our surprise at the unusual procedure of an "unofficial position," since leading cadres have responsibilities that cannot be avoided, much less theÂ GeneralÂ Secretary or in this case the Chairman. LeadingÂ cadres have a responsibility for the development of the party, for the history of struggle of the same organization, for the principles and the party program.
They have a duty toward their comrades, although in this case is obvious that, beyond the fact that it is presented as an individual reflection, what Sam Webb brings is a set of theses that have as a goal the liquidation of the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA).
An explanation is necessary before getting down to the matter at hand. Historically, the CPUSA and the Communist Party of Mexico (CPM) have had tight links, and not only because of the geographicalÂ closeness. Since its foundation the Mexican section of the Communist International included the cooperation of its US counterpart.
This was an organizing and ideological collaboration that bore fruit, above all, in the years the workers’ movement in our country was on the rise, in the 30’s and 40’s of the 20th century. To a great extent, the opinions of the American Communists contributed positively. However, the influence of Browderism was deeply negative. Its reception in the CPM fed, just as in the USA, an opportunistic and liquidating course. The letter of Jacques Duclos helped the American comrades, and also the Mexican comrades in those years. The effects and consequence [of Browderism] were nevertheless of long duration.
In the CPM, for example, the cells among the working class and trade unions were affected. Instead of prompting the building of the party, to maintain its class independence and autonomy, efforts alien to a Communist party were supported, such as the Socialist League and a multi-class party. Nevertheless both parties made efforts to overcome such deviations, although elements remained under the surface.
Collaboration continued under McCarthyism; the CPUSA always counted on the determined solidarity of the Communists of Mexico. In 1981 the CPM dissolved itself. Since 1994 work to organize the party of the working class, the Communist party, began again in our country. In the difficult years of the counterrevolution a focal point to maintain the Communist perspective, along with other Marxists-Leninists, was for us Gus Hall and, of course, his party. Gus Hall, like William Foster before, and other comrades of the CPUSA are for us exemplars of the Communist militant.
We followed closely the debate in the CPUSA in the years of the counterrevolution. The position that seemed to us erroneous was that of the group that splintered forming the Committees of Correspondence. The correct one was theÂ defense — by the majority of CPUSA militantsÂ –Â of the class-oriented nature of the organization, of the struggle for socialism based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism.
With grave concern we have come to learn of activities that gradually have been dismantling the CPUSA, like the decision not to rely anymore on a printed press, the closing of bookstores, the delivery of party historical files to a bourgeois institution, the abandonment of spaces that were built along the years of struggle for peace, etc., etc.
Politically, we never understood how can one defeat monopoly capitalism’s aggression against the American working class and the working class and peoples of other countries by supporting, in name of isolating the "ultra right," Democratic PartyÂ candidates, another facade of exploitation, war and militarism. But now we find a proposal of Sam Webb to finally modify the nature, the character of the CPUSA, transforming it into a new political party alien to the organizational and ideological basis of Communist parties.
First, the notion of "Socialism of the 21st Century" entails a position against the socialist construction in the 20th century, a rejection of the experience of the working class in power. For us this is a matter of an opportunistic notion, a source of confusion; but beyond that, it is important what Sam Webb configures as "A Party of the Socialism in the 21st century." Relinquishing of the ideological basis, what does a Party of Socialism in the 21st century think? It is stated that Marxism-Leninism should be abandoned.
The arguments are not new. They have been refuted time and again. "Dogmatic", "foreign-sounding," Âformulaic,Â Âstate ideology." We do not forget the brilliant pages written by American Communists to unmask those condemnations, as much in theoretical works, as in the courts used against them by McCarthyism.
They are theÂ same arguments that, in other moments, were raised against Marxism-Leninism by Trotskyism, by the New Left and by organizations and individuals that in their day were financed by the State Department. Why is it today that the Chair of the CPUSA ends by giving in to the rationale of the House Un-American Activities Committee?
The universal character of the ideology of the working class, since it was outlined by Marx and Engels, as well as the fundamental development by Lenin upon entering the monopoly phase of capitalism and upon being initiating the epoch of proletarian revolutions, cannot be refuted with the worthless claim that it is a Âforeign,Â Âalien,Â ÂantidemocraticÂ or ÂdogmaticÂ notion. As is outlined in other parts of hisÂ essay, his discomfort with the conceptÂ comes from the renunciation of the revolution and of the revolutionary road,Â the party of a new type, of class analysis, with the renunciation of anti-imperialist struggle.
Sam Webb insists on the anti-Communist notions to justify his criticism of Marxism-Leninism and of socialist construction. He has no doubts about taking up the discourse that criminalizes the role of Stalin, just as the distorters of history that today intend to rewrite history by likening the role of the USSR with that of Nazi Germany. And why is all this done? To please the non-governmental organizations, the liberal sectors of the Democratic Party. That is to say, not in service to the interests of the working class, but to those ofÂ the petty bourgeoisie class. Webb quotes various works of Marxists and, on that basis,Â puts forth such a judgment.
But Marxism-Leninism is not reduced to some selected works, but covers a lot more. The renunciation of theory is the source of other erroneous ideological statements such as the proposal of "socialist regulated market," of a peaceful transition [to socialism],Â the renunciation of revolution, as well as deep distortions of the Marxist-Leninist theory of the state. A programmatic matter: what does a Party of Socialism in the 21st century do? The questioning and intent to replace the ideology of the CPUSA is consistent with the objective to alter its political aim. Upon depriving the party of its revolutionary theory in favor of an eclectic mixture of petty bourgeois ideology, it prevents any revolutionary action.
In fact he does not intend anything else.
Despite the fact that he affirms that his reflection has, as starting point that "…the reproduction of the conditions for exploitation of labor and nature appears to be reaching its limits" socialism remains a distant objective to be arrived only after passing an infinity of transition phases.
The breaking point, the destruction of capitalist state, the seizure of power by the working class, in a word, the strategy, remains subordinated to tactics, to the alliance with sections of the bourgeoisie for, "it makes little sense to take on the entire capitalist class when it is not necessary", "…it is boneheaded to artificially hurry the political process along when pursuing such an option would likely result in defeat", because we can "…clear the ground for democratic, social, socialist transformations," etc. Under any circumstances, at all stages, it is said, the way forward will be within the framework of bourgeois institutions,Â not by a challenge to them.Â
Inasmuch as forÂ reformists it is a matter of stages overtaken by changes in the correlation of forces and alliances, what follows for them to define the current stage? And this stage is summarized in propping up Obama Administration on behalf of a "more worker-friendly environment" and with the goal of "defeating the ultra right."
And this, despite the fact that the Obama Administration not only continues and reinforces the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, but unleashes the intervention in Africa, despite the fact that all the measures adopted to manage the crisis have been in favor of the monopolies, despite the fact that the anti-immigrant policies continue, despite the fact that the same backwardness in social well-being continues for Latinos and African-American workers, despite the fact that our own class shows signs of disenchantment with the government, etc.
All this does not prepare the Communist Party for the ideological struggle. Rather, it prepares the Party to divert the working class, to turn it into the "left wing" of the Democrat Party.
His harshest condemning words are not for the enemies of the working class that represent the most frightening barbarism. No, they are for the followers of the revolution and those of who defend the experience of socialist construction in the 20th century.
All these ideas are neither new nor adequate. It is impossible to affirm that they have been born by reading and rereading Marx, Engels, Lenin and other classics. They are theses that have been raised in their time by the opportunists of the Second International, by the Eurocommunists and at present by the so-called "New Left parties." Sam Webb already proposed to abandon the term "Leninism." He would have been more candid in regard to his program to ask also the abandon the term "revolution."
The allusions to a New Green Deal do not express only a yearning for a return to Roosevelt. They suggest, above all, praise of capitalist regulation, that is to say, to provide a capitalist way out of the deep crisis of the capitalist system. The New Green Deal of which he speaks in fact already forms part of the agenda of monopoly capitalist circles in the US. It not only justifies, ideologically, capitalism by endowing it with a green mask, by presenting new sacrifices for the working class as Âdone for the planetÂ and not for the maintenance of a parasitic stockholder class, that is to say, by assuring the general conditions for capitalist accumulation.
It also involves practical functions. It will give a way out to surplus capital in new areas of the market. In fact already economic movements exist by means of which the monopolies come to occupy these market segments, ousting small and medium capital. It will extract resources from the peoples by means of loans and taxes to be delivered to the monopolies in name of ecology. It will despoil the peasants, the native communities, the oppressed nationalities of their lands and of their resources, etc. Monopolies are seen to need to conjoin their crisis management with an industrial reconversion. All this industrial reconversion is a matter of extracting more surplus labor from the working class and of using more, and in a greater measure, the natural resources for the preservation of monopolies.
This programmatic bankruptcy, setting aside its desertion of the distinctive characteristics of a Communist party, resembles what was done by the Second International in its period of decomposition: gradualism, renunciation of theÂ revolution on behalf of reform, and justification of the capitalist mode of production.
An organization matter: what does a Party of socialism in the 21st century look like?
To this completely different objective corresponds a completely different type of organization.
Inasmuch as the question is not to oust a state but to win positions in it, not to attack the political forces of the bourgeoisie but to fortify one of its sections, since it is a matter of reformism, the revolutionary organizationÂ can be fully abandoned.
Consistent with the idea that it is a "party that fights for the interests of the entire nation" the class-conscious composition of the party is attacked. Anyone can enter the party with a mere application procedure. Discipline is relaxed and its place comes to be occupied by liberalism. The Party is transformed into a NGO.
Since the reforms and the participation in the capitalist state are not a means but the goal and the reason for being of this ÂParty of Socialism in the 21st century,Â its efforts are not directed to the point of production to regroup an offensive of the workers against their oppressors, but to clubs of only virtual existence.
On the objective base for such approaches, why is this proposal made?
One cannot compromise with this effort to liquidate the Communist Party of the United States. Saying that "it is only a mistake" would be a mistake and a crime, yes, a crime.
The opportunistic turn of the leadership of the CPUSA is not an exception to the theses of historical materialism, itÂ Â has an objective basis. This type of turn and deviation is to be expected in moments of growing difficulties for the bourgeoisie. They are moments of sharpening of the capitalist crisis of overaccumulation and overproduction; the periods of recovery are brief and weak, while the periods of stagnation and recession are long and deep. Capital can only manage to survive as capital by attacking ruthlessly the living and labor conditions of the working class. This sustained attack weakens and endangers the domination apparatus of the bourgeoisie, for which an objective basis exists to exercise ideological pressure on the working class and especially on its vanguard parties.
Already Lenin upon treating the theme of the working class aristocracy explains how the monopolies manage to corrupt and to bribe sections of the working class. Besides buying and bribing, monopolies resort to ideological pressure, to blackmail, to the distortion of reality, to the forgery of history, to demoralization. They try to isolate and to drown the revolutionary processes. If necessary they will resort to violence. This is the class struggle.
But at the same time that the imperialism puts in practice this ideological attack, the crisis also generates the contrary phenomenon. The events of recent years have put again the working class in the center of the class struggle. They have shown the need for the Communist Party and the validity and timelessness of Marxism-Leninism. The workers’ and Communist international movement is fortified. AÂ clear pole of class-conscious forces is being regrouped.
Those who oppose this intent of liquidation of the CPUSA will not be found alone. We, in the Communist Party of Mexico, have complete confidence that the American Communists will defend their historic party, the CPUSA, that they will act to rescue it as they did in the postwar period from the false liquidationist theses of Earl Browder, as it was defended during the counterrevolution against the partisans of perestroika.
What is more, in this task they will not struggle in solitude, for it is a duty of the Communists of other countries to undertake such a task.
One more point: the self-liquidation of the CPM left a void in the struggle for more than one decade. But politically that void will last longer, meaning the working class will confront its class adversary in worse conditions. Such negative experience should not be repeated in the US. Contrary to Sam WebbÂs forecast, turbulent periods in the international class struggle, inter-imperialist contradictions, suggest on the horizon social revolutions led by the working class, as in the Paris Commune, as during the Great Socialist Revolution of October.
Workers of the world, unite!
For the Communist Party of Mexico
PÃ¡vel Blanco, First Secretary
Diego Torres, International Relations Secretary
Of Saviors and Liquidators: V. I. Lenin, Alvaro Cunhal, Sam Webb
Hans-Peter Brenner, German Communist Party
July 9, 2011
On a ÂFeatureÂ of Coping with a Political Defeat
Certain Features of the Historical Development of Marxism is a work of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. In it he dealt with the consequences of the defeat of the first Russian revolution of 1905.Â At that time, many party members (including many recently enrolled intellectuals) left the revolutionary party in droves. Soon after that, the farewell to Marxism, which we too experienced in 1989-1991, became the fashion.
As a reflection of this change there occurred profound disintegration, confusion, shaking and swaying of all sorts – in a word, there appeared a very serious internal crisis of Marxism. The resolute defense against this decay, the determined and persistent struggle for the basics of Marxism, again came on the agenda.
That was Lenin’s diagnosis.
It was — and still is — important for us German Communists to examine what conclusions other Communist parties later drew from the defeat of socialism in Europe and the USSR.
First of all, I think about the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba, which had already adjusted to this disaster before the shameful end of Mikhail Gorbachev who drove to ruin Soviet socialism, his country, and his party. Cuba — the country and the Communist Party Â understood this: the harsh ÂdroughtÂ of the Special Period would govern the 1990s and early 2000s. Without its revolutionary, Marxist-Leninist character, the Communist Party of Cuba would have given up its socialist goal.
Self-awareness or Self-doubt?
I recall one Communist leader, prominent but, unfortunately, less noted in Germany, Alvaro Cunhal (1913-2005), the longtime general secretary of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP). At the time of the fascist Salazar dictatorship, CunhalÂs undergroundÂ struggle, his inspiring and mobilizing role during and after the 1974 victory of the "Carnation Revolution,Â as well as his shrewd leadership, are legendary.
The advance of the socialist stage of the revolutionary upheaval in Portugal was stopped by the united and coordinated actions of U.S. imperialism, NATO, the EU, the main European imperialist states, international social democracy, and domestic reaction.
Thanks to his personal resourcefulness, Cunhal embarked upon a strategic retreat. With a party united by a Marxist-Leninist program, he achieved the preservation of the PCP and its mass influence. He developed its clear profile, which it keeps today, as a revolutionary party of the working class, peasants and other working people.
To this day, his conclusions about the character of a Communist Party at the beginning of the 21st century are well worth reading. In his 2001 work, As Seis de Caracteristicas Fundamentais do Partido Comunista (The Six Basic Features of a Communist Party) Cunhal goes into the internal situation of the Communist movement at the beginning of the 21st century. He writes:
The international Communist movement, and the parties from which it is made up, were subject to profound changes as a the result of the collapse of the USSR and other socialist countries and capitalism’s success in its rivalry with socialism. There were parties who denied their militant past, their class nature, the goal of a socialist society, and revolutionary theory. In some cases, they were transformed into system-integrated parties, and they eventually disappeared from the scene.
In 2011 as well, this finding is relevant and correct.
Features of a Communist Party
The Communist movement as a whole – Cunhal went on Â has achieved flexibility in its composition and reached new limits. Admittedly, though there is no model of a Communist Party, nonetheless "six basic features can reveal a Communist party, regardless of whether the party bears that name or another.
Briefly, their traits could include:
1. To be a party completely independent of the interests, ideology, pressure and threats of capitalist forces;
2. To be a party of the working class, the working people, in general, the exploited and oppressed;
3. To be a party with a democratic internal life and a unified central leadership;
4. To be a party which is both internationalist and which defends the interests of its country;
5. To be a party that defines its goal as the building of a society which knows neither exploited nor exploiters, a socialist society;
6. To be the bearer of a revolutionary theory, the theory of Marxism-Leninism, which not only makes the explanation of the world possible, but also shows the way to change it.
In its simplicity and plainness, the last point sounds like it is of little interest, just as the other five points appear to include too little that is new. And yet these "self-evident truths" are not self-evident truths – not even for Communists. But more of that later.
Classics Taken at their Word
Cunhal made available to us the following explanation for his six points. It is cited here, in more detail, because of its uniqueness and distinctiveness:
All the slanderous, punishing, anti-Communist campaigns are lies. Marxism-Leninism is a living, anti-dogmatic, dialectical, creative theory, which is further enriched by practice and by its responses to new situations and phenomena, which is its job. It drives the practice of enrichment and development, dynamically and creatively using the lessons of practice.
Marx in Capital,Â and Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto,Â analyzed and defined the basic elements and characteristics of capitalism.
In the second half of the 19th century, however, the development of capitalism underwent an important amendment. Competition led to concentration and monopoly. We owe to Lenin and his work Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism the definition of capitalism at the end of the 19th century. These theoretical developments are of exceptional value. And the value of research and systematization of theoretical knowledge is rated as high.
In a synthesis of extraordinary clarity and rigor, a famous article by Lenin, The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism explains it. In the philosophy of dialectical materialism, historical materialism is its application to society. Political economy is the analysis and explanation of capitalism and exploitation, and the theory of surplus value is the cornerstone for understanding exploitation. The theory of socialism is the definition of the new society, the abolition of exploitation of man by man.
During the 20th century and the social transformations accompanying it, much new theoretical thinking was added. However, there also was scattered and contradictory thinking which made it difficult to distinguish what is theoretical development and where it is a question of revisionist deviation from principles. Hence the urgent need for debate without preconceptions and without making truths absolute. It’s not about the search for conclusions deemed to be final, but rather the intensification of joint reflection." Quoted from: www.kommunisten.ch
Cunhal is now dead six years. His party, the PCP, however, considers him not an idol on a pedestal, a "historical figure" whose thoughts and ideas slowly but gradually have been forgotten. Today, his theoretical and programmatic conclusions determine the path and self-understanding of the PCP. But, unfortunately, it is quite different elsewhere.
On Slippery Ground
The current example of this is the thinking of the chairman of the CPUSA, Sam Webb. Political Affairs, the theoretical organ of his party, published in February this year under the title: "A Party of Socialism in the 21st Century: What It Looks Like, What It Says, and What It Does." It has now appeared in German on the news portal of the German Communist Party’s website,Â www.kommunisten.de
Why are Webb’s theses of interest beyond the CPUSA?
For example, why did the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), despite the demands of the controversies and class struggles raging in that country, to which it devotes so much energy and combativeneness, send a really dramatic appeal To the members and cadres of the Communist Party USA! To U.S. militant workers! It was also addressed to all the Communist and Workers’ Parties, "in order to protest against these theses."
And now, why do German Communists deal with the Webb theses too?
Sam Webb stressed at the beginning of his 29 theses, each different in detail and very different in theoretical significance, that he was on slippery ground. The publisher of the theoretical journal of the CPUSA, Political Affairs, also knew well what he was getting involved with by posting it. The preface that introduces the article makes this clear.
"The following article represents only the views of its author. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the official views of any organization or collective… "
And Sam Webb, too,Â seemed to suspect, that there would be some critics reading his theses who would be reminded of the old proverb whereby the overconfident donkey will go out onto the ice and dance, i.e., take unreasonable risks.
At least this would apply to those who judge mental capers not by their intricate originality and self-circling conclusions, but rather by the donkeyÂs ability to keep its balance and pursue a course that will give meaning to its (political) acrobatics.
Apparently, to avoid such criticisms, Webb emphasized in the introduction that it was a "draft," an unfinished manuscript, and that "readers will surely note inconsistencies, contradictions, silences and unfinished ideas."
This is all too ostentatious modesty, and the ensuing fishing for compliments belies the altogether clear and complete implications of the theses.
Communists without Lenin
In the end Sam Webb delivers a very consistent idea, although it is not original. A letter in the German Communist Party weekly Unsere Zeit has already pointed out:
What is so exciting, new and important for us in these theses of Comrade Webb…? I cannot see it. Readers of Marxistische Blaetter already read and evaluated the core of his "Reflections on Socialism" in mid-2008 (In Focus: International Marxism, March 2008). And in our party, since the mid to late 1980s, we have discussed other theories (for example, the reduction of Marxism to a mere method, or the orientation toÂMarxism without Lenin." Not only did we do this thoroughly, but we developed collective responses crowned with a new party program’. Lothar Geisler, "Theses Not New," Unsere Zeit, July 1, 2011, p. 12)
In fact, most of the 29 theses do not contain much that is new. Though he writes of merely one in the article mentioned in Marxistische Blaetter from 2008, in its approaches, the quixotic intellectual journey already discernible in 2008 continues, but it now ends as a break with central points of Communist theory Â socialism, and the doctrine of the Party. He runs aground on the shoals of a leftÂpluralist Marxism; or the earlier "Eurocommunism," or the current democratic socialism of the German Left Party, European Left, respectively.
I mention particularly the rejection of the theory of Marx, Engels and Lenin as a unified, revolutionary theory of the working class.
What is original here is a hitherto less well-known chauvinistic undertone. As noted in his Thesis #2:
As for "Marxism-Leninism," the term should be retired in favor of simply "Marxism." For one thing, it has a negative connotation among ordinary Americans, even in left and progressive circles. Depending on whom you ask, it either sounds foreign or dogmatic or undemocratic or all of these together.
Granted, Lenin was no Russian exile finding safety in the U.S., taking out U.S. citizenship, and Americanizing his first or last name – perhaps to Sam Cook or Sam Smith.
But do ordinary Americans deem Karl Marx to be a fellow American?
And does Marxism really sound so terrifically American, that perhaps Sarah Palin herself, the icon of ordinary Americans, understands by Marxism a sweetness and innocence, causing her patriotic sentiment to peal like a church bell?
So the real test awaits Jim and Jane, ordinary Americans.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth comes to my mind, with its sigh, almost a curse:
"It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
But the meaning of Webb’s theses is more than noisy fury.
We long-suffering European Communists are quite accustomed to this counterposing of Marx and Lenin, and the elimination of the latter from what is coyly called "Marxism" or – even more subtly – "scientific socialism."
A Diminished Picture of History
In the early 1980s, the German Communist Party grappled intensively with a forerunner of today’s "Webbism," the idea of a Western "plural" Marxism, and a Marxism without Leninism. It arose in the study and seminar rooms of the West Berlin professor Wolfgang Fritz Haug.
At the same time, the highly relevant Marxist journal Argument was being published (compare Marxism. Ideology. Politics. Crisis of Marxism, or Crisis of the Argument? Frankfurt am Main, 1984. Editors: Hans Heinz Holz, Thomas Metscher, Joseph Schleifstein, and Robert Steigerwald.)
The second argument pushed by Webb for the amputation of Marxism-Leninism is even less original. And it is no less wrong. Back then it was also formulated by the Haug school. Allegedly, Marxism-Leninism is not "classical Marxism."
Sam Webb’s allegation of "simplification" of the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and other early Marxists in the form of "Marxism-Leninism" in the Stalin era is simply wrong.
In the Soviet Communist Party and the Communist International, after the death of Lenin and long before the nonsensical enthronement of Stalin as the "one true disciple of Lenin," acknowledgement began of Lenin as the third classical author of Marxism.
The careful processing, safeguarding and development of Lenin’s theoretical legacy by many CPSU and Comintern theorists are hidden by the Webb theses in a way that ignores history.
The general assertion that "Soviet scientists under Stalin’s leadership systematized and simplified earlier Marxist writing," not to mention adapting it to the needs of Soviet state ideology, is nothing more than repetition of the old anti-Soviet slogans.
There were, in the course of seventy years of Soviet party history and scientific history, numerous introductions to the academic and theoretical papers of Marx, Engels and Lenin. They were simplifications, just as in any scientific discipline there is simplification in all introductions, compendia, and so forth. They are merely introductions.
In no way was there systematic falsification of the inheritance. Even in the post-socialist era, the collected works of classical authors have still not finally emerged. This does not change the fact that, in a few texts of Lenin, there also was one or another politically motivated "editorial reworking" or omission, although this was justified and made transparent.
It is not true that Marxism-Leninism was Â or is Â an impoverished, simplified version of the true Marxism.
Certainly there was and is, in every theory and in all science, phases of greater or lesser creativity and development. And undoubtedly there was and will be future phases, just as in any scientific doctrine, in which revolutionary Marxists/Communists do not evaluate promptly new social and/or natural scientific phenomena. Or they do so too late. Or in a way that is only partly correct. In general, it is the nature of science that it moves in a contradictory manner between faster and slower stages of development.
Webb’s more far-reaching conclusion is that even what he designates as his new "Marxism" is only a "scientific method."
He thinks his altogether limited and schematic scientific-theoretical view surpasses the comprehensive legacy of the three classic founders of Marxism-Leninism.
A "method" which brings to light no apparent content, is worthless. And in the thesis of Sam Webb, the method goes straight to this "new-old" distinction and the rejection of content.
A German Version of Webb?
After the defeat of real socialism, the Left could not fail to weigh its previous relationship with Lenin and Leninism. The PDS [Party of Democratic Socialism] originating in a Marxist-Leninist party did this too. It broke with its Leninist heritage. In May 1990 at a closed meeting of the former PDS Executive Board, Gregor Gysi spoke about the new theoretical basis of his reform-socialism-turned-political-party. In this context, he explained both the departure from Marxism-Leninism and the move to an "ideologically pluralistic" party in which the Communist component would enjoy only a marginal existence, tolerated and allowed.
Thus far the statements by Sam Webb are nothing new. The same applies to his "new" concepts of organizational theory. They are in theory 27 ideas presented to remodel the party structure into an informal communication network, mainly Internet-based, whose members interact with each other primarily via e-mail.
Abolition of the unity principle and the commitment to the party program and decisions amounts to a vote for the open liquidation of the Communist Party.
Reassuring evidence that the huge distances between widely scattered individual U.S. Communists absolutely requires use of modern means of communication, in this context, is not completely convincing.
It’s clear Webb doesn’t mean to modernize the lines of communication. Such modernization, of course, is useful and necessary.
This is about something entirely different: the liquidation of a strong organizational structure, clear criteria for party membership, a common collectively developed program, binding revolutionary strategy and tactics, and in general decisions grounding the party in the working class, in working people, in the revolutionary youth and among oppressed women, in production enterprises and scientific institutions, and in the intelligentsia worn out by capital.
He also thinks joining this structure existing only in cyberspace should be slapdash – "no more difficult than joining other social organizations." This is a logical consequence of the destruction of a party once in political struggle against the capitalist system Â a party consisting of real, like-minded people coordinated with each other. The party is downgraded to a loose, small electoral force primarily concentrating on the support of the election campaigns of the Democratic Party.
Sam Webb has still provided the remnants of a party. "Teams" will be traveling around as "meet and greet" and support groups.
This is nothing more than window dressing.
Does the U.S. workers’ movement need such a party? I doubt it very much. But it has to decide for itself.
In any case, German Communists do not need it. Nor do we need an "open-ended and interesting" discussion of this plea for the end of Marxism-Leninism and the Communist Party.
We have better and more important things to do.
Dr. Hans-Peter Brenner, a psychologist and psychotherapist, is a member of the national leadership of the German Communist Party and co-editor of Marxistische Blaetter. This article appeared July 9, 2011 in Junge Welt, a Marxist daily newspaper published in Berlin.Â
Translation by Bill Miller.
Lessons from Our History:
Resolution adopted by the Central Committee,
Communist Party of Canada.
Aug. 27-28, 2011
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the birth of the Communist Party of Canada. From its founding convention held in a barn in Guelph, Ontario in 1921 until today, we have striven to remain true to our guiding principles and theory, and to realize them in our daily activities and strugglesÂ as a revolutionary party of the working class of Canada, based firmly on MarxismLeninism and proletarian internationalism.
As we celebrate this anniversary, we remember the many contributions and achievements of our Party over those ninety years. Whether it was in organizing the unorganized, forging most of the industrial and public sector unions which exist today in our country;Â building and leading the farmers’ movements for survival and dignity; organizing the ranks of Canada’s unemployed during the Great Depression, launching the famous OntoOttawa Trek; mobilizing thousands of young volunteers to fight against fascism in Spain and later across Europe during WWII; building the peace & disarmament movement in the postwar years; leading the historic struggle within the labor movement in Englishspeaking Canada to recognize the national rights of Quebec; helping to forge the panCanadian student movement in the 1970s; helping to build broad movements for civic reforms, universal health care, and defense of Canadian sovereignty; all of these and many other episodes in our history we remember with pride.
And we remember too that our revolutionary activities were carried out in circumstances of unrelenting hostility and attacks from Canada’s ruling capitalist class and its state. The periods when our Party was forced to work under conditions of illegality; when Tim Buck and other Party leaders and members were convicted and imprisoned; the McCarthystyle witch hunts which targeted our members and supporters and Communistled unions; the secret ProFunc plans of the Canadian State to round up and incarcerate thousands of Communists and their families; the constant ideological, propaganda and physical attacks against our Party (from both the right and ‘left’) because it refused to succumb to antiSovietismÂ we remember all of those difficult days, and honor the memory of those comrades who endured such outrages with courage and resolve. We came to understandÂ both at a theoretical level and through those reallife experiences as a PartyÂ that the class purpose of those political and ideological attacks was not only to weaken and diminish our ranks, and to isolate the Communists from our living ties to the working class; it was also done in the hope of shaking Communists from our class bearings and pressuring the Party to abandon its revolutionary theory.
It is in this context that we mark another anniversary of sorts this yearÂ it has been two decades since the innerparty struggle that almost liquidated our Party. In the late 1980s, George Hewison assumed the Party leadership and shortly thereafter a motley group of right opportunists, careerists and Trotskyists gradually gained ascendency within the Central Committee of the CPC. They were able to do so by concealing their liquidationist agenda and by taking advantage of confusion and disorientation within Party ranks due to developments in the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) where under Gorbachev’s stewardship the clouds of counterrevolution were gathering. In due course, the Hewison clique set about dismantling our Party piece by piece, starting with the dissolution of the Young Communist League and layoffs of Party cadre, and then the closure of the party’s print shop and publishing house, and progressive bookstores across the country.
As their liquidationist project gained momentum, this group began to openly break with the ideological principles and political line of our Party. They began negating the history of our Party (and that of the international communist movement in general) as having been "sectarian", "vanguardist" and "doctrinaire". They advanced reformist ideas about "incremental change" in place of, and as a substitute for, the concept of revolutionary transformation from capitalism to socialismcommunism. They decreed that "imperialism" was an outdated concept (!), which no longer characterized "post industrial capitalism". And they attacked democratic centralism, the organizational principle of our Party, and set about dismantling Party clubs and other organizational structures. Over time, their denunciations of "Stalinism" led to attacks on Leninist ideas, and ultimately to a refutation of the postulates of Marxism itself. And they proposed that the Party change its name, dropping all reference to ‘communist’ from our banner.
Behind the scenes, this liquidationist faction began holding secret meetings with social democrats and ‘independent leftists’ to dissolve the Communist Party with the goal of forming a new ‘united party of the socialist left’, using party assets to finance their new venture.
Following the 1990 Convention, opposition to the increasingly obvious abandonment of Marxist theory and practice by the Hewison leadership grew across the country. When detailed evidence surfaced of their secret plans to dissolve the Party and steal its assets, and as expulsions of members began, the majority of the party membership demanded an emergency Canadawide convention to resolve the issue. But the liquidators refused and instead set about dissolving party clubs and provincial committees that opposed their conspiracy. Members were told to sign loyalty oaths to Hewison et al or else face a refusal to renew their memberships.
Ultimately however the membership defeated their plans and saved the Communist Party from destruction, but at a heavy political, organizational and financial cost.
Ours was not the only Communist Party to go through such a convulsive experience; other parties around the world went through similar and sometimes worse trials during those difficult years. To our south, a liquidationist faction attempted to gain control of our sister party the Communist Party USA, but were successfully beaten back.
The lessons drawn from that painful episode in our history are important for the Communists in CanadaÂ veterans and new members alike. But they are lessons which can also be useful to Communists internationally, in our common struggle for social emancipation, for an end to class exploitation and oppressionÂ for socialism.
It is in this context that we now comment on recent developments and debates which have been taking place in our neighboring party, the CPUSA. For several years now, our Central Committee has received inquiries from many concerned members about political and organizational changes in that party, and the renunciation by leading cadres of such fundamental Marxist concepts as "the dictatorship of the proletariat", "democratic centralism" and "proletarian internationalism."
The concerns raised have dealt with a number of interrelated issues, such as various statements issued by the CPUSA dealing with international questions, especially on the Palestinian struggle, and on the U.S. wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan; on trade union policy which many feel is insufficiently critical of class collaborationism in the leadership of the AFLCIO (which has a direct bearing on Canada given the large presence of AFLCIO affiliates in the Canadian Labor Congress); on the assessment of the role and class position of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party and the absence of any independent electoral presence of the CPUSA in its own name; on various pronouncements by leading figures of the CPUSA on changing the party name, in describing the multitrillion dollar government bailouts as "a dose of socialism", etc.; and in organizational decisions to cease the print editions of People’s Weekly World and Political Affairs, the layoffs of Party and YCL organizing staff, the internetbased ‘open door’ approach to party recruitment, etc.
Although deeply concerned about many of these developments, our Central Committee has until now refrained from comment. However, in light of the publication earlier this year of the article "A Party of Socialism in the 21st Century" by CPUSA Chair Sam Webb, our Central Committee finds it necessary to clarify our Party’s views on certain critical questions which have been raised. Although the various theses presented in this article refer, in the first place, to a proposed reorientation of the CPUSA itself, its title and text read as if these ideas should form the ‘template’ of the political approach of Communist parties in general, or certainly at least in other advanced capitalist countries such as Canada. This assumption was confirmed when comments from other fraternal parties were actively solicited by the CPUSA, a highly unusual practice.
We are aware of the formal responses given to this article by the Communist Parties of Greece (KKE) and Mexico. Our Party is in substantive agreement with the main criticisms of this document expressed by these two parties. We consider that the political line advanced in "A Party of Socialism in the 21st Century" constitutes a fundamental departure from MarxistLeninist theory and practice. The pursuit of such an approach will objectively lead to the liquidation of the CPUSA as a revolutionary party of the working class in that country.
Based on our 90 years of struggle, on our Party program "The Road to Socialism", our Constitution, and on the decisions reached our conventions, the Communist Party of Canada understands its nature and role, and undertakes its political activities, as guided by the following general considerations and conclusions (among others):
* that the main contradiction underlying capitalism in Canada today remains the class contradiction, reflecting in the class struggle between the two main classesÂ the ruling capitalist class (especially its core, monopoly capital) and the working class of our country, a contradiction which can only be resolved through the revolutionary transformation of our society from capitalism to socialism.
* therefore that as a revolutionary party, the main task of the CPC is to defend and advance the longterm interests of the working class in pursuit of this ultimate objective, and "strives to be the leading political party of the working class, of all who labor by hand and brain… [a party which] arises out of the working class and is an organized political detachment of that class… [and which] has no interests separate and apart from those of the working class as a whole."
* that our Party supports the struggle for immediate reforms to improve the conditions of the working class and the people under capitalism, and seeks unity with all other forces which support and will fight for such advances; at the same time, our Party never loses sight of the ultimate goal of socialism nor the fact that there can be no other course to socialism other than through the revolutionary overthrow of the existing order. In this regard, we consider a correct understanding of the dialectical relationship between reform and revolution to be of paramount importance;
* that in pursuing the broadest possible unity with other class and social forces to achieve immediate advances, it is absolutely imperative for our Party to studiously safeguard its independent role as a revolutionary party of the working class and oppose tendencies or pressuresÂ either from within or without our ranksÂ to efface or submerge our independent role.Â The CPC considers it vital that it speak directly, visibly and openly in our own name, and engage in ideological struggleÂ the ‘battle of ideas’Â against bourgeois, reformist and class collaborationist concepts that weaken, disarm and divide the movement;
* that the "world outlook of [our] Party is based on Marxism-Leninism, which embodies the theory of scientific socialism first developed by Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and V.I. Lenin. Marxism-Leninism is not a dogma; it is a living, developing theory, tool of analysis and guide to action. It incorporates the concentrated experience of all the struggles of the working class, both in Canada and around the world" [from Chapter 8 of our Party Program "Canada’s Future is Socialism"];
* that the CPC is imbued with a proletarian internationalist outlook, reflected in both our struggle to achieve socialism in Canada, and in our active solidarity with antiimperialist and revolutionary struggles, and efforts to build socialism around the world. A critical aspect of our internationalist responsibility is the ideological struggle against bourgeois slanders and distortions of the history of the international working class movement and its efforts to forge socialism, both in the past and in the present day; and
* that in terms of our organizational principles as a Communist Party, these "are determined by its political aims… to guide the working class to the achievement of these aims, and to lead the people’s struggle, the Party must be founded on firm ideological, political and organizational unity, and on the continuous organized activity of its members in close contact with the working people, knowing their views and needs, and able to explain Party policy. Democratic centralism is the organizational principle which ensures this." [from our Party Constitution]
This is where we stand, and these are the principles which we unwaveringly defend.