The CPUSA presents the document "World Realignments, Shifting Balance of Forces" for pre-convention discussion. This presentation of the Party’s approach to international affairs gives short shrift to growing anti-imperial outrage. It offers no program relating to anti-imperialist mobilization.
The document elaborates upon tactics and methodology seen as useful for ameliorating U.S. foreign policy embarrassments. That emphasis has little to do with the concerns of many people who, horrified at imperialist excess, identify themselves as socialists. In weighing the CPUSA as a possible political home, they could come across this summary purporting "to give general direction" on international affairs. They will find little mention there of victims of U.S. imperialism: the tortured, the imprisoned, the starving, the migrating, and the wounded and killed in U.S. wars.
This document intended for an audience of Party members carries the burden of representing Party positions on world affairs to outside activists. Â Other Party literature is not available. Potential recruits are thus left with the message that they leave outrage on hold while buying into scripted, well, rehearsed tactical maneuvers aimed at gaining for the Party a foothold within the ranks of political moderates, a vantage point seen as useful for exerting pressure on susceptible powerbrokers.
That’s one turn-off for new people. Another is condescension. The document notes that "many progressives… have found [it] difficult to navigate" the current "very difficult political landscape" serving as backdrop for U.S. foreign policy. That’s a diagnosis of diminished analytical skills of a piece with belittling of people’s strategic thinking, as in "some narrow left elements," the document’s characterization of critics of current U.S. foreign policies. Evidently for the Party discussion and promotion of trust are not high priority items. The authors presume to ask "the peace movement and other social movements" to accept the Party’s "kind of strategic and tactical thinking."
The document contains points of analysis couched in generalities straying far enough from realities as to put readers on guard, or mislead. Anti-imperial struggle is relegated to the sidelines. For example:
ÂÂ Â Â "Most countries in Latin America have to one degree or another rejected neo-liberalism," one reads. True, but for protecting gains and moving ahead, popular movements need recipes for confronting national economic dependence on multi-national corporations and for breaking bonds between local capitalists and their U.S. counterparts.
ÂÂ Â Â There is "growing pressure [on] U.S. imperialism" to reduce military power, "act on climate change," and "take responsibility" for poverty. True, but the reality is of expanding wars, widening poverty, and a disastrous Copenhagen Climate Summit, brought down by capitalist manipulations.
ÂÂ Â Â "Ongoing humanitarian crises" have served to "raise tensions and aggravate division" in Gaza. True, but death and dying predominate.
ÂÂ Â Â "U.S. diplomatic efforts propelled by "progressives or center left forces" attend to Iran, North Korea, and Palestine. True, but war clouds thicken
ÂÂ Â Â "In quick succession, left or left-center led governments have come to power" in 11 Latin American governments." All true, except that two have turned to the right. The document correctly names business and banking oligarchs, military hierarchies, and the Church as villains. It criticizes new U.S. bases in Colombia and waffling on the Honduran coup. There is no hint, however, of reaching out for allies among mass peasant, indigenous, environmental, and political groups in Latin America, especially ones disposed toward regional integration and anti-imperialism.
ÂÂ Â Â The document offers a short list of items predisposing to left politics in Latin America, but leaves out nationalization of natural resources, land reform, regionalization of banking and telecommunications, and cross border literacy and health care projects.
ÂÂ Â Â Maybe there is a "greater ‘feel’ for the peoples of Africa" these days in Washington. But on tour there last year, the U.S. Secretary of State pitched U.S. – African business ties, and the government recently instituted major funding hikes for the military’s U.S. Africa Command.
ÂÂ Â Â The Party document glosses over U.S. complicity in the Honduras coup and is overly optimistic about U.S. congressional efforts to end the anti-Cuban blockade.
In an excess of caution and narrow focus, its authors shy away from examining new social and political phenomena through the lens of Marxist analysis. Chief among them are burgeoning hegemony of multinational corporations, ascendency of finance capital, the growing north-south wealth divide, and a worldwide migratory crisis.
Loss of land available for food production for local populations deserves special attention. Â While a billion people are hungry, rich nations are grabbing up farmland in the global south to assure their own food and bio-fuel security. Their corporations are subjecting millions of acres to industrial agriculture, agro-chemicals, and genetically modified biologic products. They control food production from seed to sales, undersell local farmers, and prevent them from planting renewable crops. Drought and flooding triggered by climate change compound matters. The prospect is of starvation, mass migrations, and destruction of soil resources. The remedy lies with political mobilization on a global scale.
This CPUSA document expresses confidence that the U.S. labor movement will help "strengthen international working class solidarity," especially if bolstered by the experience and involvement of U.S. Communists. That hope is not groundless, what with labor’s record of mobilization against bilateral so-called free trade agreements, support for Mexican, Colombian, and Iraqi unionists, and formerly joining in on anti apartheid struggle.Â There is no hint offered, however, that decent lives for the world’s laboring masses might play a role in easing wage pressures on U.S. workers. Nor is there a bow to organizing cross border workers in tandem with building ties to unions in their countries of origin.
In 1920 W.E. B. Dubois set the stage for U. S. and European labor movements backing away from frontline international militancy.Â They would benefit from social democratic reforms, he anticipated. Many industrialists with an eye toward profiteering from exploitation of cheap, docile labor forces in the global South would accept the welfare state. Lots of grateful, northern white workers would accommodate, he suggested. (Monthly Review, "Souls of White Folks," Nov. 2003)
One clear sign of anti-imperialist weakness marring the Party document is the void left by no recommendations for action. Outsiders, including possible recruits, will look in vain for calls for organization, campaigns, and solidarity actions. This critique concludes by listing necessary tasks and projects:
1.Â Â Â Party members should actively support groups defending food sovereignty, environmental sustainability, and migrant rights from an anti-imperialist perspective.
2.Â Â Â Members and the Party itself will act with other activist groups to oppose U.S. overseas bases and militarization. They will join campaigns to end U.S. war and war making in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Colombia, and Somalia.
3.Â Â Â The Party responds to U.S. assaults on socialist and people – centered governments.
4.Â Â Â The Party educates and organizes around adverse humanitarian consequences of U.S. foreign policies.
5.Â Â Â The Party defends Palestinians under Israeli siege and opposes U.S. complicity with Israeli aggression.
6.Â Â Â The Party educates, organizes, and protests on behalf of U.S. prisoners abroad who are legally and physically abused.
7.Â Â Â The Party protests the U.S. Cuban economic blockade. It fights to free the Cuban Five prisoners, emblematic victims of U.S. imperialism.
March 9, 2010