Editors’ Note: In the CPUSA Pre-Convention discussion, it is encouraging that there are healthy forces in the Party battling a leadership circle trying to drop the ideology of Marxism-Leninism (not only the term, the class substance) to change the name of the Party (to distance the newly named entity from its revolutionary past ) , and to complete their long-term project of the mutation of the CPUSA into a social reformist gabfest. If any reader wishes to study the whole discussion, it is at the web site <www.cpusa.org> Click on “Convention Discussion,” a not-easy-to-see icon on the right side. Below, we post a small selection of opinion pieces by the healthy forces among members and supporters.
Convention Discussion: In Support of Leninism & the Organizational Department
April 18, 2014
By David S. Bell, Philadelphia.
I would like to take this opportunity to address parts of two convention discussion documents.
1. As one who may be considered sectarian or steeped uncritically in Leninism, I think that the discussion piece “Upholding Revolutionary Marxism and dropping Leninism” misses the point made by those of us who take strong exception to Sam Webb’s characterization of Leninism. To take Webb’s criticism of the use of Leninism out of the context of his entire document on 21st century socialism is to miss the point.
Taken along with his rethinking of the 1991 factional struggle, his rejection and misunderstanding of the vanguard concept, his call for a change of name, his rejection of democratic-centralism, his criticism of giving leadership, and his de-emphasis of anti-imperialist struggles all add up to liquidating the CPUSA. One of the most important contributions of Lenin was the organizational concept he put forward.
In the face of a well organized, well financed, united ultra-right, how can we not recognize the need for a well-disciplined opposition from the left and center? Democratic – centralism is not unique to the Party. Although not by that name, it has been that discipline that has held trade unions together during bitter class warfare. Democratic-centralism is a working class concept. If Webb opposed the term and offered substitute terminology “more agreeable to the U. S. working class” that would be one thing. But to reject the concept is another thing altogether.
2. Although the discussion piece “Organizational Method for the 21st Century” tries to justify how the Party is currently organized mainly due to lack of forces, I believe several points are lost by the author. He lists several bodies that substitute for what was once the organizational department. This fragments the work of the Party and its result is that little gets down to the membership in an understandable way. What doesn’t happen? Who and how are goals set for PW and Party fundraising? Who sends out fund raising letters? In my district, we have lost many financial supporters because they do not hear from the national center asking for money. They don’t want to hear only from the district because that alone does not give them a sense of a national program.
Worst of all, if one is to read PW articles from our national leaders and reports from the National Committee, there is no political direction other to generally urge us to build the all peoples’ front. There is little suggestion as to how, where, and why? In fact, we are discouraged to take Party initiatives under the guise that it would be sectarian. With this kind of, or lack of leadership, it is understandable why we are organized as we are. Unfortunately, several years ago my district decided that we needed to go it alone because of a lack of national direction.
As suggested in another convention document, that makes excellent points, “Growing the Party Requires Reestablishing the Organizational Department” such a department would be responsible for organizing the Party to grow by putting organizers in the field. Money is always a factor, but if we presented supporters with a real ideological and organizational plan for growth, money would flow. It is my understanding that before the convention a comrade will be put forward as the new chair of the Party.
I like the mentioned comrade, but now is the time to put personal feelings aside and better understand what is on his mind politically, ideologically, and organizationally. During my 52 year tenure in the Party, proposing a new chair before the convention is new. That is OK provided it becomes part of the convention discussion and he is willing to give details as to what to expect. If it is more of the same then I think we will go nowhere and become even less relevant than we are now.