May 1, 2014

By the Austin Hogan Transit Club, NYC

“My Way”
And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way…
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention…

Frank Sinatra’s lyrics, above, came to mind when the national chair of the CPUSA recently wrote,  Whatever mistakes – and mistakes are inevitable – we have made, we haven’t made big mistakes, that is, mistakes of a strategic nature, like some others on the left have and a few in our party have advocated…”

Let’s start with a dose of reality and a pinch of common sense:

It’s probable that, no matter what we say or write in this Pre-Convention Discussion period, the clique now in charge will do as it damn well pleases.  The upcoming convention will merely go through the motions of debate. Like a wrestling match, the phoniest of spectacles, the outcome is pre-determined.

Nevertheless we can still honor the memory of the heroes and heroines who built this once-important Party by fighting to the last bullet, as it were.

What questions should real Communists ask, as the 30th Convention nears? Not the pre-fabricated questions in “Guidelines for Pre-Convention Discussion.”  They are unacceptable. They are meant to steer discussion into safe channels that do not challenge the basic misdirection of the party since 2000.

Instead, ask these questions:

·      No big mistakes? Few in the world Communist movement accept the national chairman’s big idea, “A Party of Socialism for the 21st Century.“  It is obviously a social democratic political vision. It has been openly rejected by major voices in the international Communist movement, and privately rejected by dozens of other parties, who choose to be tactfully silent.  It is no accident the NB is organizing internal discussions of social democracy, merger talks with CCDS and other social democratic groups, and planning a big presence at the social democratic Left Forum, not to mention, at the convention dropping Marxism-Leninism, the term, the substance, or both.
·      Have we grown stronger or weaker? Weaker.
·      Are we bigger or smaller? Smaller.  Even the national chair of the Party admitted not long ago the Party is “dangerously small.”  How can this be reconciled with the upbeat reports from top leaders that the Internet recruiting is bringing in many new people? Answer: It can’t be reconciled. Internet recruiting is a revolving door.
·      Are we older or younger? Older
·      Are our Party grassroots – the clubs — getting stronger? No, they are shriveling up. As well, club expulsions are taking place, but only clubs that question the line.
·      Are our roots in the working class, the nationally oppressed and other specially oppressed groups getting stronger? No. We don’t give a lead on the struggles against racism. Instead, we cozy up to Obama, exaggerating his (rare) positive steps and ignoring most of his dreadful policies, which are countless.
·      Is our trade union work better organized?  No. The Labor Commission of the Party seems to be reduced to a cheerleader for the AFL-CIO.
·      Are these negative trends caused by external factors? No. There is no anti-Communist persecution. The damage is self-inflicted
·      Are we leading any movements? No. We’re not even trying. “Followership” is now the supreme principle, it seems.
·      Have the estimates of the party leadership proved correct? Not long ago, the national chairman was predicting under the present Administration we would see “an era of democratic reform.”
·      Is Party growth impossible? No. Objective conditions for party growth are excellent. If masses of people are suffering and want to discuss “socialism”  — however understood by un-informed people — why is the Party vanishing?
·      Is our anti-war work stronger and more effective? Hardly. A few comrades carry on valiantly against Obama’s warlike policies. There has been no sizable anti-war demonstration in Washington DC in ages.

Who, or What, is to Blame?

The problem facing the CPUSA, what little remains of it, is its fundamental political direction. The line is wrong. Four more years of this direction will surely kill the Party off.

The leaders who pushed for and presided over this debacle should not just retire; they should do penance and make restitution. They should be down on their knees, begging us for forgiveness.  In a just world, they would be held accountable. But, alas, the world is not just. Instead, we see them maneuvering to ensure that successors are chosen who will continue to carry out the disastrous policies. Some call that “Taking Care of the Future.”

“Party of 21st Century Browderism.”  The  miscalculating Browder liquidated the Party abruptly. He soon faced a revolt. More cunning than Browder, the present leadership, arriving in 2000, has injected the opportunist poison into the arteries of the organization, in small doses. The sickening and enfeeblement of the Party over 14 years have rendered it moribund. Now death is at hand.

It is hard to hold out much hope for this 30th — and perhaps last — CPUSA Convention. One hears reports that certain districts are being assigned ridiculously inflated voting weights that in no way reflect the shrunken and demoralized membership.

Our Wish List

Should leaders be held accountable for outcomes of their policies? Well, they are in every other sphere of democratic life. Why not in the CPUSA?
Here’s our wish list for this convention:

1.    The whole NB should be removed. If there are any “good” people on the NB, they kept their mouth shut for years. Therefore, they’re not good revolutionary material. From among what is left of healthy forces on the NC, an opposition slate should be formed, composed of real Communists.
2.    The first priority of a new leadership should be to change the Party line from this absurd ”unity against the ultra right“ (which means, in practice, work for the Democrats) to our classic position, the anti-monopoly strategy.
3.    It will probably take an emergency 31st CPUSA convention to undo the top-to-bottom wreckage and reverse the liquidation under way in the CPUSA for so long. That will be the mission of the 31st Convention, which will have to take place soon.

But, for the delegates at 30th Convention, the watchword has to be:  “change course or die.”

Dear delegates, don’t say you weren’t warned.

The whole Austin Hogan Transit Club, after expressing interest in attending the NYS District convention, was dropped without warning from the CPUSA last month, on the demonstrably bogus charge of non-payment of dues. The Club is appealing the decision, under the Party Constitution. Its appeal so far is being ignored.