Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 24, 2010

Rumbling in the Communist Party ranks

Filed under: parliamentary cretinism,Stalinism — louisproyect @ 6:44 pm

Impressions of the CPUSA convention Written by A Group of Delegates

Editor’s note: a number of delegates to the recent CPUSA convention have forwarded to MLToday the following document, reflecting their considered, collective opinion of the 29th CPUSA Convention.

Many friends and comrades have asked us: what really happened at the CPUSA Convention on May 21-23, eleven weeks ago, at Party headquarters in New York City?

So far, there are only the self-congratulatory appraisals, one by Party chair Sam Webb and another by his supporter John Case. Both are champions of the social reformist trend in the Party.

In the view of the Communist (that is, the Marxist-Leninist) wing of the CPUSA, however, the May 21-23, 2010 convention was a disaster. We see the Convention as a scandalous retreat from the US Party’s honorable history of principled struggle. The Convention was a retreat from socialism, class struggle, political independence, and internationalism. The Convention gave up ground on the fight against racism, imperialism, and monopoly.

It was not a convention rich in substance. What little substance there was, was objectionable, and came in the Main Report and the Composite Resolutions, which are available in full at www.cpusa.org/a-way-out-of-the-deepening-crisis/ and http://www.cpusa.org/29th-national-convention/.

The Main Report

Sam Webb’s report could have been written by any liberal. When his followers dutifully referred to it as “brilliant,” many a delegate could barely believe it.

It is known that one or more members of the National Board (NB) urged Sam Webb to take into account preconvention discussion critical of his line. He refused, calling such criticism the outpouring of a “small minority.” In the old days many ideas in preconvention discussion — even if critical of the leadership — would have been taken into account and discussed in the Main Report. That did not happen this time.

His Main Report is full of Straw Men deployed against his left critics in the Party. Skillful at writing opportunist double talk, Webb can compose sentences that, to the unwary reader, sound like common sense. Read more closely, however, his formulations throw open the door through which have marched the reformism, tailism, and American Exceptionalism that are aggravating the crisis in the CPUSA. For example:

Enclosing him [Obama] in a narrowly defined, tightly sealed political category – as many on the left and right do – is a mistake…it also goes in the direction of pitting the president against the working class and the people. That the right does this is no surprise. But when left and progressive people do it, it is wrong strategically and thus extremely harmful politically.

Read full: http://mltoday.com/en/subject-areas/communist-forum/impressions-of-the-cpusa-convention-914-2.html


  1. Yes, there was a good deal of resistance to getting rid of the printed newspaper and moving to an all-web format. It should be borne in mind that a massive investment is needed in resources: labor, printing and distribution to get the results of a print publication into the hands of a readership.

    How that can be sustained in times when organized radicalism is of such modest dimensions is a problem which seems not to have been directly addressed. But the declining size of left newspapers generally seems to reflect a decline in audience for such methods of contacting people. I keep hearing that the ISO is going to get rid of their paper.

    But how does one put something into the hands of people who don’t have computers, as more than a few people still don’t, including among the most potentially combative layers? That’s a problem in search of a solution.

    Comment by Walter Lippmann — August 24, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

  2. the entire statement makes for sobering reading, and gives the impression that CPUSA conventions are subject to the same orchestrated, pre-scripted methods as the ones held by the Democratic and Republican parties

    it is hard to imagine any revival of Marxism-Leninism in the US in such conditions

    Comment by Richard Estes — August 24, 2010 @ 6:57 pm

  3. Hello,

    Hope you are well.

    In my vision not only will the Communist Party do well but it will become a major influential force in the United States.

    Why? Because funds and resources will be flooded into the party from the very people you deplore the most.

    Why will they do this? To disrupt the peaceful, non violent movement that will soon come to life. Talk to me about it in the year 2013.


    John Kanieck

    Comment by john kaniecki — August 24, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

  4. Not sure why you published this, Louis. Many of the more open-minded, questioning members of the CPUSA left post-Gorbachev, forming the Committees of Correspondence. Some younger militants stayed in, but do we actually believe that the CP remains enough of a viable, influential force to merit this kind of attention? If so, I’d be curious to see the corresponding evidence.

    Comment by burghardt — August 24, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

  5. I am not really into monitoring the CPUSA but I always had major qualms with Judith LeBlanc in the leadership of the antiwar movement, the CofC as well I should add. With both groups having such an orientation to the Democratic Party, the demonstrations seemed geared more to the elections than what I was used to in the 60s.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 24, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

  6. Hi,

    If the situation in the US party is similar to here in Australia – and I imagine our current social conditions mean they are – it’s usually comrades who complain that terms like “dictatorship of the proletariat” isn’t referred to in every other meeting that accuse the Party of reformism and the abandonment of Marxism/Leninism. The reality us that these comrades are the ones guilty of such abandonment. They haven’t recognised the Communist movement needs to change as society changes and still dogmatically believe that we can successfully win the masses to our position with outdated language and even more outdated approaches. We can’t win the struggle – or even properly start it – without gaining the support of the people. So first, we must prove our relevance. They need to understand what we are and what we represent. I’m afraid that the way many comrades present our ideas achieves the exactly opposite. So, if Party leadership is trying to present the Party in a way that might appeal to more people in order to win them to our position then they should be congratulated for their courage in breaking the mould and recognising the need to engage the masses.

    Comment by Craig — August 25, 2010 @ 2:19 am

  7. I’m all for being relevant but if that means functioning as an extension of the Obama White House, no thanks.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 25, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

  8. Many of the more open-minded, questioning members of the CPUSA left after the Moscow show trials.

    Many of the more open-minded, questioning members of the CPUSA left after the Hitler Stalin pact.

    Many of the more open-minded, questioning members of the CPUSA left after the invasion of Hungary.

    Many of the more open-minded, questioning members of the CPUSA left after Kruschev repudiated Stalin.

    Many of the more open-minded, questioning members of the CPUSA left after the Cuban revolution.

    Many of the more open-minded, questioning members of the CPUSA left after the Sino-Soviet split.

    Many of the more open-minded, questioning members of the CPUSA left after the invasion of Czechoslovakia.

    Many of the more open-minded, questioning members of the CPUSA left during the New Left and the Anti-War movement.

    I didn’t actually realize the CPUSA was still around!

    Comment by ish — August 25, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

  9. Hmmm. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Stalinism…

    Comment by louisproyect — August 25, 2010 @ 7:31 pm

  10. What “best minds” in your generation, Lou, were “destroyed by Stalinism”? I thought most of the best minds in your generation fought Stalinism ideologically but didn’t necessarily get destroyed by it, unless you consider Trotsky & some other victims of the actual homicidal maniac Stalin to be from your generation? Seems to me most of the best minds of your actual generation have drifted to the right and are more or less thriving.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 26, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  11. Karl,

    Hi hope you are well. What do you consider best minds? I know people who can do differential calculus in their head but don’t have a clue about how to interact with others.

    I would go rather work with people with the best hearts rather than the best minds.

    In your opinion why have the best minds drifted to the right? Maybe in their selfishness they saw personal opportunity going that way?


    John Kaniecki

    Comment by john kaniecki — August 26, 2010 @ 3:43 pm

  12. Dear John:

    The rightward intellectual & political drift over the last 20 years corresponds largely with the collapse of the Soviet Union which was in the last analysis a tremedous defeat of the Soviet working class in particular and the world’s workers & progresive forces in general.

    Despite it’s bureaucratic authoritarianism, a planned economy not beholden to private corporations, full guaranteed employment, free cradle to grave health care, free education from preschool through college, state subsidized food & housing, to say nothing of atheist education, contained elements of a society with tremendous progressive significance.

    Unable to withstand that kind of progress from within & without lead to it’s collapse and with it the decline of the left everywhere except perhaps Latin America.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 26, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

  13. Karl,

    Hi hope you are well.

    Unfortunately these states in question never had the time to properly develop because of the atagonistic and destructive nature of the oppressive capitalistic states. That is why Trosky is right when he talks about world wide revolution. If you get rid of all the rats from a room in the house it will do no good. The rats from the other rooms will come to infest the room again. All the rats need to be destroyed.

    Let us be perfectly honest, the capitalistic state produces more goods and products than either a state capitalistic or a socialistic state would. That is because of the capitalistic state is based on producing profits and thus goods, no matter who it hurts. So when you have the United States pouring vast amounts of resources into the military the Soviets felt compelled to respond in a like fashion. It is a truly tragic thing when you consider all the resources and talents that went into building weapons as opposed to something beneficial to mankind.

    Still it comes down to the basic question, Do you dedicate your life for the betterment of your self or the betterment of the masses? The answer to that question will not only determine your politics but will reveal a great deal of the nature of your character.


    John Kaniecki

    Comment by john kaniecki — August 26, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

  14. Exactly John. It’s not so difficult to claim to be the greatest country on Earth when you have ruthlessly prosecuted a 500 year Reich — the not inconsequential benefit of a head start from free land (stolen from slaughtered Indians) and 5 centuries of free labor (chattel slavery abducted from Africa) and then 100 years of wage slavery (coporate industrial turpitude) both at home plus 3/4 of the Earth abroad, from dependent non-white colonies competing, as it were, against a relentlessly beseiged alternate model — an isolated embryo of a workers’ state ruined from 2 capitalist world wars but that still managed despite ruin in only 70 years an industrial capacity 2nd only to the USA while managing to erect an unprecedented world-historic social insfrastructure that directly benefited the masses, thereby attracting poor & historically oppressed nations like China, the most populated country on Earth, plus a huge following in India, the 2nd most populated, and then smaller countries like Vietnam, Cuba, Mongolia, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Angola, the ANC in South Africa, the IRA in Ireland, and innumerable other socialist minded guerilla factions around the globe.

    At one point in the early 80’s, for example, 25% of all Phillipinos claimed some sort of communist affiliation. None of this was an accident.

    The collapse of the Soviets was a setback for socialism to be sure but the underlying contradictions of global capitalism are only temporarily ameliorated. They are in fact unsustainable indefinitely. The only question today is will revolution come before irreprable corporate despoilation of the planet?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 27, 2010 @ 3:11 am

  15. Karl,

    Hi hope you are well.

    That’s the way I see it Karl at least concerning the USA. However based on my Christian faith I am sure that change or revolution will come before self anihiliation.

    An indepth study of the Bible shows that many wonderful and terrible things will happen before the end. Though I would not trust one single person who is main stream about what those events will be like. There are all hosts of people who think God is on the side of the United States and Isreal. Truth of the matter God is on the side of the oppressed.

    Yet considering your point of view regarding this matter I guess the statement we can pose to God is that it is time for Him to put up or shut up. Technically though God has been silent since the Book of Revelation was completed or for almost two thousand years.

    Time will tell. But I certainly agree the time for revolution is at hand, before we pass the point of no return. After all God also give us a brain and a discerning spirit didn’t he?


    John Kaniecki

    Comment by john kaniecki — August 27, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

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