October 17, 2006

I’ve seen Communist Parties, and you, sir, are no Communist Party

Oct 16

Firstly, happy Boss Day!

Continuing a recent spate of rants at the expense of the abysmal left in the United States, I felt like mentioning my special ire reserved for an organization that I have worked with and still maintain is as much an ally as any other. However, it is in dire need of a name-change.

When did the Communist Party of the United States stray from Marxism and Leninism? Was it when the Party joined the other parties of the same name in falling line behind the very un-communist Stalinist ComIntern? Was it after World War II, where in the subsequent sixty years many have argued that the CP has far over-extended its ‘Popular Front’ strategy against the extreme right? Or perhaps it in the period of heavy infiltration that led up to the McCarthyist/Hooverist decimation of the Party? And the CP didn’t exactly resurrect itself as a pheonix, when it came back into some limited shadow of its former self in the 1960s, and has been one of the most thoroughly infiltrated faux revolutionary organizations in this country ever since.

With such a complicated history, I think that the first few decades of the Communist Party were quite progressive in a number of ways, despite the depressing loyalty to the despotic Stalin regime and the eventual loyalty to the United States in an unnecessarily close alliance to route fascism. Many have argued that an early patriotism and peculiar sense of ‘Americanism’ deflected the revolutionary potential of the Communist Party in its early days, but such a criticism creates a sense of ‘United States exceptionalism’ that is belied by the liberal reformism and generally poor following of Marxism that has been true of most ‘Communist Parties’ the world over.

Let’s face it, revolutionaries can’t generally trust something called a ‘Communist Party.’ Even any good Leninist can’t believe that organizations with that title accept the influence of Lenin. They have had their revolutionary moments, including in struggles against Nazi and fascist occupation, often very tardy acceptance of domestic revolutionary movements, and the liberation of their countries in scattered cases, though usually not by organizations explicitly with that name. In nearly every case, they have been infiltrated, repressed, isolated, or complacent of Stalinist crimes to the degree where that name no longer has any meaning for them. I think that we have to have complex analyses in the many different circumstances, including in the Spanish Civil War, in Cuba and Viet Nam, in Angola, in Palestine, and in a great many other cases, but I have met people from their country’s CP in perhaps half the countries of the world, and they did not represent an organization that should go by that name.

The break-up of the Soviet Union obviously had the most groundbreaking impact on the many very diverse strains of Leninism since the success of the 1917 revolution. In the United States, the CP had even more need to desperately pull loyalty behind certain sectors of the country, choosing the generally bureaucratic and weakening unions and the fringe left-wing sectors of the Democratic Party. This has obviously been especially true since the unelected ascent of George Bush in 2000, and the CPUSA has chosen to remain on or near the right-wing of the various opposition movements that have coalesced around the public sentiments against various wars and repressive legislation.

Most recently, the CP has argued that all forces should support the re-taking of Congress that is generally believed to be certain for the Democrats, which places them even to the right of their longtime allies in the labor movement. The Change to Win labor federation has vowed to wreak vengeance upon those (mostly) Democrats who betray organized labor’s support, and yet the CP has to be even to the right of that position.

As usual, I promise no thorough and comprehensive analysis of a given element in the left-wing, and I mean no harm. In fact, despite these serious errors, I will continue to press those more radical comrades to attempt to reach out to and continue to work with the CP and other non-revolutionary formations. Each side of any argument within the Left generally has their baggage, and it is unfair that we consistently play these tug-of-war matches to prove who has the greatest right to speak for the domestic opposition, the discontented oppressed, or the Left. Nevertheless, I have hopes that we can eventually, some damn day, leave our weapons at the door and get together for a greater good. Not tactically, but strategically, because alliances in this country’s Left are so obsessively tactical that they never move forward or exist for very long.

Just some more thoughts. Maybe they’ll mean something to someone.


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