Club Guidelines

 
Club Guidelines

 

FOREWORD

 

Establishing a club takes time and patience. It is a step-by-step process. As a new club leader, no one expects you to do everything at once, and it’s not always necessary to do everything “by the book.” These guidelines are intended to be enabling, not disabling.

 

The best advice is to be persistent. Persistence pays off. It is easy to get discouraged at first when people don’t show up, don’t respond, or seem very enthusiastic and then suddenly vanish. But over time, the ones who are really dedicated will start to trust you and each other, and form a core group. That core group will attract other people who are also capable of committing to something difficult, and the club will grow from there. Don’t be surprised if it takes a year or more to get traction with a new club.

 

When people are first coming in, try to get a sense of their interests. What causes are closest to heart for them? It’s good to let those interests carry weight when the group is deciding what to do. A comrade in St. Louis warns new leaders about the “shiny object” danger, which is to try to take action on every single thing that comes down the pike. “Oh no! We have to do something about this! Oh no, we have to do something about that!” It is better to choose a couple of issues to concentrate on, perhaps for the year. That is the basic idea behind making an annual plan of work. Anything that strengthens the working class and meshes with Party strategy is a fine choice of focus. Also, local issues are good choices. A small group of dedicated people can have a big impact locally. Try to tie local issues to broader problems and vice versa.

 

Most clubs start with a single officer in charge of everything. As the club grows, you’ll want to share leadership duties to avoid burning out the leader and help everyone develop their skills. Though this handbook offers a long list of club offices, the point of club leadership is to find flexible and creative ways of organizing the club’s work and making sure it’s being fairly distributed. Be sure to adjust the structure to match the reality of your club’s particular situation.

 

When a club first forms, members often struggle with how loudly to proclaim themselves communists. However, talk is cheap. What really matters is the quality of our day-to-day political work. We naturally draw the best class fighters to us when Party members are seen as dependable, thoughtful, principled, always working to build the unity of our people, and always remembering what our main goal is. Experienced clubs understand that sometimes it’s best to put communism in the foreground, and sometimes it’s better in the background. This choice should be made with regard to the objective for the current action or interaction. That’s a judgement call each club will need to make repeatedly.

 

In setting the tone for your club’s conversations, keep in mind that unity is the strongest weapon in the Party’s arsenal. While it is important to have free and open debates, we have to leave our egos at the door and remember that the point isn’t to win the argument; the point is to learn from each other and find the course of action that will best serve the interests of the working class. The enemies of  working class and oppressed people depend on dividing us up. Unity of the broadest progressive sections of society, of the working class, and of the Communist Party are fundamental preconditions to successfully navigate the difficult road ahead. If we are unable to secure unity at the club level, it will be impossible to achieve anywhere else.

 

The following guidelines are based on sections III, V, VI and VIII of The Communist Party: How It Works, A Handbook on its Organization and Functioning (New Outlook, 1976) and Resolution 25, Building Clubs and Districts for Sustainable Growth, adopted at the 31st National Convention in 2019 (see Appendix-1). The text has been edited with a view to modernizing the content without changing the core principles. References to the earlier CPUSA: A Manual on Organization (1935) have been added where indicated, and we have incorporated a more recent slide presentation prepared by the Texas Communist Party, CPUSA.

 

Unlike the earlier handbooks, this text is not intended to serve as a comprehensive guide to organization and functioning of the whole Party. It focuses exclusively on the organization and functioning of Party clubs. As such, it is meant to be used in tandem with the Party’s Program and Constitution, neither of which addresses club organization and functioning in detail.

 

In focusing on the club, this handbook does not provide detailed coverage of state or district-level organization. At present, we are in a situation where many areas have only one club and are not yet ready for state organization, while other areas have multiple clubs and existing state committees. In those areas where there is only one club, forming new clubs and establishing state or district committees is an important goal. When there are multiple clubs, the state/district committee is needed to develop unity of purpose and program for maximum effectiveness. State and district-level organization allows the projections of the national committee to be applied to the conditions in that state and strengthens the Party’s strategic effectiveness. As such, an updated State and District Leader’s handbook would be a valuable supplement to this handbook.

 

The online version of this publication should be accompanied by a comments section in which clubs can share their experiences and advice.

 

 

CONTENTS

 

Preface

 

I. The Party Club

 

A. The Place of the Club in the Party System of Organization

B. Definition and Purpose of the Club

C. The Club as Organizer and Leader of the Mass Struggle

1. Necessary Knowledge
2. Special Communist Contributions to Mass Struggles

D. Organization of the Club

1. Club Size
2. The Club Conference
3. The Club Plan of Work

E. Democracy, Collectivity, and Style of Work in the Club

1. Principles of Collectivity
2. Winning the People’s Trust
3. Assessing and Improving Our Work

F. The Club Meeting

1. Purpose and Scheduling of Meetings
2. Structure of Meetings
3. The Club Educational
4. Political and Mass Work

G. Club Leadership

1. Election of Leadership
2. The Executive Committee
3. Officers
4. Delegates to the District and National Conventions

H. Financing the Activities of the Club

I. Recruitment

J. Responsibilities of Membership

 

II. Style of Work among the Masses

 

III. Appendix: Resources

 

  1. Resolution on Building Clubs and Districts for Sustainable Growth
  2. Very Short Robert’s Rules of Order
  3. Tips on Taking Minutes
  4. Making and Maintaining Contact Lists
  5. Examples of Club Meeting Agendas
  6. Examples of Club Plans of Work
  7. Starter List for Club Educationals

 

 

I. THE PARTY CLUB

 

Presented below are the general principles of club organization and functioning, the direction in which we strive to develop our clubs. While all clubs share the same broad aims, each club will differ depending on its membership, particular area, and strategic choices.

 

A. Place of the Club in the Party System of Organization

 

The National Convention meets every four years and is the highest body of the Party. The convention elects a National Committee to function between conventions. Districts and clubs act in accord with the decisions and policies of the National Convention and National Committee. The work of the party is directed by a number of National Commissions and Departments, including Labor, Political Action, Education, Organizational and International.

 

The club is the basic organizational unit of the Communist Party.  Alongside electronic media (People’s World, cpusa.org, webinars, YouTube, podcasts, email, and so on), the club is the form through which the Party can educate its members and the public. It is also the primary form through which the Party participates in community and workplace struggles. The experience and thinking of the club must be the starting point for all Party policies and decisions, as well as the ending point at which policies and decisions are applied. There can be no approach, therefore, to building the Communist Party that does not include a focus on building and strengthening the clubs as the primary unit of the Party.

 

B. Definition and Purpose of the Club

 

The club’s aim is to organize, initiate and participate in the struggles of the workers and other popular masses who are within its area of responsibility, for their needs, based on the policies of the Party. Its eventual aim is to win these masses as a whole to support the Party’s policies, including the socialist goal. Its aim is also to build the Party among these people and at the same time to develop Communist qualities of its own membership to the maximum.

 

Historically, the Party emphasized the central importance of shop clubs (three or more members who organize within a shop or workplace), situating neighborhood clubs in a supporting role. Today, changes in the modes of production, anti-union laws, and the advent of the internet have changed the landscape in which we organize. Clubs based on geographical proximity are now the norm. “Proximity” may mean a single neighborhood in a densely populated urban area, a college campus, an entire city, or an even larger area where far-flung members commute fifty miles or more to attend meetings and actions.

 

In addition to the geographical area in which members reside, some clubs may choose to define themselves via a particular concentration. This flexible concept might include, for example, a neighborhood, a college or school, a factory, hospital, or other employer, an industry or profession in an area, a trade or civic organization. When working in this way, it may be useful to conceptualize CPUSA members as a growing “fraction” of the target population; for example, the Communist fraction of a particular workplace or neighborhood. The fraction can work together to win over more and more of the concentration group—to “bread and butter” struggles, to political struggles, and ultimately to the Party.

 

The Party is also experimenting with online tools that enable internet-based collectives. These may eventually yield a new type of club, or a new form of organization alongside the club. Or they may simply supplement existing tools of communication for the Party and its clubs to use.

 

The Communist Party, being the party representing the unity of interests of the whole working class, does not consider it a correct general principle of club organization to establish clubs for the purpose of representing different segments of the class based on nationality, race, sex, or age (though local YCL groups may be formed: see C2d).

 

C. The Club as Organizer and Leader of the Mass Struggle

 

The Communist Party exists to organize and help guide the mass struggles of workers and other specially oppressed peoples, including women, Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American, immigrant, and LGBTQ+ people, for their daily needs and for socialism. The litmus test of a good club, therefore, is its role in mass struggle. Mass struggle must be at the center of the club’s ideological, political and organizational work. To be able to organize and lead struggles and win masses for the policies of the Party, the club must have ever-growing mass ties and connections. It must have ever-deepening knowledge of its area of responsibility.

 

1. Necessary Knowledge

 

Each club should strive to enumerate the kinds of knowledge required to be effective in its area. For example:

 

—demographics of the population;

—influential organizations, their character, political leanings and leadership;

—issues that are most important and/or closest to heart for the workers, and the forces involved in these issues;

—election districts, office holders, political parties and electoral formations;

—people or organizations willing to work with the Party and able to get things done;

—the main enemy: corporate right-wing forces, local expressions of capitalist domination;

—forces who have a stake in fighting that enemy, and might be brought into coalitions.

 

 Obtaining such information is not simply a matter of research. Much of it comes over time in the process of activity and struggle.

 

2. Special Communist Contributions to Mass Struggles

 

Club strategy

 

Every club should strive to formulate a strategic line and aims. This will be a local reflection and concrete application of the strategic line and aims set forth in the Party Program and Convention resolutions. A “strategic line” is a collective analysis of and conclusion about current political conditions (or, the balance of forces). It provides guidance for the Party’s work. The club should consider the relationship of local conditions to the Party’s strategic line and decide what might be done locally to shift the balance of forces in a favorable direction.

 

Examples might include building a working class and people’s coalition to win support for the Fight for $15, the Green New Deal, or Medicare for All; to support the election of a particular candidate, or to oppose legislation that limits workers’ rights. The strategic aims will be to win that struggle but also for the coalition to outlast it, widening the circle of working class and people’s unity and bringing new members into the Party.

 

Issues of struggle

 

A complex judgment is involved in the club’s collectively selecting the issue or issues around and through which a strategic coalition can be built. The club should consider its practical possibilities and connections as well as which issues are most likely to activate key sections of the local population.

 

When the focus of struggle is a national issue, the club should try to link it with a related burning local issue, and when the focus is a local issue, to link it with the central national struggles.

 

Attentiveness to seemingly small issues that are close at heart for working class people is important. Struggle, motion, once begun, opens up many new possibilities.

 

Failure to initiate activities around central national or district issues, or a tendency to ignore them and not link them with existing struggles on local issues, would dissipate the efforts of the Party and limit the value of a democratic centralist organization; substituting autonomous local groups in a federated type organization.

 

Action on every national and district issue without strong links to issues developing out of local circumstances would be mechanical and would rob the national movements and the Party of the necessary building up of grassroots ties.

 

Among the many issues that U.S. monopoly capitalism imposes on the people, around which the club will organize struggles according to national and district decisions and its own circumstances, are:

 

—Climate change, failure to plan for disasters and changing employment patterns, denial of science and of U.S. capitalism’s role in environmental destruction.

 

—U.S. imperialist aggression, threatening of world peace, and militarism.

 

—Racism, seen in greater unemployment; harder, dirtier, less safe jobs; lower pay and job classification, failure to upgrade, poorer quality education with suppression of national culture, lack of community services, discrimination in housing, police brutality, higher prices and poorer quality goods, wealth and income disparity, etc.

 

—Unemployment and job insecurity, wages and working conditions, safety, management prerogatives, health and retirement plans, anti-labor legislation, union building.

 

—Repression of communist and progressive political activity, red-baiting.

 

—Schools, health care, child care, mass transit, welfare programs, etc.

 

—Persecution and scapegoating of migrant peoples and Muslim peoples.

 

—Sexism and sexual harassment—seen in lower pay and job classifications, discrimination in promotion, leadership and decision-making, wealth and income disparity, on the job harassment, disproportionate responsibility for child and elder care and household work, etc.

 

—Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, as seen in biased marriage laws, bathroom laws and policies, harassment or bullying at schools, workplaces, online, and in communities, insurance and benefits discrimination, etc.

 

—Struggles around housing, including tenant organizing, struggles for rent control and affordable housing, for funding to repair and maintain public housing, and against slumlords, eviction, gentrification, and homelessness.

 

All clubs should develop the widest support for the immediate struggles of the workers, such as in major negotiations and strike struggles, in opposition to anti-labor legislation and in support of pro-labor legislation. The aim should be to reach workers and draw them into the struggle and into its leadership.

 

The fight for unity

 

Unity is the strongest weapon working people have in the struggle to advance their interests. By making a commitment to unite around a program of action, members strengthen the Party and help unify the working class and people’s movements.

 

Unity of purpose, vision, and action is important, not just in a union, mass movement, or coalition. It is crucial for the Communist Party. It means working to unite theory and practice and to collectively adapt scientific theory to a constantly changing world, not adhering dogmatically to a utopian ideal.

 

Around every issue and club activity, all clubs seek to build unity in progressive struggle; working class solidarity in the first place. The heart of class solidarity is unity across racial and ethnic differences. Such unity can only be built based on the struggle for the needs of people of color and against the influences of racism, a ruling class ideology, among white working masses. The struggle for the special needs of people of color against all expressions and reflections of racism must, therefore, be part of every social struggle. This will include the full participation of people of color in the leadership of all people’s organizations. Such an approach to the struggle for the special needs of people of color and against the manifestations of discrimination and racist and white supremacist ideology reflects the Party’s estimate that this struggle is central to all social struggle and progressive developments in the U.S.

 

The same could be said of the necessity always to struggle for the special needs of youth, women, and LGBTQ+ people. In order to develop unity, there must also be a fight against anti-youth, male supremacist, and heteronormative expressions of ruling class ideology. The struggle against all internal club reflections of such ruling class ideology should be connected with the mass struggle on these questions. The fight for unity also requires a struggle against anti-communism in its domestic and international forms.

 

The struggle for unity is a permanent feature in all club work. Depending on the objective of the given struggle, there will be a necessary minimum basis for unity of action. We continuously work to widen the support for the struggle. We work to overcome obstacles to that unity and to develop new, higher levels of unity of action through ideological struggle, leadership by example, etc.

 

Growth of the Party’s influence

 

Clubs should seek to increase the influence of the Party’s policies, and also recognition of the Party itself as a legitimate and progressive organization. The way to accomplish this will vary depending on the level of acceptance which the Party has achieved throughout the country and according to the circumstances of the club and its individual members. Clubs should use to the fullest every opportunity for increasing the Party’s mass recognition when this can be done without seriously compromising the effectiveness of the club’s mass work.

 

Recognition of the Party extends the influence of its policies and disarms the ruling class of its splitting weapon of anti-communism. It moves toward the situation in which the Party will become the acknowledged leader of the working class and popular masses in struggle for their daily needs and for socialism.

 

The objective is not only to make known the Party’s positions but to make its role in struggle visible to the masses. The most minimum form is the mass work by every club member in such a way that a constantly growing circle of co-workers, neighbors, etc. know that the person is a Communist.

 

Systematic work by the whole club in circulating People’s World articles online or through printouts is one important means for influencing the people, winning full recognition of the Party, and developing every other kind of mass work and contact with the people. For example, the development of People’s World routes in multi-racial working class neighborhoods with a local version of People’s World has led to a large expansion of the Communist Party of Connecticut, particularly among people of color. A petition directed at the needs of the people in the neighborhood is brought door-to-door in a given area, along with the offer to receive the local edition each week. A single comrade returning week after week can build lasting confidence and recruitment.

 

Circulation of content from cpusa.org, Party Facebook posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, webinars, pamphlets and books is similarly important. If the club has a point of concentration, materials should be distributed there on a weekly basis.

 

Other forms for growing the Party’s influence include club spokespeople; a campus, neighborhood, or workplace newsletter, email list, or website; electronic forums or chat apps; physical forums or public meetings; and regularly updated club Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts that include a focus on local issues.

 

In addition to initiating and participating in mass organizations and movements, clubs should consider ways to build satellite organizations that will bring the influence of Party policy to people who are not ready to join. Such groups might include a local Young Communists League, a book club or Marxist study group, a Friends of People’s World press builders club, etc.

 

Within any large national or international organization, such as unions, trade associations or issue-based nonprofits, Party members should seek each other out and make contact. They can work together as a unit, or “fraction,” to influence the decisions and actions of the large organization in accordance with the strategic line and tactics of the Party.

 

Common features of all struggles

 

The following concepts should be applied in all Party activity. They are necessary and interdependent concepts which, when applied correctly, in no way contradict each other but rather reinforce each other.

 

A. In our mass work, daily living needs are the foundation upon which we struggle to raise consciousness and deepen understanding of all other issues. The starting point for influence among workers is full involvement on the “bread-and-butter” issues. This is what gives the Party’s work a grassroots character in which the Party becomes inseparable from the masses and their interests.

 

It is in the course of carrying out “bread and butter” struggles that the fights for peace and climate justice, for expansion and preservation of democracy, against racism, for socialism can gain a firm and mass base of support. Failure to connect these struggles to a foundation of daily life condemns them to relative isolation from masses of working people and weakens them. On the other hand, failure to connect daily life struggles to the fights against racism, for peace, climate justice, democracy, and socialism is a form of opportunism. It is “economism” and reformism which condemns working people to face the same daily living problems over and over, without any basic solutions.

 

We fight for working class leadership in struggles and approach all questions from the standpoint of the interests of the working class.

 

B. Climate change and peace are the overriding issues of our times. Meaningful progress on all other issues depends on mitigating and forestalling the ruination of our environment by wantonly destructive practices and disregard of science on the part of capitalists and their political minions. At the same time, we must continue to be mindful of the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction, and strive to advance the struggles for disarmament and anti-imperialist solidarity, particularly around the urgent global issue of climate change. We attempt to connect all struggles with the fights for peace and environmental protection. In this way we bring added grassroots strength to these crucial struggles and show the objective necessity for progress on these fronts to secure substantial gains anywhere else.

 

C. The fight against racism is central to all struggles. This involves building class unity and popular anti-monopolist unity by defeating attempts to disrupt it with racism. It means taking up the special expression in every struggle of racist practice and developing programs to assure equality, including compensatory measures to overcome past discrimination.

 

D. The struggle for unity of action for common goals with the aim of overcoming and rejecting everything that divides, including sexism, ageism, heteronormativity, and prejudices based on citizenship status, ethnicity, or religion, is central to all Party activity.

 

Conscious development of strategic lines and aims to guide concrete planning, and the use of flexibly defined principles of concentration, maximizes the effectiveness of our efforts at every level of the Party.

 

D. Organization of the Club

 

1. Club Size

 

In the 1935 CPUSA Manual on Organization, the term “nucleus” is used to describe an initial cluster of at least three CPUSA members who agree to form a club. The “nucleus” is meant to be a stable core of committed members who are prepared to undertake the work of organizing at the club level.

 

Each member of the nucleus should attempt to recruit at least one other member. People within the geographical area defined by the club who join the Party online will be referred to the club by the National Membership Coordinator or District Organizer. The club may also attract new members from local actions, demonstrations, tabling and other forms of outreach.

 

The club should have enough members and the right combination of members to assure mass work initiatives, camaraderie, and Party-building consciousness. The best functioning clubs usually range from 8 to 15 members. Historically, clubs have been as large as 60 to 100 people, functioning between general meetings in committees or teams. However, well-organized, committed clubs of 3 or 4 people are able to accomplish significant work, participate nationally, further their education and spread the Party’s influence in a community.

 

Wherever there is a club member in good standing who is the lone CPUSA member in an area, the district organizer and nearby clubs should endeavor to help that member find or recruit two more Communists and thereby open up the possibility for real collective struggle and organization and the building of a new club.

 

2. The Club Conference

 

Once a year the Club should have an expanded meeting—a club conference. In convention years this should be during the pre-convention discussion period and prior to the district convention. The purpose of the club conference is:

 

  • To review the previous year’s work.
  • To set forth the main aims and tasks for the coming year within the framework of the Party Program, national and district policies, and the club’s strategic line (or a new club strategic line presented to the conference)
  • To adopt a club plan of work for a year’s time, based on the strategic line and aims.
  • To elect club officers and the club executive committee, and if a convention is to be held, delegates to the convention of the next higher body. The club chair may be elected directly or by the elected club executive committee.

 

3. The Club Plan of Work

 

This should be prepared by the club executive committee and be acted on by the whole club at its conference or other full club meeting. The plan should leave room for unforeseen developments, including tasks assigned by higher bodies.

 

A well-balanced program of activities should include:

 

1) mass struggle on one or two focal issues;

 

2) political work for/against particular candidates or legislation;

 

3) support for unions, strikes, and other labor initiatives;

 

4) education for socialism (both membership and public outreach programs).

 

The exact balance among these four aspects will be determined by the particular circumstances and makeup of the club. For examples, see Appendix-2.

 

Guidelines for planning:

 

—-The heart of the plan should be mass struggle and our special ideological, political and organizational contributions to it and its direction toward achieving the Party’s and club’s strategic aims.

 

—-All the work outlined in the plan should contribute, at least indirectly, to the building of the club and the Party. The plan should include concrete ideas for recruiting new members from the mass activities.

 

—-If the club has defined itself via a concentration (see section IB), activities in the plan should all focus on the target of concentration. If not, the activities should center on the club’s geographical area.

 

—-No club can respond to every single issue. Activity on too many fronts with equal emphasis produces insufficient thrust to achieve results on any. It therefore leads to frustration and loss of direction. The plan needs to specify one or two mass issues on which the club will concentrate effort. Other issues will not be acted on at all or only secondarily, or will be interwoven with those singled out.

 

—-When choosing issues, the club should be mindful of National and district priorities, and attempt to feed patterns of action rather than atomizing in isolated efforts.

 

—-The plan should specify which resources will be involved in or developed for the struggle on these issues. It will indicate how People’s World, social media, website and literature will be used, what new materials will be needed, and what events should be held to facilitate public education and/or coalition building.

 

—-The plan should include clear, practical guidelines about what should or should not be posted on the club’s website and social media, together with target numbers for the frequency and timing of posts, liking/friending/following, responding to messages, and any other tactical collective decisions pertaining to social media.

 

—-The plan should also project ways the club will advocate socialism. This will include creating and/or distributing print and electronic materials. It will also include how the question of socialism can be brought into conversations about the focal issues or linked with immediate struggles in a series of posts, emails, flyers, etc.

 

—-Social, cultural, educational, and fundraising activities might also be included.

 

Without a plan, the club will do individual good deeds but perspective, development, a real sense of accomplishment and confidence that things are moving forward and changing the situation for the people will be missing.

 

E. Democracy, Collectivity, and Style of Work in the Club

 

 The system of organization of the Communist Party is based upon democratic principles. It combines the maximum involvement of the membership in determining policy, the democratic election of leaders and committees, and the responsible direction from one national center coordinating the activity of the entire Party along commonly agreed-upon lines of policy.

 

1. Principles of Collectivity

 

Collectivity is the basic style of work of the Party. Through group discussion and action, we seek to develop and apply the best possible plans to advance the interests of working people. Our actions are based on collective work, collective leadership, annual club conferences/elections, forums, debates throughout the party on fundamental issues or political orientation and action, decentralization of responsibilities, and election of leadership of all party organizations. The Party depends on its working class form of organization: turning individual good work into collective strength. As stated in the preface, unity in the club is of paramount importance.

 

Collectivity demands that the individual consult the collective whenever possible on all important questions. Such a style strengthens the qualities in the individual of respect for the class and Party, social responsibility and discipline as a Communist and human being. Collectivity improves the work of the collective and of the individual and prevents mistakes that might otherwise be committed.

 

Collectivity is most important on policy questions and the main means of implementation. Attempts to discuss out every detail of the practical activity of every member of a collective would prevent real collective discussion and collective leadership on the major questions. Also, such an unnecessary method limits the development of individual initiative. Extra long and extra frequent meetings in the name of collectivity do not strengthen it but rather reveal incorrect methods of work.

 

Each club should strive to help its members cultivate a collective, democratic style of work and combat individualist styles. To ensure that actions unify instead of splitting or causing inter-party friction or even worse, mass work friction, members should keep to the democratically agreed-upon plan of work. They should avoid “voluntarism,” a style of work where unilateral action is taken without due account to democratically and collectively agreed priorities, conditions, and plans.

 

2. Winning the People’s Trust

 

Our actions influence the way communists everywhere will be regarded and whether or not the working class will perceive our Party as worthy of trust. Our individual, online, and club conduct and communications should reflect working class values, and not reflect poorly on the Party or the working class movement. Thus, we must:

 

—-be responsible, be honest, keep appointments, be on time, and complete all tasks accepted.

 

—-maintain diversity in our leadership and membership at all levels.

 

—-maintain clear, regular lines of communication within and between organizational levels.

 

—-copy everyone affected or that needs to be informed in emails and other means of

communication. Keeping everyone in the communication loop is an effective organizing tool and an extension of democracy.

 

—-document and follow up on all actions the group agrees to undertake.

 

3. Assessing and Improving Our Work

 

Revolutionary theory and practice places emphasis on learning from mistakes as a basis for individual and collective growth. The interests of the working class and the Party are the standards against which we measure success and failure, strength and weakness. Clubs should engage in “constructive” criticism when appropriate and discourage “destructive” criticism.

 

  • Constructive criticism involves analyzing and evaluating past work and offering concrete proposals for improvement. Club meetings will routinely include some review of past decisions and work in connection with planning next steps. Likewise, in a democratic centralist organization, regular reports are made by the collective engaging in the work to various other Party bodies. These reports afford a chance to evaluate policies and decisions, analyze how they were executed by the collective and by the individuals particularly responsible, and consider whether anything can be done differently to improve outcomes in the future.

 

  • Destructive criticism damages Party unity without bringing a compensatory amount of improvement and growth. Criticism becomes destructive if it is wholly negative, too personal, couched in combative or insulting language, oriented toward “scoring points” rather than serving the working class, or divisive with no practical consequences.

 

Destructive criticism points toward factionalism and sectarianism, discourages new members and generally derails the work. Criticism can also become destructive if it is voiced behind the backs of those concerned or those in a position to act on the problem. If a grievance is worthy of further discussion, it should be constructively expressed to the proper Party body. Otherwise it should be dropped to avoid hurting individuals or opening the Party to attack.

 

  • Sense of proportion: If every comrade always raised right away every possible criticism, the Party would be continually embroiled in internal dispute of a very subjective nature. It would be unable to act in the class struggle among the masses. A sense of proportion that arises from adherence to the class struggle objectives of the Party is necessary.

 

Still, club members should know the appropriate avenues for expressing criticism on substantial questions. While the context and situation must always be taken into account, questions that disrupt the Party’s unity such as expressions of racism or sexism or anti-Party statements need immediate challenge. The Party program and Constitution are guides for determining what is anti-Party.

 

  • Organizational integrity: The primary approach of the Party to individual shortcomings and errors is persuasion through criticism and self-criticism, education and study and political activity. But when a member does not respond or commits more serious errors, action may be initiated by a club member or a Party committee. These procedures and their bases are outlined in the Party Constitution, Article VIII.

 

If a member’s actions are detrimental to the interests of the Party and the working class for reasons of mental illness, addiction, or substance abuse, the member might consider taking medical leave from active participation in Party life, rather than charges being brought seeking forfeiture of membership. During the leave, the member abstains from club meetings, use of club social media, and Party activities.

 

F. The Club Meeting

 

1. Purpose and Scheduling of Meetings

 

Each club meeting should serve one or more of the following purposes:

 

—To hear from mass activists, network, build relationships and coalitions

 

—To raise class and socialist consciousness

 

—To follow up on national, district, and club plans of work

 

—To follow up on associated voluntary tasks and actions

 

—To make new collective decisions

 

—To further cadre education and development

 

—To spend time in fellowship, building camaraderie

 

The club should meet regularly every month or every two weeks. There may be emergency periods when more frequent meetings are required. Clubs tend to fall apart when they do not meet at least once a month, and once every two weeks may be a better rhythm for an active club without a separable executive committee.

 

There should be a regular meeting time so that it can be planned upon. Since the club is the basic unit and Party membership is determined in relation to the club, attendance at club meetings is very important for all members. The meeting time should, therefore, be set to insure maximum attendance, and not to test the revolutionary zeal of members.

 

The club meeting, except in a special emergency, should last 1.5 to 3 hours, more likely 2 to 2.5 hours. Shorter meetings indicate that there is a lack of feeling that the Party is needed to give collective leadership to mass struggle and to change the course of events. Longer meetings also indicate problems. They may indicate difficulty in deciding priorities based on the wrong estimate that “everything is crucial.” They may reflect a rigid, mechanical approach to mass activity with an attempt to predetermine every detail. They may also reflect internal difference.

 

Large clubs may wish to divide the club into two or more parts, for part of every meeting or every other meeting, for some or all of the discussion. Such division assures more detailed help more frequently to the greatest number of members in a large club.

 

Many good clubs do not put dues and fund collections and literature sales on the agenda at every meeting. The person in charge arrives early and leaves late, takes up the matter with each person individually before and after the meeting, unless the fund collection is for a special purpose that needs to be on the agenda.

 

2. Structure of Meetings

 

Every club meeting should begin with adoption of an agenda presented by the club chairperson or another officer (see Appendix-3 for examples). Ideally the agenda is circulated in advance. The person chairing the club meeting can be either the club chairperson or another executive committee member, or there can be a rotating chairing of meetings.

 

A good agenda will consist of an educational, one or two major discussions of political work, and brief organizational checkup points of 10 to 30 minutes total duration. Any matters that cannot be handled in this framework should be handled by the club executive committee, individual officers or committees between meetings.

 

Adhere to Robert’s Rules of Order at meetings to encourage full participation and internal democracy (see Appendix-4 for an abbreviated Robert’s Rules). When meetings are run more casually, decision-making power may be accidentally monopolized by one or two outspoken people, undermining collectivity.

 

Clubs are also encouraged to use “the progressive stack” technique for discussions, especially in larger meetings. When a proposal is made, a question asked or a topic raised for discussion, the meeting secretary should make two lists of names of people who want to comment. People from non-dominant groups are invited to comment first, then other list is read. No one is allowed to make a second comment until everyone who added themselves to the stack has spoken once.

 

Minutes should be taken at every meeting capturing decisions, voluntary tasks, actions with timeline, and the gist of discussions (see Appendix-5). Minutes should be communicated as soon as possible after the meeting. Main decisions and tasks should be re-stated at the end of the meeting.

 

3. The Club Educational

 

It is best to begin each meeting with an educational, 30 to 60 minutes in length. Having the educational at the start guarantees that it is not perpetually postponed as the least pressing business. Every meeting should have an educational because it is the only guarantee that all members receive some Party education aimed at helping develop their contribution to the cause of the Party. This also assures that there is a certain common ideological basis for the political and mass work. For a list of suggested texts to use, see Appendix-6.

 

The subject matter may be a theoretical question, a current development, an ideological problem in the mass movement or in the Party, etc. Ideally, the subject matter flows from an estimate of what the club needs to carry forward its work. The format may vary. A comrade from inside or outside the club may be invited to make a presentation or lead a discussion. The basis may be an article from the Party website or from People’s World, a pamphlet, a short classic text from Marx, Engels, Lenin etc., or a set of materials on an issue the club needs to learn about. Other options include Party webinars, podcasts, or YouTube videos. Be sure to leave time for questions and discussion.

 

The club may elect an Education Secretary who plans all of the educationals for the year, or this responsibility may be collectively undertaken or rotate among club members. If the latter, be sure the next educational is lined up before the meeting is adjourned.

 

4. Political and Mass Work

 

A major portion of the club meeting, 1 or 2 hours, should be devoted to the political and mass work of the club.

 

—Meetings of higher bodies should regularly be reported to the club. These reports should be worked in where they are most relevant to the club’s own agenda items. The club should discuss how the higher body’s decision applies locally and how it relates to the club’s strategic line and plan of work, so everything is seen to work together.

 

—An individual comrade or several comrades may report on the long-term perspectives in an area or work, or an immediate tactical problem that has arisen in their mass activity, to get the thinking and the help of the collective.

 

—-A report may be given on media work, literature, fund raising, recruiting, etc. Its starting point would be a review of past work, a setting forth of the particular area in relation to the strategic line and tasks and the plan of work, with the projection of goals and methods, ideological, political and organizational problems, etc.

 

Organizational questions should consume the least amount of time, no more than 30 minutes when they are checkup points, making of arrangements, etc. These same points may also at times become one of the major points on the agenda, in which they become a political-organizational report for discussion and action, and not just a checkup point.

 

G. Club Leadership

 

1. Election of Leadership

 

Our Constitution states, “Clubs shall elect a chair and other officers appropriate to the club’s size and needs.” Every club should have a chair. Large clubs need an Executive Committee. Small clubs make their own decisions about whether to appoint more officers or simply share the work. Annual elections are constitutionally required, as is a secret ballot should anyone request it. Other aspects of election procedures are best decided according to club circumstances.

 

In considering a leadership collective, the Party ordinarily gives great weight both to the need for continuity and regular, planned change. Continuity is necessary because the class struggle requires experience and also particular functions are not mastered overnight. The Party must be able to learn from past successes and mistakes. Regular change is needed to guarantee the long term future. Often it is also useful in adding new experiences and judgements.

 

Outgoing leadership should make recommendations on the structure of leadership and on the personnel. Consideration should be given not only to what particular functions of leadership are required and who can best perform the particular functions, but also to the overall roundedness and composition of the executive committee as the leading political collective of the club.

 

Communists judge cadre for leadership on the basis of their proven qualities:

 

1) devotion to the cause of the working class and Party,

 

2) political development and ability to apply the science of Marxism-Leninism,

 

3) capabilities,

 

4) ability to learn and develop.

 

Leadership has the responsibility to the membership to lead the work, which can only be done by consulting the membership and masses of working people widely and listening and learning from their thinking and experience. It also has a responsibility to the membership to help develop each and everyone’s fullest potential and contributions to the struggle. It has a responsibility to help develop others into leaders.

 

The membership has a responsibility to the leadership to help them to be able to function as an authoritative leadership, including through comradely constructive criticism.

 

2. The Executive Committee

 

The executive committee is not a separate Party body or organization, but rather is a committee of the club, composed of active members and elected club leaders, to provide collective leadership to the work of the club. The number of positions is voted on at the annual club conference. The minimum size is 3, and in larger clubs of 25 or more members the executive committee may be as large as 7 or so.

 

The executive committee should meet regularly once between club meetings and on call. It strives to ensure that the club meeting has preparation and direction and therefore is not just a discussion society. This committee prepares the agenda and assures that the decisions of the club are executed. It should prepare thinking for the club on all major political questions and problems of the club’s work. All major questions should then come before the full club meeting. All actions of the executive committee are subject to approval or reversal by the full club.

 

When the executive committee is discussing a particular area of work, the person responsible, if not on the executive committee, should be invited to participate. The executive committee may also invite to its meeting several comrades in a particular area of mass struggle in order to give them more detailed help than they can get at the club meeting.

 

If the club is too small for an executive committee, having only 3 or 4 members, it still is advisable to have at least one person besides the chair with a specific club function. The danger of directionless or planless meetings is even greater with small clubs, so it is important that the chairperson have some exchange with the other club functionary in advance about the agenda of the meetings.

 

3. Officers

 

Each club has a chairperson. The number of other officers and their particular functions and titles will vary with the club’s size and situation. Each club should create as many roles as needed and distribute tasks among the roles in a way that best suits the club, making sure that everyone is clear on what their role entails.

 

The following kinds of work should be assigned to particular people:

 

—-calling the meetings and informing members of time and place

 

—-recruiting new members; keeping in touch with existing members

 

—-maintaining the contact list and emailing the membership

 

—-collecting dues, convention assessments, fund drive pledges

 

—-keeping financial records and controlling disbursements

 

—-planning the club’s educational work (internal and/or public)

 

—-coordinating the club’s social media and web page work

 

In a larger club, each of these functions may be handled by a separate person. In a smaller club, there are many possible combinations, as long as someone is made responsible for each. An organizational secretary may be responsible for calling meetings, recruiting, collecting dues and keeping records; or the latter two tasks may be assigned to a financial secretary. The club may elect one person for social media and another for educational work, or one person may handle both, or some other combination. As the club grows, each function should be taken on by a separate person to encourage decentralization of responsibilities.

 

3.a. Club Chair

 

Every Party body, including the club, must have a political leader, the club organizer, usually called the club chair. The chair provides overall collective and democratic leadership, demonstrating the Party’s values. They ensure that the club adheres to and fulfills the democratically adopted Party program and constitution, and follows the written club plan of work. The chair organizes the annual club conference (see above), maintains contact with the district organizer and attends district conventions. If at all possible, the club chair should meet regularly with at least one leading National body in order to assure their further development and the best presentation of the work and thinking of the club.

 

The club chair chairs the executive committee and may or may not chair the club meetings. Between club and executive committee meetings the club chair can act when necessary on behalf of the club or executive committee, subject to their approval.

 

3.b. Organizational Secretary/Treasurer

 

In a small club, the second officer should be the organizational secretary/treasurer. In this situation the organizational secretary should maintain the contact list (see Appendix-7), help draft club agendas, strive to assure full attendance at meetings, and help coordinate the fulfillment of club tasks. If there is no Financial Secretary, the Organizational Secretary may also collect dues and donations, keep records of club finances, authorize expenditures, and provide financial reports as needed.

 

In this electronic age, clubs may find it very inconvenient to keep funds in cash and need to open a checking account. It is advisable to open an account that requires two signatures. If a debit card is used, each signatory should inform the other when money is spent. Every month, the bank statement and club ledger should be reviewed by the executive committee (or whole club, in the absence of an executive committee) and made available for view on request by any club member.

 

In a small club, the Organizational Secretary/Treasurer may also take responsibility for social media, or this responsibility may be assigned to the Chair or another member. In areas where the membership is geographically far-flung, assigning certain social media responsibilities to distant members provides a way for them to contribute. Members who cannot regularly attend club meetings might be asked to compile a bibliography for the web page, create a daily Facebook post or Twitter, etc.

 

In a large club with separate people for each of the functions, the organizational secretary should play a considerable role along with the chairperson in seeing that the mass political line of the club is carried out, working closely with comrades in some of the key mass fields.

 

3.c. Educational Secretary

 

The educational secretary is responsible for organizing the educational work of the club: club meeting educationals, forums, study groups, new members’ classes, etc. The educational secretary is responsible for leading and organizing the procurement, sale and distribution of printed literature which the Party wishes to promote, among the membership and to the wider public. In a small club, the educational director may also be responsible for press, website, and/or social media work.

 

As indicated above, the educational program of the club should be developed from the standpoint of what educational activities can best help the club take its work forward. Intra-club education must aim to equip the membership to deal with ideological and theoretical questions they will confront in the mass movements and to overcome any misunderstandings that are holding back the club’s work.

 

General mastery of Marxist-Leninist theory is also an aim of educational work. This can best be handled in special club classes or in classes and schools organized by leading bodies rather than in the 30 to 60 minute educationals at club meetings.

 

Such forms as club leadership training classes are also best organized by leading bodies involving more than a single club. The club educational director would help guarantee that there are such classes, and that the club is able to participate in as many as possible of the educational forms organized by leading committees.

 

Organization of a Marxist discussion group of those close to the Party on the basic theory or on the Marxist approach to a particular field of struggle close to the participants is an important educational form that can help recruit. Classes on the strategy and tactics of the Party, on the theory of the party and how it functions are necessary for all new members. If the club is unable to organize them, then a leading committee should be asked to provide them.

 

3.d. Media Secretary

 

The media secretary is to lead and organize the club’s activities in circulating People’s World and other electronically distributed media from National, as well as building and maintaining the club’s website, social media, and chat apps, as applicable (see Appendix-8 for examples). The media secretary leads and organizes collective efforts to find or create content for the web page and social media, as directed by the club’s plan of work.

 

The media secretary strives to ensure that the time and energy the club spends on social media, which may be considerable, contributes as effectively as possible to the club’s strategic aim and recruiting plan, or at the very least does not detract.

 

The media secretary should look for relevant People’s World articles that can be printed and distributed by hand at rallies or protests, line up interviews, and generally serve as a liaison between the club and the PW.

 

3.e. Membership or Outreach Secretary

 

The membership secretary leads and organizes the recruiting work. The annual Party registration of all its members should be handled by such a person as well as keeping in touch with members who miss meetings, are ill, etc. The membership secretary develops and leads recruitment efforts, and fights for the membership, for their fullest involvement and development.

 

3.f. Financial Secretary

 

The financial secretary leads and organizes the financial work of the club. This should include preparation of an annual budget of needed funds and of sources of income to be adopted at the club conference. It should also include the club’s obligations to the district and National Committee and for its own work.

 

In essence, the budget includes anticipated income (from dues, sustainers, grants, fundraisers, etc.) and anticipated expenditures (for office supplies, postage, food and rent for planned events, advertising, travel, etc.). The financial records include actual income and actual expenditures.

 

The financial secretary collects dues and convention assessments, sustainer and fund drive pledges from members, fights for the complete fulfillment of pledges, keeps the records and controls disbursements. A plan of fundraising affairs, alone or together with other clubs, and appeals to individual non-Party contacts for contributions of funds should be developed and implemented.

 

3.g. Meeting Chair, Meeting Secretary, Task or Project Leaders (may alternate)

 

The meeting chair ensures the democratic, collective style of club meetings and encourages full, democratic participation by following Robert’s Rules of Order. This person facilitates decision making and helps ensure effective and enjoyable meetings. They may also be put in charge of reserving and setting up a meeting space.

 

The meeting secretary takes minutes at the meeting, then distributes the minutes in an agreed-upon manner. The meeting secretary also keeps time limits during the meeting. It may be helpful to assign a meeting secretary when the organizational secretary needs to present information, reports, etc. at the meeting.

 

Task or project leaders take responsibility for agreed-upon tasks. The leader does not have to do all the task work, but may delegate and follow up to make sure the tasks get done. The leader takes initiative, oversees tasks to completion, reports back to the club, and leads the evaluation process when the task or project is complete.

 

4. Delegates to the District and National Conventions

 

Delegates to the district convention are elected at the annual club conference based on reviews of work and election of leadership. At district conventions, the work of the district is reviewed, strategic line and plans for the coming period decided, and district committee members and delegates to the National Convention elected.

 

The number of delegates each district is eligible to send to the National Convention depends on the number of “members in good standing” in that district (those who have paid dues and are known to local leadership). Club officers should remind their members and guests that they must join, pay dues and participate locally in order to have a voice in National decisions.

 

H. Financing the Activities of the Club

 

The clubs are member-financed through dues and donations. Dues can be paid to the national office via the website, to the district, or directly to the club. Dues paid elsewhere revert to the club periodically. New members receive a membership card upon paying their dues.

 

Every Party member is expected to make a substantial financial contribution according to his or her means in the form of an annual fund drive and a monthly sustainer pledge, in addition to the required minimum dues and assessments. The bulk of the money needed, however, if we are to raise enough and if we work correctly, will come from non-Party people. When the bulk of needed funds comes from Party members, it means we are approaching fundraising as a thing in itself, administratively, separated from our mass activity. Instead, fundraising can be approached politically and become a form of mass work in which our resources and our mass relationships continually expand.

 

A yearly plan of fundraising affairs and activities is required at each level of the Party. The most valuable forms, politically and financially, are public fund raising affairs. At the district level this may include an annual Party anniversary affair in September, an annual holiday season gift bazaar for the press or the Party, a spring reception for the press or awards banquet, and a summer picnic. Additional events honoring a staunch older comrade on the occasion of 50 years of membership in the Party or a 70th birthday, or a couple on their 40th or 50th wedding anniversary, have an educational, political, and social-cultural purpose as well.

 

A high-functioning district should have frequent affairs of this kind, some more elaborate than others. Their political breadth starts with the list of sponsors or endorsers, the speakers and cultural performers. Our goal is constantly to broaden and deepen. Then, the effort must be to publicize the event widely and organize the attendance, going as far beyond our own ranks to every kind of contact as possible. Particular political themes of such affairs, occasions for public enunciation of important policy questions, often with attempts at mass media coverage, add to their combined purpose of fund raising and extending mass influence.

 

At the club level there may be a neighborhood affair to honor a worthy older comrade, a forum, film, concert, dinner, take-out food prepared by the club and its friends in return for contributions. These are all forms that have proven their usefulness. We can also think outside the box and consider hosting a game night, open mic, cake contest, speed dating, etc. Raffles and rummage (or plant, book, bake etc.) sales are additional forms for fundraising.

 

People who provide contact information at tabling events but never come to meetings can be asked if they would like to make a financial donation. Lists for individual solicitation must be made and followed up, checked and expanded from year to year. A person who is approached for contributions not only helps our movement financially but is drawn closer to us politically by being asked to give and even more so by actually giving. Receipts and strict accounting are necessary to build confidence that funds contributed will be used effectively and properly.

 

Often the Party is asked to contribute money to other movements and organizations. Generally speaking the Party needs all the funds, and more, that it can raise for its own activities. When there is a coalition of organizations and the Party is one of them and all are asked to help finance the activities of the coalition, the Party has to uphold its share, but with the understanding that it has no big financiers and is totally dependent on the contributions of working people.

 

I. Recruitment

 

In all its activities the Party constantly tries to expand its membership. It recruits among all categories of working people. It makes special efforts to recruit people of color and other specially oppressed people. It is also especially concerned with its composition with regard to women and age level.

 

Mastery of Marxism-Leninism or of any particular phase of it prior to entrance is not a condition for recruitment. The desire of the recruit to strive to support the Program, even if without a deep understanding, and to act in accord with the Constitution, meets the constitutional requirement of “acceptance” of the Program and Constitution.

 

Usually new members bring with them close ties to those movements and struggles currently in the forefront. They bring a sensitivity to the problems and aspirations of those involved in such struggles. They also bring new skills developed in those movements. Therefore, besides everything else, new members are important to the Party because they help root the Party even more firmly among working people in motion. In turn, a strong Party helps assure the constant expansion and further development of progressive social struggles.

 

Recruiting requires Party consciousness and specific recruiting consciousness. It requires a confidence that workers are ready to be won to the Party and that the Party can attract and hold them. Although recruiting is an activity requiring special attention, it is most successful when fully integrated into the total work of the Party, particularly its activity among masses struggling for their needs. But it also requires a high level of organization. From time to time, in addition to the day to day effort to recruit, the Party launches a well prepared and planned recruiting drive. This includes goals, printed materials, activities and checkup planned over a period of time at all levels of the Party.

 

J. Responsibilities of Membership

 

Anyone over the age of 18 who strives to understand and support the Party Program and Constitution can join CPUSA.  Each new member should join their local club, or strive to form a nucleus and start a local club if one does not exist.

 

Club leaders should encourage all members to familiarize themselves with the program, constitution, and responsibilities of membership. It is possible to be a passive member of the organization by joining online and paying dues. But to be a “member in good standing,” an individual must undertake the following responsibilities:

 

  • Strive to study, understand and further develop the CPUSA Party Program, Constitution, and recent convention resolutions, as well as their application to theory and practice.
  • Engage in real working class mass struggles to expand democracy, improve wages and working conditions.
  • To the best of our abilities, support the goals of the organization by implementing its program, paying dues, supporting and circulating its publications.
  • Strive to attend club meetings, democratically participate in deliberations and vote in party collectives.
  • Strive to improve understanding of scientific socialism (Marxism-Leninism), participate in study groups, educational webinars, lead educationals, etc.
  • Participate in the collective analysis of the current political situation and carry out the work of the national, district and club organization.
  • Seek to build our organization by winning new members and allies to our ranks.
  • Prioritize the struggle for equality as the cornerstone of working class unity. Struggle against all racist ideologies, male supremacy and other such practices.
  • Belong to a labor union, if eligible.
  • Strengthen labor unions, civil rights, peace, environmentalist, worker, youth, student or other chosen community organizations and social networks.
  • Promote the voice and effective participation of the working class.
  • Promote unity with allies of the working class in the course of fighting for common goals.
  • Register, vote, get out the vote, run socialist and progressive candidates for public office, build progressive electoral coalitions.

 

II. STYLE OF WORK AMONG THE MASSES

 

How does the Party work on a day-to-day basis to carry out its special role and implement the strategic aims outlined in the Program? Historically, the united front concept identified with the name of Georgi Dimitrov meant unity of the working class, despite differing ideological and political tendencies, in struggle for limited needs of the class. Such unity, when it extended beyond the working class and included other classes and social strata, was termed a popular front. Today the common principles of the united front and popular front style of work, in which Communists unite with other workers and all anti-corporate-right strata despite different ideological and political trends to work for a single limited objective or for a more extended common program of demands, are sometimes loosely termed “united front style of work.” It is more properly called the mass style of work of the Party in building people’s unity against the capitalists or corporate ultra-right.

 

When such unity has been developed, we often call it a coalition, especially if it includes a number of organizations and not just individuals. In any formation of people’s unity, the first task of Communists is to insure that it holds together for the purposes of struggle for which it was established. Divisive tendencies such as bigotry and anti-communism have to be fought, as well as anything else which threatens the carrying out of its purposes. Yet unity of action presupposes ideological and political differences among participants. Attempts to erase such differences in one stroke based on acceptance of the program of the most advanced participants can also threaten the purposes for which the unity was established.

 

Within this framework we do everything possible to bring the working class forces into the leadership, emphasizing class issues and activities. We fight for the full acceptance of the Communist Party. This means judgment of the Party strictly on its merits in the struggle and election of Communists to share leadership when this is merited and understood by others to be so. We also strive to help the participants draw ever deeper lessons and thus prepare the united effort to go on to higher levels of united action and common program.

 

As discussed in Section I, the main focus of the Party’s daily work is in building unity of struggle among the masses around the basic “bread and butter” issues: wages, unemployment, housing, health care, and so on. Unlike those whose sole goal is reform, the Party participates in and initiates such struggles in such a way that they are not isolated from other issues nor viewed as the final solution to all social problems. The Party, therefore, emphasizes the special problems faced by people of color and other specially oppressed peoples, women, LGBTQ+, youth and retirees on these issues, and builds unity on the basis of fighting for their special needs and for their fullest participation in leadership and policy-making. It shows how and why ruling class bigotry and its penetration among working masses is contrary to the interests of all in the struggle. It shows the relationship of the “bread and butter” struggles to overarching issues like climate change, U.S. imperialist aggression, capitalism and the socialist alternative.

 

The Party, therefore, conducts ideological struggle to hold the unity of action together, to raise it to higher levels and to move some of its participants closer to the socialist alternative. At all levels of the Party, this style of work is the heart of our mass work and is the basic way we approach the workers and popular masses for joint struggle. The issues of struggle and the exact forms of unity change with time, place and circumstance, but this style of work is not momentary. Without it the Party would be isolated, act alone and the Party and the working class would suffer unnecessary defeats.

 

Besides adding a class clarity on immediate and fundamental problems, this activity makes an important contribution to the fight for democracy and against repression, reaction and the danger of fascism, since the first line of attack against democratic rights is always the Communists. Such activity helps to win full legality for the Party among masses of people. It also moves large numbers leftward, some to the point of immediate consideration of becoming Communists themselves. This mass style of work in building forms of unity of struggle and the role of Communists in relation to it is, therefore, the starting point for Party building, for recruiting on a large scale.

 

The Party fights for immediate demands and for socialism because both are in the interests of the working class and of all working people. Winning immediate demands will somewhat lighten the burden of capitalism, while socialism will make a fundamental and lasting change in the lives of the people. Also, there is no way to win socialism without struggling for immediate demands and learning from that process of struggle. Victories are necessary both to win limited improvements in conditions and to build confidence in social struggle and in the strength of the class and people when united.

 

Defeats, however, are sometimes unavoidable. A policy of struggling only for what was certain of victory would be opportunist. The working class is sometimes compelled to fight on issues and in situations in which the balance of forces and other aspects of the situation are unfavorable. There may also be errors of policy that lead to defeat. When defeat is unavoidable, the working class movement has to learn to retreat in such a way that the possibility for new successes is prepared. There are other lessons to be drawn for masses and for the Party from defeats. It is also necessary to learn lessons from mistakes that contribute to defeats.

 

There are times when it is not possible to build broad unity right away on a particular issue and Communists must act on it almost alone, but the issue is of such basic significance that activity and struggle are necessary. Examples include some moments in the struggle for the democratic rights of the Communist Party during the height of McCarthyism and the McCarran Act period, or exploring the requirements for a just peace in the Middle East during periods when pro-Zionist propaganda was at its high point. But when our policies are correct, additional forces join with us and broader unity becomes possible.

 

Out of thousands of local united actions and formations, one formation succeeding another, out of a great many state and regional formations and many national ones, there can be developed a general ongoing coalition of all classes and social forces whose interests clash with monopoly capitalism. More and more it will become a definite and more permanent formation with a more and more developed program of demands and struggle. It will take electoral forms, producing a mass party free of the domination of capitalists. The Communist Party plays a key and decisive role in seeing that such development takes place.

 

 

III. APPENDIX: RESOURCES

 

1. Resolution on Building Clubs and Districts for Sustainable Growth, adopted by the 31st National Convention of the Communist Party USA, 2019

 

RESOLUTION 25. BUILDING CLUBS AND DISTRICTS FOR SUSTAINABLE GROWTH

 

Our responsibilities as a Communist Party are heightened by the urgent challenges and opportunities facing the working class and planet.  Our strategy and tactics and vision of socialism are critical for the future.

 

The club is the heart of the Communist Party.  A club based in a specific neighborhood or geographic area or in a workplace is our daily tie to the working class.  It is our grounding to develop and bring forward new leaders, including women and people of color, for our Party and the broad movement.

 

We live in a large and varied country.  Our history teaches us that even when building from scratch, and even when members are scattered and at far distances from each other, consistent, strategic planning and action over time can result in strong, diverse club organization rooted in a community or workplace.

 

Such clubs can become positioned to get out the vote, participate in coalitions, build labor-community unity, organize collective action, win demands, and potentially field candidates.  Such clubs have the opportunity to contribute to education and organizing in their neighborhoods through consistent circulation and distribution of the People’s World.

 

For new members taking leadership responsibility, the experience of building grassroots clubs, and coordinating work of those clubs at the district level, and working in coalitions at those levels, is an essential part of developing leaders for the CPUSA.

 

There are many aspects of strengthening and upgrading our organization.  But building clubs, and the districts to sustain them, is the foundation for the long term.  It is the foundation for bringing teenage youth into the Young Communist League (YCL) and then into the Communist Party from generation to generation.

 

Therefore, be it resolved that the Communist Party USA reaffirm its commitment to vibrant, active clubs in neighborhoods, workplaces, and defined geographic areas.

 

Be it further resolved that the Communist Party USA reaffirm its commitment to support local YCL clubs and newly commit to youth organizing nationally as a continuation of the YCL.

 

Be it further resolved that the Communist Party USA prioritize training of younger and newer comrades as leaders of clubs and districts

 

Be it further resolved that the incoming leadership of the Communist Party give top priority to assist districts in building clubs; that where there is no district, priority attention and assistance be given to building clubs with the goal of establishing a district when possible.

 

Be it further resolved that a national strategic approach be developed to concentrate in key states and areas with the goal of expanding and building grassroots Communist Party clubs and districts.

 

Submitted by the Connecticut District

 

 

2. Very Short Robert’s Rules of Order

 

Robert’s Rules were designed to ensure democratic participation and have served the Party well. Here are a few basics that may suffice for running a small, uncomplicated meeting. Club Chairs should obtain a more extensive guide; many are available for free on the internet.

 

Before the meeting, the club chair or executive committee prepares and circulates an agenda.

 

Without an agenda, it is difficult to use this system. At the beginning of the meeting, someone should move to approve the agenda.

 

A. Main Motions

 

The basic unit of the system is “the motion.” A motion is a proposal that can be acted on by the group as a whole.

 

Anyone can make a motion, after being recognized by the chair. The chair should not allow discussion on the issue until a motion has been made. If the motion is unclear, the chair should endeavor to restate it until it makes sense. The motion should be put on record by the meeting secretary.

 

Someone must second the motion. If not, it dies. Once seconded, the motion belongs to the entire meeting, not just the person who made it. It can be discussed, amended, and voted on by all. However, the person who made the motion has the right to speak about it first.

 

After discussion, if there are no subsidiary motions, the chair calls for a vote. The vote may be taken by voice (“all in favor, say aye; all opposed, nay; abstentions?”), roll call, hand raising, or simple consensus, depending on the circumstance. The chair states the results of the vote.

 

B. Subsidiary Motions

 

These motions may be introduced after the main motion has been made and seconded, but before a vote has been taken.

 

  1. Move to postpone the motion (indefinitely or until a specific date)
  2. Refer the main motion to a committee for review
  3. Amend the motion. The amendment should be exactly specifies. It only counts as an amendment if it does not change the central meaning of the motion. If a member wants to change the motion completely, they should move to “substitute” a different motion. A full discussion on the relative merits of the two motions would then be held.
  4. Limit debate (for example, to limit the total time for debate, or the number of times each member may speak, or the length of time for each speaker). Note that this motion cannot be made in order to interrupt a speaker, and is not itself debatable.
  5. Call the question (enough discussion; let’s vote)
  6. Table the motion (put it aside until later in the same meeting)

 

Keep in mind:

 

—a new main motion may not propose something very similar to a motion already voted down, postponed or referred earlier in the same meeting. Also, no member can make a motion when a previous motion is under consideration.

 

—-under Robert’s Rules, silence means consent. Objections must be voiced. Members may object if the chair violates Robert’s Rules, or fails to follow the approved agenda for the meeting.

 

 

3. Tips on Taking Minutes

 

The meeting secretary should not be the same person as the meeting chair. It is very difficult to lead a meeting and take notes at the same time.

 

Print out the agenda before the meeting (or prepare an electronic copy if taking notes on computer) and use the agenda as a template for note-taking.

 

Do not attempt to write down everything everyone says. Record the following:

 

  1. First name and last initial of everyone in attendance, with the organizational affiliation of any special guests.
  2. Date, time, and place of meeting
  3. Decisions made about each item on the agenda, including motions, the gist of the discussion, any amendments, and voting outcomes. Record the discussion in an objective, impartial manner, not including your own judgements.
  4. Next steps and plans, with the names of people taking responsibility for each task and any dates or deadlines.
  5. New business raised at the meeting.
  6. Next meeting date and time.

It can be important to record motions and amendments word-for-word. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or repetition.

 

If you handwrite the minutes, be sure to type them up while the meeting is still fresh in your mind. Keep your rough notes until the minutes have been approved. If you keyboard at the meeting, go through the document soon after the meeting to check for errors and omissions.

 

Share the minutes in a timely manner with the entire club, not just those who participated. If possible, include copies of any materials that were distributed or referenced at the meeting.

 

Clubs should devise a mechanism for correcting the minutes when necessary. The most common option is to invite corrections at the beginning of the next meeting, then make a motion to approve the minutes. Other clubs may prefer to circulate corrections immediately on a forum or email.

 

 

4. Making and Maintaining Contact Lists

 

*Maintaining a constantly growing, up to date contact list is indispensable to building your club and the Party.

 

*The goal is to keep in contact with members using regular email blasts for meeting notices, newsletters, action calls, events, etc.

 

*Use a Spreadsheet program with a separate column containing only the person’s email address. You can then copy and past the email list into the BCC line of an email message.

 

*Keep separate text lists for bulk texting

 

*Establish groups such as Google Groups, Signal messaging, WhatsApp, Slack, Discord, MeetUp or other

 

*The contact list should include membership status and allies by area of struggle

 

*Keep contact lists confidential and guard against spamming.

 

*Back up your contact list and share it with another officer or club member. It is valuable and hard to replace!

 

 

 

5. Examples of Club Meeting Agendas

 

Baltimore Club, CPUSA     

                                                       

Proposed Agenda

 

Oct. 1,  2019

 

7:30 pm           Welcome;  Next meeting:  Tues., November 5, 2019, Venue:  X Restaurant

7:35 pm           Educational:  Feminism/Abortion Rights Strategy – Cindy

8:05 pm           National and Local CPUSA business

-Peace and Solidarity Commission Member
-Meeting place for a study group
-Newsletter

8:15 pm           Report-back

-Sept. 15 Centennial
-“The Moment Was Now”

8:30 pm           Mass Work

-Electoral work: Canvassing, Labor,  CP Vote Cards, Other

8:55 pm           Announcements / Good and Welfare

-Cuba Days
-“Nicaragua and Beyond – Oct. 25, 7 pm – 2640 St. Paul St.
-Other:  Green Strategy Seminars – Oct. 20, 27, 8 pm

 

 

Baltimore Club, CPUSA       

   

Proposed Agenda

 

Nov. 5, 2019

 

7:30 pm           Welcome;  Next meeting:  Tuesday, December 3, 2019

7:35 pm           Educational:  Introduction to “The Origin and Unique Nature of Communist Parties” – Kuya

Next Educational:  “The Origin and Unique Nature of Communist Parties”
Volunteer to lead the discussion

7:45 pm           Study Group – Report-back by Committee and Discussion

8:15 pm           Club business

-New Year’s Day party
-Website, Facebook page, Newsletter – Matthew

8:25 pm           Mass Work Reports

-GM Strike
-Cuba Days
-Nicaragua and Beyond – C.M.
-Rabbi A.
-Other

8:50 pm           Announcements / Good and Welfare / Treasurer’s Report

 

 

6. Examples of Club Plans of Work

 

 Elements of Plans of Work: Connecticut

 

Most clubs in CT decide on their priorities for the coming year between January and February.  The State Committee adopts its plan of work in early January and this is taken into account by the club. Within the state plan each club sees what is included that it can contribute to given its own activities and membership.

 

At the State Committee and at the club, there is a review of the goals from the previous year to see what was successful and what needs more attention.  The goals for the new year often start with the overall approach of the club and then include specifics about

 

  • goals in the neighborhood or workplace
  • goals for bringing in new members
  • goals for education
  • goals for Peoples World (stories, distribution, fund drive – each club has a quota so the district can reach its responsibilities)
  • Finances (dues and sustainers).

 

Some clubs have written plans.  Some clubs keep track of their goals more informally. Written plans are best because it is easiest to amend as new things come up and easiest to review at the end of the year.

 

The CT State Committee plan of work has an introductory framework section followed by the following sections:

 

  • Club and YCL Building (this includes recruitment goals, education, People’s World)
  • Labor (includes goals for work in the labor movement and bringing union members and allies into the clubs)
  • Equality  (in CT includes African American, Latino and women’s equality and immigrant rights)
  • Peace and Climate  (reflects our goals for building unity with existing forces)
  • Political Action (includes key elections and state legislation)

 

 

Houston Club’s Plan of Work, 2018

 

Objectives for 2018

 

  1. Form All-People’s Front and a United Front within the All-People’s Front
  2. Participate and Lead in the Resistance movement to the Ultra-Right and Trump in Houston and Texas
  3. Actively engage in the 2018 elections.  Support CPUSA, [political org] and other progressive organization’s endorsed candidates running for public office.  Initiate and support progressive ballot measures at city and county level.
  4. Encourage our membership to be active in the Resistance and mass organizations, with particular emphasis on trade unions and civil rights organizations.  We must put forward real proposals to address economic issues such as a massive jobs program, Medicare for All, $15 and a union, Municipal IDs, Socialism, etc.  Create the right type of slogans for the Resistance with real solutions.
  5. Strengthen our collective leadership; the Club executive committee
  6. Strengthen our united action with [org], especially on the Resistance and organizing of progressives
  7. Implement the national plan to build the Texas clubs and organize the TX District in this period of resistance.  We must build the party by meeting our membership growth goal.
  8. Strengthen our ideological development.  Raise class and socialist consciousness.  Lay the blame for the plight of our working class on the right culprit – Neoliberal Capitalism.
  9. Meet Financial goal

 

Club Plan – Tasks to Meet 2018 Objectives Outlined Above

 

1. Mass Work

 

  • Active participation in Houston trade unions. Every member is encouraged to join a trade union or community organization tied to the trade union movement.
  • Active participation in civil rights organizations: reproductive rights, immigrant rights, environmental action
  • Active participation in community organizations and helping increase class and socialist consciousness
  • Help build [mass org] in Texas

2. Independent Progressive Electoral Politics

 

  • Actively participate in the 2018 elections. Help build [political org] to elect progressives and socialists to public office
  • Work inside and outside the Democratic Party to elect progressives and socialists to public office and promote the progressive public policy agenda. Identify one issue we can win.

 

3. Ideological/Organizational Development

 

  • Participate in May Day 2018 protest march
  • Participate and promote Socialist Reading Group bi-weekly studies
  • Open Club classes on Party Program, Constitution, national reports, Marxism and other topics at each regular club meetings. Participate in National Education Department regular Marxist Classes.
  • Write news reports and political analysis for People’s World and social media
  • Effective Club Exec and regular participation in District and National Committee Meetings, National Education Department, CPUSA Political Action Committee, International Commission
  • Develop Spanish language Marxist classes
  • Establish a Spanish Language Club in Houston
  • Provide political economy classes for union members

 

4. Build the Party to Build the Revolutionary Movement – Membership Drive

 

  • Individual recruitment, with an emphasis on diversity. Suggest goal of xxx local members or about xx new members in 2018.
  • Recruit members through mass work and Marxist studies. They will not join if you do not invite them in.
  • Participation in ideological studies
  • Recruitment through personal contact, Houston CPUSA website, social media such as Houston CP Facebook and literature/leaflets
  • Actively build clubs in TX and implement national and TX District Party Building plans
  • Follow-up on national membership applications
  • Invite guests to every club meeting
  • Promote Progressive Movie Night and informal social meetings
  • One-on-one meetings to promote membership, coalition work and club leadership

 

5. Finances

 

  • Meet financial goal of $xxx in 2018
  • Optimize club website to meet financial goals, GoFundMe, direct email appeals
  • Collect donations at every club meeting and activity
  • Maximize sustainer pledges to meet financial goal – regular sustainers from members, allies and substantive individual contributions
  • Club should try to pay dues locally using our PayPal Account or cash at meetings to help with cash flow locally

 

 

7. Starter List for Club Educationals

 

 Suggested Materials (most are available at cpusa.org) 

 

  • The CPUSA Party Constitution and Program (very important for new members)
  • Party reports, such as the main report from a recent National Committee meeting
  • New essays on the webpage, speeches and essays by the co-chairs or other Party leaders, national webinars
  • People’s World articles, especially articles relevant to the club’s plan of work.
  • The Specter podcasts
  • Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels
  • Selections from Capital, such as those in Robert Tucker’s Marx-Engels Reader
  • What is Marxism by Emile Burns
  • The End of Classical German Philosophy by Engels
  • Reforms or Revolution by Rosa Luxemburg
  • Socialism: Scientific or Utopian by Engels
  • What Is to Be Done by Lenin
  • The Two Tactics of Social Democracy by Lenin
  • Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism by Lenin
  • “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr., his other work, and the history of the civil rights movement

 

Suggested Topics

 

  • The role of clubs and districts in the electoral struggle: purpose, strategy and tactics.
  • Basics of Marxism-Leninism on such questions as the relationship between the struggle for reforms versus socialist revolution, what we mean by “mass movement” and “the all people’s front,” the Marxist theory of the State, the fundamental contradictions of capitalism – tendency for declining rate of profit, overproduction/underconsumption, what is neoliberalism, our overall strategy and path to socialism USA, what we mean by “working class internationalism,” what is the current understanding of imperialism, why is the working class so fundamental to the struggle for socialism, and why is our central struggle for equality not the same as the often disparaged “identity politics.”  These modules should be in accessible language, clear and convincing.  Lots of examples, graphics, video clips….  Everything we do must speak to not only members but those we want to win.
  • Current issues such as the Green New Deal, a recent strike or proposed legislation.
  • Timely readings to coincide with African American History month, Women’s History Month, Workers’ History Month (May Day), etc.
  • People can be brought in from outside the party to present on their group’s work, or a topic (for example, the historical struggles in Africa). Representatives of candidates in whom the club is interested can be invited to speak.