A response to “Build the Party, Build the Clubs” 

BY:Kevah| May 8, 2024
A response to “Build the Party, Build the Clubs” 


This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

Build the Party, Build the Clubs, is an article from the National Committee that expresses a frank misunderstanding of Marxism-Leninism and dialectics. This is a response and disagreement with the position to develop the party into a “mass party” rather than an organized, disciplined, and professional revolutionary vanguard party with the strictest of admission.

Firstly, the attribution of the “cadre model” to Leninism and the treatment of Leninism as unique to the conditions of Tsarist Russia is wrong. The cadre model is not outdated! The authors mistake the universal for the particular. It is the universal model for the basic unit of the Marxist-Leninist party. The article claims that the “cadre model of a revolutionary working-class party tailored to fit Russia’s conditions at the turn of the century has been replaced as conditions have changed.” There is no specification of changed conditions. What the authors go on to suggest is a type of party tailored to even older “conditions.” That is, of Menshevism, or even worse, Kautskyite social democracy. If you want to speak of changed conditions, then why is the party re-litigating the Bolshevik-Menshevik split? The party cannot be open to everyone, nor is it suitable to be a “mass party.” The article calls upon us to uphold and implement Marxist basics and Marxist-Leninist education, which the author agrees with. However, the only way to implement a really good education is through a mandatory national education program that teaches classical and modern Marxism-Leninism. But that is for another time.

The article defines “mass party” as participating in mass action, taking initiative, expanding influence over time, and building a large membership. This displays misunderstanding of the vanguard party vs mass organizations. Furthermore, the party wishes to center People’s World (PW) as the foundation of the party to build around. I agree that the center nucleus of the party must be a very good agitator paper, which PW is not. In one breath the party is told that PW must be the center and in the next breath that PW must build “broad all-people’s unity” which, if Marxism-Leninism is also our grounding ideology, links Marxism-Leninism to “broad all-people’s unity.” This is mistaken. Marxism-Leninism is the science of revolution and class struggle in the age of imperialism to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The “mass party” is not, and can never be, the Leninist conception of the vanguard party. The article proclaims quotations of Lenin but no real full quotations are given. At the Third Congress, Lenin said that the “first step was to create a real Communist Party to know whom we are talking to and whom we could fully trust.” At the Fourth Congress, the task of the Communist International was not the formation of mass organizations or united fronts, but “to establish the nucleus of a Communist Party.”

The vanguard party must be a disciplined, professional, and organized cadre of professional revolutionaries who work in party organizations. Lenin denounces the mass party in 1904 in One Step Forward, Two Steps Back by saying “I thereby express clearly and precisely my wish, my demand, that the Party, as the vanguard of the class, should be as organized as possible, that the Party should admit to its ranks only such elements as allow of at least a minimum of organization” and also “the Party, as the vanguard of the working class, must not be confused, after all, with the entire class.” Later in Lenin’s life, when he was in power and had smashed the state machinery and established the dictatorship of the proletariat, said that entry into Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection must conform to strict requirements:

“First, they must be recommended by several communists. Second, they must pass a test for knowledge of our state apparatus. Third, they must pass a test in the fundamentals of the theory of our state apparatus, in the fundamentals of management, office routine, etc.” Lenin had extremely high standards for running the country. His Party and ours must be just as strict. Lenin was not alone in thinking this way.

J.V. Stalin argues in a similar vein. In 1905 his The Proletarian Class and the Proletarian Party argued the following: “Up till now our Party has resembled a hospitable patriarchal family, ready to take in all who sympathize. But now that our Party has become a centralized organization, it has thrown off its patriarchal aspect and has become in all respects like a fortress, the gates of which are opened only to those who are worthy. And that is of great importance to us. At a time when the autocracy is trying to corrupt the class consciousness of the proletariat with “trade unionism,” nationalism, clericalism, and the like, and when, on the other hand, the liberal intelligentsia is persistently striving to kill the political independence of the proletariat and to impose its tutelage upon it—at such a time the party must be extremely vigilant and never forget that our Party is a fortress, the gates of which are opened only to those who have been tested.”

Where in any of this can one draw that the party should abandon the cadre model for the “mass party?” Nowhere at all! The National Committee mistakes the movement for the party and the party for the movement. The conditions that brought about the cadre model have not disappeared and are not unsuitable for American conditions. They are more than suitable. Without the cadre, there is no discipline or organization.

The party needs a new press, one that understands Marxism-Leninism, and the party needs the cadres, not the “mass party.” Build the cadres, build the vanguard party! This is the only way for our party. Let us become a fortress of Marxism-Leninism and not a tea party of social democracy.



    Kevah is a club officer in Austin, TX

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