Changing times, social networking and enhancing the Party’s role

BY:John Bachtell| December 4, 2015
Changing times, social networking and enhancing the Party’s role


(Editor’s Note: Remarks to the CPUSA National Committee, November 14, 2015.)
I’d like to begin by reiterating the decisions of the May 30-31 National Board meeting and progress made to date. We are guided by the 26th National Convention and Nov. 2014 meeting of the National Committee to continue updating and modernizing our organization. This interconnects with our political priorities to help build and unite the growing labor, racial and social equality and climate justice movements and to defeat right wing extremism in the 2016 elections.

We are responding to rapid political changes and shifts in public opinion and the emergence of a new kind of people’s movement – one that is diverse, with many centers, organized around multiple issues and newest of all, socially networked.

Prioritizing our resources
The first National Board decision prioritized resources around and mass communications.

Modern mass communications and social networking are shaping how people interact, organize, gather information and develop their world outlook in new ways.

They are changing how people relate to politics, election campaigns, culture, movements and organizations. A dramatic illustration was anti-racist protests that exploded at Mizzou. Solidarity actions swept college campuses overnight.

Today’s politics is instantaneous, trending and around the clock. Through social media, individuals and organizations shape events, movements and opinion in real time.

Organizations not keeping pace with these revolutionary changes are threatened with extinction, including and CPUSA.

We are a tiny organization. The award winning is our most effective means to build relationships and alliances and broadly influence public opinion.

We share the rapidly changing world of mass communications with major progressive and left media sources expanding their platforms and new sites being launched.

The NB decision calls for creating a multimedia platform (print, podcasts, audio, video, memes) on par with the Nation, In These Times, Democracy Now, Jacobin and other progressive outlets. We are not speaking about creating any platform, but one providing news and analysis, advocating socialism and advanced democratic ideas, while also being a voice for activists and movements.

And what better moment for this turn than the middle of the 2016 elections and today’s titanic battle against the extreme right. The growing interest in progressive, left and socialist ideas, and the enthusiasm surrounding the Sanders campaign, underscores the possibilities to engage a far larger audience. is a unique voice of the broad people’s movements and Party. But current circulation is stagnant and relatively infinitesimal. Consequently our ideas, analysis, strategy and tactics are reaching a limited number of people.

The changes we envision provide the basis to radically expand the reach and engagement of and, including in ways more and more people consume information.

An up-to-date communications apparatus must be staffed by journalists with social media skills and politically deeper, more interesting, varied and relevant content.

It means rethinking our staffing model, reconfiguring job descriptions and new training to match rapid changes in communications. Our current full time staff must adapt for this project to succeed.

What we’ve done
We are not starting from scratch. We are building upon the award winning journalism and ties to the labor and people’s movements.

We have not stood pat since the May NB meeting. We hired a developer to redesign up-to-date, mobile and tablet friendly People’s World and CPUSA websites.

A personnel committee drafted job descriptions, publicized openings, conducted interviews and made recommendations. The new hires are already creating an exciting buzz around the office.

Discussions have begun to reconfigure the editorial board and staff to redefine their responsibilities.

Secondly, the National Board decided to merge the work of Political Affairs into and where appropriate,, and retire the PA website and current editorial board. The editor of Political Affairs, Ben Sears, will be added to editorial collective.

Expanding the number of in depth articles from a Marxist perspective will enhance the content of and

These decisions were discussed with the PA editorial board and while not everyone agreed, they are willing to see how the new setup works.

We need to work out the transition, coordination in the PW editorial board and establishing a new collective for the website.

Thirdly, the National Board agreed to reinvent our approach to youth and students. Given the current explosion of activity on the campuses this couldn’t have come at a better time.

It has been clear for some time building a separate youth organization (Young Communist League – YCL) wasn’t working. We do not have the leadership capacity to build a separate organization and website. We were putting an impossible burden on our young comrades.

Asking our young members to build the YCL separated them from the party organization, which they should be helping lead and change. District and club leaders did not build the YCL because it didn’t fit the realities they faced.

And the organizational form and methods of the YCL didn’t fit the new movements and social networking.

The NB agreed upon a campus focus, to create a forum or space to engage students within the Party and developing forms of collaboration with envisions itself becoming the voice of campus based movements by creating a network of student journalists and social media activists. Two energetic dynamic young organizer/social media activists have been hired to make it go.

Some argue we are liquidating the Party and youth work with this approach. In reality while the YCL was building important relations with national student organizations, groups existed in only a few places and a Facebook group page.

Others argue non-student youth in the community are being abandoned. But many young workers are students and movements incubated on campuses are overlapping with labor and community organizing. Nor is building party clubs or other appropriate forms precluded.

The proposal further calls for promoting youth into leadership of the and CPUSA where they can help transform all aspects of our image, action, communication, websites, education and culture to fully reflect our intergenerational character.

Although many youth agree with our politics, many also see the CPUSA as a relic. This proposal will facilitate our ability to engage with the many young people being drawn into activism.

Impact on Party
The mass communications revolution is already changing and will continue to change the Party organization, including in ways we cannot foresee.

Prioritizing resources around and raise questions about the feasibility of a staffing model whose primary responsibility is organizing Party districts, clubs and activities.

Mass communications are changing the way leadership of all organizations work and engage membership and the public. Party leaders, paid or volunteer, should be organizers, political analyzers, educators and mass communicators.

The work of all staff should be in sync with and mass communications. A majority of time should be devoted to giving voice to movements, struggles and activists, applying Marxist analysis, strategy and tactics to developments, while employing social media to influence public opinion and move people into action.

Discussions will take place with district organizers to reconfigure their work and offer the necessary skills training.

Prioritizing and mass communications are not diminishing the Party, but enhancing its role and leadership. If we don’t attract and influence people with our ideas while inspiring them to take action and initiative, what are we in business for?

Our members, activists and the left generally will be more effective organizers, activists and independent thinkers if they acquire a flexible Marxist approach to assess the class and social balance of forces and apply sound strategy and tactics.

Ideological work and mass communicating is organizing, going way beyond narrowly seeing as only an outreach tool. Nowhere was this more dramatically illustrated with the International Labor Communications Association (ILCA), of which John Wojcik is a vice president. played a vital organizing role bringing labor and civil rights movements and others together at ILCA’s annual conference while communicating their stories to a broader audience.

I confess I don’t fully understand the power of social media and the future of mass communications. But any organization that seeks relevance in today’s world is based on mass communications. If organizations don’t adapt to social media and social networking, they will not affect the future. So we could plod along for a few years until our money is exhausted. Or we can plunge much deeper into teeming waters.

Other aspects of our organization will be impacted. Commissions, working groups and collectives have to prioritize work around the They can also develop content, print, video, audio and memes, for publication and distribution through the social media. This will help deepen our analysis and build relationships.

Another way is to utilize the as a forum for engagement with other organizations and activists since it is both the voice of the Party and movements. Another is for commissions to hold discussions under the auspices of to allow for non-party participation.

For example, the Labor Commission holds monthly calls with labor activists. Why shouldn’t they be held under the auspices of

Or holding weekend think tanks on new problems and challenges facing the working class and movements, bringing together party and nonparty activists hosted by

Or hosting monthly book talks with progressive authors or workshops bringing together social media activists and journalists for training and networking.

The Jacobin has a full time staff person who does nothing but set up discussion groups. Why couldn’t we do that?

Or finding ways for our staff writers to become media personalities, guests on talk shows and interviews.

Everything should be geared toward engaging, reaching the rising generations and new activists and movements.

Revamping our websites will make it easier to engage our membership and networks of activists directly and instantly. They will become a 24/7 resource for the entire movement; allow greater online community building, Marxist political education and tools for action and fundraising.

The CPUSA is small and clubs invariably grapple with deepening ties to activists and movements. The provides a means to foster relations, influence developments, magnify voices and get us in the center of the action.

This struck me on my visit to Baltimore. Margaret Baldridge arranged a meeting with a leading young African American pastor organizing the protests over the police murder of Freddie Gray. And when asked how the Party was seen, he stated frankly, “We’ll you may be known to your circle, but you’re not on the map.”

That was sobering but it prompted us to discuss ways the tiny club could have a presence and connection. We concluded the best means was through the Since then the club has helped tell the story of the movement, given an alternative narrative of the role of youth, widely shared many articles and built many new relationships. They found a concrete way to help build the movement.

This and other experiences demonstrate why prioritizing resources for doesn’t lead to pitting ideological work against organizing, or mass sharing of our ideas against one-on-one organizing. They are one in the same.

Reality of our status: facing difficult challenges
I want to elaborate on the nature and role of the Party, the impact of the mass communications revolution and why I think the changes we are making are only a beginning.

My thinking is based on observations from travels and information gathered through surveys on the status of the party. New realities in the class struggle are also taken into account.

Nothing I will say changes my assessment to the May NB meeting. We are a small organization not being replenished with young activists from the emerging movements.

District and club structures are fragile and often function inconsistently. In most places the organization is held together by a handful of extremely dedicated comrades.

By and large, leadership and active membership, those attending events and making financial contributions, are based among the boomer generation.

Through no fault of their own this generation is somewhat removed from new rising movements and the younger generations.

We love the boomer generation; they are the heart and backbone of the Party. We wish everyone good health, but none of us can beat mother time. Without an influx of younger generations, including into leadership, we risk collapse of the party in most districts.

The is taking steps to address similar leadership challenges.

Our membership is small, and many haven’t yet developed a deep grasp of our politics. In most places we are a minor factor in political developments and grassroots movements.

Most of the approximately 700 people who join each year online, by far the majority who join, have little or no political experience. In fact, joining is their first political act for many.

We don’t have the leadership capacity or infrastructure to work with these new members. Only a fraction of new members who join online become consistently involved in the party.

In addition, many have serious misconceptions about the CPUSA. They are joining an organization that in fact no longer exists in reality, but a caricature rooted in the 20th century.

This is not to discount those wonderful new members joining who agree with our tactics, strategy and vision, and who are actively involved. But they are not the majority.

Nor does this discount the wonderful local accomplishments, mobilizations, campaigns, banquets and galas, educational events, study groups and classes.

Nor the online Marxist classes, summer school, ideological discussions and work of the functioning commissions, collectives and working groups.

Nor the work of the membership committee, the club and district leaders forum and the sharing of information and experiences.

We must come to grips with the real status of our organization and the shrinkage of our core membership over the years. I wish it were otherwise but this is the painful truth.

We don’t have many options to address these challenges. There are no easy answers. Prioritizing resources to the and mass communications is, in my opinion, not only the best option, but a great option too.

We have tried many strategies for growth. They make work fine in one or two places, but we lack the capacity to sustain door-to-door routes and drops, street recruitment and relying only on online joins. Putting a premium on incremental growth is not a viable path forward.

If done correctly, focusing on and mass communications will allow for wider engagement in the battle of ideas and attract a much broader set of people based on those ideas.

It will enable us to engage instantly with a far greater proportion of membership, create multiple forms of education and participation online and offline.

There is no guarantee large growth among activists will result, but I don’t think there is a better alternative.

Party of 21st century socialism: probing form and content

Over the past 15 years we have adopted many changes toward building a “party of 21st century socialism.” Time doesn’t permit me to list them, but they include updating our theory, politics, strategic policy, communication apparatus, culture and forms of organization.

Are these enough to guarantee we have a future? I think we have to go further.

First, we need to continue updating our politics and theory. Recent national board and national school discussions and what they reveal have struck me. Much of our leadership are not in tune with current developments and discussions including around #blacklivesmatter, new theories of race and racism, gender and transgender issues and the alt-labor movement.

Our younger members are more familiar with these discussions because they are connected to these movements.

Further, clearly the traditional model and structure of the party is not adequate for the times we live in. While people continue to join the Party online, the bulk of our membership doesn’t engage through existing offline structures. They are scattered across this vast country and many relate through newly created online forms.

Certainly we need to continue to build grassroots Party organizations, but they too must adapt to the times. And new forms need to be created to accommodate new ways people are engaging.

The ability to carry out our role may be inhibited by our structure and model. Does the current form fit the new sensibilities, culture and ways millions engage in struggle? Does it attract young activists?

I don’t think so.

First, let’s reiterate some essential features which comprise our nature and role, making us a unique organization. They include:

A Marxist philosophical outlook; non-dogmatic, creative, developing, embracing new reality and imbued with the deepest humanism and morality.

An organization rooted in the multiracial working class, including membership and leadership. One that sees the revolutionary potential of the working class if it gains revolutionary consciousness.

An organization that facilitates class and socialist consciousness.

One that sees the dialectics of class, race and gender. Understands the necessity of unity of our diverse, inclusive working class and people and the struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, etc.

That identifies stages of struggle and assesses political balance of class and social forces.

That understands the necessity to build alliances, including multi-class alliances at various stages of the struggle, and key forces that must be assembled at each stage for victory.

That sees exploiting splits in the ruling class to advance the struggle.

That embraces the entire US revolutionary democratic experience, including the labor, Civil Rights, women’s, LGTBQ, disability rights and environmental movements.

That unites theory and practice and is reality based.

That is active in every arena of struggle: economic, political, electoral and ideological.

Believes majorities make change and has a developed strategy and tactics to activate and unite majorities including through democratic electoral means and peaceful non-violence.

That assists in building mass movements, including a broad left and offers advanced ideas within the context of unfolding struggles.

Understands that workers of the world must unite to fight corporate globalization, save nature and humanity from the climate crisis, the threat of nuclear annihilation and war, and address poverty, inequality, resource allocation and development.

Has a developed vision of democratic, green and peaceful socialism, one rooted in our realities and revolutionary democratic experience.

Organizes its work around and speaks to millions through a mass communications apparatus. Adapts to the most modern forms of mass communications and methods of organizing.

Educates Marxist activists, and helps shape their thinking and fighting qualities.

Based on the organizational principle of democratic decision-making, election of leadership and the concept of majority rule.

These features are not exhaustive and we continue to develop our understanding of them. But taken as a whole they make us a unique organization.

This is the essential content of the organization. But what about its form? Shouldn’t the Party’s form be adaptable to and flow from changing circumstances, concrete realities and historical context?

Just like the form of poetry known as villanelle allows for greater creativity, what form of organization will enhance our role?

Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukacs summed up Lenin’s thinking. “All dogmatism in theory and all sclerosis in organization are disastrous for the party”.

The Party is an organism that must constantly adapt to its changing environment. It must fit the particular reality of the class struggle.

Life is constantly in motion. A new era of mass struggles and movements is shaping up, a new people’s movement is emerging, and a new left is struggling to be born. It is based on today’s realities and fueled by what’s happening in people’s daily lives and their fears for the future.

It comes in response to the climate crisis, globalization and capitalist crisis, massive concentration of wealth, austerity, racism and bigotry, right wing extremism and assault on democracy.

Social networking is also shaping thinking and action in profound ways. A local struggle can instantly go global.

As NY Times columnist Charles Blow wrote, “And yet much of it confounds and frustrates existing concepts of what movements should look like. Much does not fit neatly into the confines of conventional politics or the structures of traditional power.

“It’s often diffuse. It’s often organic and largely leaderless. It’s often about a primary event but also myriad secondary ones. It is, in a way, a social network approach to social justice, not so much captain-orchestrated as crowd-sourced, people sharing, following and liking their way to consensus and collective consciousness.”

The #Fightfor15, #BLM, Marriage Equality, Transgender and climate justice movements have shaped public opinion in profound ways. All organizations must adapt to this new world or perish. Organized labor, grassroots organizations and the Catholic Church among others, understand this and are radically changing.

The era of 20th century socialism dominated by the Soviet model, mass communist parties and national liberation movements from the 1920s-1980s, is past. Universal models, organizational forms, ideological systems and methods like armed struggle from that period, have been discarded. Old divisions and disputes between socialists and communists have dissipated.

New socialist movements are coming on the scene having learned the lessons of prior waves of 19th century utopian and 20th century socialism.

Socialist models and paths have proliferated. Communist parties in Cuba, Vietnam and South and Central America along with left forces are adopting policies fit their realities.

A new era is dawning for left and socialist oriented parties and movements including Syriza, Podemos, NDP and Morena. Bernie Sanders has tapped these sentiments.

Changes go well beyond international communist and socialist movements. Recently, the Democratic Party began renaming their Jefferson-Jackson dinners because both were slave owners and Jackson architect of Native American genocide.

As the New York Times wrote, “time-honored rituals are colliding with a modern Democratic Party more energized by a desire for racial and gender inclusion than reverence for history.”

Ironically they drew from Jefferson, who said, “‘as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.'”

That is sound advice.

And as Lenin wrote, ‘every new form of struggle which brings new perils and sacrifices inevitably “disorganizes” an organization ill prepared for the new form of struggle. It is the party’s task to pursue its necessary path openly and consciously – above all in relation to itself – so that it may transform itself before the danger of disorganization becomes acute, and by this transformation promote the transformation and advance of the masses.’

Life is constantly in motion and change. Organizations that resist change, new sensibilities, attitudes and culture, will inevitably face crisis. We should not fear change that enhances our role. We should be excited and empowered by it.

Then and now
If 20th century socialism is no more, what about the model and culture of a revolutionary party that dominated the 20th century?

Our model is rooted in the specific historic context of the Russian Revolution, the era of stormy revolution and world war that followed. Lenin argued against mechanically copying the Russian experience in “Left Wing Infantile Disorder.” The international communist movement called upon each party to follow its own nationally specific path. Yet form, structure, name, symbols and culture for most parties founded then are rooted in that experience.

Following the 7th World Congress of Communist Parties in 1935, our party adopted dramatic changes in policy, strategy and tactics including the united front strategy. We sought to “Americanize” the Party and developed our own path to socialism. These changes facilitated our ability to overcome sectarianism, play a broad and influential role and grow.

But the form and structure was similar to the predominant model and was based in workplaces and neighborhoods. The model determined how we thought of ourselves and related to the electoral arena.

I’ll return to this in a moment.

The CPUSA played a pioneering role in introducing Marxism into US politics, culture and academia particularly during the 1920s – 1940s. International Publishers published Marxist works when almost no one else would.

At its height, our Marxist outlook was dominant on the left. But that ended with the growth of multiple Marxist trends in the international movement, isolation due to McCarthyism and the collapse of socialism.

Today Marxism is broadly diffused into US society, politics and academia. It is characterized by a pluralism of currents, schools and individual proponents. We are an important one, but far from the only one.

The Russian party developed under far different realities than those we face today. Radical change naturally meant directly confronting and overthrowing the czarist state. But conditions under advanced capitalist society are entirely different. Italian communist leader Antonio Gramsci put it best,

“In the East, the state was everything; civil society was primordial and gelatinous. In the West, there existed a balanced relationship between the state and civil society, and in the trembling of the state; the strength of civil society was immediately evident. The state was only a forward trench, behind which there was sturdy succession of fortresses and madhouses.”

Today’s highly developed state apparatus is also an arena of class struggle. We envision the ability of the working class to “wrest by degrees” power and remake the state for the benefit of society before it eventually “withers away”.

We live and struggle in a society with an enormous working class comprising over 90% of the population.

A dense thicket of institutions and practices exist, known as civil society that interacts with state institutions.

This includes a developed democratic system albeit with serious limitations and universal franchise, over which a constant battle is waged to defend and expand it.

A universal public school system, thousands of universities, colleges and academic centers with millions of students, think tanks and a public library system.

Thousands of grassroots organizations beginning with organized labor.

A powerful concentrated corporate mass media contested by an independent media. A revolutionary and ubiquitous mass communications system including smartphone technology with unlimited information available instantly.

A developed cultural sphere: cinema, radio, television, literature, magazines, websites, music – to wit popular culture.

Ruling class ideological domination plays out through popular culture within civil society. In advanced capitalist society, the corporate class maintains its dominant status through consent. By buying into one or another ruling class ideological tenets, the majority of people consent to be governed and exploited by the corporate class.

The ruling class turns to force when its ideological grip fails.

But popular culture and civil society is also an arena of the class struggle, where millions of conversations and interactions occur that combat ruling class ideas and shape a consistent working class outlook.

Under such circumstances there is no room in Marxism for notions of determinism, inevitability or self-declared vanguards. Only struggle.

It’s about winning majority public opinion, class and socialist consciousness, through daily class struggle: economic and political action, education and moral persuasion. It’s understanding what forces must be united to advance to new stages of struggle.

The united front strategy is then a permanent part of politics, adaptable to every stage, i.e. anti-ultra right, anti-monopoly and socialist (and others that may be developed in the future).

Such revolutionary class-consciousness is a precondition for working class power and argues for a peaceful transition to socialism via a democratic path.

The Party’s role and leadership is realized in the daily struggle. It is what Gramsci referred to as permanent movement, not limited to moments of revolutionary crisis.

Its aim is to imbue the working class as a whole with a consistent class outlook. In that sense the party is an intellectual force, striving to win the hearts and minds of people.

The ability of the party to influence the entire class and people, to engage effectively in the battle of ideas is essential. This underscores the importance prioritizing the and mass communications.

More thinking on form and structure
The political realities of modern day capitalist society and in particular US political realities raise other questions about party form and structure, questions often debated often in the world movement.

Under the European parliamentary system, parties have their own trade unions, mass organizations and constituencies.

In the US it is commonly understood a political party’s main purpose is attaining power through electoral means. A party has a loosely organized constituency and runs candidates.

The key difference is we operate in a two-party system, which has become highly institutionalized. Historically, the dominant political parties have comprised coalitions of diverse forces.

Both the Republican and Democratic Parties have evolved as the class and social forces constituting them have changed. The introduction of the united front strategy in the 1930s brought the Party into the Roosevelt coalition and the Democratic Party.

Our electoral tactics continued to evolve locally in New York, Chicago and other cities and the Party was active in building the movement of Reform Clubs and independent movements within the Democratic Party.

It may be useful to examine the running of our presidential campaigns in 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984 and how we understood the united front strategy during that period.

Nevertheless, the election of Reagan in 1980 and with it the rise of the right danger caused us to re-examine our electoral tactics. What emerged was our anti-ultra right strategic policy.

It took into account the domination of the Democratic Party by corporate interests but also the complex and contradictory struggle being waged within the Democratic Party between those forces centered around Wall Street and those around the multi-racial labor movement and its democratic allies.

This policy guides our tactical approach to build a broad united independent people’s movement led by labor in and out of the Democratic Party, one capable of influencing candidates and the policies they espouse.

With the two-party, winner take all system, candidates cannot win without building broad electoral alliances whether Democratic, Republican, independent, or nonpartisan. Only in states that allow fusion politics do 3rd parties not serve to split the vote.

In most instances, including for communist, democratic socialist and left candidates, this takes place in the arena of the Democratic Party.

Could anyone envision the Sanders campaign having the same support outside the Democratic Party? Kshima Sawant’s victory for a seat in the Seattle City Council must be understood in the context of non-partisan elections and the coalition built around fight for $15.

It raises the question – in this context do we function as a “party” in the way most Americans understand it? DSA for example is not a political party. It is an organization working inside and outside the Democratic Party. Same for DFA, PDA, etc.

If the electoral laws were radically reformed allowing proportional representation then new circumstances would arise prompting a revision of our electoral tactics.

There is no set in stone model for organization and structure. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels referred to the communist “tendency” or “current” and said “communists do not form a separate party (tendency or current) opposed to the other working class parties.”

I’m not drawing any conclusions or making any proposals. My own views are evolving with new experience and deeper study. But these are questions need further probing.

As I acknowledged in my May report many of you have requested a discussion concerning our name and the impact of anti-communism on our work and ability to grow. I had hoped for that discussion already and it shouldn’t be postponed any longer.

Impact of social media on organization
I want to end with a few additional observations the impact the new emerging movements and social networking is having on organization and in particular the Party.

Besides allowing for instant communication and the extraordinary projection of our message, the social media eschews hierarchical structures, considers them undemocratic and outdated. Vertical one-way communication models have given way to engagement and transparency.

It promotes information sharing, collaboration, greater democratic input and an amplified voice by members.

In such a world, the role of theory and politics and convincing people takes on much greater importance. It calls for bolstering our education work, more effective and stimulating Marxist classes, discussion and resources for self-education.

The political and organizational culture we inherited and the years of political marginalization fostered some unhealthy internal dynamics. They’ve become more glaring in the new social media culture.

Many of those interested in joining the Party hesitate to do so because they perceive negative aspects in our culture.

While we have made a lot of headway in changing things, some negative aspects persist. They include:

Insufficient tolerance of differences. There is a tendency to view those with differences suspiciously and in need of correction.

People often fear saying what’s really on their minds, or the wrong thing or being misunderstood.

And worse where browbeating and intimidation or bullying takes place.

Hesitancy to engage with non-Party Marxist academics and tendency to dismiss their work.

While we certainly have much to be proud of, there is also a tendency to uncritically extoll our history and that of the international communist movement and socialist experiments.

Evolution of thinking is questioned.

Lack of interest in exploring theoretical questions and defensiveness toward controversial issues.

The tendency to quickly affix labels which shuts down discussion.

Either putting a rosy spin on everything or finding nothing positive in developments.

A tendency to draw lines and dig in.

We have to consciously work at changing our culture and atmosphere. As we all know, change is difficult. Most people naturally resist change. We are threatened by it, scared of the unknown. It’s part of human nature.

Perhaps the young members, shaped by a different experience, will help change the culture more than anything.

If we can draw one lesson from our history, let it be how our forbearers boldly embraced changes to the party’s strategy and tactics, style, methods and approaches in the 1930s and all that followed.

Perhaps it is too soon to conclude we are at such a turning point moment. But even if we aren’t, shouldn’t we embrace changes that facilitate and enhance our revolutionary role no less boldly? It may contribute to similar results – broad engagement with and growth of movements, including students, a more widely respected, and Marxist influenced discussions across the country on what socialism might be in our national context and how to get there.

By adopting changes that enhance our role, we can more effectively assist and help solve the challenges facing the new labor, climate justice and equality movements reshaping the political landscape.

So without further ado.




Related Articles

For democracy. For equality. For socialism. For a sustainable future and a world that puts people before profits. Join the Communist Party USA today.

Join Now

We are a political party of the working class, for the working class, with no corporate sponsors or billionaire backers. Join the generations of workers whose generosity and solidarity sustains the fight for justice.

Donate Now

CPUSA Mailbag

If you have any questions related to CPUSA, you can ask our experts
  • QHow does the CPUSA feel about the current American foreign...
  • AThanks for a great question, Conlan.  CPUSA stands for peace and international solidarity, and has a long history of involvement...
Read More
Ask a question
See all Answer