Clubs, Collectivity, and Party Educational Work

August 6, 2002

Clubs, Collectivity, and Party Educational Work

Report to National Committee / Conference on Clubs, CPUSA June 30, 2002 by by Dee Myles, National Education Commission Chair

This weekend has been dedicated to examining the role of the club in building both the membership and the influence of the Party and in helping to advance the ability of the Party to fulfill its historic mission. This report will discuss educational work in the context of the club from the standpoint of the club as the basic collective of the Party.

Is a club simply a grouping of individuals who appear to work together or must a club be seen as the fundamental collective of the Party. If a club must be seen as the fundamental collective of the Party, then what is the difference between a grouping of individuals who appear to work together and a collective.

The problem of understanding collectives, how they come into being, how they grow and mature, and how they can become THE regenerative source of revolutionary vitality, consciousness, and conscious revolutionary action, is the crux of the issue at hand. If the club is a collective then the question becomes how do we consciously understand the processes involved in bringing collectives into being and consciously creating the conditions for those collectives to grow and mature. What stands in the way and how does educational work fit into this mix?

Sometimes one can approach knowing a thing by looking at its opposite. Collectives stand in opposition to individuals doing their own thing and collectivity stands in opposition to individualism; in fact, if individualism holds dominance then mature collectives will not come into being and can not exist. The embryonic collective which is brought into being but becomes dominated by individualism will at best exist simply as a grouping of people who appear to work together but who can not develop their collective beyond the elementary stage; hence, it does not in full essence realize itself as a collective and because of that, it cannot fully realize its reason for being. In the worse case scenario, individualism will turn embryonic collectives into agencies of individual self-aggrandizement. These collectives are deformed as a result of being dominated by individualism and being forced to become one of the avenues through which individual self-aggrandizement becomes realized.

Why does this problem occur; to what is it related? In the most fundamental sense, this problem is a product of the two different basic cultures, which exist in our society: the culture of the working class and the culture of capitalism. And, in the most fundamental sense, this problem is not just a feature of the class struggle. For us, it is one of the major features of the class struggle as it relates to the development of our clubs and other bodies. Individualism emanates from the dominant capitalist culture in our society. What must become clear is that we as the working class, as a result of the material reality of our existence, have a weapon to combat individualism, but it is only fully effective when it is employed consciously. That weapon which must be employed consciously against individualism is working class collectivity. One might say that we know all there is to know about collectivity. The point now is to wage a collective struggle to understand collectivity. We need to go beyond just knowing.

Comrades should be fully recognized for their contributions to every aspect of our work. A mature collective understands that it has a reason for being and a job to perform. The individuals assigned to the collective will either enable that collective to realize itself or they will distort its development by enforcing the dominance of individualism. The decisive element is conscious struggle to achieve the task at hand. To advance the effort of building and strengthening our clubs, the national and district leaderships should engage in the effort to bring consciousness to the process of creating conditions for collectives to grow and mature and collectivity to win over individualism.

In the worse case scenario, embryonic collectives that are deformed by the dominance of individualism become training grounds in which the most base forms of racist chauvinism, rank male supremacy, deplorable homophobic innuendo, and other thoroughly anti-working class ideological orientations, behaviors, and organized actions become a tolerated part of the atmosphere. In collectives dominated by individualism new recruits to our Party are constantly exposed to an anti-working class essence, and our clubs never develop the environment in which working class people can grow and flourish. The anti-working class essence can be covert or subtlely overt as well. The worse case scenario is where individualism dominates and even the district organizer is a proponent. In the worse case scenario, even the concept of collectivity becomes distorted.

The only weapon, which can combat individualism, is conscious working class collectivity. What we are fighting for is to realize the conditions in our clubs, which are necessary for the growth and development of communists on a massive level and the growth and development of mature collectives. I am not arguing that the worse case scenario is widespread in our Party; I am arguing that the absence of conscious attention to the development of collectives is widespread. A part of our educational work has to be the struggle to understand what is really meant by collectivity and the need for us to struggle to bring it into being in a mature form.

For most of us it is not a situation of dealing with the worse case scenario; it is a situation of coming to understand consciously how to promote the development of mature collectives as opposed to the existence of groupings based on the influence of individualism. In its essence, the battle to realize collectives and defeat individualism will determine how well we bring into being the real purpose of educational work for the clubs of our Party.

In the context of a club collective, educational work can serve many useful and healthy purposes. At the same time, if not consciously combated, educational work can contribute to the perpetuation and the promotion of individualism. Educational work in the Party is not an academic exercise. Club educational work has the purpose of strengthening the allegiance of comrades to the historical mission of our Party, our national working class, and the working class internationally. To accomplish that in the context of building the basic collective and waging the constant struggle to elevate our understanding of the power of our concept of the collective and collective action in the interest of the working class is the task at hand.

When we approach educational work consciously, we realize there is a difference between coming to know and coming to understand. As communists, we have the task of not only linking theory and practice but coming to understand scientifically how through the linking of theory and practice we have the goal of bringing something new into existence such that it can achieve dominance. The new which we are charged with the responsibility of bringing into being ranges from trained conscious communists, to the united force which can defend and advance democracy in our country and defeat the assault of the ultra-right, to the system of socialism.

Our task requires that we are in touch with the difference between knowing and understanding. We will run across many who know everything but understand very little. In our educational work, we have to consciously create an environment where our club members not only have the opportunity to know of phenomena, but more important to understand phenomena and processes and their interconnection.

I guess it’s sort of like the difference between knowing facts and understanding processes. It’s like the difference between promoting individual self-aggrandizement versus the aggrandizement of the collective and the socialist project.

Our educational work should be geared toward equipping club members to understand the role of our working class, the role of our Party, and the relationship, the interconnection, between the immediate and long-term tasks, which the Party, as the advanced contingent of our working class, faces.

The goal of our educational work is to equip club members with an understanding of the interconnection between our working class locally, nationally, and internationally. The goal of our educational work is to build the confidence of club members in the irrefutable ability of our working class and our Party based on our science to fulfill each of their historic missions.

The goal of our educational work is to instill in club members pride in and allegiance to the real interests of our working class at home and abroad.

The interrelationship of advancing collectivity over individualism and building mature collectives to the real goal of our educational work is organic. A mature collective is like a higher formed organism, which has a power that becomes a material force, and educational work is the food on which it can grow stronger and become even more powerful and its force potent enough to succeed. Educational work is one of the decisive tools to help our collectives and individuals in our collectives grow and mature.

The National Education Commission would like to call your attention to the Club Guide for Educational Work. It is a collective document, but it can be significantly strengthened in future editions with your input. Please feel obligated to submit your assessment of this document to us so that we can use your experience to make the document more useful in the future.

Lastly, we want to raise the issue of the National School which will be held here in New York August 24 through 31st. Every district should have received a letter and an email and most districts may have already gotten phone calls. Please submit the names of people from your district who can come and participate as soon as possible. We strongly urge that all name be submitted within the next two weeks, by July 14th. The National School is going to be a great experience and you do not want members of your districts to miss this opportunity.

May the force be with us. Thank you.


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