NYT: Workers of the World, Please See Our Web Site

BY:New York Times| May 24, 2011

To read the full article go to New York Times here.

Excerpts below:

You can still be a card-carrying Communist in New York, but these days committed Communists usually register online. “We actually have a card, but we don’t make a big deal of it,” said Sam Webb, the national chairman of the Communist Party U.S.A.

The Socialist Party U.S.A. does distribute red cards to members willing to “subscribe to the principles” of the party, but another leftist group, the Democratic Socialists of America, prefers online registration, with members using a virtual shopping cart to pay yearly dues of about $60 by credit card – Marx be damned.


The Communists even own the means of production – they lease out their eight-story building on West 23rd Street to other left-wing organizations. The party has the most decorous space, having redesigned its office with glass walls and tall windows.

“We’re not up to some nefarious business we have to hide from the American government,” said Libero Della Piana, 38, the party’s communications director.

Physical space matters less these days than virtual space. All three groups have lively Web sites that flaunt their philosophies and histories. Mr. Della Piana, the child of an Italian anarchist, boasts that the Communists’ news site has 25,000 unique visitors a week; before it stopped publishing in the late 1960s, its newspaper, The Daily Worker, was read by just 5,000 subscribers. In 2010, he said, 700 prospective members applied through the Web site.



Mr. Webb, who joined the Communists in the 1970s, likes to emphasize the party’s rich history, including the fight against McCarthyism and the volunteers who helped the Spanish Republicans battle the Fascists, rather than more unpleasant episodes like the case of the American Communist Julius Rosenberg, who spied for the Soviet Union.

Mr. Della Piana says the Soviet Union’s dissolution freed the party to be more ideological because “no one could ever say again we were puppets.”

“We have a whole generation of young people attracted to the idea of communism without the baggage of the cold war,” he said.


None of the parties view their existence as futile – immersing themselves in everyday local battles, they believe, will spread their influence.

“Socialism won’t come to this country until tens of millions decide capitalism doesn’t work for them,” Mr. Webb said. “If you’re a revolutionary, if you’re a socialist, you have to have patience.”




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