Our duty is to all people

Our duty is to all people


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

We beat back monopoly capital to the extent that we organize. There is no other way to win the fight for democracy — the fight for working-class independence. No doubt, this is why our main discussion document underscores the importance of maintaining a broad anti-fascist front. We grow this front by bringing people together — by building relationships with friends, neighbors, and other members of the community. Good organizing starts with conversation — at work, at school, at the dinner table. The working class has a lot to say, but many politicians don’t listen. The masses are hurting, but the capitalist state chooses not to respond. We need to be the ones who listen. We must be the ones who care.

When we talk to fellow Mainers, they cite housing and the costs of living as some of the most pressing challenges they face. Our neighbors are also concerned with worsening public health as city and town councils vote to push homeless encampments to the edges of their municipalities in the dead of -40°F winters to hide evidence of the opioid and housing crises. Likewise with Wabanaki peoples’ continuing struggle for sovereignty and the statewide struggle for a transition to green energy.

On that score, the Maine Labor Climate Council (MLCC), a coalition of a dozen labor unions, is leading the development of a working-class outline for tackling climate change through good union jobs and renewable energy. In the year since the MLCC requested our support and attendance at a press conference about an offshore wind energy bill, we have continued to grow closer to the coalition and its constituent unions by providing consistent political support. Seeking to expand the labor-climate coalition, MLCC organizers are pushing Maine politicians to involve the indigenous Wabanaki peoples in the green energy transition on their land.

The fight for democracy begins at the local level. Our State Party and YCL played a key role in the recent success of the Orono Voices for Democracy coalition enfranchising 20,000 residents in Orono municipal elections. At the state level, we organize to empower low-income Mainers with the Poor People’s Campaign. It is from this basis of broad community organizing that we are able to struggle for the interests of Mainers, whether it is the fight for public bathrooms, affordable housing, or enfranchisement in local elections.

Mainers also take the fight into their own hands through their unions to secure the safety and livelihoods of workers in the ever-corporatizing medical and paper industries, at the Postal Service, and at the University of Maine System. Members of our Party are involved in many unions and have been involved since the early stages of the UMaine Graduate Workers Union – UAW. In between hundreds of hours of exploring dank basements for graduate worker workspaces, a historic voluntary recognition as one of Maine’s largest unions, and ongoing contract negotiations, we have found ample opportunity for class education. In this effort, many of us learned how invariably important it is to talk to and strategize with our coworkers, neighbors, and friends about building solidarity and addressing the issues we hold in common, despite our differences. A union drive is a special opportunity to invite others to class consciousness, and the University of Maine System (UMS) has given us no shortage of material. In just the past year UMS has privatized food services, constructed an on-campus boutique hotel operated by a private firm under a 100-year lease, and quietly continued demolition of family housing while hiring consultants to study and privatize campus housing.
Organizing conversations such as these inform our assessment of the material conditions on which we struggle. Maine is one of the most rural states in the country. Accordingly, our analysis and approach to organizing may look a little different from that of our comrades in more urban areas. Fighting for democracy alongside our friends and coworkers has taught us the importance of engaging rural Americans and has taught us that rural engagement is absolutely essential if we are to build and maintain an anti-fascist front. In many cases, this involves hard conversations with conservatives, but these conversations can be rewarding. Our conservative neighbors are often equipped with a nascent form of class consciousness acquired through being exploited at the paper mills, the hospitals, and the grocery stores. Our duty is to help them develop this class consciousness by exposing them to media with a working-class perspective and providing them with greater opportunities for community and civic engagement.

Our priorities as Communists reflect the priorities of our neighbors, rural and urban. In this way, we’ve built legitimacy in our state. We’re not simply tolerated in the labor, climate, and housing struggles, we are actively encouraged by our community to take part. This leads to growth in Party membership and expands our organizing network. It has been encouraging to us to see this growth in areas that are considered hotbeds of reaction and conservatism. Minds and attitudes can change, but this takes honest conversation and earnest organizing. Mainers appreciate when we are honest about being Communists, which provides us the opportunity to demystify our political perspective. We are continuously heartened by our reception. Our responsibility as Communists is to all people, to listen to and organize them, because if we don’t, the capitalist ideologues will.



    Communist Party of Maine, CPUSA.

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