Response to “Build the Party, Build the Clubs”

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

The party’s 32nd convention occurs amidst a turning point in the United States: all corners of the country have witnessed rapid developments in the labor movement, a militant anti-war movement that shut down campuses across the country, thousands of new members joining the party, and the formation of clubs and Young Communist Leagues in areas where for decades none have existed. Despite these conditions providing an opportunity for the party to step in and lead the masses, our party lacked the foresight and the coordination necessary to meet this historical moment.

Why did the party fail to meet this moment? The answer lies squarely in our party’s rejection of the cadre model developed and refined by Lenin. In its place we adopted the mass party model. This model replaces the traditional focus on developing cadres to lead the masses, with a focus on developing influence over the masses by engaging in mass struggle. Valuing action over disciplined leadership has indeed led to the involvement of party members in nearly every mass movement across the nation, yet the party has been unable to use this position to lead any movement to success. Without a system in place to develop cadres, few members have been able to develop the skills necessary to lead the masses, and fewer still can push the masses past their spontaneous political consciousness. Further, clubs are frequently faced with the existential crisis of having no means to replace their current leadership.

While the development of cadres is taken as a serious issue for the party, Build the Party, Build the Clubs provides only two solutions. Firstly, a suggestion that party members interested in becoming cadres attend the annual Little Red Schoolhouse in New York. Secondly, a call upon clubs to develop their own educational program to develop members into studied Marxist-Leninists and skilled organizers. This offloading of responsibility to individual party members and the already stretched leadership of most clubs, seems to be a quite alienated response to the working-class base of the party. Most rank-and-file members, and even most in positions of leadership, lack the free time necessary to travel to New York or to develop a program to turn party members into cadres. What we need is a national program to spot and train cadres locally, regionally, and nationally. Only then can we develop the strength and unity necessary to lead the masses towards socialism.


    A Member of the May Day Club, Colorado.

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