The international communist movement must struggle against opportunism

BY:Luke Rotello| May 10, 2024
The international communist movement must struggle against opportunism


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

Communists are seldom born yet often made. In our condition of an emergent but embryonic mass proletarian culture, those who become communists find their way to the movement from many walks of life. Whether in defense of Black lives, transgender rights, labor struggle, the peace movement or myriad other modes of social politics, we have come to the table with a common analysis – an extraordinary feat in itself! My path began with a curiosity about political geography that continues to guide me to this day. From this standpoint and my time in the party I find it important to speak on our fraternal relations.

As the Communist Party USA, we hail from the historical alignment of the official Communist tendency. We uphold the organizational tradition of the Third International, inaugurated in 1919 in response to the social-chauvinist deviations of figures in the Second International. In all its triumphs and mistakes, our party reflects the legacy of the Comintern, the global pole of alignment led by the Soviet Union until 1943. The dissolution of the Comintern, provisions of the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany and a series of formative postwar events for Communist parties around the world led to ever-greater organizational autonomy, hastened further by the death of Stalin and Soviet invasion of Hungary.

It verges on injustice to abridge these world-historic events as such, but a basic reference to them is essential to the understanding of our party’s fraternal organizations. These parties are by no means identical in outlook — in some cases even competing against one another in domestic conditions but either share an historic lineage or have developed into democratic centralist formations with a Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy. Indeed, we are still united through the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties (IMCWP), first convened by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in 1998 as a reprise of previous international meetings hosted decades prior in the Soviet Union.

What does the reformation of this alignment mean for us? In a sense, we have become collectively unmoored. Each party has been left to engage with its terrain through the organic social thought of the working class constituted within its national borders. The range of strategies, ideological conceits and cultural outputs of our fraternal parties – already highly variable after the liquidation of the Comintern – has expanded even further, producing both a unique set of contradictions in the global movement and an enormous trove of empirical data from which to develop our own approach.

It bears emphasizing that the consequences of these contradictions have been significant. A set of parties within our tendency have at times sought to meddle in our politics, and our party is not alone in this experience. The splinter tendencies fomented out of this ideological hubris are as unprincipled as the impulse that instigated them – we can neither reserve criticism nor foster internal disunity in good faith. In turn, outside actors have seized on these events in an attempt to realign the splinter elements and others in the IMCWP toward campist and chauvinistic error, worthy of criticism in its own right.

All the same, our faith in our comrades cannot but remain unshakeable. This is not a matter of organizational antiquity, but a living, breathing commitment to the internationalist ethos of workers’ liberation. That which brings us from across the world to the same table every year should also serve as an invaluable point of reference as we develop slogans, tactics and strategies on the path to dismantling the U.S. empire. And here, too, we must work toward unity.

Moreover, our shared organizing tradition means that we do not pick and choose our comrades from the parties and international alignments that on the surface appear most “successful” or “radical.” With the entire weight of our history, we must resist the various trends of opportunism and chauvinism – often emboldened by the image politics of social media – as they attempt to splinter us from our commitment to global working-class liberation. These tendencies and their origins are too numerous to list here, but most relevant to domestic conditions are the organizations of a radical veneer which act as vessels for factional politics of the bourgeoisie. Well-funded and often bombastic in rhetoric and presentation, these formations have seized on the organizational anarchy of the post-Soviet condition, recruiting from components of the working class to carry out a charade of internal democracy while condemning many bright organizers to burnout and despair, if not worse.

It is urgent that we develop a critical eye for the structure and function of these organizations, especially with respect to their funding. No matter how many signs they print, revolutionary slogans cannot substitute for revolutionary strategy, and our political current grows from the historic clarity of vision of what proletarian politics is and is not. Let us remember our footing: the communist movement must be powered by the labor struggle, our resources won through tangible steps in the liberation of working people in all spheres of life, from the shop floor to the neighborhood to the streets. We will be there for the comrades who find themselves misaligned, but should make no effort to cozy up with organizations constructed by other means, whether in the domestic or global sphere.

To this end, we must redouble our efforts of mass theoretical, historical and political education. Our party’s history, international alignment and distinct ideological grounding are neither widely nor evenly understood, even internally, and we should develop resources at all organizational levels to remedy this. Moreover, we should look to our fraternal comrades – from the mass parties in full bloom and those facing the most dire repression – to continue the creative development of our scientific tradition. Only through the assertion of our strategic orientation, honest engagement with error and steadfast defense of the international communist movement can we build the mass party that we must become. Onward!




    Luke Rotello hails from Northampton, MA and is a member of the Western Massachusetts Club, CPUSA.

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