Convention Discussion: The Way Forward

BY: Bernard Sampson| April 8, 2014

Submitted by Bernard Sampson, Houtston, TX

Comrades, I’d like to talk about the growth of the Houston club in the last year and a half , and the reason for that growth. Our new club was born out of a factional struggle against the leadership in the direction the party was going. The new club was formed not because of ideological differences but because of actual factional activity. I believe that our party has room for different points of view, both from the left and from the right. I believe that this is what helps keep us on a revolutionary Marxist path.  This combination has helped our club grow from six members to 42 members as it stands today. Our club has not only grown to this size in a year and a half, but has increased its influence among the civil rights and working-class organizations that exist in Houston today. As club chair of the new club in the last year and a half I tried to steer our club in a nonsectarian manner by trying to build the largest and widest coalition possible against the extreme right in the city.

Our club struggles in three main areas, the ideological, the political, and the economic. First I’d like to talk about the ideological struggle. We have a socialist reading group that’s been meeting for several years on every Tuesday night and has a membership of 60. We spread the information about the class both by word of mouth and by meet up .The study group has helped educate our own members and others outside the party. The weekly meetings are attended by anywhere from eight to up to 23 people. Some of the classes are on current events with a Marxist analysis, and some are on theoretical propositions. This study group has led toward recruitment in the club and helped us to build broader coalitions among the members that show up there, and other organizations.

Next the political struggle here in Houston. We worked in the Sylvia Garcia campaign for state rep in which she won. Where now raising $4000 to attempt to run one of her own candidates in the next elections. We sent one of our members to a special political school for running campaigns, we hope this type of professional training will help us in the future and we plan to send more comrades to further classes. We are a political party and so there’s no doubt that running candidates and being involved in the actual political struggle is the most important area that we can be involved in.

Last but not least is the economic struggle. The city of Houston has around 83,000 millionaires the top 14 richest people in Houston are worth over $47 billion.  Over 25% of all children in Harris County go to bed hungry every night. There over 10,000 homeless people in the streets any one day. Many of the streets of Houston are named after some of these relatives of these families that control the city. Back in the 1870s they had an armed militia of over 200 men who are used to break strikes. Many of these families were involved in the KKK and Jim Crow and anti union actives. The Communist club in Houston back in the 1930s fought to bring the new deal to Texas against the racist and antiunion leaders of this city. The Houston Communist Party back in the 1930s was a headquarters for the entire Communist Party of Texas. We ran candidates for governor or lieutenant governor city Council etc. Here in Houston we organized the Longshoremen’s union and organized the CIO at Hughes Tools. Our club has been involved in the Maximus coffee strike from the day it started until the day it ended, our club was involved in the janitor strike in which victory was won. We are involved the struggle against wage theft. We work closely with the AFL-CIO and fighting for a living wage and in helping to organize low-wage workers across Harris County. We have a very close working relationship with Working America and with the Texas Organizing Project. Some of our members are actually organizing members into unions. Outside of this we are involved in the civil rights struggles, both in the immigration struggle, and against police brutality and voter suppression. These are some but not all of the areas of struggle our club were involved in.  We had a large contingent in the recent Martin Luther King demonstration and last May Day we had over 45 people march with us in which we carried a red banner and an American flag. In both marches we carried the Communist Party of Houston banner and people before profit banner.  

Our club meets once a month, the last Sunday of every month. Our meetings start at a convenient time, and we try never to allow them to go over an hour and a half. We don’t meet at restaurants because some comrades don’t feel easy talking about things in public, plus we have diversions by the waiters and by the music that usually exist in the restaurants. We treat all of our comrades as equals with concern and as friends. We celebrate their birthdays at the club meetings. We try to make the club not just a meeting of communists but a community of people in struggle that care for each other. When we have differences we never make these differences personal. We respect other comrades points of view and understand that they’re only trying to get to the truth just as we are. We understand for various reasons not all comrades are as active as others. We are careful never to put people on the spot in public in front of other comrades. We are tolerant of our members personal lives and imperfections and understand that these are results of the system we live under and that they are victims of a  inhumane system. Our club has a library with over 600 books, which we loan out free. Our club also has a public website, twitter, and Facebook. The main goal of our club is to build a broad coalition of labor and civil rights groups here in Houston Texas.

We feel what puts us apart from other left and independent organizations is Marxist theory, it’s what Gus Hall called the Communist plus. We don’t believe in being arrogant, we think communist should be humble, and leadership should be won by example and hard struggle. We’ve learned a lot from our experiences in the old club in which the meetings were turned internal and comrades fought each other over ideological differences. This struggle substituted itself for the real struggle against the main enemy. I believe this is always been the main characteristic of ultra left organizations. So we have a club that reaches outward and not inward. We have a club that realizes the main enemies against our goals are not in the club but outside the club. We hope this year to have over 70 members and perhaps build a second club hearing Harris County. But this can only be done by staying on the path that we started a year and a half ago. I believe that by following these basic and simple rules any club anywhere in the United States can grow at the same rate our club has grown. We have a big job to do in the most powerful imperialist country in the world. Our task, the setting up one day of a more humane socialist system in this country can only be achieved by building the Communist Party to the size that’s necessary for this task. Every comrade in our party, wherever they go should look at the people around them and realize that every one of these folks should be in the Communist Party. And if you think not, then there is something wrong with the way you think.

We must become a mass party, and this means recruiting millions, not thousands. It means having influence, and building a coalition of many millions in this country. This can only be achieved by opening our party ranks to all around us who want to change this country into a better place and continue the democratic struggles that the workers and farmers started when they first formed this country through revolutionary struggle. Sectarianism, ultra-leftism, and arrogance will only keep our party small and isolated from the masses. Our party and our clubs need to adapt to the new conditions of the 21st-century, not stay in the past. I think our party is at a turning point very similar to what happened in the early 1930s. Our parties ideology should be based on Marxism, and different varying forms of struggle should be used  to defeat the ultra-right, and to eventually achieve state power for the working class of this country. I hope that we leave this convention in June with new ideas, new tactics, and a militant revolutionary Marxist party united with a single purpose.

The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

For details about the convention, visit the Convention homepage
To contribute to the discussion, visit the Convention Discussion webpage

30th National Convention, Communist Party USA
Chicago | June 13-15, 2014


Related Party Voices 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