Program Committee Report

 
September 21, 2001

Report to the National Committee

The members of the Program Committee are Joelle Fishman (chair),
Pat Barile, Richard Castro, Libero DellaPiana, George Edwards, Rick Nagin,
Carolyn Rummel, Joe Sims, Walt Tillow, Jim Wilkerson, and Bobbie Wood.


The committee
has held four meetings after receiving and reading the last existing
program, which was published in 1981.


We propose
making a preliminary report to the National Convention calling for the
drafting of a new program. We propose that the draft be presented to the
first meeting of the newly elected National Committee, and that the
Convention charge the National Committee with launching a Party-wide
discussion. This will allow the draft to reflect the direction determined
by the convention, and will provide adequate time for full input and
involvement within the Party and beyond the Party with our
allies.


Tonight’s
report to the National Committee reflects our discussions to date in
committee, with input from the National Board, and includes the why of the
program, the direction of the draft outline we have developed, and points
of difference.


I. Why a
Program


The Labor
Department, the Economics Commission and some other commissions are
developing specific programs to their area of work, focused on the
immediate challenges. The task of the Program Committee is somewhat
different. The Party Program is not a legislative program or an immediate
projection for what we’re doing this year. It is a longer range document,
and should be more of an overview – addressing the stage of struggle at
present, yet linked to more advanced stages including Bill of Rights
socialism.


As a
workingclass Party and a revolutionary Party, it is incumbent upon us to
place clearly and simply what we stand for; to put forward our strategy
and tactics for changing the balance of forces; and to present our
long-term vision. The program guides our work, and those who agree with it
should join the Communist Party. Historically, developing a program has
played a defining role in the work of Communist Parties.


The Communist
Manifesto, our movement’s first program which has echoed down through the
decades, explained capitalism; the working-class and class struggle; and
the Communist Party and socialism. While some portions were specific to
the time, overall it projected a long view of how to win a better world.
Moreover it was a powerful call to action.


We face many
complicated social, political and theoretical questions today, which our
program must address.



Our
program must clearly place the danger from the theft of the presidency and
extreme right-wing corporate control of all three branches of the federal
government, at a time of economic downturn. All basic democratic rights,
social and political rights, the environment and peace are threatened. The
need for ever broader and deeper unity to end this extreme right-wing
corporate dominance is the central feature of this moment.


Our program
must reflect the sharpening crisis of capitalism and imperialism with all
that means for the lives of working class people. It must reflect the new
level of struggle and fightback by labor and allies, including the
formation of powerful new coalitions in our country and internationally.


The brutality
of the capitalist system and its refusal to meet the basic needs of people
despite increased wealth is more and more blatant. Capitalist
globalization and the use of new trade agreements that supercede national
and local governments are escalating the wealth gap and impoverishing many
millions.


In response,
the struggle for labor rights, for civil rights and human rights is
emerging on a new level. The labor movement is injecting a class approach
into these struggles by reaching out to workers previously unorganized and
is joining with allies among youth, women, the African American and Latino
people’s organizations, environmentalists, and the faith-based
community.


We are
writing our program at a time when qualitative changes are on the horizon.
There is a growing disillusionment and anger with capitalism among many
sections of the people. The assault on the working class across national
boundaries is giving rise to new forms and possibilities for international
working class unity.


Our program
should spell out the necessity for advanced democratic reforms, and should
reflect the need to go further with an anti-monopoly strategy and program.
It should point the way to socialism in our country.


In short, our
program should be a ringing condemnation of the existing order, a
confident exposition of the prospects for a bright future and a clarion
call to unity in action. It should inspire working class people and allies
to join and work with the Communist Party. It should explain who we are,
why we are here, and how we see ending exploitation and achieving
equality.


Such a
program – short, popular and basic – will be a significant tool to unify
thinking and action within our Party. At the same time, it should be a
piece that can be used in every aspect of our work from the grass roots,
to the coalition and leadership level. It should provide a framework for
our day-to-day development of strategy and tactics. It should be a popular
pamphlet that we use in the midst of every battle, on People’s Weekly
World routes and plant gate distributions, at Communist Party tables in
neighborhoods and conferences, that we can bring to meetings with union
leaders and elected officials, and that we can use in our classes and
schools.



We need a
concise program that issues a clear call for basic change in our country,
which projects how to get to Bill of Rights socialism, and how we
Communists see our role. In his report to the National Board on January 6,
Sam Webb placed the importance of a bigger and more influential Communist
Party. Our program should be a recruiting tool that states our
contribution toward building unity in action; toward broadening and
deepening coalitions against corporate greed and the extreme right wing;
and toward expanding political independence and electing working class
leaders to public office at every level.


We should
draw upon the basic elements of ‘The People versus Corporate Power’ our
Party’s program that was published twenty years ago in 1981. At the same
time, much has changed in the world in the past two decades. It was issued
at a time when, for example:


– Existing
socialism encompassed a large section of the world.


– Imperialist
globalization had not come into its own, and the extreme right had not yet
consolidated its control of government.


– The labor
movement was not as advanced in the areas of, for example, class struggle
concepts, organizing the unorganized and coalition building.


– The
building of multi-racial unity was not as advanced, especially
black-brown-white unity, unity with immigrant workers and coalition
building in general.


– The number
of labor, African American, Mexican American, Latino, Asian and women
elected officials was much smaller


– Our
concepts of projecting Bill of Rights socialism were not as
developed.


For these
reasons, the committee, with one dissenting vote, decided to begin its
work with a completely fresh draft. Although we are drafting a new
program, we are not, and should not, start from scratch. We have as a
guide the recent reports and decisions of the National Committee and
National Board, the existing Program, and, most importantly, the
deliberations of our upcoming National Convention


We have
started by creating an outline. We are now choosing writing assignments to
develop each section of the outline, and to hold a discussion on each
section. When we have developed the content, we will put together a
unified document with a consistent style. Once we have something in
writing, it will be possible to engage the entire Party in a full
discussion, which will be incorporated into the final draft. That process
will take more time than the weeks remaining until our national
convention. I believe the discussions organized in many states around the
Labor Program provide a model for discussion of the draft Party
program.


Our plan is
to continue working up until the convention, make a preliminary report to
the convention, and, if the convention agrees, we will continue our work.
Hopefully the committee can produce something in hand by the time of the
first meeting of the newly elected National Committee.



II.
Direction of the Outline


While we have
developed a working outline, it is just that – a working outline. I am
simply going to indicate the main topics to give a sense of the work we
are embarking upon, which includes an introduction and five sections. We
hope to prepare an article prior to the Convention that will develop more
fully the questions we think should be addressed in the
Program.


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Highlights of Working Outline


INTRODUCTION


1)
‘A Call to Action for unity to defeat extreme-right wing corporate
agenda’.
Our country at a crossroads. Extreme right-wing assault on
basic democratic, economic, social and environmental rights of working
class and people – moving to gut unions, civil rights, social security,
the rights of women, public education, separation of church and state.
Policies of globalization to maximize U.S. corporate profits and transfer
of government surplus revenues to the super-rich, readiness to resort to
war to stifle dissent, mobilize their base, divert attention form their
domestic assault and expand their imperialist domain. Destruction of
environment. Matter of survival for many. Growing alliances in the
struggle for labor rights, civil rights, and human rights. Key to stopping
assault and achieving new gains.


2) ‘Our
Vision’.
Good job with living wages, pension, health care, child care,
education, transportation, housing, equal access and opportunity, safe and
clean environment are all basic human rights. Communist Party committed to
educating, organizing, mobilizing and helping to build winning
labor-peoples’ coalition to defeat corporate right-wing control of
government. With new conditions for struggle, new possibilities toward
longer term goal of changing system to put people before profits, and
achieving socialism.


FIRST
SECTION


‘It’s
the System’

1) Conditions working class people face under
capitalism today.
(Describe nature of
capitalist crisis today). Downsizing, part-time/temp/casual jobs, union
busting. Destruction of social safety net and entitlements. Privatization
of public sector. Insecurity for most and impoverishment for many.
Criminalization and incarceration of youth. Loss of family
farms.


2)
Capitalist Globalization.
Drive for profits. Exploitation of the
environment. Thrust to engulf the world. Military actions to defend
transnationals. How it impacts: wealth gap pits richest few against
everyone else.


3)
Political economy.
Source of profits. Where wealth comes from.
Expropriation of wealth by capitalists. Extra profits from racism and from
discrimination against women.


4) How
capitalism gives rise to the class struggle.
Workers have special
role, because they confront monopoly directly at the point of production.
Who is working class (multi-racial, multi-national, male-female, immigrant
and native born, young and old, employed and unemployed, factory, farm,
school, office)? Class struggle in all aspects of life.


SECOND
SECTION


‘Unity
Can Win’


1) Key
role of labor movement.
Organizing the
unorganized, unity within working class and building coalition with
community. Unity of labor and allies. Moves whole society forward. Key
force to defeat extreme right wing and build strong enough and broad
enough unity to win new gains. At the heart of fight against capitalist
globalization, along with students, peace, environment etc. The
re-emergence of organized labor in this critical role since 1995 is the
most significant development in U.S. politics. At heart of anti-monopoly
coalition.


2)
Multi-racial, multi-national working class unity.
Struggle against
racism, and discrimination against women, key to social progress. Historic
use of racism in this country to split and divide. Special measures needed
to overcome historic inequality, and to protect immigrant workers rights.
Black-brown-white unity and male-female unity against discrimination wins
gains for everyone, i.e., jobs, housing, health care, education, old age
protection.


3)
International working-class unity against capitalist globalization and for
peace.
More necessary for workers in all countries to join together to
fight exploitation of transnational corporations. Growth of new
international working class organizations, confederations, trade groups
are a vital part of this struggle. When struggle for markets takes place,
wars for profits, expansion, economic, political, social domination by one
imperialism over another. Our responsibility to build movement against
U.S. imperialism and for peace and nuclear disarmament.


4)
Anti-monopoly unity.
Very broad. Should be inclusive of all workers,
middle class who are oppressed by monopoly and small employers, who are
crushed by the monopoly corporations. Anyone who is impacted by monopoly
practices should and will become part of coalition. Includes every strata
of society except monopolies and ultra-right.


THIRD
SECTION


‘People’s Politics’


1)
Struggle to defeat the extreme right wing is urgent, immediate goal.
Requires broadest possible coalitions of labor and allies on
issues, e.g., health care, public education, social security, energy
crisis, jobs, safety net, environment, peace etc. Electoral unity to
defeat Republican control of all branches of federal government. All-sided
struggle: on the job, in the community, in the legislature, in elections
(economic, social, political) to defeat extreme right wing.

2)
Struggle for democracy.
One person one vote, every vote counted, and
open up electoral system. Right to organize union, etc. Repressive society
makes it more difficult to develop anti-monopoly movement. Presidential
election blocked whole democratic process.


3)
Political independence.
Unity to block extreme-right candidates. Labor
and people’s and Communist candidates at local levels, independent of
corporate control. Goal of anti-monopoly people’s party and majority
anti-monopoly government. Labor in fore with African American, Latino,
women, rural, environmental, peace and all those affected by monopolies. A
process, e.g., Working Families Party in New York, other forms in
different states and regions. Requires strong grass roots to resist attack
by ultra-right and corporate monopolies. More advanced demands e.g.,
public ownership of utilities, etc.


FOURTH
SECTION


‘Of, By
and For the People’


The source
of all the main problems today is the capitalist system itself and no
amount of reforms will secure the rights of the people so long as the
means of production and disposition of the wealth are in private hands.
The labor-led people’s coalition must fully replace the corporations as
the dominant power in our country.


Bill of
Rights Socialism USA. A working class vision. What our country could be
like if working people in charge, and resources are for general good
instead of private profit. Equality. Respect and cooperation with other
lands. Guaranteed living wage job, health care, housing, transportation,
child care, education, vacation, pension, democratic rights. Children’s
needs a priority.


Based on
the democratic, social and economic gains the American people have won in
over 200 years of class struggle and on our own unique history, culture
and traditions, flowing from the diverse contributions of the
multi-racial, multi-national U.S. working class and people, a society in
which the vast wealth of our great country will be used to meet the needs
of the people rather than to maximize profits for private
corporations.


FIFTH
SECTION


‘Join
Us’


Communist Party USA. Multi-racial
working-class party. Economic equality, racial equality, political
equality. Organize at the grass roots and work in coalition. Organize for
immediate needs and long-term goals in all aspects of life – culture,
politics, education, public ownership, etc. The Party with a science of
class struggle, the Party of action. Basic change. A better life. People
before Profits.



We are
ordinary people from all walks of life, immersed in the day to day fight
that our neighbors and co-workers find themselves forced to wage to defend
their living standards and rights. We have no interest apart from winning
these goals on an immediate basis and securing them for the long
run.


We are
guided by a social science, Marxism-Leninism, which summarizes the
experience and lessons of the age-old struggle between working people and
those who have exploited them throughout history as slaves, serfs or wage
laborers. That experience includes both triumphs and setbacks of the
working-class movement throughout the world and we stand in solidarity
with existing socialism and the fight of workers and progressive forces
everywhere to secure civil, democratic and trade union rights, peace and
socialism.

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III.
Points of Difference


Within our
committee some differences emerged in the process of putting the outline
together. On the one hand, a concern was expressed that we are abandoning
our anti-monopoly strategy by emphasizing the immediate need for broad
unity to defeat the extreme right-wing. On the other hand, the opinion was
expressed that we should recognize that the Democratic Party remains for
the present time the main vehicle in the electoral and legislative arena
to defeat the right wing.


The majority
of the committee agrees that the defeat of the right is an essential and
immediate component of our anti-monopoly strategy, that one is not posed
against the other; and that, in life, the anti-monopoly trend is emerging
in the midst of the class and democratic struggles. The majority of the
committee is of the opinion that our Program should outline what we mean
by labor and people’s political independence, emphasizing the class and
social forces necessary to register, mobilize and get-out-the-vote to
defeat the right wing.


We are
working on a consensus basis wherever possible, but when necessary, we
rely on majority vote. In any case, we will continue to share the nature
of our discussions and the process of developing the draft for a program
with the National Board, National Committee and National
Convention.

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