The radicalization process and the Communist Party

 
BY:Joe Sims| April 19, 2017
The radicalization process and the Communist Party

 

The resistance movement to the Trump administration and its agenda is growing daily in breadth and depth.  Born in the spontaneous countrywide demonstrations in the immediate aftermath of the November 8 election it almost immediately encompassed broad sections of the people’s movement as women, workers, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ people took to the streets shouting #notmypresident! It has grown to include city and state governments, religious leaders, sections of business, and even elements among conservatives albeit for different reasons.

The Communist Party both before and after the election attached utmost importance to Trump’s defeat viewing it as central to preserving not only democracy but even the planet. The unprecedented actions and initiatives in Trump’s first month in office have demonstrated the accuracy of this estimate. There is no greater challenge to our party, people and planet than first blunting, then defeating Trump and the neo-fascist elements allied with his administration.

The anti-right fightback has brought into political life broad sections of the U.S. public.  Trade union, civil rights, environmental, LGBTQ organizations have gained new strength, members and finances. This is no less true for the left and the Communist Party. In less that 3 months the party has gained more members than in 3 quarters of a typical year.

Indeed a deep and thoroughgoing radicalization process is taking place; it is a revolt against exporting jobs, bailing out banks, racist police murder, raw racism, anti-Semitism, sexism and homophobia.  It is an objective process born in the capitalist drive for profits and the clash between the classes with the subprime crisis and its aftermath serving as the latest episode of capitalism’s cyclical boom and bust.

It is a worldwide process driven at lightening speed by the internet, social networks and social media giving rise to revolutions, counter revolts, and unprecedented social change.

It is a process inspired by signal events of the last century, the October Revolution, the 100th anniversary of which we celebrate this year.

It is a process that also draws lessons from the organization of the mass production industries, the popular front that defeated fascism,  along with the women’s rights,  lgbtq and  civil rights movements.

It is process that’s given renewed meaning and life by ithe ndependent movement to elect our country’s first African American president, Occupy Wall street, the Dreamers, Black Lives Matter, marriage equality,  and the political revolution energized by the Sanders bid for the presidency.

In this process the socialist idea is gaining new strength and acceptance particularly among young people where clear majorities see it as a viable and necessary alternative. Anti-communism based partly in the Big Lie but also in the failure of past efforts is waning in strength. Here again among young people this is a growing factor with some 25 percent in a recent poll expressing a willingness to vote for a communist candidate.

Taken as a whole these factors point to new opportunities for party building. Indeed the possibility for building a mass public working-class  revolutionary party rooted in the neighborhoods, workplaces, and campuses of our country are greater now than in many decades.

For some time now party building has been largely but not entirely spontaneous with new members joining online in small towns and cities all across the country.  On the other hand some districts have maintained clubs and established new ones working in unions,  health care, immigrant rights and anti police violence struggles. Here recruitment has been one to one on the basis of relationships built in struggles and through study groups and in a few cases, paper routes. Mass recruitment involving groups has not been present in recent experiences.

Clearly, this new period demands an organized approach. Such an approach must be based on best club and district practices, a mass publicity campaign, wide use of social networks, ideological work, fund raising and extensive use of peoplesworld.org.

Consideration must be given to where we have party organization along with where we want to build it. This includes which section of the class provides the greatest opportunities for growth. It’s clear from the foregoing that special attention must be given to the young generation in this regard and young workers in particular. A conversation must also be had about the student movement and the ill fated campus concentration project.

In need of refinement and greater unity are questions like: are we seeking to recruit activists; workers who are not yet organized and our approach and attitude to workers with little organizational experience. So too with workers who come to our movement either from other Marxist groups or with leftist attitudes and opinions.

Ideological questions abound: they include how to handle still present anti-communism, racism, sexism and homophobia.

These questions must not be understood narrowly but more broadly in terms of type of party we are looking to build.  Addressing anti-communism for example involves not only challenging lies and misconceptions but also seeking to re-imagine the party and base it in U.S. traditions and culture. So too with fighting racism: how does  the party handle workers radicalized but influenced by Trump’s demagogy.

Another challenge is party building as it relates to centering our work around peopleworld.org. What steps can be taken to increase club use of the PW website and articles?  How can we increase audience engagement on the PW’s Facebook page? What steps can be taken to increase the PW as a means of initiating and supporting struggles and campaigns.

Consideration also has to be given to the cpusa.org website and utilizing it as an organizing tool and means of influencing the public debate, along with sharing experiences in growing the party.

The radicalization process is growing and deepening:  the degree to which it takes on a working class Marxist character will in large measure depend on our party.

Photo: Creative Commons 3.0.

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    Joe Sims is co-chairperson of the CPUSA.

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