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

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 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 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.

Comments (12)

Dale C. Chambers | January 24, 2019 at 11:37 PM

Look at the large numbers of Homeless citizens in America !

Beth Edelman | April 29, 2017 at 6:22 PM

I found this thoughtful and useful. Be great for education committee to figure out how to continue.

Andrew | April 28, 2017 at 5:40 PM

These days, the phrase “radicalization process” seems to most commonly refers to ISIS and other groups recruiting foreign jihadis on social media. It has some homegrown terrorist workplace shooter connotations… so THAT’S something to think about.

THAT’S a clear barrier to successfully having a voice in the national dialogue… points in the political spectrum essentially speak different dialects of English now, we’re no longer mutually intelligible, and I think these are the kind of philosophical questions we need to return to. What do our words mean and do they really express our intentions? The country needs PHILOSOPHY and a consistent political narrative even more than it needs socialized healthcare (and it needs socialized healthcare A LOT).

Jules Rensch | April 24, 2017 at 3:36 AM

using every tool at our disposal to fight the unbridled greed of Dog eat Dog Capitalism must be the mission at hand….solidarity now!

John Wojcik | April 21, 2017 at 2:50 PM

Good article. When it comes to the Peoples World: This is a tool that the party can use with any and all contacts in labor, allied and any of the mass movements. Whenever people are organizing or doing something to advance their rights our ability to go to them with a means by which the word about what they are doing can be gotten out all over the place is a powerful thing. I recall how comrades in New York were able to recruit to the party 11 low wage workers who were striking by showing those workers how the3 PW was covering their struggles on the job in an up to date and on the spot way. With the PW we bring to potential party members something more than ideology, as important as that is. We bring to them a valuable tool to advance their struggles and to improve their immediate conditions. Through the PW we pull together theory and practice.

john | April 21, 2017 at 11:51 AM

how many members of the party are their because i have never been clear on that

Mike | April 20, 2017 at 4:56 AM

Communism = maximum government with minimum freedom .. Constitutional representative Republic = minimum government with maximum freedom.. the key to maximum individual freedom and the majority of individual rights being protected is participation in the process… we are currently living in an oligarchy not a representative Republic as a result of voter lethargy..

    Joe Sims | April 22, 2017 at 12:55 PM

    socialism does not mean big government. we just do not view government as the enemy. decentralized administration and working class democratic direction are attractive models.

      Elaine | April 22, 2017 at 10:08 PM

      As in Venezuela? No one owns anything and everyone has equal wages? Meaning all are poor, No thanks.

        Joe Sims | April 22, 2017 at 1:53 AM

        Venezuela is not a socialist country. The economy is largely in private hands. Sorry.

Emile Schepers | April 20, 2017 at 3:53 PM

This is a very useful and stimulating article. In Virginia, where I am part of the leadership collective of our party, we have received scores and scores of membership applications online, and, as these people are scattered all over this large and populous state, we have had to find ways to communicate with them online and through social media. This has not been entirely successful, and when I or others make face to face contact with the new members and spend some quality time working with them directly, we appear to get better results in terms of getting people to really commit in the long run. The building of collectives in the districts is also essential, because only by doing that can really bring any influence at all to bear on local and statewide politics. We have a state election in Virginia in November 2017, and we need our party members to plug into voter registration and voter mobilization efforts in specific state legislative districts; abstract general messages sent out to the whole Virginia membership are not going to do the trick, except with people who are already committed and experienced activists. And that does not describe most of our new members right now. This is why it is necessary to build up our club and district structure.

Barbara Russum | April 19, 2017 at 3:30 AM

the phone number on her arm is for the National Lawyers Guild office in Manhattan

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