Report from the Structure and Organization Committee

BY: Evelina Alarcon| October 9, 2001



The transition of leadership launched a process of improving organization and structure. Ongoing innovations have been adopted to improve our work. The call for every club to be wired is a goal that has already enhanced the work of the Party. The use of phone conferencing has allowed for leaders and members from around the country to participate in national meetings.

The improvements to our website not only make the website more attractive and current but make reports and discussions accessible to the public web community. The listserv for pre-convention discussion is an innovation that helps the democratic process.

The idea of working groups on questions that generally receive little attention is an innovative way of shoring up our connection to different struggles and issues.

The decision to take minutes at National Executive and Board meetings was a good check up and accountability measure, as was the log in list for those who work at the National Center.

The establishment of a Personnel Committee that will take up questions, including ‘personnel problems,’ related to full time and other staff at the National Center, is an important measure that will also relate to accountability.

The strengthening of the Finance Committee and the addition of a comptroller will improve our financial work. There are other steps that we have taken to strengthen our structure and organization, which I will refer to in this report.

Most comrades have responded really well to these changes and have been responsive to the idea that we need to take a fresh look at how we do things. So our committee was not starting from scratch. Our work is part of an ongoing discussion that has been in motion with the transition for over a year now. The process should and will continue even after the National Convention.

Our Committee

The structure and organization committee included: Marc Brodine (WA), Bill Davis (NY), Rosita Johnson (E. PA.), Steve Noffke (MI), Brian Steinberg (CT), Shelby Richardson (Ill), and Mark Almberg (Ill). It was a very good working committee, which met six times. Four participated pretty steadily but all were present in a minimum of three meetings. Marc Brodine sent minutes to all members of the committee. We considered written contributions even when members could not participate.

The atmosphere was very good. There was exchange, debate and respectful consideration to everyone’s point of view. I can say personally it was a great opportunity to work with all on the committee. It was very refreshing.

We did not have the results of the membership review so we could not consider those specifics, which would of been helpful. I think we were pretty reality based in spite of that.

Elena provided me with a picture of the national structure, which I presented to the committee. Sam gave me some information as well. Several committee members discussed structure and organization questions in their own districts and clubs. I met with comrades in the Northern California district on questions related to district functioning. That was also helpful.

Committee members were asked to read the reports that were presented to the district leadership seminar held in Chicago last May, which opened up many questions related to structure and organization. Mark Almberg provided us with a copy of a handbook on Party organization. Tim Yeager provided us with the constitution.

We agreed from the beginning that we should focus our discussion on the reality of our current structure and organization and make proposals based on that rather than framing our discussion on past guidelines of some time ago.


We placed our discussion within the framework that we are in a period of transition of leadership moving into the 21st century. We looked at our structure and organization to see if it is in sync with being a Communist Party in the 21st century in our country.

Our goal was to make proposals that would help us to be better organized. We aimed to make proposals to streamline our structure and establish organizational methods that would facilitate our Party being more connected to the upsurge of the labor and people’s movement, more action based, more responsive in a timely way, more results oriented, more based on our current Party reality, more transparent, more democratic but at the same time collective and responsible.

We discussed that democratic centralism should not be seen as a static set of structures, but as a flexible concept that Communist Parties have applied in ways that fit their specific circumstances.

We generally think that we have been overbalanced on the centralism side. So we make proposals for democratizing the structure and organization. At the same time we think that as we move to democratize the Party we should try to be balanced, not swinging too far, especially related to directing our resources to
‘internal processing’ versus action orientation and implementation. We also make proposals and recommendations for strengthening collectivity, check up and accountability. Our goal was to strike a balance between centralism and democracy, which fit our Party’s needs today.

We realized pretty quickly that time did not allow for us to cover everything so we set priorities with the idea of covering as much as we could before having to report to the National Board, National Committee, and finally, to the Convention.

We decided to focus on the structure and functioning of the National Committee, National Board, National Executive, National Organization Committee, National Commissions, regional level organization, districts and clubs. Our goal was to discuss each body itself as well as the interaction between national bodies, interaction between the national with districts and clubs, and interaction between districts and clubs.
We attempted to identify areas that need improvement. We discussed some questions of Party culture that hold us back. We discussed how to improve communication within the structure. We discussed our methods of decision making and mobilizing the Party.

In saying all this, there is much we didn’t cover and have yet to take up before the Convention. One of our primary goals was to discuss districts and clubs more thoroughly than we were able to prior to this meeting. This report reflects only a preliminary discussion. Allowing for real exchange takes time and six meetings was not enough.

So while we have come to a conclusion on many questions, this report is a work in progress. Today’s report is intended to be a discussion document for the whole Party leading to the Convention. There are specific proposals in it, but they are also for pre-convention discussion. The National Board has heard the main thinking and proposals of this report. There is general agreement with the direction and proposals. We all recognize that the discussion in the NC today and the contributions from the whole Party will shape the final report to the Convention.

Our National Party Bodies

Most of our meetings were spent discussing the functioning of our national leadership bodies. We started with the National Committee (NC). There were a number of areas that we thought needed changing.

The National Committee is the highest decision making body of the Party between national conventions. In reality, the fact that it only meets two times a year means that it is does not serve in that function. It does not set the ongoing policy.

Events and struggles of today are moving swiftly. The daily attacks by the Bush administration and the extreme right; the corporate attacks, the global issues related to imperialism, peace and war; the growing battles of working people and all people in the fight for economic justice, democracy, public education, civil rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights, senior, youth, gay and lesbian rights; the fight for environmental justice, etc., has put greater objective pressure on us to respond faster and more efficiently to these national, international, state and local developments. Our policymaking and assessments of the new have to be made more quickly.

A body that meets two times a year cannot possibly keep up with that pace of developments. The reality is that it is the National Board that sets the policy. More often than not, it is the Resident Board. While the Board has decision-making authority in between NC meetings, it has developed into more than that. We are used to a narrower resident national body making most national decisions.

The addition of Scottie and myself to the Resident Board and National Executive in February 2000 meant the board was no longer solely a resident body. The Midwest and West Coast were represented, which was a positive addition that added to the national input into policies. But it still does not replace the benefit of the full National Committee.

Our opinion is that to establish the leading decision making role of the NC means that we need to make certain changes. One of them is that the NC should meet more regularly.

The benefit of the National Committee meeting more often is that our national policies would have the thinking, ideas and experience of the full National Committee. National input and consideration deepens the quality of our assessments and decision-making. It is also part of democratizing our Party.

Another benefit of the entire National Committee arriving at decisions together is that it enables the leadership across the country to move the Party to implement those decisions more effectively. Each member is more prepared to mobilize the rest of the Party at all levels because they have shared in the deliberation. The NC meetings add a political, ideological and organizational boost to our national work.

Therefore, we propose that the NC meet a minimum of three times a year. We considered proposing that the NC meet quarterly but there was concern that establishing a minimum of four NC meetings a year would pull us away from district and club work. We left our proposal to a minimum of three with the idea that if four was possible without overburdening districts, we should do it.

Size of the NC

Another change which we feel can contribute to the better functioning of the NC relates to size.

Over the years we have tended to enlarge our national bodies. At the last National Convention we elected about 130 to the NC. As time went on, we continued to add, so today we have 154 members.

Even though our committee did not have the membership review figures to consider, our estimate is that a National Committee of 154 is beyond what the current size of our Party needs.

The size of the NC relates to the question of having more meetings. Practically speaking, if the NC is to meet three or four times a year, it has to be smaller because of the resources that it takes to organize a meeting of this size, including financial cost.

Overall, our opinion is that a smaller size will allow the NC to function better. It will contribute to more effective decision making. As I said earlier, it more fits our membership size.

A main consideration for this proposal is an important political one. We see the need to decrease the size so that the NC can be more deliberative. Large size and the way we organize our meetings currently make it difficult for the NC to be more deliberative.

While larger numbers may give the appearance of more democracy because representation is greater, in fact a larger body makes it very difficult to have substantial deliberation or consideration to our estimates and proposals.

The time factor does not allow for a large number of members to have exchange. A large number inhibits debate.

More exchange takes place in the National Board than the NC. And even there, change is needed to improve the deliberation of our collective decisions.

Another consideration for making this proposal is the issue of where we allocate our cadre resources. Our tendency has been to focus on building up and growing the National Committee while other national bodies, districts and clubs are in great need.

It seems that we are trying to accomplish too many things with the NC. Representation and input can take place through participation in other national Party bodies. The process of cadre building can occur in other bodies and levels of the Party in addition to the NC. National commissions are one place. States and districts are another.

The strengthening of state and district political bodies has to be put as a higher priority. The recent proposals to build up organization in Chicago as a Midwest center was a necessary innovation that will strengthen the whole Party.

Another concern raised is that not all members of the NC are connected to the districts and clubs to which they belong. There is little check up and accountability of NC members related to how they implement decisions. This has to be more built into the work of the NC.

The reduction in size would mean that some who are currently members of the NC would not continue to be. We know that this is a sensitive question, but our feeling is that the need for the NC to meet more often, to function more efficiently, combined with the need for greater deliberation is basic for our organization to function more effectively and collectively.

The proposal for reduction should not alter our approach related to guaranteeing worker, multi-racial, female composition. This approach enriches our National Committee and is key to uniting our Party. We believe that it is a practice that we should continue in all of our national bodies.

A Larger Annual National Meeting

There are benefits to a larger national meeting, which we discussed. National meetings generate enthusiasm. More members can participate and hear first hand the experiences from around the country. There is clearly a democratic aspect to that.

Therefore we propose that once a year we hold a national meeting where comrades on national bodies, veteran comrades, district leaders and club leaders who are not on the NC would be invited to meet to discuss key political questions. We saw this annual meeting as an expanded meeting of the NC but organized to insure full participation of those who attend. Perhaps it would be the fourth meeting of the NC.

A couple of comrades on the committee were very concerned about the ability of the Party base nationally to participate in decision making on a more regular and substantive basis so they proposed that we hold National Conventions every two years. Most of us did not see the need for Conventions every 2 years because it would move us to be more internal.

The proposal for an annual national meeting, along with other proposals made in this report are made in consideration of concerns raised that more democratic avenues are needed for the districts and base of the Party to participate more directly in decision making.

In general, the whole committee expressed concerns at one level or another about the need to change or improve our structure and organization to encourage participation from the bottom up.

More Deliberation

Reducing the size of the National Committee does not fully address the question of more deliberation or more democracy in our decision-making. We discussed that how we prepare for and organize our meetings are also factors.

The more opportunity that comrades on the NC, in commissions, committees, districts and clubs have to voice their thinking and experience into policy before final decisions are made would strengthen our discussions. To the extent possible, sending out major proposals under consideration to NC members and state organizations in advance would better prepare NC members for the discussion and would solicit input from more of the Party before decisions are made.

Inviting the thinking of the Party on main questions as preparation for NC meetings and Board meetings is not easy; it is a big extra step. Those who give reports have to be better organized and prepared in a more timely way. But we now have the technology to make it easier. It does not have to be a full report that is sent prior to the NC meeting, but the main ideas to be considered could be communicated to NC members, districts and clubs asking for their input.

This approach would deepen our assessments and decision making with more national experience. It would also produce a refreshing, creative atmosphere where all collectives had the opportunity to participate. That input should be shared with the whole NC not just the reporter. The Internet, our website and a regularly published Partybuilder can be used for this. The wiring of the clubs and Party makes this more realizable.

The travel to districts by national leaders for discussions with members on policy questions has proven to be very dynamic and helpful in how we shape policy, strategy and tactics.

An ongoing method of creating openings for the base of the Party to share its thinking both democratizes our decision making and contributes to the transparency of the Party. It demystifies the decision making process. It also places more emphasis on drawing assessments and conclusions from the experience of the base of the Party.

We have already begun to initiate more meetings with leaders of labor and people’s movements about various questions. These exchanges are invaluable preparation for our national meetings as well. They have been decisive to our assessments and proposals related to the energy crisis, labor, the fight for democracy, the struggle against racism and youth rights. This should become a natural way of our leadership functioning.

Our conclusions, assessments and decisions will be more on target if they are based on our science, tied to a Party in action. So the constant effort to base the Party at all levels on working in labor/community coalitions, in working class battles, in grassroots organizing, on mass action tied to issues, people’s movements, electoral struggles, etc. within the overall framework of organizing against the right danger and corporate exploitation remains the root of correct policies.

Organization of NC Meetings

Our committee also felt that the NC meeting should be organized differently in order to allow for more deliberation and focus. The main way that we have organized our meeting agenda is to have one general report which assesses many questions, followed by sub reports on various subjects. Then NC members usually get seven minutes to give their opinion, share experiences, etc. At the end of the meeting we adopt reports. This method sometimes results in the feeling that our NC gives rubber stamp approval to reports without the ability to have real exchange. That method is not fully collective, especially when there are questions that are not quite agreed on.

It was expressed that more opportunity for focused discussions of specific issues would enhance deliberation. More reports should be given directly from committees, commissions or task forces allowing for discussion of those reports. The question of adopting specific resolutions with ability to discuss those rather than adopting general reports which cover many subjects was more needed in our style.

We also discussed the need to have our decisions made with more consideration for how those decisions are going be implemented and who specifically is going to have responsibility. Also, the feeling was that there should be a checkup report on all decisions at the following NC meeting.

More Geographic Balance

The other question that we discussed was the need for the NC to be more geographically balanced in its composition. Even though we are proposing reducing the size of the NC, we think the incoming NC should be more representative of the whole country. This should be more taken into account like we consider class, racial and gender composition of the NC. This will deepen our ability to make decisions that pertain to the whole nation.

The current balance is too weighted on the East Coast. While we acknowledged that part of the reason for that is that many national cadre live on the East Coast, we still feel that the imbalance goes further than just that. The imbalance gives a tilt of opinion based on experience in one geographic area rather than the whole country.

Our national bodies must consider the experience and reality of life across the nation. This helps to sharpen our overall assessments as well as our strategic and tactical approach.

Phone conferences and other technology now make it possible to involve participation from across the country in all our national bodies. The work of the convention committees, which were made of members from coast to coast, proves that it can be done.

National Convention

In the course of our meetings, a number of concerns were raised specifically related to the National Convention. The question of how the selection process for the election to the NC takes place was a hot topic.

The opinion was that there is not enough consultation with districts or consideration of the how the process affected districts. Examples were given of districts opposing members from their area being on the NC and they were added nevertheless.

Our proposal is that final recommendations be fully consultative with district leadership. District leaders should see recommendations as a whole, not just for their own district, so they see the total picture.

We also propose that the pool of names for consideration to the NC be utilized in a broader way to include other national bodies, regional or district assignments. We recommend that we not have district caucuses at the Convention because this is too late in the process to make thoughtful proposals. The process of collecting a pool of names for consideration should be as early as possible so there is plenty of time for exchange with districts.

The other hot topic was how we have handled resolutions to the National Convention in the past. By and large, most resolutions were referred to the incoming NC and they were never addressed. Ignoring them was a big political problem. It meant that questions, which in most cases were considered carefully by commissions, district conventions or clubs, never saw the light of day.

Our suggestions for preventing this at our upcoming Convention include integrating some content of resolutions into reports or into workshops that deal with the subject of the resolution. We think that priority consideration should be given to resolutions adopted by district conventions where club delegates took the time to consider them and adopt them. We propose that all resolutions be published for national delegates to see. We also propose that the Resolutions Committee continue to function after the Convention until all resolutions are addressed by the incoming National Committee.

National Boards

The National Committee established two National Boards. One is called the full National Board. It is more nationally representative and meets three or four times a year.

The other is what we have called a Resident Board because when it was first established it was made up of those from the full National Board who reside in New York or surrounding states. It meets much more regularly. Over the last period, it has met every week. Both National Boards set policy in between NC meetings.

In our initial discussion of this, there was a proposal to eliminate the Resident Board because its role was not understood. It was seen as composed of all national full timers who supplant the policy making of the full National Board, which is more composed of workers, nationally representative, etc. This speaks to the need for something written which describes our national structure beyond what is in the constitution.

We discussed that there is an objective need for a national leadership body to meet at a minimum every two weeks. The quick pace of national developments, the right danger, and internal questions of the Party itself require more Board meetings to stay abreast, to give direction to our whole Party. The full National Board cannot meet that often because of various reasons including that many members’ work schedules do not permit their participation. Therefore, the smaller Board fulfills that need.

While the committee agreed that the Resident Board was necessary, we propose that the name be changed because with the addition of Scott Marshall and myself, it no longer is just a resident body. With phone conferencing, it is now possible to add others from around the country to the smaller Board as well.

We also agreed that the full National Board which meets three or four times a year is necessary because it is composed of leaders active in the labor movement, coalitions, and in districts across the country. It draws on the broader national experience of the Party.

The committee also proposes that the size of both Boards be reduced to allow for better deliberation and shorter meetings. Our estimate is that the large size of these bodies is beyond the needs of our membership size as well. The full national board is now about 45 members and the resident board is about 30. This would mean a reallocation of leading members to other Party bodies, which we have already discussed need assistance to function up to par.

Many of the same proposals for making the NC more deliberative apply to the National Board.

National Executive

We also propose that the size of the National Executive be reduced. Its current size is 14, about half the size of the resident board. The main reason for this proposal is that there has been a problem of the Executive sometimes supplanting itself for the National Board by discussing out questions that really belong with the National Board. This produces a duplication of discussion with half of the members of the Board already coming to conclusion in the Executive. This pretty much assures the outcome of decisions before the Board meeting begins. This undermines the collective process and authority of the Board.

That has changed in the last month with proposals by Sam to make the Executive more of a place to propose agendas for the National Board and for referring questions to the appropriate collectives. Sam proposed that right after we had been discussing that very issue in our committee. I thought maybe he was on our phone conference because his proposal was right in sync with our discussion.

Our proposal means that the Executive would more route where a question is to be discussed. That doesn’t mean the Executive should be restricted from taking up substantive questions but it should most often refer to the National Board or other bodies.

National Organization Committee

Our thinking is that the Organization Committee should be more of an Organization Department which has real committees responsible to it that take up specific questions like membership, press circulation, literature, fundraising, etc. This would be in addition to mobilizing the Party around mass questions and campaigns.

We see adding more cadre to enable the Organization Committee to fulfill the many dimensions of its work as critical to the functioning of every level of the Party. As long as the Organization Committee does not have more cadre, the entire state of our organization is affected.

We cannot expect our hard working and dedicated Organizational Secretary and Organization Committee to fulfill the organizational needs of the entire Party as it is constituted. Prioritizing cadre here is basic to communication, therefore, the democratic process. It is basic to building Party districts and clubs. It relates to press building and fundraising. And most important, it is critical for implementation of NC and Board decisions. Therefore, we propose that assigning more cadre here be a top priority.

The Organization Committee is kind of a mystery to the Party. We don’t know enough about how the committee functions. Most just assume that most implementation of decisions goes there. We know that the Committee is hard working. Nevertheless we need more transparency here. As with the National Board and National Executive, minutes should go out. Perhaps this will draw more help and volunteers. It will bring more understanding to the question of being real about decision-making.

Interaction of Board, Executive and Organization Committee

We felt there is a problem of many of the same leaders functioning on all the top leadership bodies. This is more a problem of lack of cadre than anything else we realize. But the problem results in an overlap of the same few comrades deliberating all major questions before the National Board meets. When it is the top officers of the Party, it can give the appearance that decisions are already arrived at by a section of the meeting before the National Board has a chance to consider it collectively. The real exchange factor and collective process of decision making can be diminished. So we have to be more considerate of the full collective.

We propose that when forming the top leadership collectives, especially the Board, Executive and Organization Committee, we should avoid having the same group of comrades on all three bodies, which is what exists now.

Education/Media Department

We did not have an opportunity to spend much time on the question of how we organize our educational work but it is obvious that this is a huge omission in our structure and organization. As a start, we propose that we establish a 21st century Education/Media Department which coordinates our ideological/educational work in new and creative ways, including the use of new technology. It not only should organize the internal educational work of the Party but also our mass ideological work.

National Commissions

There are national commissions which function regularly. Their contribution is substantial. In many ways, it is invaluable. The Labor, Political Action, Economics, Public Education, Farm & Rural Area Commissions do meet regularly.

The main problem is that most commissions do not meet regularly or at all. Commissions which have a full time person whose primary assignment is the Commission, do tend to function. But commissions headed by leaders who have other major national or district assignments, tend not to meet. This speaks to the need to reallocate national cadre to help commissions play their full role.

We also think that there should be some changes in how commissions work. While we should not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to commissions, in general we think that for most commissions the primary role should be action oriented, hands on activity in the area of work, not merely advisory, which has been the way we have tended to look at commissions.

Commissions should help the NC and Board to arrive at policies and assessments related to a given area of work but we propose that helping our national organization and districts move into action in the area should become more the priority. This means helping with initiative, coalition work, developing strategy and tactics on a given issue or campaign.

It also means that the commissions should relate to the mass organizations and leaders in their given area of work. Commissions should help to coordinate participation in national conventions and conferences related to the work.

We also think commissions should be smaller in size and composed of comrades who are really active in and responsible for the work.

Commissions are now based in different cities in the country, not just New York, which is a positive. The Labor Commission is based in Chicago. The Commission on Pubic Education is based in Philadelphia. The Mexican American Equality Commission is based in Los Angeles.

Now we can add the positive experiences of commissions holding meetings outside of their base cities. The Labor Commission meeting in Los Angeles, with participation of union members from the Southwest and West Coast was a huge success and enhanced our work. The Mexican American Equality Commission meeting to be held in Arizona relating to the militarization of the US/Mexico border is another example.

Commission meetings in different cities allow for members in that state to participate, share experiences and to invite leaders and friends from that area. This not only helps to democratize the Party but deepens our understanding. It deepens our relationships with mass leaders. This is part of developing policy on a more rounded national basis. Again, this would have to be done based on coordination and agreement by the National Board, Organization Committee and districts involved.

We also think that there should be more accountability of commissions. We propose that minutes of meetings should be sent out to the NC and that every Commission should report to the NC at least once a year either at the meeting or by written report.

Commissions’ Relation to Districts

Work of the commissions related to districts would have to be done in coordination with the National Board, Organization Committee and districts. There was concern in the committee about Commissions imposing themselves on districts without consideration for the reality of a given district or the political collective. Examples were given of commissions bypassing district leadership.

It is clear that too many national bodies calling on districts would overburden districts so national coordination and reality-based decisions are critical. Commissions have to take into account that broad decisions like ‘every district should do this or that’ are unrealistic because there are many national bodies that are saying the same thing. Proposals should be made which fit our reality, which are more specific to a given district, national mass action or issue. Then the commission would work with the Organization Committee, district and whoever it will take to make the proposal happen. Coordination based on consultation and agreement of districts is a prerequisite. ‘Hands on’ work should not be a free for all.

Proposals for commissions should be seen as a general guideline. Changes will be a process. Not all commissions will carry out all proposals. Each commission will have to see what fits. But we think the proposals provide a direction. The main change is related to commissions being more action- and implementation-oriented.


Throughout our discussion, regional meetings were pointed to as something that should continue. Experience shows that these meetings allow for more nitty gritty exchange from a wider circle representing the base of the Party. They are helpful to cadre building. More members get a sense of the whole Party. They are generally ‘feel good’ atmosphere meetings.

Regional meetings tend to be focused discussions on specific questions that help with both understanding and implementation. They also tend to be more grounded because the discussions are based on a more common, regional, political experience.

We also think that meetings or phone conferences on specific regional questions between district leaders could be useful. For example, the western region could discuss the energy crisis, which is centered in California but has directly overlapped into surrounding states.

We do not see establishing a regional political structure with regional collectives who have decision making authority. We do propose that we more establish New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as key regional centers of Party activity. That means building up strong collectives in these centers, including full time collectives. That would be part of making our Party more nationally oriented. We are now building up in Chicago and the Midwest. We should do the same in New York and Los Angeles. These three cities play a key role in our country. Strong regional centers could assist the National with surrounding states and districts.

As we are moving to build three regional centers, we should also take specific steps to build up our organization in the South and New England. This would include regional meetings, building clubs and meeting with mass leaders in those areas. The question of organizing in the South is necessary for all the reasons that we have discussed before. A couple of members of our committee felt that the South should be our fourth priority for regional Party building. These proposals do not preclude regional meetings in other areas when needed, like in the Heartland or Rocky Mountain area.

The practice of locating national cadre with national work assignments in cities around the country contributes to building strong collectives at a regional and district level. We think that should be continued.

The idea of regional video conferencing was suggested as something that could be done in the future as a way of enhancing our National Board, commissions or other meetings.

State & District Organization

We have to be objective about the state of our organization, our size and abilities when we make decisions about what we should do. As a number of comrades have raised in the last year, we too often decide ‘we have to do this or that’ without much regard to whether or not we have the resources to accomplish that decision.

The fact that our decisions will not be implemented equally by all districts or clubs has to be more understood by our national bodies. We can send decision after decision down the pike but most districts, if not all, will not be implementing all of those decisions. Districts will pick and choose based on their situation.

Therefore, at a national level we have to be more thoughtful about setting national priorities. The 2000 elections were a clear priority and our entire Party was geared up and focused on that battle. Nationally, we followed up with ongoing help to the Party on that focus. We organized regional meetings, a special Elections Committee, literature, ongoing reports, ongoing check up with districts, etc. In many ways, it was a model for real prioritizing. The National Board, National Organization Committee and the Political Action/Legislative Commission worked as a real team. The more we can set priorities and facilitate that decision with organizational help to districts, the more we are going to accomplish, the more our national organization facilitates action orientation.

More District-Conscious

We also have to take into account that particular issues or struggles are more of a priority in different regions or states. The steel crisis, for example, hits Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Illinois in an emergency manner. The energy crisis hit California and other states in an emergency way. The militarization of the US/Mexican border hits Arizona, Texas, California and New Mexico in a very particular and urgent way. The farm crisis hits the Heartland very specifically.

So this reality will make these districts or regions focus on those questions. We have to be more district-conscious. Our national bodies should facilitate the reality of what faces districts as we shape our national priorities. There are also regional issues, like aerospace in the Southwest and Northwest, the steel crisis as mentioned, the auto crisis in a number of states, and longshore on both coasts. Rural areas require attention.

There have been major improvements in the relationship of the National Center with districts. The improvement is visible, especially in attitude, with more efforts to consult. But there is still a gap. Regular meetings with district organizers and district leaders need to be reestablished.

More attention is needed related to building strong, functioning district political collectives. These collectives play the central role in implementing national/local decisions, bringing those decisions down to their district reality, setting priorities, and communicating their conclusions and thinking to national bodies.

Strong state and district committees are the key link between the national and base of the Party. Therefore more attention is needed for training of district leaders. The district leaders seminar held in Chicago last May was a valuable meeting for the whole national Party. These could be organized on a regional level as well.

The need for full time district cadre is critical to states like New York and Michigan. The special approach to the building up and training of district leaders and cadre would lend itself to volunteers coming forward for full time, district and other Party work.

The recent travel of national comrades to districts to discuss policies, the labor program and other pre-convention questions has been valuable for helping to connect districts and the national more.
As I indicated earlier in the report, this is our preliminary discussion of districts.


I also indicated that while the question of clubs entered in some way into every discussion in our committee, we merely began our specific discussion on clubs at our last meeting. These are some initial thoughts.

We argued against the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to clubs, against the ‘every club shall do xyz’ approach. We believe that our approach to clubs must be realistic and flexible, and based on the specific realities of specific clubs.

Our clubs need to be centers of political organizing, but often that is not the case. We often say that clubs are either shop clubs or neighborhood clubs, but the reality is we have very few shop clubs and most other clubs cover huge sections of, or all of, large cities or areas of a state.

We have to give more attention to how to help our clubs transform themselves, how to give room, support and encouragement for club initiatives and experimentation. We can recruit many more members, but if we don’t have activity-oriented clubs, we increase the ‘revolving door’ aspect of people joining but not staying in the Party. The clubs are the keys to holding, consolidating and developing new members.

We, at a national level, talk about the clubs as the heart and soul of our organization, but we don’t regularly assess the status of clubs, evaluate what is changing for clubs, or provide realistic leadership to the work of clubs.

The membership review will give us a more realistic picture. But our estimate is that while there are exceptions, generally the clubs are our weakest link in the structure.

We discussed a number of possibilities to help with club building. One is a Party-wide conference on clubs. Perhaps this could be the first expanded meeting of the NC. We also need a program of training for club leaders. Also, can we shift our structure in some new ways to allow for district leaders to spend more time working politically with club leaders on the political priorities and mass orientation of clubs rather than passing on decisions from the top without thought for how to implement? We noted that having club leaders on the state and district committees is a good start, but not sufficient.

We also recognized the need for flexibility between the clubs and state organizations. In some cases, when some clubs aren’t yet able to be action-oriented or to provide a useful framework for members, involving members through the state organizations is a necessary bridge. For example, members who are unionists can be members of a club, but look to their participation in district activities as the place where their contributions matter most, the place where their concerns fit and are addressed best.

We know that a deeper look at our clubs requires much more attention, which we plan for our upcoming meetings. The question of how to work with at-large members is an important one.

We also plan to discuss the structure and organization related to the People’s Weekly World and any other questions that come up in the course of pre-conventi

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