An upsurge worth fighting for

BY:Joe Sims| November 1, 2021
An upsurge worth fighting for


The following report by Joe Sims was given at the National Committee meeting on October 31, 2021.

Our country and our class are in the midst of a great battle. It is a battle for democracy and working-class lives. And those two issues — democracy and workers’ lives — are inextricably linked; one cannot be solved without addressing the other.

If you think about it, that relationship is at the heart of the debate taking place in the Congress and, more broadly, in the country. And listening to that debate, working people are saying, “Enough with the talking and obstruction. Let’s get it done.”

It’s that sentiment that, at least in part, in recent weeks, led over a hundred thousand workers to vote for strike actions and tens of thousands to march on picket lines.

This is the most significant labor upsurge since 2018. Workers are fed up with long hours and lousy pay. They’re rejecting two-tier wage scales and unfair labor practices. Millions — and this is no exaggeration — are so fed up that they’re literally quitting their jobs. In August it was 4.3 million souls. And check this out: one-third didn’t have another place of employment lined up when they said “take this job and shove it” and put on their walking shoes.

Some are calling this a silent general strike. Others have named it the “Great Resignation.” But whatever you call it, it’s serious and deep, and the ruling class is getting nervous. Yes, on this Halloween afternoon, the bosses are getting scared — not of Frankenstein or Dracula, or Mr. Werewolf, but of the working class.

We’ve entered a new class struggle moment.

Yes, it’s pretty clear we’ve entered a new class struggle moment.

The labor movement is rising up, and our party has got to rise to the occasion with it. This means we’ve got to be more involved and more active. We’ve got to be on the picket lines more and build more extensive community support. How?

Maybe it’s by picketing dealerships or by helping organize boycotts. Another idea is to suggest resolutions in City Councils. Clubs can also write letters to the editor or initiate social media campaigns and make memes. Visiting the picket lines, of course, is a must. And while doing so, we’ve got to write articles for the PW, send in photos and videos, and help make People’s World one of the leading voices of this workers’ upsurge.

What’s happening is that these strikes began around bread-and-butter issues, but they’re starting to become political, and when that happens — watch out!

Let’s remember that the midterm elections are just a year away. And everything that happens between now and then will help determine the outcome.

Speaking of determining the outcome, we still don’t know how the $1.75 trillion package will pan out. There’s a lot in it — that’s true. But at the same time, there’s a lot missing: Family leave is missing. Prescription drug pricing is missing. Why? Because Senators Manchin and Sinema don’t want to tax the super rich? Or because the pharmaceuticals insist on maximizing their profits? Can you imagine? Well, people can imagine, and make no mistake — they’re going to draw conclusions.

It’s clear that the challenge with this and other legislation was that there hasn’t been enough pressure from below. In fact, with respect to mobilizing public support, there’s been what you might call a “crisis of inaction.”

Of course, it’s not like nothing was being done: the civil rights movement did call a national voting rights rally and march on August 28th. And we were there. But the size of the march did not match the demands of the political moment we’re in.

And a broad coalition did gather in some 300 cities on October 3rd to support abortion rights — we were also present in several of the rallies. But, given the danger, what was needed was something on the order of magnitude of the millions who marched after Trump’s inauguration.

And while we’re on the subject, let’s also recall that there have been democratic victories. The good people of California did defeat the GOP governor recall. In fact it wasn’t even close. And in NY state Cuomo did have to step down after his serial sexual abuses were revealed; and the socialist India Walton was able to win a historic primary vote against the Democratic incumbent.

Never forget January 6th and Trump’s attempt to overthrow the government.

But let’s remember what we’re up against: January 6th and Trump’s attempt to overthrow the government. And let’s also recall that they’re organizing: 10,000 Trump supporters rallied in Wellington, Ohio, in June; 15,000 in Perry, Georgia, in September; and several thousands more last weekend at the Des Moines County Fairgrounds.

So the situation is a little complicated to say the least. But if you think about it, there’s good reason to keep hope alive. If you put together August 28th, October 3rd, the California and Buffalo votes, and, most importantly, the upsurge in strike actions, it’s clear that things are picking up after the ebb in mass actions following the November election. The working class and mass democratic movement are in a period of regathering their forces and momentum.

On Tuesday we’ll get a better picture of whether these trends will continue. But whether they do or don’t, we’ve got to keep our eyes on the prize and our focus on the issues.

And focusing on the issues defines our attitude towards today’s politics and the Biden-Harris administration. Where their policies benefit our working class and people, we support those policies. Where they don’t, we don’t.

With respect to policies on labor, the environment, health care, and the child tax credit, the situation is clear. One of the reasons the strikes are taking place is that workers feel like they can win. It’s created an atmosphere where labor feels that the administration has their back. Now it’s up to Biden and company to get out on the picket lines and prove it. There will be hell to pay if they don’t.

On the other hand, on immigration and in particular foreign policy, the administration has taken positions the Communist Party cannot possibly support.

In fact, in some cases, like the return of Haitian immigrants, the policy must be rejected and those involved condemned.

We reject a progressive policy at home and an imperialist one abroad.

The same must be said for the new Cold War aimed at China, Cuba, and other countries. We said it before and we’ll say it again: we cannot and will not be content with progressive policy at home and an imperialist one abroad.

We’ve got to tell Mr. Biden: If you want a foreign policy that benefits the working class — and that’s how they’re framing it — cooperate on climate change; rescind the arms deals with Australia and stop sending nuclear-powered submarines into the South China Sea; and end the embargo against Cuba.

And most importantly, we’ve got to work to help build a peace movement to make sure these things happen.

All of this speaks to the need to build a bigger, broader, and more powerful mass democratic movement along with a larger and stronger trade union movement to back it up. And most important for us, it means building our party.

So much depends on that.

As you know, we’ve been on a significant growth curve for the last couple of years. We’ve re-established state organizations of the party in New York, Ohio, California, Virginia, DC, and other districts and are taking deliberate steps to rebuild our youth movement. The Education Commission has done stellar work in organizing regular webinars involving several hundred people at a time on a regular basis. We held a very successful 10-day youth school last summer involving over 40 students — the first extended Marxist school we’ve had in several years.

The main point I want to make here is that the party is coming back. We’re still in a process of rebuilding, but we’re coming back.

And at the center of it all is re-establishing the concept of the party itself.

For a while — and I want everyone to hear me on this — some things got a little confused. We ended up with several competing concepts of the party itself. For example, some districts had clubs, some didn’t; some used the PW, others had no relation to it. One district maintained a YCL, but most did not; a few took initiative and organized protests, still others waited for broader movements to take action before moving. And with few exceptions, most chose not to field candidates for public office. Nor were they encouraged to do so.

What’s begun to emerge is a reassertion of a single unified concept of the party.

That’s changing. And it’s changing big-time.

And what’s begun to emerge is a reassertion of a single unified concept of who we are and what we need to become. What do I mean?

First: that we have one leadership, one policy, and one political practice.

Second: that we’re organized in clubs based in cities, neighborhoods, workplaces, campuses, and online.

Third: that we strive to organize ourselves around the People’s World and the party website and by using other party literature both in print and online.

Fourth: that we work to help refound our youth movement and build the YCL, and

Fifth: that we strive to carry out decisions of our convention and NC around strategic and tactical policies, including centering ourselves in the working class and among the racially and nationally oppressed while working to defeat the extreme right and fascist elements by taking initiative and also, where possible, by fielding candidates.

We realize that one size doesn’t fit all. Party organization is uneven and varies from place to place. Still, everyone must strive to creatively employ these principles of party organization as they fit each club and district circumstances.  At the same time, we should avoid subjectively picking and choosing what we like and don’t like.

This means that all districts should strive to build party clubs; write for and circulate the People’s World and build our youth movement. It means all of us should strive to carry out the decisions regarding the fund drives, set goals, and work to fulfill them.

This includes our approach to membership and party building.

The party’s growth comes with many challenges, particularly with regard to its racial and gender composition. But it’s also true that as we grow, we’re laying the basis for solving them.

Take the work of the party in D.C., which has literally transformed itself in the last couple of years, recruiting in African American and Latino communities and building a 30-person strong YCL on one campus with collectives emerging on three others. They’ve also initiated a public Marxist school named after our Claudia Jones that has a growing national reputation. Congratulations.

Of course, we must remain vigilant as we bring members in. Over the last years, we’ve encountered and overcome challenges from both left and right, including attempts to unduly influence and penetrate the party from the outside.

We must take note of trends that appear left but are actually pushing right-wing positions.

Here the NC should take note of emerging trends that appear left but are actually pushing right-wing positions based on national chauvinism, racism, and fake populism, some of whom seek to link themselves to our history and reputation. We’re speaking specifically of an outfit calling itself the Center for Political Innovation along with the InfraRed webcast. They’re even calling for people to join the CPUSA in order to take it over.

Why is this happening? Some want to lay claim to our prestige and history. Others want our resources: our national infrastructure, properties, and capital funds. But to what end? That’s the real question.

The main point is to divert us from the mass democratic movement and the class struggle that underlies it. The goal is ideologically hijack the radicalization of our youth, particularly its communist contingent,  confuse the left and turn the working-class movement in the direction of right-wing nationalist and chauvinist positions. In fact, some are employing the canard of “socialist patriotism” in an effort to do so. But this “patriotism” has little to do with our concept of it: the national pride in our multi-racial working class and its basis in anti-racism along with working-class internationalism, but has more in common with influences of Trumpian America First nationalism.  We’re not using the term patriotism in the same way.

I think the National Committee will join Rossana and me in saying loudly and clearly to those making such attempts: not hardly, not on our watch, not in our lifetime.

No one should doubt our collective determination to resist these challenges while refusing to allow them to turn us away from mass growth. As the old spiritual says, “Ain’t nobody gonna turn us around.”

No, the solution lies in growth, growth, and more growth and deepening our involvement in the mass class and democratic battles of our times.

But that has to be accompanied by more intensive educational work and deep dives into our theory and policy, schooling ourselves in the theory and politics of Marxism-Leninism and the communist plus.

Well comrades, this year, we’re off to a good start. Our fund drive netted $120,000, and we’ve already recruited 400 members in the first month of the membership drive. And if we stay on course, remain focused on the issues, and keep our eyes on the prize of the working class, we’ll be well on the way to sustained, consistent growth. In this situation, that is everything.

Image: top, CPUSA; UAW on strike, Adam Schultz (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0); Jan. 6 insurrection, Brett Davis (CC BY-NC 2.0); CPUSA banners.

This article has been updated for clarity.



Related 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