Five myths about the CPUSA

BY:Communist Party USA| April 14, 2020
Five myths about the CPUSA


In light of the growing strength of the “socialist moment,” many young workers and students are coming to our Party with a handful of questions about our Party platform, history, and direction. Many of these questions are honest inquiries rooted in doubts caused by false notions. This misinformation has been circulated far and wide in some cases. McCarthyism and COINTELPRO are also to blame, since they purposefully laid the seeds of deceit to prevent the Party from gaining mass support. New members, friends, and allies deserve to know the truth. Below are five of the main big lies:

1. “CPUSA members are FBI agents and cops.”

There is no doubt that the FBI worked tirelessly to dismantle and dissolve the Party by means of deportations, imprisonments, and even executions in the years following the beginning of the Cold War. The CPUSA leadership was especially persecuted throughout the 1950s, and there are well-documented sources which explain how the FBI attempted to penetrate our organization. Then there is the well-known evidence that the FBI’s counterintelligence program—COINTELPRO—from 1956 to 1971 attempted to discredit the Party and other progressive and left organizations during the Civil Rights and anti-war movements. This particularly played a role in the capture and imprisonment of Angela Davis. The sectarian left plays into this FBI and McCarthyite rhetoric, perhaps without knowing so, and therefore discredits the Party just as the right-wing does.

The ruling class knows where the real threat is: that’s why the State Department continues to ask the “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the CPUSA” question on visa applications.

In any case, the Party has and continues to carry out measures to protect our organization and has done so successfully, which is why it has survived for more than a century despite so many attacks and setbacks from the ruling class. In the years following the collapse of real existing socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, the FBI has returned to these tactics, saying we’re infiltrated. Imagine that! Cops calling us cops! Don’t fall for it. Members who join us need not worry about their identity. Your membership is not public unless you make it so on your own.

2. “CPUSA endorses Democrats.”

We do not, nor have we ever, endorsed candidates who are not members of our Party. Instead, we run our own candidates at the state and local levels and plan to run presidential candidates in the future. We also emphasize the importance of uniting, organizing, and radicalizing workers around the issues and not around Democratic Party candidates. This, again, is a lie rooted in the McCarthy era when the Republicans tried to depict the Democratic Party and the Roosevelt administration as having “communist influence.” We never endorsed Democrats, even during the Great Depression and World War II. In fact, despite our support for many aspects of the New Deal, particularly the Social Security and Wagner Acts, we were running our own candidates for president against Roosevelt.

More recently, our comrades in Cuba published an article by Ricardo Alarcon, a politburo member of their ruling Communist Party and head of their National Assembly,  in which he explained how a Clinton presidency would have been more beneficial than a Trump presidency. This article was posted to our website to educate readers about how there are differences between the DNC and GOP (for example, Obama loosened the imperialist grip on Cuba), despite their both being corporate parties. Some opportunistically spread the word that it was an endorsement of the Democrats, which it was not—by us nor the Cubans. We support ideas and policies over individual candidates. Medicare For All is a contemporary idea that we support, although we never endorsed Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or Ilhan Omar, for example, no matter how progressive or “left” they may seem. We are not in a strategic alliance with the Democratic Party. Imagine what Nancy Pelosi’s answer would be if you asked her that!

3. “CPUSA is revisionist” or “CPUSA is reformist and not revolutionary.”

Perhaps we should go back to Eduard Bernstein to see what “revisionism” actually means. Reform over revolution. The struggle or “movement” is everything, and the end, nothing. Our Party has always fought for progressive pro-people and pro-labor reforms under capitalism on the road to socialism. Imagine the Communist Party not supporting the women’s right to vote in 1919, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the right for same-sex couples to marry in 2015. Of course, we understand that capitalism cannot be permanently reformed or saved. Our Party was born out of the old Socialist Party of America over a century ago. One of the reasons was their downplaying of the fight for civil rights against segregation under capitalism because they felt that socialism would solve it all. The CPUSA argued that we’d never get to socialism unless these issues were addressed in the here and now.We also understand where the working-class struggle is at this point in time. The masses of working people are frustrated with the two-party system and the shortcomings of the political and economic system they live in. However, the masses are not calling for a revolution to take place tomorrow. This is why we are active on all fronts of the struggle, including in the electoral arena, progressive grassroots movements, the abolition of police and the prison industrial complex, mutual aid efforts, tenant organizing, trade unionism, and so forth. In addition to these fronts, we refuse to become class reductionists like some, and that is why we take the women, LGBTQ, Black, Native American, Latino, Asian, and immigrant questions seriously as democratic struggles for equality. Not all battles are won the same way. Racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc., are not automatically solved overnight during a revolution.

We also understand that “revisionism” means certain things to different people. For some, “revisionism” means not advocating for the violent overthrow of the capitalist system tomorrow. For others, it simply is the lack of quoting Stalin, Mao, and Hoxha in our Party program. In any case, as committed Marxist-Leninists, we will continue to fight for reform on the road to revolution just as V. I. Lenin (Two Tactics of Social Democracy in Democratic Revolution and “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder), and Comintern leader George Dimitrov (Against Fascism and War) laid out in their writings almost a century ago. That is where the struggle is, and that is how we will build a mass Party and movement for socialism in the USA.

4. “If I join the CPUSA, I’ll never get a job opportunity anywhere.”

This lie is yet another rumor rooted in the McCarthy era when our comrades were fired and removed from their jobs and respective labor unions. Nearly 70 years have passed since the beginning of the McCarthy witch-hunt trials, and although labor unions may still have some anti-communist by-laws in their books, they are rarely enforced. Many years ago, the AFL-CIO quietly eliminated its anti-communist clause. Again, your membership in our Party is not public knowledge until you make it so via social media, telling your friends and coworkers, which in most cases is still okay!

5. “The CPUSA advocates for a violent overthrow of the U.S. government.”

This lie, as you can guess, is also rooted in the McCarthy rhetoric of the 1950s when our comrades were rounded up, tried, and imprisoned for “advocating and teaching the violent overthrow of the U.S. government at an unnamed time in the future.” Yes, that was the charge. Our Party never advocated for this. Our comrades were imprisoned under these charges due to some of the rhetoric found in certain historical writings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. We want to remind our comrades and potential members that no major Communist Party in the world at this moment is trying to take state power by the force of violence. As Marxist-Leninists, we must apply our ideology, tactics, and strategy to our unique circumstances in 21st-century USA. This is not 1917 Russia or 1949 China; the material and cultural conditions of these places and time periods are vastly different and cannot be compared. We also take pride in our country’s revolutionary history of working-class and anti-racist struggle, which predates the foundation of our Party in 1919. Our fraternal communist parties around the globe in countries like Portugal, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Spain, India, Uruguay, Nepal, Greece, Venezuela, Denmark, France, Cyprus, and South Africa are participating in electoral politics, working in trade unions, combating imperialism, participating in progressive broad front coalitions to defeat the extreme right, and in some cases share state power with socialists and other progressive political parties. Each country comes to socialism in its own way. There is no “model” to follow, since the material and societal conditions of each country vary.

Our Party program clearly outlines the road to socialism in a broad manner. It starts with the defeat of the extreme right via a coalition. This coalition is a people’s movement rather than an official alliance between political parties in which working-class issues are emphasized to unite around over individual personalities like Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and others. The next step is an anti-monopoly coalition, which can be constructed as the working class becomes more and more politically independent of the bourgeois two-party system we live in. The final step is putting workers in power in order for the working class to wrest power from the capitalist class and create a working-class-led state—this includes socializing the big banks and corporations.

We do not know exactly how this process will play out, but the conditions of the struggle will determine how this is achieved and by what means. We choose the most peaceful, democratic (small d) path to socialism. We are anti-war and do not wish for the lives of working people to be lost in any more violent conflicts, if possible. This tactical and strategic approach to struggle on the road to socialism is what we call the anti-monopoly strategy. “Bill of Rights Socialism” is the goal, since the freedoms only partially guaranteed under the Bill of Rights and Constitution will be truly achieved and fully implemented only under socialism. We are very well aware of the limitations of capitalist democracy, and we want to carry out the bourgeois democratic revolution to its completion: socialism. But could you imagine living under socialism without a socialist “bill of rights” or an updated socialist constitution? Most working Americans could not, so that is why it is our goal.

We thank you for checking out the CPUSA! Feel free to ask any questions you have regarding the Party at our Facebook account or our Twitter account. Fill out an application today.

Image: Valerie Everett, Creative Commons (BY-SA 2.0).


    The Communist Party USA is a  revolutionary working-class  political party founded in 1919 in Chicago, IL. The Communist Party stands for the interests of the American working class and the American people. It stands for our interests in both the present and the future. Solidarity with workers of other countries is also part of our work. We work in coalition with the labor movement, the peace movement, the student movement, organizations fighting for equality and social justice, the environmental movement, immigrants rights groups and the health care for all campaign. But to win a better life for working families, we believe that we must go further. We believe that the American people can replace capitalism with a system that puts people before profit — socialism. We are rooted in our country's revolutionary history and its struggles for democracy. We call for "Bill of Rights" socialism, guaranteeing full individual freedoms.

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