Social media and the CPUSA

BY:Harold Wallace| June 20, 2011

The policy of the Communist Party USA is that social media, as tools for building personal organizing relationships, are an integral part of a strategy for growth and consolidation in the digital age.  This spring’s national conference (New York City, April 16-17) saw a number of fruitful discussions about the scope and application of this policy, so I would like to briefly recap those discussions for comrades and allies who couldn’t attend and to offer a few reflections of my own.

The principal objection to giving digital organizing a prominent role in Party strategy comes from what one might call a ‘traditionalist’ perspective.  In this perspective, organizing depends on solid bonds of trust and dependability, which are held together, as one comrade put it, “with shoe-leather.” Comrades defending this position caution us, moreover, that the use of social media requires technology to which not all members of the working class have access.

Defending the importance of social media, comrades of a more digital bent remind us that the old opposition between ‘real’ reality and ‘virtual’ reality no longer holds, and that Facebook relationships, for example, are not just pale imitations of offline relationships-especially among youth, who seem to experience online social networks as an extension of, rather than an escape from, face-to-face sociability.

It must be emphasized that no one has advocated an exclusive use of one form of organizing or another; rather, discussion turned around the weight or prominence to give to the respective forms.  As a part of this dialogue and in the interest of promoting a conscious and informed application of our policy, I would like to offer a few thoughts on the subject from a theoretical perspective.

Read more at Political Affairs.


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