Convention Discussion: For a United Working Class

BY: Richard F| March 18, 2014

Submitted by Richard F, California.

After 25 years the Party strategy, as enunciated by Comrade Webb, needs to be re-evaluated and retooled, if we are to perform our historical mission. In my view the strategy has had no discernible impact on the political life of the country. It has neither slowed the deterioration in living standards of the working population, halted the general disintegration of the social fabric, nor altered the balance of power between the main classes.  It coincides with and contributes to the paralysis of political initiative that has gripped the Party during that same period.  

The problem is faulty theory. The strategy projects an alliance of various forces. Despite the use of the term ‘working class’, which is mostly used to denote trade unionists, the alliance is not a class alliance but an alliance of demographic groups that are arbitrary and unstable. Demographic distinctions e.g. race, gender, ideology, are imposed on the working class by its enemies and as such have political significance and must be dealt with. However, to raise them above class reinforces the fragmentation of the working class and ultimately renders it impotent. The two-class structure of capitalism is quite complex. There is a hierarchy of capital from finance capital, which controls the key institutions of the federal government, down to the smallest capitalist. Within the working class there are also divisions with some elements – the ‘middle class’ – owning small amounts of capital, such that the line between the two classes is indistinct and fluid. Nevertheless, the fundamental features of capitalism remain intact and its processes are accelerating – commodity/money relations, sale of labor power and private appropriation of surplus value as well as its secondary features – racism, militarism, repression, decadence and mental illness, poverty, environmental destruction, anti-communism, etc, etc.  

In its assessment of the two-party system the Party strategy downplays the class dimension and comes close to reducing the operation of the system to a struggle between ideologies – the ultra rightism of the Republican Party versus the progressive Democratic Party. It does not comprehend the primacy of the class struggle within the parties over the ideological struggle between them.

Fortunately, real life does not always make the same mistake. In October 2008 at the most acute stage of the financial crisis Congresspeople from both parties with widely differing ideologies courageously combined to thwart, for a few days, the transfer of $700 billion from the tax payers to the monster banks of finance capital. It was a moment of unity between the working class and the large sections of capital subordinated to finance capital. Again in 2013 similar forces combined to prevent the escalation of the war against Syria being pushed by the Executive and the Congressional leadership and expressed outrage at the surveillance state exposed by Snowden and others.  We need to pay attention to and nurture these tender green shoots of class unity and cross class alliance.  We need, where possible, to encourage the breakup of the two-party system rather than reinforcing it. As we advance along this path the ideological divisions within the working class will subside.

The Party strategy projects a chipping away of capitalist power. It does not recognize that at the same time the capitalists doing their own chipping away. For example, while the Affordable Care Act may extend some mediocre level of health care to some poor people, it is taxing or raising the premiums of those workers, many of them trade unionists, who have adequate health plans and tightening the grip of finance capital over the health care system. As a result, it is hard to tell whether the act is an advance or a setback for the working class’s overall struggle against capital.

It should not come as a surprise then that significant sections of the working class are rejecting the piecemeal approach of the Party strategy and embracing revolutionary solutions. The electrifying impact of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the election of radicals and socialists to local offices point to this shift. Poll results confirm it. Some comrades correctly assert that those who identify themselves as socialist do not fully understand the meaning of the word. In truth, what they want is more accurately described as communism.

The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

For details about the convention, visit the Convention homepage
To contribute to the discussion, visit the Convention Discussion webpage

30th National Convention, Communist Party USA
Chicago | June 13-15, 2014


Related Party Voices 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