Convention Discussion: The Communist Plus and Plan of Work

BY: David Bell| February 16, 2010

This article is part of the discussion leading up to the Communist Party USA’s 29th National Convention May 21-23, 2010. takes no responsibility for the opinions expressed in this article or other articles in the pre-convention discussion. All contributions must meet the guidelines for discussion. To read other contributions to this discussion, visit the site of the Pre-Convention Discussion period.

All contributions to the discussion should be sent to for selection not to the individual venues.For more information on the convention or the pre-convention discussion period, you can email

Of course, we must update Marx, Lenin, and Gus Hall and apply basic principles to the present. However, we need to ask ourselves if we are discarding “old” ideas because they don’t appeal to the working class or because we are drifting in our ideology. In rereading the following taken directly from Political Report to National Committee/National Council by Gus Hall, September 19, 1992, I would suggest that other than reference to specific events at that time, it is even more applicable today.


There are a lot of experiences and experiments and good work. But there are weaknesses. The overall level of our work is not high enough.

For example, to the extent that we become more involved in mass work, to the extent the weaknesses of not integrating the concept of the plus shows up, and with it, the lack of recruiting. We still have not yet mastered the art of including the plus concept in all our work. Without the plus we cannot recruit. Without it, we cannot raise class consciousness, and certainly not socialist consciousness. The plus prepares people for the Party.

Take the present economic situation. It is not enough to blame the closing of GM plants on GM in general. It is not enough to blame mass layoffs or the lack of medical care on the Reagan-°©‐Bush years. We have to do that. But it is not enough. It is enough for reformists, but not enough for Communists.

It is interesting to note that years ago the Social Democrats and the capitalist press used to slander the party by saying the Communists always blame everything on the system. Looking back, actually that was a compliment because they were slandering our plus.

Our most important and unique contribution, by way of the plus, must be to explain in the most basic and simple ways how and why the problems the people face are ultimately the results of the capitalist system, the exploitation, racism and oppression.

At the recent steelworkers convention, the delegates from the Canadian section of the union included the plus. They spoke about capitalism as the basic problem and they mentioned socialism. They talked about ‘Rambo” capitalism. They got standing ovations.

One of the residues from the factional period is the lack of focus on industrial concentration, on workingclass concentration. In their petty bourgeois minds industrial concentration was a dirty word. This was related to their non-class position.

The plus gives industrial concentration a deeper meaning. Without the plus we can be involved in mass work all out lives and never recruit anyone.

The Party can only grow on the basis of the influence of the plus. The plus must be a factor in the plan of work. The objective situation is now more open for our plus.

During the ten months since the convention we have made important headway. But there are some weaknesses.

In thinking about what it will take to raise the level of the work of the Party to new levels an old idea comes to mind.”


There was a time when the Party planned and organized its work on the basis of plans of work. The fact is without a plan of work it is impossible to function on the basis of priorities. It is impossible to have overall direction in our work. Without a plan, it is impossible to deal with concretes. It is impossible to focus on the working class without an overall plan of work. Without a plan, industrial concentration is but one of the many equally important tasks we do. Drawing up a plan forces us to think in concrete terms.

So plans of work, on all levels, are necessary to move to a new, higher level of work. Without plans there can be no checkup or follow‐up, no assessment. Without a plan of work we respond to whatever moves us at the moment. Reading the letters and reports from districts and clubs is a study in just this kind of problem.

The plans of work must respond to the question: how can we raise our work to a higher level?

Whether and how we do this depends very much on how we see the nature and role of our Party today. (Bell’s emphasis)

To measure this we have to take a fresh look at Lenin’s concept of a party of a new type.

Lenin’s concept of a workingclass revolutionary political party was molded in the struggle against liberal, petty bourgeois, social democratic concepts of the Party. In theory, these forces were reformist. Organizationally, they were anarchists. In life, they were discussion circles.

Lenin’s concept was developed in response to the historic role and revolutionary tasks of the working class.

Lenin developed the structure of democratic centralism, with the clubs as the base of the Party’s activities. Without clubs there is no need for democratic centralism.

The Leninist structure presented the idea of active leadership of mass movements and struggles – by clubs. It added the element of active leadership to the concept of influencing mass moods, mass thought pattern and mass trends.

Lenin presented the concept of main concentration on industrial mass production workers as a cornerstone of the Party.

A Party of a new type was necessary in order to fulfill the leading role of the Party. Lenin’s new type party is a party with communist essence, with the communist plus. That has not changed. (Bell’s emphasis)

We must take the political, ideological and structural essence of this concept as a guide to mold our own party of a new type, in response to our present situation.”


In life what does this mean? It means clubs of a new type. Our criticisms in this area do not mean that we in the leadership have the right answers, but the clubs don’t accept or apply them. If we had the answers, the clubs would have done so. These weaknesses are to a large extent reflections of weaknesses in our leadership. We must also not approach the clubs as if there are no objective problems. There are many.” In the original document there follows many paragraphs on the prerequisites of becoming a club of a new type.


We have to ask why we don’t recruit more. The objective conditions are ripe. We are certainly in need of new members. People need our party, now more than ever.

To answer this, we should give some thought to why people join our party. Some join for reasons of friendship. Others like the work we do in mass movements or our contributions in mass organizations. But the most solid kind of recruits are those who are convinced ideologically, who are class conscious, who believe socialism is the solution. These are the people recruited by our plus. (Bell’s emphasis) Within our overall plans we have to have specific approaches to recruiting. We have to have timetables and goals. We have to inject the plus. (Bell’s emphasis)”

  1. Study the concept of the communist plus and how we apply it today.
  2. Reestablish the Organization department.
  3. Charge the Education Department with producing educationals on the communist plus and basic Marxist‐Leninist concepts.


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