Convention Discussion: To Build Our Party — Rebuild Left and Intermediate Forms

BY: Ed Wlody| May 19, 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

A little-discussed form of Party-dismantling (i.e., liquidation) is the abolition of left and intermediate forms. These organizational forms are “left” insofar as they embody class struggle (and anti-racist, and anti-imperialist) principles, though they are formally non-Party. They are “intermediate” in the sense that they serve as a link between the Party and mass democratic movements.

In the past, the Party helped to launch left and intermediary forms. Many will remember their initials: NAIMSAL (National Anti-imperialist Movement in Solidarity with African Liberation), WREE (Women for Racial and Economic Equality), TUAD (Trade Unionists for Action and Democracy), USPC (the US Peace Council, an affiliate of the World Peace Council), NAARPR (National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, “the Alliance”) and others.

Left and intermediate forms have been abandoned because there are some in the leadership who operate on a false theory of what is “sectarian”. Others have been allowed to wither and die. Only remnants survive. This is a conscious policy: when attempts are made to revive them, for example, US Peace Council chapters, the leadership often pounces, denouncing “sectarianism.”

At present, in CPUSA leadership circles, there is a misunderstanding of “left-center unity.” Regrettably, the late, beloved Communist trade union leader George Meyers is misquoted to justify the error. Programmatic unity (i.e., joint practical action by the left with center forces) is based on “the most advanced position of the center forces”, as George Meyers often said. But the Communist ideological position (i.e., a consistently left one) does not change. The ideological struggle continues. Communists argue for advanced positions under all circumstances, of course using appropriate tactics, even when they work in coalition with center forces who hold less advanced views.

The false understanding of left-center unity results in the left (and the Party) tailing the center. It results in the misguided campaign by some in CPUSA leadership against left and intermediate forms.

Left and intermediate forms strengthen mass movements ideologically. For example, in the anti-war and disarmament movements, it helped the work to have an organization such as the USPC that explicitly understands the divisive role of anti-Communism, and the world role of imperialism and right-wing Zionism. Similarly, TUAD’s work, promoting class-struggle, militant trade unionism, never succumbed to the ultra-left notion that all union official incumbents were “bad” and all rank-and-file movements “good.” Likewise, NAAPR brought to a mass democratic movement rooted in communities of color a sophisticated understanding of the dialectics of class and race in the struggle against political repression.

These left and intermediate forms help Party-building. With global capitalist economic crisis laying bare the rottenness of the capitalist system, the CPUSA should be growing. It is not. According to reports, Party membership fell by 60 percent from the last convention to this. One key reason for that is that the Party has no periphery. A Communist Party recruits from among people on the left, not from center forces. With Communists one-sidedly working with center forces, – vacillating, mixed up, unready to make any long-term commitment to Party membership – it is harder to recruit.  This convention should instruct the incoming NC to rebuild left and intermediate forms.

Angelo D’Angelo
Ed Wlody
Kevin Keating


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