Sunday, September 16, 2012

Communists and the so called “Socialism of the 21st century”

Reposted from the International Communist Review:

Pável Blanco Cabrera
Member of the central committee of the Communist Party of México
In memory of Vladimir Ilich Lenin, on the occassion of the 140th anniversary of his birth.

The world counterrevolution of the end of the 20th century gave impulse on the ideological field to the thesis of the end of the history, a campaign directed to affirm capitalism for all eternity, centered on questioning the validity of Marxism-Leninism and to disarm to the working class and the opressed people in their struggle for emancipation. Also known as deideologization this pretension designed by thinkers in service to imperialism had as premise to discredit the theory of communism and the praxis of socialist construction using the effect of the crisis that carried to the temporary retrogression of the working class in the USSR and other countries of the socialist field in Europe, Asia and Africa.  At the same time, taking advantage of the confusion of the momment in the workers' movement and in the communist parties – several of which renounced to their identity and objectives in order to transform themselves into socialdemocrat parties-, it cultivated the surge of new forms of dominant ideology, such as postmodernism and other variants to influence not only in universities and centers of formation, culture and art, but to permeate unions, popular movements and organizations, left political forces, progressive intellectuals and also to impact negatively in communist and workers parties.
The general objective of imperialist strategy was not achieved, since reality cannot be holded to a straight jacket, and class struggle did not stop for a single second, regardless of the fact that counterrevolution, triumphant at that moment, presented with propaganda historical events distorted to its favor. Today –two decades after the Berlin Wall and all that volley of irrationality- capitalism at crisis has the working class and the communist and anti-imperialist movements confronting it in all continents.  Nevertheless in a secondary way this served as breedign ground for a series of approaches that today can become constraints to carrying the struggle to new favorable levels for the international working class and the peoples of the world.  Various of these approaches converge in the so called "Socialism of the 21st century".
The so called "Socialism of the 21st century" cannot be identified with the theoretical elaboration of a single political and ideological current, since its the confluence of diverse currents identified by their hostility to Marxism-Leninism and to the international communist movement: for example various trotskyist groups; heirs of the new left; latinoamericanist marxists; supporters of movementism and neo anarquist; intellectuals that consider their contribution produced in the frameworks of the academy as indispensable and essential for social processes.  The paternity of such concept can not be attributed to a single current, to a single author, although they all have sought as platform the actual processes in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, but without renouncing to be considered as universal and disqualifying like unfeasible all that can not be grouped under its approaches.  Another element of their positioning is that they insist on the "new", “innovative”, "novel" character of their proposal in front of which they consider the workers' movement of the 20th century and the ideas of Marxism-Leninism as old and out dated.
In class struggle, since the conditions of social development made possible the creation of the materialistic conception of history, its not the first time that communists confront themselves with currents that in the name of socialism present the positions of the petite bourgeoisie, its not the first time that reform or revolution are placed face to face.
In The German ideology and in The Manifesto of the Communist Party, just fot citing two works of Karl Marx and Friederich Engels, adjustments are done with "true socialism", "reactionary socialism" ("feudal", "petite bourgeois"), with "reactionary or bourgeois socialism" and with  "critic-utopian communism and socialism".  In another work, result of the polemic of Marx and Engels with Düring (although the work as was custom in the division of tasks of the teachers of the proletariat carried only the sign of one of them) the following is affirmed:  "Since the capitalist mode of production has appeared in the arena of history there has been individuals and entire sects who projected more or less vaguely, as a future ideal, the appropriation of all means of production by society.  However, so that this was practical, so that it became a historical necessity, the objective conditions for its execution were needed to be given first.[1]
A synthesis of the criticisms of Marx and Engels shows us that not everything that is presented in the name of socialism has to do with the historical role of the proletariat and of the communists:
The negation of socialism built in the 20th century.
Among the promoters of the so called "Socialism of the 21st century" there is a fundamental coincidence: the demarcation and rejection to the socialist construction experience in the USSR and in other countries of Europe and Asia.  Some of them go further blaming the own October Revolution assuming the old ideas of Kautsky and the opportunists of the II International on the immaturity of the conditions for the conquest of political power by the working class and the impossibility of socialism because what corresponded was to develop capitalism, deriving from here the bases for the alleged separation between democracy and communism; to explain that It was all condemned beforehand to failure.  However the generality is that although they vindicate 1917 October the developers of "Socialism of the 21st century" assume the Trotskyist critics towards socialist construction and to the role of the Bolshevik Party particularly, and to Marxism-Leninism in general, in fundamental matters that we are going to examine further ahead.  In this they are can not be differentiated from for example the theses assumed by the opportunistic group of Bertinotti for the V Congress of the Refoundation Communist Party of Italy in the year 2002, that planted a "radical interruption with regard to the experience of socialism as it was carried out", something to which they also refer as to a "radical break with stalinism".
Some of those –really reactionary- ideas preached as characteristics of the so called "socialism of the 21st century", is argued, are not criticized in the name of tactics.  In order not to torpedo the process in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador that are in the center of the anti-imperialis struggle of Latin America. There are even communist parties that integrate such concept to its routine vocabulary, to propaganda and to the programmatic question.
We do not believe –upon setting our divergent and critical point of view- to lack respect for those processes, which we support, of which we are supportive.  These processes were not born with the flag of "socialism of the 21st century" and they have advanced a lot with relation to their initial programs, but is necessary to add that they are not consolidated processes and that the ideological confusion that is promoted with the "socialism of the 21st century" can carry them to defeat.  With Marx we say that a step of the real movement is worth more than a thousand programs, adding that an erroneous program as north of the movement can conduct it off the cliff.  It is a duty of the communists to place scientific socialism as the road of the working class and of all the peoples, defending Marxist-Leninist theory and the praxis of socialist construction in the USSR and in other socialist countries.
Before proceeding to a serious, scientific study of the experience to extract the necessary lessons for overthrowing capitalism the historical experience of the working class is condemned based on premises elaborated by reaction or by opportunism, reformism and revisionism.  Communists reaffirm that in the same way in which the little more than 70 days of the Comune of Paris provided extraordinary teachings that enriched the revolutionary theory of the proletariat, the experience of socialist construction that started with the Great Socialist Revolution of October constitutes a valuable patrimony for the heritage of the proletariat in its fight for socialism and communism and that it constitutes a serious error to reject or avoid it.  We coincide with what is expressed in the document of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece On the 90th anniversary of the Great Socialist Revolution of October "One of the main tasks of communist ideological front is to restore to the eyes of the working class the truth about socialism in the 20th century, without idealizations, objectively, free of petite bourgeois slanders.  The defense of the laws of development of socialism and, at the same time, the defense of the contribution of socialism in the 20th century suppose an answer to the opportunistic theories that speak of "models" of socialism adapted to "national" pecularities, they also respond to the defeatist discussion about errors.[2]
Emerging subjects versus working class
The developers of "Socialism of the 21st century" coincide all in that the revolutionary role of the working class today is occupied by other "subjects", calling inclusive to the construction of new social agents; They resort to arguments of the new left, of marcusianism, of t 60’s and 70’s, on the gentrification of the working class, on their fragmentation, on the "end of labor".  They call to rethink the concept of "worker" and without performing that exercise they pass to claim social movements, indigenous, the "multitude" as the center of the transformation.
A very important aspect of Marxism-Leninism is the clarification of the role of the proletariat.  Lenin express it thus:  "The fundamental thing in the doctrine of Marx is that it emphasizes the historical international role of the proletariat as the builder of socialist society" and further on the same work he expresses:  "All doctrines of socialism that have not a class character and of the politics that are not of the class, showed to be a simple absurd[3]”. There have been changes that is true, but in no way they destroy the contradiction in capitalism that is the one existing between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat; in no way do they destroy the fact that the proletariat is the only consistently revolutionary class to carry to the very end not only the overthrow of bourgeois order, but the emancipation of the whole human genre.  They do not take into account that their role is determined by their place in production, by their objective role in economy. The proletariat, the working class, the workers, in function of acquiring class conscience "for themselves" not only emancipate themselves, but all human kind.
Nobody will deny that in political struggle the working class needs and should forge alliances with the opressed mass of the peoples. But there exists a distance with that and the affirmations of those who search for "new social actors" assigning them a liberating role above class conflict when reality shows how passenger movements are.
Socialism without Revolution and… without party
"Socialism of the 21st century" claims that neither the conquest of power or destruction of the State is necessary, but with the conquest of government it is possible to initiate a new road. Because of it all its developers do not speak of overthrowing, of breaking, of Revolution, but jumping that vital need, they present post capitalism and they devise already programs to transit to a new society.  Because of it in the speech of this political-ideological nonsense not the most minimum strategic approach exists that conducts to the destruction of the State.  Consequently neither any worry regarding the construction of a revolutionary party of the working class exists, a party of vanguard, a communist party.  What for? if it does not claim the working class as the interested in burying the exploiters?, If Revolution is not claimed as the moment in which the working class overthrows capitalism?, If the possibility of undertaking post capitalist transformations is claimed in the framework of the old bourgeois State?
Let us take into account that besides planting that "in the Socialism of the 21st century" private and social property are able to and should coexist, inclusive the praise of a socialist market is done.
When the programmatic approaches of "Socialism of the 21st century" are observed one can not stop from noting the similarity with what was the democratic- bourgeois Revolution of 1910 in Mexico and the period of greater radical nature in the developments that happened during the government of Lazaro Cardenas in 1934-1940.  During that six-year period it was established that in schools, social organizations and in state administrations along with the national anthem, The Marsellaise and The Internationale were sung; an impressive distribution of lands was carried out, a true agrarian reform; oil up till then in the hands of the American and English monopolies was nationalized and in general a politics of nationalizations was opened that conducted to the result that in the 80’s 70% of the Mexican economy was nationalized; even a great aid to the Spanish Republic was given.  From this, under the influence exercised  by browderism illusions on the Mexican Revolution as way to socialism grew. Just like the followers of today’s "Socialism of the 21st century" then they spoke of a State placed above classes and of class struggle, as a lever for development.  For Marxists-Leninists the State is not a referee above the classes in combat, its the apparatus of domination, of repression, in the case of capitalism, of the class that has the property of the means of production and of change, the bourgeoisie.  Nationalizations are not by themselves socialists, therefore in the case of Mexico they showed to be a mechanism for centralization and concentration of capitalism.
In stead of contradiction among capital and labor: north against south, center against periphery.
Another notion sustained by "Socialism of the 21st century" notes as a fundamental problem to resolve the contradiction between the rich North and the poor South, parting from deceitful statistics and above all leaving sideways that both in the north and the south of the Planet class struggle exists; the same thing is the harmful idea of the center versus periphery that intends to ignore that we live in the monopolist phase of capitalism, the higher phase of capitalism which is imperialism and that all the countries are immersed in it, as well as with relations of interdependency.
It is not a matter of minor differences but of different roads.
There are those who sustain that in reality such proposal has come to bring up to date the debate on the alternative against capitalism today in crisis; that that is its value and relevance and that besides its a critical  focus that with a similar ideological base than ours helps to surpass the errors of socialist construction bringing fresh air.
We try to show here some questions in which the followers of "Socialism of the 21st century" converge, however it is necessary to affirm that we face a proposal that is not structured, but that results from a mixture of positions, in some cases based on aspects of marxism, of christianity, of the ideas of bolivarianism; eclecticism dominates.
They express that participatory democracy, cooperatives and self-management will come to give answer to the "authoritarianism" of the Dictatorship of the proletariat.  And in short they throw incoherent concepts with the purpose of torpedoing communist theory; but without arguments; nowadays a position, tomorrow another; full confusion as the calling to the construction of a "V International" with enemies of the workers like the Institutional Revolutionary Party of Mexico.
Contemporary struggle requires to advance firmly grouped around the red flag of communism, for the transformation of the material conditions of life, for the abolition of bourgeois relations of production by the only possible way, the revolutionary way. Confusion helps In nothing, the maelstrom of incoherent approaches that are raised with the debated concept and that in last instance only are presented to retouch capitalism trying the unrealizable operation of "humanizing it".  For the working class, and not only in Latin America, for the class-conscious forces and revolutionary forces the duty is to fortify the communist parties that inscribe in their principles and program, in their action the historic experience of the workers of the world to overthrow capitalism and to build socialism, from the Paris Comune to the October Revolution.
It is nevertheless necessary to conclude that “Socialism of the 21st century” is an alien position and even opposed to Marxism-Leninism and to the international communist movement in not only questions of politics but ideological matters.  It corresponds to the communist parties to raise the red flag for the development of class conscience, the organization in class of the proletariat and the assembly of exploited and opressed workers, the construction of the necessary alliances with all interested in overthrowing capitalism with an objective that since 1917 has full force and validity, Socialist Revolution. Its a task of the epoch that we live at, that of imperialism and proletarian revolutions, and there is no space left for "compromises" neither for confusion.

Marx, K.; Engels, F.; Collected Works in two Tomes; Progress Editorial; Moscow; 1971
Marx, K.; Engels, F.; The German ideology; Ediciones de Cultura Popular; México; 1979
Lenin, V.I.; Collected works in three tomes; Progress Editorial; Moscow; 1977.

[1] Engels, F.; From utopian to scientific socialism; in Collected Works by Marx & Engels in two Tomes; Tome II; Progress Editorial; Moscow; 1971; Pg. 149
[2] Communist Party of Greece; On the 90th anniversary of the Great Socialist Revolution of October; in Propuesta Comunista number 51; Ediciones del Partido Comunista de los Pueblos de España; 2007; Pg. 48.
[3] Lenin, Vladimir Ilich; Historical destiny of K. Marx’s doctrine; in Marx, Engels, Marxism; Foreign Languages Editions; Moscow; 1950; Pág. 77 y 78.

Editor's Note: Compare this then to Sam Webb's  "A Party of 21st Century Socialism: What it says and what it does"...  - Koba

Time to Change the Line

Reblogged from Espresso Stalinist:

To: Fellow CPUSA members
From: Transit Club, New York City
Subject: Time to Change the Line
Date: April 12, 2012

Below are some facts for Party members to ponder before again accepting the false and harmful “unity against the ultra right” line stubbornly promoted by our top CPUSA leaders.
Our Party’s line, to be stressed at the April 21-23 national meeting in New York means, objectively, CPUSA support for corrupt, reactionary corporate Democrats in the White House, Congress, and in many state houses. Our governor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, (D-NY) is an example. He is an instrument of Wall Street power.
Anyone who thinks working for corporate Democrats is a stage on the road to socialism, which is what our Party leaders claim, should study the appalling record below.
Before anyone counters, “But the GOP is much worse!” a notion which is, at best a half truth, there is another political line open to our Party besides Lesser Evilism, the present policy.
It is this: Support progressives and independents in the two major parties and elsewhere, whenever it still makes sense, i.e., when they fight corporate power. But the CPUSA should devote its main strength to leading the union movement — all the people’s movements — toward building an independent political voice, divorced from both Democrats and Republicans.
This is our Party’s historic position. It is a longer, harder road than Lesser Evilism. With some 16 million members across the US, organized labor still represents a powerful political force that can criticize or support a US Administration, as it sees fit.
Only the CPUSA has the history and theory to lead this effort. The social reformists, the ultra left, the liberals, and the anarchists are clueless or unwilling. About three months ago, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka agreed to build an independent voice for labor. He conceded that is what union members are asking for.
If the Party doesn’t act soon — if it leaves matters as they are — our Party will continue to spiral downward.
In unity,
Austin Hogan Transit Club, New York City
(Signed, unanimously)
Corporate Democrats in Power: a Select List of Misdeeds
• After the 2008 elections, Democrats squandered the people’s good will and desire for change. They squandered the large Congressional majorities enjoyed in the first two years, from January 2009 through January 2011.
• After election, the Democratic White House appointed right-wing economists, advisers, Cabinet members (Timothy Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Rahm Emmanuel, and William Daley) to oversee policy. Many were the same people responsible for the deregulation that made the crash more severe. Result: The people who created the crisis were bailed out; and the working class has been forced to pay the bill;
• It refused to change direction after disastrous November 2010 elections, and the early 2010 Massachusetts Senate special election. Results of the 2010 Congressional elections showed widespread anger in the Democratic mass base at the direction of their Party;
• Massachusetts’s special Senate election to replace Ted Kennedy should have been a shoo-in. It resulted in a major Republican win, with blame placed on the woman candidate, not where it belonged: the Administration’s insistence all through 2009 on taxing union health benefits. Its betrayal was cited by union activists and others for the refusal of Massachusetts union workers to vote for or to campaign for the Democratic candidate.
• In November 2010 Republicans took over the House of Representatives and in effect the Senate. Further result: the Democratic drifted further to the right, with more appointments and policies to appease corporate America, Wall Street, and the Pentagon.
Labor & Economy
• On taxation, the Bush tax cuts for billionaires, the main cause of federal deficits, are still in place.
• In November 2010, to placate Republicans on the deficit issue, the US Administration ordered a two-year wage freeze for federal civilian workers. Many state governments followed its lead.
• The White House continued Bush policy of bailing out the banks unconditionally.
• It abandoned promises on Employee Free Choice Act, the supreme priority of organized labor and a matter of survival for private sector unions. This was the centerpiece of the argument for unions to support Democrats and bring them back into power. It was scuttled from Day 1.
• In February 2012 the president signed a bill into law that will make it more difficult for airline and other workers to join unions. The FAA Reauthorization Act contains a provision that requires a union in order to succeed in a representation election, to win not a majority of workers in a bargaining unit but a majority of all potential worker voters. Worse, in order for an election to be held, the union must submit signatures from a majority, not 35 percent as formerly.
• It offered little or no support for unionized public workers under all-out assault in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere.
• In almost four years, no significant worker safety and health regulations were promulgated.
• Its auto industry bailout approach was to slash auto workers wages in half; to force workers to pay more for a diminishing health care benefits; and in most cases to turn defined benefits pension plans into 401K plans (“defined contributions”) a boon for Wall Street investment management companies; auto industry “reorganization” amounted to forced plant shutdowns, large-scale layoffs and major union givebacks.
• On trade policy, the White House supported job-destroying free trade deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, over organized labor’s strong objections.
• On Feb 22, 2012 Trumka denounced the White House “corporate tax reform” proposal. While it contained a few progressive ideas (for example, making leveraged buyouts more difficult) it failed to raise any revenue beyond what is needed to pay for business tax breaks.
• On international economic policy, through Treasury Department and the IMF (controlled by the US Treasury Department) the US Administration, in league with the German-dominated European Union and European Central Bank, has toughened austerity against debt-ridden European peripheral states such as Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy, hurting the working class of these lands including their Communist Parties with whom we say we are in solidarity.
• There are sins of omission and commission. The US Administration boycotted the UN’s International Conference on Racism in South Africa in 2009 and actively worked to undermine any action coming out of it.
• Domestic policies of action and inaction have dramatically increased unemployment, poverty and inequality across the board; but by far joblessness is worst in African-American working class and poor communities. Yet no special measures to address mass unemployment among Black youth, near 50 percent in big cities.
• Even before the 2008 crash, Black religious leaders were protesting on Wall Street that their congregations were special victims of predatory subprime mortgage lending, but there have been few special measures from the Administration to help them avoid foreclosure and eviction.
• Increase in federal deportation of undocumented workers, mostly Latino, above the level seen in the Bush era.
• No concerted federal drive against racial profiling of Blacks and Muslims. Local police departments are often out of control in this matter.
Foreign and Military Policy; War and War Budget
• The Administration reappointed Robert Gates, Bush’s defense secretary as its own defense secretary.
• It continues the 50-year blockade of socialist Cuba.
• It has given the green light to Israeli aggression. Indifferent to Palestinian suffering, it has no objection to Israeli bombing of Gaza and seizure and detention of humanitarian relief ships to Gaza. It has cravenly capitulated to the Israel Lobby. It renewed loan guarantees for Israel. It has failed to come down firmly against continuing Israeli settlements.
• It is threatening and encircling People’s China. It forced Australia to accept a US base on its territory at its closest point to China; it began a ten-year projected buildup of US forces in East Asia, aimed at China.
• It committed aggression against Libya and Honduras. It overthrew both legitimate governments. In the former, there was all-out US military and political support for aggression by other NATO powers. It assassinated the Libyan head of state. It gave at least tacit approval to the Honduras coup, refusing to label it as such. It has recognized the elections run by the coup government in Honduras.
• It is now working on destabilizing Syria, in preparation for “regime change.”
• It continues demonization, threats and military pressure against socialist North Korea.
• It continues the Bush-era policy aimed at internal subversion of and military pressure on Venezuela and other progressive Latin American governments. It continues Bush buildup of Fourth Fleet encircling Latin America.
• It is building AFRICOM, a network of US military bases in Africa. US Navy is increasing patrols off Somali coast.
• Like Clinton and later, Bush, this White House has refused to sign the land mine treaty
• Its “departure” from Iraq is bogus. The US will keep at least 15,000 troops and mercenaries indefinitely, not to mention a Baghdad embassy the size of a small state.
• It deployed tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan. (the “Surge”) Despite latest atrocities (premeditated mass murder of children, Koran-burnings, desecration of the dead) US still committed to full-scale war in Afghanistan.
• It uses drones in Pakistan. Now such drones are allowed, with the agreement of Congress, to be used within the U.S.
• It talks the talk about a “nuclear-free world,” as did Ronald Reagan. On the other hand, after intensifying economic warfare against Iran, it is joining Israel in threatening Iran with bombing, for non-existent nuclear weapons program. It carries out unofficial, un-declared wars by means of Special Forces in Iran border areas.
• It appointed Bill Clinton to be UN Special Representative to Haiti. As president, Clinton consistently undermined Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the most progressive elected Haitian leader in modern times.
• It wages a “secret” border war, as well as a drone war in Pakistan and Yemen. It expanded CIA and US Special Forces interventions in both countries.
• It gave military support to Saudis to crush opposition in Bahrain, the seat of the main US naval base in Persian Gulf.
• It introduced the largest military budget in history, nearly $700 billion.
Civil Liberties; Constitutional Rights; Repression
• A provision of Defense Reauthorization Act, recently signed by the President allows any US president to assassinate a US citizen suspected of terrorism anywhere in the world, without due process of law.
• The Administration expanded extrajudicial killings and assassinations by drones and US Special Forces
• Supported impunity for Bush era war criminals and torturers; refused to release Bush-era military prison and torture photos; refused to release Bush era documents on torture, mistreatment of prisoners and other illegal acts
• Despite campaign promises and a signed Executive Order, White House has not shut down Guantanamo
• Continuing the build up of Baghram air base in Afghanistan as a second Guantanamo. Civil liberties groups, US and international, believe “extraordinary rendition” is going on there, despite Administration denials.
• Seeking to extend the Patriot Act with all its repressive sections.
• Dismantled the Occupy encampments in big cities, in cooperation with mayors, most of them Democrats, with tactics suggested and coordinated by Homeland Security Department
• In 2009 the international “global warming” conference at Copenhagen, supposed to reverse Bush’s reactionary stance at Kyoto, was a fiasco. It merely cemented the Bush direction on global warming and, in some ways, made it worse. White House actively worked to undermine any effective outcome from the UN Climate Change Summit.
• Pushing thoroughly ineffective climate change legislation, which will be a bonanza to Wall St.
• White House has failed to stop mountain-top removal coal mining
• OSHA regulations and EPA regulations have been stripped of original meaning; and no new regulations of any note have been adopted;
Social Safety Net
• Handpicked the Bowles-Simpson Commission whose report, accepting Wall St. assumptions, favored cuts in social safety net, shrinkage of social insurance systems and expansion of private insurance systems to give bigger role to Wall Street.
• In accordance with Bowles-Simpson recommendations, White House promised to cut Medicare and Social Security in the 2011 “debate” on debt ceiling.
• White House ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending.
Health Care Policy
• Accommodated corporate insistence that single-payer and any other progressive proposals be rejected. Corrupt US Senators (e.g., Max Baucus, D-MT) ensured such proposals were “off the table.”
• The resulting Administration “reform” (ACA) entrenches private insurance carriers and Big Pharma – which together are the main cause of the health care cost crisis – in the system. ACA makes future real reform a heavier lift.
• After promises that, in national health care reform law (ACA), no one would lose what they have, in secret meetings with health industry lobbyists, White House agreed to tax the health benefits of union workers which would a) force employers to ante up 40% more in payment for existing benefits; or b) force workers to accept 40% less in benefits, or c) force workers to pay the 40% out of their pockets. After promises in campaign speeches that “single payer” would get a fair hearing, but, in office, tossed out single payer approach as not being insurance-carrier friendly and therefore not realistic. ACA forces uninsured to buy their insurance from state-based, for-profit insurance carriers, with benefits to patients still being highly questionable in terms of their breadth and depth.
• White House sold a national health reform as universal; when in fact, it is not universal and it is a major bailout in the form of a guaranteed permanent market) of already giant health insurance carriers.
Women’s Equality
• It has repeatedly caved in to the right on women’s equality
• Education Secretary Arnie Duncan is the main proponent of charter schools, as well as more standardized testing and “merit pay” for teachers. He is promoting the privatization and corporatization of public schools and profit-making schools. It threatens states with reduced federal support unless they privatize more public schools.
• It is threatening higher education in the USA, as in 2012 State of the Union Address, with reduced federal support unless states reduce spending on higher education; thus, objectively threatening the wages and benefits of faculty.
• It has furthered the attack on public school teachers by continuing to agree with the right wing ideologues that the problem in the schools is bad teachers. There is little or no White House or US Senate effort to stop demonization of teachers.
• Administration’s mortgage rescue plan only helps banks and real estate industry, despite campaign promises.
• Despite campaign promises, it gave industry lobbyists positions in governments. The private heath insurers essentially wrote the health care “reform” law. Another example, White House appointed Cass Sunstein, a self -described “libertarian paternalist,” to oversee regulatory policy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pre Convention 2010: "Our struggles and arguments are defined by the interests of the working class, not the practical victories of the Democratic Party."

 Reposted from:

This is part of the pre-convention documents circulated in 2010. One is forced to wonder, given the breakneck speed the Webb faction has been pushing the CPUSA down the path of revisionism, whether they even bothered reading this excellent document. [-Koba, Ed.]

The Central Indiana Club sees the decline in our local manufacturing sector and recognizes that the CPUSA needs more emphasis on service industry organizing for the many reasons listed below. The local service sector is essentially the only employment option for young people coming out of Indianapolis Public Schools, if they're even able to get a job. With education under attack for the purpose of creating a cheap labor source for the service sector, it is essential that this sector of labor receive the same attention that industrial unionization has in the past. Furthermore, this sector of the workforce is comprised of the most vulnerable members of the working class, especially those who are undocumented workers. The service sector is also where young workers are and the CPUSA and YCL can play an integral part in bringing the Communist Plus to their organizing efforts.

The Central Indiana Club sees the priorities of the CPUSA as encumbered by the focus on electoral struggle which seems to trump the focus on working class issues and movements. Our Club is concerned about where working class priorities come into conflict with a Democratic Party agenda and the stifling of any criticism or critique of the Obama administration by CPUSA leadership. Our club supports President Obama and worked alongside with the campaign; however, Obama's agenda is not always the same as the dire needs of working people. Electoral struggle is not to be ignored, but it must not come at the expense of genuine working class struggles.

The Central Indiana Club recognizes the need for more ideological discipline for the CPUSA. This is due to a disturbing trend where the capitalist class is not seen as the enemy of working class interests. The significant shift in the party line where "the notion of only the capitalist class on the one side and the working class on the other...isn't Marxist" is profoundly disturbing and contradicts the very existence of our Party. The capitalist class is indeed on the opposite side and works tirelessly at intimidating workers, such as threatening picketing workers outside the Whirlpool plant in Evansville where hundreds lost their jobs, or the outright killing of union organizers in the nation of Colombia.

In Indiana, workers have been under extreme attack by the Daniels administration since he took office on January 10, 2005. It began with Daniels canceling collective bargaining contracts with public employees. The attack got worse when Governor Daniels and the director of the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), Mr. Mitch Roob, attempted to privatize FSSA. In the meantime, while Governor Daniels and Mitch Roob worked their butts off to limit access to public assistance, Governor Daniels and the Republican-controlled state senate privatized the toll roads and looked the other way while industry closed down steel mills and automotive plants. The once booming manufacturing towns of Elkhart and Anderson are wastelands--visual proof of the class war waged on workers in places like this throughout the nation. During the past five years, Indiana has led the nation in the percentage of industrial jobs lost. The governor has created the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) which has single-handedly given substantial property tax abatements to lure corporations into the state and create jobs. The result of the IEDC's efforts have been more burdens on the working class homeowners to make up the losses in property taxes and no new jobs! In Tipton County, a massive factory is empty and padlocked despite the IEDC's claims of 1400 new jobs. Getrag Transmission Manufacturing declared bankruptcy before it could hire a single Hoosier to assemble dual clutch transmissions but still got the property tax abatement.

Enter the mayor of Indianapolis, a Republican, who campaigned on property tax reform in 2007. Mayor Ballard and those who elected him have further worked to cap property taxes. The Mayor, in effect, cut the funding to public schools and is attempting to sell off the water utility without any safety or financial guarantees. Their plan is simple, bankrupt the government (i.e., the people) and privatize everything thereby transferring public assets into private hands. The maniacal genius of this capitalist octopus knows no limits and can achieve so many victories with this plan. Not only do the public schools get underfunded, the children, primarily Latino and African-American, receive little to no education, thereby creating a never-ending source of cheap labor. The graduation rate for students in Indianapolis Public Schools was around 68% in 2008, the second lowest in the nation behind Detroit.

Indianapolis is the host of the Super Bowl in 2012. This city is also a major convention destination for various organizations and entities. Hotel construction is booming and with the addition of Lucas Oil Stadium, the time is ripe for organizing. As of this point in time, there are no organized hotels in Indianapolis, but UNITE is working to change that. Indianapolis Jobs with Justice and our club have been engaged in struggle alongside the hotel workers and janitors. The goal of that struggle is to ensure that all the new service industry jobs created in the midst of this economic crisis are union jobs. Indianapolis library workers and school bus drivers were successful in their efforts and this has set an example that service sector employees and public workers can be represented by a union in Indianapolis.

This governor's administration is very dangerous to workers' interests, especially African-Americans, Latino immigrants, women, and young workers, those sections of the working class that are most vulnerable. The governor and his attorney general, Mr. Greg Zoeller, are, as this is being written, mounting a legal challenge to the health care bill that just passed congress. During every legislative session there are right-to-work initiatives introduced. There is no end to the Capitalist efforts to destroy working people in every way imaginable.

The people in Anderson and Elkhart voted for Obama because of the hope he represented and the need for universal health care, a living wage, jobs and an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those people are still waiting on those promises to be fulfilled, and the CPUSA needs to fight for those demands, not just those that are "winnable" in the short term because, as Communists, our Party rejects the limits of bourgeois democracy and advances the struggle beyond the confines of Capitalist political boundaries. Our Party's, and Communist Parties' struggles around the globe, are actually defined by the level of working class unity, organization, and class consciousness, as well as material conditions. Communists utilize our organizing efforts as well as Marxist/Leninist theory to illuminate today's struggles and guide our work. Our struggles and arguments are defined by the interests of the working class, not the practical victories of the Democratic Party.

The Central Indiana Club submits this document as part of the pre-convention discussion and looks forward to being a part of the debate to shape our party and our future.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Zoltan Zigedy responds to Sam Webb (from 2009)

Reposted from:

It’s a curious thing about revisionism: once it takes root, it continues unabated - inexorably towards further compromise and dilution - even in the face of stubborn, contrary facts. This was the case with Earl Browder who devised a new “Communist” strategy in the midst of an all-class war against fascism, a strategy that he doggedly and dogmatically clung to even when alarming signs of a new ruling class offensive were apparent to all at the end of World War II.

 Similarly, Sam Webb has dug his heels in, defending and even expanding, his class-compromising views on the path that Communists should take. Maybe its now time to anoint this path with its own name: Webbism.

 Webb sees the Obama election, as Browder saw the World War II anti-fascist alliance, as a historic marker, a qualitative turning point. “It constituted”, he maintains, “a serious setback for neoliberalism in both its conservative and liberal skin.” It did nothing of the sort.
 Webb confuses, willingly or not, a rejection of Bush’s rule on the part of the US electorate with a sea change in the dominant ideology. Given that both Parties have thoroughly absorbed the basics of neo-liberalism – free markets, the primacy of the private sector, and minimal regulation – the notion that a regime change counts as “a serious setback” for the reigning ideology is pure fantasy. Certainly Obama’s election creates more favorable conditions for waging a concerted struggle against neo-liberalism. But Webb doesn’t want to lead or even join that struggle. With nearly a decade of railing against the rule of the “ultra-right”, Webb treads water when the tide begins to turn, clinging to the leaky vessels of the Democratic Party and mainstream trade union leadership. He is content to not only defer to their course, but defend that course against any more challenging alternative.

 “The notion of the capitalist class on the one side and the working class on the other may sound ‘radical’,” he asserts, “but it is neither Marxist, nor found in life and politics.” This surprising remark stands glaringly at odds with the words of the first Marxists, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who wrote in the opening to the Communist Manifesto: “Freeman and slave, lord and serf, guildmaster and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in a constant opposition to one another… Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie possesses, however, this distinctive feature: It has simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other – bourgeoisie and proletariat.” This is the Marxism of the Communist tradition, but not the “Marxism” of Sam Webb.

 Webb’s quotes of Lenin’s work are telling. He attempts to bolster his argument for collaborating uncritically with capitalist forces by noting that Lenin urged the exploitation of differences within the ruling class and the necessity of compromise with allies: “to refuse beforehand to maneuver, to utilize the conflict of interests (even though only temporary) among one's enemies, to refuse to temporize and compromise with possible (even though transitory, unstable, vacillating and conditional) allies - is this not ridiculous in the extreme?” It is important to distinguish between exploiting differences between enemies and compromising with allies – a distinction that Webb seems not to grasp. Monopoly capital and its henchmen are not allies, but enemies. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party (those who support single-payer, oppose the war, etc), most African-American leaders, some small business groups, etc. are potential allies, “though transitory, unstable, vacillating and conditional”.

Webb fails to reveal the target of Lenin’s polemic in this quote from “Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder: it is not principled Communists who recognize “the absolute necessity of a separate, independent, strictly class party”, as Lenin wrote, but those who refuse to work in “reactionary” trade unions or participate in parliamentary activities.

Lenin closes his pamphlet with the following emphatic statement: “The immediate task that confronts the class-conscious vanguard of the international labour movement, i.e., the Communist Parties… is to lead the broad masses (now, for the most part, slumbering, apathetic, hidebound, inert and dormant) to their new position, or, rather, to be able to lead not only their own party, but also these masses in their approach, their transition to the new position.”[Lenin’s emphasis].

In the context of warning about left-wing excesses, Lenin, calculatedly and deliberately, reminds the reader of “the first historic task” of Communist Parties. Sam Webb, willfully or inadvertently, retreats from this imperative, consigning a subordinate role to the CPUSA, a role of subservience and apology for the lesser of two evils.
Zoltan Zigedy

Friday, September 7, 2012

The road to socialism can’t be ridden on the wrong horse.

From CPUSA New Hampshire's Facebook page:

“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs. 

Here we are in the midst of another national election cycle. Here we are once again jostling for place and relevancy among the various single issue campaigns and fringe groups, trying to get our voice heard in the chaos and doing what we can to make money and members aka: surviving. And here we are, pushing the same failed position of the “united front” against the fringe right, and oddly enough supporting a party and candidate which, by any standard, qualifies as “ultra right” in and of itself.
 Make no mistake, despite wishful thinking to the contrary in America we basically have a one party system- the capitalist party- having two wings. The liberal wing is called the Democratic Party and the conservative wing is called the Republican Party. Neither party is capable of change on a systematic level but only of granting miniscule, expedient, and convenient concessions easily taken back once no longer convenient. It’s not a recent development, the American political system was designed to be largely reactionary and ineffective, passing the least amount of concessions it can bear and only at the behest of their capitalist masters like good little puppets. But what can giveth can be taketh away just as easily.  This is why discussing the elimination of social security is on the table these days, because Wall Street needs new blood and they sense a tasty new morsel with all that potential investment money to squander and profit from. It’s why they’ve even been discussing the elimination of Medicare and Medicaid. It’s why they’ve already eliminated so many social programs.  It’s because they are only supported when convenient. They never would have dared to consider these extreme ideas in the past, but things have escalated due to the loss of two factors, the conditions which led to their creations.
 These programs were created and supported on two conditions- our competition with a functioning socialist alternative and massive grassroots support for their creation and continuation.  Neither of these exists anymore, and in the case of grassroots support it is unlikely it would even affect the election of either party without an electoral alternative to threaten them with, and when they both agree on something we are stuck with it. They have the chance to eliminate the programs and we have no way to stop them. We have a government that can now act with complete impunity. But how did it get this way?
 Over the last 30 years the entire political compass has shifted, and the Democrats are headed on one direction, my friends, and it isn’t leftward. Starting in the mid 70’s the Democrats have been moving rightward, being pulled in that direction by fanatics on the right who kept trying to move the entire map right-ward, which is why the political “center” is still objectively right-wing. The move to the right in the national sphere started with Clinton, who would have been considered a Republican 30 years prior, and that it is both an accident of history, and a booming economy that helps people forget that Clinton presided over the wholesale destruction of nearly the entire social welfare system in America. He’s also responsible for the massive deregulation of the banking system that has brought us the last two recessions and which, in time, may signal the beginning of the end of Democracy here in America. Clinton not only deregulated like a champ, but there was also his little adventure in Bosnia, where we intervened in a religious war between Muslims and Catholics that was killing people on both sides. Not something leftist would do. And let’s not forget the literally millions of Iraqi children whose blood are staining his hands.
 But that was almost 20 years ago, so where does the present Democratic Party stand now? They’ve illegally assassinated American citizens; they’re contributed to massive military adventures and humanitarian crisis illegally and unconstitutionally. They’ve invaded sovereign countries illegally. How does that make them any different than the Republicans? We’re also still fighting two wars that are still technically illegal by the constitution, still torturing people, Gitmo is still open, and whistleblowers are being prosecuted at a record pace. And what about ACTA, a secret treaty that the Obama administration refuses to divulge any parts of, illegally, despite multiple FOIA requests they refuse to tell us about it. And this is Obama, folks, not the republican boogeyman we had 10 years ago.
The fact of the matter is, things are worse now than under either Bush or Clinton. We’ve got massive political suppression of votes with voter ID and with the Department of Homeland Security orchestrating the local police responses to the occupy movement. We’ve got massive invasion of privacy issues, we’ve got illegal secret treaties that will destroy the internet as we know it. We’ve got massive unemployment and their only idea is to make construction jobs or give money to banks. We’ve got record deficits caused largely by Bush era tax cuts that the democrats can’t even summon the courage to fight with any energy. We’ve got the largest instance of political graft ever with the Affordable Healthcare act, in which the government will now force every American to buy private, for profit healthcare or be taxed.
Despite these facts, there are still some who argue that the Democrats pose an alternative, that they are capable of real progression, that their revolution by baby steps can eventually (in a couple of lifetimes of wishful thinking I suppose), take us to the end goal of socialism in America; and that the Democrats are somehow not to be included in the ranks of the “ultra right”.
Here’s a brief glimpse into some of their so-called accomplishments according to the CPUSA so-called “Political Action Commission”:
  • Affordable Health Care Act extends coverage to 35 million uninsured people, outlaws denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and extends until age 26 the coverage of children under their parents’ plans.
Better to be called “Insurance company subsidy/  life support bill”,  mandates that everybody help keep our broken, for-profit system going by making sure we all stay enslaved to it for life, and punishes us for not having insurance by raising our taxes. The problem isn’t that we don’t have insurance, insurance agents don’t give our one pill. The problem is access to healthcare, and the only acceptable response by the party should be an unequivocal and resolute demand for single payer. It is an utter disgrace that the party continues to support the bill, even upon the flimsiest of arguments. Golden chains are still chains, and for-profit corporations are still the enemy, or are we no longer communists?  
  • Stabilized the economy with $789 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that saved or created 3 million jobs. Invested billions in clean energy jobs, saved the auto industry.
Stabilized? Hardly. We’re still in the hole, unemployment is still over 10%, we’re still bleeding jobs, and zero necessary banking regulations are in place for when the next inevitable and identical crash. Keynesian solutions to market problems need to be done with cash on hand, not debt. What will happen is that our national debt will become larger than our budget, and we’ll eventually have to either raise taxes (impossible these days) or start cutting vital services. This bill is likely going to be the death knell to all the Great Society programs, and possibly even the New Deal ones. 
  • Appointed two women to the U.S. Supreme Court, including the first Latina woman, who supports the rights of working people.
Race has nothing to do with political allegiance. What he did is appoint another ant-abortion catholic who has a history of ruling against a woman’s right to choose, and an inexperienced law professor who opposes same sex marriage. They seem pretty status quo to me.
  • Ended the war in Iraq and moved toward ending the war in Afghanistan.
Really? When did that happen? Quick, somebody tell the tens of thousands of contractors and private security operatives that still operate in Iraq fighting now in proxy and without the constraints of international law.  Also, hate to break it to you, but to-date the war in Afghanistan is still booming, with over 80,000 troops still operating in country. Obama only removed a token number of troops to make some of his democratic supporters, who obviously don’t pay attention, happy. 
 Perpetual war? Illegal invasions? Invasions of privacy? Secret treaties? Funneling taxpayer money away from social programs to fund tax breaks to billionaires and bail out obsolete companies? Corruption, inefficiency, theft, murder, torture, kidnapping, oppression, and brutality- and all under the leadership of the promised candidate promising hope, transparency, and a new beginning- is this what we want more of?
My friends this isn’t the road to socialism, it’s the road to fascism, and the democrats are pushing the horses faster than the republicans ever were.
Here’s my solution.
We need to break the two-party monopoly. However, in many states it’s easier to just run as an independent than as a declared third party. So run as a socialist independent.  Do whatever it takes. We need to get people used to real socialists in local elections, and running the governments competently and effectively. Make the issue about the economy and be reasonable. Sound like a moderate (because even a center left is closer to the middle than a far right). In debates be the adult in the room. Once socialists are in office they can run for re-election under a declared socialist party of some type. This will put us on the map.
In other states we may need to challenge laws that keep third parties off the ballots. An alliance with other third parties can help us do this; make it about breaking the hegemony and expanding democracy. Organize third party debates. Don’t run from the tea party, they’re in the same boat with the Republicans as you are with the Democrats- sick of being used for votes and then ignored once elected.
Remember in 1968, when the people wanted to end the Vietnam War? The argument was whether a democrat, being more or less liberal, would end the war. In the end it was a Republican, Nixon, who finally ended it. And it wasn’t the ballot box that persuaded him to do so- it was the people on the streets. And they weren’t getting permits to march or put up with police oppression back then like we do now.
The point is to get to socialism- that is our end goal. This will never happen utilizing the slavish strategy whereby we beg for concessions bit by bit, and hope our overlords are in a giving mood. It will only ever be accomplished if we stand up on our two feet, and we lead by example. We must be the change we want to see.
 Socialism will never arrive via the Democratic Party, and it is foolish to try. We tried to end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars by voting, and that didn’t even work. The DNC money poured into anti-war organizations between 2003 and 2008 and our ranks were swelled and our coffers were full. As a result the leadership of these organizations was filled with people who bought the idea that, if only we had the right party in charge the wars could be over and everything would be ok. So what happened? Obama won in 2008, the money dried up, and we’re still at war. Nothing has changed for the better, and in some ways its gotten much worse.
 Their dirty little secret is this: they need our votes to validate themselves, but your vote does not obligate them to actually do what you voted them to do. And once you do what they need you for, they drop you. Which is why we are not only ignored now, but the leadership of these organizations are still very weary to retain people critical of the Democrats. Their job isn’t to lead these organizations, it’s to keep them in line with mainstream politics, and to keep people who may be interested in an alternative out of mainstream politics, or too frustrated to stay in activism. Their job is to prevent change, not create it.  Every time the leadership of an organization puts party before principle the whole organization suffers.
On a personal note, it didn’t occur to me how bad the problem was until 2007.  I gave an anti-war speech in NH, and the video ended up on YouTube. What I discovered, however, was that the main punch of my speech was removed. My final statement was that if the democrats won’t end the war, we’d find a party that did. Removed from my speech, it sounds like I was supporting the election of a democrat out of principle, or that I was anti-war because I was a democrat. Later, I discovered that following Obama’s election the organization I belonged to saw their national budget shrink to almost nothing.
  It’s the little things that does much to discredit an organization to its membership and makes it a slave to electoral politics rather than principal. And a party that doesn’t stand for anything really isn’t a party anymore.