Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reply to Sam Webb's Essay on A Party of Socialism in the 21st Century: What Will It Look Like?

From: L.A. Metro  Club
            Los Angeles, CA. 
Let us begin by  saying that we appreciate the work it took to produce the 
essay. It was  put together with honesty and I believe that Sam Webb truly 
believes what  he writes. That being said, we offer a different  perspective.
We cannot afford to  do away or retire the term, Marxism-Leninism. For one 
thing, to say that  “it has a negative connotation among ordinary Americans, 
even in left and  progressive circles” is running from the class struggle. 
Our job as  communists is to educate ordinary Americans about communism and 
what it is  all about. For instance, production   and manufacturing in this 
country are at an all time low. What  little there is being produced is not 
socially useful production. That is  one reason why unemployment levels are 
so high. To begin with, our party  should review its industrial 
concentration policy and call for a return of  manufacturing jobs to the USA. We
use all legal means at our  disposal to initiate unemployed councils, lobby 
for legislation, work with  industrial unions that are on the same page, and 
put out information in  our communities that says that the Communist Party 
is for full employment  and we have the science to prove it. The pamphlet, “
Feeling locked out of  the American Dream?” is a good start. We should 
return to our roots. The  term Marxism-Leninism has served our party well for 
ninety years. Running  away from it gains us nothing.
As for Stalin, the  main reason for using the term, Marxism-Leninism has to 
do with his (and  Lenin's) work on the national question. He was faced with 
uniting a nation  by  protecting the rights of  peoples that were not 
Russian, fighting against great Russian chauvinism,  while at the same time, 
fighting against nationalism. Using the science of  Marxism-Leninism  this was  
accomplished, culminating in the so-called Stalin constitution of 1936  
which guaranteed the rights of   all citizens in the U.S.S.R. Further, the 
science of  Marxism-Leninism corrected the error in the theory of Marx and Engels 
that  assumed that socialism would first come to the industrially advanced  
countries of the world. As we now see, socialism first came to Russia (the  
U.S.S.R.), the eastern bloc countries, and then China, and then Korea, and  
then Cuba, and then Viet Nam and Laos. None of these countries were  
industrially advanced. Stalin wrote volumes on the need to support  national 
liberation movements to bring about socialism in underdeveloped  countries and 
provided material support toward that  end.
To say that  Marxism-Leninism “took formal shape during the Stalin period 
during which  Soviet scholars, under Stalin's guidance, systematized and 
simplified  earlier Marxist writings-not to mention adapted ideology to the 
needs of  the Soviet state and party” does not mean that we can not do the same 
in  the United States. Of course Stalin and the Central Committee of the 
party  adapted ideology to the needs of the soviet state and party! That is 
what  every political party that takes power does. That is what we should do.  
But that does not mean that the term Marxism-Leninism is foreign by any  
means. Stalin learned from Lenin. Hence the term,  Marxism-Leninism.
Where it is said,  “Marxism is revolutionary in theory and practice, but it 
doesn't consider  “gradual” and “reform” to be dirty words,” no one is 
suggesting that about  Marxism-Leninism.  Perú and  their party led by 
Secretaty General Roberto De La Cruz Huamán are leaders  of large numbers of 
masses. At a recent demonstration that was called by a  “coalition” of left 
parties of which the PCP is a part, along with the  Confederación General de 
Trabajadores de Perú (CGTP) the workers of Perú  made minimum demands. It was a 
huge legal demonstration against  neo-liberalism  and the  selling off of 
public entities (privatization). This demonstration is just  part of the 
effort by the five left parties that includes the PCP and the  CGTP to win the 
Presidency of the nation on April 10. There is a good  chance. Of course, they 
are using Marxist-Leninist tactics that work in  their country, as the 
Chinese party is fond of saying ,with their own  “characteristics.”
Before we fight for  the interests of the entire nation, we must fight for 
the interests of the  working class. When people see us fighting for the 
workers, many will join  us, including small business people and people from 
other parties. To wait  until the working class is destroyed “to fight for the 
interests of the  entire nation” is just wrong.
“The deterioration  of infrastructure, the destruction of the social safety 
net, the  undermining of the public school system, the decay of urban and 
rural  communities, the privatization of public assets, the growth of poverty 
and  inequality, the hollowing out of manufacturing and cities, the 
lowering of  workers wages, and a faltering -now stagnant-domestic economy” are the 
 reasons why we should be fighting for the working class  first.
It is no secret  that pension funds in OECD countries lost $3.5 trillion 
(US)  in market value during the global  financial crisis and are still unable 
to fully restore savings to their  2008 levels. Defined benefit pension 
funds are underfunded because of wild  speculation throughout the world's 
capitalist markets. The workers are  punished through no fault of their own. This 
is one area of the financial  mess that needs to be properly explained. The 
CPUSA should issue a  position paper on the subject of pension funds, 
noting first of all that  workers take less money in wages with the expectation 
that pension funds  will be available when they reach retirement age.    

This is not to say  that there are problems that effect all of humanity, 
like global warming,  nuclear power and weapons, and natural disasters. Of 
course we do all we  can to identify  these  problems and make the struggle for 
a better world part of our  program.
“The struggle for  socialism goes through phases and stages, probably more 
than we allow for  in our current writings and program.” Exactly! We have a 
defeat and  retreat strategy. The CPUSA seems to be afraid of the capitalist 
system.  Workers can sense this. They know when the party is weak. That is 
one  reason they don't join in greater  numbers.
“A party of  socialism understands that in any broad coalition of social 
change,  competing views are inevitable.” The role of the left is to express 
its  views candidly, but in a way that strengthens rather than fractures 
broad  unity, which is a prerequisite for social progress.”  That is why Lenin 
and the  bolsheviks  formed “a party of  a new type.” A communist party. 
They found that working with the social  democrats was a defeatist policy. 
Later they found that working with the  Trotskyites was a bad idea. It depends 
on how one defines left. We all  know that the CIA works overtime since the 
end of the cold war setting up  left groups that are for the purpose of 
discrediting the communist  movements and parties. There is another very 
important reason they form  these groups. They finance them to fool workers who are 
looking for  solutions to their problems. A party of the 21st century must  
be ideologically strong so as not to be enamored by the glitz and glamor  of 
capitalism. Now the social-democratic elites have  cell phones and  
blackberries, and  laptops and they drink their  Starbucks coffee in the morning   
and they travel like kings while the majority of people in the  world have 
nothing to eat!  We  must have humility  if we are  to be real communists.
“Don't be surprised  to see a movement back to class concepts and 
historical materialsm -not to  mention a new interest in the theoretical 
contributions and political  biography of Lenin. No one in this or the last century
match his  theoretical  body of work on  questions of class, democracy, 
alliance policy, nationality, power, and  socialist revolution.” In fact in the 
former Soviet Union, there is  renewed interest in the lives of Lenin and 
Stalin, and their popularity  there is rising. The Communist Party of the 
Russian Federation placed  second in the regional elections, passing the Russia 
United party. All the  more reason not to change Marxism-Leninism to simply  
“A party of  socialism in the 21st century doesn't irrevocably lock social  
forces, organizations and political personalities into tightly enclosed  
social categories that allow no space for these same forces, organizations  
and personalities to change under the impact of issues, events, and  changing 
correlations of power.”   We seriously doubt that a party as small as the 
CPUSA can have this  kind of power. We had better grow first, before we assume 
such  things.
Regarding  immigrants having a tradition of struggle, suggesting that their 
spirit is  militant and anti-capitalist while failing to mention the neo - 
liberal  policies in their countries of origin that caused them to emmigrate 
makes  the assumption that they were born that way and that all immigrants 
are  that way. They have to continue the fight in their own communities in 
the  United States which is why many immigrants don't join the party. We have 
 witnessed this with my own eyes. We work with immigrants every day.  Immigr
ants work within their own community. We have worked many years in  the 
past within the Irish community and had to fight against nationalism  and 
anti-communism. Despite this, we were able to establish a  party club of Irish 
immigrants,  and they were mainly concerned with problems back home. We are 
not  suggesting that all communities are the same, but we are patient, and we  
observe how immigrants react to our party. Are we really interested in  
their problems or are we just using them?  It is something we should discuss  
before  assume that all  immigrants will jump at the chance to join the party 
because they are  immigrants.
We have to ask, why  take over the Democratic Party? What can be gained by 
such talk? Are we  organizing them or are they organizing us? Are we having 
influence with  them, or are they having influence with us? Who is leading 
whom? Wouldn't  it be better to work with workers' organizations directly,  
that is to say, the unions and the  union movement? Wouldn't it be better to 
organize a coalition of parties  and left forces into an electoral coalition 
that can win real political  power like they have done successfully in Perú 
and El Salvador?  A party with its own independence  and it's own name, led 
by labor and communists? That is what we see . And  it is working. First we 
tried to work with the old parties, and we were  sold out. That is what the 
Democratic Party is good  at.
When we speak of  Stalin, we need too speak of him in the continuum of  
history. Before there was a Soviet  Union there was Russia, with its culture, 
tradition, and its brutality.  Stalin acknowledged publicly that “the purges 
and executions of hundreds  of thousands of communists and other   patriots 
and the labor camps that  incarcerated,
exploited and sent  untold numbers of [innocent] Soviet people to early 
deaths, and the  removal of whole peoples from their homelands.” The most 
precise number of  deaths from purges and executions of innocent Soviet citizens 
is 640,000.  Most of this was done by Nicolai Eshov, a German spy working 
under direct  orders of the German SS. When he was discovered, he tried to 
hide his  crimes. He was promptly tried and executed. Others with authority 
high in  the Soviet government were also found to be murdering innocent Soviet  
citizens. They were also double dealers working for the Germans. Following  
Lenin's death, many intellectuals doubted that the Soviet Union would  
continue. They joined the party, acted like loyal party members, worked  their 
way up into positions of authority and worked as spies Germany. The  
assassination of Sergei Kirov in 1934 was the first major provocation of  the Bloc 
of Rights and Trotskyites. There was sabotage including  falsifying of grain  
and  cotton harvest reports, killing of livestock including horses, 
destroying  railroads, blowing up mines, and so on. In short, there was a fifth 
column  operating in Soviet Russia. The threat was real. And the man who was  
charged with stopping the sabotage , Nicolai  Eshov, was protecting the 
spies,  and conducting trials of innocent Soviet citizens, and lying to the  
Central Committee of the CPSU the whole time. What do you do when people  lie to 
you? Do you take their testimony at face value? Can they be  trusted? Are 
they loyal comrades? Or are they lying and destroying the  lives of innocent 
When Stalin acknowledged the  atrocities, he did not call them a mistake. 
He said that horrible crimes  were committed that have nothing to do with 
socialism, and those crimes  were committed by Nicolai Eshov, a German spy. 
When we speak of  war crimes or crimes against  humanity, we have to put the 
blame where it belongs, not on the people who  discovered the horrible crimes, 
Stalin and Beria. There are many witnesses  to Stalin's leadership of the 
USSR. Firstly, there is the American  ambassador to the USSR, Joseph E. 
Davies, author of the book, Mission  to Moscow. Then there is Anna Louise Strong, 
who wrote, The Stalin  Era, which is her account of her time in the USSR 
under Stalin's  leadership. There is also the book, Stalin, written by a 
German  biographer, Emil Ludwig. There is also The Red Archbishop, the Dean of  
Canterbury, Hewlett Johnson and his book, The Soviet Power.  There is plenty 
to read on the  subject of the soviet Union during WW   II.
 On the subject of war crimes and  labor camps, it should be pointed that 
the United States bombed Dresden  and murdered hundreds of thousands of 
German citizens, and later dropped  not one but two atom bombs on Hiroshima and 
Nagasaki Japan, killing  hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese citizens. 
These bombs were  dropped on civilian targets where they would do the most 
damage. The  reason for these atrocities had nothing to do with winning the 
war. The  goal of the capitalism was to destroy the  industrial capacity of 
Germany and  Japan so that the United States and United Kingdom would be 
unchallenged  superpowers in the world. The Soviet Union decided not to use 
nuclear  weapons and instead attacked the Japanese main land, liberated the  
Sakhalin Islands, and kept the Japanese Army from valuable fuel to  continue 
the war. In short, the use of nuclear weapons was  unnecessary.
Before and during  the war, there was no “forced” collectivization of 
Soviet agriculture. It  was entirely voluntary. “it was found that the voluntary 
principle  of forming collective farms was being violated, and that in a 
number of  districts the peasants were being forced into the collective farms  
under threat of being disspossed, disfranchised, and so on.” (History of  
the CPSU, p.307, International Publishers, 1939 ed.)This was in direct  
violation of the order of the Central Committee of the CPSU which was  “against 
any attempts whatsoever to force the collective-farm movement by  'decrees' 
from above, which might involve the danger of the substitution  of 
mock-collectivization for real Socialist emulation in the organization  of collective 
farms.” (Resolutions of the C.P.S.U.[B] russ. ed., Part II,  page 662.)      
What there was was a discontinuation of Lenin's New Economic  Policy, which 
had become outdated. Stalin needed to ramp up agricultural  output so that 
there would not be food shortages during and after the war.  There was 
nothing forced about it. In fact having received a number of  alarming signals of 
distortions of the Party line that might jeopardize  collectivization, on 
March 2, 1930 Stalin's article “dizzy With Success,”  was published. This 
article was a warning to all who had been carried away  by the success of 
When whole peoples  were relocated from their homelands, this was done 
because their homelands  were under attack. In fact, Soviet troop trucks were 
sent to Poland to  relocate Jewish people behind the Ural mountains so that 
they would be  safe. Once again, the threat was real.
With regard to  Stalin's so-called labor camps,   we should consider that 
most of the people in the camps were  deserters from the armed forces that 
were  captured.
This has been  researched and verified by the writer Geoffrey Roberts in 
his book,  Stalin's Wars.
 Secondly, we had labor camps of our  own. Japanese-Americans were 
relocated from the major cities on the west  coast into internment or concentration 
camps. These people were American  citizens, many of whom served in the 
244th army regiment in  Europe while their families stayed behind. This was a 
great violation of  civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Before 
we find fault and  throw stones at Stalin, who has been dead for more than 50 
years, who led  the USSR in the great patriotic war and saved socialism, th
e legacy of  Lenin, we should first look at our own country's “mistakes.” 
The United  States also had a “cult of personality.” His name was Franklin 
D.  Roosevelt, and while he did many good things, internment of  
Japanese-Americans wasn't one of them.
Regarding the  statement that “The state isn't simply the instrument of the 
ruling class  – a monolithic and tightly integrated class bloc and weapon. 
While the  capitalist class is dominant, the state is filled with with 
internal  contradictions and is a site of class and democratic struggles – not 
just  any site though, but a crucial and decisive site.” What you fail to  
mention is that Gorbachev and his social-democratic friends used this idea  to 
destroy socialism and the USSR. The history of social-democracy of one  of 
anti-communism and anti-Leninism. The social-democrats do not want       
socialism. They want to reform capitalism. The communists on the other  hand, 
have always been guided by the revolutionary teachings of  Marxism-Leninism. 
In the new conditions of the era of imperialism,  imperialist wars and 
proletarian revolutions, its leaders further  developed the teachings of Marx and 
Engels and raised them to a new  level.  That is what the CPUSA  must do if 
we are to call ourselves  “communist.”
regarding the  statement. “Bureaucratic collectivism and a command economy 
that reduce  people to cogs, social relations into things, and culture to a 
dull gray  will be resisted by a 21st century party of socialism” who is  
suggesting that a command economy has to reduce people to cogs?  The command 
economy will be run by  the workers themselves, not the party. That is what 
socialism is! Why  assume that the party will run everything? It certainly 
does not in Brazil  or Venezuela, or Cuba.
As for the  statement that “Our socialism will embrace a new humanist ethos 
and value  system, that is what Marxism-Leninism does. Marxism-Leninism is 
synonymous  with humanism. This has nothing to do with whether or not there 
is a  command economy under socialism. Furthermore, a command style economy 
with  bureaucratic collectivism could be construed as trade unionism, 
something  that will be replaced by socialism in the 21st century. The  dream that 
“the builders of socialism should put into place a dense  network of worker 
and community organizations that are politically and  financially empowered 
to govern” assumes that everyone will participate.  Unless incentives are 
put in place, this will not  work.
As for dropping the  term democratic centralism, this cannot be done in a 
communist party. This  is how we function. Democratic Centralism “is” force 
of argument. That is  how unions decide questions of major importance such 
as the decision to  strike. The conscience of the majority, by unity of will. 
Remember that  the Bolsheviks we busy in 1917 too. Workers worked more than 
the customary  8 hours a day. What makes us any different. Membership in 
our party is  voluntary. If members can't follow what is in our constitution, 
they  shouldn't be members. That is what distinguishes us from other 
political  parties. We are disciplined. We make a plan and we stick with it. We are 
 not like the social-democratic parties that spend all their time in  
endless debates.
Regarding the  internet, the party should not abandon ground organizing if 
favor of the  internet. It should use both. Our clubs depend on literature 
to reach  people in our communities. We can't neglect this work. The internet 
that  we have seen is very limited. There isn't much there to see. There 
has to  be more on those pages like the CPUSA website. There should be a 
direct  link to International Publishers on the home page. We shouldn't have to  
surf through endless links to find it. International Publications is a  
party entity and should be treated as such. Currently there is no members  
section. There is no on-line store to purchase party supplies or to order  
pamphlets in print. We should have position papers on things effecting the  
working class: a paper on the foreclosure crisis, a paper on homelessness,  a 
paper on war and peace, a paper on the struggle to reform labor law, a  paper on 
immigration and citizenship. If these were on the web page,in PDF  format, 
our clubs could download them and use them in our communities. If  we are 
concentrating on the web so much, we need to use it to our  advantage. Right 
now it looks like something  of a command style  bureaucracy.
Regarding the  statement that, “No party , including ours, is mistake free; 
we make  mistakes and we make them in the present as well as the past. 
Politics is  complex and fluid, and mistakes in theory, assessments and 
practices are  inevitable” it would be nice if the party of the first country of  
socialism was afforded that same luxury!  What gives us the right to judge  
Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union in the great patriotic war? What  right 
do we have to distance ourselves from him? None. What was achieved  until 
1953, the year of Stalin's death could never be achieved by the  CPUSA. 
Never!  The USSR saved  the world from fascism and fought a war on two fronts. To 
distance  ourselves from Stalin is anti-communism at its worst. This is not 
worthy  of our party. Let us reunite ourselves with the legitimate 
communist and  workers parties of the world. It is ours to win in the 21st  century.

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