(Note: This article was originally published before the vote to change the organization’s name to “Red Party.” The views expressed in this editorial have since been expanded upon in the “What We Stand For” column. -Ed.)
The New Communist Party of America sends its revolutionary greetings to the readers of the Red Vine, and in particular to the participants of the second annual Ida B. Wells International Anti- Racism Conference, where this paper is making its debut. The Party feels that, in the current climate of capitalist austerity, war, oppression, depression and environmental crisis, the order of the day is to build a united fight-back movement of workers and oppressed people. We are launching the Red Vine as a means both to raise class awareness of currently apolitical workers and to facilitate open information exchange and debate on the Left.
Failures of the Left
Our organization was formed in the summer of 2011, the product of a small number of working people, some of whom with experience in Left wing politics and some newly radicalized. At this time Occupy Wall Street was at the height of its influence, bringing the contradiction between the “1%” and the “99%” into the consciousness of millions. Despite its flaws – its sometimes anarchistic illusions, its tendency toward the undemocratic consensus model, its reluctance to establish a program – it was a vibrant, flourishing movement that will no doubt be revived in one form or another when the next phase of generalized anti- capitalist struggle begins. Yet despite this exceptionally favorable climate for socialists and communists to organize in, the Left failed to make significant gains inside the various Occupy camps.
We failed to convince broad sections of the movement to adopt a common program of objectives to fight for, and failed to build the various Occupy groups into permanent organizations. Our organization asked itself the question: Why couldn’t we do better? The reason is simple: the unprincipled disunity of the socialist Left, what Marxists call sectarianism, has left the working class bereft of its most advanced, far-sighted contingent.
Sections of the capitalist class, organized in the far-right Republicans and the Tea Party, have declared open warfare on the trade unions. Immigrants continue to be hunted down by the so- called “progressive” Obama Administration, and those same “progressives” are pushing forward an immigration reform plan that will cement a two- tiered status between immigrants and native-born workers. A grim recognition exists in the Black community that we will see more, potentially many more, Trayvon Martins and Jordan Davises as racist vigilantes operating with near impunity join already- existing police oppression.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) reads like a love letter to the insurance industry giants – the list of class war policies enacted by both of the major parties of Big Business goes on and on. Occupy Wall Street drew support from many of the politically aware workers (and oppressed people generally) because it began to articulate a class position, albeit an imperfect one, and because it offered a vehicle to fight for that position.
Historically, socialists and communists have been at the forefront of such vehicles. It was the Communist Party USA that lead to the birth of the militant anti-racist CIO unions in the 1930s, influenced the mass movements that won Social Security, the minimum wage and unemployment relief, and organized radical campaigns like the Alabama Sharecroppers’ Union and the Scottsboro Boys’ legal defense to promote multiracial class solidarity. This is the real legacy of the workers’ movement: bold visionaries that worked in the here- and-now while looking forward to a world free from capitalism, not high-level union bureaucrats preaching partnership with the bosses on the one hand and a disjointed array of squabbling socialist sects on the other.
The formation of the American Communist Party (CP) in 1919-1921 was a high water mark in the history of the North American workers’ movement. Born from the unity of competing sects, the then-revolutionary party, while small compared to the capitalist parties and the reformist Socialist Party, punched far above its weight because it became a party-movement. The CP conducted a permanent educational campaign to promote socialist ideas, set up Unemployed Councils, youth leagues, artists’ collectives, and mutual aid societies in addition to its electoral and labor union work.
The single greatest setback our movement has ever suffered – at least in this country – was the loss of the CP to Stalinism, which eventually lead to the destruction of the CP as anything more than a pro-Soviet (and now, pro-Democratic) mouthpiece. But this loss doesn’t make it any less necessary to organize a new communist party. At the present moment, most self-described Leninist organizations follow a distorted, caricatured version of “Leninism”, wherein internal democracy is subverted by leadership bodies and public disagreement with official group decisions is discouraged, if not forbidden.
This so-called democratic centralism needs to make way for genuine democratic centralism, where united action is complemented by free and open Party democracy, including the right to form tendencies and factions, if the revolutionary Left is to make any headway in the future. The method of Stalinism, even under the name of Marx, Lenin or Trotsky, is still Stalinism.
This is the purpose of the New Communist Party of America. Our name is not descriptive of an accomplished fact, as though our organization were “the” future mass workers’ party-movement in embryo. Rather, it is indicative of a goal: ending the current disorganization of the working-class Left and moving toward the party-movement of our class that we need. Alone, we are too small and lack the necessary coordination and nationwide structures to make a decisive difference. Together, we can change the world.