Sunday, December 12, 2010
This is posted with thoughts of "just in case anyone wondered". It is a history and status of the Communist Party USA in its own words as taken from its Facebook page. CPUSA's website is at http://www.cpusa.org/. There is a membership application form at http://www.cpusa.org/join-us/.
The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) is a Marxist-Leninist political party in the United States.
For approximately the first half of the 20th century it was the largest and most widely influential communist party in the country, and played a prominent role in the U.S. labor movement from the 1920s through the 1940s, founding most of the country's major industrial unions (which would later implement the Smith Act) and pursuing intense anti-racist activity in workplaces and city communities throughout this first part of its existence. Simultaneously the CPUSA survived the Palmer Raids, the first Red Scare, and many similar attempts at suppression of communist activity by the Government of the United States through the end of World War II. By August 1919, only months after its founding, the CPUSA had 60,000 members, including anarchists and other radical leftists, while the more moderate Socialist Party of America had only 40,000.
The Communist Party affiliated International Workers Order and its 15 sections organized around linguistic and ethnic lines provided mutual aid and cultural activities to a membership that peaked at 200,000 at its height.
By the 1950s, however, the combined effects of the second Red Scare, McCarthyism, the Secret Speech, and the Cold War began to break apart the party's internal structure and confidence. U.S. Government prosecution efforts were aided by the party's membership in the Comintern because it cast the Party not only as subversive, but also as a "foreign" agent. Members who did not end up in prison for party activities tended either to disappear quietly from its ranks or to adopt more moderate political positions that were at odds with the CPUSA's party line. By 1957, membership had dwindled to less than 10,000.
Effectively eliminated as a revolutionary opposition force, the party transformed its militant revolutionary line into a more evolutionary one, participating with more vigor in the U.S. electoral system and advocating "peaceful coexistence", a shift which by the early 1960s led to dozens of angry breakaways by more militant CP members who saw them as conciliatory "sellout" moves. This New Left continued to follow the idea of armed class war and generally turned to Mao Zedong for inspiration. The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 led to further disillusionment and defections. Meanwhile, the major leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement were very careful to keep communists at arm's length for fear of also being branded communist—policies that isolated the CPUSA even further.
With continued erosion of what little mass support remained, and very little if any continued influence in mainstream politics, in the late 1980s the party finally became estranged even from the leadership of the Soviet Union itself. Its opposition to Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika meant the Communist Party of the Soviet Union cut off its support of the CPUSA in 1989. The party languished without state support from such a major entity. In 1991, the party held its convention and tried to resolve the issue of whether the collapse of the Soviet Union should mean that the Party reject Leninism. A Party majority reasserted its classic Marxist-Leninist line, and the faction urging social democracy left and established itself as the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.
The CPUSA has never regained the influence it wielded before the McCarthy period, and no longer espouses the ideology of its earlier days. Unlike similar groups in most parts of Europe, the CPUSA exercises no power within the U.S. government. Although still proclaiming themselves advocates of a socialist revolution, the party today calls for a "peaceful transition to socialism" in the U.S. "wherever possible" and its constitution makes "advocacy of … force and violence or terrorism" a reason for expulsion from the party. However, despite this notable loss of influence and the fact that the CPUSA exercises no political influence within or upon the Government of the United States, it does continue to exist as an organization, today under the leadership of Sam Webb, who asserts that the number of registered members has climbed to over 15,000.
The CPUSA is based in New York City, its newspaper, originally The Daily Worker, is today the People's Weekly World, and its monthly magazine is Political Affairs Magazine. The Party's stated goal is to achieve a free, prosperous, and peaceful society free of racism, sexism, homophobia, and exploitation, in which all people have the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential. This approximates the goals of many social welfare-oriented leftists such as US-based social democrats and Progressive Democrats of America, despite the CPUSA's self-proclaimed communist label. Members from Gus Hall's period still remain within the party's ranks.
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