Communists discuss U.S. path to socialism


NEW YORK - The Communist Party USA has opened a national conference here this weekend. The logical assumption is that the 140 delegates present today from all over the country will focus on what they can do to defeat the right wing in this year's elections. And while this is, in fact, very true, the delegates note that they intend to go much, much further.

"This conference will not ignore the elections, to be sure," Sam Webb, the party's chair, declared in his opening remarks. "But it has, at the same time, a grander design. It will connect the dots between our immediate and longer-range political tasks.

"Or to put it differently, we hope to connect the struggle at the ballot box today with the struggle for socialism tomorrow."

There were many new faces present at the conference, as Webb noted: "Many of the new delegates are young people, who are as committed now to a socialist future as were the older generations of Communists in the past."

One of the things driving their commitment is concern about the growing threat to humanity's future coming from environmental degradation. "Almost daily," he said, "we hear of species extinction, global warming, deforestation, resource depletion, and on and on to the point where we are nearly accustomed to the gathering catastrophe.

"Our planet cannot indefinitely absorb the impact of profit-driven, growth-without-limits capitalism; the earth is sending distress signals to its inhabitants. And they will become louder, still, as long as the reproduction of capital dominates the reproduction of nature."

The Communists gathered here today say that capitalism - which once generated jobs and rising income - has devolved into a generator of unemployment, inequality, and insecurity. And with that understanding, they don't believe that the future offers a restoration of growth and rising income - that can only come, they feel, with a turn in the balance of class and social forces.

Socialism - more than a good idea, is "imperative," as Webb put it, "to preserve peace and our planet, expand democracy, eliminate gross racial, gender, and other forms of inequality, and to provide a secure life for the billions living on this earth."

Given their commitment to this goal, the delegates are preparing to discuss the various stages through which they see the struggle for socialism progressing.

Defeating right-wing extremism is seen as simply the first stage of the fight. Webb warned of that stage's critical nature. "If you don't believe me," he added, "take a look at Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, where Republicans took control of the levers of power in 2010 and then ruthlessly rolled back rights, eliminated social programs, and attacked the labor movement.

Assuming an eventual victory over the right wing, the Communists see workers and allies then being able to enter an "anti-corporate" stage of the struggle, where they expect the fight for a peoples' agenda will bring the labor movement at odds with corporate/economic political power.

"This stage of struggle doesn't supplant capitalism," Webb remarked. Instead, it "brings the socialist stage closer as tens of millions become convinced in the course of the struggle that capitalism doesn't work for them."

In the next stage (the socialist stage), Communists see a substantial shift to the left among the "core forces" of social change, a deepening of anti-racist consciousness and practice, the consolidation of the anti-corporate alliance, and the growth of the Communist Party and other left organizations.

"This stage will culminate in the election of a peoples' government," Webb stated.

Important parts of this stage, he noted, are "steps to control the movement of capital, to institute a tax policy that weighs heavily on the wealthy, and to place under democratic control sectors of the economy, such as finance, that are a threat to the peoples' government and a socialist revolution."

Some of this is still a way off, and so another focus on the part of the Communists is turning their party into a far bigger one than it currently is.

"We are still too small," Webb acknowledged, "but the good news is that we're growing. A good measure of this is the thousands of people who 'like' us on Facebook. As of last week, 20,000 people liked us on the People's World and 18,000 liked us on the Communist Party page. And in both instances, the number grows week by week."

Photo: Sam Webb speaking at the CPUSA's 2010 National Convention. PW Photo.

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  • Capitalism is not better than every other economic system. It is cannibalistic of other economic systems - it is like throwing something scarce in front of the greedy and the the criminal and asking them to abide by civilized rules of exchange.

    Lloyd Bardell

    Posted by Lloyd Bardell, 11/18/2012 4:42pm (3 years ago)

  • Marxism was meant for highly developed countries or societies that had gone through a high level of development and Capitalism - those countries that adopted it in the 20th Century were anything but highly developed and were not appropriate to implementing a successful instance of the economic philosophy. Actually, the system was abused as a political system and a justification for some to seize
    power. Although, some great strides forward were made even then, the overall impact was deleterious as those societies had not gone through the necessary economic stages leading up to the implementation or development of the natural economic system. Marxism is an Economic Philosophy and not a Political one. It is possible to retain most of the features of the US Government while adopting large elements as part of natural process that are Marxist in nature.

    Posted by Lloyd Bardell, 08/22/2012 5:46pm (3 years ago)

  • With people like Mitt Rominov and Ryan, we see that bribery, corruption, and favoritism are the standing vices of the rich; and, that we get asses for lions.

    Posted by Lloyd Bardell, 08/17/2012 4:30am (3 years ago)

  • Technology makes a form of communism or robot-socialism inevitable. I believe that our focus at this time should be on changing incorporation laws, making them Federally issued charters that require a distribution of capital profits across the entire employee base with eventual ownership by the employees through a meaningful Employee ownership of the corporation. Another focus should be on capitalizing property owned by the lower classes in nations around the world that are considered to be lesser developed - bringing value in to the world economy and empowering the poor with a bargaining chip.

    Posted by Lloyd Bardell, 04/27/2012 6:15pm (4 years ago)

  • I find this an excellent, direct statement of our party's position on the current electoral struggle. For too long we have allowed other elements on the Left to go unchallenged when they disparage our party, saying we act only as shills for the Democrats. This succinct argument by Sam Webb lays out exactly why we do participate in elections at all levels, and what we hope to gain from our strategy of defeating the ultra-right. Thank you!

    Posted by , 04/26/2012 3:00am (4 years ago)

  • The existence of capitalism as exemplified by Wall Street is a threat to all of us.

    Our economy is in thrall to the Wall Street banks and the stock exchange. Can you think of another institution or institutions which if the have a hic-cup, the country is plunged into a recession, or if Wall Street has a melt down, we are in a global depression?

    Capitalism must be regulated so that it can't plunge the economy into a depression.

    I have heard it said that capitalism has provided the greatest standard of living the world has ever seen. It may have, but only for those at the top.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 04/25/2012 8:25am (4 years ago)

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