It’s in our Hands... (On the Direction of the CPUSA)
BASIS FOR SUMMARIZED REMARKS BEFORE THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE MEETING OF CPUSA in Chicago Illinois • November 14th 2015
Posted by: Estevan Nembhard @ 2:00 PM Monday, Nov. 30, 2015
New York State Communist Party
235 W 23RD ST • NEW YORK, NY 10011
212-924-0550 • CPNY@CPUSA.ORG
IT’S IN OUR HANDS….
By Jarvis Tyner Member of the National Committee, CPUSA
I am deeply concerned.
I come before you today with a heart full of a love for our party and all comrades. Because I love our party I have deep concerns about the current political and organizational direction we are headed in.
We are at a critical moment in our history. This is a time when an open socialist can run for the highest office in the land and win the support not of thousands but of millions. There is also a good fighting chance that our nation may elect its first Liberal Democratic woman President. At the same time, the extreme right is using this election to make a big push to restore its momentum, to win total political dominance put their disastrous program fully in place. After the new level of mass rejection they have faced during the Obama era they are pushing for new decades of extreme right wing rule.
Donald Trump the extreme right wing demagogue is running hard on the anti immigrant, racist, pro war, pro corporate, anti women policies. As the GOP front-runner he poses a grave threat to democracy. Ben Carson’s policies are just as destructive. The fact that these two are leading the Republican wolf pack is not a sign of strength it is a sign of the political and moral bankruptcy of that party.
Fortunately, there is a multi racial labor and people’s progressive electoral coalition that defeated them in 2008 and 2012. If inspired, organized and united they can be defeated again. Our party’s role is very important and in many areas we are recognized and welcomed as a active part of that winning coalition.
The idea being pushed in our ranks that our Party faces an “existential crisis”, does not inspire but demoralizes comrades and I believe is a wrong assessment. It’s not accurate and it promotes the false view in my opinion that we are weak, ineffective even moribund. That is not the experience in NY District and in other districts as well. Many of our allies and coalition partners do not agree with that assessment either and wish the party well. If that assessment is adopted as a starting point in our work it can become a self-fulfilling disaster for our Party.
I have in my hands 30 recruitment cards from the NYC area which I believe are 30 good reasons to reject that assessment. These are people who have joined since 2013 from our mass work. It does not include our internet joiners and new members in the upstate areas.
Just last week in our district, Estevan our party organizer and our rep on the planning Committee of the food workers action, on Tuesday introduced the political approach and basic ideas that helped forge the alliance of the low wage workers movement and the Black Lives Matter movement. We also took many timely practical steps to realize that alliance. Our prestige in both movements has gone way up. Because of that kind of work, Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr agreed to be an honoree at our Better World Awards luncheon along with Amina Baraka, Ricky Eisenberg, Ava Farkus, new Director of Met Council on Housing and Jose Sanchez a leader of the NY Fast Food forward movement.
Some of you may have seen the picture of Estevan in the NY Daily News. He was right up front at the Fast Food Workers demo in NY. And we had a full house at the “Better World Awards Luncheon. It was a beautiful event.
A Party of Action
To be effective we communists must not only talk the talk, we must also walk the walk.
If it is our financial situation that threatens our existence, let’s discuss it. Lets develop a plan. It certainly does not call for a “panic move” like selling our NY building. Our building is the largest source of income we have and the most solid foundation for our future financial stability. If we sell the building, a potentially grave crisis will exist in our future.
I understand that we have a problem of age and energy among our most committed and experienced members. I am for positive advances in the work of the party but we should not dismantle the political and organizational essence of our party because some of our veterans are demoralized or just tired. I understand that but like a lot of us I know this Party can attract more youth and can be built and we are doing it.
I do not believe we are on our last leg as a Party...
In my view, that the estimate is not helping us move forward. It is helping to rationalize major political and organizational retrenchments of our Party when this is a time when a revitalized and growing CPUSA is needed.
But, let me say this, even if we were facing the projected collapse of our Party I believe we must not give up and not abandon longstanding Party norms, but mobilize our membership and supporters and fight our way out of it just as this Party has done numerous times for over 96 years.
2. I am for a powerful on-line presence going back to Gus Hall’s information Super Highway concept back in the 1980’s. But that has never meant that we didn’t need an active and well organized, functioning party organization as well.
3. I am for the new initiative to build a communist students organization. But why should it mean we have to liquidate the organization of the YCL among non-college youth. If a district wants to build the YCL why can’t it? By the way, in my opinion, that is a decision that should have been made at the 30th Convention but it was not. The same with the dropping Leninism which was pushed as a tactical change (Americanize our basic language) but in life, as the youth proposal shows it was a rejection of the Leninist concept of the organizational independence of the youth league.
Personally I quote all kinds of US historic and current heroic figures but I see no contradiction in also quoting Lenin and calling myself a Marxist-Leninist.
4. I am for finding the forms to aggressively organize the over 2,000 at large Internet members but I am also for the restoration of Party organizational norms. So we cannot just talk that talk but “Walk that Walk” a lot better. We are a party of action and we need organized clubs, districts and commissions. We need dues collection and well-organized fund drives. We need recruiting drives and public meetings all across the country.
To do what needs to be done, we need to work towards the restoration of functioning organizational collectives in the Party on all levels.
If we cannot find a National Organizational Secretary today finding one and building a collective should nevertheless be on the Party’s “wish list” as something we work for.
And why can’t we have a regular modest organizational newsletter that would report on the good work of the party across the country?
5. I am for the on-line People’s World that is considered a movement newspaper but at the same time why can’t it also be the newspaper of the Communist Party? The current experience with the PW in the labor movement, and with the “Better world Awards Luncheons” shows that this can be done and our core constituencies will support us. We need a fighting Party with a mass paper, not a mass newspaper with a weak or worse no Party… That is if we are to remain a revolutionary working class Party….
When you couple these proposals with the push to change the name of the party (which must be a convention decision also) I ask, have we concluded that we cannot build the Communist Party USA today? And again, is this the conclusion of a group of people who are tired? Certainly it is not a conclusion we have come to together.
A lot of comrades feel that we are backing into a phased liquidation of this great party of ours. Are we giving up the leading role of the working class and industrial concentration and the centrality of fight against racism? Our efforts at recruitment among people of color and workers might suggest perhaps we are. I hope I am wrong on this but it looks to me like some leading comrades have given up on the party having a public face and feel that we have to hide the party. If that is true, it is the biggest problem we face.
I think if we are going to have a presence at demos, county fairs, union events and peace and environment conferences, street fairs and door to door concentration, we need well written mass pamphlets and literature. And why can’t we work to have a hard copy of the PW and PA once or twice a year to start.
I believe we must not let what we can’t do stop us from doing what we can do. There is a lot we can do. We need honest discussions on all these matters.
In conclusion, in 3 years our party will celebrate our 100th Birthday. This is a big occasion and we must make it a big deal. Every September up to then we should be a celebration ending with our Centennial in 2019.
We had a celebration of our 96th in our district and over 60 people came and we recruited 5 members.
Finally, on our legacy.
We should not allow the basic character of our party to be defined by our mistakes shortcomings, rather then by our hard work, and tenacity and courage that over came the most vicious, coordinated unrelenting effort by the most powerful imperialist class in the world to destroy us. Under those conditions we fought back and scored victories.
Today we are the only political party in the US that thinks its necessary to do a public mea culpa to be credible. It is US capitalist ruling class that owes the people here and around the world including our Party specifically an apology for its crimes.
Our Party’s courage and sacrifices produced the greatest victories of our class and people. Bill Foster, Gus, Winny, Elizabeth, Hy, Ben, Ethel, Julius, Betty, Irving, Claudia, William Burghardt, Robeson, Gene Dennis and Angela Davis; all of the great comrades and more went to jail, or where exiled and persecuted to legalize this party and advance the fight for democracy. They sacrificed much so that the people’s movement and our party could survive and continue its great contribution. They did it so that we US Communists today wouldn’t have to endure such attacks in the future.
“Don’t give up the fight”
We are still here and still fighting. This party has been and must continue to be a force for enormous good and progress.
…It is in our hands.
Let me end by saying this. I have no malice towards any comrade, whether they agree or disagree with me. I am for Party unity. I am motivated primarily by a concern for the long term survival, growth and well-being this party of ours.. as a revolutionary working class party.
It’s in our hands…