The continued degeneration of the CPUSA into a petty-bourgeois radical political formation in the Democratic Party proceeds. In recent months the party announced both its support for the Obama regime against North Korea over a missile test, and the end of Peoples Weekly World newspaper publication.
To observers of North American Stalinism and its endless death throes, these latest steps come as no surprise. They are the final, poisonous blooms in a witch’s garden of revisionism that was sown in the 1930s, when the party rejected independent working class political action in favor of house-breaking the CIO social movement by subordinating it to the Democratic Party. Courageous militants saw their unions wedded to the party of Dixie, the Smith Act, and the architects of U.S. entry into World War II.
Cleveland, Ohio was one of the first U.S. cities where militant supporters of the Socialist Party left wing began building a Leninist party in 1919 to emulate the Bolsheviks. Clevelander Charles Ruthenberg, one of the first leaders of the Communist Party of America, served a prison sentence for anti-war speeches made in the city during World War One. He was buried in Moscow. Another future leader of the CPUSA, Gus Hall, first made his mark as an organizer with the Steel Workers Organizing Committee in northeast Ohio.
Another Ohio CPUSA leader is in the news today. Longtime Ohio Communist Party leader Rick Nagin is in a run-off for a Cleveland City Council seat. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Nagin was one of two candidates to emerge from a contentious City Council primary in Cleveland's Ward 14 to notch his first political victory.
“Nagin combined with Brian Cummins, whose Ward 15 seat was chopped in a council downsizing, to beat incumbent Joe Santiago, former Councilman Nelson Cintron Jr. and three others. A strong second-place finish earned Nagin a spot in a Nov. 3 runoff against Cummins.
“The possibility of a Nagin win -- greater than ever before -- presents perhaps the most fascinating storyline in this fall's mayoral and council elections. If Nagin defeats Cummins, he will be the first known communist to serve on Cleveland's council, at least in recent memory.
“The historical significance is not lost on Nagin, who would fulfill a goal he said was inspired in the 1970s by Communist Party USA standard-bearer Gus Hall. Yet at times in his latest campaign, Nagin has seemed unprepared or unhappy to discuss his beliefs.
“He writes for the party's newspaper -- his most recent article, about a labor rally, appeared in May -- but complains when the word "communist" appears by his name in The Plain Dealer. In a recent interview that he was reluctant to grant, he equated the word with a racial slur.
“"It's an epithet in this country," said Nagin, 68. "Like using the n' word."
“Nagin even suggests that the Communist Party he joined 39 years ago needs a new name.”
In all likelihood, Nagin will eventually get his wish. The growing-together of the CPUSA and the Democratic Party has resulted in something similar in the past. In 1944 Earl Browder orchestrated the dissolution of the party into the Communist Political Association, which gave left cover to Washington’s wars of imperialist plunder and policed a no-strike-pledge offered to Wall Street by the labor union leadership at the outset of the war. Only after the war, when Moscow decided it needed a U.S. party for leverage in currying favor with Truman, was the party re-launched.
The title “communist” is anathema to Nagin because he is a leader in a party and a world movement that has spent sixty years betraying its founders and founding principles. The CPUSA, like other Stalinized parties around the world that speak in the name of Marxism, has organized defeat after defeat in revolutions, struggles against fascism, anti-racist work, strikes, and union organizing. At some times, the sectarianism of the Stalinists blunted necessary united action with non-communist forces, leading directly to disasters like the installation of the Nazi regime in Germany in 1933. At other times, the Stalinists wrecked openings for genuine revolutionary action, yoking worker militancy to maintenance of capitalist rule (China 1925, Spain 1936-38).
Today the CPUSA serves as little more than an Amen Corner for the Obama White House. To workers desperate for militant leadership to demand jobs, health insurance, and an end to war, the CPUSA says “Put your trust in the President.” It is the same treacherous story every time a Democrat is president, whether it is Jim Crow defender Franklin Roosevelt, atomic bomber and loyalty oath architect Harry Truman, Cuban invader JFK, war criminal LBJ, union-buster Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton, the butcher of Belgrade.
If Nagin wins the Cleveland City Council seat, he will become what all CPUSA leaders dream of becoming: a bourgeois elected official. Not a leftist, much less a communist. Just one more liberal fink and faker derailing and distracting the real business working people, women, and oppressed nationalities have in the United States today: uniting and fighting back. From the front ranks of that struggle will come the human material to build a new communist party in the U.S. A party worthy of the name and not ashamed of it.
The following special report was written by Dante Strobino from Raleigh Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) youth group who attending this Day 5-Sept. 24 protest:
Over a thousand people gathered in Arsenal Park in Pittsburgh to resist the G-20 countries meeting in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown. Young activists representing struggles against racism, gentrification, imperialist wars, gender oppression and environmental destruction gathered together in an effort coordinated by the Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project. Protesters began their march through a working class neighborhood of Lawrenceville towards a bridge to get into downtown. The march continued down Liberty Avenue in an unpermitted demonstration taking over the streets with banners that read “No Hope in Capitalism”, “No Bailout, No Capitalism” and “No borders, No banks”.
Protesters were eventually stopped at the bottom of the street by police who confronted them with high frequency sound blasts and orders to disperse. Protesters then redoubled back and confronted cops again in the middle of a residential community. As resistance continued to mount up, anarchists grabbed a dumpster on wheels and hauled it down the hill directly into the police barricade, not harming anyone. The police reacted with more violence by attacking the entire neighborhood with several canisters of OC gas, Oleoresin Capsicum, a new police weapon meant to cause temporary blindness and breathing pain. From then on many different groups broke away in different directions and some marched together back towards Oakland, the neighborhood which houses University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.
Police had been bused in from dozens of states including states as far away as Arizona and Florida, along with National Guard and SWAT units. Armed guards with camouflage humvees were stationed at every exit of the beltline around the city, blocking off entry. Most all businesses downtown including cell phone stores, apparel store, banks and restaurants were completely boarded up following Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s suggestions, putting many workers out of work for the two days while the G-20 meets. At the universities and museums all monuments were also boarded up or covered with bags to continue to promote an atmosphere of fear. Police had to be hauled around town in several city and school buses to head off protesters. Department of Homeland Security and police helicopters have been roaring overhead the city since Wednesday night.
On their way back to Oakland through the Birchwood neighborhood a few windows were broken by protesters including a cop car window, a window at a PNC bank, BNY Mellon bank and at a BMW dealership, all of which symbolically represent institutions that are responsible for the economic crisis. A few hundred protesters continued to take the streets and make their voices heard throughout the evening. At one point, the protesters stopped the police with a stream of projectiles. Police responded with brutal blows of bean bags, causing injuries. Protesters defended themselves by blockading the street with a large chain link fence obstructing the road.
At 10 p.m. BASH BACK! organized a protest for LGBTQ liberation in Oakland near Carnegie Mellon University. Nearby at University of Pittsburgh students were gathered close to the bridge to Schenley Park, where Obama had earlier visited Phipps conservatory.
Heavy-handed police repression ensued, including the usual electronic dispersal order and tear gas, but this only attracted more and more protesters and onlookers, and soon the crowd numbered up to 1000. Reports described students with t-shirts wrapped around their faces chanting “beer pong!” and “LET’S GO PITT!”
Through the next couple hours cops were chasing students into their dorms, attacking people leaving the bars and arresting folks who were not earlier participating in protests. By the end of the night more than 60 were arrested.
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Товарищ Х, a local Cleveland comrade of mine, was able to attend the 9/20 demo in Pittsburgh. He initial notes after returning home are below. His Twitter posts on Pittsburgh and other issues related to building independent labor political action can be found at:
“The most stirring speeches came not from the the several labor leaders, not from the politician (who did, however, take Obama to task for his words to the G20 that belittled mass demonstrations), not from the clergy (though they too were militant more than they were sermonizing), but from workers in the thick of the fightback against, global exploitation (there was a clear sense of the need for global solidarity among workers to fight these conditions in many of the speeches), low pay, job loss and eviction.
“One of the speakers drew a comparison between this event and the early stages of the mass movement in Guadeloupe. I find this particularly apt. When Élie Domota spoke here in Cleveland recently, one of the union organizers in the crowd asked him how he had been able to organize a demonstration that brought one fourth of his country's population into a single mass demonstration. He said that they started from an event that had 5 speakers at the podium, with 2 in the chairs out front " and one of those was a cop." Our event seemed, very much, a later stage in this same process.
There was a clear will, through all of the proceedings, to bring Guadeloupe's party to our streets. Our folks will be back to the streets, in ever greater numbers, ever more militant, until we have the strength to overturn the unjust system that oppresses us.“Another activist remarked that while he thought this an impressive event, he had expected numbers approaching 3000 (we made the number of marchers, at the start, at something more than 200). I pointed out that our March for Jobs was a prelude to the general G20 protest which would be forming up over several days and would, most likely, peak on the 25th. He agreed that this was a more likely time to look for the large numbers that he hoped for.“There were cops everywhere with cameras, fancy rigs with telephoto lenses. Mostly they were content to photograph us from the streets that lined the route of the march, perhaps also from their helicopter that circled overhead. I turned my sign ["FREE TROY DAVIS/ FREE LEONARD PELTIER" on one side "FREE MUMIA ABU JAMAL" on the other] side-to-the-sky several times so they might get a better picture of it. One or two of the cops passed through our ranks, camera in hand, at the Tent City before the march, and at the square where we assembled at the end of the march. Clearly there is something more afoot than a sudden great surge in the number of photo enthusiasts in the local constabulary. [I recall that the same sort of photos were used to direct the home invasions, and roundup of protestors and journalists, at the DNC and RNC in the run up to the last two presidential elections.]
“The "combat ready battalion" from the national guard, assigned to Pittsburgh for the event, was not to be seen. Neither were the cops as heavily armed as the often are, in this city, when they are not cultivating their interest in the photographic arts.“I by the way lost it in an argument with a person that I believe to have been one of the ACLU stool pigeons assigned to the G20 protest. He drew me into a heated argument over the role of the ACLU before I noticed that he was recording our conversation with his cell phone. Several of our number had earlier filled out about 6 pages of a blue interview questionnaire, and I mentioned to two of them, with the interviewers still present, that the ACLU had published its plan to share such information with the Pittsburgh cops. Later, in the course of the march, some character proffered a couple of leaflets to Frances. I stowed these for her. He later returned and asked to have his leaflets back. After retrieving them from me he left again, then returned to chat me up on the ACLU. Pressed on my views, I launched into a tirade against the published ACLU plan to circulate among the workers at this event taking interviews that they proposed share with the Pittsburgh cops, suggesting that he not take my word for it but instead should check out their website, where I learned of the plan. He pressed on with "why would the ACLU want to do such a thing." I replied, "To fulfill their historic role. If there's a correct spelling of Quisling in American English, it's A-C-L-U. The organization was founded buy an Anarchist, a Communist and a Socialist, yet in the 50's, they refused to defend the Communists." It was quickly downhill from there, with him pointing out that the arrests that they might be enabling were not yet happening, to the point where I noticed his recording device, pushed him away on his last approach, and told him to go "interview" somebody else. With very little more provocation I would have decked the son-of-a-bitch. Reflecting back on this, I think what steamed me more than his provocative probing was the surreptitious recording in the context of all that police surveillance and of the ACLU program to aid that surveillance as best they might.”
Today Товарищ Х reports:
There is this grudging acknowledgement from the bourgeois media: