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Fascism and Big Business by Daniel Guerin

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ohio CP Leader says CPUSA needs name change

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.

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