Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Party for Socialism and Liberation: U.S. Marxism-Leninism a dead end

Just like Howard Zinn, and all of the middle class radical material published by Haymarket Books, this "History of Working Class Struggle in the United States" touches on the Wobblies, Eugene Debs, and NOT the Communist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, or anything post 1920.

Wow. Just wow.

This trend among bourgeois left and social democratic historians to downplay the 1930s because the leaders were "confused by Stalinism" has often disturbed me. Frances Piven does it. Howard Zinn did it. Noam Chomsky does it.

Now, PSL has joined in.

Why not just drop the pretense of Leninism as an ideology?

According to this 20 minute screed, "Marxist-Leninists" never did anything worth mentioning.

The common and age-old narrative of "Socialism in the U.S. was great till Leninism came along" is left unchallenged.

The word "CIO" is missing from this speech. The words "unemployed councils" are as well. Even his mention of the issue of self-determination makes no reference to historic importance in the Black struggle played by the Communist Party.

This speech is an embarrassment to "Marxist-Leninists." I wonder if PSL does any internal education whatsoever on the history of Marxism-Leninism in the U.S., or just lets their youth get it from Anarcho-Social-Democrat college professors, who are so rampant on Universities.



  1. Strange - doesn't the PSL identify as Marxist-Leninist? I was under the impression the WWP did at least, and I didn't know such a significant political difference existed. Just reading a bit of W. Z. Foster's work is enough to know that the first organization of steelworkers, and tens of thousands of other workers, in highly militant struggles, often in sweeping drives in short periods of time by today's standards, came about in the 1930's, led by Communists (Marxist-Leninists). I will have to watch the video later but I'm surprised.

  2. And what about the struggle against Gompers for militant class based unionism???

  3. "Disgusting," lol. chill out dude -- the speech is obviously not about the entire working-class struggle, but the period preceding the CP. You don't have to like the speech, but the tone of your invective is just bizarre and your title is dishonest.

    Here are some other articles by Eugene Puryear, the speaker in question, which go over a lot of the issues you suggest the young comrade is ignorant of:

    Harry Haywood's contributions to the National Question

    Socialism an integral part of US labor history (goes over the Unemployed Councils and the CIO)

    Communism and Black resistance in the South (on CP and sharecroppers)

    Russian Revolution still a shining example

    The Civil Rights and Black Power movements (on the rise of Marxism-Leninism within the Black movement)

    I rest my case. Next time do a little research before launching into sneering, ad hominem attacks on young communists -- especially ones who actually do know their stuff.

  4. At best, I think you're overreacting. The speaker made it a point in this speech to mention that he was really pressed on time. As far as I know, this is dealing with labor struggles in the late 1800's in the context of Chicago and the Midwest. The CPUSA, having formed in 1919 has little to do with this. This should be obvious.

    Saying that because of this speech, the PSL has "joined in with the Social Democrats" is not really something that I can take seriously.

    Also, as someone who is ex-PSL, I can tell you that working class history is not taught in candidacy/internal education. It's mostly left up to the members to learn about that.