A Letter From the Communist Party
The following letter of information was written exclusively for the CRIMSON on October 18. The document "was discussed by the entire Boston Youth Club" of the Communist Party of the United States "and expresses its views. It is a collectively written document." Space limitations have necessitated certain deletions, which are indicated by three dots (...) Otherwise the piece appears here as it was received. [The Editors].
...Our club is the Boston area youth club of the Communist Party of the United States of America and, as such, has a definite world view derived from the writings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. We firmly believe that the abolition of the exploitation of man by man, of poverty, war racism, and ignorance will be finally achiever only by a socialist reorganization of society, by the common ownership and operation of the national economy under a government of the people led by the working class. We hold that there are various roads to socialism, and that the working people of this country will find their own road to socialism.
Marxism-Leninism teaches us to use what we call a working class approach in viewing all problems of today's America. It is an approach which recognizes that it is the working people of the country who must make the revolutionary changes necessary to guarantee a society upholding the individual dignity of man. The working class approach is based on the fact that the major relationship in this society is that of worker and capitalist, employer and employee. Regardless of his salary or the color of his collar, the man who sells his labor power is a worker While there are many groups who fall outside these two major divisions of society (such as sharecroppers, small farmers, shopkeepers, professionals working for themselves), it is the employer-employee relation which s basic. Only the working class finds its interests impossible to fulfill within the present economic relation. The small farmer can get a bigger farm. The shopkeeper can get a bigger shop. But the worker wants to reap the full measure of his production--and he can't as long as the capitalist appropriates his pound. That is, whereas all other conflicts can be settled within the capitalist system, only the worker-employer conflict cannot -- it is the heart of capitalism, and with out it, capitalism would end.
The interest of the employee does not, in either the long run or short run benefit by the capitalist relationship. However, there are segments who can be co-opted by the capitalist system. Thus there ensues the comedy of former Steelworker's President MacDonald proposing perpetual harmony between labor and management, or the charade of George Meany supporting a war which cannot but hurt the working people of this country. Never, however, can the entire working class be bought off for any period of time. Not only the external pressures of a world more and more unsusceptible to exploitation, but the internal pressures of capitalist production (creating the crisis of technological unemployment) will force the workers into struggle for their interests.
We try to be the vanguard of the working class by championing the immediate and fundamental interests of all workers, farmers, Negro people, and all workers, farmers, Negro people, and all others who labor by hand and brain, against capitalist exploitation and oppression. We champion these immediate aims both because the gains made in these fights will improve the lot of the people affected and because they lay a basis for further successful struggles against exploitation, war, racism, and dehumanization. We disagree with other radical left organizations who believe the road to socialism is based on defeats or, at best, Pyrrhic victories. Such defeats can only demoralize and slow down the people. We believe the road to socialism is paved with victories in relevant struggles...
Largest on the Left
The Communist Party itself is the largest of the radical left organizations today. Our youth section is the largest single group of youth in a radical organization -- we are neither small nor irrelevant, as our enemies claim we are. However, we feel that we still must grow considerably in order to be able to play a more decisive role, as people engage more and more in movements for political change. Our own club began around November 1962, and has grown by several factors since its inception. The average age of our members is 21, and our membership is both campus and non-campus.
The Communist Party is organized on the basis of clubs which are constituted on an electoral sub-division, neighborhood, town, shop, or industry basis. The club is a functional political unit, a collective organized for the purpose of facilitating the individual member's political work and improving the member's consciousness and awareness. It is a group which subscribes to the general approach previously discussed, and uses this approach as a basis for political action. Action and discussion flow from this approach, which is constantly tested and modified through our work.
Our structure has a theoretical basis which is elaborated under the concept of democratic centralism. In essence, all members can, and are obligated to participate in the formulation of policy on all matters. Once policy is agreed upon (by majority vote if any member requests a vote, or if there seems to be disagreement) the leadership is responsible for formulating the specifics of a program to implement it and members are obligated to carry it out. Nevertheless, if a member disagrees with either policy or implementation, he is again obligated to continually discuss the matter with the relevant party groups (generally his club executive). In extreme cases, he may transfer from the area of work affected by the decisions or can abstain from working on the particular program involved. Discipline, voluntarily accepted on joining, applies to all members, whatever their position. It demands that they do not publicly oppose party policy formulated in this manner.
All members have the right to elect and be elected to the leading committees of the Party, and to be represented at the National convention, the highest authority of the Party. The National Convention elects a National Committee, the body which executes the general policies adopted by the National Convention. The National Committee names an executive committee (the Secretariat) and any other officers and committees named by the Convention. Elected leading committees (club, section, state, district, and national) have the right to make decisions (in accordance with policy) that are binding on the lower bodies. These higher bodies must be elected t regular intervals. Their duty is to consult to the maximum possible before making decisions, and to fully explain the reasons for them. The duty of the lower organizations is to express their views before a decision is made by the higher body, and to carry it out when it is finally arrived at. We feel that this feedback system of policy making, with leadership responsible to membership, and membership bound by leadership, is a most democratic one. Despite government attempts to limit the functioning of this structure, such as making it illegal to send Party documents through the mails, Democratic centralism is the goal of all sections of the organization, and works fairly well in practice.
Our own club has a three-man executive committee which deals with political leadership, organizational administration, and education. We are also represented on the District Commission of the New England Region, the District Executive (elected by the commission), and the National Youth Commission (an advisory board to the National Committee). Our finances are from dues ($.15 a month for students, which makes us the most inexpensive fraternity in the world), a voluntary sustainer (voted by the club), and party-wide fund raising (which continues to amaze us with its success).
We have grown considerably in this past year in this area, as more and more youth see the relevancy of our program and approach, as well as the performance of our members. We recruit people into our club who we feel are active and serious about their politics. We do not expect everyone who we recruit to be a fully developed Marxist-Leninist, but we attempt to develop him in the club.
Although there are no organizational affiliations between our Party and any other organizations in the world, we do have fraternal relations with the other Communist Parties. That is, we exchange communications engage in discussions and meetings (much of which is reported in World Marxist Review), and profit thus by the experience of our comrades abroad. There is no "chain of command" in the world Communist movement. All parties are equal in these conferences and meetings in so far as they can contribute their experience. It is of interest here to note that the McCarran Act establishes an "international conspiracy" on the basis of parallel positions. Of the parallel positions admitted before the Supreme Court in the trial of our Party, nearly half were taken by our Party before the Soviet communist Party announced them.
Communists work in a large number of organizations other than their own. We work in these organizations to achieve the stated aims of these organizations--we do not seek to make them into "Junior Communist Parties." We strive to achieve the goals of these organizations by offering relevant program and activity. We seek to expend the membership, and to democratize the structure of these organizations. We also work to raise the consciousness o people in these organizations as to who their allies and who their opponents are, as a clear perspective facilitates social struggle. We will be found in almost any organization for peace, for jobs, or for freedom. Naturally we do not join subversive organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan or the John Birch Society. We join with people in their everyday and long-rang struggle for a better life.
Among youth today, one of the major struggles is for genuine democracy in all aspects of their life. By democracy we do not mean merely the limited right of voting once a year, but rather, the right to participate and contribute to all decision-making processes that affect our lives. the program of our Party is nothing less than the completion of the democratic revolution begun in this country in 1776 and continued with Reconstruction in 1865. We are working to make the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence a reality to all today--to the Negro, to the poor, to those being dehumanized in the machine of modern monopoly society. Out of such struggles will come the struggle for democracy in economic life--the struggle for socialism; the two struggles are intertwined and cannot be separated. Thus, a Marxist party is necessary not only for leadership and initiative during the struggle for socialism itself, but also to give direction to more limited struggle for democracy.
In our work among "left' or "radical" youth organizations, we are aiming to build a united "radical" youth organizations, we are aiming to build a united radical youth movement. Such a movement will be an integral part of a movement for socialism in America. It will involve students and young workers, and be an important source of allies for the working class. Radical youth movements of this sort are found in every major country in the world except South Africa, Spain, Portugal, and other fascist countries. In these countries, the youth movements are underground. In our country, the movement is in its infancy.
In the struggle for civil rights, we do not write off any organization working for the end to discrimination. We feel every such organization has a distinct role to play, and a distinct contribution to make. We recognize that this is a "multi-class struggle" integral to the fight for democracy in this country. While it is true all these organizations will not go beyond the fight for immediate goals, each of them has its particular place at this stage of struggle. Major victories can be won against discrimination before socialism is achieved. Moreover, the fight to end Jim Crow will produce some very fundamental changes in this society. If the vote becomes a reality to the Southern Negro, for example, it would destroy the Dixiecrat-Republican conservative coalition that dominates Congress, and allow the passage of key legislation (such as genuine home rule for Washington, D.C., repeal of section 14B of the Taft-Hartley law, and so fourth). However, for the Negro, as for the white worker, full economic freedom and security can only be achieved under socialism.
We are disturbed that the saying "Michael Harrington discovered poverty, and Lyndon Johnson bought it" seems to be coming true. We are for a real war on poverty. It is true that capitalism, will not make poor people rich, or even comfortable and that the only real answer to the problems of poverty (sweat shops, lack of skills, technological unemployment, etc.) is a socialist society where the resources are used in the interest of all, not just of a small capitalist class. Nevertheless, the war on poverty is important in our immediate struggles.
We feel that the idea of the poor as a separate class is a fabrication. Facts show that the majority of the poor are simply unemployed or very low salaried workers. As they are one of the most exploited elements of the employee relationship, we fight for their immediate as well as long range goals. If we can get the war on poverty funds to be actually used for helping poor people (instead of being used for big salaries for professionals), and if we can also win the fight for the right of poor people to control such programs, we will have successfully created a basis for advanced political action as well as won important gains for those affected. We do not reject anti-poverty programs out of hand, but rather, try to create.