Reflections on the 29th Convention of the CPUSA

Published on political affairs pa, by John Case, June 2, 2010.

… Return of the Specter:

But time has not been kind to those forces who believed Bush the First when he proclaimed the dawn of a new world order in love with the vicissitudes of capitalism, and lawless globalization. Despite vigorous attempts to bury the socialist and communist movements – and social democratic regimes too – and poison the atmosphere against their ideologies, both organization and ideas on the Left appear to be returning in new, more robust and energetic forms, judging by the new wave of activists and rebels attending the 29th CP convention … //

… Delegates to the convention appeared steeped in trade union and working class movements. The African American, Latino, Asia and Pacific island, LGBT, Native American, gender, youth and senior, immigrant and naturalized composition genuinely reflected the real colors and shades, cultures, traditions, lifestyles, dialects and languages of this land. Watching them struggle and reach for agreement on an advanced but realizable progressive platform gives one hope about our country, despite the many storms and furies that seek to divide us.

Sam Webb’s Report:

  • The convention opening report of National Chair Sam Webb focused on the compelling need to accelerate the democratic upsurge of working people and all progressive forces combating persistent joblessness, which stands near 20% of the workforce when all are counted, and to defeat a resurgent ultra right-wing, racist offensive designed to derail and destroy the entire Obama progressive reform agenda, and Obama’s historic presidency as well. Webb targets the 2010 midterm elections were as the focus of political activity for the next 6 months. Both the ultra-right challenge, and the prospects for deepening reform and kicking up the strength of the coalition that elected Obama, will meet their next big test on November 2, 2010. That’s just 160 days from now.
  • Webb made strong appeals not to underestimate the important and positive changes in the political environment since the campaign and election of Barack Obama. The broad coalition that gave birth to the Obama phenomenon went to sleep for a while after the election. But if the recent primary elections are any sign, it is waking up again! And none too soon! This movement is taking us all to school in the art of grassroots majority politics.

The Ultra-right, racist danger:

  • The dangers posed by unambiguously racist propaganda emanating from not just the fringes but the leadership of the Republican Party — were specifically addressed by Executive Vice Chair Jarvis Tyner. He argued that the so called “tea party” forces’ unchecked resorts to vicious slurs, threats of violence, and provocations are well organized and are picking up steam in some areas of the country. The goal being to distract and divide folks who are in near panic over the prolonged economic crisis. Rand Paul, an open opponent of the old Republican establishment, wins the Kentucky Senate primary. Like his father, so-called Libertarian Ron Paul, this “Tea Party” candidate is a front and cover for outright white supremacist organizations, as was revealed in press conferences following the election where Paul criticized the foundations of de-segregation laws. Fox news pundits and the Limbaugh-talk radio, drug-crazed crowd running the new Republican Party are also riding these racist diversions to challenge longstanding civil rights legislation on affirmative action and bars against public segregation, as well as celebrations of the Confederacy.
  • Tyner, and many speakers, noted the intense anti-immigrant fever that has broken out like an infected sore in Arizona. The state legislature and Governor enacted a draconian law directing state law enforcement to arrest and demand “papers” of anyone they “suspect” is “illegal.” A large, multi-racial and multi national movement to “legalize Arizona” has emerged in response, gaining a hat tip from President Obama, and direct pledge of support from the President of Mexico and other international forces. Yet, as convention participants noted, polls currently show two to one support for the law, both in Arizona and across the US, reflecting again both a profound level of panic over jobs, and frustration with failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Highlights:

  • Despite warnings about the danger from the ultra right, the mood was upbeat at the convention. Convention reports noted the results of the recent primary elections that, in the main, repudiated Republican and ultra right campaigns, and asserted that the majority of voters, while divided on some questions, are in support of the Obama reform agenda and in many cases moving toward even more progressive proposals.
  • Expressions of greeting and solidarity were received from many communist, socialist and workers’ parties, including remarks from an official rep of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
  • Highlights also included reports of many rich experiences of delegates in electoral, grassroots, trade union, health care, May Day, financial reform, and varied community struggles and campaigns. Communists are winning or in serious contention in several races across the country. They are running primarily in the Democratic party. There were strong messages of solidarity from UE Republic Windows, victorious sit-down strikers in Chicago, and from organizers and leaders in the immigrants rights movement, and from the many moving and emotional song, letter and speech tributes, from many nations, at the Saturday evening international solidarity and 90th anniversary celebration.
  • Reports on the struggle for peace focused on accelerating and advancing the withdrawal from Iraq, returning to regional diplomacy over war in Afghanistan, and addressing the urgent needs to implement the two state solution in Israel-Palestine. The world wide improvement in unity in preventing the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction needs to be buttressed with legislation.
  • Much attention was paid to building and expanding online media initiatives and responding to increased demands for flexibility in tactics.

Unity: … (full long text).

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