CPUSA

marquit at physics.spa.umn.edu marquit at physics.spa.umn.edu
Sun Apr 16 20:28:20 MDT 1995


   A comment on Kenny Mostern's assertion that CPUSA
routinely denied the subjective factor in racism.
   The  CPUSA from the 1920 on continually attached
importance to both the objective and subjective elements of
racism. The economic benefits reaped by the bourgeoisie and
the Southern landowners from the superexploitation of
African American labor had a clearly objective character and
the class nature of the struggle against it took on both
object and subjective forms.
The struggles against racism and its material and
nonmaterial consequences necessarily involve both subjective
and objective elements. The organized struggle against
racist ideology needs material resources and material
organizational forms, but the contents of ideological
struggle are in the subjective sphere. Recognition of the
central importance of ideological struggle against racism as
a necessary condition for social progress in the United
States both in regard to improving material conditions of
life under capitalism as a well as preparing for an advance
to socialism again is in the subjective sphere. The
historical record of the CPUSA in coupling the subjective
and objective aspects of this struggle is unmatched by any
multiracial organization. This does mean that the CPUSA did
not at times make incorrect assessments with negative
subjective and objective consequences.
    Although instances of individual members displaying
patronizing attitudes can no doubt be found, I do not think
it fair to characterize the CPUSA's participation in
antiracist struggles as organizationally patronizing. An
argument can be made that arrogance in the conception of its
vanguard role that occasionally expressed itself, for
example, in referring to everyone to its left as the "phony
left" also could lead to patronizing attitudes in regard to
African American organizations. Discussions on this latter
matter, however, are best discussed more concretely, so that
errors can be acknowledged and lessons drawn in a meaningful
way. In my view, the "vanguard" concept is still a valid one
and involves recognition of the need for a party rooted in
the working class to give theoretical and organizational
leadership against all forms of oppression.  But the
fulfillment of its vanguard role cannot rest on an
organization stating that it is playing a vanguard role and
demanding that it be recognized as such. It must be
recognized as such by still larger numbers of others outside
of its membership. In any case, in its history of struggle
against racism, the CPUSA has built up a record of
accomplishments that by far outweighed such expressions of
arrogance.

Erwin Marquit
marquit at physics.spa.umn.edu


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