CPUSA: Moscow's stooge

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Mon Apr 24 21:58:55 MDT 1995

Hello Scott,

See below snip
 > From owner-marxism at jefferson.village.virginia.edu Mon Apr 24 16:49:16 1995
 > X-Sender: ksm at gagme.wwa.com
 > Mime-Version: 1.0
 > Date: Mon, 24 Apr 1995 08:33:41 -0500
 > To: marxism at jefferson.village.virginia.edu
 > From: Scott Marshall <Scott at rednet.org>
 > Subject: Re: CPUSA: Moscow's stooge
 > Sender: owner-marxism at jefferson.village.virginia.edu
 > Reply-To: marxism at jefferson.village.virginia.edu
 > How does one go about getting a copy? The bookstores here say it won't be
 > released until May.
 > >I own a copy of the book in question.  It is The Secret World of American
 > >Communism and it is co-authored by Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes and a
 > >Russian, Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov.  It is published by Yale.  As far as I
 > >can tell the documents within the book (and the book is mostly documents)
 > >seem authentic.


I would like to say something personally supportive at this time without
implying support for the CPUSA, and I don't know how to do it. I feel TimW's
extracts seem balanced and more serious than the old tribal skirmishes
between the "Stalinists" and the "Trotskyists" which spatter through this
list from time to time.

While I prefer that you have dropped your agitational promotion of
the CPUSA at the end of your posts, and while I cannot understand how you
can live politically with the name "communist" in an environment where
new members of your organisation may not be able to let it slip out among
their friends and workmates without risking marginalisation, I feel
personally you have argued your corner in a dogged and clear way on this
list. You have tried to avoid the personal abuse and stick to a point of
view which I feel is part of a range of points of view that this list
needs to be able to hear. Your optimism recently for example seemed to me as
valid as Kenny's mood of pessism and an expression of the dialectics of
the actual situation.

Part of the problem is the desire for a pure organisation of democratic
or socialist struggle, without petty politicking within it, manouevre and
some degree of deception. But what do most people find, that after a
while they are disappointed or arguing with people who they thought would
be their comrades instead of getting on fighting the enemy. I don't think
this is a realistic position and I don't think as an individual you should
be lumbered with having to defend your organisation from criticisms that
it should never have made a mistake, if you want to get on with fighting
present struggles.

The revelations about the CPUSA are consistent with some revelations
published about the Communist Party of Great Britain shortly before its
last congress which transformed it into Democratic Left. Money had been
handed over secretly, known to just a very few top leaders for quite a
number of years, though less so more recently until it was stopped.

What I don't like is that this was consistent with my impression of the
CPGB doing things not by open argument but by organisational maneouvring.
It felt you were up against an impenetrable machine, which could not
ultimately be trusted.

But can we have some realism about real politik? Do we think the USA has
not given large sums of money to anti-communist organisations and
countries?  Israel could not exist as a garrison outpost for US
influence in the middle east without massive massive economic subventions
year after year to a regime that breaks people arms. If the KGB had not
tried to support the CPUSA it would have been incompetent.

Do we think that Nelson Mandela has not received influential hospitality
from major international companies? Why in Britain our own dear
Conservative Party, that pillar of British patriotism has received large
sums of money from overseas capitalists, including non-European ones.
When they discover that non-European people might have cultural values in
which the exchange of gifts may create some suppositions about future
mutual benefits our Conservative party leaders suddenly go embarrassed
about how they would never have anything to do with bribery.

Having a policy about these things is much more complex than first appears.
I was overawed at being invited to the first international solidarity
with the ANC in February 1993 inside apartheid South Africa, when its
middle ranking comrades were still being murdered by death squads. The
food was sumputous, but it appeared to be of a standard that influential
South African white liberals would expect as part of their usual diet. I do
not know how the finances of the conference were managed and I did not ask.
Maybe it was all funded by the Nordic countries. I hope so. Should I have
asked or would it have felt like nit-picking? It felt like nit-picking.
I hope very much it doesn't feel to Ron that in mentioning this
I am kicking the ANC in the teeth. I think it was very important that
conference was a success, and if I was an organiser and a company had
offered money to help its success and finally beat apartheid, I would
have accepted.

I found Scott's reply to my question about Farrakhan particularly
concrete, materialist and dialectical. The question I feel is relevant to
someone like Scott as a champion of the CPUSA is not "is your
organisation without past sin?" but how do you strike the
balance between promoting your organisation and networking and making
coalitions with others, more in the way Tom Condit has described from I
think the west coast of the USA. If you are really clever there is a
unity in the contradiction between these two positions but it is difficult.


Chris Burford

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