Gus Hall Dies

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Tue Oct 17 13:43:48 MDT 2000

>>> lnp3 at 10/17/00 02:29PM >>>
I think another element in CPUSA failure to gain mass following was
naivete or innocence regarding the ruthlessness of the U.S. ruling class,
the whole American exceptionalism theme.  The U.S. ruling class was quite
treacherous in cracking down on the CP after the WWII alliance with the SU
and participation of Communists in the armed forces.  On the other hand, I
am not sure what the CP could have done to avoid the backstab.

When the witch-hunt began, the CP still had many members. They could have
abstained from throwing out people who were considered ideologically or
personally "weak";  those viewed as having lingering sympathies for Browder
in the first group and homosexuals in the second.


CB: Actually, sometimes I wonder now whether Browder's strategy might have been
correct, i.e. become an explicitly educational organization, which might have been the
basis for a good legal defense to the Smith Act prosecutions, emphasizing advocacy and
not action.

However, your criticism of purging Browderites is inconsistent with your criticism of
supporting the Democratic Party, below. Browder's liquidationism was an extreme form
of supporting the Dem Party type position. If the CP was no longer a political party,
what electoral politics would it do ?

According to CP leader
Junius Scales, hundreds of members were purged in the early 1950s for no
good reasons at all. Not only do you lose valuable cadres, you create a bad
name for yourself in the general radical movement.


CB: Possibly, although I'm not sure I would just accept one person's analysis  this
simply. Carl Winter had a different take, for example.  There were people snitching
and a lot of other stuff at this time, so there might have been a mix of no, good and
bad reasons. As Yoshie pointed out, Dubois joined the CP in 1961, after the early 50's.


After the Khrushchev revelations, the CP should have accepted the verdict
of history and broken with the Stalinist past.


CB: Kind of hard to portray the Khrushchev revelations as not breaking with the
Stalinist past at all. In fact, I kind of think of the Khrushchev revelations as a
significant break with the Stalinist past. In them Khrushchev excoriates Stalin. The
CPUSA did not reject Khrushchev's report.  I take the Khrushchev report as one of the
most frank breaking with a past that any party of any type has ever done. I can't
think of another party in power of any type being that self-critical openly.


 This never happened. In
debates with party leader Scott Marshall on the original Marxism list, I
was always astonished to see him try to put a positive spin on the Moscow
Trials, etc. It is one thing for an individual like Mark Jones to do this
in a calculated manner to provoke a conversation, it is another for a
leader of a left party trying to win acceptance among an American populace
that hates the idea of dictatorship. If a revolutionary party is viewed as
justifying dictatorship, it will not get very far.

Finally, the CP could never really take advantage of the student
radicalization of the 1960s because it refused to detach itself from the
Democratic Party. Arguably, the main impetus to the student radicalization
of the 1960s was the perceived betrayal of LBJ who implemented Barry
Goldwater's "warmongering" program as soon as he took office. The CP backed
Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and every atrocious Democrat for the past 32 years,
including Gore today. From the CPUSA website:


CB: So what was Charlene Mitchell running for President in 1968 on the CPUSA ticket as
the first Black women ever to run for President ( before Shirley Chisholm) ? Chopped
liver ? I have buttons and literature. It took a lot of guts to run in '68 since it
could not be clear that McCarthyism would not come back.

I'm confused here. Mitchell ran in '68, Hall ran in 72 (Tyner vp), 76 and 80 and 84(
Angela Davis vp) .  In '80, I circulated petitions to get them on the ballot in
Connecticut. In Michigan, a local Guild lawyer won a court case to get Hall-Davis on
the ballot. They got thousands or hundreds of votes.  I think Hall and Davis ran in 84
too.  . I know from first hand experience that CP members were not supporting the Dem
pres candidate in 80 and 84. They were campaigning for Hall. I know because I was
voting for Dems and they urged me to vote for Hall.  Sam Webb ran for Senate  in
Michigan one year and I worked on the campaign. CPer Joelle Fishman was a perreniel
candidate for Congress in New Haven ,
Connecticut, in the district that Lieberman ran in once. Even in '88 there it was not
the position to vote for Dems. I may have the literature still.

So, I have quite a bit of direct evidence that contradicts your claim.

I think there is a bit of an anti-CP myth going here.


"The working class is in motion. A victory by George W. Bush and Dick
Cheney will set back that motion. A victory by the Democrats in the race
for the presidency, the House and the Senate will allow the space to move
to new heights of struggle and new forms of political independence. While
the Green Party platform is good, it is lacking in the most important issue
of this election - the necessity to defeat the ultra-right. In this tight,
life-and-death election, the strongest anti-corporate vote is a vote for
the ticket that can win against Bush/Cheney in 2000."

This is just baloney and would drive any serious radical-minded worker or
youth running in the opposite direction.


CB:  By the time CPUSA stopped running candidates for President it was long past the
time when it had been obliterated by McCarthyism. When it did run candidates for Pres
in 68, 72, 76, 80 and 84, it did not cause the CP to grow, so I don't see this as a
key factor in its lack of growth.

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