A ragged process

Slightly over a year ago, the American people elected a young African American to the presidency and increased the Democratic majorities in the Congress. President Obama's victory represented a repudiation of the right-wing ideology, politics and economics. It constituted a serious setback for neoliberalism in both its conservative and liberal skin.

The defeat of right-wing extremism was a long time in coming, but when it finally happened it did so not only because of the brilliance of the candidate, now president, but also due to the broad wings of a people's coalition. Not in our lifetime have we participated in such a movement.

This swing in the political pendulum in the direction of economic justice, equality and peace ushered in the possibility of a new era. After 30 years of right-wing dominance, the balance of class and social forces is tilting once again in a progressive direction, but not to the degree that a people's agenda is simply rolled out and easily enacted.

That would be wishful thinking and we shouldn't engage in such thinking, as tempting as it is. The struggle ahead, much like the struggle over the past three decades, will be fierce. There will be no easy victories. But political advantage has shifted to our side and that's no small accomplishment.

To turn this advantage into a new New Deal will take many things, but two I consider fundamental: a proper strategy and a sense of process.

Some may wonder why I don't mention tactics. They are important to be sure, but they are shaped by strategy and process, not the other way around. Tactics are a dependent variable in this equation.

A proper strategy envisions the main class and social groupings and personalities that have to be assembled and united to transform the possibility of this moment into a concrete, lived reality for millions of people.

The strategic thrust of last year - to defeat the ultra right, especially as expressed by the Republican Party, at the polls - doesn't quite fill the bill any longer. Right wing extremism is still a factor, as demonstrated by the health care battle, but as a result of the election's outcome, it is on the defensive, no longer able to set the agenda and frame the debate to its desire.

At the same time a pure anti-corporate strategy doesn't quite fit either, given the configuration of forces coming out of the elections and the political agenda going forward.

The coalition to deepen and consolidate the promise of our time, in my view, stretches (for now) from President Obama to the core forces of the people's movement: labor, African American, Latino, and other the racially oppressed people, women, and youth. It also includes those who sat out last year's election, small and medium sized businesses, dissatisfied grassroots supporters of the right wing, sections of the Democratic Party and even corporate capital - depending on the issue at hand.

So the task - and it won't be easy - is to activate and maximize the unity of this very diverse, multi-class, and fluid coalition in the course of concrete struggles.

There will be competing views. Not everyone will be on board on every issue; the lineup and mix will change as the agenda and struggle changes. Some participants will be dependable and clear headed - the core forces - while others will be unreliable and temporary.

The notion of the capitalist class on the one side and the working class on the other may sound "radical," but it is neither Marxist, nor found in life and politics. Pure forms exist in high theory, but nowhere else. It would be a profound mistake to distance the core forces of this coalition from others who are temporary and unreliable at this and subsequent stages of struggle.

As for process, it is imperative to have a sense of the ebbs and flows of mass struggle - the contradictions and the dialectics - plus the near constant reconfiguration of this broad, multi-class coalition. Progress (and process) is never a straight line forward nor neatly packaged. It is usually ragged.

The main elements of the New Deal, for instance, were won not in 1933, which was Roosevelt's first year in office, but in 1935-1937. These elements were the fruit of a many-layered, multi-faceted struggle of a motley group of social actors.

I suspect the future will be much the same.


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  • Jordan

    You are to be commended for standing up and speaking out. Understand too, a long with with your sense of loyalty, that no organization can thrive or last without being accountable.

    Without basic respect for supporters the nicest leaders lose touch with the people. No one in leadership - Sam included - has seen fit to answer any of our questions. Why ?

    Andrew Taylor

    Posted by Andrew Taylor, 11/10/2009 10:10am (6 years ago)

  • I am a member of the CPUSA and am active in my local club. While I see many problems with what has been expressed here by Sam, I also see many problems with following the Republican model of tearing our party apart from the inside out. If, as we see happening in the GOP, political piety comes at the price of party disintegration I want no part of it. The fact is, WE are the party and change of any signifigance always comes from below. If we want a new direction in the party we cannot hope to achieve it by splintering into a milllion communist/marxist/revolutionary parties. We must change the direction and not by attacking Sam personally but by taking responsibility for the changes that we seek.
    It is my hope that I as a 26 year old and the youngest member of my club will be able to help usher in this new era along with the new blood that is pouring into this very dated vessel. Do not write us off just yet, I truly believe that this next generation can be the greatest that the party has seen if properly nurtured.
    I've said my peace...
    -Jordan Farrar (Baltimore MD)

    Posted by Jordan Farrar, 11/10/2009 2:07am (6 years ago)

  • I came across this article doing a web search about the right-wing. As I read this article by Sam Webb the first thing that crossed my mind was that it was a very silly position for a communist party leader to be bringing forward. This is not analysis. I can read a better analysis about this in just about any mainstream newspaper. This reflects very shallow thinking under the guise of suggesting action. Reading this over and over again I keep asking myself where is this guy going with this mindless prattle. I never heard of Sam Webb before. I wouldn't intentionally go out of my way to read anything by him again. Then I start reading these comments. One only has to look at the comments supporting this ignoramous and you have to wonder if promotion of right-wing hate is not a part of their agenda. This Bostik guy is right out of the funny farm. He must be writing from inside some mental hospital or psych ward. Then I read where communists are supporting the most right-wing members of congress. Peterson and Stupak. Webb talks about ending right-wing dominance and his underlings are supporting Peterson and Stupak. Webb is even supporting Stupak. Even if someone is of the opinion we should vote for the best of the bad choices Stupak and Peterson are stretching the limit. I am not a member of the communist party. I am not a member of any organizations. I try to do what I can to speak out against the right-wing. In doing considerable research on the Tea Party movement I have come across quite a bit of nasty hate. Nothing that approaches the extreme level I see here from Webb supporters.

    Ray Cuzzo Madison WI

    Posted by Ray Cuzzo, 11/08/2009 7:33pm (6 years ago)

  • Looks to me like a raggedy ass analysis by Webb and readers sure are letting him know it.

    Sam have you considered looking for new employment?

    Vic NYC

    Posted by Victor Rush, 11/08/2009 1:32pm (6 years ago)

  • I do not know the particulars of many of the accusations leveled against Mr Maki. I am not in the know about the allegations against the man. But I do know that any individual or group that would make such grave accusations against another person in an unsigned letter is an unprincipled person.

    I am sick of whispers in corners and anonymous slanders and defamation of character from those who claim to support Mr Webb's article and ideology. If this is actually the moral caliber of Webb's supporters his foundation rests on very shaky ground indeed.

    My posts to this thread have raised questions in a polite and principled manner. No one has attempted to answer either my substantive questions or those written in the same spirit by a number of other communists or allies of the communist movement's work.

    I can only infer that those who claim to support the Chair are not the sort of people who can function in a democratic atmosphere. Everyone who has read all posts has been subjected to the spectacle anonymous character assassination by 'loyalists'. Let all honest men and women form a moral judgment on what they have read here. My opinion is that these tactics are an insult to the whole working class.

    Andrew W H Taylor
    Winnipeg Manitoba (formerly of Bluffton, Ohio)

    Posted by Andrew Taylor, 11/08/2009 2:00am (6 years ago)

  • i blame sam web for what i see has developed on the discussion of this article he wrote.comments were made questions were asked.now there is this very hateful discourse carried out against one person.everyone can see that this person has legitimate concerns and is very familiar with what is going on.i don't think anyone reading the comments here thinks what has been done is right.first we hear the leadership nominated collin peterson.now we hear sam webb backs bart stupak.these are two democrats that are a disgrace they are so far right.peterson supports wars.stupak supports wars on women evidenced by the current healthcare debate.how is any of this explained?don crowe saginaw,mi.

    Posted by don crowe, 11/08/2009 1:30am (6 years ago)

  • The fact that our membership is shrinking when it should be growing ought to be indictment enough of the Party leadership's policies. Coupled with the bullying of members who express Marxist-Leninist views, the open promotion of a reformist social-democratic line, lack of a clear plan of action or support for clubs looking to do Party-building or educational work, and alienation of fraternal Parties, it's clear that the CPUSA's current direction is a virtually unmitigated disaster. And God help you if you have anything good to say about the USSR.
    Ultimately, the Party belongs to its members and more broadly to the working class; if the leadership hates Marxism-Leninism so much, they should resign and go join the CoC. Leave the rest of us out of it.
    It's time we had some changes in our Party. I hope the National Convention makes the right decision.

    Posted by Nicholas Hewko, 11/07/2009 11:22pm (6 years ago)

  • Collin Peterson is nothing. I was at a meeting in the U.P. where Sam Webb spoke. He encouraged people to vote for Bart Stupak.

    Welcome to the "new" People's World!

    Lillian Hill-Garden City, Michigan

    Posted by Lillian Hill, 11/07/2009 11:20pm (6 years ago)

  • Don't bother sending me your requests for donations either.

    Collin Peterson? Good grief!

    Go get your funds from Collin Peterson.

    Posted by Nancy Ramussen, 11/07/2009 10:47pm (6 years ago)

  • Is this the same kind of letter that was recently sent to the Artists, Educators and Media Club of the Communist Party USA demanding that the members abolish the club? A club that has been in existence for over 30 years.

    I wonder how many unsigned letters like this have been sent out across the United States. I read in The Nation magazine the Communist Party now has fewer than 250 members nationwide.

    Who are the members of this "National Board" of the CPUSA? Do they have names or is this secret information?

    What I really want to know is if Mark Froemke acting as a member of the National Committee of the CPUSA really nominated Collin Peterson to run for Congress? Did this same National Board approve of Mark Froemke doing this or did he receive a letter like this too?

    Here we are trying to work for peace and health care and we find out that a member of the National Committee of the CPUSA has nominated one of the biggest warmongers and a major opponent of single payer to run for Congress.

    Thank you Sam Webb; the entire world now sees you for what you are.

    Alan Maki should consider it an honor to have people like you write something like this about him.

    Looks to me like someone is very afraid of the truth.

    A fed up friend of the CPUSA. Please take me off your mailing list for contributions.

    Posted by Marge Cohen, 11/07/2009 10:39pm (6 years ago)

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