Editor’s note: People’s World contributor April Smith interviewed John Rummel (pictured), a leader of the Communist Party USA. Rummel is helping to organize the CPUSA’s annual national conference.
Q: Tell me about the conference
The Communist Party’s annual spring conference is taking place April 21st to 22nd in New York City. It is a delegated conference with people coming from Alabama to Alaska. In my talks with those coming, I get the sense of growing anticipation and excitement. Part of this is due to new members joining both the Communist Party and Young Communist League. There will be a great mix of older and newer comrades meeting each other for the first time. In addition, people are very concerned with the growth of far right extremism and want to discuss how it can be defeated.
The conference will be different than others we’ve recently had. Usually our meetings focus on the tasks at hand – such as the all important struggle against the far-right in the 2012 elections. We’ll definitely be discussing the election but the overall point we want to discuss is how to grow the movement for basic change. That fits with the conference’s theme: People Before Profits, Organizing Today for a Socialist Tomorrow.
Polls show that large numbers say they favor socialism over capitalism. A question we will discuss is how to grow the political power of those seeing capitalism as a dead-end system.
Q: It sounds like this will be more of an ideological conference?
People’s survival and that of the planets depends on stopping financial and corporate firms stealing from the 99 percent. There are those who advocate for a third party in the November elections, some say labor and other movements should break with the Democratic Party. Others ask if we can grow the Communist Party and the Young Communist League, while at the same time working with forces who are not committed to socialism.
With only a day and a half we will not be able to examine such questions in detail but we do want people to feel challenged, to think about the direction in which we are going, and how to get there.
Q: Will it just be reports?
No, and it won’t be just plenary sessions either. There will be small group breakouts, remarks from several international guests, music from banjo to rap, and plenty of opportunity to meet new comrades from Alaska to Alabama. Activities that Communist Party and Young Communist League clubs have been involved in from organizing the unemployed to helping build the great labor demonstrations in Ohio and Wisconsin, to feeding the homeless and many more will be highlighted in a multimedia slide and video show.
Q: Are there ways to participate for those not coming to New York City?
Yes, we will live stream several of the sessions and post them on our cpusa.org website for later viewing. Also check out a chapter in Henry Winston’s book Strategy for a Black Agenda, titled “From Anti-slavery to Anti-monopoly,” and get a group together to discuss it. It is on the homepage of our website, cpusa.org, and has a number of lessons for today’s activists looking to grow the revolutionary process.
For more information on the conference contact John Rummel, firstname.lastname@example.org