The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) is sponsoring a conference June 28-30 on building Party clubs and the labor and people’s movements at the grassroots. The conference will be in New York City.

Answering the question, ‘Why now?’ CPUSA Organization Secretary Elena Mora told the World, ‘A couple of things are coming together now that are new. One is the political moment. The Bush administration’s all around ‘war against the world’ makes many peace and solidarity issues extremely urgent. Movements here are getting back on their feet since Sept. 11, on these issues and other pressing issues like health care, public education, and defending labor, women, immigrant civil and other democratic rights.’

The second factor in the timing of the conference is the process happening in the Party itself, Mora said. ‘We have been renovating our way of doing things, our role and structure.’ Mora described the many steps the Party has taken nationally. Now the biggest challenge Communists have to tackle is at the grassroots.

‘We have to take a look at the level of the labor and people’s movements at the grassroots and how to grow our own organization at that level so we can make bigger contributions to building the movements,’ Mora said.

The conference will have four sessions, two of which will break into small groups – giving participants the opportunity to delve deeply into issues, experiences and theories of organizing for social progress. There will be two panels, one with organizers from labor, youth and other democratic movements, and another panel will be specifically on Communist Party clubs – successes and failures in organizing and growing.

Doing this while helping to mobilize the grassroots and rank-and-file for the midterm elections in November is the biggest overriding political consideration. ‘The challenge will be to convince people that who gets elected to Congress matters,’ Mora said, noting the tendency for low-voter turn out in mid-term elections.

Shifting the balance away from the ultra-right, who have overwhelmingly congregated in the Republican Party, in the House and are continuing that trend in the Senate, is a key goal for labor, women’s, environmental and civil rights movements.

‘It’s a two-way street. Communists, along with many others, can bring issues and their relationship to the ultra-right’s pro-corporate offensive, but we and the movement have to be open to what people who aren’t activists are concerned about,’ Mora said. ‘We would have much better politicians if the grassroots were mobilized and making demands on them.’

Communists seek to have a basic understanding of what makes change, Mora said. There are many theories on change and how history moves, she said; some say it’s the great leader theory, others say it is big events. Communists look to the class struggle and the millions of working people to make history. ‘We have a basic commitment and confidence in that,’ she said. ‘That’s what democracy, and our ultimate goal of socialism, is all about.’

The author can be reached at talbano@pww.org

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