Communist Party USA to hold 100th anniversary convention in Chicago
Members of the Communist Party in Connecticut participate in a demonstration. | Courtesy of CPUSA

CHICAGO— Meeting here, in the city where May Day was born, members of the Communist Party USA will celebrate a century in the struggle for workers’ rights and socialism at their organization’s 31st National Convention later this month.

Hundreds of delegates, allies, and international guests will convene in Chicago, June 21-23, to commemorate the CPUSA’s 1919 founding and to strategize for the road ahead, with a sharp focus on the 2020 elections. “The Trump White House,” the party’s convention call states, “has emboldened racism, white supremacy, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and anti-immigrant xenophobia, all in the interest of the most backward circles of the very rich.”

But Trump’s election also galvanized a historic resistance which has brought fresh growth to the Communist Party, the country’s longest enduring socialist organization.

“The CPUSA has deep roots in our multi-racial working class and people,” according to John Bachtell, the party’s national chair. “During its 100 years of struggle against capitalism, the CPUSA has made indelible contributions to every critical struggle for equality, democracy, a people’s culture, protecting the environment, and peace.”

Unemployment insurance, Social Security, the unionization of the U.S.’ industrial workforce, the Civil Rights revolution, gains for women’s equality, and the end of the Vietnam War were all achieved with Communists’ active involvement and leadership.

The meeting won’t just be a time for party members to look back nostalgically on past victories, though. As the discussion going on among party members and the proposed resolutions show, it’s the struggles of today that will be the central focus of the convention’s work.

The party’s participation in the 2020 elections will be top of the agenda. Characterizing the current political moment as one of crisis, the draft elections resolution targets Trump and says a “total defeat of extremist right-wing elements” at the polls next year “is crucial.” It also calls on party members and allies to commit to “year-round organizing and mobilizing on the issues facing the working class” and to work for unity among all progressive and pro-worker forces to defeat Trump.

One convention session will be devoted to linking climate change with class struggle and militarism while strategizing on how to win a Green New Deal. The last several months have brought dramatic and severe swings in weather, impacting millions of people and forcing the whole country to pay attention to climate change. A draft resolution for this part of the meeting characterizes the Green New Deal as “an advanced set of democratic and social programs” deserving the full support of the party and the labor movement. It calls for a massive shift of resources away from wars and foreign military interventions toward a sustainable energy grid, infrastructure investment, and “green jobs” at union wages. Further, the party is advocating a “just transition safety net” that guarantees income replacement for workers who lose jobs and support for communities who lose industries and their local tax base.

Another session will review the latest developments in the struggle against the special oppression of people of color, immigrants, and women. The convention is expected to call on party members to place the struggle for racial, gender, and sexual orientation equality at the forefront of their work—especially in an era when the Trump administration and extremist Republicans are suppressing voting rights, restricting women’s right to choose, and locking immigrant children in cages at the border.

Dee Miles, chair of the convention’s organizing committee, says, “Racism, male supremacy, misogyny, and LGBTQ phobia” serve the goal of dividing and weakening unity among the working class and its allies. “Growing class and socialist consciousness in the process of struggle,” she argues, is a primary weapon in confronting them.

Dozens of other topics—including demilitarization, labor law reform, safeguarding democracy, the 6-hour workday with no cut in pay, and more—fill the weekend’s agenda. Delegates will review the latest draft of the Communist Party’s program, “The Road to Socialism USA,” which sets out the party’s basic policy and vision, outlining the core forces needed to win progress—the working class, the racially and nationally oppressed, women, and youth.

The main stage at the Communist Party’s 30th National Convention in 2014. | Courtesy of CPUSA

It defines the all-people’s front and anti-monopoly coalition stages of struggle and makes the case for the Communist Party’s own unique role in winning socialism. The convention will update the program, which was first adopted in 2005, to account for developments since that time.

The party will also explore ways to take better advantage of what party leader Joe Sims calls the “socialist moment” that the country is now experiencing, as larger numbers of people start to consider alternatives to capitalism in the wake of the Great Recession.

“Interest in socialism is on the rise,” party chair Bachtell says. “Millions of young workers face a future of Uber and Amazon jobs, part-time work, and are drowning in student debt. They increasingly wonder if there’s a future with the rise of automation, big data, and robotics–and many are looking to the Communist Party.”

According to the CPUSA’s Membership Coordinator, Rossana Cambron, “Many in the younger generation tell us they don’t feel there is any future for them…. Joining the party offers them the hope they’ve been searching for and, thus, something to get involved in.”

“Humanity faces new and unprecedented threats,” says Bachtell, citing climate and ecological crises, the nuclear and global war danger, wealth and social inequality, and the erosion of democratic rights. “The CPUSA is a vibrant and active part of the unprecedented movements rising to meet these challenges. We carry forward the age-old dream of full equality, sustainability, peace, and democracy—a socialist society—into the 21st century.”

In addition to setting policy for the coming period, the convention will also elect the national leadership of the Communist Party. More information on the meeting can be found here.


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.