Communists combine talk with action

As the Communist Party USA prepares for its 28th National Convention, to be held July 1-3 in Chicago, it is organizing “a wide-ranging discussion on where things are going” in our country and the world, the party’s executive vice chair, Jarvis Tyner, told the World.

“There are not too many places where there’s an opportunity to discuss how you can transform this powerful imperialist society into one that moves in a progressive direction and toward socialism,” Tyner said. That includes immediate questions on people’s minds, like “How do you win the peace? How do you advance civil rights, workers’ rights, equality for women, environmental protection and other progressive issues?” The party’s preconvention discussion provides that opportunity, both for party members and for fellow activists and friends, he said.

“This period not only includes discussion, but also action,” he emphasized, noting the party’s deep involvement in the struggles to stop the privatization of Social Security and to bring the troops home from Iraq.

The party has issued a draft main political resolution and a draft new party program that will be the focus of the discussion. Both are available at the party’s web site,, or from the party’s office in New York.

The program presents the party’s basic ideas and its longer-range outlook toward socialism. The political resolution aims to provide a concise guide for work in the coming period. It underscores the dangers of the current ultra-right administration, but emphasizes the possibilities for progressive victory, in line with the convention’s slogan, “The people can win! Defeat the Bush agenda! Build the CPUSA!”

Tyner chaired the committee that drafted the political resolution. “We are making these documents available widely, and hoping that non-members as well as members will read them and voice their opinions — not just positive, but on the weaknesses, on how to strengthen them,” he said.

The CPUSA’s preconvention discussion is an expression of the party’s democratic style and structure, Tyner noted.

Los Angeles party activist Beatriz Gonzalez echoed that view. Interviewed by phone during a lunch break on her job, Gonzalez said she sees it as “an opportunity to bring up things you’ve been thinking about and are not sure you’re on the right track about.”

Some questions on her mind involve what is the role of a Communist Party club, what needs to change, and how to handle the pressures of being a political activist. “Spreading yourself too thin — there are all these things you have to do, then you’re tired, then you feel guilty because you’re not saving the world — how do you deal with that?” she wants to know. “Some people feel comfortable doing some things, some feel comfortable doing other things — are we sending the message that it’s OK?”

Gonzalez said she is planning to send excerpts of the discussion documents to all her family members, who “range from ultra-conservative, religious fundamentalists, to Communists, and everything in between.” She will tell them, “We look both ways before we cross the street, so we don’t get run over. We need to look both ways in politics too, so we don’t get trampled.” Gonzalez thinks some of them will read at least some of the discussion, and it will give them something to think about.

Later this month, a cross-section of the party’s labor activists from across the country, with particular emphasis on shop workers, will gather in Chicago for a “labor think tank.” Scott Marshall, chair of the party’s Labor Commission, said, “We want to have an in-depth discussion of the work of our commission, of the party’s overall work.” It’s especially timely, he said, because the AFL-CIO is holding its national convention at the end of July, and labor is having its own preconvention discussion on the direction and future of the labor movement. “We want to tie that in with what we have to do as a party,” Marshall said.

The four-day “think tank” will examine a variety of questions facing the labor movement and the party’s overall program as it relates to labor, including issues such as the Iraq war and globalization.


Susan Webb
Susan Webb

Susan Webb is a retired co-editor of People's World. She has written on a range of topics both international - the Iraq war, World Social Forums in Brazil and India, the Israel-Palestinian conflict and controversy over the U.S. role in Okinawa - and domestic - including the meaning of socialism for Americans, attacks on Planned Parenthood, the U.S. as top weapons merchant, and more. Previously she taught English as a second language and did a variety of other jobs to pay the bills. She has lived in six states, and is all about motherhood, art, nature and apple pie.