Defeating the extreme right – An opening for transformative change
From left, Queen Jackson, John Rankin, and others march during the annual re-enactment of the 1965 Selma march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. | Albert Cesare / The Montgomery Advertiser via AP

This is part 5 of the full main report, “Unity to save people and planet; For full equality, democracy, peace, and green socialism,” to the 31st National Convention of the Communist Party USA held in Chicago, Illinois, June 21-23, 2019. Other installments available here.

The abbreviated oral presentation is available here. John Bachtell served as CPUSA national chair from 2014 to 2019. Rossana Cambron and Joe Sims were elected as the new CPUSA co-chairs.

An essential feature of the Communist Party’s work is our strategic policy. A strategic policy allows us to identify the most important political goal at this moment that, when achieved, will advance the whole working class and democratic struggle, and then to help organize and unite every force possible to make it happen.

The extreme right and the most reactionary section of the capitalist class backing it are concentrated in and around the Republican Party. Defeating this monster is the most critical thing the working class and people must do at this moment. It affects everything else, including the ability to win any social advances; this is the front line of the class struggle today.

The most decisive arena to accomplish this strategic task is the 2020 election. The aim is to oust Trump from the presidency, the GOP majority from the U.S. Senate, defend the Democratic majority in the House, and break GOP domination of governorships and state legislatures.

A majority of voters oppose Trump and Republican policies. An unprecedented voter registration, grassroots mobilization, education, and turnout, is required—and every vote must be counted.

The working-class led movement, its critical allies, all social movements, and the broad anti-right alliance are gearing up for this battle. The U.S. labor movement will no doubt play a crucial role in providing resources, mobilizing millions, and creating alliances with core groupings.

Communist Party members at a recent demonstration in New York. | Courtesy of CPUSA

Maximum unity, or a popular front, is needed of our multi-racial, LGBTQ, multi-generational, native and foreign-born working class in alliance with all other democratic and core forces including communities of color, women, youth, immigrants, and every social movement, and left and center political currents.

The strategic policy also requires taking advantage of what Lenin called “conflicts of interest” and “the use of any, even the smallest, rift between the enemies, any conflict of interests among the bourgeoisie of the various countries and among the various groups or types of the bourgeoisie within the various countries.”

This is a necessary tactic at this moment, wrote Lenin, “even though this ally is temporary, vacillating, unstable, unreliable, and conditional,” to advance the interests of the working class.

Relationship to more advanced stages of struggle

Defeating the extreme right is the first stage of a more protracted fight for achieving full economic and political democracy and a government led by the multi-racial working class and its democratic allies and social movements—those who make up the vast majority of the people.

When the extreme right domination of government is broken, a new balance of forces and political situation will occur. A new strategic policy will be called for.

The objective of the current stage to defeat the domination of the extreme right dialectically intertwines with the next stage—confronting the entire monopoly section of the capitalist class. There are no clear lines of demarcation between these stages.

Defeating the extreme right will take multiple election cycles, mobilizing a stable majority in the electoral arena, in the streets and legislative chambers. A more significant, broader, deeper, and more united and conscious mass democratic upsurge is needed than exists now—one capable of extending its reach among alienated and non-voters.

Defeating the extreme right is strategic because it weakens the most reactionary section of capital and all its allies. The election of a left-center governing alliance creates new possibilities for radical reforms, new space to expand the organization and participation of the working class, every social movement, the left, socialists, and communists. It’s all part of the revolutionary process.

No advanced democratic reforms—including Medicare for All, free university education, criminal justice and electoral reform, reproductive rights, or the Green New Deal—can be won without a decisive victory in the 2020 elections.

The Communist Party’s role in 2020 elections

Our role in the 2020 elections is to assist the working class-led democratic upsurge to impact the entire process and outcome, to build this movement in unity, breadth, and grassroots depth, deepen consciousness, and expand the field of battle.

The overriding concern of the anti-extreme right alliance is to defeat Trump and the GOP. These forces are not united behind a single Democratic candidate in the primaries. Therefore, our role is to help build unity on the issues—not around personalities. In many cases, there is broad consensus on the goals, but differences on how to achieve them.

Our role is to build support for unity around defending the democratic gains already which are now being eroded by Trump and the extreme right. Also, as circumstances and conditions permit, we must fight for more advanced positions, working to build majority mass support, and, even better, overwhelming support as the struggle intensifies. This includes among independent and Republican voters.

Our role is to help find the intersection between issues and movements, to build maximum multi-racial working-class unity, and to build solidarity between the working class with other democratic allies and between left and center political currents.

Our role is to help heighten the level of class, and anti-racist, anti-sexist consciousness in the course of the struggle.

Our role is to assist in drawing more people into the political process. We should be among the most energetic volunteers to register voters, expand the field of battle into so-called “red states and districts,” and activate those on the sidelines.

Our role is to help strengthen the political independence of the working class, the core forces, and democratic allies. This includes helping build structures of political independence which at this moment often take place both through the Democratic Party and autonomous of it, and running candidates from their ranks, including Communists.

These independent structures will one day form the basis of a political party led by the multi-racial working class, its allies, and social and environmental justice movements.

People wait in line to cast their vote at a polling place during the U.S. midterm election, Nov. 6, 2018, in Silver Spring, Md. | Jose Luis Magana / AP

Our strategic policy is applied under unique circumstances of the two-party, winner takes all, electoral system. The history of political parties in the U.S. is a history of alliances. The GOP and Democratic Party are both dominated by capital, but they also represent different alliances of class and social forces.

The present electoral alliance within and alongside the Democratic Party includes critical organizations of the U.S. working class, first and foremost organized labor, communities of color, women, youth, and democratic and social movements, and a section of the capitalist class. Each force sees the Democratic Party as a vehicle to advance its interests at the present moment.

Naturally, there exist class contradictions and struggles within this alliance over direction and policies. Our challenge is to help the working class and mass democratic and social movements make this necessary alliance work in their interests, impact its policies, and assist it in emerging as the leader of the fight to defeat the right and win a revolutionary transformation of society.

Given our strategic policy, we do not see center political forces, including corporate and so-called establishment forces in the Democratic Party, as the main enemy. The center forces, including candidates they back, and the more extensive moderate set of voters in the country, are not static. They are shifting and adjusting to the issues in response to events.

We will never compromise on principles and ultimate goals. But here again, Lenin pointed out the need for momentary compromise on issues with “temporary and unstable” allies, given the current balance of forces, that still advance the working-class struggle. We will never hesitate to criticize these forces when they are wrong, but we will always do it in a way that does not break the temporary alliance brought together by the overriding goal of defeating the extreme right.

Continued in part 6: The mass democratic upsurge


CONTRIBUTOR

John Bachtell
John Bachtell

John Bachtell is in the Illinois Bureau of People's World. He served as national chair of the Communist Party USA from 2014 to 2019. Previously, he was Illinois organizer for the party, and is active in labor, peace, and justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio and currently lives in Chicago.

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