Saturday, November 24, 2012

Response to Sam Webb’s “Main report to the Communist Party USA National Committee, November 17, 2012″

Reblogged from:

by James Thompson

What is really significant about Chairperson Webb’s “report” is that it is not a report at all. The document is written in vague generalities with a great deal of bombast, pontification and posturing. Chairperson Webb fails to specify what the CPUSA has been doing as an organized party or what it intends to do in the future. He only makes vague statements about how almost all of the members participated in the election. By participation, does he mean managing campaigns, running candidates, doing fundraising or working in a capitalist party’s campaign? Perhaps he just means voting. This is unclear.

It appears that Chairman Webb has forgotten Marx’ teaching that “content precedes form.” This paper is all about form with little regard to content.

Let’s examine the title of the document “Defeat for the right, victory for the people & democracy.” The first phrase “defeat for the right” is hard to fathom. Although it must be conceded that President Obama has taken a more progressive stance on a number of issues when compared with his opponent, candidate Romney, this does not mean that President Obama is a socialist or communist. He is a member of one of the two ruling bourgeois parties in the United States. For this reason, it can be expected that he will support the interests of the wealthy classes more often than not. It should also be remembered that he was elected with the endorsements of both Colin Powell and Michael Bloomberg. His campaign received truckloads of money from the ultra-wealthy and their corporate surrogates. These endorsements and financial contributions must be remunerated by Mr. Obama and such remuneration will dearly cost the people.

The second phrase “victory for the people” is also hard to stomach. To which people is Mr. Webb referring? Is he referring to the people of Palestine and/or Iran? Is he referring to workers in this country who are oppressed? Is he referring to labor union members who received no support from the president on passing the Employee Free Choice Act? Is he referring to maimed and deceased veterans returning from the endless imperialist wars in the Middle East and elsewhere? Perhaps Mr. Webb is referring to the people on Wall Street and in corporate offices across the USA. If you look at Mr. Obama’s record, it is clear that he has served those people well over the last four years.
The third phrase “victory for… Democracy” also presents some problems. To what kind of democracy is Mr. Webb referring? In the USA, there is only one form of democracy and it is bourgeois democracy. This form of democracy serves to protect the interests of the wealthy classes. It protects the wealthy classes from the demands of working people. It upholds the interests of imperialism, while simultaneously creating an illusion among workers that they really have a voice in the conduct of the business of the country. Although elections, even bourgeois elections, are an important arena for struggle, we should not harbor any illusions about their real purpose, which is to prop up the wealthy classes. As Lenin said, “elections solve nothing.”
Mr. Webb says “The better angels of the American people spread their wings.” This phraseology would be appropriate if written by a Catholic priest rather than the Chairperson of the Communist Party. Such idealistic thinking should be anathema to a Communist Party based on Marxism Leninism and dialectical materialism.

It is interesting that Mr. Webb notes that “An African-American president was reelected to the presidency, the Democrats unexpectedly strengthened their hand in the Senate and House, new progressive voices, like Elizabeth Warren, are coming to Washington, and victories, including for marriage equality, occurred at the state level.” Although it is a fact that an African-American was elected to the office of presidency, what does this mean in terms of the progressive struggle? In fact, the statement reflects some racist thinking. Martin Luther King, Jr told us that people should be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. It opens the question “What would Mr. Webb suggest we do if Dennis Kucinich was running against Clarence Thomas?” Mr. Webb’s reference to Elizabeth Warren “coming to Washington” fails to recognize that also the right wing Tea Party extremist, Ted Cruz, from Texas, will also be moving to Washington.
Mr. Webb maintains “The Communist Party said a year ago that the 2012 elections would be the main front of the class and democratic struggle and subsequent events have confirmed that fact.” To what events is Mr. Webb referring? Many people agree that wages and benefits of workers are always the front line of the class struggle. The fight for peace and justice and the right to organize are also main fronts of the class struggle. The fight against imperialism is also an important front in the class struggle. Mr. Webb goes on “Indeed, we argued…that defeating right-wing extremism was the key to moving the whole chain of democratic struggle forward.” There is only one way to defeat right-wing extremism once and for all and that will happen when socialism replaces capitalism on a global level. Again, it must be asked that if Mr. Webb believed that this election was crucial to the class struggle, what did the CPUSA do to participate in that struggle? Mr. Webb makes note that “a few weeks before the election, I attended a rally in Cleveland organized by the Teamsters, where many labor leaders and members of Congress spoke of the urgency of supporting President Obama.” Gus Hall and William Foster must be spinning in their graves. They would certainly ask why the chairperson of the CPUSA was merely attending a labor rally but not speaking. They might also ask if the party attempted to organize any activities of its own.

Mr. Webb makes a good point when he says “Not least, President Obama needs to hear from the tens of millions who reelected him.” However, he goes on to confusing statements such as “The president is the most popular politician in the country. Nobody has the political and moral authority that he has. He isn’t a radical, but by the same token to classify him as a run-of-the-mill capitalist politician doesn’t fit either. Of the Democratic Party presidents of the 20th century, none had the deep democratic sensibilities that he possesses. It is crucial that he lead the struggle.” To what struggle is Mr. Webb referring? Is he referring to the fact that Mr. Obama has deported more immigrants than any other president? Is he referring to Mr. Obama’s use of drones to assassinate foreign nationals? Is he referring to the struggle for the Employee Free Choice Act? Mr. Webb also states “Which is where communists, socialists and left and progressive people come into the picture. Our main task is to build broad people’s unity, guarantee the participation of the key social and class forces, counter the right-wing narrative with a working-class and people’s narrative, and bring forward an alternative program.” It would be helpful if Mr. Webb could be specific about the concrete actions that need to happen to bring this about.

Mr. Webb writes “For some time now our party has recognized powerful progressive trends in the labor movement. In this election, the actions of labor brought those trends to a new level.” The question must be asked “What is the party doing to build and support ‘progressive trends in the labor movement’”?

In his section on “foreign policy”, Mr. Webb takes some issue with the Obama administration “There is some reappraisal of the conduct of our foreign policy going on in the Obama administration and the national security state.” Again, Mr. Webb needs to be more specific about this “reappraisal.” He goes on “In all likelihood some changes will occur, not necessarily unimportant ones, but at the same time don’t expect the Obama administration or US ruling circles to give up their global ambitions.” Without labeling administration policies as imperialist, he does specify a number of global hotspots to which the Obama administration has mimicked the positions of right wing extremists including Iran, Palestine, Cuba, DPRK and Latin America among others. However, he proposes no action to oppose imperialism.

Mr. Webb seems to not have learned anything from Mr. Romney’s 47% remark. Speaking of the CPUSA, he writes “Our main audience is not among those who sat out the election struggle, but among those who were in its front ranks.” Since reports indicate that only 60% of eligible voters voted in the most recent election, he is dismissing the other 40% who may have been disgruntled with the capitalist parties and their policies. He is also dismissing people who are not eligible to vote. This would include large segments of the population such as undocumented immigrant workers, and people with felonies. He is also dismissing all those who have failed to register to vote without any study of why they failed to register. He notes that the CPUSA is too small. With such myopic vision, one can only say “no wonder.”

In response to his vague statements about building the party, the question should be asked “What are the concrete steps the party will take to build a larger party?”
Another man by the name of Webb, Jack Webb, who played the part of Sergeant Joe Friday, in the television series Dragnet many years ago used to say, “Just the facts, ma’am.” This is important to remember when discussing politics and economics. If we Communists are to have any credibility at all, we must be scientific in our analyses, method and program. We need leadership which meets those standards. The people of this country don’t need any more talking heads. There is enough of that on their TV.

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