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Brief Polemic Against Joe Sims

By Wesley Hothersall

Joe Sims, Co-Chair CPUSA

On November 1, 2021, CPUSA co-chair Joe Sims authored an article that was published on the CPUSA’s website entitled “An upsurge worth fighting for.” In it, Sims exposes the current leadership of the CPUSA for its ideological bankruptcy. When examining the ideological contents of this article, Communists must keep certain questions in mind: does this article reflect the CPUSA’s ideology? Would a Communist Party guided by Marxism-Leninism allow articles that do not reflect the Party ideology to be published on their website?

Unfortunately, this article contributes to the deepening confusion of American youth, who are more and more being drawn to Communist ideology and to Marxism-Leninism in particular. Similar to the Tito-supporting mayor recently elected in Graz, Austria, Sims proves in his article that being a leader in a Party that calls itself “Communist” is an insufficient criterion for determining whether or not one is truly a Communist (i.e. a Marxist-Leninist). In speaking to the National Committee of the CPUSA (their version of a Central Committee), Sims explains that:

“[W]e’ve got to be more involved and more active. We’ve got to be on the picket lines more and build more extensive community support. How? Maybe it’s by picketing dealerships or by helping organize boycotts. Another idea is to suggest resolutions in City Councils. Clubs can also write letters to the editor or initiate social media campaigns and make memes.”1

Instead of imploring members to build and strengthen, say, the Party press, Sims suggests that “Maybe… making memes” should be a primary goal of the CPUSA. Sims and the current CPUSA leadership have over 100 years of organized Communist activity to study from, and they appear to be applying none of it. In stark contrast to what is being suggested here, the jobs of Communists are to be correspondents for the working class. As William F. Dunne explains in Workers Correspondents:

“The Communist press becomes a mass organ reflecting and molding the struggles of the workers in the same proportion that these struggles are recorded and correctly interpreted by worker correspondents — correspondents who write of the battles of their class as a soldier writes of the battles which [they help] to fight. Worker correspondents are WAR correspondents — they tell of the class war in its every sector and salient.”2

The reader should also find it strange that during this time of heightened radicalization, Sims spends roughly a quarter of this article talking about the prime importance of Democrats (yes, the capitalist, anti-communist Democratic Party) securing a majority in the midterm elections of 2022. He says “Let’s remember that the midterm elections are just a year away. And everything that happens between now and then will help determine the outcome.”3 Why would Sims bring this up if he did not expect Party members to engage in work which would help elect Democrats? Furthermore, what is the use of a Communist Party in the United States working to help elect Democrats? Is that in the spirit of the revolutionary work emphasized by comrades Lenin and Stalin? Of course not, and Joe Sims knows this.

Far from having any sort of revolutionary ideology, the ideology of Joe Sims and the present CPUSA leadership has direct connections to Sam Webb, who was one of the right opportunists that usurped the former Party leadership following Comrade Gus Hall’s death in 2000. Sam Webb’s social democratic articles still pollute the CPUSA’s website to this day. Moreover, in 2016 he resigned from the CPUSA and officially joined the Democratic Party. In regards to present CPUSA leadership, the apple clearly does not fall far from the ideological tree.

After spending way too much time talking about Democrats, Sims makes the following eyebrow-raising statement: “The main point I want to make here is that the party is coming back. We’re still in a process of rebuilding, but we’re coming back.”4 How ironic this is coming from someone who was in a leadership position at a time when the CPUSA leadership was dropping pro-Soviet clubs from their ranks (particularly the clubs in New York, California, Texas, and Indiana) according to first-hand accounts.5 If clubs were not dissolved for being pro-Soviet, there would be no need for the Party to “come back.” Logically, one can only “come back” from a place that they previously occupied. Does this mean a “return” to the Party that was guided by the ideological leadership of Comrade Stalin from 1919 until his death? Does this mean a “return” to the Party led by Comrade Gus Hall for over 50 years? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Rather, all that the CPUSA leadership is returning to is playing a more influential role in diffusing the revolutionary energy and potential of American youth and diverting it away from the revolutionary theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism. Instead of following Lenin, CPUSA leadership is making their bed with the philosophical trends of liberalism and petty-bourgeois radicalism. As Comrade Gus Hall explained in his 1970 work, “Crisis of Petty-Bourgeois Radicalism”:

“The inner laws of capitalism, the laws of exploitation, the inherent drive for profit, the contradiction between the social nature of production and the private appropriation of its products are all factors that force the victims in mass more and more to see their self-interests related to the more basic and revolutionary ideas. Policies and tactics, to be successful, must be related to this objective process. A revolutionary force must take full advantage of each new situation presented by this process. Only then can it become a revolutionary force propelling events. Tactics must be synchronized to each stage of this development…

Concepts of struggle not based on the above reality will sooner or later come into conflict with it. The advocates of petty-bourgeois radicalism try to bypass this reality. They believe they can avoid the necessary and unavoidable consistent and sustained work, the work of organizing, educating, mobilizing, and leading people in mass, of leading people on the level of their understanding, of their own self-interest, and in this sense reflecting the objective processes leading to a revolutionary struggle against capitalism. For this, they seek to substitute radical rhetoric with general slogans, or advanced actions that have no relationship to struggles to which the masses do respond. Thus when the concepts based on unreality meet the reality of class struggle they bounce back. If such tactics are further pursued they become an obstacle to struggle. They become a destructive and divisive force. Organized groups which pursue such policies not only tend to move away from the working class but they reject mass concepts of struggle altogether.”6

History shows us that Communist Parties who do not place Marxist-Leninist ideology in the driver’s seat end up in the graveyard of world history. Despite opportunists such as Joe Sims and Rosanna Cambrone still being the respective chair and co-chair of that Party, the CPUSA brags online about how it has “new leadership.”7 As that Party is currently operating, they are continuing their failed strategy which took firm hold after Gus Hall passed away in 2000. The passing of Hall is a significant event in the American Communist movement because it opened the door for people such as Joe Sims, Sam Webb, John Bachtell, and other anti-Communist leadership to take control of the CPUSA.

We actually agree with Sims when he states that “we should avoid subjectively picking and choosing what we like and don’t like.” If only Joe Sims agreed with Joe Sims, for this is the same individual who, in 2008, published four articles in Political Affairs (the ideological magazine of the CPUSA) entitled, “Ten Worst and Best Ideas of Marxism.” If selecting the “best and worst ideas from Marxism” does not qualify as “subjectively picking and choosing what we like and don’t like,” then the English language no longer has any meaning.

We hope this polemic against Joe Sims and the ideological leadership of the CPUSA is a wake-up call for those inside and outside of the organization known as the CPUSA. The fight for Communism is a matter of life and death for millions of workers of the world, including American workers. Those who are serious about Marxism-Leninism deserve an ideological home that reflects the interests, priorities, and desires of the working class, and maintains a wholly revolutionary outlook. The PCUSA (Party of Communists USA) and LYCUSA (League of Young Communists USA) offer this essential alternative to those comrades. We conclude our polemic against CPUSA leadership with a quote from Comrade Lenin in his work “Marxism and Revisionism”:

“To determine its conduct from case to case, to adapt itself to the events of the day and to the chopping and changing of petty politics, to forget the primary interests of the [working class] and the basic features of the whole capitalist system, of all capitalist evolution, to sacrifice these primary interests for the real or assumed advantages of the moment – such is the policy of revisionism.” (Collected Works, Vol. 15. pp. 37-38)

References

1 Sims, J. (2021, November 3). An upsurge worth fighting for. Communist Party USA. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from https://www.cpusa.org/article/an-upsurge-worth-fighting-for/.

2 Dunne, W. F. (1925). Workers Correspondents. The Workers Party of America.

3 Sims, J. (2021, November 3). An upsurge worth fighting for. Communist Party USA. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from https://www.cpusa.org/article/an-upsurge-worth-fighting-for/.

4 Sims, J. (2021, November 3). An upsurge worth fighting for. Communist Party USA. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from https://www.cpusa.org/article/an-upsurge-worth-fighting-for/.

5 D’Angelo, A. (2016, January 12). Repost: CPUSA NY district expels Austin Hogan Transit Workers club. Houston Communist Party. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from http://houstoncommunistparty.com/repost-cpusa-ny-district-expels-austin-hogan-transit-workers-club/

6 Hall, G. (1970). Crisis of petty-bourgeois radicalism. Crisis of Petty-Bourgeois Radicalism, by Gus Hall. Retrieved November 18, 2021, from https://www.marxists.org/archive/hall/1970/crisis-petty-bourgeois-radicalism.htm.

7 Communist Party USA. (2021). Re: The “socialist patriotism” fraud [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITtV6rF6h0Q