PSMLS Review — PCUSA General Secretary Q&A (pt. 2/2)

by Blake Hennion

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In the PSMLS video “PCUSA General Secretary Q&A (pt. 2/2)”[1] the class covers many differences existing between the CPUSA and the PCUSA. This mainly consists of the ideological differences which developed in the early 2000’s after Gus Hall’s death and the eventual new leadership which followed. Sam Webb succeeded Gus Hall and served as the General Chair of the CPUSA from 2000 to 2014, and then served on the National Committee until he left the party to join the bourgeois Democratic Party in 2016. In 2014 the CPUSA saw John Bachtell briefly rise to General Secretary after Webb before the current day ascension of “co-chairs” Rosanna Cambron and Joe Sims in 2019. This was a clear departure from Soviet ideology on how the party is run organizationally by a General Secretary, and other areas were also changed to Americanize the party and appeal to a different type of left. 

The new leadership of the CPUSA continued to move away from Soviet influence in their theory and work and in turn cut off any group which did not conform to their new view and revisionist outlook on the objectives of a communist party. Co-chair Joe Sims can even be heard explaining in the video “Why we don’t quote Stalin and Mao” from 2020, which can be found on the CPUSA Youtube page, that no form of socialism is universal, and by these words shying away from great theorists and leaders due to what in reality are negative feelings created by bourgeois American thinkers and politicians which he is too afraid to combat.[2]  Instead of standing with revolutionary theory and the great contributors to Marxist-Leninist thought he goes for the route which is less controversial. In addition, any principled communist would know that Marxism-Leninism is scientific and can be applied anywhere, as we have seen in just about every successful revolution in the 20th century. This would remind any well-read communist of a quote by Vladimir Lenin from “What Is to Be Done?” which clearly stated, “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”[3]

The clubs and members which continued in a Soviet and Marxist-Leninist way were cut off and left behind to continue the original CPUSA work under the name of the Party of Communists USA. This is not to be mistaken as a split, as the main national party left their comrades and clubs instead of working out differences within the party and listening to its members. This too is a strong break from the ways a Vanguard-Cadre party led by democratic centralism should function when issues arise.

One way the PCUSA is distinct from the CPUSA as we previously mentioned is in the way it functions now mainly due to the internal democracy which is in place. This is mainly to avoid the disaster which occurred within the CPUSA after Gus Hall and to allow the party to be of one accord when making important party decisions and actions. This internal democracy is brought to life through democratic centralism and is the fourth point in the PCUSA’s “Points of Unity.”[4] Democratic centralism is in place to better hear the ideas of the party’s members and to avoid the situation of our party becoming too top-heavy and losing the voice and support of its members. The PCUSA also stays true to Marxism-Leninism and avoids falling into right-opportunism, revisionism, and ultra-leftism, which so many parties in today’s left do.

The CPUSA still continues to embrace revisionism and whatever new trend in left politics arises. The new leadership has taken to individualistic and opportunistic ideas and left its regular party members in its ranks out of the discussion and out of the loop of what is really happening within the party. This has caused an alarming change from what was once a principled Marxist-Leninist vanguard party to an untrustworthy group that, in turn, will take whatever is handed to them by the new American left and bourgeois politicians. The Party of Communists USA condemns this revisionism and continues the tried and tested ideology of Marxism-Leninism. It can truthfully and proudly state from top to bottom that it is a party for the oppressed peoples and working class of the United States.


References

[1] PCUSA. “PCUSA General Secretary Q&A (Pt. 2/2) ─ PSMLS Audio.” YouTube. YouTube, April 2, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UL9Slof4Q2I&list=PL5m39Z_SLMn1F8FIOgqBLYOJXESG5DfR3&index=3&t=611s.

[2] CPUSA. “Why We Don’t Quote Stalin and Mao.” YouTube. YouTube, March 31, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ohrdsf3vw0I&t=406s.

[3] Vladimir Lenin, What Is To Be Done? (Mansfield Centre: Martino Publishing, 2013), 28.

[4] “Points of Unity.” Party of Communists USA, February 26, 2022. https://partyofcommunistsusa.org/about/eight-points-of-unity/.