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The ideas presented in this article arose directly out of an online Thread on the
appropriate policy of the popular front in the Communist parties. The thread had
drawn in present or former members of the Communist Party USA, The Communist Party
of Canada, and the Canadian New Democratic Party.

I had respectfully questioned those among my interlocutors who supported the


current political line of the American party's leadership and its policy of deep
integration of their party into the centre of the "Obama movement". Here follows
the greater part of what I said at the forum on "A Ragged Process at People's
World" [http://www.peoplesworld.org/a-ragged-process/]

"It seems curious that one year into the most grave economic crisis since 1928
when socialist and Marxist ideas are being raised around the world in the
bourgeois Press, that this is the moment a Communist leadership would sink into
the woodwork because of fear of red-baiting?

What other motivations, strategy and tactics might the cpusa leadership be
applying? For one, Sam Webb has written that communists must move away from 20th
Century "imported" models of Socialism. This would rationally seem to suggest that
either the leadership is leaving the Leninist project on the QT -- or is adhering
to a tactics and strategy that intelligent people with long histories on the Left
of the spectrum simply are too slow to understand.

Another thesis that is more logical to me is that the leadership believes that in
order to completely identify with the "center" demands of the multi-class Obama
"coalition",it is necessary to diminish and submerge references to the Communist
tradition. An example of this that I thought confirmed this thesis was seen in
Democratic party candidate and cpusa member Rick Nagin's Cleveland ward race, when
during the electoral race he told the Cleveland Press it was time to change the
name of the CPUSA to something less offensive to Americans, such as, perhaps "the
New Socialist Party."

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Each national party is certainly responsible for its own political development and
it is correct that all CP's were hindered -even stalled in their adaptation to
particular national conditions by dependence on the CPSU's line. I would never
argue that any national party accept dictation from any external source.(But at
the same time there were notable occasions when the international movement made
corrections and contributions by reminding particular parties of broader
perspectives perspectives and co-responsibilities to the international movement.
These interventions such as Jacques Duclos' 1945 article criticizing the policies
of American party Chairman Earl R. Browder ).

So there is another equally integral axis within the Marxist-Leninist tradition we


have received as a trust: i.e. the communist movement is by its very character and
ideology both composed of independent self-governing parties and an international.

The Communist movement as a global summons and analysis intrinsically comprehends


a delicate tension from its foundation in The Communist Manifesto (& etc). We pose
in our founding documents and present status a global unity-in-legitimate-
diversity that is by its nature always a contested space that entails debate. This
has always been true. The international character and ethos of Marxism in the
Communist movement is not dependent on the presence or absence of an
organizational bureaucracy such as the Comintern of the pre WW 2 years.
We are not just independently doing creative Marxist analysis in our national
parties - although we are certainly responsible to perform that task. Because of
the call contained in Marx's summons, "Workers of the world unite!"
we are also the current stewards of an always contended and at times rather
disorderly international organism. I would argue that there is no real creative
embodiment of Marxism without a recognition of the informal conciliar character of
world communism.

Is it difficult to hold both aspects of the Movement in balance? It is very


difficult. But members of the international organism have to undergo the anxieties
of holding this tension in balance. The alternative is continuing a superficial
and formal international politesse with each other while unspoken "concerns"
fester away in the well-known old passive-aggressive communist political culture
of murmuring, cabals, and misunderstandings.

We have not learned how to live with our inheritance as communists and those who
"make waves" in such a pathological political culture do so at a cost. I am well
aware of that, but know that we must learn to cast off this habit of uncharitable
passivity or be rightly consigned to the sidelines in addressing the world's great
sorrows and pain.

A related (brief) correlate: I don't think either side in this ongoing discourse
is wholly "correct" or totally in error . Without suggesting in any way a
capitulation to bourgeois postmodernism or its attendant radical relativism,
Marxism-Leninism is a method and path before it is a series of unchanging
encyclopedic definitions.

Today's Communist movement is obviously inadequately communist in the sense of


exemplifying the greater tradition's intrinsic dynamic of Marxism-Leninism. Too
often in both the reformist and traditional groupings inside our polarized family
of Communist parties we are content to wearily carry on the worst 'communistic'
obsessions with compliance, passive aggressiveness and rule by dictate. We have
all in our several ideological formations lacked a disposition of basic openness
to comrades who differ with us on penultimate questions. All Communists of
different tendencies have habitually retreated into our little 'fortresses' - both
those on the 'left' or 'right' side of any given debate. And much of this
pathology derives from confusion about the proper distribution of effective power
in our movement.

Communists must address an a priori question on the nature and rights of democracy
within the framework of the Leninist polity of democratic centralism if we are to
break from a party culture of compliance and control which continues to erect and
perpetuate barriers to real democratic participation. This is a vital question for
both "Reformist" or "Marxist-Leninist" tendencies in our increasingly polarized
international, for we have read of or experienced the degeneration of party
democracy in all CPSU aligned parties,and now we have witnessed the remarkable
resilience of this pathology in the leaderships which have pushed a model of "new
socialism".