Should I Join the CPUSA and/or Something Else?



A reader wrote: >Regretfully I quit paying union dues and ultimately dropped out



I responded: //All you have to do is tell them you want to start paying dues again



>Truthfully, I wonder if the union has become just another profit driven corporation.



//Unions are what they are. They aren't perfect and they aren't revolutionary organizations. But they are tremendously important to the furtherance of the working class. There’s a fine compilation called Marx & Engels on the Trade Unions available from International Press. When applicable, union membership is a requirement for membership in CPUSA



Ø      When I dropped out, I was informed that if something happened, they may be reluctant to come to my aid. That didn't improve my cynicism toward the union, needless to say. Frankly all "parties" are viewed  by me with a suspicious eye.  I'm always looking for something, and  maybe thats a signal that something is wrong. I always envy people with unswaying convictions, no matter how idiotic I think their beliefs are.

//If the Texas “Right to Work (for less)” law weren’t in effect, the union wouldn’t help you at all. The reactionary anti-union law requires them to continue representing you. There are only two sides in the workplace: union side and bosses’ side. It may not be perfect, but I recommend taking the workers’ side.



A reader wrote:

This is just a brief letter to inform everyone that the San Antonio chapter of the Young Communist League

now has an email address. it is:



Join a Sect?


A reader wrote:> Before I join, I would like to meet with some CPUSA members or representatives of the YCL. I have been in a Trotsky cult before, and I really don't want to make the same mistake twice in regards to political cults in general (luckily, I came to my senses in time to see how ridiculous Trotskyism and Trotskyites are).


I answered: //This is a coincidence. I was in a Trotskyite group. Came to same conclusions you did. However, most of them don't. Here's how I think it works: People decide they want to improve the world we live in and they naturally take what seems like the easiest way. I was a counterculturalist, then a Trotskyite, then finally found the party and have been pretty happy with their sensible approach to working class politics. CPUSA is built as a mass party, not a cadre party like most Trotskyites. We Don't colonize areas; don't have "fractions" in other people's organizations, don't believe, as Trotskyites invariably do, that they have all the answers for everybody. People join the communist party and do what they can.





A reader wrote:


“I've had a lot of indecision about where i fall politically. i've read what you have on your site and although it sounds good, i'm still indecisive. the  reason is that i was thinking of joining the green party. but now that i've looked into the communist party, i can't decide. they both sound like they intend to make positive changes, but i can't tell with whom i agree with more.


If you could, could you let me know what you think of the green party? As far as their fight differing with your own. perhaps i'm just be stuck in that 'afraid of change' point. but if you lend me another viewpoint, i'd appreciate it.



I replied:


Naturally, I want you to join CPUSA. But you don't have to think of this as a do or die kind of thing. Join both or either one and see what you think.


I assume you're young enough to change your mind later if you want to.


To begin, there's too much emphasis in the progressive movement on our differences. Not enough emphasis on the things we have in common.


We have a lot in common with the Greens on environmental questions. Some of them agree with us that the working class must unite and take decisive action before any meaningful long-lasting change will come about.


A few of them were mad at us for not supporting Nader last election; a few of us were probably mad at them during the election for not seeing what a menace Bush was/is. But elections are tactical decisions. Next time, I hope we'll be on the same side on every election race. But who knows?


Some of them might have thought we were wrong to condemn the United States' bombings in Yugoslavia and Iraq, some of us weren't too happy when the Greens in the government of Germany went along with the bombings. But people like you and me don't usually get to make those big choices.


We work with the Greens every chance we get, and I like to think that they like to work with us. I sure did like marching with Greens in Seattle, and I hope to march with them in Washington DC on Sept 30.


It's important for you to study and refine your ability to choose the best possible use of your time and resources. But it's also extremely important to just get out there and try your ideas out in real life. That's the best research there is.


With love & solidarity,

Jim Lane, PWW Correspondent in Dallas


A reader wrote:


>i am an anarchist for 2 years but now not pretty sure about its realistic base but anyway could you generally tell me the reasons which cause this theorys rejection by the marxists? thank you.


I replied:


Dear Brother,

If you'd send me some of the theories of anarchism, I might be able to respond somewhat.

But the problem is, after my 30 years of American activism and study, I couldn't very well define a modern anarchist in any kind of theoretical terms.


With most groups and ideas, the differences are all in the past and not worth arguing about today, when there's so much important work to do and so many things we agree on.


Historically, Marx argued against the anarchists in Europe because they didn't want to work on the immediate problems of the working class. Back then, they wanted everybody to jump from present consciousness up to revolutionary perfection without participating in any actual struggles. They scoffed at people who tried to organize unions, win elections, or try to get somebody out of jail. They just wanted to hold discussions and take "direct action" against governments.


It was pretty easy to see what they were against, but terribly hard to tell what they were for.


Marxists think that unity of the working class and its allies is necessary to get a better system or to run the new system after it's achieved. This unity will be achieved by studying but also by struggling together. If people haven't tried their ideas in real struggles, how do they know they're on the right track?


That argument was over a century ago. You're asking me to explain the differences nowadays. But the answer is, "I don't know."


Nowadays, some of the people who are so eager to be revolutionary that they create disunity call themselves anarchists. But anybody can create disunity, no matter what they believe, or even if they don't believe anything. Building unity takes thought and effort. Creating disunity doesn't. So I don't believe that the people smashing windows or throwing bombs are "anarchists" or any ideology that's easy to define. I think they're kind of carried away with their emotions, not their ideas.


So, I'm looking forward to hearing the ideas of anarchism today. Then I'd be happy to look at areas of agreement or disagreement. Meantime, you can look at our little Texas web page at and pick the question, "Am I a Marxist?" Then at least you'll have the Marxist point of view written out by an expert. Then maybe you could tell me where the two ideologies disagree today.


Looking forward to hearing from you.

Jim Lane, People's Weekly World correspondent, Dallas, Texas


Why, specifically, should I join?

There are dozens of progressive organizations that are doing good work. But there are only a few that have as their goal the extension of democracy all  the way until the working class replaces the capitalists as dominant in America. Most of them have attractive “shortcut” methods to get there. While I’m sure all of them are well-intentioned, history shows over and over that there are no short cuts. CPUSA’s road to uniting the working class and its allies against capitalism is the only workable solution to capitalism.


Communists work with one another and with other progressives toward that solution. Why waste your energy on something else?



Judith LeBlanc, on left, talked with Denton activists like Christine and Karl Boyd-Nafstad on February 24

Texans Hear LeBlanc


Approximately 250 Texans took the opportunity to discuss today’s political situation with a Vice Chair of the Communist Party, USA, Judith LeBlanc, during her Texas tour April 16-25. LeBlanc carried out discussions in Corpus Christi, Austin, San Antonio, Denton, and Dallas. People’s Weekly World supporters in each area arranged meetings on short notice.


LeBlanc’s tour is a part of Communist Party leadership’s plan to travel to every corner of the United States to share observations about today’s political situation. At the national CPUSA convention, every American’s political views will provide the information needed to chart an historical course forward under the new conditions.


At the University of North Texas in Denton, LeBlanc talked with 50 students at a meeting co-sponsored by two campus organizations: the Greens Party and Action/Reaction. She opened with an explanation of the CPUSA pre-convention process and invited everyone to participate. The central thesis of her talk was, "Democracy is worth fighting for."


Most of the two-hour session consisted of questions and answers. Here are some of the questions from the Denton meeting and a meeting in Dallas that evening:


Q. What's the difference between socialism and communism?

A. Nowadays, there are a lot more similarities than differences. We work together on many issues.


Q. Does our tax money go to support corporations? (Corporate welfare)

A. Yes


Q. How can we deal with the radical Christian right on campus?

A. Start from points of agreement with them.


Q. How is CPUSA today different from the days of its connection with Hitler and Stalin?

A. Communists were the first victims of Hitlerism. Stalin’s leadership role came out of their place and time.


Q. Why would socialism work here in U.S. when it failed in Soviet Union?

A. Socialism, USA would not have the American military and economic might against it. Also, Americans have a totally different tradition.


Q. Why cut military spending?

A. A change in U.S. foreign policy would be the main way to change the world situation.


Q. What if Iraq or the Soviet Union attacked us?

A. (from the audience “To begin with, there is no Soviet Union…”) LeBlanc said that change would not happen all at once.


Q. What is religious makeup of CPUSA?

A. Diverse. A lot of non-religious members, but many religious ones. Part of the coming convention will be a Marxist/Christian dialogue.


Q. In regards to militancy. Are you pushing for violent overthrow?

A. We oppose violence. We sometimes support civil disobedience actions, but we don’t believe that’s the only way to change things.


Q. How would a communist government work?

A. It would grow out of the experiences and traditions of Americans.


Q. Why not change name of CPUSA?

A. Because it wouldn’t be honest.


Q. How would you protect Americans from someone like Stalin?

A. Individuals might always try to abuse their power, but building our party in the most democratic way possible is a good safeguard against it. Abuse of power is a lot more likely under capitalism than socialism.


Q. Look, I've earned this money. How can you take it away?

A. It’s just a myth that communist want to take away everybody’s money. Progressive taxation is a good thing. President Bush’s tax cut isn’t.


Q. Is CP more open than it used to be?

A. We’ve survived tough times since 1919. Things are a lot more open today.


Q. What does CP do for immigrants’ rights?

A. Mostly work with the labor coalition to further their new alliance with immigrants’ rights groups.


Q. What key issues do you see?

A. Utility bills, trade issues, racism (and several others).


Q. What is Marxism or Communism? How should we teach it?

A. We probably shouldn’t separate it out as a dry subject. We don’t all have to read Capital. It’s best when what we learn comes out of the struggles that are important to us.


Q. How can we fight globalization?

A. Most existing progressive organizations have a stake in the globalization issue. Many of them have already started. Join in.


Q. Is it better to join or to find other ways to connect with the Party?

A. It’s better to join, but that doesn’t mean you have to get up on the rooftops and yell your political affiliation any more than you would yell your religious ideas. You’ll be more effective as a member of a good collective; and the collective will benefit from your participation.


Q. Are there key issues for coalitioning?

A. Globalization is one that has already brought amazingly diverse groups together.



I receive many Texas applications to join CPUSA. National asks them why they want to join, and some of their  responses are forwarded here. Here are some of the given:




·         I am sick and tired of corporate America lowering the standard of living for working class people and realize that sitting around complaining is getting me nowhere. It is time for a change.



·         I believe in everyone being equal.  I am tired of seeing people work twice as hard and not get paid half of what one person may do in a day’s work. The impoverished, homeless, and people who can't afford medical insurance are "sentenced to death"!  And our government will sit back and fight other countries’ wars, while there are hundred of wars going on in our own country.


·         I strongly believe in what the communist party stands for and I want to be a part of this revolution.


·         Capitalism just doesn't cut it.


·         Because I hate to see the way our country has turned out. The Capitalists don't care about the working class, all they care about is the money they make.


·         I join for the same reason that so many have joined...the conditions in our society leave me disillusioned with the present system.  I seek a change.  I seek what is just. The present system will not do.



Not everybody does join. People contribute however they can. Some just send checks made out to CPUSA to 235 W. 23rd Street, NYNY 10011. Some just send money to the PWW newspaper.


Everything else being equal, though, it's better to join. Even if all of your decisions and activities, arrived at individually, were perfect, it would still be better to join. The rest of us could then learn from you and be inspired by you.


Besides, collective action is the hope for the future. Individualism is what brought us to where we are!