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November 22, 2008

Wikipedia: Communist Party USA

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Communist Party USA
Image:CP logo.jpeg
Party Chairman Sam Webb
Senate Leader N/A
House Leader N/A
Founded 1919
Headquarters 235 W. 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
Political ideology Marxism-Leninism;
Political position Fiscal: Far-left
Social: Left-wing
International affiliation formerly Comintern; today, none

The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) is a Marxist-Leninist political party in the United States.

For approximately the first half of the 20th century it was the largest and most widely influential communist party in the country, and played a prominent role in the U.S. labor movement from the 1920s through the 1940s, founding most of the country’s major industrial unions (which would later implement the Smith Act) and pursuing intense anti-racist activity in workplaces and city communities throughout this first part of its existence. The CPUSA survived the Palmer Raids, the first Red Scare, and many similar attempts at suppression of communist activity by the Government of the United States through the end of World War II. By August 1919, only months after its founding, the CPUSA had 60,000 members, including anarchists and other radical leftists, while the more moderate Socialist Party of America had only 40,000.

By the 1950s, however, the combined effects of the second Red Scare, McCarthyism, the Secret Speech, and the Cold War began to break apart the party’s internal structure and confidence. U.S. Government prosecution efforts were aided by the party’s membership in the Comintern because it cast the Party not only as subversive, but also as a “foreign” agent. Members who did not end up in prison for party activities tended either to disappear quietly from its ranks or to adopt more moderate political positions that were at odds with the CPUSA’s party line. By 1957, membership had dwindled to less than 10,000.

Effectively eliminated as a revolutionary opposition force, the party transformed its militant revolutionary line into a more evolutionary one, participating with more vigor in the U.S. electoral system and advocating “peaceful coexistence”, a shift which by the early 1960s led to dozens of angry breakaways by more militant CP members who saw them as conciliatory “sellout” moves. This New Left continued to follow the idea of armed class war and generally turned to Mao Zedong for inspiration. The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 led to further disillusionment and defections. Meanwhile, the major leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement were very careful to keep communists at arm’s length for fear of also being branded communist—policies that isolated the CPUSA even further.

With continued erosion of what little mass support remained, and very little if any continued influence in mainstream politics, in the late 1980s the party finally became estranged even from the leadership of the Soviet Union itself. Its opposition to Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika meant the Communist Party of the Soviet Union cut off its support of the CPUSA in 1989. The party languished without state support from such a major entity. In 1991, the party held its convention and tried to resolve the issue of whether the collapse of the Soviet Union should mean that the Party reject Leninism. A Party majority reasserted its classic Marxist-Leninist line, and the faction urging social democracy left and established itself as the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

The CPUSA has never regained the influence it wielded before the McCarthy period, and no longer espouses the ideology of its earlier days. Unlike similar groups in most parts of Europe, the CPUSA exercises no power within the U.S. government.

Although still proclaiming themselves advocates of a socialist revolution, the party today calls for a “peaceful transition to socialism” in the U.S. “wherever possible” and its constitution makes “advocacy of … force and violence or terrorism” a reason for expulsion from the party.[1]

The CP continues to exist as an organization, today under the leadership of Sam Webb, who asserts that the number of registered members has climbed to over 15,000.[1] The CPUSA is based in New York City, its newspaper is the People’s Weekly World, and its monthly magazine is Political Affairs Magazine. The Party’s stated goal is to achieve a free, prosperous, and peaceful society free of racism, sexism, homophobia, and exploitation, in which all people have the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential. Members from Gus Hall’s period still remain within the party’s ranks.


The CPUSA Constitution and Program

According to its 2001 constitution, the party operates on the principle of democratic centralism, and its highest authority is its quadrennial National Convention. Article VI, Section 3 of that constitution lays out certain positions as non-negotiable: “struggle for the unity of the working class, against all forms of national oppression, national chauvinism, discrimination and segregation, against all racist ideologies and practices… against all manifestations of male supremacy and discrimination against women… against homophobia and all manifestations of discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people…”[2]

Among the points in the party’s “Immediate Program” are a $12/hour minimum wage; for all workers, universal health care, and opposition to privatization of Social Security; economic measures such as increased taxes on “the rich and corporations,” strong regulation” of the financial industry, “regulation and public ownership of utilities,” and increased federal aid to cities and states; opposition to the Iraq War and other military interventions; opposition to free trade treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); nuclear disarmament and a reduced military budget; various civil rights provisions; campaign finance reform including public financing of campaigns; and election law reform, including Instant Runoff Voting.[3]

The CPUSA recognizes the right of independence-seeking groups, many of whom have been led by communist and communist-oriented partisans, to defend themselves from imperialism, but rejects the use of violence in any United States uprising. The CPUSA argues that most violence throughout modern history is the result of capitalist ruling class violently trying to stop social change.[4]

While some governments run by people calling themselves Communists have been responsible for horrible acts of violence and repression, notably the Pol Pot régime in Cambodia, much if not most of the violence often blamed on revolutionary governments and parties is actually the responsibility of the conservative, reactionary, capitalist governments and parties. … Many revolutions have been relatively peaceful, including the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Vietnamese Revolution of 1945 . The bloodshed comes when those formerly in power initiate a civil war, or foreign armies invade, trying to reestablish capitalist, feudal, or colonial power. …While we think that an objective, detailed analysis of most situations over the last century would conclude that capitalist and reactionary governments and parties are responsible for most of the violence, it is true that Communists have engaged in armed struggle, are not pacifists, and that some who called themselves Communists have engaged in repressive tactics.


Communist Parties
Red star
v  d  e

Formation and early history (1919–1921)

The first political party in the United States to advocate socialism was the Socialist Labor Party, organized as a Marxist organization in 1890. This party still exists today, but some members later moved on to reformist parties, including the Socialist Party of America. In January, 1919, Lenin invited the left wing of the Socialist Party of America to join Communist International (Comintern). During the spring of 1919 the Left Wing Caucus of the Socialist Party, buoyed by a large influx of new members from countries involved in the Russian Revolution, prepared to wrest control from the smaller controlling faction of moderate socialists. A referendum to join Comintern passed with 90% support, but the incumbent leadership suppressed the results. Elections for the party’s National Executive Committee resulted in 12 leftists being elected out of a total of 15. Calls were made to expel moderates from the party. The moderate incumbents struck back by expelling several state organizations, half a dozen language federations, and many locals, in all two-thirds of the membership.

The Socialist Party then called an emergency convention to be held in Chicago on August 30, 1919. The party’s Left Wing Caucus made plans at a June conference of its own to regain control of the party, by sending delegations from the sections of the party that had been expelled to the convention to demand that they be seated. However, the language federations, eventually joined by Charles Ruthenberg and Louis Fraina, turned away from that effort and formed their own party, the Communist Party of America, at a separate convention in Chicago on September 1, 1919.

Meanwhile plans led by John Reed and Benjamin Gitlow to crash the Socialist Party convention went ahead. Tipped off, the incumbents called the police, who obligingly expelled the leftists from the hall. The remaining leftist delegates walked out and, meeting with the expelled delegates, formed the Communist Labor Party on August 30, 1919.

The Comintern was not happy with two communist parties and in January, 1920 dispatched an order that the two parties, which consisted of about 12,000 members, merge under the name United Communist Party, and to follow the party line established in Moscow. Part of the Communist Party of America under the leadership of Charles Ruthenberg and Jay Lovestone did this but a faction under the leadership of Nicholas I. Hourwich and Alexander Bittelman continued to operate independently as the Communist Party of America. A more strongly worded directive from the Comintern eventually did the trick and the parties were merged in May, 1921. Only five percent[citation needed] of the members of the newly formed party were native English-speakers. Many of the members came from the ranks of the Industrial Workers of the World.

The Red Scare and the underground party (1919–1923)

From its inception, the Communist Party USA came under attack from state and federal governments and later the FBI. In 1919, after a series of unattributed bombings and attempted assassinations of government officials, and judges (later traced to militant Galleanist adherents of radical anarchist Luigi Galleani), Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, acting under the Sedition Act of 1918 (himself twice the target of package bombs), began arresting thousands of party members, particularly the foreign-born, whom the government deported. The Communist Party was forced underground and went through various name changes to evade the authorities.

The party apparatus was to a great extent underground. It re-emerged in 1923 with a small legal above-ground element, the Workers Party of America. As the red scare and deportations of the early 1920s ebbed, the party became bolder and more open. An element of the party, however, remained permanently underground and came to be known as the “CPUSA secret apparatus.” It was through this underground party, often commanded by a Soviet official operating as an illegal in the United States, that Soviet intelligence was able to co-opt CPUSA members.

During this time Jews whose backgrounds derived from Eastern Europe are said to have played a very prominent and disproportionate role in the CPUSA.[5] A majority of the members of the Socialist Party were immigrants and that an “overwhelming” percentage of the CPUSA consisted of recent immigrants, a substantial percentage of whom were Jews.[6] Fear of communist subversion and renewed isolationism in the United States aroused the immigration debates of the 1920s, which led to the restrictive Immigration Act of 1924. Anti-Semitic and anti-Communist literature become widespread (e.g., Henry Ford’s International Jew) in the same period.

Early factional struggles (1923–1929)

Now that the above ground element, or “open party” as it was known, was legal the communists decided that their central task was to develop roots within the working class. This move away from hopes of revolution in the near future to a more nuanced approach was accelerated by the decisions of the Fifth World Congress of the Comintern held in 1925. The Fifth World Congress decided that the period between 1917 and 1924 had been one of revolutionary upsurge, but that the new period was marked by the stabilization of capitalism and that revolutionary attempts in the near future were to be spurned. The American communists embarked then on the arduous work of locating and winning allies.

That work was, however, complicated by factional struggles within the CPUSA. The party quickly developed a number of more or less fixed factional groupings within its leadership: a faction around the party’s Chairman Charles Ruthenberg, which was largely organized by his supporter Jay Lovestone; and the Foster-Cannon caucus, headed by William Z. Foster, who headed the Party’s Trade Union Educational League, and James P. Cannon, who led the International Labor Defense organization. The first faction drew many of its members from the party’s foreign language federations while the latter found more support among ‘native’ workers.

Foster, who had been deeply involved in the Steel Strike of 1919 and had been a long-time syndicalist and a Wobbly, had strong bonds with the progressive leaders of the Chicago Federation of Labor and, through them, with the Progressive Party and nascent farmer-labor parties. Under pressure from the Comintern, however, the party broke off relations with both groups in 1924. In 1925 Comintern representative Sergei Gusev ordered the majority Foster faction to surrender control to Ruthenberg’s faction; Foster complied. The factional infighting within the CPUSA did not end, however; the communist leadership of the New York locals of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union lost the 1926 strike of cloakmakers in New York City in large part because of intra-party factional rivalries.

Ruthenberg died in 1927 and his ally, Lovestone, succeeded him as party secretary. Cannon attended the Sixth Congress of the Comintern in 1928, hoping to use his connections with leading circles within it to regain the advantage against the Lovestone faction. However Lovestone and Maurice Spector of the Communist Party of Canada were accidentally given a copy of Trotsky’s “Critique of the Draft Programme of the Comintern,” that they were instructed to read and return. Persuaded by its contents, they came to an agreement to return to America and campaign for the document’s positions. A copy of the document was then smuggled out of the country in a child’s toy.

Back in America, Cannon and his close associates in the ILD such as Max Shachtman and Martin Abern, dubbed the “three generals without an army,” began to organize support for Trotsky’s theses. However, as this attempt to develop a Left Opposition came to light, they and their supporters were expelled. Cannon and his followers organized the Communist League of America as a section of Trotsky’s International Left Opposition.

At the same Congress, Lovestone had impressed the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as a strong supporter of Nikolai Bukharin, the general secretary of the Comintern. This was to have unfortunate consequences for Lovestone when, in 1929, Bukharin was on the losing end of a struggle with Stalin and was purged from his position on the Politburo and removed as head of the Comintern.

In a reversal of the events of 1925, a Comintern delegation sent to the United States demanded that Lovestone resign as party secretary, in favor of his archrival Foster, despite the fact that Lovestone enjoyed the support of the vast majority of the American party’s membership. Lovestone travelled to the Soviet Union and appealed directly to the Comintern. Stalin informed Lovestone that he “had a majority because the American Communist Party until now regarded you as the determined supporter of the Communist International. And it was only because the Party regarded you as friends of the Comintern that you had a majority in the ranks of the American Communist Party.”

When Lovestone returned to the United States, he and his ally Benjamin Gitlow were purged despite holding the leadership of the party. Ostensibly, this was not due to Lovestone’s insubordination in challenging a decision by Stalin, but for his support for American Exceptionalism, the thesis that socialism could be achieved peacefully in the USA. Lovestone and Gitlow formed their own group called the Communist Party (Opposition), a section of the pro-Bukharin International Communist Opposition, which was initially larger than the Trotskyists but failed to survive past 1941. Lovestone had initially called his faction the Communist Party (Majority Group) in the expectation that the majority of the CPUSA’s members would join him, but only a few hundred people joined his new organization.

See also Stalin’s Speeches on the CPUSA, 1929.

The Third Period (1928–1935)

The upheavals within the CPUSA in 1928 were an echo of a much more significant change: Stalin’s decision to break off any form of collaboration with western socialist parties, which were now condemned as “social fascists.” This policy had particularly severe consequences in Germany, where the German Communist Party not only refused to work in alliance with the German Social Democratic Party, but attacked it and its members.

The impact of this policy in the U.S. was counted in membership figures. In 1928 there were about 24,000 members.[citation needed] By 1932 the total had fallen to 6,000 members.

Opposing Stalin’s Third Period policies in the Communist Party USA was James P. Cannon. For this action, he was expelled from the party. He then founded the Communist League of America with Max Shachtman and Martin Abern, and started publishing The Militant. It declared itself to be an external faction of the Communist Party until, as the Trotskyists saw it, Stalin’s policies in Germany helped Hitler take power. At that point they started working towards the founding of a new international, the Fourth International.

In the United States the principal impact of the Third Period was to end the CPUSA’s efforts to organize within the AFL through the TUEL and to turn its efforts into organizing dual unions through the Trade Union Unity League. Foster went along with this change, even though it contradicted the policies he had fought for previously.

By 1930, the party adopted the title of Communist Party of the USA, with the slogan of “the united front from below”. The Party devoted much of its energy in the Great Depression to organizing the unemployed, attempting to found “red” unions, championing the rights of African-Americans and fighting evictions of farmers and the working poor.[citation needed] At the same time, the Party attempted to weave its sectarian revolutionary politics into its day-to-day defense of workers, usually with only limited success. They recruited more disaffected members of the Socialist Party and an organization of African-American socialists called the African Blood Brotherhood, some of whose members, particularly Harry Haywood, would later play important roles in communist work among blacks.

In 1932, the retiring head of the CPUSA, William Z. Foster, published a book entitled Toward Soviet America, which laid out the Communist Party’s plans for revolution and the building of a new socialist society based on the model of Soviet Russia. In that same year Earl Browder became General Secretary of the Party. At first Browder moved the party closer to Soviet interests, and helped to develop its secret apparatus or underground network. He also assisted in the recruitment of espionage sources and agents for the NKVD. Browder’s own younger sister Margerite was an NKVD operative in Europe until removed from those duties at Browder’s request. It was at this point that the CPUSA’s foreign policy platform came under the complete control of Stalin, who enforced his directives through his secret police and foreign intelligence service, the NKVD. The NKVD controlled the secret apparatus of the CPSA, including responsibility for political murders, kidnappings, and assassinations[7][8].

The Popular Front (1935–1939)

The ideological rigidity of the third period began to crack, however, with two events: the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. Roosevelt’s election and the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933 sparked a tremendous upsurge in union organizing in 1933 and 1934. While the party line still favored creation of autonomous revolutionary unions, party activists chose to fold up those organisations and follow the mass of workers into the AFL unions they had been attacking.

The Seventh Congress of the Comintern made the change in line official in 1935, when it declared the need for a popular front of all groups opposed to fascism. The CPUSA abandoned its opposition to the New Deal and provided many of the organisers for the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

The party also sought unity with forces to its right. Earl Russell Browder offered to run as Norman Thomas’ running mate on a joint Socialist Party-Communist Party ticket in the 1936 presidential election but Thomas rejected this overture.

The gesture did not mean that much in practical terms, since the CPUSA was, by 1936, effectively supporting Roosevelt in much of his trade union work. While continuing to run its own candidates for office, the CPUSA pursued a policy of representing the Democratic Party as the lesser evil in elections.

Party members also rallied to the defense of the Spanish Republic during this period after a fascist military uprising moved to overthrow it, resulting in the Spanish Civil War (1936 to 1939). The CPUSA, along with leftists throughout the world, raised funds for medical relief while many of its members made their way to Spain with the aid of the party to join the Lincoln Brigade, one of the International Brigades. Among its other achievements, the Lincoln Brigade was the first American military force to include blacks and whites integrated on an equal basis.

Intellectually, the Popular Front period saw the development of a strong communist influence in intellectual and artistic life. This was often through various organisations influenced or controlled by the Party or, as they were pejoratively known, “fronts.”

By 1937, Stalin’s purges had caused a further rift in Communist Party movements around the world. Many anti-Stalin members were recalled to the USSR, where nearly all were tortured, then imprisoned or shot. For those remaining abroad, the NKVD and OGPU used their intelligence networks and secret apparatus to enforce a pro-Stalin line. These operations extended to the U.S. with the kidnapping and probable murder of founding CPUSA member Juliet Poyntz.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and World War II (1939–1945)

The Washington Commonwealth Federation newspaper after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact (The Washington Commonwealth Federation was an alleged Communist front organisation)

The CPUSA was adamantly opposed to fascism during the Popular Front period. Although membership in the CPUSA rose to about 75,000[9] by 1938, many members left the party after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Nonaggression Pact of 1939. Signing of a pact with Adolf Hitler meant that the CPUSA turned the focus of its public activities from anti-fascism to advocating peace, not only opposing military preparations but also condemning those opposed to Hitler. The CPUSA accused Winston Churchill and Roosevelt of provoking aggression against Hitler and denounced the Polish government as fascist after the German and Soviet invasion. In allegiance to the Soviet Union, the party changed this policy again after Hitler attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

Throughout the rest of World War II, the CPUSA continued a policy of militant, if sometimes bureaucratic, trade unionism while opposing strike actions at all costs. The leadership of the CPUSA was among the most vocal pro-war voices in the United States, advocating unity against fascism, supporting the prosecution of leaders of the Socialist Workers Party under the newly enacted Smith Act,[10] and opposing A. Philip Randolph’s efforts to organize a march on Washington to dramatize black workers’ demands for equal treatment on the job. Prominent CPUSA members and supporters, such as Dalton Trumbo and Pete Seeger, recalled anti-war material they had previously released.

The onset of the Cold War

Earl Browder expected the wartime coalition between the Soviet Union and the west to bring about a prolonged period of social harmony after the war. In order better to integrate the communist movement into American life the party was officially dissolved in 1944 and replaced by a Communist Political Association.

That harmony proved elusive, however, and the international Communist movement swung to the left after the war ended. Browder found himself isolated when a critical letter from the leader of the French Communist Party received wide circulation. As a result of this, in 1945 he was retired and replaced by William Z. Foster, who would remain the senior leader of the party until his own retirement in 1958.

In line with other Communist parties worldwide, the CPUSA also swung to the left and, as a result, experienced a brief period in which a number of internal critics argued for a more leftist stance than the leadership was willing to countenance. The result was the expulsion of a handful of “premature anti-revisionists”.

More important for the party was the renewal of state persecution of the CPUSA. The Truman administration’s loyalty oath program, introduced in 1947, drove some leftists out of federal employment and, more importantly, legitimised the notion of Communists as subversives, to be exposed and expelled from public and private employment. The House Committee on Un-American Activities, whose hearings were perceived as forums where current and former Communists and those sympathetic to Communism were compelled under the duress of the ruin of their careers to confess and name other Communists, made even brief affiliation with the CPUSA or any related groups grounds for public exposure and attack, inspiring local governments to adopt loyalty oaths and investigative commissions of their own. Private parties, such as the motion picture industry and self-appointed watchdog groups, extended the policy still further. This included the still controversial blacklist of actors, writers and directors in Hollywood who had been Communists or who had fallen in with Communist-controlled or influenced organizations in the pre-war and wartime years.

The union movement purged party members as well. The CIO formally expelled a number of left-led unions in 1949 after internal disputes triggered by the party’s support for Henry Wallace’s candidacy for President and its opposition to the Marshall Plan, while other labor leaders sympathetic to the CPUSA either were driven out of their unions or dropped their alliances with the party.

The widespread fear of Communism became even more acute after the Soviets’ explosion of an atomic bomb in 1949 and discovery of Soviet espionage.[11] Ambitious politicians, including Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy, made names for themselves by exposing or threatening to expose Communists within the Truman administration or later, in McCarthy’s case, within the United States Army. Liberal groups, such as the Americans for Democratic Action, not only distanced themselves from communists and communist causes, but defined themselves as anti-communist.

One of America’s most prominent sexual radicals, Harry Hay, developed his political views as an active member of the CPUSA, but his founding in the early 1950s of the Mattachine Society, America’s first gay rights group, was not seen as something Communists, who feared even further political prosecution, should associate with organisationally, despite their personal support. In 2004, the editors of Political Affairs published articles detailing their self-criticism of the Party’s early views of gay and lesbian rights[12] and praised Hay’s work.

1950s, 1960s and 1970s

See also: New Communist Movement and Progressive Labor Party

The US government outlawed the CPUSA with the Communist Control Act in 1954. The 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary and the Secret Speech of Nikita Khrushchev to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union criticizing Stalin had a cataclysmic effect on the previously Stalinist majority membership CPUSA.[13]Membership plummeted and the leadership briefly faced a challenge from a loose grouping led by Daily Worker editor John Gates, which wished to democratize the party. Perhaps the greatest single blow dealt to the party in this period was the loss of the Daily Worker, published since 1924, which was suspended in 1958 due to falling circulation.

Most of the critics would depart from the party demoralised, but others would remain active in progressive causes and would often end up working harmoniously with party members. This diaspora rapidly came to provide the audience for publications like the National Guardian and Monthly Review, which were to be important in the development of the New Left in the 1960s.

The post-1956 upheavals in the CPUSA also saw the advent of a new leadership around former steel worker Gus Hall. Hall’s views were very much those of his mentor Foster, but the younger man was to be more rigorous in ensuring the party was completely orthodox than the older man in his last years. Therefore, while remaining critics who wished to liberalise the party were expelled, so too were anti-revisionist critics who took an anti-Khrushchev stance.

Many of these critics were elements on both U.S. coasts who would come together to form the Progressive Labor Movement in 1961. Progressive Labour would come to play a role in many of the numerous Maoist organisations of the mid-1960s and early 1970s. Jack Shulman, Foster’s secretary, also played a rôle in these organisations; he was not expelled from the CP, but resigned. In the 1970s, the CPUSA managed to grow in membership to about 25,000 members, despite the exodus of numerous Anti-Revisionist and Maoist groups from its ranks.

Current era

In 1984, because of the popularity of Ronald Reagan’s anti-Communist administration and decreased CPUSA membership, Gus Hall chose to end the CPUSA’s nation-wide electoral campaigns. During the 1990s, the party recruited heavily in impoverished minority neighborhoods in the US, particularly in Black neighbourhoods. As a result, there are many young Black and Hispanic members of the CPUSA. The CPUSA still runs candidates for local office. In recent years, the party has strongly opposed the Republican Party in the U.S., who they term “ultra-right” and, at times, “fascist”. As part of the party’s current strategic line, as outlined in The Road to Socialism USA[2], the CPUSA strongly supports a Democratic Party victory against the Republicans,[citation needed] as they see the Republican Party as a menace to be defeated. The Communist Party still maintains that both parties are capitalist in nature, and only support the Democrats as a means to topple conservative domination in America. Many in the socialist movement disagree with this “lesser of two evils” strategy (some consider it a shocking shift to straightforward capitalism), and it has encouraged some defections from the CP to other leftist groups. There has been some increase in membership since the early 1990s once Communism became less of a threat since the Soviet collapse.

Ideologically, much appears to be up for grabs. A recent article in Political Affairs voiced support for the Chinese Communist Party, including their heavy reliance on capitalism. The article stated, “The transition to capitalism may be more on order of decades than years, as Lenin had thought.”[citation needed] Other articles published by Political Affairs have been critical of this process in China as well.[14]

In a 2002 article in People’s Weekly World, CPUSA correspondents Marilyn Bechtel and Debbie Bell said of their trip to the People’s Republic of China: “…[W]e came away with a new respect for the thoughtfulness, thoroughness, energy and optimism with which the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people are going about the complex, long-term process of building socialism in a vast developing country, which is of necessity part of an increasingly globalized economy.[15]

An overview of the Communist Party’s current ideology can be found in the near-definitive report, “Reflections on Socialism,” by Sam Webb, the Party’s national chair. The article explains the Party’s support for a democratic, anti-racist, anti-sexist, immediate left-wing change for the United States. The report also covers the fall of the Socialist Bloc, claiming that democracy was not sufficiently developed in these countries. The report states that, “On the one hand, socialism transformed and modernized backward societies, secured important economic and social rights, assisted countries breaking free of colonialism, contributed decisively to the victory over Nazism, constituted by its mere presence a pressure on the ruling classes in the capitalist world to make concessions to their working classes and democratic movements, and acted as a counterweight to the aggressive ambitions of U.S. imperialism for nearly fifty years.” The report stresses its dedication to revolutionary struggle, but states that Americans should look for peaceful revolutionary change. Webb says that capitalism cannot solve problems such as economic stagnation, racism, gender discrimination, or poverty. The report explains that there will be many transitory stages from capitalism, to socialism, and finally to communism. On the issue of markets in a socialist society, Webb states, “Admittedly, market mechanisms in a socialist society can generate inequality, disproportions and imbalances, destructive competition, downward pressure on wages, and monopoly cornering of commodity markets – even the danger of capitalist restoration. But this is not sufficient reason for concluding that markets have no place in a socialist economy.

The archives of the Communist Party USA were donated in March, 2007 to the Tamiment Library at New York University. The massive donation, in 12,000 cartons, included history from the founding of the party, 20,000 books and pamphlets, and a million photographs from the archives of the Daily Worker. The Tamiment Library also holds a copy of the microfilmed archive of Communist Party documents from Soviet Archives held by the Library of Congress as well as other materials which documents radical and Left history.[16]

Soviet funding of the party and espionage

From 1959 until 1989, when Gus Hall attacked the initiatives taken by Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, the CPUSA received a substantial subsidy from the Soviet Union. There is at least one receipt signed by Gus Hall in the KGB archives.[17] Starting with $75,000 in 1959 this was increased gradually to $3 million in 1987. This substantial amount reflected the Party’s subservience to the Moscow line, in contrast to the Italian and later Spanish and British Communist parties, whose Eurocommunism deviated from the orthodox line in the late 1970s. Releases from the Soviet archives show that all national Communist parties that conformed to the Soviet line were funded in the same fashion. From the Communist point of view this international funding arose from the internationalist nature of Communism itself; fraternal assistance was considered the duty of Communists in any one country to give aid to their comrades in other countries. From the anti-communist point of view, this funding represented an unwarranted interference by one country in the affairs of another.

The cutoff of funds in 1989 resulted in a financial crisis, which forced the CPUSA to cut back publication in 1990 of the Party newspaper, the People’s Daily World, to weekly publication, the People’s Weekly World. (references for this section are provided below)

Much more controversial than mere funding, however, is the alleged involvement of CPUSA members in espionage for the Soviet Union. Whittaker Chambers has alleged that Sandor Goldberger—also known as “Josef Peters”, who commonly wrote under the name J. Peters—headed the CPUSA’s underground secret apparatus from 1932 to 1938 and pioneered its rôle as an auxiliary to Soviet intelligence activities. Bernard Schuster, Organisational Secretary of the New York District of the CPUSA, is claimed to have been the operational recruiter and conduit for members of the CPUSA into the ranks of the secret apparatus, or “Group A line”.

Stalin publicly disbanded the Comintern in 1943. A Moscow NKVD message to all stations on 12 September 1943 detailed instructions for handling intelligence sources within the CPUSA after the disestablishment of the Comintern. Earl Browder had been both Chairman of the CPUSA and recruiter for the NKVD (in the Venona project he is known as Agent “HELMSMAN”). In 1941, with the approval of the USSR, he disbanded the party into a committee. However, after the USSR shifted from attempted cooperation to opposition towards the USA in the years following World War II, Browder was expelled from the leadership of the CPUSA when he attempted to unify the left in a proposed renewed popular front, which included a proposal to support Truman for re-election in 1948. The NKVD thought his services worth keeping, and they succeeded in covertly financing him, by setting him up as a representative of Soviet publishers. Even then, that didn’t work, as Browder was dropped after violating the Soviet line again in favour of Titoism.

There are a number of decrypted World War II Soviet messages between NKVD offices in the United States and Moscow, also known as the Venona cables. The Venona cables and other published sources appear to confirm that Julius Rosenberg was guilty of espionage. Theodore Hall, a Harvard-trained physicist who did not join the CPUSA until 1952, began passing information on the atomic bomb to the Soviets soon after he was hired at Los Alamos at age 19. Hall, who was known as Mlad by his KGB handlers, escaped prosecution. Hall’s wife, aware of his espionage, claims that their NKVD handler had advised them to plead innocent, as the Rosenbergs did, if formally charged.

It was the belief of opponents of the CPUSA such as J. Edgar Hoover, long-time director of the FBI, and Joseph McCarthy, for whom McCarthyism is named, and other anti-communists that the CPUSA constituted an active conspiracy, was secretive, loyal to a foreign power, and whose members assisted Soviet intelligence in the clandestine infiltration of American government . This is the “traditionalist” view of some in the field of Communist studies such as Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes, since supported by several memoirs of ex-Soviet KGB officers and information obtained from VENONA and Soviet archives.[18][19][20]

At one time this view was shared by the majority of the United States Congress. In the “Findings and declarations of fact” section of the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 (50 U.S.C. Chap. 23 Sub. IV Sec. 841), it stated,

“although purportedly a political party, is in fact an instrumentality of a conspiracy… prescribed for it by the foreign leaders… to carry into action slavishly the assignments given…acknowledges no constitutional or statutory limitations…its dedication to the proposition that the present constitutional Government of the United States ultimately must be brought to ruin by any available means, including resort to force and violence…as the agency of a hostile foreign power renders its existence a clear present and continuing danger[21]

In 1993, experts from the Library of Congress travelled to Moscow to copy previously secret archives of Communist Party USA (CPUSA) records, sent to the Soviet Union for safekeeping by party organisers. The records provided an irrefutable link between Soviet intelligence and information obtained by the CPUSA and its contacts in the U.S. government from the 1920s through the 1940s. Some documents revealed that the CPUSA was actively involved in secretly recruiting party members from African-American groups and rural farm workers. Other CPUSA records contained further evidence that Soviet sympathizers had indeed infiltrated the State Department, beginning in the 1930s. Included in CPUSA archival records were confidential letters from two U.S. ambassadors in Europe to Roosevelt and a senior State Department official. Thanks to an official in the State department sympathetic to the Party, the confidential correspondence, concerning political and economic matters in Europe, ended up in the hands of Soviet intelligence.[22][23][24]

Criminal prosecutions

When the Communist Party was formed in 1919 the United States government was engaged in prosecution of socialists who had opposed World War I and military service. This prosecution was continued in 1919 and January, 1920 in the Palmer Raids or the red scare. Many ordinary members of the Party were arrested and deported; leaders were prosecuted and in some cases sentenced to prison terms. In the late 1930s, with the authorization of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began investigating both domestic Nazis and Communists. Congress passed the Smith Act, which made it illegal to advocate, abet, or teach the desirability of overthrowing the government, in 1940.

In 1949, the federal government put Eugene Dennis, William Z. Foster and ten other CPUSA leaders on trial for advocating the violent overthrow of the government. Because the prosecution could not show that any of the defendants had openly called for violence or been involved in accumulating weapons for a proposed revolution, it relied on the testimony of former members of the party that the defendants had privately advocated the overthrow of the government and on quotations from the work of Karl Marx, Lenin and other revolutionary figures of the past. During the course of the trial the judge held several of the defendants and all of their counsel in contempt of court.

All of the remaining eleven defendants were found guilty. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of their convictions by a 6-2 vote in United States v. Dennis, 341 U.S. 494 (1951). The government then proceeded with the prosecutions of more than 100 “second string” members of the party.

Panicked by these arrests and the fear that it was compromised by informants, Dennis and other party leaders decided to go underground and to disband many affiliated groups. The move only heightened the political isolation of the leadership, while making it nearly impossible for the Party to function.

The widespread persecution of communists and their associates began to abate somewhat after Senator Joseph McCarthy overreached himself in the Army-McCarthy Hearings, producing a backlash. The Supreme Court brought a halt to the Smith Act prosecutions in 1957 in its decision in Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298 (1957), which required that the government prove that the defendant had actually taken concrete steps toward the forcible overthrow of the government, rather than merely advocating it in theory.

The Communist Party and U.S. political movements

The Communist Party was heavily involved in the U.S. labour movement, especially before 1950, and became a proponent of equality for African-Americans in the 1930’s. The Party abandoned earlier plans to forcibly deport blacks to their own ‘homeland’ in the South. Beginning in the 1960s, the Communist Party was involved in opposing U.S. foreign policy, particularly U.S. wars against Communist regimes and movements abroad.

The Communist Party and the U.S. labor movement

See Communists in the U.S. Labor Movement (1919–1937), Communists in the U.S. Labor Movement (1937–1950)

The Communist Party and African-Americans

See main article: The Communist Party and African-Americans

The Communist Party USA played a significant role in defending the rights of African-Americans during its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s. However, its appeal to African Americans was limited by, among other things, its support for many years of a separate black nation in the United States, in mimicry of the Soviet Union’s nationalities policy. Throughout its history many of the Party’s leaders and political thinkers have been African Americans. James Ford, Charlene Mitchell, Angela Davis, and Jarvis Tyner, the current executive vice chair of the Party, all ran as presidential or vice presidential candidates on the Party ticket. Others like Benjamin O. Davis Jr., William L. Patterson, Harry Haywood, James Jackson, Henry Winston, Claude Lightfoot, Alphaeus Hunton, Doxey Wilkerson, Claudia Jones, and John Pittman contributed in important ways to the Party’s approaches to major issues from human and civil rights, peace, women’s equality, the national question, working class unity, Marxist thought, cultural struggle and more. Their contributions have had a lasting impact on not only the Party but the general public as well. Noted African American thinkers, artists, and writers such as Claude McKay, Richard Wright, Ann Petry, W. E. B. Du Bois, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Lloyd Brown, Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett, Paul Robeson, Frank Marshall Davis, Gwendolyn Brooks, and many more were one-time members or supporters of the Party. The party’s work to appeal to African-Americans continues to this day. It was instrumental in the founding of the Black Radical Congress in 1998.

The Communist Party and the U.S. peace movement

The Communist Party opposed the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, the invasion of Grenada, and U.S. support for anti-communist military dictatorships and movements in Central America. During the Vietnam War, as a tactical move, the CPUSA did not call for an immediate end to the war, but instead for negotiations between the North Vietnamese leadership and the U.S. While some on the left have criticized the CPUSA for this position, it was in fact in line with that of the Vietnamese Communist leadership.[citation needed] Meanwhile, some in the peace movement and the New Left rejected the CPUSA for what it saw as the party’s bureaucratic rigidity and for its steadfastly close association with Soviet Union.

The CPUSA has been consistently opposed to the U.S.’s current war in Iraq.[25] United for Peace and Justice, currently the largest peace and justice coalition in the U.S., includes the CPUSA as a member group, with Judith LeBlanc, who chairs the CPUSA’s Peace and Solidarity Commission, being a member of the Steering Committee of UFPJ.

Notable figures

Party Leaders

  • Charles Ruthenberg, General Secretary (1919–1927), James P. Cannon, Party Chairman, (1919–1928)
  • Jay Lovestone (1927–1929)
  • William Z. Foster (1929–1934)
  • Earl Browder (1934–1945)
  • Eugene Dennis, General Secretary (1945–1959) and William Z. Foster, Party Chairman (1945–1957)
  • Gus Hall (1959–2000)
  • Jarvis Tyner, [Executive Vice Chair] (since 1993)
  • Sam Webb (since 2000)

Presidential tickets

  • 1924 – William Z. Foster & Ben Gitlow
  • 1928 – William Z. Foster & Ben Gitlow
  • 1932 – William Z. Foster & James W. Ford
  • 1936 – Earl Browder & James W. Ford
  • 1940 – Earl Browder & James W. Ford
  • 1948 – no candidates, but supported Henry Wallace, the Progressive candidate
  • 1952 – no candidates, but supported Vincent Hallinan, the Progressive candidate
  • 1968 – Charlene Mitchell & Michael Zagarell
  • 1972 – Gus Hall & Jarvis Tyner
  • 1976 – Gus Hall & Jarvis Tyner
  • 1980 – Gus Hall & Angela Davis
  • 1984 – Gus Hall & Angela Davis

See also

  • Communist party
  • List of political parties in the United States
  • List of Communist parties
  • History of Soviet espionage in the United States
  • Earl Browder
  • Frank Marshall Davis
  • Harry Haywood
  • Dorothy Healey
  • Juliet Poyntz
  • Jencks Act
  • Jencks v. United States

References and notes

  1. ^ Constitution of the Communist Party of the United States of America, amended July 8, 2001 at the 27th National Convention, Milwaukee, WI. Article VII, Section 2: “…any member shall be expelled from the Party who is a strikebreaker, a provocateur, engaged in espionage, an informer, or who advocates force and violence or terrorism, or who participates in the activities of any group which acts to undermine or overthrow any democratic institutions through which the majority of the American people can express their right to determine their destiny.” Accessed online 28 November 2006.
  2. ^ CPUSA Constitution Amended July 8, 2001 at the 27th National Convention, Milwaukee, WI. Accessed online 29 August 2006.
  3. ^ Communist Party Immediate Program for the Crisis, CPUSA FAQ. Accessed online 29 August 2006.
  4. ^ Does the CPUSA advocate the violent overthrow of the government? Don’t all communists advocate violence?, CPUSA FAQ. Accessed online 29 August 2006.
  5. ^ Klehr, Harvey. Communist cadre: The social background of the American Communist party élite. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press.
  6. ^ Glazer, Nathan The Social Basis of American Communism.
  7. ^ Ryan, James G., Socialist Triumph as a Family Value: Earl Browder and Soviet Espionage, American Communist History 1, no. 2 (December 2002)
  8. ^ Haynes, John E., Klehr, Harvey, and Igorevich, Fridrikh I., The Secret World of American Communism, Yale University Press (1995)
  9. ^ Soviet and American Communist Parties in Revelations from the Russian Archives, Library of Congress, January 4, 1996. Accessed online 29 August 2006.
  10. ^ Haynes, James Earl. Red Scare or Red Menace?: American Communism and Anticommunism in the Cold War Era 30 (Ivan R. Dee 1996) ISBN 1566630908.
  11. ^ History of the FBI: Postwar America: 1945–1960s, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), undated. Accessed online 29 August 2006.
  12. ^ In this issue…, Political Affairs, April 2004. Accessed online 29 August 2006.
  13. ^ Howard Fast, “On Leaving the Communist party”, The Saturday Review, November 16, 1957. Reproduced at, accessed online 29 August 2006.
  14. ^ For instance, Thomas Riggins, “Capitalism, Communism, and Cat Food”, Political Affairs, 9 May 2007 (accessed 9 November 2007).
  15. ^ Marilyn Bechtel and Debbie Bell, China 2002: Building socialism with Chinese characteristics, People’s Weekly World, Mar 30, 2002. Accessed online 29 August 2006.
  16. ^ “Communist Party USA Gives Its History to N.Y.U.”, article by Patricia Cohen in the New York Times, March 20, 2007
  17. ^ This claim is made on the personal site of Joseph T Major, accessed online 30 August 2006. He cites it to Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Kyrill M. Anderson, The Soviet World of American Communism, Yale University Press (1998); ISBN 0-300-07150-7; Document 45, p. 155. The text of a $3 million receipt dated 19.03.88 is given on the site, but the receipt is not reproduced.
  18. ^ Haynes, John Earl, and Klehr, Harvey, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, Yale University Press (2000)
  19. ^ Schecter, Jerrold and Leona, Sacred Secrets: How Soviet Intelligence Operations Changed American History, Potomac Books (2002)
  20. ^ Sudoplatov, Pavel Anatoli, Schecter, Jerrold L., and Schecter, Leona P., Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness – A Soviet Spymaster, Little Brown, Boston (1994)
  21. ^ Title 50 Chapter 23 Subchapter IV § 841. Findings and declarations of fact. US Code collection, on the site of Cornell University. Accessed 30 August 2006.
  22. ^ Retrieved Papers Shed Light On Communist Activities In U.S., Associated Press, January 31, 2001
  23. ^ Haynes, John Earl, and Klehr, Harvey, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, Yale University Press (2000)
  24. ^ Weinstein, Allen, and Vassiliev, Alexander, The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America – the Stalin Era (New York: Random House, 1999)
  25. ^ No to Bush’s War!, CPUSA Online, archived on the Internet Archive April 7, 2003.

Further reading

General articles

  • Bittelman, Alexander. Outline for a History of the Communist Party in America. (circa 1923)PDF (126 KiB). Published as “Hynes Exhibit No. 4” in Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Communist Activities. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1930), pp. 435-448. Published on line by Retrieved June 11, 2006.
  • Moynihan, Daniel, et al., Report of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, U.S. Government Printing Office (1997)
  • Nash, Michael. Communist History at the Tamiment LibraryPDF (4.22 MiB). American Communist History, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2004. Retrieved April 3, 2006.
  • Retrieved Papers Shed Light On Communist Activities In U.S., Associated Press, January 31, 2001
  • American Communist History a peer-reviewed journal published by the Historians of American Communism. [3]

General books

  • William Z. Foster, History of the Communist Party of the United States, International Publishers, 1952
  • Draper, Theodor, The Roots of American Communism, Viking, 1957
  • Draper, Theodor, American Communism and Soviet Russia: The Formative Period, Viking, 1960
  • Howe, Irving and Lewis Coser, The American Communist Party: A Critical History, Beacon Press, 1957
  • Isserman, Maurice. Which Side Were You On?: The American Communist Party During the Second World War, Wesleyan University Press, 1982 and 1987, University of Illinois Press, 1993, trade paperback, ISBN 0-252-06336-8, reprint edition ISBN 0-8195-6111-8
  • Jaffe, Philip J., Rise and Fall of American Communism, Horizon Press, 1975, hardcover, ISBN 0-8180-0817-2
  • Kelley, Robin D. G., Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, University of North Carolina Press, 1990, ISBN 0-8078-4288-5
  • Klehr, Harvey. The Heyday of American Communism:The Depression Decade, Basic Books, 1984, hardcover, ISBN 0-465-02945-0, trade paperback, 1985, ISBN 0-465-02946-9
  • Klehr, Harvey and John Earl Haynes, The American Communist Movement: Storming Heaven Itself, Twayne Publishers (Macmillan), 1992, hardcover, 210 pages, ISBN 0-8057-3855-X, trade paperback ISBN 0-8057-3856-8
  • Haynes, John Earl, and Klehr, Harvey, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, Yale University Press (2000)
  • Kraditor, Aileen S., Jimmy Higgins: The Mental World of the American Rank-And-File Communist, 1930-1958 Greenwood Publishing Company, 1988, hardcover, ISBN 0-313-26246-2
  • Lewy, Guenter, The Cause That Failed: Communism in American Political Life, Oxford University Press, 1997, hardcover, ISBN 0-19-505748-1
  • Richmond, Al, A Long View from the Left: Memoirs of an American Revolutionary. 447 pages, Houghton Mifflin, 1973. ISBN 0-395-14005-6.
  • Schecter, Jerrold and Leona, Sacred Secrets: How Soviet Intelligence Operations Changed American History, Potomac Books (2002)
  • Solomon, Mark, “The Cry Was Unity: Communists and African Americans, 1917-1936, University of Mississippi Press, paperback, ISBN 1-57806-095-8
  • Sudoplatov, Pavel Anatoli, Schecter, Jerrold L., and Schecter, Leona P., Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness – A Soviet Spymaster, Little Brown, Boston (1994)
  • Starobin, Joseph R., American Communism in Crisis, 1943-1957, Harvard University Press, 1972, hardcover, ISBN 0-674-02275-0
  • Weinstein, Allen, and Vassiliev, Alexander, The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America – the Stalin Era (New York: Random House, 1999)

Agricultural issues

  • Robin D.G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, University of North Carolina Press, 1990, trade paperback, ISBN 0-8078-4288-5
  • Lowell K., Dyson, Red Harvest: The Communist Party and American Farmers, University of Nebraska Press, 1982, hardcover, ISBN 0-8032-1659-9


  • John Earl Haynes, Communism and Anti-Communism in the United States: An Annotated Guide to Historical Writings (Gala;rland Reference Library of Social Science, Vol 379), Garland Science, 1987, hardcover ISBN 0-8240-8520-5
  • Newsletter of the Historians of American Communism

Espionage and infiltration

  • Robert Meeropol, An Execution in the Family, St. Martin’s Press, 2003, ISBN 0-312-30636-9
  • Allen, Weinstein, Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case, Knopf, 1978, hardcover, ISBN 0-394-49546-2
  • Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton, The Rosenberg File: A Search for the Truth, Henry Holt, 1983, hardcover, ISBN 0-03-049036-7; Yale University Press, 2nd edition, 1997, trade paperback, 616 pages, ISBN 0-300-07205-8
  • Earl Latham, Communist Controversy in Washington: From the New Deal to McCarthy, Holiday House, 1972, ISBN 0-689-70121-7; hardcover, ISBN 1-125-65079-6
  • Richard M. Fried, Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective, Oxford University Press, 1991, trade paperback, ISBN 0-19-504360-X; ISBN 0-19-504361-8
  • Moynihan Commission on Government Secrecy Report, Appendix A, 4. The Encounter with Communism (1997)
  • Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive. American Revolution into the New Millennium: A Counterintelligence Reader: Cold War CounterintelligencePDF. Volume 3, Chapter 1. U.S. Government on line publication. No date. Retrieved May 25, 2005.


Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism

  • David M. Oshinsky, A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy, Simon and Schuster, 1985, trade paperback, ISBN 0-02-923760-2; Free Press, ISBN 0-02-923490-5
  • Thomas C. Reeves, Life and Times of Joe McCarthy, Stein & Day, 1983, hardcover, ISBN 0-8128-2337-0

Other subjects related to the CPUSA

  • Daniel Aaron, Writers on the Left: Episodes in American Literary Communism, Harcourt Brace & World, 1959
  • Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund, Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930-1960, Doubleday, 1980, hardcover, ISBN 0-385-12900-9; University of Illinois Press, 2003, trade paperback, 576 pages, ISBN 0-252-07141-7
  • Gerald Horne, Class Struggle in Hollywood, 1930-1950, University of Texas, 0292731388
  • Bill V. Mullen, Popular Fronts, University of Illinois Press, 1999, ISBN 0-252-06748-7
  • Robert Rosenstone, Crusade on the Left: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War, Pegasus, 1969.
  • Constance Ashton Myers, The Prophet’s Army : Trotskyists in America, 1928-1941, Greenwood, 1977, hardcover, 281 pages, ISBN 0-8371-9030-4
  • Robert Jackson Alexander and Robert S. Alley, Right Opposition: The Lovestoneites and the International Communist Opposition of the 1930s, Greenwood, 1981, hardcover, 342 pages, ISBN 0-313-22070-0
  • James Yates, Mississippi to Madrid: Memoir of a Black American in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade,Open Hand Publishing, 1989, ISBN 0-940880-20-2
  • Alexander Saxton, The Great Midland, University of Illinois Press, 1997, ISBN 0-252-06564-6

Social, cultural and ethnic issues

  • W.E.B. Du Bois, The Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois, International Publishers, ISBN 0-7178-0234-5
  • Philip S. Foner, Organized Labor and the Black Worker, International Publishers, ISBN 0-7178-0594-8
  • Vivian Gornick, The Romance of American Communism, Basic Book, ISBN 0-465-07110-4
  • Edward C. Pintzuk, Reds, Racial Justice, and Civil Liberties: Michigan Communists During the Cold War, MEP Publications, 1997, ISBN 0-930656-71-7
  • Nathan Glazer, The Social Basis of American Communism, Greenwood, 1974, ISBN 0-8371-7476-7
  • Harry Haywood, Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist. Liberator Press, Chicago: 1978. 700 pages. ISBN 0-930720-53-9
  • Harvey E. Klehr, Communist Cadre: The Social Background of the American Communist Party, Hoover Institution Press, 1960, ISBN 0-685-67279-4
  • Robin D.G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, University of North Carolina Press, 1990, trade paperback, ISBN 0-8078-4288-5
  • Auvo Kostiainen, The Forging of Finnish-American Communism, 1917-1924: A Study in Ethnic Radicalism, Annales Universitatis Turkuensis, Series B, No. 147, University of Turku, Turku, Finland, 1978
  • Mark Naison, Communists in Harlem During the Depression, University of Illinois Press, 1983, hardcover, ISBN 0-252-00644-5; Grove Press reprint, 1985, ISBN 0-8021-5183-3
  • Charles H., Martin, The Angelo Herndon Case and Southern Justice Louisiana State University Press, 1976, ISBN 0-8071-0174-5
  • Dan T. Carter, Scottsboro a Tragedy of the American South, Oxford University Press, 1972, trade paperback, ISBN 0-19-501485-5; Louisiana State University Press; 1979, trade paperback, ISBN 0-8071-0498-1
  • Lawrence H. Schwartz, Marxism and Culture: The CPUSA and Aesthetics in the 1930s, Authors Choice Press (2000), trade paperback, ISBN 0-595-12751-7
  • Alan Wald, Exiles from a Future Time: The Forging of the Mid-Twentieth Century Literary Left, University of North Carolina Press, ISBN 0-8078-5349-6

Union history

  • Cochran, Bert, Labor and Communism: The Conflict That Shaped American Unions, Princeton University Press, 1977, ISBN 0-691-04644-1
  • Harvey Levenstein, Communism, Anticommunism, and the CIO, Greenwood, 1981, hardcover, ISBN 0-313-22072-7
  • Max M. Kampelman, Communist Party vs the CIO: A Study in Power Politics (American Labor Series No. 2), Ayer Company Publishing, 1971, hardcover, ISBN 0-405-02929-2
  • Ronald W. Schatz, Electrical Workers: A History of Labor at General Electric and Westinghouse, 1923-60, University of Illinois Press, 1983, hardcover, ISBN 0-252-01031-0; paperback reprint ISBN 0-252-01438-3
  • Joshua B. Freeman, In Transit: The Transport Workers Union in New York City, 1933-1966 With a New Epilogue, Temple University Press, 2001, trade paperback 446 pages, ISBN 1-56639-922-X
  • Roger Keeran, Communist Party and the Auto Workers Unions, Indiana University Press, 1980, hardcover, ISBN 0-253-15754-4
  • Cletus E. Daniel, Bitter Harvest: A History of California Farmworkers, 1870-1941, University of California Press, 1982, trade paperback, ISBN 0-520-04722-2; textbook binding, Cornell University Press, 1981, ISBN 0-8014-1284-6

Soviet funding of the party

  • The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, Basic Books, 1999, hardcover edition, p. 287-293, p. 306, ISBN 0-465-00310-9. Vasili Mitrokhin was an archivist who worked for the KGB. After 1972, when the KGB established its new modern offices at Yasenovo, Mitrokhin was entrusted with transferring the corpus of KGB files from its old office at the Lubyanka in Moscow to the new offices. During the next ten years while performing these duties he copied many files which he turned over to British intelligence when he defected in March, 1992.
  • Operation Solo: The FBI’s Man in the Kremlin, John Barron, Regnery Publishing, 1996, ISBN 0-89526-486-2; 2001 edition, ISBN 0-7091-6061-5. This biography of Morris Childs, who together with his brother Jack arranged for and handled the money transfers during the 1960s and 70s, contains much of the same material.

External links

  • CPUSA website, including a collection of FAQs
  • Young Communist League USA youth group
  • People’s Weekly World weekly newspaper
  • Political Affairs monthly theoretical publication

CPUSA publications

Past publications

  • Foster, William Z. The Workers Party to the ForePDF (170 KiB). Published in The Workers Monthly. Chicago. v. 4, no. 1 (Nov. 1924), pp. 9-11. Reprinted on line in the Early American Marxism Archive. Retrieved May 3, 2005. Party official Foster defines the early Workers Party against Progressivism.
  • Peters, J. The Communist Party: A Manual on Organisation. First Published: July, 1935. Workers Library Publishers, NYC. Transcription/Markup: Brian Basgen. Reprinted on Marxists Internet Archive. Retrieved May 3, 2005.
  • Victor Perlo. The Economics of Racism, II. New York. International Publishers. 1996. ISBN 0-7178-0698-7

Recent publications

  • CPUSA National Board. The Road to Socialism USA: Unity for Peace, Democracy, Jobs and Equality. Draft Program of the CPUSA. Published February 2, 2005. Retrieved June 8, 2005.
  • Webb, Sam. Reflections on Socialism. June 3, 2005.
  • Webb, Sam. What the Communist Party’s draft program is all about. People’s Weekly World. April 14, 2005. Retrieved May 19, 2005.
  • CPUSA National Board. “For the Sake of the Union: Change Congress in November”. Communist Party website. Feb. 2, 2006. Retrieved March 9, 2006.
  • CPUSA National Committee. “Defeat Anti-Immigrant HR 4437”. Communist Party website. Dec. 22, 2005. Retrieved March 9, 2006.
  • Susan Webb. “Political Storm in US – CPUSA report to the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties”. Communist Party website. Dec. 22, 2005, Retrieved March 9, 2006.
  • CPUSA National Committee. “Communist Party, USA: Emergency Action on Winter Heating and Fuel Crisis”. Communist Party website. Dec. 22, 2005, Retrieved March 9, 2006.
  • Sam Webb. “Fighting Racism is at the Heart of Our Struggles” People’s Weekly World. February 25, 2006.

Non-CPUSA websites

  • Communist Party of America (1919–1946) documents, officials, images and chronological history and Early American Marxism resources of Marxists Internet Archive. Retrieved April 4, 2006
  • Communism in Washington State History and Memory Project. Retrieved August 19, 2006.
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