Communist Workers' Party (United States)

Last updated
Communist Workers' Party
Leader Jerry Tung
Founded 1973 (1973)
Dissolved 1985;33 years ago (1985)
Succeeded by New Democratic Movement
Youth wing Revolutionary Youth League
Ideology Anti-racism
Communism
Leninism
Maoism
Political position Far-left

The Communist Workers' Party (CWP) was a Maoist group in the United States. It had its origin in 1973 as the Asian Study Group (renamed the Workers' Viewpoint Organization in 1976) established by Jerry Tung, a former member of the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) [1] who had grown disenchanted with the group and disagreed with changes taking place in the party line. The party is mainly remembered as the victim of the Greensboro Massacre of 1979.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Progressive Labor Party (United States) American political party

The Progressive Labor Party (PLP) is a Marxist–Leninist political party based primarily in the United States. It was established in January 1962 as the Progressive Labor Movement following a split in the Communist Party USA, adopting its new name at a convention held in the spring of 1965. It played a vocal role in the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s and early 1970s through its Worker Student Alliance faction of Students for a Democratic Society. Following the end of American involvement in Vietnam, the PLP emerged as one of the leading anti-revisionist communist organizations in the United States. The PLP publishes a weekly newspaper called Challenge.

Contents

The CWP followed the policies of Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin. [2] The CWP also incorporated aspects of the CPUSA's anti-racist pre-Popular Front program. In particular the CWP emphasized unionization and self-determination for African Americans.

Mao Zedong Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China

Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who became the founding father of the People's Republic of China, which he ruled as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. His theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Maoism.

Joseph Stalin Soviet leader

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was a Soviet revolutionary and politician of Georgian ethnicity. He led the Soviet Union from the mid–1920s until 1953 as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1952) and Premier (1941–1953). While initially presiding over a collective leadership as first among equals, he ultimately consolidated enough power to become the country's de facto dictator by the 1930s. A communist ideologically committed to the Leninist interpretation of Marxism, Stalin helped to formalise these ideas as Marxism–Leninism, while his own policies became known as Stalinism.

Black nationalism is a type of nationalism or pan-nationalism in the United States that seeks to promote, develop and maintain a black national identity for people of black ancestry.

History

Origins

The CWP enjoyed some success in textile cities of North Carolina. The new party established branches in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Greensboro, West Virginia, Colorado and other locations. Before forming itself into a party in October 1979 (the founding congress was held in the backroom of a discothèque in New York City), the group was known as the Workers Viewpoint Organization. Under its umbrella, it directed groups as the Revolutionary Youth League, the African Liberation Support Committee, and the Trade Union Education League.

1979 Greensboro Massacre

Confrontations with the Ku Klux Klan ("Klan", or "KKK") were particularly acute in Greensboro, North Carolina, where the Klan attempted to disrupt the work of the CWP and vice versa. In July 1979, the Klan held a rally and viewing of The Birth of a Nation in China Grove, near Charlotte, which was disrupted by CWP members who burned a Confederate flag and taunted members of the KKK. There were also challenges in the press. "The KKK is one of the most treacherous scum elements produced by the dying system of capitalism. "We challenge you," CWP leader Paul Bermanzohn taunted the Klan, "to attend our rally in Greensboro." These apparent provocations provided the KKK a pretext for a coming violent showdown.

Ku Klux Klan American white supremacy group

The Ku Klux Klan, commonly called the KKK or the Klan, is an American white supremacist hate group. The Klan has existed in three distinct eras at different points in time during the history of the United States. Each has advocated extremist reactionary positions such as white nationalism, anti-immigration and—especially in later iterations—Nordicism and anti-Catholicism. Historically, the Klan used terrorism—both physical assault and murder—against groups or individuals whom they opposed. All three movements have called for the "purification" of American society and all are considered right-wing extremist organizations. In each era, membership was secret and estimates of the total were highly exaggerated by both friends and enemies.

Greensboro, North Carolina City in North Carolina, United States

Greensboro is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the 3rd-most populous city in North Carolina, the 68th-most populous city in the United States, and the county seat and largest city in Guilford County and the surrounding Piedmont Triad metropolitan region. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 269,666, and in 2015 the estimated population was 285,342. Three major interstate highways in the Piedmont region of central North Carolina were built to intersect at this city.

<i>The Birth of a Nation</i> 1915 film directed by D. W. Griffith

The Birth of a Nation is a 1915 American silent epic drama film directed and co-produced by D. W. Griffith and starring Lillian Gish. The screenplay is adapted from the novel and play The Clansman, both by Thomas Dixon Jr., as well as Dixon's novel The Leopard's Spots. Griffith co-wrote the screenplay with Frank E. Woods, and co-produced the film with Harry Aitken. It was released on February 8, 1915.

On November 3, 1979 members of the KKK, including a police informant, and the American Nazi Party attacked a "Death to the Klan!" rally organized by the CWP. [3] Rev. Nelson Johnson among others helped organize the protest in order to unite local blacks against the KKK. Members of the Klan were armed, as were some members of the CWP. Two members of the CWP and three rally participants were killed by the KKK. [3] These murders became known as the "Greensboro Massacre". [3] In response to the acquittal of the accused killers, the CWP attempted to storm the 1980 Democratic National Convention and succeeded in setting off firecrackers in Madison Square Garden. [4]

American Nazi Party political party

The American Nazi Party (ANP) is a far-right American neo-nazi political party founded by George Lincoln Rockwell with its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Rockwell founded the organization as the World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists (WUFENS), but renamed it the American Nazi Party in 1960. Since the late 1960s, a number of small groups have used the name "American Nazi Party" with most being independent from each other and disbanding before the 21st century. The party is based largely upon the ideals and policies of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party in Germany during the Nazi era, and embraced its uniforms and iconography. Shortly after Rockwell's assassination in 1967, the organization appointed Rockwell's second in command, Deputy Commander Matt Koehl as the new leader. The American Nazi Party, now under Koehl's command, was subject to ideological disagreements between members in the 1970s and 1980s. "In 1982, Martin Kerr, a leader at the Franklin Road headquarters, announced that the organization was changing its name to the New Order and moving to the Midwest," effective January 1, 1983. Due to recruitment issues along with financial and legal trouble, Koehl was forced to relocate the group's headquarters from the DC area, eventually finding his way to scattered locations in Wisconsin and Michigan. After Koehl's death in 2014, long-time member and officer of the New Order, Martin Kerr assumed leadership and maintains the New Order website and organization.

1980 Democratic National Convention

The 1980 National Convention of the U.S. Democratic Party nominated President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale for reelection. The convention was held in Madison Square Garden in New York City from August 11 to August 14, 1980.

Firecracker small explosive device primarily designed to make noise

A firecracker is a small explosive device primarily designed to produce a large amount of noise, especially in the form of a loud bang; any visual effect is incidental to this goal. They have fuses, and are wrapped in a heavy paper casing to contain the explosive compound. Firecrackers, along with fireworks, originated in China.

Ideology

From its earliest phase as the Workers' Viewpoint Organization, the CWP had considered itself as Maoist and supported the so-called Gang of Four after Mao's death. Following the line of Mao, it considered the Soviet Union and its bloc as restored capitalist countries. For some time after the arrest of the Gang of Four, the group remained silent about the events in China but later accused China also of having taken the capitalist road.

Gang of Four Chinese political faction

The Gang of Four was a political faction composed of four Chinese Communist Party officials. They came to prominence during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and were later charged with a series of treasonous crimes. The gang's leading figure was Jiang Qing. The other members were Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen.

In 1980, there was a dramatic reversal of this line. In his book The Socialist Road, CWP Chairman Jerry Tung announced that both the Soviet Union and China were socialist, although an unhealthy bureaucracy had taken shape in the governments of both countries.

An article published in the Workers Viewpoint in 1976 criticised a social liberal and libertine view of sexuality as "the bourgeoisie’s attempts to dope us with degenerate culture and fascist ideology." The article opposed pornography as representing anti-woman American bourgeois hedonism (it singled out the film Snuff ) and argued that homosexuality "is a form of social sickness, a form of social perversion. It is a form of bourgeois ideology which appeals especially to the petty bourgeoisie because of its appearance as sexual freedom." [5]

Pornography explicit portrayal of sexual acts and intercourse on media

Pornography is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal. Pornography may be presented in a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photographs, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, writing, film, video, and video games. The term applies to the depiction of the act rather than the act itself, and so does not include live exhibitions like sex shows and striptease. The primary subjects of present-day pornographic depictions are pornographic models, who pose for still photographs, and pornographic actors or "porn stars", who perform in pornographic films. If dramatic skills are not involved, a performer in pornographic media may also be called a model.

<i>Snuff</i> (film) 1976 film by Michael Findlay

Snuff is a 1976 American splatter film directed by Michael Findlay and Horacio Fredriksson. It is most notorious for being marketed as if it were an actual snuff film. This picture contributed to the urban legend of snuff films, although the concept did not originate with it.

Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to people of the same sex. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions."

Demise

Subsequent to the Greensboro massacre, the group gave up its Leninist structure and moved towards a social democratic formation that would work for peaceful transition to socialism; it dissolved the Communist Workers' Party and formed the New Democratic Movement in 1985. The New Democratic Movement lasted only a few years. The most important remnant of the CWP/NDM can be found in the Greensboro Justice Fund which continues to this day and promotes groups struggling for social justice.

Footnotes

  1. Kwong, Peter and Dušanka Miščević. Chinese America: The Untold Story of America's Oldest New Community. New York: New Press. 2005. ISBN   1-56584-962-0. pp. 293-296.
  2. ?
  3. 1 2 3 "Remembering the 1979 Greensboro Massacre: 25 Years Later Survivors Form Country's First Truth and Reconciliation Commission". Democracy Now. November 18, 2004. Retrieved 2009-08-15.
  4. Klehr, Harvey. "Maoists Move in on Manhattan Dems." Our Town, 2 August 1987.
  5. "Degenerate Culture & the Women's Question". Workers Viewpoint. 1 March 1976. Retrieved 24 November 2017.

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