American Communist History

American Communist History Celebrating over 90 years of Support for the American People!

Born out of the divided era of 1920s Progressivism, the CPUSA has lived a turbulent and vibrant existence as the longest-running Third Party in American history; through the Great Depression, World War 2, The McCarthy Era, The 1960s Civil Rights Liberation, The Cold War, The Age of Terrorism, up through the present. The CPUSA stands for equality, liberty, and justice for all human beings across the world. We hope to fight and to promote our message of solidarity among Americans to change this country down a path that we can believe in, that we can trust in, and that we can call our own.

Mission: Mission From the CPUSA Constitution: "The Communist Party USA is the party of and for the U.S. working class, a class which is multiracial, multinational, and unites men and women, young and old, employed and unemployed, organized and unorganized, gay and straight, native-born and immigrant, urban and rural, and composed of workers who perform a large range of physical and mental labor—the vast majority of our society. We are the party of the African American, Mexican American, Puerto Rican, all other Latino American, Native American, Asian American, and all racially and nationally oppressed peoples, as well as women, youth, and all other working people..." "Founded in Chicago in 1919, the Communist Party of the United States has an outstanding history in the struggles for peace, democratic rights, racial and gender equality, economic justice, union organization, and international solidarity. Our Party is organized on the principle of democratic centralism, combining maximum democratic discussion and decision-making with maximum unity of will and action, ensuring our ability to play a strong organizing role in the class struggle. We focus our efforts on increasing our ability to organize millions into struggle, fighting anti-communism as a divisive weapon of the capitalist class. With Marxism-Leninism guiding our actions, the Communist Party strives to build the broadest unity against global capitalist imperialism now headed by U.S. imperialism, for immediate gains and reforms that benefit working people, and for a progressive democratization of the government, the economy, and society of our country on the road to and after winning socialism..."

The Many Worlds of American Communism - COSMONAUT
06/04/2020
The Many Worlds of American Communism - COSMONAUT

The Many Worlds of American Communism - COSMONAUT

On this episode of Cosmopod, Donald and Parker welcome Cosmonaut author Josh Morris on to discuss the history and historiography of the US Communist Party. Academic accounts of the party have largely fit in two camps; Josh’s upcoming book The Many Worlds of American Communism attempts to go beyond...

The Center for Communist Studies
03/16/2020

The Center for Communist Studies

Taking Stock: Electoralism vs The Capitalist Arsenal - COSMONAUT
02/01/2020
Taking Stock: Electoralism vs The Capitalist Arsenal - COSMONAUT

Taking Stock: Electoralism vs The Capitalist Arsenal - COSMONAUT

In Part Two of his analysis of strategy for the modern-day left Hank Beecher takes a look at three recent case studies and tries to draw conclusions on how the left can move forward. In polemics for and against electoralism, leftists of various stripes invoke historic examples as proof that theirs i...

01/03/2020

Panel on anticommunism at this year's #AHA2020!

Tomorrow, 3:30pm

Working Class History
03/04/2019

Working Class History

On this day, 3 March 1991, Rodney King was brutally beaten by police in Los Angeles. Despite it being caught on film (almost unheard of in those days), the officers were acquitted, and the city went up in flames.

Cosmonaut
11/14/2018
Cosmonaut

Cosmonaut

"The early work of William Gernaey is a watershed moment in the research of early American Communism and the roots of domestic anticommunism. Gernaey went on to testify before the Dies Committee, work as a subversive within the Ford Motor Company, and eventually hired by the FBI. What is compelling about Gernaey’s story is the way it highlights anticommunism as a localized effort, and more importantly one that extends from specific business communities as opposed to industry or politics at the national level."

New Book - The Relevance of the Communist Manifesto | H-HOAC | H-Net
10/25/2018
New Book - The Relevance of the Communist Manifesto | H-HOAC | H-Net

New Book - The Relevance of the Communist Manifesto | H-HOAC | H-Net

Discussion published by John Earl Haynes on Thursday, October 25, 2018 0 Replies New Book - The Relevance of the Communist ManifestoAuthor: Slavoj Žižek Title: The Relevance of the Communist Manifesto Publisher:Polity Publication Date: 4/1/2019 ISBN: 9781509536115 Paperback (English)Find in Worl...

From Workers’ Party to Workers’ Republic
10/25/2018
From Workers’ Party to Workers’ Republic

From Workers’ Party to Workers’ Republic

Donald Parkinson takes a look at the history of the First, Second and Third Internationals, arguing for an approach to party-building and political strategy that is informed by the positives and ne…

Wayne State University
05/16/2018
Wayne State University

Wayne State University

As the U.S. Supreme Court takes on two right-to-silence cases this term, Wayne State University Law School Professor Robert A. Sedler discusses the legal ramifications of this First Amendment issue.

09/12/2017

"Much of the CPUSA's displacement as the political core of American Communism began with the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 and the subsequent reversal of policies following the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany as well as the full commitment of the Roosevelt Administration to the war effort. The final blow, however, came in the final year of World War II as the Communists held onto high hopes for the future of US-Soviet relations. Misreading moves made by Stalin to dissolve the Comintern and uphold agreements between the Allied Powers at the Tehran Conference, Browder pushed to dissolve the CPUSA in 1944. Browder emphasized what he called the "spirit of Tehran", dramatizing the supposed postwar peace between capitalist and communist nations. Building off the strategies of 1936-1940, the Party leaders, following Browder's lead, reorganized into the Communist Political Association (CPA). The goal was to broaden the Popular Front into the postwar period and directly influence politics at a local level. Other leaders, particularly Foster, Ben Davis, and Eugene Dennis, viewed Browder's shifts as subsuming the theory of class struggle to "right opportunism" by "sacrificing principle for the sake of mass popularity." Lumpkin described the "spirit of Tehran" as coinciding with the tremendous achievements of the war; particularly the defeat of European fascism and the inevitability of Japan's defeat. The circumstances of the war's end, however, allowed Lumpkin to "swallow the silly theory that some capitalists could be so smart that they would stop exploiting workers." To fully nail down the coffin, the French Communist Party (PCF) issued a staunch criticism in April of 1945 by Jacques Duclos, condemning Browder for abandoning Marxism-Leninism and praising Foster's minority camp for resisting the efforts at reform. Both at home and abroad, Browder's move manifested discontent among active communists.
For Duclos and other European Communist leaders, Browder's conclusions on the significance of Tehran lacked "a Marxist analysis of the situation," particularly with regard to a "false concept of the ways of social evolution in general." The specific aspect of Browder's conclusion that Duclos rejected was the assumption that Tehran implied "peaceful coexistence and collaboration in the framework of one and the same world." This in turn required Browder to explain and justify the need "to reconstruct the entire political and social life of the United States" which included changing the Party's name to one that implied "conformity...with the political traditions of America." This new organization, the CPA, would "not intervene as a 'party'" nor "propose candidates in the elections," but rather "will work to assemble a broad progressive and democratic movement within all parties." Browder's decision implied three major ideas that could only be seen in hindsight by individuals like Duclos. First, it overemphasized the significance of cooperation between the Allied Powers during the war. Second, it assumed that the New Deal coalition could be sustained long term after the war without Roosevelt himself. Finally, it negated the living, actual conditions American workers, who for the most part were both happy about winning the war as well as fearful for the future of postwar labor relations." (Morris, 2017, Dissertation)

01/26/2017
Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States

Awesome find! The entire archive of the House of Un American Activities Committee's reports prior to and during WWII have been digitized!

These are the records of the hearings of the Dies Committee, set up by the US House of Representatives to monitor "Un-American activities" and foreign propaganda before and during the Second World War.

10/04/2016

This year at the North American Labor History Conference, in Detroit, two separate panels on American Communism will present. More info to come!

09/27/2016

CPUSA History is looking for willing participants for interviewing in the CPUSA Oral History Project! Contact for more info.

07/21/2016

The CPUSA Oral History foundation is currently looking for American Communists (either inside the Party or out) who were active between the years 1935-1985.

If you fit the description and would like to tell your story and be apart of the documented history of American Communism, please contact Josh Morris from this page! Or you can email him at [email protected]

Be apart of history!

10/15/2015
Wayne State University - RSVP for NAHLC 2015

Wayne State University - RSVP for NAHLC 2015

Registration Fees (includes Friday evening reception, Friday continental breakfast and coffee/tea/juice available throughout the conference. Friday lunch not included.)

American Reformers
09/17/2015

American Reformers

The biggest attack against Sanders will be based on him being a democratic "socialist". We need to be prepared to defend him, so it's time to set the record straight: What is SOCIALISM?

Lately the word socialism and socialist have been plastered all across the Internet and media. Claims that Obama, and the democrats in general, are "socialists" are all too common and show the political ignorance in this country.

Socialism is a system in which resources and the means of production (mines, farms, factories, oil fields, utilities, etc) are socially owned and managed by the workers. Who exactly is advocating for this in the Democratic Party? Even Bernie Sanders, self proclaimed democratic socialist, never speaks of social ownership.

The powers that be want you to associate socialism with the USSR, North Korea, and other oppressive dictatorships, which is a total lie. The workers don't even have control over their lives in North Korea, yet we are supposed to believe they somehow control the economy? Workers in the USSR couldn't even form a union or chose their own jobs, let alone freely speak or write opinions. Both of these examples are oppressive dictatorships where the average person has / had no rights whatsoever.

True socialism embraces democracy and freedom of expression; each individual is equal in opportunity and legal rights, has control over their workplace through the democratic process, and has control over their lives.

What if America were suddenly to embrace socialism? Well, tomorrow you'd be able to vote for your bosses from supervisor to CEO. You'd have an ownership stake in your company instead of being just a worker. Goods and services would be much cheaper due to the fact that profits, now used for shareholder dividends and executive bonuses, would be invested back into the workforce, the company, and used to reduce costs to customers. And finally, we'd all be working a lot less while earning more money and enjoying more leisure time.

How you ask? All the money now used for executive bonuses, stock buybacks, dividend payouts, compounded interest, and all the other financial tricks used to enrich the wealthy, well all that money would be going to people like us, the workers and consumers!

We need to stop letting the right wing define these political terms. If you want to know more about socialism, read books written by actual socialists! You will quickly realize what you've been told about socialism, is nothing but lies. #americanreformers #thatsnotsocialism

08/22/2015
North American Labor History Conference

Exclusive Look at the 2015 NALHC!

On Thursday, October 22nd, Panel 2.2 will cover "Reds on Trial"--an in-depth look at the Communist Movement's legal repression in North America.

The panel will feature CPUSA National Chairman John Bachtell as a commentator to three excellent studies of the subject by Robert M. Zecker of St. Francis Xavier University, Scott Eaton of Simon Fraser University, and Joshua Morris of Wayne State University.

Come checkout and register for the NALHC today!!

nalhc.wayne.edu

Exclusive Look at the 2015 NALHC!

On Thursday, October 22nd, Panel 2.2 will cover "Reds on Trial"--an in-depth look at the Communist Movement's legal repression in North America.

The panel will feature CPUSA National Chairman John Bachtell as a commentator to three excellent studies of the subject by Robert M. Zecker of St. Francis Xavier University, Scott Eaton of Simon Fraser University, and Joshua Morris of Wayne State University.

Come checkout and register for the NALHC today!!

nalhc.wayne.edu

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April 27th Marks 135th Anniversary of Birth of Hubert Harrison: “Father of Harlem Radicalism” and Founder of the First Organization and First Newspaper of the Militant “New Negro Movement” by Jeffrey B. Perry Hubert H. Harrison (April 27, 1883-December 17, 1927) was a brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and radical political activist. Historian Joel A. Rogers, in World’s Great Men of Color, described him as “perhaps the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time.” Civil rights and labor leader A. Philip Randolph, described Harrison as “the father of Harlem Radicalism.” Bibliophile Arthur Schomburg, outstanding collector of materials on people of African descent, eulogized at Harrison’s Harlem funeral that he was “ahead of his time.” Harrison’s views on race and class profoundly influenced a generation of “New Negro” militants including the class radical A. Philip Randolph and the race radical Marcus Garvey. Considered more race conscious than Randolph and more class conscious than Garvey, Harrison is a key link to two great trends of the Black Liberation Movement – the labor and civil rights trend associated with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the race and nationalist trend associated with Malcolm X. (Randolph and Garvey were important links to King marching on Washington, with Randolph at his side, and to Malcolm (whose father was a Garveyite preacher and whose mother wrote for the “Negro World”), speaking militantly and proudly on street corners in Harlem. Harrison was not only a political radical, however. Rogers described him as an “Intellectual Giant and Free-Lance Educator,” whose contributions were wide-ranging, innovative, and influential. He was an immensely skilled and popular orator and educator who spoke and/or read six languages; a highly praised journalist, critic, and book reviewer (who reportedly started "the first regular book-review section known to Negro newspaperdom"); a pioneer Black activist in the freethought and birth control movements; and a bibliophile and library builder and popularizer who was an officer on the committee that helped develop the 135th Street Public Library into what has become known as the internationally famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Harrison was born on Estate Concordia, St. Croix, Danish West Indies, on April 27, 1883. His mother was an immigrant worker from Barbados and his father, who had been born enslaved in St. Croix, was a plantation worker. In St. Croix Harrison received the equivalent of a ninth grade education, learned customs rooted in African communal traditions, interacted with immigrant and native-born working people, and grew with an affinity for the poor and with the belief that he was the equal to any other. He also learned of the Crucian people’s rich history of direct-action mass struggles including the successful 1848 enslaved-led emancipation victory; the 1878 island-wide “Great Fireburn” rebellion (in which women such as “Queen Mary” Thomas played prominent roles); and the general strike of October 1879. After the death of his mother Harrison traveled to New York as a seventeen-year-old orphan in 1900. In his early years in New York he attracted attention as a brilliant high school student, authored over a dozen letters that were published in the New York Times, involved in important African American and Afro-Caribbean working class intellectual circles, and became a freethinker. In the United States Harrison made his mark by struggling against class and racial oppression, by helping to create a rich and vibrant intellectual life among African Americans, and by working for the enlightened development of the lives of those he affectionately referred to as “the common people.” He consistently emphasized the need for working class people to develop class-consciousness; for “Negroes” to develop race consciousness, self-reliance, and self-respect; and for all those he reached to challenge white supremacy and develop an internationalist spirit and modern, scientific, critical, and independent thought as a means toward liberation. A self-described “radical internationalist,” Harrison was extremely well-versed in history and events in Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, the Mideast, the Americas, and Europe and he wrote and lectured indoors and out (he was a pioneering soapbox orator) on these topics. More than any other political leader of his era, he combined class-consciousness and anti-white supremacist race consciousness in a coherent political radicalism. He opposed capitalism and imperialism and maintained that white supremacy was central to capitalist rule in the United States. He emphasized that “politically, the Negro is the touchstone of the modern democratic idea”; that “as long as the Color Line exists, all the perfumed protestations of Democracy on the part of the white race” were “downright lying” and “the cant of ‘Democracy’” was “intended as dust in the eyes of white voters”; that true democracy and equality for “Negroes” implied “a revolution . . . startling even to think of”; and that “capitalist imperialism which mercilessly exploits the darker races for its own financial purposes is the enemy which we must combine to fight.” Working from this theoretical framework, he was active with a wide variety of movements and organizations and played signal roles in the development of what were, up to that time, the largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical movement (the “New Negro”/Garvey movement) in U.S. history. His ideas on the centrality of the struggle against white supremacy anticipated the profound transformative power of the Civil Rights/Black Liberation struggles of the 1960s and his thoughts on “democracy in America” offer penetrating insights for social change efforts in the twenty-first century. Harrison served as the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician in the Socialist Party of New York during its 1912 heyday; spoke at Broad and Wall Streets in front of the New York Stock Exchange in 1912 on socialism for over three hours to an audience that extended as far as his voice could reach (in a clear precursor to “Occupy Wall Street”); was the only Black speaker at the historic Paterson silk workers strike of 1913; founded the first organization (the Liberty League) and the first newspaper (The Voice) of the militant, race-conscious, World War I-era “New Negro” movement and led a giant Harlem rally that protested the white supremacist attacks on the African American community of East St. Louis, Illinois (which is only twelve miles from Ferguson, Missouri) in 1917; edited "The New Negro: A Monthly Magazine of a Different Sort" (“intended as an organ of the international consciousness of the darker races – especially of the Negro race”) in 1919; wrote "The Negro and the Nation" in 1917 and "When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story' of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World" in 1920; and served as the editor of the Negro World and principal radical influence on the Garvey movement during its radical high point in 1920. After leaving the "Negro World" and becoming a U.S. citizen in 1922, Harrison wrote and lectured widely. He published in the "Amsterdam News," "Interstate Tattler," "Modern Quarterly," "New Republic," "Nation," "New York Times," "New York Tribune," "Boston Chronicle," "New York World," "Negro Champion," "Opportunity," and the "Pittsburgh Courier." He also lectured for the New York City Board of Education from 1922-1926; served as the New York State Chair of the American Negro Labor Congress and taught World Problems of Race at the Workers (Communist) Party’s Workers’ School and at the Institute for Social Study in Harlem; and spoke at universities, libraries, community forums, and street corners throughout New York City, as well as in New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, and Massachusetts. Maintaining his political independence, he worked with Democrats, the Single Tax Movement, Virgin Island organizations, the Farmer Labor Party Movement, and Communists. A bibliophile and advocate of free public libraries, he was also a founding officer of the committee that helped develop the “Department of Negro Literature and History” of the 135th Street Public Library into a center for Black studies, subsequently known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In addition, though he was a trailblazing book reviewer and literary critic during the period known as the Harlem Renaissance, he questioned the “Renaissance” on its willingness to accept standards from “white society” and on its claim to being a rebirth, a claim that he felt ignored the steady flow of works by “Negro” writers since 1850. In 1924 Harrison founded the International Colored Unity League (ICUL), which emphasized “Negro” solidarity and self-support, advocated “race first” politics, and sought to enfranchise “Negroes” in the South. The ICUL attempted “to do for the Negro the things which the Negro needs to have done without depending upon or waiting for the co-operative action of white people.” It urged that “Negroes” develop “race consciousness” as a defensive measure, be aware of their racial oppression, and use that awareness to unite, organize, and respond as a group. Its economic program advocated cooperative farms, stores, and housing, and its social program included scholarships for youth and opposition to restrictive laws. The ICUL program, described in 1924 talks and newspaper articles and published in "The Voice of the Negro" in 1927, had political, economic, and social planks urging protests, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and collective action and included as its “central idea” the founding of “a Negro state, not in Africa, as Marcus Garvey would have done, but in the United States” as an outlet for “racial egoism.” It was a plan for “the harnessing” of “Negro energies” and for “economic, political and spiritual self-help and advancement.” It preceded a somewhat similar plan by the Communist International by four years. The journalist and activist Hodge Kirnon from Montserrat was one of the ICUL officers and in 1924 Harrison and Rogers spoke on behalf of the organization in the Midwest and in New England. In 1927 Harrison edited the International Colored Unity League’s "Embryo of the Voice of The Negro" and then "The Voice of the Negro" until shortly before his unexpected December 17 death at Bellevue Hospital in New York from an appendicitis-related condition. His funeral was attended by thousands and preceded his burial in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, a gift of his portrait for placement on the main floor of the 135th Street Public Library, and the (ironic) establishment of The Hubert Harrison Memorial Church in Harlem in his honor. Hubert Harrison lived and died in poverty. In 2015, after eighty-seven years, a beautiful tombstone was placed on his shared and previously unmarked gravesite. His gravesite marker includes his image and words drawn from Andy Razaf, outstanding poet of “New Negro Movement” – speaker, editor, and sage . . . “What a change thy work hath wrought!” That commemorative marker, as well as the notable increase in books, articles, videos, audios, and discussions on his life and work reflect a growing recognition of his importance and indicate that interest in this giant of Black history will continue to grow in the twenty-first century and that Hubert Harrison has much to offer people today. Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry is an independent, working class scholar and archivist who was formally educated at Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia University. He was a long-time rank-and-file activist, elected union officer with Local 300, and editor for the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (div. of LIUNA, AFL-CIO). Perry preserved and inventoried the Hubert H. Harrison Papers (now at Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library); edited of A Hubert Harrison Reader (Wesleyan University Press, 2001); authored Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918 (Columbia University Press, 2008); wrote the introduction and notes for the new, expanded edition of Hubert H. Harrison, When Africa Awakes: The “Inside Story” of the New Negro in the Western World (1920; Diasporic Africa Pres, 2015); and wrote the new introduction and supplemental material for the expanded edition of Theodore W. Allen, The Invention of the White Race, 2 vols. (1994, 1997; Verso Books, 2012). He is currently working on volume two of the Hubert Harrison biography and preparing his vast collection of Theodore W. Allen Papers and Research Materials on Hubert Harrison for placement at a major repository. For comments from scholars and activists on "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press) see http://www.jeffreybperry.net/disc.htm and see http://www.jeffreybperry.net/_center__font_size__3__font_color__green___b_3__hubert_harrison_br___center___fo_86150.htm For information on "A Hubert Harrison Reader" (Wesleyan University Press) see http://www.jeffreybperry.net/_center__font_size__3__font_color__green___b_3__hubert_harrison_br___center___fo_86150.htm For information on the new, Diasporic Africa Press expanded edition of Hubert H. Harrison's “When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World” see http://www.jeffreybperry.net/_center__font_size__3__font_color__green___b__8___i_when_africa_awakes__br__the__128069.htm For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heBKm1ytd5Q For articles, audios, and videos by and about Hubert Harrison see http://www.jeffreybperry.net/_center__font_size__3__font_color__green___b_1__hubert_harrison___i_the_voice_of_76560.htm For a link to the Hubert H. Harrison Papers at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library seehttp://www.columbia.edu/cu/libraries/inside/projects/findingaids/scans/pdfs/Harrison_Hubert_H.pdf