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North Texans were honored with guests from Oklahoma at our second Pre-convention Discussion session on April 10. Although we only had 3 hours, we had a reasonably thorough discussion of the proposed new CPUSA Party Program, "The Road to Socialism USA: Unity for Peace, Democracy, Jobs and Equality." Some of us had printed copies and others had downloaded it from www.cpusa.org.
General agreement characterized most of the discussion. It was pointed out that the document lists a large number of ways that the working class is divided under capitalism, there was no section on anti-communism. Some of us felt that it continues to create major divisions in Texas, but one comrade said that anti-communism was no longer a problem among younger Texans. Comrades spent some time clarifying the term "exploitation." The precise economic term, revealing how capitalists derive profits by using more labor power than they pay for, was referred to several times, but a more general, less scientific, definition was applied several times as well.
One participant said that the document read too much like a "laundry list" of the ways capitalists exploit the working class, but another person pointed out that exploitation may be very general under capitalism, but that it is applied differently to different workers. Understand one another's particular kinds of oppression promotes the unity needed by all.
One participant pointed out that ideas and terminology related to racism have changed during the most recent decades of struggle and study. "What is race, anyway?" he asked. A young man who has done a lot of individual studying commented that he particularly liked the 31-page documented because it, "translates Marxism to everyday life."
During the section on "The Emergence of Ultra-Right Domination," I asked what I considered to be the most important question: "Why?" If American capitalists have ruled this nation since it began, why are they now applying ultra-right policies? A young newcomer from Oklahoma responded by saying that the capitalist class is "out of options." He opined that capitalists had allied themselves with the most reactionary, least scientific, most racist, most superstitious, strata of society because "they are the only ones they have!" A sharp turn to the right is, "Capitalism's last resort." The document backed him up when it pointed out that, "U.S. domination is slowly weakening."
Generational change was evidenced when one of our participants said that the Bush Administration seeks to overturn all the gains of America's New Deal. To clarify for the 50% or so young people at the meeting, he explained that "New Deal" refers to progressive social programs put in place under the Roosevelt Administration, 1932-45.
One of the young men pointed to a glaring contradiction in today's capitalist war program: they cannot recruit enough cannon fodder for the military. He said that the enlistment age had risen to 40! Another young peace activist said that war is a permanent part of today's capitalism, and that only socialism can bring lasting peace.'
As Southwesterners, our group was especially interested in the plight of immigrants and the relationship between immigration and international "trade" agreements. New, more progressive, elected leaders in some South American countries were held to be an inspiration to people in other countries, and especially, to Latino immigrants in the United States. Positive thinking immigrants, it was pointed out, should be active in local politics, because everything that happens in the United States has an even greater effect in their native countries. A growing consciousness and optimism among immigrants was noted.
We had to rush through some of the document, but our group savored the final
section on the role of the Communist Party. Even though some excellent leaders
have risen in the union movement, the peace movement, among progressive religious
groups, and with others, it was pointed out the Communist Party plays the essential
role in helping people come to long-term solutions.
Most of the participants were already active with the Communist Party and had recent experiences to illustrate and clarify what the draft document said. One participant decided to join during the discussion. All of us were eager to get to work on our next assembly on April 16.
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