"Roy" sent this feedback from one of the lessons in the school: cstruggle=justright&comment=Could+the+CPUSA+and+the+SPUSA+join+together+as+a+Mass+Worker%27s+Coalition?
Thanks for feedback. Hope you're enjoying the school. This business of joining political parties comes up all the time. There are a bunch of ways to look at it. Communists and socialists are usually criticized for not joining together in the 1931 (or was it 1933?) election in Germany because their combined vote would have kept Hitler from taking power (right then). That's supposed to be "proof" that sectarianism on the left permitted fascism. Of course, sp blames cp and vice versa, but the historical record shows that the sp in Germany was in power prior to Hitler, and they used that power to persecute and even kill communists, so "unity of the left" wasn't the easy option that some people would like to think.
Another way to look at it is the entire history of the left, beginning with the 1903 split in the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. The minority (mensheviks) wanted a peaceful transition to socialism and the majority (bolsheviks) decided that Marx was right, and that the capitalists have to be removed from power before socialism can take root. This fundamental argument grew out of the Paris Commune of 1872 and Marx's comments in "Critique of the Gotha Program." Marx was unarguably clear when he said, "Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat."
That one sentence explains all the difference between revolutionaries and social democrats, even though the social democrats are forever looking for other quotes and other "proofs" that it isn't true and that Marx didn't mean it.
Historically, the cpusa was born in America when the SP kicked us out undemocratically. This is in the movie "Reds" by the way, which makes it a good source. Since then, the social democrats, operating under a lot of names but still fundamentally committed to peaceful transition, have taken every opportunity to hound the communists.
Moving to a quick conclusion then, "unity of the left" isn't as simple/easy as it sounds.
Secondly, and probably more important, it wouldn't make a hell of a lot of difference. Neither party could get significant votes in any election worth bringing up. Neither party has enough cadre members to make a decent national demonstration. Combined, they still would not compare to something that, say, a union could do.
Lastly, CPUSA is the least sectarian organization on the so-called "left." We work with virtually anybody on virtually anything, including elections. If you look on peoplesworld.org right now, you'll see an enthusiastic welcome to Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. Sanders is nowhere nearly a communist.
So, "unity of the left" is a naive and generally useless concept, but unity in action is terrific strategy, and that's what we do.
jim lane in Dallas