Black Women’s Struggle for Democracy and Socialism / by the African American Equality Commission, CPUSA

Don’t miss March 8th International Women’s Day event

As the Supreme Court embraces a false “color blind” approach to addressing systemic and individual racism— including attacks on affirmative action in schools and the workplace, and while 35 states are attempting to legislate reality out of how Black history, race, gender, and other aspects of Black folks’ lives are taught, African American women are fighting back — from the halls of Congress to the shop floor.

They have a rich history and tradition to build on. Indeed, Black women have played a central role in the struggle for democracy, justice and socialism. African American Communist women have been indispensable in this regard.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, an event is being planned to celebrate the contributions of these women. Titled “Black Women’s Struggle for Democracy and Socialism,” the virtual Zoom event will begin at 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Mountain, and 5:00 PM Pacific time. Register here.

Among those whose lives will be highlighted are artist Elizabeth Catlett, CPUSA leader and former SNCC activist Debbie Bell, labor leader Etta Furlow, and anti-Jim Crow campaigner Edna Griffin. Special note will be taken of the outstanding contributions of Charlene Mitchell, the first Black woman to run for U.S. president on the CPUSA ticket, and Dorothy Burnham, Southern Negro Youth activist and longtime CPUSA leader.

“It’s really important to uplift the heroic and historic contributions of these women. They’ve been hidden far too long,” said Zenobia Thompson, co-convener of the CPUSA African American Equality Commission.

“If we don’t do it, who will?” agreed Eric Brooks, Thompson’s fellow co-convenor of the Commission.

The International Women’s Day event is sponsored by the CPUSA African American Equality Commission, the NY District CPUSA, and the NY Bureau of Peoples World.

A few of the Communist women who shaped U.S. history / by Norman Markowitz

Images: People’s World and CPUSA Archives; Emma Tenayuca, “La Pasionaria de Texas” ; Charlene Mitchell campaign poster

Reprinted from Political Affairs (04/2010) in celebration of Women’s History Month.

From its very outset, the struggle for women’s liberation has had deep connections to the development of the socialist movement. The utopian socialist Charles Fourier said famously that a society was judged by its treatment of women. The oppression of women in both work and in the home and the hypocrisy of bourgeois morality were dealt with by Marx and Engels over and over again in their works, not as something separate from the class struggle and the exploitation of the working class by capitalists but integral to it.

In a number of European countries, Marxist socialist parties, in the tradition of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), advocated women’s suffrage and women’s rights when liberal and even self-styled radical parties avoided the issue for fear of losing both their capitalist financial backers and male votes.

Women activists in the United States were a part of the socialist movement and organizations like the syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) before women gained the right to vote, although the leaders of the Socialist Party of America (SPA) were no more militant or focused in their support for women’s suffrage and women’s rights than they were in the support for the civil rights and larger social economic liberation of the African American people.

With the formation of the Communist Party USA and its development after 1919, militant women, like militant African Americans of both genders, were drawn to the CPUSA in far greater numbers than the declining Socialist Party or other groups on the left. These included very well-known activists like IWW leader Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and labor radical Mother Bloor.

Flynn, for whom the martyred IWW people’s singer Joe Hill had written the song “Rebel Girl,” was to become the most famous CPUSA woman leader of the interwar period and would become a Cold War political prisoner in the 1950s. She would end her long and distinguished life as chair of the CPUSA in the early 1960s after her release from prison.

Her life can be contrasted with that of Margaret Sanger, a socialist champion of women’s reproductive rights before and during World War I. Both faced state repression. Sanger, though, left the socialist movement and became a founder of Planned Parenthood in the postwar era. While she remained a progressive, she found herself courting business interests and hobnobbing with overt racists, neo-Malthusian reactionaries, and more covert racist eugenicists whose support for birth control was rooted in a desire to limit working class and minority populations.

Women like the West Indian-born Harlem activist Claudia Jones became, in the 1930s, important grassroots leaders of the CPUSA youth organizations and later the CPUSA itself. Mexican-American activist Emma Tenayuca led striking agricultural workers and was called “La Pasionaria de Texas” in late 1930s San Antonio.

Although male chauvinism certainly existed in the CPUSA, the Communists were really the only political party which used the concept of male chauvinism in any way and sought to combat it. In this sense, it was continuing to develop a concept rooted in both the pre-World War I socialist and feminist movements. At times, these movements were allies, although often divided over what feminists saw as the Socialist Party leadership’s sellout of women’s rights and what male socialists’ saw as feminists’ “bourgeois” orientation, struggling for political rights and entry into elite positions at the expense of the larger working class.

The CPUSA actively bridged these differences, not with complete success by any means but to a greater degree than any other group. Within the women’s labor movement, the number of militant CPUSA-affiliated women who became union leaders was, from my readings, greater in percentage terms than the number of CPUSA-affiliated men, although this is very difficult to quantify since the deforming effects of anti-communist policy meant that CPUSA affiliations were often unacknowledged.

For example, in the rightly distinguished documentary, Union Maids, the stories of three 1930s women labor activists are told without, given the crippling effects of postwar McCarthyite repression, once mentioning that all three were CPUSA activists. In reality, they would have to have been Communists, given the support system they relied on to continue their struggles. In the documentary, all three women are asked to say what socialism meant and means to them. While this is done well, understanding the women and their conceptions of women’s rights, racism, sexism, and socialism is significantly reduced without any treatment of their CPUSA context.

Major histories of women in and of the CPUSA have yet to be written, just as systems of national health care, full employment policies, de jure and de facto gender equality, have yet to be established in the U.S. But there is much that we can say about the Communist contribution to gender equality and the negative effects of both anti-communist ideology and policy in undermining the struggle for women’s rights as it has undermined all people’s struggles.

Even before World War II, Communist-affiliated trade union women in the Communist-led United Electrical Workers union (UE) established the first contract in which women workers were given a larger hourly increase than men in an attempt to make up for long-term gender inequality, an early practical example of what would decades later be called affirmative action.

As the labor movement expanded and millions of new women workers were drawn into war work in the 1940s, Communist-affiliated women in the industrial unions especially fought to protect women workers from on-the-job discrimination and also to support federal legislation to provide public daycare services—legislation which was the first of its kind but which conservative coalition opposition in Congress defunded to the point that it became little more than tokenism.

CPUSA-affiliated women who were the wives of military personnel also organized around military bases in the U.S. (the great majority of the 15 million who served in the military did not see service, much less action abroad) to both fight against the effects of military segregation and also to oppose the racist violence that this segregation helped to engender, especially on Southern bases where legal segregation was in effect.

CPUSA-affiliated women continued to play a leading role in struggles for labor’s rights, against racism, and for peace during the Cold War era—in some respects an even larger role, given the success of the purges and blacklists and anti-Bill of Rights legislation frightening so many away from exercising their rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and association.

Communist-affiliated women played an important role in the formation of Women’s Strike for Peace in the 1960s and the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) in the 1970s, even though institutional McCarthyism created in these and other organizations a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Earlier women like Mary Licht, whom I had the privilege of knowing through the CPUSA’s History Commission and who had participated in the South at great risk in the defense of the Scottsboro Nine, dedicated the rest of their lives to the defense and development of the CPUSA. Women like Dorothy Burnham, African American scholar and intellectual whom I had and have the pleasure of knowing in the CPUSA, played important leadership roles.

In 1968, when the CPUSA, after nearly three decades of repression and what would be considered internationally as persecution, ran its first presidential campaign since 1940, Charlene Mitchell was the candidate at a time when the presidential candidate of any “third party,” left or right, was virtually unknown. She was the first Black woman to run for president of the United States.

The influence of political parties and social movements exists on many levels. Betty Friedan, for example, came from a middle-class Jewish American family in Illinois, attended an elite women’s college during World War II, and then did graduate work at Berkeley. There she became involved with a variety of political struggles, some of which included Communist Party activists, and she then went to work for the left-labor Federated Press. This media outlet attempted to provide for working-class media what the Associated Press did for capitalist media.

Friedan later wrote for the UE News and supported the Progressive Party in 1948. She grew up politically in a left movement and culture in which the CPUSA played the leading role. Although the postwar repression ended her career as a left-labor journalist, she continued to try to write for women’s publications as she settled uncomfortably into the role of a suburban housewife.

Issues of male chauvinism inside the CPUSA were revived during the early Cold War era and discussed in party clubs and forums as the repression sought to build what French Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre called a “ring of fire” between Communists and their fellow citizens. Friedan, through her early 1960s work The Feminine Mystique, played an essential role in articulating what in socialist and later Communist circles was called “the women question.” She always went to great lengths to hide or simply ignore her past as she became a celebrity, and aimed her feminism initially at college-educated women frustrated with their lives as housewives whose labor was both unpaid and undervalued.

But one can find in her work an analysis of and resistance to ideologies of oppression that was a foundation of the Communist movement in the period in which she came of age politically. One can also find in her later work as a founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) an emphasis on building broad, inclusive organizations and acting politically both inside and outside normal channels. She advocated lobbying for changes in the law, organizing mass protests to advance such changes, and preparing the movement for future advances. This kind of strategic and tactical outlook also characterized the Communist Party and the larger left movement which was the leading force in her youth.

The relationship between Communists and feminists in the 1950s and ’60s was complex, usually cooperative, and sometimes contradictory, as it had been much earlier between Socialists and feminists in the pre-World War I era. The ideological straitjacket that Cold War politics sought to trap all Americans in made it difficult to acknowledge and understand those relationships, but understanding them is very important if both the successes and failures of the past are to serve as guides to contemporary struggles.

Angela Davis took a very different path than Betty Friedan. An African American scholar, intellectual, and activist, Davis grew up in the postwar left and CPUSA political culture from which Friedan withdrew. She became a CPUSA member and supporter of the Black Panther Party, a teacher of philosophy, and a political prisoner whose acquittal in the early 1970s was itself a victory over a generation of political repression.

She also worked as an activist against racist and political repression, for comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system, and for the full inclusion of African Americans and all other minority peoples in a pluralistic democratic American culture. Although Davis later left the CPUSA, it was in a non-polemical way and, unlike some others, she never lent her name to anti-Communist activities and remains a friend of the party.

Davis became an international figure through her membership and leadership in the CPUSA for a generation. Her writings here and abroad reached large numbers with their eloquent portrayal of struggles in the U.S. against racism, male chauvinism, imperialism, mass incarceration, and war. She also reflected the CPUSA’s internationalist outlook by relating those struggles with people’s movements throughout the world.

One could go on and on listing the accomplishments of CPUSA and Communist movement-affiliated women to people’s movements and struggles, both the famous, like Anne Braden and Meridel LeSeuer, and the many less well-known activists fighting for tenants’ rights and rent control, campaigning to get city councils to pass resolutions for single-payer health insurance, the establishment of nuclear-free zones and nuclear disarmament, the transfer of billions from the military budget to people’s needs and more.

Although gender integration has advanced greatly in the U.S. and through many organizations, so much remains to be done. But the long-term struggles and achievements of Communist women in the supportive atmosphere the CPUSA established are indispensable contributions to the success of the campaigns to advance women’s liberation in both the present and the future.

Norman Markowitz is a Professor of History. He writes and teaches from a Marxist perspective, and has written many articles on a variety of topics, including biographical entries on Jimmy Hoffa, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the civil rights movement, 1930-1953, and poor peoples movements in U.S. history.

Henry Winston, Communist and Black Liberation leader / by Charlene Mitchell

Communist Party USA Chairman Henry Winston. | CPUSA Archives / Tamiment Library NYU

The following article originally appeared in Political Affairs in 2012. It is based on remarks delivered by the late Charlene Mitchell at an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Henry Winston, a leader of the Communist and Black Liberation movements who died in 1986. Charlene Mitchell was a long-time labor and political activist; the first Black woman candidate for President of the United States, running for the CPUSA in 1968; and a founder of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

I count myself as among the lucky ones who had the privilege of working with Henry Winston over a number of years and in a number of struggles. Karl Marx wrote that: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” Henry Winston made history, but his contribution to history was not based on his unique genius, although he was a genius. The history he made was grounded in the world he lived in.

Growing up in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Kansas City, he experienced first-hand the brutal oppression of the African American people and the callous exploitation of the working class. In Hattiesburg, in the early 1900s, more than one-half of the town was African American, yet only one percent of them were registered to vote due to the disenfranchisement of the African American people in the South.

Communist Party leaders Henry Winston, right, with Gus Hall at the Federal building in New York City, Oct. 13, 1949, to hear the final arguments in their nine-month Smith Act trial. | AP

His father was a laborer in a local sawmill, who struggled to feed, clothe, and house his young family on the meager wages of the mill. Thus, from birth, Winston’s life was intertwined with the two social forces that would mark his future life—he was a member of the working class, viciously exploited by the capitalist system, and he was an African American, subjected to the base degradations of national oppression.

As a fighter, Winston grew to adulthood organizing against these twin forms of oppression. He was a leader of the Young Communist League, the Unemployed Councils, and the
Scottsboro Defense Committee. In the midst of these struggles, he honed the theoretical and organizational abilities that would serve him so well later as a leading member of the Communist Party USA.

Many of Winston’s most lasting theoretical contributions are in the areas of the anti-colonial and independence struggles of Africa and the movement for African American equality. Although his personal life experiences certainly gave him important insights into these issues, it was not a sense of nationalism that drove his analysis. Instead, it was a firm belief in the future of socialism and the historic role of the working class in bringing about that future. Winston was fully aware of Lenin’s admonition that Marxism cannot be mixed with even the most refined forms of nationalism.

In a 1964 pamphlet entitled Negro Liberation: A Goal for All Americans, Winston referred to the African American question as “the touchstone in the struggle for democracy in this country,” adding that “the achievement of equality for the Negro people is the key in the struggle to defend and extend democracy for all.”

Winston was an advocate of the centrality of the struggle for African American equality. He understood that the fight against African American oppression was “central” to the unity of the working class. He understood that this “centrality” could not be posed against the class struggle—as some social democrats attempted to do by insisting that only
the class struggle is “central.”

Instead, Winston understood the interconnection between the class struggle and the struggle against national oppression. He also understood that no movement would lead the U.S. working class toward the fundamental transformation of this system without a correct understanding of the centrality of the fight against African American oppression. The white sector of the U.S. working class will never break with bourgeois ideology without cleansing itself of the odious ideology of racial superiority—in whatever form it takes.

Henry Winston with Angela Davis and Oliver Tambo, president of the African National Congress and leader in the anti-apartheid fight in South Africa. | CPUSA Archives

These ideas, the struggle for a correct line in the African American and African support movement, are the centerpiece of Winston’s book, Strategy for a Black Agenda. In that work, which was a major intervention in the ideological struggle within the African American movement and among those in solidarity with African liberation and independence, Winston pulled the covers off of the Maoists, who under the guise of “anti-revisionism” sided with the imperialists in the struggle for the liberation of Angola.

More importantly, Winston’s analysis demonstrated that these positions were not merely mistakes or errors in judgment by the Maoists, but were the logical outcome of an anti-Leninist, anti-working class philosophy.

In that book and in his Class, Race, and Black Liberation, Winston also dissected the then-current Pan-Africanist movement. He demonstrated that the nationalism and lack of anti-imperialist grounding in that movement reflected that it owed more of an intellectual debt to George Padmore and Marcus Garvey than to DuBois’ conception of Pan-Africanism.

He noted that they were quick to base their analysis on Dubois’ famous quote that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.” However, Winston added, “Dubois said it was the problem, Dubois did not say it was the solution.” Winston went on to write, “As Lenin demonstrated, the solution lies in a strategy to overcome the disunity of the oppressed and exploited at the line of differences in color and nationality.”

Henry Winston with Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban Revolution, 1970s. | CPUSA Archives / Tamiment Library NYU

Comrade Winston’s leadership on these issues was not limited to the theoretical sphere. He played an active role in guiding mass movements in these areas. Winston was the organizational brains behind the formation of NAIMSAL, the National Anti-Imperialist Movement in Solidarity with African Liberation.

Under his guidance, and through his connections with African leaders throughout the continent, NAIMSAL succeeded in injecting a consistent anti-imperialist content into the then-developing movements in solidarity with African liberation. NAIMSAL was one of the first organizations in this country to campaign for the freedom of Nelson Mandela and, with the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR), launched a ,,petition drive that helped make Mandela’s freedom a national issue.

Much of NAIMSAL’s work laid the basis for the larger African liberation support movement that
developed in the 1980s.

And under Winston’s guidance, the Communist Party helped build the largest political defense movement this country had seen since the Scottsboro defendants of the ’30s. I can still remember receiving a call from my brother, Franklin Alexander, in the summer of 1970 informing me that Angela Davis was facing arrest on trumped-up charges stemming from a shootout at a courthouse in San Rafael, Calif.

I immediately went to discuss this development with Winston and Gus Hall. Both had no hesitation in throwing the weight of the entire party behind the movement to defend Angela, and both immediately saw this threat as an attack against the Communist Party, the African American movement, and the entire progressive movement.

Winston, especially, demonstrated a particular sensitivity to the role of gender. It was an advanced attitude I had seen displayed by him over the years. In his work in defense of Angela, he consistently expressed the importance of the role of women in the movement’s leadership and in the broader society. This may have partially been due to the influence of Claudia Jones, one of his closest comrades from the “old days” and at one time chair of the Communist Party’s Women’s Commission.

With Winston’s assistance, we rallied the Communist Party to build an international movement demanding the release of Angela and all political prisoners. This movement, more than any other single motion, helped rebuild the CPUSA’s image in the African American community and in the broad left. There are still many activists around who “cut their political teeth” in that movement. And in the process of building that movement, the party made many valuable contacts with activists across the country. It was this movement that positioned us to launch the NAARPR.

In Winston’s last years, he had developed a particular concern for the plight of African American youth. He recognized that the general crisis of capitalism and the national oppression of the African American people were combining to stigmatize African American youth as, in Winston’s words, “social pariahs.” Decades later, we see Winston’s concerns manifested in astronomical youth unemployment rates, collapsing public education, and mass incarceration as a method of control of African American youth.

Yet Winston was full of optimism about the long-range future.

Charlene Mitchell applauds as Henry Winston delivers a speech. | CPUSA Archives / Tamiment Library NYU

In a 1951 pamphlet, entitled What It Means to be a Communist, Winston wrote: “Those who see only backwardness, immobility, and disunity in the working class, are bound to ignore the essential truth that it is the working class that possesses all the necessary qualities to bring about the transformation of society, and build socialism.” The working class and its allies are the only force that can bring about the fundamental transformation of this society.

It’s important that we honor the life and legacy of Henry Winston. But we must also recognize that Henry Winston was not a great man in spite of being a Marxist-Leninist. He became a great man because he was a Marxist-Leninist. He was not a great man in spite of being a member of the Communist Party. He became a great man because he was a member of the Communist Party.

Nothing in his contributions makes sense if separated from the Communist Party and its ideology. And yet, his legacy belongs not just to the Marxist-Leninists or to the Communist Party.

His legacy belongs to the African American people, to the working class, and to the oppressed people all across this world, who all strive for a better society and a better future.

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Charlene Alexander Mitchell was born in 1930 in Cincinnati and moved as a child to Chicago where she grew up in the Cabrini-Green public housing project. In 1968 Mitchell made history as the CP’s presidential standard-bearer, becoming the first African American woman to run for the Oval Office. Her long career of unrelenting activism and persistence is most famously illustrated in the success of the campaign to free Angela Davis. In her solidarity visits, she met with CPUSA leader Claudia Jones who had been deported to England, Joseph Dadoo of the African National Congress, and other international leaders. In 1994 she served as an official observer of the first democratic elections in post-apartheid South Africa and was an observer at the congress of the South African Communist Party that year. She went to Cuba for rehabilitation medical treatment following a stroke suffered in 2007. Charlene Mitchell joined the Communist Party USA at 16 emerging as one of the most influential leaders in the party from the late 1950s to the 1980s. She later joined the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. Mitchell died in New York City’s Amsterdam Nursing Home on December 14, 2022, at the age of 92.

People’s World, February 22, 2023

Michael Gold: Red Scare Victim / By Taylor Dorrell

via Wikimedia Commons

Originally published in JSTOR DAILY on January 23, 2023

The author of Jews Without Money, a proletarian lit best-seller, was ostracized for his Communism and derided for his prose. Today he is all but forgotten.

If Michael Gold is remembered at all, it is as an authoritarian propagandist.

His actual life, seldom observed, was rather one of passion, activism, and optimism and he was in fact a foremost producer of proletarian literature in America. A humble individual, Gold was also a militant labor advocate, seen both as a Whitmaneqsue humanist and an unapologetic Stalinist. Born Itzok Isaac Granich in 1893 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Eastern European Jewish immigrants, he grew up impoverished in the neighborhood’s tenements—specifically on Chrystie Street, home to a lively community of foreigners who formed the subject of his 1930 novel, Jews Without Money.

His father, Chaim (Anglicized to Charles) Granich, was a passionate story-teller and a devotee of Yiddish theater, who came to the United States from Romania partly to escape antisemitism. He imparted both his literary values and a distaste for tomatoes to his son—Charles joked that the real reason he immigrated was to avoid being hit by the fruit hatefully flung at Jews back home. Granich started working at the age of 12 after Charles fell ill; his jobs included helping a wagon driver who rained hateful slurs upon the boy before finally firing him.

The day before his 21st birthday in 1914, Granich was radicalized politically at a rally for the unemployed where police brutalized him; he managed, he wrote, to escape to the hospital “by sheer luck.” Soon thereafter he began submitting articles to radical publications, charged by the injustices he’d witnessed and experienced.

He wrote poems and articles for the socialist magazine The Masses and dramas for the Provincetown Players, a collective that included Eugene O’Neill and Susan Glaspell. Before long, Gold was working full-time as a writer and editor. During the tyrannical Palmer Raids of 1919 he changed his name to Michael Gold, after a Jewish abolitionist Civil War veteran, and later became the editor of New Masses, a leftist publication.

Jews Without Money is a semi-autobiographical tale of events that unfold through the eyes of young Mikey. Gold’s sole novel, it is considered his best work of fiction. Written during his New Masses editorship, it’s a modest chronicle of cruel realities, the bleakness of poverty, and the sketches of an instinctive provocateur. An unprecedented exposé of tenement life in the Lower East Side, the novel features the neighborhood youth as scavengers, thieves, and explorers. Children die young, fathers work tirelessly for decades only to end up selling bananas on the street, young women resort to prostitution, and the Lower East Side’s working-class immigrant Jewish community defeatedly “shrugged their shoulders and murmured: ‘This is America.’”

Mikey’s father loses his promising position running a suspender business and takes up house painting. When he becomes ill, Mikey must leave school and go to work. Beauty and the grotesque coexist in Gold’s meditations. There is both a faith in the poor and the helplessness of those who never escape it, the loathsome dialectics of industrialization, urban space, and the Jewish immigrant experience. Through it all, the book ends hopefully with its most contentious and polemic lines

“O workers’ Revolution, you brought hope to me, a lonely, suicidal boy. You are the true Messiah. You will destroy the East Side when you come, and build there a garden for the human spirit.
O Revolution, that forced me to think, to struggle and to live.
O great Beginning!”

According to the scholar Allen Guttmann, Jews Without Money is the “first important document of proletarian literature.” The novel was the first book to consider the Jewish ghetto of the Lower East Side not solely as vile premises, but as a battleground for the future, a fight against cynicism in the face of capitalism’s bloody exploits. Eric Homberger has observed that for “many writers in the Progressive era, all influences in the ghetto made for evil. Gold suggests that there was something akin to a struggle over the soul of his younger self.

The book’s controversial splintered style has been both criticized and praised. Jews Without Money is not a series of roughhewn memoirs,” critic Richard Tuerk has written “but a carefully worked, unified piece of art.” Its mix of autobiography and fiction, he continues, is “reminiscent of some of Mark Twain’s works.” Bettina Hofmann has compared the story’s fragmented structure to Hemingway’s In Our Time (1925), arguing that “the sketches in Jews Without Money are not isolated but constitute a whole.”

No less than Sinclair Lewis, the US’s first Nobel laureate for literature, praised Jews Without Money in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, calling it “passionate” and “authentic” in revealing “the new frontier of the Jewish East Side.” He said, Gold’s work, among others, was leading American literature out from “the stuffiness of safe, sane and incredibly dull provincialism.”

Jews Without Money was a best-seller, reprinted 25 times by 1950, translated into 16 languages, and spread underground throughout Nazi Germany to combat antisemitic propaganda. Gold became a respected cultural figure. In 1941, 35 hundred people, including the Communist labor organizer Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and writer Richard Wright, packed the Manhattan Center to celebrate Gold and his commitment to revolutionary activity over the course of a quarter century. The Communist screenwriter Albert Maltz asked, “What progressive writer in America is there who has not been influenced by [Mike Gold]?” But such celebrity quickly faded with the coming Red Scare.

In addition to Jews Without Money, Gold’s daily column “Change the World!” in the Daily Worker, his work at New Masses, and his activism resulted in the addition of his name to the Blacklist. “Writers are being sent to prison for their opinions,” he wrote in 1951 after being visited by two FBI agents. “Such visits are becoming terribly commonplace in the land of Walt Whitman.” McCarthyism had a chilling effect on all aspects of free expression. Something as seemingly minor as a subscription to a Communist newspaper or attendance at an anti-fascist rally could draw the attention of the FBI. The Daily Worker laid off staff, and Gold lost work. His career slid into disarray, and he was forced to take odd jobs throughout the 1950s. His gigs included work in a print shop, at a summer camp, and as a janitor. He flirted with opening a coin laundry. Moreover, being blacklisted was a family affair. Elizabeth Granich, Gold’s wife, a Sorbonne-trained lawyer, could only get custodial and factory work. The financial strain on the couple and their two boys was tremendous.

The consensus of critics who detest Gold is a reflection of a concerted effort of the McCarthy era. In the 1940s and 1950s, Jews Without Money “lapsed into underground and subcultural circulation,” says Corinna K. Lee. What people who learn about the novel see—what, through layers of historical revisionism, their understanding of Gold is—is narrow and submissive. Mike Gold is an extreme and exemplary victim of American censorship, “erased,” his reputation muddied, He is a figure now described as a “megalomaniac,” a sectarian “literary czar,” and a “not very bright […] political propagandist in dreamland.”

Jews taking home free matzoths, New York City, 1908 via Wikimedia Commons 

Nowadays Jews Without Money is criticized, as Tuerk, points out for “lacking unity and artistry.” Its simplistic style is frowned upon, the fragmented sketches derided, and its optimistic ending abhorred. This understanding influences research and publishing and has, in fact, for decades. Walter Rideout wrote that Gold lacked “the capacity for sustained artistic vision,” and contrasted his novel unfavorably with Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep from 1934. In the 1996 introduction to a reissue of Gold’s novel, critic Alfred Kazin attacked the book as “the work of a man without the slightest literary finesse, without second thoughts on anything he believes, without any knowledge of Jewish life from the Lower East Side.” Kazin accused him of class-reductionism and of being a political propagandist, though he conceded that his style was notable.

Tuerk himself likewise criticized Gold’s politics, viewing the revolutionary Messiah at the end of the novel as “definitely not one of love.” Elsewhere Tuerk argued that Gold’s love of Thoreau, like his love for other American thinkers of the 19th century, wouldn’t have been reciprocated, as Thoreau “placed faith in the individual, not the group,” and therefore would have rejected Gold’s politics.

Yet the book’s contentious reputation is no match for the financial promise publishers see in reprints of it, even while it is diminished as a relic. Avon’s reissue of the first edition of Jews Without Money from 1965 notably omitted its powerful ending, those lines that imbue the rest of the volume with meaning and hope. It was published, Lee argues, to “capitalize on the book’s East Side setting, following the spectacular commercial success of Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep, which it had reissued in paperback the year prior.” For decades, even attempts to write a biography of Gold were shot down, until Patrick Chura’s Michael Gold: The People’s Writer was finally released in 2020.

Bettina Hofmann argues that Gold’s political aspirations with his work were unsuccessful. “Since neither Nazism was to be thwarted off nor the envisioned socialism to become reality, Jews Without Money solely appears as a document of bygone days conjuring up past radical visions of maybe nostalgic value,” Hofmann argues.

The downplaying of Gold’s politics is ironic given the FBI’s tyrannical assault on artists and activists just like Mike Gold. In fact, he was followed by agents who staked his whereabouts, took note of his friends, family, and his work, from 1922 until his death in 1967. Indeed, to claim after WWII, that proletarian culture was ineffective at combating fascism or working towards socialism is ahistorical. While critics promote the idea that Communists were ineffective politically, the FBI had their hands full stifling the rise of the Communist Party USA and their influence on progressive politics.

Gold advocated for civil rights, labor power, and a more democratic society—ideals anathema to the United States government during the Cold War. These ideals were downplayed by the literary critics who subscribed to the hysteria of the Red Scare and helped obscure Gold’s place in literary history. The critics appear to prefer literature that ignores the material realities of society and focuses solely on the subjectivity of the individual. That is, the antithesis of Mike Gold.

In his biography, Patrick Chura observed that Gold “practically invented the genre of ’proletarian’ literature and fiercely advocated socially conscious protest art….” He defends Gold’s politics against Tuerk’s characterization of it, suggesting Tuerk’s critique “reflected a Cold-War era tendency to define communism solely as an economic theory rather than as a liberation movement. We might now acknowledge that Gold’s special enthusiasm for Thoreau was not based on economics or even politics, but on humanity.

Gold hardly reduced all of humanity’s woes to issues of class. He argued, Chura says, “that figures such as Shelley, Victor Hugo, Whitman, and Thoreau ‘belong in the natural program of Communism because they help to cultivate the best human beings.’” He believed in the power of telling stories strategically, on a cultural foundation with a rich history.

Of course, all culture is propaganda for something. The question is: what? Edmund Wilson sided with Gold in 1932, arguing that “nine-tenths of our writers would be much better off writing propaganda for Communism than doing what they are at present: that is, writing propaganda for capitalism under the impression that they are liberals or disinterested minds.” Gold mentioned in an author’s note in his novel that Jews Without Money, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a “form of propaganda against the Nazi anti-Semitic lies.” In the 1935 edition of Jews Without Money, the preface described the arrest of a German radical caught while translating the book. The Nazis laughed, howling, “So there are Jews without money!” Jews Without Money was also used to counter antisemitic propaganda in the US. Art Shields recalled in On the Battle Lines how the company running a factory in rural Maryland claimed in a negotiating session that they lacked funds because “the Jews have the money.” The workers got copies of Jews Without Money which were “read to pieces” And then went on to end the seven-day work week.

Having grown up in the immigrant slums of New York City, Mike Gold became a radical literary figure who was then written out of literary history altogether. Though his reputation remains tarnished, a new generation of readers is beginning to find inspiration in his prose and his politics. Despite the efforts to minimize and diminish Gold’s beliefs, there are still those who follow Gold’s lead, hoping, imagining, fighting, as his daily column was titled, to Change the World!

Taylor Dorrell is a freelance writer and photographer based in Columbus, Ohio. He’s a contributing writer at the Cleveland Review of Books, columnist at Matter News, and reporter for the Columbus Free Press.

JSTOR Daily is an online publication that contextualizes current events with scholarship.

Elections 2022: No time to let up in the fight against fascism / by Jarvis Tyner

The Trump forces have spent billions of corporate dollars to rob the people of their means to fight for their basic rights, including the right to vote. They are stepping up propaganda, gerrymandering, and the disenfranchisement of citizens. They are trying to eliminate any peaceful paths to real economic and social justice.

Through his actions and words, Trump proves every day that he is undeniably a committed fascist. The media is full of private discussions he has had with his top officials where he admits his admiration for Adolf Hitler. Who does that?! And who welcomes Nazis to their rallies, or permits them to make Nazi salutes at their meetings?

Trump has financed and legitimized political violence. He has destroyed the Republican Party by making it an openly fascist party, and has built his despicable movement by promoting vile racism, anti-Semitism, male supremacy, and hatred of LGBTQ people, immigrants, and foreigners. He has financed and promoted a most dangerous gang of right-wing thugs, who tried to steal an election and carry out a coup under his direction.

As we vote, we must remember that voter suppression and red-baiting are designed to demoralize and splinter movements, to turn us against each other and a people’s agenda.

Most importantly, we must remember—and refuse to forget—that these efforts are unbelievably cruel, because they are targeted directly at the people whose very lives are at risk. They are targeted at victims of class exploitation, racial, gender, and sexual brutality. They are targeted at those trying to survive in the ghettos and barrios, the elderly, the children, the incarcerated, and the victims of poverty. They are targeted at many tens of millions in impoverished communities who are denied their right to clean air and water, free medical care, dignified affordable housing, and to a free, high-quality education.

It is a left agenda that supports these rights, making it the only agenda that the people will support. That is why the right and its media are flailing, and, like the old German Nazis and other fascist movements around the world, the far right and their media are using anti-communism to unite the center-right with themselves.

They are calling mainstream progressive initiatives communist, but these broad left policies are really just decent and moral policies.

Unfortunately, some people shrink in the face of being labeled communist or socialist, although the Communist Party is aligned with those fighting for democracy.

Anti-communism is a diversion that is ahistorical and an insult. It confuses the very nature of who we are. What have we been fighting for, for over 100 years? We stand against racism, wars of imperialism, anti-Semitism, male chauvinism, and poverty. We believe in medical care for everyone, free, high-quality education, and the role of government in protecting human rights and providing vital services.

Making the rich richer is an assault on the well-being and survival of working- and middle-class people. That’s not what we are after.

The problem for the Trump forces is that they do not support basic pro-people causes, and so they naturally do not have support from the majority of voters. That is why they try to demonize progressive agendas. That is why they must lie and cheat to win. And that is why, if the democratic and progressive forces are inspired and effective, they can win the majority of races.

Those around Trump must be defeated, and they can be defeated. Step one is to defeat them at the polls.

We have had successes before, and we will have successes again. If we look south to Latin America and the Caribbean, there have been some very important victories against fascist advances of the extreme right. Popular movements, progressive parties, and youth and student groups have worked to restore democracy, despite great odds against them.

The tide is turning.

We hail the historic victory of Lula DaSilva, the heroic leader of the Workers Party of Brazil. Lula had been jailed for over 500 days on trumped-up charges. He was replaced by Bolsonaro, an extreme right-winger who swiftly imposed fascist policies that claimed the lives of thousands. Yet, after years of campaigning for “Lula Livre,” Lula was released from jail by the courts, and despite aggressive media misinformation campaigns, just days ago he secured another election victory. A record number of voters came to the polls, and Lula emerged victorious, despite massive efforts to steal votes by the opposition.

In Bolivia, the people voted out a U.S.-backed coup regime reigniting the Movimiento al Socialismo. In Honduras, the people elected the first woman president, the wife of a former president who had been ousted in a U.S.-backed coup. In Colombia, Gustavo Petro, a former left-wing guerilla fighter, and Francia Márquez—a Black woman, human-rights defender, and environmental activist—were elected president and vice president, respectively.

The tide can turn here in the U.S., too.

While a lot of the early polls reported more people supporting Republican issues over Democratic issues, and therefore a likely win for the GOP in many cases, other factors cast doubt on their reliability. Results from early voters showed Democratic supporters outnumbering the Republicans. Then it was widely reported in the media that most of the early polls were coming from Republican pollsters! Their aim might have been to rev up the right and demoralize the democratic forces.

This battle can be won!

The Communist Party has a big role play now, as it has in the past. We are the party that fought against white supremacist terror during the “Red Summer of 1919,” and against the framing of Sacco and Vanzetti in the 1920s.

We are the party that fought to free the Scottsboro Nine and that fought for justice for Emmett Till.

We are the party that led the organization of millions of industrial workers into the CIO.

We are the party that fought for the defense of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.

We are the party that fought in solidarity with the South African anti-apartheid movement, that fought to free Angela Davis, and that fought to end the Vietnam War.

History proves we have always been, and will always be, on the side of the working class and on the side of democracy.

It is our solemn duty to do all we can to defeat the Republicans at the polls on November 8th and in 2024. Donald Trump and his violent, criminal movement must be defeated, and fully prosecuted for their crimes.

Jarvis Tyner is the former executive vice-chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party’s national board. Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism, and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appeared on the media, campuses, and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality, and the socialist alternative.  

People’s World, November 7, 2022,

Commentary: On the suffering of the masses for capitalist and imperialist gains / by Raina Overskride

Photo credit: Courtesy CPUSA

“Standing up for our values is not without cost”

The last couple of months have brought clarity to many within the masses, when it comes to the oppressive nature of capitalism and the lengths the ruling class will go to achieve its goals regardless of the suffering that is created in its path of destruction.

The rising cost of food, gas, oil, consumer goods and overall scarcity of products on shelves such as baby formula and women’s hygienic products have left many struggling in trying to keep themselves and their families fed or trying not to fall behind on bills and mortgages or rent.

This has led many people to skip meals or resort to buying heavily processed unhealthy foods that do not provide adequate nutrition and will eventually lead to health problems many of which will not be able to be properly addressed due to lack of insurance or access to safe affordable healthcare.

The current Biden administration has been nothing short of incompetent and unapologetic in dealing with this crisis.

The Biden administration has instead focused its priority onto assisting and funding Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, such as Azov Battalion, in various ways such as sending weapons, oil, gas, and money, while countless people suffer here in Maine and across thecountry. Rough estimates, at least as of May 2022, put the cost around $55 Billion Dollars with much more on the way.

Imagine for a moment what $55B could do for the countless people who are houseless or going hungry here in this country. This is a simply astonishing thing to imagine that while the masses here are suffering, the so called “leader of the free world” decides, ‘Yeah those neo-Nazis in Ukraine, let’s help them while the people here suffer.’

That is all just icing on the cake of oppression that many are facing today.
Recently, if we consider the destruction of women’s rights in this country and the absolute timid response by the democrats.

We can see that the democrats have no plan in place to fight against this. Instead they chose to send out emails and text messages asking people to donate money for their campaigns with the promise of protecting Roe v Wade.

This is an absolutely unacceptable response and a rather disgusting one to be honest.

The democrats had DECADES to codify Roe v Wade into law and literally chose not to do it because that was their big carrot on the stick to get you, the voter, into the voting booth. Well, that carrot is gone now, and the democrats have done NOTHING to materially change the conditions of the people. This includes many issues people voted them into office to do such as canceling student debt, Medicare for All, affordable housing, economic relief, climate crisis and so on and so forth.

When you take the war raging in Europe into account, which will never de-escalate as-long-as the United States and its criminal partners keep waging a proxy war against Russia, we are not getting out of this mess anytime or soon.

Some say we can “reform” our way out of this is a rather delusional idea. Let’s examine this fantasy, shall we? We currently have a Supreme Court, with a majority of conservative lifetime appointees. It is a court stacked in the far right’s favor. Some people will say, “expand the courts,” but this will just lead to a never ending back and forth of court appointees pushing their own agenda.

This is a nonsensical path. The other option I hear is: Well, we just gotta “vote harder.” This is also nonsensical and delusional considering current material conditions. Mind you, it’s a very easy thing to observe that all of this is happening under a democratically controlled House, Senate and Presidency, a political situation that has done nothing to help the masses-as-a-whole.

I must also note this is not a call to vote for the right-wing candidates or Republicans, as they are just as bad if not worse than the Democrats in many ways.

Many more issues could be added to this article, such as the rising threat of fascism or the rampant attempted transgender genocide happening across the country, especially in places like Florida and Texas. Also, the horrific threat that Black, indigenous, and peoples of color face here in this country due to all these issues touched on in this article and other subjects not raised for lack of space, like the public executions’ pigs carry out against black and brown bodies.

These are truly arduous times now, and ahead, but personally, from my analysis, at least in the short term there are some things the masses can do to fight this capitalist oppression.

  1. Join a progressive or socialist organization that is grass roots in dealing with the issues covered in this article.
  2. Get in the fight and join CPUSA and help build a better world.
  3. Read and learn communist theory that is out there, and put in the work in your local community, such as attending protests and organizing with those in your community, to put that theory into practice.
  4. Get involved with mutual-aid efforts in your area to help those vulnerable in your communities. If a mutual-aid project is not available in your area, try to start one.
  5. Lastly, for you the voter, you have some political leverage. The capitalists will not tell you about the power you possess. It is a leverage that they fear. The current administration wishes to stay in power and will sell you the world and offer you the platitudes they think you want to hear. But regarding a pressing issue like Abortion Rights, the masses could withhold their votes in November, until Roe v. Wade is codified into law. This sort of action would force the Biden Administration to either (A) make it law, or, (B) lose power, while less than impressive, would still send a message to the Democrats that the masses will not settle for idle talk while the people suffer.

I will admit I do not have the answers. But these are some of the pressing issues we all face. Sure, many will just call for revolution. While in the long term I agree 100%, that is not something we can just press a button to make happen. I feel this current struggle and the many more to come will be nothing more than waves leading to revolution. However, in the short term, the masses need to organize and mobilize not only around single issues but around the general struggle to destroy capitalism and imperialism and replace them with socialism.

I will leave you the voter a quote from Kwame Ture:

“The job of a revolutionary is, of course, to overthrow unjust systems and replace them with just systems because a revolutionary understands this can only be done by the masses of the people. So, the task of the revolutionary is to organize the masses of the people, given the conditions of the Africans around the world who are disorganized, consequently, all my efforts are going to organizing people.”

Raina Overskride is an activist who writes from Lewiston, Maine.

May Day in New York, with labor and the left up front / by Jacob Buckner

Members of the Young Communist League and Communist Party march on May Day in New York. | via CPUSA

NEW YORK—On International Workers Day, hundreds of people and dozens of unions and radical organizations hit the streets of Manhattan to support workers in the fight against capitalist exploitation. This year’s May Day action was the largest in New York in a decade. Members of many organizations marched, carrying red flags and signs in solidarity with the labor movement. As it always has, May Day continues to celebrate the resilience of militant workers’ struggles and to fight for the interests of the working class.

Just as it took coalition of groups to help the Amazon Labor Union win its decisive victory, this year’s May Day represented the unity of working class groups in fighting toward winning workers’ power. Organizations present included Teamsters Local 79, the ALU, New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), RWDSU, the Communist Party USA, Make the Road New York, Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH), Building Trades for Worker Democracy, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Arab American Association of New York, and many more.

ALU’S historic victory set the stage for this resurgence of militant labor activity in New York. One UPS driver and Teamsters Local 804 member named Matt spoke of the impact recent rank-and-file struggles have had for the labor movement:

“There’s been a broad trend of worker organizing and empowerment. Last year, it was the Kellogg and John Deer strikes, people were talking about this wave. Now, the first union at Amazon in the history of the country is happening, and we’re looking toward next summer when our contract is going to expire. This is gonna be the first time in two decades or more we’ve had a new leadership that’s been militant, looking toward the next contract. Now people are getting excited, and knowing that there’s stuff happening elsewhere is part of the momentum that we need to have our own fight and potential strike in 2023—which would be the biggest private employer strike in the history of the country. These things are coming together; the left is building its political power, and this day is a picture of that.”

May Day not only represents the fight of workers within specific industries, but the importance of combating racism and all forms of worker subjugation. Organizations at the Manhattan march made clear their solidarity with immigrant workers in the struggle against capitalist exploitation because under this economic system it is their labor that is especially exploited for super-profits. From the agricultural sector to Amazon, Black and brown immigrant workers have to face the brunt of a system that values profits people.

As a representative from the Arab-American Association of New York pointed out, these workers are not only the most vulnerable under the capitalist system, but it is their labor that makes production in these industries possible to begin with:

“We are now three years into the pandemic, and we still witness the devaluing of workers, especially immigrant workers. This country was founded on the labor of immigrant workers. From farm workers to factory workers, this country was founded on exploitation. This country survives on the labor of immigrants in every industry. We are here in the streets to demand more for immigrant workers, we demand healthcare, shelter, and pathway to citizenship. We want more for the workers that this country exploits every single day and uses for cheap labor.”

Simultaneously, the May Day event showcased the achievements of workers in the fight for better conditions in the essential labor they provide. One worker, Jason Anthony, a lead organizer in the Amazon Labor Union, alluded to this point, stating:

Jacob Buckner / via CPUSA

“We should not only recognize the struggles of the workers’ movement, but also we should acknowledge their achievements. We should be acknowledging and receiving immigrants that come from all over. New York City is a melting pot, that is why it is so diverse and that is why there’s so many types of workers. This is why it’s so important to recognize workers because we move everything, not the billionaires, not the one percent, but the 99% moves the economy.”

Reviving the legacy of radical organizations in the labor movement was another feature of the march. Communists and other radical groups continue to struggle for less exploitative working conditions while also fighting to transform the system of production that oppresses in the first place.

As the German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg emphasized, even after the eight-hour workday was achieved, there would continue to be a collective fight against capitalism until workers won possession of the full potential of their labor. She wrote: “The first of May demanded the introduction of the eight-hour day. But even after this goal was reached, May Day was not given up. As long as the struggle of the workers against the bourgeoisie and the ruling class continues, as long as all demands are not met, May Day will be the yearly expression of these demands.”

Prassana, a co-chair of the Young Communist League, emphasized that throughout the struggle of the ALU, it was individuals from varying allied groups and organizations that made it possible for the ALU to win. As Prassana emphasized, the Communist Party continues to be an essential part of the workers’ struggle toward liberation: “ALU was a popular front, it had people from all ideologies, backgrounds, nationalities, races, all represented. That includes the Communist Party, we were there, we’re gonna be there, we’re going to be doing what we can to help support the workers and build up the labor movement of this country again.”

May Day reminds us of the potential and power of the working class. As C. E. Ruthenberg, the first leader of the Communist Party USA, once wrote: “May Day—the day which inspires fear in the hearts of the capitalists and hope in the workers—the workers the world over—will find the Communist movement this year stronger in the U. S. than at any time in its history…. The road is clear for greater achievements, and in the United States as elsewhere in the world the future belongs to Communism.”

In an issue of the Weekly Worker of a generation before, Eugene V. Debs wrote in a May Day edition of the paper, published on April 27, 1907: “This is the first and only International Labor Day. It belongs to the working class and is dedicated to the revolution.”

This is an abridged version of an article that earlier appeared at

Jacob Buckner writes from New York.

People’s World, May 6, 2022,

The Communist Party’s position on Russia’s war in Ukraine / by the Communist Party USA

There have been questions recently about the CPUSA’s position on the war in Ukraine.  Following are official statements of our leadership.  First is the most recent statement excerpted from Joe Sims’ report to the National Board on March 3.  The second is taken from the NB’s first statement on Feb. 25th, 2022.   Our party does not support overthrowing the government in Russia or any other country.  We stand in solidarity with workers and peoples struggling for peace in Russia, Ukraine and around the world. We insist our priority has to focus on changing politics in the United States.

On March 3 we said:

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine . . .  was wrong and in violation of international law. In the words of the CPUSA’s National Board, ‘War between states is never an acceptable solution and must be rejected in the strongest terms.’

The working class of both countries deserves support and solidarity, as does the growing peace movements there. One million signed a petition for peace in Russia recently. That’s huge!

But look: let’s get our priorities straight: The main task has to be to work to develop a peace movement and to change the Biden administration’s policy. That’s the best way and only way to support the workers of Russia and Ukraine.

The context set by U.S. imperialism’s role over the past months cannot be ignored, including Cold War rhetoric, saber rattling, and what might be called a de facto NATOization of Ukraine. By NATOization is meant the arming of the country beginning with Trump and continued by Biden, and the building of infrastructure with potential military uses along with provocative Western military exercises by U.S. and U.K. armed forces.

In this regard, the building of the peace movement must be considered within the context of fighting the fascist danger. In other words, it’s imperative that a broad movement be built around the key issues today: a cease fire, withdrawal of troops and setting a date for such, ending sanctions, bringing in the UN. These actions could set the stage for additional future steps for peaceful coexistence, arranging regional security, including ending the supply of arms. Here we should be careful not to substitute anti-imperialist positions for what the broader forces in the peace movement may be ready to endorse.”

The National Board’s statement on February 25th stated:

The CPUSA calls on the U.S. people to demand the Biden administration change course immediately. War is never an acceptable solution and must be rejected in the strongest terms. Therefore, we also call on Russia to withdraw troops. All sanctions must be ended and borders secured and respected.

The saber-rattling, sanctions, and selling of “wolf tickets” in recent weeks, as the CPUSA National Committee meeting recently warned, have spilled over into open war. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens catastrophic consequences.

There is no doubt that the long-standing attempt by U.S. imperialism and NATO to bring Ukraine into the military alliance has heightened tensions. In the recent period, this effort, along with providing military supplies combined with Cold War rhetoric, is a backdrop to the crisis. A lasting peace is not possible unless Ukraine remains outside NATO.

Russia’s ruling circles have their own national designs, and the outbreak of war will only make matters worse.

The present crisis has been long in the making. The historical context reaches back to the end of World War II, the Cold War, and the formation of NATO.

However, the issue roiling today’s strife is the fact that the presence of NATO and U.S. bases, military forces, and missile systems put Russia’s western border under continual threat. Over the past decade or so, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Romania, and Estonia have provided a home to these formations, maintaining a constant war footing. This is in complete violation of agreements made at the end of the Cold War that NATO would not expand eastward.

NATO’s expansion now includes not only Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic — in 2004 seven additional countries were added. NATO once numbered 12 members; now it comprises 28. Furthermore, the NATO military alliance is looking at Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine as possible future members.

Another factor to be considered in the current crisis is the fate of the 4 million Russians living in the areas of Luhansk and Donetsk, Ukraine. Agreements reached in 2014 with respect to their autonomy have never been implemented by Ukraine’s government.

These regions opposed the 2014 U.S.-backed coup that overthrew the elected president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovych. For their opposition in 2014 the separatists were attacked and killed by the Azov Battalion, a military detachment of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists – Bandera faction (OUN-B), a Neo-Nazi outfit. Some sources number the casualties at 14,000.

This is the context the Biden administration and the corporate media do not, will not, talk about.

Again, the U.S. must change course. Our country is facing a serious political and social crisis that the fanning of the flames of war can only exacerbate. The praise of the invasion as “wonderful” by former President Trump implies that the U.S. should invade Mexico. “We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen,” was his horrifying statement.

The serious problems of climate change, lack of health care, low-wage jobs, and institutional racism challenging our working class cannot be solved while the U.S. spends billions each year on maintaining a massive military force and weaponry and on NATO. Consider that billions could be found for the military budget, but “Build Back Better” is said to be too costly.

We, the members of the CPUSA, unequivocally join with peace forces around the world in demanding: No expansion of NATO, No deployment of troops, No war on Ukraine, No war on Russia, No war period! The future of the planet depends on it.

Images:  CPUSA.

The Communist Party USA is a working class organization founded in 1919 in Chicago, IL. The Communist Party stands for the interests of the American working class and the American people. It stands for our interests in both the present and the future. Solidarity with workers of other countries is also part of our work. We work in coalition with the labor movement, the peace movement, the student movement, organizations fighting for equality and social justice, the environmental movement, immigrants rights groups and the health care for all campaign. But to win a better life for working families, we believe that we must go further. We believe that the American people can replace capitalism with a system that puts people before profit — socialism. We are rooted in our country’s revolutionary history and its struggles for democracy. We call for “Bill of Rights” socialism, guaranteeing full individual freedoms.

Communist Party USA, March 24, 2022,