Monday, October 6, 2008

Revolt with a Vote! Communist Candidates are a Must, Says Gus Hall.

Written especially for the Communist Party Discussion blog:

William Z. Foster, former Marxist-Leninist leader of the Communist Party USA and Communist presidential candidate, said that "The Republican party is the party of finance capital, of the great bankers and industrialists of Wall Street....From the Republican party no relief, but only a worsening of existing conditions may be expected." On the other hand, "the Democratic party is no less the party of the big capitalists." It is "the second party of capitalism" which has "a flood of demogogy to delude the masses and to prevent their taking steps against the capitalists by keeping them fettered with the two party capitalist system." (William Z. Foster, Towards Soviet America, 1932, International Publishers)

Nevertheless, Gus Hall, a later leader of the Communist Party USA and Communist presidential candidate, noted that Marxist-Leninists support "the defeat of the most reactionary anti-labor, racist and pro-war candidates." But he makes the point that "class collaboration in the field of politics is a sell out." (Gus Hall, Capitalism on the Skids to Oblivion, 1972, New Outlook Publishers)

Both Foster and Hall fought for a broad coalition against monopoly capitalism and looked forward to working-class political independence from the two parties of capitalism.

(Gus Hall: ’Communist candidates’ are ’a must.’)

Gus Hall said that Communist electoral candidates are a must and ran for president on the Communist Party USA ticket many times. He said, in Labor Up-Front, that Communist electoral candidates "stimulate" movements for political independence. They are "an indispensable element of the people’s anti-monopoly struggle." (Gus Hall, Labor Up-Front, 1979)

"Communist candidates, " Gus Hall said, are "a must." And he noted that "a presidential campaign presents a unique opportunity to speak to millions of our people." Hall continued: "It is an opportunity to influence--and yes, to change--the thought patterns of great numbers. It is an opportunity to present our (Communist) Party, our program and positions to the majority of our people. It is an opportunity to take on the ideological challenge of Big Lie anti-Communism." (Gus Hall, For Peace, Jobs, Equality, 1983, New Outlook Publishers)

Drawing from experience, Gus Hall said that Communist electoral candidates have an opportunity to "struggle against racism, " "to speak to millions about socialism, about nationalization and public takeover" and "expose state monopoly capitalism in every area of life." And "without Communist participation as candidates many issues will never be discussed, debated or even raised, such as: the crisis of capitalism...corporate profits (and) socialism." (Gus Hall, For Peace, Jobs, Equality, 1983, New Outlook Publishers)

But, arguing against Communists who minimize the importance of Communist electoral candidates, Hall boldly states that "abandoning the electoral arena is liquidationism." "Some may argue, " Gus Hall said, "that we can be a factor in the election campaign from the sidelines, without fielding (Communist electoral) candidates. That is not a serious argument. During election campaigns people listen to candidates--their positions, platform, statements, promises, etc." (Gus Hall, For Peace, Jobs, Equality, 1983, New Outlook Publishers)

And Hall exposes the content of the arguments from other Communists against Communist electoral candidates. "For some reason, " he said, "the necessity of running Communist candidates in election campaigns is not self-evident in our Party...In essence, the questions raised are very similar to the ones raised against the concept of a Communist public presence, or the arguments one hears against the Party being an action-oriented organization. They are also very similar to arguments against integrating the Communist essence into our mass work. All the arguments have a familiar liquidationist ring." Gus Hall brings down the liquidationist line when he boldly declares that "to give up the Party’s electoral activity is to retreat before the class enemy’s political pressures and the legal obstacles they place." (Gus Hall, For Peace, Jobs, Equality, 1983, New Outlook Publishers)