Communist Party USA

Introduction

The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) is a U.S.-based communist political organization founded in 1919 in Chicago, Illinois, to promote the interests of the American working class.* CPUSA formed from the merger of two breakaway groups from the Socialist Party of America—the Communist Labor Party and the Communist Party of America.* CPUSA purports to be a “political party for the working class” and advocates for the implementation of socialism. According to the party’s program, the survival of the United States depends on its transformation to socialism. CPUSA blames the capitalist system, and the U.S. government specifically, for the exploitation of workers, widespread oppression, the destruction of the environment, and imperialism. CPUSA advocates socialism as the only system that can ensure human rights and peace in the United States and around the world.*

U.S. authorities arrested several CPUSA members during the first so-called Red Scare, when federal authorities targeted communists between 1919 and 1921.* Between 1949 and 1957, dozens of CPUSA members were convicted of plotting to overthrow the U.S. government.* Most notable among these convictions were those of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, CPUSA members who were convicted and executed in 1953 for conspiring to pass U.S. nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union.* CPUSA belonged to an international network that advocated communism and defended the Soviet Union, the Communist International or COMINTERN.* In the 1950s, the CIA dubbed CPUSA a “Russian-inspired, Moscow-dominated, anti-American, quasi-military conspiracy against our Government, our ideal, and our freedom.”* Today, CPUSA emphasizes its efforts in promoting civil rights and democracy, including what it calls a “Bill of Rights” socialism that protects civil liberties and adheres to the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.*

CPUSA refers to itself as a Marxist organization, indicating that communism is its end goal. CPUSA’s platform posits that communism will result in “a society without exploitation, without social classes, without war, without constant attacks on our shared environment, and without any coercive apparatus,” while guaranteeing full democratic freedom and the “humane development of society and the individual—for human happiness.”* Nonetheless, CPUSA claims to fully support democracy and the guarantee of personal liberties, including voting rights and full democratic representation. According to CPUSA, capitalism presents the greatest danger to democratic freedom.*

Leadership

CPUSA is led by co-chairs Joe Sims and Rossana Cambron.*

Joe Sims

Rossana Cambron

Base of Operations

New York, New York, USA*

Website

https://www.cpusa.org/

Membership Size and Relevance

CPUSA is headquartered in New York City and has 30 chapters across the United States.* CPUSA claims to have 2,000 to 3,000 members around the country.* As of September 8, 2020, CPUSA had 4,730 subscribers on YouTube and 176 videos.* As of the same date, CPUSA had 31,500 followers on Twitter and 185,820 followers on Facebook.* By July 20, 2022, CPUSA’s YouTube channel had almost doubled to 8,260 subscribers.* CPUSA’s Twitter account had increased to 55,800 followers,* while its Facebook account had decreased to 183,000 followers.*

Recruitment and Propaganda

CPUSA’s propaganda centers around combating two primary ideological enemies: capitalism and the extreme right. According to CPUSA’s platform, the extreme right has influenced the Republican Party and injected Islamophobia, ultra-nationalism, and authoritarianism into the U.S. government. CPUSA accuses the Trump Administration of being authoritarian while the extreme right seeks to use capitalism to extend its control over the entire country. Further, CPUSA alleges the U.S. government uses the threat of terrorism to curtail individual freedoms, including free speech and assembly.* CPUSA obligates all party members to fight against racist ideologies and for full political and social rights for all. CPUSA opposes anti-Semitism and discrimination based on race, religion, nationality, or color.*

CPUSA offers a membership option through its website to individuals over the age of 18 who live in the United States.* The party charges annual dues of $60 per year, or $24 per year for low-income individuals.* CPUSA holds an annual convention for its members* and also supports the online magazine People’s World, though it is published independently.*

CPUSA promotes democracy and human rights as core values. In June 2014, CPUSA adopted a new constitution, which declared the group’s dedication to democratic principles, particularly within its own governance. According to the constitution, CPUSA “is of and for the U.S. working class.”* The constitution also calls on members to vote in all public elections and obligates all members to fight for full social and civil rights for all—particularly immigrants and women—without regard for sexual orientation or gender identity.*

CPUSA propaganda presents capitalism as the greatest danger to democratic freedom.* According to CPUSA, capitalism is responsible for “endless wars” and “institutionalizes racism and women’s oppression” while fueling discrimination against minorities.* The greatest driver of capitalism is the United States. While CPUSA pledges its support to democracy, it accuses the United States of threatening the world peace and even the future existence of humanity through its policies. CPUSA’s solution is to transform the United States into a socialist society.*

Citing its support for human rights, CPUSA has also taken a critical position of Israel and Zionism, labeling Zionism a “virulent form of racism” supported by U.S. and British imperialism.* While CPUSA has condemned the violent extremism of Hamas and Hezbollah, its statements acknowledge Hamas as a legitimate political representative of the Palestinian people and minimize the role Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism play in instigating Israeli military responses. At the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to CPUSA, is Israel’s “systematic denial of Palestinian rights and the unrelenting campaign to destroy the political and civic institutions and economic infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza.”*

Violent Activities

CPUSA is not linked to recent specific acts of violence.

Rhetoric

  • CPUSA statement, May 12, 2021: “The capitalist world stays silent in the face of the many crimes being committed by the Israeli regime, but we must speak up.”*
  • CPUSA Program, April 13, 2020: “There is growing recognition that U.S. policies threaten not only world peace and the environment but the very existence of humanity.”*
  • CPUSA Program, April 13, 2020: “U.S. imperialism is home to the bulk of the dominant transnational corporations. It seeks control over the entire world, including over other imperialist powers. Under extreme right political leadership, U.S. imperialism has immense instruments for winning its aims—ranging from its direct military power to its various means of economic domination and political pressure, from sanctions to bribery to ideological attacks. But even with all of these instruments, U.S. domination is slowly weakening.”*
  • CPUSA Program, April 13, 2020: “The problems facing humankind—of exploitation, oppression, environmental degradation and human survival—can only be solved, ultimately, by the elimination of the exploitative system of capitalism. Our survival depends on a transformation to socialism.”*
  • CPUSA Program, April 13, 2020: “Exploitation of workers for profit is inherent in capitalism and causes or exacerbates all the major social and environmental ills of our times.”*
  • CPUSA Program, April 13, 2020: “The appeal of a communist society is a response to the real human needs of the masses of people. Communism will enable people to set aside worries about health care and education, about losing their livelihood and their dignity. Communism will eliminate the economic insecurity of the masses of working people. Instead, it will offer us the opportunity to reach our full human potential.”*
  • CPUSA Program, April 13, 2020: “U.S. colonialism has forced Puerto Rico’s economy into dependency. For Puerto Ricans to exercise their right to independence they must be able to break with the colonial dependency forced on them by the U.S.; otherwise independence would be a sham. We support the full transfer of all powers to the Puerto Rican nation and monetary compensation with no strings attached to Puerto Rico to make up for the super-exploitation of Puerto Ricans and for colonial oppression.”*
  • CPUSA Program, April 13, 2020: “As a result of U.S. aggression throughout the Middle East, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq, a substantial majority of Arabs, Muslims, and South Asian peoples in the U.S. have become active opponents of the extreme right. The U.S. has close relationships with the most reactionary forces in the region, supports Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, refuses to accept the rights of the Palestinian people to form their own autonomous state, and demonizes Muslims.”*
  • CPUSA Constitution, June 14, 2014: “Capitalism has cast billions of people around the world into poverty. It afflicts humanity with endless wars. It institutionalizes racism and women’s oppression, denies youth the hope of a future, and fuels discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people, religious minorities, immigrants and people with disabilities. Capitalism pits worker against worker in a global race to the bottom. Corporate interests wage a never-ending campaign to roll back people’s hard-won democratic rights. Capitalism’s insatiable drive for profits has poisoned the Earth’s land, sea, and air. Capitalism treats people and nature as disposable commodities in order to transfer the wealth of the planet to a handful of multi-billionaires.”*
  • CPUSA convention discussion, April 20, 2010: “Yet somehow the ideological seepage of racism has slipped under our doors and into our lives in the form of kowtowing to Zionism, the all-sided political-theoretical-ideological and organizational justification -backed by United States and British imperialism – for the historical oppression of the Palestinian people, and the theft of their land.

    “Zionism is more than bourgeois nationalism; it is a virulent form of racism. It was racism early on when – at the end of the 1800s – Theodor Herzl, one of its major ideologues, wrote Die Judenstaat, essentially a fundraising proposal addressed to British colonialist Cecil Rhodes, stating that since the Jewish population of Europe has not, does not, never will get along with non-Jews, then the Jews should be given land on which to create a society of like people. Even then, the political forces around Herzl and others were settling in what was historically called Palestine, and buying Palestinian land from Turks who had generations earlier stolen it from the inhabitants. The history of Zionism has since been an orgy of land-grabbing, largely by military means, resulting in the displacement of original owners – Palestinians.”*

  • CPUSA convention discussion, April 20, 2010: “To reiterate and conclude: Zionism is a form of racism, and racism has no place in our Communist Party.”*
  • CPUSA statement, July 4, 2006: “Apparently waiting for an excuse to try and overthrow the Hamas government, Israels aggressive acts have moved events further from a peaceful settlement.”*
  • CPUSA statement, January 22, 2002: “In the midst of this growing right-wing danger, both the Israeli and the U.S. governments are cynically exploiting the attacks of September 11 to reframe the Palestinian struggle for liberation as nothing more than ‘terrorism’. But no amount of Zionist propaganda can conceal the true history and ideology behind this conflict.”*

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