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Communist Party - Formation

The American Communist Party was formed in 1919, and was a member of the Communist International, or Comintern. Though the American Communist Party was formed out of indigenous socialist groups, it was inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution and dominated by a foreign-born membership.

The Communist Party of America was organized in Chicago in the first days of September, 1919. It was formed from the major portion of the Left Wing of the American Socialist Party. There were present 125 delegates at the constituent congress of the Communist Party, representing more than 50,000 workmen. The new party adopted the tactics and principles of the Communist International as the basis of its program.

The formation of the Communist Party was preceded by a lengthy struggle within the ranks of the old, official, single Socialist Party the struggle between the Left Communist Wing and the opportunists of the Right, which unavoidably had to lead to complete rupture. Indeed, in May, 1919, the executive committee of the Socialist Party excluded more than 40,000 members because of their action in protest against the participation of the party in the congress of the Yellow International at Berne.

The Communist Party during the very first days of its existence noted the growth of reaction and made all necessary preparations for illegal work. On November 7, 1919, the anniversary of the October revolution, the party organized more than 100 meetings in the country under the watchwords of "Hands off Soviet Russia! Down with the Blockade!" The meetings were a great success.

As an answer to them, during the night of November 8 the Government made many raids throughout the country and arrested more than 2,000 active revolutionists, among whom the members of the Communist Party were predominant. At the same time the party was declared to be outside the law. But that did not break up the organization; members immediately and in good time put in motion the apparatus of underground work at the center as well as in local organizations.

The complete break with the old Socialist and Socialist Labor Parties was naturally a condition for the creation of the American Communist Party. The amalgamation of the foreign-speaking national federations with the English-speaking party was insisted upon. Being better trained theoretically and more closely bound by the Russian revolutionary traditions, the members of the national federations may in the future have the guiding influence.

The American Communist Party principally consisted of foreign or so-called national federations and the American Communist Labor Party comprises the English-speaking element. The American Communist Party was principally a foreign party, embracing so-called "national" federations. The American Communist Labor Party chiefly represented American or English-speaking elements. If the first was more developed theoretically and more closely connected with the traditions of the revolutionary struggle of the Russian working class, it was, on the other hand, more isolated from the mass movement and mass organizations of the American workers who were gradually entering the broad path of the struggle between the classes.

The second party, which had not passed through a similar revolutionary school, had received less training in the subtleties of the Marxist theory and was in need of a certain intellectual guidance, nevertheless had the advantage that it may much more easily influence American labor which was expected to play the most important part in the coming decisive battles of the class war.

Thus both parties naturally supplemented each other, and only by their unification was it possible to create in America an efficient Communist Party, which must take the lead in the mass movement and in the oncoming communist revolution. The party accepted the name the United States Communist Party of America in January 1920.

On June 12, 1920, "The Communist" appeared as the official organ of the United Communist Party of America. This issue is a special convention number and contains detailed reports of the proceedings which resulted in the uniting of a majority of the members of the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party. To quote from the report given in this paper "The program of the Party declares that the final struggle between the workers and the capitalists, between exploited and exploiter, will take the form of civil war, and that it is the function of the United Communist Party systematically to familiarize the working class with the necessity of armed insurrection as the only means through which the capitalist government and the capitalist system can be overthrown."

In the 1920s, different Soviet agencies subsidized different American Communist activities, and sometimes the funds, sent to the United States by surreptitious means, were delivered to the wrong recipient. The American Communist party attempted to reconcile who got which subsidies and which transfers were needed to ensure that the various activities received what Moscow intended.

The Socialist Workers Party was formed in 1928 as the Communist League of America, founded by members of the Communist Party USA who were expelled for supporting Russian Communist leader Leon Trotsky against Joseph Stalin. In the 1940s, this organization split nearly in half, with a new entity created, the Workers Party.

Right opportunism always existed in the party. A firm supporter of Joseph Stalin, Foster split with James P. Cannon in 1928 and supported his former ally's expulsion for Trotskyism. Foster became General Secretary of the party in 1929 with the support of the Comintern, deposing Jay Lovestone, who was sympathetic to Bukharin and whose policies of American exceptionalism were anathema to Stalin's new Third Period line. The opportunist Jay Lovestone was expelled. The Lovestonite's strategy was to wait patiently for Bukharin to return to power in Moscow, in the expectation that Bukharin would restore his own comrades to their rightful places at the head of Communist parties around the world. Lovestonites coined the phrase "American exceptionalism" - based on a phrase of Bukharin. There was always something fanatical about Jay Lovestone. In his eyes, the hour was always late and the time for desperate measures was always at hand. When Bukharin was shot in 1938. Lovestone and his comrades gave up on Communism, and devoted themselves to fighting the Soviet Union and Communists everywhere they could. After World War II, Lovestone supplied European unions with enough money from the American Federation of Labor to break away from the Communist unions and organize labor federations of their own. Later Lovston's network was paid on the sly by the CIA's director of counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton.

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Page last modified: 01-11-2017 19:29:10 ZULU