CPUSA - 1960-1990s
After the 1940s, with the rise of McCarthyism, Khrushchev’s denouncing of Stalin’s rule, and a growing Cold War mentality in the US, the CPUSA’s fortune began to decline. Slowly the number of members in the United States dropped down from 80,000 to half of that, or less than that. The US Government did not know how explain that membership had dropped to about 30,000, so they finally decided it was a matter of such high classification that they should not talk to the public about it. By 1957, membership was less than 10,000 and it was believed that 1,500 of them were informants for the FBI.
Resolutions adopted at the subsequent 16th National Convention of the Communist Party, USA in February 1957 admitted the party's past mistake in seeking to fight against and liquidate other "socialist-oriented" groups in the United States and promised that henceforth "cooperation" and "united action" would be sought. In August 1961. Communist Party General Secretary Gus Hall reiterated that the party's policy involved "widest united front activity" by "Left and progressive forces" in order to build up "pressures upon the [Kennedy] administration for a change of policy in the direction of peaceful co-existence." The party boss observed that "This requires discussion among all forces of the Left, in which past differences are subordinated to the need to find common ground to meet the onslaught of reaction."
John Gates was a party leader in the 1950’s who caused a lot of damage because of his opposition to the defense of socialist Hungary by the USSR in 1956. This was followed by the Khrushchev revelations. Then came the 1960’s and Dorothy Healy’s defection from the party over Czechoslovakia in 1968. Then came Al Richmond’s anti-communist book, Long View From The Left.
By the end of the 1950s CP membership had dropped to an all-time low and Gus Hall replaced Eugene Dennis as general secretary. Gus Hall was first elected General Secretary of the Party in 1959. Hall was a product of the Khrushchev era. As such, he was anti-Stalin and accepted the slanders of comrade Stalin that were started by Khrushchev. Modern opportunism and class collaboration in the CPUSA developed during the Gus Hall years even in colloquial terms. The position of General Secretary of the party was changed to National Chair. The Central Committee was changed to the National Committee.
Gus Hall selection as general secretary coincides with the opening of the new assault by the Communists to infiltrate and manipulate the youth movement in the United States. Although some chose to treat the Moscow-controlled Communist Party as a group of tired old men, no longer radical enough to appeal to youth, Gus Hall was different. He was a young Communist himself in the thirties. He knews how the discipline of the Moscow Communists outlasts the emotional radicalism of some revolutionaries. He knew how to direct and control the wild excesses of those who claim to be "to the left" of the CPUSA.
In 1961 the FBI wrote that "The Communist Party, USA (CPUSA) presents a greater menace to the internal security of our Nation today than it ever has since it was first founded in this country in 1919. The dangcrousness of the CPUSA cannot be evaluated except in the light of its relationship to the international comunist conspiracy and its ties to the Soviet Union. In this regard it is well to note that the rate of progress aciieved by the international communist offensive is unparalleled in history.
"In the past 43 years, it has advanced steadily and surely, never varying its eventual goal of dominating the world, until today its empire extends fron East Germany to China. This empire is so vast and sprawlinq that when night settles on its wastern frontier, dawn already is breaking on its eastern frontier. This international communist conspiracy controls one fourth of the land area and approximately one third of the inhabitants of the earth. The CPUSA is a vital link in this world-wide conspiracy. It utilizes elaborate security measures to conceal its operations while vigorously promoting front groups as well as other concealed outlets in furtherance of its clandestine pursuits".
The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador [CISPES] was established as a result of the U.S. National Conference in Solidarity with the Salvadoran People held in October, 1980, in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, California. CISPES publicly claimed to have been created to provide international support to the anti-government movement in El Salvador. According to information available to the FBI, CISPES was believed to have been established with assistance of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), the U.S. Peace Council (USPC) and the Salvadoran Communist Party (PCS). The believed involvement of the CPUSA in the formation of CISPES was significant inasmuch as the CPUSA had historically been one of the most loyal pro-Soviet Communist parties in the world and has received substantial financial support from the Soviet Union.
In the 1990’s, the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. created a crisis for Communist parties on an international scale, worse than the Khrushchev revelations of the 1950’s. Nearly half of CPUSA's 3,000 members quit after Gus Hall supports attempted hard-line Communist coup against Gorbachev.
The CPUSA had an internal crisis too, with Party members leaving, many of whom gravitated to the social democratic organization called the Committees of Correspondence. The CPUSA itself began to drift closer to the Democratic Party and the established trade union leadership.
The decision to stop printing the party newspaper altogether was made by the CPUSA National Committee over strong protest from the comrades around the country that depended on the paper to engage workers in their communities. In the modern CPUSA, there are no clubs/cells to speak of, only individual members sending in dues. District meetings are few and far between. Study groups disappeared. Bookstores disappeared. So decisions are made in New York and Chicago by a National Committee that no one knows.
In other words, all of the capitalist stereotypes about communists and their organizations apply to the CPUSA. The CPUSA gave honest communists that speak from the heart a bad name.
In 1992 the Moscow daily Izvestia reported that Hall had been the recipient of $40 million in Soviet assistance between 1971 and 1990.
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