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Ron Radosh

The Continuing Appeal of Communism in the West

November 9th, 2011 - 9:04 am

Even Paul Berman, whose comments in The New Republic reveal the brilliant and subtle thinker succumbing to the revolutionary romanticism of his youth, writes the following:

Yes, yes, at Occupy Wall Street the madmen, the madwomen, the Groaners and the neo-Muggletonians will eventually have their day, and the movement will be ruined. Already the Maoists of the Revolutionary Communist Party are at work, together with Ron-Paul-ists, according to another of my informants. Visiting the demonstration on Thursday I noticed that the Workers World Party (which secretly controlled some of the big anti-Iraq War demonstrations, in the name of advancing the cause of North Korea) was already in evidence. The costumed neo-hippies and neo-anarchists will prove to be no match to the fanatics of Leninist discipline. Sooner or later the screw-ball groupuscules will wreck the whole thing. “Creative destruction” is originally Bakunin’s phrase, but the destructiveness of the Revolutionary Communist Party will not be creative. So the movement will stumble and fall, and a lot of young people will feel a little embittered and distraught.

I can excuse Berman for hoping that the message of Wall Street’s failures is the main concern of the occupiers — rather than the foolish remedies they are demanding. Yes, as he correctly writes, “Wall Street has led the country and the world over a cliff.” But OWS is doing very little to pressure for the kind of meaningful political change that will put them in their place. Instead, their actions are the self-destructive kind engaged in by all radical groups; the kind of dangerous remedies that Michnik alluded to in his Prague talk.

Among those supporting OWS are the Communist Party, U.S.A., and other similar groups that hark back to the Old Left. They are all, for good reasons, tying their cart to this new movement. Disciplined and organized, they will undoubtedly gain new recruits, because they have a message and a strategy, and an organizational institution that they pledge will lead to results. Hence they inform their members:

A big challenge for the CPUSA and left, progressive movements is to link these demonstrations with the labor led all-people’s coalition and help deepen understanding that the path to progress must be through electoral and political action including defeating Republican Tea Party reaction in 2012.

Of primary importance is linking it with the burgeoning fight for jobs and especially passage of the American Jobs Act.

We can also play a role in offering more advanced programmatic ideas like nationalizing the banks and socialism.

To have a positive impact, the CPUSA and YCL must be a part of the “Occupy” movement, participating at every level and building greater local support for the actions among labor and progressive forces.

Just as SDS in its earliest days welcomed Communists into its ranks, less they be accused of Red-baiting, the OWS occupiers too see the Communists as allies who have the same goals as they have. In that regard, the OWS crowd is right. There is little difference between what they want and the Communists want. In our country, the resurrection of communism as a creed will take place under a new guise. Today it is OWS; tomorrow it might be something else.

So, in our country as well as in the Czech Republic, the nostalgia for communism has its adherents and supporters.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage created using multiple Shutterstock.com images.)

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