Celebrate the 91st Anniversary of American Communism

Today marks the 91st anniversary of the birth of the first American Communist Party. The Communist Labor Party was formed on August 31, 1919 by John Reed, Benjamin Gitlow and other expelled members from the Socialist Party of America. The very next day the Communist Party of America was formed by more expelled members from the SPA and the former Socialist Party of Michigan. The Communist International (Comintern) encouraged these two infant parties to merge under a banner of unity. In effect, the Communist Party of America was born in May of 1921.

The Communist Party at this time numbered around 12,000 members. It would rise during the 1930s as a monolithic and militant party. American communists took roles in leading and organizing many groups, such as the American League for Peace and Democracy, the National Negro Congress, the American Writers Union and the American Youth Congress. Communists were also major players in the labor unions and by 1945, American communists led eighteen Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) affiliates that represented 1,370,000 workers; one-fourth of the CIO’s total membership. Despite being only being seventeen years old, the CPA brought as many as 66,000 advanced members of the working class into its ranks.

Today is the day to celebrate the achievements of American communism!

Categories: History, Labor, Revolutionary History, U.S. News, United States History, Workers Struggle

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2 replies

  1. The CPUS does have an important and fascinating history.By the mid 1930s they had degenerated. They supported FDR and the DP and essentially blocked or diverted moves to create a mass working class party.They’ve had their share of odd leaders and leading cadre, from Lovestone to Browder.I feel one of the main reasons the US does not have a mass working class organization is because of their later legacy, plus of course McCarthyite repression. Under Sam Webb they are finally taking the mask off. Anyway what is your explanation for the CPUS degeneracy?

    • I apologize on behalf of the entire staff – we just noticed your comment after all this time. A lot of us are activists too, so forgive us if we’re a little absent-minded about responding quickly. In case you’re still interested in our reply, we believe your assessment of the CPUSA above to be overall accurate. The FDR mistake was not automatically revisionism, since at the time the context was pretty severe (the largest conflict in all of human history between the German Reich and the world’s first socialist state). Still, it is something we need to criticize today and avoid without being too ultra-left about it. In the 30’s they were anti-FDR, and in the 40s they were pro simply because of WWII.

      I can’t speak for the Party at large, since I believe there is something coming out on the complete history of the CPUSA in the Revolutionary Spirit, but one of their largest mistakes was allowing huge numbers of petty-bourgeois into the party and basically selling themselves for numbers.

      As we can see today, that policy will have fatal consequences. CPUSA will soon be “People Over Profits” anyhow.

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