Communist Workers' Party (United States)

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The Communist Workers' Party (CWP) was a Maoist group in the United States. It had its origin in 1973 as the Asian Study Group (renamed the Workers' Viewpoint Organization in 1976) established by Jerry Tung, a former member of the Progressive Labor Party (PLP)[1] who had grown disenchanted with the group and disagreed with changes taking place in the party line. The party is mainly remembered as the victim of the Greensboro Massacre of 1979.

The CWP followed the policies of Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, and later Pol Pot,[2] The CWP also incorporated aspects of the CPUSA's anti-racist pre-Popular Front program. In particular the CWP emphasized unionization and self-determination for African Americans.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

The CWP enjoyed some success in textile cities of North Carolina. The new party established branches in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Greensboro, West Virginia, Colorado and other locations. Before forming itself into a party in October 1979 (the founding congress was held in the backroom of a discothèque in New York City), the group was known as the Workers Viewpoint Organization. Under its umbrella, it directed groups as the Revolutionary Youth League, the African Liberation Support Committee, and the Trade Union Education League.

1979 Greensboro Massacre[edit]

Confrontations with the Klan were particularly acute in Greensboro, North Carolina, where the Klan attempted to disrupt the work of the CWP and vice versa. In July 1979, the Klan held a rally and viewing of The Birth of a Nation in China Grove, near Charlotte, which was disrupted by CWP members who burned a Confederate flag and taunted members of the KKK. There were also challenges in the press. "The KKK is one of the most treacherous scum elements produced by the dying system of capitalism. "We challenge you," CWP leader Paul Bermanzohn taunted the Klan, "to attend our rally in Greensboro." These apparent provocations provided the KKK a pretext for a coming violent showdown.

On November 3, 1979 members of the KKK, including a police informant, and the American Nazi Party attacked a "Death to the Klan!" rally organized by the CWP.[3] Members of the Klan were armed, as were some members of the CWP. Two members of the CWP and three rally participants were killed by the KKK.[3] These murders became known as the "Greensboro Massacre".[3] In response to the acquittal of the accused killers, the CWP attempted to storm the 1980 Democratic National Convention and succeeded in setting off firecrackers in Madison Square Garden.[4]

Ideology[edit]

From its earliest phase as the Workers' Viewpoint Organization, the CWP had considered itself as Maoist and supported the so-called Gang of Four after Mao's death. Following the line of Mao, it considered the Soviet Union and its bloc as restored capitalist countries. For some time after the arrest of the Gang of Four, the group remained silent about the events in China but later accused China also of having taken the capitalist road.

In 1980, there was a dramatic reversal of this line. In his book The Socialist Road, CWP Chairman Jerry Tung announced that both the Soviet Union and China were socialist, although an unhealthy bureaucracy had taken shape in the governments of both countries.

Demise[edit]

Subsequent to the Greensboro massacre, the group gave up its Leninist structure and moved towards a social democratic formation that would work for peaceful transition to socialism; it dissolved the Communist Workers Party and formed the New Democratic Movement in 1985. The New Democratic Movement lasted only a few years. The most important remnant of the CWP/NDM can be found in the Greensboro Justice Fund which continues to this day and promotes groups struggling for social justice.[1]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Kwong, Peter and Dušanka Miščević. Chinese America: The Untold Story of America's Oldest New Community. New York: New Press. 2005. ISBN 1-56584-962-0. pp. 293-296.
  2. ^ John George and Laird Wilcox, "American Extremists: Militias, Supremacists, Klansman, Communists and Others." Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1986; pg. ???.
  3. ^ a b c "Remembering the 1979 Greensboro Massacre: 25 Years Later Survivors Form Country’s First Truth and Reconciliation Commission". Democracy Now. November 18, 2004. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  4. ^ Klehr, Harvey. "Maoists Move in on Manhattan Dems." Our Town, 2 August 1987.

Publications[edit]

  • Preliminary Draft on the Asian national question in America: Part 1, The Chinese National Question. n.c.: Asian Study Group, 1973.
  • Build Marxist-Leninist Leadership of the Women's Movement: Women and Men Unite Against Sexism, Racism, and Imperialism. New York : Workers Viewpoint Organization, 1975.
  • Eternal Glory to Chairman Mao, Greatest Marxist of the Contemporary Era New York: Workers Viewpoint Organization, 1976.
  • The African Peoples' Struggle Will Surely Triumph!: Build the Communist Leadership of the African Liberation Support Committee!. New York: Workers Viewpoint Organization, 1977.
  • Fight for the Real Emancipation of Women!: Smash the Double Yoke of Capitalism and Domestic Slavery = Luchen por la Verdadera Liberación de Mujeres!: Aplaste el Doble Yugo del Capitalismo y Esclavitud Domestica. New York: Workers Viewpoint Organization, 1977.
  • Communists Should Be the Advanced Elements of the Proletariat. New York: Workers Viewpoint Organization, 1978.
  • Whip Weber now! New York: Workers Viewpoint Organization, 1979.
  • Turn the Country Upside Down to Beat Back the Renewed Wave of Attacks from the Capitalists' tools: KKK, Nazis, Pigs, and FBI. New York: Committee to Avenge the Murder of the Communist Workers Party (WV) 5, 1980.
  • The Current Revolutionary Situation: Our Tasks. Phil Thompson New York: Communist Workers Party, 1980s.
  • Jerry Tung, The Socialist Road: Character of Revolution in the U.S. and Problems of Socialism in the Soviet Union and China. New York: Cesar Cauce Publishers, 1981.
  • The Afro-American National Question. New York: The Party, 1981.
  • Scott Van Valkenburg, Central America: Communist Threat? New York: Communist Workers Party, 1984.

Further reading[edit]

  • Signe Waller, Love And Revolution: A Political Memoir: People’s History Of The Greensboro Massacre, Its Setting And Aftermath. London: Rowman & Littlefield. 2002.

Archives[edit]

External links[edit]