On Pre-Party Cadre Organization
The following document was drafted by our organization's Political Committee, and approved by a vote of our Coordinating Council (CC) on July 11, 2023. This document will be circulated and discussed in the period leading up to our next Organizational Congress, at which time delegates will be able to review any critiques and proposed edits, and approve a final version of the document.
We are a pre-party cadre organization. This means that in our theoretical rigor and everyday political practice we strive to "act like a party" by recruiting, educating, and training communist cadre; by organizing and coordinating the social insertion and mass work of these cadre; and by building organizational infrastructure which could prove useful to a future communist party organization. However, we recognize that we are a small organization operating in a period of relatively weak mass organization among workers and oppressed peoples, as well as a weak communist movement in this country and internationally, and there is much work and learning to be done before founding a full-fledged communist party capable of playing a leading role in a socialist revolution in the settler-colonial U.S. empire. CounterPower exists to help lay the groundwork for the ultimate formation of such a party. This work must begin today.
We believe a communist party must be established upon a solid ideological and programmatic foundation, including but not limited to:
- the theoretical framework of dialectical and historical materialism;
- a historical materialist analysis of capitalist-imperialism;
- a vision of the socialist transition to communism that is proletarian, feminist, decolonial, ecological, and democratic, with special emphasis on the struggles to: (a) collectivize ownership and control of the means of production and reproduction; (b) enlist the direct participation of the masses in the governance and administration of all aspects of social life through a federative council system; (c) abolish all forms of exploitation and oppression formed on the basis of class, race, nationality, gender, sexuality, and disability; and (d) resolve the contradictions between intellectual and manual labor, town and country, industry and agriculture, and so on;
- recognition of the strategic centrality of decolonial liberation movements, especially the Black Liberation Movement, and the broader struggle against white supremacy, given the structural role of racial and national oppression in maintaining and reproducing the settler-colonial U.S. empire;
- a revolutionary counterculture that criticizes bourgeois ideas and culture, while prefiguring the alternative intellectual and cultural practices of a communist society;
- a commitment to political pluralism and openness to the construction of a multi-party communist movement, as well as a multi-party socialist democracy, while struggling to achieve the maximum level of unity possible among communist forces;
- a strategy for waging protracted revolutionary struggle against the capitalist state and imperialist world-system, grounded in a concrete analysis of the concrete conditions in the imperial core and on a world scale; and
- a broad program of demands corresponding to the prevailing material conditions within the imperial core, which equip communists with the tools to organize with the masses and intensify the people's struggle in an increasingly revolutionary direction.
- Practically, a communist party must be armed with the capacity to:
- conduct ongoing social investigations and class analyses for the purpose of both mapping the terrain of social struggle and scaffolding organizational infrastructure;
- formulate sectoral programs that establish a strategic orientation for cadre engaged in specific fronts of struggle, such as the labor, tenant, decolonial, feminist, and environmental movements; and
- establish an organic link with the masses, especially their advanced political detachments, through mass organizations and intermediate organizations arising from grassroots social struggles.
- Organizationally, a communist party must have an internal structure and culture which enables:
- a form of democratic centralism that is genuinely participatory, fostering democratic deliberation and debate among party members, as well as between the party and the masses, with the free exchange of ideas and perspectives among comrades, while simultaneously ensuring unified and coordinated action by the party organization once a collective decision has been made, as well as a level of organizational durability sufficient to both withstand state repression and lead an organized offensive against the capitalist state and world imperialism;
- ongoing political education and organizational training among party cadre recruited from the masses; and
- a practice of criticism, self-criticism, and summation which aims to build comrades up into the most effective organizers and frontline fighters of the socialist revolution.
- The process of founding a new communist party should neither be rushed, nor forever delayed. There are some criteria, however, that we recommend as preconditions for the founding of a unified party organization:
- the emergence of one or more of the following: (a) a nationwide pre-party cadre organization or network of organizations, with branches in every major city, and districts in every region of the country; (b) a pre-party cadre organization concentrated in a compact geographic region of key strategic importance, such as the U.S. South, with sufficient organizational infrastructure to enable the party's nationwide expansion in the immediate future; (c) a pre-party cadre organization rooted among the liberation movements of oppressed nationalities, such as the Indigenous, New Afrikan, and Chicanx nations;
- a pre-party cadre organization with a membership numbering in the thousands, with roots in every major front of social struggle, and an organized presence in key strategic sectors and industries;
- a pre-party cadre organization with a social composition reflecting the internal diversity of the multinational working class, with special emphasis on representation of all oppressed nations and nationalities of the U.S. empire at all levels of the organization; and
- consolidation of the pre-party cadre organization (or network of pre-party cadre organizations) around a common ideological platform and program of action.
There are many possible paths that the formation of such a party could take. As the growth and development of pre-party cadre organizations like our own will be uneven at the national level, with multiple organizations developing concentrations in specific cities, regions, and sectors of struggle, the consolidation of multiple organizations could begin with the convening of inter-organizational forums. From these forums, an inter-organizational coordinating network could be established, with the aim of consolidating smaller pre-party organizations into a nationwide party-building network, on the road to a founding congress of a unified party organization.
A real communist party cannot be founded prior to pre-party cadre organizations successfully establishing organic links with the advanced political detachments of the working class and social groups facing special oppression. It is precisely such organic links which make the formation, growth, and further development of a communist party possible. A pre-party cadre organization can only achieve this aim by scaffolding and prefiguring the basic organizational forms and features of a communist party, principally the local branch, which serves as a center of coordination for the organization's political work among the masses at the local level. This mass work is in turn led by clusters of cadre concentrated in common sectors of grassroots social struggle (e.g., the labor movement), who participate in, and may often initiate and lead, mass organizations (e.g., labor unions). When the established mass organizations are under the hegemony of reformists or reactionaries (as they overwhelmingly are in the U.S. empire today), these communist clusters may initiate and lead the formation of intermediate organizations within or adjacent to these mass organizations in order to win their membership base to a revolutionary politics, praxis, and program. Historically, the communist movement in the U.S. empire has achieved some success on this front through the work of rank-and-file caucuses formed inside the official labor unions.
A communist party is a fighting contingent of the international communist movement operating within the territorial borders of a specific nation-state. At our present historical conjuncture, it is of the utmost importance for communists to reestablish international connections, and work towards the founding of an international union of communist parties. As a small pre-party cadre organization, we believe that our meaningful participation in a new international communist organization would first require the achievement of the above objectives, or at least significant progress towards their realization. Only on the basis of such practical experience could we have anything of value to offer the international communist movement, given the overall level of political underdevelopment, disorganization, and weakness which prevails in the ranks of the communist movement in the U.S. empire.