Communist Party USA and the Democratic Socialists of America are claiming surges in interest and membership since the 2016 election and the inauguration of Donald Trump.
To be sure, these claims are according to their self-reporting — for what that’s worth — though these comrades haven’t made such boasts in a long time. We can take it with a grain of salt. But either way, these are strong claims, and they’re being used to generate still further recruits. It’s worthwhile to at least consider what these folks are up to.
Communist Party USA contends that more than 600 people have joined the party in the last two months of 2016, beyond the 5,000 who (we’re told) joined over the past few years. This is according to CPUSA “social media coordinator” Joe Sims in an article posted at the party’s official website.
“Folks want to fight Trump,” explains Sims.
But that’s not the only reason.
Sims says that communist and “progressive” groups are seeing their largest upticks in membership since the collapse of the USSR — the country to which American Communist Party members so long devoted themselves.
“I pledge myself to rally the masses to defend the Soviet Union, the land of victorious socialism,” vowed American communists who joined the party in its heyday — some 100,000 members in the 1930s. “I pledge myself to remain at all times a vigilant and firm defender of the Leninist line of the party, the only line that insures the triumph of Soviet Power in the United States.”
Lincoln Steffens, the popular journalist for The New Republic, famously stated, “I am a patriot for Russia; the Future is there.” Agreeing with Steffens was poet Langston Hughes, who stated: “Put one more ‘S’ in the USA to make it Soviet. The USA when we take control will be the USSA.” The American Communist Party general secretary at the time, William Z. Foster, openly advocated a “Soviet American Republic” as part of a “world Soviet Union.”
That was the 1930s, when Joseph Stalin ran the Soviet Union — a deadly empire, an evil empire that would slaughter tens of millions.
Of course, modern Americans, miseducated as they’ve been in our monolithically leftist universities, have learned none of this. To them, communism, like socialism, is as an ideology that believes in sharing and helping one’s fellow man.
Indeed, Sims believes that the long wretched history of communist affiliation with Soviet rule is no longer an obstacle to new recruits. “Younger people don’t carry that baggage,” he said.
The “baggage” that’s the memory of millions of lives lost under communist rule.
While the 2016 election revealed that many Millennials have a love affair with Bernie Sanders-style socialism, a recent study by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) found that only 37 percent of Millennials have a “very unfavorable” view of communism, notably less than preceding generations that experienced the Cold War firsthand. And a shockingly high number believe that George W. Bush killed more people than did Joe Stalin (yes, seriously).
They blissfully call themselves “democratic socialists,” not even realizing that Lenin, Trotsky, Herbert Marcuse, and countless communists called themselves “democratic socialists.”
That brings us to the Democratic Socialists of America. Like its commie cohorts, the DSA is also claiming a surge in the wake of Donald Trump’s ascendency, as nearly 1,600 new dues-paying online members joined in the six days following the November election — an immediate 18% increase in membership, according to DSA deputy director David Duhalde. The organization reports 8,000-plus active members, of which 2,500 have joined since the beginning of Bernie’s DSA-backed presidential campaign in 2015.
“The DSA is more ready than ever to welcome our new comrades,” writes Duhalde. “In this era of political tension and opportunity, this country needs a socialist vision that mobilizes both grassroots activism and intellectual discourse required to make sustainable economic and social progress.”
According to the DSA’s Ben Dalton, a “Trump bump” has motivated thousands to join “progressive” organizations across the country. CPUSA has placed itself at the center of a loosely affiliated coalition of left-wing organizations calling itself “the resistance” (sometimes with a capital ‘R’). That is, the Trump Resistance.
While disparate in purpose, these organizations are united in opposing the “alt-right,” “fascist,” and “white supremacist” agenda of the Trump administration, with a full-throated emphasis on protecting the supposed jeopardized rights of a long litany of various victim classes, which now prominently includes not just women and African-Americans, but Muslims, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community. (Actually, CPUSA has been using the term “LGBTQIA” community — the more victims, the better.)
“A new kind of right-wing and authoritarian danger has emerged, one that if unchecked threatens basic democracy,” asserts recent CPUSA general secretary John Bachtell. “Tens of thousands will die as a direct result of the cruel and ruthless Trump and GOP congressional policies.”
It’s a rather laughably hollow appeal coming from the head of a political party that for over 70 years carried water for Lenin and Stalin and their mass-murdering minions.
In essence, the resistance’s inaugural event was the parade of perversity known as the “Women’s March” on January 21, which attracted big numbers to the nation’s capital and other major cities. Joining the DSA and CPUSA at the March were kindred spirits such as the National Education Association, the National Organization for Women, AFSCME, Planned Parenthood, the NAACP, the Council on American Islamic Relations, Amnesty International, People for the American Way, Code Pink, and oddities ranging from the classy Pussy Hat Project to the Georgetown University College Democrats.
Like the larger resistance movement, the Women’s March aimed to capture the entirety of the political left. As one old-time CPUSA activist, Joelle Fishman, explained, “the March’s unity principles interconnect women’s rights with human rights with civil rights with union rights with immigrant rights with LGBTQ rights with environmental justice.” (Note the forever-expanding list of “rights” for the left.)
Fishman also emphasized that African American History Month, International Women’s Day, May Day, and the People’s Climate Mobilization — all CPUSA-sponsored or touted events — will continue to seek to unite various sections of The Resistance. Through these events, in large cities and (they hope) rural towns, the movement is organizing nationwide to resist the Trump administration and lay the groundwork for a major victory in the 2018 midterm elections.
The comrades are focusing on “insurgent,” “grassroots-level” tactics and civil disobedience in their fledgling resistance movement. Not surprisingly, many of their anti-Trump demonstrations have turned violent. Communist “agitprop” strategies are core to the resistance movement, as evident in the so-called “Resistance Calendar” of upcoming “progressive” events, which encourages current revolutionaries to “Organize. Resist. Repeat.” It smacks of an old Marxist maxim: “agitate, agitate, agitate.”
This was captured well by aging comrade Angela Davis. The infamous female Marxist revolutionary and honorary co-chair of the Women’s March declared that the January March was merely the beginning: “the next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance: resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music.”
And so it goes. Communists, socialists, and progressives, unite!
They are rallying against the nefarious, snarling image of Donald Trump. They are looking to raise some serious discord in the next four years, and some membership rolls.
It’s apparently an exciting time to be a commie again.
Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College. His forthcoming book is A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century (May 2017). Joshua Delk has been writer for a number of publications, including The Daily Caller.