Rhode Island Chapter of the Communist Party of the United States
“Our goal is political unity in the face of the growing threat to our communities and state, and we invite all left-aligned individuals and groups to join our future reading clubs, consider party membership, and become a comrade. We are Communists and we are proud to advocate for an equal, green, and empathetic world devoid of violent imperialism, bigotry, and the quest for personal profit.”
In his statement to the court, after being convicted of violating the sedition act in 1918, E.V. Debs said:
“I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.”
In that quote, Debs articulated the heart of the Communist Party of the United States’ project. We, members of the Rhode Island chapter of the CPUSA, a party with over five thousand members nationally, endeavor to foster a working-class coalition capable of subjecting the existing neo-liberal capitalist order of austerity budgets, systemic racism, climate destruction, homophobia, and class antagonism to rigorous critique. We welcome partnership with our state’s existing leftist organizations and parties to create the basis for state and national revolution.
To many taught in Cold War academies and state-funded public schools in Rhode Island, the name “Communist Party” carries connotations of historical state violence and failure.
In response, we maintain that while capitalism has had over three hundred years to trial-and-error at the expense of countless human lives and suffering, existing socialism has had only a fraction of that time. If we consider the countless bodies rendered lifeless from American Imperialism at home and abroad, any atrocities committed by Communist Parties in the past pale in comparison. From chattel slavery to the extermination and internment of indigenous North Americans, to countless wars waged in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South/Central America, the body count of American Imperialism, reaching as high as 14 million people per year, exceeds that of any historical or existing world order. The continuance of these wars through proxy and military aid are a manifestation of capitalism’s utter reliance on Imperialism through financial capital. We maintain that a system that relies on exporting and strengthening its military industrial complex at the expense of its people is a failed system.
Communism is derived from the economic and political theory of Karl Marx, expanded upon by a host of theorists around the world. Simply put, the system entails the abolition of class society by the workers and a seizure of the means of production (not to be confused with personal property). To get there, a political revolution must occur to overthrow the existing system of capitalist wage labor, which will liberate the impoverished classes and allow them to begin constructing an equitable society. This system calls for the abolition of all classes, and over time creates the conditions for the withering away of the state apparatus. Far from a pipe dream, this is a very real goal that we’ve seen occur the world over, and it is possible here.
Given U.S. media’s repeated attacks on socialistic states, we understand popular apprehension. However, those taught of Cuba and the poverty of other existing socialist states should consider the long-term effects of U.S. Embargoes – a form of warfare that chokes economic systems and prohibits the full growth of socialism in practice. For China, we urge readers to interrogate the biased reporters that publish hit pieces in major media outlets that serve as a “Fourth Branch” of the United States government, fanning the flames of a new Cold War in the interest of the U.S. stock market. Due to American Imperialism, the world has not experienced a fully unfettered socialist polity capable of trading and engaging freely on the world stage. Instead, the United States prefers to subject the global working class to abject poverty through its cold economic imperialism under the guise of ideological war. This system has consistently put profit before people.
We also hear the concerns of community members whose families may have fled socialist states. Communism is a world system that implies not just a revolution to overturn political power, but a concomitant social and cultural revolution that requires a fundamental change in our everyday interactions and social biases. While acknowledging that every circumstance is different, we maintain that structural revolution displaces people unwilling to change or forfeit their social or economic stature. “Victims” of socialist revolution are invariably those who, when confronted with this change, refused to participate, and are thus excluded from the emerging community. The communal aspect of Communism is literally embedded in the name.
Rhode Island’s culpability in this imperialistic death machine is manifest in the soldiers sent to war, the corrupt political establishment, and the austerity budgets that allocate more funds to militarized law enforcement than to public education, infrastructure, combating climate catastrophe, and community support on behalf of the working class. Consider, for instance, the financial contributions taken by our senators Jack Reed and David Cicilline from pro-Israeli financiers and Lockheed Martin. Note also the fact that, in petitioning to overturn LEOBoR, advocates are asked to send petitions to two former state police officers – Stephen R. Archambault and Cynthia A. Coyne. Examine the anti-trans legislation proposed by Patricia Morgan to scapegoat structural problems in state education, and Blake Filippi’s arrogant advocacy for “individualism” amidst widespread impoverishment and systemic racism.
The housing crisis, opioid epidemic, environmental pollution, and the rise of neo-nazism in our state are all byproducts of a fundamental contradiction in the neo-liberal path of social and fiscal austerity. The fascism which culminated in a planned attack on the Red Ink Community Library recently, is the inevitable result of a political thesis that advocates for the supremacy of the individual. It is a natural outgrowth of capitalism that promotes the “American dream” at the expense of community care, human empathy, and social equality. American individualism and fascism are two sides of the same ideological coin.
The famous engraving at the New England Holocaust Memorial that begins “First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out” rings true now more than ever. By publicly promoting ourselves as Communists, we are aware that we are placing ourselves squarely in the public view. This is an ideological battle we are equipped to tackle with solidarity and community support, but we need strength in numbers. While we understand why many may want to avoid the term “Communist” in their group or party name, we argue that there is no better moment than now to be clear about who we are and what our goals are. Any other appellation is a form of political opportunism that ignores the theoretical diversity that falls under the umbrella of Communism.
We believe that a thorough understanding of history is the key to unlocking the contradictions inherent in this system on a global, national, state, and local scale. We are committed to rigorous intellectual development that ties the theoretical basis of Marxist political economy into the disparate forms of revolutionary praxis in our state. Mutual aid, outreach, and community initiatives are all important elements necessary for the change that we fundamentally believe in, and we aim to contextualize those initiatives within a comprehensive worldview that is historically, economically, socially, and culturally grounded. As V.I. Lenin once wrote, “the absence of theory deprives a revolutionary trend of the right to existence and inevitably condemns it, sooner or later, to political bankruptcy.” Our goal is longevity with the help of theory, a sharpened revolutionary vanguard prepared for the present and future ideological and social struggles.
In the fast-paced age of social media and spectacle, time, attention, and ability are often cited as barriers to fully digesting revolutionary theory. Our immediate task in the State of Rhode Island is political education through a series of accessible guided readings and lectures, available in a myriad of mediums to meet all learners’ needs. We welcome participation from anyone and we are committed to mutualist education, as we believe strongly in working with those eager to learn no matter what their preferred method may be.
We join many groups in the Ocean State on the frontline of the war against capitalism, including the DSA, PSL, and their affinity groups. Our goal is political unity in the face of the growing threat to our communities and state, and we invite all left-aligned individuals and groups to join our future reading clubs, consider party membership, and become a comrade. We are Communists and we are proud to advocate for an equal, green, and empathetic world devoid of violent imperialism, bigotry, and the quest for personal profit.
Please follow us on Twitter @RICPUSA to join the fight and follow along. Reach out to become a member.