Communist Party USA
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It has about 20,000 members today, but has not fielded a presidential candidate since its primary financial backer, the Soviet Union, cut its funding in 1989 for being too hard-line.
The party was founded in 1919, two years after the Russian Bolshevik Revolution, at the order of the Third International (Comintern), a Soviet outfit set up to organize communist politics worldwide. The Bolshevik Revolution had split the Socialist Party in the U.S. into three factions, two of which were members of the Comintern; the Comintern now ordered these parties to unite, and the resulting organization went through a series of names until settling on "Communist Party USA" in 1929.
As a Soviet-funded party, the CPUSA supported a Stalinist line for many years. In 1933, for example, when Ukrainian-Americans took to the streets to protest the Holodomor, the CPUSA sent out thugs to beat them up. It followed the policy of about-faces in 1928 and 1935, when liberals and other non-communist left-wing groups were first anathematized as "social fascists" and then welcomed back into a "popular front" against fascism. When Stalin began the Great Purge and railroaded nearly a million dissenters to the gallows, the party leader compared Trotskyists to cholera bacteria.
As World War II approached, due to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Hitler and Stalin, the party staunchly opposed the war and U.S. entry into it, only turning in favor of the war when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union.
It remained staunchly Stalinist until 1956, when Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev gave the "Secret Speech" denouncing the excesses of Stalinism. This, plus the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, sent the party into crisis; according to the new party line, it had to expel both Stalinists and liberal-minded reformers. It did so.
Even before the 1956 crisis, the party had been declining under steady assaults from Joseph McCarthy and related figures. In the wake of the 1956 crisis, membership crashed over 90% to only about 5,000 people, many of whom were FBI moles. It was now more of a Soviet foreign-ops apparatus than a political party.
Even after McCarthy's reputation was ruined and the attacks slackened off through the 1960s, membership did not fully recover, as the radicals of that generation were drawn more to the New Left and countercultural movements than the Soviet party line.
 The Soviets cut the lifeline
When the CPUSA deviated from the Soviet line by refusing to support Mikhail Gorbachev's programs of glasnost and perestroika, the Soviets, after seventy years of funding the party, stopped that primary source of funding in 1989. This prompted a debate over whether or not the party should continue with its line of Marxism-Leninism; the majority voted to retain it, in consequence of which the social-democratic faction departed.
 The party today
The CPUSA today is still Marxist-Leninist and is still run on old-fashioned centralist lines. It does not field candidates, but instead encourages votes for the Democratic Party as the lesser of two evils.
In accordance with Karl Marx's policy of supporting "every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things," the CPUSA's program expresses solidly opposition to racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and persecution of religious minorities.
- ↑ We thought this was the Communist, not the Capitalist Party...
- ↑ Some would think this weird, as the Democratic Party and Republican Party are not the only parties that field candidates; the CPUSA's reasoning, it must be concluded, is that they are the only parties that ever get very many elected.
- ↑ It is only the religious majorities that are the problem, you see.