PCUSA: Communist Party or Soviet Nostalgia Convent?

By W.R. Hothersall and Francis Acadian


Ever since the “First Congress” of the Party of Communists USA (PCUSA) held in 2016, with the delegates being an eclectic mix of Communist Party USA (CPUSA) rejects, Hoxhaists, and liberals, to the “party” that stands before us now in 2023, a large amount of internal political, ideological, and organizational strife has repeatedly stricken this paltry organization. Since the start of the group’s project to “restore” and “rebuild” the CPUSA in 2014 to now, splits, and a heavy degree of turnover (not a single founding member of the group except their then and now General Secretary, Angelo D’Angelo, is still in this “party”) have constantly racked this organization. What is the basis for all of these and like troubles?

The PCUSA claims, on paper and rhetorically, to be a Bolshevik communist party. Their organizational framework, however, completely contradicts this claim and can explain the lion’s share of this group’s troubles. Many other so-called “Communist” parties as well fall foul of the same errors that this group commits, though we use them as our premiere example because their egregious errors encapsulate much of what is wrong with the current American Communist movement. The study of such profound failures serves as a serious learning opportunity.

Our analysis will show that the this group is, in fact, more accurately defined as a Menshevik-style online social club that is far more organizationally similar to a secluded religious convent than to a Bolshevik party.[1]

Cell Organization & Membership

The communist party is the most advanced, organized, section of the working class. It is based on the principle of cells, in workplaces or one’s immediate local area, electing representatives to go to the next highest level of representation.

At its heart, the question of party organization is a political question. Former Italian Communist leader Antonio Gramsci explains this eloquently in his The Organizational Basis of the Party:

The fundamental nucleus of Leninism, where practical action is concerned, is the dictatorship of the proletariat and all the tactical and organizational problems of Leninism are linked to the question of how best to prepare and organize for the proletarian dictatorship…

The question of cells… is first and foremost a political question [emphasis — A.G.]. The question of cells is the question of how to lead the masses or, in other words, how to pave the way for the proletarian dictatorship [our emphasis]. The cell model is the best technical organization solution available to the fundamental problem of our age…

The fundamental question is that of how to lead the masses…

[L]et no-one say that the Leninist criteria for Party organization are peculiar to the Russian situation and that it is a purely mechanical approach to try to apply them to Western Europe. To oppose the organization of the Party in cells is simply to reveal oneself to be still attached to the old social-democratic thinking. It means, when it comes down to, being on the right — that is, in a position where one does not wish to combat social democracy.[2]

A communist party is looking to “first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie,” and ultimately the entire global imperialist system.[3] In this pursuit, the party must necessarily build up the forces capable of governing the future society and defending the working class and all oppressed peoples against the inevitable future assaults led by the capitalist class. Communists seek to organize, prepare for, and govern the new, socialist society: to “pave the way for the proletarian dictatorship.” It is only on the basis of cell organization that a party can ensure its deepest possible ties with the working class and particularly those closest to the means of production: the industrial proletariat.

The Bolshevik Revolution itself is a vindication of the cell organizational method as a successful strategy. Party members that were organized on the basis of their workplace were able to, under the ideological guidance and with the assistance of the Party’s centralized leadership, assume leadership within the grassroots working-class organizations formed organically by Russian proletarians: Soviets (“councils” in English).

This organizational structure allowed the Bolsheviks to be successful in gaining leadership within the Soviets because they had steadily demonstrated their commitment to, and support of, the workers’ struggle through the activity conducted within their workplace cells. This allowed Party members, leading up to and throughout the struggle for revolution, to gain experience in being able to lead and govern the new society. It gave them experience in leading mass struggles and carrying out daily work on behalf of the workers and oppressed peoples. This Communist work continued after the success of the Bolshevik Revolution, only with these Party members now carrying out their duties under the protection of a socialist state, as opposed to a hostile capitalist state doing all that it can to protect its class rule.

Lenin outlined the significance and practical application of organizing on the basis of cells in 1920 in his Theses on the Fundamental Tasks of the Second Congress of the Communist International:

The dictatorship of the proletariat means that all toiling and exploited people, who have been disunited, deceived, intimidated, oppressed, downtrodden and crushed by the capitalist class, come under the full leadership of the only class trained for that leadership by the whole history of capitalism. That is why the following is one of the methods whereby preparations for the dictatorship of the proletariat should be started everywhere and immediately:

In all organizations, unions and associations without exception, and first and foremost in proletarian organizations, but also in those of the non-proletarian toiling and exploited masses (political, trade union, military, co-operative, educational, sports, etc., etc.), groups or cells of Communists should be formed — preferably open groups, but underground groups as well, the latter being essential whenever there is reason to expect their suppression, or the arrest or banishment of their members on the part of the bourgeoisie; these cells, which are to be in close touch with one another and with the Party center, should, by pooling their experience, carrying on work of agitation, propaganda and organization, adapting themselves to absolutely every sphere of public life and to every variety and category of the toiling masses, systematically educate themselves, the Party, the class, and the masses by means of such diversified work [all emphasis ours].[4]

As Gramsci has already mentioned, the question of cell organization is not one of mechanically copying and pasting a set of rules from any given communist party’s Congress. Rather, it is a question of what method of organization most adequately prepares the working class and its allies to “smash the ready-made state machinery” of the capitalists and to build up and strengthen those instruments of working-class power that will maintain and solidify the dictatorship of the proletariat before, during, and after the socialist revolution.[5] It is a question of how best to organize for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is a question of ensuring that all possible measures will be taken to ensure that control of the new proletarian state will remain out of the hands of the subjugated, expropriated, and ever-liquidated capitalist class, and that our working-class forces are sufficiently organized to stave off the inevitable attempts at bourgeois counter-revolution. It is one of the most core, foundational questions, that if not addressed and implemented in a Bolshevik way will guarantee the worst kinds of revisionist organization and ideology that cannot be washed away by empty phrase-mongering and “revolutionary” sloganeering. Failure to implement a Bolshevik method of organization for a communist party guarantees its demise — no house can be built where there is no foundation!

Let us start by analyzing the standards to which applicants and members of the PCUSA are held. For context, the organizational standards adopted by the Bolsheviks at the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) assert that only those who 1. accept and agree with the Party’s program, 2. are actively part of the party’s body politic (belong to one of its organizations), and 3. pay dues to financially support the party, can be considered members of the communist party.[6]

In the PCUSA, however, membership and association with the party are not defined by these basic Leninist principles. This group has 4 (!) levels of “membership,” divided into “non-cadre” and “cadre” statuses. These 4 divisions are as follows:

  1. Supporter Members
    1. Supporters are people who contribute financially to the party but make no meaningful attempt to apply or join through the application or integration process. Their contributions, and when appropriate, contact information shall be kept on file for outreach, recruitment or offers of subscriptions to party publications or media.
  2. Associate Members
    1. These are members who pay dues at the associate membership level, are non-voting observers of mass movements, PSMLS and public webinars.
  3. Candidate Members
    1. These are members who have made a formal petition to the party to begin the Candidate Process. Once accepted, these comrades undergo at least 12 months (exceptions can be made) of active participation and training before they are considered for Cadre status. They must be active within a mass organization, a Party commission, and their respective club. Candidates are responsible for keeping track of their own activities, concentrating on leadership experiences as a candidate, and to approach their Club Chair with their cadre application a month prior to their anniversary date.
  4. Cadre Members
    1. Cadre members are the core of the party and its leadership. They can hold, by appointment, or through any election, for [sic] leadership positions and have made a commitment (pledge) to the party to serve it in their respective positions. Cadre members are expected to be active members of one Party Commission and one Mass Organization in addition to any other duties they may accept from leadership.[7]

This stratification of membership is explicitly anti-Leninist. It allows people to coast on the edges of the party without fully agreeing to the party’s program, without being part of one of its organizations, and without paying dues.

This style of party membership is explicitly Menshevik, being eerily reminiscent, if not an outright forgery, of Menshevik stalwart Julius Martov’s conception of how a communist party should be organized:

Martov’s formulation, while admitting that acceptance of the program and financial support of the Party were indispensable conditions of Party membership, did not, however, make it a condition that a Party member should belong to one of the Party organizations, maintaining that a Party member need not necessarily belong to a Party organization.

Lenin regarded the Party as an organized detachment, whose members cannot just enroll themselves in the Party, but must be admitted into the Party by one of its organizations, and hence must submit to Party discipline. Martov, on the other hand, regarded the Party as something organizationally amorphous, whose members enroll themselves in the Party and are therefore not obliged to submit to Party discipline, inasmuch as they do not belong to a Party organization.

Thus, unlike Lenin’s formulation, Martov’s formulation would throw the door of the Party wide open to unstable non-proletarian elements. On the eve of the bourgeois-democratic revolution [that occurred in Russia in March of 1917] there were people among the bourgeois intelligentsia who for a while sympathized with the revolution. From time to time they might even render some small service to the Party. But such people would not join an organization, submit to Party discipline, carry out Party tasks and run the accompanying risks. Yet Martov and the other Mensheviks proposed to regard such people as Party members, and to accord them the right and opportunity to influence Party affairs. They even proposed to grant any striker the right to “enroll” [themselves] in the Party, although non-Socialists, Anarchists and Socialist-Revolutionaries also took part in strikes.

And so it was that instead of a monolithic and militant party with a clearly defined organization, for which Lenin and the Leninists fought at the congress, the Martovites wanted a heterogeneous and loose, amorphous party, which could not be a militant party with firm discipline because of its heterogeneous character, if for no other reason [our emphasis].[8]

A “candidate” phase is the only type of membership that this group has that finds representation in The Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties, on the Methods and Content of their Work (1921).[9] These were the organizational methods adopted by the international Communist movement (then organized into the Communist International, the Comintern) following the defeat of the German Revolution in 1919 and at the beginning of an ebb in the global revolutionary tide. While accounting for the intensely different international situation, these guidelines still help in providing a general starting template for communist party organizational methods and guidelines.

Unsurprisingly, this group manages to butcher the implementation of a “candidacy” phase beyond recognition. The existence of a candidacy phase is, theoretically, mostly a precautionary (or training) measure taken to prevent the penetration of dubious or unreliable elements into the party. However, the existence of such a delineation in membership is only a “possibility” given whatever certain conditions the party finds itself in a given period of time:

All precautionary measures must be taken to prevent the penetration of dubious or unreliable elements into the party. The methods to be used will depend very largely on whether the party is legal or illegal, persecuted or tolerated, growing rapidly or stagnating. One method which has proved successful here and there under certain circumstances is the system of candidacy. Under this system, an applicant for membership in the party is admitted first as a candidate on the recommendation of one or two party comrades, and whether [they] can be admitted as a member is dependent upon [them] proving [themself] in the party work assigned to [them] [our emphasis].[10]

The candidacy method is not some golden rule, but rather, it is a measure devised in response to the various challenges the party faces. This group is not an illegal party, they engage in no illegal activities, they are not targeted by the government, and they are consistently stagnating, even depreciating, in membership. Despite all of this the group clings to this arbitrary distinction and imposes a 12-month (!) waiting time for new party candidates to become full members.

It begs the question: Why impose a yearlong candidacy phase, especially when it is well known that “exceptions can be made” (PCUSA’s words) for “loyal comrades” (read: D’Angelo sycophants)?

This group wants to make sure that only the blindest of sycophants get the opportunity to rise to within earshot of their careerist family circle clique. What objectively manifests is a profound, lackluster stagnation and underdevelopment of party forces, with candidates waiting around, coasting on the sidelines like waterboys, and doing little to no party “work” (save for abysmally-run online teleconferences), until they have waited around long enough to be granted “cadre” status. Then, and only then, do these “members” become “active” in the “leadership” of the group. This system that they have implemented functions as a filter to ensure that only the most servile, revisionist, and conniving “members” gain access to the party’s body politic.

While a candidacy phase could be meaningful and useful given certain conditions, and while we are by no means wholly rejecting its potential utility, in the PCUSA the candidacy phase is not even used for the purposes laid down by J. Peters in his The Communist Party: A Manual on Organization, like they claim, but simply to keep elements hostile to the D’Angelo clique far and away.[11]

What this means is that the majority of would-be “party members” join, and seeing as there is little to nothing for them to do, leave. They have little to do because there are no tangible directions to follow, or guidance provided as to organizing in their workplace or immediate local area. Cell work is essential for not only sustaining current membership but also for facilitating the further growth of membership, as the essence of this work involves tying the lifeblood of the Party to the working class and oppressed masses. There cannot be a Bolshevik party without workplace cells.

The innocent “members” who want to contribute to the worker’s movement in any meaningful way are swindled by these hucksters into believing that endless teleconferences are “how a Bolshevik party operates,” with many well-intentioned comrades ultimately leaving the American Communist movement entirely due to their disillusionment with this group. Those who stay are those who, for one rhyme or reason (usually due to the social engineering of the D’Angelo clique and a profound ignorance of Marxism-Leninism due to the relatively young age of most members) have convinced themselves of the infallibility of the group’s “leadership.”

Why is it the case that new members end up “doing nothing” and then leaving? It is because they do not organize on the basis of cells in workplaces like a communist party ought to do, but they organize themselves on the basis of geography. Rather than workplace cells, they organize grandiose “Clubs” (usually named after notable revisionist American Communists e.g., Earl Browder and Gus Hall) that often include multiple U.S. states (?!). They proudly boast of this on their website.

Points 43 and 44 of The Guidelines outline the uselessness and futility this Menshevik style of organization:

  1. The extension and consolidation of the party must not proceed according to a formal scheme of geographic divisions but according to the real economic, political and transport/communications structure of the given areas of the country. Stress is to be placed primarily on the main cities and on the major centers of the industrial proletariat.

    In beginning to build a new party there is often a tendency to immediately extend the network of party organizations over the entire country. Limited as the available forces are, they are thereby scattered to the four winds. This weakens the ability of the party to recruit and grow. After a few years the party may often in fact have built up an extensive system of offices, but it may not have succeeded in gaining a firm foothold in even the most important industrial cities of the country.

  2. To attain the greatest possible centralization of party work it makes no sense to chop up the party leadership into a schematic hierarchy with many levels, each completely subordinate to the next. Optimally, from every major city which constitutes an economic, political or transport/communications center, a network of organizational threads should extend throughout the greater metropolitan area and the economic or political district belonging to it. The party committee which directs the entire organizational work of the district from the major city (the city being the head, as it were, of this party organism), and which constitutes the political leadership of the district, must establish the closest ties with the masses of party members working in the main urban area.

The full-time organizers of such a district, who are to be elected by the district conference or the district party congress and approved by the party central committee, must be required to participate regularly in the party life of the district’s main city. The district party committee should always be reinforced by party workers drawn from the members in the main urban area, so that close and vital contact really exists between the party committee which runs the district politically, and the large membership of the district’s urban center. As organizational forms develop further, the district’s leading party committee should optimally also constitute the political leadership of the main urban center in the district. In this way, the leading party committees of the district organizations, together with the central committee, will serve as the bodies which actually lead in the overall party organization.

The area of a party district is of course not limited only by the geographical extent of the area. The key point is that the party district committee must be able to lead all local organizations in the district as a unit. When this is no longer possible, the district must be divided and a new district party committee founded.

In larger countries, of course, the party needs certain intermediate bodies to serve as connecting links between the central leadership and the various district leaderships (provincial leaderships, regions and the like) as well as between a given district leadership and the various local bodies (subdistrict or county leaderships). Under certain circumstances it may become useful for one or another of these intermediate bodies, for example that of a major city with a strong membership, to be given a leadership role. However, as a general rule this should be avoided as decentralization [all emphasis ours].[12]

We urge our readers to brace themselves before observing the monstrous “division” of this group:

This group (completely arbitrarily) divides itself into four “Districts,” with each “district” being divided into “Cells,” (which they commonly refer to as “Clubs”). This is the main organizational unit of their group, and there are no workplace cells. Each of these “Districts” is run by a “District Organizer,” who is appointed by the group’s “Politburo” (usually only by its primary “leader” Angelo D’Angelo) and is not elected by the clubs within each district — the elective principle being a core tenet of another Bolshevik principle that this group gleefully violates and distorts: democratic centralism.[13] [14] Our comrades in the Communist Worker’s Platform (CWP) have provided a solid analysis of how democratic centralism “worked” in this group in their August 27th, 2022 article “Democratic Centralism and the PCUSA.”[15]

The composition of the “Clubs” within these geographic divisions is also, likewise, completely arbitrary, and outright ridiculous. The so-called “Benjamin Davis-Earl Browder-Lorenzo Torrez Cell” comprises 12 (!!!) U.S. states: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio (over 975,000 square miles/over 25% of the entire land mass of the U.S.).[16] This “Cell” hilariously does not even line up with their “District” framework, with New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada supposedly under the jurisdiction of the “Pacific District.” Here is a representation of how this 12-state monstrosity of a “cell” would look on a map (we again urge our readers to brace themselves):

How on earth “Cell” members between these 12 states are somehow going to be able to organize, coordinate, and execute their activities is beyond any sane, rational individual. This “Route 66” club would necessitate “members” coordinating road trips to meet for basic work. How are “members” in Cleveland supposed to carry on consistent, practical activity with “members” in Chicago and Indianapolis, let alone Phoenix and Reno?! This necessarily means that this group’s Club “work” must be delegated to online teleconferences, and little to no work (almost exclusively no work) is done within workplaces or among the masses, as there is no conceivable way to organize these things in such a geographic “division.”

Rather than teleconferences and mass communications being a tool that the party uses, this group bases its entire organization on teleconferencing. This, once again, forces would-be “members” to leave. They join, and seeing as there is no way they could possibly coordinate or engage in public agitation amongst the working people, because it is absolutely asinine to try and make a 12-state conglomerate function the same as a workplace cell, slowly but surely fall away, and ultimately leave the group, if not the American Communist movement, altogether.

This 12-state abomination is by no means an exception within their organizational structure either. Most all of this group’s “cells,” are all made up of conglomerates of states. Another heinous example is the “John Reed Cell” that throws Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii together. Hawaii, a state that is over 2,600 miles away (!!!) from Oregon, is somehow supposed to coordinate the activities of their membership how exactly? Somehow, Oregon-Hawaii club members have to travel further than those members from traveling Cleveland to Reno (or vice versa), which is only a brisk 2,300+ mile trip in comparison.

Only three exceptions to this state-conglomerate method of geographic “division” exist, and are the state “Cells” of New York, New Jersey, and California. Even these three exceptions only serve to supplement the heretofore-mentioned absurdity of their organizational structure. Dividing the “party” up via arbitrary state boundaries, rather than where working people actually live and work, and where the group has influence among the working class and its allies, leads to a scattering of “membership” who desperately try to coordinate the Sisyphean task of organizing on the basis of conglomerates of entire U.S. states as if they somehow constituted “communist cells.”

This group’s bright minds, despite talking themselves blue in the face about how rigidly they supposedly adhere to The Communist Party: A Manual on Organization by J. Peters, are simply ignorant of how an actual communist party is supposed to be organized and they are muddling along as best as they can to try and cohere some form of “party organization” together.[17] This band of careerist individualists does not care one iota for the large body of Marxist-Leninist theory put together that explicitly condemns and elucidates the folly that is the geographic division of Party membership.

If the group had indeed theorized some “new” organizational method for a Communist Party, then we and the public are ignorant of it as nothing has been written about it in their central organ. However, we cannot even afford to give them even this “for the sake of argument” because they claim to be a Bolshevik party, operating on Bolshevik principles, and utilizing Communist guidelines — yet none of that is true. If they simply embraced who they actually were, a social-democratic organization, and continued to organize this way, then we would have no need to take issue with their supreme distortion of what a communist party actually is.

This group states quite simply that “Some cells are merged with others within neighboring states or cities as a means to keep small cells surviving, to give new cells guidance from older cells, or to add additional influence over a specific region.”[18] Following the mass exodus of the ACB from the PCUSA in August of 2022, the “club” comprising the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan was ostensibly “merged” with the “Browder-Davis-Torrez Cell” to “keep it surviving,” despite the fact that the PCUSA retained exactly zero members in these states, as the vast majority went on to join the ACB. If this group’s intention of “merging cells” is to “keep the small ones surviving,” it begs the question in this instance as to which cell was the “small one that needed help surviving,” if the “Browder-Davis-Torrez Cell” already comprised 8 (!?) U.S. states.

Why this group doesn’t analyze why and how it is the case that cells are not “surviving” and can’t be formed, or even how to organize cells in the first place, is a direct product of their narrow, mechanical, anti-scientific world outlook. Why they have not formulated any sort of plan to rectify this problem is indicative of their blind attitude to simply propagate their “party’s” existence, as if its mere existence can and will preclude and resolve all of these problems. When this group is understood as an organization whose primary purpose is to pepper the unrestrained egos of its careerist clique “leaders,” and not to “pave the way for the proletarian dictatorship,” its organizational structure and overall politics become much easier to grasp.


Another revisionist issue of communist party organization exemplified by the PCUSA is their flagrantly incorrect and ineffective use of “Commissions.” Once again, despite huffing and puffing about how strictly they supposedly adhere to J. Peters’ The Communist Party: A Manual on Organization, this group once again turns a potentially useful organizational tool into an embarrassing caricature of itself.

Here is what the above-mentioned text defines commissions as:

The Commissions are the instruments in the hands: of the respective Party Committees for the purpose of carrying out the work more effectively.

1. The role of the Commissions is to prepare material for the Committees in their respective field of work.

2. They are responsible for carrying out the decisions of the Party Committee in their field of work: and to see to it that the decisions made in the Committees are carried out by the lower organization.

These Commissions have no right to make decisions on general policies of the Party, but they have the right to make decisions in the process of carrying out the policy of the respective Party Committees. For example: […].

The head of the Commission should be a member of the Party committee. The members of the Commissions are appointed by the Party committee from, the best qualified [sic] members of the Party organization, not necessarily members of the Party committee. It is advisable to draw in as many comrades from the lower organizations into these Commissions as possible in order to develop them for more responsible work.[19]

For further clarification, an example of a “Committee” that would set up a “Commission” would be a “Central Committee (CC).” The “Commissions” in PCUSA were indeed ostensibly under the auspices of a CC, but in reality, Commissions were merely created at the whim of D’Angelo (perhaps after floating the idea by one or two people in a private phone call) and added to the calendar without any consultation from the CC, let alone the group’s membership. Furthermore, the “Commissions” did not provide reports to the CC of their activities, in no small part because the CC had no interest in tracking the development of the work in the “Commissions” so long as D’Angelo was able to be at all the “Commission” meetings.

Let us compare the CPUSA that the PCUSA is so desperate to role-play to these lunatic opportunists themselves.

At the end of 1934, the CPUSA had an on-paper membership of over 25,000 with the CC sponsoring six Commissions.[20] They are listed in J. Peters’ 1935 Manual:

1. Organizational Commission (Org. Commission)

2. Agitation and Propaganda Commission (AgitProp)

3. Trade Union Commission

4. Negro Commission

5. Women’s Commission

6. Agrarian Commission[21]

Let us now compare this to the world’s saddest collection of nostalgic superfans: the PCUSA, a “party” with well under 100 members, and with an “active” contingent a fraction the size of that, somehow has twenty-three (!?!) commissions for its CC (under twenty members “strong”). These commissions include (and try not to laugh!):

  • Agricultural and Rural Commission
  • Animal Rights Commission
  • Archiving Commission
  • Arts and Culture Commission
  • Asian Commission
  • Black Liberation Commission
  • Civil Liberties Commission
  • Environmental Commission
  • Health, Safety, Aging, and Disabled Commission
  • History Commission
  • Housing Commission
  • Indigenous Commission
  • Irish Commission (?!)
  • Jewish Commission
  • Labor Commission
  • Latino Commission
  • Legislative and Electoral Commission
  • LGBT+ Commission
  • Peace and Solidarity Commission
  • Religious Affairs Commission
  • Slavic Commission (!?)
  • Veterans Commission
  • Women’s Commission

What the explicit purpose, goals, or outcomes of these “Commissions” are is largely unknown. This begs the question: why do they exist? They exist because this group sees the “recreation” of communist organizational bodies, publications, mass organizations, and commissions as ends in and of themselves. The point is not for the “Commission” to carry out active work that is supposedly within its jurisdiction: the point is to pretend that the legacy of the CPUSA is being carried on across all these various subjects. This quite literally qualifies as live-action roleplay: live-action because it is happening now in real-time, and roleplay because the goal is imitation, not investigation. What we admonish as aimless musing is exactly what those within this opportunist trend strive to do.

Especially exemplary of this derangement is the existence of the “Irish” and “Slavic” “Commissions.” This lunacy can be approached from multiple angles.

From one angle, when one takes into account the dismal track record of this group’s recruitment of and engagement with non-white people, the explicit creation of “Commissions” that, in practice, would only appeal to white people, could signify a waving of the white flag, so-to-speak (pun not intended), on efforts to appeal to non-white people.

From another angle, we have a more deranged explanation. The Slavic Commission being recently created only after the Russo-Ukraine War leads to the possible explanation this group is trying to appeal to Slavic people sympathetic to their rightist stance on the current inter-imperialist conflict.

From yet another angle, we have perhaps the most likely (yet still profoundly daft) explanation: an attempt to imitate (yet again) the language federations of the CPUSA in the 1920s. The first decade of the CPUSA’s existence saw its membership totals dominated by non-English speakers: as late as 1929 they still accounted for two-thirds of the party’s membership.[22] The work of the Party reflected this: non-English speaking publications put out by the Communist Party and its foreign language affiliates vastly out-circulated its English publications like the Daily Worker.

In a vain attempt to pretend that they are carrying on the legacy of these federations, the creation of these “Commissions” can be seen as a bewildering attempt to appeal to non-existent swaths of Communist-sympathetic (predominantly eastern) European immigrants in the U.S. Whatever the case, the contemporary efforts of a minuscule “Communist” group to appeal to Irish and Slavic Americans on the basis of their nationality can only be derived from reactionary and opportunistic reasoning.

Given the insanely small number of personnel active in this “party,” it makes no sense why resources are spent on these two “Commissions” whenever their track record reaching and organizing Latinx people, Black people, and especially women is beyond abysmal. When ~40% of new immigrants into our country are from the Americas, and when another ~40% are coming from Asia, why on this green earth are resources being spent on an Irish and Slavic “Commission” for a group with well under 100 members?

The modern composition of the United States is so wildly different from whatever false imagination that D’Angelo and his cronies are dreaming up that we can only speculate that D’Angelo believes it is 1923 when it is in fact 2023. This group has taken up a task that is so insane, so futile, that they are effectively trying to make snowmen in the summer — and they have convinced themselves that they are well on their way!

The majority of these “Commissions” (including the two mentioned above) have, unsurprisingly, not published any materials, analysis, or decisions on some of these very important topics. The public is simply blind as to what the outcome of all of this apparent “work” (read: directionless thumb-twiddling) has been, save a few old and outdated pamphlets that this group ostensibly hands out to unfortunate human beings (most merely serve as dust collectors in the living quarters of various “members”).

What are “Commissions” in this group actually like? In practice, the only commissions that exist are commissions of the CC, as this group does not have the forces in any of their “Districts” to form “Commissions” there. Generally, the head of the “Commission” is whoever is A) sufficiently loyal to D’Angelo (as determined by him), and B) available or otherwise willing to chair the meeting in a way that satisfies D’Angelo to where he himself doesn’t have to run the meeting. It has been our experience that the leaders of these “Commissions” are not necessarily always, or even often, members of the CC, which would be the umpteenth violation of J. Peters’ Manual they profess to love.

These “Commissions,” already with a foundation akin to broken popsicle sticks and children’s glue, are then run exclusively over teleconference. Their purpose has historically been less about procuring and preparing material for the CC for their fieldwork (there is already little to no fieldwork), nor have they ever carried out decisions made by the CC for their fieldwork, but they are simply meeting places, times on a calendar to teleconference and aimlessly muse and pontificate over a particular issue like sad excuses for bourgeois bohemian intellectuals. In this group’s conception, their “Commissions” are places to debate, discuss, and “settle” these issues — and this conception is incompatible with J. Peters’ 1935 Manual that they proclaim to hold as gospel. D’Angelo attends nearly every meeting (not only Commissions) to ensure that his opinion (read: PCUSA law) always has its main champion.

There have indeed been some brochures created by these “Commissions” (nine in total, out of the twenty-three that appear on their website).[23] Yet, it is baffling, for example, that this group’s Program in 2016 (which was not updated at their 2021 “ Congress” and is wildly out of date) decreed: “It is thus the case that the Program of the Party of Communists must now decide whether the struggle of African-American should revert to self-determination or continue to another theoretical-revolutionary plan” — yet the “Black Liberation Commission,” which was ostensibly made by this group to focus on these questions, has prepared zero analysis or drawn any conclusions on this issue (beyond a pamphlet), and this essential question therefore still remains unaddressed seven years later.[24]


The PCUSA hasn’t been able to conclude that the large amount of turnover, the lack of membership, the lack of penetration into shop floors and workplaces, and the flowering of their unbridled opportunism are due, on the most basic level, to their Menshevik-style organizational structure. This group simply keeps muddling through every possible strife (to them “attacks”), hoping, and praying that the next problem (“attack”) will be their last.

Even this group’s “membership” is not held to any standard whatsoever in joining. Those who are at complete and utter odds with the Party’s program and constitution are allowed in on the basis that they need to blindly expand their ranks, and all will be right with the world. The most flagrant example is noted opportunist Christopher Helali, a Dengist “communist” who was allowed into the PCUSA because of his status as a fifth-rate political figure despite the group’s own constitution explicitly denouncing so-called “market socialism.”[25] Helali, and now a large section of the group’s (if not the majority), explicitly support the People’s Republic of China and their capitalist ruse of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.” The group, in this regard and in many others, does not require prospective members to agree with the party’s Program nor its constitution before joining — a direct refutation of Leninist organizational principles.

What political party best represents the organizational principles that this group is adhering to? What other party is organized on a geographic basis, and allows those who do not fully agree to its program to join? The CPUSA! The party that, ostensibly, this group is trying to fight against as the revisionists of the American Communist movement, acts in almost the same capacity, organizationally, as the PCUSA. In fact, the PCUSA appears to be organized in an even worse, in an even more Menshevik, capacity! Both groups organize geographically much to the same tune and allow all sorts of varied political elements (“MAGA” Communists, Dengists, DSA Liberals, Liberals, Mensheviks, etc.) into the party who are at odds with its supremely revisionist program — in this sense, they are very similar. However, at least the CPUSA, reportedly, has some workplace cells and working-class ties, of which the PCUSA has next to (if not) none!

This group’s “claim to fame” over the CPUSA is simply due to outward, mainly online, aesthetic branding, and not due to the core, ideological, and organizational realities of the party itself. The group is simply a worse, even more online version of the CPUSA blended with subpar revolutionary phrase-mongering and blind, lustful Soviet nostalgia. They mistake that mere outward fidelity to the USSR and its main figures, Lenin and Stalin (who are and were important revolutionary theoreticians), is the deciding factor in building a communist party that is better than the absolutely wretched CPUSA. It is not, it cannot be, it never has been, and it never will be.

In D’Angelo’s grand quest to make a “better” CPUSA, he has only been able to create a more pathetic caricature of it.

The PCUSA operates on the basis of preposterously wide geographic divisions, with a membership that is recruited not from the places where the “party” “members” live and work, but almost exclusively online from various social media platforms. Rather than online recruiting being a tool in a toolkit that the party uses, it is the exclusive method that the group utilizes. Its membership is held to Menshevik, not Bolshevik, standards, and are allowed to coast in and out of the Party as they please. These are not the most advanced theoreticians of the worker’s movement, but rather, the most wretched chronically online Redditors of the U.S. playing pretend.

This group is, objectively, an online social club masquerading as a Communist Party. It serves as a historical reenactment society that preaches Marxism-Leninism but practices live-action role play (LARP) over online teleconferences. This is, of course, pathetic, but it is also extremely dangerous to the working class as it fools, misleads, and denigrates the worker’s struggle. It is necessary that all forms of this revisionism, whether from the PCUSA, the CPUSA, or any other “party,” are analyzed and explained to the working class as nothing more than traitorous garbage.

The organization of this group is based on blind fidelity to its “General Secretary” Angelo D’Angelo, whose intensely uncritical nostalgia for the Soviet Union (even, and especially, post-Khrushchev) and his lackluster time in the CPUSA under Gus Hall are his only guiding light, for he has no serious ideological basis himself (he has not even read Karl Marx’s Das Kapital during all his time in the movement!). The two feet that D’Angelo and his clique stand on are not those of rigorous study and revolutionary conviction, but false nostalgia and misguided sophistry.

The PCUSA is, in a very real sense, a political convent for Soviet nostalgia. It is a convent rather than a political party because it has effectively no ties to the working class. No worker knows what happens inside the party, no worker has access to it, nor really even knows of its existence as it is exclusively online. It is effectively secluded on some distant mountain because it does not organize itself on the basis of Marxist-Leninist principles, but rather as an online social club.

Its ideological and political head, Angelo D’Angelo, is the convent’s “leader.” The aura surrounding him amongst members of the group is reminiscent of Bob Avakian’s pre-eminent influence within the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), or that of Lyndon LaRouche within the National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC).[26] D’Angelo organizes this almost exclusively online membership and preaches to them the “good word,” convincing these usually very young and impressionable people that he is some sort of ideological Prometheus who has carried the true Communist torch that he is handing off. He attends near every “party” “meeting,” all members hear his “irrefutable” ideas, and all cadre swear fealty to him. Is he a General Secretary, or is he the Patriarch of a monastic community? In practice, the latter category is a far more apt description for him.

If D’Angelo admitted that he was bestowing nothing but a thoroughly revisionist torch to his followers, we would only be forced to take issue with his ideas and not the veracity of his claims. We are, however, compelled to do both.

It must be said that D’Angelo, the mother-superior of this Soviet LARP convent, has done quite well in branding his convent in America and internationally as some “great alternative” to the CPUSA. Many international Communist Parties initially supported (and indeed still support) the PCUSA when they should have studied this entity more before pledging support. The group, granted, was never honest in their public relations and branding. However, in pledging their support, these international parties weakened the Marxist-Leninist movement in this country by giving this lunacy more credibility than it ever deserved, tricking and fooling workers into twisted revisionist fantasies. This issue, however, requires further study.

What we have is the archaic, known-commodity, fiercely revisionist CPUSA over there, and over here we have a farcical “organization” playing pretend. It is time for the members of the PCUSA, who are actually workers, to come off the playground and back into reality. The workers in this group, and in America, must start to analyze this “party” materially and study the Marxist-Leninist method of organization — and if they do so they will conclude that the monstrous conception of “organization” held by this group is nothing more than revisionist twaddle, long dispensed with.

The PCUSA should not be understood as a communist party. It is not organized as one, nor does it conduct its work as one like it claims. It is simply one of the most recent manifestations in a long line of rightist trends in the American Communist movement and is best described (most generously) as a gilded pre-party group — being the pet project of a motley crew of individualist careerists drunk on false nostalgia.

If the CPUSA can be adequately deemed the “Communist” Party USA, the PCUSA can equally take its stand on the mantle as the “Party” of “Communists” USA.

It is the task of all American Marxist-Leninists, including and especially the ACB, to analyze this monstrous perversion of Leninist organizing, and to conclude not merely that errors occurred, not merely that we can simply “do it better,” not merely that the CPUSA has to be “reconstituted” but that every issue of this “Communist” “Party” stems from definite opportunist ideological convictions and their subsequent revisionist methods. We should also realize that the “P”“C”USA is not special in this regard, and that many so-called “Communist” or “Marxist-Leninist” parties adhere to rightist organizing methods, and while many may in words proclaim Bolshevism, they in deeds stab their toxic blade of putrid Menshevism into every gullible worker. This is only one of the many reasons as to why the PCUSA is nothing but an organizational and ideological enemy of the working class.

Members of the ACB and all Marxist-Leninists within the American Communist movement must tirelessly study, critique, and ruthlessly criticize these opportunist trends. We must investigate their origins, how they evolved, how they are manifesting in our movement now, and how to successfully combat them. Our work in this regard is only just beginning.


[1] The Bolsheviks were “[t]he majority group at the Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (1903) which, under the leadership of Lenin, became the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (Bolsheviks); then in 1917 the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), and finally, in 1924, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks).” The Mensheviks were “[t]he reformist party in Tsarist Russia. Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, along with smaller bodies, constituted the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party. In 1912 the Mensheviks were expelled by the Bolsheviks; they became violently anti-Soviet after the October Revolution.” See: L. Harry Gould, Marxist Glossary, (Sydney: Australia: 1948), 12-13, 53, https://www.redstarpublishers.org/MarxistGlossary.pdf.

[2] Antonio Gramsci, “The Organizational Basis of the Party” in Pre-Prison Writings (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 281-283, 285, https://archive.org/details/gramsci-pre-prison-writings-antonio-gramsci-richard-bellamy-virginia-cox-z-lib.org/page/281/mode/1up.

[3] Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, (Marxists Internet Archive, 1848), https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm#007.

[4] V.I. Lenin, “Theses on the Fundamental Tasks of the Second Congress of the Communist International” in Collected Works Vol. 31 (Progress Publishers, 1974), 191-192, https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/cw/pdf/lenin-cw-vol-31.pdf.

[5] V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution: The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution, (Marxists Internet Archive, 1917), https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/.

[6] For a more detailed assessment of the emergence of the Bolshevik and Menshevik trends at the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) in London in 1903, see Chapter 2, Section 3 of: Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) (Marxists Internet Archive, 1939), https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1939/x01/ch02.htm#3._.

[7] Party of Communists USA, “Constitution and Statues,” Party of Communists USA, accessed June 1, 2023, https://partyofcommunistsusa.net/constitution-statues/.

[8] Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1939/x01/ch02.htm#3._.

[9] Third Congress of the Communist International, Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties, on the Methods and Content of their Work (Marxists Internet Archive, July 12, 1921), https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/3rd-congress/organisation/guidelines.htm.

[10] Third Congress of the Communist International, Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties, on the Methods and Content of their Work, https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/3rd-congress/organisation/guidelines.htm.

[11] J. Peters, The Communist Party: A Manual On Organization (San Francisco: Workers Library Publishers, 1975), https://archive.org/details/TheCommunistPartyAManualOnOrganization/mode/1up.

[12] Third Congress of the Communist International, Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties, on the Methods and Content of their Work, https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/3rd-congress/organisation/guidelines.htm.

[13] Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks),  https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1939/x01/ch07.htm#4.

[14] PCC of the ACB, “The Birth of the American Council of Bolsheviks,” New Spark, February 7, 2023, https://newspark.news/statements/the-birth-of-the-american-council-of-bolsheviks/.

[15] CWPUSA Editorial Board, “Democratic Centralism and the PCUSA,” New Worker, August 27th, 2022, https://newworker.us/editorial/democratic-centralism-and-the-pcusa/

[16] “List of U.S. states and territories by area,” Wikipedia, May 19, 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_area.

[17] J. Peters, The Communist Party: A Manual On Organization, https://archive.org/details/TheCommunistPartyAManualOnOrganization/mode/1up.

[18] Party of Communists USA, “Districts and Cells,” Party of Communists USA, accessed June 1, 2023, https://partyofcommunistsusa.net/districts-and-cells/.

[19] J. Peters, The Communist Party: A Manual On Organization, 93, https://archive.org/details/TheCommunistPartyAManualOnOrganization/mode/1up.

[20] The membership total in the CPUSA reportedly stood at around 26,000 at the end of 1934. See: Harvey Klehr & John Earl Haynes, The American Communist Movement: Storming Heaven Itself (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992), 73.

[21] J. Peters, The Communist Party: A Manual On Organization, 94, https://archive.org/details/TheCommunistPartyAManualOnOrganization/mode/1up.

[22] Harvey Klehr & John Earl Haynes, The American Communist Movement: Storming Heaven Itself, 54.

[23] Party of Communists USA, “Brochures,” Party of Communists USA, accessed July 15, 2023, https://partyofcommunistsusa.net/brochures/.

[24] Party of Communists USA, “Program,” Party of Communists USA, accessed July 14, 2023, https://partyofcommunistsusa.net/program/.

[25] “Dengists” refers to those who uphold the contemporary policies of the Communist Party of China as “socialist” and who believe that contemporary China is not a capitalist, imperialist state, but, in fact, a socialist state that is actively applying Marxism-Leninism and working toward the building of socialism.

[26] See: Andrea Skybreak, Science and Revolution: On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian (Chicago: Insight Press, 2015), 144, http://thebobavakianinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Ardea-Skybreak-2015-Interview-en.pdf.

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