Letter to the Members of the New England District from the National Secretariat, CPUSA

First Issued: October 1960
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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October, 1960

Dear Comrades:

During the past few years, our party has successfully weathered the most severe crisis in its history. It has met the attacks of McCarthyism and it has defeated the onslaught of revisionism, as well as the assaults of the ultra-left dogmatists from within its ranks.

In these struggles the 17th National Convention was a major landmark, registering an impressive advance toward the unification of the Party. This was expressed in Comrade Gus Hall’s concluding reworks in these words: “Above all – and of crucial importance – emerging from the 17th Convention is the fact that we have one party, one policy and one direction. The policy, line and direction set forth at this convention will be the policy, line and direction for the whole Party, for every member, including national committee members and officers.”

If our Party is to fulfill the obligations imposed on it by the momentous and inspiring march of events today, unity is of paramount importance; indeed, Party unity is our most precious possession. Those who contribute in any way to splitting our ranks, therefore, do a most serious disservice to the Party and the working class, and to the cause of peace, democracy and socialism.

We are now at a point where the looseness of the past on policy questions growing out of the severe ideological struggles through which we have passed, can no longer be tolerated. Today the Party must demand that every leading comrade, without exception, adhere to and fight for the Party’s policies, even where he or she may disagree with one or another aspect of then. No one who is not prepared to do so has the right to remain in a position of leadership.

* * *

It is in this light that we wish to deal with the conduct of Comrade Homer Chase and his supporters within the leadership of the New England District over the past several months.

During the time that Comrade Chase has been attending meetings of the National Committee, he has established a record of repeated opposition on major policy questions, not infrequently as a minority of one. But more than this, he has followed his disagreements not by supporting the policies adopted by the overwhelming majority, but by waging an unceasing fight against them within the district and by working to mobilizing the district against the national line and leadership of the Party. The result has been to throw the district committee into endless debates, to divert it from giving the necessary guidance to the political activity of the district and to create increasing confusion and turmoil in the Party’s ranks.

In particular, Comrade Chase and his supporters have embarked on a campaign of defiance of the Party’s electoral policy, for which they seek to substitute a line which the National Committee has rejected as narrow and sectarian. Since the meeting of the National Committee last March, every district committee meeting has been taken up with the introduction of documents calling for a reversal of the national policy, with the result that virtually no attention has been given to organizing the Party’s participation in the election campaign in New England.

Included in these documents are calls for a special national convention or a special national committee meeting to re-examine the electoral policy. Clearly, the holding in the very thick of an election campaign of such a gathering, whose preparation would take up the energies and finances of the Party for a considerable time, would divert it from any affective participation in the campaign.

Further, under Comrade Chase’s leadership the district board has proceeded deliberately to pursue a policy directly contrary to that of the Party nationally. A district newsletter dealing with Cuba was issued which went out of its way to single out Adlai Stevenson for attack, and this, moreover, at a time when the movement of peace forces in relation to him was a matter of no small consequence in the campaign. A later newsletter called for a boycott of the presidential elections, despite the fact that this tactic had been plainly repudiated by the Party as one which could only serve to isolate it from the masses. And this line has been consistently expressed and supported by Comrade Chase, both within the Party and at public meetings.

These actions were climaxed at the most recent meeting of the district committee, at which Comrade Chase and those who supported him made it clear that they had no intention of their Left Wing Party policy being abandoned for the line of the 17th Convention, insisting that they would defy it as self-styled “saviors” of the Party from its own National Committee. They made it clear also that they demanded the loyalty of both the rank-and-file membership and the district committee members not to the national Party policy but to their policy. When the Dorchester club refused to distribute the first of the newsletter, branding it as contrary to Party policy and appealing to the national leadership to in intervene, they were charged with being factionalists. In short, Comrade Chase and his supporters in the district leadership are determined to make and carry out their own policy, and thus to repudiate that determined by the National Committee.

This applies not only to electoral policy. This group is equally opposed to the Party’s policy on peace and peaceful coexistence as stated in the resolution which appeared in The Worker on August 21. At a recent regional national committee conference in New York, Comrade Chase and two of his followers who were present voted against the resolution of the National Executive Committee, reaffirming the position taken by the 17th National Convention on these questions. Later, at the district committee meeting, adherents of this group refused to vote on the resolution, this time claiming they had not had a chance to read it.

All this has been accompanied by an unceasing stream of attack and slander against the national leadership which they freely characterize as consisting, without exception, of revisionists and liquidators, as usurpers of power, as guilty of dishonesty and worse. Indeed, there have been not infrequent insinuations that within the national leadership there are agents of imperialism. In short, the Party leadership is habitually referred to by Comrade Chase and his followers in language which is customarily reserved for the most dangerous enemies of the Party and the working class.

But the irresponsible language employed by this group is not confined to this. At the March Notional Committee meeting, Comrade Chase proposed that the Democratic Party be branded as the “war party” – a proposal tantamount to labeling the Republican Party the “peace party.” He has not only persisted in falsely interpreting the Party’s resolution on the elections (The Worker, August 14) as a virtually outright endorsement of Kennedy, but has made speeches charging that the blood of Cuban children and lynched Negroes rests on the heads of those who support this resolution. He has also been guilty of irresponsible anti-Soviet statements, implying that the Soviet Union is guilty of a racist approach to the Chinese people. At the regional meeting he charged that by taking part in the Olympics, the Soviet Union was guilty of participating in the rape of Taiwan!

We submit that such conduct is not that of a responsible Party leader; rather it is what would be expected from adventurers and provocateurs. It places the Party before the American working people as an irresponsible adventurist organization, and within the Party it creates endless dissension and cripples it as an effective political body.

The facts indicate that Comrade Chase and his supporters are fundamentally opposed to the Party’s policies, not only on the elections but on peace and other basis issues as well. More, their attitude is one of contempt for the will of the majority in the Party. They go forth to do battle not with the enemies of the working class, but with the leadership and membership of the Party itself, as if these were the real enemies of the working class.

At the regional seating they submitted a document opposing the national electoral policy and calling for a boycott of the presidential elections. By a vote of 10 to 1 among the National Committee members present, the document was rejected as sectarian, basically incorrect and contrary to Party policy. By the same vote, all actions taken by the district on the basis of the document were condemned as violating democratic centralism and Party discipline.

Later, the National Secretariat adopted a motion calling upon all leading comrades in the New England District to end the flaunting of Party policy and to declare their intention of fully supporting it in the future. The motion further stated that if these comrades should not do so, the Secretariat calls on the district to elect a leadership which will. The National Executive Committee at its last meeting approved the motion of the Secretariat. When this was placed before a meeting of the district committee (from which unfortunately one-third of the members were absent), Comrade Chase and those who supported him made it plain that they rejected the motion and were determined to do as they pleased.

The conduct of Comrade Chase will be placed before the December meeting of the National Committee, which will be asked to take expropriate action. At the same time, we call upon the Party membership and leadership in New England to rally behind the Party and its policies, to repudiate the actions of Comrade Chase and those who support him, and to take steps to establish a leadership which will fight for the line of the Party.

We are determined to put an end to all disruption within the Party, on whatever grounds and from whatever source, and to defend the unity and integrity of the Party at all costs. We would not be worthy of leadership in the Party if we did not do so. And we have every confidence that the membership of the New England district will unite in support of the Party against all who would weaken and disrupt it.

Comradely yours,
National Secretariat (CPUSA)