Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

“No Party Democracy”

Healey Split Exposes Revisionist CPUSA

First Published: The Call, Vol. I, No. 11, August 1973.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Dorothy Healey and Al Richmond, both long-time leaders of the Communist Party U.S.A. (CPUSA), recently resigned from the party following a CPUSA decision to denounce Richmond’s memoirs, A Long View from the Left.

Healey announced July 9, on Los Angeles radio station KPFK, that she was quitting the party, criticizing its “lack of internal democracy.”

Richmond announced on July 17 his decision to quit the Party because he had been “harshly condemned” by Party officials.

A Long View from the Left attacks the CPUSA line supporting the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Both Healey and Richmond opposed the invasion, and since that time have conflicted openly with the CPUSA over many basic issues including the party’s “lack of internal democracy,” electoral program, and support of the Soviet Union.

In her broadcast, Healey said, “Clearly the specific question of Richmond’s book is secondary in my decision to resign. The primary question is the lack of party democracy and the use of a distorted version of democratic centralism to compel approval of decisions made without prior discussion among the membership.”

Healey’s and Richmond’s resignations go far to reveal the revisionist character of the CPUSA, which has long abandoned revolutionary struggle to work for what it terms “peaceful social change, within the framework of the Constitution.”

First of all, it shows that the CP’s revisionist policies which have greatly damaged the workers’ and peoples’ struggle here in the U.S., have been formulated by the Gus Hall leadership, without the support of the rank-and-file membership. This is a membership which is taught to carry out directives slavishly, without thinking or applying the science of Marxism-Leninism.

In her statement, Healey pointed out that the party’s stand on Czechoslovakia has never been discussed among the rank and file: ̴;The question of the 1968 events in Czechoslovakia is a forbidden subject within the party since the National Committee decision approving it on Labor Day.”

Healey said that internationally other parties and party leaders were also silenced when they protested the policies of the social-imperialists (socialist in word-imperialist in deed). She gave the example of Gustav Husak, presently First Secretary of the Chechoslovakian Communist Party, who claims that his party welcomed the intervention of the Soviet troops in his country. “But,” said Healy, “that same Gustav Husak, in a broadcast on Czechoslovak radio, said, Troops from the five states entered our territory. There has been a tragic misunderstanding, a tragic failure to comprehend and we said so in Moscow. We believe that this intervention was unnecessary and that it should not have happened without talks and without the agreement of our leading State and Party organs.’ So which Husak does one believe?”

The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia exposed to the whole world, the character of social-imperialism and violated all principles of proletarian internationalism.


Secondly, Healey’s and Richmond’s split from the CPUSA shows that the Party leadership is changing its policies of allowing all views to coexist within the party. This policy had been used to attract young, honest militants to the party. To them the party, through leaders like Angela Davis struck a “militant” pose, while to the rest of the world, it peddled its line of “ballot-box socialism.” To the young activists and especially the minorities in groups like the “Che-Lumumba Club” the party was “anything you want it to be.” This policy was designed to avoid inner-party struggle and to allow all points of view as long as they didn’t challenge the leadership’s entrenched position. The two resignations reflect a tightening-up on the part of the Gus Hall leadership.

Great divisions within the CP’s ranks became apparent during the 1972 election campaign in which Gus Hall was the party’s candidate for president. The results were disastrous as Hall received fewer votes than either Peace and Freedom Party candidate, Dr. Benjamin Spock, or the Socialist Workers Party (Trotskyist) candidate, Linda Jenness.

After the election, Hall wrote ark open polemic called “Lame Duck in Turbulent Waters,” in which he attacked the hundreds of party members who refused to work for his candidacy and who supported the Democratic Party candidate, George McGovern, instead.


In this article, Hall pointed out that even members of the CPUSA Central Committee voted for McGovern. Healey and Richmond were among those in the pro-McGovern faction. Representing the right-wing of the Party, this section wanted the CPUSA to tail behind the Democratic Party in the election. Hall’s faction has adopted the strategy of running independent candidates as the loyal opposition to the ruling parties.

Healey, again raised the banner of “lack of democracy” to express her differences with Hall over electoral strategy. In her statement she said, “The Central Committee.. .in essence said the party had been wrong in its electoral policy since the 1930’s. Now I have no objection to a review of past policy. I do object when that review is made totally without the participation of the membership and when the new policy is agreed on as a line obligatory upon all communists.”

While Healey’s and Hall’s views differ sharply over tactics, their ideas are essentially the same. Her broadcast was marked by attacks on China and the insinuations that the new communist movement in the U.S. was nothing but a tool of the Chinese. This, along with attacks on the Soviet revolutionary leader Josef Stalin, is in perfect harmony with anti-communist thought.

Healey’s split with the party weakens CPUSA’s attempts to consolidate forces, exposing the methods and policies of the CP leadership, and possibly allowing the honest elements within the party to re-examine the revisionist line the party has taken.