In an organizing tour of the Southeastern United States, these two old friends, Scott Marshall from Chicago and Jarvis Tyner from New York, National Secretary and Vice Chair respectively of the Communist Party USA, loaded into a Ford van and crossed the Mason-Dixon Line. They met with comrades in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and North Carolina, gathering information and providing organizational support for the new clubs that are sprouting like mushrooms in the former home of Jim Crow.
Speaking in front of a gathering at the Skylight Exchange in Chapel Hill, Scott Marshall likened the resurgence of left politics in general and the Communist Party in particular to the Party presence in 1920s North Carolina, when Communists formed the National Textile Workers Union, the state's only multiracial, male and female union at the Loray Mills in Gastonia. Not only did the CPUSA organize a massive strike during the height of an anti-labor, anti-integration, anti-communist campaign, the Party openly and boldly confronted lynch law and Jim Crow.
"This Party is needed again, in the South and the country," said Marshall. "We have always been the party that said you don't wait for fascism to become fully developed to fight it, you fight it as it emerges."
When asked why the sudden interest in the South, Jarvis Tyner replied, "We have always been interested in every part of the nation. The South has shown a newfound interest in the Party. People are seeking allies, and they're seeking analysis. When they find out about us, they find out that we fight every injustice, not just point by point, but by confronting the economic foundations of injustice."
They traced the current strength of the ultra-right back to Nixon's "Southern Strategy," and pointed out that every key leader in the executive and legislative branches of the Federal government is a Southerner. "The need for the Party becomes more recognizable with the sharpening of economic crisis," said Marshall. "In the South, these crises are felt more acutely, owing to steeper levels of inequality, deeper roots in institutional racism, and the relative weakness of organized labor."
When asked what the role of the Party is, why it is relevant, Tyner told the gathering about his recent visits to Vietnam. Citing the history of the US invasion of that nation, he said, "The armed forces of the United States won every battle in that war, then lost the war. We have to ask ourselves why. The reason is that the Communists in Vietnam recognized clearly that political struggle always remains central, even during armed struggle. Political struggle is guided by a cogent analysis. Without that, the solidarity to engage in any protracted struggle can not thrive."
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