In the 1970s, while still in the Salinas Valley, Art Moura was briefly drawn to the Communist Labor Party. I too was in the Salinas Valley at the time, working with the United Farm Workers. I knew the RU (Revolutionary Union) slash RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party), mostly Bruce Neuburger.
He was a presence in the world of lettuce cutters, and the RCP was pretty intent on disrupting and provoking, especially during a strike against Steak-Mate by our mushroom worker members in Morgan Hill. The RCP was a real pain in the ass there.
But – I didn’t know about the Communist Labor Party.
It was founded at a Congress in Chicago, Illinois in September 1974 to fight for the principles of the Third International and to oppose the “modern revisionism” of the Soviet Union.
It started as a group that split from the CPUSA in 1958, the Provisional Organizing Committee to Reconstitute a Marxist–Leninist Party (POC). In 1968, Nelson Peery and his wife, Sue Ying Peery, led a small group out of the POC and formed the California Communist League, which expanded to become a national organization, the Communist League.
They were all about forums with different left groups and individuals to discuss various questions of Marxist theory and political policy to lay the basis for developing a new communist party.
Unlike the Revolutionary Communist Party’s white upper class leader Chairman Bob Avakian, the Communist Labor Party was led by Nelson Peery, a middle aged African American bricklayer who had fought in World War II and had been a member of the Communist Party USA of the 1940s and 50s.
Moura still thinks about Peery and the CLP and his (Moura’s) decision to explore the group. He wrote me:
I think Nelson Peery was an intelligent man but scary. He formed the CLP along with two Ethiopian as I understood back then and after the overthrow of Haile Selassie the two went back to be part of the new government. They let Peery sit in on meetings with the objections from the CP and Soviets. But the Ethiopians were loyal to Peery so they continued to support him being at their meetings. I remember a slide show Peery gave of his stay in Ethiopia and the conflict and two Eritreans were present and afterwards they wanted to give their side to the conflict. Peery blew a fuse calling them the usual names like “reactionary” and what not. The guy, Peery, was full of rage and so scary and the two Eritreans were caught off guard and the fear in their faces and I think sadness too but fear just made my heart go out to them. They became timid and lost their power. They were escorted out and they were willing to go. That incident at the slide show was another incident among others that turned me off to the CLP.
Do you see what I mean about thoughtful?
I was honored that Moura wrote me this.
My friend took a look at this post. “Yeah, a remember the RCP. Self-appointed self-annointed saviors of the working class. Chairman Bob! And now his new synthesis! Oh Lordy.”