The information on this page is for educational purposes to train young communists and new members of the party who have never done activist work before. Activism is very important for any political organization. It is important to give training in one form or another to those involved in the political work of the organization.
On this page are tips and advice from experienced activists in the PCUSA and LYCUSA. These can be very useful for comrades to spread Party influence and its ideology, and to build local clubs as footholds of hegemony.
The following information is on five forms of activism that comrades can take part in: Tabling, leaflet making, rallying & protests, propaganda campaign, club & community activities.
Tabling is rather easy. One just needs to make sure that the following steps are in place.
Permission is important. Its best to have approval to set up a table when expecting to be sitting at a location for a long period of time. This means that if your plan is to set up a table at a park, or on private property, it is best to obtain permission to be there. Based on personal experience, it is best to get the approval in writing, just in case something happens which puts your approval in question. If you want to set up a table at a college or university, it’s much easier than trying to set one up at a park or on private property. It is possible to set up a table at a private residence, however for reasons of safety and security, this is not recommended.
2. Table, Chairs, and Other Materials.
If you are going to table anywhere, it is best to have a table, chairs, and materials for the table. You can get a foldable table and foldable chairs from almost anywhere, E-bay for example. It’s best to get a 5 to 6 feet, center-fold, portable table. This type of table is best for easy transportation and setup. Foldable chairs are good too for the same reason. Personal addition would be a red table cloth which makes the table look attractive. Other materials are Party materials, such as leaflets, books, and other information for distribution. These materials are what gets our information and influence out to the public. Another personal addition I would highly recommend is investing in a canopy. Rain is often unpredictable, and too much exposure to the sun is dangerous. Canopies can also be purchased relatively cheaply on-line.
Suggested Party Material for Tabling available from Red Star:
1: Why Communism? By M. J. Olgin.
2: The Worker, PCUSA Party Newspaper.
3: Labor Today, Labor United in Class Struggle Newspaper.
4: Black and Red: The Role of Communists in the Black Liberation Movement (PCUSA publication.)
5: Lies Concerning the History of the Soviet Union by Mario Sousa.
6: PCUSA Brochures.
7: LYCUSA Brochures.
8: LUCS (Labor United in Class Struggle) Brochures.
9: The Communist View of Women’s Struggles (PCUSA leaflet.)
Other Recommended Party Material for Tabling:
1: Club made, or member made leaflets that are approved by the
Politburo of the Party.
2: All types of Marxist-Leninist literature, for example,
Foundations of Leninism by Joseph Stalin.
3: PCUSA buttons and pens, and other communist paraphernalia.
4: Always have a sign-in sheet for any people interested in the party,
and that wish to be contacted by the party.
Safety should be a prime focus for any activist activity members are involved in. This means, for tabling, never set up in a location where your personal safety is put in question. This means never setup outside a bar, never setup in a location at night or is isolated and/or dark, and never setup in a dominantly right-wing area where the possibility of being jumped is high. Regarding tabling by yourself or with another comrade, it is highly recommended that members never table by themselves. The benefit of having two comrades tabling together is in case one does get harmed, the other can call 911, record the event and document the incident. Or one of the comrades can get a Conceal Carry License (CCL) or permit to carry pepper spray which can be used for self-defense.
Leaflet making is very effective. It gets our members involved in producing propaganda for the Party. Making leaflets for your local area is good because no one understands your area better than you and the local comrades. Leaflets can be very detailed or simplistic. The point is to get the message out. You can make leaflets using Word.doc or PDF format, etc. It may require assistance from experienced graphic designers to make a detailed leaflet for your activity.
You can make leaflets explaining the club’s beliefs and aims, or on the power of unions to agitate workers to unionize. Leaflets can be made on the achievements of socialism as a recruitment tool to interest people in socialism and communism. The ideas for leaflets are exhaustive. However, we must stress that any and all leaflets made must be approved by the party Politburo, otherwise false information can be spread around that can harm the Party as a whole.
Rallying and Protests:
Rallying, joining or organizing protests is a very easy and fun activist activity that can be done by every club member. In most cases permits are not required unless your activity is on private property. Simply walking on the sidewalk can’t get you in trouble so long as you are peaceful and break no laws. However, such actions require caution. Depending on your city and/or area, law enforcement may follow and harass you.
Rally and Protest Material:
With any rally or protest, the Party message needs to be delivered. The first question is what kind of materials are needed? Such materials should be:
1: A flag and/or banner of your organization or banner with the message you are
trying to promote.
2: Signs with a Party message regarding the issue being protested over.
3: Appropriate Party leaflets (propaganda).
4: A megaphone to communicate with those assembled or broadcast Party messages and/or chants. It’s important to note some jurisdictions have regulations on sound.
Safety: Safety is the highest priority when engaging in political activity, including but not limited to, rallying, protesting, or tabling. Some of the safety measures involve location, time and self-defense. Each of which will be explained in their own individual points.
Location: When dealing with rallies or protests, location is important. A rally or protest should never be held in an area where your political opposition is concentrated, unless the club is part of a larger coalition with sufficient numbers. It’s best to rally or protest in areas where the club has the support from like-minded people; for example, rallying for higher wages or at union rallies, in predominantly working class or impoverished neighborhoods. It must be understood that rallies and protests should never take place on private property without permits. This can not only have a negative effect on the Party. It can also be incredibly dangerous, and mean jail time for members of the Party, something we should avoid at all costs.
Time: Time is important. Planning the date and time that events are to take place is crucial. When events are planned during the day, it is easier for there to be a lot of traffic to get your message out, and for people to be able to attend the event without having to worry about responsibilities at home. Another reason it’s important not to hold political events at night is because poor visibility makes it easy for your political opponents to commit acts of violence against you without witnesses.
Self-Defense: Self-defense is important for all activist events, because anything can happen during an event. It’s best for any comrades at the event to take charge of recording hostile acts against you or your club members so that evidence can be gathered. It is also important for larger events, to designate a member to be what is historically called in the Communist Party, a “Marshal.” The job of a Marshal is to be dressed in normal street clothing, to blend in with the outer crowd, and watch over the event for potential provocations. Marshals are the guardians during events. If any hostility breaks out between a political opponent and a member of the crowd, the Marshals rush in to separate the conflict and inform the authorities, or if necessary use pepper spray during difficult situations. It is important that any open communist comrade try to protect their personal safety. We recommend that if you do not have a record, inquire into getting a permit to carry pepper spray, or a concealed weapon, and attend the self-defense classes. Martial arts classes can be very helpful in addition to the classes in self-defense.
Flag Pole: Making a cheap and easy flag pole to carry your flag at rallies or protests is possible for pretty much anyone. Below is a diagram you can use for making your own.
Weather: It’s best to always keep watch over the weather. Never rally or protest with a possible rain storm, or excessive heat (unless water and sunscreen is carried for hot days.) On hot days, stay hydrated.
One of the big ways to spread our Party and beliefs around is with propaganda/agitprop campaigns.
You can find PCUSA propaganda (like those in the picture above) on the PCUSA website under the Brochure & Propaganda section.
Producing Inexpensive and Easy Propaganda:
Making propaganda to hang up around your town is easy! The pictures above are an example of what comrades can do. Take some of our Party propaganda that is posted online on our Facebook pages or in the gallery/photo section of our PCUSA and LYC websites, and put them in to a Word.doc file, minimize to a small enough size which can hold more than 2 on one page (but still large enough to be read clearly), print, and cut out. This is an easy way to mass produce inexpensive propaganda pieces which can be displayed around your local area. You can print them out in color or in black and white. Black and white (grayscale) is cheaper.
What to Hang up Your Propaganda With:
Here are a few methods of what you can use to hang up your newly produced propaganda pieces: 1.) Wheat paste: uses a gel like adhesive product made from wheat, flour or starch and water. One coat is applied to the surface, then another coat over the artwork. to dry and act as a waterproof shield. NOTE: If using wheat paste, never put on private property without approval. 2.) Tape: Clear, strong sticking tape is a cheap and easy adhesive. From personal experience, what we have found is that strong sticking clear tape, taped on to a metal street pole for example, sticks well to the pole, and when the sun beats down on it, it makes the adhesive even harder to remove. The tape, if strong sticking, also protects the propaganda piece, from water damage due to rain. Never try to tape up a leaflet or propaganda piece on to wet metal! It won’t stick. 3.) Staples: This method works best on wood, for example, electric poles, usually in neighborhoods. The problem with this method is the leaflets are easy to rip off and Rain will certainly ruin your propaganda piece as well.
Locations to Hang up Your Propaganda Pieces:
The best place to hang up your propaganda is in areas of high traffic, and areas where people will sympathize with your beliefs. The best places to hang signs and leaflets is on metal street poles, wooden electric poles, park benches, on public pay phone booths, laundromat bulletin boards and other areas. Never hang signs or leaflets on private property, on street signs, or anywhere which can cause legal issues.
Times to Hang up Your Propaganda:
You could hang up propaganda around your area at pretty much any time of day or night, depending on your city and possible curfews or danger during specific times. During day is fine, but it makes the public see who is hanging up the propaganda and can lead to possible conflict or a political opponent following you and ripping down your propaganda. What worked for us in our community was night runs, which were when the comrades would head out early in the morning and hit whole blocks with our propaganda, finishing before sunrise. This worked best because most of the city was asleep. We advise that it’s best to have at least two or more comrades follow you during a night run for safety purposes. Also, for reasons of personal safety, comrades should never go to high crime neighborhoods or known gang territories.
Other Forms of Propaganda:
Other forms of propaganda can include, but are not limited to, banners, leaflets, educational notes about the achievements of socialism. There are many other ideas, which can be considered propaganda for campaigns.
Club and Community Activities:
PCUSA club activities can be a good activist activity that gets the PCUSA name out in the community to those interested in our beliefs. Activities such as public study groups, communist open public movie events, club rallies, holding a club sponsored free drink table, and so on are good ways to spread influence, and recruit.
Community activities are not specifically club activities, but this does not mean the club cannot be publicly involved in these activities. If anything, it helps show the community we actively care about them and fight for them. Such community activities can include community service volunteerism like cleaning up pollution, helping the homeless and the needy with food or necessity supplies, and organizing community outreach programs. Club activity in the community shows a material commitment: that the Party is here to assist and care for the community.
I hope all this information serves you well in your future activist work for the PCUSA and LYCUSA.