For Gus Hall, The Party Isn’t Over Yet

<i> From Reuters</i>

U.S. Communist Party chief Gus Hall, battered but unbowed by the fall of Soviet communism, declared Friday that the movement is not dead and will inevitably return to power in the land of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Quoting Friedrich Engels, posing before a portrait of V. I. Lenin at U.S. Communist Party headquarters, blaming the CIA and admitting that “these are rough times” for Communists, Hall predicted the party would rise “rather fast,” like a phoenix from the ashes.

“Communism is not dead,” he said at a packed 90-minute news conference as he was peppered with questions about what would happen now that the Soviet party has been suspended from all political activity.


Hall said the party was probably organizing underground cells and newspapers as he spoke.

“We have to deal with something that never happened before, but this is not a memorial meeting,” he said. “The setbacks are serious . . . but I am not downcast or pessimistic. As Engels said, ‘If current events are negative, focus on long-range events.’ ”

He said he believes the Central Intelligence Agency was “very much involved in the events in the Soviet Union.”

Hall, 80, who has been head of the minuscule American Communist Party since 1953, accused the Soviet Parliament of being either insane or cowardly by blaming the Communist Party for the country’s ills and suspending it.

He called the act a witch hunt that smacked of the McCarthyism that devastated the U.S. Communist Party in the 1950s. He also joked that the party is now legal in the United States, its greatest enemy, but in limbo in Moscow.

“I would check the air-conditioning vents in the Soviet legislature to see if anything was put in it to produce this insanity, this hysteria. Maybe this was just an act of plain mass cowardice. The Soviet people will catch up with this hypocrisy,” he said.

While he condemned the coup that briefly overthrew Mikhail S. Gorbachev last week and set the stage for communism’s collapse in the Soviet Union, he criticized the Kremlin leader for disastrous domestic policies.