(Directive prepared by the District Chair, VACPUSA)
This document is intended to outline the Virginia District’s discussions on maintaining the engagement of our Party members, as well as revitalizing club action. This topic was discussed at the most recent open session of our District Committee on March 12th, and it was put forward that a district-wide call to action should be distributed on the topic.
I. Task Delegation
The first major matter which we will discuss that affects engagement is delegation of tasks. Many leaders feel concerned that if they burden their members with responsibilities and tasks, that the work will become overwhelming or unpleasant. This, to an extent, is true, but it is important to remember that there are two ends to the spectrum of work that can be given to a comrade. On one end, you have the experience of being overly burdened with tasks, overworked, and burning out. On the other end, there is the experience of having nothing to do, and therefore no reason to feel invested in the work being done. District and club leaders alike must practice finding the balance for each comrade between these two ends of the spectrum of work.
The practical advice here is, give your comrades something to do! Figure out what people’s skills are and find how that can be applied to the local and district work that is being done. If there are no suitable tasks, that means you need to create a new one for that person to work on. Ideally, this would be a collaborative effort between two comrades, one asking the other what they feel they are skilled at and how they would prefer to apply themselves to the struggle. There are infinite ways to work towards revolution, each one valuable to us.
II. Leading from the Front
Now what do we do with these comrades once we get them working on a project, and they show interest in continuing? This is where we turn them into leaders. For example, how did the secretary come to be the secretary? It was made this way because they had already been doing secretarial work, just not from a position of leadership. If someone shows promise and interest in their work on education, they should be brought to the front of the struggle for education. If there is not an organ in place to facilitate this work, they may be assigned to create one by finding and working with more individuals interested in education. It is a natural evolution – this is what our comrades have termed “Leading from the Front.”
This does not mean that the district will never have needs which are unfulfilled by the current interests of the individuals which comprise it. There will be times in which gaps must be filled, and individuals must be assigned tasks that have not yet been taken up. Comrades who are unsure of their passions thus far may be able to work on these areas while they figure out their interests and skills, or perhaps they will decide that the area which they have been asked to work in is of interest to them after all. It is also possible to assign some of this work to comrades who do already have a focus but may also have some spare time to accomplish necessary work. Of course, we should not overload a comrade who works too much already – keep this in mind.
III. Acclimation and Personal Communication
Another suggestion was that the acclimation of new members is very important. When one enters the district, there is much information that we long-term comrades take for granted. We understand the structure, the election process, the meeting schedules, and the current projects. New members, however, know none of this very important and foundational information about our operation. We must be sure to onboard and integrate comrades thoroughly, and this is the responsibility of the club officers. Each officer should keep digital copies of our new member information and be sure to be available often in order to receive and orient new members.
An additional duty of the club officers, and district officers as well, is to maintain personal communication with their comrades. If we do not know how a member is feeling or what is going on in their life, we cannot expect to build trust. Communication is key for all relationships, including professional ones. Not only that, but solidarity is strongest when camaraderie is developed and nourished. Personal communication and morale building events to facilitate it are both crucial. Ensure that you are engaging socially with your comrades as well as professionally.
This leads into discussion on activities, which bridges the gap between member engagement and the revitalization of our clubs. Our clubs, in order to be functioning and serving their purpose, need to be engaging in local community events or creating events of their own. The function of a subregion is not met if the members therein are not impacting that subregion. Thus, it is crucial to both host and attend events. The more events that are attempted, the more opportunities there are for comrades to join and participate. Not all events will have ideal participation, but you must persevere and continue reaching out to members.
All of the aforementioned topics create the foundations for the revitalization of our local work. If we have members invested in the Communist Party, then we have members invested in the community. We are the workers, we are the people, and we are the community – we must once again ensure that we are present in the lives of our neighbors, our neighborhoods, and our cities. This will all naturally follow from personally connecting with our comrades and finding them places to express their interests and abilities within our Party.
For leaders of this district and of each club, it is critical to remember that our comrades have the utmost faith in our abilities to create change and enact revolution within our lifetime. We must not fall into the trap of seeing stagnation and believing that we cannot solve it. All contradictions have resolutions, and we must analyze our obstacles to overcome them.
Fear not and push on, comrades.
Forwards in solidarity,
Virginia District, Communist Party USA