American Maoists Re-brand, Focus on Electoral Politics, Target the South

October 10, 2019 Updated: October 10, 2019

Commentary

America’s largest Maoist organization, Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), has re-branded itself “Liberation Road.”

The new name is in line with a new strategy to place much more emphasis on electoral politics. The new strategy is bearing fruit as the pro-China communists have already helped to elect allies to public office in several states.

With the word “socialist” dropped from their name, the comrades probably reason that their communism will be less apparent to potential electoral allies and voters. This could lead to even more electoral victories in the near future.

There was also another reason for the change. In 1999, FRSO split into two organizations, both of which claimed to be the “true” FRSO.

The minority faction, based in Chicago and Minneapolis, wanted to concentrate on traditional communist methods—street demonstrations, picketing and agitation, solidarity with China, North Korea, and foreign terrorist organizations, and alliances with other groups on the hard left, such as the Workers World Party. This group, which produces the FightBack! newspaper, is now the only FRSO—which must be gratifying after fighting their former comrades for more than 20 years over naming rights.

The majority faction, which is now known as Liberation Road, wanted to work for Left Refoundation—to build a re-vitalized less doctrinaire left with broader appeal to the masses and the ability to work closely with the Communist Party USA, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and other left formations. Liberation Road is very well funded, and has a major presence in several tax-free non-profits and labor unions, and even some churches.

FRSO Liberation Road still maintains ties to communist China but is fairly discreet about it. While internally still committed to communism, the “Road” has been working hard to sanitize its radical Maoist image in order to be able to work more effectively with the Democrats and local electoral groupings.

Liberation Road has a major presence in the San Francisco area and enjoys close relations with many local politicians and social movements. It’s also strong in Oregon and Washington State, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, the Washington D.C. area, Virginia, Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Southern Florida, and central Texas.

Goals and Strategy

Liberation Road’s goal in the South is to defeat what they call the “New Confederacy”—the conservative Christian/business/rural base that has kept the Republican Party dominant in the South and viable nationally for the last two decades. For example, FRSO was very active in the Tennessee U.S. senate race in 2018, backing Democrat Phil Bredesen. They did not prevail but did build strong networks for future races.

From the Liberation Road website:

“Our organization began in 1985 with a merger of two organizations … that came out of the New Communist Movement of the late 1970s/early 1980s. …

“Today, at a critical juncture—not just for us in Freedom Road Socialist Organization, but for the whole socialist and movement Left—we are excited to announce that we are changing our name to Liberation Road.

“Over the past 34 years, our organization has maintained a consistent commitment to opposing racial capitalism and fighting for socialism and self-determination. At the same time, we have prided ourselves on remaining highly adaptable based on ever changing internal and external conditions. …

“Since 2016, our organization has formally consolidated around a national strategy that focuses on building the independent political power of the strategic alliance through the creation of and support for mass independent political organizations (IPOs) as a part of a broader front to defeat the New Confederacy.”

These IPOs are independent political groups that are able to work both inside and outside of the Democratic Party to maximize the strength and leverage of the local left.

“Central to this strategic orientation is using the electoral arena as a tool and terrain that helps left/progressive forces to build political power.”

FRSO/Liberation Road has built several IPOs in Boston and in Philadelphia and Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley was elected with FRSO help, as were Philadelphia’s radical council member Helen Gym and District Attorney Larry Krasner.

But the South is the main target of Liberation Road’s electoral efforts. Liberation Road knows that if they can flip even two or three Southern states to the Democrats, the Republicans will soon become a permanent minority party.

“Our analysis is that this realignment of left/progressive forces, the building of mass independent political organizations operating both inside and outside the Democratic Party and the electoral arena, is crucial at this juncture. In embarking on this path, we have found considerable, though admittedly modest success in the building of IPOs in the South, which has been a geographic and strategic focus of our organization from its inception because of its unique role in the development of US racial capitalism.”

So far Liberation Road has had its greatest successes in swing state North Carolina and more reliably Republican Tennessee.

Southern Success

With its control of Durham for All, Liberation Road (which is aiming to raise an army of 10,000 activists) has put several comrades and allies onto local school boards and city councils, including recent Mayor Pro Tempore of the city of Durham Jillian Johnson.

In Tennessee, Liberation Road works closely with the DSA in local races in Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis.

In Knoxville, Liberation Road is running their comrade David Hayes on the City Council Movement / Knoxville for All ticket alongside DSA member Amelia Parker and Charles Al-Bawi—hopefully to join DSA comrade Seema Perez, who was elected to the city council last cycle.

In Central Tennessee, Liberation Road backs the Nashville Justice League, which endorsed no fewer than 15 City Council candidates this election cycle. DSA member Sean Parker recently won a Nashville City Council seat.

In the west of the state, Liberation Road’s Memphis for All has worked with the local DSA to elect several candidates for public office and is effectively running the campaign of mayoral candidate Tami Sawyer.

Memphis for All is doing extensive voter registration work in the city’s huge Democratic-leaning black voting base. If they flip reliably Republican Tennessee to the Democrats, it would be a knockout blow to the “New Confederacy.”

Memphis for All activist April Freeman recently told Liberation Road’s Mary Jo Connelly:

“Personally, I want Memphis For All to have a great impact on the voting turnout. … We’re already getting known for taking Memphis and Shelby County beyond—raising their voting turnout so much that it’s nationally covered.

“The Memphis electorate is a sleeping giant. It can flip Tennessee and lead a movement for deep change. … Deep grassroots organizing, and community leadership development can shift the balance.”

A New Socialist Party

Ultimately, Liberation Road wants to destroy the Republican Party. Then the plan is to work with the Communist Party USA, DSA, and others to gather all their combined forces inside and outside the Democratic Party into a mass socialist party that can seriously contend for permanent power.

From the Liberation Road website:

“In this new period of our organization and under our new name, we are excited to continue with others the process of building a party for socialism, while equally engaging with the broader progressive movement—globally and domestically—in the struggles to save the planet from environmental catastrophe and defeat both neo-liberal globalization and right-wing populism. Together, we look forward to working with others to create a vision and reality of fundamental social transformation that will move us down the liberation road.”

Liberation Road’s plans should not be treated as socialist fantasizing. The organization is backed by China and has a well-funded network spanning both coasts and most of the South. Their plan to use the Democrat’s minorities voting base and shifting demographics to destroy the Republican Party in the South has already made good progress in Virginia, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Liberation Road works well-under the radar but is highly effective, disciplined, and relentless. If the good people of the U.S. South do not want to suffer “socialist liberation” in the next few election cycles they’d better wake up fast.

Some state-level hearings on Chinese/Liberation Road influence on local and state elections might be a good place to start. I would happily testify.

Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.