MIKE GOLD was so right -- Pete Cacchione did make "a little American history." It was a history that merits study not only for its achievements; there are lessons from his life and works that are useful to all who seek a better world.
The chief thread of Pete's life was working-class struggle, and as the foregoing pages indicate he brought something special to the struggle. He was proud of the many-sided activity of his Party, the Communist Party. He gloried in its fight to organize the unorganized workers into powerful trade unions; in its mass actions to rally the unemployed; in its profound and consistent challenge to racism; in its defense of culture against the decay and corruption of a dying capitalist system.
Pete's special contribution was a constant emphasis on the necessity for people's political action -- by the workers, the small farmers, the so-called little people. He wanted his Party to be a mass party and he knew that to be a mass party it must be a permanent and growing presence on the electoral scene. This was no narrow, partisan attitude; it was part of an overwhelming sense that the working people must never surrender the electoral field to corporate wealth and their political agents. Like other Communists, Pete sought to bring into being a great mass people's party, an anti-monopoly party of which the Communists would be part, a new political formation that could contest for governmental power. On a state scale he encouraged such a formation, the American Labor Party.
This is not to say that Pete had illusions about social advance solely through the ballot box. He knew from intimate observation the fraudulent character of capitalist democracy and the two-party shell game. But he early rejected anarchist theories of abstention from parliamentary activities. Pete knew that despite deep and justified mass skepticism about the major parties and politicians, nonetheless tens of millions participated in politics, even if only in the limited way of voting on Election Day. Thus his deep-seated conviction that if the Left was to be effective in