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LETTER TO THE LACC: THEORETICIANS vs. ACTIONISTS
FIRST LETTER: SOME QUESTIONS OF THE MOVEMENT
SECOND LETTER: UNITE THE REVOLUTIONARIES!
OPEN LETTER: ON THE INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT
APPENDIX TO THE OPEN LETTER: ON TROTSKYISM
July 18, 1947
It is the feeling of the Queens group that it is neither possible nor desirable to issue a common national publication at this time.
We feel that there are developing within our movement as in all revolutionary movements, two main tendencies. These two tendencies are the revolutionary and the reformist. It was only to be, expected, that there would develop a sizeable reformist tendency within the left opposition. It would be incredible if this movement whose, members had for many years been active in the super-reformist Communist Party could emerge free from any traces of revisionism. This would be even more incredible in the light of the complete bankruptcy of the Communist Party: its failure to fight even for reforms; its sellouts in the trade unions (like the extension of the agreement of the ILWU without increase just at the time the other maritime unions were up for a raise); the failure of the Communist Party, even now, to break with the obviously anti-working: class and anti-Soviet Democratic Party; the isolation of the Communist Party in the working class and the mass movement generally – all these things would bring a sizeable group out of the Communist Party and into the left opposition in protest only at the failure: to carry-out consistently even the reformist policy of the Communist Party.
That this estimate is not just based upon theoretically preconceived notions may be shown by the fact that these two tendencies have not only emerged, but are beginning to crystallize. In New York, the reformist position is best portrayed by the publication of the P.R. Club, “Spark,” and the revolutionary position by the publications of our group, the Sutta pamphlet and the forthcoming polemic against the “Spark.” On the West coast, the reformist position is represented by the authors of the “Danger” leaflet and the revolutionary position by the Mulligan reply. Incidentally while we have had no contact with Mulligan nor do we approve of everything he says, his description of the two tendencies in the movement as “theoreticians,“ and “actionists” is very apt.
The “actionists” are those who state that when Harry Bridges led the general strike in 1934, for example, the policy was essentially correct and that the reason why Bridges acts the way he does now is that too many years of soft living have spoiled him, etc. Ben Gold was all right when he heroically fought the gangsters and the right-wingers in the fur industry, but today,he argues that the workers should produce more in order to help their own bosses because, according to the “actionist” he gets $125 and has gone soft. The struggles led by the Communist Party in the NMU and in the other unions were correct, only the leaders deserted. This analysis holds that the only task before the movement is the aim of restoring the same militant activity that held in the “good old days.” Since we know what to do then the job should not be delayed by talking too much about theory. We see, therefore, that the P.R. Club is by far the most active of all the opposition groups. They have since the beginning of their fight distributed leaflets to two Communist Party meetings, printed two Issues of the “Spark” and organized defense meeting for Eisler. In addition, – they are active in the Civil Rights Congress, the AVC, and other community organizations.
The “theoreticians” hold, on the other hand, that the reason for the failure of the present policy of the Communist Party must be found in the line of the Party. They contend that this current bankrupt policy has its roots in the policy of the “good old days.” In the eyes of this group, it is necessary to reexamine the whole theory on which the activities of the Communist Party are based. This means going back to the classics of Marxism and testing them with real life to prove their validity. The position taken by the theoreticians is that without this, no amount of real struggle is worth anything. You cannot take a trip if you do not know where you are going and you cannot organize struggles correctly unless there is a correct line. (“Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.” “What is to be Done?” p 26).
The P.R. Club proves the correctness of the position of the “theoreticians.” While they are very active, their line and, consequently their actions are identical with that of the Communist Party. We are publishing an Article dealing with the theory, but one example of the in practical work should give point to the difference between their position and ours. In organizing a meeting in defense of Eisler (correctly) they invited for this occasion, Mrs. Eisler, a spokesman for the Communist Party! (The fact that she would; not appear when she discovered that the meeting was called by an expelled group gives proof as to her identity with the C.P.)
It is our belief that the crystalising of the two tendencies is very important. Just as we feel that no army could function with agents of the enemy within its general staff, neither can the proletariat- function with agents of the bourgeoisie within its ”general staff,” the vanguard. Not only does the experience of the entire working class movement prove this, but even the limited experience of our little left opposition.
Two examples are already evident in New York. The best example is the left opposition in the NMU. This group which was led by Dunne and a number of rank and filers in the union had both the widest experience and the greatest knowledge of anyone in the opposition. They also had wide contact with the workers and the opportunity for fighting for a Marxist line in practice. In the correct drive to oust the reformist betrayers from the ranks of the maritime industry they made an unprincipled block with Curran and Stone who were attacking the Communists from the right. (They, Curran and Stone attacked the Communists as those who “wanted to provoke strikes for political ends;” “Soviet expansionism;” political action as such and not the reformist political action of the Communists; they supported in full the Murray position.) The left opposition there went from the correct position (they opposed Murray and the CIO –resolution and distributed Dunnes’s leaflet on this) to a position in which they did not separate themselves from this rotten policy. From here they quickly reached a stage where they began to apologize for Curran and Stone and finally became completely identified with them. When we remember that the policy of Curran and Stone in the recent agreement was: one, give the demands to arbitration; two, when the employers refused and demanded that the NMU follow the example of the ILWU, they called the phony “Strike” in which, the workers continued to work, but refused to sail-out of port; and three, the settlement with the 5% increase which was hailed by Curran – when we remember these things, it becomes hard to distinguish which group is which. To us who are outside the actual scene and who are forced to rely upon the not too authentic information at our disposal, it appears that the entire issue at stake appears to be: Who shall have the jobs in the union.
The case of Dowling and NCP serves as another example. Dowling at first expressed himself as being for a revolutionary position. He worked on the following theory, however: “Anyone who is against the ninth floor is moving in the right direction. Any attempt to polemicize among the opposition can only give aid and comfort to the leadership of the CPUSA.”
With this philosophy he was able to publish or distribute material by Dunne, Darcy, Keith, Stout, Sutta, P.R. Club, Minton, SFCC, etc. –all without comment. He was able to maintain friendly relations with, all these groups and individuals for a while. As was inevitable, however, the blanket of unity led to the victory of reformism. The last articles published by this group represent a complete break with Marxism. In the issue on the Taft-Hartley Bill they state: “The fight for a higher standard of living is the fight for Socialism.” This ’represents’ the Economist, trade-unionist position. If Comrade Dowling were to carry his logic to its conclusion, then the anti-Semitic, anti-Soviet John L. Lewis would become the leader of the American revolutionary movement. This was also the position of the leaders of the CPUSA in the “great Strike Wave” of two years ago. We are publishing an article dealing with this position fully in the near future. It is enough to state here the unity of all trends once again paved the way for the victory of reformism.
In urging a common national publication, what kind of publication do you have in mind: We are sure that you do not mean to issue a publication in which the only point in common will be the hatred of the Communist Party. . The experience of the whole revolutionary movement is that such a publication will in a very short time lead us to the position of the Trotskyites. We would play no role in the working class movement and would not try to solve any of the problems that face the workers – just snipe at the Communist Party.
Aside from the fact that such unity is neither desirable nor correct, it is impossible to accomplish any work at all under this “umbrella.” We tried to hold a class with a couple who wanted to maintain relations both with-our group and with the Communist Party. We found that even in such questions as the study of the “Communist Manifesto,” we were unable to find a single point of agreement. The result was that, isolated as we were, we were forced to ask the couple to withdraw in order to accomplish anything.
After the meeting which attempted to bring about unity of all the New York groups failed, we tried for a time to work with the P.R. Club. While we found them to be a likeable young group, once we began to discuss our basic views there was no common ground. We found that we could not agree on anything it was as though we spoke different languages.
No, comrades, we too feel the need of a national publication, but it cannot be an all inclusive publication but must represent one of the trends, the revolutionary trend. It must not only fight to reestablish what Marxism is and advance its theory, but at the same time it must attack all the reformist trends and positions in the working class movement. By all, we mean not only the Communists, Socialists and the Trotskyites, but especially all reformist trends in the movement for a revolutionary party. If this were not necessary, then the first step of the opposition should be the holding of a convention and the formation of the new Marxist-Leninist Party. The paper would then be the organ of the new party.
To sum up: It is our opinion that there exists among the left-opposition two main trends, i.e., reformist and revolutionary. The split between them is developing. The present task of the opposition and the prerequisite for the formation of a new party is the isolation and the-exposure of the reformists and the simultaneous development of a revolutionary theory. This can be done not by repeating; over and over all the slogans of Marxism, but through the examination of the real problems facing the working class and through a detailed concrete analysis of our economy upon which the politics of our era are based. We welcome the proposal to issue a national publication of this sort and ask all the groups and individuals who hold our view to join with us in this project.
For A Marxist Party without reformists,
Burt Sutta, for the Committee
September 14, 1947
Dear Comrade Mulligan:
Thanks very much for your splendid letter and your criticism of my articles. I showed the letter to the members of my group and it heartened all of us greatly to know that there are others who hold the same materialist point of view and who are moving in the same direction. After the isolation that we have experienced in the past year the thought that we are not alone is the most heartening one that we can get. The-letter, which you sent represents so many contributions to our thinking that it will take a great deal of study and collective discussion before we can deal with it as it deserves. I am sending you these comments simply so that you can hear how much we appreciated your letter and to let you have a few of our observations on your letter.
While a number of these observations will of necessity be critical of the position expressed in your letter, I only ask you to keep in mind that the differences expressed here are all secondary and that the important thing to keep in mind is the similarity of our basic approach and outlook.
I agree, as can be seen from my article on wages, on the need for concreteness dealing with “the question of-economic relationships. The difference between us was one of formulation and not one of any substance. I agree too on the question of the need here for a book of the type of the “Development of Capitalism in Russia” as the basis for our program.
There are several differences with your interpretation both of the purpose of this work and of some of your comparative periods. What was it that Lenin set out to prove in the article, “The Development of Capitalism in Russia”? He was answering the argument of the Narodnicks. They stated that the great bulk of the population of Russia was the peasantry and that among the peasantry you found a peculiar situation. The property relations, in the Russian village are communal, that is, the land there is owned in common. This, therefore, makes it unnecessary for us, they continued, to support the development of capitalism nor even any need for it to develop. Our task is to go to the peasants, win them for the revolution and move to Socialism directly through the village commune. A special situation existed in Russia which nullified all the theories of Marx, stated the Narodniks. The task of Lenin and the Marxists was to prove that the form of the village commue (mir) was only a shell which concealed the developing class antagonisms which were caused by the fact that capitalist development was already taking place in Russia. Our task while the same in essence, differs from that of Lenin in several important ways. It is our task to prove against the reformists of our day that the conditions .of the workers have deteriorated and are deteriorating in spite of the-trade union struggles. It is our task to prove that in spite of the reformist policy of Roosevelt, the economic system is decaying and has decayed during the entire period. We must show that the fine speeches about the economic royalists served to conceal the concentration of wealth into the very hands of those whom Roosevelt so loudly denounced. We must, in a word, prove the futility of the reformist political position and the consequent need for revolution. We must do this concretely, as Lenin did, by-reference to the concrete economy in which we live. It is not now necessary to deal with the entire history of the development of capitalism in this country or even to return to the period of the 1860s, but rather to deal with the economy at present and its direction.
It is, of course, wrong to state:
“Since the capitalist revolution, in reaching the highest peak of its sweep in Russia was climaxed by the overthrow of capitalism and the seizure of power by the proletariat, a corresponding course in the USA would have seen their dictatorship established in this country around the period 1870 to 1880.” p. 7
The Russian Revolution took place in the world in the year 1917. Its success was possible because of the fact that it occurred in the era of imperialism, during the first imperialist war and grew- out of the world forces of imperialism of that time. The Russian Revolution was essentially not a national but an international development. To equate. 1917 in Russia and 1870 in the United States is to lose sight of the real world. For example, China is today, struggling for the completion of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. Yet, you cannot equate her struggles today which reflect the great struggle of the working class and its state, the Soviet Union and the main imperialist state, the United States, with the period of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in 1688. This, position that you have taken views the development of history one-sidedly, metaphysically without its connections instead of all-sidedly, in connection, dialectically.
The same thing takes place in your treatment of the bourgeois revolution as completing its usefulness in 1873 (Why do you take this figure instead of Lenin’s 1900?) In what sense is capitalism still progressive in 1860? It is progressive only as compared to feudalism. It, is still, progressive in relationship, to the -slave-owners, but at the same time it is and has for a long time been reactionary as compared with the proletariat. Its character is therefore, two-sided. The same is true with the development of monopoly. The evils of monopoly have been sufficiently dealt with by the Daily Worker and by the other petty bourgeois reformists to eliminate the need of additional exposition here. Monopoly also has a double nature, however –it increases production it carries: the socialisation of production to its limit under capitalism; it prepares the way for the transition to a new social order.
I do hot agree that our starting point should be the 1870’s. The great economic works that form the cornerstone of Marxism, Capital, and Imperialism take the analysis of society up to 19l4. Our job should, only at the most, carry on from there. We do not have to do over again all the work done by Marx and Lenin in order to lay the basis for the development. of a Marxist Party here. Our study, therefore, need only deal with the period from the first war and must prove from the nature of the economic base of society that a new situation does-not exist but that the revolutionary principles of Marxism are still valid. If we do not do this we can spend so much time redoing the work that has already, in the main, been done, that we will; never get out of the woods.
I was very much interested in your remarks on the educational system. I, too, have a son almost old enough to enter the school system and there are continuous arguments in my house as to the value of the public educational system. The subject is then as you can see one of great interest and one with which I have some superficial experience. For this reason I found your study and your notes both interesting and stimulating. On this question, however, I find myself in disagreement both with your approach and your conclusions.
The basic error in your presentation on the question of the latest trends in education comes from the failure to consider the function of the entire education system in our-society. The education system in our society is one of the instruments for maintaining the rule of the bourgeoisie. It is, in short, a part of the apparatus of the bourgeois state. It is exactly the same, in essence, as the army, the prisons, the courts, etc. We are opposed to the armed forces not primarily because they are “undemocratic” but because they are bourgeois. It is the reformists who want to eliminate Jim-Crow, abolish special officer caste privileges, increase salaries of the soldiers, etc., in order to make the armed forces function better. The revolutionists utilize these inevitable evils to organize cells within the armed forces in order to destroy the armed forces. While this can be seen readily enough, it is much harder to see it with the educational system. Let us examine the situation there although I am sure that when you look at the question from this point of view you can see it as well as I.
What is taught in the public school system that takes twelve years to learn (in the industrial areas)? The average student five years after graduation retains only the ability to read, write and do simple arithmetic. Recently I checked with my family and my friends and found this to be true in every case in which the student did not pursue a professional or technical career. It is also true that, even were the entire curriculum needed, that it can be covered within –a very few years. People who were sick or have been unable to go to school in the prescribed manner are able to finish the entire curriculum within two or three years.
Since the teaching of reading and writing and arithmetic takes only a few months, or a year at the most then why is the school term so prolonged? This can only he explained by the class nature of the education system. Its primary job is to feed the students the bourgeois position on the world. They must fill them with all the bourgeois lies about history, society, etc. But, you may object, even this should not take so long. Surely, the bourgeoisie can teach all these lies in less time. Yes, that is true. The reason for the amount of time spent in the schools in thus not only the spread of lies, but the training of the children’s minds, in the bourgeois methods and in bourgeois habits of thought. The school system teaches the children to think metaphysically, i.e., the conditions and the wrongs that exist now are eternal; they teach the child history from the idealist point of view, that is, history is a series of accidents which occurred simply because great men happened to act in a certain way. For example, if Columbus had lived earlier, America would have - been discovered earlier. They teach an attitude that is not part of the formal curriculum. They teach obedience and suppress independence of thought, build a reverence for religion, inculcate patriotism, etc. They need so long in order to be sure that the minds of the youth can be warped and twisted and unable to see reality.
With this as the basic appraisal of the education system, what should our position be? Do we object to the system, because it does not poison our children skillfully enough or do we object to the-poisoning itself? When the question is put this way, then the falsity of your position: “If only a. small part of what I have stated were substantiated by factual proof it would put us into a strong position in relation to the main purveyors of bourgeois ideology – becomes evident. It is not the decay of education as part of the entire cultural decay in this stage of capitalist development that is decisive, but the fact-that this education is no good, in its essence. The fact is that the better the school system is the worse it is from the standpoint of the proletarian revolution.
The second error that you make is the oversimplification of the question of the decay of teaching methods. Your approach is, as I understand it, that with the advent of monopoly the teaching system began to decay and that therefore it is now far worse than it was then. This approach comes dangerously near being the “back the good old days” one of the actionists. You state, for example, that the modern child in the fifth year can hardly read the third McGuffey Reader. The condemnation of the elimination of the classics from the curricula of the colleges is another example. The point of view which you express here is neither dialectical, i.e., it does not consider the fact that the education system not decay uniformly, but spasmodically and that together with the decay progress is made, and second, it does not conform to reality.
With the victory of the proletarian dictatorship what sort of education will the children be given? Basically the education system must be of such a character as to help the student to understand the real world around us. First the student would be trained in the method of science, i.e., dialectical materialism. Then, he would be taught the desire and the use of learning and the method of independent research. He would be encouraged to think and work both independently and at the same time collectively. Third, he would be given the tools, in the form of the technical understanding necessary to understand the achievements of science. (It is noteworthy that today the general college student doesn’t have any picture of the recent developments in science such as relativity, quantum, atomic development, etc.). The Socialist approach could not be “back to the classics.”
Further, in the factory system is found ”the germ of the education of the future, an education that will, in the case of every child over a given age, combine productive labour with instruction and gymnastics, not only as one of the methods of adding to the efficiency of production, but as the only method of producing fully developed human beings.” Capital p 489
Secondly, you overlook some of the recent achievements of bourgeois education. In the army, for example, a system was developed whereby a foreign language could be taught to one who had no previous acquaintance with it within six weeks. As one who labored for years through the study of languages in college without ever being able to speak them at all, I can appreciate the revolution in teaching methodology involved here. Thousands of workers were taught the handling of extremely complicated and completely new machinery in the construction of the atom bomb plants. In the armed forces, too, men were taught the most complicated military sciences within an incredibly short time. At the same time as the general decay of teaching and education, there has been an advance in the methods of teaching science in the last seventy years, etc. Just as you say correctly that we must take into account the sixty million jobs and the $200 billion national income when dealing with the economic picture, we too must take these things into account when dealing with the education system. It not only produces illiterates, but also men capable of handling atomic fission.
I hope that these criticisms on the educational system can help you in your examination of it. I am sure that the material which you collected can be of great use if the class struggle is kept in mind.
I am grateful for the appreciation expressed as to the general approach in my article on the P.R. Club and for the criticism expressed. There is no question that there is not only the possibility, of my being in error on occasion, but I have been in error enough to regard it as a certainty. My record in the Communist Party where I was not only “one of the betrayed but one of the betrayers” as one of the comrades put it, and even my record in the opposition proves that not only can I, but that I do make serious errors.
I cannot, however, accept your criticism in regard to the Soviet Union and the UNO. The position that you express may be summarized as follows: Socialism cannot be exported. Therefore the, Soviet Union has neither any interest nor any obligations to the international working class revolutionary movements. The role of the Soviet Union and its actions can and should be explained, you state, only on the basis of conditions inside the Soviet Union and since the leaders of the Soviet Union are in a far better position to understand the situation there, we must assume that they are correct.
The basic error in your position springs from the concept “Socialism cannot be exported.” By this Marxists have understood that one cannot expect the invading armies of the Soviet state to bring Socialism to an unwilling people. In short, Socialism cannot be won against the wishes of the people or the working class of the particular country involved. Does this mean that the international character of the revolutionary movement is denied? Of course not! Lenin during the first world war de-voted most of his fire not at the Russian opportunists but at Kautsky and the German traitors. He continued this during the revolution. The fruits were the German revolution and the saving of the Russian revolution. Was Lenin, a Russian, wrong in criticising Kautsky, a German? Did not Lenin and the Bolsheviks use the Soviet state not only to expose the depredations of capital generally but also to make a specific appeal to the American workers (“Letter to the American Workers”)? There are many other examples of this type of activity.
Why is it necessary for us to defend the Soviet Union? Why do we argue for the defense of the. Soviet Union and prepare to do so even in the probable event of war between this country and the. Soviet Union? Is it because it is in the “best interest of the American people” as the Communist Party proclaims? Or is it not rather because the Soviet Union represents the vanguard of the international Socialist revolution that we ask the workers to prepare to defy the bourgeois state apparatus in war at the risk of their lives? But if this is so, then do we not have the right to demand that the Soviet Union use its position as the vanguard of the Social Revolution in order to expose the rottenness of capitalism? Does it not make our task of exposing the imperialist grab and the imperialist oppression of the former Japanese colonies seized by the United States that much more difficult because it is done with the approval, on the most cynical grounds, by the Soviet Union? Does it not make it more difficult for us to make the working class conscious when we are faced with these difficulties?
No, Comrade Mulligan, we give unconditional support to the Soviet Union because we are convinced of the international character of the Socialist Revolution. While we must therefore criticize ourselves first of all, we must then criticize all who depart from the precepts of revolutionary Marxism. The fact which you ignored when dealing with my article was the main thesis on this point. The main thesis on the UNO was that the UNO served as a medium which masked the real oppression and exploitation in the world and that it, merely served to deceive and disarm the workers. We, therefore, opposed support for the UNO on the part of the workers. Is this true? If it is and I am sure that no one can today (Marshall’s speech) believe otherwise then how do you answer the arguments of the P.R. Club (or the Communist Party)?. They state: “The Soviet Union supports it.” Either you must disagree with the position of the Soviet Union or yield the field to the reformists. There is no other way of dealing with this question honestly. You can see, therefore, that the position of the Soviet Union on various questions does have international and not purely national significance.
What I tried to do in my article is to reintroduce the scientific method into Marxism. It is necessary for us to develop scientific Socialism with precisely the same method of any other science. Let me give some of the approach of modern science:
“It is essential here, as always in science to rid ourselves of deep-rooted, often uncritically repeated prejudices....
“In classical mechanics it was tacitly assumed that a moving clock does not change its rhythm. This seemed so obvious that it was hardly worth mentioning. But nothing should be too obvious; if we wish to be really careful, we should analyse the assumptions, so far taken for granted, in physics.
“An assumption should not be regarded as unreasonable simply because it differs from that of classical physics.” (“Evolution of Physics” by Infeld and Einstein, section on Time, distance and relativity, my emphasis).
Modern physics grew to its present greatness because it accepted only what corresponded to reality and experiment. Newton, Galileo and all the other great scientists who laid the basis of modern physics had their view amended or rejected as not conforming to reality as a more developed science was able to approximate it. It was only by this; method of, critically testing with reality the theories and the prejudices of the past that physics could advance.
This must be the approach which we take to the scientific study of our society. If we do this then we can develop a Marxist movement, if not then we can never, emerge from the camp of the bourgeoisie.
* * *
I think that in the question of the role of the petty-bourgeoisie mentioned in my article there is a misunderstanding of the position taken there. Yes, it is the task of the proletariat to win supporters from the camp of the petty-bourgeoisie. In fact, one of the great struggles with the bourgeoisie is precisely for leadership of the petty-bourgeoisie. This is, however, a different question from that of accepting petty bourgeois ideology. The role of petty bourgeois ideology is to strengthen bourgeois ideology (as you yourself pointed out in your article on the “Danger” leaflet). If we accept the Marxist thesis: “Either Socialist or bourgeois ideology,” then we understand that it is necessary to fight ruthlessly and uncompromisingly against the petty bourgeois ideology in the working class movement. We try to win the petty bourgeoisie, not by making bur ideology acceptable to them, as the Communist Party, does, but by winning them to the proletarian position. I don’t enlarge upon this point because I think that there is no argument in substance, only in terms.
We are currently working on a number of projects with the aim of freeing ourselves from our isolation both with the other revolutionary groups and with the working class. We are trying for the first time, to deal with one of the issues facing the workers concretely in the form of either a leaflet or a pamphlet. We are basing ourselves, upon the material contained in a leaflet issued by K. Austin, entitled, “Speed-up in Longshore.” Instead of using the material there, as he does to draw the same reformist conclusions, we intend to use it differently.
First, we intend to prove that the increase of productivity in longshore cited by Austin is not accidental and is not the result of the arbitration policy of the union leaders, alone, but is inevitable and is a part of the worsening of the conditions of the workers which occurs everywhere under capitalism. We will give figures to show that all industries experienced the same increase in productivity. We will then try to show why this increase must take place under the system of commodity production. Through this we wish to convince the workers that trade unionism alone is powerless to prevent-the continuous, almost daily eating away of the conditions of the working class caused by the increase in productivity. From this we draw the conclusion that for the workers to solve this problem they must join in the fight for the Social revolution, for the overthrow of the wages system, and for their liberation. The trade unions must therefore, be turned into organizations which train the workers for Socialism, as well as fighting for the day-to-day needs of the workers.
Secondly, the union leadership cannot be looked upon merely as non-militants who do not fight hard enough for the demands of the workers. This lack of militancy come from the fact that they support the wages system. They are, through their support of capitalism, in fact, agents of the capitalists within the labor movement.
Thirdly, because of the above considerations, it is necessary to reconsider the whole relationship of the workers to long term collective agreements, or for that matter, to any collective agreements. (This will probably be just as much of a shock to you as it was to us when the idea first was raised. For all of us who have been trained that the beginning and end of all the workers’ activity was the sighing of the collective agreement, this point of view is, to say the least, strange). There are two reasons for this:
One, if we regard the trade union struggle as a training ground for socialism, or as Marx puts it, as guerilla war against the effects of capital, then the collective agreement must he looked upon as an agreement on the part of the workers to stop fighting for a certain period, to agree to a truce, etc. Since the greatest gain the workers can get out of the trade unions is the struggle; the collective agreement which removes the struggle from the shop is a weapon in the hands of the capitalists. Let us examine what happens in a shop or industry under a collective agreement. During this period the handling of grievances, the dealing with the problems of the workers is removed from the shop. It becomes the property of a special apparatus. This apparatus, which consists of trained business agents, lawyers, arbitration experts, etc., handles all the serious problems of the workers during the time of the collective agreement, and therefore it creates apathy among the workers and lack of confidence in their own ability solve their problems. This, of course, weakens the militancy and activity of the workers who participate in any way in the life of the union. This immobilization of the workers negates the most important function of the trade union movement, the training of the workers for the Socialist struggle.
It is not generally known, but the early Socialist unions in Germany did not sign collective agreements. In this country the I.W.W. refused to sign collective agreements for the following reasons, outlined in Bill Haywood’s Book:
“But,” I said, “why enter into an agreement with the mining companies at all that is, a time agreement? Why not be in a position to strike at any time?
“Let me show you what an agreement really means. If a member of your union signed an individual agreement with the boss, you would say he was a yellow cur. But there are labor organizations, which will enter into local agreements without considering the other workers in their industry. This only increases the size of, the yellow dog. And the same is true of you as coal miners when you enter into the agreement including the entire industry. This agreement you regard as sacred and you feel that it compels you to work and provide coal no matter what the conditions of the other workers may be.
“Take, for example, the locomotive engineers –they have never broken an agreement in the history of their organization. But they have scabbed on every big strike that has taken place in this country. So I say that even the workers in the entire industry have no right to enter into a time agreement, and this is true of the working class as a whole. We have no right to enter into agreements with the capitalist class because it is the historic mission of the working class to overthrow the capitalist system. It is our only means of emancipation from wage slavery.Bill Haywood’s Book, page 172 our italics. This excerpt is from a speech made by Haywood to a meeting of coal miners at a Labor Day meeting.
Two, since the conditions of the workers are continuously undermined by the increase in productivity, then the collective agreement becomes a means of freezing the wages of the workers while their actual conditions are undermined. It is in effect a maximum wage agreement on the part of the workers to the capitalists. For these reasons we call upon the workers to do the following:
One, join with the revolutionary movement in the struggle for Socialism. Two, repudiate the collective agreement signed between the capitalists and their agents, the trade union leaders. Three, demand from the bosses a thirty hour week now and a fifty per cent wage increase. No arbitration and no collective agreement!
While this, is only the roughest kind of outline, I am sending it to you and your group for discussion so that we may have the benefit of your opinion and your criticism. Since you are in contact with the West Coast longshoremen, see if you can get the reaction of some of the workers.
We are also engaged in answering the replies we received in response to the recently published articles. In spite of the slanderous campaign carried on by both NCP and “Spark” to the effect that we are Trotskyites, we have received a better response from these articles than the first pamphlet. This is all the more striking when you consider that the pamphlet was circulated in 1500 copies and the present articles in only 400. While we do no believe that this response justifies the continuance of our publishing by ourselves, we do believe that it was both correct and worthwhile for us to have publicly, stated our position. We feel that it helped the development of the revolutionary movement for us to have published our views and that we have rendered a service in helping to put aside the false cloak of unity which so hampered the real development of the movement. It is no longer possible, for example, to circulate both my pamphlet and the P.R. Club’s “Spark” and praise both as being correct. This was done in the past by the SFCC, LACC, and NCP. The actual fact is that the line taken in my polemic against the Spark is identical with that of the pamphlet I published. All of the arguments contained in the article are in the pamphlet (in a much less developed form, of course). How then was it possible to praise and distribute one and to condemn the other as Trotskyite? It is only because they are unprincipled idealists. It was because in the pamphlet I used the Marxist position to attack the revisionism in the Communist Party and in my recent article I used it to condemn revisionism everywhere. The one common agreement which the reformists wished to keep was that everything is all right as long as it attacks the Communist Party. The service done, by the articles just published was that they forced attention to be paid to the line, to the theory, to the position itself. It is interesting that in the publication of the-pamphlet, “The Fight Against Revisionism in the CPUSA,” I did not receive one criticism of the position taken in the pamphlet. In this last article, not only did all of the answers received so far discuss the line on its merits, but even the reformists were forced to try to deal with it polemically. This is step toward the stage when all material will be discussed, scientifically, on its merits, etc.
We believe that while it was correct to publish for this reason we have reached the saturation point of publishing by ourselves. We believe that now it is necessary for the revolutionary elements in our movement to take the first steps toward unity. We would like to link up the revolutionary groups for the purpose of issuing a journal in common. This journal we feel, should deal with both the theoretical and the agitational questions facing the movement. This would help the development of the movement more than anything that we can think of at the present time. It would allow all of us to hasten our development because of the possibility of collective work and would serve as a center for attracting other revolutionaries. Second, through this collective work we would be able to overcome the obstacles which are preventing us from uniting “Socialism with the working class movement.” Let us know your opinion of the possibilities of such working together.
We would like to have your help in another question. We have for the past six months or longer tried to hold a class in Marxism among the members of our group. We started with the Manifesto and are now studying some of the economic writings of Marx, i.e., “Value, Price and Profit” and “Wage Labor and Capital.” We would appreciate your experiences in connection with your classes as ours do not seem to come to life. If we cannot teach ourselves, then how can we teach the workers? Let us know what you are doing along this line; it would be a great help.
We feel encouraged by the position taken by yourself and by some of the other members of the opposition. I feel sure that it will be possible to take the first steps in the direction of the creation of a Marxist revolutionary party, which will lead the workers to their own liberation.
With Comradely greetings to the members of your group,“
* * *
JANUARY 14, 1948
DEAR COMRADE MULLIGAN:
I AM WRITING TO YOUR BEFORE I HAVE RECEIVED AN ANSWER TO MY LAST NOTE. I REALIZED THAT SOME OF THE ISSUES WHICH HAVE DEVELOPED SINCE THE LAST TIME THAT WE COMMUNICATED NEED FURTHER DISCUSSION.
THE FIRST THING THAT IS APPARENT IS THE COMPLETE VICTORY OF THE REFORMIST LINE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY AMONG THE OTHER GROUPS OF THE LEFT OPPOSITION. FROM THE NCP, WHICH SEEMS TO HAVE OVERWHELMED THE REST OF THE OPPOSITION AND BECOME THE LEADER OF THE GROUP BY SHEER WEIGHT OF NUMBERS AND WHOSE LINE ECHOES THE CPUSA SO EXACTLY THAT THEY DEVOTE ONE ISSUE TO PRAISING ROBERT THOMPSON AND ANOTHER TO THE PRAISE OF GEORGE MORRIS, RIGHT DOWN THE LINE IS THE SAME. THE MAIN THESIS OF NCP IS THAT THE GREATEST BOOM IN AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL HISTORY IS ACTUALLY A DEPRESSION! THEY FILL UP PAGE AFTER PAGE WITH THE MOST INCREDIBLE NONSENSE AND, AT BEST, THEY WIN THE HEARTS OF THEIR READERS WITH NOTALGIC REMINDERS OF “THE GOOD OLD DAYS.” THE OTHER PUBLICATIONS OF THE LEFT THAT I HAVE SEEN ARE ALL OF THE SAME CLOTH – SFCC BULLETIN, LACC BULLETIN AND THE “SPARK.” THERE IS NOT EVEN THE PRETENSE ANY LONGER OF FIGHTING FOR A CORRECT THEORY – ALL THAT WE CAN SEE IS THE SAME TIRED OLD LINE, REPEATED TIME AFTER TIME. THEY DIFFER ONLY ON THE QUESTION OF THE PERSONELL OF THE LEADERSHIP OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY AND ON THEIR COWARDICE, NOT IN THE LEAST REALIZING THAT BOTH THESE CHARACTERISTICS ARE THE INEVITABLE RESULTS OF THE REFORMIST PETTY BOURGEOIS POSITION OF THE CPUSA.
ALL OF THESE GROUPS ARE CONSISTENTLY ISSUEING MATERIAL AND EXTENDING THEIR ORGANIZATIONS. THE CASE IS DIFFERENT WITH THOSE OF US WHO STAND FOR A BREAK WITH THE PAST. THE REVOLUTIONARY MATERIALIST POINT OF VIEW HAS BEEN UNABLE TO TAKE EVEN THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD JOINING TOGETHER OF THEIR. FORCES. LET US TAKE OURSELVES AS EXAMPLES. IN MARCH 1947, I PUBLISHED A PAMPHLET. THIS EXPRESSED THE SAME POINT OF VIEW AS YOU HELD. IN MAY OR JUNE, YOU PUBLISHED YOUR ARTICLES ON THE DANGER LEAFLET AND YOUR LETTER TO COMRADES WITH WHICH I WAS IN BASIC AGREEMENT. IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY, I SENT YOU A COPY OF THE LETTER I WROTE TO THE LACC ON UNITY OF ALL THE GROUPS . YOU STATED THAT THIS REPRESENTED YOUR POSITION. IN AUGUST, YOU SENT ME A LONG AND VERY GOOD LETTER DEALING WITH YOUR POSITION AND RAISING SOME POINTS IN CONNECTION WITH MY ARTICLE “THE SPARK AND THE FIGHT FOR A REVOLUTIONARY PARTY.” THERE AGAIN YOU STATED THAT IN SPITE OF THE DIFFERENCES, YOU WERE IN BASIC AGREEMENT. IN MY REPLY, IN SPITE OF CONSIDERABLE DIFFERENCE ON SECONDARY QUESTIONS, I AGAIN STATED THAT OUR BASIC APPROACH WAS THE SAME AND ASKED THAT WE JOIN IN SOME COLLECTIVE WORK. IT IS NOW THE MIDDLE OF JANUARY AND NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE. THIS IS ALMOST ONE YEAR AFTER THE PUBLICATION OF MY POSITION WITH WHICH WE ARE BOTH IN AGREEMENT. THE BASIC QUESTION NOW IS WHETHER WE CAN CONTINUE TO ALLOW THE DIFFERENCES ON SECONDARY QUESTIONS TO OBSCURE AND PARALYZE THE FUNDEMENTAL AGREEMENT IN OUR POSITIONS. THIS QUESTION IS MADE MUCH SHARPER BY THE TURN OF EVENTS IN THE WORLD.
IN THIS COUNTRY, THE TAFT-HARTLEY LAW, THE THOMAS COMMITTEE, THE LOYALTY PURGE, THE ISOLATION OF THE COMMUNISTS IN THE LABOR MOVEMENT AND THE OPEN ATTACK ON THE LEFT BY “OUR GREAT LEADER,” PHILIP MURRAY, THE FASCIST BREAKING UP OF EISLER’S MEETINGS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY (WHILE THE COMMUNISTS APPEAL TO THE POLICE FOR PROTECTION INSTEAD OF TO THE WORKERS) ALL OF THESE ARE INDICATIONS THAT THE BOURGEOISIE WILL SHORTLY OUTLAW ALL WORKING CLASS ACTIVITY.
THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION WHERE THE VACILLATIONS AND THE HESITATIONS OF THE COMMUNISTS HAD GUARANTEED THE VICTORY OF THE BOURGEOISIE IN THE DECISIVE COUNTRIES OF EUROPE (ITALY & FRANCE) AND WHERE THE LACK OF EVEN THE MOST ELEMENTARY SOLIDARITY ON THE PART OF THE WORKING CLASS OF THE ADVANCED CIVILIZED COUNTRIES HAS GUARANTEED THE DEFEAT OF THE WAVE OF NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENTS, IS SERIOUS. WITHIN A SHORT PERIOD THE VICTORIOUS COUNTER REVOLUTIONARY BOURGEISIE IN EUROPE WILL SUPPRESS THE WORKING CLASS MOVEMENTS AND CONSOLIDATE THEIR RULE IN PREPARATION FOR JOINING THE WAR AGAINST THE SOVIET UNION. THE OBVIOUS AND INEVITABLE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS WAR BETWEEN THE IMPERIALIST POWERS AND THE SOVIET UNION IS THE ONE FACT WHICH OVERSHADOWS ALL ELSE.
ALL OF THESE DEVELOPMENTS POINT TO TWO FACTS: ONE THAT WE ARE FACE WITH THE GREATEST CATASTROPHES IN HUMAN HISTORY, WITH THE GREATEST CRISES, WITH THE GREATEST SUFFERINGS AT THE SAME TIME THAT THE WORKING CLASS IS THE MOST DISARMED. IN THIS COUNTRY, NOT ONLY DOES NO TRULY REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT EXIST, BUT THERE IS NO LONGER ANY SOCIALIST TRADITION. TWO, THE TIME AT THE DISPOSAL OF THE REVOLUTIONISTS FOR LEGAL WORK IS VERY LIMITED, POSSIBLY ONLY IN WEEKS AND MONTHS. (THE EVENTS IN THE AMERICAN COLONIES OF BRAZIL AND CHILE SHOULD SHOW HOW NEAR THE SUPPRESSION OF WORKING CLASS ACTIVITY IS). WITH THE SITUATION AS OUTLINED ABOVE, THEN IF WE ARE SERIOUS IN OUR DESIRE TO FIGHT FOR THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION; IF WE WISH TO RISE ABOVE THE PHRASE MONGERING WHICH WE BOTH CONDEMN; IF WE WISH TO DO MORE THAN “GO ON RECORD” AS BEING AGAINST IMPERIALIST WAR; IF WE ARE NOT SATISFIED BY “HEROIC” AND FUTILE INDIVIDUAL ACTS AGAINST THE ANTI-SOVIET WAR—THEN WE MUST PREPARE NOW! THE QUESTION OF A SERIOUS STRUGGLE AGAINST THE COMING IMPERIALIST WAR MEANS THAT THE REVOLUTIONARY INTERNATIONALISTS MUST SET UP AN ORGANIZATION NOW!!
IN OUR OPINION SUCH AN ORGANIZATION WOULD INCLUDE THE UNITING OF THE REVOLUTIONARY ELEMENTS AROUND A SIMPLE PROGRAM. IT MIGHT CONTAIN ONLY THE FOLLOWING POINTS:
1). THE PROLETARIAN MOVEMENT IS INTERNATIONAL.
2). THE CLASS STRUGGLE IS THE MOVING FORCE OF HISTORY AND EVENTS CAN BE EXPLAINED ONLY ON THE BASIS OF CLASSES AND INDIVIDUALS AS THE REPRESENTATIVES OF CLASSES (MATERIALISM).
3). THE NEED FOR THE REVOLUTIONARY OVERTHROW OF CAPITALISM AND THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT IS ACCEPTED.
4). IT IS NECESSARY TO BREAK WITH AND TO EXPOSE THE TRAITOROUS ROLE OF ALL THE REFORMIST COMROMISERS AND PATRIOTIC TENDENCIES IN THE REVOLUTIONARY WORKING CLASS MOVEMENT—BOTH NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY.
5). THE SOVIET UNION MUST BE DEFENDED AS THE FIRST SOCIALIST STATE.
THIS PROGRAM IS, AS YOU CAN SEE, VERY ROUGH, BUT IT IS MERELY AN INDICATION THAT I BELIEVE THE DAY IS PAST WHEN WE LOOKED FOR DIFFERENCES (I WAS THE MAIN OFFENDER) AND THUS PREVENTED THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ANY COMMON ACTION MUST BE PASSED.
THE TASK IS FOR US TO ESTABLISH A PUBLICATION THAT WILL APPEAR REGULARLY AND BE BASED UPON THIS PROGRAM. THERE SHOULD BE NO TIGHT CENTER, BUT RATHER WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THIS VERY BROAD PROGRAM THE WIDEST PUBLIC POLEMICS MUST BE ALLOWED.
THE ISSUANCE OF SUCH A PUBLICATION WOULD SERVE A NUMBER OF PURPOSES. ONE, IT WOULD ALLOW US TO ORGANIZE AROUND IT ALL THE REVOLUTIONARY ELEMENTS OF THE LEFT-OPPOSITION. TWO, IT WOULD SERVE AS A MEDIUM FOR EXPRESSING THE REVOLUTIONARY-SOCIALIST POINT OF VIEW ON QUESTIONS OF THE DAY AND TO THE WORKERS DIRECTLY. THREE, AROUND THIS PAPER STEPS TO GUARANTEE ITS DISTRIBUTION IN THE EVENT OF ILLEGAL CONDITIONS CAN BE MADE IN THE SHOPS, ETC. FOURTHLY, BY ALLOWING THE COMRADES OF THIS TENDENCY TO WORK COLLECTIVELY THE APPARANTLY INSURMOUNTABLE PROBLEMS WILL BE SOLVED.
I CAN SEE NO OTHER WAY OF SERIOUSLY ORGANIZING A REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT IN OPPOSITION TO THE FORTHCOMING IMPERIALIST WAR AND THE ILLEGALIZATION OF WORKING CLASS ACTIVITY.
ONE FINAL WORD, THERE ARE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN US (NOT JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME, BUT ALSO THE FEW OTHER REVOLUTIONARY COMRADES). THIS IS TRUE AND THIS IS INEVITABLE. IT SPRINGS FROM THE FACT THAT WE CAME TO THE REVOLUTIONARY POINT OF VIEW AS A RESULT OF VARIED EXPERIENCES. THIS IS NOT A LIABILITY BECAUSE THE VERY DIFFERENCES MEAN THAT RATHER THAN BEING ALL THE SAME WE CAN SUPPLEMENT EACH OTHER. WE ARE CHARTING A VERY DIFFICULT PATH AND DOING THIS THERE ARE BOUND TO BE DIFFERENCES AS WE PROGRESS. WE CAN SOLVE THESE THROUGH DISCUSSION, POLEMICS, TESTING OUR VIEWS WITH PRACTICE. IT WOULD BE A CRIME IF THESE SECONDARY DIFFERENCES WOULD PREVENT UNITY AT THIS TIME ON THE BURNING QUESTIONS.
I INTEND TO GO WEST AND TO TRY TO ORGANIZE SOMETHING WITH ANOTHER COMRADE, IN ANY EVENT. I WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET WITH YOU AND SEE WHETHER WE CAN NOT START THIS VITAL PROJECT.
* * *
IN your last letter you state that because I criticised the Soviet Union in my article on the Spark that there was no common ground between us and that you would work with me only on the basis that I should publicly retract my criticism of the Soviet Union. I am writing this letter for the following reasons:
ONE, in the past I have endorsed the position taken by you in your articles on the “danger” leaflet and the “Letter to Comrades.” I therefore wish to explain why we broke.
“TWO, the position which you hold is widespread among the opposition and serves as the biggest stumbling block to the building of a revolutionary party. In this letter I hope to be able to deal with this as well.
IN the articles mentioned above, you put forth the following point of view: The complete debacle in which the CPUSA today finds itself is the result of the fact that the actions we took in the past years were based on incorrect theory, a wrong line, a rotten foundation. For this reason, you stated, the main task of the opposition is to critically examine and test the entire theory which we followed and with which we betrayed the workers as members of the Communist Party. You opposed the reformist who decried any real discussion of theory on the grounds that the only trouble was the leadership betrayed and the primary job of the opposition was to get up some militant struggles. You called yourself and your group, “theoreticians,” as opposed to the reformists, “actionists.” WE hailed and accepted this position wholeheartedly – and still do. In fact, we alone of the opposition tried seriously to carry out both the promise and the premise of the articles there. YOU, however, at the first real test, deserted your revolutionary declarations and at the first scare, returned to the reformist camp of the “actionists.” An investigation of the objections that you presented and the two letters that you sent to me shows this.
FIRST, you stated the following:
“WORKERS in the capitalist countries cannot be expected to become class-conscious, to understand the contradictions between the workers’ state and the capitalist states, on a basis of the activities of the Soviet delegates in the UNO. Nor do the reasons for class-consciousness, the means of developing revolutionary ideology among the workers in capitalist countries, exist in the Soviet Union, nor in their achievements under socialism.” (Letter of August 23rd, page 1).
SINCE all actions within the working class movement have either the effect of heightening the consciousness of the workers or of blurring it, this is the same as saying that the Soviet Union’s actions in the UNO have no influence on the working class movement. This is so obviously false that a few arguments should suffice to show the actual dishonesty of your stand.
DID not the October Revolution, by showing the workers that Socialism was possible and on the order of the day, make millions of workers see the falsity of bourgeois democracy? Did this action not help the workers see that behind all the cries of the bourgeoisie and their agents of “National Defense, ” they were concealing a war for booty and for robbery. Did not the Brest-Litovsk treaty coupled with the revolutionary actions of the Bolsheviks) expose the claims of the German bourgeoisie and hasten the German revolution? Did no t the speeches of Lenin and his coworkers expose the falsity of Wilson’s “Fourteen Points?” Did not all of these things help the workers and the oppressed, the poor see the difference between their states where the rich oppressed the poor and the Soviet Union where the poor oppressed the rich? Did these actions not help to make millions of workers class conscious? Did not these actions and only these make possible the successful defense of the Soviet Union after the last war? The worker’s state always participates in international conferences with the bourgeoisie for the purpose of exposing the role of the bourgeoisie; of unmasking their fine promises; yes, for the purpose of heightening the class consciousness of the workers.
FURTHER, it is the height of dishonesty to pretend that the speeches of the Soviet leaders made in the UNO and elsewhere do not play a role in the working class movement, when, in fact, they do and always have played the decisive role. The fact that the Soviet Union is the first Socialist country makes it inevitable that the statements of their leaders and their actions should have the greatest weight on all of the advocates of Socialism. After as many years as you spent in the Communist Party, not to know, for example, that policy within the Communist movement, for example, is always based directly on the speeches of the Soviet leaders “reveals” a naiveté that would be touching in a child, but is disgusting in one not officially certified as feeble minded. The P.R. Club, whose argument I was answering in my article, stated: “every Marxist must support the UNO because the Soviet Union does.” All this is news to the learned “theoretician” Mulligan. Like the traditional “man from Mars, he asks: “How can the actions of the Soviet Union influence the working class movements in other countries?”
THE second point you raise is of the same character. You state that we cannot criticise the Soviet Union because we do not know, nor can we know whether their policy is correct:
“WHETHER they be right or wrong I am not in a position to state.”
“TO draw conclusions as to matters of policy of the Soviet delegates in the UNO, without an analysis of the circumstances within that country would be a departure from science. It is likely that only the Bolsheviks are in a position to make such an analysis, and to make changes in their policy as required to avoid error.” ibid. Page 2.
THIS too had neither any basis in theory or in practice, but is instead a renunciation of all theory and of all Marxism. The entire proposition put forth under the guise of Marxism is the most monstrous distortion of Marxism.
WHAT you state here is that in order to outline a program or course of action, we must concretely analyse the situation. In order to be fully able to analyse the politics of any country, we must be in a position to analyse its economy. This we cannot do with the Soviet Union since we do not have sufficient data. Therefore, it is impossible for us to criticize or even discuss properly their policy, you conclude.
THIS learned garbage, of course, has nothing in common with Marxism. It is true that in order to formulate policy correctly we must know the economic situation. We still, however, test theory with practice. We cannot, for example, create a good recipe for pudding without understanding a good many things: We must know something about cooking, about the chemistry of the kitchen, have had some experience with taste combinations, etc. Yet this in no way invalidates the fact that “the proof of the pudding is the eating.” Without a full understanding of the economic conditions in the Soviet Union, we may not be in a position to understand why a wrong policy is carried out. We can, however, see that if the policy leads to the isolation of the Soviet Union on the international scene, to the weakening of the working class movement, etc. that it is wrong.
LET us now deal concretely with the argument presented in my article. I stated that the action of the Soviet Union in sponsoring the American imperialist seizure of the former Japanese islands in the Pacific was wrong. Does the American revolutionary movement oppose this action of their own bourgeoisie? Yes, they state that the proletariat opposed this seizure as one which aided the bourgeoisie and weakened the proletarian revolution. We state further that all who are Socialists must take this position. Suppose, o learned father, a worker should ask: “and is the Soviet Union a Socialist state?” We could only answer, “Yes.” Then when he asks, “How can the Soviet Union, support this action taken, as you state, against the interests of the workers?” We can only answer either by stating that the Soviet Union is wrong, or by admitting that we were wrong. We certainly could not tell him, “We do not know enough about the internal economic situation in the Soviet Union to tell whether they are right or wrong.”
I tried to point all this out to you as clearly as I was able in my last letter to you. You finally came up with this, in your last letter: “Internationalism is the sum of nationalism.” It is, of course, true to state that nationalism and international ism are inseparable as they are both products of capitalism. There was no nationalism prior to the rise of the bourgeoisie and with the abolition of both classes and nations, not only will nationalism disappear, but also, internationalism. This is a far cry from stating their identity. They are neither the same nor multiples of one another – they are, opposites. Nationalism represents the position of the bourgeoisie and internationalism the position of the proletariat. To identify them as you do, is to attempt to reconcile the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and to substitute metaphysics with its smooth even growth for dialectics with its revolutionary “unity of opposites.”
ALL of your arguments in their essence boil down to only one thing: You are unwilling to work with me not because my criticism is wrong, but because, there is any criticism at all. This impression is heightened in the postscript to the last letter you sent. There you do not even deal with the issues, but only with the criticism. The condition for joint work is outlined as the “public retraction of the criticism of the Soviet Union.” You do not ask that I change my position on the. UNO, nor that I retract my opposition to the imperialist seizure of the Pacific Islands by the USA. It is not, therefore, the contents of the criticism that is distasteful, but simply the fact that there is any criticism at all.
BY taking this stand you reduce yourself from a “theoretician” to a theologian and your title from “comrade” to Reverend Father. The answer of Father Mulligan to any criticism of either the actions of the Soviet Party or of the international Communists is, “There can be no discussion on these questions. The CPSU (B) is always correct. “Any criticism puts you outside the movement.” This position of one who proclaimed himself a fearless critic of the basic theory which led the Communist movement into the debacle can only be compared to the position of the Catholic if hierarchy. They, too, when faced with any criticism of the Pope, state: “His Holiness is never wrong. No one can criticize him and remain in the folds of the Church.” Every scientist from Galileo onwards had to deal with such “theoreticians. The explanation of what happened to father Mulligan to transform him from a scientific searcher for revolutionary theory to a priest is simple. He who was going to uproot the whole of society was unable even to reject his own past prejudices. He who had pledged his life to the Socialist Revolution was unable to endure the fear of the scorn of his friends. We, however, have some questions for you, Father Mulligan, so that the entire movement may see how far your performance is from your promise.
HOW, Reverend Father, will you explain the conduct of the Soviet Party and the international Communist movement to the workers when you cannot do so to us? After all, we accept the fact that the U.S. Government is the instrument of the capitalist class for the oppression of the workers and that it must be overthrown and the workers must set up their own state. How many workers hold this position? We hold that the Soviet Union is the first workers’ state (dictatorship of the proletariat) in the world and that the workers must defend it. How many workers hold this position? We state that any war waged by the capitalist government of the United States is an imperialist war and especially, any war waged against the Soviet Union and that it is the duty of the workers to use the crisis caused by the war to overthrow the capitalists state. How many workers, hold this position? How do you expect to go among the workers who have been convinced that the Soviet Union is a police state and convince them to defend the Soviet Union with their lives? By telling them: “Have faith, my children?” How are you going to convince a working class raised on patriotism (My Country Right or Wrong) that they have nothing in common with their won rulers, but only with the workers and oppressed of the rest of the world? By preaching: “Have faith, my children.” Or is the reason why you take this position that you do not expect to go to the workers and defend the Soviet Union to them? Is it really because you and your group intend to talk, as we all did when we were Communists, only to each other?
THE decisive question is: Has the policy of the international Communist movement been so successful that there is no doubt about its correctness? Here, let us admit, I made a serious mistake in the way I put the question. The question is not: Do we have the right to criticise the leaders of the Soviet Union? The questions is: Are they correct? By putting it solely on the basis of the right to criticize I tended to avoid the main problem. Let me give a few examples so that this may be made clear.
WE had for a long time criticized the policy of the Communist Party of France as chauvinist, reformist and a complete departure from Marxism. These criticisms were correct and could be proved by countless references to Marxism. Yet when the wave of strikes of November occurred and when the bourgeoisie tried to make it appear that the working class, led by these same Communists, was on the verge of seizing power, then it seemed that in spite of our correct criticism that we were wrong and the French Party was right. For had they successfully led the workers to the seizure of power and to the Social revolution, then their policy was correct. It was only when the true picture of the developments in France came out that our position was vindicated. They has surrendered at every turn; they opposed the government as one “which served the interests of a foreign imperialism instead of France.” They channelized the workers’ demands into the trade union field and participated in the return to work. The Daily Worker is correct when it states that the aim of the French Party in the strike situation was identical with that of the “Great Strike Wave” of 1946 in the CIO.
ONE more example, in the United States in 1917, there were a number of conflicting parties fighting for leadership of the American working class. I will list a few: The IWW, the Socialist Party, the syndicalists and the anarchists, etc. When the Russian workers, led by the Bolsheviks, seized power in October 1917 every honest member of these parties surrendered his own views and joined with them. This was so because it then became clear to all who desired the Socialist revolution that the Bosheviki were right – that they had succeeded in leading the workers to Socialism. It was left for the Hilquits to “prove” with Marxist phrases that the Bolsheviks did not follow the path of Marxism and that therefore the workers should not support the. (He used the fact that Marx and Engels had thought that the Socialist revolution would occur in the more highly industrial countries in order to show that the Russian workers were wrong in seizing power).
It was immediately clear to the workers that the I.W.W.s and the anarchists who joined with the Bolsheviks were far more Socialists than the “learned theoreticians,” Hilquit and Co. This too, is our job. If the actions of the international Communist movement in the past thirty years have been so successful and have led in the right direction; if their line, in general, was correct, then even though certain items of criticism can and should be raised—they must be supported by all who fight for Socialism. If, however, there has been only one failure after the other and if their line, in general, has proven incorrect—then they should be fought and driven out of the working class movement.
IN the interests of space, we shall confine our investigation to the following countries: France, China, Italy and the Soviet Union and we shall be able to deal only with certain limited aspects of policy and only with the recent time.
LET us begin by examining the situation in France, the country in which “more than anywhere else the historical class struggles were always fought to a finish.” (Engels, in his introduction to Marx’s “Eighteenth Brumaire.”) In 1944, when Paris was liberated, the city was in the hands of the armed workers under the leadership of the Communists. The first American soldiers to enter Paris testified to the fact that the entire city was a mass of red flags. The armed workers even gave the American soldiers lapel flags with the hammer and sickle. Today, three years later, de Gaulle is mayor of that same Paris. This situation, it is generally admitted, prevailed throughout the country. Everywhere the armed people, organized into Councils de Resistance and led by the Communists, were in control. The bourgeoisie and their spokesmen, the de Gaulles, had no influence nor prestige. Then even de Gaulle had to testify to the permanent friendship between France and the Soviet Union. He had to sign a twenty year alliance with her. Now even the Social-Democrat Ramadier expels the Soviet repatriation mission and breaks off trade negotiations with the Soviet Union. Bidault, France’s foreign minister, after playing the game of neutrality and of arbitrator between the capitalist powers and the Soviet Union, at the London Conference announced by his actions that he was firmly on the side of the other capitalist powers. The recent events in France only make more clear the inevitable victory of the fascist de Gaulle. Can we not question a policy which led the French workers from one defeat to another, Father Mulligan? Can we not question the policy which is leading to the victory of fascism for the second time within ten years. Is it not the duty of all Marxist theoreticians to examine not only the victories; of the workers, but also their defeats so that we can learn to avoid the same mistakes? Or, perhaps, so long as one has enough faith, it does not matter if the working class makes the same errors again and again – the important thing is that there has been no criticism! A similar situation took place in Italy. Here I wish to deal with three aspects of the policy there. I will deal only with their relationship to other nations, their position with regard to the Church and State, and their current actions.
NO Communist Party has carried patriotism and chauvinism to the extent that the Italian Party has (and that is saying something). The Italian Communist Party demanded that Trieste remain under Italian rule. They opposed both the Yugoslav state which was under the leadership of the Communists, the United Nations and even the Soviet Union on this question. Their error there became public knowledge with the issuance of polemics on the part of the Yugoslav Party. It is not so commonly known, however, that the Communist Party of Italy supported its own capitalists in a border dispute with France over Nice. In addition, there is very little publicity given to the demand of the Italian Communists that Italy’s colonies be restored to her. (The Soviet Union has, according to the N.Y. Times, of Feb. l8th supported this demand: “Surprise was caused in London diplomatic circles today by the Soviet declaration in favor of trusteeship for Italy over her former colonies in Africa.”) In every-case, the actions of the Italian Party have, therefore, shown support only for the imperialists of their own country and the most shameful denial of any support for the movements oppressed by their own bourgeoisie.
ON the question of the Church, the Communist Party of Italy even deserted the democratic (bourgeois) revolution by supporting the establishment of a State Church when they voted for the Lateran treaty. In this they were to the right not only of their allies, the Socialists, but even to the right of the notorious revisionist Foster who was there at the time.
Finally, for a picture of their day-to-day policy, I quote from the New York Times of February 18th:
“ALL parties agreed in principle this morning to avoid all violence and disturbances in the period leading up to the general election scheduled for April 18 and to declare a “political truce” until the election was over.”
SINCE the state power remains firmly in the hands of the bourgeoisie and since in addition the Communists and Socialists are excluded from the government, this agreement binds only the workers. It restrains the workers from resisting the oppression and worsening of their conditions; it strengthens the fascists and the black Hundreds. While the workers are thus pledged to “no violence” the bourgeoisie continues and intensifies its violence against the workers “legally,” through their control of the state apparatus. This is another “yellow dog” contract with which the American workers have grown so familiar.
IT is obvious, both from the theoretical standpoint and from the actual events in Italy that this cowardly class collaborationist policy is leading not to Socialism, but to the victory of the extreme reactionaries there too. May we not question here too, a policy which is obviously bankrupt and completely impotent.
OF all the Communist Parties the most esteemed and highly thought of in any country outside of the Soviet Union is the Communist Party of China. This is natural because no party had had greater successes. The Communist Party of China is the only party outside of the Soviet Union which controls a sizeable piece of territory. They have maintained and increased the size of this territory and the number of people living under their control in spite of the armed attacks of the bourgeoisie of their own country aided by all of the imperialists and in the face of the attacks of the Japanese. For these reasons the prestige of the Chinese Communists has been very high. There have, however, been indications that in spite of these successes that the line of the Chinese Communist Party and, consequently, its actions have been wrong. While some of the indications were very secondary, such as the fact that both Dennis and Browder had been trained and had worked there, recently there were stronger indications that all was not well. The whole series of recent books about China which emphasised the fact that the Chinese Communists were, in fact, agrarian reformers and not proletarian revolutionaries called sharp attention to the problem. The report of Mao Tse tung also heightened the impression that the Communist Party of China was not a proletarian party but an agrarian party. The Communist Party-was not interested in the Socialist revolution, but only in the bourgeois democratic one. Recently, however, there appeared a series of articles in the New York Post under the signature of Mark Gayn which revealed the nature of the Chinese Communist Party very fully.
“MARXISM,” Liu Shao-chi, Mao’s political heir, told me, “is a European analysis, based on the European scene, Marx made few comments on Asia, and he knew neither the languages of Asia nor its conditions. Chairman Mao adapted Marxism to the Chinese scene.”
POOR Marxism! In the west, it is labeled as an “oriental philosophy.” In China, it is a European philosophy. This statement is worthy of notice for two reasons: One, a spokesman for the Communist Party openly repudiates Marxism; and two, it represents the extreme to which chauvinism and patriotism can go. Let us continue:
“WE don’t want to nationalize the land,” Mao told me. “We simply give each sharecropper enough to live on. It’s his land; his private property. In Red China we have landlords, bankers, capitalists. We encourage them, as long as they don’t exploit the people (!!!!??) We believe in a liberal capitalist economy until the level of thought is suitable for socialism.” ibid, my ital.
TO the Chinese Communists this may be called “adopting Marxism to the soil of China,” but to all who believe in calling a spade a spade, this is nothing but the renunciation of all Marxism and of the proletarian revolution. The only distinction between this program and that of the liberal reformists lies in the name of the party which put it forth. This is exactly the program of the agrarian reformists. It lies even to the right of the program or their Russian counterpart, the Socialist Revolutionaries. They, at least, demanded the nationalization of the land which is only a bourgeois and not a Socialist demand. In the face of Lenin’s teachings contained in “Two Tactics, in which he points out that during the bourgeois democratic revolution it is the task of the proletarian revolutionists to isolated the bourgeoisie and to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry to suppress their resistance and hasten the transformation to Socialism; and in the face of the experiences of the revolution in Russia where the bourgeois democratic revolution for the peasantry as a whole was able to be carried out only under the dictatorship of the proletariat and consequently by the suppression of the capitalists and landlords – in the face of all this what can the position taken by Mao tse-tung be called except renegacy?
LEST anyone may feel that this statement does not represent the position of the Chinese Communists, I quote from New York Herald Tribune of 0ctober7, 1946, from an article by A.T. Steele:
“COMMUNIST officials here go to great lengths to impress on American visitors the capitalist coloration of their present program.
THEY point out that the country is in a semi-feudal stage of development. Vast quantities of private capital, Chinese and foreign will be required to bring the country up to an advanced state of industrialisation. While admitting that Socialism and then Communism are their eventual goals, the Communists assert that Socialism will be unattainable without a long preliminary phase – possibly from twenty to fifty years ” of full blown capitalism. By the end of that period they hope the transition to a Socialist order may be accomplished painlessly.”
WHILE this article also contains a renunciation of the need for revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, we shall pass this over, for the present in order to continue with Gayn’s article.
LIU Shao-chih gave me this statistical breakdown, never published before: peasants form 70 per cent of the party’s membership; intellectuals 15 per cent; workers, 10 per cent; others, 5 per cent.”
THE proof of the pudding is in the eating. The proof of the fact that the Chinese Communists are in truth agrarian reformists and not proletarian revolutionists may be found in the composition of their party. The Russian Bolsheviks who also operated in a predominantly peasant country and in a country where the bourgeois revolution had not yet conquered had the bulk of their membership among the proletariat and were weakest among the peasantry. FOR example, in his article, “The Elections to the Constituent Assembly and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” Lenin pointed out that while the Socialist Revolutionaries gathered in both for more votes (twenty million to nine) and had the peasant vote almost completely, the Bolsheviks were able to win because in the two capitals (Petrograd and Moscow) they had four times as many votes as the Socialist Revolutionaries. In the three main agricultural districts, however, the Bolsheviks polled 16%, 10%, and 10% of the vote against the Socialist Revolutionaries 70%, 62% and 77%. The composition of the Chinese Communist Party, then, is not that of the Bolsheviks or of a proletarian party, but that of the Socialist Revolutionaries or a petty-bourgeois peasant party. This is borne out too, by the fact that the Communist Party of China has very little strength in the industrial cities of China. The pattern of the fight against the feudal lord Chiang-Kai-chek is that the Communists generally held the countryside and Chiang the cities. There have not been, to my knowledge, any widespread strike movements in support of the Communists although this would certainly be expected.
TO sum up: The Chinese Communist Party both in its program with its bourgeois democratic aims, its turning to the bourgeoisie for leadership and its, renunciation of Socialism (at least in our time); and its composition with its predominantly peasant membership and weak hold on the proletariat are truly Communists in name only. In deeds, they are Populists, Socialist Revolutionaries, Radicals (French), etc. Their program cannot lead and has not led to the victory of the proletarian revolution nor the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship which they renounce, but to the victory of the bourgeoisie.
THESE examples of the actions and the line of these three important Communist Parties by no means exhaust the list. They are instead typical examples of the actions that are taken by every Communist Party and the line that they issue is daily repeated in every Communist Party. Those who are serious about building a Marxist movement must notice, at least, that these things are happening in the world. It is no longer sufficient to say: “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds,” but we must reexamine the policy of the entire Communist movement as one which failed in its basic task, the leading of the workers to the Socialist revolution and the proletarian dictatorship. Or should we shrug off all these failures with, “Have faith my children?”
WE give only such a sketchy outline of the situation in the main foreign parties so that we may devote more time to the key question of the role of the Soviet Party. Here, too, space does not allow us a full review of all policy. We shall, therefore, restrict ourselves to only a few issues. They are: One, the policy during the war; two, the policy in regard to relationship between the Soviet State and. the struggles of the oppressed in other countries; and three the Cominform and the Comintern.
In connection with the war, let us consider only the question of the agreements signed by the leaders of the Soviet Union with the two groups of capitalist states: The Nazi-Soviet relations and the Anglo-American-Soviet relations.
THE publication by the State Department of the Nazi-Soviet documents raised serious questions for the revolutionary movement. Since these documents were issued by a bourgeois government for the purpose of discrediting the Soviet Union and mobilizing the workers behind the present moves of the imperialist bourgeoisie against the Soviet Union, we must first see whether the documents are authentic. For it surely would not be beyond the bourgeoisie to issue forgeries. Let us therefore examine the evidence. We shall consider it in two ways: One, we shall reexamine the situation that existed during that period to see if there is any verification, and two, we shall examine the reply of the Soviet Union to the charges made.
THE charges were, in essence, that the leadership of the Soviet Union had signed a secret agreement with Nazi-Germany under which they were to and actually did receive a share of the booty. The second question raised by these documents is: “The far-sighted” leaders of the Soviet Union were caught completely flat footed by the attack of the Nazis and were, in fact, negotiating with them long after the German troops were placed for the attack (actually up to the minute of the attack). The general evidence as confirmation for this may be summed up as follows: The division of Poland, conquered by Germany with the Soviet Union marching up to a predefined position without even friction or a protest cannot be explained any other way. Two, the attitude of the Soviet and Comintern material issued at the time highlights this. For example, instead of describing the spread of the war to Norway as “The bloody robbers’ war already has swept Norway and Denmark into its toils,” as one would expect, the 1940 May Day Manifesto of the Communist International states: “In answer to the gross violation by England and France of the neutrality of the Scandinavian countries, Germany led its troops into Denmark and occupied strategic positions in Norway.” “Communist International” #5 1940, page 283, my italics. This is, of course, a complete justification of the invasions of the Scandinavian countries by Germany and reflected the position taken by them. Recall also how we explained the war here:
“GERMANY was armed and prepared by the capitalist nations for attack on the Soviet Union. At the last moment, however, cowed by the strength of the Soviet Union, Germany double crossed her sponsors and signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union. Enraged at the double cross, England and France declared war upon Germany ’in order to’ make her live up to the bargain.”
IT does not take much to see that this is also an implied justification of the German imperialists. For, if Germany had seen the error of its ways, and if this war was started only by the desire of England and France to make the Nazis live up to their gangster agreement, then it is obvious that the cause of the war lay in the evil desires of France and England and that if they would have only left Germany alone, then there would have been no war.
OTHER verifications of the time lie in the complete surprise that the Nazi invasion was to all of us. For example, it took so long to get reoriented that two weeks after the fateful June 22nd, on July 4th at an American Youth Congress meeting, John Gates speaking for the YCL abstained on the question of sending convoys to Europe. In addition, there was the unpreparedness of the Soviet Union and a host of similar events.
NOW let us examine the reply of the Soviet Union to these charges. While, as I noted in the preceding page, I received the pamphlet, “Fabricators of History,” too late to include a full analysis of it in this issue, there are nevertheless a number of points worthy of some consideration. The first section of reply is devoted to an indignant protest at the unilateral publication of the documents. The Soviet article, after quoting a number of offers they had made to the other capitalist powers for joint editing, state the following:
“EVEN the French Government news agency, France Presse, found itself compelled to admit that the procedure of the publication of the materials to be published by the three Governments without the knowledge of the Soviet Union, is not quite in accord with normal diplomatic procedure.” ibid pps 5-6 my italics.
THERE are two things worthy of brief note here. One, normal diplomatic procedure means that the diplomats say one thing for the purpose of fooling the people and, behind closed doors they make the deals which cost the lives of millions of people. Every person who is a sincere democrat, let alone a proletarian revolutionary abhors “normal diplomatic procedure.” Two, it was the great contribution of the October Revolution that it tore the veil off of the secret treaties of the Czar and the world bourgeoisie. It was this action which exposed the nature of the war to the workers and which enabled them to see the difference between the capitalist method of “normal diplomatic procedure” and the proletarian method of revolutionary, open, public diplomacy.
AFTER proving, at some length, that the capitalist powers were responsible for the arming of Hitler and the war, the Soviet Union states its version of the Nazi-Soviet pact:
“THE Soviet Union faced the alternative; either to accept, for purposes of self defense, Germany’s proposal to conclude a non-aggression pact and thereby to ensure to the Soviet Union the prolongation of peace for a certain period of time,” ibid, p 40.
THIS has always been accepted as the justification of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. It is, however, a complete lie. The Nazi-Soviet Pact neither gave (it was signed for a ten year period) nor could it give any assurance to the Soviet Union of a period of peace. The Nazis had shown too well that the non-aggression pacts and the treaties which they signed freely were nothing more than lures to put the unwary to sleep. No serious person could believe that the mere holding of a promise from the Nazis would serve or could possible serve as a guarantee of peace. When the Nazis were ready to attack the Soviet Union, they were not deterred for a moment by either their current non-aggression pact nor by the negotiations which they were conducting with the Soviet Union for a permanent alliance. It must be clear that since the signing of the non-aggression pact could not protect the Soviet Union from attack that the failure to sign this non-aggression pact could not have endangered her.
FURTHER, “On the contrary, the USSR strove at all times to have an agreement with the Western non-aggressive (written in February 1940—non-aggressive!!!) states against the German and Italian aggressors for the achievement of collective security on the basis of equality.” bid page 41.
WHAT is worthy of note here is that the Soviet Union has no principled objections to making such deals with the capitalists. Their only objection “Is that they were forced by the actions of the Western ”non-aggressive” ”states to sign such an agreement with Germany instead of with these powers!
THE most important justification for this policy advanced by the Soviet Union is that it extended her borders and thus hastened the defeat of the German imperialists:
“WHAT would have happened if, prior to Germany’s attack, the USSR had not created an ’Eastern’ front far to the west of the old frontiers of the USSR, if that front had not been on the line Vyborg-Kaunas-Byelostk-Brest-Lvov, but had followed the old frontier – Leningrad-Narva-Minsk-Kiev?” Ibid page 50.
THEY answer as follows:
“AS a result of all that, the war would have dragged on at least for two more years. The Second World War would then have ended, not in 1945, but in 1947 or somewhat later.” page 51.
THIS, too, overlooks the basic point. The defense of the Soviet Union has never lain in the extension of its borders but in the support which it had from the workers of the world. In the first world war, the Bolsheviki were able to defend the Soviet Union best by sacrificing territory. It is true, of course, from a purely military point of view that it is better to have your enemy as far from the centers of your state as possible. If, however, it is necessary for the workers’ state to compromise itself for this—to sacrifice the support of the workers of the rest of the world, then no territory so acquired is worth it.
The failure of the German workers to revolt in support of the Soviet Union was the price which the Soviet Union and the world’s workers paid for this strip of territory. The partnership between Germany and the Soviet Union cost the Soviet Union millions of lives and made impossible the overthrow of the German bourgeoisie. It was far to great a price to pay for any strip of land.
THE complete verification of the Soviet-Nazi secret agreement, however, is to be found in the Yalta agreement. There for the second time in one war the leaders of the Soviet Union made a secret agreement with the imperialist powers. This is openly admitted. In fact, the reasons given of the transfer of the Kuriles Islands to the Soviet Union was publicly given as: “This was part of the agreement at Yalta when the Soviet Union agreed to enter the war against Japan.” (See both the reports of Byrnes and of Hull). The leaders of the Soviet Union made a secret agreement with the leaders of the imperialist states, U.S. & England, to enter the imperialist war against Japan. In return for this they were to receive and actually did receive the following share of the booty of the imperialists: South Sakhalian Island, the Kuriles Islands, Port Arthur, and some smaller concessions.
HERE we have a situation where in one war the leaders of the Soviet Union made secret treaties for a share in the loot with both groups of imperialists (at different times).
CANNOT, no must not one who attempts to fight for a Marxist theory, one who pretends to the title, “theoretician,” raise the slightest question at this betrayal, o learned father?
CAN one not raise the question, Father, whether it might not have been these secret agreements which resulted in the destruction of the class consciousness of the workers in both Germany and the United States?
LET us pass on to some aspects of Soviet Policy after the war. Since there can be no more than an indication of some of the problems here, we shall deal only with the cases of Greece and Indonesia.
LET us review the events in Greece. At the end of the war the country was liberated by the National Liberation Front (EAM), which was composed of the proletariat and peasantry and led by the Communist Party. After this force, in agreement with the British, consented to let the thoroughly discredited Government-in-Exile return, the imperialist bourgeoisie of Britain and the United States proceeded to drive the Greek Communists and the liberation forces out of Athens by the open intervention of the British Army. Since then the Greek fascist, Black Hundred, counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie has been armed and directed openly by the British and American imperialists who, as the bourgeoisie always does joined hands to crush the revolutionary movement. In fact, the situation has reached such a point that the imperialists openly proclaim the struggle on the part of their governments in Greece is for the purpose of “combating Communist domination” (Truman Doctrine).
IN the face of this situation what was the action of the Soviet Union? While the unarmed Greek liberation forces were being mowed down by troops armed to the teeth by the imperialist powers what did the Soviet Union do? They introduced resolutions into the UNO and declared and carried out a policy of neutrality and “Living up to their international obligations.” This is a diplomatic way of saying: “They placed their agreements with the bourgeoisie above their obligations to the working class.” Decisive questions in the lives of nations, however, are decided, not by resolutions or by righteousness, but by force. It will be a great consolation to the widows of the murdered unarmed proletariat to know that the Soviet Union has gone on record while withholding the arms which alone could have guaranteed victory. Even the philistine NCP is forced to state that the proletariat does not want to end civil war, but to win it. Even this petty bourgeois journal calls for shipment of arms to the embattled movements. May we not inquire whether by this policy, the leaders of the Soviet Union are not standing idly by and, in deeds aiding the destruction of the national liberation movement? May we not inquire whether this rotten cowardly renunciation of even the most elementary solidarity did not, in fact, help the imperialists to prepare an effective base for the war against the Soviet Union?
In Indonesia the situation is so shocking that it is difficult to believe. I, therefore, quote from the New Times #31 of 1947 so that the picture given may be seen through the eyes of the Soviet Union. I will quote from two articles there: One, the eyewitness account of two delegates of the International Youth Festival who visited the islands and, two, the editorial which analyses the situation politically and gives the viewpoint of the Soviet Union.
First, let us see what is going on in Indonesia:
"THE Dutch had converted the entire zone into a forward battle position. There were tanks, with guns trained on republican territory, batteries of artillery, facing in the same direction, French mortars, soldiers armed with machine guns and automatic guns in the trenches. This was war. But only the soldiers were Dutch. All the rest, the tanks, cannon, small arms and even the uniforms, were of British and American origin.
“REPUBLICAN territory begins at the station of Tambojen. There we saw the republican soldiers. They, of course, had neither British nor American (nor Soviet –BS ) arms. Like all peoples’ armies in the formative period, they frequently did not even have the same uniforms. Some, but very few, were aimed with automatic guns (a cherished prize!), others wore long, old-fashioned swords, while still others were swathed in machine-gun belts. At the hip, alongside of their coconut flasks, some of the men wore homemade hand grenades. But all of them wore the little white and red, flag of Indonesian on their fatigue caps.” ibid., page 20.
ONE more passage: “When we saw them (the victims of Dutch machine-gunning from the air – BS) we understood why the Indonesian peasants carry sharp spears of bamboo (!!!!!) when they go to work in the fields. True, these weapons are hardly effective (sic!) against British automatic guns and American tanks, but they are symptomatic of the people’s readiness to fight to the death for their liberty and their Republic.
“IN the village of Katombo we visited the headquarters of the Reserve Youth Army, mustered by the Youth Congress, but subordinated to the high command of the republican army.
“A detachment drew up in the yard to welcome us. These were boys with determined clean-cut features. They were all volunteers and ready to defend their Republic and people. They are learning the art of warfare and at the same time fashioning weapons. We inspected their homemade mine throwers and “pine-apples” (as they called the hand grenades). Made in Indonesia should have been inscribed on these weapons.
THE commander of the detachment, a stocky man of middle age, said ’WHAT we need is weapons, good, real weapons.’” pps 2203 my Italic.
After this strange request from this backward commander who was not satisfied to be massacred by American machine guns and British tanks while he and his army were “armed” with homemade spears, “Made in Indonesia,” the Soviet visitors changed the subject. They are more concerned with offering proof to the doubting world that the capitalist powers do not behave nobly and fairly to the oppressed colonial countries!! They do offer the Indonesians something, however. They offer them the sympathy and the empty, false moralising at which they have become so proficient.
“THE Indonesians are not the same as they were a few years ago. Since then they have lived through a war of liberation and a revolution, and they are convinced that their cause is just. They have tasted liberty and learned that they are not alone in struggle (how? – BS). All this has multiplied their strength in the difficult struggle.” ibid page 21.
LET us now turn to the editorial in which these events are analysed. First, the editorial establishes that the war in Indonesia is the fault of the Dutch imperialist government. Then it points out that the Dutch could only act with the backing of American and British imperialists. It then continues:
"THE events of Indonesian have once more demonstrated the evil role played by the United States, and Great Britain in the colonial world. The Truman doctrine served to egg on Holland’s imperialists (normally imperialists do not wish to keep their colonies! – BS) Dutch troops attacked Indonesia’s towns, having first been supplied with British and American arms and equipment. The British Secretary of State for War admitted as early as last February that Britain supplied the Dutch with a sufficient quantity of ’appropriate’ arms to equip an army of 80,000 men. The United States, too, stinted no resources to equip the intervention force. The press reports that Japanese soldiers are serving in the ranks of the Dutch army operating against the Indonesian Republic." HERE they establish the fact that all the capitalist states have joined in the intervention against the Indonesian people. Then they point out that the people of Holland and the workers of other countries are struggling to support the Indonesian Republic:
“INDIGNATION at the actions of the colonial authorities has swept the whole of Holland. From that country come reports of mass meetings and protest strikes. Nor is the movement confined to Holland. Australian dockers have refused to load Dutch ships sailing for Indonesia.” Here the workers demonstrate their support in deeds. What does the workers’ state, the Soviet Union propose?
“THE Republic of Indonesia has appealed to the United Nations, requesting that it intervene and put an end to these attempts to convert once again liberated Indonesia into a colony. In this connection, it is worth while recalling that the delegation of the Soviet Ukraine to the first session of the General assembly proposed that the Security Council examine the position in Indonesia, which even at that time caused much concern to all sincere champions of peace and security. This examination did not yield results because of the irreconcilable stand of the colonial powers which were not prepared to forfeit their privileges. (Of course, now that the colonial powers have unleashed war against Indonesia, they are prepared to forfeit their privileges – BS). Indonesia’s present appeal should not be permitted to meet with the same fate." Ibid, my italics.
THE Soviet Union’s support of the struggling national liberation movement, of the workers’ movements in Australia and Holland – is to support a resolution in the same UNO which had already rejected the same resolution overwhelmingly. Where are the automatic weapons, tanks and planes which could guarantee victory for the Indonesian Republic? The Soviet Union has them, but when asked for aid they offer empty hopeless resolutions instead.
CAN Marxists and proletarian internationalists not ask, Father, in what way this policy differs from desertion of the struggle, from surrender to the class enemy? And has "this cowardly philistine renunciation of solidarity helped the Soviet Union’s position in the world even at the expense of the workers of the rest of the world? Is it now, when the cowardly policy of neutrality of the Soviet Union has guaranteed the victory of the bourgeoisie broth against the national liberation movements in Asia and the working class in Europe, that the position of the Soviet Union is the stronger? Or was it not far stronger when the countries in Europe were under the armed leadership of the Communists and the decisive sections of the Asiatic continent had liberated themselves from the rule of the imperialists? It is now that the bourgeoisie contemptuously breaks up the London Conference and when Truman is asked about a meeting with Stalin, states insultingly: “if he wants to see me, he can come here." This is a far cry from other days, isn’t it? The bourgeoisie conciliated, agree and promised things to the Soviet Union only so long as the workers were strong and the capitalists weak. When through the stupid, cowardly, philistine policy of the leaders of the Soviet Union, the workers were defeated at the crucial points, then the bourgeoisie no longer had to mince words, no longer had to conceal its real objectives, but openly moves against the workers and their state. Ask yourself how much better off the Soviet Union would be in a Soviet Europe with Greece under the leadership of the EAM; with Indonesia under the control of the Republic; with Indo-China free—instead of all these countries ruled by the imperialist bourgeoisie. We can see here not infallible, unquestionable policy, but rather one stupid treacherous blunder after another. Can we not allow at least a question about such a policy, or must our answer be: “Have faith, My children?”
WAIT! “Does the Soviet Union give any explanation for its course of action?” you ask. Fortunately, in the February Political Affairs, there is an article which authoritatively states the basis of the Soviet Union’s foreign policy. The article is a report by Georgi M. Malenkov to the meeting of the Cominfrom in September 1947 and was reprinted from the Cominform Journal #2. It is entitled, “The Activities of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks).” In the section on the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, he states:
“WE proceed from the fact that the co-existence of the two systems – capitalism and socialism – is inevitable for a long period of time, and we follow the line of maintaining loyal good-neighborly relations with all states manifesting a desire for friendly cooperation, on the condition that the principle of reciprocity, is observed and that obligations undertaken are fulfilled.” ibid., page 142, my emphasis.
HERE, then is the explanation of the foreign policy of the Soviet Union. It is based upon the “fact” that the world proletarian revolution cannot be victorious “for a long period of time.” It is based therefore upon the “inevitability” of the victory of the bourgeoisie. If the struggles of the proletariat (this is written over thirty years after the successful October revolution) cannot win for a long time, then the policy of the Soviet Union of seeking alliances with the bourgeoisie against the workers is justified. After all, when the proletariat is foredoomed to failure who wants to risk all by betting on a losing horse? If thirty years after the successful Russian Revolution there is not even the perspective of a successful proletarian revolution in the other countries, then perhaps the revolution was due to the fact that the Russians are special people. This, of course, justifies the glorification of Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, etc, as founders of this unusual race. There are two things worthy of special note in the statement given above.
ONE, this position represents the class expression of the petty bourgeoisie. They are likewise awed by the strength and the influence of the bourgeoisie. They, too, have no faith in the ability of the “dirty, uncouth, uneducated, ill-mannered,” downtrodden proletariat to overthrow the cultured and all-powerful rulers of society. They, therefore, find the very idea of proletarian revolution a subject for ridicule. This is the position, therefore, of desertion to the bourgeoisie.
TWO, this position hides the responsibility of the Soviet Union towards helping the working class to seize power. The question that the proletarian revolutionists ask is not: “How long can the bourgeoisie manage to keep power?” But: ”How can we help overthrow the bourgeoisie? How can we help the development of the Proletarian revolution?”
IT is the answer to this question that distinguishes the revolutionist from the traitor. Does not the Soviet Union, first proletarian dictatorship have anything to do with the promotion of the revolution; with the helping of the revolutionary movements, etc.? The entire stand of the Soviet Union on the proletarian revolution reminds one of; the position taken by the traitors, Zinoviev and Kamenev, just prior to the seizure of power. They said:
“THERE is really nothing in the international situation that would oblige us to act immediately; rather would we damage the cause of a Socialist revolution in the West, if we were to allow ourselves "to be shot." (quoted by Lenin, vol. xxii book 2, p. 118).
HERE we see the same lack of faith in the ability of the Western proletarian to overthrow their bourgeoisie. And here, too, we see the same basic "position" expressed—cowardice.
LENIN’S answer can serve to deal with this entire position:
"BUT we, with dozens of papers at our disposal, freedom of assembly, a majority of the Soviets, we proletarian internationalists, situated best in the whole world, should refuse to support the German revolutionists by our uprising. We should reason like the Scheidemanns and the Renaudels, that it is most prudent not to revolt, for if we are shot, then the world will lose such excellent, reasonable, ideal Internationalists!” ibid. p 119.
THIS was written before the October Revolution; before the Bolsheviks had led the workers to the proletarian dictatorship; before the building up of a huge Socialist economy; before the workers dictatorship had become established over one-sixth of the earth. Then, Lenin demanded that the Bolsheviks reject this cowardly action and start the uprising in order to support the German workers. Now, The Russian Communists demand that the agreements with the bourgeoisie be kept and that they refrain from giving any aid to the proletariat on the grounds that: “the fact that the co-existence of the two systems – capitalism and socialism – is inevitable for a long period of time.” And this is proclaimed as the “wise Stalin foreign policy.”
ONE more question is involved here. This is the question of treaties with the bourgeoisie. Is it necessary that the Soviet Union must at times sign treaties with the bourgeois states? Of course. What are these agreements, however? They are compromises that are forced by the relationship of forces at the time they are made, I will give two examples of such treaties:
ONE, the best example is the treaty of Brest-Litovsk; – Let us see why the treaty was signed and how the Bolsheviks regarded it. The Brest-Litovsk treaty was signed because the Soviet Republic had no army and was, therefore, unable to resist the German imperialists. They signed the peace treaty for a respite. Let us observe also how they "maintained loyal good neighborly relations.”
“WE have betrayed neither Finland nor the Ukraine. Not a single class conscious worker will accuse us of-having done that; we are rendering all the assistance we can. We have not taken a single good man out of the forces and will not do so. If you say that Hoffman (of the German High Command – BS) will catch us; you are right. Of course, he can, I have no doubt about that, but many days it will take him to do it he does not know and nobody knows.” Selected Works, Volume VII, our italics.
LATER, in reply to the protest of the German Government that Soviet Government was aiding the revolutionists in Germany, contrary to the provisions of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, Lenin stated:
“WE know perfectly well that the German government was fully aware of the fact that from the very beginning of the war the German Socialists had enjoyed the hospitality of the Russian Embassy and no supporters of German imperialism ever crossed the threshold of the Russian Embassy.” Collected Works vol xxiii, page 272, my italics.
YES, the Bolsheviks were forced to sign agreements with the bourgeois states to gain respites, but they never allowed their “loyalty” to make them lose sight of the need for aiding the proletarian revolution. They understood that these treaties merely represented the relationship of forces at the time the treaty was signed and that it was their duty to help make the relationship of forces change in favor to the workers. In short, they never placed their international obligations with the bourgeoisie above their obligations to the proletarian revolution.
NOW, however, when they have an agreement with the bourgeoisie that all disputes should be settled through the UNO, the Soviet -leaders adhere to this agreement even when it is apparent to all that the bourgeoisie never kept the agreement and is even now settling all important questions outside of the UNO.
SECONDLY, there was the case of the Bolsheviks and the Tsarist Duma. After the victory of the counter-revolution and the defeat of the workers’ revolution in 1907, the Tsarist Duma set up a condition for all delegates that they must pledge loyalty to the Tsar in order to be allowed their seats. The Bolsheviks, correctly, pledged loyalty to the Tsar. It was more important that they should give verbal concessions to the Tsar than to forego the advantages to the revolution that could be gained by using this most reactionary tribunal as a platform from which to expose the rottenness of the old regime. In giving this pledge they made a forced concession to absolutism. They did not, however, intend to nor did they ever carry out this pledge.
THIS situation is understandable to every worker. When a trade union tries to organize an open shop, the workers whom it places in that shop are often (almost always) forced to deny their union affiliations and even condemn unions all together. This pledge or treaty with the bourgeoisie, however, in no way ties the hands of these workers in organizing the shop.
THE fact is that because the proletariat is never and will never, under the rule of capital, be strong enough to always openly state its aims and its program to the bourgeoisie. It will have, to hide from the bourgeoisie these aims and program on many occasions. It is only when these forced pledges to the bourgeoisie are taken seriously and are used to hinder the proletarian revolution as they are by the Soviet Union that this policy becomes one of treachery and betrayal.
THERE are two questions about the Cominform that I wish to raise now. The first is: What was the character of the last war? Was it a war for national liberation or an imperialist war? I will not go into the merits of the case other than to state that the capitalist government of the U.S. could not possibly wage any other kind of a war than an imperialist war. What I wish to point out is that the position taken by these two representative bodies of the Communist movement and by the leaders of the Soviet Party are in direct contradiction. I quote from the resolution of the Executive Committee of the Communist International which dissolved that body:
“AT the same time, the war of liberation of the freedom-loving peoples against Hitlerite tyranny, which set into motion the broadest masses of people who are uniting in the ranks of the mighty anti-Hitler coalition irrespective of party or religion, made it still more evident that the national upsurge and mobilization of the masses for speediest victory over the enemy can best and most fruitfully be supplied by the vanguard of the labor movement of each country within the framework of its state.” my emphasis
THERE in the first line of the statement, the ECCI stated that the war was a "war of national liberation.” In the last line it called upon the workers to fight for victory “within the framework of the state.” This same point of view was put forth by the leaders of the Soviet Union many times. I give only one example:
“THERE is no doubt that having stood the strain of over three years war and being sealed with the blood of nations risen in defense of their liberty and honor, the fighting alliance of the democratic powers will all the more certainly stand the strain of the concluding phase of the war.” Stalin, on the twenty seventh anniversary of the October Revolution, from “The Great Patriotic War,” page 139, my emphasis.
THE Manifesto of the Cominform gives a rather different analysis:
“THE United States in agreement with England set for themselves another aim: to get rid of competitors in markets (Germany and Japan) and establish their dominating position.”
THIS is, however, a statement that the war was an imperialist war on the part of the United States and Britain. If this is true, then why did the leaders of the Comintern and the leaders of the Soviet Party state that the war was a war of national liberation? Why did they tell the proletariat to support the war within the framework of their present states? The fact that this analysis is put forth without either repudiating the old view or even explaining why their position changed only shows the contempt that the leaders of the Communist movement have for the workers and the people. Are these not important questions?
CAN we judge parties in any other way except by their actions and their line regarding the great events of the day. The imperialist war in which fifty million people were murdered, in which misery and desolation to a scale never before dreamt of, was spread over the face of the earth—was certainly a crucial event. A movement which was unable to correctly estimate the nature of such a slaughter thereby proves its inability to lead the workers. A movement which is not only unable to estimate the nature of the war, but which after estimating the nature of the war incorrectly (for if the Cominform statement is correct, then the Communist movement estimated the war incorrectly) is unable to seriously re-evaluate its work; to self-criticise its policies ruthlessly can never be worthy of serious consideration
TO Marxists and Socialists there was another horrible consequence of the war. This was the fact that the proletarian was unable to use the crisis caused by the war to overthrow the rule of capitalism. What "was even worse was that the capitalists emerged stronger and the proletariat totally disarmed. Take this country as an example. Here the government is about to embark on an imperialist war for the destruction of the Soviet Union and the crushing of the workers’ movements throughout the world, yet today, thirty years after the October revolution and one hundred years after the Communist Manifesto, there exists in the largest and most powerful capitalist country not even a trace of a Marxist organization. There exists no movement, no party, no organized group which even propagandized among the workers for the proletarian revolution. No organized preparation has been made by any who hold to the revolutionary teachings of Marxism for illegal action although the illegalization of working class activity is on the order of the day. There is no group which preaches support of the Soviet Union as the vanguard of the proletarian revolution. In a word, the working class is totally disarmed for tile task of turning the imperialist war into a civil war.
THIS situation was the inevitable result of the policy which said one thing one day and the next analysed the identical situation as the opposite. The CPUSA which also holds to the credo: "Have faith" as regards the Soviet leadership has been reduced by these actions to being regarded by the workers not as revolutionists, but as Soviet agents.
“ROOSEVELT is a war-monger.”
“ROOSEVELT is a people’s leader.”
“THE war between England and Germany is an imperialist war.”
“THE war between the ’democratic’ powers and the Hitlerites is a people’s war of national liberation.”
“THE war that the U.S. and England waged was for the aim of eliminating a commercial rival.”
THESE continued flip-flops obviously without any principle and following the Soviet line blindly without any explanation that could be accepted by one who has not seen the light, made the isolation of the Communists in the working class movement very easy. It made the supporters of war against the Soviet Union within the working class (the Murrays, the Reuthers, the Greens and the Trotskyites) very easy.
THE second point in the program of the Cominform is the emphasis on patriotism. The solution of the problems facing the workers is: “Let the Communists put themselves at the head of the truly patriotic and truly national forces, etc, etc.” It is unfortunate that such a question must still be dealt with in a Socialist movement, but the Cominform and the Communist movement made this the central feature in their program to such an extent that the difference between this position and the Marxist one has been forgotten.
WHAT is the Marxist position on nationalism, patriotism and chauvinism? From the very outset of the Marxist movement, from the Communist Manifesto which celebrates its hundredth anniversary this year—Marxism has been synonymous with internationalism.
FIRST I will give a few quotations to show that this is true. Then I will explain why this is so. "THE Communists are distinguished from the other working class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and
WHAT is the Marxist position on nationalism, patriotism and chauvinism? From the very outset of the Marxist movement, from the Communist Manifesto which celebrates its hundredth anniversary this year—Marxism has been synonymous with internationalism.
FIRST I will give a few quotations to show that this is true. Then I will explain why this is so.
“THE Communists are distinguished from the other working class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the proletariat, independently of all nationality. Communist Manifesto, International Publishers, page 22., my italics.
“THE workingmen have no country. ” ibid p. 28
“WORKINGMEN of all countries, unite! ” ibid page 44.
THIS is one of the great lessons of the Communist Manifesto: that the workers’ movement is international. Let us see not how Lenin handled this question.
LENIN regarded internationalism as being the test of Marxism.
He called all the representatives of his tendency, “internationalists ” (Debs, Liebknecht, Adler, etc). He dealt with all questions from the standpoint of the international proletarian revolution: “In short, we are invincible, for the world proletarian revolution is invincible,” Conclusion to Lenin’s “Letter to the American Workers.”
LET us see how Lenin defined internationalism:
“INTERNATIONALISM means breaking with one’s own social-chauvinists (i.e., defencists) and with one’s own imperialist government: it means waging a revolutionary struggle against that government and overthrowing it, and a readiness to agree to the gravest national sacrifices (even to a Brest-Litovsk Peace), if it should be of benefit to the development of the international workers’ revolution.” Collected Works xxiii, pps 236-7. Lenin’s italics.
AND further, “The German workers would do it even more successfully if they went out for revolution heedless of national sacrifices (that alone is internationalism), if they said (and backed their word by deeds) that they prize the interests of the international workers’ revolution higher than the Integrity, security and tranquility of any national state, and of their own in particular.” ibid page 238. Lenin’s emphasis.
INTERNATIONALISM then consists precisely in subordinating the interests of the nation (and of our own nation in particular) to the interests of the international proletarian revolution. As such it is the opposite of nationalism and completely incompatible with it. Let us just take one more recent quotation:
“THE French and the German Marxists went bankrupt on the same day they slipped on one and the same patriotic peel; French Marxism became national, and wherever the national elbows out the class, there can be no more Marxism." "Marx and the Trade Unions,” by Lozovsky, p 86 all italics in the original.
IT is fitting that on the one hundredth anniversary of the Communist Manifesto, we should take the explanation of the international character of the Marxist movement from there.
“THE bourgeois has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures there arises a world literature." pps 12-13
HERE is how Lenin outlined the question in 1900 in the “Draft Program for the Social-Democratic Party of Russia:”
“XI. But the development of international exchange and of production for the world market has created so close a link between all the nations of the civilised world that today the working class movement had to be, and long ago became, an international movement. Russian Social-Democracy regards itself as a unity of the world army of the proletariat, as part of international Social-Democracy.” Selected Works, vol ii, page 226.
THE materialist reason why the proletariat is international is that capitalism unites the world under the rule of the world market. Under the conditions of imperialism, this is accentuated.
“GREAT banks ruling the whole world by means of hundreds of billions of capital, uniting entire branches of industry by means of capitalist and monopolist combines ” this is your imperialism.” Collected works vol xx, book 2, page 208.
IF we examine the five fundamental features of capitalism, then the situation becomes even clearer. They are: “When monopolist combines of capitalists – syndicates, cartels, trusts—have assumed decisive importance, enormously concentrated banking capital has fused with industrial capital, the export of capital into foreign countries has grown to colossal dimensions, the whole globe has been territorially partitioned among the richest countries, and the economic partitioning of the world among the international trusts has begun.” Ibid., bk 1, pps 334-5.
ANYONE who looks about in the real world today cannot help seeing how international capital is. The great trusts have branches in all the leading countries. They are constantly in the process of dividing the world with their competitors. Through the export of capital (foreign investments) their ownership is intertwined. It therefore becomes clear that capital has so many threads and connections on the international scale; that it joined so firmly and so diversely that it can be separated only by the stroke of the proletarian revolution.
THE emphasis on patriotism, therefore, put by both the Cominform and the leaders of the Soviet Party only serves to show how great is the desertion of Marxism and how great is the betrayal to the bourgeoisie.
WITHOUT breaking with the rotten policy of "don’t dare criticise the policy of the leaders of the Soviet Union,” it will be impossible to build a revolutionary movement which can offer the only defense of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union can be protected only by the revolutionary proletariat of the world. They will protect it only to the extent that they have learned that their interests and the interests of their own capitalists are irreconcilably hostile. They will only protect it as the first dictatorship of their class, the proletariat. The experience of both Germany and of the United States shows that the workers will never defend the Soviet Union on a patriotic basis.
LIFE itself has shown that the “all-wise and far-seeing ” leaders pf the Soviet Union have followed a policy which has led to the destruction of class consciousness on the part of the world’s workers and to one defeat after another. It has shown that the policy of appeasement of the bourgeoisie, of cowardly desertion, of deals with the capitalists is bankrupt not only as regards the world proletariat, but especially as regards the defense of the Soviet Union.
WHILE this was clear to us from the very beginning we hesitated to make a central point of. this for the following reasons:
FIRST, we thought, incorrectly, that if we established even the most elementary principles of Marxism and if we could make the opposition learn to judge events objectively then the unfolding course of events would bring the opposition over to an understanding of this question just as it did us. We were wrong in this connection. We actually reconciled ourselves with the reformists by not raising the question of the revisionism of the Soviet Union, for every Marxist knows that it is not enough to mouth phrases about combating revisionism in general and standing for the principles of Marxism in general. We live in a real world and if one is to escape phrase-mongering then one must be concrete. It is not sufficient to renounce those who deny the dictatorship of the proletariat while at the same time "not noticing" and not denouncing those who are daily, in work and in deed denouncing it. Without attacking the Dimitrovs and the Stalins who renounce this basic principle of Marxism, it is impossible to carry out this fight for a Marxist revolutionary party.
SECOND, we were held back by our inability to criticise the leaders of the Soviet Union without giving aid and comfort to the bourgeoisie which was obviously in the process of launching a war against the first Socialist state. This was the crucial question. We understood and consequently, made our central point that no one can stand for Socialism and not defend the Soviet Union the only Socialist state. We certainly did not want to help the enemies of the working class, the capitalists. It was only when we saw the way out of this dilemma that we were able to publicly discuss the international situation.
THE solution lies in the fact that the leaders of the Soviet Union and of the international Communist movement are following a policy which is not only a betrayal of Marxism, but also (in fact, for this very reason) is a betrayal of the Soviet Union. The leaders of the Soviet Union by their desertion of the revolutionary movement and their surrender to the bourgeoisie, by their denunciation of internationalism and their espousing of nationalism—have weakened the working class movement to such an extent that the effective defense of the Soviet Union is in doubt. If the policy which they proclaim is accepted it will be completely impossible to defend the Soviet Union at all.
LET us take a few examples: Every militant trade unionist denounces the Dubinskys, the Murrays, the Greens and the Currans – and the Golds ” as traitors to the American working class. The militant trade unionists, in attacking these agents of the enemy are not weakening, but, in fact, strengthening the unions. It is the cry of the Murrays & Co that “If you attack us now, when the Bosses are looking for an opportunity of destroying the union, you will help them and weaken the union.” To this the revolutionist and even the trade unionist answer. “No, it is not we who destroy the union – it is you. You destroy the union by your policy of surrender to the bosses, of abandonment of struggle, of fear of the rank and file of the workers. The only way in which the workers can maintain their unions against the attacks of the employers is to rid the unions of the advocates of surrender to them; is to drive out of the union “the labor lieutenants of the capitalist class.”
THE correctness of this position has been proven by every trade union struggle. Who does not know that the unions can only reach even their very limited objectives by driving out the conciliators and compromisers and not by uniting with them.
FURTHER, let us look at the history ff the Soviets themselves. When the Soviets were first formed in February 1917 after the overthrow of the Tsar, they were under the overwhelming leadership of the reformists and the compromisers. Eighty-seven per cent of the membership of the first Soviet were either Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries or parties even to the right of them.
Only thirteen per cent were Bolsheviks. The reformists advocated and carried out a policy of coalition with the bourgeoisie, continuance of the imperialist war, under the secret treaties concluded by the Tsar, continued suppression of the minorities of Russia, refused to grant land to the peasants, etc. Lenin and the Bolsheviks continually exposed their policy to the workers. They attacked this rotten class-collaborationist policy. They organized the workers against – this policy, concretely dealt with it and consequently because the workers had the opportunity to test the correct proletarian policy of the Bolsheviks against the incorrect petty-bourgeois policy of the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries they were able to see the correctness of the position of the Bolsheviks. At the same time, the Bolsheviks from the very outset of the February revolution raised the slogan: “All power to the Soviets!” They did this because the Soviets represented the state form of the dictatorship of the proletariat and that consequently they were far better than any dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. This was true even though the Soviets were under the control of the agents of the bourgeoisie among the workers. The revolutionary Marxists, always maintained that the organizations of the workers must be strengthened and defended against the bourgeoisie even when they are under bad leadership because the Marxists know that the correct proletarian policy will, in the long run, prove victorious within these organizations. In the case of the Soviets-too, history proved that only by the defeat of the reformist, treacherous leadership of the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries could the Soviets be saved. Without this attack, the Soviets in Russia like the Soviets in Germany would have been demobilized and dissolved by their own leaders.
YOU stated in your letter that my public retraction of the criticism of the Soviet Union is the prerequisite for any common work. This actually is a way of stating that if I had not included the section criticising the policy of the leaders of the Soviet Union in my last article, then you would be ready and able to work with me. This policy reveals the utter lack of principle and of elementary political honesty on the part of the great theoretician. In the material which I issued earlier, I presented my outlook and my position regarding the tasks before the movement and the working class. For example, I took the following position:
I stated that war is objectively inevitable, and that it is engendered by the very relationships inherent in imperialism, and that it occurred independently of the will of the people and the will of the capitalists. I devoted, considerable space to this position. You stated that you agreed with me.
THE Soviet leaders publicly took an opposite position. Stalin, in his interview with Stassen, stated:
“AS you see, this concerns the sphere of desire and not the possibility of cooperating. It is necessary to make a distinction between the possibility of co-operating and the wish to co-operate. If one party does not wish to co-operate then the result will be conflict, war.” All of the leading spokesmen of the Communist movement on the international scale agreed with this position.
WHEN it became clear that our Marxist-materialist position was directly opposite to that of the leaders of the Soviet Party, there were two honest courses open: One, we could state that since we believe that the Soviet Party is always correct, by definition, and anyone who disagrees is a Trotskyite, therefore the Soviet leaders are right and we are wrong. This was the position taken by both the P.R. Club and the Communist Party. Two, we could state that since we were correct, i.e., our estimate corresponded to reality and to Marxism, then we were correct and the Soviet Party was wrong. That was the course we took. The third course was to ignore the conflict between the two points of view. This was the course that the "theoreticians," Dowling and Mulligan took.
WE shall now show that every proposition put forth by us is in conflict with the line of the Soviet Party and that you, therefore, Father Mulligan, who are willing to work with me on the basis of my line only provided that I do not criticise the Soviet Union by name, are an unprincipled idealist, incapable of fighting for a principled position.
I proclaimed as the basic task of the working class movement the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Every leader of the international Communist movement from Stalin and Dimitrov to Dennis has rejected the dictatorship of the proletariat. (In fact, Dimitrov had an article in the Political Affairs of July 1947 entitled, “Communists and the Fatherland Front,” in which he specifically and at great length denounced the dictatorship of the proletariat. When we called this article to the attention of Dowling, he refused to discuss it on the grounds that you could not rely upon the translations made by the CPUSA leaders, although he quoted from the article himself later and in another connection).
I stated that the capitalist encirclement of the Soviet Union still does exist. Stalin, in his interview with Werth, stated that it no longer exists.
I stated that peaceful collaboration between the Soviet Union and the capitalist states was a Utopian dream. Stalin, in the interviews with both Stassen and Elliot Roosevelt, stated that Soviet policy is based upon the possibility of “peaceful collaboration. ”
WE attacked the support of Roosevelt. We stated that the task of the workers is to defeat the liberal bourgeoisie like Roosevelt and Wallace. The Soviet Party, in a whole series of articles, called for “Back to Roosevelt.” They analysed the election in New Times #22 of 1946 in exactly the same way that the CPUSA did. The Moscow Radio, in the 1946 elections, called upon the American workers to support the candidates of PAC. Stalin, in the E. Roosevelt interview, explained that the desertion of the Democrats from the Roosevelt policy cost them the election.
Now similar support is given to Wallace.
WE stated that any trade union movement which is limited to the struggle for the day-to-day interests of the workers without leading them to class consciousness is doomed to failure, and must end up by becoming a tool of the bourgeoisie. The Soviet Union through the WFTU and in the statements issued elsewhere approved the policy of day-to-day trade unionism. (For example, they approved in New Times #23 of 1946, the actions taken by the U.S. Communists at the CIO Convention). This both Dowling and you must know.
IN fact, since the official Communist movement has adopted an idealist, chauvinist position, there is not a single basic point we agree upon! Anyone who pretends to be a theoretician must have known this. Anyone who is honest must have taken note of this contradiction of line. It is left for the Centrists, Dowling and Mulligan, to gloss over this and to try and reconcile the differences between the reformist and the revolutionary position. At present, however, the gap is so wide that the reconciliation can only take the form of closing one’s eyes to the contradiction and only making a prerequisite for common work the condition that no one else should draw attention to it. This Dowling did when he placed the one condition for common work and unity as:
“Accepting the leadership of Stalin and the Russian Bolsheviks,” in his answer to the appeal of the Los Angeles Committee for Correspondence for a common national publication. This you do in your letter to me. This reconciliation is impossible and dishonest.
LET me propose a simple test to the centrists so that every Marxist and every worker can see the truth in these charges. I challenge Mulligan and the “theoreticians”, and Dowling and the NCR, to do the following: outline a program, or even one single point which you believe to be objectively correct and which you demand that all who would claim to be Marxists accept. Then defend this point against all.
IF, for example, you declare: “A Marxist is one who extends the acceptance of the class struggle to the acceptance of the dictatorship of the proletariat,” then you must be prepared to condemn not only the Dennises but the Dimitrovs; not only the Fosters but the Ducloses; not only the Stachels but the Stalins when they reject this. If you can outline a program that has objective and international validity, then you can claim to be at least honest, and to at least have made the first attempt to be a theoretician.
WE have taken the materialist revolutionary path and must continue to expose the desertion of all the idealists and reformists from Marxism. We must not hide criticism of the Soviet Party as the main center of the working class movement and as the place with the greatest influence. It is rather that the Soviet Party should be made to accept the greatest share of the responsibility for the mess in which the working class finds itself. He who has been given much shall have to account for more.
IT is necessary at the same time to expose the centrists, the “theoreticians” who conceal beneath the cloak of Marxist-revolutionary phrases their conciliation with the reformists. It is the role of you and Dowling in the opposition to conceal dishonestly the difference between the revolutionary position that you claim to hold and the position of the Soviet Union. It is your service to gloss over their desertion of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat with the most revolutionary phrases. The situation, however, is such that your position is completely impossible. The gap between theory and practice; between the Marxist phrases that you utter and the policy of the Soviet Union which you support unquestioningly is so great that it cannot be reconciled any longer.
FOR the real problems that face the working class, theoreticians who do not fear to re-examine critically the actions of the entire World working class movement and who do not fear to learn from the mistakes of the past are needed. Our road is hard, but it is the only road that can possible lead to the liberation of the working class.
I wish at this time to deal with the position taken by an anonymous letter writer calling himself, “an unaffiliated Comrade.” I shall not deal here with the general theoretical arguments that he raises in his letter, because they have been dealt with at length in the “Open Letter.” I wish to deal only with the following:
“WE have heard you called a concealed Trotskyite. Names are common, and our minds are open. If you are one you will attempt to remain concealed (sic!). Conscious or unconscious makes no real difference – the results of error are the same. If you are not a Trotskyite you will see the damaging results which spring from hasty and shallow thinking, especially where the Soviet Union is concerned. ” my italics.
THIS statement is worthy of considerable study. Let us see where it leaves me. This comrade has heard that I am a concealed Trotskyite. If I deny it—that proves that the charge is true. Further, it is not even necessary for me to know that I am a Trotskyite. It looks as though I am trapped. Is there no way out for me at all? Yes, our unaffiliated Comrade does leave a way out. If I agree with his position then I am no longer a concealed Trotskyite, but instead become a true Marxist. Had our friend not been so long winded he could have boiled his statement down to: “Agree with me or you are a Trotskyite.”
HERE the charge of Trotskyism once again is revealed as nothing more or less than political blackmail. Like most blackmailers he cannot even claim originality. All of us remember that this method of denouncing all of one’s political opponents as Trotskyites was and is the favorite method by which the traitors in the CPUSA prevented any discussion of their policies.
WHO does not remember, in the Tehran period, how the Party, led by Minor, intimidated all who mentioned Socialism with the curse, “Trotskyite?” Who does not remember how the Communist Party dealt with the left-opposition? All criticism was branded “Trotskyite,” “semi-Trotskyite,” “leading-in-the-direction-of Trotskyism,” etc. I had thought that they had revealed that the purpose of this method of political blackmail was to prevent any discussion of principle. How, comrade, are we going to hammer out a program for a new party? By stating: “Agree with me or you are a Trotskyite?” How are we going to go to the workers and convince them of our program? By politics blackmail? No, Comrade, we shall only be able to build a new party by fighting for a line and a program. We can do this only if we do not allow ourselves, to be terrorized by filthy political blackmailers who try to conceal their inability to fight for principle under a cloak of intimidation and slander.
IF our friend had really been concerned when “we have heard you called a concealed Trotskyite,” he would have investigated. A principled, Marxist investigation would have taken the following course: It would have investigated the line of the Trotskyites and my line; it would have compared our positions on the basic questions that face the working class. If he had done this, he would have found to his great surprise that the position of the Trotskyites, far from being identical with mine, is essentially the same as that of the Communist Party and the idealists in the opposition.
BOTH have the same idealist outlook and method of analysis. The Communists say: “Everything that Stalin says is correct and everything that the Trotskyites say is wrong.”
THE Trotskyites say: “Everything that Trotsky said is correct and everything that the Stalinists say is wrong.”
NOW let us examine their specific programs. I will list the program of the Workers Party, one of the two Trotskyite groups (Schactman), together with the position of the Communist Party on each point.
I. FOR PRICE CONTROL BY LABOR AND CONSUMERS (This point is identical with the Communist Party’s position).
II. FOR A LIVING WAGE
1. For an immediate wage increase to meet the rising cost of living.
2. For an escalator clause in every union contract to provide for automatic wage increases to cover any additional price rises. (This is the Trotskyites main slogan in the, trade unions. It consists of nothing else than the commonly accepted “cost of living” clause, in effect for many years in the Furriers, U.E., etc).
3. For job and wage security through a guaranteed annual wage providing for a $5,000 minimum per family. (This is the Communist Party’s main slogan – the annual wage).
III. CLEAR THE SLUMS, BUILD HOMES! (Both the slogan and the program are identical with the Communist Party’s).
IV. TAX THE PROFITEERS
V. NATIONALIZE BIG BUSINESS
For the nationalization of the big monopolies: the industrial establishments, transportation and communication systems and the banks. To be owned by the nation and operated under Workers’ control. (These two points are identical with the Communist Party’s position. In fact, after much criticism, the National Committee explained that they stood for nationalization only under trade union and people’s control).
VI. END DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE NEGRO PEOPLE
VII. OPEN THE DOORS TO THE JEWS
VIII. FOR FULL ECONOMIC AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR VETERANS.
(The above three points are so clearly the same as the program of the Communist Party that no comment is needed).
IX. FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM!
1. For the right of all peoples and nations to decide their own future. For self determination of all.
VIII. FOR FULL ECONOMIC AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR VETERANS.
(The above three points are so clearly the same as the program of the Communist Party that no comment is needed).
IX. FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM!
1. For the right of all peoples and nations to decide their own future. For self-determination of all nations. For freedom of the colonies. (This could certainly be printed in the Daily Worker).
2. For the withdrawal of all armies of occupation. Bring the American troops home. For an end to conscription, (no difference here).
X. FOR AN INDEPENDENT LABOR PARTY AND A WORKERS GOVERNMENT!
For an independent Labor Party of the workers ? and working farmers based upon the trade unions. Break with the Republican and Democratic Parties. For a government of and by labor. (the same)
FOR A SOCIALIST AMERICA AND PLENTY FOR ALL
* * *
IN both programs (the Communist and the Trotskyite) only one little thing is missing: the need for revolutionary overthrow of the present system and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Both of these programs are full of all sorts of ways of making capitalism work better. Both are the programs of the reformist petty bourgeoisie.
THERE is, however, supposed to be one great decisive difference between them. This is in regard to the Soviet Union. Let us see the two positions that they take in this instance:
THE Communist Party by its making a condition for support of Socialism and the Soviet Union, the uncritical and slavish acceptance of even the most obvious mistakes and contradictions on the part of Stalin and the CPSU, have discredited the Soviet Union and Socialism among the workers. They have thus helped the bourgeoisie prepare for war against the Soviet Union.
THE Trotskyites, by using these same obvious mistakes and contradictions on the part of Stalin and the Soviet Union, discredit Socialism and the Soviet Union among the working class. They try to rally the workers around the bourgeoisie’s war against the Soviet Union.
THIS “great difference” then is revealed as merely the subjective wishes of the different parties. The Trotskyites want to destroy the Soviet Union. The Communists do not want to destroy the Soviet Union. The fact is that they both help the bourgeoisie and they both discredit the Soviet Union. This “great difference" (which, in reality, is no difference at all, but merely two sides of the same coin) is used for the purpose of concealing the basic identity of the two parties.
IF one tries to see political parties as representing classes, or at least sections of classes, the basic identity may be easily explained. Both parties represent the petty-bourgeoisie. Hence, both parties adopt the same positions on all the important questions facing society and the working class. Both parties, as the petty-bourgeoisie always is, are awed by the power of the bourgeoisie. Hence, they both fear isolation from them. They both fear the revolution and they both ridicule it. They both judge events not by the objective results, but by who does it (whether it is done by a friend or enemy) and which party’s interest it touches. Both are bureaucratic and incapable of serious self-criticism.
THIS identity is not even hidden. It has been testified to by Dowling and Dunne among the left-opposition. In fact, one issue of NCP was devoted to showing the similarity of the positions. The strongest proof of this identity, however, came during the war. During the war, we had reports from Communists working in war plants that everywhere the workers could not distinguish between them, When the Trotskyites would distribute the Militant in front of the shop gates, the workers would call them, “Communists.” In the U.E. local of Ford Instrument Co, where the Trotskyites were in leadership and had control of the local, the workers completely identified them with the Communist Party. As a result, when they were repudiated, the Communists were also repudiated. Similar situations existed in the shipyards of New York and probably in many other places. This happened in spite of the fact that both parties had different positions on the war. The workers were able to see through the differences that both parties represented the same class position.
THIS too would not have been difficult for you, Comrade blackmailer, if you were interested in objectively determining what is true. When, however, your sole interest in the question is to terrorize your opponents into submission, then whether you are “conscious or unconscious—it makes no difference.”
AS a protection against the Trotskyites in the movement a large section of the left-opposition has adopted the following position:
THEY rely on the declaration: “Complete acceptance of the leadership of the CPSU and of the leadership of Stalin is the first principle on which the movement must be built,” in much the same way as the ignorant peasant used to try to ward off diphtheria by praying before his icon. This charm works just about as well, too. It should be obvious to all who are capable of thinking that no Trotskyite, no stool pigeon, no police agent would have the slightest scruple in swearing, that they accept the leadership of Stalin and the Russian Party.
IT should be obvious to all who attempt to deal with these questions seriously that this “charm” rather than acting as a shield against the Trotskyites is, in fact, a protection for them. One of the phenomena of which note must be taken by those who are fighting for the creation of a new party is the fantastic ease with which stool pigeons, Trotskyites, renegades, police spies and the like penetrated into the Communist Party ’ even to its leading bodies. Some of them are: Budenz, J.B. Mathews, investigator for the Dies Committee, Tim Holmes, etc. There was also the ease with which the N.Y. Police Department placed its members into the Communist Party when it looked as though the Communist Party might be outlawed.
THE reason why the Communist Party always was and still is infested with all these vermin is very simple. It flows from the position of the Communist Party: “So long as you praise the leadership of the Communist movement, both nationally and internationally, and do not criticize – then it is not important what you do or what you say.” From this, of course, it follows that the method judging the activities of either the leaders of the Party or the rank-and-file must become: “He is the best Communist who praises the leadership loudest.” It is indeed a fool who cannot see that this premium on flattery, on toadying, on being a “yes-man,” on boot licking—opened the door for every adventurer, for every unprincipled scoundrel, for every police agent. This unprincipled “umbrella” which was erected served to conceal and to shield all these agents of the bourgeoisie, and in fact, helped them into the leadership of the Communist Party. It was this umbrella which shielded the stool-pigeon and Trotskyite, Budenz. It has now been admitted that for years he made no contribution to the Daily Worker, of which he was the editor. Yet this was not important so long as he remembered to praise Browder, Foster and Stalin at the right time.
UNDER the cover of this one unprincipled “principle” a similar umbrella has been developing within the left opposition. We shall give two examples of this. The first is the case of the NCP. From the very first they published and distributed material representing the most different points of view. They distributed or published material by the following: Dunne, Darcy, SFCC, P.R. Club, Sutta, LACC, and others – all without comment or discussion. In fact, they refused to publish polemics because, “polemics amongst the opposition would give aid and comfort to the ninth floor.”
THE second is the case of the SFCC. The history of their relations with me should serve to reveal how unprincipled the umbrella they built was. When I published my first pamphlet, “The Fight Against Revisionism in the Communist Party,” it received an enthusiastic welcome from the SFCC. Not only did they praise it to the skies, but even gave me a copy for their mailing list. They did this in spite of the fact that – and their first publication, the “Danger” leaflet, revealed this – their line was basically opposed to mine. When they found that I was publishing a criticism of their position, they wrote to me and asked me not to do this as “we are all moving in the same direction anyway.”
THEN upon the publication of my second publication, “The Spark and the Fight for a Revolutionary Party,” the SFCC broke with me. Yet the fact is that the position taken in that article is completely consistent with the one taken in the earlier work, and, in fact, is an extension of the same position. Yet, the comrades of the SFCC found it possible to praise the first and even gave me their mailing list after they received it. This was so because the SFCC was never concerned with what I wrote; with what line I carried – they were concerned only with whom I attacked. When I used the revolutionary position to attack their enemies, the Communists, they supported me, even though they had the same line as the Party. When I used the same line to attack their reformism and that of the Soviet. Party, then they rejected me. Could anything be more unprincipled?
IT is obvious that the only way to limit the number of police agents, stool pigeons and Trotskyites who can worm into the movement to a minimum (under capitalism, it will be impossible “to completely keep them out) is to build a movement around a principled program. Only if we do this, will we have a standard for judging both the membership and the leadership of our movement. It will not be: How has he praised the leaders? For we shall demand, rather the greatest principled criticism of the leaders. No, the yardstick we shall use is: How has he advanced this program? How has he helped make the workers class conscious? How has he advanced the Socialist Revolution? With such an objective standard we shall be able to weed out the Budenzes before they do too much harm. With such a method we shall be able to force even the few police agents who do worm their way into the ranks of the workers’ movement to help even while they destroy. By such actions and such actions alone will it be possible to limit the number of adventurers who flock into the revolutionary movement. We, therefore, challenge the other groups: Tell us what do you believe in? Do you stand for anything? Will you fight for your position against all?
WHEN you do this, then you have taken the first step toward establishing a revolutionary program. After this we demand that there be open polemics before the eyes of the workers on all questions of policy. Just think, comrades, how reactionary, how bureaucratic, it is to state: “Let us settle our differences quietly, behind closed doors, otherwise the workers will not respect us. We profess to be the vanguard of the workers, of the proletariat. It is, therefore, necessary that when we fight over the program and the tactics that we believe necessary for the working class that we let the workers in on these fights. The workers should understand fully the differences that arise, they should help the party to make its decisions and its policy. And, most important, they should know how and why all policy is decided upon. They should be made aware of the alternatives for the working class that we let the workers in on these fights. The workers should understand fully the differences that arise, they should help the party to make its decisions and its policy. And, most important, they should know how and why all policy is decided upon. They should be made aware of the alternatives to this policy. It is, of course, only by this method of taking the workers into our confidence that we can hope for theirs. It is, of course., only by this method of taking the workers into our confidence that we can hope for theirs. It is certainly not by the old methods of “smoke-filled rooms,” horse-trading, unprincipled concessions. “You concede a little and I’ll concede a little,” represents not an honest spirit of co-operation, but the most unprincipled deals for the purpose of avoiding a fight over principle; for the purpose of concealing from the workers the differences that exist.
WHEN the situation exists where the various groups in the revolutionary movement put forth their own programs and when they are ready to fight for their positions on the basis of principled (not blackmailing) polemics, then and only then will we find it possible to explain to the workers the real difference between our position and that of the Trotskyites and the Communists. It is noteworthy, for example, that not only have we alone been able to criticize the Communist Party from a principled consistent viewpoint, but that we alone of the opposition have been able to spot and drive away all the Trotskyites. The Spark which broke with us immediately, when we attacked the actions of the Soviet Union, on the grounds that we were Trotskyites, in one of its recent issues is forced to tell their readers the following:
“IT is wrong to make a bloc with the Trotskyites, as some of our group wishes, merely because the Communists made a bloc with them for the purpose of fighting us.”
THE SFCC is continually issuing this kind of warning to its members too. The only Trotskyites whom we ever met in the opposition (the Kellers) were warmly accepted by Dowling and, in fact, warned by him about us. (Incidentally, they not only had no scruples about accepting the leadership of the Russian Communist Party and Stalin, but they even filled their articles with quotations of Stalin and even quotations where he was obviously wrong). This was enough for Dowling and the NCP. We demanded, however, their program and consequently were quickly able to see that we had nothing in common.
IF we wish to build a new party based on the principles of revolutionary Marxism, we shall have to do the following: One, put forth to the workers our set of principles, our program. We must then prepare to judge all, both friend and foe, both rank-and-file and leaders – by how they advance our program. Two, we must fight for our program by principled polemics before the eyes of the workers. Three, we must test our program by results; theory with practice, critically. If we do this we will be on the right road toward the reestablishment of Marxism as a science and we shall have taken the first steps toward the building of a new party. We shall have also made it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for the Trotskyites, renegades and police spies to hang around very long.
1. See the letter to the LACC published in this issue.
2. Articles received too late for study here. In next issue.
3.The similarity of the position of the Soviet Union and that of the R.R. Engineers outlined by Haywood (see First Letter) is striking.
4.See the Stalin-Stassen interview and the “Preface” to these articles.
5.The Soviet trade unions maintain that the trade unions, being non-political organizations, must not be converted into an arena of political contest or political intrigues...In the same way, one cannot forbid trade unions to vote for or against the Marshall Plan without running the risk of undermining the unity of the world trade union movement.” Supplement to New Times #10 of 1948.