First Written and Printed: 1958. Sponsored by the CPUSA North Club and the Section Committee of the 1st Congressional District, City of Philadelphia, Eastern Pennsylvania
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Our Party is standing at the forks of the road – one line of development, that of the present leadership and of the 16th National Convention , leads from our present stage of advanced decline to complete collapse and disintegration; the other, that of the historic 12-Party Declaration, leads to the heart of the class struggle – the elementary condition for the growth of our Party and of its influence. There is no third way, even though some Comrades may be walking down the revisionist road backwards, thinking they are going in the opposite direction. There are no crossways further on, no cheap shortcuts to be taken at just any moment. Here is the only point of basic decision – now is the time.
It is against this background that we can best assess the significance of the most recent factional realignment in the national leadership of the Party, carried through around the Dennis Resolution at the February meeting of the National Committee.
First, this realignment is but a dim and distorted reflection of the profound response among the rank-and-file of our Party to the Declaration and dramatic demonstration of the basic premise of that document, the Sputniks and the emergence of the present economic crisis of U.S. capitalism.
Second, this realignment can be only a dim and distorted manifestation of the feelings of the rank-and-file of our Party. For this reason, the entire leadership of both factions, Right end Center, (the “Left” has been absorbed into the Center) is wedded to the revisionist line of the Convention, This line is irreconcilable with the Marxist-Leninist Declaration. And, of course, the leadership has not consulted the membership on this question.
Third, the “victory-over-revisionism” claims of the “Left”-conciliators are false. Only a sharpening of the principled differences between the Marxist-Leninist and the revisionist-conciliation left leadership can accomplish a real victory over revisionism, whether it be the revisionism of the Right (Fine, Lightfoot, Gates, Schniderman) or of the Center (Dennis, Stachel, Jackson), or of the “Left” – conciliators themselves (Weinstone, Thompson, Davis, Foster. 
Marxist-Leninists do not blur ever principled differences in the name of unprincipled, spurious “unity”. On the contrary, the struggle for principle within the Party must be intensified as the basis of the Party’s development. Far from wanting to smooth ever principled differences, we for whom this document speaks, seek to sharpen the struggle for principle, in order that revisionism can be negated by Marxism-Leninism, and real Party unity established on a political plane Higher than was ever known before in our Party.
This is the-dialectical law of Party life: “Before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all firmly and definitely draw the lines of demarcation; otherwise our unity will be merely a fictitious unity which will conceal the prevailing confusion and prevent its complete dispersion.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol.4. Book I pp. 41.)
In our Party today, this basic conflict of principle, which as we know, is but a reflection within the Party of the class struggle on the ideological front, is most concisely embodied in the basic conflict between two lines: that of the Convention, and that of the Declaration endorsed by the Communist Parties of not only the Socialist countries except Yugoslavia, but of the capitalist countries, as well, except the United States. It is especially important to underscore this conflict because of the efforts of the Center-“Left” to pose as friends of the 12-Party Statement advocating the “study” of it, “hail” it, etc., but adamantly refusing to endorse it.
We have abiding-confidence in the rank-and-file of our Party, and most particularly in the Negro and white proletariat, we call upon them to rally in the branches and sections to the demand for a new Convention, to reconstitute our Party on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, the invincible, revolutionary theory and practice of the working class the entire world. While our primary reliance is upon the proletarian rank and file, we consider that this demand merits the support of every honest member of our Party, in leadership or out, intellectual or toiler, in shop, office, mine, classroom, mill, on the farm, the ship, the dock, the road.
But before beginning the delineation of the basic conflict of the Convention and the Declaration, mention must be made of a special aspect of the position of us whom the revisionist of all categories have called, contemptuously, the “ultra-Left.”
Certain “Left”-conciliator elements, operating as a special detachment of the Dennis forces, have refined the technique of private conversational assurances to us, that “we agree with you in principle, we have the same aims as you, but just go along with us and we will defeat the revisionists by steps, first the Right, then Dennis, etc.” We reject this siren song luring us to the wreck of principle. “Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims.” (Communist Manifesto) This is our answer to their “private agreement” advances. Agreements which are secretly made can be just as secretly scuttled. This we have learned in the school of bourgeois and trade union politics.
On the other hand, the ideologically bankrupt leadership publicly speaks of their intention to take disciplinary action against the Comrades of the “growing ultra-’Left’ danger.” Some, as in Chicago, are giving deadline dates for the Marxist-Leninists to surrender or face expulsion. And all, from “Left”-conciliators to Right, set up a terrific din about ”factionalism” which they regard as a serious matter when, and only when, it is “factionalism” on the part of the consistent Marxist-Leninists of the so-called “ultra-Left.”
Let them name one, just one, factionalist practice of which we are “guilty”, (because we are denied a voice in Party publications), which they, themselves, have not practiced or condoned or ignored among themselves (to stifle the Marxist-Leninists and to conceal the scandalous, and we use the word advisedly, wrecking activities of the revisionists).
To them all, let this be our answer: We shall not be deterred one hour by the blandishments, the threats, nor the hypocritical cries of the “anti-faction” faction. We see these as mere adaptations of the carrot, club, and cry of alarm of bourgeois rule which the workers, farmers, oppressed nations, and national minorities have faced and will face many times again. In this connection, we can do no better than to adapt William Lloyd Garrison’s statement in the first issue of the abolitionist Liberator more than a century ago:
“We are aware that many object to the severity of our language; but is there not cause for severity...On this subject we do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation. No! No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravishers; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge us not to use moderation in a cause like the present. We are in earnest, – we will not equivocate – we will not excuse – we will not retreat a single inch – and we will be heard!”
Today all honest Communists are being forced to face two inescapable facts of life and death import for our Party.
One: The Communist Party has been in the paralyzing grip of a worsening internal crisis for more then two years. A year ago, the crisis was institutionalized in the Party by the revisionist-conciliationist 16th National Convention. This built-in crisis threatens to destroy the Party as now constituted. That Convention must be cancelled by a truly Marxist-Leninist 17th Convention, which will once more range our Party without any reservation at the side of the workers of our own and all countries, and at the side of the Socialist world headed by the Soviet Union, and against imperialism – in the first place against “our own” monopoly capital, the strongest, world imperialist power.
Two: The Declaration represents the Marxist-Leninist generalization of the world-wide struggle against imperialism and for Socialism, national liberation, democracy, and the peoples’ welfare. As such, it constitutes an invaluable basis for the restoration of our Party to the Marxist-Leninist path. It is the tremendous good fortune of our Party that the vital choice before us has thus been so clearly presented in the contrast of these two lines – the Convention vs. the Declaration. The hope for our Party is that this contrast will become so impressed upon the membership that they will demand and achieve the complete eradication of revisionism from the Party.
It is with this purpose in mini, that we submit for the study of the membership the following documentation of the irreconcilability of the Convention with the Declaration.
Part 3 of the Declaration is concerned with the ideological struggle against opportunism, that is, bourgeois ideology disguised as working class policy. Opportunism whether it appears as reformism (revisionism, open class collaborationism) or as anarchism (dogmatism, adventurism, “ultra-revolutionary” phrase-mongering) serves to accommodate imperialism by diverting the masses from militant, and sustained revolutionary policies of class struggle.
Marxism-Leninism has historically developed in a struggle against not only openly bourgeois ideology (chauvinism, racism, anti-labor, anti-scientific, anti-woman, etc., ideas), but, in particular, against these and other bourgeois ideas presented in the form of opportunism. Among the socialist-minded masses and their organizations, opportunism has generally sought to appear as Marxism, or even Marxism-Leninism.
Whence arises such yielding to bourgeois ideological pressures and such deviations from a policy of class struggle on the part of a Marxist-Leninist Party? “Should the Marxist political Party in its examination of questions base itself not on dialectical materialism,” explains the Declaration, “the result will be one-sidedness and subjectivism, stagnation of thought, isolation from life and loss of ability to make the necessary analysis of things and phenomena, revisionist and dogmatist mistakes and mistakes in policy.”
Lenin in his article Differences In The European Labor Movement speaks of the constant “appearance of adherents of the labor movement who master only certain aspects of Marxism, only separate sections of the new world outlook, only separate slogans and demands, being incapable of breaking decisively with all the traditions of the bourgeois world outlook in general, and with the bourgeois democratic outlook In particular.” (Marxism and Revisionism pp. 15)
The Declaration underlines the necessity of resolutely overcoming revisionism and dogmatism in the ranks of the Communists and Worker Parties, and states that “the main danger at present is revisionism or in other words Right-wing opportunism.”
On December 14, 1957, George Watt, of the Right-wing faction of leadership, opened the discussion with the speech in which he says “in regard to Right and Left (no quotation marks! M.P.) dangers, the 12-Party Statement asserts that the main danger at present in the world Communist movement is revisionism or Right-wing opportunism.... Comrades in the Soviet Union and in other Parties believe that revisionism is the main danger in our American Party... It is the opinion of our National Committee that these Comrades are wrong in the estimate that revisionism is the main danger in our Party. It is the responsibility of our Party to answer and reject these erroneous estimates...” (Speech Published by N.Y. State Con.)
Two months later the realignment within the leadership took place. Watt and his associates took a back seat, and the Center emerged as dominant. But the view of the main danger remains basically the same, that of the Convention: “...the Convention”, declared the Dennis Resolution, the main resolution of that National Committee meeting, “correctly declared that our main errors of the past period were chiefly of a “Left”-sectarian character. Since the Convention, the danger of ”Left”-sectarianism and dogmatism has grown, including a resurgence of an ultra-’Left’ viewpoint which constitutes a formidable obstacle to our work and a serious menace to the unity and political line of the Party.” (Main (Dennis) Resolution of National Committee Feb. Meeting, Political Affairs. March, 1958).
This portion of the Dennis Resolution wobbles all over the place with formulations about “fighting both ’Left’-sectarianism and Right-opportunism” and the “revisionist viewpoint exemplified most strikingly by the anti-Marxist views and actions of a Gates” (now that Gates is gone they “discover” what an anti-Marxist he was). But the basic identity of views on the main danger expounded by Watt, Dennis and the Convention, (and Gates too, incidentally) remains. “...This struggle” the Resolution continues, “should be waged so as to help overcome the (our emphasis) historic weakness of the American Marxist movement, its sectarianism and doctrinairism.” (Shades of such “Left”-sectarians as Gompers; Hillquit, Dubinsky, Lovestone and Browder!)
But it is precisely these wobblings of the Dennis Center line which led most of the Right winders to refuse to accept continued responsibilities in the National and New York State leadership. (It should be noted however that in California, Illinois, New England, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, the Right remains as the main leadership with the support of the Center-“Left” faction).
The Dennis forces, seeing how events caught up with the open revisionism of a Gates, have decided on a stratagem of camouflage of the Convention line in order the better to maintain it. They dare not challenge the true statement or the Right that the Convention estimate of the main danger in the United States Party is rejected by the world Marxist movement.
Witness their contrasting attitudes in relation to the absolutely correct formulation in the Declaration: “...dogmatism and sectarianism can also be the main danger at different phases of development in one Party or another. It is for each Party to decide what danger threatens it more at a given time.”
On the one hand the Right wing, in the words of its spokesman Watt, “will not hide behind this escape clause.” And, it was Comrade William Z. Foster, himself, who advanced the thesis that “Left”-sectarianism is the main danger, not only in our Party traditionally, but in the world Communist movement today. His presentation runs along the following lines: the main danger during the period of the First International was “Left”-sectarianism; during the period of the Second International it was Right-opportunism. But, “In the period which is now developing”, Foster wrote, “once more ’Left’-sectarianism is becoming the main danger in the Communist Parties.” (Political Affairs. September, 1956, pp. 58) (Emphasis ours. M.P) But on the other hand, the Center-“Left” faction, in manner varying according to personality, seeks desperately to conceal the contradiction between the Convention and the Declaration on this basic question. This is the real reason for their empty talk about “a fight on two fronts”, etc., whether it be coupled with Dennis’ open reaffirmation of the 16th Convention line, or the “Left” Bob Thompson’s complimentary references to the 12-Party Declaration as “a very helpful framework to approach” the question (Political Affairs. Jan. 1958, pp. 25).
Their actions, more then empty words show what they really regard as the main danger. They deal, deal, deal with the Right. There are innumerable instances to illustrate this.
At the National Convention there were two reports “On The Nature Of Our Errors”. One was that of the Rightwing majority by William Schneiderman) the other, that of the “Left” minority (by Esther Cantor). While not opposing fundamentally the revisionist line of “’Left’-sectarianism as the main danger”, the minority sought to soften the blow with amendments in order that as Comrade Cantor put it “there not be a polarization”, (pp. 146).
After some discussion of the two reports, according to the Proceedings, a “Motion (was) passed that the officers...try to bring in a unanimous report.” (pp. l63) Later in the Convention, Right-wing leader, Nemmy Sparks, in clearing up a procedural question referred to this Convention action in the following words: “You discussed and accepted the first report yesterday, after that negotiating committee deal.”(!) (pp. 198) (Emphasis ours, M.P.)
Or again, one need only mention the reconvened sessions of the New York State Convention, to call to mind the “unity” deal by which the “Left”-conciliator leadership engineered the election of a Davis-Charney “ticket”, although Charney remained an open partisan of liquidation of the Party. When the Brooklyn Convention refused to approve a similar deal, they were severely criticized by the New York State Committee.
And finally: Since the beginning of the Party crisis, there has been an interlocking chain of cooperative relationships reaching from Schrank to Gates to Wilkerson to Nelson to Fine to Stein to Stachel to Dennis to Jackson to Davis to Foster to Thompson to Loman. It exists today. And the mere detail of one’s being no longer in the Party has not been allowed to interfere seriously with this arrangement. Foster-Davis-Loman meet in the Center-“Left” caucus with Dennis-Stachel-Jackson, and both share support of the Convention and condemnation of the “ultra-left” in the National Committee with Fine-Stein-Nelson who, in turn, meet with Gates and Schrank to advance various common projects intended to culminate in the eventual public mass withdrawal of the Right from the Party and in the establishment of a new full-blown anti-Marxist-Leninist “American Socialist” grouping.
There is not one of the entire Center-“Left” leadership who has had enough principle to draw a line which would cut him off from this chain of cooperative connections, the end of which lies in the most openly anti-Party circles.
And, what is the common denominator which runs from one end of this chain of relationships to the other? – It is the varying degrees of rejection of Marxism-Leninism. But they draw a dead-eye bead on the Marxist-Leninist “ultra-Left” as they call it, with phrases about wiping out factionalism, expulsions, etc. And their “struggle on two fronts” is empty talk because there cannot be a struggle against revisionism without a repudiation of the revisionist-concillationist line of the 16th Convention. They cannot throw away the plank they are standing on.
The Center-“Left” indignantly rejects this characterization of the Convention, of course. But they cannot deny that when the Declaration draws the picture of modern revisionism, it describes the very likeness of those who were conciliated to produce the 16th Convention line and who gave it its main direction:
“They deny the historical necessity for a proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat during the period of transition from capitalism to Socialism,
“(They) deny the leading role of the Marxist-Leninist Party,
“(They) reject the principle of proletarian internationalism,
“(They) call for rejection of the Leninist principles of Party organization and above all of democratic centralism.”
Bound in unity by the Convention line with such revisionism, Comrade Thompson, the newly chosen Organizational Secretary of our Party says, “Certainly our Party is not called upon to endorse the 12-Party Declaration, and it should not so endorse as its own that Declaration.” (Cited article, pp. 33).
Did he say the Party should not? The present leadership cannot, would have been franker. The Party, that is, the membership, in its overwhelming majority does endorse the 12-Party Declaration.
If the National Committee doubts the correctness of our assertion of this fact, let them, if they dare, conduct a referendum among the membership on the 12-Party Declaration. But the revisionist-conciliationist present leadership cannot endorse the 12-Party Declaration, because it is incompatible with their line, that of the 16th Convention.
We shall show, point by point, that the Declaration’s description of modern revisionists stands as an indictment of the present leadership and of the 16th Convention.
The main resolution of the 16th Convention states: “We have also rejected as incorrect the concept of inevitable, violent proletarian revolution.” (pp. 319)
Note this well – it is deliberately ambiguous, in the typical opportunist style. Just what is it that has been rejected? Inevitability of violence? That is not what they mean!
First of all, that would have made it read “inevitable violence” rather than “inevitable, violent proletarian revolution.” The professors and scholars who edited this work know their grammar better than that.
Secondly, in the entire Resolution, the term “proletarian revolution” is not mentioned except as “violent”. And in fact, this is the only mention of the proletarian revolution in the entire Resolution.
What the line of this Resolution rejects is the proletarian revolution as an inevitable point of American development. In place Of this “rejected incorrect concept”, as the Convention would put it, it has supplied “the peaceful, constitutional, parliamentary transition to Socialism” which term is used over and over again. Not once is it said that this is just an Americanism for proletarian revolution, and in fact as we shall now see, it is not; but rather it represents the replacement of a revolutionary policy with a reformist one:
“Titanic economic and political struggles will intervene in our country before the majority of the people take the path to Socialism. In the course...of such struggles, the power of the monopolies could be drastically curbed through the election of an anti-monopoly government, there would be a new strength, a new class-consciousness and political maturity which would also be reflected In the strength of the party or parties of Socialism. That is why we state that the possibility exists for the peaceful end constitutional transition to Socialism.” (pp. 305).
Now let us consider the famous formulation of the question of the possibilities of peaceful transition which appeared in the Declaration: “To-day in a number of capitalist countries, the working class headed by its vanguard, (the Marxist-Leninist Party, as the proceeding paragraph made clear) has the opportunity...to unite a majority of the people, to win state power without civil war, and insure the transfer of the basic means of production to the hands of the people...then (the working class) can defeat the reactionary anti-popular forces, secure a firm majority in parliament, transform parliament from an instrument serving the class interest of the bourgeois into an instrument serving the working people, launch a non-parliamentary struggle, smash the resistance of the reactionary forces, and create the necessary conditions for peaceful realization of the Socialist revolution.” (Emphasis ours, M.P.)
On the basis of a superficial comparison of these two positions the national leadership of our Party has engaged in some of the most fatuous self-congratulations. For instance, as is known, this position as expressed in the 12-Party Declaration was anticipated by formulations advanced at the 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. At the 16th Convention, Comrade Max Weiss, reporting for the Committee on Theory said, “It should be known that when our Party’s exposition of the possibility of peaceful transition to Socialism in the United States was first made public, there were important (!) Communist Parties which considered this position to be a departure from Marxism-Leninism. Clearly, there was a different of opinion between our Party and these other important (!) Parties. It is fortunate that our Party stuck to its guns. (This is only a figurative expression!) In our interpretation of Marxism-Leninism on this important question, history has proven that we were correct on this matter, and that they were wrong.” (pp. 165)
Or, again, from the Main Resolution adopted at the Convention: “The high point in the presentation of this question – (of peaceful transition M.P.) was Comrade Foster’s deposition in defense of the Communist Party and its indicted leaders at the first Smith Act trial in 1949.” (pp. 304)
Comrade Foster himself as late as December, 1957, called the perspective of the achievement of Socialism in this country along parliamentary channels “the most important theoretical advance ever made by the Communist Party of the United States of America on its own initiative.” And he even goes so far as to call it not only a possible road to Socialism in the United States, but the “probable” one.
And then George Watt, in his statement previously referred to, congratulates the 12-Party Declaration for having (as he erroneously sees it) disregarded the reservations stated by Khrushchev at the 20th Congress as follows: “In countries where capitalism is strong and has a huge military and police apparatus at its disposal, then there the transition to Socialism will be attended by strong class revolutionary struggle.” We shall see later that Watt is completely wrong in this view, and that the view expressed by Khrushchev in his report is confirmed in the 12-Party Statement.
A close study of these two positions, however, contrary to the posing of our National leadership and Convention, reveals that these two positions are not the same, but are essentially as opposed as revisionism and Marxism-Leninism can be. The Convention speaks of “curbing the power of monopoly through the election of an anti-monopoly government which will assure the possibility of peaceful transition to Socialism.” Bob Thompson, in his article to which we referred to says “we are speaking of the assumption of state power by the working class....due to the transforming of parliament.” (pp. 35) The 12-Party Statement speaks of winning state power first, then, and only then, of transforming parliament. These two positions stand on opposite sides of the well-known statement of Lenin: “The basic question in any revolution is that of state power. Unless this is understood there can be no intelligent participation in the revolution, let alone direction of it.” (Collected Works. Vol. 20, pp. 115)
The key word upon which everything else depends in the 16th Convention Resolution is “election.” State power is not even mentioned. The key words in the 12-Party Statement are “win state power”; elections are not even mentioned. This new line of the 16th Convention is “creative Marxism” a la Hillquit and Norman Thomas.
The Convention says that “titanic struggles will intervene before the majority of the people take the road to Socialism.” (pp. 305) But once they have taken that path all will be sunny skies and smooth sailing. “Socialism in the United States will provide full civil liberties to all, including the right to dissent, and as long as the people so desire, a multi-party system.” (pp. 306)
The Declaration speaks of winning, state power and then of launching a “non-parliamentary mass struggle, smashing the resistance of the reactionary forces and creating the necessary conditions for the peaceful realization of the Socialist revolution.”
One speaks of struggles for reforms before the revolution only; the other speaks of winning of state power by the working class led by the Marxist-Leninist vanguard, and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is to say, the very sharpest of class struggle.
The Convention says that there is a possibility of peaceful transition in the United States. Foster even goes so far, as re have noted, of saying “probability.” It has become obligatory to “advocate” it. But if a thing is possibly so or probably so, it still can be possibly not so or even probably not so.
The Declaration exposes the revisionist line of the 16th Convention by its very contrast on this point: “In the event of the ruling classes reverting to violence against the people, the possibility of non-peaceful transition to Socialism should be borne in mind. Leninism teaches, end experience confirms, that the ruling classes never relinquish power voluntarily. In this case, the degree of bitterness in the forms of the class struggle will depend not so much on the proletariat, but on the resistance put up by the reactionary circles to the will of the overwhelming majority of the people... on these circles using force at one or another stage of the struggle for Socialism. The possibility of one or the other way to Socialism depends upon the concrete conditions in each country.” (emphasis ours, M.P.)
It is interesting to note that our American exceptionalists are more then willing to be included among that “number of capitalist countries” where a peaceful transition may be possible. Gone now in this connection are their predilections and prejudices about the “study of concrete American conditions”. Could the reason be that a study of the history and present conditions of the U.S. monopoly capitalist state, its violence against strikers, against the whole Negro people, its violent sabotage of even mild reforms; its witch hunts among public servants...could it just be that these great “concrete study people” lose interest when the study cannot be made to suit their reformist line?
The failure of the Convention to mention the negative possibilities speaks volumes a3 to the validity of their “peaceful transition” line. What it boils down to is just about this! If Socialism can be voted in, the Communist Party is for it; if not, we’re not interested enough even to speculate on how it might come about!
The proof of their desertion of the proletarian revolution in favor of the reformist, anti-monopoly coalition as the main strategic aim is proved above all by the revisionist-conciliationist attitude towards that question of questions, the Marxist-Leninist concept, the dictatorship of the proletariat. Said the Convention: “we are in full agreement to study further the question of...the theory of the state, dictatorship of the proletariat...” (pp. 319). Even if it hadn’t been stated so specifically, the Convention’s rejection of the Marxist-Leninist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat would have been made clear by the otherwise meaningless phrases in the Resolution about “full civil liberties (under Socialism) to all”, “democratic socialism” (meaning to imply that there is another kind), by the fact that the attitude toward the dictatorship of the proletariat is not even mentioned in the catalogue of fundamental ideological differences between the CPUSA and the Right-wing Social-Democratic leaders, (pp. 228-234).
The leadership of our Party and the Convention proposes to “study the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat” to see whether it should not be “discarded as obsolete.” That this “studious” attitude continues in high favor, is clear from Comrade Bob Thompson’s discussion of the Declaration, in which he says, “I consider this or any ether question a legitimate question for discussion and debate without any atmosphere of revisionist labels in the leadership of our Party.” (Political Affairs Feb. 1958, pp.35). And this is stated in an article by a “Left” leader in discussing the very Declaration which cites as one of the universal characteristics of revisionists, the fact that “they deny the historical necessity for the dictatorship of the proletariat.”
Study indeed! And, what if their study leads them to say they don’t agree with it? “A Marxist is one who extends the acceptance of the class struggle to the acceptance of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Herein lies the deepest difference between a Marxist and an ordinary petty- or big bourgeois. On this touchstone, it is necessary to test a real understanding and acceptance of Marxism, and it is not astonishing that when the history of Europe put before the working class this question in a practical way, not only all opportunists and reformists, but all Kaustkyists (people who vacillate between reformism and Marxism) turned out to be miserable Philistines and petty-bourgeois democrats denying the dictatorship of the proletariat.” (Lenin, State and Revolution. Chapter II).
Let us not now hear a chorus of complaints about “dogmatic quotations from books” in this connection. We shall stop “quoting at” the champions of the Convention as soon as, and no sooner than, they stop speaking of “basing ourselves on the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin”, while denying the most important single distinguishing conclusions of all those teachings.
Let us cite one more irrefutable proof of the Convention’s repudiation of the Marxist-Leninist concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin taught that the dictatorship of the proletariat is a special form of the alliance between the workers and the toiling farmers. The Declaration cites as one of the laws of Socialist revolution and construction, the necessity for “the alliance of the working class with the bulk of the peasantry.”
In the 75 pages of the main Political Resolution of the 16th Convention, two paragraphs – only two – are devoted to the farmers. (pp. 255-256)
These note briefly the farm crisis in the midst of the economic boom in the economy generally. But for all the Convention’s lip service to the anti-monopoly coalition not one thing is said about the tactics required for the development of the alliance of the working class and the farmers in relation to the current crisis in agriculture, nor in relation to the struggle for Socialism.
There is one paragraph on the agricultural question in addition in relation to the Negro people. “The plantation system which still holds some 5 million white and Negro farm workers under barbaric conditions of exploitation and oppression must be eradicated. Eradicated yes, but how? That is the question! Predicated by the blind force of economic law which grinds the agricultural toiler down into the dust? Or eradicated by revolutionary transformation of agriculture under the leadership of the Party and the working class with a basic strategic slogan of “land for the landless”? This is the question! It is upon this that the alliance of the working class and the bulk of the peasantry depends, above all else. Without facing this question, the Resolution’s statement that “there must be special efforts to win governmental measures to secure land and land tenure for Negro croppers, tenants and small owners and to provide cheap credit and capital for agricultural cooperatives” (pp. 303) which ends the matter as far as the Resolution is concerned, becomes nothing more than a polite formality.
The Convention in actuality just had no concept of the tactical requirements of the developments of the alliance of the working class and the bulk of the peasantry on the basis of the need of the American farmer under the leadership of the American proletariat. Such an omission is further evidence of the irreconcilability of the line of the Convention with the key importance attached to this universally valid principle by the Declaration.
The Dennis Resolution reaffirmed the line of the Convention. “The Convention” it said, “clearly defined the essential features of the Party.” “It must be based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism, applying and developing these in accord with the traditions and class struggle of our country.”
But, that is not exactly what the Convention said. Here is the Convention Resolution speaking: “The Communist Party bases its theory generally on the cultural heritage of mankind and particularly on the principle of scientific Socialism developed by Marx-Engels and Lenin. These principles the Communist Party of the United States interprets and applies and strives to develop further in accordance with the requirements of the American class struggle and democratic traditions.” (pp. 318)
Gone now from the Dennis Resolution is the meaningless phrase “generally on the cultural heritage of mankind”. Dennis wants a membership, now influenced by the clear words of the 12-Party Declaration, to know that he means business! Gone too is “strive to develop” – now it is “developing”, period. No room for doubt!
But the significant change in the Dennis formulation as compared to the Convention line is the omission of the word “interprets”. This, as the following will show, can hardly be a matter of mere oversight. It is a deliberate continuation of the line of camouflaging the Convention line in order to protect it.
The second part of the report of the Convention’s Sub-Committee No. 5 “On The Party” was delivered by Max Weiss, and it dealt with “our approach to our theory” as it was announced by Committee Chairman, William Schneiderman.
“Our Committee” reported Comrade Weiss, “was called upon to debate one of the most decisive questions before the Party in the present discussion.” Now the reader will understand the significance we attach to Dennis’ omission of that word “interprets” for, as Weiss continued, “a motion was made to strike the word ’interpret’ from the Draft Resolution and to substitute for it a section which would seek only ’creatively applying’ the principle of Marxism-Leninism. The motion to strike the word ’interpret’ was defeated by a vote of 14 to 12.” (pp. 164)
We do not by any means think that the content of the Convention line could have been affected by merely substituting “creatively spoiled” for ”interpret”. The significant fact about the argument was that it served to throw light upon the attitude of the Convention leadership toward the science of Marxism-Leninism without which science there can be no vanguard role.
“Why did the Committee” asked Weiss, “feel that we cannot accept the formulation ’creatively applied’ as a substitute for the word ’interpret’? For this reason: the creative application of the principle depends upon the prior question of the interpretation of that question.” (pp. 165)
It had in fact been Eugene Dennis himself who earlier in the Convention, in rejecting the criticism received from the French Party, had said “in any case (that is to say, even if our line is shot through with revisionism – M.P.) our decision will be our own, made by the collective judgment of the Convention and will be based on our Marxist understanding of American reality (??) and the needs of our people and nation.”
Revisionism, naturally resorts to Idealism. What Weiss and the Convention, newly reaffirmed by the National Committee, say constitutes a denial that Marxism-Leninism possesses the attributes of a true science. They say in substance, that the principles of Marxism-Leninism do not depend directly upon or derive from objective reality, but rather that they can be and are whatever interpretations are made of them.
Dialectical materialism contradicts this subjective idealist view of “National Communism”. If one wanted to set Weiss’ statement right he would have to say “the creative application of the principle depends not upon the prior question of the interpretation of that principle, but, rather, it depends first of all upon the correctness of the principle which in turn is tested and developed in the course of creative application.” Interpretation can play a creative role only to the extent that it corresponds to reality. It is not altogether without significance that the Declaration in speaking about dogmatism chose to use the very phrase “creative application” which the Convention rejected: “Marxism-Leninism calls for a creative application of the general principle of the Socialist revolution and Socialist construction.”
As we have already said, we would not attempt to argue that everything depends on the use of the words “creatively apply.’ But are we not justified in attaching as much importance to the formulation in endorsing it as Dennis, Weiss and the Convention did in rejecting it? The Ideas behind the words are the important things of course. But science is not poetry and there are only a limited number of ways in which a scientific concept can be correctly described. The differences in the terminology in this case reflects the fundamental division between the Convention and the Declaration on the decisive question – the recognition, by the Declaration, or the denial, by the Convention, – of Marxism-Leninism as a science adaptable to all national peculiarities it is true, but independent of nationalistic “interpretations.”
We shall conclude on this point by citing the following illustrative proofs:
1) The Negro Question in the United States presents the United States Party with national peculiarities. But it was the universally valid science of Marxism-Leninism which enabled United States Communists, with the fraternal help of the Communist International, to establish a firm position on the Negro Question in the United States as a question of an oppressed nation and national minority (See Harry Haywood’s article “For A Revolutionary Position on The Negro Question,” New York. March, 1958).
It is therefore no mystery that the unscientific “national independence” line of the Convention today pridefully breaking with Marxist-Leninist positions has brought our Party’s activities and influence to an all-time low among the Negro people.
2) The 12-Party Statement “lays it on the line” so to speak with regard to certain laws of Socialist revolution and construction which it says “are basic laws applicable in all countries embarking on a Socialist course.” (Included, and first among these, was “guidance of the working masses by the working class, the core of which is the Marxist-Leninist Party in effecting a proletarian revolution in one form or another and establishing one form or another of the dictatorship of the proletariat”).
In saying “applicable in all countries”, they mean scientific laws of social development, laws with a scientific validity equal to that of the laws of gravity, evolution of species or the transformation of energy. But speaking of this view Of the Declaration the National Committee asserts “we reject...the sectarian view of those who look upon the Declaration and its conclusions concerning universally valid Marxist-Leninist principles as a dogma and a substitute for our own independent theoretical and political work.” (Dennis Resolution, Part 5)
It is fortunate that we don’t have such “anti-dogmatists” ’building our bridges, or constructing our dams, or breeding our cattle, or supervising our laboratories! For no matter how “independent” they might get, water will still run down hill, structural forces must still balance, species will still evolve, matter will still be transformed – and society will still develop according to dialectical laws of motion!
The final point of our proof is this: on the basis of the experience of a number of countries (in the case of the USSR 40 years of it) in Socialist revolution and construction, certain conclusions have been stated and given a status of laws of socialist development, a guide to action.
It is not only the right, but the duty, of any Communist who disagrees with these conclusions, or with their validity in this country to pose his conclusions with the most forceful arguments he can deliver. But the National Committee lacking the courage to challenge these views openly, instead seek refuge in “study, of it.” The National Committee has directed the National Executive Committee to prepare a definitive statement “on the Declaration”. Study, preparation, definitive statement, etc., etc. But are they for it, or are they against it? – that is the “definitive statement” which honest workers are entitled to hear.
That is precisely one of the beauties of a science – you can determine where you stand. But that is precisely the difficulty of our present leadership. Because it cannot harmonize the Convention’s revisionist national “interpretations” with the Declaration’s scientific laws applicable in all countries, the Center-“Left” coalition is fearful of exposing where it stands i.e. for the Convention and its revisionist-conciliationist policies.
Having decided upon such a foot-loose ideological career the leadership has necessarily developed a line of opportunism in relation to the leading role of the Party, “the vanguard role?” “The Convention”, Dennis said, “emphasized the indispensable vanguard role of a (emphasis ours M.P.) Marxist working class Party...The Party is here to stay”(emphasis in the original).
After saying these bold words about “the Party not being a holding operation, serving as some stepping stone to some nebulously defined successor”, Dennis, who has raised the ambiguous formulation to the level of a fine art, continued “the mass Party of Socialism for which we strive must also (our emphasis M.P.) be a Party of this type, a working class vanguard Party guided by the science of Marxism-Leninism.”
The word “also” means, of course “in addition to.” Now the National Committee says in the Dennis Resolution “the CP. is here to stay”, and it “strives for” a Party in addition to itself which will be “the mass Party of Socialism.” One is led, therefore, logically to draw one of two conclusions – either the Communist Party which is “here to stay” is striving to transform itself into “the mass Party of Socialism” or else, the Party is not here to stay, but will be merged into a new Party based on Marxism-Leninism whose other possible origins are not suggested.
This policy of deliberate ambiguity is a manifestation of the opportunist characteristic noted by Lenin half a century ago. “When you speak of fighting opportunism we must never forget a feature that is characteristic of present day opportunism in every sphere, namely, its vagueness, diffuseness, illusiveness. An opportunist by his very nature will always evade formulating an issue clearly and decisively. He will always seek a middle course, he will always wriggle like a snake between two mutually exclusive points of view and try to agree with both...” (Concluding portion of Chapter Q, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”) This is the picture of the Center-“Left” now running our National Committee.
It Is noteworthy that Comrade Foster has dropped from the leadership less than two months after his making the following 100% characteristic of Dennis: “The uncertain line of Comrade Dennis has also done much to deepen end prolong the-Party crisis.... Dennis has never taken a firm stand against revisionism, a course which has tended to appease and conciliate it.” (The Crisis In Our Party And The Way Out, Political Affairs, December, 1957, pg. 61)
Anyone who has ever, heard performed the comic trick of double-talk is familiar with the perplexed feeling aroused by reading such formulations as those of the Dennis Resolution. You knew the man was talking but he just wasn’t saying anything.
This is in the “tradition” of the Main Convention Resolution on this subject set forth in a portion unanimously agreed upon. (See pg. 327). “This Convention goes on record to affirm the continuation of the Communist Party of the U.S.A....” (There, Foster and rank-and-file, that’s for you). “This Convention opposes the transformation of the Party into a political or educational association... (This has nothing to do with revisionism, we just don’t care for any association). “Although we oppose endless debate on this question this should not close the doors to all constructive exploration and discussion (Foster, himself, personally out in this phrase about “further discussion (pg. 57) of the subject (what subject? Why the very one they had just said they made up their minds about!) as may be organized by the incoming National Committee.” (There, there, don’t cry, Johnny, we didn’t mean it – here’s a piece of cake for you).
It is necessary to go into the report of the Co-Chairman of the Convention’s Constitutional Committee to determine what was really the basic directing force for the Convention on the key question of the vanguard role. This report, presented by Comrade Fred Fine, has to be read and re-read to be fully savored in all its revisionist flavor. But we shall try to stick to the key aspects as they relate to the vanguard question. Keep in mind that in February, 1958, the National Committee was still saying that this line “clearly defined the essential features of the Party.”
Also, it is necessary to keep in mind what Lenin said about the vanguard role: 1) The Party is “the vanguard of the working class.” (One Step Forward, Two Steps Back) 2) The Party is “the highest form of proletarian class organization,” (Left-Wing Communism, pg. 34) 3) The Party must have “the ability to link itself, to keep in touch with and to a certain extent, if you like, to merge itself with the broadest masses of toilers...,”Left-Wing Communism, pg. 10)
Comrade Fine explained that the Committee was concerned with initialing organizational changes in such a way that “those in our ranks who have doubts about their continued association with our Party” will be given “good reason for continued active association with our Party.” (pg. 207) What sickening self-abasement! One really need go no further. Nobody who believes in, Marxism-Leninism could speak thus of the Party!
Obviously, the Committee considered that Marxism-Leninism and the Socialist revolution were not “good reasons” enough for anyone to stay in the Party! We submit that anyone who can say that is unfit to be in the Party at all let alone a leader of it.
If there are departures from Marxism-Leninism try to correct the mistakes. If there are new problems, work collectively to solve them. As for those who have doubts about their continued association with our Party, as Fine described them, the first question is: Can these “doubts” be resolved on the basis of Marxist-Leninist principle? If so, good; the Party will grow by such criticism and self-criticism. But if there are fundamental differences of principles which give rise to such doubts it is politically unscrupulous to urge or entice people with such doubts to stay in the Party. And whom did Fine have in mind? Certainly among others John Gates was prominent in that number of “doubters” – now Fine himself is exhibiting “doubts” as he joins Stein, Charney and others in refusing Party responsibility since the February National Committee meeting. After seeing that, we can proceed, prepared for almost anything, to Fine’s and the Convention’s treatment of the vanguard role.
Said Fine, “The American Communist Party seek no narrow, partisan monopoly in the struggle for Socialism, while it continues to play its vanguard role.” (pg. 208) How lofty! How generous! Does the Convention know about other Communist Parties around the country? Of course not! What they mean is the American Communist Party “seeks no Marxist-Leninist partisan monopoly in the struggle for Socialism.” If there is another way to struggle for Socialism than the Marxist-Leninist way then what is there so important about the Communist Party’s “vanguard role”? Already we can see that this is irreconcilable with the Declaration.
The hollowness of the Dennis Resolution’s pretenses on this score, its talk about the “mass Party of Socialism” are exposed when we examine the revisionist Convention line upon which the National Committee bases itself. Still all this does not keep them from talking about “the vanguard role of the Party.”
Fine’s report continues, “the gross errors we committed in the past, in the mechanical way in which we assumed the role of ’the vanguard Party’...caused us to suffer the most painful isolation from the working class! ... This has nothing in common with the genuine and realistic position we strive to hold in American political life, particularly, in relation to the working class and its allies. A position of fulfilling the role and maintaining the quality of a class vanguard.”(Pg. 209, Emphasis in original – M.P.)
Not THE but A vanguard! Obviously, this is not a concept of the Communist Party as “the highest type of organization of the working class.” Rather, it is the concept of one of a possible number of “vanguards.” This, again, cannot by any stretch of rationalization be made to square with “guidance of the working masses by the working class, the core of which is the Marxist-Leninist Party” as posed by the Declaration. Yet, this remains the line of the National leadership which has just at its last meeting reaffirmed the Convention, and which is pledged to “resolutely and effectively curry out that line.” (Dennis Resolution)
Opposition to this Convention line by the so-called “ultra-’Left’” is termed by Dennis “a serious menace to the unity and political line of our Party.” On the record, let the membership judge: is our line, or that of Dennis, the menace?
But in connection with the third Leninist component of the vanguard theory, this the Convention seized upon with a will. Opportunism does not reject everything in Marxism. 0n the contrary, as we cited before, Lenin showed that one of the characteristic sources of opportunism is the one-sided mastery of Marxism. So it is with our Convention leaders. They are only too e8ger to “merge” with anybody or anything in order to “end our isolation”. Of course, this is the very negation of Lenin’s idea of the forging unbreakable bonds between the vanguard of the working class and the working class itself in order to guarantee the victory of the Marxist-Leninist Party over all other ideologies and Parties struggling for the support of the working class.
The Convention sees the Party, not as THE LEADER of the trade unions and national liberation struggles, etc., but as a specialized auxiliary carrying out mainly educational work on “Socialism”, “solidarity”, “internationalism”, etc.
It is instructive to read the elaboration of this view of the Right-wing, Alexander Bittlemen, in a series of articles “I Take A New Look” which appeared in the Daily Worker in the middle of October, 1957. “The conclusion is inescapable that correct relations between the Communist Party and the trade unions in the current historic period must rest upon the following basis – that the Party recognize that the trade union movement has attained a position of leadership of the American working class.”
Of course, Bittleman makes some routine attempts to cover up this opportunism with a few subsequent phrases about “vanguard role” and a “mass Party of Socialism” even “Marxist-Leninist Party” as does Dennis. But what is a trade union? It is anybody who works and wants to join. What does its leadership consist of? So many parts of class collaboration, and so many parts of class struggle. The trade union leadership in the U.S. today is, let us say, about 90% class collaborationist and about 10% class struggle. To say that the Communist party must accommodate itself to this leadership, means abandoning the fight against opportunism, the main obstacle within the labor movement to the development of an anti-imperialist struggle. That is why all of Bittleman’s polite phrases about “vanguard role” and “mass Party of Socialism” are meaningless. It may be contended that, after all, Bittlemen is of the newly-demoted Right-wing, but a reading of the Draft Resolution on trade union work (not yet acted upon but still advanced by the National Committee for discussion) is fully consistent with and supplementary to the Bittleman view. Again, as in the consideration of the approach to theory the revisionists give a demonstration of subjective idealism. Taking note of the fact that working class consciousness at the moment, is low they propose that we correspondingly lower our concept of our own role and our own organization.
The majority of the workers in capitalist countries are not organized into trade unions; they may not even be “trade union-conscious” in some countries; and more may belong to, say, the Church than to the trade unions in some places; but this does not alter the fact that the trade unions are the main basic organization of the working class.
It is one thing to state that the Party is weak, that the Party has not yet won the acknowledgement of the workers as their Vanguard. That was true of the Social Democrats in Russia in 1900 and was true of the Communist Party of China at one time. But the Chinese and the Russian workers would never have achieved power if the Communist Parties had not held firm to the concept of the vanguard role and if they had not brought this concept to the workers! The American workers, whatever the level of their present political consciousness, will come in their millions to understand the need for a Marxist-Leninist Party. Workers who, today, do not even “know we are living”, will, tomorrow, love and support our Marxist-Leninist Party in a way which the architects of the present revisionism could never understand.
History has shown that proletarian internationalism does net develop without the guidance of Marxist ideas and the organized effort of Marxist Parties. And this solidarity has come to be most consistently expressed and most highly developed in the fraternal solidarity of the Marxist-Leninist Communist and Workers Parties. From the days of the meetings of the British workers, organized by Marx and the First International to support the cause of the free labor in our Civil War, to the Paris Commune, to the hands-off-Russia strikes, to the Mooney, Scottsboro, Rosenberg, Freedom Struggles, to the “Yankee Go Home” demands, this truth has been repeatedly proven.
Today the most general form of the development of proletarian internationalism is the struggle to prevent a world war. “The cause of peace”, says the Declaration, “is upheld by...the International working class, and above all by its vanguard, the Communist Parties.” “...The Communist Parties regard the struggle for peace as their foremost task.” For this reason, Communist and Workers Parties of 64 countries including Yugoslavia, but not the CPUSA joined in a Peace Manifesto which, in relation to the question of peace, can be regarded as a direct continuation and projection of the 12-Party Declaration.
Yet the National Committee has not endorsed it, and the Dennis Resolution mentions the Peace Manifesto only perfunctorily, devoting less than one sentence to it! This, even though United States imperialism is correctly singled out by the fraternal Communist Parties, as the main organizer of the war threat today. Again this attitude of the National Committee represents a direct continuation of the line of the 16th Convention. The National Committee does not (as the Convention did not) consider the struggle for peace as the number one issue. The Main Convention Resolution says: “The danger of another world war has considerably subsided. This remains the main feature of the post-Geneva situation.” And the Dennis Resolution also poses this question of the struggle for peace in a secondary position (after the fight on unemployment).
Equally significant of their attitude, is the manner of formulation of this task: “to help extend the movement for summit negotiations of the Big powers; for the outlawing of nuclear weapons, for disarmament; and for the expansion of East-West trade.” So far perhaps, so good. But at best, merely a liberal, neutralist formulation. Yet this is the National Committee of the CPUSA speaking! Where is the urgency? “The destiny of the world and the destinies of future generations hinge on a solution of these problems”, say the 64 Parties in their Manifesto. And again “let us rid the world of the danger of war, death, and annihilation. The Communist Parties regard the struggle for peace as their foremost task.” Is there not a difference in the tone? Where is the militancy of an internationalist, proletarian, vanguard Party?
No reference is made in the Dennis Resolution to the international working class nature of the struggle, or the Declaration, or the 64 Party Manifesto. No mention is made of the basic fact stated in the Declaration: “The Soviet Union and all the Socialist countries...pursuing a policy of preserving Peace throughout the world, are the mainstay of peace....” No mention is made of the special role of the working class as the leader of the struggle for disarmament, East-West trade, and peaceful co-existence in all its aspects.
Let no one say that these were omissions due to requirements of brevity, within the forms of a Resolution concerned primarily with “uniting the Party”! If that had been the case, it could have been accomplished by a simple endorsement of what all the other Communist Parties in the world had said four months before! Secondly, the Convention reaffirmed by the Dennis Resolution, rejects the general characterization of the policy of American imperialism as a whole, as a source of the war danger rather, it trades in distinctions among the monopolists. “Certain of the most reactionary financial and political circles (they include Vice-President Nixon) want to heat up the cold war and compel the ’allies’, the neutrals and the United Nations to toe the line.” But, the Resolution of the Convention continues, “the predominant Wall Street forces are reflected In the Eisenhower wing of the G.O.P. and most of the Democratic leadership...along with the Eisenhower Doctrine they are putting more stress on the economic and ideological aspects of the international struggle. This does not exclude negotiating some partial steps to disarmament.” (pg. 264)
The setbacks suffered by Wall Street’s aggressive, imperialist expansionist drive sharpens the “differences” within the ranks of monopoly capital and the position of American imperialism gives it “room to maneuver short of war rather than reducing it to desperate alternatives,” Therefore, they say peaceful settlement of differences is possible without “a major change in the relationship of class forces in the U.S.” (pg. 313). Thus the Convention sees a major hope for averting world war in the Eisenhower line of monopoly capital and the maneuvering room at the disposal of the U.S. imperialists. This is their opportunist distortion of the new Marxist-Leninist conclusion about the possibilities of preventing world war in the second stage of the general crisis of capitalism. What is new is not that peace can be preserved while the imperialists can maneuver short of war, this was always possible, but on the contrary, what is new, is that today world war can be prevented precisely when the imperialists do not have any way to maneuver (any profitable way, Of course). Let them “maneuver” or not “maneuver”, the masses of the world led by the working class are rallying to the peace policies Of the Soviet Union, Peoples’ China, and the Socialist world in general, and will impose peace on Wall Street no less than on the British end French at Suez. If the Convention could dare play with the possibility of curbing the main center of World War III danger (U.S, monopoly capital) without “a major change in the relation of class forces in the U.S.” it is because and only because the workers of other countries have brought about a major change, in the relation of class forces within their countries, first of all in the Socialist countries of course, but also within the imperialist and colonial countries. The Convention here demonstrates the morality of the “free-loader,” one who is quite awake to the possibilities of sharing what others provide but who considers his own obligations to be of minor importance. Some great “promotion of proletarian internationalism,” as Dennis’ phrase runs! We declare exactly the opposite of the Convention Resolution: the peace of the world will never be secure until there is a major change in the relationship of class forces within the U.S. And it is precisely in this connection, that American labor can, must, and will take its place as an indispensable component of the proletarian peace front. Relying upon the people, the Communist Party of the U.S. must reject the opportunist speculation about U.S. imperialist “maneuvers”. The Communist Parties regard the struggle for peace as their foremost task. That must, apply to the U.S. Party as well as to the other Parties of the world.
Let us probe further into the course of development of this Convention’s negligence in relation to this primary task of proletarian solidarity – the struggle for peace. The Convention Proceedings bristle throughout with references to the paramount importance of the “Independence of the C.P.U.S.A. in relation to Marxists and Marxist Parties of other countries.” (We cannot help but note in passing that there is a certain humorous aspect to this very serious matter. Our Party is relatively the weakest, if not absolutely the weakest Communist Party in the world. Yet, it is we who are demanding “independence”! It would seem that if we get any more independent in the direction in which our national leadership has been going it is just quite likely that we will disappear altogether).
“The CP. – Independent Party of the American Workers”. That is the title of an entire special section of the Main Resolution Which states in part, “The Communist Party is an independent Party of American workers dedicated to Socialism. Its “primary concern is for the present and future welfare of the American people. Its only allegiance is to the working class and people of our country...it Is not subject to any external allegiance or discipline, either of an organizational or political character...(our relations with other Marxist Parties) must be based on each Communist Party serving the best national interests of its people and thereby the common interest of all progressive Humanity.”
This is paraphrased in Eugene Dennis’ main speech at the Convention: “It is by starting with the needs and interests of our own people...that we will best promote international solidarity and peace...” (pg. 51) Or again...“the Party...mistakenly thought that any public criticism of the views or policies of (the Soviet Union and other Socialist countries) would weaken the bonds of international solidarity or bring comfort to the enemies of peace and socialism...because it held this view (our emphasis, M.P.) the Communist Party of our country was entirely unprepared for and deeply shocked by the admissions of crimes, violations of Socialist justice, mistreatment of certain national minorities, and the basis for the rupture of relations with Yugoslavia made by the 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U.” (pg. 32 ) (Emphasis ours, M.P. )
Oh no, it wasn’t that our leaders weren’t aware of errors being made by the Soviet Party and those of other Socialist countries. They just didn’t mention them “because it held this view” – “mistakenly thinking that any public criticism would weaken”, etc., etc., etc.! The most charitable comment on this is to call it simply a big lie. For if it were true – that they knew, but kept silent – that and that alone would be sufficient admission of duplicity to disqualify these “leaders” from any trust by the workers of this or any other country (of course their use of the term “public” in this passage is almost laughable. Is one to presume they made some “non-public” criticism of the C.P.S.U. on these matters prior to the 20th Congress?) Irrefutable proof of the dishonesty of this pretense is found in the fact that since the 20th Congress occurred, the leadership of our Party has made absolutely no effort to carry through a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the revelations of the 20th Congress and related questions in the Socialist world. As a result, a disorienting effect of anti-Sovietism has been allowed to develop with disastrous consequences throughout our Party. Thus the leadership demonstrates how they propose to overcome “insufficient development of the independent theoretical work of our Party” – as the Convention Proceedings say. (pg. 317)
Fortunately for our Party, the Chinese Party was not so cursed with “ideological, independence.” It gave guidance to us in articles easily read by our members such as the well known editorial in the Peking Daily and Mao Tse Tung's On Contradictions Among the People and other writings. These analyses were Marxist-Leninist. They were major contributions to the Socialist and proletarian solidarity.
On the other hand, what has been the fruits of our Convention style of independence? It started with the curt rejection of the comradely greetings of Jacques Duclos on behalf of the CP. of France. The French Party had made these points of fraternal criticism. “In examining with great attention the opinions expressed by different Comrades in your discussion and the official documents like the Draft Resolution for the Convention, the Nov. 6th Statement of the C.P.U.S.A. concerning the events in Poland and Hungary, and other documents, we believe that we discern dangerous departures from these principles (of Marxism-Leninism)...”
The French Party then goes on to certain specific questions. “The dictatorship of the proletariat is the indispensable, inevitable, arm for the exercise of the power by the working class allied with the farmers, whatever are the particular forms of transition from capitalism to Socialism...To deviate from these basic (Marxist-Leninist) conceptions is to slide into the morass of Social-Democratic opportunism;...that is to say, to turn ones back on the revolution, on Communism, the class struggle; it is to play the game of Project X, of the reactionary plots organized on the basis of Mutual Security Laws, as in Hungary,... if irresponsible Petofi circles were able, precisely by sliding into liquidationist-revisionism, to play the game of these counter-revolutionary bands, by deceiving the workers, it is no less true that the whole affair was a realization of a plan of imperialism in order to split apart and destroy the camp of Socialism and the Communist movement. The worst would be that some Communists would be taken in (by revisionism (which)....leads the revolutionary movement to ’democratic’ reformism to the deception of ’democratic liberties’ to have confidence in the bourgeoisie to achieve ’a democratic Socialism.’...The strengthening of the international solidarity of the proletariat... implies solidarity with the foreign policies of the Soviet Union corresponding to the interests of the international proletariat of peace and Socialism, to the interests of the independence movements of the oppressed, dependent countries of the world. That is why any penetration of the echoes of the anti-Communists and anti-Soviet campaigns in our ranks must be answered by an unrelenting resistance and pitiless rebuff.” (pp. 242-45)
Thus spoke the French Party on points of deep, fraternal concern.
Now let us see how the Convention answers the French comrades. Let us see how the Convention’s leadership measures up in practice to its own Main Resolution’s statement in regard to fraternal criticism among Communist Parties.
The Main Resolution has these lofty words. “International working class solidarity includes the right and responsibility to friendly criticism of brother Parties,” and “the right and duty of the Communists of all countries to engage in comradely criticism of the policies and practices of the Communists of any country whenever they feel this necessary.” (pp. 321-322)
On pages 245-246 we find the Convention’s letter replying to the French comrades’ criticism. As we saw, the French Party considers, in a correct Marxist-Leninist way, that the attitude towards the dictatorship of the proletariat is a decisive question. In the Convention’s reply the dictatorship of the proletariat is not mentioned. On Hungary, which Comrade Duclos posed as a key question, our Party’s reply said not one word. (It is most significant, that on page 102 a delegate is quoted as saying that the Convention leadership through Sid Stein had declared that they considered that any move “to pose the question of Hungary before this Convention would be a provocation.” (!)
On the question of international working class solidarity, a third point in the letter from the French Party, the Convention’s reply spoke as follows: “The relationship among working class political parties must be based...on each Communist Party serving the best national interests of its people and thereby (Emphasis ours – M.P.) the common interest of all progressive Humanity.” Incredible as it must have seemed to the French comrades, one would never know from a reading of the American Party’s reply that there was even in existence a Socialist world, let alone the fact that the French Party had placed this as a central factor in its evaluation of the pre-Convention discussion. The Soviet Union is not even mentioned in our reply.
Not only in this letter does the Convention depart from the universally valid Marxist-Leninist theory of the relationship among Communist Parties, but it demonstrates also in practice a most un-comradely, evasive, and dishonest method of response to a fraternal Communist Party. Here is the fruit of the “independence” tree.
This “new look” of independence was put on display again at the National Committee’s February meeting in connection with statements that had been made in the December issue of the theoretical organ of the C.P.S.U. That article, written by D. Shevlyagin, was titled “The Struggles of the Fraternal Communist Parties against Modern Opportunism.”
In the course of the discussion of the United States Party, the author lumps William Schneiderman (Northern California leader and National Committee member), and A.B. Magil (former Foreign Affairs Editor of the Worker) together with John Gates and William Norman (former Right-wing Party leaders who have since quit), as revisionists, with particular reference being made to the views of these four on the role and organization of the Party.
This Soviet comrade cited in support of his characterizations of these four, views each had expressed in the course of the pre-Convention discussion in 1956. The Convention Resolution had said: “the Communist Party recognizes that over the years it held certain wrong and oversimplified concepts of what its relations should be to other Marxist Parties. The Party tended to accept uncritically many views of Marxists of other countries.” (pg. 320)
Well, it must be admitted that the February Notional Committee meeting demonstrated how not to “accept uncritically” the views of the C.P.S.U. regarding the C.P.U.S.A. The National Committee adopted a Resolution denying the “Kommunist’s” characterization of Magil and Schneiderman as revisionists.
But having made this simple denial of the Shevlyagin view (they called it “inaccurate”) the National Committee appears to be quite willing to drop the matter. The new leadership omitted mention of that action in their official published summary of the meeting. Now instead of “accepting uncritically”, they simply “reject uncritically.” Thus, what has been eliminated in the line of the leadership is not any uncritical attitude towards the views of Marxists of other countries. What they seek to rule out is the “acceptance” of these views.
Here we have the substance of the Convention line which was dressed up in such noble phrases as this! “International working class solidarity includes the right and responsibility to friendly criticism of brother Parties...” (pg. 321)
As it was in Lenin’s early days, “freedom of criticism” remains inevitably a mask for its very opposite, the rejection of the only basis for criticism, a common unity of general view. For Communists, the basis of all criticism is the science of Marxism-Leninism. In the words of the Declaration: “in the bedrock of the relations between...all the Communist and Workers’ Parties lie the principles of Marxism-Leninism, the principle of proletarian internationalism which have been tested in life.”
As for the Convention we find that the basis of all criticism is quite something else: “recognition that the fundamental conflict of all peoples is with the forces of imperialism.” (pg. 321) (Even Secretary Dulles would quite willingly proclaim that he holds that view!)
The new Dennis leadership had its further specific reasons for desiring to remove the Shevlyagin matter from the attention of the Party membership. For any full discussion of the matter would require general circulation in the Party of at least the pertinent sections of the Shevlyagin, Magil and Schneiderman articles in question, together with a point by point rejection. Such a course might, before it were done, lead to the general exposure of the fact that Magil’s views and Schneiderman’s views on democratic centralism are indeed those of the Convention and the present leadership.
This opinion is substantiated by Magil himself. Magil, a little nettled at the omission of the matter of the Shevlyagin article in the National Executive Committee’s authorized summary of the February, meeting, says of the articles by him and Schneiderman which were criticized by the Soviet Party magazine: “both articles, (that is, his and Schneiderman’s) proposed changes....(whose).... substance was later adopted by the 16th National Convention and embodied in the new Party Constitution.” (Letter to the Editor, The Worker, March 23, 1958)
We shall defer to Section VII, a discussion of the substance of the Convention line on democratic centralism and show its revisionist conciliationist character. But it is significant that the National Committee does not challenge Magil’s assertion. Since it cannot deny the fact, the Committee does indeed seek to “sweep this matter under the carpet”, as Magil put it in his letter.
At this point, we are merely concerned with the absence of even elemental frankness, without which all talk of “fraternal relations” with other Communist Parties is out of the question. However Magil, in the letter we have cited, makes most serious charges against the Shevlyagin article, charges of “smear”, “distortion”, “misquoting”, and “quoting out of context.” Our own obligations to proletarian internationalism and Communist solidarity will not permit us to let such charges go unchallenged. Therefore, in spite of the limits of this article, we shall quote the two paragraphs as they appear in the original Magil article in The Worker of July 22, 1956. We underscore the words quoted by Shevlyagin:
“Is democratic centralism, one of the fundamental principles of Marxist-Leninist science, of the same order of historical materialism as the theory of surplus value and the theory of imperialism? In my opinion it is not. Democratic centralism is a means to an end. (Apparently Magil is still impaled on the horn of a metaphysical “ends and means” dilemma!) If a better means can be found let’s not hesitate to adopt it, but let’s make certain that it’s really better.”
That’s the first paragraph cited by Shevlyagin. And the second:
“While the general aspect of this problem was international, the democratic centralism evolved by Lenin and the Bolshevik Party was a product of specifically Russian conditions. These conditions were characterized by (here, the Shevlyagin article in the only English translation available, quotes Magil as saying “maybe applied only under such conditions as” instead of “were characterized by”, as it actually was in the article in The Worker) great economic backwardness, semi-feudal social relations, absolutist: dictatorship, and, the absence of democracy.” It is still clear, is it not, despite the erroneous phrase, that Magil’s views and that of the Convention and of the National Committee today are proper subjects for criticism by those who believe in the 12-Party Declaration? That a hallmark of revisionism is “called for a rejection...of democratic centralism.”
Does it not deserve even from those who would differ with it, at least a friendly, frank, proletarian, internationalist, Marxist-Leninist reply? Yet the National Committee “promoted proletarian internationalism” in the words of the Dennis Resolution, by responding to this serious Soviet Party criticism with a cryptic “inaccurate” (the disgrace of this “fraternal criticism” is made worse by the circumstances that it was proceeded by an outrageous unfounded charge, later withdrawn, by Magil that Shevlyagin was party to some sort of “Beria style” frame-up against Magil and Schneiderman!) We can only hope that pending the time when the membership will set things right in our Party, other Communist Parties will not be led by this crude attitude of our National Committee to deprive us of their helpful criticism!
History has shown that since the rise of Imperialism the acid teat of proletarian internationalism for workers of imperialist countries is that of opposition to the policies of their “own” imperialism in regards to the nations oppressed by that imperialism. United States finance capital is the owner of more indirect and direct holdings and investments than those of all the other imperialists of the world. It is the direct and indirect oppressor of all colonial and semi-colonial people throughout the “free world.” By its expansion, U.S. monopoly capital has added many-fold to its direct antagonists and has added to the direct potential allies of the United States workers, provided only that he is taught the essential importance of the struggles of oppressed nations – taught by a Party which understands this Marxist-Leninist principle.
The Convention Resolution states: “American capitalism has undergone great changes since the pre-war years...central among these is the growth of monopoly.” (pg. 258) But what is it that monopoly makes of capitalism-imperialism, – three of whose essential features (export capital, economic division and territorial division of the world) integrate dependent areas into great colonial empires on the basis of national subjugation to the imperialist powers? The social impact is the extension and the intensification of absolute impoverishment on a world scale. (Incidentally, the entire national leadership had decided that absolute impoverishment is a dead letter. Super-profits at one end, “super” poverty at the other).
From the Hayes-Tilden deal of 1876, which consigned the Negro People to the status of oppressed nation in the Black Belt and national minority in the rest of the country, down to the manipulations of capitalist hemispheres through NATO and SEATO and Baghdad Pact and the World Bank, US imperialism has developed into the colossus of the capitalist world. A major service to the cause of our Party in the struggle for Negro liberation was the recent preparation of Comrade Harry Haywood of a devastating polemic against the revisionists and conciliationists in our Party entitled: For A Revolutionary Position On The Negro Question. We here therefore may limit our remarks while saying that we endorse Comrade Haywood’s article.
The National Convention stated: “...we must assure the early completion of the study and reassessment now under way of our previously asserted theoretical position on this question.” (The Negro Question) (pg. 297) And “it is not the task of Communists or any other group to impose upon the Negro people new forms of struggle, tactics, alien to their historical development as a people.” (pg. 302) There is no mention throughout the entire section on the Communists and the Negro people of the “dirty word” ‒ the right of self-determination. Yet this is the very bed-rock for “establishment of equality and fraternal friendship” of the workers of the imperialist oppressing nation and the nations oppressed by that imperialism.
Browder said the Negro nation had already exercised the right of self-determination in favor of assimilation. This idea is pretty thoroughly mangled by the common sense answer of the Marxist-Leninists, Negro and white. “How can a nation which is held in bondage by the very much alive U.S. imperialism, how can a nation in such a situation possibly be said to be making a free choice for itself?” In reviving the Browder thesis, therefore, the revisionist of today have reinforced it. Under an implied slogan of “liberation through integration” the revisionists have struck – as they hoped – a mortal blow at the idea of the right of the Negro nation to self-determination by this “argument:” the principle of self-determination of the oppressed Negro nation in the Black Belt should be set aside because there is no nation. No nation, no vexing question of self-determination! Simply beautiful, and beautifully simple! However, it lacks an essential element of genius-originality. In fact, it is taken directly and intact from the book of reformism, thereby, the proponents of this idea in the Party have themselves become transformed from revolutionaries into reformists, negating the leading role of the working class in the national liberation movement. In the Black Belt, the Negro nation of at least 5 million still sweats under United States imperialist oppression. But our Party has been led away from it.
The logic of this position in relation to one, oppressed nation cannot be confined by “telling one lie, and then telling another to cover it up.” If United States monopoly capital no longer needs to keep the Negro nation in oppression and therefore is permitting its “liberation through integration”, then how can one logically explain the continued role of United States Imperialism as national oppressor of peoples throughout the world – for the most part dark skinned peoples in Asia, Africa, the Middle and Near East, the West Indies, and first of all in Latin America, the oldest and most completely dominated section of its colonial empire?
U.S. imperialism in posing as “leader of the free world” requires a new facade of liberalism on the old operation of wringing out super profits from oppressed nations. In just the same way and for the same cause, the revolutionary nature of the struggles of the oppressed nations is concealed by the revisionist talks of “liberation through integration”, and “help to under-developed areas” – all under imperialism. The rest is silence – a silence which thunders out a cold rejection of the alliance with the proletarian-led revolutionary national liberation struggles against U.S. imperialism.
From Latin America, the l6th Convention received greetings from the parties of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela. The greetings from the first two were read at the Convention and were published in the Proceedings. The Bolivian greeting was read, but was not published in the Proceedings. The remainder of the greetings from these Parties were neither read nor published in the Proceedings. It was only after the Latin American comrades in New York had applied pressure for the publication of these greetings because of their Marxist-Leninist content and connotation, that they finally were made available “unauthorized” in mimeographed form by the Brooklyn Party organization in an extremely limited number. It is from this compilation of these greetings that we have selected excerpts from some of the greetings from the Latin American Parties.
From Chile:“... the solidarity between our two Parties is dictated by the principles of Marxism-Leninism and also by the fact that we live directly under the impact of the same enemy, the great North American monopolies.” Later on, in this greeting the Chilean Party is self-critical for, as it sees it, having “in great part ignored” the struggles of the U.S. working class and Communist Party. This adds a second reason for the revisionist suppression of it. For if the Chilean Party feels it has ignored the U.S. struggles, what is to be said of the practical abandonment by our own U.S. Party of the Chilean victims of U.S. monopoly? This Chilean self-criticism does as much to expose the revisionist opportunism of most U.S. trade union leaders end Party leaders as volumes of direct documentation might do.
“We are sure” said the Argentine Party, “that the tested principles of Marxism-Leninism which we hold in common will emerge triumphant at your Convention against those who, under the pretext of de-Stalinization, propose to revise these principles....” (Is there any reason that the U.S. Party leadership would want to suppress this greeting? Only one!)
From Colombia; “Colombia.... suffers an opprobrious dictatorship led and practiced by the North American military mission and backed up by the State Department...but the Communist Party of Colombia keeps itself firmly at its post of struggle... the example of the C.P.U.S.A. stimulates our struggle (we must burn with shame at these words!) because we are confronted with a common enemy – the imperialist policy of the aggressive circles of monopoly capital of the U.S., which constitutes the fundamental force of world reaction.” (It is all too clear why the revisionists are reduced to silence by this message).
And, from the Popular Socialist Party of Cuba (the Communist Party), came a message which really deserves reproduction in full. But we must limit ourselves to the following: “American imperialism is therefore the number one enemy of the Cuban people as it is of the working class and the people of the U.S.A., and likewise of all Humanity to-day. They are the stronghold of world reaction and war. Consequently, it is easy to understand that whatever the workers and the people of the U.S. do against the forces of oppression in their own country is extraordinarily helpful to the Cuban people, in the same way that our struggle for national liberation and against imperialism helps, in turn, your struggle against the main enemy... For the freedom of our country, for democracy in the U.S.A. and Cuba, for the defeat of Yankee imperialism, for world peace and Socialism, for progress and happiness for our peoples, and victory of the great ideas of Marx and Lenin. Long live the fraternal relations between the workers and people of the USA end Cuba, between the Communist Party of the USA and Cuba.”
Here, then, are millions of allies extending the hand of solidarity. Our Party should have been the first to stretch out its hand to people oppressed by “its” national imperialist bourgeoisie. Yet, the Resolution of that 16th Convention, speaking of “the extension of alliances between labor and its allies”, does not even mention the people of Latin America or these declarations of proletarian solidarity. Speaking of “post-war expansion of foreign investment” (pg. 282), no mention is made of any particular country, or even of Latin America as a whole! Speaking of the tasks of “the anti-monopoly coalition”, the Convention does not mention the question of action to advance the cause of national liberation in the countries of Latin America, who, through the Communist Parties had appealed to that Convention for the solidarity of U.S. Communists. In the entire Proceedings of the Convention Latin America is mentioned only once, and that in connection with an implied endorsement of the Roosevelt “Good-Neighbor Policy”, so-called, seeking to contrast it with the policies of the Eisenhower Administration. The comrades of Latin America ask for the bread of solidarity and our Convention gives them a stone of liberalistic platitudes.
A most brazen manifestation of this rejection of the hand clasp of solidarity with the Latin American nations under the domination of Yankee imperialism was evidenced in connection with the question of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican national minority. Puerto Rico is the only outright colony of U.S. imperialism in Latin America (the new Constitution and Legislature are not even vested with nominal authority over Puerto Rican affairs). It is held in the most intolerable poverty, which is systematically exiling its sons and daughters to the sweat shops and fields of the mainland.
Puerto Rico is the home of a liberty-loving people with an urban and agricultural proletariat constituting its majority, a people with a heritage of more than a century of struggle for national independence. Its struggle against U.S. imperialism is closely bound up with the historic struggle of all other Latin American countries against Yankee Imperialism.
Puerto Rico is the native land of an oppressed national minority of nearly a million, concentrated in the mainland cities, particularly in New York. The composition of this national minority is 95% proletarian, and is a natural base of support for the national liberation struggles for national independence, as well as an important segment of our working class. It is a militant enemy of chauvinism in all its forms, an especial ally of the oppressed Negro people, and a base of militant participation and support of the trade union movement.
The Puerto Rican Marxist-Leninists in Puerto Rico and in New York have had to contend for years against rejection of the obligation of the C.P.U.S.A. to the cause of Puerto Rican national independence; against deliberate undermining of the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory of proletarian hegemony of the national liberation movement; against a bourgeois reformist attitude towards even the militant struggle of Puerto Rican nationalists; against revival of the Browderite illusions about the “progressive” potential of American imperialism; against the opportunist passion for “respectability” in the eyes of the chauvinist-minded labor lieutenants of monopoly capital.
Such a history is reflected in the fact that today the Party among the Puerto Rican national minority on the mainland practically unanimously rejects the national leadership of our Party. This in particular, explains why at the Convention the main leadership declined to support the election to the National Committee of even a single Puerto Rican, causing a Puerto Rican candidate to “lose” by only one-third of a vote. Adding insult to injury, the leadership then excluded all mention of the controversy over this question in the official Convention Proceedings. (They claim the recording machine broke down at that point of the Proceedings, but no effort was made subsequently to ask Comrades Foster, Victor, Olga, and Loman to supply their remarks in written form for inclusion in the printed Proceedings, as was done in a number of other cases of such technical difficulties. One suspects it was a “machine” with chauvinistic instincts!
Let us note in passing, that in spite of the patronizing attitudes on one hand, and the denunciations of “Latin anarchism” on the other, alternately directed at our Puerto Rican comrades; when the history of this period is written, Marxist-Leninists will record the fact that especially prominent among those who rallied for the reclaiming of our entire Party from the spoliation of revisionism, were the proletarian comrades of the Puerto Rican national minority, unwavering advocates of Puerto Rican national independence and veteran fighters for proletarian internationalism. This is an example of true proletarian internationalism by comrades of an oppressed national minority in relation to the Communist Party of the oppressor nation. The Puerto Rican comrades have by their struggles against the revisionist line of the 16th Convention earned the everlasting gratitude of every honest Communist.
History has shown that proletarian Internationalism in the words of the 12-Party Declaration, “requires support of the Soviet Union and all the Socialist countries that, pursuing a policy of preserving peace throughout the world are the mainstays of peace and social progress.” This is one expression of the law of Socialist development cited in the Declaration – “Defense of the achievement of Socialism against the attacks by external and internal enemies.”
Hungary! No wonder the revisionist-conciliationist national leadership suppressed any discussion of Hungary at the Convention. “The posing of the question of Hungary before this Convention would be a provocation!” (pg. 102) (This was the message reportedly given by the Convention leadership to the delegate who sought a discussion of the question). Such a discussion would have, more than any other at the moment, exposed the anti-Soviet line of the Right revisionists (Gates, Stein, Wilkerson), and the unprincipled vacillations of the Centrists (Dennis and Stachel) and the “Left” conciliators (Foster, (8) Weinstone and Davis). For the counter-revolutionary attempt in Hungary in October-November, 1956, posed questions in a form which no “unity” could bridge; not in the Hungarian Party nor in any other.
No wonder a leadership hypnotized by its dreams of peaceful transition through coalition and election avoided the Hungarian question like the plague. For, in Hungary was revealed the essence of the question of state power. “The basic question of any revolution” as Lenin said, “is what class will dominate, the working class or the bourgeoisie? What path of social development will be followed?”
No wonder those who in the name of “name and form” of the Party made a sacrifice of the substance of it – joined with the Right in sweeping under the rug all questions about Hungary. For, in Hungary was revealed the essence of conciliationism, misappropriating and distorting slogans advanced by the Party members themselves to accommodate reaction, thus paving the way to complete capitulation.
To document our indictment of the national leadership at the National Convention on the question of Hungary, we shall draw extensively upon questions and conclusions closely supported by the facts presented in the valuable book by Comrade Herbert Aptheker, The Truth About Hungary. (This book by Comrade Aptheker whose title we shall here abbreviate as “The Truth” stands in marked contrast to the shameful vacillations of our national leadership on the question of Hungary. However, Comrade Aptheker fails in one serious duty, and the most important one for us, that is to draw the lessons of Hungary in relation to our own Party.
“It is to this that the ministers of state in the (Imre) Nagy government had come – from the purification of Peoples’ Democracy to an anti-Soviet world war. From an effort to plan Socialism, the better to assure its growth, to an effort to destroy Socialism – ’liberate the East European countries’ – and replace it with clerical fascism.” (“The Truth”, pg. 24) No wonder the conciliationists in our Party, transfixed with the horror of visions of “a split in the Party” (a split with the revisionists) find so painful the story of the birth of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party on November 1st, 1956. For as in our own Party today, “there remained an alternative in Hungary, a supreme effort to rebuild the revolutionary Party of Marxism-Leninism...” (Ibid. pg. 240) As in our own Party the Hungarian working class in the words of Janos Kadar “has come to a cross roads. We did not seek the elimination of bureaucracy and rigidity so that it might be replaced by the reign of counterrevolution!” (Ibid pg. 209)
Neither did the members of the American Party propose to master the lessons of the 16th Congress on the cult of the individual in order to have our Party sidetracked by revisionists and by the “Left”-conciliationists. On this basis then we can without difficulty evaluate the substance and the significance of the November 19, 1956 Open Letter addressed by the National Committee to the membership of our Party “On the Events in Hungary”. (Printed in Political Affairs December, 1956) This statement was and remains the basic official line of the national leadership of our Party on this question to this date.
Consider the manner in which they go about the “promotion of proletarian internationalism” as the Dennis Resolution puts it, when the defense of Socialism is involved! “The October 24th decision...to call upon Soviet troops stationed in Hungary to put down the initial popular demonstrations (we’ll come back to this formulation) was a tragic error for which the Soviet Union must also take responsibility.”
“The Truth”: “In the late afternoon of the 24th (of October, 1956) the National Trade Union Council agreed that a largely, well-intentioned demonstration had been turned into a counter-revolutionary movement by irresponsible elements and provocateurs.” (pp. 190-191) How the anti-Sovieteers must have slavered over that morsel presented by the U.S. Communist Party leadership – “Soviet troops put down....popular demonstrations....”!
Let us continue contrasting the Convention and the leadership’s position on Hungary with the facts as set forth in Aptheker’s book.
“The Truth”: “...from October 24th to about noon of the next day Soviet troops fraternized with masses of Hungarians.” (pg. 109). On the 25th, on the way to a mass meeting at the Parliament Square, “many of the demonstrators rode to the Square on top of Soviet tanks and there was the warmest fraternity between the Hungarian masses and the Red Army troops.” (pg. 194) National Committee: “It appears (they are not sure!) that the Soviet Union decided on the large scale use of troops on November the 4th to head off the White Terror and what it considered (it is just a matter of opinion!) to be the danger of the formation of an anti-Soviet...regime on its borders....”
“The Truth:” “Actually by October 31st, as we shall demonstrate subsequently, a full scale White Terror complete with anti-Semitic pogroms had made its appearance in Budapest and in many areas of Hungary, especially in the West.” (pg. 207)
“The Truth”: “Walter Lipmann in his column of November 9th, 1956 ’had the Hungarian rebellion succeeded and had it spread by the contagion of its example, the satellite orbit would almost certainly not have been Titoist and neutral, but anti-Communist and anti-Russian’.” (pg. 238)
“The Truth”: “The Nagy regime as it moved to the right was more and more pursuing an anti-Soviet policy.” (pg. 239)
The National Committee of our Party said: “We do not seek to justify the use of Soviet troops in Hungary’s internal crisis on November 4th.” Beyond saying that the Daily Worker hadn’t taken “into account sufficiently the developments in Hungary over the week-end” it had no criticism of the editorial in the Daily Worker which had proclaimed, “the action of the Soviet troops in Hungary does not advance but retards the development of Socialism, because Socialism cannot be imposed on a country by force.” The National Committee’s Open Letter let stand its own previous (November 2, 1956) statement on Hungary (saying only that it was “inadequate”). In that statement we find the following: “The response of the Soviet authorities to the request for armed intervention.... violated the Leninist concept of self-determination because the call for troops was not in accord with the wishes of the Hungarian people.” “The Hungarian people have now had 11 years in which to test Parties and leaders; they alone have the right to change or retain them.”
“The Truth”: “The majority of the working class...remained rather apathetic, generally suspicious of the leadership at all stages and increasingly distrustful as that leadership moved further to the Right. The masses of peasantry also did not participate in the fighting and, on the whole, these millions opposed the drift to the Right as this began to challenge the Land Reform Act.” (pg. 239)
”The Truth”: “...the evidence la conclusive that the entry of troops into Budapest stopped the execution of scores, perhaps thousands of Jews, for by the end of October and early November anti-Semitic pogroms, hallmark of unbridled fascistic terror, were making their appearance after an absence of some ten years within Hungary,” (pp. 220-22l)
Following this, Aptheker cites corroborative testimony by Peter Schmidt in Commentary, Leslie B. Bain, another anti-Communist writer, in the Israeli newspaper Maariv, Tel-Aviv, the World Jewish Congress and others. Aptheker cites The Paris Jewish newspaper Naye Presse (which) asserted that Jewish refugees in France claimed quite generally that Soviet soldiers had saved their lives” (pg. 223)
The National Committee said, “The use of troops by the Soviet Union cannot of course solve the basic problem involved.”
”The Truth”: The alternatives to a Third World War and clerical fascism in Hungary included as essential calling upon the armed assistance of the Soviet Union to beat back the forces of reaction and fascism, to throttle the White Terror, preserve intact the Socialist section, and eliminate the danger to world peace of a restorationist Hungary in the heart of Europe.” (pg. 240)
To the “Leninists” of our National Committee this had nothing to do with any basic problems. However, the fact is that the action of the Soviet Union – at the appeal of the workers, Hungarian government and Party – decided the question of state power – “the basic question of any revolution.” (Lenin) (Our emphasis, M.P.) (Incidentally, it makes one wonder whether the national leadership really understands the undemocratic nature of the Hayes-Tilden deal which led to the withdrawal of Federal troops from the South and thus abandoned democratic reconstruction there).
Seeing thus what the National Committee in its still standing statement regards as “violations of Leninism” we can better understand how it was possible for them to conclude this disgraceful display along the following lines: “We urge widespread support of the efforts by Relief agencies cooperating with the United Nations and the Hungarian government to assist the people of Hungary. We also propose that economic aid be voted by Congress (the same one which votes the money for Project X!) without strings to Hungary as well as to other nations!”
This is a demonstration of their concept of “promotion of proletarian internationalism”! Is it not incredible to have voted for such a Resolution in the first place with the disgraceful desertion under fire? To stand by it as the months roll on becomes an ever more glaring scandal. But it is a scandal built into the 16th Convention, the basis of the present line of our Party leadership.
It is probably true that in our Party the most demoralizing and destructive aspect of the revisionist rejection of the principle of defense of Socialism has developed around ”the Jewish Question”. On every other question, the “Left”-conciliators, at least, have made some show of challenging the crudest and most undisguised anti-Soviet outbursts of the Right. But on the question of the “Jews in the Soviet Union”, there has been not even a pretense of open challenge to this line of attack upon Socialism. The “unity” of the revisionists and the conciliators on this question has been pitched on grounds dictated entirely by the extreme Right.
The damaging effect on our organization can hardly be overestimated. If in 1958, registration of our membership shows a total of 200 in the Bronx or 500 in Brooklyn, instead of 2,000 or 5,000, or shows 5,000 in the nation instead of 50,000 the situation must be ascribed largely to anti-Soviet distortions on the Jewish Question by the Party leadership.
Taking into account the deep-seated love of the Socialist world on the part of the membership, the leadership attempts to sugarcoat the anti-Sovietism of their line on this question. But when this anti-Sovietism is openly spread in our Party by ex-Communists and would-be ex-Communists, the silence of the leadership shows its satisfaction with the results of its handiwork. Their cunning illustrates perfectly Alexander Pope’s well-known lines:
“Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer. And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer.”
The main specifications of the line of the leadership on this question were set forth in a Resolution adopted by the New York State Convention on March 31st, 1957. (This was a Convention featured by the initiative of “Left”-conciliator Comrade Benjamin J. Davis in imposing upon the Left-oriented majority a “unity” slate of officers, including the open advocate of liquidation, George Charney, as State Secretary). This State Convention Resolution, which received, and continues to receive, the support of the “Left”-conciliators, as well as the Center and the Right in the leadership, adapts and further develops the bourgeois nationalist view of the Jewish Question – as the official view of our Party.
Here is how that general line is developed as a major aspect of the attack upon proletarian internationalism:
First: self-critical revelations by the 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U, in regard to violations of Socialist legality and departures from Marxist-Leninist principles on the National Question – these are effectively narrowed down and translated as “anti-Semitism”. In a display of transparent hypocrisy, the New York State Resolution says: “...there is no official state policy of anti-Semitism (in the USSR).” (Praise could scarcely be “fainter”; there are few governments in the world who wouldn’t qualify for such “praise”).
Paint, but even so, hypocritical. They know, as the world knows, that the 20th Congress was talking precisely about Beria’s corruption of “state policy”. If one has swallowed the first revisionist premise – that violations of Socialist legality are, where Jews are victims, ipso facto, “anti-Semitism” – then, of course, one is forced to conclude that there was, after all, an “official state policy of anti-Semitism” by the Soviet government!
The bourgeois nationalists know that they cannot defend such an outrageous, lying conclusion among the membership. They dissimulate in fact, with “civil leers” directed at the 20th Congress and the leadership of the CPSU: “...the CPSU finally (!) (see how the lip curls over this “finally”! M.P.) uncovered.... crimes (etc).” With friends like that, as an old saying goes, a fellow would never need an enemy!
But the revisionist-conciliationist leadership has completely disarmed our Party in the face of this slanderous and demoralizing attack upon the integrity of Socialism, the Soviet Union and proletarian internationalism. Thereby, they “teach the rest to sneer” openly!
The latest and most repugnant of these “sneers” is a mimeographed screed (issued by “a group of American Communists”, as they sign themselves). “Sneer” is too mild a term; it is an absolutely unspeakably slanderous attack upon the Soviet Union (including a cartoon showing a USSR bear shaking hands with Hitler bearing a sign saying “Down With The Jews”). Even this scandalous work which quotes approvingly from the N.Y. State Committee Resolution has not been answered by the National or State Committee, although they cannot have been unaware of its circulation in our Party. Why not? Because there is an organic connection between the leadership’s “faint praise” and the open “sneers” of the Gates school for slander against the Soviet Union.
That organic connection is the projection of bourgeois nationalism. It parallels their “all-class unity” line of denial of the principle of proletarian hegemony in the national liberation struggle of the oppressed Negro and Puerto Rican peoples. But, this line is not merely bourgeois nationalism in general, the subordination of the masses to the particular interests of the bourgeoisie. (That might be said correctly even of the policy of Nasser or Mossadegh, for instance). Rather, it is bourgeois nationalism enlisted in the service of United States imperialism. This particular service to imperialism in relation to the Soviet Union is, in part, developed along the following lines:
Having distorted the violations of Socialist legality as “anti-Semitism”, the bourgeois nationalists begin to advance a “program” for the Soviet Union. The central theme of this program is “the promotion of Jewish culture (meaning primarily Yiddish-language culture) in the USSR.” This they call for in the name of “the return to the Leninist policy on the Jewish Question.”
But, although this New York State Convention Resolution invokes ”the Leninist policy, on the Jewish Question” over and over again it does not cite a single line from Lenin’s writings to illustrate its point. And for good reason! There is nothing in Lenin’s works to give encouragement to any brand of bourgeois nationalism!
In Critical Remarks On The National Question, by Lenin, Chapter 4 is titled Cultural-National Autonomy. There we find the following:
“To throw off all feudal oppression, all national oppression, all privileges enjoyed by one nation or one language, is the bounden duty of the proletariat as a democratic force... But, to help bourgeois nationalism beyond these limits means betraying the proletariat and taking the side of the bourgeoisie...
“Fight against all national oppression – yes, certainly. Fight for any kind of national development, for ’national culture’ in general – certainly not.... The principle of bourgeois nationalism is the development of nationality in general, hence the exclusiveness of bourgeois nationalism, hence the endless national bickering. The proletariat, far from undertaking to uphold the national development of every nation, on the contrary warns the masses against such illusions... welcomes every kind of assimilation of nations, except forcible assimilation, or such that is based on privilege.”
The revisionist-conciliationist leadership in projecting the bourgeois nationalist line in this matter cites as “Leninist policy”, the measures taken just after the Revolution in Western Russia to provide full facilities for the involvement of the Yiddish-language masses into the life of building Socialism. But, this Marxist-Leninist policy was the adaptation of the Revolution to a situation inherited from the centuries-old Pale of the Tsarist regimes. It was not aimed at “creating a nation”, but at facilitating the development of the material and social conditions, i.e. Socialism, for the quickest and most complete eradication of all national exclusion directed by Russians, Ukrainians, White Russians, Lithuanians, etc., against Jews. This, the revisionist-conciliationists have distorted to suit the bourgeois nationalist line.
They would turn Lenin’s real views into their opposite, into what Lenin himself denounced, the nationalist “development of nationality in general.”
There can be no development of a policy of proletarian Internationalism if the significance of classes is denied. Jewish bourgeois nationalism denies the political significance of class differentiations among the Jewish people. The revisionists have promoted this bourgeois nationalist line on the Jewish Question in the U.S., in relation to Israel, as well as in relation to the U.S.S.R. They make constant mention of the “Leninist policy on the Jewish Question”, but they ignore the Alpha and Omega of the Leninist national policy – the fact that it is a proletarian national policy.
The present national leadership of our Party in all the critical months since the 20th Congress has, not so much as once, called a national conference to find out what the Jewish workers, in our Party and out, were thinking on this question. Is one to assume that the class conscious Jewish end other workers have no independent class view on these matters? The leadership of the Party apparently, would like to give that impression. They have even gone so far as to suppress highly significant expressions of that working class view.
The Convention of the New York County organization subsequently declared: “...the Resolution on the Jewish Question in the USSR, as passed by the State Convention of our Party, departs from this principle (international proletarian solidarity)... we take sharp exception to the conclusions of the Resolution that this solution (as projected by the C.P.S.U.) can be evaluated on the basis of the attitude of the C.P.S.U. towards the question of culture in the Yiddish language... “In our country”, the Resolution goes on, “our Party must concentrate our efforts among the Jewish people (and all peoples) towards a policy of open struggle against the Eisenhower Middle East Doctrine. To accomplish this turn, we must direct our attention towards a policy of strengthening and increasing the influence of the Jewish working class, and especially its Marxist-Leninist sector, in the American Jewish community.... We must assure that the working class movement among the Jewish people does not merge with the bourgeoisie of the national movement, but retains its independent working class outlook...Our comrades working in this movement close to the masses of all Jewish mass organizations must be on guard against all manifestations of petit-bourgeois nationalism whether without or within the Party.”
The general membership of our Party has never seen this Resolution because it was suppressed! (In this instance, the direct suppressors were the “Left”-conciliator leadership of the New York County organization, itself!
Or, again: The antennae of the present leadership seem so sensitive that they can pick up the slightest whisper about the Soviet Union and the Jewish Question, from Folkshtimme (Poland), Vochenblatt (Canada) and Le Figaro (France) – if it serves the bourgeois nationalist line on the Jewish Question. But apparently they can’t “get London”, from which have emanated two devastating blows against basic presumptions of the Jewish bourgeois nationalist line in the Communist movement. These blows were struck by the world famous Marxist-Leninist theoretician, R. Palme Dutt, in two articles: “Israel And The Arab Middle East” (Labour Monthly, August, 1957), and a review of Professor Hymen Levy’s anti-Soviet book, “Jews And The National Question” (World News. March 8, 1958).
Neither of these articles has been circulated officially among the membership, not in The Worker, Political Affairs, Jewish Currents (formerly Jewish Life) nor by the Morning Freiheit. In both of these articles, Comrade Dutt defends Marxism-Leninism against bourgeois nationalism:
“Zionism...was reactionary from the outset...because, by proclaiming the separate nationality of Jews as Jews, it denied the national citizenship of Jews in the country of their birth or where they lived, thereby cutting them off from the general democratic movement and branding them as aliens in their own country, just as anti-Semitism did.” (Labour Monthly, pg. 347)
“Marxism fights the theory of Jewish nationalism, that is, the theory that the Jews in the various countries of the world are not national citizens of the countries where they have lived, have been born, and been brought up, and have their existence, but are a separate nation... Zionism is the fulfillment in practice of the politics of Jewish nationalism end its alliance with imperialism.” (Review of the Levy book).
On the question of Yiddish culture in the USSR Comrade Dutt says: “Despite the notorious fact that the specific Yiddish cultural expression, which grew up as a reflection of ghetto conditions, is withering away also in the most advanced capitalist countries, Levy demands that the Soviet State should take steps and devote subsidies to keep it artificially alive...even though practical experience has shown that the overwhelming majority of Soviet Jews no longer want it and are not prepared to support it.” (Ibid)
It is too obvious to require any discussion: The New York County Resolution and the Palme Dutt articles express a proletarian internationalist view which cannot at all be reconciled with the bourgeois nationalist line on the Jewish Question as projected by our present Party leadership. Faced with this problem the revisionist-conciliationist leadership resorts to suppression. Such as the “Leninists” who are presuming to lay down a moral code for the Soviet Union on the question of “suppression of culture.”
In the February Dennis Resolution, the National Committee said “the Convention defined the Party as a Party in which the minority must be subordinated to the majority once a decision is taken.”
Strong words, eh? But, it strikes us immediately that if he had meant democratic centralism he could have said it. Furthermore, close examination shows that the views which Dennis attributes to the Convention, again, are not exactly what the Convention said. Speaking of democratic centralism the reporter for the Convention’s Constitutional Committee, Fred Fine stated,
“...simple abandonment of a term does not solve anything...we have to get at the substance of the question,... guaranteeing full democracy at every level of the Party. Which means a recognition that unity is not conformity, that discipline is not obedience, that effective action flows from conviction and not command.” (pp. 212-213)
In line with the Fine Report, the section of the Main Resolution “On Democratic Centralism and Monolithic Unity” declares: “Democracy is vital to a Communist Party...whatever views may exist in our Party on the theory of democratic centralism (!)....experience has shown that our concept of democratic centralism as we practiced it in the past has fed a system of bureaucracy. We have tended to take ever mechanically forms of organization and practices from abroad,...the problem is not to abandon all forms of centralization, but to find correct limits.” (pg. 325)
“We therefore propose that our Constitution shall seek to guarantee that the will of the majority of our membership determines all policy decisions and the elections of Committees, at the same time provision must be made for the right to dissent after decisions are made....” (pg. 325) Already the essential point of this document is proved. The Convention line, new reaffirmed by the Dennis Resolution, has dropped not only the substance but also, for good measure, the name of democratic centralism.
Thus we have seen enough to grasp the gaping disparity between the two lines, and that is the main aim of this present article. But it is necessary to expose the inter-connection of this line on organization with the entire system of the revisionist-conciliationist Convention policy of which it is a part.
These reside in:
1) Its exaltation of the bourgeois-democratic “right of dissent” as a mask for abandonment of principled criticism and self-criticism as developed upon the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism. “Unity without conformity, discipline without obedience, conviction without command,” as Fine out it.
“Refusal to accept the direction of the central bodies”, said Lenin, “is tantamount to refusal to remain in the Party. It is tantamount to disrupting the Party. (We must never forget the proclaimed aim of the liquidationists at the outset of the Convention was the liquidation of the Party). It is a method of destroying, not of convincing. And these efforts to destroy instead of to convince indicate their lack of consistent principles; their lack of faith in their own ideas.” (Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back. Section O)
2) Its exaltation of “anti-dogmatism” as a mask for, rejection of Marxist-Leninist teachings. “These bureaucratic methods of work, system of leadership and organization”, declared the Convention, “have been accentuated in part by the mechanical application of certain principles of organization adopted by other Communist Parties which functioned under different historical conditions.” (pg. 322)
Lenin in One Step Forward, Two Steps Back has this pertinent passage which we would like to quote here: “They talk of bureaucracy...they talk about grossly mechanical methods or achieving unity, unquestionably grossly mechanical methods are detrimental, but I again leave it to the reader to judge whether a grosser or a more mechanical method of struggle of a new trend against an old one can be imagined than that of giving seats in Party institutions to people before the Party had been convinced of the correctness of their new views and before these views have been expounded to the Party.” (Section 0)
Is not that the very picture of the sort of deal that was made by the conciliationists and the revisionists at the reconvened New York State Convention?
This “anti-dogmatism” mask is coupled with the revisionist flight to subjectivism which is aimed at frustrating the precise definition of terms and principles – “vagueness ... is characteristic of...opportunism in every sphere.”
The Convention said: “Experience has shown that our concept of democratic centralism as we practiced it in the past has fed a system of bureaucracy.” (pg. 324) (Our Emphasis – M.P.) But never a word to affirm that there is a scientific system of democratic centralism objectively definable, realizable and valid to the C.P.U.S.A. today.
3) The exaltation of nationalistic “independence” as a basis for rejection of fraternal criticism of other Marxist-Leninist Parties on this question of abandonment of democratic centralism. “The Draft Constitution develops proposals that will bring our organization into harmony with the traditions and experiences of American working class organizations and potentially acceptable to large numbers of American workers and Socialist-minded militants as the kind of organization they would want to be identified with.” (pg. 325)
Let us pause briefly over these two favorite phrases of American revisionists “independence” and “the right of dissent”. Any worker, farmer, professional, intellectual, housewife, or student who has enlisted beneath the banner of Marxism-Leninism has issued his own personal declaration of independence from, and a declaration of war against bourgeois ideology. He may be economically and socially dependent upon capitalism, but he has become as “independent” as it was possible to be under capitalism. But, that fact carries in it the hope for real, final independence from capital – Socialism. This is the only real sort of Independence. But as his class consciousness grows he seeks to eliminate all backward ideas of individualism, chauvinism, nationalism, craftism which by bourgeois standards, pass for “independence” from his fellow toilers whether in one shop or of the whole world. This is the only basis for real freedom or independence in relation to the world working class movement, a recognition of the necessity of proletarian solidarity. “Independence” is a class question. (That is why incidentally, an opportunist such as George Meany, who makes hardly any pretense of internationalism does not go about proclaiming, his “independence” even though he is one of the most “independent” of all, that is, most dependent upon imperialism.
The “right of dissent” slogan is beneficial when it enable the worker, for instance, to resist the imposition of reactionary bourgeois ideas, or when it facilitates the resistance to bureaucratic or revisionist deals, or usurpation of democratic rights, or when it obstructs chauvinist abuse of national rights. But it is harmful when it shields the work of scabs, chauvinists and, as in Hungary, counter-revolution. As in other things, Marxism-Leninism enables the workers to raise democratic rights to a higher level and to transform them. Applying this to the “right of dissent”, we see that the proletariat produces the higher principle of criticism and self-criticism. Unlike the “right of dissent” which makes no class-conscious distinctions, the principle of criticism and self-criticism presumes the unity of class interest as a starting point; as the Chinese Party, through Mao, put it “unity, criticism, unity”. Here we have an illustration of the superiority of materialism over idealism and proletarian democracy over bourgeois democracy. Of course, the revisionist, hypnotized by bourgeois ideas, could never see this. But the striking worker understands it when he speaks up at the local meeting, and he understands it on the picket line as he faces the scab.
In typical fashion the revisionists have recourse to bourgeois democratic slogans. Their shibboleths of “independence” and “right of dissent” are used to pervert the great recent development of the principle of collective leadership and collective work signaled by the 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U., marking the emergence of proletarian internationalism on a higher plane.
It is necessary to note, however, that the revisionist-conciliationist leadership match their one-sided treatment of the “vanguard” role of the Party with their one-sided treatment of the principles of Party organization. From the general principle of democratic centralism they select one element – of most particular interest to them. “Finally, a most serious threat to Party unity is the destructive effect of factionalism. To defend and reinforce unity, it is necessary at all cost to eradicate all factional activities and grouping in our ranks.” That, of course, is the Dennis Resolution.
On this basis some national leaders have gone so far, as we noted in the introduction, as to make open moves and to have threatened others in the direction of disciplinary action against us of the so-celled “ultra-’Left’” in various areas of the country. Beyond what we said in the introduction we shall not waste time “defending” ourselves on this question of factionalism. We unqualifiedly endorse the Leninist principle of Party organization, democratic centralism. That means we regard as absolutely necessary democratic discipline, subordination of the minority to the majority. We stand four-square on the following formulation by Lenin: “The centralization of Party work requires in addition unity of organization which is inconceivable without formal rules, without subordination of the minority to the majority, of the part to the whole.” But – and here is the crux of the matter for us – “as long as we lack unity on fundamental questions of program and tactics we bluntly admitted that we were living in a period of disunity and the circle spirit. We bluntly declare that before we can unite we must draw lines of demarcation.” (One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, Section Q “On Opportunism In Questions Of Organization”.)
Is that not exactly how things stand in our own Party today? The Dennis Resolution itself declares: “basic ideologica1 differences continue to exist within the Party and the Party leadership itself is sharply divided and therefore largely immobilized.” Are we not “living in a period of disunity” in the Party? Are not true Marxist-Leninists those who fight for drawing the clear lines of demarcation between opportunism and conciliationism on the one hand, the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist policies on the other? Between the line of the 16th National Convention and that of the 12-Party Declaration? We welcome any criticism of our ideas and actions providing that such criticism is based on the foregoing Marxist-Leninist proposition. We wholeheartedly accept the cooperation of all who are willing to join with us in that struggle for unity of the Party.
But, the unity of our Party cannot be achieved on the basis of the line of the 16th National Convention. We propose to “try it out” with these Right-center and “Left”-conciliators on these issues. If they will debate openly in our Party organs, fine. But if they will not we shall take all other possible steps to bring our Marxist-Leninist view to the membership.
Finally, lest there be any doubt, let us state herein in how that we shall carry on this struggle within the Party in whose day to day Marxist-Leninist work we shall continue to fulfill cur obligations at whatever post we may be.
Let there be no confusion, however, as to our view regarding the primary task of every Marxist-Leninist in our Party today. That task, which takes precedence over all others, which pervades work on every issue on every front of struggle is this:
To settle accounts with revisionism and conciliationism, thus to place our Party in the struggle against imperialism on the basis of the science of Marxism-Leninism.
In support of this view, we call upon Mao Tse Tung’s philosophic essay, On Contradictions, written in 1937 as a theoretical attack against dogmatism. In particular, we refer to that portion of Chapter IV on the question of “the principal aspect of a contradiction”. Here, Mao discusses, among other things, the contradiction between theory and practice. True it is, Mao points out, ’that practice generally is manifested as the principal aspect of this contradiction, “...whoever does hot understand this, is not a materialist.” But, he continues, under certain conditions “the creation and advocacy of the revolutionary theory plays the principal and decisive role. When certain work (this applies to any work) is to be done but there is as yet no direction, method, plan or policy, (then defining the direction, method, plan or policy is the principal and decisive factor... This is not running counter to materialism; on the contrary, this is avoiding mechanistic materialism and firmly upholding dialectical materialism.” (pp. 40-41)
Again, is this not the situation in our Party today? Yet the Dennis Resolution ignores this dialectical principle; more, it openly rejects it! After noting a whole series of questions upon which there is not unity in the Party (including the estimate of the “main danger”, the 12-Party Declaration, and “also a number of other political and ideological question”), the Dennis Resolution says: “These should not be permitted to divide us in our work today.”
“These should not be allowed to divide us”! Indeed, that might be taken as the motto of conciliationism when facing questions of principle!
“We must not allow ourselves to be divided” over minor matters like proletarian internationalism; “let’s get down to work for peace” (the main hope for which is in proletarian internationalism! )
“We must not allow ourselves to be divided” by theoretical discussions about the general crisis of capitalism; “let’s get down to work on economic issues” (the main and decisive setting for which is the general crisis of capitalism!)
“We must not allow ourselves to be divided” by nebulous abstractions about self-determination, the agrarian question or proletarian hegemony; “ “let’s get down to work for integration” (the whole character of which cannot be grasped without the Marxist-Leninist theory on the national question!)
“We must not allow ourselves to be divided by ’little details’”, like the theory of the state; “let’s get down to work in the struggle for democratic rights ”(the heart of which is the class struggle against monopoly capitalist state rule!)
This is how some “Marxist-Leninists” (as they would call themselves) proceed to interpret Lenin’s clear injunction: “First, we must drew lines of demarcation.”
Just as conciliationism is a shamefaced presentation of revisionism, the Center-“Left” coalition seeks to mask revisionist subjective idealism by emphasis on its pragmatic forms. (After all, they seem to say, “theorizing” may become politically risky for who knows what sputniks, or domestic economic events, or “Little Rock” may come next.)
The Dennis Resolution called for “preparation of the Party’s basic program, a draft of which the Notional Committee proposes should be completed by the end of 1958.” However, Comrade Benjamin J. Davis doesn’t aim to wait for discussion of such “details”. He raises the slogan “Let’s Get Going” (New York State Bulletin, Party Voice. April 1958 ). Davis states his main theme as follows: “...the Party membership is sick and tired of internal strife and bickering over nebulous abstractions... (due to this “strife end bickering”, he goes on) the Party never gets an opportunity to test its line in the experience of struggle...We cannot lift our Party by polished phrases, but only by action based on the line of the Party.”
Lenin was speaking of just such demagogy when he said“... in a period of theoretical chaos, (such talk) is like wishing mourners at a funeral ’many happy returns of the day’.” (What Is To Be Done. Chapter I, Part D) For, the “theoryless” line of the National Committee can do naught else than to bring “many returns of the day”, in the forms of continued confusion and crisis in the Party.
Comrade Davis apparently considers discussion on basic theory to be merely an exercise in “nebulous abstractions”. He demands “experience” as the only way for the Party to “test its line”. We can identify this argument in Lenin’s comment: “Pragmatism ...extols experience and only experience, and recognizes practice as the only criterion of truth.” (Materialism and Empirio-Criticism. Chapter VI, Part 4, “Parties” in Philosophy and Blockhead in Philosophy.)
The “Left”-conciliators match the “interpretation” dodge of the Center and the Right with this empty talk about “experience” and “practice” (action). And, it is empty talk, as one can easily see from the following:
Comrade Davis explicitly endorses the National Committee’s refusal to recognize the scientific validity of the experience of the 12 Parties which have been practicing socialist revolution and construction. What it amounts to is that Comrade Davis promises great “experiences” in the future, in order to make the membership forget the experience of the past, as generalized in Marxist-Leninist theory (and, perhaps, to make us forget the “experience” of his State Convention deal with, the Charney Right-wing faction!)
It is likewise with the talk about a “program of action”, of “practical work”. Last fall this nation was being disgraced in the eyes of the whole world by the violence sponsored by Governor Faubus against Negro high school students in Little Rock. Among other proposals advocated by some comrades of the “ultra-Left”, was that of a demonstration, with a document prepared for presentation, at the United Nations. The idea was to dramatize that the democratic forces in American life join in the indictment of the anti-Negro policies of American monopoly capital, of which Faubus is an instrument.
Then, indeed, we saw what kind of “action” can be produced without Marxist-Leninist theory. The “Left”-conciliators showed how boldly to take the lead – in scuttling this proposal for a U.N. demonstration.
Under the demagogic slogans of “practice”, “action”, “anti-bickering”, “experience”, etc., the revisionist-conciliationist leadership seeks to accomplish a separation of theory from practice. Even under the best conditions, such pragmatism is a swift and sure path to trouble. Yet, it is precisely at a time when our Party is in mortal crisis, that the National Committee seeks to discourage the vital struggle for Marxist-Leninist theory – and, in the name of “unity” and “saving the Party”. Those who make hypocritical worship of “practice” should be asked to face the “practical” fruits of this policy in the past two years. In order to avoid a “split” which might have cost us one-fourth (at most) of a membership of 20,000, they gave us a “unity” which cost us three-fourths of that number! And today they are proposing more of the same sort of non-theoretical “unity”. All this, they tell us, is the way to break out of our isolation!
Burdened as our Party has traditionally been with the contempt-for-theory attitude, the National Committee emphasizes the “need” to exalt “practice” as against theory. In the traditional pragmatic fashion, they would pervert the correct slogan, “Unity of Theory and Practice”, presenting it in a one-sided, mechanical way, thus seeking to maintain theory as a mere footnote to practice. At a time when theory presents itself as the principal aspect of the theory-practice contradiction, the revisionist-conciliationist leadership insists upon a mechanical, idealist approach to this contradiction.
The result is to transform the contradiction into an antagonism: to develop a practice which is inimical to Marxist-Leninist theory, and to develop a pragmatic “non-theory” which is incompatible with revolutionary tactics. This line tends to be projected organizationally in the form of a bureaucracy which “theorizes” and a membership which “practices”, making inconceivable the development of inner-Party democracy, criticism and self-criticism and the collective spirit.
The separation of theory and practice arises from the conditions or the basis of the development of the theory-practice contradiction. At one or the other stage of development, the abandonment of one or another theory or practice may be necessary in the interests of the general principle of unity of theory and practice.
For instance, if a trade union leadership seeks to fight unemployment by advocating increased military expenditures, we reject this practice as contrary to Marxist-Leninist theory. But, if a theory of “progressive” capitalism is advanced as a way out of unemployment, we reject that theory, because practice proves that unemployment is necessary to capitalism and that, on the other hand, socialism abolishes unemployment.
If a reformist-nationalist leadership seeks to exclude Dubois, Robeson and other left and proletarian elements from leadership in the Negro people’s liberation struggle, we reject this practice as incompatible with the Marxist-Leninist view of all-class unity and the leading role of the working class in such struggles. But, if a theory of gradualism is constantly frustrated by the Dixiecrat “massive resistance” to execution of Supreme Court anti-segregation decisions, then this theory of gradualism must be rejected and superceded by revolutionary, working class, Marxist-Leninist theory.
Only thus can the dialectical relationship of theory and practice, this unity of opposites, be maintained as the special essence of our Party’s work.
Certainly we have to assume that when this discussion of “practical work” is under discussion in the Party, we mean practical Communist work. There are many people who are fighting the economic battle, fighting for peace, for democratic and equal rights and progressive political action. This number includes Communists. But anyone with real contact with practical work knows that every campaign, big or little, is conditioned by one overriding theme: class collaboration, or class struggle – collaboration with imperialism, or struggle against it; accommodation to the landlords, or sharpened resistance; “respectability” or militant mass action; tailing along behind the reformists, or insistence upon equal rights.
The Party as a whole must practice self-criticism in order to expand, develop and improve its practical work. This is, in fact, one aim of this polemic. However, our Party cannot “lift” itself, as Comrade Davis would suggest, by its own bootstraps of “practice.”
The revisionist-conciliationists therefore will have to think up some more compelling slogans to continue their fight against us, who, whatever our weaknesses, seek to merit the name of Marxist-Leninists. For, when the storm recedes, the workers will see that those who really saved the Party were that ever-increasing number who, in face of the slanders of being “anti-Party”, are rallying to this rock-ribbed Leninist principle:
“Without a revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary practice... What at first sight appears to be an ’unimportant’ mistake, may lead to most deplorable consequences, and only short-sighted people can consider factional disputes and a strict differentiation between shades inopportune or superfluous.” (What Is To Be Done? Chapter I, Section D)
The United States economy has now experienced a generally upward course for twenty years. Although it has faltered four times before the present recession, the effect has been that of a protracted post-depression, wartime and post-war boom. The five main propelling economic forces accounting for this great boom have been: 1) the renewal of fixed capital in the United States; 2) the renewal of fixed capital in Europe and Japan; 3) a vast outpouring of capital exports, in form of indirect as well as direct United State imperialist investments; 4) the expansion of the U.S. government debt from 47 billion dollars in 1939 to 285 billion dollars in 1958, and 5) expansion of consumer indebtedness.
These forces of expansion have operated under the optimum political conditions for the growth of monopoly capital – war, victory, reaction, weakening of imperialist rivalries. But, as favorable as these conditions have been, the fact remains that the boom must generate its own opposite. Furthermore, favorable as the position of United States capitalism may be in relation to its imperialist rivals, the fact remains that world capitalism is mired in the inescapable bog of the second stage of its general crisis. This general crisis is featured, first and foremost, by the emergence and expansion and growing strength of the world Socialist system. Secondly, it is featured by a general and irresistible rise of the struggle of colonial peoples who, looking more and more toward the Soviet Union, China and other Socialist lands, realize that the hour of national liberation from colonialism has struck.
Under these general conditions, whenever the five basic driving elements of the United States economic boom coincide, on their “downstroke” as they must, sooner or later – then, there will be a crisis to match the boom. Capitalism will not experience a normal recovery. (We hold this view in spite, of Comrade Hy Lumer’s statement to the February National Committee meeting that government “economic, stabilizers”, so-called, “render impossible a repetition of the worst features of the 1929 crisis.”) (Political Affairs, March, 1958, pg. 15.)
The vulture cannot blot out the sun, and imperialism cannot hide from its subjects the steady increase in the manifestations of the economic, scientific and moral superiority of the Socialist social system. But our imperialist ruling class, has never been concerned with such considerations, except as they might affect, directly or indirectly, the rate of profit. No matter how corrupt, decrepit and odious capital’s rule may become, the monopolists will prolong their parasitic existence forever, if they have their way. They are not only opposed to Socialism, they-don’t even believe it really exists, except as, in the words of Herbert Hoover, “en economic vacuum”.
Under their rule, our people is forced through a constant flirtation with atomic death.
Under their rule, the workers tramp a never-rested treadmill between the torture of over-work and the torture of no work.
Under their rule, the realization of small reforms is being denied to the Negro people’s liberation movement.
Under their rule, the working farmer is being impoverished and expropriated.
Under their rule, millions of people in colonial lands sweat beneath the lash of hunger and terroristic repression.
If there is anything certain, it is this: on all these fronts our country stands at the threshold of a period of sharpening class struggle. These large-looming events give vital importance to perhaps seemingly “little” theoretical questions. That is why we have gone into the theoretical issues in this document in what might, by some, be thought to be unnecessarily minute detail. Lenin taught us the real significance which can attach to such “minor matters” where basic principles are involved, however slightly or remotely.
“What we now frequently experience only in the domain of ideology – disputes over theoretical amendments to Marx – what now crops up in practice only over individual partial issues of the labor movement, as tactical differences with revisionists and splits on these grounds, will all unfailingly have to be experienced by the working class on an incomparably larger scale when the proletarian revolution accentuates all issues and concentrates all differences on points of the most immediate importance in determining the conduct of the masses, and makes it necessary, in the heat of the fight, to distinguish enemies from friends and to cast out bad allies, so as to be able to deal decisive blows at the enemy.” (Marx, Engels, Marxism, pg. 79)
Two roads! As far as our Party is concerned, EVERYTHING depends upon our decision on this question. To unite our Party, to reestablish and develop its ties with the American working class and with the international proletariat, we must:
ENDORSE THE 12-PARTY DECLARATION!
CALL A SPECIAL NATIONAL CONVENTION TO REESTABLISH OUR PARTY ON A MARXIST-LENINIST BASIS!
This is the road we must take; down this road we have an appointment with history.
 Hereafter, for the sake of brevity, “The Convention” may be understood to denote the Sixteenth National Convention of the Communist Party U.S.A., held in New York City, February 9-12, 1957. Quotations ascribed to the Convention, unless otherwise identified, are taken from its “Main Political Resolution”. Page references apply to the official Convention “Proceedings”, published by New Century Publishers, N.Y.C., May, 1957.
 “The Declaration” may be understood to refer to the “Declaration of Communist and Workers’ Parties of Socialist Countries” (Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, North Vietnam, East Germany, China, North Korea,. Mongolia, Poland, Rumania, USSR, and Czechoslovakia), issued in Moscow on November 19, 1957, and reprinted in ”Political Affairs,” December 1957, pp. 85-95.
 We of the Marxist-Leninist Left have consistently made principled criticism of Foster and will continue to do so. But we must take note of the shameful manner in which Comrade Foster was unceremoniously, sacrificed to smooth the way for the February entry of the “Left”-conciliators into the Dennis Center camp. Foster’s past contributions have been many, and will remain as a part of our Marxist-Leninist traditions. In this, his record contrasts with that of many of those who now throw him over to further their own factional maneuvers. But Foster himself must he seen also as being responsible for the present situation in our Party because of his own retreats from Marxism-Leninism, and his subjective resistance to criticism and self-criticism for these retreats.
 Here, the revisionists and conciliators consciously misappropriate the term once used by Stalin to refer to dogmatists. Of course, we reject as not true the “ultra-Left” label applied to us. However, since it has served to distinguish us from all brands of revisionism and conciliationism in the Party it has been not altogether worthless to the membership. For that reason, we are willing to leave more formal christening of our position to the future and to let our name be earned by our deeds and arguments – in which we strive to be consistent Marxist-Leninists.
 In addition to the line of the Declaration itself clear evidences of this attitude on the part of Marxists of foreign countries is seen in the famous Pomonoreff and Shevlysgan articles which appeared in theoretical organs of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
 “Owing to the pressure of time, the report of Fred Fine...was not actually delivered, but a motion was passed to include it in the record of the Convention.” (pg. 206) This is the way the revisionists “fight bureaucracy” and promote “inner Party democracy”! Equally noteworthy is the fact that for all their private complaints about Right-wing “trickery”, the Center-“Left” has not yet come forward with any minority report. The reason, we believe, is made clear in this article.
 At the subsequent New York State Convention, two Puerto Ricans were put in candidacy against each other to supply the quota of one Puerto Rican for the National Committee.
 Comrade Davis, who was so instrumental in consummating the “unity” deal to save George Blake Charney from being dumped by the New York State Convention, allows himself to charge the “ultra-Left” with standing on common political grounds with Charney and the Right. But the membership will recall that the “ultra-Left” was the only group which stood out openly end to the end against the Davis-Charney “unity” slate at the Convention. We also note that he failed to discuss the very practical proposals of the “ultra-Left” as advanced by Comrade Marino, to whom Davis was supposedly replying.