Hari Kark on the Ninth Floor


First Published: Spark Vol. I, No. 1, April 1947
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Communist Party is facing the danger of being outlawed from American political life. It has faced this danger before, but at no time has it found itself in greater isolation. Only a peep of a protest has been heard from the trade unions. From the CP. there has come only the dignified formality of protest. From the American middle class has come only a few individual statements. In the face of the lessons of Hitler Germany, the apathy of the American people to this danger is amazing, not only because the Party is being outlawed, but also because everybody knows that this is the beginning of fascism in the United States.

When a working-class party finds itself separated from the working class and its allies, it is clear that something is wrong with the tactics and strategy of the party. We find that the present leadership has given fulsome lipservice to the break with Browderism. It tells us that Browder’s errors lay in: Class collaboration, denial of the leadership of the working class, desertion of the vanguard role of the Communist Party, and finally the liquidation of the Party.

This analysis has often been made by the CP. leadership. The question is to what extent has the Communist Party broken with Browderism in practice. All party members should have been duly warned when at a recent Town Meeting debate, Earl Browder declared that he was satisfied with the present line of the Communist Party. That one came right out of the horse’s mouth.

That the Communist Party is today following the policies of Earl Browder can be most clearly demonstrated by examining the party’s stand on the issue of redbaiting. The CIO resolution on Communism, and the role the party itself played in the formulation of this resolution is the most full-blown expression of opportunism and its effects. Never in the history of the working class movement in any country was there such a spectacle as occurred at the CIO National Convention on Nov. 30, 1946, when the CIO passed a resolution to the effect that the delegates “resent and reject efforts of the Communist Party or other political parties and their adherents to interfere in the affairs of the CIO.” Not only didn’t the CP. fight this resolution, it supported it. More shocking ” it helped formulate it via three members of the ’left” on the policy committee. One of the members of the committee (Ben Gold) gave official CP. sanction to this resolution by openly declaring himself a member of the CP.

The Worker of Dec. 1, 1946 headlined this infamous resolution, “CIO Parley Disappoints Reaction.” What was the reasoning behind this resolution? The mental wizards on the Ninth Floor inform us that this was the way to achieve unity. In fact we get the following gem from an article by George Morris entitled “The CIO Resolutions”: “The Communists especially, have always favored a statement telling the world that the CIO isn’t Communist.

What sort of unity did this resolution bring about? Dec. 1, 1946 the New York Times in an article “CIO Pushes Action for Curb on Reds” reported that in Cleveland and Milwaukee elections for new sets of CIO council officers had been directed by Philip Murray because these councils had given donations or sent delegates to “leftist organizations,” “In Pittsburgh, home of Mr. Murray’s own United Steel Workers, two left-wingers who had been nominated for election... decided to withdraw after the actions at Atlantic City. Their declinations assured full right-wing control of the council.” Readers of the Daily Worker may learn this for the first time, since these items were never included in its pages. In Massachusetts, the state CIO convention ruled Communists ineligible to hold office. A similar resolution was adopted by the N.J. CIO. The N. Y. State CIO stated no demonstrations to Albany could be called by the Councils without the approval of the state body.

On Jan. 8, 1947 the CIO National office listed 36 organizations which could be sponsored. It instructed Council officers to refrain from sponsoring any organizations not listed, or soliciting membership in unlisted organizations as well as prohibiting gifts or delegations to such groups. The 36 approved organizations were divided between those that would please the Catholic Church and the New Leader. Relief for progressive nations was omitted. The NAACP was favored over the Nat’l Negro and Civil Rights Congress, and scores of other progressive organizations were not included. The past week has brought forth the endorsement by Philip Murray of the Greek War Relief Drive headed by Skouras who applauded President Truman’s call for interference in Greece, Every CIO local is instructed to support this drive which will be used against the democrats in Greece.

Impetus was given to a general redbaiting program in organizations all over the country. J. Edgar Hoover and Rankin might well have pinned medals on the heroes of the Ninth Floor for aid given in redbaiting. In the AVC, the so-called Leftwing which includes Communists, did not even call upon the membership to defeat Bolte’s redbaiting resolution. It politely asked the membership to vote one way or the other but “to get it over with”, while the Social Democrats and Trotskyites were taking the offensive to obtain passage of this resolution.

Lewis Merrill, with the blessing of Party leaders in the UOPWA, passed the following resolution – the epitome of the CIO resolution: “(The UOPWA) will firmly oppose any efforts to interfere in its affairs by any political party, whether it be the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the Republican Party etc. Any effort to impose the viewpoint of outside organizations on the membership of the UOPWA will be met with firmest exercise of union discipline.” Then Merrill resigned from the Boards of Jefferson School and the New Masses, Only after PM carried this information, was the D.W. forced to editorialize away the shock these actions caused rank and file party members. Softly criticized, Merrill reaffirmed his position. At a meeting of functionaries “to explain”, I. Amter explained that the Communists responsible could not be expelled or disciplined because such action would “expose” them. Undoubtedly, such action would also expose National Committee members who sanctioned the Merrill resolution.

The resignation of Reid Robinson fills the cup to overflowing. In this case there is the added factor of Robinson’s personal corruption in attempting to borrow $5000 from an employer with whom his union was bargaining. An unbelievable act for a Communist; a normal one for a political Opportunist.

An examination of the thinking behind the CIO and Merrill resolutions reveals two ills within the CP. The Communist Party does not believe in the political activity of the working class. Therefore the leadership can support resolutions which try to divorce the trade unions from the activity of political parties. This is Economism at its height. The CP. leadership does not believe in the vanguard role of the Communist Party, so it can support resolutions separating it from the working class.

It is, of course, too much to ask the present leadership of the CP. to think in terms of a class analysis of the role of the CP. and the trade unions in the world today. The thinking of the Ninth Floor armchair generals is of the eclectic, flea-cracking type so reminiscent of the Second International. If they were not actual betrayers of the working class they would realize where their tactics have led the Party. Among the most advanced workers in the CIO the resolution has caused the most confusion. When workers look to the CP. for leadership they are taught redbaiting “for the sake of unity.”

The CP.’s part in the CIO resolution is a preparatory step in the liquidation of what remains of the Party. More subtle than Browder’s tactics, it leads to the road of the Party’s complete annihilation.

The unity the Party prates about does not exist. Unity and redbaiting are diametric opposites. The very term redbaiting means splitting – splitting the CP. from the working class, splitting the working class itself, splitting the working class from its allies. There cannot be such a thing as mild redbaiting. Redbaiting serves only the purposes of the capitalist class in concealing imperialist and predatory aims at home and abroad. Those who compromise with redbaiting play the Judas role in the trade unions and the working class. This has been the role of the CP. leadership – a fair day’s work for Wall Street.

Had the party fought redbaiting at the CIO Convention, it would have won the support of all honest trade unionists for the fight against redbaiting is the direct protection of the working class. The workers understood this during the war, and they understand it now. But the CP. whose tailism and snobbishness has led to loss of faith in the proletariat confuses the whole progressive movement. This is not merely the result of stupidity. There is no doubt that the CP. leadership’s role is nothing more than the role of traitors and agents of the capitalist class in the working class movement. Foster and Dennis betray the working class no less than William Green and David Dubinsky.

JOE BARNER
N.Y. CP. Members Circle