First Published: Spark Vol. I, No. 3, June 1947
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Our “Draft Transitional Program” (in April SPARK) included a statement of certain left errors. We followed this (in May SPARK) with our reaction to Dunne’s pamphlet (“The Struggle Against Opportunism in the Labor Movement – For A Socialist United States”) and to those ideas of NCP contained in its letter to SPARK. In this issue we will deal more fully with NCP’s ideas.
If we want a real CP., we must systematically eliminate every idea that will prevent its earliest realization. Polemic, therefore, becomes essential. Comrades should seriously consider the disagreements now breaking into the open and try to detect the logic and orientation behind the different ideas. This will help advance current thinking beyond its present fragmentary and often inconsistent state. There is not the slightest value in the caution that polemic disunifies our movement at a time when it is so weak. A rather short while ago, there was no polemic, no commitment,– and no unity. Now groupings will form logically and unavoidably. On the basis of clear stands we can develop real working unity and allow the correct ideas to isolate the wrong ones. With the setting aside of the wrong ideas in our movement will come unity and organizational advances.
Should we thrash it out in the open – even for the CP. to see? Yes. What we once had to insist on in the CP., we now have to remind ourselves.
“... Party struggles . . . give a party strength and life . . . The best proof of the weakness of a party is its diffuse-ness and its blurring of clear-cut differences ... A party becomes stronger by purging itself.” (Lenin’s quote from Lassalle on the title page of “What Is to be Done?”)
In fact, even the interest of our discussion will demand the attention of the CP. rank and file and nonparty comrades. Perhaps those confused and gossip-fed CP. members who think we’re Trotskyites will involuntarily slip into a consideration of our debate and make a discovery or two.
When the CP. leaders bark “left-sectarian” at us, they know not what they say. The sad fact is, however, that there is too much of the “left-sectarian” in our movement. The opportunists can never possibly understand a left error because they have given up any real belief in Socialism. A left error may be at its worst infantile in tactics, but the Dennis-Foster opportunism is at its best senile in principle. When we criticize NCP in this article, we criticize Comrades we expect to end with in a real CP. which will avoid all our mistakes. And when we attack any current left errors, we do it with the attitude that much of it is due to a normal boomerang from the opportunist horrors of the CP. In many cases the original fight for the best parts of the CP. program has boomeranged to the rejection of those very parts.
In discussing NCP’s ideas we will try to make ours clear. We will let NCP’s ideas stand on NCP’s own words – instead of our paraphrase. (All numbers refer to NCP Reports.)
NCP correctly gives priority to the need for a real C. P. It should logically follow, therefore, that the question of work in the CP. and with rank and file C.P.’ers is of great importance and should be answered simply and unequivocally.
NCP’s advice is confusing and contradictory. In its letter to May SPARK it ridiculed our concept of working “with the attitude of salvaging as much as possible to prepare for either eventuality” – a new Marxist party or a ”rescue of the CPUSA” (from our Draft Transitional Program). But NCP both agrees and disagrees with us:
“There are two ways this could happen, it seems to us: first, it is conceivable that the leadership of the U. S. Communist Party could repudiate and renounce its present anti-Marxist line and project both in words and in action a Marxist line; second, a new political party would have to be formed – not by NCP but by all the Marxist forces. We say that the first is conceivable; it is certainly desirable; we do not regard it as particularly likely. There are insufficient objective signs, so far, of any such change coming about.” (10)
Here NCP agreed with us – (we would substitute “rank and file” for “leadership”), and we were glad to read it after NCP’s reprimanding us for vainly dreaming of reforms in the CP. But in cases both before and after, NCP confuses and contradicts this correct attitude.
“Q. Are you for starting a new party in the U. S.? No. The main reason is that we cannot. A new party must be started by a lot more people and, especially, by a lot more workers than as are yet involved in NCP” (4) . . . “That is why NCP has raised and continues to raise the slogan, ’A New Communist Party for the workers and ordinary farmers of the U. S.’” (15)
If we total at this point, we find that, NCP ambiguously, in not starting a new party raises the slogan, a New Communist Party – that in ridiculing SPARK’S “either eventuality” it proposes exactly that.
SPARK believes and engages in work towards a new CP. with no reservations; it believes and engages in work within the CP. and with rank and file C.P.’ers with no illusions about conscience-stricken National Committee members. It agrees with:
“NCP’s projection of the New Communist Party idea not only does not preclude a change for the better in the line of the CPUSA, but is designed exactly to speed up such a change, if one is coming, or to prepare for the failure of such a change to come about, if that is to be the outcome.” (14)
We think this is well put and very balanced, based on “either eventuality” and on a conscious attempt to influence the CP. In practice, however, NCP undermines the very sense of it. It should be the factor in solving the simple problem: should comrades sympathetic to us or connected with us stick it out in the CP.? Our answer is definite. Remain in the CP. and fight for a real Communist program. Put the good “paper” points of the CP. program into militant action. Lubricate the inner party discussion by applying your elbow grease to the N. C’s lip service. If and when you approach the ”casualty” stage, make of your case a valuable platform and proving ground on which other comrades can learn through their experience. Upon expulsion, go through as much of the ugly farce of appeals as you can take (depending on the degree of Bolshevization of your stomach), continuing to explain the opportunism in the CP. After expulsion, work with a group representing your ideas and continue your CP. work through your party contacts and through a continual “coalition” with the CP. rank and file.
Where does NCP stand?
“As to fighting inside the Party, we are in favor of it, except that we must call attention to the fact that as soon as CPUSA members begin to fight, they become ex-CPUSA members.” (4)
Isn’t this a bit of advice to do the useless: fight but all it will net you will be expulsion? Such advice can hardly be classified as encouraging. Factually, it’s wrong (N.C., please note). We know those who weren’t expelled so quickly and those who haven’t been yet. More will be expelled although the N. C. hates to do it. It has learned from bitter experience that the politically excommunicated continue to communicate politically. It has learned that hearings, trials, appeals, and expulsions are fertile ground for sowing anti-opportunist seed. They have learned to avoid exposures in the press – when possible – since every denunciation is a basis for a good discussion on opportunism and “Towards a Marxist Party.”
Add to NCP’s other advice:
“Withdraw any support you are now giving to the line of the CPUSA.” (4)
Such statements have to be a little more specific and careful so as not to be misunderstood. The line of the CP is opportunist, but it must be made clear that comrades in the CP. have a lot of good words on paper with which to prod action. We must avoid the confusing impression that whatever the D.W. says is wrong. When the D.W. chatters a good deal and does nothing, we only sow logical mistrust among party members if we reject even the idea – as if it were D.W. property.
Either NCP does not want to recognize work in the CP. or it does not know of any.
“NCP’s position does not preclude ’work’ within the CPUSA but opposes limitations to such ’work’– and it must be said frankly that such ’work’ is as far as the evidence shows: simply nonexistent.” (14)
This is untrue. We meet with, correspond with, and get reports and good advice from comrades in the CP. Such valuable comrades are held up principally by the confused nature of our movement at the moment. But NCP mocks at our
“. . . unspecified ’work’ within unspecified sections of the CPUSA and for the attainment of ends that are unspecified further than the replacement of ’evil’ with good.” (32)
SPARK will continue NOT to specify any information that can serve the scrap sheet of N.C expellers. Perhaps we are lying and fabricating ersatz work. In that case, we are dangerously ignorant not to know that Communists commit a deadly mistake when they fabricate or exaggerate their influence in any situation. Impossible situations are generated by fictitious information. There is one way to check (N.C. need not note; they have already checked): right in the stamping grounds of the P.R. Club. There the unspecified work in unspecified places, etc., assumes specific form.
We can gain the greatest respect of our audience by taking a few “security pains” to avoid any needless exposure of CP. members. We should also do them the justice of not confusing them with oracular advice – fearful ambiguity (do it, but it won’t help); pompous contradiction (do it, don’t do it); and dishonest, evasive tautology (do it if one should, don’t do it if one shouldn’t).
NCP makes a serious error in not considering fascism a prerequisite for an American anti-Soviet war. In fact, NCP thinks that the Axis formulae for fascism have been demonstrated as impractical even to the bourgeoisie. First NCP found that the menace facing “the masses of the world and hence of the U.S. can be summed up in one word: Imperialism.” (1) Fascism was not mentioned. Then it found movement “at present . . . toward a form that will no longer be bourgeois-democratic, but will be fascism. But the fascist form has not yet crystallized.” (16) No change of analysis was stated– no revision announced. Suddenly ‒ and still without change? – NCP found “immediately ahead of the U.S. working class only two futures– and nothing matters quite so much as which one it is. Fascism or Socialism.” (23)
This is a labyrinthine excursion – to start with no danger of Fascism (1), proceed to an uncrystal-lized fascist danger (16) and arrive at the choice of Fascism or Socialism. (23) Since NCP has often counseled reevaluation and open self-criticism, but has indicated no change of position here, we wonder whether the three opinions above are supposedly synchronized.
In any case, NCP now thinks we face the choice: Fascism or Socialism. This is a dangerously incorrect orientation that absolutely guarantees wrong policies and attitudes today in the U.S. The issue in the U.S. today is Democracy or Fascism. (And this in no way contradicts the fight for Socialism as point one on our program.) To say otherwise is to sabotage the movement against war and fascism, for a third party, etc.
The American people are not for Socialism yet. If we start now to tell them about it and turn all our thoughts and work towards a day-to-day fight for Socialism, we can change this situation and quickly. Once we recognize the militant antiwar, anti-fascist temper of the American people and realize that only through Fascism can a new war be forced on us, – then the issue is clear. Protect every democratic gain and destroy every beginning of Fascism. Every lousy bill in Congress and every lousy unwritten tradition working outside Congress is a precision part of a well planned whole: the coming of Fascism with American trimmings, but differing in no essentials from the Axis way.
NCP’s Socialism or Fascism position reaches a consistent absurdity – the lumping of allies with the enemy. And who according to this idea are enemies? Let us witness NCP’s reaction to Wallace:
“There is not the slightest reason, in our opinion, why any worker should extend any support to Wallace’s declared political line.” (28) . . . ”As to what the U. S. government ought to do about it, Wallace and Truman’s position is about the same. Wallace declares that ’it is the task of countries which have the atom bomb and which have not, like Russia been devastated by war and boycotted in peace to try a new type of power politics.’ What is this other than to say‒ exactly as the open imperialists say– use the atom bomb against Russia while there is yet time?” (26)
It’s sectarian waste to take what opposition there is to the Truman Doctrine and call it the Truman Doctrine. Illusions are not needed about Wallace – neither the illusion that he’s for heaving the atom bomb nor the illusion that he’s for the century of the common man. By his own admission, he’s a tried and true representative of Capitalism. The U. S. needs the popular front to prevent war and fascism – and there’s a logical place for Wallace. Retaining our independent position, we can work with Wallace when he’s right; without him and against him when he’s wrong. We can criticize and use pressure. As long as we don’t succumb to opportunism, Wallace doesn’t stand much chance” of seducing us ideologically. Communists who have real confidence in their principles need have no fear of coalitions. It’s the lack of all principle in the CP. today that makes every coalition a “deal.”
NCP’s attitude towards the U.N. again reflects the lack of a clear straight-forward approach. From what we can deduce, NCP is against the U.N. The closest it has come to a backhanded support is:
“The cause of the workers is not served in any way by shouting about “upholding the UN” without adding that this means upholding the veto principle – a principle which is the only legal barrier in the UN to utilization of the UN for anti-worker purposes.” (24)
The point on the veto is of course true and very important, but we have misgivings because while NCP has never found the occasion to actually state its support for the U.N. idea and the idea of Big 3 cooperation, it has said:
“Let us leave it to the Henry Wallaces and their kind to conduct debates on “UN or no UN” for the Greek situation– debates that go on while living human beings are being slaughtered in Greece.” (25)
The future of the U.N. depends on the veto and big three unity. But even big three unity doesn’t merit a kind word from NCP.
“A subtle form of the anti-veto position is the slogan issued by the U. S. Communist Party, about ’strengthening’ so-called ’Big Three Unity ’– usually, it is added, by ’resurrecting’ the ’Roosevelt program.’ If these slogans were actually carried out it would mean the triumph of imperialism and the defeat of Socialism. For there is and can be no ’Big Three Unity’ so long as the U. S. and Britain remain capitalist countries, they will of course pursue an imperialist line.” (4)
SPARK agrees with NCP that the CP. slogan “resurrect the Roosevelt program” is incorrect and misleading, but we believe that we must save the U.N. Imperialism is trying to destroy the U.N. How? By forcing the S.U. out of the U.N. through the destruction of the veto. Without the S.U. there would be no U.N. SPARK thinks all this can be avoided. ”New Times,” the Soviet foreign policy weekly, in its May 16th editorial says:
“One of the favorite arguments of the foes of international cooperation is that there can be no cooperation between the Anglo-Saxon countries and the Soviet Union because of their different social systems . . . Stalin once again expressed his conviction that cooperation between the two systems was possible and desirable.”
Ambassador Novikov made the same point the other day in his Chicago speech.
Finally, anti-war talk makes NCP highly suspicious of tendencies towards pacifism and social-pacifism; ”. . . the hallmarks of this pacifism are slogans of ’peace’ and ’against war’.” (15) NCP does admit that ”they can be justified only in agitational work, and even then only when the concrete agitational situation makes misunderstanding impossible.” (15)
In this atom bomb day, in the thick of the roar of anti-Soviet war talk, a Communist can speak against war without implying pacifism and without misgivings about the morality of the American Revolution or the fight of the Red Army in China.
Today in the U.S. there is a practically unled, spontaneous movement for a third party. Of course only a real CP. can guarantee the correct outcome of such a movement, but it’s important to notice the health of this movement at its rank-and-file level – anti-imperialist, anti-fascist, and non-red baiting. It’s at the higher levels (definitely including the inconsistencies of Wallace) that reaction sneaks in because the CP. has refused to give leadership. The CP. has yielded third party initiative to the Social Democrats and Trotskyites – the Dubinskys and the Reuthers. So far, fortunately, the workers haven’t. In such a mess it’s pitiful when part of our movement moves to isolate itself from the third party question completely.
The whole world watches for the emergence of a third party here. A U.P. report from Moscow (June 8) reports:
“The formation of a third party in the United States by ’progressives’ is an ’especially urgent necessity,’ a prominent Russian political commentator, Ivan Lenin, wrote today in the monthly World Economy and World Politics.”
What has NCP to say?
“. . . shall or shall not the revolutionary proletariat launch or support, or seek a bloc with a ’third’ party? is a non-existent question” . . . “It cannot be answered one way or the other, because the question is unreal. Life, so to speak, is not even putting this particular question to the proletariat” . . . ”there also does not exist a third party” . . . “questions nevertheless come up that are honest questions and deserve the best answers that can be supplied” . . . ”what should be the attitude of comrades who . . . have to deal with various forms of the so-called ’third party question” . . . “Also there is a perfectly legitimate desire to understand more about united front tactics” . . . “It is not entirely pointless, then, to discuss these principles, even though they cannot yet be applied in action just as they stand.’ (32)
“In the absence of a revolutionary, Stalinist political party, it is a waste of time to debate about ’third parties’,” (4) “If the question were put to you, ’do you favor this union’s supporting a third party?’ in the form of a motion, requiring a ’yes’ or ’no’ or ’abstain’ vote, the really important thing about it all would not be whether you voted ’yes’ (which we think is the correct tactic) or ’no’, but rather the kind of use you made of the situation to explain matters better to your fellow workers.” (32)
“Support the idea of workers . . . forming a third party ... a precondition to – but not a guarantee of – a political break with the capitalist class.” . . . “A group of ten people working together cannot start a ’third’ party nationally . . . But what they can very well do is to organize in their own neighborhood for a much lower level ’third party’“(33) . . . “No truly Communist movement can support either of these organizations [ALP and PCA].” (20)
We have quoted at length here because it is the worst case of NCP confusion. Now, let us pair a few. NCP says the so-called third party is a non-existent, unreal question – a waste of time. But, NCP admits that honest questions reflecting practical third party work come up. NCP says there is no third party, but don’t support this party which does not exist. Also – support it. Also, start it – even ten of you. No real Communist movement can support this– but vote for it. NCP objects to the name third party – so it always calls it the third party. It says there can be no tactics without a real CP. and proceeds to give them.
But didn’t NCP call the issue Fascism or Socialism? How does its occasional support for a third party enter here? In order to show how lost in bad reasoning NCP’s disorganized, fragmentary program becomes, let’s consider its attitude towards alliances. In speaking of a merger of AFL and CIO it says:
“That the program be for Socialism is not required as a minimum – but that it be against capitalism is required.” (29)
This is given similarly for alliances generally all through NCP Reports (e.g., 15, 23, and 26). If the question is Socialism or Fascism why decide coalitions on the basis of a stand not necessarily for Socialism but against Capitalism. A lot of movements and individuals who are not against capitalism certainly do their share in an attack on Capitalism when it’s in defense of Democracy and against fascism. (Set May SPARK.)
Many of us have engaged in an attack on spontaneity in the CP. line. But there is being built at the moment in our movement a great “anti-spontaneity” warehouse where all immediate problems are housed pending the appearance- of a real CP. And he who dares start work on immediate demands now is accused of ”nothing more or less than the notion of the ’spontaneous’ generation of united fronts . . .” (32)
Lenin lashed at the idea that ”That struggle is desirable which is possible and the struggle which is possible is the one which is going on now.” But he would take a fit at the current attitude that that struggle which today is spontaneous in the U.S. is undesirable ‒ in fact non-existent– and immediate needs must wait action ’til after we produce a Marxist party. “But there is a difference between spontaneity and spontaneity,” Lenin said in “What Is to Be Done?” He explained that ”the ’spontaneous element,’ in essence, represents nothing more or less than consciousness in an embryonic form.” There’s plenty of such embryonic consciousness in the U.S. today but NCP assigns it to the anti-spontaneity warehouse. Even on this problem, Lenin pointed to the facts of Russia, noting that:
“... simultaneously we had both the spontaneous awakening of the masses of the workers – the awakening to conscious life and struggle, and the striving of the revolutionary youth, armed with the Social-Democratic (read Communist now) theories, to reach the workers.”
We have repeated several times that the fight for Socialism, the fight against war and fascism, and the fight for a real CP. must be waged simultaneously, that they generate each other and there is no contradiction between them. NCP has made the mistake of ignoring the spontaneous role completely and of ignoring all movements without Socialist direction but with important “embryonic consciousness.” In fact, NCP has become so involved in its suspicions of advanced struggles on a trade union level that it seeks new unfettered territory.
“This stratum, the ’aristocracy’ of the proletariat [speaking of organized workers], cannot be neglected politically – but it also cannot be relied on as the main source of proletarian energy at the present time. The unorganized workers, the unemployed workers (who will soon be even more numerous), and those strata of organized workers which are not bourgeoisified constitute as a whole the main place to look for proletarian energy.” (15)
Our philosophy is not so mechanical that we can expect militant spontaneous movements to stop or die while we catch up with a real CP.
What has happened is that the leaderless, spontaneous movement in the U.S. today is orphaned from two sides. First, the CP., with its credo of tailism and spontaneity waits for the movement to do all. It follows. On hot issues, it doesn’t even do that; it merely separates itself from the heat of struggle and editorializes that it cannot quite object to this or that correct demand. The CP. will observe events with the greatest of interest. Second, the spontaneous movement is orphaned (only potentially, fortunately) by leftism in our movement.
Also involved is the old bugaboo – the contradiction between the fight for Socialism and immediate demands. NCP sees ”that the immediate program cannot be opposed to socialism as a goal” (!), but in practice, NCP mistrusts discussions of immediate demands as an obstacle – an indication of spontaneity.
Sophistry, in a Communist Movement, is dangerous quibbling off the point. Sophistry manipulates and distorts simple words and concepts into a mystical, pseudo-dialectical, horrible ”game of Marxism.” It pigeon-holes, it paraphrases wildly in preference to a simple quote, it lumps enemies and separates friends. At its near worst it becomes nastiness. At its worst it prevents discussion completely– the hurdles over every word and punctuation mark having become too exhausting.
The gradually thickening sophistry in NCP Reports has affected NCP’s attitude, its attempts at a program and its logic generally. We will cite only a few of an unending list of NCP’s pointless and dangerous sophistries.
“Socialism is neither the final aim of a bona fide Communist movement, nor is it the basic strategic aim. The final aim, to be exact, is not socialism, but communism . . .” (15)
Is SPARK’S goal Socialism? Yes, a thousand times yes! Is it Communism? Yes! Our goal is either and both, but we take a fright over the complication of a concept that is crystal clear. That is one problem that we can assign to limbo. Let’s take pains to explain the different stages – but let’s not tempt some Kilroy-ic spirit to butt in and venture, ”You, SPARK stand for Socialism, you NCP stand for Communism. Hoy/ primitive of you both. I stand for a third stage. What was it Engels mentioned– a higher stage with contradictions on a higher plane? That’s my goal. I’m working on a name for it.”
“So far as these election results are concerned, the workers were not defeated – because there were no statewide candidates, no political parties, and no programs that represented the fundamental interests of the workers. How can it possibly be said, then, that the workers ’lost?’ But were the capitalists, then defeated? Here, too, the answer is certainly no.” (3)
May we suggest that in such a manner Fascism could come to power without winning and without the workers losing because they had no candidates, parties or programs. This is sophistry with a vengeance. A neatly tamed phrase and out of death we get release from life. The CP. has tried to hypnotize away defeats but never with such bravado.
“But such groups as the American Labor Party, Liberal Party, and Trotskyites ... are also against socialism.” (1)
What a lumping is this. It can only serve the purpose of (1) harming the ALP by putting it in the company of the Trotskyites and (2) helping the Trotskyites by putting them in the company of the ALP. And how embarrassing now when the NCP considers (rightly) support for the ALP.
The NCP has invented a new category of party work: isolation from the capitalist class:
“The successes in the French example come from the fact that the French Communist Party isolated itself from the capitalists, and thereby it overcame its isolation from the workers, from the poor farmers and the masses generally.” (4)
Then it mentions the CPUSA’s “refusal to ’isolate’ itself from the capitalists.” Isn’t this again making the point the hard and sometimes confusing way. In the first place a CP. could “isolate” itself from the capitalists and still be isolated from the workers. In the second place what does this concept of isolation from the capitalists mean? Does it mean simply that the CP. earned the hate of the capitalists? Wouldn’t it all be clearer to talk in terms of how C.P.’s lead the workers, etc. Then it would be clear that the French CP. did a good job of leading the workers– and in fighting the capitalists, whereas the CPUSA didn’t lead at all. The CP. should be the vanguard of the working class. It is an organized detachment of the working class. This should absolve it of the special formulations of isolation from the capitalist class.
Words start ambushing discussion needlessly. NCP edits “American” to read ”U.S.” (17) because “American” is chauvinist. A political tragedy has been made of a grammatical necessity: that, of the words United States and America, only America assumes the adjective form naturally (American) whereas United States doesn’t.
We have made this point specifically, because it is rather shocking to observe NCP’s rigid rules of speech here and then be startled by its disdainful usage of “melancholic ex-rabbis.” (26)
NCP makes a sophist to-do over the term “ 3rd party.” It refers to it as the “so-called ’third party’” (18, 32, etc.) Why quibble over a name at this stage when the main point is to define the character of the right kind of 3rd party. How natural it is to use “ 3rd party” ’til it gets a name, is attested to by NCP’s own continual use of that term.
Out of an attempt to discuss 3rd party ideas, NCP produces only a theme and variations on the word “rope” (32-33) from SPARK’S quotation from “Left-Wing Communism.”
More words that trouble NCP!
“Wallace’s talk about a ’new’ type of power politics does not make any real sense. What ’new’ type is there. Either power is to be used against Russia (as the imperialists advocate) or it is not to be used (as working class interests demand).” (26)
What does NCP want of language – to have a razor-like, hairsplitting edge but a dull sound? Certainly, if NCP extends itself the right to “isolate” the French CP. from the capitalists, it should grant Wallace a less unclear literary figure.
The once simple term ”bourgeoisification of the proletariat” has suffered such elephantiasis that in NCP’s eyes organized labor is incapacitated and one must turn to unorganized labor as a main factor.
“It may make you a little sick to see the ads that depict Lenin as a comrade of – of all people! ‒ George Washington and Thomas Jefferson ...” (13)
On the contrary, NCP’s reaction worries us. Washington had his good points, but Jefferson was really a great man. This is a good time to reread Lenin on the sectarian rejection of bourgeois history and culture (Lenin Speaks to the Youth) or about our great revolutionary traditions in Lenin’s Letter to American (did we see “American!”) Workers.
Jefferson was what a Communist should be– a tribune of the people. SPARK will bet its tombstone against NCP’s that Jefferson’s tombstone will live forever in American history– through Socialism and Communism.
When NCP gets nasty it indulges in such contributions as:
“The super-action school also requires no tactical line – for might not such a tactical line interfere with practical work?” (32)
This is turned against the mildest attempts to engage in something other than disconnected theoretical fragments. Or
“So far as we know neither Lenin nor Stalin at any stage in their political careers ever found it even necessary to assure their audiences that they were ’sincere’ and ’devoted’.”
If this is an attack on our S.O.S. issued as a CP. Club (not yet expelled), we plead guilty. The two above-mentioned “honorary” members of our club, Lenin and Stalin, need not answer slander. As for the rest of us, we have not earned the respect and trust that comes only with proven leadership and so we have to try to disprove slanders about us that have been fed to the CP. members. NCP’s wild art of paraphrasing approaches slander. It prefers to paraphrase for paragraphs rather than quote one sentence. We suggest to NCP that when it attacks SPARK or the PR Club it name them. It will be a service to both those who agree and those who disagree. It will prevent switching victims in mid-punishment. NCP has a habit of attacking an idea from SPARK (unnamed), then attributing an idea to the CPUSA leadership (named) and then generalizing conclusions as if it were talking about one group all along. If its aim is to lump us with the CPUSA leadership, it should do so boldly as it did when it lumped the ALP and the Trotskyites.
We now offer the apotheosis of sophistry:
“Why Be A Witch.” “We wish the D.W. and its followers would stop referring to anti-Communist drives as ’witch-hunts’. If witch-hunt means anything at all in this context, it means either that (a) Communists are witches, or (b) Communists, like witches, do not exist. True, we can recall partial evidence that maybe there is something to both theories – but seriously, neither is true. Let us have no more talk about witch-hunts.” (3)
No comment is necessary.
Now for a climax:
“For his own special version of the upper limit theory, Bittleman is obliged to play around with sources a bit, in a rather unscrupulous way.
He goes, for example, not to Marx’s complete and detailed exposition of his own views – but rather to Marx’s excellent agitational lecture, delivered in 1865, entitled Value, Price and Profit, a considerably simplified and incomplete statement of Marx’s views which, as Marx himself wrote to Engels on June 24, 1865, ’has necessarily to slur over all sorts of things’.
Although the comprehensive works of Marx are presumably well known to Bittleman, he is obliged to ignore Capital with its very full discussion of the matter, and to snatch instead at parts of sentences from Value, Price, and Profit. He cannot go for support to Capital because no such support is to be found there.” (26)
Doesn’t the last sentence imply that “support” is to be found in Value, Price and Profit? Perhaps we can explain the germ of this insinuation by quoting a few more words from the same letter:
“. . . (2) in the second part the thing contains in an extremely condensed but relatively popular form, much that is new, taken in advance from my book, while at the same time it has necessarily to slur over all sorts of things. The question is, whether such anticipation is expedient.” (our italics)
Value, Price and Profit, The Communist Manifesto, Wage Labor and Capital, and Socialism, Scientific & Utopian are the examples of the greatest mass distribution, mass reading, and mass education in the history of the world. If Value, Price and Profit is an “incomplete statement of Marx’s views” so is Capital and everything else he wrote. There is too much to Marxism to hold between even six covers of Capital.
To repeat, in conclusion, what are NCP’s main errors? (1) Its concept of Socialism or Fascism as the issue in the U. S. today; its favorite question “for or against capitalism”; its consignment of allies such as Wallace to the Truman doctrine forces. (2) Its idea that the axis formulae for fascism are defeated and outmoded – a contradiction of the concept of Socialism or Fascism; its idea that fascism is not a prerequisite for an anti-Soviet war. (3) Its practical opposition to the third party and to (4) the U.N. despite a few words to the contrary sometimes. (5) Its disdainful attitude towards CP. members, CP. work and everything in the CP. program. (6) Its ignoring of the spontaneous movements surging in the U.S. now. (7) Its sophistry which affects its attitude, its program and its polemic.
(SPARK will circulate any comment NPC may have with the next SPARK)