From International Socialist Review, Vol.23 No.1, Winter 1962, p.2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
The latest move to outlaw the Communist Party of the US under the 1950 Internal Security Act, upheld by the Supreme Court 5-4 decisions last June and October 1961, has aroused notable voices of protest from labor, liberal, civil libertarian, religious, journalism, education, art, law and medical circles. Over two hundred outstanding individuals, in a petition to President Kennedy to halt this stepping-up of an “era of fear” said:
“If these decisions are permitted to stand, they will stimulate ever greater repressions, ever bolder invasions of our protected freedoms, roundups of dissenters, book burnings and a permanent corps of informers.”
An official publication of the Socialist Party-Social Democratic Federation, New America said editorially:
“We think this is a first class disaster for American freedom. ... we clearly reject the McCarran Act and earnestly hope that it will be overturned in the next go around. For us, there is no ‘exception’ to the right to speak, to publish, to agitate.”
Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, the 91 year-old historian, scholar and founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, declared on the occasion of the savage McCarran Law’s assault on freedom,
“On this first day of October, 1961, I am applying for admission to membership in the Communist Party of the United States. I have been long and slow in coming to this conclusion, but at last my mind is settled.”
Farrell Dobbs, National Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party said in a letter to the National Officers of the Communist Party that the SWP “supports unconditionally your defense against the government attack which in force and effect is plainly to outlaw the Communist Party. We feel that agreement or disagreement with your political views has no bearing on the case. At stake in your fight are basic democratic rights precious to the American people.” Dobbs said the SWP “stands ready to aid the Communist Party defense in every way we can. You are welcome to use our meeting halls everywhere in the country. We hereby extend a standing invitation to your speakers to address our meetings and public forums to explain your case.”
Dobbs called for the need to “build the broadest possible movement in defense of the democratic rights of the Communist Party, a defense movement based on the great American labor traditions that an injury to one is an injury to all.”
A Labor-Negro Vanguard Conference, composed of many who were members of the CP and are in disagreement with it on political and organizational questions, nevertheless rallied to the defense of the CP against the McCarran Law attack without hesitation.
The key requirement of the moment in our opinion is united action against the McCarran Law and concrete defense of the CP. The SP-SDF correctly called for an effective campaign, in the name of a new mobilization. “Let all democrats rally to groups like the American Civil Liberties Union; in defending the rights of those we oppose, let us defend the very fundamentals of civil liberties in our land.”
It is unfortunate, however, that the SP-SDF included the point: “We do not want to join with the Communist Party in defense of its freedom, for that would compromise the principled defense of liberty which is so basic to our stand.” To refuse to join with the CP, the immediate victim of McCarthyism, weakens and injures the united defense of democratic rights. To accept the cold-war red-baiting logic of the US State Department, runs counter to a real struggle against the McCarran Act.
All experience warns: Keep the witchhunt out of the civil liberties movement; the enemies of freedom cannot be defeated by accepting their premises.
In this instance this means fighting for the full democratic rights of the CP in the country in general and in the civil liberties movement in particular. The present government attack has made it impossible to separate anti-McCarranism from defense of the rights of the CP in all spheres.
Operating under this principle the New York City University students were able to defeat the Administration attempt to ban CP leader Benjamin Davis from speaking on their campuses. This united action struck a real blow against the McCarran Act. We hope that the coming months will witness many more such victories.
Last updated on 21 May 2009