Report to the Special Convention of the Communist Political Association, held in New York City, July 26-28, 1945, which reconstituted the Communist Party of the U.S.A.
Written: July, 28 1945
Source: Marxism-Leninism vs. Revisionism Published by New Century Publishers, 832 Broadway, N.Y. 3, N.Y. February, 1946
Transcription/Markup: 2020 by Philip Mooney
Public Domain: Marxist Internet Archive 2020. This work is completely free.
During the past several weeks we have been engaged in the frankest, deepest, and most self-critical theoretical analysis and practical political discussion in the history of our Party. Now, therefore, in its overwhelming majority, our Party has become convinced that our policy for the past eighteen months was “a notorious revision of Marxism.” The complete dissolution of the Party in the South shows where Comrade Browder was leading with his policy. . . .
Browder, with his revisionism, was trying to fasten a system of Right-wing bourgeois liberalism upon our Party; a liberalism so conservative that on many questions it put us far to the Right of Roosevelt, of the liberal press, and of the main sections of the labor movement. This revisionism has nothing in common with Marxism-Leninism, being a complete abandonment of its basic principles.
A. Browder's line is a rejection of the Marxian economic doctrines. Browder has developed bourgeois theories of the liquidation of the capitalist cyclical and general crises; he rejects Marx’ theory of surplus value and of the exploitation of the workers. Thus, for the past two years our Party has made no criticism whatever of capitalism as a system of human exploitation, nor has it challenged the blood-wrung profits of the employers. Instead, we have heard many comrades, without rebuke from Browder, talking about our alleged obligation to guarantee the employers, already the richest in the world, a so-called fair profit. That such shameful nonsense should be heard in a Communist organization! When Browder adopted so glibly the slogan of “free enterprise,” he accepted in practice most of bourgeois economics along with it. With his great faith in capitalism he outdoes even such enthusiastic bourgeois economists as Chase, Hanson and Johnston.
B. Browder’s line is a rejection of the Marxian principles of the class struggle. Comrade Browder denies the class struggle by sowing illusions among the workers of a long postwar period of harmonious class relations with generous-minded employers; by asserting that class relations no longer have any meaning except as they are expressed either for or against Teheran; by substituting for Marxian class principles such idealistic abstractions as the “moral sense,” “enlightenment,” “progressivism,” and “true class interests” of the big monopolists, as determining factors in establishing their class relations with the workers. Browder’s theories of class collaboration and the harmony of interest between capital and labor are cut from the same opportunistic cloth as those of Bernstein, Legien and Gompers, except that his ideas are more shamelessly bourgeois than anything ever produced by these notorious revisionists of the past.
C. Browders line is a rejection of the Marxian concept of the progressive and revolutionary initiative of the working class, and with it, the vanguard role of the Communist Party. The very foundation of Marxism-Leninism is that the working class, with the Communist Party at its head, leads the democratic masses of the people in the amelioration of their conditions under capitalism and also in the eventual establishment of Socialism. But Comrade Browder has thrown this whole conception overboard. His books Victory—and After and especially Teheran: Our Path in War and Peace, present the thesis of a progressive capitalist class, particularly American finance capital, leading the peoples of this country and the world to the achievement of the great objectives of the Moscow, Teheran, Yalta and San Francisco Conferences, and the building of a peaceful, democratic and prosperous society. Browder sees labor and the democratic forces, including the Communist Party, playing only a secondary, non-decisive role in the present-day world.
D. Browder’s line is a rejection of the Leninist theory of imperialism as the final stage of capitalism. Comrade Browder, in his books and speches, paints a utopian picture of a world capitalist system, not moribund, but vigorous and progressive, especially in its American section—a world capitalist system about to enter into a period of unprecedented expansion. It is a denial of the general crisis of the capitalist system. Browder believes that under the leadership of his “enlightened” American monopolists, the imperialist ruling classes in this and other capitalist countries will peacefully and spontaneously compose their differences with each other, with the U.S.S.R., with the liberated countries of Europe, and with the colonial and semi-colonial countries, without mass struggle. This is the bourgeois liberal notion that the epoch of imperialism is past. It conflicts fundamentally with the Leninist theory of imperialism as the last stage of a decadent capitalist system.
E. Browder’s line is a rejection of the Marxian-Leninist perspective of Socialism. Obviously, if world capitalism, under the leadership of Comrade Browder’s beneficient American monopolists, can overcome its inner contradictions and produce an era of well-being and capitalist progress such as Browder sees ahead, the whole question of Socialism is reduced to a mere abstraction. Browder accepts this logic and has abandoned the advocacy of Socialism, even in a purely educational sense. In his book on Teheran he casts aside our Party’s ultimate goal of Socialism and expands our program of immediate demands into a fantastic caiptalist utopia which leaves no room whatever for Socialism.
From all of this, it should be clear that Browder is preaching anti-Marxism, in fact “a notorious revision of Marxism,” as Duclos said. He is fighting our Party and with it, what he has designated as “the Marxists of Europe.” But like all other revisionists, he presents his opportunism under the false flag of a Marxism brought up to date. That he realizes he is making a head-on attack upon the whole body of Marxist-Leninist principles, however, is clear from his often-expressed scorn for the “old books” and “old formulas,” by which, of course, he means Marxist-Leninist books and formulas. Browder would have us throw away the Marxist-Leninist classics and adopt instead his Right-wing bourgeois liberalism, which he misnames Marxism. His two latest books cannot be called Marxist works, they are more akin to the ideas of Eric Johnston than to those of Karl Marx.
Browder’s amazing bourgeois revisionism is a surrender to the pressure of American imperialism upon our Party. The class beneficiaries of his whole program are the big caiptalists of this country. His line dovetails with their plans of imperialist expansion and world domination when he sows illusions about their alleged progressivism, hides their imperialist aggressions, spins capitalist utopias that shut out all perspectives of Socialism, deludes the workers with prospects of their employers voluntarily doubling their wages in the postwar stage, and weakens the Communist Party by transforming it into the Communist Political Association, etc. Thus he plays into the hands of the most reactionary elements, American big capitalists, who in the postwar period will be the strongest world force making for economic chaos, fascist reaction, and a new world war.
One of the most dangerous aspects of Browder’s revisionism is that it was penetrating into the Communist parties of other lands through the spread of his writings. Thus, a number of our brother parties in this hemisphere, especially in Latin America, became infected with it, thereby weakening their guard against advancing American imperialism. Various European and Asiatic parties also felt the liquidatory effects of Browderism. Indeed, Browder wrote a public letter to the Communist Party of Australia, virtually telling it what it should and should not do—advice which that Party indignantly rejected. Before the Duclos article was published, Browder also contemplated sending a public letter to the British Communist Party urging it to orientate itself in the then approaching Parliamentary elections on the perspective of an election alliance between the British democratic forces and the Churchill group of Tories against the reactionaries (sic). How preposterous this sounds now in view of the Labor Party’s victory—over Churchill. Browder’s plan, apparently, was to develop some sort of a loosely integrated cooperation between such Communist parties as he could influence, with the C.P.A. as a new world center, with himself as its leader, and with his revisionist policies as its program. The Duclos article smashed this whole plan.
Browder’s revisionism, although it burst into full expression following the Teheran conference, has roots reaching back several years earlier in his Party leadership. An examination of this earlier period will reveal the major reasons why the Communist movement has not made greater progress in the United States during the past several years. Browder’s policies have been a detriment to our Party for years.
Our Party discussion has made it clear that Comrade Browder’s revisionism has exerted a weakening effect upon our wartime policy. Many of our comrades still believe that Browder’s policy was necessary during the war. It was not. It was definitely a detriment in our war work, as I have shown in detail in my article in The Worker of June 10. And not a few believe that Browder worked out our policy of all-out support of the war, of strengthening the United Nations coalition, of the fight for the Second Front, of maximum war production, of the no-strike pledge, etc. But this is not true. Browder was in Atlanta when this correct general war policy was developed, and he had nothing whatever to do with its formulation. Almost as soon as he was released from prison, however, he began to undermine our correct policy with his enervating revisionism. He did not succeed, however, in completely destroying our otherwise correct wartime policy. Despite his revisionism, our Party may well be proud of its record during the war, its whole-hearted and devoted struggle on every front to win the war. The full destructive force of Browder’s revisionism would have been felt, however, if we had attempted to extend his policies over into the postwar period. This would have proved disastrous to our mass work and to our Party itself. The corrective Duclos article arrived at a most opportune time for us.
As it was, the corrosive effects of Browder’s revisionism were fast bringing our Party into a major internal crisis. His pro-capitalist liberalism alienated our Party sympathizers and confused our Party members. So badly had he undermined our policy that it finally took an expert to explain to a member of a progressive trade union why he should join the C.P.A. or remain a member of it. Our members’ morale fell rapidly. Fluctuation figures rose steeply and our power to recruit members declined accordingly. The percentage of trade unionists dropped off sharply in our Party. Our contacts with the Negro people were weakened, especially by the disastrous liquidation of our Party in the South. Attendance at branch meetings declined alarmingly, and dues payment percentages fell to record low levels. This is what happens to a Communist Party when it gets poisoned with revisionism. It will take hard work upon our part to overcome this developing crisis and to start our Party off again on a course of healthy growth and development.
A peculiarly harmful effect of our Party’s disease of Browder’s revisionism was that by crippling the Party’s militancy, it tended to throw the workers into the grip of the pseudo-left demagogy of the Trotskyites, Reutherites, Thomasites, Dubinskyites and Lewisites.
The Party membership is mystified as to how our Party leadership, almost unanimously, came to make the serious mistake of adopting Browder’s crudely revisionist line, especially during the past 18 months. Let me try to explain this:
First, for several years prior to the adoption of Browder’s distorted policy on Teheran, our Party had, under Browder’s leadership, slipped into the opportunist practice of supporting Roosevelt without serious self-criticism. It thereby began to adopt a wrong attitude toward the bourgeoisie. Our developing opportunistic attitude toward the capitalists was further strengthened by the failure to recognize clearly that the big capitalists of this country were supporting the war for their own imperialistic purposes and not to advance the democratic objectives of the American people. Browder’s opportunistic line was to welcome the big capitalists more or less as loyal comrades in arms with the democratic forces. With all this opportunistic confusion as a background in Party policy, it was not difficult for Browder, after the Teheran conference, to take his final plunge into revisionism by contending that our so-called wartime cooperation with the big capitalists would be continued and intensified in the postwar period. This argumentation seemed reasonable to many; for if the Socialist sector of the world could arrive at an agreement on Teheran to cooperate in war and peace with the capitalist parts of the world, then why could not American workers and capitalists also work together in harmony in the war and in the postwar period? With this opportunistic reasoning as a basis, Browder then added his utopian theories of a progressive capitalist system, the liquidation of imperialism, the harmony of interests between capital and labor, etc. Unfortunately, the rest of our Party leadership was not able to demolish this complex utopian structure by exposing its grossly opportunistic core.
Secondly, a vital reason why Comrade Browder was able to foist his opportunism upon our Party was because of the super-centralism prevailing in our organization. With his great personal prestige and his excessive degree of authority, Browder’s word had become practically the law in our Party. Consequently, he was able to suppress any analytical discussion whatever of his false thesis regarding Teheran. It is my opinion that if Browder’s proposals could have been really discussed, they would have been finally rejected by our Party, but such a discussion was out of the question.
Now I come to another matter that is deeply troubling our Party and its friends; namely, how does it happen that a Party leadership that had been almost unanimously following Browder’s opportunist line for eighteen months could suddenly switch over and take a stand flatly against Browder!
In answer to this general question, I think that the basic cause of the sudden, almost spectacular change of not only the leadership’s, but of Party, opinion was that Browder’s policy had been proved bankrupt by life itself as the war in Europe was coming to an end. Moreover, thousands of Party members had accepted the policy at its outset with grave doubts and hesitations and were ready for the change.
There were, indeed, many signs of an impending change of Party policy. The end of the war against Germany, the death of Roosevelt, the imperialist raid upon the San Francisco conference of the United Nations, the obvious preparations of the N.A.M. for a postwar drive against organized labor, the development of many strikes, etc., were awakening concern among our leaders in the National Board. Comrades Dennis, Green, Thompson, Williamson and other leading members were either beginning to express directly opposing views to Comrade Browder’s, or were raising questions that he found it increasingly difficult, on the basis of his distortions of Teheran, to answer. Even Browder himself, under the pressure of events, had been forced to cast aside some of the cruder forms of his revisionism and recently had felt compelled to write several “radical” articles which apparently contradicted his line. Already, Dennis and Green had made proposals for a meeting of the National Committee, to review our postwar perspectives and policies. Such a review could not have been avoided, and when it had eventually taken place I am sure it would have produced important changes in the Party’s line. As we can see from Comrade Browder’s present opposition to the National Committee’s Resolution, however, such changes could have occurred only in the face of his stubborn resistance.
Had the Duclos article been published a few months earlier, its reception in our Party would have been much less unanimous. As things turned out, however, it appeared at just the right time. The objective situation was ripe for it, and so, increasingly, were our Party leaders and members. Hence, the stage was all set for the sudden switch in Party opinion that has perplexed so many people. Our Party has suddenly reverted to its basic Communist principles….
A. An ideological campaign against Revisionism: From the Party’s overwhelming endorsement of the National Committee’s Resolution, it is clear that this Convention will decisively reject Comrade Browder’s bourgeois liberalism. This is vitally important; but the worst mistake we could now make would be to conclude therefrom that the fight against Browder’s revisionism has been fully won and that we can now proceed unconcernedly with our daily tasks. On the contrary, we must continue and intensify the ideological struggle. While at the conclusion of this convention our formal general Party discussion will end and we will close our ranks and proceed in unity and discipline to the application of the line we have adopted, we must, however, conduct the broadest and deepest campaign of enlightenment we have ever led in our Party. As never before, we must train our Party in the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism. To this end we must check over the curicula, teaching personnel and textbooks of all our schools. We must re-examine all our recent literature. We must prepare new propaganda and agitation material in harmony with our new line. We must especially be alert to eliminate, not only Browder’s wrong theories, but also all those opportunist ways of thinking and working that have developed during Browder’s long regime as head of the Party. So prevalent are these opportunist moods and methods that many comrades in State and National leading posts are deeply afflicted with them, often without even realizing the fact.
The eradication of these insidious open and concealed forms of opportunism, the scars of Browderism, will need our close and earnest attention in the coming period. At the same time, we will have to be vigilantly on guard against a sharp growth of “Left”-sectarianism, which is a perennial danger in our Party and of which there are already manifestations. We must avoid doing what we have done several times before during sharp turns in Party policy; namely, to make the mistake of over-correction. We must avoid flying from the one extreme of open revisionism to the other extreme of a narrow sectarianism. One evil is as harmful as the other.
B. Re-establish the Communist Party: It is the National Board’s opinion that this Convention should reconstitute the Communist Party. It was a grave error to form the Communist Political Association in the first place, a long step toward dissolving the Communist movement in the United States, as we now see so dramatically in the South. And it will be compounding that deadly mistake if we do not here and now reorganize the C.P.A. into the C.P. Comrade Dennis, in his report to our National Committee, showed conclusively that the formation of the C.P.A. did not help our election campaign, as Comrade Browder avers, but seriously hampered it. Likewise, Comrade Williamson, in reporting to the National Committee, demonstrated beyond question that the continuation of the C.P.A. is having a liquidationist effect upon every branch of our Party work and organization. The clear lesson from all this is that the convention should reestablish the C.P. without delay, including especially the organization in the South.
There are no electoral complexities in this country that the C.P. cannot meet better than the C.P.A. To keep the present name is politically indefensible. We will have more standing among the people operating frankly as the Communist Party. Besides, every advanced worker knows the meaning of a “party,” but does anyone, even Comrade Browder himself, really know what a “political association” is? Only with a party can we meet the great tasks confronting us. Failure to re-establish the Communist Party at this Convention would be a major political mistake. It would disappoint our membership; it would cripple our future work; it would stimulate the Browder opposition; it Would be a sign that we are not clear-sighted and resolute enough to take the decisive steps necessary to eradicate Browder’s revisionism….
C. Refresh and Strengthen the Party Leadership: During my various reports and articles in this situation, I have taken Comrade Browder sharply to task for our Party’s revisionist mistake. I have done this because Browder was the chief author of the revisionism; he theorized it; he rammed it down our Party’s throat without discussion; he now refuses to accept correction, and he has been busily trying to organize an opposition against the National Commitee’s Resolution. Some comrades believe, however, that I have been unduly severe in polemizing against Browder. But this is sentimentalism, when it is not political uncertainty. Comrade Browder has done and is still doing severe injury to our Party. He subjected it to ridicule when he introduced his absurd capitalist ideas into it a year and a half ago, and he is exposing it to a severe Red-baiting attack now that we have to change back from his false policies. He has seriously weakened our Party’s daily work and confused its membership. He has also profoundly lowered our Party’s prestige among other Communist Parties.
While it is necessary, therefore, to concentrate the main fire against Browder as the ideological leader of our revisionist error, this does not remove the heavy burden of responsibility borne by the rest of our national leadership, especially the members of the National Board. It was a great weakness that our leadership was not capable of theoretically unmasking Browder’s opportunism and thus saving the Party from the ensuing ravages in its work, its prestige, and its membership.
Political mistakes are serious matters and cannot be lightly passed over. In these times of crucial struggle against fascism they involve the welfare, the liberties and possibly even the lives of large masses of people. Leaders who make such mistakes must, therefore, be held strictly responsible. Consequently, the proposal as stated in the National Committee’s Resolution, to “refresh and strengthen the personnel of all responsible leading committees in the Association,” is a pertinent one. The Party must provide the best guarantees it can in its leadership that such a disastrous mistake shall not take place again. This docs not signify, however, as some comrades assert, that “the whole national leadership must be cleaned out.” Such a Leftist course would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Communist parties are not infallible, and even the best Marxists sometimes make mistakes. The distinction between Communist parties and other parties of the people in this respect is that, armed with the science of Marxism-Leninism, the former make far fewer mistakes than any other group, and when they do commit errors, they frankly admit and correct them. Just a little while ago Stalin stated that many serious errors had been made in the U.S.S.R. during the prosecution of the war. And in his famous speech on Mastering Bolshevism, delivered on March 3, 1937, when pointing out that the leadership of the Party made the serious error of failing to recognize the danger of Trotskyism, he said:
How can it be explained that our leading comrades, who have a rich experience of struggle against every kind of anti-Party and anti-Soviet trend, proved to be so blind and naive in this case that they were unable to recognize the real face of the enemies of the people, were unable to discern the wolves in sheep’s clothing, were unable to tear the mask from them?
They forgot Soviet power has conquered only one-sixth of the world, that five-sixths of the world is in possession of capitalist powers. They forgot that the Soviet Union is in conditions of capitalist encirclement….
This was a very serious error, as all will agree, and in the most advanced Communist Party in the world.
When errors are made by Communist leaders, and our error was a serious one, it calls for a check-over of the leading forces; but this must not be interpreted as a signal for a reckless decimation of the Party leadership. Such a decimation would be in order only if the Party should have fallen into the hands of a hard-boiled group of incurable revisionists, which is not the case in our Party. What is called for in our situation in order to refresh and strengthen the leadership, therefore, is to select our new National Committee and National Board on the basis of a careful review of the various members’ qualifications, including their social background, their Marxist-Leninist training, their previous Party record, their degree of participation in the present error, their connections with trade unions and mass organizations, their present attitude toward Browder’s revisionism, and their general prospects of doing effective future Party work. Obviously, there must be important changes in our leading committees, particularly the National Board. Trade unionists and war veterans especially must be brought into the leadership, both nationally and in the districts. The present Party situation must result in a very substantial improvement in our whole Party leadership.
D. Re-establish Democratic Centralism: A basic essential in our fight against Browder’s revisionism is to reintroduce Leninist democratic centralism into the Party. During the tenure of Comrade Browder’s leadership the Party drifted far from these principles and allowed itself to become infected with a corroding bureaucratism in which Browder was the key figure and chief moving force.
Centralism we had, a super-centralism in fact, but very little democracy. Comrade Browder during the course of the years had managed, with the acquiescence of the leadership and of the Party in general, to develop among us a totally wrong conception of Communist leadership. He had grown almost into a dictator. His authority reached such a point that his word had become virtually unchallengeable in our Party. His policies and writings finally were accepted almost uncritically by the leaders and the general membership. Browder created around himself an atmosphere of infallibility and unchallengeable authority. All this was accentuated by the deluge of petty-bourgeois adulation, praise-mongering and hero-worship that was constantly poured upon him by our leadership and our members.
Comrade Browder was deeply intoxicated by this unseemly adulation and by his arbitrary power. He quite lost his political balance from it. He abandoned Communist modesty and Leninist self-criticism and fell into the most extravagant boasting. This boasting attitude has done Browder great personal damage and it has brought havoc to our Party.
Constantly grasping for more power, Comrade Browder had largely liquidated the political functions of the Party’s leading bodies. He habitually by-passed the National Board in policy making. Characteristically, his notorious report on Teheran was never presented as a whole to the National Board. All the Board saw of it beforehand were a few fragments. It was sprung suddenly and sensationally, in the true Browder manner, at a National Committee meeting attended by several hundred people. The National Committee, also, had gradually lost all real political power. It assembled; it listened to Browder’s proposals; it affirmed them; and it dispersed to the districts to impress the policy upon the membership. Of genuine political discussion there was none whatever in the National Committee. Similarly, our recent National Conventions were hardly better than the National Committee meetings—with their formal endorsement of Browder’s reports, no political discussions and no self-critical examination of the leadership.
In this stifling bureaucratic atmosphere, Leninist collective leadership could not and did not exist. Political thinking itself was hamstrung. Comrade Browder, basing himself upon the high prestige which he enjoyed among the Party membership, made policy pretty much as he saw fit, with the sad results that we now see. How far Browder was prepared to go to prevent political discussion was shown by the way he suppressed my letter of January, 1944, to the National Committee. The only way I could have gotten this letter to the membership was by facing expulsion and a sure split in the Party. Even then my letter would not have really come before the Party, for the issue would have been the unity of the Party, and anyone who attempted to discuss my letter would have been denounced as a Trotskyite by Browder.
The Party must insist that this whole bureaucratic system be swept away, in the districts and nationally, as a basic condition for freeing itself from Browder’s revisionism. There must be a genuine collective leadership built up. The Secretariat must report regularly to the National Board, which must discuss its reports freely. The National Committee must establish its political power and it must have the fullest freedom to discuss all reports coming from the National Board or members of the Secretariat. Important differences of opinion in the National Board must be reported to the National Committee. The National Convention must not be a mere rubber stamp, as it was under Browder’s leadership, but must be, in fact as well as in name, the most authoritative body in our Party.
The Party must insist that the Party leaders be self-critical, and it must learn to be on guard against leaders who cover up their mistakes, instead of frankly admitting and analyzing them. Petty-bourgeois adulation of leaders must also be ended. We should respect our chosen leaders, but not make gods of them. We must insist that real political discussion take place at all levels of the Party, from the branches to the highest committees. However, our Party is not a debating society; we have to arrive at decisions and then resolutely carry them out. But we can neither formulate sound policies nor carry them out effectively without collective thinking, collective discussion, and collective leadership. Only by applying the sound principles of Leninist democratic-centralism can our Party keep its mistakes to a minimum and develop the clear-thinking unity of action and resolute discipline that are the great strength of Communist parties all over the world.
E. Strengthen the Party's Independent Role: Central to Comrade Browder’s revisionism was the constant playing down of the independent role of the Communist Party. This blunting of the political initiative of our Party expressed itself in various forms of tail-ending after the bourgeoisie. This deadly opportunism is to be found in Browder’s leadership for at least the past ten years. It has had the effect of facilitating the demagogy of the Trotskyites and Dubinsky Social-Democrats.
Thus, under Browder’s leadership, our Party habitually failed to criticize adequately the Roosevelt Administration for its shortcomings and to come forward boldly with its own proposals. In the same spirit of tailism, Browder refused to criticize sharply the reactionary policies of the A. F. of L. Executive Council, except in the most flagrant cases. But the worst instance of all was his attempt to set our Party to tail-ending shamelessly after American finance capital directly, by picturing the National Association of Manufacturers, the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Bankers Association and other reactionary employers’ associations as progressive bodies and as qualified therefore to lead the nation in various branches of its economic and political policy. This example of tailism, which is the very core of the distortion of the Teheran decisions, was the most disgraceful piece of misleadership in the history of our Party.
Another expression of Comrade Browder’s settled policy of minimizing our Party’s leading role was his systematic hiding of our light under a bushel. That is, instead of having our Party speaking out boldly under its own name on all political questions, Browder nearly always, in recent years, sought to shove the Party into the background and to surrender the initiative to other organizations. This harmful practice has done much to weaken our prestige among the masses, to surround our Party with a false conspiratorial air, and to hamper the full legalization of our movement.
Still another, and a very deadly form of such playing down of the role of the Party, was Browder’s long-continued practice of virtually limiting our Party’s activities to mass agitation and of avoiding all mass organization and struggle. Browder has a magic reverence for the spoken word. He is a talker, not a mass fighter. He has had very little experience in, or understanding of, the need to back up the word with action. Especially of recent years has this trend become manifest, as Browder, poisoned by our sickly adulation, developed more and more of an inflated idea of the importance of his speeches. He eventually got to the point where he seemed to believe that all that was necessary in the case of a given issue was for him to make a speech, for the Party to scatter huge quantities of it throughout the country, and all would be well. Browder grossly underestimates the importance of mass organization and political struggle, so that it is several years since our Party has organized any real mass movements on its own, or by mobilizing its forces to support other organizations that were campaigning for the people’s rights. This long-developing tendency of liquidating the mass organization work of the Party finally reached its climax in the dissolution of the Party and the formation of the C.P.A. as almost exclusively a political educational society.
The Party must break sharply with Browder’s chronic tailism, his hiding the Party’s face, and his avoidance of mass struggle. The Party must recover its political initiative and Communist boldness—even though certain public officials, leaders of the A. F. of L. Executive Council and of the N.A.M. may not like it.
It is good, of course, that many mass organizations now speak out progressively on various questions, and we must do all we can to develop this trend. But this must not be done by pushing the Communist Party into the background, into the shadows, where the workers cannot see it in action. Our Party, if it is to be recognized by the masses as their political leader, must speak out quickly and boldly on every important question. Of course, in this sharpening up of the Party’s political role we must not fall into the sectarian errors of the past. And, above all, our Party must regain its skill of backing up its spoken word with the most complete possible mobilization of our membership and of the organizations with which we cooperate.
At the present time we are facing a big task in this respect in the wage movements of the workers, where there is the most urgent need of our helping to organize a broad and active political campaign within the framework of the wartime no-strike pledge. We will face a still greater task in the Congressional elections of 1946, when the reactionaries will make a desperate attempt to capture control of Congress. We must employ all our skill to awaken and mobilize the workers and all democratic forces to beat back the political offensive of reaction.
F. Improve the Party s Social Composition: To eliminate Browder’s opportunism and to build a strong dike against its future recurrence, the Party must radically improve the social composition of its membership and of its leadership. We must enlist more and more workers from the basic industries. We must, above all, recruit trade unionists and war veterans and bring them into our leadership. The winning of such members will be facilitated by the Party’s present change of line.
The morale of our Party members and sympathizers is now being greatly raised by the Party’s new line. They are happy to get from underneath the suffocating cloud of Browder’s opportunism and bourgeois revisionism. We should be alert, therefore, to translate this new enthusiasm into a big Party building campaign that will bring many thousands of new members into our Party, particularly in our concentration districts, and that will vastly extend the circulation of the Daily Worker and the rest of our press. The best answer we can make to Comrade Browder and his revisionism will be to enroll many thousands of new members into our Party—workers from the steel mills, coal miners, automobile plants, railroads, and other key and basic industries.
The supreme measure of our new policy is its application in practice to the immediate demands and interests of the people. Only if we have successful practical mass policies and activities can we free ourselves from Browder’s revisionism, on the one hand, and avoid the pitfalls of “Left” sectarianism, on the other…. I want to direct my concluding remarks to the correction of some general misconceptions regarding the new political line of our Party.
The first of these misconceptions is voiced in the argument that Comrade Browder stands for a broad national unity, whereas the new line of the Party tends to narrow down our activities. The reverse is the case. Actually, Comrade Browder’s policy, measured in the light of our Party’s experience, was definitely cutting down our organization and its mass contacts. Proof of this is the fact that his liquidatory policy was fast taking the vitality out of our Party and throwing it into a serious internal crisis. Thus it was undermining the very foundations of all our work. Besides, Browder’s line, with its nonsense about the so-called progressive capitalists voluntarily protecting the workers’ interests, was destroying our Party’s prestige among the workers and alienating them from us, as was shown in the defeat of Communists in more than one important trade union election in this period.
Many of our Party members found Browder’s policy so absurd that they would not even try to apply it in the industries. But a comrade, Freda Werb, of Buffalo, in a discussion article showed what happened to comrades who did try to apply the policy in the shops.
Being faced with lay-offs as we were, the discussion in the plant naturally was around what was going to happen to us after we were laid off, and what sort of postwar world we were going to live in. For months I stood there and told everyone who would listen that in the postwar world our purchasing power would be greatly increased, that the capitalists would voluntarily pay us more money because they wanted to have a prosperous postwar world. I may say in passing that many either wouldn’t listen, or having listened, laughed.
If we had persisted in advancing Browder’s no-strike pledge for the postwar period, it would have isolated us in the labor movement. In addition to all this, Browder succeeded in alienating whole sections of pro-war liberal forces of the country and turning them into a vitriolic opposition to our Party. There is nothing “broad” in a policy that cuts the heart out of our Party, ruins our prestige among the workers, and violently antagonizes the democratic forces generally.
In contrast to all this, the new Party line will build the Party and inspire its members with an incomparably better morale; it will restore our waning standing among the workers, it will lay the basis for real cooperation with all democratic forces, it will lay the basis for the broadest possible democratic coalition.
The second misconception that I want to deal with is now being spread by Browder. It is akin to the foregoing one, and it runs to the effect that Comrade Browder speaks for the whole nation, whereas the Party, with its new line, speaks only for the working class. This, too, is a falsification of realities. Browder is speaking for a nation which he wants to be led by reactionary finance capital. In doing this he is speaking in the interest, not of the nation, but of the big capitalists. Whereas, our Party is speaking for a nation in which only the proletariat can and must be the decisively progressive force. It thereby indeed speaks for the whole nation. Thus, in the present fight to maintain their wage rates, our Party holds that the workers are in fact fighting to advance the economic prosperity of the nation by preventing the collapse of their purchasing power and with it a breakdown of the whole industrial machine. We maintain that in all their wage struggles, therefore, the workers should place in the very forefront of their propaganda the fact that by keeping up their wages they are defending most vital economic interests of the entire people. The same principle holds true of the other fields of struggle of the working class. By championing the interests of the proletariat in this broad sense, the Party is indeed speaking in the true interest of the whole nation. The same is true regarding the fight of the Party in behalf of the Negro people, the farmers, and the middle classes.
A third erroneous idea now being circulated in the Party by Browder, would have the Party membership believe that whereas Comrade Browder is the champion of Teheran, the Party is now opposed to the Teheran decisions. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, Browder, by appeasing American finance capital, is surrendering to the worst enemies of Teheran; whereas our Party, by basing its present policy upon the combined struggle of the democratic forces of the world, is taking the only course by which the great objectives laid down at Teheran can be achieved. Complete victory over fascism can be won in this war; peace can be maintained for a long period -of time, and joint steps can be undertaken by the United Nations for world economic rehabilitation. However, the way to these ends is not, as Browder proposes, to turn world leadership over to American finance capital, but through, alert struggle by the democratic elements throughout the world against monopoly, especially the most reactionary sections of American finance capital.
The fourth and last false conception that I wish to speak against is the idea being circulated by “Left” sectarian voices in our Party to the effect that the present program of the Party is only transitory, that we are on our way to a much more Left interpretation of the present national and world situation. According to these comrades, we are going to, or should, denounce the war against Japan as imperialist, condemn the decisions of Teheran as unachieveable, drop the slogan of national unity, call for a farmer-labor government, give up our wartime no-strike pledge, abandon the fight for 60,000,000 jobs, bring forward the question of Socialism as an immediate issue, and generally adopt a class-against-class policy.
But these comrades are indulging in wishful thinking. Our Party, if I know it, is not going to take any such Leftist course. For the Party, in its overwhelming majority, understands that Leftist policies of this character would be no less disastrous to us than Browder’s Right revisionism. The line of the National Committee’s Resolution is the correct one: in its analysis, its formulation of immediate demands, and its placing of the question of Socialism. We must hew to the line of that Resolution, taking into account, of course, necessary amendments. We are not getting rid of Browder’s Right opportunism to fall into a swamp of “Left” sectarianism.
Now, in conclusion, let me say that our Party at the present time is passing through one of the most serious crises in all its history. There are those who hope that it will lose heavily in membership and will fall into a bitter and destructive factionalism. But such people, whether inside or outside of the Party, will be completely disappointed. The Party is making this crucial turn in decisive unity. There will be no factionalism, nor will our Party tolerate any, either from the Right or the “Left.” Our Party will emerge from this situation healthy and growing, with its mass contacts broadened and strengthened and with its members and leaders refreshed and fortified by a deeper understanding of the great science of Marxism-Leninism.
With the economic conditions of the workers deteriorating and unemployment growing, with the N.A.M., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other employers’ organizations out to weaken or smash the unions, with the combined reactionaries planning an all-out attempt to capture Congress in 1946, and with the Government lacking in adequate response to the workers’ needs, obviously serious economic and political struggles loom in this country. The workers will have to defend actively their rights, economic standards, and unions. The people in general will have to fight for the objectives of Teheran, Yalta and San Francisco. This situation will place great responsibilities upon us Communists. But with our Party rejuvenated and re-invigorated, and playing the vanguard role, we will face these oncoming struggles with Communist confidence and resoluteness.