Balance Sheet of Trotskyism in the United States, 1940-1947 by C L R James 1947
The Johnson-Forest tendency became conscious of itself early in 1941 in the discussion on the Russian question. It found itself opposed to Shachtman who believed at that time that Russia was a progressive social order, bureaucratic collectivism, and to Carter who analyzed Russia as bureaucratic collectivism equally reactionary with capitalism. It saw clearly that Carter represented a more or less rounded political tendency which was heading for a theory of managerial or bureaucratic collectivist society as a third alternative to capitalism or socialism. Though defeatist, as was Carter, it refused any sort of bloc with Carter and sought openly to place a barrier between him and the future development of Shachtman.
Johnson and Forest, from the very beginning, considered a break with Trotsky on a fundamental question to be the most serious step imaginable for any Marxist. The position of state-capitalism was therefore arrived at only after a thorough re-examination of Marxism including its economic theories a thorough study ,of the Russian question, the writings of Lenin and a comprehensive study of the tendencies in world economy and the Russian economy itself. In the first article of our tendency in The New International, we posed what has remained our theoretical foundation for this epoch-the statification of production. We drew the trend to its logical end and we drew the class line through statification (April, 1941). The statification in Yugoslavia, Poland and Czechslovakia found us well-armed and prepared from 1941.
Shachtman has given his analysis of the origin of the Johnson-Forest tendency. It is on a par with his usual light-mindedness where serious matters are concerned. The superficiality of the 1941 Convention startled Johnson and Forest. At the end of the Convention, therefore, Johnson, Forest and Tobin held a meeting and decided to work together on our ideas. Forest was given the task of working on the Russian question, Tobin was given the task of following the party developments, Johnson was to complete the theoretical study of political economy as applied to the contemporary world and to take up the question of dialectical materialism. The work was systematically carried through. Forest was able to complete such a study of the Russian economy and its social and historical development as has never been done in our movement. It is still largely unpublished. Ria Stone, with an academic training in philosophy, eased the road to the fundamental grasp of the principles of the Hegelian dialectic and their application to Marxian economics, sociology and politics. Harry Allen, an old Bolshevik, joined the tendency in its early stages and contributed substantially to its political and organizational development until after the 1946 convention when differences, for a long time implicit, caused a separation.
Our specific political positions can be found elsewhere. The tendency, however, has always had the firmest theoretical foundations under its feet, and from these it has elaborated certain guiding principles which govern all its politics.
1. The Russian question is central for the theoretical and political development of the Fourth International. But as we have repeatedly written from the very beginning, the world crisis is not part of the Russian question. The Russian question is only a part of the world crisis. The decisive stage of economic development is statification of production. Statification of production is not a phrase or a description. It marks the capitulation of anarchic capitalist society to the planning of the invading socialist society. The planning, however, torn by class contradictions, repeats the fundamental features of capitalist antagonisms in their most barbarous form. Statification carries in itself the most profound social awareness of the proletariat, and its social structure repeatedly propels the proletariat on the road to the complete transformation of society. From the very beginning, therefore, there was nothing in common between us and the defeatists who had preceded us. Trotsky had fought them without mercy because for them defeatism in Russia had always been the preliminary to defeatism and pessimism on a world scale. Our analysis of statification enabled us to see the .preparation by capitalism for world revolution, and the Russian totalitarian state as the chief and most developed example of this phase of the world development. Our defeatism therefore, was part of a highly intensified world. revolutionary concept.
2. We found in Russia the key to the most profound philosophic and abstract economic theories of Marx’s analysis of capitalism. We became convinced that such questions (hotly disputed through the past half century) as to whether the decline of capitalism lay basically in the falling rate of profit or the narrowing of the market, and the fundamental nature of crises, could at last be solved because of the concrete example of Stalinist- Russia. In our view, the development of Russia drove the last nail into the coffin of any variety of under-consumptionism. We were convinced on a re-examination of Marx’s Capital that the solution to the economic ills of capitalism was the human solution, not any reorganization of property but the emergence of the proletariat ready to use the vast potentialities created in it by capitalism itself. This, is the only solution to the burning question of all economies today – the raising of the productivity of labor.
3. This, however, was only one part of our development. The barbarism of capitalism was concretely demonstrated in Russia. But it was the American proletariat which concretized for us the necessarily abstract conception of the creative power of the proletariat in industry as a force for the social regeneration of society. The work of American industrial psychologists and the observations of proletarian comrades whom we had developed opened this door to us. [The Johnson-Forest tendency will soon publish a pamphlet by Phil Romano and Ria Stone which will deal fully with this question from both a practical and a theoretical point of view.]
Thus armed we fought the W.P. on the Russian question, then on the Negro question, then on the European question. Johnson and Forest had polemicized with Carter on the Russian question as part of world economy and as an exemplification of Marx’s theory of capitalist production. Carter (and his collaborators) had been put to flight. Up to 1943 we had accepted the American line of the party, the new Labor Action, the mass agitational appeal, the mass distributions, etc. We bear our full share of responsibility for all this. Here, where, if we had had the necessary experience, and if we had been acquainted with all of Trotsky’s writings, we might have been most alert, was where we were most defective. By December 1943, we had progressed sufficiently to give notice to the party of the three issues we intended to bring before it. They were: (1) Statification of Production; (2) The Americanization of Bolshevism and (3) Internationalism. It was in harmony with all our theoretical ideas that we concentrated first on the Americanization of Bolshevism.
For three years we had watched the complete depoliticalization of the party on the American question, and the compilation of the most ignorant nonsense about the European situation, the fifteen years’ war, the “hurling back” of the European workers, etc. We came to the conclusion that the root of the evil was in the United States itself. Pragmatism ruled in American society and pragmatism ruled in the party doctored up with Marxist phrases. It must be noted that as late as October 1944 when we began to outline our program we had never re-read the Trotsky documents of 1940.
“Education, Propaganda and Agitation” (Oct. 1944) is one of the basic documents of our tendency and in it is contained what is our central conception not only for the American party but for all parties. The American comrades were pre-occupied with the Russian question and an abstract internationalism from which nobody learnt or could learn anything. The miserable original draft of the Majority American Resolution for 1944 had demonstrated this beyond a doubt. In guarded language, but, clear enough for all to see we wrote of the necessity for the Americanization of Bolshevism:
“The party members from the highest to the lowest need it also. No one has any serious grasp of Marxism, can handle the doctrine or teach it unless he is, in accordance with his capabilities and opportunities, an exponent of it in relation to the social life and development around him. The dialectical progression, the various stages of development, the relation between the economic basis and the superstructure, history, economics and philosophy, all the principles and doctrines of Marxism were evolved from a profound and gigantic study by its founders of European history, of European politics, of European literature, of European philosophy. The principles have universal application. But to the extent that the conditions from which they were drawn are not familiar to the Marxists, they remain to a greater or less degree abstract, with infinite potentialities for confusion and mischief. Either the would-be Marxist must have some serious knowledge of European history in its broadest sense, constantly .renewed, amplified and developed, or the principles of the doctrine must have been incorporated, worked over, and made to live again in a study of the economic structure, social development, history, literature and life of the country with which he has been many years familiar. Only then is he on the road to becoming a serious exponent and contributor to the doctrine. In fact and in truth only until one has dug the principles of Marxism for himself out of his own familiar surroundings and their historical past that the Marxism of Marx and Engels, Lenin or Trotsky and the famous European Marxists truly stand out in their universal application. Not only is this so. It would be a miracle if it were not so.”
The burden of the argument was that the foundation of Leninism was the international doctrines of Marxism applied to Russia. American Marxism would grow strong and acquire a genuine international significance only if nourished in American society. The document must be read especially by “the Russian question” fanatics. We quote only a few of the key sections on The New International:
“The central direction of the paper must be Marxism and the United States,, as the central directive of the old N.I. was the First Four Congresses and the International situation... Not only is this necessary from a national point of view but from an international. America occupies a peculiar place in international affairs today... The theoretical interpretation of the United States, its past, present and future, becomes therefore a truly international task. ...
As always in periods’ of crisis and never so much as in this one, the whole problem of the destiny of humanity is raised. The individual, the state, education, culture, religion, the elite, the necessity of rulers and ruled, race, all these fundamental questions are once more in the melting pot, nationally and internationally. Our contribution in this most capitalistic of all countries is to analyze these fundamental questions in our terms.”
“We haven’t to do research as Lenin had to do... In this highly organized country masses of material exist on all topics. The first American Revolution, the Second and the Third, these are our themes ... But we must use them as a means to an end. Our revolution is after all the American Revolution. ...
“A tremendous field is here waiting to be opened, a field which will not only bring practical results but is of the highest theoretical importance. The present writer has found that precisely because of the absence of feudal remnants in modern America, many of the most abstract analyses of Marx find their most perfect exemplification in the United States. Today this is the model capitalist country.”
“Lenin insisted that from the very beginning of the Socialist movement in Russia two trends appeared, opportunism and Marxism. His greatest work after 1914 was the theoretical analysis of the economic causes of this, Day after day he analyzed it economically, politically, socially. For him this education the workers needed above all. What have we done to make this a living part of the knowledge and experience of the United States workers and radicals? Absolutely nothing. Sure we say that the labor leaders are reactionary, pro-Roosevelt, pro-war. We say they are scoundrels. Those are just agitational statements. The general impression that our agitation gives is of reactionary labor leaders who deceive the workers. This is theoretically false. The labor leaders do not function in a vacuum. Not an issue of the N.I. should come out in which from one angle or another we did not treat from the roots the basis of opportunism in the United States.”
This was the only way to mobilize the membership to raise the level of the party for its daily tasks. “And in this way we perform an international service. It will not be long before its influence will appear in L.A., propagandist and agitational pamphlets and the daily work of the members.”
“The debate in Lenin’s day raged around the question of the realization of surplus value. The same question arose in Germany just before the last war. Rosa Luxemburg’s study of accumulation also took the form of a study of realization. These were not ‘theoretical essays’ as only a lamentable ignorance can believe. They were aspects of the class struggle expressing themselves theoretically both within and without the labor movement. The debate, as was historically inevitable, has now gone a stage further. It has moved from Vol. II of Capital to Vol. III. This is above all an American question. Stuart Chase, Hansen, all the government economists, all the ‘experts’ who gave evidence before the TNBC, the whole economic basis of the New Deal, all these pose this fundamental question in terms of raising the standard of living of the workers as a means for the continued development of capitalism. The Stalinists have now taken this up and are preparing a highly theoretical assault upon our previous conception, of Marx’s Capital. These conceptions represent the instinctive political economy of every labor leader in the country.
“... Yet so limited is our conception of our tasks that except for agitational shoutings about the profits of capitalism and the unemployed to come, we leave these ideas to go their own unchecked way. Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg and Bukharin carried their opposition to these things to the point of pedantry. They were great activists all. But the classics of Marxism which we read today did a wonderful work in their day, still live and will always live, because they tackled (the false ideas of their time from the root and taught the workers by precept and example to seek bourgeois conceptions out at their source and destroy them there.”
Dialectical Materialism is not something to be defended against Hook, Eastman and Burnham. It is the Philosophy and the theory of knowledge of Marxism. To use a phrase Marx used in his early writings, it is the theoretical basis of scientific humanism. Today, when all thinkers are groping like drunken men, with all their points of support and reference gone, we have here a weapon whose power and value was never so great as in the prevailing confusion. In every field the method of logical development and historical manifestation brings results in clarification and illumination which will be felt in every sphere of our work. Lenin was always a dialectician but it was only in 1914 that he studied seriously its origin in the Hegelian dialectic. And after that he became one of the strongest advocates of its study in Russia, demanded that extracts from Hegel and interpretations be printed in the theoretical journal. He knew and said that mistakes would be made but added that whoever was afraid of mistakes would not do anything. It cannot be said with sufficient emphasis that ‘defence’ of the dialectic against Hook and Eastman is today the least of our .problems. It as not a precious jewel in a box to be defended against them. It is a weapon to be used. In the study and practice of Historical Materialism, Marxian Economics and Bolshevism, it will be a guiding thread making points clear and helping us to make clear to others. Contradiction, opposites, negation, negation of negation, quantity into quality, transcendence, condition, possibility, these are not jokes or a kind of intellectual family heirloom that you ‘defend’ fiercely against attack without ever knowing what they mean. Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky did not concern themselves with nonsense or some outworn intellectual ritual.”
This was our conception in the fall of 1944. The W.P. paid no attention whatever to it, ignored it, denounced it or damned it with faint: praise. But there at any rate was an orientation, a line. The comrades can therefore appreciate at its true worth the conscienceless factionalism or ignorance which even after this document, could not or would not understand that for us, the Johnson- Forest tendency, the building of the American party, and not the Russian question was central to any question of unity. The Russian question was central to us in our development. We began there but we very rapidly placed it as a part of the world reaction against, the world revolution. Then with. the knowledge gained from these studies and our experience with the W.P., we arrived at a program and a method for building the party in the United States. And that is and will remain our main business until historical circumstances compel us to do otherwise.
It was only when the unity question .was posed that the Johnson-Forest tendency began to read the documents of 1940. Then for the first time we began to understand (the method and the program of Trotsky in 1940, the emphasis on dialectic, the theoretical preparation of the cadres precisely for the penetration into the workers’ milieu. Then, too, we saw fully the utter theoretical bankruptcy of the 1940 Minority, the utter emptiness of the W.P. leadership, its conservatism, its organic empiricism. Then. there came into our hands one of the great documents bf the Fourth International, the conversations which preceded the final drafting of the Transitional Program. Concurrently, the degeneration of the W.P. continued.
By February 1946, we had our American resolution ready and from that time to this the American question has been central in our irreconcilable opposition to, the politics of the W.P. We. have fought them here. A .small minority, we routed them in pre-convention discussion until, on the very day of the Convention, they came before the membership, withdrew their resolution and promised to substitute another one. We challenged them repeatedly with the, sharpest possible formulations. Goaded beyond measure, they leapt at these, tried to hold them up to ridicule. We knew what we were doing. We followed them up step by step, from position to position. By the time the Convention came they had torn to pieces or undermined every theoretical foundation on which a revolutionary party must live. Trotsky appeared as the originator of nothing else but mistakes on every conceivable question. At the end of the discussion we could see, and events have already borne us out, that the Majority, in its opposition to us on the American scene, had destroyed the theoretical foundations under its feet, and sown confusion and pessimism, in the membership. This exposure could have taken place on the American question and the American question only.
What is at issue between the W.P. and the Johnson-Forest tendency is the different roads for the American Revolution. We have said that the great need of the American party is conscious study and the application of dialectic in all its aspects to the American scene. We have tried to show the influence of American capitalism on the international positions of the W.P. Let us now analyse ourselves and them. For method we shall have to begin with another more famous dispute – the dispute between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. No less a person than Trotsky received (the severest castigation from Lenin for not understanding the origin of the factional conflict between Bolshevism and Menshevism. This particular phase of the dispute took place in 1910, five years after Trotsky had been the outstanding leader in 1905. According to Lenin, Trotsky writes: “It is an ‘illusion’ to imagine that Menshevism and Bolshevism have struck deep roots in the depths of the proletariat.” In this, Lenin claims, Trotsky was following Martov. Lenin’s reply is a model of the manner in which to approach disputes that continue over the years. They have nothing to do with “Cannonism” and “leader-cult” and such crude vulgarities. Lenin writes:
“The roots of the divergence between the Mensheviks, and the Bolsheviks lie, not in the ‘depths of the proletariat,’ but in the economic ‘content of the Russian revolution. By ignoring this content, Martov and Trotsky deprived themselves of the possibility of understanding the historical meaning of the internal Party struggle in Russia. The crux of the matter is, not whether the theoretical formulation of differences have penetrated ‘deep’ into this or that stratum of the proletariat, but the fact that the economic conditions of the Revolution of 19055 brought the proletariat into hostile relations with the liberal bourgeoisie – not only over the question of improving the conditions of life of the workers, but also over the agrarian question, over all the political questions of the revolution, etc. To speak of the struggle of trends in the Russian revolution and to distribute labels, such as ‘sectarianism,’ ‘lack of culture,’ etc., and not to utter a word about the fundamental, economic interests of the proletariat, of the liberal ‘bourgeoisie and of the democratic peasantry – is tantamount to stooping to the level of vulgar journalists.” (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. Ill, p. 500)
Schachtman lives and feeds the party on the “lack of culture,” i.e. the backwardness of the .American proletariat and the “sectarianism” of Johnson. Trotsky in 1938, it seemed, suffered from the same “sectarianism” and did not understand the backwardness, i.e., the lack of political culture of the American proletariat. History repeats itself, this time as farce.
Lenin said that the proletariat had to lead the peasantry. Martov believed that the peasantry was not sufficiently “educated” and had to be led by the liberal bourgeoisie. The battle was over two roads for the Russian revolution and Lenin refused to be diverted by subjective appraisals of “sectarianism,” “lack of culture,” size of parties, influence on the proletariat, etc. We have not the practical experiences of an abortive revolution behind us as Lenin had but we have instead that whole completed experience to guide us and we have Trotsky’s writings. When two groups of serious people develop a continuous and expanding series of differences, it is because they are compelled by the clash of basic conceptions to follow out a predetermined course. History has shown and logic can demonstrate that these hostile paths theoretically traced are (the anticipation of the roads that will be taken sooner or later by the American revolution. Precisely because of its empiricism, there is a terrible logic to the evolution of the W.P., which constantly defeats the eclecticism of :Schachtman. The conflict here is the theoretical forecast of the conflict that will rage in the American proletariat and never more so than during the actual revolutionary crisis. It is the lack of serious theoretical education in the W.P. which prevents its understanding what a ‘serious factional conflict means.
When in 1946 the Johnson-Forest tendency confronted the leaders of the W.P. with Trotsky’s analysis of 1938, they claimed that he was merely mistaken, as pitiable an evasion on a great political issue as it is possible to conceive, Trotsky’s position was as clear as day. There are some in the W.P. who ought to remember. Trotsky didn’t say it once. He said it many times. Over and over again he repeated.
Your main danger is conservatism. The whole tradition of the country is against the proper functioning of a revolutionary party. Advance slogans that are out of the vocabulary of the American proletariat. Advance them with passion. People may laugh. You must learn how to take that. If you advance the slogans properly, they can be understood, if not necessarily acted upon at once, and remembered, by the most backward
workers, even workers who have never taken part in a political party. The explosion of the C.I.O. and the adventurous policies of the bourgeoisie show that the structure of American capitalism is undermined. The crisis is not conjunctural but permanent. The proletariat is organically ready for the communist revolution. In this epoch of crises and wars its revolutionary violence may .explode with terrific rapidity. You may have ten years to wait for victory. Begin now. The objective situation demands it.
From this we drew certain conclusions, both rooted in the national characteristics of the United States.
(1.) The decisive political question in the United States is the attitude towards the labor bureaucracy. We have repeatedly faced Shachtman with this question which he is unable to answer. Does the backwardness of the labor bureaucracy express the backwardness of the American proletariat? Or is the proletariat what Trotsky claimed it was, its revolutionary instincts suppressed, perverted and corrupted by the/labor bureaucracy? National Bolshevism? Shachtman cannot answer for Europe because he cannot answer for the United States. Busy covering up the bankruptcy of his “dynamism,” he insists that the Russian question with the attitude toward the Stalinist parties, is the central question of all politics. The question goes deeper than that. It is a question of the attitude to the proletariat as a whole. The pseudo-internationalism by which Shachtman attempts to hide his bankruptcy in the United States is ruinously false, and nowhere more than in the United States. It is not Stalinism which stifles the revolutionary instincts of the American proletariat. It is the labor bureaucracy. The attack on them should be comprehensive and all-embracing, theoretical and practical, merciless without any compromise whatever. They and their supporter’s are the main social support of the bourgeois order in the United States. They are the enemies of the proletarian revolution. Not a line in the popular press but should illustrate and exemplify and historically and concretely teach this. The W.P. cannot understand this at all. It believes that to bring to the American proletariat the ideas and method of social revolution is “sectarianism.” If it spent one-fifth of the energy and space and analysis on the revolutionary exposure of the union leadership that it spends on Stalinism, it would begin to find the right road.
As we pointed out in our American resolution, the attitude of the W.P. to the labor bureaucracy is no more than a repetition of the attitude of the Mensheviks to the Russian liberal bourgeoisie.
We have pointed out to them in all ways that the American proletariat for historical reasons has little interest in politics as such but this does not mean large layers are not ready for revolutionary politics. Its greatest social experiences lie in production. Backwards as it is in politics in general, the class-struggle in production in the United States reaches a pitch unknown in other countries. The American proletariat is literally revolting against the very conditions of capitalist production itself. We emphasized in our American resolution . that the basic presentation of the revolutionary doctrine to the American workers will have to begin here.
The W.P. is as blind, to this as only a Marxist gone astray can be. Baffled at its mass agitational appeal, it has now begun another approach. As may be expected in the country which produced John Dewey, the W.P. “educates” the workers by long theoretical exposition of home and foreign politics. These articles are written by intellectuals for intellectuals. But the American worker is not an intellectual and he obstinately refuses to be educated in this manner. Which is only further proof in (the minds of the W.P. of his “backwardness.”
Of the weekly press in 1939 Trotsky wrote:
“As it is, the paper is divided among various writers, each of whom is very good, but collectively they do not permit the workers to penetrate to the pages of the Appeal. Each of them speaks for the workers (and speaks very well) but nobody will hear the workers. In spite of its literary brilliance, to a certain degree the paper becomes a victim of journalistic routine. You do not hear at all how the-workers live, fight, clash with the police or drink whiskey. It is very dangerous for the paper as a revolutionary instrument of the party. The task is not to make a paper through the joint forces of a skilled editorial board but to encourage the workers to speak for themselves.” (In Defense of Marxism, p. 112)
After five years in the factories the Labor Action has had to turn back to a paper written from the center in which the proletariat as proletariat does not appear.
The concept of the revolution as a living, developing process into which the party enters, leading theoretically, is beyond the W.P. At the May 1946 Convention we restated Trotsky’s position of 1938 developed in accordance with the world crisis and the class struggle of the U.S. in 1946. lit is not with any pride that we say we had worked it out ourselves in general before, by a lucky accident, the conversations came into our hands. It was during the period of the great strikes and we were able not only to take the analysis further but to place before the party the .next stage of the revolutionary development of the American proletariat – the general strike. Today the general strike is being proposed, canvassed and discussed from one end of the world to the other. The idea of it is being discussed and proposed all through the American labor movement and the American capitalist class. Precisely because it is politically unarmed, the American proletariat is now seeking a road through the nation-wide industrial strike. The 24-hour general strike organized from above is poles removed from the general strike, the tumultuous upheaval out of the very depths of the proletariat, what Engels and Rosa Luxemburg understood to be almost a natural cataclysm. This can within a few hours alter for good and all the whole social and political structure of the country. That a revolutionary in the United States can lean back in his chair, blowing sectarian smoke-rings and be absolutely certain that this is out of the question for the United States in the period now ahead of us, is proof of backwardness indeed but the backwardness of the revolutionary, not of the proletariat. It is the very political impotence of the American proletariat, like the political impotence of the Russian proletariat in 1903 which is driving it in that direction. But the 24-hour general protest strike, organized from above, while in general of a qualitatively different nature from the other type, assumes an extraordinary significance in the United States today. If one of these is successfully carried out, then this becomes the surest way of knitting the proletariat together in its own consciousness and thus forcing the road to political action. All this too is Greek to our practicalists of the W.P. They cannot embark upon a comprehensive program of proletarian education. They shrink with terror at the prospect of the proletariat doing anything without them. They sneer at the Minority’s clear and firm attitude on the general strike. When driven to the slogan they put it forward as a naked man dips his toe in ice-cold water, and end with the following,
“Now we are only marking time, or doing a side-straddle hop. There are workers who think that labor has become tired out by strikes. Perhaps so. But we can wear ourselves out jumping up and down in one place also. The capitalist “bosses think they have labor licked. We know that is not true, but we’ve got to show them that it is not true. We’ve got to do something about this anti-labor bill. Labor can defeat this bill. That is a little something; not enough, but it is something.” (Labor Action, May 12, 1947)
A little something; not enough, but something.
On every question it is the same. One of Trotsky’s greatest contributions to the American party was his insistence for over ten years on the need to adapt the Leninist policy on the national question to the Negro problem in the United States. The American comrades resisted or gave an acquiescence which was worse than resistance. Finally, in 1939 under Trotsky’s careful supervision a policy was adopted. As if by reflex action, no sooner did the Minority split than Coolidge attacked the position adopted almost unanimously in the S.W.P. Stage by stage the position was abandoned, accompanied by the most ignorant and unscrupulous attacks upon the whole past of the discussions in our movement and our political tradition. The Minority fought in vain to stem this tide. The result is that the party today is in a mass of unbelievable confusion on a question which in the United States stands second only to the basic conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat itself, besides being of world-wide importance. That the Negro question is part of the national question in the Marxist sense of the term, that Lenin and Trotsky and the early Communist International made invaluable contributions to this question that are indispensable for the arming of the party, this is a matter for sneers and jeers and laughter in the W.P.
The W.P. has gone to the proletariat, has worked hard, has gained nothing but disappointment and disillusionment and cannot understand why. Trotsky saw the necessity of the petty-bourgeois boys and girls turning to the workers. He was absolutely mistaken in his belief that the W.P. did not want to do that. They wanted to. They did it. But they have failed hopelessly because they neglected and grossly maligned his insistence on the highest theoretical preparation of the cadres. When this balance-sheet was originally envisaged, it was intended primarily for the cadres of. the tendency and the members of the W.P. and the education of the comrades on the American experience. But Marx said of the national struggle of the proletariat, it is national in form only. The believers in “the democratic illusions” of the masses, the practical, realistic ones who oppose the “sectarianism” and “abstract revolutionism” of the international leadership can see in the decline of the W.P. their own inexorable fate unless they change their course.