Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The Marxist Road Today

First Published: The New Masses, Vol. 55, No. 13, June 26, 1945.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The amazing thing about the present controversy among American Marxists is that those who are so sharply attacking the theoretical position of Earl Browder seem to have no fundamental difference with him on a concrete program of action for America; nor any fundamental disagreement upon the correctness of the major political goals of the past few years. Everyone agrees that the complete destruction of German Nazism and Japanese fascist militarism has been and remains the essential, primary guide of political policy. Everyone agrees that the struggle for the achievement of the concords of Teheran and Yalta, for San Francisco, for Bretton Woods and similar legislation, for 60,000,000 jobs, for expanded social security and rising wages, for the abolition of the poll tax and a permanent FEPC must be the program of action in America today.

So, in considering the controversy, it is worth examining the implications of this program because if it is a correct program–and no one disputes that it is–it must be founded in the possibilities presented by the material reality of the world and our understanding of that material reality is what we mean by theory.

What is the primary necessity for the achievement of this program? Can it conceivably be achieved except upon the basis of a long-term peace between the United States and the Soviet Union, with expanding production throughout the world? What alternative is there, save immediate war upon the Soviet Union; or an armed truce, constant diplomatic and economic warfare, within which the tremendous American productive machine could find no adequate outlet for its product and would soon choke itself in the most colossal of economic crises? It is clear that, of these alternatives, the perspective of Teheran, of an enduring peace, is the only one which is in the interests of the American working class, of the great mass of the American people, as it is in the interests of the Soviet Union, of the European nations, of the colonial and dependent peoples.

But could it be realized if it were in direct opposition to the fundamental interests of American capital, with the greatest productive machine in the world in its hands, with all that that implies? Could the progressive aims of mankind be achieved in this way if the bond of interest between the Soviet Union and the whole American nation whose decisive class is still the bourgeoisie–had been suddenly dissolved with the end of the European war?

It is true that the assumption of a powerful, long-term common interest between a socialist country and imperialist capitalism, as between a capitalist class and the rest of the nation in the period of imperialism, was believed by Marxists twenty-five years ago to be theoretically impossible. If today it is maintained that this is no longer impossible, it must be because something has changed in the world. What is that something? To begin with, those who agree with Earl Browder that decisive objective interests of the capitalist class coincide with interests of the working class and all progressive humanity, do not maintain that what has changed are the laws of capitalism in general or the essential character of capital in the imperialist (monopoly) stage in particular. The motive force of capital remains, as it has always been, the making of profit. The centralization and concentration of capital, the necessity to export capital, remain dominating forces in the economy.

WHAT has changed are the circumstances within which these basic drives operate. The existence of the Soviet Union, the destruction of German fascism, the liberation of the democratic forces of the European continent, the unleashing of the energies of the colonial peoples, the tremendous strengthening of the working class and peoples’ democratic movements the world over, have created a situation in which the road to making profit through intensified exploitation at home and super-exploitation of the colonies and dependent nations abroad has become incredibly, difficult. For the only way of continuing on this path today is through the development of fascism.

But those capitalist classes which have attempted to take that path have been destroyed or are being destroyed. Waiving the question, for the moment, whether the remaining powerful capitalist classes–those of America and England–are able to see this or not, the objective fact remains that their chances of success in such an undertaking are substantially less than were the chances of the German imperialists. They exist in countries where the democratic traditions, institutions and forces are stronger far than was the case in Germany, and in a world in which the over-all balance of power has shifted tremendously to the disadvantage of monopoly capital. Nevertheless, were this the only way in which the monopoly capitalists could possibly hope to survive–that is, the only way in which they could make profit–it would be correct to say that this was the only course that would correspond to their interests.

But this is not the case. There is another road. Not one which is “natural” to monopoly capital, but one which is possible the making of profit through a greatly expanded market both at home and abroad: through the export of capital at normal profit for the industrialization of the world under increasingly democratic conditions; through the acceptance of continuing democracy at home which, while it would limit the degree of exploitation, would make up for it through extending the consumers’ purchasing power which is their market.

Granted that such an objective possibility exists, the question still remains: is it conceivable that monopoly capital, or a decisive section of it, can recognize that possibility and take that course? It is unquestionably true that dying classes can be so blinded by desperation and lust for power that they fail to see their own interests. It is equally true that they can make compromises. . . .

The objective factors which block the road to the making of profit through fascism and super-exploitation and open the road to another way of making profit-based upon the perspective of Teheran, of many generations of peace, of expanding production and democracy–include the subjective factor of the struggle of the working class–and the whole people. There is nothing automatic about this outlook. Struggle is integral to it. . . . No other outlook, no other form of struggle makes sense of the program of Teheran and Yalta, of San Francisco, of Bretton Woods, and 60,000,000 jobs.

The clarification of such an outlook, the leadership of such struggles, is the job of the vanguard of the working class. . . .

Only the outlook of Earl Browder can give coherence and vigor to this program. . .

New York City,