First Published: NCP Report no. 2, November 4, 1946
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba and D. Walters
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(Note: this is the text of the report that led to the expulsion from the Communist Party of Ruth McKenney and Bruce Minton, well-known Communist writers. On July 31, 1946, the Norwalk (Conn.) Branch of CPUSA in a resolution directed the two comrades to make a report on the National Committee meeting that had been held in New York City on July 16-18, 1946. Pursuant to this instruction, the two comrades submitted the following report, on the basis of which they were expelled. NCP, with the permission of the authors, makes the text available in the interest of helping bring about still wider discussion of the problems of the proletarian movement in the U.S.)
Before I begin this report, which is the joint work of Comrade Ruth McKenney and myself, I would like to tell you that in the twelve years Ruth, and I have been members of the Communist Party, we have never had a heavier task than the assignment I accepted at our last meeting. Indeed, I make this report tonight only because I have learned that it is the first duty of a member of the Communist Party to speak out the truth, when the truth is forgotten.
A year and three months ago, when Ruth and I first read the statement by Comrade Jacques Duclos on the American Communist movement, we felt bitter shame. It was not enough to say that the leaders of the American Party had betrayed our trust; it was not enough to recognize the special responsibility of those comrades whom we with the other members of the Communist Party, had chosen to organize and direct the fight for and of the American working class. As Ruth and I read the Duclos document, we knew that we had also been guilty. Long before Comrade Duclos spoke out, we had come to hate and despise the Browder policy of liquidation and treachery. But I had voted for the original Browder proposal to destroy the Party when this proposal was first made by the National Committee; a few months later I was forced to understand the facts of this opportunism. Comrade McKenney did not vote to wreck the Communist Party; from the beginning she was opposed to the Browder betrayal. But neither of us spoke out. We thought discipline required us to be silent. When we read the Duclos statement, we knew we had been wrong – terribly wrong.
From the past we learned a profound lesson: As Communists we must guard the Party and fight for the Party. Comrade Stalin put this truth strongly: “The history of the Party teaches us, first of all, that the victory of the dictatorship of the proletarian revolution, the victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, is impossible without a revolutionary party of the proletariat, a party free from opportunism, irreconcilable toward compromisers and capitulators, and revolutionary in its attitude toward the bourgeoisie and its state power. The history of the Party teaches us that to leave the proletariat without such a Party means to leave it without revolutionary leadership; and to leave it without revolutionary leadership means to ruin the cause of the proletarian revolution.” (History of the Communist Party of the S.U. (Bolshevik) p. 353)
Only one conclusion could be drawn from the past experience of our Party: As Communists, we must never again sit by and allow correct theory to be obscured or cancelled by mistaken or misguided programs. As Communists, if we saw this beginning, we must not keep silent.
We shall consider the decisions of the National Committee in the following order:
I. The general report on “Four Vital Political Tasks.” We find this report to be theoretically inadequate and immensely dangerous to our Party and the American working class.
II. The report “The Crucial 1946 Congressional Elections” by the newly elected general secretary of the Communist Party, Comrade Eugene Dennis. We find this report filled with contradictions. The language is so involved, the statements made are so obscure and so lacking in precision, that the document has almost no meaning, The effect of Comrade Dennis’ report is to spread and deepen reformist illusions; to confuse honest members of the Communist Party who read it; to prevent the Communist Party from taking action at this critical hour against the enemies of the working class, the imperialists, the war-makers.
III. The election of Comrade Dennis as general secretary without the membership of the Party being given an opportunity to discuss this important decision – except after the fact.
IV. The violation of Communist theory and practice by the National Committee of the Communist Party.
The summary of the program of action signed by Comrade William Z. Foster, and the theoretical content of this report, cover questions vital to the American working class.
The report, approved by the National Committee, states that “the most important of all Questions” is the ”fight to maintain world peace.” The report speaks also of “the preservation of world peace.” (Foster’s Report, Sunday Worker, July 28, 1946, p. 1 (supplement) col. 3, pp 2)
This formulation is inaccurate. It speaks of the fight to maintain world peace – when there is no peace. Today, there is War in China, though the National Committee does not mention this fact in its published reports or in its summary of National Committee discussions. Nor is this war a tragedy for the Chinese people alone. War is waged with American arms and American troops, Yet the National Committee does not even speak of China in its published summary of discussions.
To talk light heartedly of the “fight to maintain” peace while our own imperialism (the greatest, the most powerful imperialism to survive the surrender of Germany and Japan) makes war at this moment in the orient, is to be dangerously misleading – opportunist. The American Communist leadership assumes that peace is real, and therefore our task is to preserve this peace. But peace is not real. American Imperialism makes war now. American troops, American equipment, American money slaughter Chinese workers and attempt to crush the people’s government of North China. Perhaps the National Committee considers it irrelevant to argue that, as Communists, we in this country should have compassion for the sufferings of millions of exploited people, or to believe that the hearts of American Communists should ache for the Chinese Red Army and our Chinese comrades. The National Committee finds neither time nor space for such compassion in its reports. But even if the present leaders of the Communist Party feel no sorrow for our brothers in China, we must still argue that the Chinese War must not be forgot ten – not if the American Communist Party is to resist fascism in America and prevent World War III.
The Chinese War is no accident of history. It is the deliberate action of American imperialism which plots to destroy the Chinese Communist Party, smash the people’s government of North China, insure the dictatorship over all China of the fascist Chiang-Kai-Shek. American monopoly capitalism is determined to transform China and the orient into a strong and safe base for American capitalism against the day of the attack on the great socialist nation, the U.S.S.R. These are the purposes of the American war against the Chinese people.
In a brilliant and moving statement, Madame Sun Yat Sen, an honored leader of the Chinese people, appealed to the American working class to stop this criminal war. Madame Sun pointed out that the war in China endangers the American people who allow it to continue. The National Committee of the American Communist Party has exactly three words for China in its published ”analysis” of the world situation and the tasks before the American Party.
Only too well do American Communists remember the insistence for fifteen years by the Soviet Foreign Minister Litvinov that “Peace is indivisible.” Only too well do American Communists recall the lessons of the Spanish people’s anti-fascist struggle. Yet when our own imperialists make war and prepare the Third World War, we have nothing to say.
This is not the role of the Marxist party of the working class.
But is China the only instance of American imperialism making war now? At the Paris Peace Conference, Wall Street, with Secretary of State Byrnes as its spokesman, makes diplomatic war on the Soviet Union and on all democratic governments. The National Committee in its published reports does not even touch on the war waged by American diplomats against the people of the world.
The National Committee in its reports did not mention the new light shed on American imperialism by a Senate document, just published, which proves the immense concentration of American monopoly capitalism. The Second World War, according to these official figures, enormously accelerated the concentration of capital in the United States and yielded fabulous super-profits to the monopolists. American economy today has reached a degree of concentration never before equaled except in Germany, after Hitler. Such facts confront American Marxists with new theoretical problems. In the past, the American Communists have spoken of concentration of ownership and control of American financial and industrial enterprises, But since 1941, the Communist Party has not analyzed the realities of American imperialism in order to learn its compulsions, its contradictions, its directions. The National Committee talks glibly of ”imperialism,” but it offers no analysis of imperialism. Only eighteen months ago, this same leadership denied the fact that the United States has reached the era of moribund capitalism. Today, these leaders reverse their former stand, but they do not bother to define their position.
Comrades; It is well to remember that Lenin insisted: “Without revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary movement... The role of vanguard can be fulfilled only by a party that is guided by the most advanced theory.” (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. II, pages 47-48) Comrade Stalin stressed: “The prime task of historical science is to study and disclose the laws of production, the laws of development of the productive forces and of the relations of production, the laws of economic development of society.” (Stalin, Dialectical and Historical Materialism, Little Lenin Library, Vol.35, pages 30-31)
The National Committee of the Communist Party gives no indication that it has studied the economic development of present-day American monopoly capitalism. The National Committee in its report does not urge – it does not even mention – the need for the membership of the party to study this development. Yet without correct theory, the American Communist Party is helpless, and deserts its role as the vanguard of the American working class.
Again, has the American Communist Party leadership examined the meaning of war in this highest stage of imperialist development? From the published reports, the National Committee gives no indication that the leadership has even considered this central problem. The leadership still speaks of imperialist war as though war were an unusual, abnormal, out of the ordinary condition of American capitalism, as though this were 1900. We must suggest that war today is the main business of American imperialism. Only in war can monopoly be assured of continued super-profits. Only by war did monopoly capitalism solve the contradictions of its moribund decline, and only by war can capitalism solve the contradictions that continue in a deepened, aggravated degree. The National Committee neglects this important question.
This does not imply that war is inevitable at any specified moment, or that the working class, strongly organized and led by the Communist Party, cannot prevent the imperialists from realizing their schemes of war. But we do insist that without proper understanding of imperialist war, the American Communist Party cannot give the necessary leadership to fight the spread of war.
We do not have the space or time in this critique to point out the full implications of the relationships between American imperialism and the organization of the United Nations. Suffice it to remark here that the United Nations, dominated by the United States in agreement with the subservient imperialism of Great Britain, has provided the ideal cover-up for the war-makers. The present leadership of the American Communist party, however, does not refer to the United Nations in its present reports. Without analysis, without scientific understanding, how can our Party hope to formulate correct action? Marxist theory is not an intellectual game, nor is it a philosophical excursion to exercise the mind. It is inseparable from action. Without correct revolutionary theory there can be no correct revolutionary action.
On the basis of the published reports, we can only reach the conclusion that the National Committee has small concern for Marxist theory and therefore, shows no real concern for Marxist action. The suggested program offered to the party in these reports is improvisation. It dooms the American Communist Party to failure in discharging its historic tasks.
We now examine Comrade Dennis’ report.
Comrade Dennis’ report is so confused, so contradictory, so obscure that it is almost impossible to know what he is talking about. After days of study, we seem to make out that he is dealing with the relative positions of the Republican and Democratic Parties in national politics; with labor’s independent political role in the coming congressional elections; and with the problems of a Labor Party.
We must point out first that Comrade Dennis uses terminology in his report without once defining these terms. He uses Browder’s vocabulary without once separating himself from the Browder theories of class collaboration and capitulation to the class enemy.
For example, Comrade Dennis repeatedly refers to a Labor Party, but he never indicates what kind of a Labor party he has in mind. Does he mean a class-conscious Labor Party led by the American working-class? Or does he perhaps mean a coalition Labor Party that includes the liberal bourgeoisie? Or does he mean a Labor Party in which the working class takes a subordinate position to the liberal bourgeoisie? ’What kind of a Labor party?
Throughout his report, Dennis talks of the “camp of democracy.” So did Browder. What does Dennis mean by this phrase? He never tells us.
Throughout his report, Dennis talks about “pro-Roosevelt forces,” about “the pro-Roosevelt committees and activities within the Democratic Party.” So did Browder. What does Dennis mean by these labels? He never tells us. Does he mean the same forces that Browder discovered? At no point does Dennis differentiate between his position and that of the reformist, opportunist Browder.
Through his report, Dennis talks of the “developing third party movement.” To what is he referring? He never tells us.
The report itself contradicts nearly every statement it makes, so that this document leaves the reader completely bewildered.
Let us illustrate:
Dennis begins his argument by discovering that the Republican Party “is and remains the main party of reaction and monopoly capital.” (Dennis, “Crucial 1946 Elections,” The Worker (supplement) July 28, 1946, page 1, col. 5, pp. 3) However, he also finds that “the Truman administration ... is zealously carrying out the program of Big Business in both foreign and domestic affairs… It steers a bellicose anti-Soviet policy and increasingly reneges on the Big Three agreements entered into by Roosevelt.” (As above, page 2, col. 1, Pp 2) Leaving aside the echoes of Browder in this utterly bourgeois-liberal ”analysis,” notice that Dennis here states that the Republican Party and the Truman Democratic administration are identical.
But Dennis hastens to reverse himself at once. “The Truman administration still pays occasional lip-service to Roosevelt’s domestic program. It still is influenced by certain partisan and sectional interests. It is still sensitive to certain mass pressures.” (As above, page 2, col. 1, par. 4) In other words, Dennis finds that after all there is a significant difference between the Republican and Democratic leadership, which he has just told us are identical. But no sooner has he established this difference than he changes his mind again to find the Republican and Democratic Parties one and the same: “The administration,” says Dennis, “carries out the chief features of the program of the monopolies, even though it is the Hoovers and Vandenbergs who press it to move more rapidly and brazenly along the path of reaction.” (As above, page 2, col. 1, pp 4)
Lest the reader be convinced that Dennis really means there is no difference between the Republican and Democratic leadership, he once more insists that there are still some differences, since in the Democratic Party there are those who continue some sort of collaboration with labor.” (As above, page 2, col. 1, pp 7) What sort of analysis is this?
In discussing the coming congressional elections, Dennis predicts that “the outcome of the 1946 elections will exert a marked influence on the government’s foreign and domestic policies and will profoundly affect the course of political realignment within the country.” (As above, page 1, col. 1, pp 1) Then, just below this statement, Dennis remarks flatly that the nomination of congressional incumbents that have already taken place foreshadows ”no decisive change in the over-all composition of the next Congress.” (As above, page 1, col. 1, pp 3) Certainly the Congress that has just adjourned followed a consistently reactionary foreign and domestic policy. The question arises: How can the outcome of the 1946 elections exert a ”marked influence” on American foreign and domestic policies when at the same time there is foreshadowed “no decisive change” in the composition of the next Congress? What sort of analysis is this?
Dennis talks of a number of significant primary victories in the South of “progressive, pro-Roosevelt forces.” (As above, page 1, col. 1, pp 4) What does he mean by this characterization? He never tells us. Does he mean that the American working class can trust these “forces” to adopt correct policies toward the war in China, the Peace Conference, the United Nations, the struggles of the Negro people, the fight for labor organization, the need to raise the living standards? If these so-called “progressive” forces cannot be trusted to act in the anti-imperialist interests of the American people, why does not Dennis at least make mention of this fact, at least define how “progressive” these “pro-Roosevelt forces” are and how much reliance should be placed upon their campaign promises? Is it not opportunist to spread the illusion that the victory of these nominees will be a clear-cut victory for the American working class? Since Dennis has also assured the Party that there can be no decisive change in Congress, what advantages are gained by American workers if they elect these uncertain “progressives” instead of concentrating on building the Labor Party now? At least, Dennis owes the Party some explanation of his reasoning. Why should American Communists delay the struggle for a Labor Party to elect nominees who cannot act decisively (according to Dennis)? But Dennis gives no explanation for the positions he advances, and therefore, right or wrong, these positions remain nebulous and unconvincing to the Party. What sort of analysis is this?
On this question of the Labor Party, Dennis considers it “of cardinal importance” to promote “the independent political actions of labor and the progressives including the Communists.” (As above, pace 2, col. 2, pp 3) All Communists will agree. But Dennis adds, “It is particularly necessary to prevent a reactionary Republican victory, which now looms as a distinct possibility, as well as to defeat the allies of the GOP in the Democratic Party. To this end, the Communists and the Leftwing must enhance their independent positions and influence, must systematically bring to the fore the vita] issues and a constructive people’s program.” (As above, page 2, col. 2, pp 3) Dennis does not say what these issues are that should be brought to the fore; he offers no program, and neither does the National Committee. Yet Dennis calls, in the old Browder fashion, for the main emphasis on defeating the Republican reaction– in such a way as to spread the illusion that the Democratic Party is the lesser evil. (Let us remember that Lenin expressed himself quite definitely and frequently on the bourgeois-liberal theory of the lesser evil). Undoubtedly there are groupings within the Democratic Party at the present time which represent a more liberal, less aggressively reactionary position than does the Truman administration leadership. But are these groupings decisive? Dennis never tells us. He calls for the defeat of the Republican Party with such stress that he thereby encourages the belief that the Truman administration is preferable to the Hoover-Vandenberg-Taft Republicans. But such stress contradicts Dennis’ own wavering opinions of the Truman administration. What sort of analysis is this?
In no place does Comrade Dennis examine the two party system in the United States. Instead he appears to accept Browder’s reformist endorsement of the two party system, and to carry over attitudes toward the major parties from the campaigns of 193S and 194A when the coalition around Roosevelt within the Democratic Party could be said to represent more liberal forces than the Republican reaction, However, Dennis should be reminded that Roosevelt is dead. The “pro-Roosevelt forces” to which he fondly refers is now a misnomer; under any other label, the “pro-Roosevelt forces” as conceived by Dennis is now a reformist illusion. Marxist analysis is rooted in an examination of existing relationships of forces ‒ not on Dennis’ nostalgic memories. The determining factors in gauging these relationships are “the time, the condition, and the place.” Comrade Dennis is still living in his reformist past, oblivious of the changes in time, condition, and place. From his own report, he is evidently devoid of any desire to apply Marxist science to present-day conditions. Marxist analysis would shatter his cherished illusions.
Dennis embraces most of Browder’s reformist positions. Is talk of “pro-Roosevelt forces” a class analysis at this moment in history? Is it true that had Roosevelt lived, the United States would not be pursuing an imperialist policy, would not be making war on China, would not be building an anti-Soviet coalition? Can imperialism be “good” or “bad,” “progressive” or “reactionary,” as Browder claimed? Is it true that with Roosevelt alive, imperialism would act in the interests of the American working class? Do Communists believe that a bourgeois-liberal politician is the answer to monopoly reaction, that a bourgeois-liberal outlook will wipe away the realities of the moribund era of capitalism? Why does the Communist leadership continue to becloud the main issues with talk of bourgeois-liberal democracy? Why does the leadership insist on keeping alive the Browder myth that bourgeois-liberalism can bring salvation to the American people? By so doing, this leadership delays working class understanding of its class role in capitalist society. Is Dennis’ report of any educational value to our new members – is it a weapon to cut away the illusions remaining from the Browder period of liquidation? We must conclude the answer is “No!” to all these Questions.
Comrade Stalin pointed out: “Opportunism in our midst is like an ulcer in a healthy organism, and must not be tolerated. The Party is the leading detachment of the working class, its advanced fortress, its general staff.’’ Stalin adds that opportunists “cannot be tolerated on the directing staff of the workingclass.” (History of the CPSU, page 369) And Lenin emphasized, “The only choice is: either the bourgeois or the socialist ideology. There is no middle course,” (Lenin, Selected ’Works, Vol. II, Page 61) Or, as he explained in the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, ”The Party must therefore not be confused with the working class, as the part must not be confused with the whole... It is not the task of the Party to lower its level to that of ’every striker,” but to elevate the masses of the workers, to elevate ’every striker’ to the level of the Party.” (History of the CPSU page 46)
Comrade Dennis says that the conditions have “not yet matured at this time for crystallizing third parties organizationally on a state or local scale.” (Dennis Report, page 2, col. 3, pp 9) In the next sentence he says, on the other hand, “the conditions are ripe and the situation demands that broad political support for a new people’s party be organized.” (As above, page 2, col. 3, pp 9) What can this mean? Conditions are not mature but at the same time they are ripe; the American Communist Party should not crystallize third parties at this time, but the American Communist Party should organize new political parties at this time. This is nonsense. It is a program pointing in opposite directions. Dennis calls for ”the organization of independent political action in all forms.” (As above, page 2, col. 5, pp 2) What does he mean by this? Does he mean the American Communist Party should support and encourage actions similar to that taken by the LaFollettes in Wisconsin in building their former Progressive Party; or does he mean that Communists should support Trotskyite traitors and wreckers who use the third party form to destroy working class organization? He obviously does not mean all forms. What then is he driving at? Should Communists support independent political action reminiscent of the elder LaFollette’s campaign in 1924, correctly condemned at the time by the American Communist Party? Would Dennis lend Communist support to Utopian movements, Epic Plans, liberal-bourgeois adventurism?
Comrade Dennis does not define what kind of Labor Party the Communists should support. How then can Communists take leadership in building a Labor Party if the leadership of the Party has no defining idea of the goal?
Rather than embracing Marxism, Comrade Dennis embraces the petty-bourgeois theory of the spontaneity of the working class – the very essence of opportunism.
Rather than analyzing the two-party system, Dennis gives a series of contradictory statements on the Labor Party which frustrate working class action, and reduce the Communist Party to opportunist and improvised positions.
We do not sympathize with ultra-Leftist positions and phrase mongering. But, without precision, the Communist Party is the victim of whims, of improvisation – and inevitably embraces either Right opportunism or infantile Leftism. Dennis has not given the Party a scientific, Marxist analysis. He has not provided leadership. He has provided misleadership.
In this crucial moment of history, the Communist Party of the United States does not organize a passionate mass movement against World War III.
In this crucial moment of history, the American Communist Party allows Secretary of State Byrnes to depart for the Paris Peace Conference without asking even Communists to demonstrate against the War-makers. To the American people, to the democratic peoples of the world, there has been no sign that Byrnes does not represent the will of the United States, even the will of the American working class.
In this crucial moment of history, ’the Communist Party has no defined, clear position on independent political action.
In this crucial moment of history, the Communist Party leadership approaches immediate tasks with petty-bourgeois confusion, with reformist premises phrased in Browder’s vocabulary, and does not attempt to make a class analysis of the role and obligations of the Vanguard Party of the Proletariat. Thereby, the leadership exposes the Party to Right opportunism and infantile Leftism.
In this crucial moment of history, the leadership of the American Communist Party does not expose sufficiently the dangerous role of the liberal bourgeoisie. No Communist can reject alliances and working arrangements with other sections of the population, even with sections of the liberal bourgeoisie. But Communists cannot accept, as the present leadership does, a position tailing behind bourgeois allies, or merging with them, or abandoning an independent, class conscious, revolutionary position.
In this crucial moment of history, the reports of the National Committee express no angry hatred for the capitalist system. The leadership does not emphasize the great truth that workers must learn; Only socialism can make the people free, only socialism can rid the world of war and fascism. By no word does the American Communist Party at its National Committee Meeting hold the capitalist system to the full light of scorn. The leadership does not educate the American masses to the horror and evil of capitalism, to the awful reality that capitalism offers only terror, lynch, poverty, oppression of women, persecution of minorities, starvation, exploitation, racism, enslavement of peoples and nations, fascism, and war.
In this crucial moment of history, the National Committee does not mention the fact that American monopoly capitalism is faced with a new depression more disastrous than any experienced before. Instead, the National Committee intimates that if OPA is saved, if a few undefined “progressives” are sent to Congress, if American imperialism listens to its best interests (as Browder was so fond of pointing out) somehow, some way American capitalism will not enter crisis and depression. True, the preservation of OPA and the election of people’s candidates to Congress in 1946 must be a part of our Communist program. But such actions are far from sufficient to prevent crisis. By its incomplete, hazy, dilletante approach, the National Committee deserts its obligations to think and act in a Marxist manner, and to build a genuine Communist Party.
Comrade Dennis was elected as general secretary on the recommendation of Comrade Foster. Dennis’ first report as general secretary has been discussed above. The quality of this report does not indicate that he has the ability for responsible leadership in a Marxist Party.
We do not in any way challenge the legality of Comrade Dennis’ election. Put we do consider his election to be contrary t- the spirit of our National Convention held a year ago. At that time, the entire leadership of the liquidated Communist Party was under severe criticism. The convention appointed Comrades Foster, Dennis and Williamson as an executive with the understanding that this was an emergency appointment. One year ago, the Communist Convention, the highest Party body, did not see fit to elect a general secretary. Has the Party leadership proved its Marxist understanding and ability so convincingly in the year that has passed since the Convention to warrant the election of Dennis as general secretary by the National Committee? The Communist Party today is not functioning in an atmosphere of illegality. Therefore, the membership has the right to know why the National Committee elected Dennis so precipitously without allowing the membership to discuss this import– and decision.
In every article and every statement published by Comrade Dennis during the Browder liquidation period, Dennis supported Browder without reservation. Since the expulsion of Browder, Dennis’ reports have at best been confused, lacking in substance, devoid of Marxist understanding. Comrade Foster nominated Dennis with the assertion that Dennis was “least affected by Browder’s revisionism.” (Wm. Z. Foster, The Worker, July 28, 1946, page 2, col. 3, par. 3) To say that a Party leader was only a little tainted with dishonesty and deserted the working-class movement only a little, is faint praise. But aside from the implications of Comrade Foster’s remarks, we must urge that Comrade Foster was over generous. Dennis was hardly “least affected by Browderism.” The record shows Dennis to have been a chief theoretical exponent of the Browder betrayal. His published articles, speeches, and pamphlets eagerly supported Party liquidation; his voluminous writings are noteworthy for their vulgar reformism, their startling opportunism. We have no space to quote from Comrade Dennis’ published works, but his articles in Political Affairs of January, April, and May 1945 (to take the period immediately before the publication of the Duclos article), as well as countless other documents, were devoted to destroying ruthlessly any remaining Marxist understanding among American Communists. Indeed, no other supporter of Earl Browder’s reformism was more fulsome in his praise of Browder’s leadership, more impassioned in his support of Browder’s reformism. No member of the National Committee went farther than Comrade Dennis to expound the “new” theory. No individual more enthusiastically abandoned scientific socialism in favor of vulgar liberalism.
Perhaps it is unfair to confront Comrade Dennis with his mistakes of the recent past. We believe, however, that if Comrade Dennis fully understood his recent mistakes and had corrected his reformist illusions, he could not have made the report he did on the 1946 elections, and he would not have accepted the high office of general secretary without first according the Party membership the opportunity to approve or reject his candidacy. The members of the Communist Party have been cruelly betrayed by three general secretaries of the American Communist Party (Gitlow, Lovestone and Browder). It is imperative that at this late date the membership be consulted in selecting the Party leadership.
To have elected Comrade Dennis as general secretary without consulting the Party membership (after the experience with bureaucracy which wrecked the Communist Party under Browder,) seems to us a violation of the sound principles of democratic centralism.
In summation, the National Committee Meeting did not advance the Communist movement in the United States. The published reports were opportunist and evasive. The program offered for immediate action proves to be contradictory, without clear objectives, lacking direction, and inadequate since the program does not include many immediate tasks of utmost importance in the class struggle to stop the spread of war.
It is not possible here to mention all the other too-frequent instances of reformism and Browderism in the National Committee reports. We believe by the evidence of these reports, that Browderism still remains the motivating theory of the Present Party leadership. The leadership protests that it would end liquidationism; yet this dealership carries on the very same evils.
The failures of the National Committee to respond to the urgent need of the American working- class prevents the Communist Party from taking its rightful Place in the vanguard of the struggle for the preservation and broadening of democratic rights of the American people. Indeed, the ignorance and neglect of principles of scientific socialism displayed by the National Committee can have no other effect than to limit and weaken the influence of the Communist Party among the toiling masses, and most serious of all, to prevent the Party from building its organization, training its cadres, and recruiting ever larger numbers into our ranks.
Lenin taught us that “economic struggle of the workers against the employers and the government” is an insufficient program for the working class. (History of the CPSU, page 35) Such an inadequate program, the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union points out, belittled the importance of “Socialist consciousness and Socialist theory” in the past, and meant ”in the first place, to insult the workers, who were drawn to consciousness as to light; and in the second place, to lower the value of theory in the eyes of the party, that is, to depreciate the instrument which helped the Party to understand the present and foresee the future; and in the third place, it meant to sink completely and irrevocably into the bog of opportunism.” (History of the CPSU, Page 36)
We urge our comrades of the Norwalk Branch to draw the necessary conclusions from the National Committee reports. We offer the following resolution for the approval of our comrades:
“WHEREAS The Norwalk Branch of the Communist Party, having studied and discussed the reports of the National Committee published in The Worker dated July 28, 1946,
“BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
1. The Norwalk Branch considers these reports to be inadequate, confused, and reformist, and therefore rejects these reports.
2. The report on the tasks of the Communist Party in the 1946 election campaign by Comrade Eugene Dennis is at best obscure. The Norwalk Branch urges an immediate reconvening of the National Committee to determine a correct course of action for our Party. The Norwalk Branch urges that a call be issued for a National Convention of the Communist Party, U.S.A., at the earliest opportunity to determine a correct Marxist-Leninist program of action.
3. The Norwalk Branch urges the National Committee to submit the election of Comrade Eugene Dennis as general secretary to the Party membership for approval or rejection.
4. The Norwalk Branch urges the National Committee to return to the principles of scientific socialism and to encourage the study by all Party organizations of the principles and classics of Marxism-Leninism.
5. The Norwalk Branch urges the National Committee to give leadership that will enable the membership to build the Communist Party into a mass party based on a class-conscious, revolutionary program of Marxism–Leninism. The precondition of strengthening the Communist Party can only be correct Marxist action originating in correct Marxist theory.
Therefore, the Norwalk Branch respectfully suggests the following three points as a basis for Party discussion on a positive program for immediate Party action and for Party recruiting. The Norwalk Branch does not believe that it is sufficient to condemn the present opportunist policies of the National Committee. Therefore this branch makes the following suggestions for Party discussion:
“A. On the question of Preventing World War III: The Communist Party should formulate a correct theoretical approach to the present moribund monopoly capitalist system. Our theoretical approach should analyze the concentration of economic power in the United States; it should consider the problem of whether war is the normal condition of imperialism at this moment of history.
“On the basis of such an analysis of the class enemy and its imperialist economy, the Communist Party should formulate correct, sharp, accurate positions to be taken toward the United Nations – unmasking the role this organization plays in fostering the drive to make our times an ’American Century’ and so fostering World War III.
“The Communist Party should unmask the role of the Byrnes, Truman, Hoover, Vandenberg coalition at the Paris Peace Conference and of similar international maneuvers against peace.
“Having established correct Marxist positions, the Communist Party should undertake as its immediate task the building of a mass people’s movement in the United States to stop the war in China, similar to the past struggle to aid Republican Spain, The movement to stop the war in China can be used to teach the masses of American people the true nature of their imperialistic government; properly pursued, this policy can force the United states imperialists to stop the war in China.
“Such a mass movement should be built on a national scale, rooted in the trade unions and mobilizing the people themselves. This issue can be a first step toward organizing the American people against World War III, against atom diplomacy and atom blackmail of the peace-loving peoples of the world, against the anti-Sovieteers and Red-baiters. The issues in China are simple, concrete, terrible. The first responsibility of the American working class (and therefore of the American Communist Party) is toward the victims of its own imperialists. Until the American working class and the American people stop the war in China, the blood of our brothers is on our heads.
“The Communist Party should seek ways and means to acquaint the broadest sections of the American population with the truth about the United Nations, the Paris Peace Conference, the anti-Soviet offensives, and other maneuvers leading to World War III. It is obvious that a successful mass movement able to put a stop to the war in China will provide the Communist Party with opportunities to educate the masses in the United States as to the real meaning of imperialist war and fascism.
On Political Action
“B. On the Question of independent political action: The Norwalk Branch believes that the Communist Party should use its knowledge of Marxist dialectical-materialism to analyse the two-party system. A correct appraisal of the two-party system must be made for the present situation in this country with full recognition of the new time, conditions, and other significant changes. Such an analysis must consider the present development of monopoly capitalism in the Unites States; it must relate to this examination the Marxist-Leninist understanding of the nature of the state; it must consider the economics of general crisis, and so on.
“Only after arriving at a correct analysis of the two-party system today can the Communist Party scientifically set its course to build a Labor Party.
“The Norwalk Branch regrets the failure of our Party to begin such a careful consideration of the two-party system even at this late date. Political action cannot be effective if it is not based on correct theory. On the other hand, correct Policy will permit us to take energetic and effective action to build the independent political action of the working class. Correct Marxist analysis will help to reveal the two-party system in the United States as a capitalist weapon to enslave the working class. We urge our comrades to initiate discussions on the theoretical questions in the struggle for a class-conscious, anti-imperialist, mass Labor Party so that we Communists can effectively take our place in the vanguard of the struggle for independent political action against war and fascism.
On Fascism In The U. S.
“C. On the question of fascism in the United States – and in particular on the struggle for the freedom of the Negro people; The Norwalk Branch believes that the Communist Party must at once assume its historic position as the vanguard of the American working class in smashing lynch terror. For example, we believe the policy of the Communist Party in relation to the Georgia lynchings should have been – and still must be – a demand that President Truman use his powers under the War Emergency Act to send troops into Georgia for the protection of the Negro population against the terrorists; to hold courts martial of the known killers and provacateurs; to demand that President Truman use his powers under the War Emergency Act to stop interstate commerce if necessary between Georgia and the rest of the nation; and finally, until full justice has been meted out to the lynchers, the Communist Party should initiate organization among the American people to boycott Georgia products. The Communist party should act in its own name, bringing the face of the Party forward as the most vigorous and devoted protagonist of Negro freedom. In the name of the Communist Party, marches on Washington should be organized, circulation of petitions, house-to-house campaigns, picketing of all trains, airplanes, and tracks departing to or arriving from Georgia, and so on. Naturally, the Communist Party must enlist trade union support; but the Party’s policy should not be a pale replica of the inadequate trade-union position taken up to now. All efforts should be made to cooperate with Negro organizations and to forward Negro action. The Communist Party must have its own vanguard policy on fascism, exposing the rotten and vicious capitalist roots of lynch terror and the savage oppression of the Negro people all over the nation by the capitalists. Every member of the Communist Party should have been mobilized at the very moment that the Georgia lynchings were known; since this was not done, the Party must be mobilized now without further delay or hesitation. The Communist Party once had the “know how” to meet such emergencies – l t us recall the defense of the Scottsboro victims, the unemployed demonstrations, the historic fight for industrial unionism. We Communists 6must master this “know-how” again for even larger tasks. We will master the theory of Marxism-Leninism only by taking advantage of the two-fold opportunities for action now offered to us; one, to struggle for immediate ends in the interests of the American working class and of all the oppressed; and two, to educate the masses for ever broader actions against the capitalist enemy and toward the winning of socialism.
A First Step
“D. While the above three points of suggested action do not constitute a full Communist program, the Norwalk Branch believes that the above skeleton program is a first step toward positive Marxist-Leninist action.
“E. The Norwalk Branch resolves that copies of this resolution and the critique on which it is based be sent to the Connecticut State Committee of the Communist Party; to the National Committee; to the Daily Worker and The Worker as a contribution to their discussion pages with the urgent request that the critique and resolution be printed in full in an early issue; and to the editor of Political Affairs.”
We urge the adoption of this resolution.
Ruth McKenney and Bruce Minton