Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The Struggle for Socialism in the U.S. and the Elections

First Published: NCP Report, No. 3, November 11, 1946
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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(Excerpt from a report submitted to NCP by Comrades Burkhart and Dowling for the 11 Nov 46 meeting of NCP)

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The basic task of a revolutionary Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalinist party in the U.S. is the-struggle for socialism in the U.S. The elections show how the rejection of this struggle for socialism by all political parties here, including the U.S. Communist Party, has led to setbacks for the working class of this and other countries.

Our remarks are confined to events in the New York statewide elections without any attempt at this time to analyze the entire election picture.

The issue in the New York statewide elections that outranked all other issues was what is called the “foreign policy” of U.S. finance-capital, specifically the foreign policy of the administration headed by President Truman.

An Imperialist Policy

This foreign policy of the Truman Administration is an imperialist policy. In spite of superficial differences as to tactics, imperialist policy is at root the same both in its “foreign” aspects and in its “domestic” aspects.

Imperialist policy means fraud, intimidation, robbery and violence directed against the masses. When this robbery and violence is directed specifically against the masses in the U.S. it goes by the name of “domestic” policy; and when the workers, farmers, and others who are victimized live outside our national borders, it goes by the name of “foreign” policy.

As more and more workers come to understand that the imperialist policy of the capitalists can be fully defeated only by the establishment of socialism, more and more will make this their No. 1 goal.

The right opportunists, as we know, never dare to make such a demand, never dream of making it, never propagandize and organize for it. They have a whole set of rightist arguments: that it is not “practical,” that the government will never “grant” it – and so on. The same right opportunists also have a set of left-sounding arguments to cover the same point: “Don’t you know that under capitalism a government is inevitably a capitalist government?” Thus they gloss over the fact that although under capitalism a capitalist government is “inevitable,” capitalism itself is by no means “inevitable.”

With this in mind, we can see exactly how the National Committee of the U.S. Communist Party and its apparatus, along with the American Labor Party, the Liberal party and the Democratic Party maneuvered cunningly to deliver the workers’ vote to the imperialist policy of the U.S. Government.

Candidates Supported Imperialism

The U.S. Communist Party did its best to deliver its vote to the American Labor Party. The ALP in turn did its best to deliver its vote to Mead and Lehman. Both Mead and Lehman openly proclaimed their support of President Truman’s imperialist foreign policy.

This whole chain of deals was extremely clever. To dress up the deals, the “theoreticians” of CPUSA produced a whole series of ingenious “reasons” and Jesuitical demagogy. But the scheme lacked one thing: the workers, by and large, simply did not fall for it!

Hence it cannot be said that the result of the New York statewide elections was a “defeat” for the working class.

For when people talk about defeats, it is necessary to ask: who was defeated? Who, in a class sense, “lost” the New York statewide elections?

So far as these election results are concerned, the workers were not defeated – because there were no statewide candidates, no political parties, and no programs that represented the fundamental interests of the workers. How can it possibly be said, then, that the workers “lost?”

But were the capitalists, then, defeated? Here, too, the answer is certainly no. The capitalists could not help but win these New York statewide elections because only capitalism was represented in these elections.

Petty Bourgeoisie Lost

The class that really lost the New York statewide elections was the petty bourgeoisie.

These petty bourgeois groups include the “leaders” of most labor unions, the busy-bees of PAC, of NCPAC, of the ALP leading committees, and of the U.S. Communist Party. They are clever and they are politically corrupt – but as capitalism moves more and more rapidly toward a bolder and bolder imperialist onslaught, the big capitalists brush these folk aside and get down to real business. Panic-stricken, astounded at their failure to convince the workers to support the imperialist policy of President Truman, these petty bourgeois schemers may well regard the elections as “a defeat.”

The anti-Marxist theoretical apologies for this practical treachery by the U.S. Communist leaders began with their rejection of the struggle for socialism.

Browder had put it: “We do not want disaster for America, even though it results in Socialism.” (His speech, 5 Sept 44).

Dennis and his colleagues espouse the same views as Browder, except that they put it more politely – speaking only rarely and in hushed tones of socialism as an “eventual” goal.

They would have you believe that the struggle for socialism, as Marx described this attitude, “is not to be given up but only postponed – to an indefinite period. One accepts it, though not really for oneself and one’s own lifetime, but posthumously as an heirloom to be handed down to one’s children and grandchildren. In the meantime one devotes one’s ’whole strength and energy’ to all sorts of petty rubbish and the patching up of the capitalist order of society in order at least to produce the appearance of something happening without at the same time scaring the bourgeoisie ...” (Marx, Selected Works, I, 629-31).

It is in just this way that CPUSA, having relegated the struggle for socialism to a future that gets farther and farther off, busied itself with elaborate studies of voting records, trying to paint the Meads and Lehmans as heroic fighters for largely non-existent reforms – thus glossing over and concealing from workers the issue of the imperialist foreign policy of the U.S. Government. Under slogans of “friendship” for Russia, they tried to deliver the workers’ votes to a foreign policy aimed directly at Russia.

As Dennis put it (Political Affairs, Sept 46, p. 796), “the militant workers must enlist the aid of certain political figures and groups who also happen to support various features of the Administration’s imperialist foreign policy.” (Our emphasis).

Mead and Lehman “happened” to support the imperialist policy of the Truman Administration; the U.S. Communist Party “happened” to support Mead and Lehman.

But, on top of that, the working class by and large “happened” to be bored with and suspicious of the political line of these “labor” politicians.