Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Psychology in the CP

First Published: The New Masses, Vol. 57, No. 10, December 4, 1945.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Your valuable and timely articles on psychotherapy will be a welcome stimulus to all your readers who have enough “sense for the new” to see the importance of using psychological insights and criteria as aids to personal adequacy and political efficiency. Don’t be discouraged by the negative reactions of a few of your correspondents who may reject psychotherapy as wholly unscientific and reactionary or may accept Freudianism uncritically and so try to make you ashamed of allowing your writers to question their dogmas.

The timeliness of your articles is shown by a psychological study of recent events in the Communist Party of the USA. The published discussion on the political deviation showed also a serious psychological imbalance. Most of the published self-criticism onesidedly stressed the defective knowledge and application of Marxian theory to the current situation. What distinguished Gurley Flynn’s constructive contribution was her penetrating self-analysis and analysis of her fellow members’ and Browder’s psychology. She saw both aspects of the trouble: the political and the psychological imbalance.

To the capitalists Browder gave too much trust in their ability to work with his plan and collaborate with labor. From his own Party leaders and members Browder took too much power by his self-willed, individualist methods of leadership. This excessive self-assertiveness in the leader would have produced disruptive, factional strife in a membership less disciplined to an ideal of monolithic loyalty. Actually his over-assertiveness (as Gurley Flynn admits) produced over-submissiveness in the majority, resentment in some and open rebellion in one. Since Browder was so sure he was right and showed no sign of self-criticism, the National Committee could hardly expect him to repudiate his errors without psychotherapeutic help. If the Committee had been psychologically on its toes when it first saw the signs of his imbalance, it would have brought pressure on him to get expert help as a condition for continuing to hold his job. Since no adequate initiative from within the Party was possible, matters grew so bad that finally the letter written by the French leader Duclos, who could not be accused of having a personal axe to grind, had a spectacular effect in releasing the healthy trends towards democracy.

Similar evidence could be found in all the anti-fascist parties, showing that the leaders could profit by some study of the psychological science and art of human relations; and, in cases where this fails to curb autocratic assertiveness, constructive psychotherapy should be used.

San Francisco.