William F. Dunne

The Struggle Against Opportunism in the Labor Movement – For a Socialist United States

A Contribution to the Discussion of Major Problems of Marxism-Leninism in Our Country

Chapter 2: The Present Situation–The Perspective–The Tasks

The world economic and political situation puts on the order of the day for Communists in the U. S. A. the effective preparation and organization of the united struggle of the working class and its allies to end the threat of fascism and war, the rule and ruin program of Wall Street and its imperialist government. Such a struggle can be carried on successfully only if the working class is given a progressive alternative and final solution to the system of the monopoly capitalism. The only alternative is socialism.

The rapid development of the workingclass of our country toward socialist consciousness is the key to the world political situation. This is because American imperialism has emerged from the enormous destruction of human beings and commodities in World War II as the only remaining world powerful and seemingly stable imperialist system. The defeat of “their own” imperialism by the workingclass of the United States and its close allies will be decisive in the struggle for liberation of all exploited and oppressed peoples everywhere.

Signs of Depression

Monopoly capitalism in the United States is heading towards another depression whose depth, length and scope no one can now predict with accuracy. But it is certain already that it will have devastating effects upon the economic and social standards of the workingclass, ever more intensively exploited by efficiency schemes and improved technical processes, plundered by monopoly-fixed high prices and taxation, their wartime savings stripped from them mercilessly by the inflationary crisis. “A scant 10 percent of our population holds 60 percent of all our savings... The next 10 percent of our population own an additional 17 percent... The top 20 percent own 77 percent of that 130 billion total... The bottom 50 percent owns only 3 percent of our entire savings hoard... And 30 percent of our families saved absolutely nothing out of their 1945 income.” (N.Y. Post, November 21, 1946, “Report of Dept. of Agriculture to Federal Reserve Board).”

The trusts and monopolies have extended their economic control and their use of the government as their class instrument to an extent as yet little understood in terms of class alignments–actual and potential–in spite of “curbs” and “restrictions”. They thrive on the wreckage of smaller capitalist groups which are the only real results of these sham battles. What of the boasted “independence” of the middle class?

“Imperialism is the subjugation of all strata of the propertied classes to financial capital. (Lenin, THE IMPERIALIST WAR, Page 292.)

“During the war more than 500,000 independent business concerns went out of existence. Some of them are coming back, but many were absorbed by larger companies. Before the war, 100 large corporations produced about 30 percent of the nation’s manufacturing output; now they account for 70 percent of it.

“The concentration of economic power in the hands of a few small vested’ groups is today higher than ever before in our history, according to Wendell Berge of the anti-trust division of the Justice Department.

“... While the lawyers spend years collecting evidence to support an indictment, the average consumer can lose hundreds of dollars, countless independent businesses can be driven to the wall and the whole economy seriously damaged.” (NEW REPUBLIC, November 18, 1946. Our emphasis).

The above facts, taken in connection with the acute world economic and political crisis and the admittedly enormous productive capacity of monopoly-dominated industry in our country, force the conclusion that the American workingclass and all exploited sections of the population face a period in which monopoly capitalism will put ever heavier burdens on them.

Economic Pressures

The increasing contradictions and the resultant difficulties arising out of astronomical productive capacity and the narrowing circle of markets, and the heavier burdens on the workingclass, are producing rapid changes in class viewpoints and consequently in class relationships. The problems both of the imperialist rulers and those of the workingclass are becoming of such a nature that they cannot be solved by such reformist-capitalist measures as the New Deal put into effect. The slogan of “resurrect the Roosevelt policies” is therefore cruel and dangerous deception of the working-class. So is “Free enterprise without monopolies or cartels.” They are cut from the same demagogic pattern. They are fantasies which do not help to free but to fasten crippling illusions in the minds of working men and women.

The struggles that will now develop from the clash of class interests will famish the bitter but effective school of experience where whole strategic sections of the workingclass will be able to see the complete bankruptcy of reformist “solutions”.

It is this economic and political situation and perspective which determines the main and immediate task of the Marxist forces in our country, together with the undisputed fact that all the material conditions for a socialist economy and the potential social forces to replace a government of finance-capital by a socialist government are present in the United States in abundance: That task is the winning of the workingclass for a socialist program.

The imperialist rulers of the United States are trying by all methods (economic, political, military), to dominate the rest Of the capitalist world. They are trying to cripple or destroy the growing socialist sectors of the world. They are the main financial and military supporters of monopolist, feudal and clerical-fascist reaction everywhere. On the strength and weakness of the American capitalist class and its system depends in varying degrees the strength and weakness of all the other capitalist systems and consequently the position of the international working class and its allies.

Goal of Intervention

The threat, or the actual intervention, of American imperialism in the class struggles in other nations occurs more and more frequently, in efforts to stifle the full development to socialism of the democratic workingclass movements Of the world, as well as the great popular movements for national liberation in the colonial and semi-colonial countries which inevitably move in the same direction.

World reaction, therefore, depends on the backing of the imperialists of the United States. Neo-fascist, feudal and clerical reaction rallies to the defence of the interests of American imperialism and its satellites in all countries, in a new holy alliance against the popular democratic forces.

Finance capital, and its government in the United States, appear to many as an invincible military and economic giant, seemingly sure of itself in its drive for world domination. Its foremost imperialist rivals, the German-Japanese-Italian fascist axis, have been crushed. Great Britain has been reduced to a position of dependency. The great industries of the Soviet Union, the amazing achievement of Socialist labor in less than fifteen years, suffered enormous damage from the invasion of the Nazi hordes.

Huge Militarist Machine

The end of World War II left the United States with a seven-seas navy, and enormous air army. Its armed forces are to be kept on a war footing, and its military supremacy seems unassailable by the sole possession of the atomic bomb. The almost limitless productive capacity of the United States was proven during the war.

The American workingclass is better organized in unions than ever before. But its labor movement is not unified, either organizationally or politically. For the most part, the workingclass recognizes and acts in its class interests only in economic struggles. It does not yet challenge its exploiters as the only class whose members are an overwhelming majority of the population and whose economic, political and social needs are those of all who are oppressed and exploited by the system of monopoly capitalism.

Socialist class consciousness was weakened as a result of the Roosevelt “New Deal” program of reforms within the capitalist system, aided and abetted by the cooperation and completely non-critical attitude of the “notorious revisionist” leaders of the Communist Party. These factors, and war prosperity, halted for a time the socialist trends that were developing rapidly during the destructive crisis and depression (1929-39) which preceded and whose solution was sought in World War II.

Roosevelt Policy Base

American monopoly capitalism finds itself today in the dominant position in which the policies of the late President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did so much to place it. These policies were based essentially on the enormous productive capacity and inexhaustible natural wealth of our country and the use of a small fraction of accumulated wealth to finance minimum social reforms to cushion the crisis. But Roosevelt was probably the last statesmanlike leader of United States imperialism because, although youthful and apparently healthy, it can have no long life. The incurable diseases of its own system are sapping its vitality. The same economic, political and military factors which seem to assure the world dominance of American imperialism for a long period are throttling it.

While the fascist imperialist competitors, the Axis powers and their satellites, were destroying or weakening the so-called democratic imperialisms, they were compelled, by the same destructive process, to reduce the areas from which superprofits can be derived by the sixty imperial families of the United States and their hangers-on. It is from this huge fund and the reserves it makes available that trade union bureaucrats are bribed and “persuaded” to remain in the imperialist camp.

Rise of Socialist Forces

The war, resulting in the crushing of the fascist axis, thereby freed millions of workers, intellectuals, peasants and colonial peoples from the special type of fascist state suppression, and in this, defended and strengthened the democratic revolutionary forces of the international workingclass and its allies. The resistance to fascism and the fascist defeat released these powerful democratic socialist workingclass movements and national liberation struggles.

These movements, at various levels of struggle, limit still more the spheres in which freedom of capitalist exploitation and imperialist investment can continue unhampered. This factor, definitely and decisively, restricts the expansion of fields of imperialist robbery. This occurs because even where these liberation movements are not yet successful, they are nevertheless a grave and growing danger to ”safe and sane” capitalist investment. The patronage of the trade union bureaucracy will be cancelled out by the increased plundering of all socially productive classes.

Capital Export Vital

The export of capital in the imperialist stage of the capitalist system is an absolute necessity for capitalist expansion, and expansion is necessary for survival of the capitalist system. It follows that the struggles for socialism in other countries, even where the progress of these struggles is still of a limited nature, or of a national liberation character, is not only a political threat to, but constitutes an increasingly serious weakening of the imperialist economic position of the ruling class of the United States. The ruthless drive of Wall Street imperialism is organizing the popular and revolutionary forces of the world against it.

For the imperialist rulers of the United States, the most favorable factor in the world political situation is the enormous physical destruction of men, women and children in the Soviet Union, and the damage to socialist industry. This advantage is only temporary, and in any case, is nullified to a considerable extent by the tremendous spread of socialist political influence; by the successes of democratic revolutionary workingclass movements in a majority of European countries; and by the great scope of the anti-imperialist struggles of the national liberation forces. Class relationships in major sections of the world have been changed in favor of the workingclass and its closest allies.

No Profit Grabbers

In the Soviet Union, the rate of economic recovery is aided primarily and effectively because it is geared to an increasingly rapid tempo by the planned character of socialist production, by the total absence of conflicting capitalist interests in a socialist system of production and distribution. The problem in the Soviet Union is that of supplying a constantly expanding domestic market. In the United States, the insoluble problem of the sixty imperial families, their henchmen and their government, is how to continue to realize profit in a shrinking market, subject to saturation by the immense productive capacity of industrial and agricultural workers receiving only a fraction of their product as wages.

Atomic Energy Problem

A most striking illustration of the contradictions undermining the apparently almighty position of American imperialism is the acute problem created by the development of atomic energy.

America’s involvement in World War II was the only basis on which the rapid development of atomic energy at this time in a capitalist country so rich in other profitable sources of power could have been carried out. The enormous scale of industrial organization required for coordination of scientific research and financial investment with dubious prospects of profit, ruled out the possibility of launching such an enterprise by private capital.

It is not in the interests of monopoly capital to develop a new and infinitely more powerful and flexible form of energy for peacetime industrial purposes, since such an incalculable increase in productive potential would devaluate or make obsolete whole sections of heavy industrial equipment and set in motion a whole new series of giant conflicts within monopoly circles.

The entry of the United States into the war simultaneously in Europe, and Asia, in the Atlantic and Pacific, created a situation which made possible the fabulously costly development of atomic energy only by the existence of the limitless demand for armaments, government planned and controlled production, the military necessity of winning the war–and the political necessity of confounding the military allies of Wall Street imperialism, especially the Soviet Union, with a weapon of destruction superior to anything they had developed.

Imperialism’s Monster

Monopoly capitalism has given birth to this Frankenstein monster by wartime planned production. It sees itself threatened by the probability of the Soviet Union developing and fully utilizing atomic energy for industry on the basis of socialist planned production and an unlimited domestic market (its limit not being restricted by the requirements of capitalist profit.)

If this development takes place in the Soviet Union with its vast natural resources, the capitalist class of the United States will be forced to harness atomic energy for industrial use–and threaten thereby the huge capital investment in the public utility field–to mention but one. It is the primary aim of American imperialism to prevent this development because it carries the real threat to monopoly capitalism. If the atomic experts are to be believed, the rapid development of atomic energy for production would do to capitalism what application of steam power to machinery did to feudalism. The development of the atom bomb in the U.S.S.R. would only tend to equalize the military power relationship.

It is the necessity to prevent the rapid harnessing of atomic energy for industrial use in this country and also in the Soviet Union which is the motivating force behind the various imperialist proposals for international control of atomic energy.

With the aid of a capitalist-dominated international control commission, it would then be possible to delay or stifle all developments of atomic energy for industrial purposes by claiming that such developments are of military significance.

This is the key to the Baruch Report. The great productive and socially beneficial possibilities of atomic energy can be realized to the full only in a Socialist system.

Peak Is Passed

Wall Street imperialism, in spite of its position of relative economic and military supremacy, has already passed the pinnacle of its development. The monopoly capitalist economy of our country is passing rapidly into decline as a result of the enormous sharpening, by the economic and political factors operating during the war, of the growing contradictions between astronomical productive capacity and markets limited by private ownership and wage labor.

Sixty imperial families, and their two political parties, are in full control of federal government. The workingclass of the United States, since the end of the major military phases of World War II, has had to strike by the millions to maintain its real wages. The workingclass has not succeeded in this. Its economic position has become worse even in this period of postwar “prosperity” because its leadership confined these great mass movements mainly to the economic field, and conducted them as defensive struggles.

Philip Murray, President of the CIO, a majority of whose members are employed in the basic and monopolized industries, admitted to the recent convention of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen, that as of November 1946, wage earners had suffered a loss of twenty-five percent in real wages, after more than a year of great strike struggles.

“The, American workingclass is in a militant mood. The preparations for new and more powerful attacks on the workingclass and the organized labor movement are well advanced in Wall Street and government circles. Gigantic class battles are in prospect. Labor and its allies, the fourteen million Negro people, the working farmers, sections of the professional and liberal middle class, will fight to repel the attacks of monopoly capital, and the fascist shock troop detachments it is mobilizing. Every Communist will work for unity and fight above and beyond the call of “duty” in these struggles.

Capitalism’s Merciless Logic

The fact that such great and continuous defensive struggles must be engaged in by the workingclass, in the richest country in the world, must be utilized by the Communists to show the merciless anti-labor logic of the capitalist system and the necessity for abolishing it.

The main, immediate and central task of Communists today in the United States is to win our class, the mighty, militant and well-organized workingclass, which is an absolute majority of the population, for a socialist program. This central task is to prepare our class for the abolition of the capitalist-imperialist system. Without socialism as its goal, the workingclass–in spite of its resolute economic struggles, will fight heroic but losing battles. This is the lesson of all labor history.

Our main and immediate task is to unite our class–not only for, militant struggle for living standards and against “the daily encroachments” of the capitalist class and its government upon hard won rights–but to unite it for victorious struggle for a socialist system, of production in the United States. The sixty imperial families and their mercenaries of press and radio have no solution except more work for lower real wages, unemployment, and war.

Our central task as Communists is to prepare the workingclass for the inevitable break with their imperialist rulers and their satellite fascist and neo-fascist prophets. We must convince the working class of our country that it is a choice between fascism and freedom, that it is its historical duty, and that it has the power, to put an end for all time to the exploitation of man by man in this, the richest country in the world–the last remaining really decisive base of world capitalism.

U.S. Workers Decisive

The workingclass in the United States is in a decisive position. Victory for a program Of socialism in our country will end forever the constant threat of a new world holocaust. The American workingclass has the power to dissipate the danger of a new imperialist world war in which the bodies of tens of millions of people would again be tendered as bloody burnt offerings on the dual altar of Mammon and Mars–the only method by which the monopolists and their imperialist system now maintain and restore “prosperity” in these United States. Only the workingclass, headed by its advanced detachments, who have freed themselves of all defeatist illusions implanted by the propagandists of their exploiters, can rally round itself and lead all other anti-capitalist forces in this decisive and inevitable struggle.

The creation of a conscious workingclass committed to a program for the abolition of capitalism and establishment of revolutionary socialism is the main, immediate and central task of Communists in the United States.

Ready Welcome Sure

Millions of militant workingmen and women in the decisive industries and occupations in this most richly endowed by nature of all capitalist countries, are waiting to hear and welcome a program to release the wealth of the country to supply the needs of its population–instead of using it to increase the wealth and power of a ruthless ruling minority.

If we Communists make Marxism-Leninism and its treasury of knowledge of the laws of motion of capitalist society in this “period of wars and revolutions”, the property of these millions by releasing it from opportunist classrooms and the clutch of sectarian pedagogues, these millions of our class can be trusted to make it their guide to thought and action. They will take the hard but sure road toward socialism once they are shown the way because there is no other choice except more intensive exploitation, increasing social degradation, and war.

Only those who know little and care less about the workingclass of the United States believe it will make the latter choice. Only those who in this way rationalize their fear of what seems to them an impregnable system of robbing and ruling by greedy and bloody-minded men; only those who fear the anger of an aroused and determined conscious workingclass as much or even more than they fear the monopolists and their mercenaries can make themselves believe such defeatist slander of the mighty workingclass of the United States.

Great Responsibility

To prepare the working class for the responsibility of leading the struggle for its own liberation and that of all other exploited groups of the population is the central task of Communists. There is no other reason for their existence.

History has placed this heavy responsibility upon the Communists of the United States and upon the workingclass of which they are the most politically advanced section. To understand the necessity of this task–now made more than ever urgent by the decline and decay of the capitalist-imperialist system and the geometrically increasing intensity of the evils it inflicts upon the peoples of the world–is to accept it.

We shall not falter and we shall not fail provided all defeatist revision of Marxist-Leninist theory and perversion of its strategy and tactics are eliminated from our ranks.

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–Notes on Some Economic and Social Facts of Monopoly Capitalism in Our Country–


WASHINGTON – The Federal Government’s top economic experts are now convinced the bloom is off the early post-war boom.

This doesn’t mean they think the nation is already close to that much feared “bust,” that is, a general business collapse. But it does mean they are convinced the peak of the big boom has slipped quietly past... The experts on the next lower echelon are fretting over what they fear are the first tell-tales of a “recession”–although some call it by more euphemistic names. The economists no longer talk of “when the deflation comes...” They say it has already started. Total unemployment today is a little over two million. This is expected to increase slowly throughout the year—with some ups and downs—until by December, the experts figure, the jobless rolls will be at least doubled... Chairman Eccles (of the Federal Reserve Bank) conceded that “inflation has largely run its course.” The supply of goods and services, he noted, is “more nearly in balance” with demand.

It is this increase in the supply of goods, basically, which has faded the bloom on the boom. Production has been remarkably high despite strikes, and shortages which were widespread last year have now narrowed down to a few commodities.

Wall St. Journal, Jan. 24, ’47

CLEVELAND – Machine tool builders, watching bargain sales of war-built surplus tools, are running up distress signals... From the vice-president of a New England machine tool company came this observation: “It’s a very sad picture, and it’s going to get worse. The industry’s immediate potential market for new machines has been scuttled. Prices of surplus machines are so low that lots, of new orders are going to be canceled”... The top executive of a Cleveland machine tool company looked at his January sales report and said: “We’re running about half of a normal month’s business”... “In general, the story is the same wherever you go, says Mr. Berna. “Nearly all machine tool people are, or are thinking about, cutting down production...”

Roughly, the industry in the war years just about doubled the 870,000 machine tools that stood in industrial plants in 1939. Shipment grew from a peacetime peak in. 1937 of $195 million to $1,320 million in 1942.” A total of 1,100,000 machine tools rolled from production lines during the war, 200,000 of these being exported to Allied nations. Warner & Swasey, for example, alone produced as many turret lathes to fill war orders as it had in the previous two decades. Such unprecedented production spelled just one result: A huge post-war surplus to be absorbed into a civilian economy.

One eastern tool builder, closely acquainted with the disposal program since its inception, cites the case of one big manufacturer who is buying up machine tools for years in advance. This company, said the tool builder, has invested $5 million in machines originally costing $20 million and is placing them in storage for future use.

Wall St. Journal, Jan. 24, ’47.

* * *

1) Huge National Debt–$2,680.00 is owed by every man, woman and child. Under capitalism, Marx wrote, the national debt is the only thing shared in common.

2) Gigantic Military appropriation in peacetime–$13 billion last year–$12 billion proposed this year. This does not include $7 billion for veterans. $2 f/2 billion alone would buy a year’s capacity production of the steel industry–100 million tons.

3) One third (or thereabouts, juggling of the purposes of appropriations makes absolute accuracy difficult for the layman) of all national expenditures are for military purposes.

4) $12 billion for military purposes–$7 billion for war veterans–$8% billion for all other purposes.

5) A large, permanent and powerful military officer caste–with its own special antidemocratic aims–in the service of Wall Street imperialism and its government.

6) A huge permanent governmental bureaucracy in such key departments as state, war, interior, commerce, agriculture, labor, etc. holding over from administration to administration and attached to monopoly capitalism by a thousand strings.

7). Taxation compounded on taxation–income taxes on the lowest wage groups; taxation now on practically every article of daily use in addition to income tax on wages down to and below the subsistence level.

1) Millions of workingmen and women who were of school and working age in 1930 know the system of monopoly capitalism only as one of crisis, depression, unemployment–and war. They are not convinced supporters of the system. They are ready to be convinced of the necessity for a socialist system. They have youth, experience and vigor.

2) The workingmen and women of the United States, especially in basic industry, are less affected by sectional, national, racial and religious differences than ever before.

a) The nation-wide crisis and depression (1929-39) uprooted and set in motion the migration of millions, looking for jobs and homes. These movements were East and West, North and South, on a scale never before seen in our country.

The war revival and expansion of industry caused other great population shifts. The organization of the armed forces, 12-13 million, once more distributed this 1945 age group over this and other countries. Demobilization and the closing of giant war industries continued the process. It has been checked mainly by lack of housing.

b) The almost complete stoppage of immigration has reduced the foreign-born population to the vanishes point. Language is no longer an obstacle to unity. The foreign-born are no longer available as a reserve army of labor.

3) Since sectional differences have been lessened greatly for the foregoing reasons, and language and national origin are no longer major factors, the extension of monopoly capital ownership of all decisive industry and more open domination of government creates certain leveling of living standards and consequently the most homogeneous workingclass in our history.