First Published: July 28, 1948
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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“Wherever the Party’s role in the political life of the country is belittled, wherever the leading role of the Party is glossed over, wherever there is a fear openly to speak in the name of the Party to the masses – all such instances provide the soil for the growth of liquidation tendencies in relation to the Party itself.
“Any Party organization that does not hold regular elections, does not meet regularly and ignores collective Party leadership, is grossly violating the organizational principles of the Marxist party.
“The strictest observance of democratic-centralism in the Party as laid down by the Party Statutes, said Comrade Stalin, the regular election of Party organs, the right to nominate and withdraw candidates, secret ballot, freedom of criticism and self-criticism–all these and similar measures must be carried out in practice in order to facilitate control of Party leaders by the Party membership.
“Inner Party democracy enables every Party member to take part in free and business-like discussion of practical questions of Party policy, to criticize any Party functionary at Party meetings.
“In their practical activity, Communists must be strictly demanding of themselves, must help in every way to promote criticism and self-criticism, listen to the criticism of others and draw the necessary conclusions therefrom.
“We must be a worthy representative in the eyes of the broad masses, an example of staunchness and Party irreconcilability under all difficulties and hardships, must always hold aloft the banner of the Party and not furl and hide it from the working class, from the people.“
‒From the journal of the Communist Information Bureau, “For a Lasting peace, For a People’s Democracy,” issue of June 15, 1948, in an article by V. Grigoryan, a leading comrade of the CPSU.
The official call for the national Convention of the CPUSA says that pre-convention discussion shall be “based on the Draft Resolution of the national Committee.”
Whatever the discussion may be based on, Article IV, Section 4, of the Party Constitution says that “members have the unrestricted right and duty to discuss any and all policies and tactics, the right to criticize the work and composition of all leading committees, the right of full expression in the Party press.”
It is necessary to discuss the Draft Resolution because it is what the National Committee regards as a correct program; as its Thesis. But it is also necessary to discuss what amounts to a parallel Thesis by Earl Browder (published under title of “World Communism and the Foreign Policy of the United States”). Lastly, it is necessary to discuss my own Thesis in opposition to both the above (published under title of “The Crisis in the CPUSA”).
It is necessary to discuss Browder’s Theses because: 1. It was obviously written to influence Party policy; 2. There is a strong Browder faction in the Party reaching into the Rational Committee; and, 3. Because Communists cannot ignore such facts merely because Browder is supposedly removed from leadership by expulsion.
Browder does not accept such removal, and on page 32 of his Thesis hints it is only “temporary.” His faction intrigues to reinstate him by first reinstating his policies, and hint that he has “friends in Moscow.”
It is therefore a most serious matter that an examination shows that the political line of the Browder Thesis dominates the line of the Draft Resolution of the National Committee, and the Party membership is being asked to adopt this line. Browderism in new disguise has re-won control of National Committee policy. Though pretending to discuss only “foreign policy,” Browder’s analysis of the relationship of class forces provides the basis for the National Committee’s entire policy.
In 1945, Browder opposed the Convention Resolution as “leftist,” Since 1945, the National Committee, disregarding that. Resolution, carried out another and Right Opportunist line of its own, though it now calls this line “weaknesses and errors,” Browder now pretends he has “moved to the Left” since 1945, he no longer openly supports monopoly capital, no longer openly advocates Party liquidation, no longer supports Truman as Roosevelt’s inheritor, but rather supports Wallace, and with Wallace “opposes” the Marshall Plan. The “move to the Left” by Browder, and the move to the Right by the National Committee, now find a common denominator in the National Committee’s Draft Resolution.
The only “conflict” between the two Theses is not one of difference on principle, but of conflict, reflecting the old factional struggle between Browder and Foster. Thus, from Foster’s side, the Draft Resolution contains a few words, very few, against “Browder revisionism,” and a few lines against “illusions about ’progressive capitalism’.” But, since the Draft Resolution is, itself, wholly based on Browder revisionism and progressive capitalist illusions in its programmatic proposals, this difference is obviously not one of principle, but rather of pretense.
From Browder’s side, he sarcastically speaks of the “dogmatists” among the Party leaders “temporarily” in control, who fail to admit the possibility of capitalism being progressive, while he repeatedly applauds the Party leadership for carrying out in practice his program by basing Party policy squarely on the possibility of American capitalism playing a progressive role by a “return to Roosevelt’s program” through Henry Wallace. Thus, Browder says:
“In order to fight effectively for Roosevelt’s program, it is necessary to understand that America still contains the potentiality of playing a progressive role before it arrives at the immediate transition to socialism.”
Thus the “difference” between Browder and the National Committee boils down to this: Browder wants the Party openly and frankly to tail the liberal bourgeoisie; while the National Committee wants to continue tailing the liberal bourgeoisie, too, but insists on concealing that fact from the Party membership and our brother parties by double-talk, by vague disclaimers of the theory of progressive capitalism without saying who are its chief advocates, without admitting that its own practical adoption of this “theory” in the past three years is more than incidental “weaknesses and errors in a correct main line,” and without admitting that its program for the future in the Draft Resolution is more than a “temporary” tailism; an (opportunist) expedient to be abandoned in some distant “higher stages.”
Both the Browder Thesis and the National Committee Resolution are based upon the opportunist, reformist economic concept known as “American exceptionalism.” It is not possible for either of them to wholly conceal the gigantic fact of imperialist decay, but both can and do underestimate it, and both can and do, basing themselves on this underestimation, propose identical programs to make capitalism work for an indefinite period, spoken of in the Draft Resolution as the “present stage,” and by Browder as being “for many generations.” The “difference” again is one of frank advocacy of American exceptionalism by Browder, and one of advocacy concealed by double-talk by the National Committee.
Browder, in his economic analysis, admits that “the capitalist world including... “the United States, is in general crisis;” he admits the outlook of “cyclical crises,” nevertheless, he is impressed by his own statement that “American capitalism is terrifically strong,” that the question – not of socialism’s attainment but of the “transition to socialism,” is a long way off and worth only the barest mention. Meanwhile, rejecting the “stupid imperialism” of Truman, he acclaims Wallace as the standard bearer of “Roosevelt’s policy” of “intelligent, progressive imperialism,” which he claims can “gain for America” not only a “long time peace” but also “a vast expansion of markets” and thus save the world from “a catastrophic economic crisis.”
The National Committee, on its part, while admitting the “weakened state of world capitalism,” and admitting, that this “in the long run” “works to undermine” American imperialism, nevertheless goes all out for “American exceptionalism” in asserting that: “In the United States alone, imperialism emerged from, the war militarily and, in certain respects, economically stronger,” (Part I, Sec, 1.) Further on, its Draft Resolution discards even this appearance of qualification about “certain respects,” and repeatedly and flatly speaks of the “increased economic and military power of American capitalism as a result of the war.”
Misinterpreting productive power; technique, gold assets and aggressive belligerence as constituting the “strength, of capitalism” (which they are not, because “capitalism” consists only of the social relationships of economic classes), the National Committee not only holds that American capitalism is an exception in “alone” enjoying “increased strength” as a “result of the war,” but bases its program on this “strength” being durable for a period of time it sets practically no limit upon.
Hence, it separates future perspective into “stages” holding that only in “the long run” can America be affected by world weakness. But, in the “short run,” which, without clearly saying so, it stretches out into a long time, it holds that it would be “left sectarian” to begin to prepare the American proletariat to accept the solution of socialism, a solution it contends should be advocated only during “higher stages.”
Meanwhile, with great emphasis and at great length, the National Committee falls in step with Browder in propagandising without limit to “the people” and to the proletariat its unconditional support of the “return to Roosevelt’s policy” under the “Progressive capitalism” championed by Henry Wallace and the liberal bourgeoisie, to whom the proletariat must yield hegemony within the “coalition” throughout the “present stage” of the fight against war, fascism and economic crisis.
This is the aspect of Party program which is daily and vigorously and unconditionally propagandised to the masses. Only as a measure of speaking “for the record,” of double bookkeeping to deceive Communists at home and abroad, are there inserted at the end of the Draft Resolution certain paragraphs opposing “American exceptionalism,” the concept of “progressive capitalism,” and “Keynesism,” in the most abstract way, without pointing concretely to any person or party as guilty of these errors. These paragraphs appear in the Draft Resolution only as “mental reservations” to the opportunism which dominates the main line of the Resolution and the daily practice of the Party.
The American capitalism which Browder sees possible to continue ruling for many generations is, inescapably, imperialistic monopoly capitalism. Its possibility of continued rule lies in its “potentiality of playing a progressive role,” which potentiality can become actual by its becoming “intelligent” enough to “return to Roosevelt’s program” of subjecting monopoly capital to the state power of a “democratic coalition.”
This is, in actual practice, the policy pursued by the National Committee since the National Convention of 1945. Its theoretical formulation was given by James S. Allen’s book, “World Monopoly and Peace,” published in 1946, and circulated without criticism by the Party to the membership ever since. As the kernel of this “theory” Allen declared:
“State monopoly capitalism can become progressive in reality, can become a step toward Socialism, can be made to benefit the whole people, only when the state is in the hands of a revolutionary democratic coalition.”
This was exposed as “nonsense” in a review of Allen’s book written by I. Kuzminov, and published in the theoretical journal of the CPSU, “The Bolshevik,” of October, 1947. There, Comrade Kuzminov declared: “If capitalist monopolies generally denote reaction, then state monopoly capitalism is the basis of the blackest reaction.“
In due course of time (May, 1948, issue of “Political Affairs”), Allen was compelled to make a grudging admission of error. And the National Committee, without ever admitting its own responsibility in spreading this error, or in carrying it into practice, or in expelling comrades who had challenged Allen’s wrong theories, now finds it necessary – not to change its practical application of this “theory” – but to rearrange some words in its Draft Resolution.
The National Committee, in Part I, Sec. 2, publicly throws “state monopoly capitalism” out the window as a “fascist menace.” But in Part III, Sec. 5, it is privately invited into the back door under the alias of a “curbed” monopoly capitalism. Without venturing so far as to say that an effective “curbing” of monopoly can only be done by a coalition in which the revolutionary proletariat firmly holds leadership, and which must not “halt midway” but “advance courageously toward socialism” (quoting Kuzminov), the National Committee does concede that “to curb the monopolies effectively the working class will have to advance its influence and leading role within the people’s coalition.”
But its whole past and present actual practice in building the coalition, its resolute refusal to even make a beginning until the liberal bourgeoisie and Dennis’s “conservative-progressives” would take the lead, the voluntary hiding of our Party’s face within the coalition, the willing withdrawal of Communists and workers from positions of control in favor of liberal bourgeois leaders, reveals the hypocrisy of the above statement of the National Committee about working class leadership.
Thus also, the cutting up of the perspective of the whole struggle into “stages,” and the mechanical assignment of the “eventual” leadership of the coalition to the working class, as well as any propaganda preparation of that working class for socialism, as things only for the “higher stages” of the struggle, compels the National Committee to continue to do what it has been doing – uncritically and unconditionally acclaiming Henry Wallace as the Saint George who is going to “curb monopoly” and possibly even slay that dragon.
Since this insistent tailism places in the hands of Wallace whatever “curbing” of monopoly the coalition can expect in the absence of working class leadership, it is necessary to look at what Wallace proposes in the way of a capitalism in which monopoly will be “curbed” by bourgeois liberalism. Max Weiss, in reviewing Wallace’s book “Toward World Peace” (“Political Affairs,” May, 1948), describes Wallace’s formula for a “progressive capitalism” as follows:
“Specifically, he (Wallace) urges the passage of a law which, will govern the basic industries, requiring them to set up industry boards composed of representatives of industry, labor agriculture, the government, and consumers. These boards, according to Wallace, will achieve democratic planning by having the power to make decisions on wages, profits, prices, volume of production, direction and amount of new investment, profit and dividend policies, etc.”
Here you have Mussolini’s formula for a fascist economy of his “corporative state.” Fascism is hardly a step toward socialism. But Max Weiss doesn’t identify it as fascism, but rather as something desirable but unattainable. “Clearly,” he comments, ”such a scheme is a Utopia.” Fascism is a Utopia!
Browder is notorious for his liquidationism. In his book he admits no error of that or any other kind. He does not even speak of liquidation. He simply presents a program which, carried through, would result in liquidation of the Party.
And this Browder’ program, based on the abandonment of socialism as a goal for the Communist Party, is also the basis of the program of the National Committee. But it is disguised 1iquidationism, taking the form of a deliberate practice of failing to assert the Party’s independent program within the coalition, failing to make the Party’s propaganda different and distinguishable from the propaganda of the liberal bourgeoisie. It is not enough to tell Party members that “we are independent.” The Party mast make the masses see its independence.
Communist independence can be made visible to the masses, within the coalition, only by the Communist Party openly appearing, and while honestly and vigorously fighting for the aims of the masses in the coalition, just as honestly and vigorously asserting its own aim, socialism –and explain why. Once the aim of socialism is given up in our propaganda, the political basis has been laid for an unofficial, but practical liquidation of the Communist Party. In effect, a merger takes place.
The National Committee admits that, since the 1945 Convention: “We failed to maintain a sufficiently clear, independent and critical position toward our allies.” (Part III, Sec. 1.) But what about the future? On this, the Draft Resolution presents only a meaningless jumble of words. Having violated for three years the plain command of the 1945 Convention to “systematically explain” the need for socialism, any honest leadership would, at least, make crystal clear how it was going to do better.
But what do we find? In Part III, Sec. 5 of the Draft Resolution we find buried one sentence: “Communists must present to the masses the perspectives of the struggle, the nature of the next and higher stages of the struggle, and the strategic objectives of the movement.” Does this mean that Communists must propagandize the masses for socialism? That Communists must point out to the masses the path toward socialism? If it means that, then why not say so? But, the Draft Resolution further on in the same Section makes very clear it means no such thing. It says:
“The special path along which the transition to socialism will proceed will be determined by the democratic choice and struggles of the American working class and its popular allies, on the basis of the concrete conditions in the United States.”
This appears very profound, and may even be said to be abstract truth – very abstract; so abstract that its use here and now becomes utter obscurantism. Firstly, it flatly contradicts the previous dictum that “Communists must present to the masses the perspectives of the struggle,” etc. Secondly, it makes it impossible for any Communist, when asked by a worker, “How are we going to get socialism?” to give any intelligible answer. Should the Communist reply: “Well, that all depends... consult ’concrete conditions,’ and look over the ’democratic choice,’ and let them ’determine’; I really can’t say”? What a “vanguard” Party!
But what this abstract formula does do is to prove that the National Committee gives up the goal of socialism, by abjuring the only way to get socialism – by a Workers’ and Farmers’ government, by the dictatorship of the proletariat. Comrade Kuzminov, in his rebuke to James S. Allen (“Political Affairs,” May, 1948, p. 429) says it was “Lenin’s view that a revolutionary democrat is not afraid of socialism, but courageously advances toward socialism.”
The Draft Resolution proves that the members of the National Committee are not “revolutionary democrats,” but are social-democrats. And it is useful to remind ourselves here of the origin of social-democracy as given by Marx, in Chapter III of his “Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” as follows:
“To make a united front against the bourgeois forces, the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat had formed a coalition, the so-called Social-Democratic Party. A joint programme was drafted, joint electoral committees were established, and joint candidatures arranged for. The revolutionary point of the socialist demands of the proletariat were blunted, and these demands were given a democratic gloss. Conversely, in the case of the democratic demands of the petty bourgeoisie, the purely political form was effaced, and they were made to seem as socialistic as possible. That was the origin of social-democracy. The essential characteristic of social-democracy is this: democratic republican institutions are demanded as a means, not for the abolition of the two extremes, capital and wage-labor, but for the mitigation of their opposition, and for the transformation of their discord into a harmony.”
It can even be said that our Party is not even social-democratic, since it is increasingly indistinguishable from the liberal bourgeois party of Wallace, and in this merger of ideologies, the Communist Party is being liquidated. This is the aim of Browder. This is the aim of the National Committee.
The positive trend given to this merger of ideologies by the abandonment by our Party of socialist ideology is to make of the coalition an organ championing class collaboration, which, under conditions of deepening capitalist crisis, will tend to become fascist. When the California State Committee of the Party denounced my Thesis for saying as much, it failed to state why, given the conditions for such development, that such a result should not take place. Any organization, in this period of profound crisis, which excludes from its practical leadership the revolutionary proletariat, can scarcely escape becoming a tool of fascism. The State Committee might look to the Draft Resolution (Part I, Sec. 2), where the National Committee admits the possibility of a “mass fascist organization” being “created.” Of course, the National Committee docs not admit that its own renegacy from Marxism-Leninism in abandoning the fight for socialism is enormously helpful to the “creation” of such a mass fascist organization.
It is a measure of the renegacy of the Party bureaucracy that it digs up from the grave of Kautsky, who ended his days as a pensioner of Hitler, the falsehoods of Kautsky against Lenin, to use against the opposition to its renegacy. Thus we hear in the discussion such silly charges as “You leftists want to fight for the immediate realization of socialism. You want to march down Broadway tomorrow and seize the city hall!”
In 1915, Lenin answered such charges by Kautsky by saying: “Kautsky knows very well that what the Left Wing demands is immediate propaganda in favor of, and preparations for, revolutionary action, and not at all an ’immediate practical realization of socialism’.”
But, more than that, the Party leadership which takes shelter from charges of renegacy by hiding behind the axiom that “the fight for democracy does not hinder the fight for socialism,” refuses to recognize the equal truth that – the fight for socialism does not hinder the fight for democracy. The fact is, that the fight for socialism immeasurably strengthens and purifies the struggle for democracy – bourgeois democracy.
Behind the abandonment of the fight for socialism, there trails a throng of evils, of class compromise, cowardice and corruption that poison the Party in every way. Lenin (Collected Works, Vol. X, pp. 85-87), explains how every method of struggle degenerates, unless it is ennobled by the struggle which sets socialism as its goal. Comrade Adoratsky, in his “Dialectical Materialism” (p. 83), quotes the following from Lenin as illustrative of this truth:
“It is said that guerrilla warfare reduces the class conscious proletariat to the level of degraded drunkards and tramps. That is true. But this only proves that this method must be subordinated and properly coordinated with the main methods of struggle that are ennobled by the enlightening and organizing influence of socialism. Without this latter condition, every method of struggle in bourgeois society, without exception, will, bring the proletariat to the level of the various non-proletarian strata above or below it, and being left to the mercy of the spontaneous course of events, will become bedraggled, corrupted, prostituted.
“Strikes, when left to the mercy of the spontaneous course of events, become transformed into alliances between the workers and employers against the consumers. Parliament becomes a brothel, in which a gang of bourgeois politicians carry on wholesale and retail trade in the ’freedom of the people,’ ’liberalism,’ ’democracy,’ ’socialism.’ The newspapers become procurers, whom anybody can purchase, a means of debauching the masses and of pandering to the base instincts of the crowd.”
One has only to look at our trade union practices, our parliamentary political “deals,” and the cultural corruption of our press in recent years, to see how truly Lenin spoke. All because, in violation of Marxism-Leninism, and the decisions of the 1945 Convention, the Party leadership has given up the struggle for socialism, thus prostituting the ultimate nobility of our Party, and befouling everything it does. Look at the record!
In the trade unions: The abandonment of the fight for socialism in the trade unions, brazenly announced in the 1943 CIO convention, wherein Communist Party National Committee members themselves became the vanguard of all red-baiters, has brought catastrophe both to the Party and the Unions, Yet the Draft Resolution dishonestly tries to lay the blame on “the capitulation” of – others than the Party leadership itself. This crime led directly to the adoption of the Taft-Hartley Law – and to new capitulation on that. Although a wave of rank and file demands for strike action swept the country, a confusing & confused policy of mixed nature, of untenable individual “refusal to sign” on one hand, and of cowardly evasion on the other, was pursued – both suicidal.
Most cowardly of all evasions was the infamous speech of Dorothy Healy in the Los Angeles CIO Council, when, to divert, the demand to strike, she declared, “There is a better way! Build the Third Party next year!” There spoke the capitulators. There spoke the real wreckers of the Third Party. And of the Communist Party, too.
The results of this systematic betrayal of labor is evident on every hand: the Communist Party isolated itself and won only the scorn of the workers. The Typographical Union’s plucky attempt to fight the law was given no help and doomed to defeat, while John L. Lewis, whose reactionary opportunism is at least possessed of some sagacity, has won admiration from millions of workers by showing them that the way to fight an anti-labor law is by mass violation.
And was the Third Party built by this abandonment of socialism in the trade unions? On the contrary, it has left the Third Party virtually without trade union support. What’s more, it was “planned that way.”
The Veterans: Abandoning the fight for socialism, the Party leadership deliberately prevented the building of a militant pro-labor veterans’ organization, insisting on all veterans joining the VFW or the fascist American Legion. So the Third Party has only a shred of support from veterans in the fight for peace.
The Farmers: Abandoning the fight for socialism, it follows that the Party leadership makes no attempt even to reach the farming population, to win the poorer strata to socialism. Instead, the usual “demands for farmers” are put, as usual, in the Draft Resolution, to be ignored after the Convention, also as usual. While hundreds of functionaries are paid from $60 to $125 per week to loaf around New York and hunt down “Left sectarians,” the 6,000,000 farmers of America never see a Communist organizer. Of course, these Manhattan drones are unsuitable, anyhow. But the net result of this persistent failure to build an alliance between workers and farmers, an alliance which the Communist Information Bureau declared on May 15, 1948, “is the basis of all revolutionary activity aimed at liberating the working people from capitalism,” is not only no real mass support among the farmers for” the Third Party, but a virtual withdrawal of any attempt to win the rural poor for’ socialism.
The Negro People: Abandoning the fight for socialism, the present Party leadership has pursued the same policy they pursued under Browder, insofar as turning over to the honest, but reformist middle-class NAACP, the practical work of fighting for the rights of Negroes as citizens. But, even more important is the fact that in abandoning the fight for socialism in all fields, proletarian internationalism is also abandoned, and national chauvinism, of which white chauvinism is an invariable part, has been cultivated to a sickening degree. The result is, that, to a like degree, white chauvinism has increased within the Party itself.
But the remedy for this is, clearly, to restore to Party ideology the noble concepts of proletarian internationalism, restore in living practice the Marxian slogan “Workers of the world, unite!” and expel from Party ideology the nauseating bourgeois “patriotism” of Dennis & Co., and re-establish our patriotism upon loyalty to our class and its class goal of socialism.
But what does the national Committee do? Instead of the only effective cure for white chauvinism, it proposes a quack remedy, and slyly hopes to divert all attention from its general opportunism and betrayal of proletarian internationalism by separating white chauvinism as a symptom, from its cause, and in a separate, very “special” resolution, demands of each member a “spiritual soul-searching” and individual repentance for this “sin.” However, since white chauvinism is not a personal “sin,” but a political phenomenon which can arise in a proletarian Party only when that Party deserts proletarian internationalism and adopts the corrupting concepts of bourgeois nationalism, it cannot he eradicated by any “revival meetings” of party clubs, or any psychiatric treatment recommended by “Doctors” Dennis and Foster, no matter how long their “special” resolution.
But this “special resolution” serves these crafty quacks in the Party discussion to sidetrack the growing rebellion of the membership against the whole system of Right Opportunism. When a member wants to discuss the opportunism of the leadership, he is intimidated thus: “But,” insists every petty bureaucrat, “we must discuss the Special Resolution on the Negro question and if you don’t want to discuss that; then you are surely a white chauvinist!”
This incredible sophistry is coupled with a plain factional witch hunt to “get something” on the private lives of troublesome critics of the leadership, which can be twisted into “charges” of this “sin” of white chauvinism. Comrades who do not “go out” with Negro comrades are, thereby, judged “guilty” of white chauvinism, But other comrades, who do “go out” with Negro comrades, can be and are expelled for “inverted white chauvinism.”
That is, if, in either case, the comrades are critical of the opportunist leadership. If they support the leadership, then they can be – and are – as white chauvinist as they like, and still maintain high Party positions. A case in point is Oleta Yates, tried and found guilty of white chauvinism by the Fillmore Club in San Francisco, but forgiven and made County organizer for her support of the Schneiderman bureaucracy.
Our Party is so corrupted that the masses of Negro people who are attracted to the Third Party are not reached by the ennobling message of proletarian internationalism, and hence strengthen the bourgeois, and not the proletarian ideological direction of the Third Party.
Women: Abandoning the fight for socialism, the present leadership carries on the Browder policy of offering working class women nothing at all as demands for women, as women, in the 18 lines the Draft Resolution devotes to women in Part I, Sec. 4. They are supposed to be “won” to something vaguely called “resistance to Wall Street,” but without our Party calling on them to fight for anything at all for themselves, as women, as a definite, oppressed group. No maternity benefits, no nurseries, no socialized services for housewives, not even equal pay for equal work as workers.
This follows from the “theory” developed under Browder by A. Landy in his pamphlet “Marxism and the Woman Question,” still circulated as “Party theory,” and in which the labor of the working class housewife is held to be socially unnecessary and “unproductive” in the absolute sense, having nothing to do with the production of the commodity, labor-power, and literally excluded from capitalist productive relations.
Such a “theory” defies Marx’s law of value, and furthermore is refuted by Soviet law, which holds that: “The work performed by the woman in the house, in looking after the children, is considered the equivalent of the productive labor of the husband by the Soviet court,” (See “Legal Rights of the Soviet Family,” by G. M. Sverdlov, London, 1945.)
The present Party leadership continues the Landy “theory” in practice. As Browder’s assistants they liquidated the Women’s Councils, the Woman’s Congress, and Equal Rights and Nursery movements. Compelled by the Women’s International Democratic Federation in 1945 to set up a “Congress of American Women,” they have given it over to bourgeois women leaders and reduced it to a do-nothing shadow, which the masses of toiling women never even hear about. As one result, there exists no truly mass and truly proletarian women’s organization to give to the Third Party the kind of support – and control – it needs to develop in a democratic direction, and not in a fascist direction.
Youth: Abandoning the fight for socialism, the present leadership continues the dissolution of the Young Communist League, a crime committed under Browder as part of the general liquidation of the Party, thus cutting off the Party’s source of fighting recruits, the spirited revolutionary youth of a militant YCL. That the National Committee means to continue this liquidation is clear from the Draft Resolution. Instead of a YCL, we are offered something vaguely called “a non-Party center for the Marxist training and education of the anti-fascist democratic youth.“ No YCL, and no demands specifically for youth, nor recognition of youth’s special problems. One result of all this long story of sabotage, is the fact, that, although considerable numbers of youth are attracted to the Third Party by its anti-war slogans, they only become victims of its bourgeois pacifist illusions. This defeats any proletarian effort within the Third Party to mobilize them to support a revolutionary line in the struggle for peace.
It can easily be seen from the above, that in refusing to carry out the mandate of the 1945 Convention to “systematically” propagandize for socialism and thus to “differentiate” ourselves from bourgeois democrats, the present leadership has not only failed to restore our Party as an independent political organization of the working class, but has also – for three solid years of opportunism – so sabotaged the wider mass movement, strangling the mass initiative for simple working class independent political action in its cradle – that the Third Party of 1948 is a party incapable of effectively doing what it is supposed to do – prevent war and fascism.”
It need not have been so. If, in 1945, the Party had begun a vigorous fight to organize a Farmer-Labor Party, founding this upon the great strike movement which rose in 1945 and lasted for nearly two years, and the certain development of the agricultural crisis which began in 1947, and rallying the working class to really independent political action in the elections of 1946, then the Third Party of 1948 would have been quite another sort of Third Party, and a party which could effectively challenge the menace of war and fascism.
But this the Party leadership stubbornly refused to do. It continued the Browder line, refusing to change its role as a tail of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, expelling and slandering as “Trotskyites” comrades who demanded the organization of independent political formations.
True, there was talk about a new party; it was double-talk, as any reading of any Dennis “report” of the past years will prove. Action was forever decried as “premature.” Not until Wallace as “our leader” was assured late in 1947, and Dennis & Co. were assured that the new party would be led by the bourgeoisie, was the Communist tail of the liberal bourgeoisie permitted to wag itself with any enthusiasm. Until then, when it appears that Browder himself had given up Truman, the dominant Browder faction in the National. Committee was prepared to support Truman in 1948, as against the traditional “worse evil” of the G.O.P.
The Draft Resolution simply lies when it says that “from the earliest days after the end of the war” our Party “boldly proclaimed” as “an immediate, practical question... the need for such a new people’s party.” It lies again when it says that our Party’s “traditional fight” is for such a party as the present Third Party. Our “traditional” fight has always been for a Farmer-Labor Party. And it lies once more when it claims “a broader working class base than had the LaFolette third-party-movement in 1924,” if, first, we reckon the growth of the working class, and secondly, the organized working class as the effective form of “support.”
As a result of all this tailism, there is an admittedly bourgeois-led Third Party, which, while attracting wide – but organizationally atomized – support as the party for peace and democracy, is tragically behind time, unstable in both leadership and membership, and unable to organize itself as a real party, founded upon real mass organizations and responsive to the control of such mass organizations on a national scale during this election of 1948. Insofar as this is not effected; a “third ticket” is not a “third party,” but only a device whereby a small band of liberal bourgeois can do what they will, uncontrolled by whatever large number of dispersed “supporters.”
The bubble-gum nature of this “Third Party” may he seen in what is neither its worst nor its best example, in the state of Washington.
There, on April 18, some 1,940 “delegates,” each supposed to “represent” at least ten people, held the “founding convention” of the Progressive Party. Two months later, and only six weeks before the date of the “national convention,” at which time the goal was set for 50,000 voters to be registered as Progressive Party members, the number of voters actually registered was only 300 throughout the whole state!
This “founding convention” was numerically dominated by old age pension groups, attracting delegates from only three trade unions, and sending to the “national convention” not one delegate officially representing labor. Of the 1,940 “delegates;“ only 17 were listed as “farmers,” all with “farms under seven acres,” and none of then actually holding credentials from any farm organization. Thus, the Washington state “Third Party” represents neither labor nor farmers. Truly, “Political Affairs” for May 1948, declared: “The new people’s party is not taking the form of a Labor Party, or even of a Farmer-Labor Party.”
And, about the Communist Party, the self-advertised “vanguard” of the “people’s movement”? At the Washington convention it wasn’t there! Not there at all! As a party, it functionally liquidated itself, hiding its face and merging its membership and its ideology into the party of the liberal bourgeoisie.
Quite correctly did Comrade B. Vronsky of the CPSU, writing in the April 15, 1948 issue of the journal of the Communist Information Bureau, while reviewing Browder’s book, declare that – concerning the 1944 liquidation of the CPUSA by Browder: “The consequences of this false step are felt to this day, notwithstanding the efforts of American Communists to rectify their error and to restore their party as an independent political, organization of the working class.”
The National Committee, violating the mandate of the 1945 Convention, made no “effort” and still makes no “effort” to restore our Party’s independent role. And one of its purposes in postponing our National Convention from 1947 to 1948, was clearly to prevent the membership from interfering with its plans for continued tailism and liquidation until, in 1948, it could present a fait accompli of tailist-liquidationism with the demand that the membership rust endorse its opportunism “or otherwise wreck the Third Party.”
But this is a falsehood. The “Third Party” would be strengthened, not weakened, by the CPUSA changing its own policy and assuming a fully independent role. Even Wallace understands that, and in his New England tour of late June, publicly said so. He accused the Communists of dishonesty, of not “really wanting to help.”
Our Party’s tailism invited red-baiting, and encourages the growing anti-Communist, pro-fascist trend in the “Third Party,” as it did in the CIO. All signs point to a maneuver by the Wallace managers, and with his approval, to get, as Murray did in the CIO, the Communists themselves to “resent and reject” their own “interference” in the “Third Party.” And, also as in the CIO, our Party leaders will find “the unity of the progressive forces” as their “reason” to accept. Whereupon, the bourgeois Wallace managers will move successfully to dump Communists everywhere, to call in the Reuther-Carey forces as a mass labor base.
This would strengthen the “Third Party” trend to become a pace-maker for fascism, allow it to develop the attractive demagogy of the “Third Force,” already voiced by Wallace in his book, as a force against “both” Fascism and Communism.
Against Fascism and for Democracy: Lenin has said (Selected Works, Vo1. III, pp. 378-9): “The proletariat alone can act as vanguard in the fight for political liberty and for democratic institutions… That is why the merging of the democratic activities of the working class with the democratic aspirations of other classes and groups would weaken the political struggle.”
Our 1945 Convention Resolution said the same thing. And now, again, the present Draft Resolution repeats this thought at greater length. In this Resolution, however, the proletarian leadership of the “democratic coalition” is put down as only an “eventuality” as something “destined.” But the leadership which flouts Lenin and disregards every resolution it writes, even while writing it, is obviously passing off words for deeds/
How can the Party which doesn’t fight for its own independent vanguard role, fight for such a role by the proletariat as a class? It doesn’t. Instead, it does all in its power to convince its own members as well as the proletariat that the bourgeois-led “Third Party” can and will defend democracy against fascism.
Every party in America declares it is for “democracy.” In the night, all cats are gray. Our Party makes no attempt to show the masses that there are different kinds of “democracy.” We, too, are “for democracy,” without class distinction. The Draft Resolution says: (Part III, Sec. 2) “American reaction is advancing toward fascism under the banner of ’democracy.’ We must expose Wall Street’s hypocritical professions of democracy.”
How much better can we expose that hypocrisy than by championing socialist democracy – the dictatorship of the proletariat, and by pointing out that bourgeois democracy is only a veil over the dictatorship of capital? We cannot expose anything but our own hypocrisy by remaining silent on the superiority – for the masses – of socialist democracy, meanwhile trying to out-shout reaction in praise of bourgeois democracy, a miserable deceit which Lenin long ago declared the masses recognize as a deceit.
The National Committee is not only dishonest, but utterly anti-Marxist, when in its Draft Resolution it speaks of the danger of a “police state,” as if there could be any other state but a police state, and as if bourgeois democracy is so “pure” that it uses its policy only to help school children cross the street.
Communists fight for whatever there is in bourgeois democracy that aids the toilers in their struggles, and aids Communists to point out at all times the necessity of these toilers to pass onward to the struggle for socialist democracy. As was pointed out in the Manifesto of 1848: “The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement.”
By abandoning the fight for socialism, by merging the democratic activities of the party of the proletariat into a “Third Party” of the liberal bourgeoisie, and by voluntarily surrendering leadership of the fight for democracy to that bourgeoisie, the forces of democracy are weakened, and the forces working for fascism are strengthened.
That the present Party leadership has given up the fight for socialism, is proven not only by the Draft Resolution, but by such flagrant acts of renegacy as was shown by John Gates, editor-in-chief of the “Daily Worker,” when, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 28, he was asked by Senator Revercomb whether Gates “would want the same form of government, as exists in Russia today.” The June 13 issue of “The Worker” says that Gates replied: “No, I would not.”
Against War and For Lasting Peace: Lenin formulated the basic principle of working class struggle against war and for peace in his “April theses” (Little Lenin Library, Vol. 9, pp. 23-4) by saying: “He who simply confines himself to ’demanding’ from bourgeois governments ’the conclusion’ of peace or the ’manifestation of the will of the peoples toward peace,’ etc., is, in fact degenerating into a reformist. For, objectively, the problem of war can be solved only in a revolutionary way.”
Our 1945 Convention Resolution, after asserting the people’s “determination to fight for peace and democracy” as well as economic security, went on to say that: “As class-conscious American workers, as Marxists, we Communists will do all in our power to help the American working class and its allies to fight for and realize this program. At the same time, we will systematically explain to the people… that socialism alone can finally abolish the social evils of capitalist society, including economic insecurity, unemployment and the danger of war and fascism.”
This was – and remains – our Party program, though honored only in its violation by a leadership which now, in its Draft Resolution; seeks to legalize its violation by the adoption of a contrary program, which abandons propaganda for socialism as the only solution of the problem of war and the guarantee of lasting peace, which abdicates all authority within the “coalition” to the liberal bourgeoisie and surrenders the masses who strive for peace to the deceitful bourgeois pacifism of the Wallace kind.
If the problem of war can be solved “only in a revolutionary way,” it imposes a problem of class relationship of forces within the “anti-war coalition,” and requires a fight for the hegemony of revolutionary proletarian ideology, and the isolation and final smashing of bourgeois pacifist ideology within the “coalition” and the “Third Party.”
Bourgeois pacifism is the basis of Browder’s policy for peace. It was in 1945, and it is today. His book, which is really his Thesis for our Party, declares that, “America can be brought back into service of the promise it made at Teheran.” He continues, as pointed out by Comrade Vronsky in his review of Browder’s book, to “identify the Teheran Declaration of the Allied governments on international questions with the internal political problem of the different countries, contrary to common sense.” Browder proposes that American imperialism be “brought back” to its “Teheran promise” by solving the “internal political problem” in the direction of promoting the election of such “enlightened” imperialists as Roosevelt was, and he mentions Wallace as the prototype.
And what does the National Committee propose? It proposes exactly the same course; the course it has followed ever since 1945. It liquidated the only anti-war mass organization (headed by Lieut. Col. Carlson) in which our Party held considerable leadership, and has voluntarily diverted the dispersed anti-war masses into unconditional support for, but not control over, the “Third Party” and its bourgeois pacifist program.
This being Browderism, the Draft Resolution has to use the magic word “Teheran,” as a sign by which all true believers can be recognized. But in so doing, in its conjuring up the ghost of Teheran to express its own Browderite reliance upon bourgeois pacifism, it injects a dangerous note of anti-Soviet renegacy by its implied demand that the USSR, also, rely upon American imperialism being “brought back” to the “promise of Teheran.” In Part I, Sec. 1, it says: “Its (the Soviet Union’s) policy is directed firmly toward securing a lasting democratic peace by carrying out the decisions of the Big Three at Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam.”
The Soviet Union certainly has a right to demand of its former Allies that they do carry out those decisions. And our Party must vigorously support that demand. But it is a piece of unexampled impudence for a Communist Party of the imperialist power which has brazenly violated those diplomatic agreements and is physically mobilizing for war against the Soviet Union, a Communist Party which itself does nothing but rely upon bourgeois pacifism to restrain the war-makers, and “confines itself” to paper demands, to even imply that the Soviet Union should or must, in its consistent struggle for peace, rely solely upon ”the imperialist bandits becoming “intelligent” and consequently being “brought back” to “the promise of Teheran.”
What should be Communist policy toward the Third Party? The National Committee wants it left exactly as is. It tries to frighten the membership into agreement by warning that if our Party calls a halt on National Committee revisionism, this would “wreck the Third Party.” The truth is quite contrary. But this further reveals their opportunism and vulgar pragmatism, which would esteem a dog-fight as a “political success” because it “draws a crowd.”
However, among the expelled comrades there is considerable huffing and puffing over “what to do” about this “Third Party” mess the revisionists have got everyone into. One Ishmael among them speaks in Los Angeles squares, crying his slogan: “For a Wallace World!” Another in New York, joins the Wallace movement under the slogan “Down with Wallace!” Some adopt a “neutral” view that Communists have no other work in the “Third Party” beyond extracting Communist recruits from it. Whole groups already working as isolated segments of a Communist Party simply invent their own “attitude toward the Third Party.”
Such self-invented policy may even be correct. But it is wrongly arrived at if it is not consciously built on previously adopted Party program and maintains the concept of continuity of Party program, even though developing and changing that program in application, always explaining the reasons for so doing.
But all, without exception, seem so far unable to conceive of the development of Party program as a process arising out of the past, as well as extending into the future. In essence, they adopt an anarchist (Dowling) concept toward previous Party conventions and convention resolutions, that there is no worthy heritage from the 1945 Convention in the form of program that must remain basic program until a new convention – with membership approval to be voted after such convention – makes a new one on the basis of re-evaluation of the past program. This anarchist concept greatly weakens the opposition and strengthens the Party leadership in the struggle for membership support.
It was to be expected that the Party leadership would speak sneeringly of the emphasis which “The Crisis in the CPUSA” put upon leadership violations of the 1945 Resolution and Constitution, as being “legalistic.” This is organizational opportunism and expresses the anti-party philosophy of anarchism.
But when comrades expelled for trying, in essence, to carry out the 1945 program – while of course not sneering, and while frequently indicting the leadership’s inconsistency in relation to Party law and program – themselves appear to regard the 1945 program as no longer binding upon them, as of slight importance and, when seeking to orientate themselves on policy, as non-existent and without worth, then they, too, share in this anarchist disregard for Party conventions and resolutions.
It is obvious that anarchistic attitudes toward convention resolutions can inspire no confidence in workers in any new leadership, if that new leadership does not consciously practice more respect for such resolutions than the present leadership does. In this case, practice more respect for the 1945 Resolution as affording a basis upon which, by use of Marxist-Leninist principles toward current problems arising from developing events, the correct policy application of program can be determined.
The 1945 Resolution called for building a “democratic coalition,” in which the CPUSA would really play an independent role as the advocate of socialism, strictly differentiating its revolutionary democratic ideology from the ideology of “bourgeois democrats.” The “Third Party” has arisen since then. But do these new circumstances make it inconceivable that the 1945 program should be consciously taken as a basis in constructing current policy toward the “Third Party?” Of course not. By reference to the 1945 program, by use of Leninist analysis of the “Third Party,” and by observance of the CI Seventh Congress principles of how people’s fronts should be built, a correct policy can be determined.
The “Third Party” represents, for one thing, a split in the camp of the bourgeoisie, and Leninism teaches us that such splits should be encouraged as an “indirect reserve” of the revolutionary proletariat. Hence, Communists in the “Third Party” should, for one thing, by demanding democratic control from below, mobilize mass pressure upon the bourgeois leaders to deepen the split, prevent compromises and enforce performance of promises.
The “Third Party” represents, for another thing, an organization in which millions of oppressed and exploited people place their hopes for peace and democracy, not realizing that it is, in its present form and leadership, incapable of attaining those aims. Hence, Communists in such a party should strive to make these millions the “direct reserves” of the revolutionary proletariat by winning them ideologically and organizationally for a People’s Front type of democratic coalition, if possible transforming the “Third Party” into such a People’s Front.
Of course, even a correct policy can be mis-applied. There was some friendly criticism in the February, 1948, issue of “Spark” against the emphasis which I placed in my Thesis upon the building of a People’s Front in this country through “the coalition of workers and farmers by federation of organizations.”
The “Spark” held that, in America, this was both unwise and impossible; firstly because it would mean “control from the top,” and impossible because of the reactionary character of “union leaders” who, it was assumed, would bureaucratically determine all questions for their unions, and first of all would determine that their unions would not federate or affiliate to any People’s Front. It was assumed that I did not know of, or had not considered, this supposed “invincibility” of the trade union bureaucracy. Of course, I knew of it as a “theory,” but as a wrong one, usually associated with “leftism.”
My position for the “federation” structure was further mistakenly assumed to exclude all individual membership participation in a Farmer-Labor Party by component individuals of the federated organizations. That was not my position, and I should have made it clear. On the contrary, I hold that such participation in the mass activities of a Farmer-Labor Party is what makes an otherwise formal federation real, durable, or even attainable.
What better work in “building” a people’s front party can an individual member of a union do, than to win his fellow-workers in his own union to the support of such a party so thoroughly that their union officials cannot avoid federation when it is proposed, or sabotage it afterward?
That is the way to build and control the people’s front from below. But if, as “Spark” proposes, federation is barred, and the people’s front is limited exclusively to mass assembly of heterogeneous class membership associated only as individuals, then, indeed, control “from the top” is assured. Not by trade union bureaucrats, but by party bureaucrats.
More important, by barring federation, “Spark” bars the Communist Party as a party, as an independent organization with its own separate program, and gets us back to Right Opportunist liquidation by merger.
In its criticism of my emphasis on a people’s front through federation, and to support its idea of limiting the organizational structure of a people’s front to a mass association of individuals, “Spark” (February, 1948, p. 18) said: “It is true that in European countries a federation is involved – but even there, Tito made some very important criticisms. In his recent report to the People’s Front Congress in Yugoslavia, Tito emphasized the character of the People’s Front as the ’organization of all progressive individuals.”
In the light of recent Communist Information Bureau (CIB) criticism of Tito for this very thing, this “leaving of the Party dissolved in the impartial People’s Front,” it would seem that the “Spark” might reconsider its February position and publish the result of such consideration.
The Draft Resolution declares (Part III, Sec. 3) that the Party “holds high the banner of proletarian internationalism.” But in deeds it does nothing of the kind. It made no call for mass support to the French and Italian strikes, and falsely said the French strike was “lost.”
In words, the Party “supports” the peoples of Greece, China and Indonesia, but in deeds it does nothing under its own name, and sabotages what independent organizations try to do. Asked by a non-party organization to announce a demonstration against the mass executions in Greece, at the Party’s May Day meeting in Los Angeles this year, Party leader Nemmy Sparks at first refused. Then, reconsidering, he promised, to make the announcement. But in “fulfilling” the promise, he announced only the “news of the executions,” and did not announce the demonstration of protest to be held against the executions! As for Indonesia, nothing was done but to boycott the non-Party organization which tried to help Indonesia, and when an Indonesian Communist asked a Party trade union leader to try to arouse the union membership to refusal to load arms being sent against the Indonesian people, ho got a cold refusal and a reference to the sacred “union contract.”
Falling in with the decriers of Vyshinsky’s magnificent exposure of American war-mongers, the “Daily Worker” wrote that “it is not necessary to agree with what Vyshinsky says,” to “differ” with “our” imperialists. And to show the Party’s utter servility to war-mongering, the “Daily Worker” carries day after day a free advertising campaign for “The Iron Curtain” in its “Screen Guide,” the issue of July 1, having 36 separate listings “guiding” readers to that many theatres where this anti-Soviet film was playing.
Foster had his chance to “hold high the banner of proletarian internationalism,” when, on May 23, he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Questioned by Senator Ferguson, as to what the Party would do if “Russia attacked the United States,” Foster answered that the Soviet Union is “not imperialistic, so to assume it would attack is ridiculous.” Trying to sit between two chairs, Foster went so far as to say the Party would “not support” a war on the USSR.
But, proletarian internationalism requires something more than neutrality. And Foster refused to follow Lenin’s famous axiom (Little Lenin Library, Vol. 2, p. 4) that: “A revolutionary class in a reactionary war cannot but wish the defeat of its own government.” Then Senator Ferguson asked: “Then you’d be with Russia?” Foster replied: “What we would do would be to fight for early termination of that war on terms of a democratic peace.” He added that he would take “the same stand in event of an imperialistic war with any nation, whether it was with Russia, Great Britain or France.”
But this stand is not that of proletarian internationalism. It is the stand taken by Kautsky and the Russian Mensheviks in World War I. They did not “support” that war, neither did they oppose it. They called “for a democratic peace,” without annexations or indemnities (Little Lenin Library, Vol. 21, p. 61). Lenin denounced such a stand in his book called “The Proletarian Revolution and Renegade Kautsky,” in which (page 62) he said:
“Theoretically, this is complete inability to dissociate oneself from the social-chauvinists, and complete confusion on the question of defense of the fatherland. Politically, it is the substitution of petty-bourgeois nationalism for internationalism, and desertion to the reformists’ camp, the renunciation of the revolution.”
More than that, it is worse than Kautsky, whose declared “neutrality” was as between two warring imperialisms, while Foster’s “neutrality” was his stand in a war between an imperialist aggressor and the country it attacked (according to his own statement about which would attack), the victim of aggression being, in Foster’s own view, the Soviet Union. And Foster’s voluntary statement that the Party would take the “same stand” in event of an imperialistic war with “any nation, whether it was Russia, Great Britain or France,” puts him in the exact spot with Tito.
This can easily be proven by referring to the criticism by the Communist Information Bureau (CIB) as published in “The Worker” of July 4, 1948, page 4, column 2, where it is said: “Leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party have adopted a point of view unworthy of Communists, and have behaved toward the USSR in the same manner as toward bourgeois states.” “This, ”the CIB held, is an “anti-Soviet position.”
As for the “proletarian internationalism” of John Gates, editor of the “Daily Worker,“ who appeared before the same Senate Committee the same day, when asked by Senator Ferguson whether, if drafted, he would fight against Soviet soldiers, Gates replied: “Of course I would fight. If I didn’t, I would be killed.” (See stenographic report of Gates’s testimony in “The Worker” of June 13, 1948.) To such low treachery to proletarian internationalism is our Party reduced by its “forgetting” the call of Marx: “Workers of the world, unite!”
But, as all renegades do, the present leadership tries to throw dust in the eyes of Communists here and abroad by a gamble on double-dealing. Although the Draft Resolution says that “Labor must take to heart the great message... issued by the Conference of Nine European Communist Parties” (which established the Communist Information Bureau), the Party leadership itself ignored that “great message’s” plain invitation to join the CIB. And, without consulting the membership, officially refused to affiliate, giving the cowardly excuse that, to do so, night mean “new repressions against the Communists.”
More than that, the Party leadership boycotted the journal of the CIB, never mentioning it in the Party press, refusing to sell it or circulate it among the membership, thousands of whom remained ignorant of its existence, until comrades expelled as “left sectarians” advertised it in their small journals and – against the fierce attacks of the bureaucracy – sold it at Party meetings. Even the commercial news agency which imported it among other foreign publications, was denounced in. inner-Party communications as an “anti-party outfit.”
But the need to assume an “internationalist” pose as the convention approached, as these same leaders assumed a pose of contrition in 1945 in order to avoid being removed and get “one more chance,” led to them putting in the Draft Resolution some kind words about the CIB. And then, at the end of June, came the CIB’s statement against the leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party.
Like gamblers risking their pile on the turn of a card, the Party leadership rushed sensationally into the headlines denouncing the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, and fervently “approving” the accusations of the Communist Information Bureau. This, although the same accusations, correctly leveled by the CIB against the Yugoslav Communist leaders, could with equal validity be leveled against the leaders of the CPUSA.
The leaders of the CPUSA, no less than the leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party, are guilty of deserting internationalism for bourgeois nationalism, of revising Marxism-Leninism, of “dispersing” the Communist Party into what, here in America, is not even a people’s front, of proclaiming no independent program as a Communist Party and “satisfying itself with the program” of the “Third Party,” of being “sectarian and bureaucratic,” of “cultivating within the Party military methods of leadership,” of “denying the most fundamental rights of party members,” of “answering the least bit of criticism on incorrect proceedings with cruel repressions,” and of holding “anti-Soviet conceptions.”
What can be said of such monumental hypocrites, except that they must be driven from the posts they dishonor as Communist Party leaders.
Since January 1947, when I submitted my “Thesis on the Next Tasks of the CPUSA” for discussion in defiance of the bureaucracy, but in accord with Article IV, Sec. 5, of the Party Constitution, which provides that members “shall have the right and duty to examine the execution of policies” – not only during convention periods, but always – events have confirmed it in all basic particulars.
The Thesis (published in booklet form under the title “The Crisis in the CPUSA”), circulated for three months to the membership, was ignored all that time by the bureaucracy. Finally, on March 30, the State Board of the CP of California was compelled to issue a “statement” in the “People’s World” of that date. But the “statement” was no answer. Indeed, in the whole of its 800 words of name-calling, wild slanders and lies, there was only one significant assertion, and that was that, in the State Board’s view, my Thesis “need not be dignified with an answer.”
Having trained the membership in non-Bolshevik ignorance as to the meaning in Party life of a Party Thesis, even their own, the bureaucracy dismissed the Thesis as “Harrison George’s book,” as if it were a piece of nondescript “literature,” and upon which they poured a nondescript collection of falsehoods. Let us examine some of these falsehoods:
(Of course, so far as form is concerned, my Thesis was published in book form. But the contents represented a Thesis or program for the Party. And as such, entitled under the procedure followed in every properly conducted Communist Party, to be regarded as such a Party document. A Thesis always being a proposed Party program, whether proposed by a majority or a minority or even one person. By referring to my Thesis as a “book,” and never as a Thesis, the bureaucracy hopes to discredit its real importance as a Party document and proposed program.)
Jack Tenney, head of the notorious “Tenney Committee” in California, holds to the fascist “theory” that even the faintest liberal is “really” a Bolshevik trying to hide his Bolshevism. To smell out such people, Tenney tries to connect every liberal expression with the revolutionary expressions set forth in the books of Marx, Lenin and Stalin, which books he produces in committee hearings as “evidence.”
Such “evidence” Tenney uses in an attempt to prove that the CPUSA leaders are what they are not – “Bolsheviks trying to overthrow capitalism.” This, the Party leaders, who sacrifice principle for bourgeois “legality,” deny by denying the present validity of the theories of Marx, Lenin and Stalin, as having any application to “America” or their current policies.
Naturally, when Tenney introduced my “book” (Thesis), they denied that, too, along with the works of Marx and Lenin. But, since they must maintain before the Party members that they are “really” Marxists-Leninists, they are caught in the dilemma of acknowledging on one hand what they deny on the other.
Therefore, although my “book” proved beyond doubt they are not Bolsheviks, but even anti-Bolsheviks, they are forced to accept Jack Tenney as their “theoretician,” a fool as well as a fascist, who cannot see any difference between a bourgeois liberal policy and a Bolshevik policy, and to tell the membership in their “statement” that Tenney “approved” or “praised” my “book.”
They do not venture to quote from the Tenney Committee records to back up such absurd charge. The burden of proof is on them, and as I have no financial means to enter legal action to get even a look at those records, my “book” remains no more “approved” or “praised” by Tenney than are the books of Marx and Lenin, and the copies of the “People’s World” and “Daily Worker” which Tenney also introduced into his committee hearings.
In the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 28, 1948, Senator Wiley introduced, against Foster, a book Foster himself had written in 1930, when Foster had not yet become a renegade from socialism, a book entitled “Toward a Soviet America.” Foster was compelled to maintain the general line of that book. But does anyone dream of lying about this incident as they do about my “book,” and saying that Senator Wiley “approved” or “praised” Foster’s book? And that, therefore, both Foster and his book are to be condemned? Of course not.
The State Board also hinted darkly that my small “book” was “apparently well financed.” On the contrary, it very “apparently” was not well financed. Otherwise, it would have been printed in more readable type and with more pages. Those who “financed” its small cost are those who previously financed Party projects, but who are disgusted with its revisionism. Also, when a real Communist Party exists, I shall account to responsible comrades in full detail. But if the bureaucracy wants to discuss finances before the membership, it has more to account for than one little “book.”
Let us look how the “Third Party” is handled in Seattle. The leadership of the PCS became the leadership of the Progressive Party. But, as leaders of the PP, they repudiated $5,000 indebtedness which they had contracted as leaders of the PCA, $550 of this being owed to the International Longshoremen’s & Warehousemen’s Union. When a worker, a Communist, proposed that the PP Treasurer be bonded, he was howled down as a “disrupter” and an “anti-leadership element.” Later came the Wallace meeting, with admission being $1. Some 7,000 people were reported to have attended. Collection was $2,700. The hall rent could not have exceeded $500. Very little advertising was done. Yet, when the tumult died away, the report was made that, gross receipts from both admission and collection were $7,500; expenses $4,500; net income $3,000 of which $2,000 was to go to the Wallace national Office. This may all be honest financing, but if so, it leaves much to be explained.
While the bureaucracy officially stands on its flat refusal to answer the basic questions raised in my Thesis, its stooges in the lower ranks have been forced to say something in reply to members who, in the pre-convention discussion, have demanded reasonable arguments against it. Thus, these stooges have produced some rare “political” arguments:
1. To my charges of Right Opportunism, they reply that I an “a vegetarian.” I must admit that, with steak at $1.00 per pound, the ”left sectarian” bean does have a political attraction.
2. Performing a miracle of absentee, non-medical diagnosis, these stooges make the claim that the hypertrophy of my left ventricle is not so serious as the cardiologists who have examined it say it is, and so I’m not really ill at all. This, presumably ”answers” my charges of bureaucracy.
3. A real feat is attained by the combined effort of several lesser bureaucrats in answering my charges of liquidationism. First, some comrades who want a reply on that, are told that I “mistreat my wife.” Other comrades, meanwhile, are told by other bureaucrats that I “didn’t pay dues for three years because my wife wouldn’t let me.” This question of who mistreats whom, can be understood “politically,” however, only when it is known that, although I always paid Party dues promptly, I have no wife.
To such abysmal depths do the present Party leaders reduce the “theoretical level” of Party life. I speak of it only to prove their utter bankruptcy as Marxists-Leninists.
Only political infants do not know, and do not keep always in mind, that one of the annoyances in the working class movement is the constant infiltration of agents of the class enemy, spies and provocateurs who, if they are to be effective, must strive for influence and responsible positions. Yet, because they do not enter the movement by proffering certified police credentials, but on the contrary hide their purpose and often work long and “honestly” to gain confidence and position, they afford no “proof” of their true character, except in the net result of their “work.”
Our Party is not immune. The saboteurs in the USSR, who “built factories” (on swampy ground so they would soon collapse), who “dug mines” (where they knew there was no coal), who as Party and state officials said they “defended the security of the Party and the Soviet state” (when they expelled and even killed honest Party members and leaders); all have their counterparts in the Communist movement of this country in those the “build united fronts” that result in disaster to the Party, those who “devotedly labor” on programs that are doomed to self-defeat, and those who “for security reasons” stifle all inner-Party democracy and “defend the unity of the Party” by splitting it with expulsions of honest revolutionary workers.
The correct method of meeting this eternal offensive is not to go about shouting “Spies!” and alarming and weakening the movement with “fear campaigns.” Too often, that is precisely the way real spies act. The Bolshevik way is to insist always on performance, on check-up, and above all ever to be vigilant in the field of theory, where the class enemy rarely can conceal his true character. Nevertheless, when lack of real vigilance and neglect of theory has led a movement to the brink of disaster, it is necessary to speak of spies.
In 1947, in the magazine “Foreign Affairs,” there appeared an article signed only ”By Mr. X,” who later turned out to be a Mr. Kennan of the State Department’ special policy-making bureau that includes all military and civil (FBI) intelligence representatives combined. Mr. X’s article dealt with the problem of how to ”contain Communism.” Among other things Kennan wrote of, he said that the Communist Party in the USSR was impossible to influence in policy by penetration of capitalist agents. But he held it was quite possible “to influence the Communist movement outside of Russia.”
It can be taken for granted that long before he wrote about it, it had already been tried out. The unbroken record of renegacy at the top of our Party, the disastrous “mistakes” repeated year after year – and, more significantly, defended by every wile and strategm and bureaucratic repression; all this cannot be put down to “innocent” errors or “accidental” “reformist trends,” prevalent as such errors and such trends may be.
Nevertheless, the most potent antidote is political exposure, the ideological weapon, the theory of Marxism-Leninism, the demand for check-up and control from below by the honest membership of the Party. That is why my Thesis kept to the line of theoretical assault on the whole system of revisionism and bureaucracy which has polluted our Party.
But, while the Party bureaucracy waited three months before it even said it “need not answer” my Thesis, it was no surprise to me that the “answer” of the class enemy came instantly and by detour “from the Left.” For “Mr. X” and his kind are not such fools as to work out a plan to influence Party leadership policy to the Right, and then take no stops to influence and cripple the inevitable opposition which was bound to arise against that Right Opportunism.
While the Party bureaucracy remained silent, my Thesis drew instant, furious and sustained attack from what calls itself the “NCP Report,” being the publication of what calls itself “the New Committee for Publications,” edited by one Lyle Dowling, of antecedents so suspicious, apparently, that he chooses, when possible, to let them remain a mystery.
This “NCP Report” began publication in 1946, after Dowling had, or so it appears, swindled Bill Dunne and Sam Darcy out of their mailing lists and then brushed them off, inserting himself among the growing groups of expelled comrades, although he assorts that he was never expelled. Indeed, he told an expelled comrade of the “Spark,” that he had never been a Party member. But this seems to have been a lie, since another expelled comrade on the Now York waterfront remembers him as a Party member of many years ago, supposedly at that time, active among the Irish in New York.
According to report, he once held some managerial job on the “Brooklyn Eagle” and lost it during a strike. He told one expelled comrade that he went abroad during World War II, working for the Office of War Information. To have gotten such job, he had to apply for it and pass the most rigid “loyalty” tests of the FBI, and to got abroad, had to meet the requirements of the famous OSS; General Donovan’s spy service. No doubt this honest labor was all against the Axis.
Apparently, he had scarcely finished – if he did finish – this confidential government job after the war, when he felt a sudden urge to get active in the Communist movement once more, this time propagandizing for a very, very ̶bona fide” Communist Party, a brand new one, which would have nothing to do with the existing Party, about which he invented a “theory” that holds that those who now mislead it should be left alone to continue to mislead it. While doing this, he reputedly is a “bona fide” music teacher. As such, let him be judged by his tunes.
Dowling specializes in furnishing “leftist” reasons for not fighting Right Opportunism. The Party membership is “all petty bourgeois“ and besides there practically aren’t any members any more. That even if this were true, it would still be necessary to isolate the misleaders ideologically to prevent the working class in the developing crisis from following them, is a fact Dowling ignores.
Although my Thesis spoke only of “revolt” from below, and urged the membership to drive out the bureaucrats physically as well as ideologically “with whips of steel,” Dowling persistently misrepresents me as believing that the “reformists can be reformed” and as naively confident that the 1948 Convention, which I said (page 131 of “The Crisis in the CPUSA”) would be “a farce,” would surely be “captured” by the opposition. By those gentle falsehoods, Dowling tries to represent me as a “reformist” and “honest Menshevik.”
By insisting that all criticism of the Party must come from outside, and not from inside, where it would have some effect, the ̶-;invincibility” of the bureaucracy is “proven” by Dowling. And, therefore, he equally “proves” the need not only of a new, but a permanently separate and different party, a “bona fide” CP, composed exclusively of “bona fide” workers, and, as would naturally follow, presided over by “bona fide” Bolsheviks such as Mr. Dowling modestly assumes himself to be.
Mr. “Bona Fide” tried, in “NCP Report” for May 17, 1948, to use the “History of the CPSU” to bolster up such a non-Bolshevik position, by carefully picking out a part of a paragraph on page 139. Beginning with it, he quoted: “No Bolshevik now doubted that it was unthinkable for the Bolsheviks to remain in one party with the Mensheviks.” He continued with that paragraph down to and including the following: “Unity with the Mensheviks within a single party was thus assuming the character of a betrayal of the working class.”
Right there Mr. Bona Fide stopped. And the reason he stopped quoting at that point was that the rest of the paragraph says: “Consequently, the actual rupture with the Mensheviks had to be carried to its conclusion; a formal organizational rupture and the expulsion of the Mensheviks from the Party.” To have quoted that, would have exposed himself as a fraud, for Dowling holds that not only is “the expulsion of the Mensheviks” from the CPUSA “impossible,” but that it should not be even attempted.
This doubtless delights the Mensheviks in our leadership. Because it is precisely in the attempt, in the course of the struggle which is the attempt, that the preparation, ideological, political and organizational, of the Party members and all workers influenced by them is carried forward, so that, at “its conclusion” a new kind of party can be built. Whether the more official apparatus of the “old” party is “captured” or not, is a secondary matter.
Mr. Dowling, though not genuinely desirous of having a “bona fide” Communist Party, can only operate among the expelled comrades by appearing passionately eager for such a party. In order to give that appearance, but really to defeat that aim, he demands that the process of getting such a party must begin with “its conclusion.” This, of course, breaks up the development of the process, nullifying its effect, with the end result of an abortive separation of individuals from the Party, and the atomization of the revolutionary wing by its individual elements “quitting the Party” as individuals.
To justify such an undialectic “theory” of Party development, he must invent another “theory” which holds that the process has already ended, and that all revolutionary elements, individually, “quit the Party years ago.”
The most cursory reading of that part of the “History of the CPSU” from page 138 to 143, will show how patiently the Bolsheviks prepared for the conclusion of the process, which came at the Prague Conference in 1912. How they “dug a gulf between the Menshevik workers and the Liquidators,” fully recognizing that many workers were still Menshevik in ideology up to that time, but could be won over to Bolshevism. Read there also how the Mensheviks were expelled, the Bolsheviks brought into “a united Bolshevik party,” the “banner of the Party preserved,” and, in the words of Lenin, how the Bolsheviks “restored“ the Party.”
Dowling’s ideas are utterly alien to such a concept. Though he gabbles about “dialectics,” he teaches the undialectical concept that, in his “bona fide” party there can be unity without opposites, while, in the bad “old” party, there can only be an endless conflict of opposites without any perspective of unity.
Dowling dare not adopt nor approve of the slogan issued by Lenin in the old “Iskra”: “Before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all firmly and definitely draw the lines of demarcation.” Dowling teaches the opposite: once the lines of demarcation arc drawn, any later and greater unity is out of the question. The Party must not only be split temporarily, but permanently. This is, quite clearly, a “theory” directed against working class revolutionary unity, clearly an anti-Party theory. Who profits from this? The bourgeoisie. Who is Dowling serving? The bourgeoisie.
Not content with falsifying the “History of the CPSU,” Dowling falsified the history of our Party in the same issue of his “NCP Report” (May 17, No. 82, p. 7). He tells how “The Left Wing of the Socialist Party met in June 1919.” How the minority of the Left Wing, which he highly praises, wanted “a Communist Party at once.” How the majority, which Dowling pictures as utterly stupid, wanted to “work within” the Socialist Party for some time more. And how, Dowling triumphantly cries, they “failed,” they got kicked out of the convention hall. But still those idiots didn’t apologize to the wise minority, who couldn’t wait and who set up their own separate party. So there were two parties, and, says Dowling, “the dispute between the two raged for some years.” All this “proves” something to Dowling, that only “centrists” want working class unity.
But Mr. Dowling told no more of what happened. He “forgot” to say that, when the separate delegations from the two Communist parties arrived at the Second Congress of the Communist International, the delegates from Dowling’s admired minority got the damndest political spanking of their lives from everyone there, from Lenin down, and were advised that they better go home and unite with the majority. And that’s exactly what they did. So much for Dowling’s venture into history, in an attempt to mislead the expelled comrades.
Mr. Dowling for some time pretended to highly respect the Communist Information Bureau. But when, in the CIB organ of April 15, 1948, Comrade B. Vronsky of the CPSU and an authority on political parties, while reviewing Browder’s book, gave a plain if passing hint that the CPUSA “to this day” suffers the “consequences” of Browder liquidationism, Mr. Dowling rushed to attack Comrade Vronsky and to help the liquidators. He attacked Comrade Vronsky not merely for what Vronsky had said, but because what he said indicated that there might be lots more to say.
The Party leadership did not need to defend themselves at all; Dowling did it for them. In an article three times the length of Vronsky’s whole review, Dowling attacked the particular paragraph which by any standard of political analysis criticized the present CPUSA as not yet being “an independent political organization of the working class.” The paragraph, he cried, was of “no special importance.” To “prove” that, Dowling spent some 4,000 words (NCP Report, No. 80, May 3) of lies and misrepresentations upon the paragraph, the whole review and Comrade Vronsky. He reviled, rejected and spat upon the whole review and its Soviet Communist author. Although nobody had done so, or thought of doing so, he “warned” that no one should “base their work” on that paragraph. And Dowling, who had ridiculed my opposition to factionalism, suddenly decided that any use of the Vronsky statement about the CPUSA would be bad because it would be “factional.” More, it would be “speculation.” And since Comrade Vronsky had spoken the evil phrase about the need “to restore” our party, Dowling denounced him.
Of course, with the same hypocritical smirk with which Dowling “welcomed” my book, he also “welcomed” Comrade Vronsky’s review. But then he began by asserting Comrade Vronsky “doesn’t know” things; his review is “inadequate”; it has “serious faults”; and Comrade Vronsky “ought to have tried a little harder to got to the bottom of the matter,” and this “whether his name be Vronsky or something else.” And, finally, although Comrade Vronsky had nowhere used the word “Browderism” in his review, Dowling shoves that word into Vronsky’s mouth and proceeds for pages to berate him for it, saying in part: “The term ’Browderism’ standing by itself, must be one of rather ambiguous meaning to many readers of the organ of the CIB, especially those of its readers located in Europe, Asia, Africa, or Latin America.”
This sort of thing, this slanderous attach on a spokesman for the CPSU within the CIB, is Dowling’s way of gradually winning over comrades among the expelled to a position of Trotskyism, signs of which appear in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and which have come out full-blown in the case of Sutta and the Durham, North Carolina, “Road Ahead” group. By such intrigue, Dowling helps Foster to present false “proof” that he was correct in 1946 when he said that the expelled comrades “had nowhere to go but to Trotskyism.”
Dowling always resents any criticism of the Party leadership but his own. And for good reason. His own “criticism” is invariably “loaded” with some defense of that leadership. Pretending to “defend” my charge that Schneiderman is a concealed Trotskyite against the State Board’s assertion that such charge was a “slander,” Dowling (“NCP Report,” No. 77, p. 5, April 12), said: “It is a serious charge, there can be no doubt; but, considering the fact that Schneiderman finally admitted it, under pressure, it can hardly be regarded as a slander.”
Nobody knows of any such “admission” by Schneiderman. No such “admission” has ever been made public. If such “admission” was over made at all, it was made privately within the Party leadership. How, then, does Dowling know of it? And if he has a secret pipe-line bringing confidential information from the top Party leaders to him, that same pipe-line must carry information from Dowling back to certain Party leaders. This is only one instance of objective evidence that such is the case.
When Bittelman was found to be basking in bourgeois corruption in a Miami apartment, the rent for which, for a (four month) season is $2,500, Dowling could not ignore the political moaning of this, but he softened the blow. After all, he said, “Bittelman is no longer a young man.” Well! If all the “old men” in the Party are to be allowed to live like a bourgeois on Party funds, why excuse the political corruption which picks out for such unseemly largesse, only the “old men” who have ruined our Party!
While the bureaucracy threatens the members “Don’t talk to expelled people!” Dowling tells the expelled comrades: “Don’t talk to the members.“ When the bureaucracy is accused of violating the 1945 Program and the Party Constitution, both Dowling and the bureaucrats join in the cry: “Don’t be legalistic!” When Foster and Gates betrayed proletarian internationalism before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dowling “praised them with faint damns” for “lack of clarity,” but smuggled in “a few congratulations” for Foster.
In his “theoretical” attack on my Thesis, Dowling carefully avoided its programmatic line for a people’s front, based on the 1945 Convention Resolution and applied in the light of the Seventh Congress decisions of the CI. Instead, he made “serious” criticism of my use of quotation marks and charged me with the awful deviation of misquoting Gertie Stein’s poetry! This, surely, is “centrism!”
But Dowling produced a “program” of his very own. The 1945 Convention Resolution he ignored. Literally everybody does, including those leaders who wrote it, so he was not exceptional in this, but only carried forward the anarchist-opportunist concept of Party organization which has afflicted our Party as an internal cancer for years. However, Dowling also ignored the Seventh World Congress. Not daring to attach it, he “overlooked” it.
In “NCP Report,” No. 76, of April 5, Dowling presented what, as he said, “after a certain amount of investigation and experimentation(???),” he considered as a modestly self-made program on how to make a revolution. “The best single basis” for a program, he declared, is “the program adopted at the Sixth World Congress in 1928.”
Why did Dowling skip over the Seventh Congress and choose the Sixth? He failed to say why. But the reason is that the Sixth Congress program was almost wholly devoted to the tasks of Communist Parties after they will have won the proletarian dictatorship. The Seventh Congress elaborated the tactical line of the People’s Front against war and fascism as the path by which to attain the proletarian dictatorship. Unless we assume that in America we already have won the proletarian dictatorship, we cannot ignore the Seventh Congress as Dowling does. That’s obvious. It is equally obvious that Dowling again proposes beginning at the conclusion of a historical struggle, in order to wreck it.
Dowling is against a People’s Front. It would split, even if temporarily, the political parties of the bourgeoisie. He’s against that. But a permanent split in the Party of the proletariat pleases him immensely. If this is a way to attain the dictatorship of the proletariat, then Lenin was no Leninist. If it is not the way, then Dowling is a charlatan.
But, since even a charlatan must present his goods in some reasonable guise, Dowling had to speak a little about “preparation,” “preliminary conditions,” and “immediate program.” His program, therefore suffered from internal contradictions. But, however hedged with escape clauses, his theorems could be summed up as follows:
1. The proletariat is “not yet in position” to “engage in the final revolutionary struggle.”
2. “All economic demands of the working class,” summarized as the demand for “a higher standard of living” by Dowling, are “just plainly impossible as long as capitalism prevails.” He itemized these demands: “full employment, higher money-wages, lower taxes on workers’ incomes, lower prices for necessities of life, and an end to artificial shortages of necessities.” “This demand,” he concludes, “for a higher standard of living for the proletariat, cannot possibly be realized prior to the proletarian revolution.”
This is a resurrection of Lassalle’s “iron law of wages,” which Marx ridiculed in his “Critique of the Gotha Program” as a “law neither of iron or of sponge.” It is a “theory” which Marx destroyed in 1865, when he debated Citizen Weston, as can be seen by reading Chapter 14 of “Value, Price and Profit.”
Defending Dowling against this charge, Al Lewis of Los Angeles held that his Manhattan mentor and prototype had “not meant it that way,” but had “merely” wanted to advance the idea that, since the economy of capitalism is working in this period on such a narrowing rate of profit, even the simple wage demands of the workers, without them knowing it, “become revolutionary demands,” demands upon the bourgeoisie for surrender of state power. This “theory,” however, is rank economism, the “theory” of the Mensheviks which Lenin fought 45 years ago in “What Is To Be Done?”
This poses the question as to what is to be done by Mr. Dowling: does he wish to stand with Lassalle against Marx, or accept the invitation of Dowling Junior of Los Angeles, and stand with the Russian Mensheviks against Lenin?
But Mr. Dowling is not content with committing mayhem on Marxian economics. Though he finds that the proletariat is “not yet in position” to overthrow capitalism, and cannot even fight successfully for its economic demands under capitalism, he gets around to proposing, as one “preliminary condition to be achieved,” and achieved “under existing circumstances” and “in illegal ways,” nothing loss than “the arming of substantial segments of the working class.”
Only to political kittens who haven’t opened their eyes to the ways of provocateurs, could such arguments even appear “Marxist-Leninist.” They are, in fact, utterly anti-Marxist-Leninist. Aside from the obvious bear-trap such kittens are misled into, no theory or practice of proletarian revolution justifies the Dowling proposals. While history shows that the phenomena of a revolution and of an armed proletariat coincide, nowhere is there any historical proof that the arming of such proletariat simply must occur illegally. More, under what Dowling himself describes as “existing circumstances,” with a proletariat not at all ideologically prepared, any so-called “Communist” who is fool enough to follow Dowling’s advice, is obviously wrecking any genuine struggle of the proletariat for power by trying to carry through Dowling’s formula of beginning with the conclusion of any and all proletarian movements.
And, what convincing arguments do such “theories” furnish the Right Opportunist leadership to give the Party membership as to the “leftist phrase-mongering” of those who attack leadership revisionism.
It would seem that such transparent frauds and fraudulent programs would be seen through and have no effect. But, though limited, Dowling has had some effect, and where that effect is most noticeable, is where the fight against the revisionist leadership most lags. He expresses a deviationist trend which accompanies correct struggle, and it must be understood as such and fought against everywhere as the struggle develops.
There are historical reasons for this. In the general chaos of theory introduced by the Right Opportunists and maintained by their bureaucracy, honest workers are ideologically pulled to the Right or pushed to the “Left” without being conscious of either. The bureaucrats insistently teach – have taught for years – a mere mechanical “unity of the Party,”
But never have the membership been taught the continuity of the Party, as an entity, developing down the years through change, inner conflicts (not only external struggles!), splits and reunifications, becoming steeled through defeats and successes alike, always developing as the living brain of the working class and as its ”party”–the Party.
It Is not for nothing that Stalin spoke to our Party in 1929 on the value of ”the Party spirit,” which far from being an empty phrase means a deep realization that, through whatever may befall, nothing shall prevent a revolutionary worker from fighting for ”the Party,” even when this means that he must fight against its leadership and get expelled for a time. If he is sure that he and his expelled comrades are the bearers of the correct Marxist-Leninist line, then he regards these expulsions as invalid, and struggles to return to the Party “officially” by vindication of his political position in the minds of the membership.
And where does he get the weapons for this ideological struggle? Naturally from the century-acquired heritage of theory and practice since Marx and Engels. But he also must go to his own Party’s history and use his own Party Program, which has also developed through the years, sometimes weakened as it well may be by opportunist dilution, but again strengthened, by later Party conventions, and in the light of Marxist-Leninist theory and experience, not only and not merely use it against the opportunist bureaucrats who violated it, but himself abide by it in whatever practical work confronts him and his comrades.
This concept of Party and Party Program as something of continuous development through conflict and change, of historical and not momentary growth, has been missing from our Party except where scantily and abstractly taught in Party schools. But it is a Bolshevik conception as one may see in every line of the ”History of the CPSU.” And like all other Bolshevik conceptions it has been generally unlearned or forgotten.
It is not surprising, therefore, that when mass expulsions began in our Party, of comrades who were plainly trying to carry out the Party Program embodied in the 1945 Convention Resolution, while the leaders who expelled them were violating that Program, many of these comrades became utterly confused as to what to do.
And when Dowling stepped into their midst, to tell them what to do, some of them thought he was wonderful. Some still think so. And some, strange to say, who consciously reject him and all his works, unconsciously adopt his method in their own disregard of the importance of Party Conventions and Convention Resolutions, and when seeking “a program” forgot that the 1945 Convention Resolution remains our Party Program, basically, until a new and democratic convention alters and improves on it in the light of experience and analysis.
Thus whole groups, and even legitimate units, of expelled comrades never thought of themselves as segments of the Party, temporarily separated from its organized formations by illegal and unjust bureaucratic decree, and obligated as associated Party comrades to continue acting as such in continuing to carry out the Party Program that they had not only –with rare exceptions –voted for but even gotten expelled for trying to carry out.
No, they forgot all that. They forgot that the Party has statutes, a Constitution. If the leadership faction destroyed the democracy of democratic centralism, then they must destroy its centralism; they also must conceive of their role as being “factional,” walk straight into Dowling’s camp for a “new” party, surrender to anarchist conceptions, giving up the Leninist concept of a fight for the unity of “the” Party on the basis of the Party Program, even through and beyond a split caused by the splitting policy of the bureaucratic faction. Instead, they practically acknowledged not only the legal but moral right of the bureaucratic opportunists to expel them; instead of Party clubs or units, they organized in “Committees of Correspondence” (a slight remnant of Browder’s 1776-ism), and bethought themselves of what to do about program.
Here they struck a real problem. Since they had never learned or had forgotten that both Party and Program are products of historical development going back from Browder to Ruthenberg, Debs, Haywood, DeLeon, Albert Parsons and Friederich Sorge; developed from the “Labor Parties” and their programs which sprung up in 1886, reshaped and changed through decades of struggles, splits and unifications, down to the 1945 Convention Resolution of the CPUSA, they could see only one thing. The CPUSA had disowned them. Hence, they disowned the CPUSA and its program. The 1945 Convention Resolution became unthinkable. They were Adams, starting off in the Year One – in search of a program.
Naturally, without the unifying influence of a regard for the continuity of development of Party and Program, the divisive force soon almost disintegrated what unity there was with strident clashes between “theorists” and “actionists.” And in such a situation, Dowling, with his “new party” and “new program” to be hatched out under every man’s hat, held holiday.
But life and Marxist-Leninist theory is winning, though because of the low theoretical level generally all such deviational trends must be constantly combated. In San Francisco, where Dowlingism had, with very divisive results, once practically nullified even the official position of the SFCC to “strengthen the struggle of the revolutionary elements within the present CPUSA,” Comrade Vern Smith has declared in its June Bulletin that such nullification is ended, and with it goes a bundle of Dowling’s pet “theories.“ Of principal importance is it that Comrade Smith enunciates with some clarity the fact of Party development as a historical process. He says:
“New Parties never spring from a vacuum. They are always built out of, grow out of, split from, or take over existing organizations. There is not one Communist Party that did not come from an original split in the Socialist Party, a movement similar enough so that a reform in it makes it possible in many countries now for the two parties to merge back together – and with no loss to Communism, either.”
That is correct; only it might be added that program also evolves with the Party, out of the past, and cannot be invented successfully by individuals or even groups, without taking account of existing and past Party Programs, and the joint consideration of all revolutionary workers through a Party Convention, a real and democratic convention which must take place against the will and over the opposition of the liquidators.
But if the San Francisco comrades advanced a step in their concept of the Party some New York comrades of the three groups represented by “Turning Point,” slipped backwards in the first issue of that journal. They slipped back to the anarchist concept of Dowling. They discovered that factionalism has virtue. Logically, they also discovered the need for, not a “new kind” of party, but a “new” party about which they quarrel with Dowling merely on the question of timeliness.
In concept, they surrender to the bureaucratic faction controlling the apparatus the claim to be “the” Party. And, too impatient to await general consent in the calling of a new democratic convention sponsored by the revolutionary wing, they invent a “new program,” too. This, they urge in “Turning Point,” all other groups to adopt.
It seems that, with the best of intentions, these comrades, who have much good work to their credit, are losing their bearings, confusing the struggle for “the Party” with the struggle for the apparatus. Discouraged at the dim struggle for “the Party” with the struggle for the apparatus. Discouraged at the dim prospect of wrenching the apparatus from the faction which has seized it and maintains its seizure in contravention of the Party Constitution, they lose the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist concept of “the” Party.
In the current case of Yugoslavia, where the struggle of “the healthy elements” is obviously far harder than here, whore there is neither a Party Constitution nor Party Program, where a conceited bureaucracy acting as a faction may well split the Party, the Communist Information Bureau nevertheless approaches the question as a struggle for “the Party.” The C.I.B. “does not doubt the ability of the C.P. of Yugoslavia to fulfill its tasks.” There is a concept here which all comrades would do well to heed.
Evidently the National Committee thinks that the majority of the present membership want a party with a revolutionary program, else it would not so hypocritically try to conceal its revisionist line with Marxist-Leninist decorations and pretense, meanwhile bureaucratically repressing all members who see through the pretense and demand basic changes.
Since the 1945 Convention, which demanded that bureaucracy be put an end to, bureaucracy has grown until it is stifling the Party. Not only have good comrades who were expelled lost their bearings in the general chaos and disruption of Party theory and organization, but thousands have, in apathy or disgust, dropped out. More tragically, the Party has lost the respect of the working class. The bureaucracy falsely ascribes this to the “campaign of reaction,” and pleads that “right now,” because the Party is “under attack,” its bureaucratic opportunist leadership must not be removed or even criticized.
This is preposterous. History shows that persecution alone never killed a really revolutionary party. On the contrary, if it stands firmly based on the proletariat, it thrives under persecution. And precisely at the times when it faces its greatest trials is when a Bolshevik party most ruthlessly purges its ranks.
By official decree, the present “pre-convention” discussion is no discussion, but an appeal for blind support. Basic criticism simply is not permitted. Comrades are suspended, expelled, brow-beaten, misdirected to meetings, transferred to new clubs or sections, cajoled with flattery, offered party position in exchange for support, suddenly charged with “factionalism,” or of being “spies,” invited to just “drop out” of the Party; anything and everything to stop the revolt from below.
Just as in 1945, the bureaucracy is making up its lists of all those who, in the present discussion, have opposed them with even the least criticism of their basic line. As happened after 1945, this new crop of critics will be expelled, under one pretext or another. And with them will go wider numbers of comrades who simply refuse any longer to stay in such a Party, The bureaucracy is thus wreaking and splitting the Party in order to maintain an opportunist, liquidationist line. This reckless insistence on mechanical control of the Party’s leading committees, regardless of the terrible injury it inflicts upon the Party, is the very essence of factionalism, and an exact copy of the factionalism of the Lovestone leadership of our Party, when Comrade Stalin in 1929 denounced the Lovestone leadership as “a faction” no less factional than the Foster opposition to it. As a faction, the present leadership has no regard for the Party as a Party, and can only maintain its factional control by splitting the Party, through forcing out of the Party all those who do not bow to “its” factional commands.
At present this factional disruption by the leadership is threatening utterly to destroy our Party. All true Communists, whether expelled or still remaining in the Party, must rise to their historic duty to save and restore our Party.
With those inside the Party, that duty must be discharged by resolute refusal to accept any new edition of the hypocritical “change of line” which these same leaders pretended to make in 1945. If, in standing for the rejection of the leadership’s present repetition, in its present farcical “convention,” of the 1945 deception of the membership, they get expelled, that must be accepted as an honor and proof of their own Party integrity.
With those outside the Party, in the expelled, but so far dispersed clubs and groups, whose numbers are growing, they have the duty now, without too much delay, to come together provisionally, not as a party, but temporarily as a revolutionary or Left Wing (without quotation marks}, to encourage, assist and give refuge to those who are being driven out of the Party by the splitters and factionalists during and after the present so-called “discussion” period.
The “platform” or “program” of this Left Wing is the simple one of saving the Party by giving organizational form and drive to what is now become a movement of the revolutionary opposition, platform or program which, though inherently political, is primarily organizational. In this activity, all comrades can well look to the classical example of the preparations made by the Bolsheviks for the Prague Party Conference of 1912.
With these preparations having been made, a new convention must carry through the unfinished business of the 1945 and the present illegally assembled bureaucratic caricature of a “convention.” Such a new convention, called from below and over the heads of the usurpers who have seized the apparatus of the Party, must not only give the utmost democratic expression in the election of a new leadership and the formulation of a new program (which only a convention can finalize), but it must expel the liquidators and opportunist splitters, and restore our Party as an independent political organization of the working class.
Until this end is achieved, all talk of Party unity is truly anti-Party, the babbling of what Engels called “unity fanatics” who do not understand that principles come first, before there can be any real unity. Or else such talk is merely a defense of these who themselves are splitting our Party. This aim, the restoration of the CPUSA by wrenching it from the hands of its destroyers, is now the main task.