Presented: Main Political Report delivered at the Founding Conference of the POC, August 17-18, 1958
First Printed: August or September 1958
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
We are living in the most revolutionary period in the history of mankind. We are now entering an epoch in which the course of history is taking a decisive turn towards world socialism. The relationship of political forces on a world scale is evermore tilting in the direction of an overwhelming victory for the forces of socialism and anti-Imperialism.
Recent events in the world prove conclusively the assertion made by Comrade Khrushchev in his letter to Eisenhower on August 5th. In his letter Khrushchev stated:
“...can we close our eyes to the fact that we are living in an era of great revolutionary transformation of the social order on a new basis. This way, which first arose in the Soviet Union, is now acquiring an increasingly powerful impetus.
“It has spread to China, countries of Eastern Europe, Northeastern Europe, North Korea and North Vietnam.
“At the same time people in many countries of Asia and Africa who have been cruelly oppressed by the imperialist states have acquired their national independence in struggles against their own and foreign oppressors.
“People of a number of other countries on these ’continents of the globe are waging a national liberation struggle and there can be no doubt that they will gain a victory and that no foreign bayonets of the colonizers will be able to prevent it. For an end has come to colonialism. Such is the inevitable progress of history. Such is the will of the people.
“There are still certain people in the United States who persist in priding themselves that the United States government interfered in the affairs of Guatemala and expelled the lawfully elected government and president. Can it be possible that that also accords with your interpretation of caring for small countries and respecting their independence and dignity?
“Since that, Mr. President, is the case, we have different interpretations of the rights of small peoples. In generally accepted political language such actions on the part of the United States government amount to trampling on the rights of small peoples and foisting onto them one’s dictate, and it is against this that a stubborn struggle Is being waged by the peoples of all countries, whose Independence is being encroached upon by the United States and Britain.”
With Bolshevik frankness, Khrushchev presented the imperialists with the undeniable facts of history. Not only did he point to the irresistible forces that are rising like a tide, hut also showed the futility of any attempt to deter these forces.
Communist hearts, real ones, are gladdened, and their convictions reaffirmed when they note that the average 10% yearly increase in production in the Soviet Union is steadily narrowing the gap between the Soviet Union and the United States in per capita production. Communists of the whole world, with the exception of Titoists and revisionists, exult at the perspective of China attaining productive parity with Britain in the next five or six years. Communists of the Bolshevik type rejoice and express their deeply felt pride in the great achievements of the Soviet Union in science, education and the arts. The spirit of the Sputniks belongs to all humanity!
And while the socialist world marches on, the imperialists sink more and more into the mire of their insoluble contradictions. Imperialist Ideologists, such as Alsop and Lippmann, asked the question just before the American-British military intervention in the Middle East, “Which is worse, intervening or staying out?” And their conclusion was, “Take your pick, masters, and hang with either one!”
Perhaps the most decisive political development in the world has been the unmasking of American imperialism. This bloody beast strutted around the world disguised as a “democratic force”, “defender of the rights of small nations”, etc. The whole history of exploitation of Latin America was cleverly concealed. Even as recently as the Suez crisis in November and December of 1956 the American imperialists were able to hide their predatory nature before the peoples of Asia and Africa. Today, American imperialism stands naked, and its hideous and bloodstained fangs and claws are clearly seen as it snarls back at those world forces that are blocking its path to the “kill.”
Throughout the world there is a rising revulsion and opposition to American imperialism. Even in their so-called “secure stamping ground”, in Latin America, the hatred of American imperialism takes on mass proportions, as witnessed by the Nixon fiasco of a few months ago.
It is precisely this rising and active opposition to American Imperialism that impels it to become more threatening and dangerous. Note the sabre rattling and braggadocio of the military brass. These are danger signals. It means that the wounded and accosted beast is panicky and desperate. It is capable of any insane action. It means the danger of war has become more acute.
Internally, the rosy picture of “economic stability” and the “soundness of American democracy” painted by the leadership of the CPUSA has been thoroughly dispelled by life and objective experience. The economic downtrend has gone beyond the recession stage of the economic cycle. The official figure of six million unemployed workers testifies to the actual severity of the crisis. And yet, all the Party leadership has done on the question of unemployment, despite their demagogic Let’s-get-to-work slogan, has been to adopt the program of the trade union bureaucrats, and to let life solve the problem.
The dream of “full integration for the Negro people”, borrowed entirely from the files of bourgeois reformism, is feeing dashed to bits by the living experience of the masses of the Negro people.
Gov. Faubus is elected by an overwhelming majority and proceeds to turn back the limited advances made by the Negro people. The decision in Norfolk, VA to wait seven years before integrating, is a moratorium of democracy for racism and reaction. All of this is helping to dispel the pipe dream of full “integration” within the context of the capitalist system. The mounting instances of terror and brutality against the Negro people, and against the Puerto Rican, Mexican and other minorities, proves that, if anything, bourgeois democracy in the United States is rotting away and that it is not the “dynamic force” it is supposed to be according to the pseudo-Marxist leadership of the CPUSA.
It is within this context of the national and world situation and perspectives that we want to discuss the situation within the CPUSA. First we must say that the task of combating revisionism became a problem for all Communist Parties of the world following the 20th Congress of the CPSU. It was soon after the. 20th Congress that the imperialists unleashed their all-out drive to stem the onward drive of the socialist sector of the world and to held back the national liberation movements of the colonies. The imperialists spared nothing in that effort. They threw in all their agents and reserves in a desperate attempt to stop the march of history.
How was it possible that in CP’s which had gone through years of struggle, some elements in the leadership could turn tail and desert the camp of the revolution? The answer cannot be found in a search for subjective reasons. The answer lies in the nature and character of present day society. Lenin, the great master of social science, gives us the socio-economic answer. Here is what he it said about the class roots of revisionism and renegacy.
“The main cause of the Party crisis in indicated in the preamble of the resolution on organization. This main cause is the purging of the Party of the vacillating intellectual and petty-bourgeois elements, who joined the labor movement mainly in the hope of an early triumph of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and were not able to withstand the period of reaction.” (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. IV, p.3)
“...prison, exile, penal servitude and emigration constantly increase the number of those withdrawn from the ranks, while the new generation grows slowly. Among the intelligentsia, especially that section of it which has ’hitched on’ to one or another form of legal activity, there is developing a complete lack of faith in the illegal Party and a disinclination to spend efforts on a task which is particularly thankless in our times. ’Friends in need are friends indeed’, and the working class, which is passing through the difficult times of attack by the old and the new counter-revolutionary forces, will inevitably witness the defection of very many of its intellectual ’friends for an hour’, friends in times of festivity, friends only for the duration of the revolution, but who are yielding to the general depression and are prepared to proclaim the struggle for legality at the first success of the counter-revolution.
“(A bourgeois intellectual, who in the days of his youth joined Social-Democracy, is inclined, because of his petty-bourgeois psychology, to give up the struggle in disgust: so it was, so it will be; to defend the old illegal organization is hopeless, to create a new one is still mort- hopeless.)” (idem, pp. 57-58)
History and experience teach us that revisionism and reregecy stems from the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia. This does not mean that middle class communists by the fact of their class origin, are ipso-facto revisionists. Marx, Engels and Lenin in themselves disprove such a thesis. What it does mean is that revisionism and renegacy germinate among the petty-bourgeois in the party. Since the 20th Congress, parties all over the world have had to tackle their petty-bourgeois revisionists and renegades.
It took the expulsion of General Secretary Markos Vlafiades and his henchmen to cleanse the Greek CP. The CP. of Brazil had to expel several of its top revisionist leaders before the danger of putrefaction and contamination was over. In Britain, Professor Levi and Peter Fryer were expelled for their revisionist theories. In France, the expulsion of Herve did short work of the French revisionist intellectuals. Concerning the party in the Netherlands, we quote from an article which appeared in Pravda, May 28, 1953, under the signature of CC. member I. Wolff:
“Heihyes distorted the principle of democratic centralism. He isolated the conception of ‘democracy’ from the conception of ’centralism,’ counterposing one to the other instead of considering than as one inseparable whole. Under the slogan of ’reduction of centralism’, Heihyes attempted to prevent the Secretariat of the Party from giving guidance to the Communist press. He demanded for the membership of the Party an unlimited right to continue discussion in the Party after a decision was adopted by the majority. He even went so far as to come out for a tolerant attitude towards different tendencies in the Party and for their being represented in the leadership, consequently, for an ideological confusion in the Party, for the transformation of the Party from a vanguard of the working class into a Party of the Social-Democratic type.
“In January (1958), the Central Committee established the fact that there was functioning within the ranks of the Party an organized Right faction under the leadership of Brandsen and Reiter. This faction attempted to win over to its side one of the organizations of the Party in Amsterdam and disclosed to it its plans. From these plans it was clear that one part of the Right group left the Central Committee or even the Party, in order to have a ’free hand’, and the other part had to act within the Party. To this part (the Ins) belonged Reiter, who, after this conspiracy was exposed, was expelled from the Central Committee.
“Brandsen, Reiter, Vagenaa and Hortsak and others were expelled.”
Comrades, note here that this “unity of all tendencies” which was proposed by the Dutch revisionists, and combated and defeated by the rest of the Party membership, note we say, that this constituted the policy of the whole leadership of the CPUSA.
And what about the results? Let us quote again that part of the Pravda article which analyzes the possible effects of the “unity of all tendencies” policy.
“...ideological confusion in the Party …transformation of the Party from a vanguard of the working class into a party of the Social-Democratic type.”
Do you Comrades recall the spectacle of Davis and Charney, Foster and Gates, Dennis and Stein, indeed the whole leadership, singing the praises of “all trends unity” at the national and State Conventions? Do you recall the hollering against “polarization” by the Foster-Dennis center faction? That policy, which the Dutch party escaped by its decisive opposition, is in fact what has caused the CPUSA to sink into the mire of revisionism and its most deadly modern variant, Titoism.
The question arises ’ why was this policy adopted by the CPUSA and rejected by the Dutch party? The answer is ’ because there never was a real opposition to revisionism among the leaders of the CPUSA.
There were indeed variations and shades of revisionism and opportunism. There were indeed differences in the method of adopting revisionist policies. Some of the leaders (Gates, Charney) wanted a clean break with Marxism-Leninism, while others (Dennis, Davis) insisted that the best method was to speak from both sides of the mouth.
The result was a sham battle which in actual fact constituted a division of labor among the leadership in their common task of converting the CPUSA into a “party of the Social-Democratic type”. Note in the experience of the Dutch Communists, the quick work they did of the “tactic of working from inside and outside” the Party. Haven’t we seen this happen openly and unchallenged in the CPUSA? Isn’t it a fact that while Gates, Charney and others have left the Party and devoted their time to the organization of the so-called American Party for Democratic-Socialism, the bulk of the open liquidators such as Healy, Lightfoot, Fine, Stein, Stone, Bittleman, Nelson, Roberts, Schneiderman, Lima, and a host of others, have remained behind to continue their dirty work?
Isn’t it a fact that the leadership is aware of the connections and constant meetings between the “ins” and the “outs”? Why don’t they expose the wreckers? No amount of “left” demagogy can conceal the fact of the existing connivance between all the leaders whatever faction they belong to, whether Dennis-Jackson, Davis-Thompson, or Gates-Healy-Lightfoot.
It is enlightening to observe that the very same bunch of revisionist-bureaucrats who projected and adopted the “all trends unity” policy and thereby institutionalized factionalism in the Party (all tendencies except the consistent Marxist-Leninist, it must be made clear), and who in fact rejected the Marxist-Leninist principle of democratic-centralism, are the very ones who now shout so loud against “factionalism” and for “democratic-centralism.” In the past they were all for “democracy” in the Party, and as Ben Davis put it, “like the Chinese Comrades do, let’s allow all flowers to blossom.” (Of course, that was a revisionist distortion of the correct policy of the Chinese Party and it was put forth with the idea of facilitating the dirty work of the open revisionist liquidators.)
But now the leadership says “we’ll have no more of that ’democracy’ nonsense... from nov on we’ll have ’unity’ of a different type...’unity’ with the accent on centralism. We have defeated revisionism. We got rid of Gates and Charney... now is the time to end factionalism. Our immediate task is to get rid of the “Ultra-Left.”
So says the leadership. Our answer to this demagogy is this: You did not get rid of Gates, Charney, & Co. They left the Party under their own steam, with a few hundred thousand dollars from the Party treasury, charged with the task of organizing “the Party of Democratic-Socialism”. You didn’t get rid of any open revisionists in the Party AT ALL. Did you get rid of the ten National Committee members who voted for the anti-Soviet, anti-Hungarian and pro-imperialist resolution introduced by Dorothy Healy on the question of the execution of Imri Nagy end Maleter at the last National Committee meeting?
You know that that resolution is being circulated all over the West Coast and the Mid-west, officially as well as extra-officially. Perhaps you are waiting for Dorothy Healy to be “assigned” to the Party of Democratic-Socialism,” and then boast of getting rid of her!
You have a peculiar way of fighting revisionism. The open liquidators offer counter-revolutionary resolutions and you reward them with posts in the N.E.C, as you have done with Lightfoot and Winter. You reward them for Soviet-baiting by placing them in the program committee, as you have done with Nelson, Stone and Bittleman. Why do you act this way? Because there is no fundamental political or ideological difference between your faction and that of the open liquidators. Because you have been promoted from the role of conciliators to the role of “leaders” charged with the task of continuing the political and ideological legacy which the open liquidators left to you in the form of the 16th Party Convention decisions.
In an article against Titoism that appeared in the “Peking Review”, no. 17, we read:
“In his report to the 7th Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Tito called Djilas a revisionist. ’By orders from outside and by Judas Silver’, Tito said, ’these traitors wrote slanderous pamphlets against the Socialism and reality in Yugoslavia.’ However, as pointed out correctly, by an article in the West German TARESSPIGEL of April 22, 1958, ’here is harsh mockery. For the basic ideas of this program were drafted by Djilas himself who is today behind prison bars.’ Of course, there is a difference between Djilas and the Tito group. It is that, while Djilas does not bother to don the cloak of Marxism-Leninism, the Tito group still uses Marxism-Leninism as a disguise. But has it ever occurred to Tito that the content of the program of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia is actually another edition of Djilas’ “new class”? Tito might well hold up Djilas as a mirror to see his own reflection.”
How well this applies to you, the present leadership of the CPUSA! Don’t you call anybody a revisionist! Just look into a mirror and see how closely you resemble Charney and Gates.
On examining the experience of the Dutch Communists, we must point to the catastrophic effects of the failure of the CPUSA to struggle forcefully against revisionism. Let us deal now with the experience of another CP. We refer to the now defunct CP. of Puerto Rico.
This party (CPPR), led by a band of petty-bourgeois opportunists, made public a resolution, in December of 1956, which the whole comprador press in Puerto Rico publicized and editorialized extensively. In this resolution the leadership of the CPPR characterized the Soviet Union as “the bloodiest imperialism in history” and called for the support of “Hungarian patriots fighting for national liberation.” This resolution was published a few days before the trial of the leaders of the CPPR (Smith Act defendants). For some reason, which is not so mysterious or so hard to understand, the trial was postponed from December 1956 to April 1957. April 1957 came and went and no trial took place.
In the meantime, the ideological leader of the CPPR, Cesar Andreu, had written a thesis on “American Democracy” and published the novel The Defeated (whose title reveals the main theme) for which he received a citation of literary merit from the University of Puerto Rico.
This spring the Court of Appeals rendered a decision dealing with the case of the leaders of the CPPR. The decision, presented by Judge Polo of the Appeals Court, included the following:
1. The CPPR was not and is not subversive.
2. Its leaders are not Moscow controlled.
3. Two of the defendants who had lost their jobs should get retroactive pay going back to 1950.
Isn’t this a wonderful example of bourgeois justice? Of course the CPPR is not subversive! It is dead! Of course the leadership of the dead party is not Moscow-dominated! It is clear that they are dominated and decisively influenced by American imperialism.
We make the specific charge that a leader of the CPUSA acted as ambassador for Gates, Dennis & Co. in “convincing” the leaders of the Puerto Rican Party of the wisdom of making public the anti-Soviet Resolution of December of 1956.
Armed with the anti-Soviet resolution of the N.C. (CPUSA) of November 2nd and 19th, 1956, this “ambassador” went to Puerto Rico in December of that year and succeeded in selling the idea to the leadership of the CPPR. On his return he spread the tale that the CPPR was “filthy with left-sectarianism and should be liquidated.” The name of this “ambassador” is William Patterson.
It is instructive to observe that this particular task fell on the shoulders of a leader of the “left”. To sell anti-Sovietism to the CPPR and then to distort anti-Sovietism into left sectarianism, no less, is no mean trick!
We know that the ruling class in the U.S. is ruthless, but it cannot be said that they are naive or stupid. No, Comrades, when this bourgeoisie wields its carrot and club policy it is from unswerving instinct. When this highly class-conscious imperialist bourgeoisie forgives and publicly rewards Communists, you trust conclude that this official “mercy” fend other displays of humanitarianism end “justice” are nothing but payment for services rendered to imperialism.
Of course, Andreu and Co. ascribe their good fortune to the “dynamics of American democracy”. However, to those who understand the nature of capitalist society, the meaning is clear. Isn’t it a fact that American imperialists are “forgiving” Communists, not only in Puerto Rico, but in the United States as well?
When we begin to understand the policy of the carrot and club of the class enemy we get an insight into what makes the leadership of the CPUSA tick. Then we understand the political and class roots of revisionism. Then we begin to understand the origin of the pseudo-Marxist theory of “peaceful and parliamentary transition to socialism.” Then we begin to understand that the “anti-monopoly coalition” is a battle with windmills. And we begin to see the reason for adopting the Titoist “independence”, “interpretation of Marxism” and other revisionist trash of the 16th Party Convention.
When was the last time the Comrades heard a blast from the bourgeoisie against the leadership of the CPUSA? Just observe how objectively Harry Schwartz writes in the New York Times about the leadership of the CPUSA these days. He just casually remarks that Davis represents “the Stalinists” in the Party. No harm in being a “Stalinist” in the CPUSA! Wonderful bourgeois objectivity, this, which reflects a profound understanding of what is going on in the Party. The keen sense of the bourgeois apologist tells H. Schwartz that no danger threatens the interests of his masters from that quarter.
We learn two important lessons from the demise of the CPPR. One is that revisionism and opportunism in sufficient doses are quite capable of killing a Communist Party. Two, that the attitude of the bourgeoisie towards a given Communist Party is an excellent weather vane in determining the soundness of its line and policies.
Revisionism and opportunism have killed the CPPR and fatally mangled the CPUSA. The American imperialist bourgeoisie just continues to heap “mercy” and “justice” on both the corpse which is the CPPR and the body in agony which is the CPUSA.
In regard to the perspective of our movement, we must be absolutely, clear as to the meaning and significance of the concrete situation in the Party and the specific stage of development of the inner-Party struggle. Unless we grasp this it will be difficult to project a correct orientation and tactical direction in our movement.
The concrete situation in the Party is as follows:
Fact no. 1 – The CPUSA is flat on its face organizationally. Despite the doctored reports that reach the rank and file, the Party has dwindled to practically a couple of thousand nationally, and it just merely exists in a state of stagnation and inertia to which the misleaders have brought it.
Fact no. 2 – The state of ideological rut to which the existing membership has been driven. Revisionism has taken a terrible toll, not only by driving the bulk of the membership out of the Party, but also by ideologically and politically disarming the comparative handful of members remaining in the Party.
Fact no. 3 – The leadership is well entrenched. There is not the remotest possibility of forcing it to adopt a correct line of struggle, nor of replacing it with a leadership that would fight for a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist line. By utilizing the ideological mess which exists; by developing the cult of the personality to the heights; by corrupting and bribing; by every method conceivable they have dug in once more. It is a dangerous illusion that some day, some how, the Party membership will get rid of those misleaders or their revisionist line.
Fact no. 4 – The leadership can no more let the Marxist-Leninists stay in the Party than it can get rid of the open revisionists. The same pressure that impels the leadership to be patient with the open liquidators, forces them to act drastically with the consistent left.
Fact no. 5 – The drive against the consistent left is no mere maneuver or bluff. It’s an expression of political necessity. It’s the official policy of the leadership. It flows logically from the Titoist line of the leadership. Here is what National Organizational Secretary, Thompson, said in his report to the last National Committee meeting.
“There was a time when Gates and Clark and Fast et al were running rampant, when our Party couldn’t do much to defend itself against factionalism. Well, that day is past. Our Party is in the process of regaining its solidity as a Marxist-Leninist organization. This process has reached a point where it has the capacity to declare war on factionalism no matter what direction of the political compass that factionalism comes from – whether from the direction of revisionism or the direction of dogmatism.
“The NEC of our Party presented a line on this question of factionalism, which was contained in the interview I gave to the WORKER on May 4th. Between this and our next NC meeting practical measures should be undertaken to carry this into effect. Let us undertake move against, and eliminate all significant factional groupings and all dual centers of leadership during this period.”
Now read how this line is being applied concretely in Illinois.
“This is not a fight against this or that tendency. This district will fight factionalism from any quarter, right, left or otherwise. This fight against factionalism is a fight for the Party. It must be handled on more than an ideological basis alone. At the same time our district is waging the ideological and political straggle, against revisionism and dogmatic, sectarian trends and tendencies.
“There are some who say we are waging a one-sided struggle by this attack on factionalism in the South Side. We assume this means we are waging a struggle against factionalism of the ultra-left, but not that of the ultra-right. If these comrades can point to the existence of an ultra-right faction in Illinois, if they have any facts that bear this out, our State Board and Committee will be glad to receive the information and we assure them that we will act as firmly and persistently to defend the Party from that factionalism as we are in the case under discussion.”
Now we could call attention to the “two front war” demagogy. We could tell Lightfoot where Jim and Molly West, Sam Kushner, Morris Childs, Max Weiss and Co., as well as Claude Lightfoot himself, reside – but what’s the use? The important thing to note is that the consistent left is not just being threatened, but that they are being driven out. Note the deadline in Thompson’s report. Between June and September 1958 the Marxist-Leninists must be eliminated from the CPUSA.
As a matter of fact, the ouster of the consistent left started long ago. The isolation of the consistent left from the membership has been something deliberately planned by the leadership as far back as the pre-Convention period. Even in the apogee of the “all trends unity” days, the consistent left was carefully screened. There has never been any dissemination of the Marxist-Leninist point of view in Party publications, except when the leadership set out to get rid of the consistent left and they published a short article by Comrade Marino just for the record.
Unless we want to get into some legalistic hair-splitting as to whether we must wait until everyone is expelled, before we realize that we are being out, we must understand that in reality the leadership is driving the whole of the consistent left out of the Party. This is important because the leadership is doing everything possible to have us fall into just such a trap. If we could be cajoled into waiting while the piece-meal expulsions are accomplished, that would suit then just fine.
That is why the leadership has let loose all the conciliators against us, trying to prevent us from holding this conference and hoping that a mood of indecision develops in our ranks. We shall not allow the misleaders nor their conciliators to divert us from the task at hand. We will act forcefully and decisively.
We are following the road pointed out by life and the laws of development of the inner-party struggle. We have invented nothing. The only thing we contribute is subjective understanding of the objective development of the struggle for a Marxist-Leninist party.
The inner-party struggle has reached a point where the purely ideological character of the struggle has developed into an open political and organizational schism.
Nor is this the result of the inner-party struggle as it has developed in the past couple of years alone, in point of fact, this process has been developing since the Browder period.
In his report to the last N.C. meeting, Bob Thompson remarked, “Let us at this meeting take a fresh look at our Party – at the direction in which it is moving – at its mass activities and at its inner-party life. I would urge that we do not do so from the viewpoint of the undertaker surveying his neighborhood for business purposes...I would rather urge that we adopt the viewpoint of the gardener.”
Let’s see. From the standpoint of the history of our Party, which role la this bureaucracy better fit to play: that of the gardener or that of the undertaker?
* * *
The struggle against opportunism, of whatever brand, has been a constant one in all CP.s. Occasionally some of the leaders go on an ideological or political tangent. The rest of the leadership and the Party membership has to struggle either to get them back into line, or to get rid of them. This is known. But what makes the CP. of the U.S. unique insofar as this particular phenomenon is concerned is the fact that in every serious crisis in the CPUSA, the totality of its leadership has been involved in the revisionist mess to one degree or another. There are veteran leaders such as Bittleman, Foster, Trachtenberg, Weinstone and others, who have been involved in the three great political crises in our Party: the Lovestone and Browder periods and the present period. There are others, the “youth”, such as Ben Davis, Bob Thompson, Gene Dennis, etc., who have been up to their necks in the revisionist orgy of both the Browderite and Gatesite periods. And then there are the “pioneers”, such as Lightfoot, Charney, Healy, Jackson, Albertson, and others, who became identified as “leaders” in the Gates period.
What an eye-opener it is to re-read the Proceedings of the CPA Convention of May l944. Listen to the opening paragraph:
This book is the record of two conventions. One was the convention of the CP of the United States that met for a few minutes on May 20, 1944 to accomplish its only purpose – the closing of the affairs, the disposal of the property, and the dissolution of the CP. The other was the convention that assembled immediately after the CP was dissolved, remained in session 3 days, and founded a new organization – the CPA.
Here it is, and right from the horse’s mouth. In a few minutes, the titanic and historical effort of a whole working class to create its vanguard and organized detachment is grounded in the dust. Then, from the ruins of that revolutionary organization, a social democratic body is pieced together. And who were those responsible for that colossal treachery against the working class and against revolutionary socialism? First, we list the specialists, the ”agronomists” of that garden of revisionist skunk-cabbage which was the CPA: General Secretary, Earl Browder, and Chairman, William Z. Foster. And then the hired hands: Bob Thompson, Ben Davis, Eugene Dennis, E.G. Flynn, Louis Weinstock, A. Trachtenberg, Joe North, O.C. Yates, Ned Sparks, Carl Ross, William Patterson, Andy Onda, Paul Novick, Bill Norman, Bill Lawrence, Gus Hall, Phil Bart, Carl Winter, Doxey Wilkerson, Max Weiss, Pat Toohey, Wm. Schneiderman, Pettis Perry, Steve Nelson, Arnold Johnson, John Gates, David Davis, Morris Childs and Ann Burlak. These are the people who acted simultaneously as undertakers of the CPUSA and “gardeners” of the CPA in May 1944. Add some of the “bright youngsters” like Charney, Lightfoot, Dorothy Healy, Micky Lima, Lil Gates, James Jackson, Evvie Weiner, Esther Cantor, and subtract Browder and Minor, and there you have the leadership responsible for the present revisionist splurge of the leadership of the CPUSA.
It should be added right here that even before the formal burying of the CPUSA the Party organisation in the South was liquidated. At the same time, and in preparation for the May 1944 funeral services, the CP of Puerto Rico was ordered dissolved by the leadership of the CPUSA.
Speaking of undertakers, do we need to remind Comrade Thompson that the person who officiated at the burial of the YCL, which took place before the l944 Convention, was none other than one of Browder’s henchmen named Bob Thompson.
In an article written by William Z. Foster in P.A. of September 1945, right after the reconstitution of the Party, Foster states:
“Political mistakes are serious matters, and cannot be lightly passed over. In these times of crucial struggle against fascism, they involved the welfare, the liberties, and possibly even the lives of large masses of people. Leaders who make such mistakes must, therefore, be held strictly responsible.”
What were these “mistakes” Comrade Foster was referring to? Foster was referring to the responsibility of the leadership of the CPUSA in relation to Browder revisionism.
One of the deadliest, most disarming weaknesses in all CP’s has been the cult of the personality. The 20th Congress of the CPSU did a masterful job of exposing the cult of the individual. That Bolshevik self-criticism and the lessons we could learn from it have been totally screened from the CPUSA. Strange that the one Party that stands in the most need of exposing the cult of the personality should be the one where there hasn’t been even a semblance of discussion on this subject. We have bad over two years of anti-Sovietism, “independence,” “interpreting” Marxism, but not one word on how to tackle the cult of the personality.
Instead of self-criticism, the leadership continues to conceal their catastrophic mistakes. (That is, if constant repetition of treacherous revisionist policies can be called mistakes) It is a fact that all the leaders joined then in their common task of liquidating the CPUSA, ideologically and organizationally, just as they have done in the present period.
The deliberate lie and myth has been put forth to the effect that William Z. Foster had consistently fought against Browderite revisionism. This is a colossal hoax, for which the Party and the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist movement in the U.S. is paying heavily. What does the record show on this score? Run through the minutes of the February 1944 plenum of the CPUSA, where the actual Browderite wrecking was begun, and try to find one single statement or proposal by anyone in the leadership, including Foster, which even suggests opposition to the treacherous Teheran line. Read the Proceedings of the 1944 Convention and show us one single instance of disagreement with the liquidation of the Party perpetrated at that gathering. On the other hand, there is plenty to quote from the Proceedings which proves that there was “unity” and absolute agreement on the part of the whole leadership, including Foster. Here we quote from the report of the Resolutions Committee chairman and Reporter General, Eugene Dennis:
“Our policy includes the right of private enterprise to develop its productive capacity, and to plan for and cope with the problem of re-conversion and flourishing peacetime economy, as well as the right of labor and democratic forces to organize, to bargain collectively, and to exercise freely the Bill of Rights.”
In the discussion, A. Trachtenberg:
“Yesterday and today, we had the happy opportunity of having the difference between living and dogmatic Marxism illustrated to us. In his keynote address and remarks on the preamble, Earl Browder capped the brilliant exposition of living Marxism which he began at the N.C. meeting of last January and which he has developed more fully in his latest book.”
From the speech by Andy Onda:
“To give one example of post-war production problems and re-conversion. In one city, we mailed Browder’s Teheran and America to a number of labor leaders and industrialists. They reacted keenly to this pamphlet. They invited speakers of our organization to a meeting of industrialists.”
And again, from Dennis’s report of the Resolutions Committee:
“Your committee ventures the opinion that Earl Browder’s report and the resolutions based thereon will meet with the hearty approval of the delegates. For today, as never before, our Communist organization is solidly united on all issues of program and policy.”
The record of the convention of May 1944 as well as that of the plenum of February 1944 shows absolute unanimity in speeches, statements, and votes. Where is Foster’s record of anti-Browderism previous to the Duclos letter? Following, we quote from a nationwide radio address carried by CBS and printed in the WORKER of Jan. 10, 1944, made by Foster on the last day of the February plenum:
“Just one more point the CP must insist upon to clear the air. It is the so-called question of ’free enterprise.’ The CP does not believe that it would be to the benefit of our national unity to make any proposals of a specific communist or socialist nature at this time or in the immediate post-war period.”
“...the reconstruction of most of Europe and Asia, as well as America’s participation in the reconstruction, will most probably be on the basis of what is called the system of ’free enterprise.’ It will be on a capitalist basis, conditioned by complete self-determination for each nation. It means a perspective for all the countries of Europe and Asia that will eliminate altogether the threat of civil war and of international, war.”
“We must remove all unreal issues. We must have no artificial divisions of the American people...the national unity must continue for the reconstruction of the world after the war.”
What is there in this speech that resembles anti-Browderism? Teheran and America runs a poor second to this!
William Z. Foster chaired the plenum meeting of Feb. 8 and 9, 1944, where the official liquidation of the CPUSA was begun. William Z. Foster chaired the first and last sessions of the 1944 wrecking convention! We quote from the minutes of Monday, May 22, 1944:
“Chairman Gold recognized William Z. Foster. William Z. Foster arose to nominate Earl Browder for the office of President of the Communist Political Association. Earl Browder was unanimously elected as president amidst great acclaim of the delegates. Earl Browder rose to make nominations for 11 vice presidents of the CPA.”
Earl Browder promptly responded by nominating William Z. Foster as one of the 11 vice presidents of the CPA.
The “opposition” of Foster to the Teheran line consisted of a secret letter sent to the National Committee which did not even argue against the liquidation of the Party. This “opposition” in private and endorsement in public of the Teheran line, was a sort of political insurance policy against future political misfortunes.
This same political insurance policy which worked so well in 1945 was renewed at the 16th National Convention. In his opening speech to the 16th National Convention, which was widely circulated abroad, but was neither printed nor circulated in the United States (except in the proceedings), Foster called for a line and policy which he himself voted against at the convention!
The so-called “left” jettisoned the Marxist-Leninist ideology and organizational principles of the Party for the sake of a spurious “unity” (which proved disastrous). This is clearly shown in a comparison of the demands of Foster himself with the actual results of the convention.
On “interpreting” Marxism-Leninism, Comrade Foster said:
“...In the main resolution the Party’s acceptance of Marxism-Leninism has been made conditional. This document endorsed Marxism-Leninism only to the extent that it is ”interpreted” by the CPUSA. Such a concept would at once strip Marxism-Leninism of its scientific and international character and reduce it a matter of innumerable national interpretations. This is an impossible position for a Communist Party. (Proceedings p. 60. Our emphasis)
What did the convention do? The report of the sub-committee on The Party, given by Max Weiss, states:
“…our committee was called upon to debate one of the most decisive questions before the Party in the present discussion. A motion was made to strike the word “interpret” from the draft resolution, on page 56, and to substitute for it a section which would seek only “creatively applying” the principles of Marxism-Leninism”. (p. l64)
“The position of the majority of the committee, which supported retaining the word “interpret”, was as follows: Such an insertion is necessary as an explicit declaration of the independent and equal status of our Party in relation to all other parties in the world Communist movement in matters of theory.” (p. 164. Our emphasis)
On the Hungarian question Foster said:
“To re-strengthen the proletarian internationalism of our Party stands as a major task for this convention. Especially we must revamp the National Committee position on Hungary, recognizing that under the existing dangerous circumstances the military and political actions taken by the Soviet Union in helping to defend Hungarian socialism against the acute threat of fascism and war was imperative.” (p.66)
And here is what the l6th National Convention did:
“The Delegate: On Procedure: What guarantee have we, in terms of the scheduling – this is perhaps for the presiding committee – that it will be possible to discuss this fundamental event of recent months, that places the entire position of our Party in question, at this convention before the body?” (p. 101)
“A Delegate: Comrades, I was a member of the Committee which brought in this report. We were informed by Sid Stein that the officers of No. 6 Committee were of the unanimous opinion that to pose the question of Hungary before this convention would be a provocation.” (p. 102).
On the crisis of leadership Foster said:
“Solve the Party leadership crisis: For the past year especially the Party has been experiencing a grave crisis of leadership, which is one of the major causes of is crisis in general. It has done far more to disorient the Party than the government attack upon us. This leadership crisis has been marked by many of the leadership going far to the Right themselves, or by their definitely conciliating the Right. Consequently, the top Party committees have failed to give firm leadership to the Party during these critical months. This failure has much to do with the present low prestige of the leaders in the Party. In New York State the leadership crisis is particularly acute. It. is a basic task of the Convention to strengthen the Party leadership, especially in the National Committee and the National Board.”
What did the convention do? The report of the Committee on Leadership and Elections says:
“First and foremost we believe that the incoming National Committee must as fully as is possible express the policies determined by this convention, but that no point of view should be eliminated, in other words, that all points of view should be included in the incoming leadership.” (p. 177. Our emphasis)
The same conspiracy which was nipped in the bud in the Netherlands Party was carried out successfully within the CPUSA, thanks to the “unity” engineered at the l6th National Convention. This is how the leadership was “strengthened” by the Convention!
Let us hear John Gates’s estimate of the l6th National Convention, which all the open liquidators still, claim as their own:
“This has really been a new kind of convention for our Party. Not only in the manner in which it has been conducted, in the quality of this discussion; but above all, in the program and policies that we have adopted. This program, in my opinion, is genuinely a historic one, and one which has had and is having and will have an enormous impact on our country.”
“...I believe that we have made history in the new approach that we have decided upon with respect to International working-class and Communist solidarity, and that the best way that we can promote this international solidarity is on the basis of a program that is in the true interests of the American workers and nation, and one in which our relations toward other communist parties and countries is one of fraternal criticism and equality.”
”Lastly, I think this has been an historic convention because, for the first time, since we began to develop a program along these lines, a convention of the Communist Party has officially adopted a program for an American Road to Socialism, along the lines of a peaceful, constitutional struggle for socialism in our country.” (Closing speech by John Gates, Proceedings, p. 235. Our emphasis)
And Foster, in his closing speech, said:
“...I must say that I have voted for every one of these documents that I have been present when they were adopted, and so far as I know, there are no others that I would vote against.”
”The work of this convention, it seems to me we have got to understand it, as Johnny (Gates) said, as a victory for the Party, and not a victory for any particular group or faction in the Party. (Applause)
“I want to say again, as I said at the beginning, this is the Communist Party that you are dealing with; this is not an ordinary party; this is the party of socialism. And we must understand it as such. And we must cherish this party. And no matter how sharply we may struggle amongst ourselves, we must always bear in mind the unity of the Party. There is nothing more precious than the unity of our Party, for without that, we have nothing! (Applause). (Proceedings, p. 237)
In the struggle for a real Marxist-Leninist Party of struggle we must develop a keen sense of observation and sharpen our power of analysis. As we reach higher stages in the process of the inner-party struggle, we must note the shift in the relationship of forces as well as the changes in each and every factor in the fight. One of the most important ingredients of the inner-party struggle has been, and continues to be, the role of conciliationism.
This was true of Trotsky, of Yonov, and the rest of the conciliators against whom Lenin was fighting in I908-11. It was true of Foster, Dennis, Davis & Co. before the February 1958 N.C. meeting, and it is true of the new crop of conciliators that has sprung up at the present time. Their pose of objective neutrality is of course phony and when the chips are really down they always manage to find themselves in the camp of the revisionists.
The essence of conciliationism was exposed by Lenin in 1909, when he stated:
“Trotsky provides us, with an abundance of instances of unprincipled ’unity’ scheming. Recall, for example (I take one of the most recent instances), how he praised the Paris RABOCHAYA ZHIZN, in the management of which the Paris conciliators, and the Golosites had an equal share. What a delight! – wrote Trotsky – neither Bolshevik nor Menshevik, but revolutionary Social-Democrat. The poor hero of the phrase failed to: notice one trifle: only that Social-Democrat is revolutionary who understands the harmfulness of anti-revolutionary, pseudo-Social-Democratism in a given country at a given time.”(Selected Works, p. 105, Vol IV)
The international experience of the Communist movements shows that conciliationism within the Party plays the same role as Social Democracy in the field of politics and ideology outside the Party. Conciliators everywhere and at any period, have the specific role of running interference. The conciliators always take a centrist position in order to protect the Right opportunists.
Up until the time of the February 1958 National Committee meeting, the conciliators were represented by the centrist factions of Dennis, Jackson, Foster and Davis.
We don’t have to repeat the proof of the collusion and connivance which has existed between the so-called factions end the open liquidators. Enough has been said already.
But with the forceful drive by the international movement against revisionism, and with objective experience helping to give the lie to the theory and practice of the open liquidators, the leadership was forced to shift its tactics. Since the open liquidators stood exposed before the membership, the old conciliators had to assume the responsibility of continuing the revisionist line with the aid of “left” phraseology and demagogy. As “leaders” they could not conciliate themselves!
Therefore a new group of conciliators had to be engendered in the peripheral areas of the caucuses or from within the caucus movement itself.
The Party always attracts to itself, not only the honest elements in society, especially workers, who see the necessity for social change, but also the hitchhikers, careerists and self-seekers. This applies to the inner-party struggle as well. Self-seeking elements whose only quarrel with the leadership was that they had been either left out or driven out of leading positions joined our movement. They attempted to use the caucus movement as a base to blackmail the Party bureaucrats and to force their way into leading positions, to catapult themselves right into Party leadership. They saw the caucus movement only as their working capital, as a means to personal attainment. It is from the ranks of these unprincipled self-seekers that the revisionist bureaucrats have organized their new corps of conciliators.
Examine their slogans and statements and you will observe how they use the technique and tactics of the old conciliators, who are now acting as caretakers of the revisionist line. “Don’t rock the boat”, says Jim Keller, “pretty soon there is going to be an explosion between the Right and the Center.” What “Right” and what “Center” is this demagogue talking about?
And a direct quote from Keller: “The international movement will never forgive us if we allow ourselves to get expelled.” What filthy demagogy!
The only way to keep from being expelled has been clearly posed by the bureaucrats in general, and by Lightfoot in particular. That is, to accept the class-collaborationist line and for those already expelled or suspended (it’s the same thing) to recant and agree with the treacherous line of the leadership.
A year ago the leaders of the Jersey group proposed that we pull out of the Party. At that time, the open liquidators still constituted the leadership. The New York Caucus was weak and nowhere else was there an organized caucus, and no expulsion drives existed.
We refused to go along with that proposal. The reason they wanted to pull us out of the Party was that they themselves were out, and they wanted to exert more pressure and a stronger black-jack in their drive for Party leadership.
Today they have made a deal with Dennis, Thompson & Co., and they have been reinstated and promised the leadership of Essex County. The only thing required of them is to help demobilize the caucus movement. This they are attempting to do, without any success whatever, we hasten to add. Comrades in New York clearly notice how these vultures are flocking over us, to our side, and even inside the caucus.
We fought the conciliationism of the Foster-Davis crowd and as a result we got rid of some of the hitchhiking political barnacles within the caucus.
In the process of the struggle against the present crop of conciliators, we will encounter some confusion among those of us who cannot see the real situation in the Party as it is unfolding. With these comrades there should be the utmost patience. However, a difference should be established right from the beginning between that which is honest disagreement on tactics, which can be resolved, and that which is just maneuvering by conciliators within the caucus movement.
No temporizing with conciliators! No liberal attitudes toward conciliationism! – should be our slogan.
We will hear a lot about how much we resemble the rotten leadership in our “bureaucratic positions.” But don’t you comrades worry. What they mean is, “These guys refuse to let us put the line of the conciliators over in the caucus.” Even now we are being called bureaucrats, agent-provocateurs, etc. We’ll get that and more.
One of the things they have tried in the past, and will continue to do, is to divide us. Watch, observe, and weigh every statement in the light of the essential ingredient of our strength, our unity. Examine carefully every word and every action and ask yourself – does this unite or divide us?
Comrades in New York will recall a statement made by one of the Jersey group at the time of the split last year. He said, “I would rather be right with bastards than wrong with honest people.” We reject that as immoral and unpolitical. Honest Communists will make mistakes and will also correct than in time, precisely because they are principled and honest.
The Jersey group self-righteously parade their expulsion from the CPUSA as proof of their political purity. But what is important is not that they were expelled. They are using their history as persecuted comrades to do their dirty work for the revisionist bureaucrats. What is important is their attitude in the face of expulsions by the gang of wreckers in the leadership.
One very interesting fact in regard to this problem of conciliationism is this: In areas where the open liquidators have absolutely exposed themselves, the leadership is quietly passing the reins into the hands of the ”left” crew (Foster-Thompson faction). In Eastern Pennsylvania, for instance, Joe Roberts and Dave Davis are ready to join Doc Blumberg in the effort to organize the “Party of Democratic Socialism” in Philadelphia and Baltimore. So the national leadership is grooming for leadership a comrade in Eastern Pennsylvania who wears the tag of “left”, who says he agrees with us ideologically, but disagrees with us on tactics. We know this kind, don’t we? Let’s not be surprised if Lightfoot & Co. add Mike Saunders, Jim Keller and their ilk, to Illinois leadership. Of course, whether Saunders, Keller, etc. get full recognition or full payment in terms of leadership posts depends on the influence they prove to have in the ranks of the opposition.
Let us keep our ideological and political guard high. The present leadership, like the old revisionist leadership, will be exposed more and more every day. The line they follow will take care of that. It’s among the self-seekers who say they agree with us – but – that the greatest danger lurks. We should paraphrase Lenin when we address the conciliators: You are free to go into the swamp, but let go of our hand! Let’s rid ourselves of every lingering tie or association with the cowardly and opportunistic conciliators.
Recent events on an international scale demonstrate that the world we are living in a world pregnant with revolution. It proves that, the general crisis of the capitalist system in its second stage of development, is not just a theoretical abstraction, but a living reality, a terrible reality for world imperialism.
This real world does not conform to the picture painted by the leadership of the CPUSA before, during, or since the l6th Party Convention. They painted a picture full of “crisis in the Communist movement”, “Hungarian tragedy”, etc. From this distortion of world reality flowed the political perspective of “independence”, “peaceful, constitutional transition”, “guarding against excessive reliance on the international-movement”, etc. That subjective world of frightened people has nothing to do with the real world of the capitalist system.
The fight for peace is the main task of Communist parties throughout the world in this period. This task flows logically from the existing situation in the world.
The fight for peace calls first of all for effective containment of imperialism, since American imperialism has become not only the greatest exploiter in the world, but also the gendarmes of world imperialism.
Spontaneous peace movements have developed and are spreading all over the world, but the effective containment of imperialism is not possible without the utmost mobilization of all anti-imperialist forces at home. We stress the mobilization of anti-imperialist forces at home because it is patently obvious that while anti-imperialist forces abroad are in the thick of the battle, it is far from being so within the U.S.
There are beginnings of peace movements in the U.S. but they are still feeble. The most decisive movements in the fight for peace are those which Communist parties organize and lead, and the spontaneous sprouts in the fight for peace need the CP influence to give them direction and scope.
The most decisive sector in the fight for peace is, of course, the working-class and specifically the trade union movement. But how can the leadership of the CPUSA help to generate a peace movement within the ranks of labor if its labor policy is based on the tactic of trailing the trade union bureaucrats? How can they build any movement against imperialism if they refuse to expose the imperialist agents within the labor movement?
THE NEW YORK TIMES of Thursday, July 24, carries the following remarks by A.H. Raskin:
“Labor’s high command is scheduled to get a briefing on the explosive world situation from John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State.
“Unless meetings at the summit or elsewhere get in the way, Mr. Dulles will confer with the Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations August 19. The session is to be held at Unity House, the vacation resort of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, in Forest Park, Pa.
“Plans for the meeting were made before the fresh upheavals in the Middle East. Mr. Dulles’ predecessor, Dean Acheson, gave his views on foreign policy to the AFL-CIO leaders at their last meeting in Washington last May.
“In an editorial printed in the current issue of THE AFL-CIO NEWS, the federation endorses the dispatch of United States troops to Lebanon as ‘a necessary move to preserve peace and freedom in the Middle East and to uphold the principles of the United Nations.’
“The editorial also urges a sharp step-up in economic aid to Lebanon and other Middle East countries menaced by ’the aggressive and demagogic policies of would-be dictators operating in the area with the benign approval of the Soviet Union.’”
Exposure of the connivance of the trade union brass with the war-mongering American imperialists is a pre-requisite for the mobilization of labor’s participation in the struggle for peace.
The next most important sector in the fight for peace is the Negro people. The Negro question is the Achilles heel of U.S. imperialism. Although the leadership of the CPUSA repeats this over and over, in practice they work to prevent the full impact of the Negro liberation struggle in the fight for peace.
From Moscow to Peking, from New Delhi to Caracas, Little Rock has become a symbol of American imperialist oppression. The Puerto Ricans, the Venezuelans, the Algerians or the Lebanese, indeed all the oppressed colonial peoples see their reflected identity in the struggle of the Negro people in the United States.
It is precisely in the international aspect of the Negro people’s struggle that the reformist line of the Party leadership in regard to the Negro question has been most harmful. Nor is it accidental that it is so.
The theoretical propositions advanced by James Allen, Jim Jackson and Ben Davis, which represent in fact the line of the whole leadership, is aimed at destroying the main theoretical base of the Negro question. This is the understanding that the Negro question essentially involves the existence of a nation and people oppressed by American Imperialism within the boundaries of the United States. Without this conception the revolutionary edge and the international character of the Negro question is impossible. It is for this reason that the Party leadership spared no effort to ”Americanize” the Negro question and to limit its strategic aim to the achievement of civil rights, that is, to reforms.
Another obstacle in the way of adding fully the Negro liberation struggle to the peace front has been the distortion of the Marxist-Leninist all-class unity tactic on the Negro question. Here again we observe the same class collaborationist policies of tailing, applied specifically to the national question.
It is a beautiful dream to expect all classes to be integrated fully in any national liberation front. Beautiful, but dangerous and deadly for the anti-Imperialist struggle.
Take the Powell campaign, for instance. There is no question that Powell should be supported by all Communists. The most reactionary forces are ganging up against him in order to stem the onward rush of the Negro people. But support for Powell is one thing, and a blank check for him is something else.
Should support for Powell preclude criticism of the position he took at Bandung? The Bandung issue has been openly injected by Powell into his campaign. His role and position on the Bandung issue does harm to the Negro people, to all colonial peoples and in point of fact, is a service to Imperialism.
But how can the leadership of the Party adopt a correct policy of critical support if it is enmeshed in the opportunist policy of tailing the Negro bourgeois reformists Just as it tails behind the trade union bureaucrats?
Last but not least in the struggle for peace, is the task of eradicating revisionism and its most deadly variant, Titoism, from the ranks, of the Communists. This is something we have to keep constantly in mind. Without a CP. free from every vestige of revisionism, the fight for peace becomes stagnant and ineffective. That is just the reason why the peace movement in the U.S. is so obviously backward.
Not unless and until there exists a real Marxist-Leninist party in the U.S., with the purity of its working class ideology safeguarded, can there develop a powerful and effective peace movement.
* * *
To blaze a trail which will lead to the constitution of a real Marxist-Leninist party in the U.S. is our main task. We approach this problem with confidence and humility. We need both.
Our confidence is born of the knowledge that we are armed with the invincible principles of Marxism-Leninism. Our confidence also derives from the fact that we have been able to resist all attempts on the part of the leadership to have us renounce those principles. Our Communist honesty and adherence to principle is openly admitted by the leadership. In a negative way, its true, but they admit it nevertheless.
In Thompson’s report to the last National Committee he refers twice to the consistent left as “dogmatic fanatics.” Isn’t this the precise term that the world bourgeoisie uses against Communists everywhere? Only Titoites and Social Democrats are non-dogmatic and non-fanatical to the bourgeoisie. This charge of “dogmatic fanaticism” is our badge of political honesty and sincerity. It’s a declaration of acknowledgement of our collective incorruptibility.
These are precious possessions...we shall strive to keep them and even add to them. But we need more than that. We need concrete knowledge of the problems of the working class and the people in general. This we need in order to make possible the elaboration of a mass line. Programmatic direction requires the understanding of those concrete problems to which the masses will react. We must be humble and admit that we are lacking in this particular field.
Until now we have been primarily involved in a very decisive phase of the innerparty struggle. We have been concerned almost exclusively with the ideological fight. With the split which has been forced by the leadership, a new phase in the struggle has emerged. No more can we just confine the struggle to the ideological phase. From now on we must seek the concretization of theory in a wider field of practice. From now on our task can’t be limited to convincing members of the CPUSA of the correctness of Marxism-Leninism and of the bankruptcy of the Titoite line of the leadership.
Our tasks from now on, in the main, will have an outward direction – toward the masses. But you cannot reach, and most certainly we will never be able to move, any section of the masses except through struggle. Therefore, concrete and extensive understanding of the problems affecting the masses is essential as we move – as we must – in the direction of mass work.
To admit honestly that we do now know those problems except in the most elementary and abstract way does not mean that this knowledge is beyond us. As a matter of fact, starting right here at this Conference we shall begin to gather the first seeds of that knowledge which, even now, exists among us, but only in very small quantities and scattered.
We propose that each group, in each city, carry out discussions on important questions: labor policy, Negro question, minorities question, youth, agrarian question, electoral policy, woman question, approach to Social Democracy, housing, unemployment, etc. This discussion should be based on the examination of concrete problems in the local areas. Generalizations of these problems and comparison with similar problems elsewhere will help us to discover the patterns and specific motion of these problems.
These discussions should last for one month after which a detailed summary of those discussions should be sent to an agreed center to be used as material for an over-all program. This program must be available to us within the next two months.
As a beginning, on the discussion and delineation of a program, we will advance its political direction rather than its content. First and most important, the programmatic expression of our line on the approach to the working class, and especially our labor policy, must register a break with the opportunist tailing policy of the leadership of the CPUSA.
A differentiation between bureaucratic trade union leadership and rank and file must find its concrete expression in the tactics of the united front from below. This approach will not preclude support to the trade union leadership on specific issues.
While taking a generally positive approach to all of the strata in the labor movement, it is essential to concentrate on the most exploited and most oppressed, on the masses of unskilled and semi-skilled workers.
The problem of the first fired and the last hired continues to be the lot of the Negro workers. Therefore, the special approach to the Negro question demands from Communists a consistent effort and fight against the bosses who will try to use the present economic recession as a lever to drive the Negro workers out of their jobs, out of their industries and out of their unions.
The same general approach applies equally to workers belonging to the oppressed minorities – Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, etc.
The fight for trade union leadership for Negro trade unionists as well as those from oppressed minorities must be revived. This struggle must be seen not only as an integral, but also an essential component of the fight for unity of the working class.
* * *
The class struggle is the central, underlying feature of American economic, political, ideological, and social life. At times, this struggle, which is the real substance of our everyday, ordinary national existence, inevitably erupts in great events and crises which become pivotal punctuation marks of our history. For the everyday struggles and for the great crises and. eruptions, the working class and democratic masses require the guidance of the Marxist-Leninist vanguard party. This fact and this necessity, together, constitute a guarantee of the existence of a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in our country.
However, this historic guarantee must be implemented. The significance of the developments we have been discussing is that this guarantee now can no longer be implemented by the old Communist Party.
Events have already shown which road the leaders of the old Party have followed. They have pointedly refused to endorse the 12-Party Declaration, in pursuance of their courtroom socialism. They seek to minimize the significance of this refusal, by pretending to the International movement and to the Party membership that this is merely a matter of formality. They refused even to discuss the need for a special convention to cancel the shameful revisionism of the 16th National Convention. They add insult to injury by coupling their recent ”anti-revisionist” pretenses with repeated reaffirmations of their adherence to the 16th Convention line.
They owe their very, positions of authority as members of the national committee to convention-time collusions with Gates and others who have since openly renounced Communism. Yet, instead of returning this tainted mandate to the membership, they use their lofty perch for hurling down anathema on their Marxist-Leninist critics. They demanded the liquidation of the Marxist-Leninist caucus and resorted to expulsion of its leaders.
To surrender to this attack, to break our Marxist-Leninist ranks, would mean to abandon effective struggle for a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party. This will never do!
Here and now, we declare our stand in relation to the dominant clique in the
old Communist Party.
1) We refuse to countenance their expulsion of honest, militant, veteran comrades whose only “crime” is their refusal to compromise with the revisionist- conciliationist national Committee and the 16th National Convention.
2) We refuse to acquiesce in attempts to make the Communist Party into a “cult of one-or-a-few individuals” who must be regarded as being unanswerable to the criticism of the proletarian membership of the Party and of the international movement.
3) We condemn a national leadership which, after almost two years, still finds it inconvenient to repudiate its anti-socialist resolution of November 1956 on Hungary.
4) We mean now to disassociate ourselves once and for all from the opportunist trade union policy which isolates us from the rank and file workers in order to combat ”isolation” from the labor lieutenants of capital.
5) We will no longer submit to their perversion of democratic centralism to impose on the Party its opportunist and bourgeois-reformist line on the Negro question, a policy which has already seriously’ weakened the Negro liberation struggle and working class solidarity.
6) We reject their line for “solution” of the agrarian question in the South, and in the rest of the country) through the blind operation of economic forces which reduce, the farm toilers to abject poverty in a land bursting with agricultural: surpluses.
7) We will withhold, henceforth, the title “Comrade” from those who used their position of leadership in the CPUSA to subvert and destroy the Marxist-Leninist movement in Puerto Rico, and who spurned the hand of international solidarity extended by the Communists of Latin America at the time of the l6th Convention.
8) We denounce their unauthorized and secret liquidation of the Communist Party in the South in 1951.
9) We repudiate their bourgeois nationalist distortion of fact and theory regarding the position of the Jewish population and the Jewish question in the USSR and other socialist countries.
10) We denounce their attempts to discourage; the special struggles of Negro and white women in the cause of peace and democracy and women’s rights –at the very time when women workers have come to constitute a third of American wage labor.
ll) We condemn their liquidation of the Marxist-Leninist youth movement –at a time when the imperialist bourgeoisie has developed its most concentrated attack on the interests of American youth.
The old CP leadership has a historically confirmed habit of bartering Marxist- Leninist political and organization principles (via the “interpretation” route) for momentary and illusory “advantages” in the trade union field, in the electoral field, in the courts, etc. Such a “leadership” has shown itself unworthy of the confidence of the American working class and of the international movement. Their policies have reduced a still-declining organization to a mere shell of some 2 or 3 thousand members, mostly inactive. Such a “leadership” has forfeited all, claim to the militant and internationalist traditions of the founders of the CPUSA.
Therefore, we of the Marxist-Leninist caucus of the old Party, having met in a national conference on August l6-17th 1958, have constituted ourselves as a Provisional Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party.
Our membership is composed mainly of proletarians, Negro, white, and Puerto Rican, from a number of industrial centers of the Eastern and Mid-Western sections of the United States. We directly represent the former caucus movement. We represent indirectly the far wider group of Communists with or temporarily without organizational connections, who share our views of the present political situation; we are confident that we represent in en organized form the revolutionary, internationalist Marxist-Leninist traditions of those American workers who established the CPUSA 39 years ago.
We mark this anniversary of that event by reaffirming the principles of Marxism-Leninism. We call upon all those who adhere to these principles to Join with us in developing a program for building the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in our country.