The question of whether or not the tactical line and, following from it, the policies of the Communist Political Association of the U.S.A. and also of the Labor Progressive Party, constituted a revision of Marxism, first arose as a result of the publication in the New York Worker of May 27, 1945, of the now famous article On the dissolution of the Communist Party of the United States by Jacques Duclos, one of the outstanding leaders of the Communist Party of France. It was subsequently reported that Earl Browder, President of the Communist Political Association, only consented to the publication of the Duclos article, which was first published in French in the theoretical organ of the CP. of France Cahiers du Communisme, when it became known that it was the intention of the publishers of the New York Times to present it to the public through the columns of their paper.
In the foreword to the article Browder nevertheless stated, “Within the framework of the C.P.A. organization, and according to the rules, the discussion initiated by the publication of the Duclos’ article will be free in the fullest sense. Members of the National Board and the National Committee will participate in the discussion as individuals and not as members of these leading bodies bound to speak for common conclusions already reached before the broadest discussion.”
For the following two full months the fullest and freest discussion on revisionism got underway throughout all of the clubs and leading committees of the C.P.A. and through the columns of The Daily Worker and The Worker, official organs of the C.P.A.
Duclos, in his article, condemned the policies formulated by Browder and adopted by the American Communists as a “notorious revision of Marxism.” Duclos was reported to have made a special trip to New York on behalf of the CP. of France to investigate the dissolution of the CP. of U.S.A. and the substitution for it of the Communist Political Association and to have secured all of the authoritative documents pertaining to the dissolution. In his opinion:
“The Teheran Conference served as Browder’s point of departure from which to develop his conceptions favorable to a change of course of the American CP. However, while justly stressing the importance of the Teheran Conference for victory in the war against Germany, Earl Browder drew from the Conference decisions erroneous conclusions in no wise flowing from a Marxist analysis of the situation; Earl Browder made himself the protagonist of a false concept of the ways of social evolution in general, and in the first place, the social evolution of the U.S.
“Earl Browder declared, in effect, that at Teheran capitalism and socialism had begun to find the means of peaceful co-existence and collaboration in the framework of one and the same world; he added that the Teheran accords regarding common policy similarly presupposed common efforts with a view to reducing to a minimum or completely suppressing methods of struggle and opposition of force to force in the solution of internal problems of each country.
’That (the Teheran Declaration) is the only hope of a continuance of civilization in our time. That is why I can accept and support and believe in the Declaration of Teheran and make it the starting point for all my thinking about all the problems of our country and the world.’ – (Address at Bridgeport, Conn., Dec. 12, 1943.)
“Starting from the decision of the Teheran Conference, Earl Browder drew political conclusions regarding the problems of the world, and above all the internal situation in the United States. Some of these conclusions claim that the principal problems of internal political problems of the United States must in the future be solved exclusively by means of reforms for the ’expectation of unlimited inner conflict threatens also the perspective of international unity held forth at Teheran.’ – (Teheran and America, pp. 16-17.)
“The Teheran agreements mean to Earl Browder that the greatest part of Europe, west of the Soviet Union, will probably be reconstituted on a bourgeois democratic basis and not on a fascist-capitalist or Soviet basis.
“’But it will be a Capitalist basis which is conditioned by the principle of complete democratic self-determination for each nation, allowing full expression within each nation of all progressive and constructive forces and setting up no obstacles to the development of democracy and social progress in accordance with the varying desires of the peoples. It means a perspective for Europe minimizing, and to a great extent eliminating altogether, the threat of civil war after the international war.’ – (Bridgeport speech, Communist, January, 1944, p. 7.)
“And Earl Browder adds: ’Whatever may be the situation in other lands, in the United States this means a perspective in the immediate postwar period of expanded production and employment and the strengthening of democracy within the framework of the present system–and not a perspective of the transition to socialism.’” – (pp. 656-657 Political Affairs, July 1945.)
Duclos then quoted that portion of Browder’s speech which, at the time, aroused vehement disagreement:
“We shall have to be prepared to break with anyone that refuses to support and fight for the realization of the Teheran agreement and the Anglo-Soviet-American Coalition. We must be prepared to give the hand of co-operation and fellowship to everyone who fights for the realization of this coalition. If J. P. Morgan supports this coalition and goes down the line for it, I as a Communist am prepared to clasp his hand on that and join with him to realize it. Class divisions or political groupings have no significance now except as they reflect one side or other of this issue.” – (Bridgeport speech, January, 1944, The Communist, p. 8.) (Ibid., 658.)
Browder’s almost complete disavowal of the Marxian doctrine of the class struggle, of the reactionary character of imperialism, of socialism, and his drive towards the complete liquidation of the Communist Party and of the very ideology of Communism were brought to fruition in a speech delivered on Sept. 25, 1944, from which Duclos quoted the following excerpt:
“Every group, however small, just as every individual, has the supreme duty to make its complete and unconditional contribution to victory. We must give not only our lives, but we must be ready also to sacrifice our prejudices, our ideologies, and our special interests. We American Communists have applied this rule first of all to ourselves.
“We know that Hitler and the Mikado calculated to split the United Nations on the issue of Communism and anti-Communism; we know that the enemy calculated to split America on this issue in the current elections, and thus prepare our country for withdrawal from the war and a compromise peace. We therefore set ourselves, as the supreme task, to remove the Communists and Communism from this election campaign as in any way an issue, directly or indirectly.
“To this end we unhesitatingly sacrificed our electoral rights in this campaign, by refraining from putting forward our own candidates; we went to the length of dissolving the Communist Party itself for an indefinite period in the future; we declared our readiness to loyally support the existing system of private enterprise which is accepted by the overwhelming majority of Americans and to raise no proposals for any fundamental changes which could in any way endanger the National unity; we went out in the trade unions and the masses of the people straightforwardly and frankly using all our influences to firmly establish this policy of national unity; we helped with all our strength to restrain all impulses toward strike movements among the workers, and to prepare the workers for a continuation of national unity after the war...
“As spokesman for the American Communists I can say for our small group that we completely identify ourselves with our nation, its interests and the majority of its people in this support for Roosevelt and Truman for President and Vice-President.
“We know quite well that the America that Roosevelt leads is a capitalist America, and that it is the mission of Roosevelt, among other things, to keep it so. We know that only great disasters for our country could change this perspective of our country from that of capitalism to that of socialism, in the forseeable future. Only failure to carry the war to victory, or a botching of the peace and failure to organize it, or the plunging of our country into another economic catastrophe like that of the Hoover era, could turn the American people to socialism.
“ We do not want disaster for America, even though it results in socialism. If we did, we would support Dewey and Hoover and Bricker and their company. We want victory in the war, with the Axis powers and all their friends eliminated from the world.
“We want our country’s economy fully at work, supplying a greatly multiplied market to heal the wounds of the world, a greatly expanded home market reflecting rising standards of living here, and an orderly, co-operative and democratic working out of our domestic and class relationships, within a continuing national unity that will reduce and eventually eliminate large domestic struggles.” (Ibid., pp. 667, 668.)
For the first time Duclos made known to the membership and the public that Wm. Z. Foster, national chairman of the CP. of U.S.A., had violently opposed the interpretation which Browder had placed upon the Teheran accord and the proposals which he advanced based upon his interpretation.
Browder’s “new political course” was also violently opposed by Darcy, member of the Central Committee and secretary of the Party for Eastern Pennsylvania. In the interests of maintaining Party unity during the most critical period of the war and because of the nearness of the American presidential elections, Foster agreed not to make his differences known outside the Central Committee.
Consequently his letter to members of the Central Committee of January 20, 1944, was not made the property of the membership. Darcy, however, decided to appeal against Browder’s “new course” and was expelled,
“because, as the decision says, by sending to Party members a letter containing slanderous declarations on Party leaders, he attempted to create a fraction within the Party, and because he submitted the letter in question to the bourgeois press.” – (Ibid., p. 665.)
Duclos quoted at some length from Foster’s letter to the Central Committee of the CP. of U.S.A., including the following excerpts:
“In his report Comrade Browder, in attempting to apply the Teheran decisions to the United States, drew a perspective of a smoothly working national unity, including the decisive sections of American Finance capital, not only during the war but also in the postwar; a unity which (with him quoting approvingly from Victory and After), would lead to a “rapid healing of the terrible wounds of war” and would extend indefinitely, in an all class peaceful collaboration, for a “long term of years.” In this picture, American Imperialism virtually disappears, there remains hardly a trace of the class struggle, and socialism plays practically no role whatever. (Ibid., p. 661.)
“It seems to me that Comrade Browder’s rather rosy outlook for capitalism is based upon two errors. The first of these is an under-estimation of the deepening crisis of world capitalism caused by the war. When questioned directly in Political Bureau discussion, Comrade Browder agreed that capitalism has been seriously weakened by the war, but his report would tend to give the opposite implication. The impression is left that capitalism has somehow been rejuvenated and is now entering into a new period of expansion and growth. (Ibid., p. 661.)
“The class nature of Imperialistic capitalism, Foster asserted is reactionary. That is why national unity with it is impossible. The attack of these circles against the democratic Roosevelt government – does this not supply a convincing proof? Can one doubt, after that, that the monopolist sections in the U.S. are enemies and not friends of the Teheran decisions as Earl Browder thinks?
“The danger in this whole point of view is that, in our eagerness to secure support of Teheran, we may walk into the trap of trying to co-operate with the enemies of Teheran, or even of falling under their influence. Trailing after the big bourgeoisie is the historic error of social democracy, and we must be vigilantly on guard against it. (Ibid., pp. 661.662.)
“In my opinion it would be a catastrophe for the labor movement if it accepted such a plan or such an idea even if only provisionally. Starting from a notoriously erroneous conception, that U.S. monopoly capitalism can play a progressive role Comrade Browder looks askance at all suggestions tending to subdue the monopolies, whereas the CP. can accept only one policy, that of tending to master these big capitalists now and after the war. In calling for the collaboration of classes, Browder sows wrong illusions of tailism in the minds of Trade Union members. Whereas the job of the trade unions is to elaborate their policy and dictate it to the big employers. (Ibid., p. 62.)
“So far as the bulk of Finance capital is concerned, starting out with a prewar record of appeasement, it has, all through the war, followed a course of rank profiteering and often outright sabotage of both the domestic and foreign phases of the nation’s war program, especially the former. While these elements obviously do not want the U.S. to lose the war, they are certainly very poor defenders of the policy of unconditional surrender. In the main, their idea of a satisfactory outcome of the war would be some sort of negotiated peace with German reactionary forces, and generally to achieve a situation that would put a wet blanket on all democratic governments in Europe.” (Ibid., p. 662.)
After critically reviewing the policies of Browder and the opposing arguments of Foster, Duclos arrived at the following conclusions:
“1. The course applied under Browder’s leadership ended in practice in liquidation of the independent political party of the working class in the U.S.
2. Despite declarations regarding recognition of the principles of Marxism, one is witnessing a notorious revision of Marxism on the part of Browder and his supporters, a revision which is expressed in the concept of a long-term class peace in the United States, Of the possibility of the suppression of the class struggle in the postwar period and of establishment of harmony between labor and capital.
3. By transforming the Teheran declaration of the Allied governments, which is a document of a diplomatic character, into a political platform of class peace in the United States in the postwar period, the American Communists are deforming in a radical way the meaning of the Teheran declaration and are sowing dangerous opportunist illusions which will exercise a negative influence on the American labor movement if they are not met with the necessary reply.
4. According to what is known up to now, the Communist Parties (for example that of the Union of South Africa and that of Australia) have come out openly against this position, while the Communist Parties of several South American countries (Cuba, Colombia) regarded the position of the American Communists as correct and in general followed the same path.” – (Ibid., p. 670.)
Castigating the false theories of Browder that a certain section of monopoly capital constitute “progressive capitalists” who should become allies of labor in its struggle against the “reactionary capitalists,” Duclos informed his readers:
“We too, in France, are resolute partisans of national unity and we show that in our daily activity, but our anxiety for unity does not make us lose sight for a single moment of the necessity of arraying ourselves against the men of the trusts” – (Ibid., p. 671.)
“It is scarcely necessary to recall that the material bases for fascism reside in the trusts, and the great objective of this war, the annihilate of fascism, can only be obtained to the extent in which the forces of democracy and progress do not shut their eyes to the economic and political circumstances which engendered fascism.” – (Ibid., p. 672).
Duclos concluded his historic document as follows:
“The former Vice-President of the U.S., Henry Wallace, present secretary of Commerce, said rightly that one cannot fight fascism abroad and tolerate at home the activity of powerful groups which intend to make peace ’with a simple breathing spell between the death of an old tyranny and the birth of a new.’
“The Yalta decisions thwart these plans, but the enemies of liberty will not disarm of their free will. They will only retreat before the acting coalition of all the forces of democracy and progress.
“And it is clear that if Comrade Earl Browder had seen, as a Marxist-Leninist, this important aspect of the problems facing liberty loving peoples in this moment in their history, he would have arrived at a conclusion quite other than the dissolution of the Communist Party of the United States.” – (Ibid., p. 672.)
Following the publication of the Duclos article, the National Board of the Communist Political Association adopted a draft resolution entitled, The Present Situation and Next Tasks, which condemned the opportunist and revisionist errors of which the C.P.A. had been guilty. In evaluating the reasons which made possible such gross opportunism the draft resolution of the C.P.A. attributed it to the following:
“These errors were facilitated by non-labor, bourgeons influences which unconsciously affected some of our policies as we participated and functioned ever more actively in the broad camp of national unity. And these opportunist deviations were accentuated by our reluctance to constantly analyze and re-examine our policies and mass work in the spirit of Marxist self criticism, especially the failure to draw our full membership into the discussion and determination of basic policy.”
In order to avoid any repetition of the bureaucratic practices which facilitated the infiltration of opportunist policies in the communist movement the C.P.A. resolution stated categorically:
“We must establish genuine inner democracy and self criticism throughout our organization.”
It should be noted the above statement definitely infers that genuine inner democracy and self criticism had not previously existed, at least during the recent period, in the C.P.A.
Following the meeting of the National Board which adopted the resolution, with only Browder voting against, a meeting of the full National Committee of fifty-five members was held June 18-20, when the resolution was revised and adopted as a revised draft for further discussion, pending final adoption at the National Convention of the CPA. scheduled for July 26-28. At this meeting, again Browder was the only one who voted against the resolution.
In his report to the National Committee meeting, Gene Dennis (later elected to the four-man secretariat which now heads the Communist Party of the U.S.A. and which also includes Wm. Z. Foster, national chairman, John Williamson and Robert Thompson), further elaborated on the question of the lack of inner Party democracy and bureaucratic methods of work as follows:
“Lastly, though not to exhaust the subject, our errors arose because in our leading committees and methods of work we have not yet established genuine democracy and collective work. We have tended to fall into the trap of formal democracy and self-adulation. We have confused the forging of firm, unbreakable Communist unity with the creation of synthetic unity which curtailed criticism and self criticism which separated the leadership from the membership, and failed to draw most of our trade union cadres and the entire membership into the fullest formulating and executing of policies. This has played no small role in feeding and prolonging opportunism and bureaucratic methods of leadership and work.” – (The Worker, July 1, 1945.)
In order to correct these evils Dennis proposed that:
“It is essential to institute everywhere, full inner Party democracy, based upon the principle of democratic centralism. For one thing it is necessary to put an end to that practice where new and major policies are suddenly and without consultation thrust upon our membership and often upon the national committee and the board, as the line and settled decisions of our Association. For another, it is necessary to convert the National Committee, as well as each State Committee, into a functioning and responsible policy making and leading body.”
In order to correct and strengthen the composition of the national and state leadership, Dennis recommended that:
“It is essential to refresh and strengthen our national and state leadership with the most tested working class cadres with the most devoted and competent Marxists. This will require a bold policy of promotion, as well as the amalgamation of the healthiest Marxist core of the existing leadership with a new and large circle of loyal and able proletarian cadres. This will require the establishment of far closer ties between our entire leadership, the membership, and the masses. This will also require that our entire leadership and all leading committees exercise the greatest political vigilance and judge each and every leader and member not alone by his or her vote or political declaration, but by deeds, by performances.” (Ibid.)
In an article on the C.P.A. Convention, Foster exposed how dangerously close Browder came to succeeding in completely liquidating the Communist movement of the American working class. He stated:“Following logically the heavy blow it dealt to Browder’s revisionism, the national convention decided by unanimous vote to change back from the status of the Communist Political Association to that of the Communist Party of the United States. In the earlier stages of the Party discussion there was some feeling that this change back to CP. should be delayed somewhat. But this would have been an error, as it would have created confusion in the Party. Fortunately, however, the convention seized the bull by the horns, so to speak, and made the necessary change at once.“In both the National Convention and the various State Conventions there was much indignation among the delegates over the dissolution of the party in the South. And there was a tendency to consider this as a sort of isolated mistake. But this trend was wrong. The liquidation of the Party in the South followed naturally from Browder’s whole line. Indeed, it was only by a very narrow vote in the National Board that the Party escaped the same fate nationally as befell it in the South. In going back from C.P.A. to CP. one of the first tasks that must be undertaken is precisely the re-establishment of the Communist Party in the Southern States.” – (The Worker, Aug. 5, 1945, p. 3.)
Browder clung to his revisionist line to the very end. According to Foster:
“Comrade Browder, although he pledged himself to abide by the Convention decisions, made no admission of political error and uttered no words of self criticism. Browder based his political argument upon a statement that the Communist Parties of the rest of the world are following his rejected revisionist line and that he is being victimized by us.” (Ibid.)
The leadership of the American Communists dealt with Browder as he deserved:
“The Convention, by refusing to elect Comrade Browder to the National Committee and Executive Board, took the only course open to it. Browder, who stubbornly refused to the very end to correct his grossly bourgeois revisionism, made himself incapable of exercising leading functions in the application of the Party line and left the convention no alternative but to reduce him to the ranks, which it did by unanimous vote.”(Ibid.)
The Convention removed seven of the thirteen former members of the National Board and even removed a number of them from the National Committee. The new National Committee of fifty-five is representative of nineteen states, “sixteen trade unionists, seven shop workers, nine Negroes, four veterans of this war, seven women, four Communist leaders still in the armed forces and one farmer.” (Ibid.)
The Convention also elected a National Board of eleven members including a secretariat of four members to replace the system of one-man leadership which prevailed during the Browder regime.
In estimating the basis for Browder’s revisionism, Foster stated:
“Comrade Browders revisionism has the same class roots and goes in the same direction as the traditional revisionism of Social Democracy. The essence of Social Democratic revisionism is the belief that capitalism is fundamentally progressive and that the big bourgeoisie may, therefore, be relied upon to lead the nation to peace and prosperity. The practical effects of this false conception are to throw the workers under the reactionary influence of the big capitalists and blunt their progressive and revolutionary initiative. Where these policies lead to, if persisted in, is indicated in the tragic debacle of German Social Democracy. Such revisionism is a reflection in the workers’ ranks of the class interests of the big bourgeoisie.” – (The Worker, June 10, 1945, p. 7.)
“Comrade Browder’s faith in the progressivism of present day capitalism and its ruling bourgeoisie had its ultimate expression in his curt dismissal of the whole question of Socialism in our country, not only as an immediate political issue (in which he was correct), but also in the sense of mass education (in which he was wrong). He even abandoned all criticism of capitalism as a system of exploitation of the workers. All this, too, is logical in Comrade Browder’s revisionist thinking. For, if it were true that the capitalist world, rejuvenated by the war and by its contact with the U.S.S.R., was going, under the leadership of a progressive bourgeoisie, into a new period of prodigious expansion that would bring “generations of prosperity” to the peoples of the world, then, indeed, Socialism for the U.S.A. would become a matter of only very remote and abstract interest.” (Ibid. p. 8.)
In his speech to the Convention which reconstituted the Communist Party of the U.S.A. Foster charged that the “chronic tailism” (accepting leadership of liberal capitalist politicians), which developed under the leadership of Browder resulted in “hiding the Party’s face and avoidance of mass struggle. (The Worker, July 29, 1945.) Foster further claimed that the revisionist theories of Browder were devoted to fastening a “system of right wing bourgeois liberalism upon our Party; a liberalism so conservative that on many questions it put us far to the right of Roosevelt.” (Ibid.)
Morris Childs, National Committee member, characterized Browder’s revisionism in a similar way and even went so far as to state:
“We completely revised Marxism-Leninism. I underline completely because we departed from every basic Tenet of Marxism. How?”
“In his book Teheran: Our Path in War and Peace, Comrade Browder said:
“Teheran represents a firm and growing common interest between the leaders who gathered there, their governments, the ruling classes they represent, and the peoples of the world.” (The words “common interest” were italicized in the original, other italics mine.–M.C.)
“This is a departure from the materialist, objective analysis of the relationship of all classes in our society. Teheran was an expression of a historical progressive aim agreed to by the coalition under the given circumstances; yet it did not erase class relationship on a world wide scale (the coalition is made up of governments representing two different social systems–Capitalist and Socialist), nor was the declaration of Teheran the incarnation of the identity of interests of rulers and peoples. We know now as a result of experience that the class aims of the signers of Teheran were not identical.” (Political Affairs, July 1945, p. 600.)
“Our Party, by accepting and practicing Comrade Browder’s policy, substituted the Marxian-Leninist theory with a bourgeois-liberal one, we denied the class antagonisms and preached class peace. We carried this “peaceful” relation of classes into the postwar period. To make it plausible, we violated every material economic concept of Marxism and even worked out an economic program for the bourgeoisie. Instead of basing our policy upon the existence of exploiter and exploited, we envisaged and urged class co-operation. The capitalists were turned into big-hearted philanthropists who, while allowed a profit (we were not going to disturb their monopolist profits), would nevertheless use their profits for “the good of humanity” at home and abroad. Everything was “planned.” If our common sense and Marxian ABC says that this planning is impossible under capitalism–particularly under imperialism, decaying capitalism, “capitalism on its deathbed”–we regenerated capitalism to order by replacing the Leninist theory of imperialism with that of Kautsky. Yes, that is what we did when we proved that imperialism is “capable” of all things we suggested. We did not even behave like a bourgeois opposition; we accepted responsibility for the acts of the bourgeoisie and its state, and urged “compliance”; and we were not, for all of that, even invited into the “government,” but kicked around” (Ibid., pp. 600-601.)
Gilbert Green, another National Committee member, also dealt at length with the extent to which bourgeois liberalism, in the sphere of foreign policy, had influenced the concepts of the American Party. Said Green:
“In Comrade Browder’s remarks rejecting the resolution of the National Board, he makes much of the point that there is a ’coincidence of interests’ between Capitalist America and the Soviet Union. This is undeniably true. But apparently what Comrade Browder does not also see is that side by side with this coincidence of interests there also exists a basic antagonism. Both of these–the coincidence of interest and the antagonism–have been and continue to be reflected in the foreign policy of our government, and which is uppermost at any given moment is determined, not alone by the class interests of the bourgeoisie, but by the class struggle–by the struggle of the overwhelming majority of the American people against the most reactionary, most predatory and chauvinist elements of finance capital.
“Comrade Browder in his June statement says that the only alternative that the American bourgeoisie has to collaboration with the Soviet Union is either that of immediate war, or that of a period of armed peace including features of diplomatic and economic warfare. These alternatives Comrade Browder characterizes as suicidal for the bourgeoisie, thereby leaving the course of collaboration as the only tenable one open for it.
“I’m afraid the actual picture is far more complicated than this. The fact remains that the foreign policy of London and Washington has not been and is not today a pure policy that can fit into one or the other of Comrade Browder’s neatly constructed compartments. This policy reflects both the coincidence of interests as well as antagonism, which means it includes both the elements of collaboration as well as those of the carrot and club policy. The fact that Comrade Browder, and we with him, failed to see this two-sided character of British and American policy explains the many gyrations in our own estimates–one week, Vandenberg had taken over the delegation at San Francisco; the next week, Hull had it back under control again; the third week things generally were going to the devil, and the fourth, everything was well again. Had we seen the twofold character of American foreign policy, even under Roosevelt, it would have helped us to fight more consistently against vacillations, hesitations and even double-bookkeeping. The two-fold character of our foreign policy is best illustrated in the personage of Stettinius, who flew directly from Yalta to Mexico City and there organized the conspiracy to undermine the Dumbarton Oaks and Yalta agreements on the world security organization as well as to seat fascist Argentina. Certainly there was no shift of class forces that took place between the flight from Yalta to Chapultepec; it was the same actor playing his double role–and, remember, with the agreement and under the leadership of Roosevelt. Of course, while military victory in Europe was still in question, the carrot and club aspect of American policy was not so evident as now when German imperialism has been defeated and a new fear–the fear of a truly anti-fascist and democratic Europe, of a stronger labor movement at home, and of a more powerful and influential Soviet Union–dominates the mind of the bourgeoisie.
“There will be more meetings of the big three and more agreements through compromise, but once and for all we must discard the strange concept that compromise represents the opposite of struggle, and likewise we must stop the petty-bourgeois practice of worshipping at the shrine of compromise. In many compromises that take place, we are in the peoples’ corner, fighting with them to wring the most concessions possible from imperialism. Certainly the Greek armed conflict was brought to a halt through compromise, but can we forget for a single moment that this ’compromise’ was forced on the people of Greece by British bayonets?–or that the Yugoslav troops were forced to withdraw from Trieste instead of those of Britain and America?
“If we constantly see the two-fold character of American policy we will never again repeat the error of giving a blank cheque to the foreign policy of even a Roosevelt, for even the Roosevelt policy was far from being the clear-cut anti-fascist policy that must be ours. This will keep us from veering from one extreme to another in our estimates, and if things do not go so well we shall not draw the conclusion that a new war is already here, or when the things are going relatively well that a new millenium has arrived. Above all, it will help us maintain our vigilance at sharp edge, for with the European war over, the tendency is toward a general sharpening of all contradictions, the next point I want to speak about.” – (Political Affairs, July, 1945, pp. 593-4.)
After referring to his own writings regarding economic perspectives for the postwar, Green continued:
“But there is one cold, stark fact that I evaded in all my writings and that cannot be dodged, for it is the nub of the whole question– namely, that even if post-war production were to remain at wartime Peak (something highly improbable), even if there were to be the wildest expansion of foreign trade, another cyclical economic crisis is inevitable. In fact, the tremendous expansion of productive plants in the country during the war and the creation of a number of new industries, only intensifies the problem of finding post-war markets large enough to keep our industries operating at anything like maximum capacity. Aggravating the problem even further is the fact that during the war there has taken place a tremendous increase in labor productivity which has brought about a marked increase in the rate of exploitation. Also, even if the country were to achieve foreign markets on a scale unheard of before, this could not eliminate crisis; it could only postpone the ultimate day of reckoning, guaranteeing that when it finally came the crash would shake the entire capitalist world and American society to its depth.
“As long as we have capitalism we shall have cyclical economic crises. This was even true of American capitalism in the nineteenth century when it was young and virile and still had a whole continent to develop. It certainly is even more true of capitalism today in the period of its general crisis, there is bound to be considerable chronic unemployment even in the years of relative prosperity. This does not, of course, mean that the fight for full employment is a Utopian one. This fight, the fight for the right to work, is going to be one of the most bitterly fought battles in American history. The bourgeoisie is going to fight with every weapon at its command to keep this right from being written into the laws of the land and realized.
“If American Capitalism is going to face a sharpening of the contradition between its increased productive powers and its diminishing market possibilities, then it is quite obvious that over the years, especially after the first post-war years, we are going to witness a sharpening of all inner and outer contradictions of American capitalism; an intensification of the class conflict at home; a growing scramble between Britain and the U.S.A. for each others markets and sources of raw materials; a sharper struggle between the colonial peoples and the imperialist powers and an intensification of the contradictions between the two world systems.
“All these contradictions will reach their most acute forms when this country approaches its first post-war economic crisis, although even before then, more and more circles of finance capital will seek a solution to their problems by trying to crush the popular and democratic movement at home and by moving in the direction of aggression and conquest abroad.
“The masses must be prepared for such a sharpening of the struggle. This does not mean that we shall not have a period of post-war boom; but it does mean that we shall shortly witness the first offensives and onslaughts on the living standards and rights of labor and that we do not have too much time to prepare to meet these attacks.
“If this is the perspective ahead, we can all the more appreciate the danger confronting our country if Labor and the Communists are nothing more than the tail end to the kite of the bourgeoisie. Even when we support certain reform measures advanced or supported by the liberal-bourgeois forces, we are duty-bound to make perfectly clear to the workers and the people that these measures are inadequate, that they cannot fully meet the problems, and we must point to a program aimed at drastically curbing the powers and reducing the profits of the trusts while propagating Socialism as the ultimate answer to the threat of exploitation, insecurity and war.
“Any policy of trailing after the liberal bourgeoisie, of failing to bring forward an independent policy and program, can very well create the objective conditions in which demagogic fascist leaders can create a mass base for themselves, not only from the discontented middle classes but also from the ranks of the returned veterans, from the ranks of the Negro people, the youth and even sections of backward workers. Only if the masses see clearly a different alternative; only if the Marxists and left forces generally work in such a way so that they merit the due credit for the positive gains won, but do not lay themselves open to implications of responsibility for the shortcomings and failures of the government and the liberal bourgeoisie can fascist demagogy be defeated, the ranks of the working class and progressive masses united and the path to fascism and war blocked.
“Let us recall that at the height of the New Deal reform, Roosevelt could not prevent a new economic crisis from breaking forth in 1938, and that this new crisis reflected itself in a swing away from Roosevelt in the November, 1938, elections. Thomas Dewey, reactionary demagogue that he is, yet had a kernel of truth when he charged last November that Roosevelt had failed to solve the problem of unemployment and that only the war had solved this for him.
“The next years ahead will be decisive for the whole future of our country and the world. If the masses are not organized and united around a militant program in defense of their interests, then there is a grave danger that the country may take the path toward fascism and war, replacing Nazi Germany as the threat to the peace and freedom of the world. That is what must be avoided at all costs. This cannot be achieved by a narrow sectarian policy, but only by the broadest mass policy. This does not mean that we should refuse to work together with liberal bourgeois forces. It only means that we must constantly remember that the program of even the liberal bourgeoisie cannot offer the way out, that the bourgeoisie cannot be relied upon, that the working class must learn to think as a class, must depend in the first place upon its own strength and on its unity with its natural allies and above all, that there must be a Communist vanguard which firmly, without vacillation and without illusions, points the way to victory over reaction and fascism.” – (Political Affairs, July, 1945, pp. 595-6-7.)
A. B. Magil, associate editor of New Masses, offered a similar opinion, regarding revisionism as “a tendency to rely on the leadership of the liberal bourgeoisie.” (Pol. Aff., Aug., 1945, p. 721.)
Magil also believed the revisionism of Browder was deep rooted when he wrote: “The roots of our recent revisionism need to be traced through at least the past ten years.” (Ibid)
Foster expressed a similar viewpoint: “This liquidatory tendency which he (Browder) had been developing for at least ten years reached its climax in the dissolution of the Communist Party altogether and its reconstitution on a lower level as the Communist Political Association.” (The Worker, Aug. 5, 1945.)
Foster did not conclude that all of the revisionism which had permeated the American Party had been eliminated, as, in the same article quoted above, he wrote: “The worst mistake we could make, however, would be to conclude from this that the fight against Browder’s revisionism has been fully won and that we can proceed unconcernedly with our daily tasks.”
While many of the American Communists agreed that Browder’s revisionism goes back “at least ten years,” few of them made any attempt to uncover the “roots,” or beginnings, of the introduction of revisionism into the American Party by Browder.
One of the few American Communists who made an attempt to uncover the beginning of Browder’s basic revisionist line, during the course of the two months’ discussion on the draft resolution, was Jane Wilson of Los Angeles who wrote:
“The tentative conclusion to which I came is that between 1935 and 1944 the American Communists gradually gave up the strategy and tactics of the people’s front.
“In November, 1935, Browder placed a Farmer-Labor Party as the American form of the People’s Front. In December, 1936, he analyzed the Republican election defeat as a vote along class lines, as hastening the disintegration of the two party system and widening the split in the Democratic Party. He concluded that “these things improve and broaden the prospect for the building of a People’s Front.
“In June, 1937, Browder stated: ’Many are puzzled by an apparent contradiction between the clearly established growth of the People’s Front sentiment in the United States and the slowing up of the organizational realization of a National Farmer-Labor Party.’ Referring to a Pennsylvania steel strike which was supported by the Democratic state administration, he said: ’We will be utterly unrealistic if we expect a Farmer-Labor Party of serious consequence in Pennsylvania until the CIO in convinced that such a party will immediately exert as much political power as the CIO already exerts through the Democratic Party.’ Further, legal obstacles to launching new parties and the democratic possibilities of the primary system were cited as operating against the organization of the Farmer-Labor Party. Mass trade unions and progressive groups should be encouraged ’to systematic and organized activity within the Democratic Party (in some places the Republican Party...
“Browder’s conclusions on labor’s ’political power’ in Pennsylvania with similar examples throughout the country, makes me seriously wonder if unconsciously he were not accepting labor’s political backwardness and beginning to rationalize for the ’easier’ path through Democratic Party channels.
“In Browder’s article in the 1937 Communist, the formulation ’Democratic Camp’ has already replaced that of the Farmer-Labor Party. He defines this as ’America’s equivalent of the People’s Front& and as ’now materialized in the organized labor movement, first of all the great movement of the Committee for Industrial Organization, and the progressive movements led by middle class figures within the old parties.’ He foresees ’two entirely new political parties’ corresponding to Tory reaction based on finance capital and to this democratic camp. In 1938 this formulation changes to ’democratic front.’
“By 1939 the words ’People’s Front’ and ’Farmer-Labor Party’ have been entirely discarded by Browder. So has the concept, it seems to me. In the May Plenum, he denies the opposition to the ’Hoover-Dewey-Taft Republican Party’ as follows: ’The Progressive and democratic majority is a coalition between the Democratic Party and the independent radical one-third of the electorate. President Roosevelt has embodied that coalition, and by his leadership has consolidated and strengthened it.’ –(The Worker, July 15, 1945.)
Jane Wilson concludes by asking:
“Even before the war and before the ’new period’ theory, did we give up working for the American equivalent of the American People’s Front?–(J.W.’s italics). Did we give in and ’tail’ the politically immature labor movement? Did we offer up as sacrifice the leadership of labor in the ’coalition.’ Didn’t we let the potential ’People’s Front’ drift into the Democratic Party and accept bourgeois leadership, and then in 1944 jump in after it?” –(Ibid.)
To date the basic and vital questions raised by Jane Wilson have remained unanswered by the leadership of the Communist Party of the U.S.A. The question of whether or not the American Communists “let the potential ’People’s Front’ drift into the Democratic Party and accept bourgeois leadership” and whether, or not, if that were the case, the necessary measures have been adopted to correct it, is a question of the utmost importance to the labor movement. While Foster, Childs and Green, who have been quoted at considerable length, stress the degree to which Marxism was revised and the degree to which the American Communists, under Browder’s leadership, followed a policy of class collaboration, there nevertheless appears to be some contradictory propositions advanced in their statements.
Foster stated that, “The class nature of Imperialistic Capitalism is reactionary” and warned that “Trailing after the big bourgeoisie is the historic error of Social Democracy and we must be vigilantly on guard against it.”
Morris Childs stated that, “Instead of basing our policy upon the existence of exploiter and exploited, we envisaged and urged ’class co-operation’.” Childs then went on to say that “we accepted responsibility for the acts of the bourgeoisie and its state.” However, he then advances what appears to be a complaint: “and we were not, for all of that, even invited into the government, but kicked around.” Childs, first of all, recognizes the existence of “exploiter and exploited,” criticizes the fact that the Party urged “class co-operation,” refers to the state as the state of the bourgeoisie, of the exploiters, but then proceeds to raise the question of not being “invited into the government.”
Clearly, if, as Childs claims, the state is the state of the exploiters, there is no reason why a party, if it really represented the interests of the exploited, should be invited to join the government of that state and still less reason why such a party should even consider the possibility of being invited to join it.
The mistakes which Childs refers to and the attitude of the government towards the American Communists, in spite of their attitude of “accepting responsibility,” is strikingly similar to the policies practiced by the Mensheviks in 1906 in spite of the different historic period and setting. Lenin, in an article entitled, Blocs With the Cadets, scathingly denounced Plekhanov and the Mensheviks for advocating blocs with the party of the liberal bourgeoisie, the Constitutional Democrats (Cadets). Lenin wrote:
“What does all this mean? It means that whether we like it or not, that in spite of the wishes of the best of the Mensheviks, political life absorbs their cadet deeds and rejects their revolutionary phrases.
“The Cadet coolly accepts the help of the Mensheviks, slaps Plekhanov on the back for his advocacy of blocs and at the same time shouts contemptuously and coarsely, like a merchant who has grown fat on ill-gotten gains: Not enough, my dear Mensheviks! We must also have an ideological rapprochement! Not enough, my dear Mensheviks, you must also stop, or at any rate change your polemics!...
“Poor Mensheviks, poor Plekhanov! Their love letters to the Cadets were read with satisfaction, but so far they are not being admitted further than the antechamber.” –(Lenin’s Selected Works, Vol. III, pp. 411-12.)
Gil Green stated that, “with the agreement and under the leadership of Roosevelt,” Stettinius flew from Yalta to Mexico City “and there organized the conspiracy to undermine the Dumbarton Oaks and Yalta agreements.” He then added that “the bourgeoisie is going to fight with every weapon at its command to keep the right” of full employment “from being written into the laws of the country.” Green then warns of the danger “if labor and the Communists are nothing more than the tail end to the kite of the bourgeoisie,” and adds, that “any policy of trailing after the liberal bourgeoisie could create the ’objective conditions’ in which fascism could secure a ’mass base. ’”
Green further warns against policies that would lay the Party and the left forces “open to implications of responsibility for the shortcomings and failures of the government” and the liberal bourgeoisie. But having said all that, he then states, that “This does not mean that we should refuse to work together with liberal bourgeois forces,” and adds, that “it only means... that the bourgeoisie cannot be relied upon, that the working class must learn to think as a class...”
Obviously, to work with “liberal bourgeois forces” means to work with the liberal bourgeoisie whom he admits “cannot be relied upon,” who were responsible, through their spokesman Roosevelt, for undermining the “Dumbarton Oaks and Yalta agreements.”
The question arises: Can the working class “learn to think as a class,” can they avoid “being nothing more than the tail end to the kite of the bourgeoisie” if they are going to “work together with liberal bourgeois forces” whom Green admits “cannot be relied upon?” Would not such a policy lead to the very situation which Green himself warns against, of “laying themselves open to implications of responsibility for the shortcomings and failures of the government and the liberal bourgeoisie?”
In order to answer this question, which is one of vital importance to the labor movement, and also the question raised by Jane Wilson of whether or not the American Communists “let the potential ’People’s Front’ drift into the Democratic Party and accept bourgeois leadership,” will require a critical examination of the tactical line of the American Communists over a considerable period, in the light of the teachings of the great authorities on the science of Marxism. To make such an examination is the purpose of the next chapter.