Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Unity Organization

Sooner or Later

Questions & Answers on War, Peace & the United Front

Section E: A Shift in American Politics

1. Is the growing mass reaction to Soviet hegemonism what you mean by a “shift in American politics?”

Only in part. We have said that the central developing contradiction in contemporary world politics is the hegemonist drive of the Soviet Union and the response to it. This is having an impact on many levels: on the level of international organizations like the Non-Aligned Movement, the UN, ASEAN, the OAU, NATO, etc., on the level of international diplomatic and military relations, on relations among individual countries, and within individual countries. But this process is still at an early stage, and the repercussions have only begun to be felt. Internal politics in the United States has been among the last areas to be affected. This question has not yet become a central one for the trade unions, for the oppressed nations and national minorities, for community and welfare organizations. Among the bourgeois political leadership, however, an important process of revision and re-alignment seems to be occurring on this question.

The moving wedge sowing confusion and clarity, driving former allies apart, former enemies together, is the Soviet hegemonist push. The Russian military build-up and its strategic offensive have forced both liberals and conservatives to revise their strategic conceptions. It has produced new tensions and divisions within both old-line political parties. Liberals in both parties have had to ask, “Is detente working?”, and conservatives must adjust to a conspicuously un-monolithic “communism”. Odd and unusual cracks and fissures appear inside the two parties, and a new political strategy belonging exclusively to neither is beginning to emerge.

Among conservative Republicans the question of China, so long a great point of unity for them (and an affliction for the Democrats who “lost” it) has now become a source of discord. As soon as the old bogey of “Soviet domination”, formerly so serviceable for purposes of panic and hype, passed from fantasy to reality, some cold warriors began to have second thoughts about the utility of their association with the “China lobby”. Those always more inclined to fantasy, like Goldwater and Reagan, cling to Taiwan. The more practical finger the “China card”. Ground has opened up between the Reaganites who would “go it alone” against the Soviets and the Nixon-Haig-Connollys who would deal with the Third World, including China. The pressure of international events tends to widen this distance and overshadow their unity on certain domestic questions.

The disorder is equally profound among the liberals. Liberalism has been increasingly dissociated from appeasement. While Senators Kennedy and Cranston still push appeasement, the debate over SALT II and the defense budget (really a debate over Soviet intentions) has left a considerable number of liberals very far from the positions they originally held. Church’s concern about Cuba’s advance in the Caribbean should not be pooh-poohed as electoral “war-mongering”. It comes from a left liberal who has been a consistent opponent of U.S.-backed dictatorships and who is exceptionally knowledgeable about Latin America. But liberals becoming wary of Soviet intentions are not thereby abandoning their support for a more liberal policy toward the Third World. Mondale’s speech in Beijing on August 27, 1979 exemplifies the new attitude. There Mondale identified “the American interest” with a “strong and secure and modernizing China”, disavowed American ambitions “to collude with a few countries... to dominate the world” and called for “a world of independent nations”. Connolly’s Mid-East Peace Plan, Haig’s advocacy of developing military relations with China, Baker’s call for a reduction of both Soviet and U.S. military presence in the Middle East suggest the range of bourgeois political leaders who are beginning to combine anti-Sovietism with progressive policies toward the Third World. This has also been the evolution of Brzezinski’s policies. The new foreign policy orientation has already shown its influence in the Carter administration, particularly since the invasion of Afghanistan, although in an inconsistent fashion. But the normalization of relations with China, non-intervention and economic assistance to Nicaragua, refusal to grant recognition to a military coup in Bolivia, maintenance of sanctions against Zimbabwe-Rhodesia prior to the recent peace settlement, itself supported by the U.S., the release of the Puerto Rican nationalists, acquiescence in the deposing of the Shah and current (January 1980) restraint in Iran, the opening toward P.L.O. involvement in the Middle East negotiations – these are all policies dramatically different from those pursued during the “Cold War” and the Indochina war periods.

Nevertheless, there is a real danger that the reaction to Soviet hegemonism in the U.S. may become linked with the right and with the hard-line “go-it-alone” reactionary bourgeoisie. There are two dangers to this. The first is that, in the current world situation, an attempt by the U.S. to reassert its imperialist domination would lead not to an actual strengthening of U.S. imperialist power but to its opposite, to a strengthening of Soviet imperialism. Third World countries, such as Iraq, which are currently exploring, in tentative fashion, the advantages of developing ties with the United States as a means to lessening the influence of the Soviet Union would likely flee to the arms of the Soviet Union. The real threat to the Third World of U.S. jingoistic militarism is not that the Third World would fall under increasing U.S. domination. Recognition of the nature of U.S. imperialism is too deep and the strength of the movement for national independence too strong for the U.S. to be able to recoup its losses on the basis of military strength. A partial “victory” in one country would be lost in the overall resurgence of anti-U.S. sentiment and the inevitable turn towards the Soviet Union as an ally against U.S. imperialism.

We see this today in the Middle East. Insofar as the U.S. opposes the rights of the Palestinians to an independent state it foregoes the possibilities of strengthening relations with the Arab world. Even those who believe that the U.S. could continue to strengthen Israel and oppose the rights of the Palestinians must recognize that the cost of such support includes an inability to strengthen ties with Arab nations in particular and OPEC as a whole.

The second danger from a hard-line approach to Soviet hegemonism is that it will lead to a fascist rather than a democratic response within the U.S. This would be a great set-back not only to the struggle for democracy and national liberation in the U.S. but again to the prospects of mobilizing a broad united front against hegemonism. It is thus imperative that communists begin to work to divert this response in a progressive anti-imperialist direction. In this task we have numerous allies among the bourgeois liberals – those who are both anti-Soviet and interested in improving U.S. relations with the Third World. Such forces understand that any mobilization against Soviet hegemonism would be undermined by the reactionary, racist politics of a Reagan.

2. Should communists be in the business of recommending “improved” foreign policies to imperialist superpowers? Isn’t this modern-day Kautskyism you are advocating?

Kautsky believed that imperialism was just a policy – something that could be upheld or abandoned depending on which foreign policy a monopoly capitalist state choose to pursue. He thought Social-Democrats could pressure the governments of Germany, Great Britain, France, etc. to stop being imperialists by changing their policies. He did not see imperialism as the objective character of capitalism in its highest form.

We do not believe that by adopting policies which coincide with the interests of the peoples of Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, China etc. the U.S.A. has changed from an imperialist superpower into something else. If the U.S.A. adopts correct policies it is because objective events and imperialist interests have constrained it to do so. The “wolf at the gate” has not become a lamb. The beast is still a beast, but it is a beast chained by events beyond its control. In this case the rise of the Third World and the hegemonist offensive of the U.S.S.R. The same sort of objective developments made the U.S.A. adopt the “Good Neighbor Policy” under Roosevelt in the late 1930s and early 1940s. These were correctly supported by the Third International, not because it regarded them as evidence that the U.S.A. was no longer imperialist, but because they saw that such policies strengthened the united front against fascism and enabled the Latin American countries to win gains.

Similarly today the demand for a “New International Economic Order” is finding supporters not just in the Third World but within the countries of Western Europe, Japan, Canada and the U.S. The resolution passed in 1974 by the U.N. General Assembly called for all countries to:

work urgently for the establishment of a new international economic order based on equity, sovereign equality, common interest and cooperation among all states, irrespective of their economic and social systems, which shall correct inequalities and redress existing injustices, make it possible to eliminate the widening gap between the developed and developing countries and ensure steadily accelerating economic and social development and peace and justice for present and future generations.

The specific demands associated with the NIEO pertain to every level of the world economic structure. They call for an end to protectionism on the part of the developed countries, increased transfer of technology to the Third World, stabilization of the prices of raw materials and closing the gap between these prices and the prices of goods imported by the Third World, the creation of an international reserve currency to replace the use of the dollar as a world currency, stepped-up aid from the developed countries, and an increased role for the Third World in international institutions.

The possibilities of making progress toward this goal in the current period are well illustrated by the recent recommendations of a commission headed by Willie Brandt which reported its conclusions to the U.N. in February 1980 (New York Times, Feb. 13, 1980). The commission was composed of prominent individuals from the Third World, Europe, Japan, Canada and the United States; the U.S. members of the commission were Peter G. Petersen, former Secretary of Commerce and current chairman of Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb Inc., and Katherine Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Company. The report, which is said to reflect the unanimous opinion of the commission’s members, recommended an expansion of loans and aid that would total $250-300 billion over the next five years. In contrast, Fidel Castro, speaking at the U.N. in the fall, called with much sound and fury for $300 billion aid over the next ten years. The commission, unlike Castro, urged the participation of the Soviet Union in the provision of aid to the Third World, a demand which the Soviet Union rejects on the grounds that only “imperialist” countries have an obligation to provide aid.

Support for a New International Economic Order by no means signifies a denial of the imperialist nature of countries of the First and Second Worlds, merely a recognition of the possibility and importance of reforms in international economic and political relations.

Mechanically to counterpose total revolution to reforms and to invoke Leninism versus Kautskyism in doing so is to replace revolutionary action with empty phrases. Among the many lessons Lenin has taught about the relation of revolution and reform, two are extremely relevant here. One is that “reforms are a by-product of the revolutionary class struggle of the proletariat” (quoted in Stalin, Foundations of Leninism, Ch. VII). Such reforms as have been made in U.S. foreign policy are by-products of the revolutionary struggles of the people of the Third World – of the people of Indochina and Africa and of Black and Puerto Rican people in the U.S. Andrew Young’s role in the formation of Carter’s foreign policy is clearly a “by-product” of American Blacks’ revolutionary struggle in the U.S., even if Young himself is far from a revolutionary.

The second lesson from Lenin is that there are times when revolutionaries must fight “in a reformist way”[1] Do American revolutionaries now have the strength to overturn American imperialism? The Theory of the Three Worlds asserts that this is a time for “accumulating strength” not for direct revolutionary action. But at a time when the interests of the people of the U.S. and the U.S. ruling class lie in reforming American policy in an anti-hegemonist direction, American revolutionaries may have the strength, if they know how to use it, to help bring about those necessary changes sooner rather than later:

True revolutionaries have most often come to a cropper when they began to write “revolution” with a capital R... to lose the ability to reflect, weigh, and ascertain in the coolest and most dispassionate manner at what moment, under what circumstances and in which sphere of action you must act in a revolutionary manner, and at what moment, under what circumstances and in which sphere you must turn to reformist action.[2]

At a high price and with great difficulty the young American communist movement has been learning that boycotting the struggle for reforms is not Leninism but anarchism. The same is true when it comes to reforms in foreign policy. The experience of the International Communist Movement in the 1930’s confirms this truth:

To the working class and all working people it is by no means a matter of indifference what foreign policy the government carries on toward the fascist enemies of peace; whether this policy helps to strengthen collective security or to hinder it....

The proletariat cannot get along without its own independent policy on these questions. Without on any condition permitting itself to slip into adopting the position of the bourgeoisie, the Party of the proletariat must actively interfere in foreign policy and in questions of national defense, advancing its own platforms and its own demands.[3]

These “platforms and demands” should not only embody the interests of the working class, they must also serve to educate it, to equip it ideologically and politically to assume the role of the ruling class. This can only happen if they are linked with platforms for the domestic struggles of the American masses.

3. Several times you have mentioned the need to “link” the struggle for the united front against hegemonism with the particular struggles of the American masses. I am still unclear on how you see this link being forged.

Let us review what we have said to this point on the subject and then go on to answer the question more fully. First of all we have said that the “lull” in the American mass movement is being overshadowed by the “storm” out at sea: the Soviet offensive. The Soviet drive to empire and world rule will be the central feature not just of international but of American policies during the 1980s. It is in this framework or context that mass struggles will develop in the forseeable future.

We have described three basic responses to this Soviet challenge by the American bourgeoisie. Of these only one is adequate to the situation and really serves the interests of the bourgeoisie. The Reagan-Goldwater “go it alone” school would weaken the United States by stripping it of its allies in the Third World and by dividing it at home, through its reactionary or even fascist policies. The appeasers represent an even greater danger. Tranquilizing the American masses, they would permit the Soviet Union to swallow huge sections of the Third World, seize Europe and prepare an attack on China, leaving the U.S. isolated. Only the trend which is prepared to ally with the Third World and with its own people to stand up to the Soviet aggressors can serve the American interest.

Challenged by its Soviet superpower rivals, the American imperialist bourgeoisie finds itself on the defensive and in need of allies. This is the objective situation in which the struggles of the American masses will develop in the years ahead. “Linking” these struggles first of all means being aware of these conditions and utilizing them to advance the interests of the masses.

How can this situation be utilized to advance our struggles? First, we must use the American bourgeoisie’s “instinct” for and interest in self-preservation to persuade and coerce it to bend every effort to opposing Soviet hegemonism: to eliminate tax loopholes, corruption, the siphoning off of public funds, etc. and to pursue policies of mutual benefit with the Third World. But alongside the struggle to postpone world war, the American masses have their own particular demands. How can these be advanced in the context of the situation we are describing?

The events surrounding Andrew Young’s resignation last summer provide an example. The evolution of the American position with respect to the P.L.O. and the increasingly active influence of Blacks in American foreign policy are gains (reformist gains to be sure) for the Third World and American blacks. They are concessions wrung from the American ruling class because it needs the support of Blacks and because it cannot ignore the opinion of the Third World.

The gains won by the American masses during the New Deal and the Second World War are another example. That period of economic crisis, of imperialist challenge and of anti-fascist united front became what Lenin once termed “an era of reforms” – a period in which the bourgeoisie sees itself forced to make

concessions, which, though they are always insincere, always halfhearted, often spurious and illusory, and usually hedged round with more or less subtly hidden traps, are nevertheless concessions, reforms that mark a whole era.[4]

Depending on a series of factors, not all of which are entirely outside the influence of communists, American foreign policy is groping toward an “era of reform” something like that of the 1930s and early 1940s. For this to happen, the leading faction of the American bourgeoisie will have to reach out to the public for support. While it is in the interests of the American masses to lend that support, they must do so in such a way as to advance their own particular demands.

4. Could you be specific? Which demands do you have in mind?

Lacking a concrete program or platform, indispensable for assuring communist and proletarian independence and initiative in the united front, answers to this question must necessarily be sketchy and incomplete. But let us give some examples of what we mean.

If the United States is to mobilize a strong, united, national effort to confront the Soviet threat, then the people of this country will be forced to confront the racism and sex discrimination which now divide us. If taxes are to be raised to pay for this, then the masses must be mobilized around a struggle for progressive income taxes which put the bite on the wealthy. If the American people are asked to support the defense of their country, then the defense of their health and standard of living must be guaranteed. This means expanded welfare programs, national health insurance, cost of living allowances, etc. If the American worker is to cooperate by, say, restricting work actions at defense plants, then vigorous measures must be taken to assure his/her safety and his/her living standard and to prevent ownership from reaping the benefits of increased productivity. Most important, if the American people are to support U.S. foreign policy, then they must be given a vastly increased role in forming it.

5. Aren’t you being Utopian in expecting that the bourgeoisie will grant concessions in the economic struggle just at the very time that its economic strength is being sapped by the rise of the Third World, competition with the Second World and contention with the Soviet Union?

The bourgeoisie never offers concessions unless it has to. The fact that it is under worldwide attack also means that it needs allies. Whether or not we can force concessions from the bourgeoisie will depend on our strength. To the extent to which the working class is not organized as a class “for itself” and is subordinate to the bourgeoisie’s form of anti-Sovietism (i.e. communism-fascism), any opposition to the bourgeoisie’s policies of speed-ups, pay cuts, etc. will be portrayed as sabotaging the national effort to oppose the U.S.S.R. But if the working class can rally around a program of demands which condition its cooperation in the united front, concessions can be won. This was the case before and during World War II when such things as the FEPC (Fair Employment Practices Commission, created by executive order of F.D.R. in 1943) – the increase to 14,776,000 from 8,980,400 in the ranks of organized labor from 1940 to 1945 were achieved.

6. How will the united front against hegemonism affect our trade union work?

The experience of communists in the labor movement has shown us that being militant fighters for the economic rights of the workers is no guarantee of influence in the trade union movement. Opportunist leaders have successfully used red-baiting to undermine and expel communist militants. The present situation presents us with the same problem. Will the trade union leaders succeed in using a campaign against Soviet aggression to discredit communists or shall we be able to turn the tables on them?

Red-baiters have used communists’ legitimate support for the Soviet Union as a pretext to portray us as disloyal agents of a foreign power trying to impose a totalitarian system on the U.S. But the situation today is different. We no longer support the U.S.S.R. In fact, not only do we oppose the U.S.S.R., we know more about its real nature and its role in the world than do the jingoist red-baiters. By taking the lead in exposing the aggressive and repressive nature of the U.S.S.R. we can make clear that we stand for peace and democracy and are not the knee-jerk followers of social fascism.

The recent I.L.A. boycott of Soviet ships and the A.F.L.-C.I.O. petition campaigns around Iran and Afghanistan have given us golden opportunities to provide leadership in the anti-Soviet struggle and to undermine red-baiting attacks against us. We could have seized the initiative by joining the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Iran hostages petition campaign, working within it to discredit the Shah and more importantly using the opportunity to expose the real danger to Iran – the Soviet troops poised at its borders. The same can be said for Afghanistan. Had we seized the initiative, urging the union movement to condemn Soviet aggression and call for collective responses to Soviet advances we might have been able to short-circuit the red-baiters’ moves to turn the Soviet invasion into a pretext for stirring up chauvinism and to discredit dissidents. But what was the response of communists to these opportunities? Did we use the I.L.A. boycott to talk about the capitalist nature of the U.S.S.R. and its cynical use of trade to build its war machine? Did we use the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to propagandize the masses about the difference between fascism and socialism?

Are communists in a position to do such work? Can we, who are mostly on the fringes of the trade union movement, with roots in weak rank and file caucuses, succeed in influencing broad sectors of the trade union movement? Obviously we cannot do it by passing out flyers at the plant gates or printing anti-Soviet articles in our rank and file newspapers. In order to expose the Soviet Union and undermine the right in the trade union movement, we have to position ourselves within the trade union structure. This means working within the structure, gaining access to union publications, winning seats on union legislative and political action committees. It also means uniting with the imperfect, anti-Soviet views of the masses. Even if the wording on the petition isn’t perfect, we are better off uniting with the masses’ sympathy for the underdog and democratic sentiments implicit in the reaction to the Iranian hostages, so as to struggle against their chauvinist side, than we are standing on the outside waiting for the correct wording.

While red-baiting has weakened communists in the trade union movement, purism and oppositionist mentality has been a significant factor in our isolation as well. Rather than emphasizing rank and file caucuses outside the structure, we have to learn to get inside and struggle from within. And we should struggle with a program around which we can unite workers in order to struggle with their leaders. Elements of such a program would be support for a new international economic order; paid retraining programs for those who lose jobs in dying industries (including affirmative action provisions); support for a democratic foreign policy (including criticizing regimes which repress workers’ rights to organize, whether in Chile or in the U.S.S.R.); opposition to union corruption and corporate profiteering; and support for consistent democracy for all workers regardless of sex or nationality.

7. The program you are suggesting calls for free trade with Third World countries. Won’t this hurt American workers by costing them jobs?

The present policy of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. is protectionist – “Buy American”. It regards the Third World as a threat to U.S. workers and explicitly opposes trade with China.

This policy is not in the interest of American workers. In the short run, backward industries like shoes, textiles, and steel might be temporarily preserved, but what are the consequences of such a policy? First, protectionism invites retaliation. What will happen to the jobs of U.S. workers in industries which export to the Third World? Second, protectionism increases inflation. The fact that protectionist steel prices make U.S. manufacturers pay above world prices for steel means that every product made with steel costs U.S. workers more and weakens our ability to sell these products abroad. Third, the economic laws of capitalism cannot be reversed without a revolution. Unprofitable, outmoded industries are replaced or moved within the U.S. or beyond its borders all the time. Protection has not helped steelworkers in Youngstown; at best it postpones the inevitable. What is needed is a positive program to protect workers when their jobs are lost either by foreign competition or by plants’ being relocted within the U.S.

What is in the interest of American workers are relations of mutual benefit with other countries. Third World trading partners are ideal customers for American technology and can supply American workers with many consumer goods at lower prices. Increased trade would allow Third World countries to develop their industrial capabilities thus lessening their dependence on imperialism.

Relations of equality, democracy, and mutual benefit can help strengthen the independence and stability of Third World countries, putting an obstacle in the path of Soviet expansion. Moreover, ending the exploitation of Third World countries by the U.S. is indispensable in winning allies for collective security. By supporting a new international economic order American workers can improve their own living standard, find allies in the Third World and strengthen the resistance to Soviet expansion.

8. What does the united front against hegemonism mean for our work among the oppressed nations and national minorities in the United States?

The national movements in the United States are autonomous and independent movements. While part of the world proletarian and anti-imperialist struggles, they have their particular goals and paths, their own laws of development. In all circumstances communists seek to advance these struggles, to elucidate their aims and objectives, their strategy and tactics.

To perform these tasks communists must be rooted solidly and permanently in the movements of the oppressed nationalities. They must understand their historical and present conditions and strive to serve the broad masses of their people, to earn their respect and their attention. But for these tasks communists must also possess a knowledge of the political forces operating outside of the national movements and conditioning their development. In order to be able to identify their friends and enemies and choose correct methods of struggle, the leadership of the national movements must grasp the context in which their struggles are developing.

A knowledge of the domestic and international context in which the national movements are unfolding is indispensable for developing a program or platform for nationalities within the united front against hegemonism. Likewise, the American proletariat, the trade union movement and the women’s movement have their own separate interests within the united front.

The necessity of grasping the context applies to strategy and tactics as well. In the 1960s communists and other revolutionaries played a prominent role in “linking up the struggles” (Cabral) of American Blacks with those of the rest of the Third World. The same was true of the Chicano and Puerto Rican movements and those of the Filipino and Chinese national minorities. As oppressed nations and national minorities, it is fundamental for American nationalities to unite with and support the world-wide struggle against colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism in the 1980s.

Communists must aid the national movements in identifying their enemies as well as their friends, and in distinguishing the former from the latter. In the face of reformist inroads in the national movements it is essential that communists make it clear that American imperialism is the direct and long-run enemy of the national movement, not their friend and benefactor. In the face of revisionist penetration of these movements, it is essential to expose the Soviet Union and its lackeys as false friends and real enemies of national liberation.

This last is not an abstract question. The Cubans are working overtime in the Black, Chicano and Puerto Rican movements. Their revolutionary cover combined with slick public relations – cultivating pop music artists, offering free visits to Cuba, neatly packaging Cuba in progressive and humanist films and books, ultramodern jazz records, etc. – has gained Cuba a strong political and ideological position in these movements. Through the Cubans (and the Vietnamese) the Soviets seek to gain the national movements as their allies and as supporters of their adventures. Their efforts to tie these movements to Soviet foreign policy have been as persistent as they are brazen. If communists fail to lead a struggle against these Soviet fifth columns, they will gain a social base in this country. And that would weaken the national movements as well as the global proletariat and anti-imperialist struggle.

The Soviets, chiefly through their Cuban and Vietnamese proxies, are seeking to turn the national movements in the United States into reserves of social imperialism. This is consistent with their mission in the Third World as a whole: split the Third World and put national liberation movements at the service of their hegemonist aims. Rising, latecoming superpowers have attempted this in the past. We have the examples of German activities in the Mid-East, Africa, India and Latin America before World War I and II, and that of Japan’s “Union of the Colored Races” before World War II. A concerted attempt was made to incorporate American Blacks in the last scheme.

Unless we wish the national minorities to fall prey to the snares of the social imperialists and become their direct reserves, we must help to demonstrate energetically and clearly that the Vietnamese and Cuban cliques who have overrun, invaded and occupied Kampuchea, Laos, Angola and Eritrea are not friends but enemies of national liberation. And this must be understood not only to win their support in the world-wide struggle against imperialism and hegemonism but also for the sake of their own struggles. How many nations will pay the price for trusting those false friends?

In elucidating the context of the struggles of the national movements, we shall be contributing to the development of tactics as well as strategy. For example, by comprehending the position of the American imperialist bourgeoisie it can gain tactical allies, etc. We have already cited one example of how the situation of American imperialism has been utilized to win a stronger Black voice on foreign policy. But the same is true with regard to other demands of the national movements. The New Deal and World War II period witnessed important political and economic gains for American blacks. Today there are numerous demands such as affirmative action in government, military, police, etc. which could be advanced in the context of mobilizing the American people to oppose hegemonism.

Much of what has been said specifically about blacks applies equally to other oppressed nationalities. For instance, as the Latin community grows in numbers and political significance, so does the significance of its active support of the struggles of Latin American countries for independence from imperialism: the struggle for the New International Economic Order, for a policy of non-intervention and good neighborliness in Latin America, etc.

The struggle for both the immediate and long-range goals of the national movements in the U.S. will be fortified by the building of the widest possible front against hegemonism. Inside that front communists must join with national minorities and workers to lend the front an increasingly progressive character, to develop a new progressive alliance linking support for collective security in international affairs with a kind of “domestic collective security.” The struggle for a new foreign policy must be linked to the struggle of the American masses for job security, health security and for the security of their communities. The united front must be deep as well as broad. It must link from above all those organizations which support national independence and democracy. But it must also be organized from below at the grass roots level so as to connect solidly the struggle for independence and peace overseas with the struggle for democracy and reform at home.

9. But doesn’t it come down to a question of “guns or butter” in the last analysis?

Only if that “analysis” sees things metaphysically, statically. If all else remains the same, then, yes, it is guns or butter. But we are saying that the struggle over defense is occurring in a time of great political flux. The bourgeoisie needs allies. The funds for increased military spending need not come out of welfare programs and workers’ wages. They can also be procured by making income taxes more progressive, by eliminating tax loopholes, windfall profits, etc.

Secondly, the example of the selling of precision ball bearings shows that appeasement ends up being a very costly policy, one that escalates the arms race. By opposing appeasement and the narrow and short-sighted pursuit of profits, which actually jeopardize national defense, we can reduce the military budget and at the same time reduce the danger of war.

Furthermore, the “guns versus butter” approach can be misleading in another way. The goal of a more vigorous defense policy is to postpone war. If we fail to bolster our defenses and World War III breaks out, well, then just forget about “butter” and forget about margarine as well. Everything will be for “guns”. Increased spending for “guns” now can mean that the day will not have to come in which there is no “butter”.

Finally, we must emphasize that this policy question, like all central policy questions, is a matter of struggle, of class struggle. It is a question of “guns for what?”, “butter for whom?” These are questions which profoundly affect the present and future lives of the masses of Americans. Should a mass movement unfold around these questions, and should that movement be led by the national minorities and the proletariat (in alliance with the anti-hegemonist bourgeoisie) these questions would be decided far differently from the way they would be if the reactionaries or the appeasement forces were to gain control.


[1] V.I. Lenin, “The Importance of Gold”, LCW,/em>, Vol. 33, p. 111.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Dimitrov, “The Struggle for Peace”, in The United Front (Proletarian Publishers), p. 117.

[4] V.I Lenin, “An Era of Reforms”, LCW, Vol. 6, p. 510.