Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Marxist-Leninist Party

Why the CPUSA didn’t resist Khrushchovite revisionism

First Published:The Workers’ Advocate Vol. 14, No. 7, June 10, 1984.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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(The following speech was delivered by a representative of the MLP at the May Day meeting in Chicago. It has been edited for publication.)

Comrades, each May Day our Party has assessed the stage of the struggle against Khrushchovite revisionism and rededicated itself to carrying through the tasks imposed upon it by that struggle. The same is true for this May Day celebration – only with an important difference.

This May Day our Party has issued a special number of The Workers’ Advocate entitled “In Defense of Marxism-Leninism.” This theoretical issue of The Workers’ Advocate contains historical material of importance for the struggle against Khrushchovite revisionism. It is, in fact, a theoretical weapon for purging the revolutionary movement of basic weaknesses which have inhibited the repudiation of Soviet revisionism and undermined the proletariat’s class struggle against the bourgeoisie.

Comrades, strengthening the Marxist-Leninist orientation for the struggle against Revisionism is one of the major tasks facing the international Marxist-Leninist movement. Our Party is but one column in the world movement, and it is not our way to exaggerate our role and put on airs. But it is our way to fulfill to the best of our capabilities our duties to the international proletariat. We must remain linked arm in arm with our brother communists and class conscious proletarians around the world, and we know that Marxist-Leninists everywhere have a sacred duty to the workers of the world to carry through the struggle against revisionism. Publication of this issue of The Workers’ Advocate is an affirmation by the Marxist-Leninist Party that it will uphold its part in fulfilling that mission, that neither philistine sentimentality, nor fear of someone’s displeasure will make us falter in this struggle.

In line with the publication of this important issue of The Workers’ Advocate criticizing mistaken orientations prevalent in the international communist movement in the decade after World War II, I will address an aspect of this question which is of special concern to U.S. Marxist-Leninists: the line and activity of the Communist Party of the USA in this period, the period between the repudiation of Browder in 1945 and the collapse of the CPUSA into Khrushchovite revisionism in the mid-1950’s.

Right at the outset, I want to stress that my remarks this evening are not a definitive assessment of the history of the CPUSA in this period. Rather, the intent this evening is merely to initiate and encourage interest in the discussion and understanding of this period. Indeed, my remarks seek to bring out only three basic points:

First, the post-World War II stands of the CPUSA played a significant role in enfeebling and corrupting the American working class movement. These stands left the CPUSA prostrate before the rise of Khrushchovite revisionism and incapable of offering any serious resistance to this monstrous treachery.

Second, the stands of the CPUSA in the post-World War II period were not exceptional stands peculiar to the CP USA. Rather, the basic line of the CPUSA was within the bounds of what was acceptable or even being promoted inside the international communist movement at that time. The May First issue of The Workers ’ Advocate gives much material for the study of the relationship of the CPUSA’s errors to certain mistaken orientations prevalent in the international movement.

And third, our slogan is “Back to the Classics.’’ The classics of Marxism-Leninism – the work of Marx, Engels and Lenin – are the most authoritative exposition of the theoretical foundation of our movement; they guide our path; they provide our best models; and they show the criteria by which to judge things in, as The Workers’ Advocate puts it, ”the stem but clear light of revolutionary principles.’’

Now, before I launch into the main body of my remarks,

I want to give comrades a warning. I am going to be quoting a great deal from the documents of the CPUSA from this period. So I ask you to bear with me – and that if anyone has difficulty with following a particular quotation, just speak up and I will repeat it so that you are able to follow the thread of the argument.

The CPUSA’s Halfhearted Repudiation of Browderism

Let us begin, then, by briefly examining the positions of the CPUSA in 1945.

Browderism had led to the dissolution of the CPUSA in 1944, and its replacement with a mere “educational association,” called the Communist Political Association. Our Party has long maintained that, when the CPUSA was reconstituted in 1945 and Browderism criticized, the CP USA did not succeed in repudiating Browderism thoroughly and returning to correct, sound Marxist-Leninist positions. We pointed to how this undermined the CPUSA and left it easy prey to Khrushchovite revisionism in the mid-1950’s. And our recent study of the post-World War II period has only served to further confirm and amplify this conclusion.

When the CPUSA repudiated Browder, it did not go back to revolutionary Marxist-Leninist stands. Rather, it merely repudiated the Browderism of Teheran and After, the notorious revisionist tract which Browder penned in 1943 and in which he began to develop his most extreme, right-wing revisionist theses. From that point on, Browder began to preach that a new era of perpetual peaceful cooperation between socialism and imperialism had begun, an era of endless harmony between labor and capital – including the most reactionary American monopolists, such as J. P. Morgan; and he proceeded to organize the formal dissolution of the CPUSA in 1944 in order that communists could work more effectively inside the Democratic and Republican Parties.

In 1945, when Browder was criticized and the CPUSA was reconstituted, the most outrageous liquidationist positions of Browder were repudiated. But, in overthrowing the Teheran theses of Browder, the Party merely returned, in essence, to the basic liberal-labor theses which Browder had been developing for years prior to 1943: the line of step-by-step liquidating the independent politics of the proletariat and merging the working class into a liberal-labor coalition led by Roosevelt. While criticizing Browder, the CPUSA continued to uphold national unity with the liberal bourgeoisie: it merely refused to extend its cooperation to J. P. Morgan and insisted that only the Roosevelt liberals deserved the privilege of leading the proletariat.

It will be worthwhile, I think, to repeat the following statement which the Chairman of the CPUSA, William Z. Foster, made at the conclusion of his Report to the Special Convention that reconstituted the CPUSA. He says that: “The fourth and last false conception that I wish to speak against is the idea being circulated by ’left’ sectarian voices in our Party to the effect that the present program of the Party is only transitory, that we are on our way to a much more left interpretation of the present national and world situation. According to these comrades, we are going to, or should, denounce the war against Japan as imperialist, condemn the decisions of Teheran as unachievable, drop the slogan of national unity, call for a farmer-labor government, give up our wartime no-strike pledge, abandon the fight for 60,000,000 jobs, bring forward the question of socialism as an immediate issue, and generally adopt a class-against-class policy.

“But these comrades are indulging in wishful thinking. Our Party, if I know it, is not going to take any such leftist course.’’

Thus Foster called a halt to the struggle against Browderism almost before it had begun. His only difference with Browder on the question of the Teheran perspective was whether mass struggle was necessary to force the capitalists to carry out this program. He wanted to keep the liberal-labor coalition with the liberal bourgeoisie, rather than rallying the working masses to a truly independent class position, which he condemned as the line of “farmer-labor government” or as a ”class-against-class policy.’’ Speaking over two months after Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender, he was still worried about war production, and he championed keeping the “no-strike pledge” until the very last day of the war, even though he himself refers earlier in his speech to the fact that a number of strikes had begun to break out.

If one knows the catchwords used at the time, what Foster is saying seems clear enough. Our criticism of Browder, Foster says in essence, is a return to some form of liberal-laborism, and no more. It is not a return to Marxist-Leninist positions, despite the rumors that these vicious left sectarians are spreading. Foster did criticize Browder for a series of errors leading up to the Teheran thesis, errors which he said had bad effects on the CPUSA, but Foster maintained that the essential line of the CPUSA had been correct prior to May 1942. And, in the following years, the criticism of Browder by the CPUSA would not go much further.

The Criticism of Browder by Duclos Wasn’t Any Better

When we ask the question “where did these liberal-labor dogmas of Foster come from,” it is correct to answer, as our Party already has, that they came from the pre-Teheran period of Browderism. This is true, but it is only part of the answer. It must also be affirmed that such dogmas as that the proletariat must tailor its policy to unity with the liberal bourgeoisie in the name of peace and democracy, that it must not pursue a class-against-class policy or put socialism in the fore, were fashionable in the international communist movement in the post-World War II period. They were not exceptional views of the CPUSA leadership.

Consider, for example, the famous article by Jacques Duclos denouncing Browderism. Duclos was one of the principal leaders of the French Communist Party, which was one of the model parties of the international communist movement throughout most of this period; and Duclos was an internationally recognized figure. Duclos’ article, “On the Dissolution of the CPUSA,” was and is generally regarded as an expression of authoritative views in the international communist movement at that time. In any case, his article carried such weight that it played a key role in initiating the criticism of Browder, who had previously enjoyed overwhelming support in the top leadership of the CPUSA. When I underline the following points which Duclos made in his article, it should be understood that this article can be taken as one of the significant documents of the international communist movement.

First, Duclos states that Browder’s mistaken views on the Teheran Conference were the point of departure for his “notorious revision of Marxism,” to use Duclos’ famous phrase. He fails to make any mention of the pre-Teheran views of Browder. In fact, he is drawing the same line of demarcation as Foster: the criticism of Browder means a return to the pre-1943 liberal-laborism, it does not mean a return to the classic positions of Marxism-Leninism.

Second, although he denounces Browder’s “concept of a long-term class peace in the United States,” he also endorses the slogan of “national unity.” He denounces the American monopolies for their “anti-national policy.”

Third, he endorses Roosevelt and waxes so enthusiastic over Henry Wallace, vice-president of the U.S. in Roosevelt’s third term of office and Secretary of Commerce at the time of Duclos’ article, that he cites Wallace’s views on the tasks of struggle in the U.S.

And, finally, his opposition to Browder centers mainly on Browder’s most extreme liquidationism, on Browder’s dissolution of the CPUSA and on his holding out his arms to the monopolies.

Thus, to restate the basic point, the repudiation of Browder in 1945 did not go beyond the bounds of liberal- labor politics. And this stand was not some exceptional position of Foster and the CPUSA leadership, but was an accepted position in the international communist movement of that time.

Now let us proceed to examine how the CPUSA developed this line in practice in the next decade.

A Liberal-Labor Orientation Even During the More Militant Phase

The CPUSA’s work in this period presents a certain left appearance. The ecstatic cries about peaceful collaboration in the postwar world between imperialism and socialism are muted, and the CPUSA carries on agitation against U.S. imperialism; it organizes actual mass campaigns against U.S. intervention in China and against U.S. aggression in Korea. The slogan of national unity is dropped and, within a few years, the CPUSA opposes the Democratic Party administration of President Truman. The wartime no-strike pledge is abandoned, and the Party campaigns against Truman’s strikebreaking and the union-busting Taft-Hartley Bill, which is designed to purge the unions of communists and wipe out militant strikes. The CPUSA’s leaders are prosecuted, many spend time in jail, and numerous communist workers make heavy sacrifices.

It has to be said that, in comparison to the positions of Browderite liquidationism in 1944-45, the CPUSA’s activity is to the left. The CPUSA did in fact maintain a certain oppositional stand in the postwar decade. And it is even one of the more enthusiastic parties in the international communist movement of that time with regard to the denunciation of the aggressive drive of U.S. imperialism.

The fundamental issue, however, is the character of this oppositional stand. Specifically, why and how did the CPUSA come to oppose Truman and his Democratic Party administration? This will, among other things, provide much of the answer for why the CPUSA was unable to maintain its oppositional stand.

First, let me comment briefly upon various of the specific positions of the CPUSA which I mentioned just now:

(A) The CPUSA abandoned the no-strike pledge. Yes, it did do this. But only the most sold out party would have maintained a no-strike pledge. And it can hardly be said that the CPUSA entered the postwar period eager and enthusiastic to lead the economic struggle of the workers. The CPUSA maintained its no-strike pledge to the very last day of the war, even after a series of strikes heralding the postwar strike wave had begun. And a crucial fact was that the CPUSA continued to work hard to maintain its alliances with the labor bureaucrats and had a trade unionist conception of the working class movement.

(B) The CPUSA opposed U.S. imperialism and its aggressions. Yes, it did do this. This is true, but it opposed U.S. aggression from the reformist position which was fashionable in the international movement in the post- World War II period. It had the perspective of forcing U.S. imperialism to return to the policy of peaceful collaboration with the Soviet Union to ensure world peace. It is to the credit of the CPUSA that it did in fact campaign among the masses in support of the Chinese revolution and the people of Korea, and it denounced the U.S. imperialist drive for world hegemony; but the political content of this work was marred by liberal, reformist stands.

(C)Most importantly, there is the question of why and how did the CPUSA come to oppose the Democratic Party administration of Truman. At first, they supported Truman. They opposed Truman when it became clear even to the blind that he was the symbol of an imperialist offensive. He broke with the wartime alliance that had been established between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, he brandished U.S. military might in a drive for U.S. world hegemony and he launched an offensive against the proletariat around the world and in the U.S. He sought to purge the trade unions in the U.S., and he went after the CPUSA itself with a vengeance.

In these conditions, the CPUSA had no possibility of cooperating with the Truman administration. Instead they were forced to oppose Truman. Nevertheless, they never lost their illusions in Roosevelt, nor understood the connection between the Rooseveltian policy in World War II and the postwar policy of U.S. imperialism. To organize the opposition to Truman, the CPUSA sought to reassemble the Roosevelt coalition outside the Democratic Party which was backing Truman to the hilt. Let us elaborate somewhat on this.

A Liberal-Labor Approach to Trade Union Work

We can illustrate how the CPUSA reluctantly took up its more militant stands by examining some developments in the trade union movement. Then, as now, the trade union bureaucrats were minions of the government and the Democratic Party. It is generally known, I think, that the labor bureaucrats were the front line fighters and organizers of the bourgeoisie’s suppression campaign against the working class movement, that they split and wrecked militant trade unions and led the drive to purge the trade unions and expel communists and militants. And anyone who peruses the CPUSA’s literature of this period will encounter sharp words against the labor bureaucrats, including calls to oppose their support of Truman and to fight their purging and wrecking of the unions.

But what is not so readily apparent, is that the CPUSA was forced by circumstances to adopt these stands and that it only abandoned its longstanding policy of unity with the labor bureaucrats, who were now expelling them from the unions, with great reluctance and hesitation. To show this, let me quote the official summation of Foster’s Concluding Remarks to the 14th Convention of the CPUSA on this question:

“At this point Comrade Foster continued with a detailed analysis of numerous right and leftist sectarian errors made by the Party during the past three years, particularly in the field of trade union work. Some of the more important of these shortcomings may be briefly summarized as follows:

“Right opportunist tendencies to maintain the formerly correct left-center combination in the CIO after it had lost its political validity, with the result that such errors were made as the adoption of the joint resolution which lent itself to distortion by Phil Murray as alleged support of the Marshall Plan, at the Boston, 1947, Convention of the CIO and also the resolution adopted that same year in the New York State CIO Industrial Council, for restricting the exercise of the veto in the UN.

“Failure over a long period of the Left and progressive forces in the CIO to differentiate their progressive line from the increasingly reactionary, pro-war line of the Murray forces, with the result that the lefts and progressives...had to assume a measure of undue responsibility for the increasingly jingoistic policies of the CIO leadership.

“Sectarian tendencies to accept the isolation that the capitalists and their labor leader henchmen are trying to force upon us, among others, by inadequate resistance to Murray’s attempt to cultivate raids and splits in CIO unions.” (Political Affairs, September 1947, p. 825)

Thus the CPUSA was so slow and reluctant to fight the right trade union hacks that they actually compromised themselves in the eyes of the workers as supporting resolutions against the then-socialist Soviet Union. By its own admission, the CPUSA offered inadequate resistance to Murray’s attacks. Presumably an example of this is the fact that not a single delegate associated with the CPUSA opposed the “Declaration of Policy on Communism” at the 8th CIO convention in November 1946 that stated that the delegates to the conference “resent and reject efforts of the Communist Party or other political parties and their adherents to interfere in the affairs of the CIO.”

Here, then, we can see that the CPUSA bent backwards to accommodate the reactionary labor bureaucrats. It was only when Truman and the Democratic Party hacks closed the door, right in the face of the CPUSA, so to speak, that the CPUSA was forced into opposition.

Behind the “Third Party” Campaign of 1948 – the CPUSA Opposes Truman by Invoking the Ghost ofRoosevelt

And when the CPUSA did assume an oppositional stance towards the Truman administration, its basic orientation was to oppose Truman by reassembling the Roosevelt coalition outside the Democratic Party. It reproached the Democratic Party for lack of loyalty to Roosevelt, and it sought to build up a “third party” based on true Rooseveltian principles. That is, the main expression of its opposition to the Democratic Party of Truman was building up the Progressive Party around the campaign of Henry Wallace for president in 1948.

First of all, who was Henry Wallace and what was the Progressive Party?

Let us allow the CPUSA’s documents from this period to enlighten us. Foster states, after asserting that there are three different capitalist groupings on the question of foreign policy, that: “The third capitalist group, decidedly a lesser faction, has, as its outstanding spokesman, Henry A. Wallace.... This is the residue of the old Roosevelt section of the capitalists. It represents most small capitalists. Among it, there are very few, if any, big finance capitalists. This group follows a line of international peace; it is for friendly collaboration with the USSR and for Big Three Unity.”

So Teheran lives after all! From this we can see that, although the CPUSA dropped the slogan “National Unity” during the course of the Truman presidency, it never changed its liberal-labor bent: it still desired, fundamentally, to return to the path of collaboration with the liberal bourgeoisie.

Elsewhere, Foster praises Wallace as a “liberal Keynesian,” a genuine pump primer in the true Roosevelt tradition: “An honorable exception to this entire deplorable exhibition of chauvinism, confusion and weakness among the disciples of Keynes is the movement gathered around Henry A. Wallace. Mr. Wallace [is] boldly standing his ground as a liberal Keynesian [!] in the Roosevelt tradition....” (“The Political Significance of Keynesism,” Political Affairs, January 1948, p. 41) Foster is, of course, well known for his theoretical criticism of Keynesianism; but for the CPUSA in this period, theoretical belief in communism is one thing and the practical politics of liberal-laborism is another.

Basically, then, Wallace was a Roosevelt Democrat of the ’old school. In fact, as I have pointed out above, he had been Vice-President in Roosevelt’s third administration and served as Secretary of Commerce during the fourth Roosevelt administration.

As for the Progressive Party itself, according to the CPUSA’s literature, it was a party thrown together around the presidential candidacy of Wallace. It lingered on as a spent force after this campaign, and Wallace himself withdrew in 1950 on account of his support for U.S. aggression in Korea. The Progressive Party ran a presidential ticket in 1952, but rapidly dwindled away.

One article in Political Affairs puts it as follows: “The unique feature of the Wallace movement is that while it is trying to win the Democratic Party, it is stimulating and creating sentiment for independent political action. More and more progressives agree that the key for building a third party is the development of a Wallace for President movement.”

Unique? Indeed. Even back in those days I hardly think that there was anything unique in such falderal about building a third party around some liberal Democrats.

As far as the stands of the Progressive Party – insofar as it had any stands other than Wallace’s opinions – it expressed all of the CPUSA’s fondest desires for a Roosevelt coalition as it had stated them back in 1945: U.S.-Soviet cooperation; peace demagogy; democratic rights demagogy; and left Keynesian or “progressive capitalism” a la Roosevelt. Its platform invoked the name and spirit of Roosevelt. In short, it was an attempt to patch together the Roosevelt coalition outside the Democratic Party, to tear the Roosevelt coalition away from the Democratic Party, on the basis of a presidential run by Henry Wallace.

How then did the CPUSA assess the relationship between this “third party” and the working class?

A characteristic appraisal was made at the 14th National Convention of the CPUSA in 1948: “There is a new tide of independent political action rising in the ranks of labor. The Progressive Party is developing as a mass people’s party and comes increasingly under labor’s influence.”

And how did the CP intend to ensure that this new party developed into a mass party “under the influence” of labor (the trade union movement)?

At the 14th Convention, General Secretary of the CPUSA Eugene Dennis explained:

“... a new initiative is necessary on the part of the advanced workers to widen the Progressive Party’s trade union base and to heighten labor’s political leadership and influence within the new party.

“Recent polls show that nearly two million AF of L and CIO workers already are prepared to support Wallace and the new party....if a sustained and vigorous campaign is undertaken to organize mass activity around the Progressive Party platform, and to bury once and for all the false and disastrous concept of the ’lesser evil’ theory in which the jingoist and anti-labor Truman is being palmed off as the reincarnation of Roosevelt, then it will be possible to win additional working class millions for independent political action, for the new people’s party.

“In line with this, maximum support is necessary to organize united front Wallace-for-President trade union committees in every shop, mine and mill, based on active mass support for the program of the Progressive Party.

“Moreover, the left-wing trade unionists need to put an end to all tendencies towards economism.... So far the progressive labor movement confines its support for the new party to recommending points of a program for its platform, working to place it on the ballot, raising money and urging its members to vote for Wallace and Taylor.

“Today, labor must not only endorse and give general support to the Progressive Party. It must participate in and build the new party from the precinct level on up. It must not only recommend policy in an advisory capacity, but must help formulate and execute policy through trade union members and leaders of all the organizations and committees of the new party.” (“The Fascist Danger and How to Combat It,” Political Affairs, September 1948, p. 803)

I think there is little need to continue. From these indications, it appears that this third party has no resemblance to a genuine mass party of the workers, which develops from their actual struggles, is based on their organizations and serves as a vehicle for them to organize their independent political activity. Rather it was a vehicle for reformist liberalism. It has all the appearance of a typical liberal scheme to throw together a “third party” around the presidential candidacy of a liberal Democrat, which is then seized upon by the right opportunists, hosannaed in every trade union hall in the country as the final advent of working class political independence – if only they can pull off the trick of organizing electoral committees in every shop and get enough workers out to vote for the liberal bourgeois who heads up the ticket. The CPUSA’s plan was to connect the liberal with the trade unions to form it into a liberal-labor alliance.

So it appears.

For the rest, allow me to quote the CPUSA again, this time from the assessment it made of the Progressive Party in 1952 when the CPUSA had to deal with the fiasco of its hopes for building a new liberal-labor coalition as a “third party”:

“...there existed the wrong estimate that the formation of the Progressive Party represented something more than the simple emergence of an important fighting force for peace, that it represented in fact the emergence of a great mass people’s party....

“This estimate...arose in no small measure from an overestimation of the radicalization of the masses....

“This mistake also arose in large measure from a right opportunist exaggeration of the role which liberal bourgeois forces (around Wallace) could play in bringing about a basic political realignment in the ranks of the working class and its allies.” (“Draft Resolution on Situation Growing Out of Presidential Elections,” Political Affairs, December 1952, p. 11; the same words are in the final text of the resolution in Political Affairs, July 1953)

Need I mention that when the CPUSA, in 1952, discovers that it made a right opportunist error in favor of the liberal bourgeoisie, one should take heed. But, as we shall see shortly, this criticism of right opportunist exaggeration of the role of Wallace and the liberal bourgeois around him did not mean that the CPUSA was moving further to the left. On the contrary, the CPUSA was abandoning “third party” liberal-laborism in order to move back into the main liberal-labor coalition around the Democratic Party. Its main conclusion on the Progressive Party, even in the same article, was that sectarian errors had been made.

Thus, to sum up my remarks about this phase of the activity of the CPUSA: the appearance of a left-sounding, oppositional stand should not lead us to ignore the fact that the basic positions of the CPUSA were still rightist, still within the bounds of liberal-laborism. The CPUSA finally took up opposition to Truman and the Democrats, but it was an opposition forced upon them. And the way in which the CPUSA organized the opposition was by trying to organize a new and better liberal-labor coalition outside the Democratic Party to replace the one centered on the Democratic Party.

A Collapse Back Into the Democratic Party

Even this sort of leftism, however, was short-lived. The experiment at “third partyism” failed to establish the liberal utopia. The 1952 elections were the final straw. Instead of summing up the bankruptcy of the liberal-labor approach,, the CPUSA analyzed that the liberal-labor approach required a return to the actually existing liberal- labor coalition around the labor bureaucracy and the Democratic Party.

Again, I will quote from the CPUSA’s own documents, its own assessment of its new turn to the right. This quote comes from the Main Political Resolution of the 16th Convention of the CPUSA held in February 1957:

“The most important mistakes made in the period under review were left sectarian in character....

“To end its isolation and expand its mass work, the main task of the Party today is to overcome completely the influence of left sectarian estimates, policies and tactics in all fields of work....

“...Following the results of the 1952 elections, the National Committee began a serious struggle against left sectarianism as the main danger in our mass work. This found expression: in the resolution on the results of the 1952 elections, which sharply criticized the sectarian direction of the Party’s electoral tactics; in leading articles in 1952, which outlined the path for a sharp break with sectarianism in our mass work and for redirecting the Party toward the mainstream of the labor movement; in overcoming hesitation on the projection of our position on peaceful transition and an American path to socialism as initiated by Comrade Foster; in the initiation of new approaches to the Smith Act trials; in serious efforts to influence the left-led unions to reenter the mainstream of the labor movement; in the Party program adopted in 1954 which, despite certain errors, in estimate gave new and broad perspectives to the Party both in its immediate work and long range outlook; in the gradual abandonment final complete liquidation of unnecessary and extreme security measures.” (Political Affairs, May, 1957, pp. 315-6, emphasis as in the original.)

I will limit my comments on this assessment to only a few of the issues raised.

First, consider “the resolution on the results of the 1952 elections, which sharply criticized the sectarian direction of the Party’s electoral tactics.” I have already quoted from this 1953 document, where it gives an assessment of the Progressive Party. Let me return to this document now. After criticizing the sectarian tactic of a “rigid third party line,” it goes on to elaborate the CPUSA’s views on the correct tactics for building the independent movement of the workers. It states: “The perspective for the immediate future is that of the unfolding of important struggles among the masses who form the base of the Democratic Party.... Our Party and other progressive forces must under no circumstances stand aside from this fight. On the contrary, we must exert our maximum influence toward bringing into being a coalition of forces which will work toward:

1. The development of forms through which labor can exert a unified class influence on the national political life and on the Democratic Party....

2. Maximum development of PAC (official trade union political committees – ed.) and NAACP activities...for independent political action through struggle on issues affecting the people and thereby also playing a role in the struggles within the Democratic Party.

3. Forcing on sectors of the Democratic Party, to the maximum extent possible, a genuine program of struggle against the pro-war and pro-fascist course and measures of the Republican administration.

4. Formation of blocs of legislators in Congress and state legislatures that will fight for this program.”

In short, from a fling at third partyism to work to move the Democratic Party to the left.

Second, the Main Political Resolution of the 16th Convention refers to “leading articles in 1953, which outlined the path...for redirecting the Party toward the mainstream of the labor movement.” One of these articles in 1953 explains that: “the concrete problem of labor unity lies precisely in the objective existence of those two wings – left wing and right wing – and the urgent need to bring them together into a united front based upon a common acceptable economic and political program of united action.... There cannot be real labor unity which does not base itself on the principle of unity despite ideological differences and inclusive of these differences....”

Third, the Main Political Resolution on the 16th Convention refers to “overcoming hesitation on the projection of our position on peaceful transition and an American path to socialism.” This path is succinctly summed up in the Main Political Resolution as follows:

“The people’s anti-monopoly coalition would have as its central aim the improvement of the conditions of the American people and the defense and extension of their democratic rights. Its success in electing a people’s anti-monopoly government would open the way to a vast and unprecedented expansion of democracy. Such a government would curb the repressive economic and political powers of the monopolies and deprive them of the ability to promote violence to frustrate the will of the people. Under such conditions, whenever the majority of the American people become convinced of the necessity of a socialist reorganization of society, they would be able to advance to their goal along peaceful and constitutional lines.” (p. 304)

This is nothing but the basic social-democratic position of the peaceful evolution of capitalism into socialism through the unlimited extension of bourgeois democracy. First create a utopia under capitalism, and then march into socialism with the Constitution in one hand and the curbed monopolies in the other.

It should be noted that Foster, in his work that began the elaboration of this path, pointed to the fact that this type of plan for achieving “socialism” was prevalent in the international communist movement at that time. For example, the section on “The American Road to Socialism” in his famous book History of the CPUSA, published in 1952, cites favorably the notorious program of the CP of Great Britain, “The British Road to Socialism,” which sets out a petty-bourgeois nationalist program in the name of “socialism.” (p. 556)

Finally, the Main Political Resolution of the 16th Convention refers to “complete liquidation of unnecessary and extreme security measures.” The organizational methods of the CPUSA had just as many problems as their political stands, and the 16th Convention approached both issues from the same rightist stand. It did not rectify various screwy organizational arrangements, but instead took an utterly liquidationist stand on security measures, as can be seen from the fact that it welcomed eleven social-democrats and pacifists as “non-communist observers” to attend the sessions of the Convention and testify as to its open and “democratic” character. These observers included, among others, leaders of the War Resisters League, the American Friends Service Committee, the Catholic Worker and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. As well, the world press was invited to cover the Convention, including the major American bourgeois wire services such as the Associated Press and the United Press, all the big bourgeois dailies in New York, several small-city newspapers, TV and radio networks, etc. The press was not allowed in the sessions themselves, unlike the observers. However, as Political Affairs explains, “Briefings were held frequently, with every major convention development promptly reported to the press room. Texts of major speeches, reports and resolutions were swiftly supplied to the press corps, as were breakdowns on convention votes....

“Besides the briefing by the press committee, the noncommunist observers were available to the press corps, which had an opportunity to check the briefings against the notes of the observers.” (“Press Coverage of the Convention,” Political Affairs, May, 1957, p. iv) And this was done at a time when communist leaders and activists were being hunted down by the police, courts and legislative anti-communist committees and fired from jobs, purged from unions and incarcerated in jails.

The Post-World War II Stands of the CPUSA

This, then, was the situation which the CPUSA had arrived at by early 1957. The original repudiation of Browder and the stands taken subsequently proved to be merely a temporary check to the outrageous theses of developed Browderism. Only temporary. Indeed, the stands of the CPUSA in the decade following the repudiation of Browder are better seen as an inclined plane leading downward and leading the CPUSA into the Browderite and revisionist abyss.

Based on these stands and the results flowing from them, by 1956 the CPUSA was in no position to resist Khrushchovite revisionism. The CPUSA was already prostrate in extreme right opportunism. Indeed, by 1956-7, the CPUSA faced a bitter struggle to avoid being taken over and immediately dissolved by ultra-revisionist, liquidationist elements who wanted to go further and faster than Khrushchov.

The question arises as to what, if anything, was the difference between the ideological stands of the CPUSA before and after the crystallization of Khrushchovite revisionism at the notorious 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956? It turns out that this cannot be reduced to a matter of this or that new formulation. The stands of the CPUSA were already corrupted. But I think that there is a difference which is indicated by the description in the Main Political Resolution of the 16th Convention of “the struggle to overcome the main obstacle which is our deeply rooted dogmatism and doctrinairism, a struggle which is still only in its initial stages.” In discussing this, the Resolution states, in part:

“...the Communist Party will have to be bolder in reexamining certain Marxist-Leninist theories which, while valid in a past period, may have become outdated and rendered obsolete by new historical developments. For entirely new and unprecedented problems are emerging today which were never treated by Marx, Engels or Lenin....

“...For example, we as well as other Marxist parties have already discarded as obsolete the thesis that war is inevitable under imperialism. We have also rejected as incorrect the concept of inevitable violent proletarian revolution, recognizing the possibility in our country of a peaceful, constitutional transition to socialism. We are in full agreement to study further the question of our theoretical and tactical approach to war, the theory of the state, dictatorship of the proletariat and other questions that time does not afford an opportunity to resolve at this national convention.”

There is a distinct Khrushchovite flavor – or smell, if you will – to this open apostasy, this open renunciation of the classic Leninist theses in the name of overcoming dogmatism and doctrinairism, in the eagerness with which the CPUSA, barely able to restrain itself, anticipates tearing up each and every fundamental principle of Marxism-Leninism.

Surely it can be said that, corrupted by the long years of liberal-laborism, there was an eager embrace of Khrushchov’s revisionism and renunciation of Marxism-Leninism inside the CPUSA.

Back to the Classic Teachings of Marxism-Leninism!

To conclude, I first want to reiterate the three basic points which I set out to illustrate.

First, the CPUSA’s stand in the decade following World War II could in no way serve as a block against Khrushchovite revisionism, as a position from which to fight successfully against Khrushchovite revisionism. In fact, these post-World War II positions corrupted the CPUSA and softened it up for Khrushchov.

Second, the line and activity of the CPUSA was not something exceptional and peculiar to the U.S. The CPUSA’s views were in line with various orientations prevalent in the international communist movement at that time.

Third, only the revolutionary teachings of Marxism- Leninism can form a solid theoretical basis for a communist party. In 1945, when the CPUSA repudiated Browder, it did not return to the classic teachings of Marxism-Leninism. It took up something else, and this led to disaster, to the embrace of Khrushchovite revisionism ten years later. This shows that in the struggle against Khrushchovite revisionism, we cannot base ourselves on the various mistaken orientations that became prevalent in the post-World War II period, on the corrections and replacements of Marxism- Leninism that were fashionable at that time. We must go back to the classic teachings of Marxism-Leninism and base ourselves on the revolutionary theory of Marx, Engels and Lenin.

Having reiterated these points, I want to finish by encouraging all comrades and friends to study the new issue of The Workers’ Advocate, the May First issue which elaborates the authoritative views of the Second Congress of our Party on the problems in the orientation of the international communist movement in the period from the end of World War II to the death of Stalin.