First Published: Turning Point Vol. I, No. 1, July 1948
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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We declare our aims, our perspective, and our attitude. We know that in the U.S. of 1948 declarations are too often the tricks of confusion experts. Not only the Marshalls of Wall St. and the Murrays and Greens of labor’s aristocracy, but – more dangerously – the CPUSA leadership misuse the very instincts, experience, and conscious ideas of the working class against the working class. Workers and all oppressed learn sooner or later not to judge by declarations. The sellouts that threaten them all their lives are wrapped in noble declarations. We are certain that this declaration, also, can prove nothing – unless it materializes in work.
Because there is so much confusion in the U.S. today and so much misleadership within the Communist movement, the most criminal “hobby” possible is the addition of one more group or idea incorrectly advising already bewildered workers. This forces upon us the responsibility of continually checking our ideas against the criminal errors of the CPUSA leadership and against the correct leadership of the best Communist Parties in the world, especially the CPSU. We check our ideas against those proven works of Marxism-Leninism which were the foundations of the Soviet victory and against the Marxism-Leninism embodied in the organ of the Communist Information Bureau, “ For A Lasting Peace, For A People’s Democracy.”
As a further safeguard against errors – and worse, the absence of correction – we will use this publication as a platform for discussion of ideological and organizational work for a real CP. in the U.S. We hope that Turning Point will represent a real belief in open discussion of our problems before Communist and class conscious workers generally – a Leninist understanding of the collective formulation of Communist policy. We are confident that the exposure of political disagreements among us cannot harm or disunify us; on the contrary, it will guarantee the maximum participation in our discussion, and it will prevent the development of that peculiar “locked-door-committee” type of disunity restricted from the vision of the very comrades to whom our appeal is made.
In our discussion leading towards a real Communist Party in the U.S. we take a guiding principle from Lenin who wrote in the “Declaration by the Editorial Board of ISKRA”:
“ . . . Before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all firmly and definitely draw the lines of demarcation between the various groups. Otherwise our unity will be merely a fictitious unity, which will conceal the prevailing confusion and prevent its dispersion. Therefore we do not intend to utilize our publication merely as a storehouse for various views. On the contrary, we shall conduct it along the lines of a strictly defined tendency. This tendency can be expressed by the word Marxism . . . But while discussing all questions from our own definite point of view, we shall give space in our columns to polemics between comrades. Open polemics within the sight and hearing of all Russian Social Democrats and class conscious workers are necessary and desirable, in order to explain the profound differences that exist, to obtain a comprehensive discussion of disputed questions, and to combat the extremes into which not only the representatives of various views, but also of various localities or various ’crafts’ in the revolutionary movement inevitably fall. As has already been stated, we also regard one of the drawbacks of the present day movement to be the absence of open polemics between avowedly differing views; an effort to conceal the differences that exist over extremely serious questions.”
We urge groups in New York and around the country to endorse our views so that the ideological and organizational unification we desire nationally can proceed systematically and visibly. For this purpose, we, also, will endorse groups and publications with which we basically agree.
What basic agreement is necessary at this time for American Communists to work constructively towards a real CP?
1. Our work and approach have to be based on the scientific Socialism of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. We emphasize Stalin because both within and without the CPUSA there is a small but insidious tendency to undermine the foundations of our movement via “liberal” doubts concerning the role of Stalin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. We emphasize Stalin as an indication of vigilance against Trotskyite infiltration.
2. We agree with the analysis in the Declaration of the Communist Information Bureau; the Party we work for will seek to affiliate to the C.I.B.
3. Our weapon against war and fascism is the People’s Front as defined by Dimitroff at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International and continued in the organ of the C.I.B.; we seek to build a correct anti-fascist, anti-imperialist, non-red-baiting, farmer-labor party as our application of the People’s Front to American conditions. It is clear that the present “Wallace” Third Party has many faults and many dangers ahead of it, but we urge our comrades to work to safeguard the good program of the third party and insure its progress towards a real People’s Front Party led by the working class.
4. The CPUSA is under the control of a completely opportunist leadership; the CPUSA is no longer a real Communist Party.
5. The building of a real CP cannot be restricted only to work within the CP or only to work in the expelled movement. We act to unify Communists in the U.S. ideologically and organizationally wherever they are.
Although our declaration goes beyond this basic agreement, we feel that the other questions can be worked out in the course of our common efforts to build a real CP. For our groups, this publication is a “turning point”. We have gone organizationally beyond individual work. We have formed a local center representative of basic agreement on aims, perspective, and fortunately, even on attitude. We look forward to cooperation with other groups and centers in our common effort to build a Communist Party.
We have come together to work for a real Communist Party, to work for Socialism, for Peace, Democracy, and Security. These objectives must be worked for simultaneously; there are no contradictions between them, and there can be no artificial order superimposed upon them. Correct work for each objective is correct work in perspective for all. The idea that first we get a CP and then “bother” about other matters (such as a Farmer-Labor Party) is a wishful-thinking one. A CP does not come from nowhere. It comes from day-to-day work among Communists and non-Communists, proving by experience what is needed and finding the right people. Communists are made – not born, and a Farmer-Labor Party would be valuable recruiting ground. Most of the adherents of the “first-build-a-CP” idea would not seriously consider dropping their trade union work pending the formation of a CP, and yet they insist on cancelling work for peace and democracy on the basis of a detached ” priority” of CP organizational work. The very wreckage in the Communist movement today in our country proves that we cannot invent a CP on the spur of the moment. What worker would listen to us seriously while we “pleaded indisposition” pending the appearance of a CP. It is another matter – and correct – to insist that we can insure no gains without a vanguard Party. Everything we do correctly is a step towards Socialism, and this fact must be continuously and specifically applied in the education of every Communist.
For the purposes of this Declaration we do not have to recount the science of Socialism; we have to indicate that we stand for the Scientific Socialism of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. Our immediate and specific responsibility is the recognition of the fact that Socialism has been buried in the U.S., and that we have to revive it as the heart of the revolutionary movement. We must believe and fight for Socialism in our time. This is not so obvious as it sounds – in America. Socialism as an achievable goal, as our fundamental aim has been distorted and pawned for respectability by the CPUSA leadership. It has been pickled for the future, first by Browder Inc. – now by Stachel, Dennis and Foster, Inc.
We have to again circulate the classics of Marxism-Leninism in order to make the decisive weapons of every Communist his grasp of Marx’s economic doctrine, the character of the state and the class struggle, Socialism and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, Dialectical Materialism, and the dangers of opportunism.
Today all roads should lead to Socialism. The fact that Socialism is winning in the world proves the temporary character of the setbacks Socialism has suffered in the U.S. And yet, no organized movement in the U.S. today stands for Socialism. We hope that our publication can help produce a “turning point” in the U.S. which will result in the establishment of a real Communist Party openly avowing its Socialism and working for it every day.
A real Communist Party has the responsibility of correct and militant leadership of the working class and all oppressed in all their problems. It has to find objectively, in any period, the focal points which embody most of the special problems. Today, these are the prevention of a third world war, the prevention of fascism in the U.S., and the advancement of the economic security of the American workers, farmers, Negroes, and all oppressed.
We agree completely with the analysis contained in the Declaration of the C.I.B. We feel it indicates the main tasks for American Communists, and we consider it a major responsibility to get it to all American Communists, along with the organ of the C.I.B., For A Lasting Peace, For A People’s Democracy.
From the Cominform Declaration, American Communists can draw a special responsibility in the fight for peace. Not only do the American people fear war, but the whole world is constantly faced with a threat of war “made in U.S.A.” and exported globally. The S.U. has exposed the warmongering, counteracted the shady deals, and outwitted the high-pressured propaganda of the U.S. It is logical to expect the S.U. to be the leader for peace. But where is that important factor for peace, the CP of the aggressor nation, the CPUSA? The Wall St. warriors get no opposition – no trouble from the CPUSA. The CPUSA punctuates its continuous retreat with editorial cries of “Shame! Shame!”, but war plans are not shamed out of the picture. The CPUSA leadership has lost all militancy. It has not dared support refusals to load and sail Marshall Plan ships; it shies away from political strikes – in fact from any element of the political in a strike; it has liquidated and not rebuilt a many-headed progressive movement. Where militant actions have arisen spontaneously among the workers, the CP has entered the picture belatedly to moan “leftist!”, “adventurist!”, or “premature!”.
We believe that American Communists have to apply the idea of the People’s Front to our problems because the mass of workers in the U.S. today are not for Socialism, are not ready to follow the single leadership of a Communist Party. If the fight against war and fascism needs the broadest unity of the American people, and if a CP has not such support, an alliance is needed that can command the broadest support.
We believe that the correct application in the U.S. of the People’s Front is an anti-imperialist, anti-fascist, non-redbaiting third party. Such a Party can unite effectively the peace-loving people of the U.S. if it is built on a mass membership base (not a few “names” and committee decisions), if the Communists within it exert a correct and independent role, if it is built on a strong labor base, if it is truly the champion of the Negro people, and if it is controlled democratically from below.
The CPUSA leadership sabotaged the building of a third party. It cried “premature” until Wallace nominated himself. Once the third party had gained momentum despite the CP, the CP proceeded to hand over the third party to “names” and complete top-committee control. It refused to bring pressure to bear on Wallace, Taylor, and the other leaders and edited their mistakes by omission in the Daily Worker.
Great dangers face the third party movement in this country – and mostly because of the CPUSA, but those who damn the good third party program on the basis of dangers and eventualities sabotage a correct third party, and waste the powerful, spontaneous movement for peace.
It should be clear to every Communist that if there is a grave threat of war in the world which comes primarily from the U.S., upon the American Communist movement falls a task which makes it or breaks it – which proves its quality or exposes its utter degeneracy. It is becoming clear to more and more Communists that the CPUSA has betrayed its responsibilities and is not a real CP.
We need a real CP which will lead the American people in smashing the war plans of Wall St., not by outraged moaning at the excesses of the ruling class, not by high-sounding promises, not by abstract belief in “exceptional” American traditions, but by actual shouldering of the main responsibility in practice, by showing the best Marxist judgment, the most work, and the most determination. We need a real CP which will allow the whole world to relax from its mental and physical preoccupation with war and forge ahead to the building of New Democracies and Socialism.
The danger of fascism in the U.S. goes hand in hand with the danger of a third world war. The American people, like all people in the world, are tired of war; they have no interests in the profits of the next war. Even though the American people are in great degree demobilized, they are still a spontaneous bloc against war which cannot be ignored in the Truman Doctrine timetable. Before Wall St. can launch a world war, it has to win an internal war: it has to destroy all organizational opposition to war, and it has to control all progressive people. That is why Wall St. needs not just capitalist terror but capitalism’s worst frenzy – fascism.
So far, Wall St. has done well (with the help of the CPUSA mis-leadership) on its checklist of organizations to emasculate or liquidate. The CP liquidated itself, and today, after a purely formal reconstitution of the Party is not a real CP. It is completely a Social Democratic outfit in its most dangerous form; under the name Communist. The unions, including the left unions, have been red-baited into confusion, have been turned into Marshall Plan, anti-Soviet puppets. The CP leadership in the unions wrote the CIO redbaiting, non-intervention resolution, supported the Marshall Plan and objected to the Soviet “misuse” of the UN veto. All this fantasy was produced under the name “expediency.” The CP has forfeited its responsibility on the Negro question. The Young Communist League was dissolved and never reconstituted despite a serious revolt among returning vets after the war. The “stopgap” legislation of Party Youth Clubs within the Party and the “paper” outfit, the AYD, were offered to channel off the demand among the Communist youth for a real Marxist organization in 1946. The focal organization of the vets, the AVC, was officially and systematically boycotted and thrown to the wolves of Social-Democracy, Trotskyism, and the youthful politicians of the two major parties. The once plentiful cultural, professional, women’s, consumers’ and tenants’ mass organizations have been dumped by the CP. All that is left is a small, omnipresent committee of “names” that flits from issue to issue frantically attempting to cover a vacuum. The Civil Rights Congress, the last resting place of crippled defense organizations, is a mere collection agency for lawyers’ fees. The CP has substituted lawyers for all mass pressure or organization. The CP has now “passed the bar” and the vanguard of the American working class is a cesspool of highly paid lawyers.
We need a real CP to change this picture, to lead the fight against war and fascism, to give the best guidance to an anti-fascist third party, to lead in the reemergence of all progressive forces in the U.S. based on a strong, militant, and unified labor movement. We need a real CP which will be the backbone of every progressive organization through a correct independent role, insistence on principled alliances, democratic membership control and no deals over the heads of the people.
The American working class is about to experience in full force the real meaning of capitalism’s last illness. A real CP must prepare the workers and all oppressed for the awful siege setting in. Only if the workers are unified and militantly on the offensive can they avoid the complete burden of the crisis. A real CP must educate workers to a full understanding of their status and of their power, so that they can protect themselves while they prepare to solve their problems, once for all, in a revolutionary way – in Socialism.
American Communists were once respected leaders of American labor. The organizing personnel of the original CIO drive was overwhelmingly Communist. The most militant unions in the country were the “left” unions. But even in the beginning, the CP, quietly over the heads of its members, gave up its independence – for deals. Communist organizers became pure trade unionists, “respectable” maneuvers, “practical” politicians, and less and less Communist. Today, the CP does not exist in the UMW. Today, the NMU, one of the finest unions in the world built by Communists, is split wide open. Why after many years of strong Communist leadership could Trotskyites take over the Louis Weinstock stronghold in the Painters’ Union? What has happened to the auto workers, the transport workers, and many other strategic, left-led unions?
The turning point in the CP’s abdications from the fight for the security of the workers and for democracy came during the 1946 R.R. strike. In the face of the Truman Fascist Bill, the CP counseled postcards and bitterly opposed a political strike. It was only a logical continuation of this for the CP to write the redbaiting “non-interference” resolution, support the Marshall Plan, and vote against the UN veto in the CIO.
In desperation, without leadership, the workers begin to act militantly because they have no alternative. When they do, their leaders – as often as not, Communists – step in, cut short the brilliant action, and leave the workers out on a limb. Why is it that just when the labor movement in the U.S. is so rich and powerful in numbers and organization it is somehow so impotent? Why do Communists and left unions take the lead in retreating, in red-baiting, in caution, in frantic avoiding of strikes? Why is the labor movement so weak in the face of the T-H law, the Mundt Bill, and the utilization of the unions in the imperialist plans of our government? To whom can the workers turn now: not to the bosses, not to their union leaders, – and not even to their Communist leaders.
The American working class needs a real CP to lead its fight for economic security, to prove to it its superior power over the capitalist class. It needs real Communists to teach it day by day Marxist understanding – about the class struggle, about “value, price and profit”.
The CPUSA has proven its complete degeneracy; it has proven that it is not a real CP. The leadership does not believe in Socialism. It merely mentions it occasionally to keep up appearances. There is no Democratic Centralism in the CP – no democracy and no discipline. There is only machine control with job advantages for the “loyal” and expulsion for responsible Communists. The leadership has perverted every aspect of Marxism-Leninism. It refers to Socialism as Social Progress, to the Proletarian Revolution as Social Reorganization. It does not believe in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat – and here there is not even any lipservice. It has traded its Marxist understanding of the State for the Social Democratic one of pure constitutionalism and parliamentarism. It has never recalled the class struggle it helped Browder expel. For the economic doctrine of Marx, the best fighting weapon for trade union and all struggles, it has proudly substituted two words: “pork chops”. It is true that the words Dialectical Materialism still hold an acceptable flavor for the “theoreticians” who merely regard it as a poetic idiosyncrasy of Marxism, divorced from reality.
The disease that has destroyed the CPUSA is opportunism, the greatest enemy of the Communist movement, the disease Marx, Engels and Lenin fought to their dying day. It is the disease being fought today by Stalin and the best Communist leaders all over the world. While opportunism creeps into good Parties, in the case of the CPUSA it became the Party. Those who objected were expelled.
The CP leadership dismissed theory and became “practical.” Once without the protection of theory, it was open to every ingredient of opportunism without exception. Without theory, without the generalized experience of the international working class, it lost its orientation, its perspective, and its confidence. Without the freedom of will which comes of basic understanding, the individual Party member was impotent in the face of the destruction of his Party. It’s important to remember, however (and the N.C. has tried to bury this fact), that the overall membership of the Party instinctively opposed the dissolution of the Party. It can hardly be blamed on them that they had never been given enough Marxist equipment to translate their forebodings into open, conscious, planned revolt. The passivity that our leaders have so convincingly blamed on the membership is a hoax. There is no such thing as passivity among the membership; there is only a calculated irresponsibility in leadership which takes away from the rank and file its initiative and its ability to voice objections based on hard-earned experience.
With the membership defenseless against the revisions of Marxism that were offered as “living” Marxism, the CP became tailist. The leadership of the CPUSA tailed every movement, every event, and every liberal bourgeois leader. It promoted only those struggles which had acquired momentum through the spontaneous actions of the workers; it never initiated a badly needed fight. It fought the trusts but not capitalism, it took the line of least resistance with respectable, sensible demands – pleas from the workers to the capitalists. The trade union movement became the only level of Party activity (economism) and even here the Party tailed behind Murray. The Party fell for the “stages” theory; anything it could not bring itself to do was excused by whispering premature and bleating about the absence of certain conditions. Of all this, the mess in the labor movement, in the third party movement, and the absence of any fight against the draft are testimony.
Obviously, in such a state, the CP could end up with only the ideology of the bourgeoisie because it is always one or the other: Socialist ideology or bourgeois ideology. From the dropping of the basic industrial orientation in the CP, there developed a major change in the class composition of the CP. The best workers left in great numbers. The main attraction today is for petty-bourgeois liberals.
The CPUSA became a fantastic stew of Revisionism, Economism, Spontaneity, Reformism, Eclecticism, Bureaucracy, and Corruption. All this is an international phenomenon of the succumbing to bourgeois ideology which has penetrated America generally under the name pragmatism – practical success as the criterion. Equipped with this poison, the CP could counsel only retreat, caution and cringing before the bourgeoisie.
So far did the N.C. betrayal go that groups of Comrades began to see through their own hard-earned experience and decided to fight. These the CP pomposities have labeled “small fry” – a very good and accurate term. It is the first time that small fry have figured in the calculations of the bureaucrats. In desperation, the N.C. resorted to character assassination, frameups, bribes, and beatings. The gestapo technique did not work and only multiplied the revolt.
There are two basic trends in the movement for a real CP. The first is represented by the ideas in this Declaration (with variations) and involves comrades both outside the CP (expelled, dropped, and resigned) and comrades in the CP. The other trend, which we consider a dangerous one, is basically that of Lyle Dowling’s NCP Report. In this Declaration we omit a discussion of the variations on each trend in order to emphasize the basic choice of two orientations. Ours is based on the People’s Front and the C.I.B. Declaration; Dowling’s is anti-People’s Front and only lipserves the Declaration. The health and development of the movement for a real CP is dependent on the neutralization and finally the removal of the Dowling trend.
The movement for a real CP could have made greater strides by now if a handful of aggressive people hadn’t misrepresented the expelled movement generally at a time when comrades found it hard to get accurate information and literature. This misrepresentation would never have proceeded so far if many comrades who knew how incorrect Dowling was hadn’t decided to ignore him as a crackpot who would not make a dent anywhere. The point these comrades missed was that Dowling’ s ideas were not a personal quirk but a to-be-expected leftist trend resulting on-the-rebound from the CPUSA’ s opportunism. Although Dowling’ s ideas are a mass of eclectic fragments, there are certain basic ideas which reoccur, sometimes openly, and sometimes shamefacedly. These are the only ones we can be concerned with here.
1. Dowling’s opposition to the People’s Front. In the early NCP Reports, this showed openly in the attitude which found ” immediately ahead of the U.S. working class only two futures – and nothing matters quite so much as which one it is. “Fascism or Socialism”. Another indication is the oft-repeated question on alliances: Is it for or against capitalism? NCP has declared that “Wallace and Truman’s position is about the same”, and then accused Wallace of threatening Russia with the atom bomb. NCP has fought the third party all the way, greeting each fault with glee and each improvement with cynicism. Since the appearance of the Cominform, the Dowling line has become more subtle but definitely more bitter. A typical Dowling diversion is the assertion that any attention to immediate problems (like a third party) other than the building of a New Communist Party sabotages a New Communist Party.
2. Dowling’s Inevitability of War. Although Dowling lipserves the Cominform Declaration, he does not believe in the possibility of a “lasting peace,” and he doesn’t concern himself with the protection of democracy in the U.S. He prefers to consider pointedly the period after the next world war! He relegates the S.U. in the UN to the role of mere opposition haranguer. He says of “so-called ’ Big Three Unity’ ” that “ If these slogans were actually carried out it would mean the triumph of imperialism and the defeat of Socialism. For there is and can be no ’Big Three Unity’ . . .” This sophistry is supposed a Bolshevik copyright line although New Times repeatedly says: “ One of the favorite arguments of the foes of international cooperation is that there can be no cooperation between the Anglo-Saxon countries and the S.U. because of their different social systems . . . Stalin once again expressed his conviction that cooperation between the two systems was possible and desirable.” To talk of peace at all is to be labeled “social pacifist” by Dowling.
3. Dowling’s sabotage of work for a real CP. He stated categorically that there was nothing in the CP, and over a year ago, he called for a new Party without a basis in people and with an absolutely wrong basis in policy. As comrades in the Party began to wake and fight, Dowling had the embarrassing problem of explaining away the increasing activity of this “nothingness” in the CP. He merely damned these comrades as Menshevik. He accused any “anti-NCP” comrade or publication of being a tool of the N.C. within the expelled movement on the basis of “internal evidence and surrounding circumstances”. He decided that anyone who opposed NCP opposed the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. He raised indignant eyebrows at the anonymity of comrades who had for a time to work under cover. He misrepresented them through paraphrasing and no quoting. Generally, Dowling gave to the expelled movement a look of disdain for the comrades in the CP.
To call for a New Communist Party after the Duclos letter and until recently was the expression of an irresponsible clique which thought it could go ahead without people. Because until recently only a small part of the membership had even an inkling of the actual state of affairs in the CP, it was foolish to expect them to rise at the first alarm and build a new Party from a confusion of ideas and with no organizational groundwork.
The security for a new Party has first to be achieved through much hard work or all will be squandered. Anything else is adventurist and sacrifices all accomplishments to capture by incorrect policies and demagogic sects in the general confusion. It was absolutely correct then to oppose a New Communist Party because (1) it would have been a new fake CP more dangerous than the old fake CPUSA, and (2) there was no organizational groundwork for it.
What had to be done and was done by more responsible comrades was to take inventory of possibilities in the CP and trends within the expelled movement, start the discussion going, create reference points within and without the CP through clubs, publications, study circles, committees, etc., clear up the confusion of ideas, and in this way insure the emergence of a real CP.
4. Dowling’s Socialism as Sophistry. The word “Socialism” (not the constant complex fight for Socialism) is used as a cure-all. Socialism is posed against the People’ s Front. We are told that American workers do not want half-way measures; they want Socialism! But the problem is not so simple. Most of the militant actions of non-socialist workers are anti-capitalist actions – but not consciously so in the U.S. today. Therefore it would be quibbling and wasteful to make the criterion for alliances anti-capitalism; it would needlessly alienate masses of anti-fascist, anti-imperialist workers. Communists must organize and lead struggles that do not include the goal Socialism.
Other wrong ideas in the Dowling trend, which we cannot consider here, were developed in the attempt to justify the first unfounded idea —? the new Party. All facts were mutilated to fit this idea. In this way, the idea that anything the Party or the D.W. ever said was wrong took hold. This was obviously self-destructive in that the CP and the D.W. were of necessity forced more and more to state anything for the purpose of saving face – and power.
We feel that there is one problem that seriously retards the work of many good comrades fighting opportunism – especially in the CP. This is the idea that a comrade in the CP cannot coordinate his fight against opportunism and bureaucracy with the work of another comrade, that he cannot coordinate his work with or contact the expelled movement. We want to make one simple point on this misconception of factionalism.
Communist inner-Party democracy and abhorrence of factionalism rest on democratic centralism. Certainly, in the U.S. today, an understanding of factionalism must rest on democratic centralism, a factor which is completely absent from the scene in the CPUSA. Communist Parties outlaw factionalism on the basis that it is not needed, that within the channels of Democratic Centralism, the unity of the Party and the right to contests of opinion go hand in hand.
Factionalism is unneeded and harmful because it makes a mockery of Democratic Centralism. It follows, therefore, that in the absence of Democratic Centralism, there is no real CP and all fear of factionalism is uncalled for, misleading, and itself a misunderstanding of Democratic Centralism and factionalism. There is only one faction and that is the leadership’s opportunist faction which swallowed the Party and its democracy and thereby destroyed the Party. Therefore all fear of acting factionally, except in cahoots with the N.C. should be dismissed.
From a simpler angle – if there is no real CP, no vanguard of the working class, and if the peace of the whole world is endangered by that fact, if American democracy and the existence of every union, etc. is endangered by that fact, – then it’s about time we all started organizing without squeamish, legalistic crutches as to what we can and what we cannot do according to the dictates of the N.C.
It is important to view the building of a real CP in perspective and to change emphasis as we move from one phase to the next. The important emphasis in the first phase of the anti-opportunist movement was to sound an alarm about the complete degeneracy of the CP leadership and the growing expulsions and focus attention on the threat of an anti-Soviet war and the danger of fascism in the U.S. It was necessary to expose the fake lipservice of the CP leadership on these points and to call for a correct third party. It was necessary to focus the comrades’ attention on the vital need for a re-study of Marxism (without which nothing could be accomplished). The first phase was one of spreading the discussion, making Communists aware of the fight against opportunism, and laying the first embryonic groundwork for our next advances. Now we are close to – and must quickly move ahead to – the second phase: the emergence of a national publication ideologically and organizationally unifying the anti-opportunist movement. TURNING POINT is one attempt locally to lay the groundwork for such a publication.
Because we will have established an identity, and an alternative visible and growing, the second phase can progress much faster to the third: the emergence of a real CP. With a national publication representing us as a definite identity, our brother parties can hasten matters by entering the arena with their criticisms and suggestions. The then visible-to-all bankruptcy of the CPUSA will hasten the correct choice on the part of all Communists. With our new forces, with the advice of our brother parties to all American Communists, we can build a real CP.
Although we are not calling for a new Party now, we do raise the definite perspective for a new American Communist Party. We declare our aim to start a new Party as soon as American Communists have the prerequisites, as soon as they have achieved a correct national organ and center, representative of the ideological and organizational unification of substantial groups of comrades around the country and representative of the coordination between groups inside the CP and in the expelled movement.
We need a new Party because the control of the CPUSA is completely in the hands of confirmed opportunists, bureaucrats and hypocrites who will write any resolution to maintain a Communist “look’ for the deception of the membership and the foreign Parties wherever possible , because it is solidly in the hands of enemy agents, because there is no break in the N.C. – even by way of exception. We have to raise the perspective of a new CP because national and international events demand a real CP in the U.S. No matter how much the membership becomes aroused, no matter how much it attempts to regain control of the Party, it cannot because there is not one iota of democracy left in it, because it is the private property of the opportunists and it will be protected as private property by them – even if it takes the “cops” to do it.
We must raise the perspective of a new Party because now that many comrades have awakened and are beginning to coordinate their efforts with those expelled, we can best stir the still dormant membership by pointing to an alternative and exploding the fallacy that all must happen within the confines of a fake CP. As long as we lack an organizational alternative, ideological help from our brother Parties is prevented, because only double confusion would result from a fraternal blast right now, and the membership would have no place to go.
The question might be asked: Why, then, do we urge Comrades in the Party to continue to fight within the Party? Why don’t we ask those Comrades to leave the CP? Building a real CP in the U.S. is a very complicated matter. There is too little both in the CP and outside the CP. There are too many dangerous ideas both in the CP and outside the CP. Whatever there is, and whatever is correct must be coordinated as a beginning.
The membership of the CPUSA is not yet ready to leave the CP. Some still do not know the facts. Others who do know the facts are still held up by an erroneous conception of factionalism. Certainly we have to admit that building a new party is a difficult job so we can afford not to be pompous towards those who are temporarily bewildered by it. We know that many party members have illusions that the CPUSA will ” come out all right in the end” . We know that some have illusions that reform or revolt can recapture the CP for the membership. Therefore, although we consider it our responsibility to raise a definite perspective at this point, we cannot ignore the actual thinking in the CP.
What, therefore, are the main objectives of a fight within the CPUSA? 1. We must convince Party comrades through their struggles that they are wrong about their CP illusions – that a new Party must be built. 2. We must patiently continue to explain the opportunism of the CPUSA to the Comrades who through no fault of their own have never learned what a real Communist Party is. 3. We must take constant inventory in the Party: inventory of the good elements who will end up with us; inventory of the dangerous elements who will attempt infiltration into our ranks. It is important (for all Communists whether in or out) to be alert to the great and impending danger of the appeasement gag. We have already seen that the CP will write any document to confuse the membership. It will also take certain actions, militant ones on the surface, to confuse the awakening membership. We have already noted tendencies to fall for this trick.
To all Comrades in the CP we say, stay in and work with us for the building of a real CP. Insofar as you disagree with us, test the party program and judge by your own experience. Certainly, comrades who disagree with our perspective at this time must admit that within our attitude there is a basis for the best methods of work to prove themselves. It is not – and has not been – an a priori method, a formula made before an investigation of the facts.
We raise this perspective now because we consider it important for those comrades putting up a pre-convention fight to have a perspective, or at least to know that others do, so wherever the hatchet of the N.C. falls, a comrade will not be stunned off balance and demoralized, but instead will have an alternative to turn to and will be able to pick up work immediately.
1. Comrades in the CP should not work by mere “mood” or day to day groping or waiting. When a Comrade makes the decision to work actively to get a real CP, he should contact an expelled group which he considers correct. He should get information about the movement generally, expelled literature, important reprints and international literature not available in the Party. He should discuss his problems with those of us who have tackled the same problems in various ways, and who have at least attempted to sort and improve our methods. He should contact us for the purpose of giving us direction and information.
2. A comrade should find or develop another comrade and form an initial unit of two. This unit should plan its work in a Party branch, union local, PCA chapter, etc. to get across to Party members the real meaning of opportunism, to systematically indoctrinate their branch with Communism. It should constantly broach the enforcement of the CPUSA’ s paper program (e.g., draft resolution) thus clarifying the actual state in the party. It should promote Marxist-Leninist classes, and distribute to their branch and contacts the CIB organ and New Times. It should carefully pass along the correct expelled literature.
3. Since the leadership is watching for “subversive activity,” careful attention should be paid to security, especially in the case of direct contact with an expelled group.
4. Comrades should not – as is currently felt – press all their attention to explosions in higher committees – section, county, and state. The important work is in the lowest, most basic organization – the branch. The higher up the fight is made, the more restricted it is from the general knowledge of the Party and the more efficiently is the hatchet applied. No comrade once exposed should allow himself to fall into the position of misleading other members by upholding the sellouts of the leadership. When under attack, a comrade should take his stand, keeping in mind the necessity for explaining the utmost to his comrades. One perspective a comrade cannot take is that if staying in at all costs. Being a Communist today is not a formality defined by membership in the CPUSA. It is defined by the shouldering of the responsibility to build a real CP whether the comrade is “in” or “out.”
5. The Comrade should get the names and addresses of any serious, thinking comrades to an expelled group he trusts. If he has no such trusted relationship as yet, he should acquire the needed literature and get it to the comrades himself.
We believe that we are approaching – and helping to insure – a turning point in America. The guiding principle of America has been “success” , flying the international flag of the dollar-sign. With a real CP in America, solidly founded on principle, and not steeped in the hypocrisy of lipservice to principle, our flag will become the international flag of Socialism, flown on all occasions – not quickly once on Lenin Memorial Day (for the record).
We will not sow opportunism in our comrades by using one against the other with the bribery of Party or mass organization advancement. We will not countenance clique control, bootlicking, obsequious attendance on pompous functionaries, or private career enterprises in the CP. Every time the Party squelches a careerist or a bureaucrat, the best workers in America will trust us more and come to work in an organization which has by definition ‒Communist – the highest standards and principles.
Our Marxism-Leninism will be the guarantee of our vigilance and our improvement. The words criticism and self-criticism have been bandied about in CPUSA history but never honestly observed. We shall practice blunt, frank criticism with the usual befogging diplomacies omitted. Marxism will not be a game in which one shows off a bit of reading to attain a certain citizenship of cultural doubletalk in the Party. Study will really be a requirement for Communists. The theory we will offer will always have to be an understandable guide to practice and the heretofore mystical connection between theory and practice will have to succumb to specific problems.
Our test for leadership of any kind will be whether it guarantees the integrity of the Party. We will demand that our Party leaders follow the example of Lenin’s attitude in leadership, no matter how small or large their talents: modesty, simplicity, no whining in defeat, no conceit in victory, fidelity to principle, and faith in the masses.
Our whole future is bound up with the development of real Communist cadres – starting right now. Today, Communists are strewn about like a mass of wreckage. We have to find the expelled, the dropped, the demoralized comrades, the million Communists and sympathizers who went through the Party as if it were a sieve. From these we have to develop independent, thinking Communists – not “mannequins”.
Our Party history is one of Party leaders who ratted, of spies and agents. We can expect more than ever a flood of such into a real CP. The effectiveness of our vigilance depends on how much we trust in the principle of “the proof in the pudding”. Will we again fall for the “big operators” , or will we trust only those who work, especially those who work modestly at the hardest tasks.
The attitude of most Communists today in America is the attitude of most Americans – cynicism. Perhaps this cynicism among Communists is understandable (if not justifiable). We who are in a key position for the progress or the throwback of the whole world, we who are the Communist Party of the aggressor nation and the last stronghold of capitalism in the world – we are the worst Communist Party in the world. We have the worst Communist movement without exception because no Communist Party outside the SU is in a position to do so much good or harm. This thought forces on us the pledge to completely explode and wipe away our whole traditional atmosphere. We pledge – to ourselves and to our comrades around the world – that we who have had the worst Communist Party will yet have one of the best.
An American Communist who cannot conceive of this cannot simply for the reason that he himself has lost – for the time – his faith in the victory of Socialism, his faith in the working class which he. perhaps unknowingly, has helped to delude, demobilize, and make cynical. Communists are needed in the U.S. who can decide to change matters completely, whose aim is not an innocuous, mediocre Party, but a Party of real quality – and soon, because domestic and international events demand it soon.
We pledge ourselves to the building of a real CP which will lead the oppressed people of America in their fight for Peace, Democracy, and Security; which will work without deviation for the education of the American workers for Socialism; and which will win a Socialist America one day soon and thereby produce a TURNING POINT IN THE WHOLE WORLD – A SOCIALIST WORLD.
 In #14 of the C.I.B. organ, there appears a Book Review by Jack Bering, ” The Communist Party of the U.S. in the Struggle Against the Warmongers” which quotes and paraphrases the Plenum Reports of Foster, Dennis, Williamson and Winston in the March 1948 Political Affairs. Comrade Bering apparently accepts the documents of the CPUSA leadership at their face value, but he fails to note that the CPUSA’ s actions falsify the documents at every point. We believe the appearance of this review to be an editorial inadvertence which will be corrected. We remember Stalin’ s warning: ” Who, save hopeless bureaucrats, can rely on paper documents alone? Who beside archive rats, does not understand that a Party and its leaders must be tested first of all by their deeds and not only by their declarations?” (Marxism and Revisionism).