First Published: Turning Point Vol. II, No. 3, April 1949
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The meaning of the trial and the background for the current retreat of the progressive forces in America emerge clearly from the “keynote” speech of Eugene Dennis on March 21, the day the trial proper began. For once Dennis did not doubletalk. He was on trial for advocating Marxism-Leninism and he took the bull by the horns (of Kautsky) and clearly disassociated himself from the revolutionary doctrines of Marxism-Leninism. This we will prove matter of factly by placing Dennis’ revisions alongside some Marxist-Leninist “originals.” The reader will note that the “originals” indicate, that any attempt to modify certain concepts or to water them down for the benefit of respectability before the bourgeoisie constitutes basic renegacy from Marxism-Leninism.
Dennis’ unCommunist main task was to renounce a belief in the Marxist doctrine of proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, to back away from the necessity for force and violence in smashing the state-power of the bourgeoisie and setting up a workers’ rule. In case this accusation is unbel1evable to an uncareful reader of the D.W., we should immediately allow Dennis to take the stand. (All Dennis ”quotes are from the reprint of his speech in the D.W. of 3-27-49).
Dennis said: “We Communists will likewise prove that we have advocated that labor and the people endeavor to create conditions that will make possible the peaceful establishment of Socialism... Socialism should be established not by force and violence but, by the free choice of the majority of the American people’ [quoted from CP Constitution] ...the defense, will squarely meet and disprove the prosecution‣s charge that the principles of scientific socialism teach or imply the duty or necessity to overthrow the United States Government by force and violence ...we will bring evidence to show that Marx and Lenin did not advocate force and violence...” (our emphasis.)
Now consider some “originals” from the classics of Marxism-Leninism. We hope that, the reader, who has probably been subjected to many years of distortion of Marxism-Leninism, will not object to the reading of a few pages of concentrated excavation of Marxism-Leninism. Our only purpose in quoting is to make a very important point clear – that the only similarity between the Dennis revisions and the Marxist originals is that of subject matter – with Lenin taking one side and Dennis the other.
A fundamental study, of this question is Lenin’s State and Revolution, repudiated by the CPUSA in the trial of the “12.” Let us look at a few highlights. (All quotes from the 1947 Soviet edition, Lenin, Selected Works, ”Vol. II, Foreign Languages Publishing House. This work is not circulated by the CPUSA.) (All emphasis in the original)
“...it is clear that the liberation of the oppressed class is impossible not only without a violent revolution, but also without the destruction of the apparatus of state power which was created by the ruling class…( p. 15)
“We have already said above, and shall show more fully later, that the doctrine of Marx and Engels concerning the inevitability of a violent revolution refers to the bourgeois state. The latter cannot be superseded by the proletarian state (the dictatorship of the proletariat) in the process of ’withering away’; as a general rule, this can happen only by means of a violent revolution. The panegyric Engels sang in its honour, and which fully corresponds to Marx’s repeated declarations (recall the concluding passages of The Poverty of Philosophy and The Communist Manifesto with their proud and open declaration of the inevitability of a violent revolution; recall Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program of 1875, in which, almost thirty years later, he mercilessly castigates the opportunist character of that program) – this panegyric is by no means a mere ’impulse,’ a mere declamation or a polemical sally. The necessity of systematically imbuing the masses with this and precisely this view of violent revolution lies at the root of the whole of Marx’s and Engels’ doctrine. The betrayal of their doctrine by the social-chauvinist and Kautskyan trends which now predominate is brought out in striking relief by the neglect of such propaganda and agitation by both these trends.
“The substitution of the proletarian state for the bourgeois state is impossible without a violent revolution.” (p. 154-155)
“We must also note that Engels very definitely calls universal suffrage an instrument of bourgeois rule. Universal suffrage, he says, obviously summing up the long experience of German-Social-Democracy, is...an index of the maturity of the working class. It cannot and never will be anything more in the modern state.
“The petty-bourgeois democrats, such as our Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, and also their twin brothers, the social-chauvinists and opportunists of Western Europe, all expect ’more’ from universal suffrage. They themselves share and instill into the minds of the people the wrong idea that universal suffrage ’in the modern state’ is really capable of expressing the will of the majority of the toilers and of ensuring its realization.” (p. 149)
“The petty-bourgeois democrats, those alleged Socialists who substituted dreams of class harmony for the class struggle, even pictured the Socialist reformation in a dreamy fashion – not in the form of the overthrow of the rule of the exploiting class, but in the form of the peaceful submission of the minority to the majority which has become conscious of its aims,” (p. 157)
Lenin quotes Kautsky:
“’...The aim of our political struggle remains, as hitherto, the conquest of state power by winning a majority in parliament and by converting parliament into the master of the government.’” Then he comments:
“This is nothing but the purest and most vulgar opportunism; a repudiation of revolution in deed, while accepting it in word...
“But we shall make for a split with the opportunists; and the whole class-conscious proletariat will be with us in the fight – not for the purpose of shifting the relation of forces but for the purpose of overthrowing the bourgeoisie, destroying bourgeois parliamentarism, for a democratic republic after the type of the Commune, or a republic of Soviets of workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, for the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”(p. 223)
Another fundamental study of this question and its perversion by the lowest of all revisionists, Kautsky, is “Proletarian Revolution and Renegade Kautsky.” Notice how well the CPUSA position on trial fits in here. (All quotes from Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. II, 1947 Soviet edition) (all emphasis in original)
“Kautsky…declared that Marx’s words about the dictatorship of a class were not meant in the literal sense (but in one in which dictatorship does not imply revolutionary violence, but the peaceful winning of a majority under bourgeois – mark you – democracy).”
“And, the question having been put, there can be no doubt as to the reply: the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat is violence against the bourgeoisie; and the necessity for such violence is particularly created, as Marx and Engels have repeatedly explained in detail (especially in The Civil War In France and in the preface to it) by the existence of a military and a bureaucracy. But it is precisely these institutions that were non-existent in England and America in the 1870’s, when Marx made his observations (they do exist in England and America now). (Original emphasis’) (p. 366)
“In defining dictatorship, Kautsky tried his utmost to conceal the reader the fundamental symptom, of this concept, namely, revolutionary violence. But now the truth is out: it is a question of the contrast between peaceful and violent revolutions.
“That is where the trouble lies. Kautsky had to resort to all these evasions, sophistries and fraudulent falsifications only in order to disassociate himself from violent revolution, and to conceal, his renunciation of it, his desertion to the liberal labour policy, i.e., to the side of the bourgeoisie.” (p. 367)
“Imperialism, on the other hand,i.e., monopoly capitalism, which finally matured only in the twentieth century, is, by virtue of its fundamental economic traits, distinguished by a minimum attachment for peace and freedom, and by a maximum, and universal development of militarism. To ’fail to notice’ this in discussing the extent to which a peaceful or violent revolution is typical or probable is to stoop to the position of a common or garden lackey of the bourgeoisie.” (p. 367)
“In these circumstances, to assume that in a revolution which is at all profound and serious the issue is decided simply by the relation between the majority and the minority is the acme of stupidity, the stupid prejudice of a common or garden liberal, an attempt to deceive the masses by concealing from them a well-established historical truth. This historical truth is that in every profound revolution, a prolonged stubborn and desperate resistance of the exploiters, who for a number of years enjoy important practical advantages over the exploited, is the rule. Never – except in the sentimental phantasies of the sentimental simpleton Kautsky — will the exploiters submit to the decision of the exploited majority without making use of their advantages in a last desperate battle, or series of battles.” (p. 378)
“Socialism is opposed to violence against nations. That is indisputable. But Socialism is opposed to violence against men in general. Apart from Christian-anarchists and Tolstoyans, however, no one has yet drawn the conclusion from this that Socialism is opposed to revolutionary violence. Hence, to talk about “violence” in general, without examining the conditions which distinguish reactionary from revolutionary violence, means being a petty bourgeois who renounces revolution, or else it means simply deceiving oneself and others by sophistry.” (p. 402-403) ’
“Kautsky does not betray a shadow of an understanding of the truth that a revolutionary Marxist differs from the ordinary philistine by his ability to preach to the uneducated masses that the maturing revolution is necessary, to prove that it is inevitable, to explain its benefits to the people, and to prepare the proletariat and all the toiling and exploited masses for it.” (p. 407)
There is hardly a Marxist-Leninist classic in which one can flip the pages without finding exposes of Dennis and the CPUSA leadership.
“For the class struggle in revolutionary times has always inevitably and in every country taken on the form of a civil war, and civil war is unthinkable without the worst kind, of destruction, without terror and limitations of formal democracy in the interests of the war. Only suave priests, be they Christian or ’secular’ parliamentary or parlor Socialists, are unable to see, understand and feel this necessity.” (Lenin, A Letter to American Workers, Int’l Publishers, 1934)(p. 16)
“The workers sever connections with their social-traitors – the Gomperses, Hendersons, Renaudels, Scheidemanns, Renners. The workers are going slowly, but unswervingly, towards, Communist, Bolshevik tactics, towards the proletarian revolution, which is the only one capable of saving perishing culture and perishing mankind.” (ibid p. 22)
The CPUSA tries in its tricky manner to equate conspiracies with revolutionary violence. By placing the word “conspiratorial” before every mention of ”force and violence” (see Goldway article in The Worker April 10), it hopes to legally place itself at one and the same time within the ranks of Marxist-Leninists and the good graces of the bourgeoisie. But the true relationship between playing at conspiracies and revolutionary force and violence has been given by Manuilsky in his speech to the 7th World Congress on “Engels in the Struggle for Revolutionary Marxism”:
“Often in practice, passivity and inactivity, masked by “Left” phrases, is concealed by playing at conspiracies, playing at exclusive underground organizations and degenerates into Carbonarism, which is alien to the spirit of the workers’ party. On the other hand, parliamentary cretinism, adaptation to bourgeois legality at all costs, denying the significance of illegal forms of organization, and fear of violence also paralyze the fighting capacity of the working class.”
“Engels fought against the manifestations of both forms of passivity. He taught the proletarian parties to take every, possible advantage of bourgeois legality for the purpose of gathering the forces of the working class, of preparing them for the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat and thereby transforming bourgeois legality into a weapon of the struggle against the bourgeoisie. He exposed the Bakunin-Blanquist conspiracy tactics, which the international police utilized against the workers’ organizations, and urged the need for particular vigilance in regard to spies and provocateurs who penetrated the workers’ organizations. At the same time he spared no blows against those Social-Democrats who, toadying to the government, declared that the workers’ party was not a party of revolutionary violence.
“To attack violence” he wrote in indignation, “as something which is impermissible in itself, when we know that, in the final analysis, we shall achieve nothing without violence ...” (Workers Library Publishers, April 1936, p. 271 (Original emphasis).
This is exactly the crux of the matter. By insistence on its abhorrence of force and violence as such, instead, of pointing out the objective necessity for revolutionary violence, the CPUSA is disarming and deceiving the working class and betraying the Socialist revolution.
Throughout his speech, Dennis resorted to the traditional revisionist technique of those who turn from the belief in proletarian revolution. On the basis of the correct estimate that we are not now ready for a revolution in America, he repudiates all responsibility for teaching the American workers that they must prepare for and turn all their efforts to the earliest possible revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system in the U.S.
The prosecution’s charge that the CPUSA used Marxism-Leninism to “teach and advocate, the duty and necessity to overthrow the government of the United States by force, and violence” is “wholly false” as Dennis insists, of the present leaders of the CPUSA. They are not guilty of this Marxism-Leninism. But it is not “wholly false” of a real CP. A real CP would indicate that it does not call for a revolution (at this time) but that its objective is that and that it certainly uses Marxism-Leninism as a guide to such preparation and action.
Dennis says: “We defendants will prove that we did not advocate the violent overthrow of the United States government as a solution to the present critical problems...”
Some comrades might wonder whether Dennis here reserved for himself a later solution as against a current solution to “present critical problems.” We have to remind them of an earlier quote which establishes Socialism peacefully. The point is that a real CP teaches that proletarian revolution as the solution to past, present and future. “critical problems”, under capitalism, that Communists call for revolution only when certain pre-requisites exist. One of the prerequisites absent in America today is a Communist Party capable of leading the workers. Witness the trial!
Lenin said: “Hence, the question of the relation of the Socialist proletarian revolution to the state acquires, not only practical political importance, but the importance of an urgent problem of the day, the problem, of explaining to the masses, what they will have to do to emancipate themselves from the yoke, of capitalism in the very near future.” Lenin, The State and Revolution, p. 142
Perhaps the CPUSA leaders, having pickled Socialism for the future, do not envision any emancipation of the masses in the near future and so have freed themselves of the political importance of preparing the masses.
Dennis says: “We will establish that Marx and Engels also declared that when men and women understand fully what makes society tick they will make a better, life for themselves.”
This sounds quite true, but it has an element of dangerous revisionism in it that Marx and Engels had no part of – that a full understanding of society is necessary. A full understanding is what the leadership of a revolution, at least, needs. The more widespread understanding can come only after the revolution when ordinary men and women get a chance to learn fully. Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin always fought the opportunist excuse of the complete preparation. They insisted that if people had to become finished experts in emancipation, it would never come. It is neat burglary for Dennis, who rejects revolution, to offer new prerequisites for revolution.
Lenin had a different idea on the prerequisites for revolution: “It follows that for revolution it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a. majority of the class-conscious, thinking, politically active workers) should fully understand that revolution is necessary and be ready to sacrifice their lives for it; secondly, that the ruling classes should be passing through a government – crisis, which draws even the most backward masses into politics (a symptom of every real revolution is a rapid, tenfold and even hundred fold increase in the number of members of the toiling and oppressed masses – hitherto apathetic – who are capable of waging the political struggle), weakens the government and makes it possible for the-revolutionaries to overthrew it rapidly.” (Lenin, “Left-wing” Communism. An Infantile Disorder, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1947, p. 87 (our emphasis)
Dennis offers ethical generalizations about “men and women” and ”better life” while Lenin scientifically looks towards the essential understanding needed by the vanguard – the Communists.
From another angle, Stalin says: “The opportunists of the Second International have a number of theoretical dogmas to which they always revert as their starting point. Let us take a few of these...
“Second dogma: the proletariat cannot retain power if it lacks an adequate number of trained educational and administrative cadres capable of organizing the administration of the country; these cadres must first be trained under capitalist conditions, and only then can power be taken.
Let, us assume that this is so, replies Lenin; but why not turn it this way: first take power, create favourable conditions for the development of the proletariat, then proceed with seven-league strides to raise the cultural level of the labouring masses and train numerous cadres, of leaders and administrators from among the workers. Has not Russian experience shown that the cadres of leaders recruited from the ranks of the workers grow a hundred times more rapidly and effectually under the rule of the proletariat than under the rule of capital?... Is it hot clear that the experience of the revolutionary struggle of the masses ruthlessly smashes also this theoretical dogma of the opportunists?” (Foundations of Leninism, Int’l Publishers, 1939 p. 23-24)
Dennis, however will not be disturbed by inconsistencies between Marxist originals and the Dennis developments. His reason: “But the defense will prove that these immortal classics are not blueprints or directives – you cannot find out what to do in March, 1949, reading what Lenin said the Russian workers should do under quite different circumstances in March 1917.”
True, the Marxist-Leninist classics are not blueprints. They are directives in the sense of direction concerning the achievement of the goals of Marxism-Leninism which Dennis rejects. They do determine specific and immediate directives today on the basis a of a historical understanding of other situations and tactics, and on the basis of fundamental strategy.
“ … the masses of proletarians of all countries are realizing more and more clearly every day that Bolshevism has indicated the right road of escape from the horrors of war and imperialism, that Bolshevism can serve as a model of tactics for all.” (Original emphasis) (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 409)
Stalin emphasizes this point: “One of the special features of the October Revolution is the fact that this revolution represents the classic realization of the Leninist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
“Certain comrades assume that this theory is a purely Russian theory and applies only to Russian realities. That is wrong. That is absolutely wrong.”(Stalin, The October Revolution, Int’l. Pub., 1934, p.130.
Dennis says: “The defense will prove that the founders of Marx-ism-Leninism, and their followers, have taught that certain propositions, as well as strategy and tactics, are modified to conform with developments of history and new social situations.”
But ‒ the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat as well as the class struggle and many other doctrines that Dennis is quite famous for helping Browder modify out of Marxism-Leninism aren’t included. Marxism-Leninism does not hold that in the course of its development as the science of revolution that its fundamentals may be ”modified” out!
“Those who recognize only the class struggle are not yet Marxists; they may be found to be still within the boundaries of bourgeois reasoning and bourgeois politics. To limit Marxism to the doctrine of the class struggle means curtailing Marxism, distorting it, reducing it to something which is acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Only he is a Marxist who extends the acceptance of the class struggle to the acceptance of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is where the profound difference lies between a Marxist and ordinary petty (and even big) bourgeois. This is the touchstone on which the real under standing and acceptance of Marxism should be tested.” (Lenin, Selected Works, II) (p. 163).
In an “Interview Given to the First American Labour Delegation”, in answer to the question, ”What new principles have Lenin and the Communist Party added to Marxism in practice”, Stalin said:
“I think that Lenin ’added’ no ’new principles’ to Marxism nor did he abolish any of the ’old’ principles of Marxism. Lenin was and remains, the most loyal and consistent pupil of Marx and Engels, and he wholly and entirely based himself on the principles of Marxism...” (Lenin, Selected Works I, p. 39)
The whole point is: with what in Marxism-Leninism have the CPUSA revisionists tampered? Exactly with the essence of Marxism – the necessity for smashing the state machinery of the bourgeoisie, the necessity for the dictatorship of the proletariat. They have merely removed the heart before adoring the corpse.
Dennis says: “...we teach that socialism is not an immediate issue in the United States today – but that the central issues confronting our people are peace or war, democracy or fascism.”
While this is true, Dennis “doth protest too much.” The advocacy of Socialism, the preparation for Socialism, and the constant fight for Socialism, in our time is always an immediate task. But it has not been the task of Dennis and the CPUSA for some time now. Marxism-Leninism has always exposed this ”not an immediate issue” insistence as a fire exit from the need to fight for Socialism at all.
Throughout its recent history, the CPUSA has spoken of the “socialist reorganization of society” instead of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (see Draft Resolution presented for the last convention of the CPUSA). Throughout this speech Dennis substitutes ”social progress” for the concept of revolution and ”national interests” for class interests. He speaks of ”American national security” at a time when America threatens the security of all the peoples of the world. He has adopted the concepts and stock phraseology of the traditional social chauvinist perverters of Marxism.
Although he is supposedly on trial for Marxism-Leninism, Dennis is peeved that he has to acknowledge or reject the principles of Communism (a service the reactionary intentions of the U.S. Govt, have unwittingly offered to the other CP’s of the world). Dennis, unashamedly says:
“That very big and complicated question [’what are the principles of Marx ism-Leninism’] has been brought into this case by the prosecution – not by the defense.”
If the truth is, as Dennis complains, that he wanted the principles of Marxism-Leninism omitted from a trial of “Marxists-Leninists”, if the capitalist class of the U.S., with bad judgment on its part, wanted them included, then the prosecution has done all Communists a service. Otherwise we would hear nothing but such ”cringing before the bourgeoisie! (Engels) as Dennis’ whimper:
”I did not hear the prosecution allege that...we Communist leaders taught that organized labor ought to abandon its voluntary war-time no—strike pledge and sabotage production.”
Dennis has done a great service in refreshing the memories of all Communists on the unnecessary, class collaborationist no-strike pledge foisted upon labor during the war through the main efforts of Dennis and Browder and Co. At that time for a shoe clerk to strike was considered sabotage of the war effort by the CP. This Communist no-strike pledge was the greatest incentive to the capitalist class in America to perpetrate every trick in the anti-labor arsenal. The CPUSA pledged its behavior to the bourgeoisie. That is one of Dennis’ revisions – modifications of Marxism. There are many such feats of the CPUSA. And will they come out in the trial?
Dennis says: “We defendants will explain our political theories in the plainest of all language —the language of our program and deed, which we will put in evidence.” And –
“This evidence will establish what the working class principles of Marxism-Leninism are, and what they are not.”
Well, if the CPUSA offers such deeds as its support for the red-halting and anti-Veto and Marshall Plan resolutions In the CIO, the liquidation of the Party, the support for Marshall Planners in the ’48 elections, etc. etc., then the CPUSA’s principles should logically turn out to he something other than Marxist-Leninist, and in all ”human decency” (as the D.W. is wont to say in pleading with warmongers and fascists) the “12” should be acquitted of the charge of Marxism-Leninism.
Dennis says: “The defense will prove that these decisions were democratically discussed by the member’s of the Communist Party, and ratified by the delegates to our July, 1945, National Convention.
“We will prove that the Communist Political Association was only a phase, an episode, in the political life of the Communist Party – and that the proposal to end that phase was made on ”the exclusive initiative of Mr. Foster, myself and our co-workers.” (Our emphasis)
This is such a lie that we might apply the most beloved expression of Dennis’ comrade-in-revisionism – Earl Browder – “a lie out of the whole cloth.”
In a D.W. article, “The conspiracy to Bar Foster’s Testimony,” (3-25-49), Robert Thompson amplifies the lie:
“...the Government is especially trying to falsify the history of the reconstitution of our Party in 1945 and to paint it as a foreign inspired and, ordered event.” Foster’s clearheaded and unswerving adherence to the principle’s of Marxism-Leninism and especially his un yielding battles against Browder’s revisionism in our Party since 1943, and before, presents McGohey and Medina with an insuperable obstacle.”
May we refresh the readers memory? 94 self-chosen delegates to the national Convention, elected 74 to the new National Committee. These self-perpetuating divinities held a “democratic discussion.”’ How complete the lie is that the Party was reestablished ”on the exclusive Initiative of Mr. Foster, myself’, and our co-workers” can easily be proven by the fraudulent self-criticism of the very perpetrators of the lie – on the very scene of the crime: their democratic discussion.
The Duclos article on the Dissolution of the CPUSA had said: “But in neither one of these documents did Foster take a stand against the dissolution of the Communist Party.”
Comrade Gil Green supplies some evidence to back up Duclos’ criticism: “Nor can I honestly say that the recent events In Europe and at San Francisco had already prepared me for the Duclos bombshell...
“Therefore on my part, I must give full credit to Comrade Duclos who, by tossing his ideological bombshell, knocked the political ground from under me and from under the whole leadership...even Comrade Foster did not grasp the full magnitude of our opportunist and revisionist errors ...
“...And even though Comrade Foster, peering through the windshield, kept repeating that the terrain was different and the road strange, he didn’t impress us much with his anxiety...
“But when Comrade Duclos hurtled himself in front of our path, we just had to pull the emergency, brake, stop, and listen. And when he said, ’You’re supposed to be going West, aren’t you – how come the sun is setting on your backs?’ – we knew that he had us dead to right and that we had blundered badly.” ( CPA Discussion Bulletin #2, July 3, ’45)
“Dennis’ hoax was formally and laboriously established in what should have been an autobiographical pamphlet by Robert Thompson, “The Path of a Renegade”: ”There began to be a questioning of basic propositions in his (Browder’s) outlook and wider degree of opposition to certain of his policies. It was in this situation that our Party received a theoretical shot in the arm in the form of the Duclos article.” (our emphasis) Thus was the Duclos criticism buried, along with the fact that only, through the intervention of the French Party was the CPA hoax exposed.
One would think from the Duclos letter, that no American Communist was considered much of a Marxist by our brother Parties, but even this must be revised. In the above-quoted article, Robert Thompson says: “In the words of Eugene Dennis, General Secretary of our Party, Foster is ’the outstanding Marxist in America’, and is so recognized in this country and the world.
In view of Foster’s status and role in our Party, as well as among Marxists throughout the world...”
Perhaps the defense will get around to explain why the D.W. suppressed the Duclos article until (May 24, 1945) after the world Telegram printed it (May 22, 1945) for sensational purposes.
In reality, two trials are taking place. One is the obvious witch hunt against the CPUSA planned cooperatively by the government of the U.S. and by its agents within the CPUSA leadership. The other trial is the trial of the “12” before world Communism, before the very classics of Marxism which they reject. So vulgar does this trial become that when theN.Y. Times, whatever its reasons, misquotes Dennis into a more accurate Marxist statement, the CPUSA and the D.W. indignantly and hysterically holler “Times Distorts Dennis Stand on Social Change.” Let us look at this unique contribution to the history of Kautskyism.
“The N.Y. Times omitted a key word in Eugene Dennis’ statement to the federal jury Monday and otherwise distorted the Communist leader’s views, a comparison revealed yesterday.
“The TIMES report quoted the national secretary of the Communist ’Party as saying.: ’We Communists will establish that throughout history such far-reaching social change has been accompanied by force and violence.’
“Dennis actually said: ’The jury knows and we Communists will establish that throughout human society such far-reaching social change has OFTEN (D.W.’s emphasis) been accompanied by force and violence.
“The word ’often’ was obviously deleted by the Times to foster the impression that Communist view force and violence as essential to social change and welcome such violence.
“On the contrary, Dennis’ actual words and subsequent passages in his statement underscored the Communists view that force and violence are not inevitable adjuncts of social change but, when they do occur, are created by reactionary minority groups.”
It’s a pretty sad “Marxist” Party when the N.Y. Times has to correct, unwittingly, the CP’s distortions of Marxism. But when the CPUSA then “uncorrects” the N.Y. Times’ improvement! Does Dennis think that calling Revolution ”social change” protects him from any distortion?
Would it perhaps shed a little light on Dennis, Foster, and Stachel to quote another gangster “Marxist” on the subject? This ideological colleague of proclaimed the other day that his Party
“aims to replace the capitalist system with socialism under constitutional procedures and with the support of the majority of the American people” but that his Party “would oppose with violence any forcible attempt by the ruling class to prevent a peaceful transition to socialism.” (N.Y. Times, April 1, 1949)
The spokesman was Farrell Dobbs; the Party was the Socialist Workers Party (Trotskyites). Dennis or Dobbs – the finagling approach is the same.
What kind of farce is it when the CPUSA must stand up in court to oppose the following correct statement offered by Prosecutor McGohey – Instead of openly supporting it and spitting in the face of the American capitalist system: ”
“Socialism cannot be established by peaceful evolution, but on the contrary can be established only by violent revolution, by smashing the machinery of the government, and by setting up in its stead a dictatorship of the proletariat.
“This smashing of the machinery of government and the setting up of the dictatorship of the proletariat can be accomplished only by the violent and forceful seizure of power by the proletariat under the leadership of the Communist Party.” (N.Y. Times March 22, 1949)
The enemies of the working class sometimes know their Marxism via expert research staffs. The prosecution and defense equally oppose Marxism-Leninism but from different vantage points.
“At the present time, the bourgeoisie and the opportunists in the labor movement concur In this revision of Marxism. They omit, obliterate and distort the revolutionary side of its doctrine, of its revolutionary soul. They push to the foreground and extol what is or seems acceptable to the bourgeoisie. All the social chauvinists are now ’Marxists’ (don’t laugh!). In such circumstances, in view of the incredibly widespread nature of the distortions of Marxism, our first task is to restore the true doctrine of Marx on the State.”(p.143, Lenin Selected Works, Vol. II)
“As against this, the opportunism which now predominates breeds in the ranks of the workers’ party representatives of the better paid workers, who lose touch with the rank and file, ’get along’ fairly well under capitalism, and sell their birthright for a mess of pottage, i.e. renounce their role of revolutionary leaders of the people against the bourgeoisie.” (Ibid p. 158)
Lenin was thinking exactly of the Dennises. He was demanding that we excavate Marxism and restore it, that we should teach workers that ”The state is a special organization of force; it is the organization of violence for the suppression of some class.” Once this is clear – and it is stated a thousand times in Marxism-Leninism – unMarxist inhibitions against force lose their force.
Considering opportunism’s burial of Marxism, Lenin said: “All this was written a little less than half a century ago; and now one has to make excavations, as it were, to bring undistorted Marxism to the know-ledge of the masses.” (ibid, p.. 178) And in the U.S. of 1949, one has to make excavations of Lenin’s excavations in order to force on the conscience of Communists the need to oppose the revisionism of their leaders.
We submit that if only CPUSA members would be “liberal” enough to read those fundamental works which the prosecution is using against them they would learn the correct behavior for Communists on trial. A Communist, especially one who has read the Short History of the CPSU(B), Foundations of Leninism, State and Revolution, Proletarian Revolution and Renegade Kautsky, and What Is To Be Done, cannot accept the distortions of Marxism-Leninism his leaders offer. How can any Communist watch with equanimity as his leaders repudiate these classics when the prosecution offers them. It is historical irony that those leaders who removed revolution from the Marxist classics should be accused of revolution.
No, the prosecution is unjust, as befits his station. The “12” are not guilty of Marxism-Leninism.. We, as Communists, will bear witness to that. Only those Communists who believe in the proletarian revolution, in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, in “revolutionary violence”, only those who intend at the first opportunity to overthrow American capitalism, only those who laugh at the “peaceful establishment of Socialism” – only those are real Communists.
It will turn out that this trial was a trial of American Communist leaders before the world Communist movement. Communists in all countries will expose the motives of the U.S. government in this witch-hunt, but they will also, learn, how degraded and cowardly are American Communist leaders. The very criticism from abroad, which the CPUSA leadership has spent all its skill in preventing, ’will merely be hastened by the CP’s present Kautskyite burlesque. There are some who say, this trial will unify the CPUSA on issue of defense of the “12.” This is superficially true – temporarily. But slightly below the surface lies an unquestionable omen – that this unCommunist display will hasten a Leninist splitting of opportunist unity. One possible beginning for a troubled adherent, of Dennis’ peaceful establishment of Socialism is merely to advance to the realization of Lincoln, who said:
“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.” (1st inaugural add.)
The CPUSA quotes this statement in the hope of salvation through association(with Lincoln). But it certainly does not believe in the second alternative. Dennis’ agreement with Lincoln does not go beyond the first alternative – shall we say, the “constitutional right of amending” American capitalism into socialism – but not too soon, not too soon.
Lincoln was often a confused, man, but he knew enough about force and power, about the state and the revolutionary necessity of smashing the old State machinery to say: ”Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right – a right which, we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such people may revolutionise, putting down a minority, intermingled with, or near about them, who may oppose their movements. Such minority was precisely the case of the Tories of our own Revolution. It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines, of old laws, but to break up both, and make new ones.” Abraham Lincoln “The War With Mexico” Speech to the House of Representatives, January 12, 1848 (Original emphasis)
Can the CP member, look the McGoheys in the eye and agree; can he look Lincoln (let alone Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin) in the eye and disagree?
Can the CP member break Party discipline and go “left” enough to agree with the Declaration of Independence:
“That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness] it is the Right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness... But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. (our emphasis)
The saddest fact of the trial is that it reduces Marxism-Leninism to a Ringling, Barnum, and Browder circus act which only reduces the ability of the CPUSA to withstand the repressions of reaction. As long as the CPUSA cannot allow a real Marxist unity within it (and this included the right to believe in revolution), it cannot present a real unity in its fight against reaction in America.
The “12” must be defended. Even against their better judgment, they must be defended. But the “12” have liquidated all the militant, power in America that could have licked this case the right way – out of court! Hundreds of thousands of dollars are collected – for what? For mass agitation? No, there isn’t any. The money goes to the lawyers (Lenin warned against) to help them prove that the “12” oppose Revolution, that the “12” oppose Marxism-Leninism, at least the Marxism-Leninism of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.