Main FI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Fourth International, February 1944


The Editors

The Month in Review


From Fourth International, vol.5 No.2, February 1944, p.35-36.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.


On the Dissolution of the American Communist Party

BROWDER AND COMPANY AVOW THEIR RENEGACY In carrying out the Kremlin’s order to dissolve the American Communist Party and turn it openly into an appendage of the two capitalist parties, Browder and Co. found themselves compelled to depart from their customary device of duping their followers by some brazenly distorted quotation from Marx or Lenin. For the first time the American Stalinists have publicly acknowledged that they are unable to extract from the Marxist classics so much as a single phrase that could be palmed off as a justification for their current policy.

In his speech at Madison Square Garden in New York City, announcing the liquidation of the CPUSA, Browder admitted that he had “no formulas from the classics which give us an answer,” and then added: “We are departing from orthodoxy ...” (Daily Worker, January 13)

On January 16, the editor of the Daily Worker likewise confessed that Browder’s “proposals” were “accompanied by well-defined changes in traditional approach on a number of basic questions.”

Here we have the undisguised and unabashed voice of renegacy. The Stalinists are repeating today the traditional words of their real historical predecessors, the opportunists of the Second International. It was Bernstein and his colleagues, including the Russian Mensheviks, who originally proclaimed that Marxism had been “outdated;” that the time had come to make a few “departures from orthodoxy;” that it was necessary to introduce changes “in a number of basic questions” and so on and so forth.

Lenin, on the other hand, fought mercilessly every attempt to revise Marxism. The proudest boast of Bolshevism was that it remained orthodox, that is, true to the teachings of the founders of scientific socialism. The distinguishing trait of Lenin and the genuine Bolsheviks was their unfaltering adherence to principles.

It is not for nothing that Browder hastens to admonish his faithful flock not to seek guidance in any of “our textbooks.” He means, above all, Lenin. For literally everything that Lenin wrote constitutes a scathing indictment of these latter-day revisionists and traitors. One of the chief assignments of the Stalinists today is to embellish bourgeois “democracy.” During the last war one had to look in the Social Democratic press for the most optimistic estimates of the future of capitalism; nowadays one finds the rosiest perspectives for this utterly decayed system in the speeches and writings of the Stalinists.

LENIN’S TEACHINGS ON BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY During the last imperialist slaughter Lenin warned incessantly that the decay of the capitalist system could lead only to the ascendancy of blackest reaction unless the workers intervened with their socialist solution. Thus, in 1916 he wrote:

“The difference between the republican-democratic and the monarchist-reactionary imperialist bourgeoisie is obliterated precisely because both are rotting alive.” (Collected Works, English Edition, vol.XIX, p.338)

Lenin taught the workers:

“Not a single fundamental democratic demand can be achieved to any considerable extent, or any degree of permanency, in the advanced imperialist states, except by revolutionary battles under the banner of socialism.” (Idem, p.67.)

In this same period he wrote:

“Capitalism in general, imperialism in particular, transforms democracy into an illusion – and at the same time capitalism generates democratic tendencies among the masses, creates democratic institutions, accentuates the antagonism between imperialism, which repudiates democracy, and the masses which strive toward democracy. Capitalism and imperialism cannot be overthrown through any reforms – not even the most ‘ideal’ democratic reforms – but through an economic overthrow.” (The Hoover Library: The Bolsheviks and the World War, p.226)

Any number of similar quotations can be adduced. These basic ideas of Lenin on the class nature and bankruptcy of bourgeois democracy were later incorporated in the theses and resolutions of the first four World Congresses of the Communist International. The entire course of events has borne out their correctness.

Twenty years had to pass since Lenin’s death before even the Stalinists dared to proclaim that the socialist solution for which Lenin fought all his life and which he brought to realization in Czarist Russia in October 1917 is nothing but “a puerile dream-world” (Browder, Sunday Worker, January 16); “a form of escapism” (Allen, Daily Worker, January 17), etc. etc.

With a contempt for the masses that typifies all the hirelings of the Kremlin, Browder tries to cover up his abject renunciation of socialism by the “realistic” plea that the Communist Party is much too small, and besides the American people are “so ill-prepared subjectively for any deep-going changes in the direction of socialism.” (Sunday Worker, January 16)

In this field too Browder follows a beaten track. Every misleader of the working class has employed this argument. Every supporter of capitalism is convinced, like Browder, that a real revolution is beyond the realms of possibility.

EARL BROWDER AND PROFESSOR STRUVE Suffice it to cite one example from Russian history, namely the case of Professor Peter Struve. Like Browder, this individual began his political career by passing himself off as a Marxist. He was even the author of the first Manifesto issued by the illegal socialist party in Czarist Russia to which Lenin belonged. Struve quickly found it expedient to disavow Marxist orthodoxy; in fact, he disavowed Marxism altogether. On the very eve of the 1905 revolution this Russian Professor declared: “There is not yet a revolutionary people in Russia.” Struve could have cited – and did cite – far weightier arguments in support of his “realistic” estimate than are at Browder’s disposal when he advances as his “considered judgment” that – alas! – there is not yet a revolutionary people in the United States. For Russia of Struve’s day was an illiterate peasant country without any traditions of revolutionary struggle; the Russian proletariat formed a tiny minority of the population; the Russian party was pathetically small.

“Prior to January 22, 1905,” wrote Lenin, “the revolutionary party of Russia consisted of a small handful of people – and the reformists of those days (like the reformists of today) derisively called us a ‘sect’ ... This circumstance gave the narrow-minded and overbearing reformists formal justification for asserting that there was not yet a revolutionary people in Russia.” (Collected Works, vol.XIX, p.389)

In 1944 Browder repeats almost verbatim Struve’s “formal justification” of 1905. It has hardly improved with age, but Browder labels it “Marxism.”

THE ARGUMENT FROM TEHERAN In order to peddle this ancient garbage of reformism, the Stalinists produce their trump argument: The Teheran conference alters everything and, therefore, we too must alter with it. In particular, Teheran, according to Browder, has finally established that “capitalism and socialism have begun to find the way to peaceful co-existence and collaboration in the same world.” (Sunday Worker, January 16.)

There is nothing especially original about this thesis either. Stalin propounded it back in 1924 when he advanced his theory of “socialism in one country.” At the basis of this “theory” is the contention that the socialist and capitalist systems could co-exist peacefully. However, the real originator of this theory is not Stalin at all but a right wing German socialist by the name of Vollmar who in 1878 wrote an article to prove that:

“... The final victory of socialism is not only historically more likely primarily in a single state, but that nothing stands in the road of the existence and prosperity of the isolated Socialist state.” (The Isolated Socialist State, by von G. Vollmar, Jahrbuch für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, Zurich 1879, p.55)

Since 1924 the Kremlin and all its lackeys have reiterated on numerous occasions that socialism had “irrevocably triumphed” in the Soviet Union and that it could co-exist peacefully alongside capitalism.

After the signing of the Stalin-Laval pact (May 1935), Stalin proclaimed in an interview with Roy Howard that not only could the USSR abide in peace with capitalism, but that the capitalists themselves – the peace loving variety, of course – could band together to do away with war forever.

Stalin’s entry into the League of Nations was trumpeted at the time as inaugurating a new era of peace on earth. The Stalinists betrayed the Spanish revolution and committed innumerable crimes for the sake of preserving this “peaceful collaboration” which ended up in – Munich (September 1938).

Stalin then preceded to cohabit with Hitler (Stalin-Hitler pact, August 1939). At the end of June 1941 Stalin’s new found ally invaded the Soviet Union.

Such is the record of the peaceful co-existence between capitalism and the first workers’ state in its degenerate form under Stalin. 

BROWDER BLURTS OUT TRUTH ABOUT TEHERAN Whether by accident or design, Browder did tell some truth about Teheran. In point of fact he substantiated that in order to arrive at an agreement with Churchill and Roosevelt Stalin pledged himself to try to drown the German revolution in blood. Said Browder:

“British and American ruling circles had to be convinced that their joint war together with the Soviet Union against Hitlerism would not result in the Soviet socialist system being extended to Western Europe under the stimulus of the victorious Red Armies.” (Sunday Worker, January 16)

There can be no doubt as to the meaning of these words. Western Europe includes, above all, Germany. If Browder is correct that the British and American capitalists are now finally “convinced,” then it can only be because Stalin supplied them with sufficiently “convincing” guarantees along with his seal and signature.

Moreover, it must be conceded that there is a grain of truth in Browder’s insistence that the explanation for the dissolution of the American Communist Party is actually to be found in Teheran. For many years Stalin has used the world labor movement as so much small change in his diplomatic deals with both the “democratic” and fascist capitalists. The belated burial of the Communist International in May 1943 and now the liquidation of the CPUSA are apparently part of the price the Kremlin has agreed to pay for its deal with Washington and London. And the Stalinist movement has so degenerated its followers that they unquestioningly accept anything and everything the moment the order is issued in Moscow.

President Roosevelt’s Open Turn to Reaction

THE REFUSAL OF THE WORKERS TO SUBMIT The lessons of the coal strikes, in which the miners emerged victorious in a showdown fight with the Roosevelt Administration have penetrated deep into the consciousness of the American working class. The hypnosis that organized labor could not successfully challenge the powerful apparatus of the federal government has been largely dispelled. Less than two months after the fourth mine strike, the railroad workers voted by an overwhelming majority to set a December30 strike date in protest against the arbitrary action of Roosevelt’s economic stabilizer, Vinson, who had scaled down a wage award granted by a railway mediation board. On Christmas eve began the walkout of the steelworkers in protest against the refusal of Roosevelt’s War Labor Board to grant a retroactive clause dating from the termination of their agreement. Both of these conflicts were aimed directly at the government. Thus, on the heels of his settlement of the troublesome mine issue, Roosevelt found himself confronting a new and far greater labor crisis that threatened his whole wage freezing “stabilization” program.

A labor reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, commenting on the walkout of the steel workers, indicated the gravity of the developing crisis:

“The strike now ending is only a curtain-raiser to the head-on collision expected when the actual demands of the steel workers come to the WLB. Right behind the steel workers and equally pledged to break the (Little Steel) wage formula are the United Auto Workers of America who are heading for showdowns with General Motors and Ford; the Aluminum workers of America, who are demanding increases of the Aluminum Company of America; the Oil Workers International Union, which is preparing to take on the entire petroleum industry; the textile workers, likewise tackling a whole industry; the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, which is taking on the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, and many other CIO unions in various industries.”

These unions comprise the backbone of the CIO concentrated in the strategic mass production industries of the country. The union leadership, although composed of docile lackeys committed to the support of Roosevelt, are under sufficiently heavy pressure from the ranks to be goaded into demanding some concessions in order to be able to hold their membership in line. But the rulers of this country, with their headquarters in Wall St. and their agents in Washington are not only unwilling to grant any concessions to the workers, they are determined to retake those gains which the unions had previously won. All the elements of a new labor crisis are already boiling to the surface.

*  *  *  *

US STEEL HEADS OPEN SHOP DRIVE The policy of the dominant section of the American capitalist class, the most arrogant ruling class in history, was recently summed up by Benjamin F. Fairless, president of the United Steel Corporation. In a speech before the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce Fairleee informed his cronies:

“Gentlemen, our conviction is as firm today as it ever was that the right to work should not be dependent upon membership or non-membership in any organization.” (New York Times, January 21.)

This is the classic formula of the open shop under which the billion dollar corporations prevented unionization of the basic mass production industries for many years by employing gangs of armed thugs to terrorize the workers. Some of the bloodiest battles in the history of the world trade union movement were waged over the elementary question of union recognition. The war has provided Wall St. with a convenient cover under which to wage its campaign for the return of the open shop.

LABOR OFFICIALS AND THEIR ROLE It is precisely the role of the labor bureaucracy that has cleared the way for the mounting wave of reaction which now threatens the very existence of the unions. The mechanics of capitalist class rule and the role of the trade union bureaucrats in the epoch of imperialism were analyzed in the Manifesto of the Fourth International on the Imperialist War and the Proletarian Revolution:

“While the magnates of monopoly capitalism stand above the official organs of state power, controlling them from their heights, the opportunist trade union leaders scurry around the footstool of state Power, creating support for it among the working masses.”

For over ten years, the labor skates have carefully nurtured the legend of “labor’s friend” in the White House. The Greens, Murrays and Hillmans, screened Roosevelt’s responsibility for a whole series of anti-labor measures by directing their vapid criticism at the President’s hirelings. When Roosevelt found that his prestige had suffered irreparable damage after he had been forced out in the open by the coal miners and railroad workers – he discarded his mask and took the initiative in advocating repressive labor legislation. He was able to contemptuously ignore the spineless labor bureaucrats, knowing that they are organically incapable of breaking with their capitalistic masters.

*  *  *  *

THE DRIFT AWAY FROM ROOSEVELT As the workers became more and more disillusioned with Roosevelt’s demagogic promises they began to grope toward independent class action on both economic and political field. The adoption by a number of important unions of the demand for an escalator clause in their contracts signified a radical departure from the wage freezing policy of the administration. The unmistakable labor drift away from Roosevelt was evident in the recent elections. Sentiment for the formation of an Independent Labor Party was crystallizing in a number of important sections of the labor movement.

In order to divert this sentiment for independent political action into surreptitiou support for Roosevelt, Hillman and Co. organized the CIO Political Action Committee. So low had Roosevelt’s prestige fallen among the ranks of labor and so great was the sentiment for independent political action among a Powerful section of the CIO that the labor fakers had to pretend:

  1. That no candidate would be endorsed who did not support the program of the CIO Political Action Committee; and
  2. that the device of refraining from giving one or another capitalist politician endorsement in advance constituted independent political action by labor.

*  *  *  *

THE INEVITABLE RADICALIZATION As Roosevelt’s swing to reaction becomes more pronounced the gap between the bureaucrats hanging to his coat tails and the militant membership of the mass production unions will widen into an unbridgeable gulf. The die-hard monopolists are bent on crushing the unions. The drive of reaction will inevitably speed the radicalization of the American working class. This in turn will impel the labor bureaucrats to lean more and more on the repressive machinery of the capitalist state. The Manifesto of the Fourth International analyzes this process:

“The regime in the unions, following the pattern of the regime of the bourgeois states, is becoming more and more authoritarian. In war time the trade union bureaucracy becomes the military police of the Army’s General Staff in the working class.”

While the process of bureaucratization has proceeded to a greater or less degree in all the unions it has by no means been uniform or complete. A number of powerful CIO unions still retain a considerable degree of democracy due primarily to the militant tradition of the membership and the experience gained in the struggles to build the union. This is the Achilles heel of both the labor bureaucracy and their “friend” in the White House.

Top of page

Main FI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Trotskism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

Last updated on 12.9.2008