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Fourth International, June 1945


The Editors

Review of the Month

American Stalinists Execute a New Shift in Line – International Implications of the Turn – Main World Antagonism Today: USSR v. USA


From Fourth International, vol.6 No.6, June 1945, pp.163-166.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.


American Stalinists to Execute a New Shift in Line

ANOTHER TURN IN THE MAKING The Stalinist parties throughout the world are executing still another change in their political line. The stalking horse for this change is the Stalinist movement in the United States. The signal for it came from abroad when Jacques Duclos, one of the leaders of the French Communist Party, wrote an article in April, criticizing “Browder and his followers” for having introduced “a notorious revision of Marxism” into the policies of the American organization. After a delay of several weeks, Duclos’ article was published in The Daily Worker on May 24. The signal for the new turn thus coincided with the first anniversary of the dissolution of the Communist Party of the United States and the formation of the “American Communist Political Association” on May 20, 1944.

The charge that the American Stalinists have been guilty of revising Marxism, that is, of betraying the American and world working class is of course irrefutable. The novelty consists solely in the fact that it comes from one of the prominent figures in the international Stalinist apparatus. But on the lips of Duclos it is deliberate deception, designed to cover up the full scope of Stalinist perfidy – both in Europe and America – and to serve as a smokescreen for a shift in policy which prepares other and no less monstrous betrayals.

In his “criticism” Duclos confines himself primarily to two points. One is the “dissolution” of the American party; and the other – Browder’s “postwar perspective” expressed “in the concept of a long term class peace in the US, of the possibility of the suppression of the class struggle in the postwar period and of the establishment of harmony between labor and capital.”

DUCLOS’ ‘MARXISM’ It is noteworthy that in his entire lengthy document Duclos doesn’t condemn by a single word the wartime policy of the American Stalinists which was based on the “concept” of class peace for the duration, on the policy of suppressing the class struggle in wartime and of preaching and practicing “harmony” between labor and capital.” If Browder and his followers are guilty – as they are of “notorious revision of Marxism” by preaching such doctrines for the postwar period, it follows that they were no less guilty in following an identical policy in wartime. In 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War Lenin wrote: “Propaganda of class struggle even in the midst of war is the duty of a Socialist.” This is a cardinal principle of Leninism. Lenin taught that those who mouth Marxist phrases in peacetime only to suspend the class struggle in wartime, when all the social contradictions become most intensified, are traitors to the working class. Why then does Duclos refrain from condemning Browder’s war policy? Why does he instead actually approve it?

Because – as it is not at all difficult to show – the Stalinists in the United States have followed basically the same wartime policy as the Stalinists in France, Great Britain and elsewhere. Moreover, up to now their “postwar perspectives” have been essentially the same. Thus Thorez, Duclos’ colleague and the chief of the French Stalinists, enunciated in January of this year at Ivry a postwar policy for France identical in all its main essentials with Browder’s line in this country. Thorez, like Browder, called for the preservation of “national unity.” If Browder extended the hand of solidarity to J.P. Morgan, then Thorez called for collaboration with reactionary Petainist officers, “worthy officers, including those who let themselves be misused for a certain time by Petain and who only ask to rehabilitate themselves and to do their whole duty to France.”

As a matter of fact, the French Stalinists still continue not only to support the de Gaulle government but to function as Ministers in its cabinet. In Italy, the Stalinist Togliatti as vice-Premier, still props up the puppet government of Bonomi, under the regency of Prince Humbert. In Belgium, the Stalinists serve on the dictatorial Van Acker government which has just outlawed all strikes. In England, as late as February of this year, the Stalinists kept painting up the Tories as a loyal detachment of the “progressive” and “anti-fascist” forces, and demanded the continuation of the coalition government, under the postwar formula of a “Labor and Progressive Government.”

WHAT STALIN DISSOLVED The brazen pretense that Browder’s policy differed – in principle – from the line of the Stalinists elsewhere can be exposed even in those instances which Duclos singles out for “criticism.” Duclos takes Browder to task for “dissolving” the American Communist Party. This presumably is a “revision of Marxism.” But Duclos forgets to mention a far more sensational move made by the Stalinists, namely the disbanding of the Third International by order of the Kremlin. This was done in May 1943 and it was unanimously accepted by all the Stalinist sections. Browder’s action flowed logically from the action of Stalin. It supplemented and is inseparable from the latter. To accept the one while rejecting the other is to strain at a gnat while swallowing a camel. Duclos suppresses any reference to the dissolution of the Comintern, because, as the whole world knows, Stalin bears the responsibility for it.

So far as Browder’s “postwar perspective” is concerned the situation is much the same. The real author of this perspective, too, is the Marshal in the Kremlin. He enunciated it, in collaboration with Roosevelt and Churchill at Teheran; and re-affirmed it at the Crimea Conference. It was at Teheran and Yalta that Stalin promised a postwar world of peace, harmony and prosperity, and pledged to “assist the peoples ... to solve by democratic means their pressing political and economic problems ... rebuilding of national economic life ... relief of distressed peoples.” And so forth and so on. Browder simply dotted all the “i’s” and crossed all the “t’s” in applying Stalin’s formula to the United States, just as did Thorez-Duclos in France, and their confreres in England.

‘SOCIALISM IN ONE COUNTRY’ As a matter of fact Stalin did not suddenly conceive at Teheran or Yalta this perspective of peaceful and harmonious collaboration with capitalism. Stalinism has based itself from the very beginning on the possibility of the peaceful coexistence of the Soviet Union and the capitalist world. This was the gist of the theory of “socialism in one country” promulgated by Stalin in the autumn of 1924. At that stage it was eminently proper to speak, as Leon Trotsky did, of a revision of the Marxist-Leninist theory. At that time Trotsky warned that from the new doctrine, there can and must follow (notwithstanding all pompous declarations in the draft program) a collaborationist policy towards the foreign bourgeoisie with the object of averting intervention as this will guarantee the construction of socialism, that is to say, will solve the main historical question. The task of the parties in the Comintern assumes, therefore, an auxiliary character; their mission is to protect the USSR from intervention and not to fight for the conquest of power. It is, of course, not a question of subjective intentions but of the objective logic of political thought. (Leon Trotsky, Third International After Lenin, p.61.)

In the years that elapsed, Stalinism, which began with revision in the sphere of Marxist theory, has passed inexorably to conscious betrayals of the world working class. Today “revision” is hardly a fitting designation for the Stalinist record of perfidies, crimes, rapacity, oppression and bloody vengefulness.

Before dealing with the true reasons for the latest Stalinist turn, let us briefly review the manner in which the American Stalinists have executed its initial phase. The official document, promulgating the change in line, is entitled “The Present Situation and Next Tasks” and was made public in the Daily Worker, June 4. It hews closely to the Duclos “criticism,” reproducing point by point the deliberate deception practised by the latter.

STALINIST DOUBLE-TALK The American Stalinist leaders now publicly confess to a “revision of Marxist-Leninist theory.” But like Duclos, they cynically pretend that this revision is purely an American product, and, furthermore, limited strictly to “erroneous” postwar perspectives. The glorious economic vistas for American capitalism which the Daily Worker has been consistently boosting to its gullible readers are henceforth branded as “utopian.” But in the same breath, the resolution of the National Board, CPA, smuggles these perspectives in again by proclaiming that

It is imperative that the American people resolutely support every effort of the Truman Administration to carry forward Roosevelt’s program for victory, peace, democracy and 60 million jobs.

The Stalinist leaders now reassure their followers that they have rediscovered the true “class nature of finance capital” and even “the class nature of bourgeois democracy.” But while they have as yet drawn no conclusions about bourgeois democracy, these same “leaders” swear that they will not underwrite the “postwar aims of the trusts and cartels which seek imperialist aggrandizement and huge profits at the expense of the people.” But these shameless swindlers, who did underwrite the war aims of these same imperialist brigands and profiteers, still shout, like the French and British Stalinists, for the preservation of national unity, which they now label as “the democratic unity of the nation.” They still refuse to call for the revocation of the no-strike pledge. On the contrary, for the benefit of all the trusts and cartels, they demand that the workers:

Continue uninterrupted war production and uphold labor’s no-strike pledge for the duration.

They still refuse to call for the immediate launching of the Independent Labor Party, although they now assert that:

... it is essential that the working-class – especially the progressive labor movement and the Communists – strengthen its independent role and activities and display far greater political and organizing initiative

SUDDEN NEED OF SCAPEGOATS In short, from the standpoint of revolutionary policy no fundamental change whatever has occurred in the Stalinist line. It remains what it has always been – counter-revolutionary to the core. What is taking place is a change in the tactics of the Stalinists. The importance that the Kremlin attaches to this shift can be gauged by the fact that for the first time since 1929 when the Brandler-Lovestone right wing was expelled from the Communist International, the Stalinists have found it necessary to acknowledge revisionist tendencies in their own ranks and to seek for scapegoats. In his article, Duclos placed the responsibility for revisionism on “Browder and his followers.” While neither Browder nor any of his “followers” is mentioned by name in the resolution of the National Board, CPA, an unprecedented step was taken in making public the vote by which this document was adopted. This vote shows that almost all of Browder’s “followers,” including Robert Minor, were permitted to cast their ballot for this resolution. The only one recorded against is – Earl Browder. There was also one abstention (Roy Hudson); and one absentee (William Schneiderman). Apparently, Browder is the scapegoat.

Furthermore, the text of the adopted resolution contains the following tell-tale clause:

We must establish genuine inner-democracy and self-criticism throughout our organization. We must refresh and strengthen the personnel of all responsible leading committees in the Association.

The meaning is plain enough. The world is now told that under Browder’s regime there was “no genuine inner-democracy and self-criticism.” Otherwise, why would it be necessary first to “establish” it? As anyone who is in the least acquainted with the Stalinist movement knows, this “democratic” formula is the classic formula for a purge – or in the language of the resolution, a “refreshing” of “all responsible leading committees.”

The fundamental reasons for the change of the Stalinist line as well as its future evolution must be sought not on the national but the international plane. In other words, the key lies in the objective situation, the existing relationship of forces on the world arena, the role and position of the Kremlin in relation to the imperialist encirclement.

UNILATERAL MANEUVERS The policies of the Stalinist parties everywhere are invariable determined by the Kremlin’s foreign policy. The latter policy, in turn, serves one aim and one aim only: the preservation of the rule of the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. From its inception Stalin’s foreign policy has consisted in maneuvering between the rival imperialist camps, and using the various Stalinist parties as pawns on the diplomatic chessboard.

There has been a whole series of such maneuvers. And in each previous maneuver, the turns have been unilateral in character. That is to say, the Kremlin played the role of satellite of either the imperialist “democracies” or of Berlin and Rome, the Fascist “axis.”

Thus the rise of Nazism to power led to a five year period of “alliance with the democracies,“ “People’s Fronts,” “Collective Security.” The aim of Stalin’s policy at that time was the establishment of an “anti-fascist coalition” and the organization of a preventive war against the “fascist aggressors.”

This meant in practice a capitulation to the imperialist “democracies” (Stalin-Laval Pact, “non-aggression pacts” with Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, etc., entry into the League of Nations). In that period Stalinism exerted tremendous influence on the popular masses of Europe, disorienting and demoralizing them. By this policy the Kremlin betrayed the revolutionary offensive of the French masses in 1936; prepared the defeat of the “Loyalist” government in the Spanish Civil War and the crushing of the Spanish revolution, thus paving the way for the outbreak of World War II. Far from achieving “collective security,” as Stalin so fondly hoped, his policy led to the imperialist Four Power Pact of Munich (1938).

When the war, which Stalin had in this way facilitated, drew nigh, the “Father of the Peoples” – to escape entanglement in the war – immediately jumped over into the camp of the “fascist aggressors.” With the signing of the Stalin-Hitler pact, the Kremlin became the satellite of Berlin and Rome. As Leon Trotsky pointed out: “Nobody else rendered such support to Hitler as did Stalin.”

THE NEW ERA OF TEHERAN However, the capitulation to the fascist imperialists proved as ineffectual as the previous capitulation to the “democracies.” Even before the Soviet Union was invaded, Stalin was already preparing a shift into the orbit of Anglo-American imperialism. When Hitler attacked in June 1941, the Kremlin immediately executed this about-face. To cement the alliance with Washington and London, Stalin threw overboard the last pretenses of class struggle politics. The Comintern was formally buried, the new era of Teheran was proclaimed and the Stalinist parties in the so-called United Nations cast all restraint aside, with Browder and his followers laying down the policy and setting the pace in the United States.

Today with the crushing of Germany and as a consequence of the unprecedented military successes of the USSR, the century-old balance of power maintained by British imperialism lies completely shattered. A relationship of forces, foreseen by none, least of all by the Kremlin, now exists in the world.

With the inescapable defeat of Japan, the world system as it emerges from the second imperialist slaughter represents on the surface three huge spheres of influence: the British empire, the Soviet Union, the USA. But the overwhelming preponderance of the United States on the one side and the rise of the Soviet Union, on the other, as the dominant power on the European continent, extending its influence to the Far East, have acted in reality to polarize the world relationship of forces. The Soviet Union now stands opposed to the USA which is headed for world domination, with the British empire assigned in advance the role of Wall Street’s junior partner.

This new relationship of forces obviously narrows down greatly the Kremlin’s area for maneuvers. In the entire previous period, the inter-imperialist rivalries played the decisive role in the march of world events. Today, the situation is reversed. The problem of the continued existence of the USSR, as a degenerated workers’ state, now comes’ sharply to the forefront. The main world antagonism of the entire next period is the antagonism between the USSR and the USA.

GREATER NEEDS – NEW OBSTACLES In the face of the existing relationship of forces, the Kremlin now requires much greater territorial guarantees and strategic strongholds than was the case in the past. In accordance with these new needs of the Soviet bureaucracy, Stalin’s task is to “organize” new defensive positions in Europe and Asia. The task of the US imperialists is to “organize” the world, that is, place Europe on rations: portion out segments of the world market among vassal capitalist states, re-establish the world market under its hegemony, and so on. These two tasks are mutually exclusive.

The retention of capitalist property forms in territories under the Stalinist sphere of influence will not and cannot satisfy the Anglo-American imperialists. These areas must be drawn directly into the world capitalist market as a whole. But this runs counter to Stalin’s plans of integrating to one degree or another the capitalist economies on the periphery of the USSR with the country’s nationalized industry. The plan is utopian. Either the nationalized property forms will extend into these areas; or capitalist property forms will be restored in the USSR. Yet the Kremlin has no other solution at present than to attempt to combine the two. The “democratic” imperialists find the existing situation in Europe insufferable. And that is not all. The Kremlin, by its position, is obliged to look for spheres of influence in Asia, too. As Japan collapses, every attempt of Stalin to move forward to meet the onward rush of US imperialism will sharpen and intensify the conflict in the extreme.

It is already manifest that among the biggest lies of the war is the lie of harmonious collaboration between the Kremlin and its allies in Washington and London. The area of conflicts instead of diminishing is constantly expanding. Episodic agreements are possible only if the Kremlin keeps constantly retreating under the pressure of American imperialism. Thus on the international arena the Kremlin faces nothing but a series of crises, each more acute than the one preceding.

It is no secret that we are in the midst of the first of these “postwar” crises. Browder himself undertakes to lecture publicly on The Crisis in the Coalition.

INTOLERABLE CONTRADICTIONS It is this critical situation, flowing from the new world relationship of forces, that has dictated the latest turn, whose first stages we are now witnessing. Caught in intolerable contradictions, Stalinism is seeking to use the masses in all capitalist countries as pawns in its game of power politics. Implicit in the Stalinist turn is the threat to “resume” the class struggle unless the imperialist pressure is lifted and “collaboration” restored.

The Kremlin has resorted to this form of diplomatic blackmail before. In the period of “People’s Fronts,” Stalin played the self-same game in his famous letter to Ivanovich on the “necessity” of the world revolution. The bluff that the Kremlin would resort “to the most terrible measures” is being repeated under entirely different historical conditions.

It is a bluff because no one fears the masses and the unleashing of the revolutionary mass offensive more than the traitors in the Kremlin. In addition to all the factors that operate to divide the “Big Three,” there is one common aim that binds them together: it is their joint conspiracy to avert and if necessary crush the socialist revolution in Europe. The counterrevolutionary record of the Kremlin in the course of the war itself leaves no room for doubts on this score.

By injecting the poison of national-chauvinism, and by its entire policy with regard to Germany, the Kremlin did more than anybody else to prop up Hitler’s regime to the very end. When the Italian masses rose against Mussolini, it was the Kremlin that rushed to the aid of Marshal Badoglio and the House of Savoy. The Red Army was used to suppress the workers and peasants revolution in Bulgaria where the Stalinists acted from the beginning to retain capitalism, just as they did in Rumania, in Yugoslavia and all other occupied territories outside of the borders of the USSR. In Greece, Belgium, France and other countries occupied by the Anglo-American troops, the insurgent masses were disarmed with the direct assistance of the Stalinists. The latest dispatches from Northern Italy are proof that this policy of disarming the workers remains in full force.

RED DANGER FROM BELOW On the other hand, the enormous sharpening of the class struggle and the inextricable position in which the Kremlin finds itself are compelling these gentlemen to play with dynamite. If they play their counter-revolutionary game too openly, they incur the risk of becoming more and more isolated from the revolutionary rank and file. There is already ferment in the ranks of the Stalinist parties in Italy, France, and elsewhere.

It ought not to be forgotten, however, that even bluffs have a logic of their own. The Stalinists are now venturing on a road on which they may find themselves compelled to travel much further than they ever intended, Or more correctly, the mass movements, which they seek to harness for their own rigidly limited and nefarious purposes, can under certain conditions readily sweep over their own heads.

In and of itself the fact that the Soviet Union has borne the full brunt of the struggle against Nazism – and played the decisive role in crushing it – has profound repercussions which will be fully felt only in the days to come. It is profoundly revolutionary in its impact on the consciousness of the masses in Europe and throughout the world.

At the same time the great prestige of the Soviet Union is being usurped by Stalinism and utilized for counter-revolutionary purposes. In this there is a mortal danger to the revolutionary masses in Europe as well as the Soviet Union itself. Stalinism will not lose its prestige automatically. This will be accomplished only by the most audacious, irreconcilable and fierce political struggle. It can be successfully accomplished only in the struggle for the ideas of Trotskyism and under the banner of Trotskyism. This we must demonstrate in action in the next period.

DYNAMICS OF THE REVOLUTION The gratifying thing is that for the first time in more than two decades of the struggle of Trotskyism, the objective conditions, the entire course of historical development, are acting directly in our favor and not against us as in the past. For in the period of the downward curve of the revolution, the proletarian vanguard inescapably suffered the heaviest blows at each turn of events. Each of these sharp turns was determined by defeats of the workers and therefore served to strengthen the forces of reaction, including Stalinism. We have now entered an entirely different historical season. It is our enemies who will suffer the most at each sharp turn in the titanic developments ahead. Our movement, on the contrary, can leap ahead with giant strides, never accomplished before by the revolutionary movement. The primary condition for this is that we act each time to reinforce the blows of the events themselves, intervening to the maximum degree in the revolutionary process and thereby speeding it up enormously.

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