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The New International, August 1945


Notes of the Month

The Upheaval in the Communist Party

From New International, Vol. XI, No. 5, August 1945, pp. 181–187.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The political sensation of the day is the upheaval in the Communist Party, operating under the temporary alias of the Communist Political Association. The theories and policies of Earl Browder, the undisputed leader of the party for a good sixteen years, are being damned with excoriating fury by the very same people who rapturously chanted his praises when he first proclaimed the New Wisdom. His place is taken by William Z. Foster. Foster was suspected for a year and a half at least, derided and spat upon, treated with contumely not only by the bigger party bosses but by the veriest pipsqueak in the officialdom – as these same pipsqueaks now declare in their wrenching supplications folr mercy. He escaped by a miracle the fate of expulsion that befell his colleague, Darcy: Now he has been elevated to the pinnacle amid harrowing groans from bureaucrats whose backs are lacerated from self-inflicted flagellation as merciless and gory as that of the Penitente sect of New Mexico. It is like Easter in Russia: Perish Beelzebub! Foster is risen! Only, instead of kissing each other on the cheek, the enthusiastically repentant bureaucrats fight to embrace the divine posterior to which, yesterday, they applied the contemptuous boot.

The change from one Leader to another is, however, the least important aspect of the upheaval in the party. There are a dozen other aspects of so much greater and more instructive importance that it is hard to decide the one to begin with. As good as any other, perhaps, is the series of public confessions made by all the big and less big party leaders in their scramble for a prominent place on the sinners’ bench.

The Confessions

As an introduction to his report to the party’s (Association’s) National Committee, one of Browder’s closest colleagues of yesterday, Eugene Dennis, declares:

“It is with deep humility that I submit this report on behalf of the National Board ... I realize that I bear a full share of the responsibility for the main errors and mistakes which the National Board of our Communist Political Association has made.”

Whereupon, with a complete abandonment of humility, Dennis proceeds to drive a stiletto into every port of Browder’s hide.

After dumping a chamber pot and, as Heine would say, not an empty one, over Browder’s head (but only after having made dead certain that this head has been officially severed from its shoulders), his very closest colleague of yesterday, the ineffable Robert Minor, declares: “I am among those who must take a substantial share of the fault for many of the errors which are criticized in the first place as comrade Browder’s errors.”

Another sinner with a rapidly, and prudently, acquired humility is the former party secretary, John Williamson, who is not animated in the tiniest degree (who can doubt it?) by the anxious hope of being restored to this post under the new dispensation: “I think comrade Foster is too generous to us,” Yesterday, he was the doormat on which Williamson wiped his feet every morning. Today, he is already “too generous to us.” There is nothing wrong with Williamson’s spine except that it is made of unvulcanized rubber.

“All the rest of us cannot shirk responsibility for the errors that were made ... Each of us – and speaking for myself first of all – must come before the membership with the greatest humility.”

Crowding into the confessional, Gilbert Green announces that “every member of the Board, with the exception of comrade Foster, must bear a share of the responsibility, although not all of equal magnitude. My own share of responsibility I consider particularly great. I did not follow blindly – I was firmly convinced that the main line was correct.” Firmly convinced, that’s putting it with restraint and humility. So firmly convinced was Green (if there are degrees among the Stalinist bureaucrats, this creature is one of the more odious), that, to continue quoting him, “in seeking theoretical justification for our policies, I was one of those who contributed to the further revision of our basic body of Marxist-Leninist principles.” How? “Unable to make the line fit the theory, I began to reshape the theory to fit the line.” What simplicity! What ingenuity!

Another one of the leaders with a “Bolshevik flexibility” (i.e., a clever spinal column), Roy Hudson, insists on showing that he is no mere lackey of the new boss, that he is quite capable of being critical of him, right out in public, too:

“Foster was far too lenient in his criticism of the rest of the National Board members and especially of myself. I feel very deeply the responsibility that I share with the other Board members. for the mistakes made.”

Foster should not imagine for a minute that just because he has been raised to the heights, he can be “lenient” and “generous” with impunity. The serfs will not be silenced. They demand the harsher treatment which is their due, for which they worked so sincerely.

Everyone rushes in to grab his “share of the responsibility” before the stock is completely exhausted: “I, personally, assume a very large share of the guilt which rank opportunism alone can fully explain,” cries Doxey A. Wilkerson. “I do not in my own conscience absolve myself from individual responsibility for the revisionist line,” adds Sam Donchin. “I feel deeply my responsibility as a National Committee member and as a delegate from California to the National Convention which dissolved the Party and formed the C.P.A. for my part in the course we adopted there,” says Carl Winter. “I, must assume my share of responsibility in not sensing that alertness to the danger of bourgeois influences was all the more necessary because of the favorable political factors brought about by the Roosevelt Administration,” insists the party’s theoretician, V.J. Jerome, as if unless he did insist the others would cheat him out of the swiftly-vanishing shares.

“Our self-criticism must not be perfunctory-it must be deep and concrete,” says Morris Childs, who supports the new line with quotations from the same volumes of Lenin from which he dug up distorted quotations a year ago to support the old line. “It must not be a temporary self-chastisement that soon wears off and is forgotten – it must be practised constantly.” A dismaying prospect, even for the attending physician. Surely, the strongest stomach must some day get its fill of this bloody spectacle.

* * *

The analogy between these “confessions” and the “confessions” at the Moscow Trials suggests itself immediately. But the differences between the two are not less important than the similarities.

In both cases, the “guilty” made declarations which they themselves did not and could not possibly believe. In both cases, the declarations were simply made on order from above and according to a prescribed pattern. In both cases, the “defendants” outdid one another in self-debasement, in insistence upon their own depravity and the eminent justice of the court.

In the Moscow Tria1s, however, the defendants were of a different stripe and prompted by different considerations. As revolutionists, they had passed through decades of wars, persecutions, revolutions. Each in his own way and in his own time had had to fight, and suffer from, the poisonous inroads of Stalinist terror. If they perjured themselves, abjured their principles, dragged themselves in the mud-it was not because they sought to save their skins or make a career. They allowed themselves to be persuaded by their executioners that these abominations were needed in the best interests of. socialism, of the “workers’ fatherland” to which, in their sadly distorted way, they owed allegiance. Even those who “confessed” in expectation of mercy, did not have personal position or self in mind, but primarily the possibility of continuing to work quietly and “tactfully” inside “the party” against the Stalinist stranglers of the revolution. That was the sense of their first capitulation to Stalin, of their second and third and fourth. Their “confession” at the trial was only the most shocking and terrible form of capitulation, the culmination of those that had preceded and prepared it. It was unforgivable, but understandable. For all our irreconcilable opposition to what they did, the years bring a growing sympathy with these once heroic figures who were victims not only of Stalin’s butchery but also. of their own tragically misguided devotion to the cause of socialist liberty.

But this American camarilla of avowed lickspittles, cynical prostitutes (if honest prostitutes will excuse the insult), self-labelled bureaucrats, eag-er turncoats and office-lusting wheel-horses – what have they in common with men of the mould of Rakovsky, Kamenev, Bukharin, Pyatakov and the other Russian martyrs? What has the position of the one in common with the position of the other? This sickening aggregation of Minor (ugh!), Green (ugh!), Donchin (ugh!) and Company, down to and including their Reichsprotektor of yesterday and of today – there is not a breath of principle left in them, not an iota of devotion to socialism or to the interests of the working class. They are not naive, uninformed rank-and-filers. They are over-sophisticated and utterly cynical. Every one of them sat by with tongue in cheek, nodding approval of the Stalinist terror, the subjugation of the Russian proletariat, the destruction of the Russian Revolution and its noble ideals, the mass murder of thousands of the greatest and best revulutionists the world ever saw, the gutting of the finest and strongest movement for world emancipation known to history. Every one of them knew better. But all they were and are concerned with is the preservation of the Russian tyranny from which they draw their sustenance and which they dream of establishing here for themselves.

Browder, we note, is still alive. But only because he is not in the hands of the Kremlin Caligulas he served so earnestly. Only because his own party is not in power in the United States! A manner of speaking? No, these statements are meant literally. Listen carefully, but with nostrils pinched tightly together, to Browder’s “comrade,” Morris Childs, as he spoke at the meeting of the Stalinist National Committee:

What was the meaning of the trials against the Trotskyite and Bukharin followers? They reflected the ideology of the bourgeoisie. Where did they acquire this ideology? It came from the remnants, even if they were small, of capitalism or enemy class remnants that still remained in the Soviet Union and from the outside. This is how the C.P.S.U. explained the alien ideology. And even now, at this moment, the C.P.S.U. is carrying on an ideological struggle within its own ranks, constantly cleansing out alien elements and warning those of its members now in other capitalist countries against the danger of bourgeois ideology. Now, many of these things we acquired almost unconsciously, but we are reflecting our surroundings. This is the way this ideology has seeped into our ranks. Our leadership, as I said before, fell victim almost without exception.

Browder, and “our leadership ... almost without exception” fell victim, it appears, to exactly the same ideology that was reflected by the “Trotskyite and Bukharin followers.” That was “the meaning of the trials against” the latter. If the trial of Browder has not ended for him with a G.P.U. pistol-shot at the base of the skull, he owes his thanks not to Foster, Minor, Dennis, Green, Childs and the rest of the scum, but to the fact that Foster is not the Marshal, Minor not the Vyshimsky, Dennis not the Ulrich, and Mike Gold not the Ehrenburg-Zaslavsky of America. They would have no hesitation in “proving” that Browder plotted the destruction of the “socialist fatherland,” that he was financed by Morgan and Hirohito, both of whom dictated the plans to him at a secret conference which did not, however, escape the vigilant eye of any number of easily produced and well-rehearsed witnesses.

It is the simple truth: Browder, though deposed, is a lucky man.

What Questions Are In Dispute

From the violence with which Browder is now being attacked, one might conclude that the dispute in the C.P. involves a number of fundamental questions of principle. Nothing could be further from the truth. To establish this fact it is only necessary to study the three counts in the official indictment of Browder as contained in the article of Jacques Duclos, the French Stalinist, which precipitated the present upheaval Duclos, as Stalin’s stenographer, writes:

1. The course applied under Browder’s leadership ended in practise in liquidation of the independent political party of the working class in the U.S.

2. Despite declarations regarding recognition of the principles of Marxism, one is witnessing a notorious revision of Marxism on the part of Browder and his supporters, a revision which is expressed in the concept of a long-term class peace in the United States, of the possibility of the suppression of the class struggle in the postwar period and of establishment of harmony between labor and capital.

A fraudulent and – given its author, real and presumed – impudent accusation. The Communist Parties throughout the world, the Russian, French and American included, were liquidated, as “the independent political party of the working class” long ago, with the approval of Browder, to be sure, but with the approval of Foster and Duclos as well, and above all, upon the initiative and under the pressure of the Russian Stalinist bureaucracy. The whole history of the rise of Stalinism is the history of the destruction of the worldwide independent Communist movement. As early as 1925, the Chinese Communist Party was liquidated by Stalin, when it was ordered to dissolve into the bourgeois Kuomintang and to proclaim that its program was the same as that of the bourgeoisie (Sun-Yat-Senism). If Browder transformed the Communist Party into the Communist Political Association by decree, without bothering to consult the membership of the party, that is a trifle by the side of the overnight dissolution of the Communist International by a wave of Stalin’s hand. Browder’s dissolution of all C.P. organization in the South during the war is a trifle by the side of Stalin’s dissolution of the whole Communist Party of Poland on the eve of the war. Duclos own party was hired out to the French bourgeoisie like a chattel slave upon the signing of the notorious Stalin-Laval Pact in 1935. In fact, the business of hiring our “Communist” Parties to the bourgeoisie of one country after another has been the common and essential practise of the Stalin regime for years, and continues to this hour. (We say “hiring out” because a price is attached to the transaction, we say “hiring out” as a distinct from a free-and-clear outright property sale, as will be made clear later on.) In a word, as the French say, Browder did not invent his powder.

Quite right. But two important supplements must be added to this indictment. First, the same accusation, when made by us, was abused and shouted down throughout the world Stalinist movement as “Trotskyo-Fascism.” Second, again it is not Browder who invented his powder. He is a mere disciple and, in his own fashion, a faithful one. His theoretical father is Stalin. It is Stalin who, as early as 1924–1925, put forward the theory of a “long-term class peace” between capital and labor, and in a much more fundamental sense than Browder. Stalin spawned the theory of the “peaceful cohabitation of the Soviet Union’” as a workers’ state, with the entire capitalist world, that is, with monopoly capitalism. Forever? No; but as a “long-term” perspective. Inseparably linked with this theory was the still officially sanctified theory of “the construction of socialism in a single country.” And linked in tum with the latter theory was the practise of appeasing the world bourgeoisie, capitulating to it, buying it off from an attack on Russia which would prevent the “construction of socialism in a single country” by paying the price of a “long-term class peace” policy, the liquidation of the revolutionary Communist Parties and their replacement by pliant tools of the Russian Commissariat of Foreign Affairs. Like Stalin, Browder (what’s right is right) also never spoke of permanent class peace. Brit if a long-term peaceful cohabitation of the classes (see Stalin, see Litvinov) was possible on a world scale between the workers’ state (and it was a workers’ state when the theory was first promulgated) and international monopoly capitalism, why should it not also be possible on a national scale, in the United States? It was not and is not possible in either case, to be sure. But the fact remains that in this question Browder is only the amateur and Stalin the professional. Browder is disciple, Stalin is master.

3. By transforming the Teheran declaration of the Allied governments, which is a document of a diplomatic character, into a political platform of class peace in the United States in the postwar period, the American Communists are deforming in a radical way the meaning of the Teheran declaration and are sowing dangerous opportunist illusions which will exercise a negative influence on the American labor movement if they are not met with the necessary reply.

Again, quite right. But who writes this? The servant of the Stalin-Laval Pact of 19351 Didn’t he and the rest of the French Stalinists become the champions of French imperialist militarism after the signing of this Pact, which was also only a “document of a diplomatic character” and when they transformed into a “political platform of class peace” in France? Didn’t Duclos’ colleague, Maurice Thorez, become the champion of strike-breaking in France on the basis of the Pact under the diplomatic formula, “We must know when to end strikes?” Wherein, with regard to any fundamental position, has Browder passed beyond the framework of Stalinist politics?

The indictment made by Duclos does not throw the necessary light on the enigma of the upheaval in the C.P.A. Let us see if more is shed by Foster and the new, overwhelming majority he acquired with such astounding ease.

Browder’s “Revisionism” as Seen by Foster

From Foster, we learn that “Comrade Browder’s revisionism has the same class roots and goes in the same general direction as the traditional revisionism of Social Democracy. The essence of Social Democratic revisionism is the belief that capitalism is fundamentally progressive and that the big bourgeoisie may, therefore, be relied upon to lead the nation to peace and prosperity:’ Foster’s formulation of the “essence of Social Democratic revisionism” is a poor one, but in any case we see what Browder is guilty of. Two weeks later, in another Daily Worker article, Foster charges that Browder has learned nothing “except to hide his bourgeois reformist line under more skillful phrases.” Not social-democratic reformism now, but outright bourgeois reformism. Why? Because of “the fact that Browder has abandoned the concept of a social revolution that culminates eventually in the establishment of Socialism, and instead, believes in a social development leading to a rejuvenated, progressive capitalism that liquidates the need and possibility of Socialism.”

On the surface, that is, judging by the almost unbelievable writings of Browder that Foster cites to good effect, these accusations are amply justified.

Browder proclaimed that:

“Marxists will not help the reactionaries by opposing the slogan of ‘Free Enterprise’ with any form of counter-slogan ... we frankly declare that we are ready to cooperate in making this capitalism work effectively in the postwar. period with the least possible burdens upon the people.”

He wrote that:

“We must find a way to finance, organize and fight this war through to victory, a way which is acceptable to the owning class (industrialists, financiers, bond-owners, with their most important hired men) and at the same time sufficiently effective for a victorious outcome.”

He outlined a program for the expansion of the foreign trade of the United States about which Foster is right in saying:

“The only way that even an approach to achieving this fantastic total (i.e., an export trade of 40 to 50 billion dollars per year) could be made would be for American big business virtually to monopolize the export trade of the whole world. Not even the most blatant exponents of American imperialism have hitherto hazarded such a grandiose plane for realizing American world domination.”

In regulating the development of this foreign trade, wrote Browder, “the government shall go no further in this direction than the capitalists themselves demand.” The bourgeoisie must be allowed to do it “entirely and completely by their own chosen methods.” (The “chosen methods” include super-exploitation, national oppression, the subjugation and assassination of peoples!)

Browder foresaw a post-war doubling of “the buying power of the average consumer.”

“How that shall be done we will not suggest at this time. We look forward to practical suggestions from the capitalists who must find the solution in order to keep their plants operating.”

He insisted that an economic crisis after the war is not inevitable. “It can be avoided by wise, energetic, united leadership which gathers all the available forces for the enforce- ment of correct policies.” Crisis was not inseparably linked with the operation of inexorable economic laws of capitalism; it could be averted, like most ills of capitalism, if only the bourgeoisie was “intelligent” and “progressive” and understood “its own interests.”

It is hard to recall anyone in the old or the modern Social-Democratic movement, even at its right wing, who ever went to such lengths in capitulating ideologically and politically to the capitalist class and capitalist society!

However, it would be a first-class mistake to conclude that, because Foster is so easily able to ridicule the speeches and books of Browder, he himself defends the position of revolutionary Marxism, stands on socialist principle, or has ever come within shouting distance of it. His basic criterion differs in no respect from Browder’s, and that criterion has nothing in common with the interests of the working class and the cause of international socialism. The identity of their criterion is revealed not only in the tactics they supported and continue to support as one man, but also in the tactics and appraisals of the situation on which they differ.

Both of them support the Stalinist bureaucracy in Russia, lock, stock and barrel. That is the starting point.

Both of them supported the imperialist war, which alone is enough to destroy their claim to revolutionary Marxism and socialism. They were the apologists of Hitlerite imperialism when it was to the interests of the Russian bureaucracy to have them play that role – during the Hitler-Stalin pact. They were the apologists of Anglo-American imperialism following the breakdown of the Hitler-Stalin Pact. They were both for openly abandoning the class struggle in the interests of the capitalist class – in the higher interests of the reactionary ruling class of Russia. Foster pretends to protest indignantly against the brutal, blatant way Browder formulated his subordination and justified it. But “national unity,” in a country like the United States especially, means and cannot but mean the subordination of the working class to the class interests of monopoly capital and capitalist imperialism. This is an ABC of Lenin’s teachings that has been confirmed once more in the course of the present war. Both Browder and Foster supported, and called upon the proletariat to support, the Roosevelt administration, that is, the government of the capitalist class, the spokesman of American imperialism. Even now Foster writes that “our general wartime policy of supporting the Roosevelt Administration was correct.” Support of the capitalist-imperialist government in peacetime, let alone wartime, is nothing short of treason to socialism and the working class, according to all the writings of Lenin whom the Stalinists have the all-time-high impudence to cite as their teacher. Foster’s only criticism of Browder on this score is that the latter made it difficult, by dealing with “the two major parties almost in a tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum manner,” to “go all-out for a continuation of the Roosevelt policies, as the only way to support effectively the Teheran decisions, both in their national and international implications.” He complains, further, about the failure “to demand that organized labor be admitted into the Roosevelt Government on a coalition basis.” In other words, he complains that Browder did not follow a consistently class-collaborationist policy which, as everyone familiar with the course of the truly social-democratic revisionists knows, aims precisely at a coalition government of workers (playing the role of captive) and “progressive capitalists” (playing the role of captor).

The similarity in position is further demonstrated by the long program of slogans and demands that the new leadership has finally worked out (the fourth draft!) in its official resolution on The Present Situation and the Next Tasks. Presumably, it is calculated to show how the Fosterites have checked the “bourgeois reformism” and the “social-democratic revisionism” of Browder. For all the “radical” verbiage of sections of the resolution (“We believe that socialism alone can finally abolish the social evils of capitalist society, including economic insecurity and the danger of fascism and war. But ...”) - it is not a working-class program of class struggle, but a program which does not go beyond the framework of middle-class liberalism.

It favors “uninterrupted war production and (upholding) labor’s no-strike pledge for the duration.” (It also says, “Stop employer provocation,” but carefully refrains from saying how, except by means of mesmerism, perhaps, this is to be accomplished.) It favors winning the war; American-Soviet friendship; the San Francisco Charter; national independence to Puerto Rico (not Poland); a shorter work week (“except where this would hamper war production”); the right to work; the right to organize, bargain collectively and strike (but not the exercise of the right to strike); democracy in the army; etc., etc. It is against Franco; against Hoover; against the war criminals (only in Axis countries, and only those Axis war criminals who are not on Stalin’s side, like German, Rumanian and Bulgarian generals and fascists); against war-profiteers; against Jim Crow; etc., etc.

But as to how this program is to be realized – not a syllable! Where the Fosterites have the opportunity to present a course of working-class action which could draw the small farmers and even lower middle-class elements into supporting the working class – they have less to say than Browder. Where they say more, they are more preposterous than the “revisionist” they condemn. Where Browder proposed capitulation to the monopolies – which is reactionary but, alas, quite realizable – they propose to “prosecute all violations of the anti-trust laws” – which ‘is no less reactionary but, in addition, a thoroughly middle-class utopia. Back to Teddy Roosevelt! Back to William Jennings Bryan! Back to trust-bustingl No wonder Browder laughs himself sick in the Daily Worker:

“Thus does all the furious outcry against the monopolies in the course of our current discussion come to the climax of a return to the Sherman anti-trust law!!! Did ever a revision of Marxism more quickly demonstrate its bankruptcy? But that is the logical culmination of comrade Foster’s peculiar brand of revisionism.”

The “new” program nowhere calls for independent class action of the workers, not even for the formation of an independent labor party. The program speaks only of “curbing the powers” of the monopolies and trusts; but does not put forward the working-class demand of nationalization of the monopolies and banks under workers’ control. The program does not speak anywhere of a workers’ government. That is why, except for the trust-busting plank and the failure to provide American imperialism with a scheme for expanding its foreign trade, Browder is able to declare his hearty agreement with the “new” program.

The differences between Foster and Browder, as set forth up to now, are of such an inconsequential character that they still do not explain the sudden upheaval and the violence of the fight. For the real explanation, we must look elsewhere.

The Key to the Fight in the Stalinist Party

The key to the fight is to be found in. a modest, quiet, almost casual sentence of the article by Jacques Duclos, a sentence which seems to hang in the air, to serve merely as a link between two quotations, to have no direct bearing on the question. Yet it is of such decisive importance that everything else in Duclos’ article is superfluous, decorative at most. The sentence reads:

The Teheran agreements mean to Earl Browder that the greatest part of Europe, west of the Soviet Union, will probably be reconstituted on a bourgeois-democratic basis and not on a fascist-capitalist or Soviet basis.

Properly analyzed, everything in the fight between Browder and Foster flows from what “the Teheran agreements mean to Earl Browder.”

Browder and Foster and Duclos and every other Stalinist leader have but one decisive criterion in politics, domestic and foreign: whatever serves or seems to serve the interests of the Kremlin bureaucracy is good, and everything must be subordinated to these interests. On this score there is not and cannot be any difference of opinion in the ranks of the international Stalinist bureaucracy. But Browder (and in this he was not alone) underestimated the strength and the ambitions of Stalinist imperialism. Therein lies his misfortune and his fall from grace.

Hitler’s attack upon Russia threw the Stalinists into a panic. In spite of all their big talk about Russia’s “invincibility,” they knew that the regime hung by a hair. The Russian alliance with British and American imperialism, especially with, the latter, came as a life-saver. To keep this alliance as intact as possible, the Stalinist parties were hired out by Moscow as indentured servants of Allied capitallsm. In effect, the Stalinist parties said to the British arid American imperialists:

“Help Russia! Open a second front! Send arms, munitions, food! In exchange, we offer you our services and they will not be negligible. If you help Russia, we will take care of your working class to the best of our ability. We will gag and blind and curb it. We crush strikes without mercy. We will will harness the labor movement to the military machine. We will see to it that labor makes no firm demands upon capital. We will see to it that work is and remains uninterrupted. We will guarantee you an uninterrupted flow of blood profit. We will hound, frame-up, and drive out [of] the labor movement all militant workers and revolutionary socialists – that, after all, is in our common interests. We will support your Churchill and your Roosevelt, even if it means the most humiliating servility. If you help Russia, we will take care of your colonial problems, too. We will break up nationalist demonstrations in India. We will tell the Puerto Ricans, ‘Not now!’ We will keep the American Negroes in check as well as we can under your Jim-Crow regime. No No boot will be too dirty for us to lick. Anything, everything – but help Stalin.”

That was the Stalinist line. Nobody carried it out more faithfully, more zealously, with more ingenuity and thoroughness than Earl Browder. But there is no gratitude in politics, least of all in the Stalinist variety. Browder made the mistake of thinking that the line would have to be carried out with the same intensity in the post-war period as well. He obviously misjudged the coming relationship of forces. He thought that Russia would be exhausted at the end of the war, without reflecting on the fact that the capitalist world Stalinist would not bureaucracy be fresh and would vigorous need either. the aid He and thought tolerance that the of the capitalist world to as great or greater an extent than it needed it in the early days of the war, when Browder and his cohorts everywhere were sobbing hysterically for the “second front” and offering to sell themselves thrice over in exchange for it. He thought that Russia would emerge from the war pretty much the way it entered, with the addition of a tiny bit of Baltic and Balkan territory at the most, while the rest of the world would come under the undisputed domination of Anglo-American imperialism. In that case, concluded Browder, it would be necessary to continue for a long period to offer American capitalism the humble, self-abnegating services of the Stalinist party in exchange for the same aid and tolerance in the postwar period that it showed during the war.

Browder did not foresee the actual post-war relationship of forces. Stalinist Russia has emerged as the second power in the world – not so much because of its inherent strength as because of the enormous, unprecedented weakening, even collapse, of every capitalist power but the American. For a variety of reasons (which have been treated on other occasions), Russia is in a stronger bargaining position in world politics than that country has been, regardless of the regime of the time, for centuries. It needs aid, tolerance, peace and stability and needs them badly. But except for the United States, the capitalist states all over the world need these things to at least the same acute degree, if not to a higher one. It needs aid, especially from the United States. But it is in a position to do more demanding than begging, to take without asking more than it once thought it could get by asking with hat in hand.

But see how Browder describes “the essence of the position which I have put forward”:

There is a real possibility of achieving the long-time stable peace in a world which includes both capitalist and socialist nations precisely because the capitalist nations can realize a profit through it, and because this profit is greater than they can hope to realize through any alternative policy.

Translated, this says: If we Stalinists in the United States do our utmost to guarantee monopoly capitalism high profits, Russia is safe – we will buy a “long-time stable peace” for Stalin by continuing to hire out to American imperialism at cheap rates.

What Duclos called to the attention of Browder and his deifiers of yesterday was precisely the fact that it is no longer necessary to hire out at such rates. The trouble with Browder was that he thought “the greatest part of Europe, west of the Soviet Union, will probably be reconstituted on a bourgeois-democratic basis and not on a fascist-capitalist or Soviet basis.” Translated, this says: Browder did not see that the greatest part of Europe, west of Russia would be “reconstituted” under the domination of Russia, and that a considerable part of it would be completely incorporated, openly and covertly, directly and indirectly, into the Stalinist regime itself.

That is what Dennis, for example, who has caught on to Duclos’ point, means when he says:

“We cannot agree that the only alternative to Browder’s concept of the Grand Alliance is chaos, anarchy and the end of civilization. Browder has not yet drawn all the necessary conclusions from this war of national liberation in which there has emerged a stronger and more influential Soviet Union, a new and democratic Europe and a stronger world labor movement ... [which have] already created an entirely new relationship of world forces, irrevocably strengthening the cause of world democracy [read: Stalinism] and national freedom [read: Stalinist imperialism].”

He is not an idiot, this Dennis; put a fist in his eye and, one-two-three, he sees everything clearly.

Who wielded this fist which was big enough to take care not only of Dennis’ eye but of everyone else’s? Duclos? That, to repeat a favorite phrase of the man behind Duclos, is enough to make a cat laugh. Duclos is a nobody, even more of a nobody than Browder. He could no more get the entire leadership of the American C.P. to jump out of its skin the way it did than Foster, in his time, could get it even to listen to him. One rank-and-filer writes bewilderedly in the Daily Worker: “To see everyone on the Board arrayed against Browder so soon after Duclos’ article seemed rather automatic.” Seemed automatic – and was! This wretched, rotten bureaucratic crew went along with Browder in the first place not because they were persuaded by a single one of his arguments, but only because they believed that he was talking for Stalin. They were wrong, at least to a certain extent. Browder followed the Stalin line, but he was fool or vain enough to “initiate” a few “improvements” on it. The same crew that followed him threw him into the garbage can only because they know that Duclos is one of the authentic pseudonyms of Stalin, that he could not and did not write the article by himself (if he wrote it at all), that the auspices of the article were such as made clear to every well-trained Stalinist that he must jump or be jumped upon. The choice was never in doubt.

That hundreds of rank-and-file worker-militants of the C.P. welcome the “change” for what they think it is, goes without saying. These are the union militants who did not leave the party in disgust, as thousands did, but did writhe under the humiliating political prostitution to capital into which Browder forced them in the name of the defense of the “Soviet Union.” Every effort must be made by the revolutionary Marxists to bring these Stalinist workers to a clear understanding of the situation, by means of friendly discussion and practical collaboration in the class struggle for such proletarian demands as these workers would really like to realize, even though the interests of their leaders have nothing whatsoever in common with them.

As for the Stalinist leadership, and the Stalinist party itself, the “new turn” calls not for a more friendly attitude toward them by the labor movement and the revolutionary Marxists, but, if anything, a firmer and more intransigent opposition. This emphasis is demanded precisely because the Stalinists will now seek to exploit, for their own reactionary purposes, the growing militancy of the working class, its growing disillusionment with the imperialist war and the capitalist parties; precisely because the Stalinist party will now appear in a more “radical” guise.

Socialism, the Working Class and Stalinism

The interests of Stalinism have nothing in common with the interests of the working class, the labor movement and socialism. The Stalinist parties are the international blackmail machine of the totalitarian tyranny” in Russia. An intelligent analysis of the present dispute in the C.P. only makes this fact clearer. The “new policy,” like the old, was not “based on the interests or needs of the American working class or – for that matter – of the Russian working class. It did not result from the pressure and demands of the working class – not even that section of it which is represented by the Stalinists. It followed from the needs and interests of the Russian bureaucracy. Nine-tenths, if not more, of the “turn” is aimed at saying to American imperialism: “If you do not give in to your rival, Russian imperialism, we are prepared to make trouble for you here at home. We will support you only in so far as you do give in.”

We are interested in the fortunes of American imperialism only as its irreconcilable enemy, but as the enemy of all imperialism and oppression. We are not interested in destroying, or even clipping the claws, of American imperialism in the interests of any other reactionary power, Russia included. Hence the unbridgeable gulf between us revolutionary Marxists, us international socialists, and Stalinism. Stalinism is interested in the labor movement only for the purpose of making it the blind and helpless tool of the Stalinist bureaucracy.

The Stalinist party in a country like the United States seeks to enslave the labor movement and the working class under a totalitarian regime, of which its own structure and procedure offers us a preview-model. It is not a socialist party. Yet, it is not a capitalist party, either. Its declarations in favor of capitalism have about as much meaning as Hitler’s declarations in favor of socialism. It is ready under certain conditions to hire itself out to capitalism, but only as agent of the totalitarian bureaucracy in Russia.

However, it is increasingly clear that the Stalinists are not merely the agents of the bureaucratic ruling class of Russia. That conception is proving to be too narrow. The Stalinist bureaucracy in the capitalist countries has ambitions of its own. It dreams of one day taking power, and establishing itself as ruler of substantially the same bureaucratic, despotism that its Russian colleagues enjoy. Wherever conditions are favorable, it does not hesitate to exploit the anti-capitalist sentiments of the masses – sentiments which are growing throughout the world – and to emphasize the superiority of collectivism over the anarchy of capitalist production. All this provided these anti-capitalist sentiments are not expressed in the independent class action of the proletariat aiming at socialist power, only if they can be subverted, distorted and frustrated under the domination of Stalinist reaction.

In Poland, the Stalinist bureaucracy is proceeding to wipe out the remnants of the bourgeoisie and to undermine the big landlords. It is establishing its state power, in the image of Stalinism in Russia, that is, of bureaucratic collectivism, but it has nothing in common with socialism or socialist freedom, nothing in common with the socialist organization of production and distribution; it is achieved at the cost of the rights and freedom and organized existence of the working class. The same process is at work under the rule of the Yugoslav Stalinists. How far this development mayor can go, it is much too early to say; equally premature is a final judgment on its historical significance. But the reactionary character of the Stalinist bureaucracy all over the world is unambiguously established; its social aim is already clearly indicated.

For the Stalinists, the working class is a ladder for their climb to bureaucratic power. For us, the working class remains the independent, self-acting class which is called upon to emancipate itself from oppression and exploitation by achieving democracy and socialism, and therewith. to emancipate the human race. In the struggle to make the working class conscious of this grand historical mission and to organize it for the victory, socialism and the proletariat encounter in Stalinism a perfidious, reactionary foe. To make this clear to the point where Stalinism has been completely rooted out of the working class, is an elementary socialist duty and a task of first urgency. The new self-exposure of Stalinism in this country will help us discharge our duty.

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Last updated on 16 November 2016