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The Militant, 16 February 1946

The Editors

Red-Baiting Slander – Stalinist Style

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 7, 16 February 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Communist (Stalinist) Party has become notorious for its abrupt zigzags and somersaults. Repeatedly in Stalinist politics the devil of yesterday becomes the saint of tomorrow, and vice-versa. For example, in 1933 the American Stalinists called Roosevelt a “fascist” only to embrace him soon afterwards as their spiritual guide and leader. In 1945 the Stalinists supported the same Tammany candidate O’Dwyer for Mayor of New York whom they had previously denounced for following the “divisive Hitler technique.”

Politics often makes strange bedfellows – but the record of Stalinism is unsurpassed for its shameless political promiscuity.

There is hardly a party or political tendency in the camp of capitalist reaction with whom the Stalinists have not at one time or another entered into an active or tacit alliance. Who has forgotten the period of the Stalin-Hitler pact, when Molotov declared that “fascism was a matter of taste” and the Stalinists here echoed the same sentiment?

Only One Consistency

But throughout all the Stalinists’ twists and turns, in one thing they have remained consistent – their hatred and fear of the genuine communists, the Trotskyists. The Stalinist pack denounces the Trotskyists as vigorously and slanderously today under Foster, as during the recent reign of Browder.

In fact, the Stalinists are stepping up their vicious attacks upon the Socialist Workers Party and The Militant. Almost every day their paper, the Daily Worker, carries some lying piece against the Trotskyists. In a number of localities Stalinist goons have assaulted distributors of The Militant while other Stalinists have tried to prevent its distribution to union members. Finally, the Stalinists have sought to whip up a Trotskyist-baiting “red scare” in Flint, Detroit and other strike centers, thereby aiding corporation attempts to divide workers on the picket lines.

The Stalinist leaders themselves declare that these vile actions form part of a concerted campaign to “oust the Trotskyites from the labor movement.” An article bearing this title has just appeared in the February Political Affairs, “theoretical” organ of the U.S. Communist Party. One of its editors, Max Weiss, writes: “In all districts a properly planned campaign must be worked out to guarantee the realization of this objective.”

Clue to Lynch-Campaign

Why do the Stalinist leaders find it imperative to speed up their lynch-and-lie campaign against the Trotskyists? Weiss himself provides the first clue. The Socialist Workers Party and The Militant have been gaining influence and prestige among the workers while the Stalinists have been losing ground. Weiss complains that the Trotskyists “have succeeded in the past period in penetrating into certain key labor and mass organizations, that in many cities throughout the country and in many fields of the people’s movement there is a constantly expanding Trotskyite activity ...”

This Stalinist poison-pen artist does not, or rather dares not, suggest any explanation for this great expansion of Trotskyist influence in the labor movement, among the Negro people, among all the most progressive elements. He does not tell how the Trotskyists consistently defended the interests of labor and the oppressed minorities against reactionary attacks throughout the war while the Stalinists supported and abetted these reactionary attacks.

By their advocacy of labor management committees and of piecework and incentive system speedup on the production lines, the Stalinists aroused enormous indignation among the workers. Above all the workers were outraged by the Stalinist strikebreaking role in every wartime strike including the Montgomery Ward struggle and the titanic wartime strike battles of the coal miners. Through these and many other abominable strikebreaking acts, the Stalinists stabbed labor in the back.

Stalinists Embraced Big Business

Furthermore, in their zeal to sell the imperialist war to the workers as a holy crusade, the Stalinists painted the picture of Big Business and organized labor cooperating to build a bright, harmonious future in the postwar world. Their leader, Earl Browder, openly sought to clasp the hand of J.P. Morgan. One of their union stooges, Harry Bridges, urged a permanent No-Strike Pledge. Foster and all the other present CP leaders helped to peddle this sellout policy which they characterize today as “the capitalist essence of Browderism.”

Only a year ago, in January 1945, the Daily Worker “labor specialist” George Morris, published an anti-Trotskyist pamphlet called The Trotskyite Fifth Column in the Labor Movement. Here are a few “crimes” of the Trotskyists, in this indictment framed according to the Stalin-Browder line of that period.

The Trotskyists, says Morris, “ridicule a post-war outlook of unity and full employment” and look for “a sharp crisis.” Moreover, “they refuse to recognize the trend towards a common effort of organized labor, agriculture, sections of business and the government, for a post-war order of full production and full employment.”

Yes, while the Stalinists were snuggling up to Big Business and its government agents, The Militant and the Socialist Workers Party advised the workers to prepare for Wall Street’s offensive against labor. While the Stalinists sowed the worst illusions about the post-war period, we told the workers the truth. The present colossal wave of strike struggles proves that we were right and that the Stalinists deceived the workers.

We urge every rank-and-file Stalinist to re-read today this pamphlet by Morris. In itself it constitutes a deadly exposure of the deceit and treachery of Stalinism. Let us cite one more choice example. Morris assails the Trotskyists for designating the U.S. Army as “the greatest open shop institution in the country.” Isn’t that what the GIs who are today fighting to get out of this Prussianized Army think about it? Let the Stalinists, today defend this U.S. Army regime and see how far they get with the millions of workers who know from experience its brutal anti-democratic setup.

Try to Drown Out Questions

The dumping of Browder has led many a rank-and- file Stalinist to ask: Haven’t the Trotskyists been right all through the war when the CP was nothing but a pliant tool of imperialism? Wasn’t it the Trotskyists who from the first branded Browder’s line as a betrayal of Marxism and the working-class while, Foster declared in a national broadcast on January 9, 1944:

“Communists do not believe it would be of benefit to national unity to make proposals of a specific communistic or socialist nature at this time or IN THE IMMEDIATE POST-WAR PERIOD.”

This is a second reason for the intensified Stalinist attacks. They must redouble their mud-slinging and name-calling in order to drown out such questioning and to counteract, if they can, this growing tendency of CP members and followers to give a more sympathetic hearing to Trotskyism.

Thus Weiss himself states that the anti-Trotskyist campaign is “necessary in order to overcome tendencies toward a rotten liberalism toward ‘Trotskyites’ within the CP itself.”

But the Stalinist hatchetmen cannot use honest, democratic working-class methods of counterposing their ideas and arguments to our political program. Instead, they falsify our ideas and resort to the reactionary methods of abuse, slander, frame-up and physical violence.

Here is one typical Stalinist attack upon the Trotskyists taken from the March 1, 1945 People’s World, West Coast Stalinist daily. Listen to the ranting and raving of its editorial comment on the Socialist Workers Party platform for the Los Angeles mayoralty election:

“For instance it (the SWP platform) charges that President Roosevelt is trying to ‘Hitlerize America’ by asking for a national service act.

“In a virtual call to rebellion against the war it raises the slogan: ‘Stop the terrorization and slaughter of the European workers.’

“It charges that the ‘reactionary rulers of America ...’ are in league with the bandits of British imperialism.

“We maintain that this stuff, under the guise of electioneering, is propaganda ‘Made In Berlin’! ...

“This should not be tolerated. The FBI and the United States District Attorney should act at once to clamp down on the Trotskyite saboteurs of our war effort.”

Because they themselves advocated forced labor legislation, supported the imperialist war aims and demanded unconditional surrender to Wall Street, the Stalinists labeled anyone who stood up for labor’s rights and, above all the Trotskyists, as “Hitler agents.”

And the Stalinist method of answering our revolutionary socialist position on capitalist conscription and the imperialist war aims was to slander the Trotskyists and call upon the American Gestapo, the FBI, to throw us into jail.

A New Slander Campaign

Or take this more recent brazen lie in a leaflet signed by Ralph Shaw, Chairman of the Communist Party of Missouri, and distributed a few weeks ago at an SWP meeting in St. Louis. Shaw states:

“Documents discovered in Berlin and produced at the Nuremburg trial of Nazi high criminals, reveal to the whole world how Trotsky plotted with Rudolph Hess to organize a fifth column in the Soviet Union in order to open the gates to the Nazi invasion.”

Every informed person knows that no such documents have been produced at the Nuremburg trials, nor has there been any mention of their existence in the world press, including the Daily Worker. To be sure, the Stalinists are fully capable of forging such documents, as they are of making such false accusations, but in fact, they have not done so. Yet this hasn’t prevented the CP leader of Missouri from uttering this foul falsehood.

In fact, the Stalinists have been driven to redouble their frameup attempts precisely because the SWP has taken a leading role in organizing the struggle against Gerald L.K. Smith and the native fascists in Los Angeles, Detroit, and other cities. The Stalinists are exceptionally embarrassed by this living refutation of their slanders. How can their colossal lie that the Trotskyists are “agents of fascism” be believed by the hundreds of thousands of workers who see the Trotskyists in the vanguard of the fight against the fascists here?

Moreover, many Stalinist workers are themselves aware of the Trotskyists’ anti-fascist activities and militancy in the labor struggles. They are expressing dissatisfaction with the obviously fabricated official CP characterization of Trotskyism. One of these members, who signs himself “R.J.M.,” in a letter to the January 28 Daily Worker complains bitterly about “a tendency among some of them to shout Trotskyite to other members who are not Trotskyites.” He pleads:

“I believe The Worker should publish an article explaining the basic differences between Trotskyism and Marxism, or a series of articles.”

R.J.M. will wait in vain. The Worker cannot publish any such articles if they represent the Trotskyist position honestly, without disclosing to intelligent and informed readers that it is the Trotskyists who uphold genuine Marxism while the Stalinists have completely departed from every principle of Marxism-Leninism.

Some months ago the American Stalinists made another of their sudden shifts. At Moscow’s command, through Duclos, French Stalinist agent, Browder was deposed and Foster placed upon the throne. Since then the Stalinists have been trying to pass themselves off again as “militant” and as advocates of real class struggle policies. But they realize that the Trotskyists are the greatest menace to their double-faced game. They know how effectively The Militant exposes the deceit of the Stalinists, tears the mask of fake militancy from their face, and shows the real reactionary features to the workers.

Why do the Stalinists support Tammany mayor O’Dwyer of New York City whose police brutally club the ACA-CIO Western Union pickets and act as scab-herders? Why did the Stalinist UE leaders stall for nearly eight weeks in calling out the 30,000 UE members working in the General Motors Electrical Division, despite the pleas of the striking GM auto workers?

Why did such Stalinist-dominated unions as the CIO Electrical Workers make the greatest concessions on wage demands to the employers in advance of strike action? Why did the Stalinists run interference for the top UAW leaders in their first efforts to put over the treacherous “company security” proposals at Ford Local 600? Why have the Stalinists unleashed an anti-Trotskyist “red-scare” in Flint and Detroit which the corporations promptly snatched up in a futile attempt to divide the GM strikers?

We Trotskyists have not only raised these and many other embarrassing questions but we also explain the reasons behind these Stalinist actions.

Trotskyists Expose and Explain

The Militant has demonstrated repeatedly that the Communist (Stalinist) Party is not primarily interested in the needs and welfare of the American working class. It is a pliable instrument of the corrupt bureaucracy headed by Stalin which has usurped power in the Soviet Union. Today, under Foster as under Browder, the policy pursued by the American Stalinists depends upon the given relations existing between the Big Three. Browder was discarded like a worn-out jumping jack and the Stalinist line, while remaining essentially the same, was given a more “radical” twist because of the changed diplomatic relations between the Kremlin and Anglo-American imperialism following the war’s end.

In the devious game of power politics these relations shift constantly from friendship to hostility to a period of truce. Since it is manipulated as a pawn or pressure mechanism in Stalin’s dealings with Washington, the CP line will continue to zigzag from outright servility to Wall Street or to a fake “militancy” regardless of the interests of the workers.

That is why Stalin’s flunkeys cannot follow any consistent course. That is also why they hate and fear the Trotskyists of the Socialist Workers Party who are so consistent and irreconcilable in their Marxist policies.

Our unwavering defense of labor’s interests in wartime and in “peace” has provided the advanced workers with a gauge by which to measure the degradation of the Stalinists. We have won scores of thousands of new Militant readers and growing influence within the labor movement in direct competition with the CP for the allegiance of these workers. The workers have observed the two parties in real life, in the daily activities of the unions; in the struggle for Negro equality, in the fight against native fascism, in the fight against Big Business and its imperialist wars.

Events Verify Our Predictions

These workers have seen how the predictions of the Socialist Workers Party are being verified by the test of events. They have become convinced that the slogans first advanced by our party, such as “Open the Books of the Corporations” and “Build An Independent Labor Party,” are correct and indispensable in their fight against Big Business and its political agents. That is why the workers are turning in increasing numbers to our party for guidance and advice, why they are joining our ranks.

It must be understood that the Stalinist frameup machinery is only in the first instance directed against the Trotskyists. It is likewise aimed against all who stand for militant, democratic unionism and progressive policies. This is clearly demonstrated, for example, in Seattle where the Stalinists have branded as “fascists” the Committee for a Labor Party, composed of individual unionists who aim to persuade organized labor to form its own class party.

The scurrilous “anti-Trotskyite” campaign of the Stalinists, like every other “red-baiting” campaign, is a threat to progressive unionism and gives aid and comfort to the most reactionary forces. That is why all labor militants must be on guard against the poison spread by these treacherous enemies. They must close ranks in the fight against the Stalinists’ lies, their anti-democratic action’s, their gangster methods.

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