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Anthony Massini

CP Joins Government in Hiding Truth
About the Browder Case

Wants Masses to Forget Who Railroaded
Browder to Jail and Keeps Him There

(28 March 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 13, 28 March 1942, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A National Free Browder Congress is being held in New York this week. It is expected that the Congress will be well attended, with representatives from many trade unions. Its purpose is to dramatize the case of the secretary of the Communist Party, who has already served a full year of a four-year sentence.

The issues in the Browder case are very simple. He Was given a severe sentence for a trifling technical irregularity in a passport case; everyone knows that the only reason he was ever brought to court on it at all was because of his political views This is the reason why many organizations and people who have little or no sympathy for Browder’s politics have denounced the prosecution and endorsed the demand for a pardon by Roosevelt, the only one with the power to grant it.

But while the issues are so simple, they are not presented in this manner by the official defense movement, the, Citizens’ Committee to Free Earl Browder, controlled by the Stalinists, which has conducted a defense campaign unique in the history of the American labor movement. For since Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union last summer, the defense committee has systematically and deliberately distorted and suppressed the truth about the Browder ease, misrepresented the motive for the trial and done everything in its power to conceal the identity of the forces which instigated and carried through the frame-up.

Current C.P. Version

The current Stalinist version of the ease is that Browder was imprisoned because he was “a consistent opponent of fascism” (The Case of Earl Browder, issued by the Citizens’ Committee, March 1942). To prove this, they quote at length from many of his articles and speeches advocating action against German? and Japan and an alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union.

This is all cock-and-bull, intended to cover up the true facts and to make people forget the role of the Communist Party during the period of the Stalin-Hitler Pact. Browder was not convicted because he wanted to fight fascism, or because he advocated support of Britain and France in the war, but because he and the Stalinist movement as a whole expressed opposition to the Roosevelt war preparation program.

During the four years before the Stalin-Hitler Pact, the Communist Party agitated for “collective security” and a holy war for democracy against Hitler During the period of the Pact and during the first stage of the second World War, they dropped that line, ceased all their denunciations of Hitlerism and sharply attacked Churchill, Roosevelt and the “democracies.” Anyone who goes back to their literature of that period will see at a glance how false are the Stalinist stories of today.

In fact, Browder himself discussed this very question on the day on which he was sentenced. In the courtroom on Jan. 22, 1940, just before he was sentenced, he tried during his summation to explain to the jury why he was being framed up. As he said later, “What was it that the judge wanted above all to prevent me from speaking about in that court? The one thing above all that was prohibited from even being whispered there was the motive of the prosecution.”

Browder’s Explanation

That same night, at a Lenin Memorial Meeting of the Communist Party in Madison Square Garden, he was finally able to discuss the real motive for the trial. He said: “We must warn the people that this verdict of this case is only one incident in the drive of the American ruling class toward war ... The motive of this prosecution lies in the general campaign of our ruling class to prepare our country for war ...”

This was not his personal view, it was the position of the Communist Party at that time. The Madison Square Garden speech was issued in a pamphlet, Earl Browder Takes His Case to the People, and distributed by the Defense Committee for Civil Rights for Communists, predecessor of the present Citizens’ Committee. The Defense Committee stated on the last page of the pamphlet: “It is the first Step in the drive of Wall Street and the Roosevelt Administration to outlaw the Communist Party – the most determined fighter against imperialist slaughter – and to plunge the United States into war.”

Thus, by their own words of two years ago, the current Stalinist version of the Browder case is shown to be false. The interesting thing is not of course thai they spit in the face of what they said yesterday – they have done this too often for it to be news – but that they have joined with the prosecution in suppressing the truth about the reason for the trial.

FDR or the “Appeasers”?

The Stalinists are also trying to make people forget what they had to say about the responsibility of the Roosevelt administration for the prosecution; according to their present story, it is the “appeasers” who want to keep Browder in jail. “The Cliveden Set is the only group in the country whose purposes are served by keeping Browder i jail; the appeasers and the friends of Hitler fear him ant move heaven and earth to prevent his liberation.” (The Case of Earl Browder)

Actually, of course, it was Roosevelt who had Browder pu! in jail, and it is Roosevelt who keeps him there. It is not necessary for the “appeasers” to move heaven and earth – Roosevelt doesn’t show the slightest inclination to release Browder.

Why do the Stalinists lie about their own case this way? Because they no longer criticize any of Roosevelt’s policies, and they would find it most embarrassing to admit that the administration they support so wholeheartedly in its “war for democracy” is an enemy of civil liberties.

C.P. and Civil Liberties

The Stalinist appeal to the public for support of the Browder defense movement is on the basis of the need for defending civil liberties. Their appeal to Roosevelt is that Browder, free, would “strengthen the war effort,” that he would have something to add to the successful prosecution of the war.

It is easy to understand what they mean by both these appeals when you analyze their record oh the most important civil liberties case in many years. Last summer the government indicted and brought to trial 29 members of the Socialist Workers Party; the prosecution was denounced by many of the same organizations which have denounced the Browder trial. But the Stalinists, who plead for civil liberties for themselves, refused to support the defendants; their only complaint was that the government had indicted the Trotskyists as revolutionists instead of trying to frame them up as “Nazi agents.”

Since Pearl Harbor they have attempted to launch lynch campaigns against all their working class opponents, denouncing as supporters of Hitlerism all those who oppose Stalinism – and who opposed Hitlerism even during the period of the Stalin-Hitler Pact. The chief thing Browder will add to the war effort would be to act as finger-man and lynch inciter against working class militants in all kinds of slanderous campaigns which the government is not at this time prepared to undertake on its own.

But the Stalinist violations of the most elementary principles in the defense of civil liberties must not blind the workers to the necessity for defending these rights even for those with whom they sharply disagree. Despite the reactionary role of Stalinism, Browder was convicted only because of his views and his prosecution was an attack on civil liberties It is the duty of the workers to clearly recognize the real issues in this case and Without associating themselves for a moment with the lies and confusion spread by the Communist Party – to demand that Browder be freed.

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