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George Breitman

Stalinists Plan to Build Wallace Movement –
by United Front from Below

(9 February 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 6, 9 February 1948, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The differences between independent labor political action and the Stalinist third party policy were clearly delineated in the speech made by Communist Party General Secretary Eugene Dennis at a mass meeting in New York on Jan. 15. This speech made it plain that while the CP is now attacking the two-party system, in line with the world-wide “left turn” ordered by the Kremlin, it is still fighting by every means at its command to prevent the mobilization of the workers as an independent class force in U.S. politics.

Any discussion of the CP’s present policy naturally raises the question of its previous opposition to the formation of a new party. Dennis “disposes” of that embarrassing issue as follows:

It is a matter of public record that for many, many years the Communist Party, together with other advanced workers, pioneered for a new political alignment to free the working class and its popular allies from the two-party system of Big Business.”

The truth is, of course, that “for many, many years” the Stalinists had been running up and down the country denouncing those workers who wanted a new party. They campaigned vigorously in 1944 for the election of Roosevelt and Truman: after that election, their members at the CIO convention reaffirmed their opposition to a third party as something that would divide the “forces of progress” in the Democratic Party.

Even as late as the 1946 elections they backed Truman’s candidates. At last month’s CIO Executive Board meeting, Murray, whose opposition to the Wallace movement is wholly reactionary, reminded the Stalinists, with malicious glee, of their own extensive hatchet work on behalf of the two-party system.

Dennis can’t publicly explain the real reason why the CP line changed, but it is well known. Stalin wants a pact with Truman, like the one he had with Hitler. And he is trying to get it by political pressure and blackmail. Dennis can’t admit this because to do so would be to admit that if a Stalin-Truman deal is worked out, the CP will again be waving the flag for the two-party system.

While the Stalinist line was thus changed and given a more radical appearance, its main function is still the bureaucratic manipulation of the American workers in the interests of the Kremlin’s foreign policy. The crass character of this manipulation is evident in the very manner in which the new line is being carried out.

First of all, Wallace is given the real domination of the movement. That gives the party a leader – acceptable to the Stalinists, even though he is an avowed defender of capitalism, because he too wants a deal with Stalin. But, of course, the party needs more than a leader if it is to achieve the Stalinists’ ends. So Dennis lays down the directive for the next steps:

The Stalinists, he declares, “must in the first place guarantee that the third party has a strong trade union base.” What does this mean – that the unions should get together in a conference, democratically discuss the ways and means to fight the two Wall Street parties, and strike out on the course of independent labor political action by setting up their own party? Not according to Dennis.

Endorse – Not Control

By a “strong trade union base” the Stalinists don’t mean that the unions should control the party, have the deciding voice in determining policy, candidates, leaders, structure, etc. Oh no, what they actually mean is that as many unions as possible should be gotten to endorse the party, finance it, do the bell-ringing and Jimmy Higgins work – just as the Stalinist-dominated unions did for the Democratic Party. Of course, the unions should be given greater representation than they got in the Democratic Party – how else can you get their support? But control, direction, the dominating influence – these are the last things in the world the Stalinists propose to let the unions have in their new party.

It is obvious that this flagrantly bureaucratic method – “Here it is, all worked out, take it or leave it” – will antagonize and repel many workers who are ready to break with the two old parties but don’t intend to be used as doormats by anyone. The main (if not the only) “trade union base” resulting from such a procedure will be the unions dominated by the Stalinists.

United Front from Below

But, Dennis consoles the members of the CP, everything is going to work out OK anyhow, because:

“In the present situation all who truly wish to advance working class unity see that the Wallace movement is based on and stimulates the united front of struggle from below. It is serving to unite not only the consistent advocates of a new people’s party and coalition, but also hundreds of thousands of rank and file workers in auto, steel, clothing and other important industries. Those who are genuinely interested in advancing working class unity will therefore help to build this united front of action from below ...”

But what is the “united front from below?” Translated from Stalinism to English, it is a promise that workers can be won to the third party even if the organized labor movement is by-passed. True enough, this can be done to a limited extent.

But what you will have then is not a party representing and speaking for and controlled by the labor movement, but another party not controlled by labor to which workers happen to belong. Such a party may be manipulated to serve the political blackmail interests of Stalinism, but it cannot serve the interests of independent labor political action.

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