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James Burnham

Their Government

(3 March 1939)


From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 12, 3 March 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“We are an American Party, composed of American Citizens. We view all our problems in the light of the national interests of the United States.”

Suppose we bumped up against this quotation on a dark night, and were forced to guess the author. What would be our answer? Would we say the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? or Chairman John Hamilton of the Republican party? or Chairman Jim Farley of the Democratic party? or Leader Pelley of the Silver Shirts?

Any of these answers would certainly be legitimate, and we would have the right to demand a good mark for giving it. But we would, nevertheless, be wrong.

The quotation is, direct and literal, from the lips of Earl Browder.

The occasion, crowning and monstrous irony, was a publicity release for the February 27th mass meeting in celebration of – the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Communist International.

The Ghost from the Past

There is an unutterable cynicism here. To link these phrases of crude and vulgar chauvinism to the celebration of the forging of that instrument whose first aim was to be to teach the workers of the whole world that they have no country, no nation, no fatherland except what they conquer through the fire of their revolutionary struggle!

“All socialists, in proving the class character of bourgeois civilization, of bourgeois democracy, of bourgeois parliamentarism, have expressed this conception formulated with the maximum of scientific precision by Marx and Engels: that the most democratic of bourgeois republics can be nothing else than a machine to oppress the working class at the bidding: of the bourgeoisie, to put the mass or workers at the mercy of a handful of capitalists.”

So read the thesis of Lenin adopted by the founding congress which Browder now celebrates by proclaiming his dedication to the interests of that “machine to oppress the working class.”

“The New International Association of Workers is founded with the aim of organizing the joint action of the workers of different countries for one sole and precise purpose, namely: the overthrow of capitalism, the establishing of the dictatorship of the proletariat and an international republic of Soviets ...”

So read the first article in the statutes of the second congress of the Communist International, whose very corpse Browder now dishonors.

Whose Interests?

“The national interests of the United States” ... Let us translate: the interests, that is, of the billion dollar Cuban sugar industry which enslaves the masses of Cuba; the military dictatorship of Porto Rico, grinding and terrorizing the Porto Rican workers; the deputized tyrannies over the people of the Philippines, Hawaii, the Canal Zone – ruled all or them by decree enforced by the United States army; the threatening intervention in Mexico ...

This is only what is most obvious. But these same national interests in whose light Browder now views all his problems are what require the subjugation of the ten million Negroes at home, the enduring unemployment, the armed protection of the fascist meetings, the persecution of working-class militants.

These interests – the interests of the ruling class of the United States – are what demand the nearing war of imperialist aggression, demand the tranformation of the United States into a fascist concentration camp.

It is these interests that Browder is defending.

What Else is Forgotten?

During the past months you will search vainly through the Stalinist propaganda for the slogan, “Defend the Soviet Union!” What has happened to the aim of defending the Soviet Union, which has been the alleged justification for the policy of the C.I. during the entire last decade? Today, we are taught, “all our problems” are viewed in the light of the national interests of the United States.

Ah, but – we are told in whispers – the new phrase is “just a maneuver.”

Let not the ranks of the Communist party be deceived. Politics is serious; you cannot play around with politics. The new orientation, summed up in Browder’s phrase, has its own logic. Defense of the Soviet Union, even under the distorted Stalinst conception of such defense, is in the process of being sacrificed to defense of the national interests of the United States. This must be, because the imperialist interests of the U.S. are in unappeaseable conflict with the interests of the Soviet Union. “Stalino-patriotism” is being transformed into patriotism pure and simple.

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