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Joseph Carter

American Socialist Quarterly

(July 1934)

From New International, Vol.1 No.1, July 1934, p.31.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

American Socialist Quarterly
– Summer 1934, Vol.3. No.2, 25¢.

THE theoretical organ of the Socialist party graphically depicts the anti-Marxian Centrist muddleheadness of the “Militants”. Maynard C. Krueger, who at the Paris congress of the Labor and Socialist International last August, supported Ehrlich and the Polish Bund in the formula, “dictatorship of the revolutionary party” came home only to be told by Kantorovitch that he voted for a mistranslation! The formula should properly read “dictatorship of the proletariat”.

Now Krueger, in Problems Facing the Party, finds that the term “workers’ democracy” best describes the political transition from capitalism to socialism. As proof that his position is not new, he correctly invokes the inveterate opportunist Morris Hillquitr as his authority.

Hillquit’s formula, “workers’ democracy”, is also favored, in an article Fascism’s Challenge and Socialism’s Answer, by the pacifist-turned-radical, Devere Allen, a Thomasite. It is quite clear that the phrase is an excellent cover for reformists and Centrists.

Allen contends that in a modern industrialized nation it is rarely that the workers can successfully resist or revolt by arms against the capitalists. (The same view can be found in Kantorovitch’s Toward Socialist Reorientation.) Then what will be the answer to capitalist resistance to expropriation? A general strike or “semi-general strike”! This magic formula is a substitute for armed insurrection – as though a general strike in a revolutionary situation can lead to anything but armed conflict or capitulation! If the violent overthrow of capitalism is impossible, socialism is doomed!

Another whiff of Centrist pollution is Haim Kantorovitch’s review of Socialism’s New Start (or Socialism’s New Beginning, as the American translation is called). This exponent of castrated Marxism does not as much as mention the avowed revision of the fundamentals of Marx and Engels by the new German Centrist group. Nor does he take issue with their view of a “party dictatorship” – a conception which he disputed on previous occasions – but which rather implies that they favor the Marxian view of the proletarian dictatorship.

Kantorovitch criticizes the statement of the “New Beginning” group that the German social democracy was never a Marxian party. “... the theoretical literature of prewar social democracy” contained such concepts “as the class struggle, social revolution, and even the dictatorship of the proletariat,” writes Kantorovitch. The theoretical literature spoke of the dictatorship of the proletariat! True enough, it can be found in the writings of Kautsky, Luxemburg, and Parvus – but how about the official program and position of the social democracy? Surely Kantorovitch knows that even the elder Liebknecht, in reply to Bernstein, agreed with this revisionist in repudiating the dictatorship of the proletariat (See Wilhelm Liebnecht’s No Compromise, No Political Trading.)

The review of Thomas’ The Choice Before Us by a “Militant” leader, Murray Baron, concludes that Thomas “subscribed, in part, to the same gradualism and constitutionalism which characterized the European movements” and that the author is not committed “to any definite program for the period of revolutionary transition”. Yet both Thomas and Baron subsequently supported the formula “workers’ democracy” as the Detroit convention.

Among the other items is included an informative article on the history of the American Yipsel movement by its present national chairman, Arthur G. McDowell.

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