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Farrell Dobbs

CP Cites Role in War as Defense at Trial

(23 March 1929)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 13, 28 March 1949, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcription & Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

FROM THE FEDERAL COURTROOM, NEW YORK, March 23 – At the start of the present thought-control tria’ I posed the question, “Since the Smith Act became law in 1940, and the Trotskyists were convicted under it in 1941, why did the government wait until 1948 to indict the Stalinists?”

The government, I then explained, got around that question by dating the charges from 1945, coincident with the expulsion of Browder and the reorganization of the Communist Party. Before that date no chore in the wartime service of the capitalist government was too dirty for the Stalinists. So the government naturally had no desire to use the Smith Act against them.

In the opening statements to the jury this week, the government and the Stalinists gave their own explanations for the rupture in 1945 of their previous intimate collaboration. The government denounced the Stalinists for breaking with the Browder line. While the Stalinists complained that the government has departed from the Roosevelt line.

Prosecution’s Line

The prosecutor, John F.X. McGohey, described Stalinist policy following the Teheran meeting of Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. He quoted Browder’s pledge to subordinate the class struggle to the Teheran program of collaboration between all social classes. He characterized as a “deliberate choice in fundamental aims” the dissolution in 1944 of the Communist Party and the formation of the Communist Political Association.

McGohey related how the Stalinists now on trial had called Browder’s program “inspiring” and had voted unanimously for a campaign to convince the capitalists they were “serious about national unity.”

Then in April 1945, the prosecutor told the jury, came the Duclos letter condemning Browder for revisionism. The present defendants, he went on, acting in obedience to Duclos, expelled Browder, repudiated his program, and reconstituted the Communist Party to “advocate Marxism-Leninism.”

“Remember that phrase, Marxism-Leninism!” McGohey warned the jury; whereupon he launched into a typical prosecutor’s description of Marxism-Leninism as a doctrine of unrestrained violence, culminating in the physical extermination of all opponents.

McGohey’s description of Marxism-Leninism isn’t the only false picture he gave the jury. It is equally false to refer to the leaders of the Communist Party as Marxists-Lehinists. They are Stalinists, who at all times serve the interests of the Kremlin, regardless of the cost to the workers. While true Marxist-Leninists at all times serve the interests of the working people and no other interests.

Defense Presentation

Eugene Dennis, CP general secretary, who has elected to defend himself without a lawyer, made the main opening argument for the Stalinists. He countered McGohey’s complaint that the line Stalin agreed to at Teheran had been broken, by accusing Truman of repudiating the line Roosevelt agreed to at Yalta.

Dennis sought to garnish his protest against Truman’s foreign policy with the current Stalinist criticism of the administration’s domestic policy. But his main complaint was directed against Truman’s refusal to make a deal with Stalin and “build a strong United Nations organization.”

He intimated that if such a deal is made the Stalinists will make peace with Truman on the domestic front, when he reminded the government that they supported Roosevelt for re-election in 1944.

“On April 1, 1945 we were all-out in support of the government against the Axis,” Dennis whined. “We upheld the government against its domestic as well as its foreign enemies.” He didn’t explain who those domestic “enemies” were, but the recordt is ’clear enough on that score.

The CP’s Enemies

The Stalinists defended the government against the “enemy” coal miners, fighting to smash the wage-freezing Little Steel formula. They finked on the “enemy” auto, rubber, packing and other workers, fighting as best they could against the no-strike pledge and the speedup.

Dennis and his gang supported the jailing of thousands of conscientious objectors opposed to the draft. They sabotaged the struggle of the Negro people for social, economic and political equality.

The Stalinists cheered when the government jailed 18 Trotskyists in the first thought-control prosecution under the Smith Act. They slandered the Trotskyists as “agents of Hitler” for saying that the war would not bring peace to the world, that it would be used by the capitalists to undermine living standards and attack civil rights.

All these and many more acts of treachery against the labor movement have been committed by the Stalinists in their collaboration with the capitalist government. But the judge told Dennis, “You can’t explain away the charges against you by telling of all the good things you did.”

Budenz First Witness

Louis F. Budenz, the first government witness, is now on the stand. Budenz was a,leading member of the American Workers Party when it fused with the Trotskyist movement in December 1934. Here is James P. Cannon’s succinct description of Budenz in the History of American Trotskyism:

“He had been a social worker to begin with. His interest in the labor movement for years was that of student-observer and publisher of a subsidized magazine which gave advice to the workers but represented no organized movement. Eventually, through the. medium of the Conference for Progressive Labor Action, he became engaged for the first time in the mass movement for which he unquestionably had considerable talents.

“Mass work is hard work and it devours many people. By 1934 Budenz, who had no socialist background or education, was a 100 percent patriot, three-fourths a Stalinist, tired and somewhat sick and looking for a chance to sell out.”

In 1935 Budenz joined the Communist Party and during the next ten years held posts as labor editor of the Daily Worker; editor of the Midwest Daily Record, Stalinism’s “gift” to the peoples’ front; and finally as managing editor of the Daily Worker.

Upon joining the CP, Budenz signed a statement denouncing Trotskyism with all the conventional Stalinist slanders. He related today how the defendant, Jack Stachel, took him to task because his statement did not praise sufficiently the “beloved leader and teacher,” Stalin.

That little session with Stachel was only the first step in his Stalinist education that was to prepare him for his present services to the Washington-Vatican alliance.

Budenz defended the Moscow Trials through which Stalin framed up and eventually murdered all the surviving members of Lenin’s Central Committee. In his book, This Is My Story, Budenz tells how he aided Stalin’s secret police when they were preparing to assassinate Leon Trotsky in Mexico.

He stayed with the Stalinists while they were all-out for the war, but finally broke with them in October 1945 after the expulsion of Browder.

Thereafter he joined the Catholic Church and now teaches economics at Fordham University, when he isn’t testifying against the Stalinists before a grand jury, loyalty board, Congressional committee, or in the courts.

So far the prosecutor has used Budenz to testify against William Z. Foster, Eugene Dennis, Jack Stachel and Gilbert Green, and to introduce in evidence the program adopted by the Sixth Congress of the Communist International in 1928.

Budenz said the Midwest Daily Record folded up from loss of circulation soon after the Stalin-Hitler pact was signed. A big argument followed as to whether the Stalin-Hitler pact had any bearing on the indictment. McGohey asserted that the Stalinist line at the time of the pact disproved Dennis’ sweeping claiih that the Stalinists had consistently supported Roosevelt with “criticism on some points.”

The prosecutor has read to the jury page after page of the program of the Sixth Congress, which is crammed full of thb ultra-leftist phraseology of “Third Period” Stalinism.

There was more than a touch of irony when McGohey read passages on united front tactics as I sat within a few feet of the Stalinists, who have rejected the Socialist Workers Party’s offer of a united front to fight for repeal of the Smith Act and in defense of its latest victims.

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