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Albert Glotzer

Positions of Conflicting Groups
in the Socialist Party

3. The R.P.C. and Its Program

(June 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 22, 2 June 1934, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

It will be observed that the World Congress of the Labor and Socialist International, which came into being, not as a result of the desires of the Buro, but, through pressure of the defeat in Germany, did not serve to check the agitation within the ranks of the LS.I. The Congress acted as a spur to the internal discussions taking place everywhere. Having briefly discussed the Congress and demonstrated the growth of left wing groupings in the International, we must of necessity occupy ourselves primarily with the American Socialist Party. No one can question the fact that the Americans, groups reflect world events and the decisions of the August Congress. But in the United States, some peculiar and interesting changes took place. The situation here does not mirror exactly the situation in Europe from the point of view of party politics. There is a greater confusion in America as we shall soon detect.

At the Congress, the reactionary wing of the international was in complete control. The Congress reaffirmed the policy of reformism of the L.S.I. In conflict with this position of the Congress and the majority of the delegations, stood the Polish Bund which rallied to its aide 18 votes out of 300 or more. The resolution as was shown, declared, for an end to the policy of reform and in favor of the “revolutionary” (!) struggle for power, for the, destruction of capitalism and the institution of the “dictatorship of the revolutionary party during the period of Socialist construction”.

It demanded an end to the policy of “coalition governments”, support of disarmament conferences, etc. On each of these questions, the Bund demonstrated confusion and showed that it had not learned anything since it endeavored to aid in the construction of the 2½ International. It does not distinguish between the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the “Dictatorship of the Party”. Nowhere is there mention made of the Soviets and their role in the struggle for power and after its seizure. It speaks of the “development of the dictatorship by the revolutionary classes (!) into a dictatorship of the workers and peasants”. The resolution calls for “new conditions of struggle”, and says too, that the Socialist Parties must prepare “without fail for the necessities of direct action”.

The Fundamental Questions

All of this, however, does not explain how, or what is meant. We said last week that now is not the time to write new doctrines. The program of Bolshevism answers every question raised by the left wings in the Socialist International and it answers these questions with clarity and, completeness. What the Bund has done has been to reiterate a stand it has held now for more than a decade and bring it up to date. The early Congresses of the Communist International answered the questions of the Struggle for Power, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, the Struggle against War, the United Front, etc. They were answered then in detail and with thoroughness. The half answers and half-truths contained in the Bund position, can only lead to confusion. In this respect the program of the Revolutionary Policy Committee in America is far clearer than that of the Polish Bund, and even that is not yet a complete Marxist position.

But in spite of the confusing and vague character of the Bund position it served as the starter in the International discussion raging in the Parties of the Social Democracy. For that it deserves merit. But some of the groupings starting where the Bund began are now far ahead of it. The Bund instead of moving ahead is standing still.

In the first article we spoke of the following groups existing in the American Socialist Party: The Revolutionary Policy Committee, the Militants, the Forward Association, the Old Guard (Oneal, Lee, etc.), the Wisconsin Organization, the followers of the Polish Bund, the “Chicago Left Wing” of Senior and Krueger. Politically, there are not so many groups or grouplets. Such a division serves the purpose of differentiation. A political classification would find the R.P.C. and the followers of the Bund on the Left, the Old Guard, the Forward Association and the Wisconsin Organization on the Right, with the leaders of the American delegation, Krueger and Senior, which supported the Bund in Europe (!) and the Militants to whom they really belong ready to fall in line with any majority.

The R.P.C.

1. The Revolutionary Policy Committee. The articles of comrade Cannon have already discussed in detail the political position of this group. It is necessary however to examine their physiognomy a bit more. Without a doubt, the social composition of the group is its greatest weakness. The group is made up primarily of the petty-bourgeois and intellectual section of the Party, a great many of these being graduates of the League for Industrial Democracy. Thus, while the group enjoys a great interest and even support for its views, its lack of roots in the Party proper hampers its influence over the proletarian section of the organization. The sympathies that it enjoys so far have little realization in organizational gains. The Program is signed, by over 80 active party members, few, however, having any decisive influence on the Party. Most of these are new in the movement. While its program is ahead of that of the Bund, its closest approximation in this country, the R.P.C. has no connection with the Bund. Similarly with respect to the matter of international connections. Though its existence is to be explained by international events and is a reflection of international currents in the L.S.I., the group leads a completely “national” existence. This is confirmed by its program on “International Relations”.

The R.P.C. represents a serious movement within the S.P. towards Marxism, its program is not yet Marxism, but has moved a long way in that direction. The great number of omissions from its program gives it at best a skeleton character. It is not sufficient, however, to offer skeleton views to the socialist workers. You must take each fundamental question and painstakingly analyse it from the vantage point of Marxism. Each question has to be thoroughly and completely discussed, every variant considered. R.P.C. Program

The entire program is six pages long. Within these six pages are contained the position, of the R.P.C. on: The Road to Power, War, Labor Policy, a Labor Party, the United Front, NRA, Farmers, Negroes, the Middle Class, the Soviet Union, International Relations and Conclusions. Quite obviously in such boundaries a program can not touch properly on any of the questions it discusses. But this is not the main criticism we have to make. Our main criticism of the R.P.C. is that on the fundamental questions it is either ambiguous, incomplete, or wrong. This in spite of the fact that in general the program is of a left character, in the direction of Communism.

The question of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is a case in point. After declaring in favor of it, the program says nothing of the Soviets, their position in the struggle for power and their relation to the establishment and existence of the proletarian dictatorship. On the one hand it speaks of the working class state as “an entirely new type of state”, without saying anywhere that the capitalist state must be destroyed and replaced by the workers’ state. Because of this lack of clarity it can conclude this section of the program by saying:

“Once socialists are in possession (!) of the state machinery by the mandate of the workers, their task is to secure and insure the governmental power for the victorious revolution by arming the workers for its defense against all possibility of a counter-revolutionary resistance, and to proceed to transform the economic and social basis of society.”

Which state machinery is referred to here? It is by no means clear. Apparently the capitalist state machinery! By the mandate of the workers! What kind of a mandate? The seizure of power as a result of the armed struggle of the proletariat or a ballot victory? The R.P.C. may protest and say: But we have already declared that we are for the workers state, the new type of state based upon the Workers Councils. Nevertheless, it is not clear precisely what is meant in the program.

The Question of the State

The question of the state is the most important question for the revolutionary movement. It is upon the evaluation of the state that the workers’ movement remains divided; on this question the 2nd International split. The organization of the Communist International was the outcome. And here too, the syndicalists and anarchists are divided from the rest of the workers’ movement. Quite seriously and earnestly, we suggest that the R.P.C. make a thorough study of the documents of the Communist International on the question of the State and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, prepared for the 2nd Congress. Once clarified, the R.P.C. can become the instrument of clarifying and educating the ranks of the S.P., drawing large sections of its workers to the side of the revolution.

On “International Relations” the program is wholly inadequate and is in fact false, it says:

“The Socialist Party of America must make every effort to get the above principles (of the R.P.C. – A.G.) adopted by the Labor and Socialist International in order that it may be the effective instrument in promoting the world revolution”.

The program concludes with the following declaration in bold type:


On one of the most decisive questions facing the workers movement today the program actually says little, and what it does say is wrong. It orientates itself completely upon the 2nd International. The question of Stalinism, the existence and role of Centrism, and the movement for the 4th International are entirely left out of the program. Without even as much as a mention of these questions it is clear why the R.P.C. has no genuine international orientation.

“Reforming” the 2nd International

These questions are of fundamental character. Around these the R.P.C. can make or break itself. While on many issues it is moving toward a position of Marxism, it is not there yet. When Lovestone says that “In substance, the program of the R.P.C. is Marxian”, it only expresses his patronizing attitude toward the R.P.C. and his desire to tie this movement to the kite of Stalinism. Genuine revolutionaries will endeavor to help the R.P.C. to move completely to communism, that is, to revolutionary Marxism. From its position on “International Relations” it is obvious that the R.P.C. orientates itself on the basis of the policy of reforming the Socialist Party and the Labor and Socialist International. There is not the slightest hint that the fundamental character of social democracy make it impermissible to remain within its ranks. The possibility of a break is not even countenanced in the program. And as already pointed out, its relation to the other international movements is not even as much as mentioned. The R.P.C. must begin rapidly to clarify its position on all these questions, and make clearer its point of view on those points expressed in the program. It should root itself deeply among the proletarian layers of the party and seek support there. We shall endeavor to help the R.P.C. make these steps forward and draw the proper conclusions to their present struggle.

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