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Albert Gates

Slap at Browder Signal for CP Change of Line

(June 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 23, 4 June 1945, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

By this time the whole world knows about the public attack made by Jacques Duclos, leader of the French Communist Party, on Earl Browder, chief editor of the Daily Worker and president of the Communist Political Association, for having “dissolved the Communist Party,” drawn “erroneous conclusions” from the Teheran Conference and made “himself the protagonist of a false concept of social evolution in general, and in the first place, the social evolution of the U.S.”

In continuing his sharp criticism, Duclos wrote that “one is witnessing a notorious revision of Marxism on the part of Browder and his supporters,” that “the French Communists will not approve the policy followed by Browder, for it has swerved dangerously from the victorious Marxist-Leninist doctrine.”

Duclos’ criticism appeared in Les Cahiers du Communisme, the theoretical organ of the French Communist Party, and this is what makes the whole nature of the attack so unusual. When the Communist International functioned openly such matters were dealt with in the upper circles of its executive committee, which is another way of saying in the ruling committee of the Russian Communist Party.

Since Stalin formally “dissolved” the Communist International as a means of strengthening his alliance with Great Britain and the United States, the Communist Parties were presumed to have obtained their independence. That is why the attack launched against Browder employed the device of making it appear to have originated in the leadership of the French Communist Party.

Why This Attack?

What is behind this attack on Browder, who is noted for his abject following of Russia and the Stalinist leaders in all their political turns? Browder was never noted for any great intelligence, audacity or independence of action. Whatever policies he pursued and foisted upon the American Communist Party were an automatic reflection of the political course of Stalin. The answer to this apparently puzzling question must be looked for in the field of world politics, that is, the relations which exist between the Big Three who dominate the international scene today .

These relations have gone through various stages during the war. Suspicions were evident from the start. First were the mutual fears of a separate peace with Germany. Second was the dispute of the second front, when and where it would begin. Third were the disputes over the division of Europe, which are sharper than ever now that the war has ceased in Europe.

So long as the European war was on and Germany remained a dangerous antagonist, the policy of Russia and the Communist Parties was to strengthen the Big Three coalition in order to guarantee the continuation of the war on two fronts and lend-lease aid. Without the latter Russia would have been unable to continue the fight. The Moscow-Teheran-Yalta conferences represented successive stages in the active solution of the main military and political issues which both united and separated the Allies. With each conference, the alliance apparently became stronger.

Russia became an equal partner with Great Britain and the United States.

All during this period the Communist Parties of Europe and America, which maintained a close liaison with Moscow, accommodated their policies to Russian needs in this alliance. They agitated on a worldwide scale for support of the Teheran-Yalta decisions, national unity in the countries of the United Nations and total prosecution of the war effort in these countries. So far as the labor movement was concerned, the policy meant that it should conform itself to the needs of the national governments and the ruling classes in all countries, to subordinate the needs and interests of the working class to capitalism.

How the Parties Acted

All the Communist Parties pursued the same policy no matter where they were located. They naturally adapted themselves to specific national conditions in carrying out the general line. Stalinized parties which are habitually addicted to sudden shifts in policy to conform to the needs of the Russian Foreign Office, had no difficulty in applying themselves to the new situation created by the Big Three coalition.

The Canadian Communist Party became the Labor-Progressive Party. In Cuba, the Communist Party took the name “Socialist,” as did other parties. The American Communist Party, however, formally dissolved itself as a party and became the Communist Political Association. The one difference created by this “dissolution” is that it promised, in the name of national unity and support to Roosevelt for the purpose of strengthening the cause of Stalin in this country, not to conduct itself as a competing party in elections. Thus it became an appendage to the Roosevelt machine of the Democratic Party.

It renounced the “class struggle,” declared that the struggle for socialism was an unreal aim in this era, called for a permanent no-strike pledge, capital-labor peace and the rights of monopoly capitalism. It advocated a policy of “benevolent imperialism” for America’s ruling class and in general conducted itself very much like any other capitalist party.

Did the American Communist Party make these decisions independently of its sister parties in other parts of the world, independently of the Communist Party of Russia, which is its real boss? Hardly! Otherwise it would have been inconceivable that two years should pass before any criticism was leveled at Browder for his actions.

The reason why the American party went much further than any other Communist affiliate is to be deduced from the special conditions prevailing in this country and the extreme importance that good relations be maintained between Russia and the United States so long as the war in Europe was still in effect.

New Big Three Conflicts

Since the end of the war, the conflicts among the Big Three, which were always present and only provisionally solved at the conferences because of the pressure of the military struggle, have assumed a more open character. They are based upon American aims to dominate Europe economically and politically, British determination that no single power shall exercise control over the continent and Russian policy based upon the domination of the whole of Eastern and Central Europe. The conflicts over Poland, Greece, Italy, Trieste, the Balkans and Germany merely express the differences in aims of the three powers.

Stalin is calling on his reserves in this current struggle which has been expressed so sharply at the San Francisco Conference. These reserves are the Communist Parties in all countries. The threat he makes is a simple one: If you stand in my way, I have allies in your countries who can come to my assistance. It is true, they are not very strong, they have discredited themselves with labor in your countries by the policies which I imposed upon them, but they have great resiliency and stamina; and they will do whatever I say to make things difficult for you at home.

This is a form of political blackmail to enforce Russian demands upon the Allied coalition. If anyone doubts that the Communist Parties will respond to Moscow’s interests, it is only necessary to recall the many shifts which these organizations have already experienced.

Now that a new situation has developed in Allied relations, the Communist Parties are preparing a change of line, to be effectuated if it should become necessary. What are Stalin’s interests in these parties? Those we have already mentioned. Negatively, they can make the situation difficult for the ruling governments in Great Britain and the United States. Positively, they can gather support for Russian policies and add to the Allied difficulties.

These parties have value to Stalin in this kind of situation only insofar as they have a mass base among labor. In supporting the anti-working class policies of Russia in the past period, many of these parties lost great strength among the workers. But this loss was justified in their minds by Russia’s military needs. For patriotic window dressing they could rely on intellectual fellow-travelers and middle class elements. Since the European phase of the war has ended, the situation has changed. Now Stalin’s needs are different and to serve these needs the Communist Parties must strengthen their position among the workers.

In Europe, where there is considerable ferment among the masses, Stalinism attempts to acquire leadership of the masses to strengthen his position on the Continent while at the same time he can, by such leadership, prevent any revolutionary changes that would have an adverse effect upon his rule in Russia.

A Stalinist Practice

The correction of Browder’s line, however, is in keeping with the current needs of Stalin. It is one way of warning the State Department that the American foreign policy of today is against Stalin’s interests and that he is ready to use his foreign battalion in the U.S. to aid him. The change in party line is a familiar Stalinist practice. Is there any question as to who ordered the change?

The New York World-Telegram pointed out, when it forced this event into the open by publication of the Duclos story, that the latter had just returned from Moscow, where he was shown the secret minutes of the Central Committee meeting of the American CP where dissolution was decided. His article was unquestionably written at the behest of the Russian Stalinists.

Now Browder is being made the scapegoat for the policy. Whether this means the end of Browder’s leadership in the party is impossible to foretell. Before the World-Telegram story appeared, the local central committee was already preparing for a “gradual” change of line. The publication of the story forced the issue into the open. It was featured by Browder’s pathetic acknowledgment that the European parties did not agree with his course in America and that it was necessary to study their important criticism and advices. Browder is evidently getting ready for a turn – about-face.

How far will the Communist Party go? Will it now become the advocate of militant labor action in the United States? Will it advocate the end of the no-strike pledge and cease to propagate for its extension in the post-war period? Will its trade union representatives and fellow-travelers make the switch, as some of them already indicate? Will they become advocates of class struggle and anti-imperialism? All of this depends on the outcome of the San Francisco Conference, for Russian foreign policy is the real determinant of Communist policy all over the world.

The Browder affair only emphasizes the fact that the Communist Party is not an independent organization of the workers, fighting in the interests of labor and its emancipation, but is an agent of Russian foreign policy, existing solely for the interpretation and defense of the interests of Russia. And it does this at the expense of the interests of the workers in all countries. The American Communist Party, whether or not it changes its line, remains, like its sister organizations in the rest of the world, the most reactionary force in the labor movement.

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