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Carl Davis

The Anti-Socialist Thinking of
the Dissident Stalinist Groupings

(16 June 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 24, 16 June 1947, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The deadly anti-socialist effect of Stalinism upon the thinking and political morality of the men and women of the Communist Party is again brought to light by the material published by the dissident groups about whom we have written so much in recent weeks. When it became known that such groups came into existence as a reaction to the social-patriotic line of Browder, it was thought that the opposition might be of a revolutionary socialist character, if only as a reflex to the new chauvinism of official Stalinism. The first written expressions of these groups did not support such a hope, but we hoped that the logic of their position might still produce it.

By this time, however, it has become abundantly clear that we are dealing with a group which is nothing but a bizarre caricature of Stalinism: people who have broken with the Communist Party because they believe it is not Stalinist enough. They do not understand Stalinism as Russian chauvinism produced by a counter-revolution. What they consider and call bolshevism is in reality the irresponsible ultra-leftism of the “third period," when world Stalinism attempted to overcome its many defeats by driving the workers into one adventure after another.

The National Committee of Publication, if not the most intelligent, is certainly the most prolific of the opposition groups. Its NCP Report is issued regularly and is a compound of the sterile, catechistic thinking of the Stalinist-trained mind. We have already pointed out in previous articles that these people are merely dissatisfied Stalinists who really believe that the Communist Party in this country has betrayed the Kremlin and true bolshevism as interpreted by Stalin. Iri this harsh and often fantastic criticism of the CP and its leaders, they revert to quotations from Stalin, all characteristically dating back to the late Twenties and early Thirties. There they find the theoretical source for their “revolutionary” wisdom.

An Incredible Position

It does not seem possible that there should exist a group of ex-CP members which is not aware of the utter dependence of the native Stalinists upon their Russian masters. But laughable as it seems, the NCP is such a group; it is not alone, for its fraternal groups think the same way and they vie with each other to be the best Stalinists. It is, of course, wrong to use the word “think” in relation to these groups; they are incapable of reflecting upon their past, understanding the meaning of their break with the CP, or projecting themselves into the future.

To be sure, they sometimes quote Lenin, and they make references to Marx and Engels, but it is thoughtless and of no significance to minds which are accustomed to thinking in a groove, or set patterns. They are now devoting themselves to a “study” of Trotskyism in Stalinist style. For example, anyone acquainted with the radical and socialist movement is now aware that Trotskyism has become synonymous with revolutionary Marxism in the world today. Trotskyism alone remains the representative of bolshevism, if by that is understood the application of Marxism to conditions of modern imperialism and Stalinism.

By the same token, Trotskyism is the most vigorous, consistent and implacable enemy of Stalinism, which it regards not only as the leader of the counter-revolution in Russia but as. the force which destroyed the once-glorious revolutionary movement of the world. For the counter-revolution to succeed in Russia, it was necessary for the murderer who sits in the Kremlin to wipe out the whole Old Bolshevik cadre, and the generation of revolutionaries who made the Russian Revolution possible. To maintain power in Russia and control of what was once the Communist International, Stalin was obliged to destroy the independence of these parties and replace their former democratically selected leaderships with hand-picked agents—such as Browder was and remains to this day.

Stalin did this not only by defeating the Russian Opposition with his organized gang of policemen and hooligans, but by legal warfare against the old Bolshevik Party, destroying its most heroic figures and its leading cadre, replacing them with handpicked Stalinists—the representatives of the new bureaucracy. Every opponent and critic, no matter what his views, or his record and devotion to the movement, was treated alike—the GPU prison and torture, loss of job, loss of citizenship and finally death. The word “Trotskyism” was used in Russia in the same way as the word “Red” is used in this country to denote those socialists who wanted to build a new and better world.

In the Communist International, an opponent of Stalinist leadership, no matter what he stood for, was called a Trotskyist. To be known as a Trotskyist, whether it was true or not, meant the end of one's life and career in the Communist movement. For in the mouths of the counter-revolutionary Stalinists, Trotskyism was made synonymous with fascism— while the rest of the world looked on and laughed, laughed at the monstrous spectacle put on by world Stalinism as it proceeded to destroy the world political labor movement with its totalitarian doctrines and practices.

Discuss Trotskyism

The NCP, as we have pointed out, finds itself in a ludicrous position as a Stalinist opposition to the official Stalinist party in this country. It has criticized the native Stalinists as incompetent betrayers, employing the language so common to this movement. Their main charge is that the present leadership has renounced the principles of Stalin and acts contrary to the international interests of Russia and the CPs of the rest of the world.

Like all Stalinists, they regard the totalitarian, police state in Russia as a socialist state, and this governs their thinking. They swallow the theory of "socialism in a single country” while paying lip-service to the theories of Marx and Lenin. Their theoretical thinking is primitive, Consisting entirely of quotations from Stalin. In order to appear as the only teal and consistent Stalinists, they not only call for the organization of a genuine. Stalin party in the U.S., but, like all Stalinists, have now begun a campaign against Trotskyism. Having entered this struggle, they believe themselves to be the true disciples of the Great White Father in the Kremlin, and hope to be accepted by him as such.

Though it would seem impossible, their discussion of Trotskyism is more stupid than that of the official CP and it is due to greater stupidity and ignorance than the old-time leaders of the CP. Because NCP is merely ignorant, its attack on Trotskyism sounds like that of a child having gone through a Stalinist “enlightenment campaign.” Its issue of May 26 is entitled: Seven Notes on the Fight Against Trotskyism. And what is Trotskyism? Trotskyism is Menshevism. And who are the Mensheviks? They are the “various Socialist Party groups,” Norman Thomas, Walter Reuther, the Liberal Party, A.A. Berle, etc. (A recent CP pamphlet included the Socialist Labor Party.) No, they are quick to expand this observation: Trotskyism “is only one variety of Menshevism.” And it is in a bloc with "Catholic Action elements.” What is more, “the Trotskyite movements are organized”!

Thereafter follows a discussion on how Trotskyism ceased to be a political trend in Russia (quoting Stalin on how it was wiped out) and why it is still a trend in the U.S. Here it exists and is active in open and concealed form. Trotskyism, according to the great minds of NCP, is not merely “one variety of Menshevism,” but it is “sometimes rightist, sometimes ’centrist’ and sometimes ‘left’-ist — there is one main theme that ALL include as a principal ingredient.

“The one main theme is anti-Stalinism and the crusade against ‘the Stalinists,’ that is to say, against the Bolsheviks.”

Plots and More Plots

The only thing true in the above is that the Trotskyists are against the whole system of Stalinism and regard it as the syphilis of the labor movement. How stupid is NCP, then, when it transfers a former condition in Russia, with its one-party system, to the U.S. and the rest of the world. The origin of the Trotskyist movement was in the Russian Communist Party. But that went back to the Revolution, when these old revolutionaries were founders and leaders of that party. They could have come from nowhere else. But says NCP:

"It would require quite a stretch of the imagination to think that, in view of the Trotskyite penetration of the Russian party for a number of years, the U.S. Communist Party has somehow been ‘guaranteed’ some mythical immunity from such happenings.” So, reason these poor deluded ahd trained Stalinist seals, What may be wrong with the CP in this country is that it has been penetrated by Trotskyism! It certainly requires some imagination, a Stalinist imagination. which conceives of things ih the terms of plots, provocations and police-rule, to think up this one.

What is their source for thinking so? The “revelations” of the Moscow Trials, which have been conclusively established as the most brutal frame-up in the history of mankind.

And what do they point to as proof that Trotskyists may have penetrated the leadership of the CP? The reasoning again is logical only to a Stalinist mind and a half-trained mind at that. The main enemy of the workers, say the Trotskyists, is Stalinism. We must destroy Stalinism. Browder carried a motion, supported by all the other leaders, to "liquidate” the CP. Therefore, the leadership must be, in part anyway, Trotskyist. The Moscow Trials “proved” the Trotskyists were wreckers. Abolishing the party was part of their wrecking activities.

“Independent” Thinkers

It seems that only the NCP group, and co-thinkers, believed that the CP Was dissolved with the formation of the Communist Political Association. Nobody else believed it, because it just wasn't true. Browder was merely trying to accommodate himself to the needs of Russia in its new war alliance .with the U.S. and Great Britain.

It seems that only the NCP group, and its co-thinkers, believe that the line of the CP was initiated independently by Browder without the knowledge of Stalin and his Russian juniors and their agents in this country.

It seems that only the NCP group, and its co-thinkers, believe that the CP leadership was without Russian supervision during the war years.

The only thing that can explain the Browder incident is that he went too far in his zealous application of the “line.” He had to be “discarded" for the time being because HE could not well reorient the party in its new “class struggle” policy which corresponds to the new relations among the big powers. But he is useful in his new role as pro-Russian publicist and book representative, and he may be even more useful in the future as a resurrected leader of the CP.

Principles Absent

But of even greater interest in understanding the mind of the Stalinist trained “socialist” is that in eight single-spaced legal pages of discussion on Trotskyism, the authors do not mention ONE theoretical principle or political idea which the Trotskyists represent. Not one! The main reason for it, however, is that these people do no know how to explain the Markian theories and politics of Trotskyism. They do not know how to explain the complete identification of Trotskyism with the principles of Marxism and Lenin’s application of these principles to modern times. NCP is theoretically ignorant and sterile: But it also knows little or nothing of the history of the revolutionary movement and the great inner struggles which produced the program of Marxism and of Leninism.

For example, where in Marx or Lenin will NCP find expressed the theory of “building socialism in a single country”? Where in Lenin will you find the theory which Stalin employed in the betrayal of the Chinese Revolution: The Bloc of Four Classes? Where in revolutionary politics will you find justification for the politics of the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Unity Committee? Or the opportunist, capitalist people’s front, and a “class” people's front party? Where did you ever see Lenin's Comintern conduct itself as the Italian, French and British CPs during the war and now? Or Russia in the UN? What difference is there between the American CP and its European prototypes? Where, in theory or in practice, can you find justification for a police regime, a totalitarian political state, with millions of slave laborers, passing itself off as working class or socialist? Why doesn’t Russia, which you call socialist, reflect the “withering away of the state,” but rather reveals a growth in the power of the state and its police powers? Why should this be under “socialism”?

If NCP and its co-thinkers would seek honest answers to these questions, and their are hundreds more of equal importance, prate less in generalities about Marx, Engels and Lenin and begin to read them for a change, there is a possibility that they might begin to understand what it is all about. It might at least stop them from writing such a compound of ignorance which fills the mimeographed sheets of NCP Reports for the purpose of advocating a “genuine Stalin party in the U.S.” Perhaps, then, they, would cease to be the laughing stock that they really are: ignorant, misguided zealots, quoting scripture from the one person thrown up by Russian bolshevism and the revolution who was noted above all for his theoretical ignorance and Russian chauvinism and who will go down in history as the leader of the modern counter-revolution.

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