Spector Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page


Crisis in the Communist Movement

The 7th Convention of the Party – a Debacle

(July 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 26, 12 July 1930, pp. 2 & 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The seventh convention of the C.P.U.S.A. will take its place as one of the most lamentable in the history of American Communism. The current economic crisis constitutes a more powerful indictment of American capitalism and its tinsel “prosperity”, than the arguments of a thousand theses. The lash of hunger curves about the bodies of millions of unemployed. In their conference rooms the financiers weave schemes for the reduction of the workers existence levels. Yet in this crisis the Party claiming to be the revolutionary vanguard reveals a shallowness of political thought, a pettiness of spirit and impotence in action that bring malicious satisfaction to every enemy of our movement. In speaking of the Party, we draw a sharp line of distinction between the membership and the bureaucracy. Where criticism on all but secondary issues is stigmatized immediately as Right or Left “opportunism” and invites expulsion, the bulk of the rank and file still prefer silence. The convention was a formality – the theses had already been drafted and adopted in Moscow.

The New Zig-Zag of Centrism

In substance these theses illustrate all the characteristic features of centrism. Who does not remember Molotov’s formulation of the period at the Tenth Plenum as “we have entered with both feet into the realm of revolutionary events”. Regardless of time or space, the “third period” strategy of the imminent revolutionary crisis was uniformly applied to all countries. When Stalin’s ultra-Left caricature of collectivization and the Five Year Plan brought the Soviet Union to the brink of disaster, the bureaucracy sounded a panicky retreat and unloaded responsibility for the “excesses” on the ranks. In the Comintern, Stalin’s agent, Remmele blamed the membership for the extravagances of the theory of “social fascism”.

Accordingly, the Party statement on the convention condemns as “Leftist” those who do not recognize the cyclical character of the economic crisis. The Daily Worker wakes up to the fact that the struggle for social insurance is one of the foremost Party tasks in connection with the unemployment situation. But eclectic substitution for Marxist analysis still prevails. In the same breath, the theses state that “a revolutionary upsurge grips the masses”. In the United States? Where, how, when? Only in the lurid headlines of the Daily Worker nonchalantly lying that “thousands of miners have gone out in a mass strike against unemployment”. How can a really correct line of political action result from such confusion and self-contradiction.

Consider M. Olgin’s report of the convention. Olgin is one of the present ideological Party leaders and editor of the most widely circulated Party organ. In an article in the Freiheit (July 3rd) he calls for a militant alliance between white and black workers “... to lead to a democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants” (our emphasis) – and this not for China or India but for the greatest imperialist power on earth. In other words, the coming revolution in America is not to be proletarian and socialist but bourgeois and democratic. Either the man knows what he is talking about or he is an imbecile. In either case he should be expelled from a Bolshevik-Leninist party.

Bureaucracy versus Bolshevism This convention in the United States was a pocket edition of the Sixteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Both were simply rallies of the Centrist faction. While Stalin indulged his coarse witticisms amid the Bonapartist adulation of his apparatus pretorian guard, hundreds of Left Oppositionists were being arrested and rushed into solitary confinement and concentration camps in Siberia. Similarly in the U.S. we can record the biggest wave of adherents to our opposition movement since its formation after the Sixth Congress. The bureaucrats cannot stifle the Bolsheviks. Fresh cadres are maturing. We will continue our struggle for the Comintern against both Right and Centrists misleaders.

We shall yet have occasion to recur to the plenum of the Lovestone faction which met about the same time. It is the Lovestones in the Comintern who are jointly responsible with Stalin for the Menshevik corruption of the program and policies of the Communist International. Good elements though there are in the ranks of the group, the Lovestone leadership is the same old self-styled “Marxian trunk”. Albert Weisbord criticised the Lovestone misrepresentations of the position of Trotsky on the international questions, the failure to protest the deportation, and the assassination of Blumkin. In answer, B.D. Wolfe came across with the same old falsifications about Trotsky’s alleged “sectarianism”, “conditional defence of the U.S.S.R.”, “advocacy of Thermidor” (sic)! Lovestone has persuaded the group to “broaden out”. He is prepared to admit all tendencies – “even Trotskyites” – under the hegemony of the “Marxian trunk,” of course. The gap between Lovestone and Bolshevism widens.

The names of the 25 elected to the Central Committee of the Party are being kept secret from the membership until they have received the approval of Stalin. Ballam, Engdahl and Wicks, the last of the Lovestone Mohicans in the Party leadership were dropped from the C.E.C. Ella Reeves Bloor takes the place of Anna Damon as the dowager. The Party secretariat – God save the mark! – is composed of Browder, Hathaway and Bedacht. However, Bittelman is on his way home from conquests in the Indian revolution and Bedacht will be transferred to Moscow. Alexander will now prepare to wield the sceptre while Browder and Hathaway run messages.

But the very last word in the Party will be with the Bolshevik-Leninists.

Maurice Spector Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 22.10.2012