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C.P Convention

Arne Swabeck

Cleveland Convention of the C.P.

(April 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 17, 28 April 1934, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Eighth Convention of the official Communist Party and all its artificial ballyhoo is over. According to the Daily Worker it is to live in the minds of posterity, epitomized by the “excellent”, the “masterly and historical”, the “clear and forceful analysis”, the “masterfully applied Marxian combination of clear and general statements with concrete examples”, the “brilliantly outlined”, etc., etc., report of Earl Browder, the “best report ever made at any time in the history of the Party”, together with his “remarkable final speech”.

This report, if we are to believe Sam Don, “influenced the work and the discussion of the convention, from the first to the last session”. And Jack Stachel, in recounting the “progress” made by the Party, testifies that it was all “made possible under the leadership of the General Secretary of our Party, comrade Browder” (enthusiastic applause).

The Events of Four Years

Our expectation grows irresistibly to its natural climax. What did this report say? What does this Party leadership propose?

Between the Seventh and the Eighth Party convention almost four years have elapsed. Four years of world-shaking events, chief among which, as far as revolutionists are concerned, must be counted the catastrophic defeats inflicted upon the proletariat in Germany and Austria. Four years in which the wave of reaction rolled on with a powerful sweep, crushing and smashing a working class movement in its wake. A period which more than ever exposed the perfidy and corruption of Social-Democracy, and also demonstrated the bankruptcy of the Comintern under the Stalin regime.

But, at the same time, a new and powerful ray of hope appeared in the very last of these events, in the magnificent battle of the Austrian Socialist workers, standing out all the more in contrast to the dismal capitulation of the Communist Party and the Social Democracy of Germany. Who would dare deny that precisely in the events of this period is embodied the lessons to which a party, to be worthy of the name revolutionary, was duty bound to apply the most incisive analysis, the most critical examination, and draw a balance sheet.

They Learned Nothing

All that was entirely absent from the Stalinist convention. And as far as future history is concerned this convention can only denote an empty space. Marxism, as a living doctrine is a generalization of all working class experience, constantly drawing its strength from every new experience. A party calling itself Marxian, which fails to absorb into its very marrow the lessons of these recent decisive events, and fails to learn from them, can in no case escape the disintegrating tendencies that brought Social-Democracy into its stinking swamp of decay. It cannot at all be counted upon as a leader of the masses in a crisis. It will collapse as ignominiously as did the German Communist Party.

Instead of drawing a balance sheet from these great lessons the misguided workers at this convention were served the same “general line” which lead to the catastrophic defeats.

The delegates were told in the “magnificent” etc. speech that the New Deal “is not developed Fascism. But in political essence and direction, it is the same as Hitler’s program”. Thus is being prepared the same fatal disorientation as in Germany and the same justification for capitulation. In Germany the revolutionary workers had drilled into their minds the ideas of the Bruening fascism, the Von Papen fascism, the Von Schleicher fascism. When the real fascism, by this disorientation, was able to ascend to power, they could not distinguish it from the previous regimes; they could not fight it; the Party was paralyzed. The German revolutionists were filled up with the spurious ideas of “social fascism”.

Repeat the Old Errors

At the Cleveland convention this was not only repeated but glibly elaborated into various shades and degrees of right and left fascism. In such a maze of confusion the various working-class tendencies could never be properly distinguished nor could the false ideas be guarded against. But such an exposition of the question by the bureaucratic leadership is not merely a matter of confusion as far as they are concerned. It is a mirror of their own degeneracy. It is an effort to cover up their own failure to meet all other tendencies within the working class on the basis of a revolutionary program as real party leaders would do. Such covering up, however, becomes the worst form of disorientation and, in carrying it to its logical conclusion, the Stalinist leaders stoop to the lowest levels.

To shun the honest workers away from an objective examination of what the actual revolutionary current in the movement stands for, all the Browders, in their deadly fear of it, can only repeat their usual base slanders. Lumping us among their various brands of “social fascism”, although they have previously pronounced us dead at least 27 dozen times, they say: “Too many of our members still do not understand that Trotskyism and the Trotskyists are not a ‘branch’ of the Communist movement, but rather a police agency of the capitalist class”. What would they answer if any worker was to take them seriously at their word and say: Give us the proof so that we can properly substantiate the contention!

But this is all empty bravado handed out to cover up their own failure to meet our Marxian arguments. For the heavy blows of defeats suffered, due mainly to their own false political orientation and dismal incompetence, the Stalinists increase their slander of the revolutionary current. Simultaneously every possible measure is drawn upon to elevate a hand picked’ bureaucracy artificially to a position of infallibility with a Browder sitting on the very pinnacle.

(Continued in Next Issue)

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