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C.P. Convention

Arne Swabeck

Cleveland Convention of the C.P.

(May 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 18, 5 May 1934, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

(Continued from Last Issue)

We recall Marx speaking in the Eighteenth Brumaire of circumstances and relationships that “enabled a grotesque mediocrity to strut about in a hero’s garb”. And truly, at times of back-wash of the mighty waves of history, the second or third-raters often occupy the most exalted positions. But only until the rise of the new wave again weeps them out.

Browder has apparently earned the spurs bestowed upon him from above. He became one of the early and very ardent exponents of the fallacies of Stalinism in this country. In 1929, at the time of the formation of the C.P.L.A., he pompously informed all those willing to listen that: “We will no longer waste our energies and time in disastrous attempts to work with these fake progressives”. He entirely ignored the fact that it was the work with the progressives, both the mild and the more advanced types, which had made it possible for Communists to connect themselves up with large masses of workers.

New “Federation of Labor”

But Browder thought it quite useless to monkey around with the conservative mass trade unions and he became the particular exponent, also in 1929, of building red trade unions all along the line, together with a new national trade union center, the T.U.U.L. Today he sponsors a new idea of enlarging the T.U.U.L. to also embrace the independent trade unions and constitute a single Independent Trade Union Federation. But this is the same old red trade union policy in an enlarged format. And the main trouble with that is that only paper unions came out of the disastrous split policy which isolated the militants from the mass movement. This new version cannot fare any better, particularly when its execution is in the hands of an ever more bureaucratic Stalinist leadership.

It is in these wrong positions that Browder has shown his most “magnificent, brilliant and remarkable, etc.” qualities. Perhaps that was the particular quality the writers of the New Masses were looking for when bestowing their praise in an even more intellectualized way than the humbler Daily Worker reporters. They predicted that America will also produce its Stalins and its Molotovs.

With the enormous bureaucratization of the Stalinist apparatus rising pyramidically to its pinnacle of the General Secretary, which is what the official party convention hullabaloo signifies, there is a rush to get on the band wagon, for all the lesser bureaucrats it is not at all comfortable to contemplate an unstable and too often changing regime. Then there is also the constant fear of becoming scape-goats. Hence the Stachels and the Amters sing their praise in unmeasured terms of the infallibility of the leadership of the general secretary.

Fluctuations of Membership

A more real picture of the official Party is afforded in certain figures presented by the general secretary. He reported that from 1930 until February 1934, the Party had recruited 49,050 new members. But he admitted that two of every three had not been retained by the Party, claiming for it now a membership of 25,000. We, of course, understand the degree of reliability which can be placed in figures issued by the Stalinists. But even taking these figures at face value there is something ominous in this enormous fluctuation. By no means all of those who left are the poorest of revolutionists. Many of them revolted against the bureaucratization of the party and its false policies and tactics.

The Stalinist Party has today become the crowning height of the contradiction in the United States between an advanced industrial development and a backward political ideology of the masses. It reflects all the vices of international Stalinism. It is unable even to attain the virtues of a mass movement The American Stalinist party has become a serious force of disorientation and disorganization. It can not lead in the revolutionary tasks For that a new Communist Party is required.

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Last updated: 28 February 2020