THE Communist Party is the organized vanguard of the working class, composed of the most class- conscious, the most courageous, the most self-sacrificing section of the proletariat. The Communist Party does not stand above, but is part and parcel of the working class. It is the general staff of the proletariat.
The Communist Party is armed with the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. These teachings are a powerful weapon in the hands of the Communist Party. They enable the Party to direct the struggles of the working class along the correct line, and to gain victories while avoiding unnecessary sacrifice. These teachings enable the Party to know which forces are acting in the interests of the working class and which against it. By means of these teachings the Communist Party is able to find the best methods of struggle of the working class against capitalism, and for socialism.
As the leader and organizer of the proletariat, the Communist Party of the U.S.A. leads the working class in the fight for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, for the establishment of a Socialist Soviet Republic in the United States, for the complete abolition of classes, for the establishment of socialism, the first stage of the classless Communist society.
Our Party realizes that certain conditions must exist before the outworn capitalist system can be overthrown. What are the conditions? Comrade Lenin, in his pamphlet, "Left-Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder, answers this question.
"... for revolution it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the class-conscious, thinking, politically active workers) should fully understand the necessity for revolution and be ready to sacrifice their lives for it; secondly, that the ruling classes be in a state of governmental crisis which draws even the most backward masses into politics, weakens the government and makes it possible for the revolutionaries to overthrow it rapidly."
These two conditions alone are not sufficient for the successful struggle of the working class. Even if the masses know that socialism liberates the working class, even if the masses know that socialism can be won only through revolution, unless there is a strongly organized Communist Party which explains the aims and methods of the struggle to the workers, unless it itself organizes these struggles, and is itself in the forefront of them, the revolution cannot be victorious. Lenin wrote about the need for a strong Communist Party as the advance guard of the working class in the following words:
"In order that the mass of a definite class may learn how to understand its own interests, its situation, may learn how to carry on its own policy, precisely for this an organization of the advanced elements of the class is immediately necessary at any cost though at the beginning these elements may form a negligible section of the class."
How will the Communist Party convince the majority of the working class that a revolution is necessary? The Communist Party can do this by becoming the trusted vanguard, the beloved organizer and leader of the struggle of the working class. Agitation and propaganda alone are insufficient. Something more needed to convince the masses of the proletariat of the necessity for the overthrow of the old order.
The workers also need schooling through their daily struggles under the leadership of the Communist Party. Workers learn by their own experiences that only through stubborn struggle can they wrest any concessions from the capitalists. They learn the relationship of classes in present-day society. They learn the nature of bourgeois democracy and of fascism. They learn the role of the henchmen of the bourgeoisie in the ranks of the working class, they learn the role of the reformist leaders of the trade unions and of the Socialist Party. In other words, the proletarian masses learn through their own experiences that their class, the working class, has class enemies-the bosses, the exploiters, the capitalists and their henchmen. They learn that there is only one way out of misery, insecurity, unemployment, etc.-the way of the final overthrow of the old order, and the establishment of the new-the proletarian dictatorship.
These experiences will be learned in the day-to-diy struggles in the fight for better conditions, in strikes for higher wages and shorter hours, in the struggles for adequate relief, for unemployment insurance, against evictions. The masses will learn in these struggles who their enemies are. They will see the police with their clubs and revolvers and gas bombs, the militia with their machine guns; the extra-legal forces of the bourgeoisie (Ku Klux Klan, Vigilantes, etc.) with their lynch law; the press with its poisonous anti-working class propaganda; they will recognize the role of the church; the judges with their injunctions and vicious sentences against workers; the mayor of the city or town, the governor of the state, the President of the United States, always supporting the capitalists. They will see the reactionary leaders in the A. F. of L. unions treacherously helping the bosses to crush the struggles of the workers for a decent living and against capitalism. They will see the efforts of the Socialist Party leaders to fuse themselves more and more with the leaders of the A. F. of L. unions. They will see the cynically conciliatory policy of the Right wing of the S.P. toward the bourgeoisie and A. F. of L. bureaucrats. They will see the role of the Trotskyites as the advance guard of the counter-revolution, supplying the capitalists with "arguments" against Communism and the Workers' Fatherland, the Soviet Union. They will see the Lovestoneites, the renegades from Communism.
The workers learn through their own experiences that they must have a Communist Party, which leads them in their struggles, which draws the correct conclusions from these struggles, and which, in the preparation for, and in the midst of, the struggles, continuously exposes every move of the enemy and teaches the workers the lessons that should be learned in their struggles. The Commu- nist Party, part and parcel of the proletariat, has only one interest: a better life for the exploited, oppressed masses, the end of all exploitation. While the Communist Party knows that hunger and misery cannot be finally abolished under the capitalist system, it leads and organizes the fight of the masses for better conditions now because the interests of the workers are its interests, and because it knows these day-to-day struggles develop the workers for their final task-the overthrow of capitalism. The Communist Party explains to the workers that even those concessions which are won by them through bard-fought battles will be taken back by the bourgeoisie unless the workers build and strengthen their mass combat organizations, especially their unions. In these fights the masses will see their enemies, will realize that there is only one Party they can trust, only one Party which fights uncompromisingly with them against the enemy, the Party which is their flesh and blood-their Party -the Communist Party.
In this way, the Communist Party will win the confidence of the masses, and become their recognized leader, their General Staff, their vanguard, which they will follow in the final battle to victory.
Comrade Stalin in his book, Foundations of Leninism, gives a very clear analysis of the question of dictatorship and democracy. We quote a few paragraphs:
"The State is an instrument in the hands of the ruling class for suppressing the resistance of its class enemies. In this respect the dictatorship of the proletariat in no way differs, in essence, from the dictatorship of any other class, for the proletarian. State is an instrument for the suppression of the bourgeoisie. Nevertheless, there is an essential difference between the two, which is, that all class States that have existed heretofore have been dictatorships of an exploiting minority over the exploited majority, whereas the dictatorship of the proletariat is the dictatorship of the exploited majority over an exploiting minority.
". . . the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be 'complete' democracy, a democracy for all, for rich and poor alike; a dictatorship of the proletariat 'must be a State that is democratic in a new way (for the proletariat and the poor in general) and dictatorial in a new way (against the bourgeoisie)'. [This paragraph quoted by Stalin from V. I. Lenin, State and Revolution.]
". . . 'pure' democracy, . . . 'perfect' . .. democracy and the like, are but bourgeois screens to conceal the indubitable fact that equality between exploiters and exploited is impossible. The theory of 'pure' democracy is the theory of the upper stratum of the working class which is tamed and fed by the imperialist plunderers. It was invented to hide the sores of capitalism, to camouflage imperialism and lend it moral strength in its struggle against the exploited masses. Under the capitalist system there is no true 'freedom' for the exploited, nor can there be, if for no other reason than that the buildings, printing plants, paper supplies, etc., indispensable for the actual enjoyment of this 'freedom', are the privilege of the exploiters. Under the capitalist system the exploited masses do not, nor can they, really participate in the administration of the country, if for no other reason than that even with the most democratic system under capitalism, the governments are set up, not by the people, but by the Rothschilds and Stinneses, the Morgans and Rodkefellers.
"Democracy under the capitalist system is capitalist democracy, the democracy of an exploiting minority based upon the restriction of the rights of the exploited majority and directed against this majority. Only under the dictatorship of the proletariat is real 'freedom' for the exploited and real participation in the administration of the country by the proletarians and peasants possible. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat democracy is proletarian democracy-the democracy of the exploited majority based upon the restriction of the rights of the exploiting minority and directed against this minority." (Foundations of Leninism, by Joseph Stalin, pp. 51-52.)
The chief strategic aim of our Party in the present period is to win the majority of the working class for the struggle against capitalism. This is an essential condition for victory over the bourgeoisie and for preparing the workers for the decisive battles for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system is the historic mission of the working class. But the workers cannot fulfill their mission if they fail to win over the wide sections of the toiling masses. It is essential that the proletariat wins to its cause all its allies, without whom there cannot be a successful revolution.
Who are the allies of the American working class? The Open Letter, adopted by the Central Committee in July, 1933, very clearly answers this question.
The Open Letter stressed the following facts: The most important allies of the American working class are the poor and small farmers. These farmers, as well as broad sections of the middle farmers, are hardest hit by the whole development of post-war capitalism and especially by the economic crisis. They are most brutally exploited by the government by the banks, by the trusts and the insurance companies. Their interests are consequently directed objectively against finance capital. The main task of the Party in its work among agrarian toilers is, above all, the organization of the agricultural wage workers, organizing them into the trade unions and the Party, organizing and leading strikes of the agricultural workers for better wages and working conditions. Such strikes, in many places, have already played an important part in the development of the farmers' movement. At the same time the Party has the important task of winning over the poor and small farmers, and also broad sections of ruined middle farmers, for the struggle against capitalism on the side of the proletariat; while at the same time it must strive to neutralize other sections of middle farmers. This is an important prerequisite for a successful struggle against the offensive of capitalism, against fascism and for the defense of the Soviet Union, and for the final victory of the proletariat.
The other important ally of the American proletariat is the mass of 13,000,000 Negro people in their struggle against national oppression. The Communist Party, as the revolutionary Party of the proletariat, as the only Party which is courageously and resolutely carrying on a struggle against the double exploitation and national oppression of the Negro people, becoming particularly intense with the developing crisis, can win over the great masses of Negro people as allies of the proletariat against the American bourgeoisie.
The Party can stand at the head of the national revolutionary struggle of the Negro masses against American imperialism only if it energetically carries through the following tasks:
"The Party must mobilize the masses for the struggle for equal rights of the Negroes and for the right of self-determination for the Negroes in the Black Belt. It must ruthlessly combat any form of white chauvinism and Jim-Crow practices. It must not only in words, but in deeds, overcome all obstacles to the drawing in of the best elements of the Negro proletariat, who in the recent years have shown themselves to be self-sacrificing fighters in the struggle against capital. In view of this, special attention must be given to the promotion of Negro proletarians to leading work in the Party organizations. In all mass actions, strikes and unemployed struggles the Party must pay particular attention that, in formulating practical demands, it takes into consideration and gives expression to the special forms of exploitation, oppression and denial of the rights of the employed and unemployed Negro masses. At the same time the Party and in the first place the Negro comrades must genuinely improve the methods of patient, systematic but persistent struggle against the ideology and influence of petty-bourgeois nationalists among the Negro workers and toiling Negro masses." (An Open Letter to All Members of the Communist Party, pp. 14-15.)
The Communist Party systematically aids the revolutionary liberation movement of the oppressed peoples of the colonial countries (Cuba, Philippines, Latin-America, India, China, etc., etc.).
The Communist Party mobilizes the masses for international solidarity with the struggle of the workers in other capitalist countries.
The Communist Party rallies the masses against imperialist war and fascism, and for the defense of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union is the only fatherland of workers all over the world. It is the achievement of the international proletariat. It is the most important factor for the liberation of all workers in every country. Therefore, the workers all over the world must help the Soviet Union in building socialism, and must defend it with all their power against the attacks of the capitalist powers.
It is necessary and possible also to win over to the side of the workers broad sections of the lower petty bourgeoisie and intellectual workers in the cities and to neutralize other sections of the petty bourgeoisie (municipal and state employees, lower officials, teachers, intellectuals, students, petty bourgeois war invalids, artisans, small shop-keepers), who have been brought into action as a result of the tremendous pressure of the crisis. This can be done only if the Party will come out resolutely in defense of their interests, by organizing and leading teachers' strikes, students' demonstrations, resistance to reduction of salaries of city and state employees, resistance to robbery through inflation and bank crashes, etc.
But the more widespread the movement among the non-proletarian masses becomes and the more acute the task of winning allies of the proletariat becomes, the more intensely must Like Party work to extend and organize its proletarian base. This very extension of the movement of the non-proletarian masses makes it incumbent on the Party not to allow itself to be side-tracked from its main task, namely, th winning of the decisive influence in the factories, above all in the basic industries (steel, metal, railway, maritime, mining, etc.), and the systematic building up of factory nuclei and trade-union organizations.
"If the Party intensifies its activity among the petty-bourgeois masses without at the same time and above all strengthening its base in the big factories and among the most important sections of the American working class ... then the danger arises that the Party, having only weak contacts with the decisive sections of American workers, will be driven away from its proletarian base, and instead of leading the petty-bourgeois masses will succumb to the influence of petty-bourgeois sentiments, illusions and petty-bourgeois methods of work," (Open Letter, p. 16.)
"The increasingly sharp attacks against the workers raise more insistently than ever the necessity of the establishment of the working-class fighting front to resist these attacks and to win the demands of the workers. The working class in the United States is still largely unorganized. That part which is organized is largely under the influence of the A. F. of L. bureaucracy, which keeps it split up in innumerable ways by craft divisions, by discriminations against the Negroes and foreign-born, by divisions between the skilled and unskilled, etc. That smaller section which has begun to question the capitalist system is further divided between the leadership of the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, while a considerable section stands aside, still bewildered by these divisions and the problems it does not yet understand, and further confused by the shouts of those small but active groups, the renegades from Communism, the Musteites, etc." (Earl Browder: Report to the Eighth Convention of the Communist Party, U.S.A., p. 55.)
The Communist Party understands that the road towards our main strategic aim, the winning of the majority of the working class for revolutionary battles, leads through a broad united front of the masses. The united front is organized by the Communist Party for the united struggle of Communists and all other workers, members of other parties or of no party whatever, for the defense of the interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.
The Communists do not make any conditions for the united front except that the unity shall be one of struggle for the particular demands agreed upon. The united front is therefore, first and foremost, the coming together of working class forces for action for demands upon which the forces have agreed. For example: In a given factory the workers may be Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, Communists, or members of the A. F. of L. without any political affiliation; Catholics, Protestants, etc. When the employer increases the working hours or reduces the wages, the policy of the Communist Party is immediately to unite the workers to resist the employer's attacks, to organize shop committees, grievance committees, to bring the various unions and the workers who belong to different parties into a solid line against the bosses. This united front, according to the situation, will enable the workers in this given factory to fight unitedly against the bosses. In this action the Communist Party will show the workers that only the Communist method of waging the struggle will bring victory.
The systematic application of the united front in the big factories is of decisive importance, especially for leading strikes, establishing a united fighting front, and tearing down the barriers between the revolutionary workers and the masses of other workers. The decisive factor in establishing the united front is tireless, every day activity among the workers in order to prove, in every question, the correctness of our slogans and our proposals for action.
This application of the united front of the factory workers in action is very easily understood. But when we pass from the factories to the unions and to the parties, the confusion begins. What is the difference between the average trade unionist and a Communist? The trade unionist thinks only of the interest of the workers in the particular trade or occupation embraced by his own union. The Communist thinks of the interests of the working class as a whole, and aims to bring the whole working class into common action for their common interests. The method of-the united-front action in the factory must also be applied to the unions, which must be brought together for common action. But the bureaucratic leaders of the unions are against such a policy for obvious reasons (their role as agents of the bourgeoisie).
Nevertheless, we must consider the fact that they are at the head of the unions of the workers, and therefore cannot be ignored. In most instances, if the rank and file is approached by us for a united front, the first reaction is. Did the executive com- mittee of our union take up this question? Is it en- dorsed by them? If we have not approached their leaders, we already find one obstacle against the workers even considering our proposal. Therefore, in many cases while approaching the rank-and-file membership directly with our united-front proposals for action on specific issues, while organizing our influence through building united-front committees (shop committees, grievance committees, etc), in the factories, and in this way increasing our influence, we also appeal, at the same time, to the leaders of the unions and the Socialist Party who have a mass following, and we are prepared to negotiate with them. If they agree to act with us, so much the better, even though we may, be sure that at some stage of the action they will try to betray the workers. If they refuse to negotiate for the united front then we must expose them and the obstacle they are putting in the way of the united front. In this manner, the prestige of the bureaucratic officialdom in the minds of the rank and file of the unions receives a severe blow.
The united front must not be limited only to special campaigns. Nor must we abandon efforts to achieve a united front because we do not succeed at once in winning over the workers for struggle, and because they do not at once want to separate themselves from their reformist leaders. The united front must not lead to subordination of the revolutionary policies to that of the reformist leaders in the way of a so-called "non-aggression pact". United front means uninterrupted, patient, convincing work to destroy the influence of reformists and the bourgeoisie. 'The rejection of the united front proposals of our Party and the immediate urgent demands of the workers by the reformist leaders must impel us to make even stronger efforts to organize a common fighting front in the factories, mines, and among the unemployed masses, in the locals and branches of the A. F. of L. and Socialist Party, with the workers who are under the influence of the reformists.
The united front could and should be built on all issues concerning the interests of the working class, such as war and fascism, elections, unemployment insurance, wage cuts, conditions, hours, defense of political prisoners, etc., besides the immediate daily problems of the workers in the factory or in the industry.
The Communist Party in the united-front activities does not give up for a moment its independent political role. Thus, the Party, in all phases of the united-front action, while fighting side by side with the non-Party workers, must politicalize the struggle and show its perspective clearly.
The Party, in its every day work, must clarify to the workers in a positive and concrete way the principal difference between us and the reformists. The Party, by its practical work, must prove to the workers that we are the fighters for a united struggle and that the reformist leaders are the splitters and disrupters of the struggle.
We must show clearly in action that the Communist Party is the only Party that fights uncompromisingly for the interests of the workers.
Basic Principles of Party Organisation