How the legacy of the 7th Congress of the CI sabotaged the fight against Browderism
Reprinted from the Workers' Advocate Supplement,
vol. 4, #3, March 15, 1988.
[Introduction by the Workers' Advocate Supplement, 1988]
Who were these "left sectarians"?
"Left sectarians" or anti-revisionists?
What the anti-revisionists stood for
On the nature of U.S. imperialism
On national unity
On FDR and the Democratic Party
The problem of setting forth revolutionary tactics
The mass struggle
On the stand towards opportunism
United front tactics
The anti-revisionists on the 7th C.I. Congress
The fate of these anti-revisionists
[Introduction by WAS]
. The Seventh Congress of the Communist International in 1935 marked the adoption of a new and wrong line for the world communist movement. In the U.S., this went hand in hand with the corruption of the party by the revisionism championed by Earl Browder, a major leader of the CPUSA in the 1930's and World War II who progressively degenerated more and more into an ordinary bourgeois-style politician. This led to utter liquidationism, and the dissolution of the Party itself into the "Communist Political Association" in 1944.
. The reconstitution of the Party in 1945 brought a repudiation of some of the most blatant features of Browderism. But as it turned out, this repudiation was half-hearted. This was true of the actions taken by such Party leaders as William Z. Foster which has been analyzed in such articles as "The CPUSA's Liberal-Labor Approach to the Critique of Browder" (The Workers' Advocate, May 1, 1984) and "Why the CPUSA didn't resist Khrushchovite revisionism" (The Workers' Advocate, June 10, 1984).
. A deeper and more radical analysis was given by a number of CPUSA members who wanted a more thorough correction of the views and practices of the Party. And in turn Foster and Dennis and the other CPUSA leaders condemned them as left sectarians. But time has proved that the leadership given by Foster and Dennis and others did not root out Browderism from the CPUSA, which continued to degenerate into the corrupt reformist party which it is today.
. What happened to the anti-revisionists who stepped forward right after World War II? They were isolated and defeated. One of the sources of their weaknesses was their attempt to fight Browderism while upholding the line of the Seventh Congress of the CPUSA.
. Below we reprint a discussion of the line of these anti-revisionists. It is taken from a May Day speech of the Marxist-Leninist Party given in Seattle in 1986. It has been edited for publication.
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. Our Party stands by the truth: one must study history, and learn its lessons, or be condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past. The repudiation of Browderism was a pretty lame affair and by no means resulted in the CPUSA restoring a Marxist-Leninist policy. In the June 10, 1984 issue of the Workers' Advocate we examined the evolution of the CPUSA's tame, liberal-labor and opportunist course in the immediate years following its refounding. In this article we referred to a speech by William Z. Foster at the Special Convention that reestablished the Communist Party, where he said:
. "The fourth and last false conception that I wish to speak against is the idea being circulated by 'left' sectarian voices in our Party to the effect that the present program of the Party is only transitory, that we are on our way to a much more left interpretation of the present national and world situation. According to these comrades, we are going to, or should, denounce the war against Japan as imperialist, condemn the decisions of Teheran [i.e. for lovey-dovey post-war cooperation between the USSR, Great Britain, and the U.S. for a peaceful, harmonious reconstruction from the ravages of the world war] as unachievable, drop the slogan of national unity, call for a farmer-labor government, give up our wartime no-strike pledge, abandon the fight for 60,000,000 jobs, bring forward the question of socialism as an immediate issue, and generally adopt a class-against-class policy.
. "But these comrades are indulging in wishful thinking. Our Party, if I know it, is not going to take any such leftist course."
. Our article went on to comment on Foster's statement as follows:
. "Thus Foster called a halt to the struggle against Browderism almost before it had begun. His only difference with Browder on the question of the Teheran perspective was whether mass struggle was necessary to force the capitalists to carry out this program. He wanted to keep the liberal-labor coalition with the liberal bourgeoisie, rather than rallying the working masses to a truly independent class position, which he condemned as the line of 'farmer-labor government' or as a 'class-against-class' policy.' "
Who were these "left sectarians"?
. This brings up an interesting chapter in the repudiation of Browderism: who were these "left sectarians" advocating a class-against-class policy that Foster was cursing, and what was their line? Did they oppose the ideas of the 7th CI Congress? What was their fate?
. Brief answers can be provided for these questions tonight. The investigation was not in depth: only some important documents have been studied. But even so, certain points are clear. And the hope is that these preliminary views may encourage discussion and study of the authoritative documents our party continues to publish on these and related issues.
. First, a brief chronology:
. The CP was liquidated into the "CPA" [Communist Political Association] on May 20, 1944. The article by Duclos criticizing this was in April 1945, and the CP was refounded in July. One year later, in July 1946, there was a CP National Committee meeting and resolution dealing with the on-going discussion in the Party to repudiate Browderism. In November of that year, a series of expulsions of "leftists" took place and continued as the months went by.
. In 1947, two books appeared by individuals expelled from the CP. One was by William F. Dunne entitled The Struggle Against Opportunism In The Labor Movement -- For A Socialist United States. The other book, by Harrison George, was entitled The Crisis in the C. P. U. S. A.
. According to one source, William F. Dunne was a charter member of the CPUSA, and for some time a candidate member of the Executive Committee of the Communist International. Harrison George was also a charter member of the Party, and the editor-in-chief of the Daily Worker for several years. He also served as editor-in-chief of the West Coast paper, the People's World.
. In September 1947 William Dunne was expelled from the Party by the National Board, along with several others, for alleged "left sectarianism". Soon thereafter, Harrison George and many others were also expelled on the same basis.
. In his book History of the CPUSA, Foster also lists Sam Darcy (who had been the only
comrade in the national leadership to oppose the dissolution of the Party) and Vern Smith as
among the sectarians.
"Left sectarians" or anti-revisionists?
. Now to present an overview of the line of these "left sectarians" as William Z. Foster, Eugene Dennis (the CP's General Secretary after Browder), Gil Green, and the rest of that crew called them. I will refer to them as anti-revisionists, although there were numerous problems with their positions. It doesn't appear that they had organizational links either before or after their expulsions, nor did they share the same views on all issues. Of the two, more material was available from Dunne's book, and so the following remarks will deal more with it.
. 1) First of all, did the anti-revisionists have a Marxist-Leninist critique of Browderism, unlike the liberal-labor criticism of Browder by the French communist Duclos and the CPUSA's Foster? Were they guilty of the honorable charge of advocating a policy of class-against-class? Partially, but there were numerous weaknesses in their attack.
. On the plus side both Harrison George and William Dunne saw Browderite revisionism as a phenomenon that started around 1934-5. This is unlike Foster and Dennis, who agree with Browderism up until it takes on the extreme positions of open love for U.S. imperialism, that is, until it emerges as open social-imperialism, in around 1942-3. And Dunne especially criticizes numerous manifestations of the application of the 7th Congress line to the U.S. , while not seeing (or perhaps--not admitting) the source.
. 2) Did they see any relation of Browderism to the opportunist theses of the 7th CI Congress?
. No. They saw Browderism as an opportunist distortion of a correct 7th CI line. But here it should be stressed that both Dunne and George take the "left" demagogy of Dimitrov and company at the 7th Congress to be the actual line. They quote extensively from 7th Congress materials against the line of both Foster and Dennis, utilizing the apparently correct and Leninist phrasemongering that Dimitrov and others used to lubricate the jamming of the departures from Leninism down the throats of the international movement. In fact, George's book contains a compilation of much of the left demagogy of Dimitrov's speeches.
. Their inability to see the departures from Leninism in Dimitrov's speeches made their efforts to clean up the mess Browder had made of the CPUSA more difficult.
. 3) Despite its weaknesses, this criticism could have served as a starting point for a deeper
repudiation of revisionism. It was combative, impassioned, and even showed revolutionary spirit
here and there. But things did not proceed further. They were not up to the task, and it seems that
they and their views faded into oblivion by the 1950s. Later I will list some probable reasons for
this. But now, let's proceed to examine some of their views.
What the anti-revisionists stood for
. Both Dunne and George present their views in the form of a critique of the CP leaders, especially Eugene Dennis, for their inadequate repudiation of Browderism. Their criticism is quite harsh. George, for example, has a chapter entitled "Principles of Party Cleansing from Below--Against Factionalism; for a Revolutionary Party" in which he says:
. "From top to bottom, this corrupt and incorrigibly opportunist leadership must be swept away, and replaced by fresh and proletarian leadership from the depths of the Party."
. This entire chapter is a plan for such a revolt, based on the author's experience in the IWW (Wobblies), and especially the Socialist Party in 1919 when a left-wing revolt gave rise to the two CP's that would merge in 1921 to form the united Party. The spirit of Dunne's views is similar.
. So, let's compare their views for repudiating Browderism with Dennis and Foster's. Our article,
"The CPUSA's Liberal-Labor Critique of Browder" in the May 1, 1984 issue of the Workers'
Advocate, can be used as a basis.
. We say there that
. "Nowhere in any of the documents, including the Duclos [article], is there the slightest mention of the necessity to organize the working class for revolution. Talk of revolutionary organization, revolutionary struggle, or the revolutionary movement has been completely banished. One can find statements about social progress, socialist reorganization of society, even the elimination of exploitation of man by man. But nowhere will you find the word revolution, nor will you find the presentation of a revolutionary perspective."
. The anti-revisionists were much better on this issue, but there are still weaknesses here in the writings of both Dunne and George.
. Dunne says some things about the need for a revolution. For example, he calls the Foster-Dennis group "refugees from the social revolution". He uses the formulation "revolutionary struggle" a few times. And his description of bourgeois democracy hints at the need for revolution. After presenting a good explanation of the origin of the bourgeois democratic state and its role in suppressing the masses, he denounces the prevailing CP practice of referring to the U.S. government as an above-class "democracy-for-all". He then states that precisely because the communists are the most vigorous defenders of bourgeois-democratic rights, it is all the more important to explain the illusion "that capitalist democracy by itself affords the opportunity and the machinery to end the exploitation and oppression of a working class in the majority by capitalists in the minority." This is a big hint against the prevailing, though unstated, line of peaceful, parliamentary road to socialism and of the need instead, for a revolution.
. But it is only a hint. Dunne's basic formulation sounds radical, but upon reflection one realizes that it doesn't mention revolution directly. He states that
"the main, immediate and central task of Marxists is the political preparation of the working class in the U.S. for the abolition of the system of monopoly capitalism (imperialism) and the establishment of a socialist system of production and government."
. George also mentions the revolution. He states:
. "In the present controversy within the CPUSA, the idea that the Seventh Congress of the CI revoked the previous program of the Communist parties to struggle for Socialism and the proletarian revolution, has been given furtive circulation by the 'political hens,' who are hatching some revisionist eggs."
. He then goes on to quote Dimitrov talking about "the second round of proletarian revolution" and "the dictatorship of the proletariat and the power of the Soviets".
. It is interesting that at least by 1946 the discussion in the CPUSA dealt with such issues introduced by the 7th Congress of the CI as that socialism and the revolution have been taken off the agenda. George tries to counteract this view from the 7th Congress by citing the demagogic frills Dimitrov grafted onto it.
. At the same time, both George and Dunne rarely deal with the issue of revolution.
On the nature of U. S. imperialism
. Browder's perspective was U. S. imperialism would perform progressive miracles in the wake of World War II. For one thing, the capitalists would voluntarily double wages at home and liberate the colonial and dependent countries in order to ensure a market for their goods. Our 1984 article states
. "The fundamental criticism of Browder [by Foster and company] is that he believed that the domestic and international war-time alliances could be maintained after the war without struggle, whereas Foster held that struggle was essential to maintaining these alliances."
. What Foster is referring to is US-Soviet cooperation to make the UN a democratic organization to ensure world peace; and cooperation whereby the U.S. generously contributes to world postwar economic reconstruction -- of the colonies, of Eastern Europe, and especially in the socialist USSR! In other words, Dennis and Foster also have the post-war perspective of socialism and capitalism getting married in a loving embrace, but that the U.S. groom will submit to the charms of the Soviet bride only with a little encouragement of the "shotgun" of the mass struggle in the U.S.
. Dunne's view is quite different. He tends to ridicule the idea of "American-Soviet friendship", "Big Three [U.S., USSR, and Great Britain] unity" and "the peaceful collaboration of the United Nations". After giving a nice description of the U.N. "as an instrument of U.S. imperialist policy", he states:
. "Petty-bourgeois prattle about the United Nations as an instrument of peace is a crime against the working class as long as the UN is dominated by U.S. imperialism and its British minions."
. Another of his comments on the U.N. reads like a bit of fresh air today in light of various forces including the Party of Labor of Albania expressing enthusiasm for the "anti-imperialist" hot air of such medieval reactionaries as the Khomeini-ites in the U.N.:
. "The Dennis conception is typically anti-Marxist-Leninist. It tries to substitute for the class struggle inside each capitalist nation, and struggle for national ruling class interests between nations, the formal expression of this struggle--the echoes of the wide upsurge of anti-imperialist battles on various levels in debates of diplomats in the assembly of the United Nations."
. He also says that
. "No one in his right mind, certainly no communist, believes that the [monopoly capitalists] will ever order their relationships with the U.S.S.R. on the basis of 'friendship'."
. As proof, he cites the U.S. policy to conduct World War II in such a way as to allow the Nazis to bleed and destroy as much of the USSR as possible.
. George, for his part, describes the U.S. as not pursuing anti-fascist aims in the war, but only anti-axis aims, and even these for imperialist interests. This cuts sharply against all the euphoria about "big three unity", both during and after the war, promoted by the Soviet leaders as well as the Browderites.
. Dunne says U.S. postwar aims include threatening the S.U. with atomic attack and, in general, the pursuit of "world domination by all methods including war".
. He criticizes Foster's view that the Teheran program of post-war collaboration can be achieved through pressuring the U.S. with mass struggle. He denounces the Dennis-Foster conception of mass struggle as being in fact a " 'progressive' electoral block based on the 'resurrection of the Roosevelt program'." (Throughout the book, he denounces Roosevelt as a monopoly capitalist and liberal imperialist. Of this, more later. ) Dunne does not, however, say that a real mass struggle, as opposed to a liberal electoral block, will achieve the Teheran objectives. He does not believe in the Teheran perspective at all.
. Dunne goes on to say that "War on the Soviet Union, on the people of China . . . against other
peoples, will be prevented only by the united mass action of the working class." In sum, Dunne
foresees a post-war situation marked by U.S. imperialist aggression, not the rosy Teheran utopia.
But there is also the issue of whether all reactionary wars can be prevented without revolution.
As an agitational statement, Dunne's remark might mean little other than one must wage mass
struggle against imperialist wars. But as a careful statement of line, it may counterpose to the
Foster idea of achieving the Teheran utopia through a shotgun marriage between imperialism and
socialism, one of the pacifist arguments of Dimitrov and the 7th Congress that war can be
prevented under imperialism if there is enough mass opposition. As is known, while an invasion
of the Soviet Union did not take place after World War II, imperialism waged one reactionary
war and intervention after another all around the globe.
On national unity
. What about the Browderite slogan of "national unity"?
. Browder's idea of the progressive character of U.S. imperialism was coupled with the corresponding idea that there was no longer any need for the class struggle. The workers should just loyally embrace the monopoly capitalists to help them carry out their progressive deeds.
. In our 1984 article we pointed out that Foster agreed with the slogans for "national unity", "defense of the national interests", "patriotism", and so forth. His only disagreement was that "the bulk of finance capital" could not be included in this coalition. But this is just eyewash, because Foster states that
"the patriotic lead, on the contrary, has come and will continue to come from the national unity elements grouped mainly around the Roosevelt forces."
. This is Foster's plan for bringing the Teheran utopia into being. Of course, the trick here is the ridiculous idea that the Rooseveltians were not also representatives of monopoly capital.
. Dunne is against all of this. He condemns Dennis for being
"a champion of 'American national interests'".
. He goes on to say that
. "The enemy of the U.S. working class is a part of the nation. It is the ruling class. In the U. N. its spokesmen voice its imperialist interests. The defeat of its program in our country means, not national, but class struggle."
. George also denounces the national unity slogan. George says that this slogan was fine during
World War II, and only became "putrid" the minute the war ended. But of course the class
struggle continued in the U. S. during the war, only in different forms.
On Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic Party
. Perhaps the strongest aspect of both Dunne's and George's writings is their condemnation of Roosevelt and the Roosevelt wing of the Democratic Party as representative of the liberal bourgeoisie and of U.S. imperialism.
. In 1944 Foster argued at length that the Roosevelt government is not only not based on the monopolies, but is at odds with them. This is also exactly what Dimitrov strongly implied at the 7th Congress. This was a crucial thesis used for dragging the CPUSA into the mud and slime of bourgeois reformism, of cringing liberal-labor politics, of social-chauvinism, and of desertion of the socialist revolution.
. From the thesis that the Roosevelt government fights the monopolies, Foster argues that
. "We must go all out for a continuation of the Roosevelt policies as the only way to support effectively the Teheran decisions."
. After Roosevelt dies, Truman is installed as President, World War II comes to an end, and the CPUSA maintains the stand that the Democratic Party is against the monopolies. But a problem comes up. Truman goes on a reactionary rampage. He broke the U.S. -USSR wartime alliance. He brandished U.S. military might and the atomic threat in a drive for world hegemony. He launched an offensive against the working class, sought to purge the trade unions, and went after the CPUSA with a vengeance.
. Foster and Dennis describe this process as Truman "betraying" the "FDR policy of American-Soviet friendship, the rock of Roosevelt's foreign policy." (Election statement, CP National Board, 1946) The line was given that Truman "surrendered" to the GOP and Wall Street. In class terms, this view meant that the Democratic presidential administration had allegedly gone from an anti-monopoly FDR stand to a pro-monopoly GOP stand; from a "liberal-labor-middle class" coalition to Wall Street.
. On this basis, the CP gives what Dunne describes as their central slogan: "Resurrect the Roosevelt Program". And in late 1946, the CP leadership had already conceived of, and began to plan for, the building of a third, electoral party based on the presidential candidacy of FDR's ex-vice president, Henry Wallace, which was to feature some anti-monopoly demagogy.
. Dunne denounces all of this. He states that:
. a) the Roosevelt administration was always a liberal imperialist regime for the crafty defense of monopoly capitalism;
. b) for 10 years, the CP had step-by-step become a "tail to the kite" of this Democratic Party of the monopolies; ("appendage for a decade"--i.e. from 1937 or so);
. c) Truman did not betray the FDR policy, nor desert from the masses to Wall Street, but simply continued the monopoly capitalist policy of Roosevelt in the changed conditions after the close of the war;
. d) the CP slogan of "resurrect the Roosevelt program" was liquidationist; it was
"merely the continuation of the dissolution of the CPUSA as the revolutionary political party of the working class under the guise of 'reconstitution' and 'unity' " and "puts the CP in the camp of liberal imperialism".
. e) the third party scheme is liquidationist through and through:
"a reformist capitalist set-up that liquidates the independent program of the CP and has nothing to do with socialism."
. It seems fairly clear that Dunne's criticism of the Democratic Party is the strongest aspect of his arguments. Still, these are views of a pretty basic nature.
. This concludes the comparison of Dunne and George's views to those of Foster and Dennis on
the points highlighted in the May 1, 1984 Workers' Advocate article.
. On a number of other points there are some nice touches in the literature studied. For example Dunne selects some excellent quotations from Marx, Engels and Lenin that hit on various controversies quite well: among other things, Marx on the opportunists taking refuge in eclecticism; Engels on the necessity for using scientific language; and Marx on the brilliant tactics of eliminating the "red bogey" and on postponing the goal of socialism for future generations . . . in order to "win over the bourgeoisie". But these are side roads.
. Overall the analysis of the anti-revisionists cuts much deeper than that of Foster and Dennis. It
does have weaknesses; its basic problem is not left sectarianism but the carryovers from the 7th
Congress period of the CI.
The problem of setting forth revolutionary tactics
. It should be stressed that the strengths of the anti-revisionists, particularly the decent criticism of Roosevelt and the Democrats, are by no means sufficient for elaborating and maintaining a consistent Marxist-Leninist line for reconstructing a communist party. For example, there are examples today of opportunists who are capable of revolutionary phrasemongering, and of basically correct criticisms of the Democrats, but who still find it easy to rationalize abject, reformist tactics. Various groups in the 'left'-sounding wing of the trotskyists, among others, come immediately to mind.
. The question of the tactics for revolutionary work among the masses also appears to be a
stumbling block with Dunne and George. I am running out of time, so my remarks on this will be
The mass struggle
. Neither Dunne nor George can deal much with the particular fronts of the mass struggle and the
damage to them caused by the CP's submersion in the FDR liberal-labor coalition. There is one
section where Dunne ridicules the line of the C.P. in 1946 to solve every problem by writing your
Congressman and by voting Democratic. And Dunne is particularly angry that, on the electoral
front, the CP did not run their own candidates in the 1946 New York State Governor's and
Senator's races, and instead supported the pro-Truman candidates. But generally the
consideration of the damage by liberal-laborism is kept on a general plane.
On the stand towards opportunism
. This is connected to their stand on social-democracy and the trade union bureaucrats. While
they criticize them in many places, they give the distinct impression that they regard them as
fighters against the bourgeoisie when it comes to reforms. It seems as if they are regarded as OK
in the immediate struggles, with the problem being that they are not for socialism and that they
are going over to overt anti-communist measures, and it is mainly on these issues that they have
to be fought. This still put the anti-revisionists to the left of the CPUSA's stand on the trade
union hacks and the opportunists, but it is not sufficient to deal with tactics in the mass struggle.
. Therefore, the anti-revisionists focused their attack on Foster and Dennis for not standing up for socialism; not standing up to the reformists' anti-communist attacks; and for "bowing to spontaneity". Both George, and another "left-sectarian" expelled from the CP at the same time, Burt Sutta, quote extensively from Lenin's What Is to Be Done? to show the origins of opportunism in just submerging the Party in the immediate struggles.
. This was good as far as it went. But the main concern seemed to be confined to the fact that Foster opposed socialist agitation and providing a socialist perspective to the mass movements. Dunne and George seemed to overlook the fact that the CP pushed a wrong line in all the Party's political agitation; a reformist line in the mass struggles themselves.
. Listen to Dunne:
. "The main, immediate and central task . . . is to win our class . . . for a socialist program . . . for the abolition of the capitalist-imperialist system . . . without socialism as the goal, we will lose."
. "We must unite our class, not only for militant struggle for living standards and against 'the daily encroachments' of the capitalist class and its government . . . but to unite it for victorious struggle for a socialist system of production in the U.S." (emphasis added)
. There was an important point to the raising the issue of socialist agitation. After all, Browder banished all talk of socialism, while Foster claimed socialism was not an immediate issue and as little should be said about it as possible. But in this and other passages, Dunne seems to be saying that the CP fights well in the immediate struggles, even though, as he points out, it is an appendage to the Democratic Party and completely submerged in the liberal-labor swamp. And it doesn't seem like adding on phrases about making socialist agitation "the main, immediate and central task" clarify the issue.
. In light of the fact that I couldn't find much criticism of the abject pacifism of the CP, that there is little said about the CP's no-strike pledge during the war, and so forth, it seems that Dunne and George are in the dark about what constitutes an independent proletarian position in the mass struggles.
. This is also consistent with their support for the 7th Congress of the CI. One of the key features of Dimitrov's "new tactical orientation" was to regard the opportunists as good fighters in the immediate struggles, but only lacking in the long term goal of socialism and revolution (although for Dimitrov this is a very, very long term goal, while Dunne and company put socialist agitation to the fore).
. So the anti-revisionists' view of "winning the masses for socialism" and not "bowing to
spontaneity" seems to be limited to the task of doing socialist agitation, agitation against
bourgeois democracy, providing a socialist perspective to strengthen the mass movements, and so
forth. This is vital and necessary work, and it was slighted by the CP. But all of this was to be
grafted onto the existing line on work in the immediate struggles, with relatively little criticism
of it, and yet this existing line was a reformist line.
United front tactics
. This may be clearer when we look at their conception of the united front.
. They denounce the CP leaders for departing from the Leninist united front tactics. But what they are doing is denouncing the policy of lining up behind Roosevelt. They do not present the united front and "winning the masses for socialism" as the process of winning the masses to the revolutionary class struggle, against the opposition of the opportunist misleaders.
. Their conception of "winning the masses for socialism" is limited to agitation for the socialist goal. Their conception of the united front however remains joining opportunist coalitions. This is the end-all and be-all, not winning the masses away from the tame, reformist line of the opportunists and to the militant leadership of the Communist Party.
. Their conception of the unprincipled pursuit of the united front of the CP leaders includes
. (a) hiding the face of the Party, masquerading (and acting) as, for example, just the best trade unionists;
. (b) giving up "freedom of criticism", which is elaborated as the right to do socialist agitation.
. This criticism of the CP is correct, as far as it goes. But Dunne argues that they could get into coalitions easier if they did not hide the Party's communism, because this opens the door to red-baiting; if they had a year-long campaign to win a million workers to the program of a socialist way out, they would have so much strength that the coalition leaders could not keep the CP out. Their argument against giving up the "freedom to criticize" the opportunists is not that these opportunists play the role of undermining the mass struggles.
. Quite clearly, Dunne is mired in the Dimitrov view that the united front is equivalent to CP agreements and coalitions with the social-democrats and trade union hacks. They give a militant line on how to get into coalitions ("win over a million workers for socialism"), unlike Dimitrov's line of "sacrifice everything, at all costs, sell off the Marxist-Leninist line". But this is still not the Leninist conception of united front tactics.
. And there are other problems with their views on a series of other issues.
. In sum, they were fighting revisionism. But they have numerous mistakes or weaknesses, and
these concern vital issues of revolutionary tactics. Moreover, these mistakes are often directly
connected to the profoundly mistaken, anti-Leninist views of the 7th CI Congress.
The anti-revisionists on the 7th C. I. Congress
. Dunne and George tried to defeat the revisionism of Browder and Dennis by showing that it is a distortion and perversion of the line from Dimitrov and the 7th Congress of the CI. They both make big use of the more left-sounding statements that were used at the 7th Congress to disguise the essence of the line. It is typical that Dunne praises the Popular Front program at one point, while stating that the "opportunist distortion and perversion" of it by Dennis and company
"is the most recent theoretical foundation for 'notorious revisionism' [referring to how Duclos characterized Browderism] and its further perversion on the basis of false analysis of class forces and the historical development of fascism."
. They also argue that the 7th Congress line is right for certain situations, but the conditions have changed. George, as we have seen, supported the slogan of national unity during World War II, but denounced it for the post-war situation. Dunne seems to argue that the Popular Front program and shelving the issue of socialism for the defense of bourgeois democracy is right at certain times, because fascism was the key threat. He then argues that there wasn't a clear fascist threat in the U.S. in the immediate post-war period and thus the shelving of socialism doesn't apply. He lashes out at a 1946 article in the CPUSA's journal Political Affairs that states that
"we are still in the historic period of the struggle against fascism."
. He strikes out at this from many angles, for page after page, and not without merit. At the same time, he needed this in order to criticize the CPUSA line without disloyalty to the 7th Congress.
. Dunne strongly criticizes Browder for numerous things that follow directly from Dimitrov's speeches:
. (a) handing over the CP's red trade unions to John L. Lewis and the CIO without getting a single guarantee in return;
. (b) liquidating the CP's party groups in the trade unions; and
. (c) the whole policy of hitching the CP to Roosevelt, about which Dimitrov strongly hinted.
. And perhaps other things. But he never says that any of these things follow from the 7th
Congress. And, in any case, it is clear that Dunne shares many of the wrong stands of Dimitrov.
The fate of these anti-revisionists
. Well, what was the fate of the anti-revisionists?
. Oblivion, it appears. They seemed to just disappear.
. Why? There are a number of possible factors:
. 1) The CPUSA had been quite corrupted after over 10 years of Dimitrovism and Browderism. As well, many militant elements had drifted away. And the new members who had joined in this period had little knowledge of revolutionary Marxism-Leninism. The Party had become thoroughly trained and immersed in opportunist methods. The link to the revolutionary methods of one time had been broken.
. 2) In 1947, the bourgeoisie began a frenzy of repression against the CP.
. 3) The clearest voices of protest against liberal-laborism were weak theoretically, and especially, could not see through the line of the 7th Congress. They had particular difficulties in not just criticizing the general political errors of the past, but in putting forward a line of revolutionary tactics. They were also divided among themselves. (In addition, they were getting on in years, and Harrison George had severe heart problems.)
. 4) Both Dunne and George were holding out hope in the leaders of the world communist movement supporting their views. For example, referring to factors which may hasten the rectification of the CPUSA, George states:
"Economic crisis, war, and--not the least--the inevitable clarifying function of the international Communist Bureau established recently at Belgrade, can be among these objective factors." (Ch. 9, p. 121)
. Dunne's and George's books were both published in 1947. (George's book was originally written for a pre-convention discussion scheduled for July 1947, but postponed for one year by the CPUSA.) The first meeting of the Communist Information Bureau took place in November 1947 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. But the leaders of the world movement were dead-set on promoting the profoundly rightist line of the post-World War II period. The anti-revisionists around the CPUSA were fated to be struck a heavy blow by this world line. In the CPUSA, the leaders of the world movement only wanted enough discussion to eliminate Browder's extreme liquidationism.
. Thus, the weight of the official world movement came down on top of the anti-revisionists. It could only reinforce the Foster-Dennis leadership against them. And the CPUSA leadership was cursing the anti-revisionists as "left-sectarians", "semi-trotskyites", "anarcho-syndicalists" and other such balderdash.
. In conclusion, the main lesson is that you can't kill revisionism with popguns manufactured by
Dimitrov. Only revolutionary Marxism-Leninism provides the artillery to smash the revisionist
edifice to smithereens. Defense of revolutionary Marxist-Leninism, upholding the classic
teachings of Marxism-Leninism, evaluating the history of the revolutionary movement and
absorbing the valuable lessons it teaches, this is the line of the MLP,USA. I know various
"esteemed Marxist leaders" around the world are upset because we, and others, are implementing
this line. But their difficulties have only just begun. The rejuvenation of world
Marxism-Leninism is not necessarily a distant prospect. <>
(WAS) The Workers' Advocate, and Workers' Advocate Supplement, which carried additional materials including many of the longer theoretical articles, were publications of the Marxist-Leninist Party of the US. The MLP, which was founded in 1980 and dissolved in November 1993, sought to build up an anti-revisionist Marxism-Leninism, opposed both to Stalinism and Trotskyism. Its roots went back in the mass movements of the 1960s, especially the anti-racist, anti-war, and workers' movements, and the WA itself was published from 1969 to 1993. The cause of anti-revisionist communism is upheld today by the Communist Voice Organization, and the Communist Voice is a theoretical journal which is a successor to the Workers' Advocate. (Return to text. )
(Popular Front) The problem is not the term "popular front", nor the idea that united front
tactics must be used not just within the working class, but with respect to possible mass allies,
however temporary or vacillating, of the working class. The reference is instead to the
opportunist program and perspective set forward about this at the Seventh Congress of the CI.
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