Chapter Thirty: The Communist Political Association (1944-1945)

30. The Communist Political Association (1944-1945)

The Teheran agreement of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, in December 1943, was basically a military one, setting the date, place, and strategy for the opening, on June 6, 1944, of the long-delayed western front in France. The three war leaders also took occasion to express the hope diplomatically that this wartime unity could be carried over into the post-war period and would result in peace "for many generations." On the basis of the Leninist policy of the possibility of the peaceful co-existence of the capitalist and Socialist powers, Stalin definitely planned for such a peace. But aggressive Anglo-American imperialism, which was already aiming at world conquest, and of which Churchill and Roosevelt were the representatives, had no such peaceful purpose in mind, as later events soon demonstrated.

Earl Browder, general secretary of the Communist Party, immediately jumped to the conclusion that the post-war unity that the "Big Three" expressed in wishes at Teheran was, in fact, an actual agreement and that post-war peace and co-operation were therefore guaranteed. He assumed that the dominant circles of United States monopoly capital were interested in and favored a peaceful coexistence and friendly competition with the U.S.S.R. With the glib assurance of a Utopian and an opportunist, Browder undertook to state all the essentials of this imagined agreement at Teheran. This he did at the January 1944 meeting in New York, of the National Committee of the Communist Party. Later, in his book, Teheran: Our Path in Peace and War, he developed his thesis at length. In the face of much doubt and some opposition among our membership, Browder managed to get the Party to endorse his policy, if not to accept it wholeheartedly.

"Capitalism and socialism," said Browder, "have begun to find the way to peaceful coexistence and collaboration in the same world." Post-war unity of the "Big Three," he argued, was based upon assurances by Churchill and Roosevelt to Stalin that the Soviet Union would be left to develop in peace, and promises by Stalin to Churchill and Roosevelt "that a victorious Red Army would not carry the Soviet system and socialism on its bayonets to the rest of Europe." Thus old "fears and suspicions" had been liquidated and genuine world co-operation virtually established.

The expected revolutionary upheavals in Europe after the war need not, according to Browder, disrupt the new international unity; for, said he, "It is the most stupid mistake to suppose that any American interest, even that of American monopoly capital, is incompatible with the necessary people's revolution in Europe." The developing colonial revolutions were disposed of by Browder with equal ease. Obviously, American capitalism had a compelling profit interest, he argued, to create broad markets in the colonial and semi-colonial lands. Hence, highly practical (nay, inevitable) would be an agreement between the United States and Great Britain to liberate, industrialize, and democratize these areas. This was Truman's "Point Four," originated by Roosevelt and theorized about by Browder. Trade conflicts between the two powers could (would) also be worked out in friendly agreement.

Thus, in Browder's assumed "Teheran" post-war world the imperialists would abandon their innate hostility to the Soviet Union, liquidate their own trade rivalries, tolerate people's revolutions in Europe, and collaborate with the independence movements of the colonial peoples. Consequently, peace would be assured for many generations.

This idyllic international unity of Browder's also presupposed an equally idyllic national unity in the capitalist countries. In the United States the main consideration for such unity was economic. This involved, said Browder, disposing of $80 billion yearly in surplus commodities that would develop once the war industries returned to civilian production. This problem he prepared to solve, first, by increasing American foreign trade by $40 billion annually; that is, by upping United States exports to Latin America by $6 billion, to Africa $6 billion, to Asia $20 billion, to Europe $6 billion, and to the U.S.S.R. $2 billion. "I am quite willing," said Browder, " to help the free private enterprisers to realize the forty-billion dollar market that is required entirely and completely by their own methods." This was a suggestion to Wall Street to grab the trade of the world with the help of the working class.

In order to dispose of the $40 billion of American overproduction that would be left even after this vast extension of foreign trade, Browder expected that the employers would voluntarily double the real wages of the workers. "There seems to be no other way," said Browder, "but to double the buying power of the individual consumer. How that shall be done we will not suggest at this time. We look forward to practical suggestions from the capitalists who must find the solution in order to keep their plants in operation."

Browder declared that the "intelligent" capitalists would establish national unity on the basis of all his projects—acceptance of the European and colonial revolutions, doubling the workers' wages, abolition of anti-Semitism and Negro persecution—in accordance with their "true class interests." In his enthusiasm for a class collaborationist national unity he declared in a speech at Bridgeport, Connecticut, on December 12, 1943, "If J. P. Morgan supports this [pro-Teheran] coalition and goes down the line for it, I as a Communist am prepared to clasp his hand on that and join with him to realize it."1

On such a basis Browder foresaw national unity in the United States. There would be, he said, "very little discontent in labor's ranks and very little strained relations between labor, government, and management." The trade unions would have few problems. Working under an incentive wage and a no-strike pledge, which he wanted carried over into the post-war period, Browder expected that the unions would surely arrive at "an agreed practical program, which grants to the capitalists the maximum initiative in working out the problems of distribution in their own way."

One of the worst elements in Browder's so-called national unity was his abandonment of the fight of the Negro people for self-determination. His theory was that the Negro people, by their attitude at the close of the Civil War, had exercised their right of self-determination and given up all perspectives of being a distinct nation. This was a repudiation of the national character of the Negro question. The political substance of this was that the Negro masses, like the workers, had no real need for further struggle against the supposedly benevolent ruling class, but would automatically achieve their rights. The ultimate results of this conception were a grave weakening of the Party's fight among the Negro people and a virtual liquidation of the Communist Party in the South.2

Browder's national unity also presupposed the workers' acceptance indefinitely of the two-party electoral system. He said, "The working class shares very largely the general national opinion that this 'two-party system' provides adequate channels for the basic preservation of democratic rights." He defended this system and said, "The political aims which we hold with the majority of Americans we will attempt to advance through the existing party structure of our country, which in the main is that of the peculiarly American two-party system."

On the basis of his acceptance of capitalism, class collaboration, the two-party system, and the elimination of the Negro people's struggle for national liberation, logically enough Browder also saw no need for the Communist Party. So he proposed its dissolution and the reorganization
of the Communists into an educational institution. This body should put up no election candidates of its own and would "be non-partisan in character." It would carry on "Marxist" work among the masses. As for Leninism, the Marxism of the present period, that was out entirely; Lenin's name was not even mentioned by Browder in the whole presentation of his Teheran thesis.


The heart of Browder's opportunist ideas was the traditional "American exceptionalism," the illusion that the capitalist system in this country is basically different in that it is not subject to the laws of growth and decay that govern capitalism in other countries. Because of the relatively favorable conditions of its development—the absence of a feudal political past, the control of tremendous natural resources, a vast unified land area, and, in late years, its ability, because of its strategic situation, to profit from the world wars that were destroying other capitalist countries, capitalism in the United States has retained the appearance of great strength in a world of developing capitalist weakness. Lenin long ago explained this phenomenon by his law of the uneven development of capitalism; but opportunists such as Lovestone and Browder, in full harmony with the bourgeois economists, considered that the superficial, specific features of American capitalism set it apart basically from capitalism in general. This "American exceptionalism" saturated Browder's entire political outlook.

Browder's opportunist plan, as is customary with "American exceptionalists," contained an enormous overestimation of the power of American capitalism. His Teheran thesis virtually showed the American monopolists running the entire world, and conceded Wall Street imperialist world hegemony. Henry Luce never portrayed "the American century" so vividly as Earl Browder did.

Another major element in Browder's opportunism was its Keynesism. That is, he undertook to show that by government planning the United States could overcome its crises of overproduction. The false implication of this was that capitalism could thereby vanquish its general crisis. Browder's Utopia was the characteristic Keynesian illusion of a "progressive capitalism," moving ahead in an ever-rising spiral. The picture he painted was one of the evolutionary advance of an all-satisfying capitalism, not of militant struggles to socialism.

Browder's opportunism also had in it the typical right Social-Democratic policy of class collaboration, which means the subordination of
the working class to the dictation of the capitalist class. He put the whole control of society in the hands of "intelligent capitalists." The working class had no revolutionary role, nor had the Communist Party.

Browder's scheme was a crass revision of Marxism-Leninism. In his Teheran thesis he obliterated the class struggle, overcame the basic contradictions of capitalism, eliminated the conception of imperialism (the very word "imperialism" became taboo to him), and he did away with the perspective of socialism. For, if the capitalists should voluntarily double the wages of their workers, industrialize and democratize the undeveloped areas of the world, abolish war, and establish rising living standards all over the world, as Browder maintained they would, where would be the grounds for the proletarian revolution and socialism? Browder was even more ambitious than all this in his revisionism. He was insolently striving to rewrite the whole body of Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist principles and program.

Browder's opportunist Teheran policy was the climax of his several years of wrong attitudes toward the Roosevelt coalition and the national unity of the pre-war and war years. This systematic misinterpretation produced a whole series of developing errors, from the time the Party began to support Roosevelt in 1936. Among these errors, as we have remarked in passing, were Browder's failure to criticize Roosevelt and his dictum of "follow Roosevelt and subordinate everything to his policies" (as early as 1937, a prominent European Marxist said that Browder was "bedazzled by Roosevelt"), his betrayal of the national liberation movements in Asia and Latin America, his "crossed-the-Rubicon" theory of Anglo-American imperialism in the war, his wrong conception of the national liberation struggle in China, his refusal to insist upon a wartime coalition government, his incentive wage, his centralized war economy, his ousting of 4,000 foreign-born from the Communist Party, his abolition of shop groups, his growing assumption in practice that the class struggle had disappeared, his underplaying of the leading and independent role of the working class and the Communist Party, and, all along, his opportunistic interpretation of American history. The Teheran policy was only the final maturing of Browder's ever-more-marked orientation to the right.

In his Teheran policy, Browder was a voice of American imperialism. He glorified the "progressive" role of American monopoly capitalism; he sowed imperialist illusions among the workers; he sought to demobilize the labor movement and the colonial peoples in the face of aggressive imperialism, and he tried to wipe out the greatest of all enemies of American imperialism, the Communist Party. The Teheran policy was an attempt to write an effective program in the  interest of the American big bourgeoisie, not of the working class. It was designed to further Wall Street's post-war drive to master the world and to get the working class to support it.


In the present period of sharp domestic class struggles, international war danger, and the Leninist position of the Communist Party, it seems almost incredible that the Party could ever have made the fundamental error of accepting Browder's impossible Teheran scheme. The basic reason for this error was the inadequate Marxist-Leninist development of the Party and its leaders. The mistake was a mistake of the Party, not merely of its then leader, Browder. He merely capitalized upon the weak Marxist-Leninist development of the Party. He was the theoretician, spokesman, and originator of the deviation.

The Party at the time was part of a national unity made up of all classes, and it was supporting a bourgeois government allied with the U.S.S.R. in a great war against fascism. This was basically a correct line. But the Party had been so conditioned in the complex situation by the development of Browder's opportunism over the previous several years as to exaggerate grossly the progressive significance of the existing national and international unity. Browder, a cunning sophist, was able to give a sinister plausibility to his Teheran project. Hence, the Party was deceived into believing, or at least partially believing, that the wartime national and international unity would be continued and greatly developed in the post-war period. Other Communist parties at the time, especially in the western hemisphere, made similar mistakes, endorsing either Browder's line or variations of it.

Browder's revisionism had deep roots in the inadequate social composition of the Party. The Party's strength was relatively weak among the workers in the basic industries, and this weakness was accentuated by the Browder-inspired liquidations of the shop units in this period. There had also been a large influx of ideologically undeveloped white collar workers and professionals into the Party. Many, if not most, of these elements eventually developed into sound Communists, but Browder, himself a white collar worker, an accountant, systematically allied himself with the right-wing currents among them. He also had close ties with those opportunist (later renegade) Communist trade union leaders, who had become corrupted by the high wages and political opportunism prevalent in the C.I.O. official circles. Browder cultivated all these right tendencies, based himself upon them, and directed his inner Party fire solely against the real Marxists in the Party. All this was akin to the petty-bourgeois opportunism which historically had ruined the Socialist Party.

Browderism was also enabled to flourish through the lack of democratic centralism in the Party. Under a correct Leninist system of democratic centralism, there must be within the Party full political discussion, penetrating self-criticism, sound discipline, a vigorous fight against both right and "left" deviations, and an energetic application of Party decisions. These are the conditions for a strong Party and correct policies. An approximation to this regime has normally been the life of our Party, but not always. During the long factional fight of 1923-29, for example, the Party's democratic centralism was stifled by the prevailing captious criticism, factional attitudes, lack of discipline, and the placing of group interests before those of the Party. Then again, under the Browder regime, the violation of democratic centralism went to the opposite, but related extreme, in the drastic curtailment of real political discussion, the virtual abolition of self-criticism, the cultivation of bureaucratic methods of work, the general development of a super-centralization, and the almost complete abandonment of the fight against right tendencies in the Party. Browder, to stifle political discussion, harped demagogically upon the dangers of factionalism, vivid memories being still prevalent in the Party of the great harm done by the long factional fight of 1923-29. It was under such artificial conditions, alien to Marxist-Leninist Party life, that Browder's revisionist Teheran thesis, without adequate discussion, was foisted temporarily upon the Party.

The Teheran deviation of our Party was essentially of a Social-Democratic character. The right Social-Democracy, as its settled policy, always tails after the bourgeoisie. This policy, as we have seen, has, among other treacheries, brought it to the point of supporting the program of American imperialism for world conquest through a major war. Browder's policies would have led our Party in this same general direction. The Party, however, proved its Communist quality by recognizing its serious error and drastically correcting it. This is something which the right Social-Democracy cannot possibly do. Marxist-Leninists are not infallible. They, too, occasionally make mistakes. What characterizes them, however, is that they make fewer mistakes than any other Party and then, on the basis of penetrating self-criticism, they openly correct these mistakes and learn the lessons from them.


Browder made his report on Teheran, on January 7,  1944, to the National Committee and other leading Party workers, about 500 in all.

William Z. Foster, national chairman of the Party, presided over the meeting. As soon as Browder had concluded, Foster put his name on the speakers' list and notified the Political Committee that he was going to speak against Browder's report. Several members of the Committee strongly urged him not to do this, on the ground that it would throw the Party into grave confusion in the midst of the war. They also assured him that Browder had spoken without a previous review of his speech and that the whole matter would be taken up shortly for reconsideration by the Political Committee.

With this understanding Foster withdrew his name from the speakers' list. But as no Political Committee discussion of Browder's report took place, on January 20th he addressed a letter to the National Committee expressing his views.3 In this letter Foster challenged the whole line of Browder's report. In the sphere of foreign policy, he attacked Browder's underestimation of the general crisis of capitalism, his illusions about the liquidation of imperialism and his "progressive" role of American capitalism, his belief that the big capitalists in Great Britain and the United States would no longer assail the Soviet Union. He pointed out that Roosevelt was an imperialist, and he warned of the post-war drive for world domination that would come from American imperialism.

In the domestic sphere Foster showed the fallacy of proposing a postwar national unity that would include the "biggest capitalists," assailed the Browder-Morgan symbol of national unity, foresaw a post-war perspective of class struggle instead of class peace, opposed Browder's acceptance of the two-party system, attacked the post-war no-strike policy, condemned the discarding of socialism, and warned the Party of the danger of falling into the right Social-Democratic error of tailing after the bourgeoisie. As for the dissolution of the Party, Foster and other comrades had opposed this ever since it had been proposed some weeks before. Obviously, however, he should have again pressed this question in his letter to the National Committee. On Browder's thesis as a whole, Foster's letter said: "In this picture, American imperialism virtually disappears, there remains hardly a trace of the class struggle, and socialism plays practically no role whatever."

Foster demanded that a new meeting of the National Committee be called to discuss his letter. This was refused, but instead an "enlarged meeting" of the Political Committee, of some 80 leading Party workers was held on February 8, 1944. Foster's letter was read and overwhelmingly rejected,  only  one of  those  present voting with  him.   Browder then served notice upon Foster that if he carried his position to the membership, this action would be met by his expulsion. Foster's letter was suppressed by Browder and kept from the Party as a whole.

Convinced that any attempt to raise the issue broadly among the membership would result in a fruitless Party split, Foster decided, for the time being at least, to confine his opposition to the National Committee—"a course which," he said, "I followed for the next year and a half by means of innumerable criticisms, policy proposals, articles, 4 etc., all going in the direction of eliminating Browder's opportunistic errors. I was convinced that the course of political events and the Communist training of our leadership would eventually cause our Party to return to a sound line of policy."5 And so matters turned out in reality.


Browder, in the earliest discussions of his general Teheran thesis, proposed the liquidation of the Communist Party. Among other arguments, he cited the dissolution of the Communist International in May 1943, which, however, had taken place, as we have seen, for reasons completely different from Browder's opportunist purposes. He encountered much opposition in the Political Committee, but eventually won his point.

Consequently, the National Committee of the Communist Party, on January 11, 1944, sent out a letter to the Party districts recommending that the Party as such be dissolved and reorganized into a "political-educational association." This was endorsed practically unanimously by all the districts. During May 20-22, 1944, therefore, the plan was carried out at the regular twelfth convention of the Party held in New York City.

The Communist Party convention proper lasted only a few minutes. Browder made the proposition to dissolve the Party, stating, "I hereby move that the Communist Party of America be and hereby is dissolved and that a committee of three consisting of the Chairman, General Secretary, and Assistant Secretary of the Party, be authorized to take all necessary steps to liquidate its affairs and that such committee be further authorized to dispose of all its property and to turn over any surplus that may remain to any organization or organizations that in their opinion are devoted to our country's winning of the war in which it is presently engaged and in the achieving of a durable peace." The motion was adopted without discussion,  whereupon  the  C.P. convention  adjourned.

The delegation then immediately reconvened and proceeded to organize itself into the Communist Political Association. Browder made the main political report, along the lines of his by then well-known Teheran thesis. This was adopted as the general program of the C.P.A. The old structure of the C.P., with considerable changes, was taken over by the new organization, and so, too, were its journals, properties, and funds, the special committee placed in charge of this matter at the C.P. convention so deciding. The leadership, district and national, remained substantially the same, except that Foster, because of his opposition stand, was dropped as national chairman, Browder taking over this position with the title of president. Eleven vice-presidents were also elected, thus centralizing more power in Browder's hands. The heads of the state organizations were called presidents.

The Preamble to the Constitution was drastically modified in line with the new political orientation. The C.P.A. dubbed itself "a nonpartisan association of Americans," which "adheres to the principles of scientific socialism, Marxism" [not Marxism-Leninism]. The Preamble said nothing of the class struggle, of imperialism, of the revolutionary role of the working class, of the establishment of socialism. Instead, "it looks to the family of free nations, led -by the great coalition of democratic capitalist and socialist states, to inaugurate an era of world peace, expanding production and economic well-being, and the liberation and equality of all peoples regardless of race, creed or color." Some months later Browder proposed dropping the word Communist from the title of the C.P.A., but was defeated by one vote in the Political Committee.

Thus Browder's system of revisionism had reached its ultimate expression. It had gone to its last extreme in the liquidation of the Party. Browder had not only revised the principles and policies of the Party, he had also dissolved the Party itself. He did this under the pretext that the C.P.A. was a better instrument to work with. This was an abandonment and betrayal of the most fundamental concepts of Marxism-Leninism. It was a surrender to the Social-Democratic and bourgeois demand that the C.P. be abolished, an attempt to deprive the working class of its indispensable leading political party. In its convention of May 1944, the Communist Party of the United States made the greatest political mistake in all its history.6


Browder's revisionism promptly had weakening effects upon all branches of Communist mass work. In the trade unions attempts to develop a post-war no-strike outlook along the lines of the Teheran thesis badly misfired, and the right-wing opposition correspondingly prospered. In the work among the Negro masses Browder's theory that the Negro people, having abandoned (satisfied) their national aspirations, were now integrated into the white population, threw confusion into the ranks of the Communists and their sympathizers and undermined their fight for the rights of the Negro people. In the field of women's work, Browder's reliance upon the progressive role of the bourgeoisie tended to liquidate all conceptions that the women would actually have to fight for their rights in order to get them. In the national group work similar opportunist conceptions took root, and for the first time in American Communist history bourgeois nationalism became an acute problem among the left forces in this sphere. In cultural work, Browder's bourgeois catering to "big names" was a debilitating influence. And in the South, where the Communists had carried on so heroically for so long, work was practically abandoned.

The Young Communist League suffered early and heavily from Browder's revisionism and liquidationism. On October 16, 1943, the Y.C.L. in convention dissolved and then reorganized its forces into the American Youth for Democracy. This was not an effort to find the basis for a broader Marxist organization-the traditional Y.C.L. objective-but an attempt to wipe out Marxism-Leninism in youth work. Says Betty Gannett, "The new organization was conceived as educating the youth not in socialism, but in the traditions of the best in bourgeois democracy. It was to be a non-partisan organization, with free discussion of the policies and theories proposed by all political parties. . Fraternal ties with the Communist Party were dissolved. . . . Emphasis was laid on the service character of the organization, thus differentiating it but little from other youth service organizations. And Marxism was to be studied on a voluntary basis, as one of the important 'currents of democratic thought.' This opportunist trend was intensified as Browder-ism grew. The effects of revisionism negated every basic principle of Marxist-Leninist work among the youth." 7 Corrections were made in this line in 1945 after Browder's defeat, and these were amplified at the formation of the L.Y.L. in May 1948.

In the 1944 presidential elections, with the sick Roosevelt leading the Democratic ticket together with Harry S. Truman, Browder, in line with his Teheran program, tried to make a grandiose maneuver. In a speech in Cleveland he proposed that the heads of the Republican and Democratic parties should come together and agree upon a single win-the-war ticket. This step was logical from Browder's revisionist position. He was contending that the bulk of finance capital was supporting the Teheran policy, therefore to him it made small difference whether the Republicans or Democrats won, both parties being controlled by "progressive" finance capital. The election, consequently, had little real significance to him, and all the election fury was mere narrow partisanship without real political content. Therefore, the two parties should pick a common ticket. This scheme obviously would imply the ditching of Roosevelt; for, of course, the Republicans would never agree upon him. But Browder quickly backed away from his hare-brained project, owing to vigorous opposition in the Political Committee and also to clear indications that his proposal would have been almost unanimously condemned by the strong Roosevelt forces among the broad masses. So the C.P.A. continued its endorsement of Roosevelt and helped elect him to his fourth term.


The Party membership from the outset accepted Browder's revisionist Teheran policy without firm conviction. Before long this uncertainty began to develop into doubt and opposition. This changing attitude was primarily due to the fact that the course of American and world events was swiftly exposing the fallacy of Browder's whole line. Obviously, in the field of labor what the post-war period was bringing would not be Browder's long period of peaceful class collaboration, but many hard-fought strikes. And in the realm of foreign policy, although the war was not yet over, American imperialism (with its new political chieftain, Truman) was clearly preparing to grab what it could of the war-stricken world. This became especially evident with the opening of the United Nations founding conference in San Francisco on April 25, 1945. "All the great struggles of the conference," says Frederick V. Field, "revolved around the effort of imperialism to reassert itself against the forces of democracy to which the war had given such impetus."8 Particularly sinister signs of this basic fact were the admission of Peron's Argentina to the U.N. and the exclusion of democratic Poland.

The threatening domestic and international situation produced increasing doubts in the C.P.A. about its political line. These were reflected in the Political Committee. Eugene Dennis began to develop a perspective of active struggle, instead of class peace, in the post-war United States; Gilbert Green proposed that a National Committee meeting be held to review the post-war situation (to which Browder's thesis was supposed to be the basic answer); Benjamin J. Davis, Jr., warned of the evil effects that the present policies were having in Negro work; Jack Stachel spoke of American imperialism (which supposedly Browder had liquidated); Robert Thompson expressed growing doubt on various aspects of the Browder line; John Williamson complained of the lethargy in the C.P.A. and the big loss of members. Foster cultivated all these doubts about the correctness of the Party line and lost no occasion of criticizing the Browder policy and exposing its fallacies. Browder, therefore, had all plans laid for Foster's expulsion in the near future.


In the midst of this rapidly developing internal situation, Jacques Duclos, secretary of the Communist Party of France, published in the French journal, Cahiers du Communisme, in April 1945, an article colliding head on with the Browder policies. 9 Duclos was motivated to write his article primarily because, some time before, an article had appeared in France Nouvellej a Communist paper, lauding Browderism, and also because Browder's dissolution of the Communist Party in the United States was encouraging liquidationist tendencies in the French Communist Party.

In his article, Duclos made a long statement of Browder's policy, counterposing to it copious quotations from Foster's letter to the National Committee. In drawing his own conclusions, Duclos declared that "one is witnessing a notorious revision of Marxism on the part of Browder and his followers, a revisionism which is expressed in the concept of a long-term class peace in the United States, of the possibility of the suppression of the class struggle in the post-war period and the establishment of harmony between labor and capital." He condemned Browder's distortion of the Teheran diplomatic declaration "into a political platform of class peace," and he excoriated the liquidation of the Communist Party. He declared that "nothing justifies the dissolution of the American Communist Party." Instead, the situation "presupposes the existence of a powerful Communist Party."

The Duclos article had an electrifying effect upon the C.P.A. It speedily matured the already developing opposition to the Browder policies. Within a matter of weeks the whole Party, from the local clubs to the Political Committee, almost unanimously rejected the Teheran opportunism. Undoubtedly, with events at home and abroad daily showing the stupidity of Browder's revisionism, the American Communists, without Duclos' intervention, would eventually have cleared the Party of this political poison. But it would have been a difficult process, probably involving a serious Party split. As it was, his famous article greatly facilitated the smashing of Browder's opportunist system; for which the Communist Party of the United States remains deeply indebted to Jacques Duclos and the French Communist Party.


The C.P.A. received a copy of Duclos' article on May 20, 1945.10 It was immediately discussed in the Political Committee. The whole policy of the C.P.A. quickly came under survey, with the result that Browder's line was rejected by a two-thirds majority of the Committee, which soon became unanimous, except for Browder. The latter, packed with conceit and arrogance and devoid of any trace of self-criticism, clung to his position, despite its obvious bankruptcy. Consequently, a few days later he was suspended as general secretary, and a secretariat of three—William Z. Foster, Eugene Dennis, and John Williamson—was chosen in his stead.

On June 18-20, a meeting of the National Committee was held. The Committee, reflecting the virtually solid sentiment of the membership, unanimously condemned Browder's line, agreed with the Duclos article, fully endorsed Foster's earlier letter to the National Committee, and adopted the draft of a new policy resolution. It also supported the removal of Browder as general secretary, making this permanent, and it called a special convention for July 26-28, in New York City.

The Emergency (thirteenth) Convention unanimously endorsed the actions taken by the Political Committee and the National Committee. It was a convention of deep self-criticism for the great mistake that had been made in the Party's falling victim to Browder's revisionism. In this respect the convention declared, "The source of our past revisionist errors must be traced to the ever active pressure of bourgeois ideology and influence upon the working class."

The convention set about thoroughly cleansing the Party of Browderism and putting it once more upon a solid Marxist-Leninist basis. The C.P.A. was liquidated and the Communist Party reconstituted. The Party Constitution was correspondingly rewritten. A secretariat was chosen to head the Party, consisting of William Z. Foster, Eugene Dennis, and Robert Thompson. Foster was reinstated as national chairman. Numerous changes were made in the composition of the National Committee and, later by local action, also in the state and local committees.

The Preamble of the Party Constitution was also rewritten and given substantially its present text. It broke with Browder's adulation of bourgeois democracy and struck a clear note of proletarian democracy and socialism. It declared that "The Communist Party of the United States is the political party of the working class, basing itself upon the principles of scientific socialism, Marxism-Leninism." While defending the achievements of American democracy, it pledged an uncompromising fight "against imperialism and colonial oppression, against racial, national and religious discrimination, against Jim Crovism, anti-Semitism and all forms of chauvinism," and for socialism. It was sharply and clearly based upon the class struggle.

The main resolution11 made a realistic survey of the world situation— the war with Japan being not yet concluded at the time. It repudiated all the Browder nonsense about the "progressive" role of American imperialism and pointed out the sinister dangers in the international policies being followed by Wall Street and the Truman government. The resolution declared that "the most aggressive circles of American imperialism are endeavoring to secure for themselves political and economic domination of the world." It also stated that "if the reactionary policies and forces of monopoly capital are not checked and defeated, America and the world will be confronted with new aggressions and war and the growth of reaction and fascism in the United States." This incisive Marxist-Leninist analysis gave a clear picture of the international situation and made a forecast of the course of events which remains completely valid today.

In the domestic sphere the resolution broke completely with Browder's class collaborationism. It rejected the post-war no-strike line, incentive wage, subservience to the two-party system, and "organized capitalism" of Browder, and it wrote a program of class struggle. It outlined a militant win-the-war program; urged the workers to prepare-for the difficult struggles of the post-war period; retained the sound Communist policy of building the Roosevelt coalition and set out to strengthen it in a Leninist sense. The resolution sharply criticized Truman, who had been president for only a few months, and declared, "It is of central importance to build systematically the political strength of labor, the Negro people, and all true democratic forces within the general coalition for the struggle against imperialist reaction, for combating and checking all tendencies and groupings in the coalition willing to make concessions to reaction. The camp of reaction must not be appeased. It must be isolated and routed." The resolution restated a correct policy on the Negro question. The Party had reasserted its Communist quality.

The convention, in short, made a clean sweep of the reformist trappings of Browderism. But it took the work of the next few years to eliminate from the Party the many revisionist moods and practices that had been growing for so long under Browder's cultivation. After the Emergency Convention a great surge of joy and enthusiasm went through the ranks of the Communist Party. But the adventure into revisionism of the C.P.A. had been a costly one, the Party losing some 15,000 members, who were repelled by Browder's opportunism. This had been evident earlier when large numbers of Party members had refused to register in the C.P.A. A report by Betty Gannett in mid-1944 stated that but 63,044 members, or 88 percent of those on the rolls of the C.P. (not counting 15,000 in the armed services) joined the C.P.A., a loss of 9,000 at this point. The Party registration of January 1946 showed but 52,824 members, a figure which was raised to 59,172 in the registration of 1947.

An aftermath of Browder's revisionism was the organized defection of a few dozen disgruntled sectarians in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and elsewhere. These included Sam Darcy, William F. Dunne, Harrison George, Vern Smith, and others. They developed a leftist line of criticism, charging that the new Party leadership was centrist. This was their way of retreating from the increasingly difficult class struggle under cover of revolutionary phraseology.


Browder promised the Party to obey the convention decisions, and the Party leadership offered to give him minor Party work. He refused this, however, as he had obviously decided upon breaking with the Party. Soon he began a factional correspondence inside the Party, and toward the latter part of 1945 he started publishing a sheet called Distributors Guide. This paper propagated Browder's revisionist line and made sneaking attacks on the Party. He also tried to build a factional grouping.

Although repeatedly warned, Browder continued his unprincipled maneuvering. He challenged the authority of the Political Committee and the secretariat to examine his political activities. Therefore, at a meeting of the National Committee, on February 12-15, 1946, upon the report of Robert Thompson,12 he was unanimously expelled from the Communist Party. A mere handful—his wife, his brother, his financial "angel," and a few others—departed with him as his following.

Once outside of the Party, Browder intensified his anti-Party activities. But he could never assemble more than a baker's dozen in his group. With the whole world situation daily giving the lie to his absurd Teheran thesis, Browder went right on reiterating it to "fit" the completely contradictory political conditions. He disintegrated into an open enemy of the Communist Party, a shameless mouthpiece for American imperialism, and a snide vilifier of the Soviet Union.13

1  The Communist, Jan. 1943.
2 Resolution, Emergency Convention, C.P.U.S.A., July 28, 1945.
3 Full text in Political Affairs, July 1945. Beginning with the issue of Jan. 1945, The Communist was renamed Political Affairs.
4 William Z. Foster in Political Affairs, June 1945.
5 William Z. Foster in On the Struggle against Revisionism, p. 18, N. Y., 1945.
6 See Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of the Communist Political Association, New York, 1944.
7 Betty Gannett in Political Affairs, Sept. 1948.
8 Frederick V. Field in Political Affairs, Aug. 1945.
9 Political Affairs, July 1945.
10 Daily Worker, May 27, 1945.
11 Political Affairs, Sept. 1945.
12 Robert Thompson, The Path of a Renegade, N. Y., 1946.
13 For the later political decay of Browder, see articles by Gilbert Green in Political Affairs, Oct., Nov., 1949, and March 1950

Chapter 31

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