37. The American Working Class and Socialism
Spokesmen of American capitalism, both inside and outside the labor movement, shout tirelessly that there is no basis for socialism in the United States. They maintain that ours is a special type of economy, not really capitalism at all, and that it progresses in an endless upward spiral of development. This is "American exceptionalism." Such reactionaries declare, with a voice of dogmatic finality, that the American working class, as well as the rest of the nation, neither needs nor wants socialism; that the workers have the highest wage standards in the world; that they elect capitalist-minded officials to head their trade unions; that they have no mass labor party, that they are not class-conscious, that they have no revolutionary perspective. From all of which the capitalist spokesmen conclude that the American workers, living in a basically different economy from the workers of other lands, are immune to Marxism-Leninism and are permanently dedicated to the capitalist system.
All this is nothing more than whistling in the dark on the part of the ruling class in a capitalist world that is decaying. In reality, American capitalism is fundamentally the same as the system in every capitalist country, although, as we have seen in earlier chapters, certain historical factors have favored its greater growth and strength. In the United States, as everywhere else under capitalism, the industries and the land are privately owned and are operated for the profit of their owners. Production, based upon competition at home and abroad, is carried on chaotically, without plan. Through the wage system, the workers are systematically exploited and robbed by their employers. Consequently, this country also suffers from overproduction and cyclical economic crises. The United States too, possesses the same classes—capitalists, middle classes, and workers—that are characteristic of capitalist economies generally. And, as elsewhere, among these rival classes, the class struggle has raged with greater or less intensity ever since the foundation of the Republic. The American economy has typically produced monopoly and imperialism and, as we remarked previously, like all other capitalist countries, the United States is definitely involved in the general crisis of the world capitalist system.
FACTORS RETARDING THE IDEOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE WORKERS
Although the great bulk of the American working class has long lacked a Socialist ideology, this condition is only temporary. The workers in this country have an extensive and militant record of class struggle. During their struggle against the employers for over a century, they have built up a vast trade union movement, they have carried on many huge and bitter strikes and political fights, and they have evolved an ever-stronger class spirit. Although, in the main, they have not yet developed the degree of class consciousness and Socialist perspective common to the workers in Europe and elsewhere, they are on the way to doing so.
The ideological development of the American working class has been retarded by the effects, over a long period, of a number of important, but secondary, features in the development of capitalism in this country. These factors have tended to cultivate petty-bourgeois illusions among the workers and to lead them to believe that they can solve their economic and political problems within the framework of the capitalist system. These specific American economic and political characteristics are the fruitful soil out of which grows "American exceptionalism" in its various forms of Gompersism, Hillquitism, Lovestoneism, Browderism, Wallaceism, and the like. Chief among these characteristics are the following:
First: Owing to the lack of feudal political hangovers and to the more thorough-going bourgeois revolutions of 177G and 1861, the workers in this country, but not the Negro people, won broader civil liberties than existed in Continental Europe. Particularly important in this respect was the more extensive right to vote. This situation tended to cultivate among workers in the United States widespread and deep-seated illusions about the possibilities of bourgeois democracy in this country, Despite their long struggle for the right to organize unions, for woman suffrage, for popular education, for social security, and for other popular liberties. By contrast to the situation in the United States, in many European countries franchise rights of the workers were severely limited by the so-called class system of voting, right up to the revolutionary aftermath of World War I. Hence, they built their big Social-Democratic parties primarily by two generations of struggle for "equal, direct, secret, and general" manhood suffrage, acquiring a high degree of class consciousness in the process. The American working class in general, during these decades, did not have to make such an elementary fight for the vote.
Second: The long-continued lack of uniformity in the composition of the American working class has been, historically, another important factor militating against the growth of proletarian class consciousness and Socialist outlook in this country. For generations huge masses of the workers were immigrants, of two score or more nationalities and possessing widely varying languages, religions, cultures, and historical backgrounds. These factors obviously made it more difficult for them to organize economically and politically, and to develop ideologically.
Third: For the first century of the Republic's life there existed immense tracts of government-owned land, small parcels of which could be had without great difficulty, especially after the passage of the Homestead Act of 1862. This free land served for decades as a sort of safety valve for the class struggle and a deterrent to the growth of class consciousness. It gave the workers the goal of a farm, and all the early trade unions interested themselves keenly in the land question. As we have seen, this "free land" even gave birth to special forms of "American exceptionalism." In actual fact, however, comparatively few workers ever got "free land," most of it being grabbed by the railroads, coal companies, lumber and cattle kings, and big farmers and planters.1
Fourth: Another long-term deterrent to the growth of class-consciousness in the American working class was the fact that, in the vast and swift growth of industry and agriculture, numbers of workers were able to acquire property and to pass into the ranks of the middle class. Not a few even became big capitalists. The expectation of one day establishing little businesses of their own was common among the workers, and it operated to keep them thinking in terms of capitalism.
Fifth: The most powerful element, tending traditionally to slow down the development of a Socialist ideology among the workers in this country, has been the big shortage of labor power, due to the unusually favorable conditions under which American capitalism has developed. This enabled the workers, especially the skilled among them, to achieve wage rates considerably higher than those prevailing in other major capitalist countries. These "high" wages were offset, however, by such factors as a greater intensification of labor, more danger of unemployment, far more hazardous working conditions, a total lack of social insurance, and so on. While the central fact of the higher money wages in this country did not prevent the workers from forming trade unions and waging bitter strikes to defend and improve their living conditions, it nevertheless militated against their becoming fully class-conscious and revolutionary-minded.
Sixth: There grew a very big labor aristocracy, those workers whom Engels called "bourgeoisified," to whom the employers conceded relatively high wages at the expense of the unskilled, the Negro toilers, and the people of colonial lands. Especially with the development of imperialism, a corrupt labor bureaucracy grew up on the basis of this labor aristocracy. This reactionary officialdom, the characteristic American counterpart of European Social-Democracy, repeated the slogans of the employers and dominated the economic and political activities of the workers. Historically, it has been a potent weapon in retarding the ideological development of the working class. The employers have always helped this bureaucracy to gain and hold power in the trade unions.
FACTORS MAKING FOR CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS
Today, however, the foregoing factors, hindering the development of class-consciousness and a Socialist perspective among the workers, have either wholly disappeared or are on the eve of so doing. First, the United States, with the growth of monopoly and imperialism, has long since lost its democratic leadership among the nations and is now veering toward fascism—a degeneration of capitalist democracy which is fast undermining bourgeois illusions among the workers. Second, the working class is swiftly becoming more homogeneous. The immigrant masses have largely learned the English language and domestic customs; the second and third generations of their descendants, while not ignoring their national backgrounds, are quite American; and the Negro and white workers are developing a real solidarity in organization and action. Third, the free land has been gone now for at least sixty years, and the prospect of getting a real farm has been practically forgotten by the working class. Fourth, with the growth of the trusts, the traditional hope of the workers eventually to become small tradesmen or industrialists has steadily faded, until now, among the bulk of the working class, little remains of this expectation except illusory speculation here and there about one day "opening up a gas station." Today the great mass of actual workers, although hoping "to do better for their children," themselves expect to live and die as workers—which is obviously a long stride toward developing class consciousness. Fifth, the wages of American workers, while still generally above those in Europe, are now resting precariously upon a very treacherous quicksand, and this chief barrier to the development of a Socialist perspective among the workers is steadily being undermined. The imperiling of American wage rates threatens the privileged position of the labor aristocracy and also that of the reactionary labor bureaucracy, which bases itself upon this aristocracy.
THE IMPOVERISHMENT OF THE WORKERS
The primary factor undermining the traditionally higher American wage standards is what Marx called the relative impoverishment of the workers. This is taking place to an ever-increasing degree in this country, as in all capitalist economies. That is, taking all elements together—wages, prices, and productivity—American workers are more deeply exploited and are getting a smaller proportion of what they produce than they did half a century ago. "By 1939," says Perlo, "the employers were not only getting twice as much production from each worker as forty years earlier, but they were keeping a much larger share of the production for themselves; their real profits had increased by much more than 100 percent."2 The Labor Research Association states, too, that "the 'relative position' of the worker in manufacturing in 1949 was 34 percent below the level of the last century. . . . The index fell from 100 in 1899 to 66 in 1948, even on the basis of inadequate government statistics."3 And the U.S. Department of Labor, in trying to make a favorable case for American capitalism, unwittingly substantiates the above conclusions of Perlo and the L.R.A. by stating that whereas real wages in the United States have about doubled since 1900 (a gross misstatement), the productivity of the workers has increased four to five times during the same period.4 Kuczynski says, "The relative position of the American industrial worker has deteriorated very considerably during the last seventy years."5
In fact, in no other country in the world is the relative impoverishment of the workers so pronounced as it is in the United States. Nowhere are the workers so heavily exploited, for all their alleged "high wages," as they are in this country. And from this deep exploitation and relative impoverishment inevitably grow the roots of overproduction, cyclical economic crises, mass unemployment, lowered living standards, class consciousness, and the eventual breakdown of the capitalist system.
The second factor to consider regarding the decline of the traditionally higher real wages of the workers in the United States is that the relative impoverishment under capitalism inexorably brings about absolute impoverishment of the workers. This is clearly to be seen all over the rest of the capitalist world, where the workings of the capitalist system—its exploitation, economic crises, and wars—have plunged the toiling masses into deepest poverty. The workings of this economic law are also very much in evidence in the United States, where huge masses of the workers, despite recent enormous increases in production, are living in a state of destitution.
Only a few years ago, Roosevelt spoke of "one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished"—in a country with the greatest productive capacity in the world. The widely accepted Heller Budget, in 1948, called for a weekly wage of $79.04, in order to provide an average-sized worker's family with a decent living. However, only 67 percent of the people were actually getting an income equal to this budget, the average wage in manufacturing being but $54.48. In 1939 the top one percent of the population received 12 percent of the national income.6 The widespread poverty now existing in the United States was dramatically indicated recently by a Congressional report which showed that 10,500,000 famiiles—about one-fourth of all families—are now living upon incomes of $2,000 a year or less; that is to say, at poverty levels.7 At present, of 17 million women employed in industry, 50 percent are married, which means that in the greater part of these cases at least two persons must work in order to support the family adequately.
The worst sufferers in the widespread absolute impoverishment are the Negro people and the great armies of unskilled workers, whose plight is obscured by the government's generalized statistics and Pollyanna interpretations. This widespread poverty among the masses is accentuated by new insecurities and difficulties from the industrial speed-up, disruption of normal family life, early obsolescence of workers, fears of economic crises and wars, loss of popular freedoms, and so on.8
The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported on wealth ownership in the United States. It stated that the top one-fifth of the population now owns 47 percent of the wealth and the lower one-fifth only 3 percent.9 Of the total national savings (banks, insurance, etc.) the lower 40 percent of American families owns nothing at all, whereas the upper 10 percent owns 65 percent. Actually, 200 super-wealthy families dominate the industries and organized wealth of the United States. Such polarization of great wealth and deep poverty is characteristic of capitalism the world over.
With the continuation of capitalism and the deepening of its general crisis the perspective is one of great intensification and extension of mass absolute impoverishment in the United States. Although the wages of American workers are on the average higher than those prevalent in Europe, they now rest upon a most insecure basis. Today they are dependent on a feverish arms economy, instead of, as in former years, on the normal growth of the industries. Present-day American "prosperity" is artificial, drawing its sustenance from munitions production and war, and from imperialist exploitation of peoples all over the world. The present American gross national output of $324 billion ($180 billion in 1939 dollars) is tremendously overswollen from war production. Those sections of the American people, including many top labor leaders, who believe that "full" employment and "high" wages can be continued on this basis are living in a fool's paradise and are due for a sad awakening. Already the huge armaments program, with its inflation, high taxes, gigantic profits, and wage freeze, is sending American living standards tobogganing. The continuation of this program will eventually climax in either a deep economic breakdown or a catastrophic war, either of which will spread absolute mass impoverishment over the country like a plague. The great economic crisis of 1929-33, when living standards were cut in half, millions of jobless walked the streets, and mass starvation stalked the country, was the result of the normal workings of the American capitalist economy. The present arms production cannot possibly avert a similar disaster in the near future; but instead, it will produce an even greater economic smash-up. The existing mass destitution in capitalist Europe is only a foretaste of what is eventually in store for American workers, if they do not succeed in putting a halt to Wall Street's war-fascism plans and adopting the fundamental programs, making toward socialism, necessary to conserve their own well-being and to create a healthy economic system.
The condition of the American working class fully confirms the correctness of the general law of capitalist accumulation, discovered by Marx; namely, "that in proportion as capital accumulates, the lot of the laborer, be his payment high or low, must grow worse. ... It establishes an accumulation of misery, corresponding with accumulation of capital. Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time, accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation at the opposite pole."10
THE WORKERS WILL TURN TO SOCIALISM
Achieved at the expense of the unskilled, the Negro people, and the exploited of other lands, the relatively higher American living standards, especially among the skilled workers, are a phenomenon of the upswing of American imperialism. Capitalism here will no longer be able to furnish these wages when it goes into decline, as it surely will through the workings of its own internal contradictions and of the general crisis of the world capitalist system. When in its prime and on the upgrade, British imperialism could and did corrupt the labor aristocracy with relatively high wages, at the expense of the colonial peoples and the unskilled at home, as Marx and Engels pointed out. At that time the British workers as a class, bemused by this hollow imperialist "prosperity," were also not interested in socialism. The British capitalists boasted that even though workers on the Continent might be Marxist, this could never be in Britain.
But with British imperialism now far on the downgrade, those times are gone forever. Consequently, the British working class, with lowered living standards, is now irresistibly heading toward socialism, despite its opportunist Social-Democratic leadership. The general political development in the United States, although not so far advanced as in Great Britain, is going inevitably in the same direction. The American working class is facing a situation in which, in developing crisis and destitution, it will also surely learn that the only way it can protect and improve its living standards is by taking the road that eventually leads to socialism.
Because of the relatively strong position of American imperialism there is at present comparatively little demand for socialism among the broad working class. The specific type of bourgeois illusions now predominant among the bulk of American workers and their conservative leaders amounts to Rooseveltism, or Keynesism (see Chapter 33). This is the false theory that a "progressive capitalism," capable of full employment, can be created by government subsidies to industry and agriculture, plus doles to the workers. Keynesism in the United States plays approximately the political role of right-wing Social-Democracy in Europe in keeping the workers tied to the capitalist system. Although the European right-wing Social-Democrats, who deal with more radical workers, pepper their reformist dish with pseudo-nationalization of industry, seeming independent political action,, and much talk about socialism, actually they, too, base their economic and political programs upon a framework of Keynesian "progressive capitalism."
American Social-Democracy has surrendered outright to bourgeois reformism, of which Keynesism is the latest expression, and it has abandoned completely the propaganda for socialism that it once carried on. This surrender was marked by the gradual acceptance of the succeeding forms of so-called progressive capitalism—Theodore Roosevelt's "Square Deal" (1912), Woodrow Wilson's "New Freedom" (1916), and Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" (1932), and during the current period, Truman's demagogic "Fair Deal." Nowadays such "Socialists" as Dubinsky and Reuther are practically indistinguishable from Green and Murray in their general political outlook. The fighters for socialism are the Communists.
The capitalist system in this country is a colossus with feet of clay. American imperialism will lose ideological and organizational control of the workers as its dominant world position weakens. And because of the inevitable deepening of the general crisis of capitalism, this decline is bound to come. The political advance of the working class will then become very rapid, as Engels remarked long ago. The workers will speedily throw off their bourgeois illusions and reactionary leaders, as they have already done in many countries.
During the past twenty years the workers in this country, despite lingering capitalist "prosperity" illusions among them, have made real progress in political understanding and organization. This was evidenced by the great mass unemployed struggles, the building of the C.I.O. and the independent unions, the organization of the large body of Negro workers, the development of the program for social insurance, the increasing movements for independent political action, and the continued struggle against fascism and war. These major political developments, in which the Communist Party played a very important part, are so many sure signs of developing class-consciousness among the workers of the United States.
With the deepening general crisis of capitalism and its involvement of American imperialism in growing economic difficulties, the near future will produce an ever swifter political development of the working class. More advanced economic and political demands, a great independent party with labor as its base, a broad people's front movement, a progressive trade union leadership, and the growth of a Socialist ideology and a mass Communist Party—these developments are also inevitable for the American working class, even as they have been for the workers in other capitalist countries. They will arrive upon the political scene in this country far sooner than the power-drunk capitalist ruling class now even dreams. In these vital developments, the Communist Party, in the very nature of things, will be more and more of a leading factor.
THE AMERICAN ROAD TO SOCIALISM
The transition from capitalism to socialism involves a fundamental reorganization of the nation's economy, from one based on the private ownership of industry for private profit to one of collective ownership for social use, and also a basic political shift from the tyrannical rule of a small group of monopolists to the democratic regime of the broad working class and its allies, which leads to the abolition of class society. Therefore, it is a revolution. Capitalism established itself in all the major countries by revolutions. These revolutions, accomplished in the youth and progressive period of capitalism, were constructive. In the United States there have been two such bourgeois revolutions: thai which achieved national independence in 1776-83, and that which abolished Negro slavery in 1861-65. The workers' advance to socialism will be infinitely more progressive than the bourgeois revolutions, because it not only promises but realizes democracy and well-being for the broadest masses of the people.
Socialism is not an invention of the Communists, as reactionaries assert. Nor is the abolition of capitalism the fruition of a Communist conspiracy. On the contrary, socialism grows out of the long-continued everyday struggles of the workers, enlightened and organized by Marxist theory and guidance. It is the ultimate expression and climax of these struggles. The working class and its allies—the Negro people, small farmers, professionals, and others—making up a vast majority of the people, are oppressed by ever greater economic and political hardships under capitalism. They are especially menaced by war and fascism. These evils are greatly accentuated because the capitalist system is sinking deeper and deeper into general crisis. Inexorably the masses must unite ever more strongly and fight with increasing vigor to combat the growing disasters of economic breakdown, destitution, fascism, and world war. The daily struggles around broader and ever more urgent demands, led increasingly by the Communist Party, finally culminate in a mighty movement to abolish the capitalist system itself, as the source of the intolerable evils from which the people suffer. The struggles of the workers for immediate demands, in which they create the necessary economic organizations, build the Communist Party, acquire class-consciousness, develop a program, and win democratic rights for themselves, are an organic part of the historic struggle for socialism. This has been basically the course of political development in all those countries where socialism has been, or is now being established. The breakdown of the capitalist system makes socialism both indispensable and inevitable all over the world, including the United States.
The central task of the Communist Party, with its Marxist-Leninist training and in its role as the vanguard of the working class and the nation, is to give the elemental mass anti-capitalist movement the necessary understanding, organization, and leadership. Without this the workers and their allies could never arrive at their historic goal of socialism. TKe Communist Party is not an intruder among the toiling masses, as the Department of Justice alleges, seeking to thrust an alien program upon them. Instead, the Party is flesh and bone of the working class. It always marches in the forefront of that class, expresses most clearly its interests, and finally leads it and its allies in realizing the great objective of socialism, which is the culmination of the entire historic experience of the working class.
The Communist Party projects and works for a democratic conduct of the daily class struggle and also of the advance to socialism. The Preamble to the Constitution of the Party states this policy as follows: "The Communist Party upholds the achievements of American democracy and defends the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights against its reactionary enemies who would destroy democracy and popular liberties. It seeks to safeguard the welfare of the people and the nation, recognizing that the working class, through its trade unions and by its independent political action, is the most consistent fighter for democracy, national freedom, and social progress."
Communists are the chief fighters against the two major threats of violence in modern society—imperialist international war and fascist civil war—both of which emanate from the capitalists. The Communist Party's democratic aims are in line with the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin, with the course of the everyday struggles of the workers and their allies, and with their world experience in establishing socialism. The danger of violence in the daily class struggle and in the inevitable and indispensable advance of the workers and the nation to socialism could come only from the capitalist class, which, seeing its profits threatened and itself being deposed from its rich dictatorship, then uses every means possible to thwart the democratic socialist will of the people. For as the great Marx has truly said, there is no case in history where a ruling class has yielded up its domination without making a desperate struggle.
Marxist theoreticians, while warning the workers against capitalist violence, have always pointed out possibilities for the peaceful establishment of socialism in countries where the democratic elements are strong. Thus, Karl Marx, three generations ago, before the advent of imperialism, with its highly centralized, heavily armed, and bureaucratic state, said that "If, for example, the working class in England and the United States should win a majority in Parliament, in Congress, it could legally abolish those laws and institutions which obstruct its development." 11 Lenin also, in mid-1917, outlined a peaceful perspective for the Russian Revolution. And Stalin, writing in 1928, while pointing out the danger of capitalist violence at that time, also said that with the strong growth of world socialism, "a peaceful path of development is quite possible for certain capitalist countries."12 The C.P.U.S.A. proceeds upon the basis that such a possibility exists in the United States.
The Communist Party's orientation for a possible peaceful transition to socialism in the United States is based upon four elementary considerations: first, the fight of the working class for its immediate demands is the very substance of democracy, it strengthens basically the democratic forces in our country, and by the eventual establishment o[ socialism it raises democracy qualitatively to a new high level; second, the working class, led by the Communist Party, harmonizes its methods with its ends by fighting for both its immediate and ultimate objectives with the most peaceful and democratic means possible; third, the workers and their allies, constituting the vast majority of the people and possessing immense organizations, now have the potential power to curb, restrain, and make ineffective whatever violence the capitalists may undertake in their attempt to balk the will of the people and to prevent the establishment of socialism; and fourth, in recent years, on the international scale, there has been an enormous growth of power in the camp of democracy and socialism.
The fundamental difference between the Communist Party and right-wing Social Democracy (and its Browderite variant) is not that the Social-Democrats want to establish socialism by peaceful means and the Communists want to achieve it by violence. Instead, the difference is that the Social-Democrats everywhere have abandoned socialism altogether and are committed to an indefinite perpetuation of the capitalist system; whereas, the Communists have shown conclusively that, in line with the democratic will and interests of the workers, they are the ones that are resolutely leading the peoples of the world to socialism.
The Communist Party, although it does not advocate violence in the workers' struggles, cannot, however, declare that there will be no violence in the establishment of socialism in this country. This is because of the certainty of reactionary attacks from the capitalists. The latter might even be able, in case of inadequate resistance by the masses, to destroy democracy outright and to establish an American type of fascist-like regime. In such event there would result an entirely new political situation, where the masses would be faced with the need of militant struggle for the most elementary economic needs and democratic rights-In the United States there is a grave danger of such fascism.
The Communist Party holds the view that socialism in the United States, although inevitable in the future, is not now on the immediate political agenda. Therefore, the Party never has, and does not now, venture to predict the precise time, forms, and methods of the eventual establishment of socialism in this country. Those who state that the C.P.U.S.A. has a blueprint of some kind, or is organizing a conspiratorial "plot" for achieving socialism, are deliberate liars and perjurors. Any consideration that the Party, therefore, gives to this whole question at the present time, to refute the government's indictment leveled against it, can be only on the basis of an estimate of the eventual working out of general Communist principles in this country, in the light of world experience and American political conditions.
There is no timetable nor blueprinted route to socialism. The American people, led by the working class, will embark upon the road to socialism, all in their own good time and with their own specific methods. As Lenin says, "All nations will come to socialism, this is inevitable, but they will come to it in not quite the same way, each will contribute original features to this or that form of democracy, to this or that variant of the proletarian dictatorship, to this or that tempo of the socialist transformation of the various aspects of social life."13 The experience of the workers in Russia, China, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other countries, in their advance to socialism, has borne out this statement by Lenin, and the ultimate course of events in the United Slates will doubtless give it further confirmation.
American conditions and world socialist experience make it realistic, however, to suppose that, in their march to socialism, the American people, as many others are doing, will take their path through the successive phases of the people's front and the people's democracy. But in so doing, they will doubtless reflect specific American conditions. That is, just as there have been in this country special adaptations of the people's front slogan (examples, the farmer-labor party, the democratic front, the Roosevelt coalition, and now the peace coalition), so there will also almost certainly develop special American forms and applications of the people's democracy and its slogans.
The basic difference between these two state forms is that whereas the people's front government still operates within the framework of the capitalist system, the people's democracy is a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In both of these types of government, judging from experience elsewhere, there would be several parties represented. In view of the basic tasks confronting the democratic masses, the influence of the Communist Party (or a broad Workers Party based on a consolidation of the most advanced elements among the workers, farmers, Negro people, etc.) would necessarily be of decisive importance, especially in the people's democracy. For only Marxist-Leninists can lead the nation to socialism.
Soviets are the highest form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but they are not the only form. The people's democracy represents a new and distinct type of proletarian rule. It has arisen particularly as a result of the radicalization of vast masses of the people, the great growth of the camp of world socialism, and the continued decline of world capitalism.
It is in line with the foregoing general principles and perspectives that the Communist Party has long proposed the regular election, under the United States Constitution, of a broad coalition government, an American variant of the people's front, made up of the representatives of the political and economic organizations of the workers, the Negro people, small farmers, intellectuals, and other democratic strata, who constitute the great bulk of the American people. In the 1948 election campaign the Communist Party, through its general secretary, Eugene Dennis, stated this political policy as follows: "For a people's government that will advance the cause of peace, security and democracy! For an anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly government! What is projected in this slogan, it should be made clear, is a political objective that reflects the united front program which is bringing into a broad coalition all the democratic and anti-imperialist forces including the third party movement."14 Despite the dangerous threat of fascism in this country, the Communist Party holds that the workers and their allies could elect such a people's front government under the Constitution by vigorous action. Beyond this point, in practical policy, the Communist Party has not planned. But it is clear that such a people's front government would be elected, probably, when the great masses of the people, facing conditions of a serious political crisis, would feel the urgent need of it in order to protect their most vital interests. Such a situation is definitely in the political perspective for the United States, resulting from the deepening of the general crisis of world capitalism, intensified by Wall Street's aggressive drive towards war.
A people's front government in this country would have as its great task to preserve the workers and the masses of the people from devastating crisis, from the consequences of the breaking down of capitalism and the reactionary policies of big capital. Its program, therefore, would necessarily involve vigorous measures to maintain or restore world peace, to preserve and extend popular democratic liberties, to keep the industries in operation, to improve radically the living standards of the peopie, and to realize the economic, political, and social equality of the Negro people, and their right to self-determination in the "Black Belt" 0f the South.
However, standing athwart the war and fascist policies of monopoly capital, such a democratic people's government, both in its election and in its functioning, would have to face a most determined opposition from the monopolists and their Social-Democratic tools. No one who knows the American capitalist class, with its long record of war aggression, brutality in strikes, slaughter of workers in industry, persecution against the Negro people, etc., can doubt but that the reactionaries would use every available means of Social-Democratic treachery and of outright violence to prevent or destroy any government that cut into their rule and into their robbery of the people. Consequently, the only way the people's government could be elected in the first place and could be enabled to live and to carry out its progressive program would be by defeating this Social-Democratic treachery and capitalist violence. This would also require weakening the economic and political power of the monopolists by the nationalization of the banks, the basic industries, the press, radio, television, etc., and eventually by the reorganization of the army, police, etc., and by beginning to lay the basis for a planned economy. All of which measures the legally elected people's coalition government would have the full authority and national mandate to carry out. This course would be the path to a people's democracy.
Failure of a people's government to take such necessary measures would surely result in its downfall and probably bring about the victory of fascism in the United States. It was, for example, the fatal mistake of the pre-war people's government in Spain that it did not, from the outset, proceed to weaken the capitalists basically, as indicated, and did not nip in the bud the potential military rebellion which finally destroyed it. On the other hand, the fulfillment of the above historic tasks by an American people's government would so strengthen the working class and all the forces of socialism, while weakening those of reaction, that a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism would become possible through a people's democracy, in its American forms.
The establishment of a people's democracy in the United States would signify that the coalition of workers and their allies had won a decisive political victory over monopoly capital and that a government had come into power, committed to the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. Such a government, made indispensable under the severe pressure of the capitalist crisis, might evolve either from a people's front coalition government through an internal regrouping of forces, or it might be elected by the masses of the American people after the people's front government had served its historic function. In either event the working class and its allies, with the potential power to do so, would carry through their democratic program, curbing all violent and illegal efforts of monopolist reaction to defeat it and to set up a fascist state.
With the establishment of a Socialist government on the basis of a people's democracy, the American people would logically and necessarily proceed to re-organize and democratize the state. They would make such constitutional changes as the majority would decide. They would learn from Marx and from their own experience that the workers cannot simply take over the bourgeois state machinery and use it to build socialism. Within the framework of the people's democracy, the American people would gradually construct a higher type of democracy and democratic state, in order to build a socialized economy and to make the people the real rulers of the land. With the workers in power, the path from socialism to the higher stage of communism would be one of gradual and peaceful evolution.
This, very briefly, is "the American road to socialism," on the basis of our country's conditions and of the socialist experience of the workers of the world. But this tentative outline is by no means a blueprint. When the American working class actually starts out to establish socialism, as an imperative necessity under the deepening crisis of capitalism, it will adopt the best, shortest, most fitting routes and forms for the American people. What stands out clearly in this analysis, however, is that, in its perspective for ultimate socialism in the United States, the Communist Party, as the Supreme Court, with a rare exhibition of objectivity, clearly stated in the Schneiderman case of 1942, always strives for a peaceful and democratic course to socialism, supported at all times by a huge majority of the American people. The great toiling masses of our country, as of all others, are fundamentally the builders and defenders of peace and democracy, and this elementary course they will strive to follow in their eventual advance to socialism.
Communist Parties in other industrial countries, facing conditions basically similar to those in the United States, generally have a comparable conception of the manner of democratically establishing socialism. Thus, the Communist Party of Great Britain, in its program entitled The British Road to Socialism, calls for the election of "a People's Parliament and Government which draws its strength from a united movement of the people, with the working class as its core." On the question of eventual capitalist violence, the program states that "The great broad popular alliance, led by the working class, firmly based on the factories, which has democratically placed the People's Government in power, will have the strength to deal with the attacks of the capitalist warmongers and their agents."
LESSONS OF COMMUNIST WORLD EXPERIENCE
In a capitalist world which is sinking deeper into general crisis, and in which the capitalists, as a matter of course, turn toward world war and fascist civil war in their desperate efforts to solve their insoluble problems, the great defenders of national and international peace and democracy, and the forces that make for the defeat of capitalist violence, are the workers and their allies, led by the Communist Party. The fundamentally peaceful and democratic policy of the Communists is now being dramatically expressed by their present fight all over the world to prevent die re-birth of fascism and the outbreak of a third world war.
This general policy of curbing capitalist national and international violence was well illustrated by the worldwide struggle of the Communists to defeat fascism and prevent war in the 1930's. During these years the big monopoly capitalists in many countries, under the pressure of the general crisis of capitalism and of their own ruthless imperialist drive for power, were pushing relentlessly towards the fierce violence of fascism and war. To combat these twin dangers, the Communists fought for the building of broad people's front governments in the respective countries, in order to strengthen democracy and to avert fascist civil war; and on the international scale the Communists worked tirelessly for the creation of a great world front of all the democratic powers, in order to restrain the fascist Axis aggressor states and to avert a world war.
This Communist course constituted basically a policy of striving to prevent both civil and international war, of holding intact and strengthening the democratic institutions in the respective capitalist countries, of compelling the wolf-like capitalist states to live together without devouring one another, and of assuring the peaceful co-existence of socialism and capitalism in die world. They were the basic democratic tasks of the time, in the workers' historic march towards socialism.
In those years the Communists and their allies were able to prevent civil war and fascism in many countries, and if they were unable to avert World War II, this was primarily because Social-Democratic treachery disunited and weakened the workers' forces of peace and democracy. But at the present time, vastly increased in strength over the period of the 1930's, the workers and other democratic masses, in harmony with basic Communist policy, are in a much better position to push forward with their program of social progress and at the same time to prevent monopoly capital, which grows more desperate with the breaking down of the capitalist system and from the enormous worldwide strengthening of the democratic forces, from plunging the various individual capitalist countries into fascist civil war and from catapulting the world into a devastating atomic war.
The history of the various proletarian and people's revolutions since World War I also proves conclusively that the Communists in other countries, as well as in the United States, seek to accomplish by the most peaceful means possible the inevitable transition of society from capitalism to the higher stage of socialism. Thus, during the great Russian Revolution of 1917, Lenin called for the winning of the leadership in the Soviets, which were not yet led by the Bolsheviks, by a patient, systematic, and persistent explanation. On this matter Stalin said: "This meant that Lenin was not calling for a revolt against the Provisional Government, which at that moment enjoyed the confidence of the Soviets, that he was demanding its overthrow, but that he wanted, by means of explanatory and recruiting work, to win a majority of the Soviets ... to alter the composition and policy of the Government. This was a line envisaging a peaceful development of the revolution in Russia."15 But Kerensky, like so many other capitalist agents, believed he could stamp out the Revolution by violence. The world knows the results of his folly. Lenin was the greatest of all champions of peace and democracy.
The establishment of the People's Democracies of Eastern Europe— in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Albania-demonstrated the basic Communist policy for a peaceful advance toward socialism. The puppet Hitler governments in these countries were overthrown in the war by the Red Army and these peoples. On the conclusion of peace, democratic governments based on coalitions of all the anti-fascist parties, including petty bourgeois, peasant, socialist, and other parties, were duly and constitutionally elected. These democratic elements put down such violence as the reactionaries were able 10 organize. By a democratic and peaceful process, these regimes became the People's Democracies, which then, with their peoples' national democratic mandate and with the Communist Parties in the lead, proceeded on their advance toward socialism.
In China, too, the responsibility for the civil war in the great people's liberation revolution, rests squarely upon the shoulders of the reactionary Chiang Kai-shek and the gang of foreign imperialists behind him. During the early 1920's, the Communists, seeking the peaceful and democratic development of China, made a united front with Chiang's Kuornintang Party; but Chiang in 19*7, after he had gained politicalpower, violently disrupted this united front and tried in vain to drown the Communist Party in blood. Again, during World War II, the Chinese Communists, led by the brilliant Mao Tse-tung, developed a national united front with Chiang to fight the Japanese. This broad coalition the Communists persistently tried to extend over into the post-war period. But Chiang, in obedience to Wall Street, deliberately broke up the united front with the Communists and in 1946 he launched the civil war to destroy the Communist Party and to disperse its gigantic mass following. But having rejected the Communist padi of peace and chosen that of civil war, Chiang, like Kerensky before him, wound up by having his own regime annihilated. Others who may try to block by violence the people's democratic advance to socialism will not fare any better than did Kerensky or Chiang Kai-shek.
The attempt of the Truman government to destroy the Communist Party, on the pretext that it advocates the forceful overthrow of the United States Government, is a lie and a political frame-up. There is no basis for such an accusation—in Marxist-Leninist theory, in the program and activities of the C.P.U.S.A., or in the world experience of the Communist movement. It is an irony of history that the Communists, who throughout the world are the great defenders of peace and democracy, should be condemned in the United States for advocating force and violence, and this by a capitalist class which helped bring about two world wars and is now trying to organize a third mass slaughter. The political purpose of the government's red-baiting attack upon the Communist Party is to cripple this valiant leader of the democratic masses and thereby to demoralize the people and to break down their opposition to Wall Street's ill-omened drive toward fascism and war.
1 Kuczynski, Labor Conditions in the U.S.
2 Perlo, American Imperialism, p. 223.
3 Labor Research Association, Economic Notes, Apr. 1951.
4 Monthly Labor Review, July 1951.
5 Kuczynski, Labor Conditions in the U.S., p. 183.
6 Labor Research Association, Trends in American Capitalism, p. 92, N. Y., 1948.
7 Report of National Social Welfare Council to a Joint Committee of Congress, Aug-1951
8 Alexander Bittelman in Political Affairs, Oct. 1951.
9 New York Herald Tribune, Dec. 2, 1951.
10 Marx, Capital, Vol. 1, p. 661.
11 Cited by Foster, In Defense of the Communist Party and Its Leaders, p. 82.
12 Cited by Foster, In Defense of the Communist Party and Its Leaders, p. 22.
13 Bolshevik, Moscow, Nov. 19, 1951.
14 Eugene Dennis in Political Affairs, March 1948.
15 History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, p. 186.