This post is an excerpt from a larger work on Georgi Dimitrov published by the Communist League in 1994. Although the thesis of the work of origin is questionable, I re-print material from the work relevant to the career of Earl Browder in order to advance a further analysis of Browderite revisionism in the CPUSA and its implications for modern-day revisionism in the U.S. and globally.
— Espresso Stalinist
THE APPEARANCE OF OPEN REVISIONISM
Freed of the ‘restraints’ of the Comintern, some Communist Parties lapsed almost immediately into open revisionism.
The Formulation of Earl Browder (1944-45)
In 1944, the leader of the Communist Party of the United States of America, Earl Browder*, initiated the adoption by the Party of a totally revisionist programme. He presented the agreement between the Soviet Union and the Western imperialist powers at Teheran as an indication that interclass antagonisms had been eliminated, and that American capitalism could be peacefully transformed into socialism by class collaboration through the institutions of “American democracy”. Browder further put forward the view that:
- ” . . . the two-party system provides adequate channels for the basic democratic rights”,
- (Earl Browder, in: Philip J. Jaffe: ‘The Rise and Fall of Earl Browder’, in: ‘Survey’, Volume 18, No, 2 (Spring 1972); p. 50).
so that the existence of the Communist Party had become an obstacle to national unity!
Under Browder’s leadership, the 10th Convention of the CPUSA in May 1944 dissolved the Party and reconstituted it as the ‘Communist Political Association’, the aim of which was to carry on ‘political education’ to make the public understand that the peaceful transition to ‘socialism’, through the nationalisation of monopolistic enterprises, was socially desirable. The CPA’s constitution states:
- “The Communist Political Association is a non-party organisation of Americans which . . . carries forward the tradition of Washington, Jefferson, Paine, Jackson and Lincoln. . . .
- 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”.
- (Communist Political Association: Constitution, in: Philip J. Jaffe: ibid.; p. 51).
William Foster*, who was opposed to Browder’s Teheran theses (though not to the liquidation of the Communist Party), wrote to Dimitrov asking for his support in opposing Browder, but Dimitrov wrote back supporting Browder:
- “Dimitrov transmitted a message to Foster, through Browder, strongly urging him to withdraw his opposition. Dimitrov’s reply was a severe blow to Foster, who did not attack Browder’s Teheran theses again for more than a year”.
- (Philip J. Jaffe: ibid,; p. 47-48).
Foster was, in fact,
- “. . . so cowed by the almost unanimous opposition of his critics and by Dimitrov’s reply that he asked for the honour of nominating Earl Browder as President of the new Communist Political Association. And he himself was elected as one of the Vice-Presidents”.
- (Phlip J. Jaffe: ibid.; p. 51).
In the April 1945 issue of ‘Cahiers du Communisme’ (Notebooks of Communism), the theoretical journal of the French Communist Party there appeared, under the title ‘On the Dissolution of the Communist Party of the USA’, an article attributed to the leading French communist Jacques Duclos* and highly critical of Browderism. The main points of his criticism were:
- “Earl Browder declared, in effect, that at Teheran capitalism and socialism had begun to find the means of peaceful . . . collaboration in the framework of one and the same world. . . . Earl Browder drew political conclusions . . . that the,principal problems of internal politics of the US must in future be solved exclusively by means of reforms, for the expectation of unlimited inner conflict threatens also the perspective of international unity held forth at Teheran”. (Jacques Duclos: ‘On the Dissolution of the Communist Party of the USA’, in: Philip J. Jaffe: ibid.; p. 53).
Thus, charged the article, Browder had distorted the meaning of the Teheran declaration:
- ” . . . into a political platform for class peace in the United States”.
- (Jacques Duclos: ibid., p. 53).
The article dismissed Browder’s claim that nationalisation of monopolies was equivalent to socialism:
- “Nationalisation of monopolies actually in no sense constitutes a socialist achievement. . . . It is not simply a matter of reforms of a democratic character, achievement of socialism being impossible to imagine without a preliminary conquest of power”.
- (Jacques Duclos: ibid.; p. 54).
Finally, the article strongly criticised the dissolution of the Communist Party:
- “Earl Browder proposed to name the new organisation ‘Communist Political Association’ which, in the traditional American two-party system, will not intervene as a ‘party’, that is, it will not propose candidates in the elections . . . but will work to assemble a broad progressive and democratic movement within all parties”.
- (Jacques Duclos: ibid.; p. 53).
Although the article bore Duclos’s signature, it was in fact written in Moscow, almost certainly under the guidance of Andrey Zhdanov*:
- “It is . . . clearly evident that the so-called ‘Duclos article’; could not have been written in France, but was written in Moscow, probably under the guidance of Andrey Zhdanov”. (Philip A. Jaffe: op. cit; p. 59).
Following the circulation of the ‘Duclos Letter’, at a Special Emergency Convention of the CPA on 26-28 July 045, a resolution was adopted to reconstitute the CPUSA, headed by a temporary Secretariat. In February 1946 Browder was expelled from the reconstituted party and in July 1946 Eugene Dennis* was elected General Secretary.
The Formulation of Harry Pollitt (1945)
In May 1945, before the appearance of the ‘Duclos’ letter, the revisionist leader of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Harry Pollitt* rushed to jump on the Browder bandwagon and embrace state capitalism:
- “State capitalism can mean that the sectional interests of the capitalists are to some extent subordinated to the needs of the whole (which include . . . the workers). . . .
- The conditions created by the great political changes arising out of this war are now objectively more favourable for the peaceful transition to socialism than they have ever been. . . .
- There is, up to a point, a common interest between all the progressive sections of the nation, labour and capitalist alike”.
- (Harry Pollitt: ‘Answers to Questions’ (May 1945); London; 1945; p. 30, 39, 44).
Following publication of the ‘Duclos’ letter, the pamphlet was withdrawn.