Manual- Basic Principles of Party Organization Part 2
What does the Communist Party say they believe?
2. Basic Principles of Party Organization
The Communist Party is organized in such a way as to guarantee, first, complete inner unity of outlook; and, second, combination of the strictest discipline with the widest initiative and independent activity of the Party membership. Both of these conditions are guaranteed because the Party is organized on the basis of democratic centralism.
Democratic centralism is the system according to which:
1. All leading committees of the Party, from the Unit Bureaus up to the highest committees, are elected by the membership or delegates of the given Party organization.
2. Every elected Party committee must report regularly on its activity to its Party organization. It must give an account of its work.
3. The lower Party committees and all Party members of the given Party organization have the duty of carrying out the decisions of the higher Party committees and of the Communist International. In other words, decisions of the C.I. and of the higher Party committees are binding upon the lower bodies.
4. Party discipline is observed by the Party members and Party organizations because only those who agree with the program of the Communist Party and the C.I. can become members of the Party.
5. The minority carries out the decisions of the majority (subordination of the minority to the majority). Party questions are discussed by the members of the Party and by the Party organization until such time as a decision is made by the Party committee or organization. After a decision has been made by the leading committees of the Cd., by the Central Committee of the Party, or by the National Convention, this decision must be unreservedly carried out even if a minority of the Party membership or a minority of the local Party organizations is in disagreement with it.
6. The Party organizations, Units, Sections, and Districts, have the full initiative, right and duty to decide on local questions within the limits of the general policies and decisions of the Party.
Decisions of Higher Bodies Binding on Lower Bodies
On the basis of democratic centralism, all lower Party organizations are subordinated to the higher bodies; District organizations are subordinated to the Central Committee; Section organizations are subordinated to the District Committee; Party Units (shop, street and town) are subordinated to the Section Committees.
All decisions of the World Congress and committees of the C.I. must be fulfilled by all parties of the C.I. All decision of the National Convention and the Central Committee must be fulfilled by the whole Party; all decisions of the District Convention and Committee must be fulfilled by the Section organizations of that District; all decisions of the Section Convention and Committee are binding on the shop, street and town Units in that Section.
A Party committee or Unit Bureau, throughout the whole of its activity from Convention to Con- given Organization. In cases where the elected Party committee is not capable of carrying out its task and the correct Party line, this committee can be changed through the calling of an extraordinary Conference by decision of the higher committees, or by the initiative of the lower organizations with the approval of the higher committees.
The Communist Party puts the interest of the working class and the Party above everything. The Party subordinates all forms of Party organization to these interests. From this it follows that one form of organization is suitable for legal existence of the Party, and another for the conditions of underground, illegal existence. Under conditions where there is no possibility of holding open elections or broad Conventions, the form of democratic centrallain necessarily has to be changed. In such a situation, it is inevitable that co-option be used as well as election. That means that in such a situation the higher committees will appoint the lower committees (for example, the Central Committee may appoint the District Committee; the District Committee may appoint the Section Committee, etc.). Or, in very exceptional cases, when the lower committee is to act quickly, this committee has the right to co-opt new members to the committee from among the best leaders of the organization; and this co-option must be approved by the higher committee.
But even in the most difficult situation, the Party finds ways and means of holding elections. The Conventions or Conferences under such conditions will necessarily be smaller. The organization will bs tighter so as to eliminate as far as possible the danger of the exposure of delegates to the class Party, and in this way cripple the revolutionary movement. Therefore, such a method is used by the Party in electing leading committees during such a period which eliminates the danger of exposure.
Democratic centralism therefore represents a flexible system of Party organization which guarantees all the conditions for combining the conscious and active participation of the whole Party membership in the Party life together with the best forms of centralized leadership in the activity and struggles of the Party and the working class.
PARTY DISCUSSION AND FREEDOM OF CRITICISM
The free discussion on questions of Party policy in individual Party organizations or in the Party as a whole, is the fundamental right of every Party member as a principal point of Party democracy. Only on the basis of internal Party democracy is it possible to develop Bolshevik self-criticism and to strengthen Party discipline, which must be conscious and not mechanical. There is complete freedom of discussion in the Party until a majority decision has been made by the Unit or the leading committee, after which discussion must cease and the decision be carried out by every organization and individual member of the Party.
It is clear, however, that basic principles and decisions, such, as for example, the Program of the Communist International, cannot be questioned in the Party.
We cannot imagine a discussion, for example, questioning the correctness of the leading role of the proletariat in the revolution, or the necessity for the proletarian dictatorship. We do not question the theory of the necessity for the forceful overthrow of capitalism. We do not question the correctness of the revolutionary theory of the class struggle laid down by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. We do not question the counter-revolutionary nature of Trotskyism.
We do not question the political correctness of the decisions, resolutions, etc., of the Executive Committee of the C.I., of the Convention of the Party, or of the Central Committee after they are ratified. Otherwise, every under-cover agent of the bourgeoisie and every sympathizer of the renegades would have an opportunity of continually raising their counter-revolutionary theories in the Units, Sections, etc., and make the members spend time and energy in discussing such questions, thus not only disrupting the work of the Party, but also creating confusion among the less experienced arid trained elements in the Party. (As a matter of fact, this is what enemies of the Party are always trying to do in the name of "democracy".)
However, that does not mean that the problems dealt with in such decisions-and how best to apply these decisions-are not to be clarified in the Party organizations by discussion. On the contrary, a most thorough discussion for the purpose of making every Party member understand these resolutions and decisions and how to apply them is essential for effective Party work.
Party discipline is based upon the class-consciousness of its members; upon the conviction that without the minority accepting and carrying out the decisions of the majority, without the subordination of the lower Party organizations to the higher committees, there can be no strong, solid, steeled Party able to lead the proletariat. This discipline is based upon the acceptance of the C.I. and the Party program and in the confidence of the membership in the Communist International and in the Central Committee.
There can be no discipline in the Party if there is no conscious and voluntary submission on the basis of a thorough understanding or the decisions of the Party. "Only conscious discipline can be truly iron discipline" (Stalin).
Why Do the Communists Attach So Much Importance to Discipline?
Because without discipline there is no unity of will, no unity in action. Our Party is the organized and most advanced section of the working class. The Party is the vanguard of the proletariat in the class war. In this class war there is the capitalist class with its henchmen and helpers, the reformist leaders, on one side, and the working class and its allies, on the other. The class war is bitter. The enemy is powerful; it has all the means of deceit and suppression (armed forces, militia, police, courts, movies, radio, press, schools, churches, etc.). In order to combat and defeat this powerful enemy, the army of the proletariat must have a highly skilled, trained General Staff (the Communist Party), which is united in action and has one will. How can an army fight against the army of the enemy if every soldier in the army is allowed to question and even disobey orders of his superior officers? What would happen in a war if, for example, the General Staff orders an attack, and one section of the army decides to obey and go into battle; another thinks that it is wrong to attack the enemy at this time and stays away from the battle; and a third section decides to quit the trenches and retreat to another position instead of going forward?
Unity in Action
Let us take an example from the class struggle. The District Committee decides that a demonstration should be held against police terror and gives directives to the Sections to mobilize the whole membership to get the greatest possible number of workers to the demonstration. The date and place of the demonstration are set by the District Committee. One Section, after receiving the decisions, works out plans to mobilize the masses, and activises the whole Section to work for the demonstration. Another Section does not think that the issue is very important and neglects to mobilize the membership; a third Section decides that the time set by the District Committee is not the best one and instructs its members to mobilize at a later hour; and a fourth Section decides to come at an earlier hour. What kind of a demonstration would it be? What would workers think and say about such a Party?
Our Party cannot lead the masses if there is not unity in action. Unity of will and action can be achieved only if all the members of the Party act as one — are disciplined. If each Party member should decide which decision of the Party he wanted to carry out; if each member would carry out only those decisions which he liked and ignored those with which he disagreed, it would be impossible to lead the masses in the struggle against capitalism. An army with that kind of leadership would be defeated.
Unified opinion is essential for unity in action, for successful work of the Communist Party. What would happen if each Party member would interpret a political issue individually and bring his individual opinion to the masses? The workers in a factory, for example, would get as many opinions on certain questions as there are Party members in the factory.
The unified opinion which is hammered out in the Party by discussion is necessary in order that the Party be able to lead the masses in their constant struggles.
WHAT IS SELF-CRITICISM?
Self-criticism is the most important means for developing Communist consciousness and thereby strengthening discipline and democratic centralism. Self-criticism helps to discover all the mistakes, deviations, shortcomings, which separate us from the masses, and to correct them. It helps us to discover and expose the harmful policies or practices of organizations and individuals who work against the interest of the masses. Self-criticism helps us to improve the work of the Party organizations; to exterminate bureaucracy; to expose the agents of the enemy in our ranks.
"Let us take, for instance, the matter of guidance of economic and other organizations on the part of the Party organizations. Is everything satisfactory in this respect? No, it is not. Often questions are decided, not only in the locals, but also in the center, so to speak, 'en famille', the family circle. Ivan Ivanovitch, a member of the leading group of some organization, made, let us say, a big mistake and made a mess of things. But Ivan Federovitch does not want to criticize him, show up his mistakes and correct him. He does not want to, because he is not disposed to 'make enemies'. A mistake was made, things went wrong, but what of it, who does not make mistakes?
"Today I will show up Ivan Ivanovitch. Tomorrow he will do the same to me. Let Ivan Ivanovitch, therefore, not be molested, because where is the guarantee that I will not make a mistake in the future? Thus everything remains spick and span. There is peace and good will among men. Leaving the mistake uncorrected harms our great cause, but that is nothing! As long as we can get out of the mess somehow. Such, comrades, is the usual attitude of some of our responsible people. But what does that mean? If we, Bolsheviks, who criticize the whole world, who, in the words of Marx, storm the heavens, if we refrain from self-criticism for the sake of the peace of some comrades, is it not clear that nothing but ruin awaits our great cause and that nothing good can be expected?
"Marx said that the proletarian revolution differs, by the way, from other revolutions in the fact that it criticizes itself and that in criticizing itself it becomes consolidated. This is a very important point Marx made. If we, the representatives of the proletarian revolution, shut our eyes to our shortcomings, settle questions around a family table, keeping mutually silent concerning our mistakes, and drive our ulcers into our Party organism, who will correct these mistakes and shortcomings? Is it not clear that we cease to be proletarian revolutionaries, and that we shall surely meet with shipwreck if we do not exterminate from our midst this philistinism, this domestic spirit in the solution of important questions of our construction? Is it not clear that by refraining from honest and straight-forward selfcriticism, refraining from an honest and straight making good of mistakes, we block our road to progress, betterment of our cause, and new success for our cause? The process of our development is neither smooth nor general. No, comrades, we have classes, there are antagonisms within the country, we have a past, we have a present and a future, there are contradictions between them, and we cannot progress smoothly, tossed by the waves of life. Our progress proceeds in the form of struggle, in the form of developing contradictions, in the form of overcoming these contradictions, in the form of revealing and liquidating these contradictions.
"As long as there are classes we shall never be able to have a situation when we shall be able to say, 'Thank goodness, everything is all right'. This will never be, comrades. There will always be something dying out. But that which dies does not want to die; it fights for its existence, it defends its dying cause. There is always something new coming into life. But that which is being born is not born quietly, but whimpers and screams, .fighting for its right to live. Struggle tween the old and the new, between the moribund and that which is being born-such is the basis of our development. Without pointing out and exposing openly and honestly, as Bolsheviks should do, the shortcomings and mistakes in our work, we block our road to progress. But we do want to go forward. And just because we go forward, we must make one of our foremost tasks an honest and revolutionary self-criticism. Without this there is no progress."
(Stalin, Report to the Fifteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, pp. 65-66.)
Two Kinds of Criticism
Self-criticism is a natural part of the life of the Party. How can the members fail to criticize the Bureau or committee if its work is poor, if it makes mistakes? Without self-criticism there can be no Communist Party. But this criticism must never depart from the line of the Party, from the principles of Marxism-Leninism. We should make it very clear that there are two kinds of criticism: one which, on the basis of the line of the Party, on the basis of revolutionary theory and practice, analyzes mistakes and shortcomings, and offers concrete proposals for improvement in the work of the organization or individual member. This is Bolshevik selfcriticism: constructive criticism. A good example of such self-criticism is the Open Letter, adopted at the Extraordinary Party Conference. The other is the kind of criticism which is based on distortion of the line of the Party or does not offer any proposal to improve the work, or to correct mistakes. This is destructive criticism, which, if tolerated, inevitably leads not only to driving out new members, discouraging the weaker elements and disrupting the work of the Party, but also leads to factionalism.
WHAT IS FACTIONALISM AND WHERE DOES IT LEAD?
Comrade Stalin, in his speech on the Communist Party of the U.S.A., in 1929, gave an excellent answer to this question:
". . . factionalism weakens the Party spirit, it dulls the revolutionary sense and blinds the Party workers to such an extent that, in the factional passion, they are obliged to place the interests of faction above the interests of the Party, above the interests of the Comintern, above the interests of the working class. Factionalism not infrequently brings matters to such a pass that the Party workers, blinded by the factional struggle, are inclined to gauge all facts, all events in the life of the Party, not from the point of view of the interests of the Party and the working class, but from the point of view of the narrow interests of their own faction, from the point of view of their own factional kitchen.
". . . factionalism interferes with the training of the Party in the spirit of a policy of principles; it prevents the training of the cadres in an honest,, proletarian, incorruptible revolutionary spirit, free from rotten diplomacy and unprincipled intrigueLeninism declares that a policy based on principles is the only correct policy. Factionalism, on the contrary, believes that the only correct policy is one of factional diplomacy and unprincipled factional intrigue. That is why an atmosphere of factional struggle cultivates not politicians of principle, but adroit factionalist manipulators, experienced rascals and Mensheviks, smart in fooling the 'enemy' and covering up traces. It is true that such 'educational' work of the factionalists is contrary to the fundamental interests of the Party and the working class. But the factionalists do not give a rap for that-all they care about is their own factional diplomatic kitchen, their own group interests.
"It is, therefore, not surprising that poll-ticians of principle and honest proletarian revolutionaries get no sympathy from the factionalists. On the other hand, factional tricksters and -manipulators, unprincipled intriguers and backstage wire pullers and masters in the formation of unprincipled blocs are held by them in high honor.
". . . factionalism, by weakening the will for unity in the Party and by undermining its iron discipline, creates within the Party a peculiar factional regime, as a result of which the whole internal life of our Party is robbed of its conspirative protection in the face of the class enemy, and the Party itself runs the danger of being trans:formed into a plaything of the agents of the bourgeoisie. This, as a rule, comes about in the following way: Let us say that some question is being decided in the PolitBureau of the Central Committee. Within the PolitBureau there is a minority and a majority which regard each decision from their factional standpoint. If a factional regime prevails in the Party, the wirepullers of both factions immediately inform the peripheral machine of this or that decision of the PolitBureau, endeavoring to prepare it for their own advantage and swing it in the direction they desire. As a rule, this process of information becomes a regular system. It becomes a regular system because each faction regards it as its duty to inform its peripheral machine in the way it thinks fit and to hold its periphery in a condition of mobilization in readiness for a scrap with the factional enemy. As a result, important secret decisions of the Party become general knowledge. In this way the agents of the bourgeoisie attain access to the secret decisions of the Party and make it easy to use the knowledge of the internal life of the Party against the interests of the Party. True, such a regime threatens the complete demoralization of the ranks of the Party. But the factionalists do not care about that, since, for them, the interests of their group are supreme.
". . . factionalism consists in the fact that it completely nullifies all positive work done in the Party; it robs the Party workers of all desire to concern themselves with the day-to-day needs of the working class (wages, hours, the improvement of the material welfare of the workers, etc.) ; it weakens the work of the Party in preparing the working class for the class conflicts with the bourgeoisie and thereby creates a state of affairs in which the authority of the Party must inevitably suffer in the eyes of the workers, and the workers, instead of flocking to the Party, are compelled to quit the Party ranks . . . . What have the factional leaders of the majority and the minority been chiefly occupied with lately? With factional scandal-mongering, with every kind of petty factional trifle, the drawing up of useless platforms and subplatforms, the introduction of tens and hundreds of amendments and sub-amendments to these platforms.
"Weeks and months are wasted lying in ambush for the factional enemy, trying to entrap him, trying to dig up something in the personal life of the factional enemy, or, if nothing can be found, inventing some fiction about him. It is obvious that positive work must suffer in such an atmosphere, the life of the Party becomes petty, the authority of the Party declines and the workers, the best, the revolutionary-minded workers, who want action and not scandal-mongering, are forced to leave the Party.
"That, fundamentally, is the evil of factionalism in the ranks of a Communist Party."
Manual-Fundamentals of the Party Program
THE Communist Party is the organized vanguard of the working class, composed of the most class- conscious, the most courageous, the most self-sacrificing section of the proletariat. The Communist Party does not stand above, but is part and parcel of the working class. It is the general staff of the proletariat.
The Communist Party is armed with the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. These teachings are a powerful weapon in the hands of the Communist Party. They enable the Party to direct the struggles of the working class along the correct line, and to gain victories while avoiding unnecessary sacrifice. These teachings enable the Party to know which forces are acting in the interests of the working class and which against it. By means of these teachings the Communist Party is able to find the best methods of struggle of the working class against capitalism, and for socialism.
THE ROLE AND AIM OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY
As the leader and organizer of the proletariat, the Communist Party of the U.S.A. leads the working class in the fight for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, for the establishment of a Socialist Soviet Republic in the United States, for the complete abolition of classes, for the establishment of socialism, the first stage of the classless Communist society.
Our Party realizes that certain conditions must exist before the outworn capitalist system can be overthrown. What are the conditions? Comrade Lenin, in his pamphlet, "Left-Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder, answers this question.
"... for revolution it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the class-conscious, thinking, politically active workers) should fully understand the necessity for revolution and be ready to sacrifice their lives for it; secondly, that the ruling classes be in a state of governmental crisis which draws even the most backward masses into politics, weakens the government and makes it possible for the revolutionaries to overthrow it rapidly."
These two conditions alone are not sufficient for the successful struggle of the working class. Even if the masses know that socialism liberates the working class, even if the masses know that socialism can be won only through revolution, unless there is a strongly organized Communist Party which explains the aims and methods of the struggle to the workers, unless it itself organizes these struggles, and is itself in the forefront of them, the revolution cannot be victorious. Lenin wrote about the need for a strong Communist Party as the advance guard of the working class in the following words:
"In order that the mass of a definite class may learn how to understand its own interests, its situation, may learn how to carry on its own policy, precisely for this an organization of the advanced elements of the class is immediately necessary at any cost though at the beginning these elements may form a negligible section of the class."
How will the Communist Party convince the majority of the working class that a revolution is necessary? The Communist Party can do this by becoming the trusted vanguard, the beloved organizer and leader of the struggle of the working class. Agitation and propaganda alone are insufficient. Something more needed to convince the masses of the proletariat of the necessity for the overthrow of the old order.
Learn Through Struggle
The workers also need schooling through their daily struggles under the leadership of the Communist Party. Workers learn by their own experiences that only through stubborn struggle can they wrest any concessions from the capitalists. They learn the relationship of classes in present-day society. They learn the nature of bourgeois democracy and of fascism. They learn the role of the henchmen of the bourgeoisie in the ranks of the working class, they learn the role of the reformist leaders of the trade unions and of the Socialist Party. In other words, the proletarian masses learn through their own experiences that their class, the working class, has class enemies-the bosses, the exploiters, the capitalists and their henchmen. They learn that there is only one way out of misery, insecurity, unemployment, etc.-the way of the final overthrow of the old order, and the establishment of the new-the proletarian dictatorship.
These experiences will be learned in the day-to-diy struggles in the fight for better conditions, in strikes for higher wages and shorter hours, in the struggles for adequate relief, for unemployment insurance, against evictions. The masses will learn in these struggles who their enemies are. They will see the police with their clubs and revolvers and gas bombs, the militia with their machine guns; the extra-legal forces of the bourgeoisie (Ku Klux Klan, Vigilantes, etc.) with their lynch law; the press with its poisonous anti-working class propaganda; they will recognize the role of the church; the judges with their injunctions and vicious sentences against workers; the mayor of the city or town, the governor of the state, the President of the United States, always supporting the capitalists. They will see the reactionary leaders in the A. F. of L. unions treacherously helping the bosses to crush the struggles of the workers for a decent living and against capitalism. They will see the efforts of the Socialist Party leaders to fuse themselves more and more with the leaders of the A. F. of L. unions. They will see the cynically conciliatory policy of the Right wing of the S.P. toward the bourgeoisie and A. F. of L. bureaucrats. They will see the role of the Trotskyites as the advance guard of the counter-revolution, supplying the capitalists with "arguments" against Communism and the Workers' Fatherland, the Soviet Union. They will see the Lovestoneites, the renegades from Communism.
Convince Through Leadership
The workers learn through their own experiences that they must have a Communist Party, which leads them in their struggles, which draws the correct conclusions from these struggles, and which, in the preparation for, and in the midst of, the struggles, continuously exposes every move of the enemy and teaches the workers the lessons that should be learned in their struggles. The Commu- nist Party, part and parcel of the proletariat, has only one interest: a better life for the exploited, oppressed masses, the end of all exploitation. While the Communist Party knows that hunger and misery cannot be finally abolished under the capitalist system, it leads and organizes the fight of the masses for better conditions now because the interests of the workers are its interests, and because it knows these day-to-day struggles develop the workers for their final task-the overthrow of capitalism. The Communist Party explains to the workers that even those concessions which are won by them through bard-fought battles will be taken back by the bourgeoisie unless the workers build and strengthen their mass combat organizations, especially their unions. In these fights the masses will see their enemies, will realize that there is only one Party they can trust, only one Party which fights uncompromisingly with them against the enemy, the Party which is their flesh and blood-their Party -the Communist Party.
In this way, the Communist Party will win the confidence of the masses, and become their recognized leader, their General Staff, their vanguard, which they will follow in the final battle to victory.
Bourgeois Dictatorship-Proletarian Dictatorship Bourgeois Democracy-Proletarian Democracy
Comrade Stalin in his book, Foundations of Leninism, gives a very clear analysis of the question of dictatorship and democracy. We quote a few paragraphs:
"The State is an instrument in the hands of the ruling class for suppressing the resistance of its class enemies. In this respect the dictatorship of the proletariat in no way differs, in essence, from the dictatorship of any other class, for the proletarian. State is an instrument for the suppression of the bourgeoisie. Nevertheless, there is an essential difference between the two, which is, that all class States that have existed heretofore have been dictatorships of an exploiting minority over the exploited majority, whereas the dictatorship of the proletariat is the dictatorship of the exploited majority over an exploiting minority.
". . . the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be 'complete' democracy, a democracy for all, for rich and poor alike; a dictatorship of the proletariat 'must be a State that is democratic in a new way (for the proletariat and the poor in general) and dictatorial in a new way (against the bourgeoisie)'. [This paragraph quoted by Stalin from V. I. Lenin, State and Revolution.]
". . . 'pure' democracy, . . . 'perfect' . .. democracy and the like, are but bourgeois screens to conceal the indubitable fact that equality between exploiters and exploited is impossible. The theory of 'pure' democracy is the theory of the upper stratum of the working class which is tamed and fed by the imperialist plunderers. It was invented to hide the sores of capitalism, to camouflage imperialism and lend it moral strength in its struggle against the exploited masses. Under the capitalist system there is no true 'freedom' for the exploited, nor can there be, if for no other reason than that the buildings, printing plants, paper supplies, etc., indispensable for the actual enjoyment of this 'freedom', are the privilege of the exploiters. Under the capitalist system the exploited masses do not, nor can they, really participate in the administration of the country, if for no other reason than that even with the most democratic system under capitalism, the governments are set up, not by the people, but by the Rothschilds and Stinneses, the Morgans and Rodkefellers.
"Democracy under the capitalist system is capitalist democracy, the democracy of an exploiting minority based upon the restriction of the rights of the exploited majority and directed against this majority. Only under the dictatorship of the proletariat is real 'freedom' for the exploited and real participation in the administration of the country by the proletarians and peasants possible. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat democracy is proletarian democracy-the democracy of the exploited majority based upon the restriction of the rights of the exploiting minority and directed against this minority." (Foundations of Leninism, by Joseph Stalin, pp. 51-52.)
THE ALLIES OF THE PROLETARIAT
The chief strategic aim of our Party in the present period is to win the majority of the working class for the struggle against capitalism. This is an essential condition for victory over the bourgeoisie and for preparing the workers for the decisive battles for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system is the historic mission of the working class. But the workers cannot fulfill their mission if they fail to win over the wide sections of the toiling masses. It is essential that the proletariat wins to its cause all its allies, without whom there cannot be a successful revolution.
Who are the allies of the American working class? The Open Letter, adopted by the Central Committee in July, 1933, very clearly answers this question.
The Poor and Small Farmers
The Open Letter stressed the following facts: The most important allies of the American working class are the poor and small farmers. These farmers, as well as broad sections of the middle farmers, are hardest hit by the whole development of post-war capitalism and especially by the economic crisis. They are most brutally exploited by the government by the banks, by the trusts and the insurance companies. Their interests are consequently directed objectively against finance capital. The main task of the Party in its work among agrarian toilers is, above all, the organization of the agricultural wage workers, organizing them into the trade unions and the Party, organizing and leading strikes of the agricultural workers for better wages and working conditions. Such strikes, in many places, have already played an important part in the development of the farmers' movement. At the same time the Party has the important task of winning over the poor and small farmers, and also broad sections of ruined middle farmers, for the struggle against capitalism on the side of the proletariat; while at the same time it must strive to neutralize other sections of middle farmers. This is an important prerequisite for a successful struggle against the offensive of capitalism, against fascism and for the defense of the Soviet Union, and for the final victory of the proletariat.
The Negro People
The other important ally of the American proletariat is the mass of 13,000,000 Negro people in their struggle against national oppression. The Communist Party, as the revolutionary Party of the proletariat, as the only Party which is courageously and resolutely carrying on a struggle against the double exploitation and national oppression of the Negro people, becoming particularly intense with the developing crisis, can win over the great masses of Negro people as allies of the proletariat against the American bourgeoisie.
The Party can stand at the head of the national revolutionary struggle of the Negro masses against American imperialism only if it energetically carries through the following tasks:
"The Party must mobilize the masses for the struggle for equal rights of the Negroes and for the right of self-determination for the Negroes in the Black Belt. It must ruthlessly combat any form of white chauvinism and Jim-Crow practices. It must not only in words, but in deeds, overcome all obstacles to the drawing in of the best elements of the Negro proletariat, who in the recent years have shown themselves to be self-sacrificing fighters in the struggle against capital. In view of this, special attention must be given to the promotion of Negro proletarians to leading work in the Party organizations. In all mass actions, strikes and unemployed struggles the Party must pay particular attention that, in formulating practical demands, it takes into consideration and gives expression to the special forms of exploitation, oppression and denial of the rights of the employed and unemployed Negro masses. At the same time the Party and in the first place the Negro comrades must genuinely improve the methods of patient, systematic but persistent struggle against the ideology and influence of petty-bourgeois nationalists among the Negro workers and toiling Negro masses." (An Open Letter to All Members of the Communist Party, pp. 14-15.)
The Communist Party systematically aids the revolutionary liberation movement of the oppressed peoples of the colonial countries (Cuba, Philippines, Latin-America, India, China, etc., etc.).
The Communist Party mobilizes the masses for international solidarity with the struggle of the workers in other capitalist countries.
The Communist Party rallies the masses against imperialist war and fascism, and for the defense of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union is the only fatherland of workers all over the world. It is the achievement of the international proletariat. It is the most important factor for the liberation of all workers in every country. Therefore, the workers all over the world must help the Soviet Union in building socialism, and must defend it with all their power against the attacks of the capitalist powers.
The Petty Bourgeoisie
It is necessary and possible also to win over to the side of the workers broad sections of the lower petty bourgeoisie and intellectual workers in the cities and to neutralize other sections of the petty bourgeoisie (municipal and state employees, lower officials, teachers, intellectuals, students, petty bourgeois war invalids, artisans, small shop-keepers), who have been brought into action as a result of the tremendous pressure of the crisis. This can be done only if the Party will come out resolutely in defense of their interests, by organizing and leading teachers' strikes, students' demonstrations, resistance to reduction of salaries of city and state employees, resistance to robbery through inflation and bank crashes, etc.
But the more widespread the movement among the non-proletarian masses becomes and the more acute the task of winning allies of the proletariat becomes, the more intensely must Like Party work to extend and organize its proletarian base. This very extension of the movement of the non-proletarian masses makes it incumbent on the Party not to allow itself to be side-tracked from its main task, namely, th winning of the decisive influence in the factories, above all in the basic industries (steel, metal, railway, maritime, mining, etc.), and the systematic building up of factory nuclei and trade-union organizations.
"If the Party intensifies its activity among the petty-bourgeois masses without at the same time and above all strengthening its base in the big factories and among the most important sections of the American working class ... then the danger arises that the Party, having only weak contacts with the decisive sections of American workers, will be driven away from its proletarian base, and instead of leading the petty-bourgeois masses will succumb to the influence of petty-bourgeois sentiments, illusions and petty-bourgeois methods of work," (Open Letter, p. 16.)
THE UNITED FRONT
"The increasingly sharp attacks against the workers raise more insistently than ever the necessity of the establishment of the working-class fighting front to resist these attacks and to win the demands of the workers. The working class in the United States is still largely unorganized. That part which is organized is largely under the influence of the A. F. of L. bureaucracy, which keeps it split up in innumerable ways by craft divisions, by discriminations against the Negroes and foreign-born, by divisions between the skilled and unskilled, etc. That smaller section which has begun to question the capitalist system is further divided between the leadership of the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, while a considerable section stands aside, still bewildered by these divisions and the problems it does not yet understand, and further confused by the shouts of those small but active groups, the renegades from Communism, the Musteites, etc." (Earl Browder: Report to the Eighth Convention of the Communist Party, U.S.A., p. 55.)
The Communist Party understands that the road towards our main strategic aim, the winning of the majority of the working class for revolutionary battles, leads through a broad united front of the masses. The united front is organized by the Communist Party for the united struggle of Communists and all other workers, members of other parties or of no party whatever, for the defense of the interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.
The Communists do not make any conditions for the united front except that the unity shall be one of struggle for the particular demands agreed upon. The united front is therefore, first and foremost, the coming together of working class forces for action for demands upon which the forces have agreed. For example: In a given factory the workers may be Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, Communists, or members of the A. F. of L. without any political affiliation; Catholics, Protestants, etc. When the employer increases the working hours or reduces the wages, the policy of the Communist Party is immediately to unite the workers to resist the employer's attacks, to organize shop committees, grievance committees, to bring the various unions and the workers who belong to different parties into a solid line against the bosses. This united front, according to the situation, will enable the workers in this given factory to fight unitedly against the bosses. In this action the Communist Party will show the workers that only the Communist method of waging the struggle will bring victory.
The systematic application of the united front in the big factories is of decisive importance, especially for leading strikes, establishing a united fighting front, and tearing down the barriers between the revolutionary workers and the masses of other workers. The decisive factor in establishing the united front is tireless, every day activity among the workers in order to prove, in every question, the correctness of our slogans and our proposals for action.
Apply to Unions
This application of the united front of the factory workers in action is very easily understood. But when we pass from the factories to the unions and to the parties, the confusion begins. What is the difference between the average trade unionist and a Communist? The trade unionist thinks only of the interest of the workers in the particular trade or occupation embraced by his own union. The Communist thinks of the interests of the working class as a whole, and aims to bring the whole working class into common action for their common interests. The method of-the united-front action in the factory must also be applied to the unions, which must be brought together for common action. But the bureaucratic leaders of the unions are against such a policy for obvious reasons (their role as agents of the bourgeoisie).
Nevertheless, we must consider the fact that they are at the head of the unions of the workers, and therefore cannot be ignored. In most instances, if the rank and file is approached by us for a united front, the first reaction is. Did the executive com- mittee of our union take up this question? Is it en- dorsed by them? If we have not approached their leaders, we already find one obstacle against the workers even considering our proposal. Therefore, in many cases while approaching the rank-and-file membership directly with our united-front proposals for action on specific issues, while organizing our influence through building united-front committees (shop committees, grievance committees, etc), in the factories, and in this way increasing our influence, we also appeal, at the same time, to the leaders of the unions and the Socialist Party who have a mass following, and we are prepared to negotiate with them. If they agree to act with us, so much the better, even though we may, be sure that at some stage of the action they will try to betray the workers. If they refuse to negotiate for the united front then we must expose them and the obstacle they are putting in the way of the united front. In this manner, the prestige of the bureaucratic officialdom in the minds of the rank and file of the unions receives a severe blow.
The united front must not be limited only to special campaigns. Nor must we abandon efforts to achieve a united front because we do not succeed at once in winning over the workers for struggle, and because they do not at once want to separate themselves from their reformist leaders. The united front must not lead to subordination of the revolutionary policies to that of the reformist leaders in the way of a so-called "non-aggression pact". United front means uninterrupted, patient, convincing work to destroy the influence of reformists and the bourgeoisie. 'The rejection of the united front proposals of our Party and the immediate urgent demands of the workers by the reformist leaders must impel us to make even stronger efforts to organize a common fighting front in the factories, mines, and among the unemployed masses, in the locals and branches of the A. F. of L. and Socialist Party, with the workers who are under the influence of the reformists.
On All Issues
The united front could and should be built on all issues concerning the interests of the working class, such as war and fascism, elections, unemployment insurance, wage cuts, conditions, hours, defense of political prisoners, etc., besides the immediate daily problems of the workers in the factory or in the industry.
The Communist Party in the united-front activities does not give up for a moment its independent political role. Thus, the Party, in all phases of the united-front action, while fighting side by side with the non-Party workers, must politicalize the struggle and show its perspective clearly.
The Party, in its every day work, must clarify to the workers in a positive and concrete way the principal difference between us and the reformists. The Party, by its practical work, must prove to the workers that we are the fighters for a united struggle and that the reformist leaders are the splitters and disrupters of the struggle.
We must show clearly in action that the Communist Party is the only Party that fights uncompromisingly for the interests of the workers.