On "Zimmerwald, WWII and the UN"
DgPiranha at aol.com
DgPiranha at aol.com
Mon Aug 28 05:42:55 MDT 1995
After reading Louis Proyect's "Zimmerwald, WWII and the UN," I was
pleased to see someone attempting to objectively analyze the
movements for and against the Second Imperialist War, and especially
the origins and nature of the United Nations, the modern-day "den of
His analysis, although vague in some areas and needing elaboration in all
areas, was a decent exposition on the positions of the CPUSA and the
SWP during WWII. His follow-up with a commentary on the class
nature of the UN and "humanitarian interventions" is well needed today,
in the light of so much support among the radical left for UN
(U.S./NATO) intervention in the former Yugoslavia. The use of Paul
Lafargue's quote about building a world where the one flag is the red
flag of the international proletariat is a useful reminder for many of the
so-called "Marxists" who have illusions in the UN and its ability to be
However, Proyect, in the course of on-line debate with Scott Marshall
of the CPUSA, has begun to show a little contempt for the history
lesson he gave us recently.
In Marxism Digest #383, Proyect lambastes Marshall, Paul Cockshott
and Walter Daum about their respective ideologies (Stalinism, Maoism,
and Trotskyism respectively). Proyect, an unabashed and unapologizing
petty-bourgeois (see the Arugula exchange to understand what I mean),
has declared "Prepare yourselves" for his next shot across the bow of
Marxism. His "critique of the type of 'Marxism-Leninism' " represented
in the Digest is meant to be the flame of an "incorrigible" radical "on the
planet without a clue," as some of my comrades would say.
I have been reading the exchanges, and now wish to contribute my
thoughts on the exchange as well as my own view on Marxism today.
To Scott Marshall:
Comrade, I've had a soft spot for you since my days in the CP. Your
daughter and I got along at the YCL School and I enjoyed the couple of
conversations we had over the time I was a member. But *facts are
Browder did not hijack the CP during WWII. He was brought in to
implement the "people's front" policy after the Seventh World Congress
of the Comintern. And he simply took the logic of the policy to its
logical conclusion -- liquidation into the Democratic Party. The
dissolution of the CP into the amorphous "Communist Political
Association" was that move of rapprochement with the bourgeois
liberals, as was the dissolution of the Comintern. It was only after
Thorez criticized the CPA in _L'Humanite_ that Stalin cared to notice
and demanded a left turn. The dumping of Browder and the placement
of Foster at the head of the Party after WWII was merely a replay of the
unceremonious dumping of Lovestone and the Lovestoneites 17 years
And the CP did support the no-strike pledge of WWII in the name of
"anti-fascist unity." The CP was instrumental in breaking many of the
NMU (National Maritime Union) strikes along the west coast during the
war as well as the miners strikes.
Two instances come to mind. The first is the consistent strike-breaking
stance of the Stalinists in the NMU. In a 1946 pamphlet by Herb Tank,
misnamed "Communists on the Waterfront," he explains in simple
language what the CP did on the docks during the War.
Tank boasts about the CP urging the seamen to "keep 'em sailing" after
the start of WWII. And when the bosses took the opportunity to attack
workers' wages and living standards, what did the Stalinists do? Tank
tells us -- unabashed and unapologetic: "DON'T LET THE
SHIPOWNERS PROVOKE A STRIKE! The Communists [read:
Stalinists] fought for a no-strike policy in the marine industry." In
simple terms, the CP *did* enforce the no-strike pledge for the right-
wing union bureaucracy, and did so in the name of the "people's war."
(BTW, sometimes the "right-wing union bureaucracy" was the CP.)
Another example is the 1943 coal miners' strike. The _Daily Worker_
of that period ran several "articles of abuse" against the UMWA and
John L. Lewis. The CP held mass meeting, including at Yankee
Stadium in New York, to mobilize strikebreaking sentiment. CP leaders
toured miners districts and urged miners to go back to work without a
>William Z. Foster, on April 29, 1943, wrote a front-page article in the
>_Daily Worker_ attacking the impending mine strike on May 1. He
>spoke on May 2 in Town Hall, Philadelphia, calling on the miners to
>submit to the War Labor Board.
>When the first strike was halted for a two-week truce, the _Daily
>Worker_ gloated that the "Lewis line" had been "utterly defeated."
>But when the second strike began in June, the June 11 _Daily Worker_
>demanded that "under no circumstances should the government give
>way to the Lewis conspiracy."
>A minor but very revealing incident happened near Pittsburgh. Two
>officials of the Communist Party were picked up by police outside
>Washington, Pa., and charged with illegal use of gas coupons for
>pleasure driving. Michael Saunders, Pennsylvania state CP organizer,
>pleaded that it was a business trip "to see some of our members and do
>everything we could to start a back-to-work movement." The OPA
>ration authority Richard L. Nassau ruled that use of gas coupons for
>strikebreaking was "legitimate."
>Two years later, the _Daily Worker_ was again screaming in headlines:
>"Not an Hour's Stoppage! The Mines Must Be Seized!" (_Daily
>Worker_, March 30, 1945.) [from _Stalinists on the Waterfront_, by
Art Preis. Pioneer Publishers, April 1947.]
I could go on: the West Coast machinists' strike, the Montgomery
Ward strike during the war. The General Motors strike and the joint
AFL-CIO machinists' strike after the war.
Must I go on?
Other issues regarding WWII which have been buried by the CP are: its
support for the internment of Japanese-Americans, its support for
extending the no-strike pledge after the War, its support for the Atomic
bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, et cetera ad nauseam.
If you question these statements, Comrade, you can go look in the CP's
"Reference Center" in the basement of the New York offices or in the
basement of any CP bookstore in the U.S. It's buried there, somewhere.
Especially look for an August 1945 issue of the _DW_ for the cartoon
"The Old One-Two!" You'll find that especially enlightening.
To Louis Proyect (Uncle Lou):
Unfortunately, you contradict yourself in the last statement you made on
this subject in the MD #383.
You attack Marshall for his support of CP "in spite of everything." You
lambaste Cockshott and Daum for leading small groups, yet claiming to
represent the ideas of the "vanguard." You use cheap satire regarding
names of organizations and publications to bolster your point. (You
failed.) You then talk about how small groups who "number... less than
1/10th of 1/10th of the population of a given country represent...
themselves as the vanguard." You then ask Comrades Marshall,
Cockshott and Daum to "caucus together and defend the methodology
they share in common."
It seems to me you can't figure out which ideology you subscribe to, so
you trash everyone who has some firm ideological grounding, whether
correct or not (mostly not). While I can appreciate good sarcasm, this
is, from what I can see, just cheap attacks in order to dissociate yourself
from actually taking a side in the debate.
While in a broad sense we agree that groups which have fewer than
10,000 members worldwide (even nationwide) have no business
claiming themselves the one and only "vanguard party," you have given
no thoughts on what direction to go.
Your asking of Comrades Marshall, Cockshott and Daum to defend a
common methodology tells me that you really don't understand the
differences between Stalinism, Maoism (Stalinism minus the finesse) and
Trotskyism (revolutionary Marxism). There is *no common
methodology* to defend here. Both Stalinism and Maoism are based on
national communist politics and bureaucratic organizational functioning
-- one flows from the other. The dogma of building "socialism in a
single country" led to the CP's support for their "own" bourgeoisie
during WWII. If you're not fighting for socialist revolution in the
country you live in, what are you fighting for?
As for Walter Daum, the name is familiar, but I can't remember which
tendency of the world Trotskyist movement he belongs to. But, yes, the
largest problem facing revolutionaries today is the question of building a
mass revolutionary party and International. How do you do it? What
methods and tactics are applied? Can a principled program be reached
between previously opponent tendencies? These are key questions
facing revolutionaries today.
What revolutionaries need to do is to "take the fight to centrists' [or
reformists' -- DP] own turf." A consistent and principled regroupment
policy is needed to build a mass revolutionary party nationally and
internationally. I think this starts with the rebuilding of the Fourth
You threw down the gauntlet Comrade, I'm picking it up. As you said:
"My name is James Connolly, I didn't come here to die,
But to fight for the rights of the workingman -- the small farmer, too.
Protect the proletariat from the bosses and their screws.
So hold onto your rifles, boys, don't give up the dream
Of a republic of the working class -- economic liberty!"
("James Connolly," Black 47)
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