Gus Hall

Richard Fidler rfidler at
Wed Oct 18 08:15:35 MDT 2000

The recent exchanges on this List re Gus Hall should make it clear to any
doubters that there are not just former Trotskyists among our subscribers! But
they also reminded me how valuable the insights into Stalinism associated with
"Trotskyism" are in explaining the politics of the CPUSA and so much else.


>>> furuhashi.1 at 10/16/00 10:36PM >>> In 1958, W. E. B. DuBois urged
Africans to reject Western capital and to accept aid from the Soviet Union and
Red China. In 1961, just prior to emigrating to Ghana (where he eventually
became a citizen), he applied for membership in the Communist Party, U.S.A. He
died in Ghana in 1963. DuBois's criticism of American racism & imperialism, as
well as of capitalism, was such that he eventually even renounced his American
citizenship. All _after_ Khruschev's criticism of Stalin. Whether or not you
remained or became a Communist depended on your view of racism, imperialism, &


>>>This is a good point. I considered exactly this when I ... uh...I am not now
nor have I ever been....

A related point is that Dubois joined after decades of politically symbiotic but
critical struggle with the CPUSA on U.S. domestic issues. He was a critic who
was won over after a long time of considering the CPUSA's faults and strengths.

Of course, Dubois had a more developed consciousness than most people, so his
wise conduct was sadly not repeated by many others.>>>

But by that date, joining one of the official "Communist" parties in the belief
that it was fostering the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism, required a
strong dose of naiveté or wilful blindness as to the real record of class
collaborationism practiced by the parties under Moscow's tutelage. The
revolutionaries of the late 1950s and early 1960s (e.g. Cuba's 26th of July
Movement, the Algerian FLN (Ben Bella) and their supporters internationally)
were already organizing independently of the CPs for the most part (and were
actively opposed by the CPs in most cases). I think you have to make a
distinction between the subjective (revolutionary) motivations some individuals
may have had in joining the Stalinized CPs and the actual role those parties
played in the class struggle both internationally and in their respective

I was going to address Charles' question about the apparent contradiction he, as
a former "not now nor have I ever been..." felt between Lou's factual reference
to the CPUSA's longstanding support of capitalist politicians, and the CP's
fielding of its own candidates in elections - but Dayne Goodwin's wonderful
quote from Earl Browder on the rationale of the CP's policy says it all. It
deserves repetition:

    <<<Earl Browder, "The American Communist Party in the Thirties," in _As We
Saw the Thirties_, edited by Rita James Simon, University of Illinois Press,

 "Some months thereafter [in 1935] I headed a delegation to Moscow to consult
with the Comintern about the elections. Upon arriving we were informed by Georgi
Dimitrov, the Bulgarian who had become General Secretary at the Seventh World
Congress and the hero of the Reichstag Fire Trial in Nazi Germany, that the
Comintern leaders were all firmly of the opinion that the American Communist
Party should endorse Roosevelt's candidacy and put up no candidates of their
own. My permanent (but usually secret) opposition in America, William Z. Foster
(supported by Sam Darcy) immediately agreed with the proposal. I flatly opposed
it, and proposed a thoroughgoing discussion before decision, the rest of the
delegation withholding their opinion. After two weeks of discussion I remained
obdurate, and advanced my final argument that if we really wished to assure
Roosevelt's re-election we would not endorse him because that would cause him to
be labeled 'the Communist candidate' by the newspapers, most of which opposed
him. This would lose him many times as many votes from the 'Right' as it would
bring him from the 'Left,' for a net loss that might mean his defeat if the vote
were close. On the other hand we could put up our own candidate but conduct such
a campaign that would assure Roosevelt all votes under our influence except the
diehard opponents of all 'capitalist' candidates who without a Communist
candidate would switch to Norman Thomas or even the Socialist Labor party.
Thereupon the discussion was suspended, while the issue was being re-evaluated
by the Russian politburo-which we learned later meant Stalin. The final
conclusion of the Comintern was 'to leave the matter to the decision of the
American comrades,' where I had no difficulty in carrying the decision my way.
Thus I became the logical Communist presidential candidate and made my ambiguous
campaign in favor of 'my rival,' Roosevelt. The more the newspapers puzzled over
this tactic, the more effective it became." pp. 233-234, 2nd printing, 1969.>>>

Charles' confusion illustrates how effectively this policy, as Browder puts it,
misled honest "diehard opponents of all 'capitalist' candidates..." who
mistakenly thought the CP was projecting an independent anticapitalist line.

But not all anticapitalist workers thought this. Many who had experienced the
CP's line in the Thirties and Forties were turned off the CP precisely because
of its twists and turns in support of Stalin's foreign policy, which were the
main factor in the party's support of the no-strike pledge during the War and
its opposition to the movement for an independent labor party in the postwar
period. The hostility the CP generated among many class-conscious or just plain
militant workers was a major factor in its isolation during the Cold War
witch-hunt, and enormously complicated the task of those in the workers movement
who defended the CP's democratic rights (such as the Trotskyist SWP, even though
the CP had been vociferous supporters of the sedition prosecution and jailing of
SWP leaders during the War).

Richard Fidler
rfidler at

More information about the Marxism mailing list