[Marxism] Earl Browder
zarichny at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 2 12:46:54 MDT 2005
An interesting study could be made of how the
U.S. army treated reds in its ranks during World War
II. From time to time, army policy veered sharply.
At one point, they were placed in labor battalions.
For a while, they were placed in combat units. Around
the time I was drafted at the beginning of 1943, there
was another shift. We were placed in units made up of
rural southern whites and sent to the India-Burma
theatre to serve under General Stilwell. Of the
600-700 people in the 69th General Hospital, at least
twenty were politicals. One guy had been a printer
working for Pioneer Press. Every month two of the
soldiers donated to the hospital library the book sent
out by the IWO (International Workers Order) book of
the month. I thought one of the few northerners was
in the unit by mistake. But then his brother showed
up. His brother was the Cox who was the head of the
Cleveland Ohio CIO Central Labor Council.
A couple of years after the war, I had a
conversation with Art Wright (a relative of the
airplane Wright brothers.) Art told me that during
the war he had served in Headquarters Company with
General Stilwell. One day the red files arrived.
Stilwell looked at them, cussed, and asked, What the
hell am I supposed to do with them? He ordered them
But up in far northeastern India, the reds were
gradually finding comrades in neighboring units. For
example, I learned that Ed Strong (an alumni Of my
high school who had served on the National Committee
of the CP) was stationed a few miles up the road.
(But I failed to meet him.)
Every week, the wife of one of the soldiers would
send him a clipping from the Daily worker or the
Communist and about four of us would gather to discuss
it. I was deeply disturbed by a clipping from Earl
Browder in which he predicted a long boom would follow
the war. This contradicted what I had learned a
couple of years earlier in my high school YCL chapter.
There we were taught that economic crises were
inevitable and they were steadily bound to increase in
frequency and intensity. The other soldiers argued
with me and finally convinced me. Then one day a
letter written by a leading French Communist (duClos)
arrived in which he endorsed William Z. Fosters
position. To my amazement, all of the guys switched
sides upon reading it. Foster argued that the postwar
boom would last less than a decade and the economic
crisis would be more severe than the Great Depression.
At this point I should comment on Foster and
Browder. Foster had been a major leader of the labor
movement. For Example, when President Wilson asked
Gompers to meet with labor leaders, Gompers included
Foster in the delegation. During his entire life,
Foster chose to socialize with labor leaders and
Browder had a lot more time for academic
Marxists. He became convinced that Keynesian
economics would work for more than a generation (i.e.
20 years). He also became convinced that a strong
labor movement during the coming long boom would be
able to lift living standards above pre-depression
standards. I have the gut feeling that he came to
believe that he would not live to see socialism
triumph in America. He did come to the conclusion
that Americans were culturally not prepared to accept
socialism. And would not be as long as the working
class was divided by racism. If socialism was not on
the agenda, Browder argued that a disciplined party
was counter productive. What was needed was a
political association and not a party.
But Foster fully expected to live to see
socialism after the great economic collapse in 5 to 10
Foster successfully argued that Browder should be
expelled for not holding Marxist-Leninist views.
Note: I did not do any research for this article. I
just wrote out the general impressions I have
accumulated over the years. J.Z.
Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005
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