Max Shachtman

An Appeal to Communist Workers

On with the Struggle
for Socialist Freedom

(May 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 22, 29 May 1944, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Twenty-five years of the history of the American Communist movement have just been brought to a close.

The leadership of the Communist Party has ordered the “dissolution” of the party. The party leadership has openly stated that it abandons the greatest ideal of the working class, Socialism, for the whole next period, and has denounced all those who continue the struggle for Socialist freedom as the enemies of labor and of progress.

Supporters of Capitalism

Now the Communists are openly committed to the support of capitalism and the rule of the capitalists. When? Right in the midst of the-period when capitalism has reached the lowest point in its history of degradation, of suffering and misery imposed upon the peoples of the whole world, of the bloodiest and most horrible imperialist war ever known. Right in the midst of the period when capitalism has most clearly proved its utter bankruptcy, its utter inability to solve a single important problem facing society. Right in the midst of the period when the forces, of the working class throughout the world are once more beginning to rise against this rotten, outlived, reactionary social system, as we can already see in the heroic struggles of the Italian masses.

Now the Communists are openly committed to opposing the courageous struggles of the American working class against the growing capitalist reaction in this country. The workers, the union men and women, who resist the efforts of the big monopolists to place upon their shoulders the entire burden of the war, meet with no sympathy from the Communist Party, but with bitter opposition, couched in the language of the capitalist class itself.

At this critical moment, the Communist Party aims to unite with the National Manufacturers Association in the drive to paralyze the labor movement with the incentive pay system, the speedup, the no-strike pledge. You have been driven into a terrible anti-labor position!

Now the Communists are openly committed to support of capitalist politics and to violent opposition to the increasing efforts of the American workers to strike out for themselves on the road of independent labor political action. The Communist Party is now the most conscious and consistent opponent of independent working class political action, of a National Labor Party. Wherever labor seeks to break away from the capitalist parties, it is the Communist Party that takes the leadership in trying to drive it back into capitalist politics.

Now the Communists are openly committed to the appeasement policy of the “lesser evil,” and to the worst interpretations of this policy. Working class progress and victory, we are now taught by the party leaders, no longer lies along the road of class independence and class action, but in the practice of tying labor to the kite of one capitalist politician as against another. Do you not remember the attacks we all used to make upon the right-wing Social Democrats for their criminal “lesser evil” policy, which brought the working class of so many countries to disaster, especially the working class of Germany? Shall we now follow the same disastrous road in this country?

The Communist Party, which first attacked appeasement of reactionaries, now defends scoundrels like Giraud and Badoglio and even German Junkers. Do yon not realize what this means in face of the rising tide of proletarian revolution in Europe? Are you content to see the C.P. become the watch-dog of reaction?

Why Has This Happened?

How and why has all this happened? How have you been led to this point? Is this what the revolutionary communist militants – the real founders of the movement in this country – wanted, hoped for and worked for when they first brought the Party into existence twenty-five years ago? Hundreds upon hundreds of communist workers were beaten on picket lines and in demonstrations; sent to hospitals or early graves; sent to prisons and jails; and some even killed in the course of the great struggle. Did they make these magnificent sacrifices in order to prop up the tottering structure of capitalism, in order to build a party that works for capitalism? Is their sacred memory to be spat upon so cynically? Browder & Co. can do just that. But what about you?

It is high time to think seriously and deeply, to understand and to act.

Here are the facts! Here are the reasons for the degeneration of the Communist Party!

In this country and all over the world, the official Communist organizations have become mere instruments in the hands of the

bureaucracy that rules Russia. Inside these organizations, all the militant and revolutionary elements have been rooted out; in Russia itself, they were expelled, then framed up (as “agents of capitalism”!), imprisoned and shot. The’ membership was taught that the supreme revolutionary virtue and duty was blind obedience to the party leadership, regardless of who was appointed and regardless of what policies and how many turns in policy were undertaken.

The Russian Stalinist bureaucracy has deceived and betrayed the Communist workers. It has cunningly traded upon your devotion to the great principles and achievements of the Bolshevik Revolution, and exploited this devotion for its own reactionary ends. Meanwhile, in Russia, the bureaucracy has abandoned these great principles and wiped out the great achievements. The Russian working class enjoys no rights; it enjoys no power. It is gagged, bound and fettered by the bureaucracy, which has a complete monopoly of power, rights and privileges.

The Russian and the Communist Workers

This bureaucracy looks upon you, and the communist and other workers throughout the world, only as tools. Its only interest in you is to use you to maintain it in power. It is not concerned with the interests and the socialist future of the working class, either inside Russia or outside. That is why it forced the Communist movement through all the ridiculous and criminal “turns” in policy every year or every six months. That is why it forces yon into opposition to a united front one day, and support of it the next; into calls for insurrection one day and support of capitalism the next; into opposition to the imperialist war one day and support of it the next; into support of labor’s struggles one day and strike-breaking the next; and now, into outright abandonment of the ideal and struggle for socialism which it long Ago abandoned in practise.

Once the capitalist class and capitalist reaction feared and respected the: Communist movement. Today it ridicules it, treats it with contempt, or praises it for its “respectability.”

The big international machinery of the Communist Party has sought systematically to poison the Communist workers against the Trotskyists, that is, against the revolutionary socialists who have always remained true to the principles they learned from Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. But now it is easier to see how they lied about us. We are still revolutionary, international socialists, irreconcilable enemies of capitalism. They are now the avowed agents of capitalism. Time will tell, we said. Now, time has told.

We understand perfectly that the true Communist worker has not really abandoned the cause of Socialism. We know that he has been told, behind closed doors, that the “new line” is only a clever maneuver. We know that he has been told that this is the best way to help Russia and the Russian working class; that if he “pretends” to support capitalism here, the capitalists will be more inclined to work with Moscow. That is the meaning of Browder’s demagogical references to “Unity Behind Teheran.”

But that is a gross deception. The party leaders are only fooling you, and if you believe them, yon will be fooling yourself, with fatal results.

The new line IS a “clever maneuver.” But for whom? In whose interests? Not yours, for it is not in the interests of the American working class to lie prone while capitalist reaction tramples upon it. Not the Russian workers, for it is not in their interests to strengthen the power of the bureaucracy that rules it with an iron hand. It is a maneuver exclusively in the interests of the bureaucrats themselves, and to the vast detriment of the international working class and of socialism.

You are told that the abandonment of the fight for socialism is only for the war and post-war period. In actuality, that fight was abandoned by Browder & Co. long ago. But even if you do not believe this, do you not see who will be the real and only gainer from this “maneuver”? If yon give up the class struggle and support capitalism now and for the whole next period – then, later, when YOU are ready to resume the class-struggle for socialism, you will find that meanwhile you will have enormously strengthened the capitalist enemy, and terribly weakened, disoriented and demoralized the working class. The class struggle cannot be abolished or postponed under capitalism. The capitalists always defend their class interests. If labor does not fight as a class, capitalist reaction and fascism will surely triumph. Do yon want to be guilty of helping the enemy win?

On With the Fight for Socialism!

Now, comrades, is the time to re-dedicate yourselves to the revolutionary socialist principles and to the struggle for socialist freedom! It is high time to break from the paralyzing and distorting grip of Stalinism! Return to the ideas and ideals taught us by the Bolshevik Revolution and its leaders, Lenin and Trotsky! Turn your back on the base falsehoods and cynical treachery of the Browders who try to treat you like robots and not like revolutionary socialists! Unite in battle against capitalism and its servant, fascism!

The Workers Party, part of the world-wide movement to establish the Fourth International on the foundations of Marxism and Leninism, appeals to you to join its ranks, and thereby to resume the noble fight for working-class emancipation and socialist freedom. We have the right to call upon you to enter our Party, for we have never flinched from; the struggle against capitalism and never forsaken the principles, of socialism.

To every Communist worker who has reflected deeply and carefully on the events leading to the destruction of his old party, to the shame of abandoning the struggle for socialism, we say:


Max Shachtman
National Secretary

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