Booklet, “Is Communism Un-American?” ca. 1950
[in blue pencil] D. Ex.# 3
About the Communist Party
By EUGENE DENNIS
Nine Questions About the
Communist Party Answered
By Eugene Dennis
NEW CENTURY PUBLISHERS
This pamphlet contains the complete text of the answers of Eugene Dennis, General Secretary of the Communist Party, U.S.A., to a series of nine questions posed by Mr. A. H. Raskin, which the latter requested for purposes of publication in The New York Times.
Because space limitations prevented the Times from publishing the full replies to all of the questions, and because of the wide general interest in the position of the Communist Party on the issues and problems raised by Mr. Raskin, the complete text is made available in this brochure.
Published by NEW CENTURY PUBLISHERS, 832 Broadway, N.Y. 3, N.Y.
March, 1947 209; PRINTED IN U.S.A.
IS COMMUNISM UNAMERICAN?
By Eugene Dennis
January 24, 1947
Mr. A. H. Raskin,
The New York Times,
New York 18, N.Y.
Dear Mr. Raskin:
In reply to your recent inquiry regarding the position of the Communist Party on a number of questions, I wish to com-ment briefly as follows:
QUESTION: “The first loyalty of the Communist Party is to the Soviet Union and it is only secondarily concerned with American welfare.”
ANSWER: The first and only loyalty of American Com-munists is to our working class, our people and our country, of which we are an integral part. As I stated in Madison Square Garden on September 19, 1946:
We American Communists give allegiance to only one power: to the sovereign power that resides in the Ameri-can people. We are American workers, Marxists and pa-triots. Today and on the morrow, as in the past, in war or in peace, we will loyally defend the genuine national interests of our people, of our country.
Some 15,000 Communists sealed this sacred pledge with loyal and exemplary service in the war against Hilterism and Japanese militarism; and, years before that, some 4,000 Amer-can Communists likewise honored this principle by fighting and dying in freedom’s cause and our country’s interests against Franco fascism.
What is really at the bottom of the unfounded charge that we are “disloyal” is the fact that we have worked tirelessly for American-Soviet cooperation. Because of our resolute position in favor of American-Soviet friendship the anti-So-vieteers, the warmongers, who are intensely anti-American, try to brand us as “foreign agents.” But this slanderous charge will not deter us from continuing to advocate and consistent-ly fight for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s program for U.S.A.-U.S.S.R. amity and collaboration which is so vital to our country’s na-tional security and the cause of world peace. It is this loyal, patriotic concern for our country’s welfare that should bring every true American to work actively for strengthening our nation’s ties, in mutual interest, with our great and staunchest wartime ally, the Soviet unction.
Finally, it must be said that it is not the Communists by the trusts-the du Ponts, Westinghouse, U.S. Steel, General Electric, etc-who have al loyalty other than to the United States and the American people. They-the trusts-are the ones who put their monopoly and cartel interests above the interests of the nation. They are the ones who are ready at all times to betray the nation to advance their reactionary and profiteering aims.
*This has been corroborated by the evidence unearthed by the Senatorial committees headed by Truman, Bone, and Kilgore. It is now a matter of common knowledge that before the war American monopo-lies, such as Standard Oil of New Jersey, du Pont, General Electric, and the Aluminum Company of America, maintained cartel relations and ex-changed crucial patents with, and supplied raw material to, the German and Japanese trusts. American Big Business thus jeopardized the na-tional security of our country. In one form or another-for example, through dummy corporations in Switzerland, Protugal, etc.—relations were maintained with the German cartelists during the war itself. Today the American monopolies are working to re-establish, under their dom-ination, the international cartels, and to rebuild the German and Jap-anese trusts and heavy industry. They are sabotaging the Big Three ac-cords to demilitarize and denazify Germany and Japan and to destroy their military potential. Even President Truman, in 1942, branded as treason the action of Standard Oil of New Jersey in turning its synthetic rubber process over to the German I.G. Farben trust, while withholding it from the United States government.
QUESTION: “The party is part of a ‘world-wide fifth col-umn’ serving the interests of the U.S.S.R.”
ANSWER: The Communist Party is an American working class political party. It arose and developed from the life and struggles of the American people. It bases itself on the needs and aspirations of the American people and utilizes the uni-versally applicable principles of the social science of the work-ing class, Marxism. Dedicated to the interests of the American working people, the C.P.U.S.A. unmasks and combats all na-tive and imported fifth columnists-the reactionary and fascist elements, the agents of monopoly capital. That is why, over the years, we have waged political warfare against the Gerald L.K. Smiths, the Father Coughlins, the K.K.K., the Silver Shirts, the Hearsts and McCormicks, and now also against American Action, Inc. It was the Goerings, Ribbentrops and Schachts-not the German Communists, the Thaelmanns and Piecks-whom the United Nations tribunal recently con-demned as enemies of humanity and traitors to their people. This parallel is more than valid for the United States.
Far from being a “world-wide fifth column,” Communist Parties throughout the world, as in France, Yugoslavia, China, Brazil, etc., have already won the respect oft heir people as being the best patriots, the best defenders of the national in-terests of their countries. That is the role to which the Com-munists in the United States-the tested sons and daughters of the American working class-serve and are equally and ar-dently committed.
What is true of the allegation that we Communists are part of a “world-wide movement” is the fact that we are not only American patriots but also working class internationalists. This, in fact, makes us better Americans devoted to the gen-uine interests of our country. In this-in our solidarity with all freedom-loving peoples-we are true to the traditions of Paine, Jefferson, and Lincoln. We subscribe fully to Lincoln’s declaration that
“…The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of
the family relation, should be one uniting all working people, of all nations and tongues, and kindreds….”
QUESTION: “The party receives instructions and finan-cial support from Russia.”
ANSWER: The Communist Party has never received “in-structions and financial support from Russia.” If by “Rus-sia” is meant, repeating a deliberate confusion, the former Communist International whose headquarters were at Mos-cow, then the statement is in place that before 1940, we were affiliated with the Communist International, and occasionally exchanged fraternal opinions with our brother Communist Parties of other countries.
In 1940, however with the passage of the Voorhis Act- which we then denounced as destructive of the democratic rights of the people and designed to destroy the Communist Party as an open, legal political party-we severed all ties with the Communist International. In 1943, the Communist In-ternational itself was dissolved.
Any identity of views reflected then or now in the positions taken by our Party and other Communist Parties did not nor does not result from “international ties” or “instructions” from the Soviet Union. The identity of views which does exist on one question or another results solely from an inde-pendent interpretation of our universal science of Marxism, of problems common to the working class of the world, and in promoting world peace and democracy.
This does not mean that the views of all Communist Parties are identical on all matters. In the independent development of views it often happens that differences of opinion develop on specific questions. The differences of opinion between the French and German Communist Parties on the Ruhr, of the Italian and Yogoslav Parties on Trieste, and of the American and British Parties on the British loan, are matters of record. Such differences develop because each Party works
out its policy independently, in accord with national needs. They are ultimately resolved because Communists everywhere work on the basis of science whose principles are interna-tionally valid.
It is notorious that British and American imperialism have given and are giving instructions and financial support to every backward and reactionary force throughout the world, as in Kuomintang China, Spain and Greece, to stem the ad-vancing tide of the world’s democratic forces. However, our Party’s only financial support comes from the advanced sec-tions of the American working class and people. Our only “instructions” come from the dictates of the historic and im—mediate needs of the American working class and people.
QUESTION: “The party’s aim is the violent overthrow of the American system.”
AMSWER: The position of the Communist Party on this question is definitely embodied in the Constitution of the Communist Party* which states:
… Adherence to or participation in the activities of any clique, group or circle, faction or party, which conspires or acts to subvert, undermine, weaken or overthrow any or all institutions of American democracy, whereby the majority of the American people can maintain their right to determine their destinies in any degree, shall be pun-ished by immediate expulsion….
Force and violence-resistance to the process of basic social change-have always been initiated and exercised by reaction-ary classes bent on maintaining their power and privileges against the will of the overwhelming majority. The counter-resolution of the Southern Slavocracy in our own Civil War-1861-65-is sufficient proof of this historic truth.
*Even the United States Supreme Court, in its decision on June 21, 1943 in the Schneiderman case, dismissed as unsubstantiated the allegation of the then U.S. Attorney General, Francis J. Biddle, that the Communist Party advocates or practices force and violence.
And at this very moment, throughout the world, Communist Parties, as in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, etc., are contributing all their energies to helping ensure a peaceful course of social development for their countries. At the same time, American and British imperialists are giving aid and comfort to the pro-fascists in these countries, as well as in France, who seek to foment disorder and bloodshed calculated to bring the reactionaries into power.
However, in the interests of democracy and peace, we American Communists place as the central task of the coming pe-riod, the need of rallying the broadest labor and democratic coalition for the defeat of the forces of pro-fascist reaction at home and abroad. And this is the only way forward to orderly social advancement.
We have made abundantly clear the character of our im-mediate and long-range aims. Our immediate objective is to protect the living standards and democratic rights of the American people and to prevent fascism from coming to power. We work to defeat the anti-labor legislation of the G.O.P. and the Southern bourbons; to promote the economic security of the people; to help win equal rights for the Negro people and full civil liberties for all; and to safeguard and implement the cause of peace and Big Three unity, particu-larly through the fulfillment of the Potsdam, Moscow, and Teheran agreements.
Our ultimate objective is socialism, that is, the common ownership and operation of the national economy under a government of the people, led by the working class. We strive to convince the people that only the establishment of socialism can end the scourge of economic crisis, unemployment, pov-erty and war. We Communists are convinced that, in the long run, the masses of the people will realize the necessity for a socialist solution of their problems and that they will take the necessary steps to achieve it.
We Communists are not adventurers or utopians, and as Marxists we know that we must distinguish between what is possible today and what can be realized tomorrow.
That is why in the present period our policy must be and is directed toward achieving certain vital immediate objectives (through limited in the sense that they fall far short of so-cialism), namely, to curb the powers of the monopolists and to check and defeat pro-fascist reaction. If that is accom-plished, the American working class, and the democratic forces generally, will be able when they so desire, to march forward along the road of social progress toward socialism, a road determined by our own special American conditions, and not necessarily identical with the paths being taken in democratic advance, including toward socialism, by the peo-ples of other counties.
QUESTION: “There is no difference between Commu-nism and fascism in so far as totalitarian disregard for personal rights and freedom is concerned.
ANSWER: Communism and fascism are as different as day is from night. As I stated on September 19, in Madison Square Garden:
…We say to American labor: the criminal falsehood that Communism and fascism are Siamese twins, this pro-fascist attempt to identify opposites, is an old trick….Not only the Communists but also millions of non-Party anti-fascists know: fascism is the open, ruthless dictator-ship of the most reactionary monopolies, of the Sixty Families; Socialism is the rule of the workers in alliance with the working farmers and all common people. Fas-cism is race hatred, pogroms and lynching; Socialism is the equality and friendship of peoples and nations. Fas-cism is the debasement and destruction of all cultural values, of human decency; Socialism means the flourishing of culture, the achievement of the dignity of man. Fas-cism organizes war; Socialism champions peace. These are facts, proven by life, by history….
This is not just a question of theory. In the great anti-
fascist war which was for our country as well as for others, as President Roosevelt said, a war of survival, the Socialist Soviet Union was our staunchest ally and bore the main brunt of the war; and in every country the Communists were among the best and most self-sacrificing fighters for the preservation of the democratic achievements of their peoples and for the liberation of their countries. This was not an accident. It followed from the position of the Communists of all lands as great patriots, as the most resolute fighters for democracy and social progress, and the most uncompromising foes of fascism, which is the mortal enemy of all democracy. One does not have to be a Communist to recognize that the greatest issue of our time is the conflict between democracy and fascism, and that Communism and fascism are diametrically opposite and the struggle between them is to the death. The history of the anti-Axis war, including the role of the Communists in all national resistance movements, should suffice to make this crystal clear.
As to personal rights, under capitalism, the personal freedom and “dignity” of the individual is determined, in the last analysis, by how much money one has. It is only under socialism that the masses of the people can come into their own, and that the full flowering of the individual will be pos-sible. The truth of this attested to from time to time even by some of the correspondents of the New York Times, when reporting objectively on the Socialist Soviet Union.
QUESTION: “Party members are interested only in power and destroy those organizations which they cannot con-trol.”
ANSWER: The Communist Party consists of American citi-zens who, like most of their fellow-Americans, belong not only to a political party but also to the economic, cultural, and professional organizations which correspond to their occu-pation, profession, or artistic interests. Within these organi-
zations, the Communists work together with the rest of the membership to solve effectively the special and common prob-lems with which all are concerned. Governed and abiding by the program and democratic processes and decisions of these organizations, the Communists also contribute their political understanding toward the solution of all problems.
The Communists do not demand special privileges for them-selves in these mass organizations, but they do claim for them-selves equal rights with all other members on a democratic right, openly express their political views within the framework of the mass organizations to which they belong. They zealously carry out the program and decisions of these organizations and ask to be judged solely by one criterion-do they or do they not promote the interests of each organization and its mem-berhsip?
Far from trying to “control” the organizations to which they belong, the policy of the Communists is to promote the wel-fare of the mass organizations and their membership, actively to participate in the life of these organizations, and to subject themselves to the democratic will of the majority. Contrari-wise, time and time again it has been demonstrated that the very ones who are loudest in charging Communist “interfere-ence” or “domination” resort to splitting various mass or-ganizations when the membership does not go along with them in their divisive and reactionary “Red-baiting” policies.
The best answer to the slanderous charge that the Com-munists try to destroy organizations they cannot control, lies in the issues we have initiated and fought for and the results we have helped obtain. Our Party spearheaded the struggle of labor and the common people on such issues as unemploy-ment insurance, the organization of the unorganized, equal rights for the Negro people, the struggle against fascism and war and for collective security, etc. it was in the course of the principled struggle for such vital needs of the people that the Communists demonstrated their selfless devotion to the mass organizations to which they belong and won the position of
respect they hold among the forward-striving sections of the people.
QUESTION: “The party functions as a secret society, with most of its members masking their identity as a means of misleading those who would refuse to associate with them if they operated openly as Communists.”
ANSWER: The Communist Party, far from being a “secret society,” functions openly in accordance with the U.S. Con-stitution and the Bill of Rights. What otherwise is the mean-stitution and the Bill of Rights. What otherwise is the mean-ing of the open proclamation of our views, of our press and publications, our public meetings, open recruiting and all other mass activities? It is only where the U.S. Constitution is violated and democratic rights are restricted, as in various states in the Bourbon-ridden South and in many company-controlled towns in the North, that the Communist Party, against its will and desire, is deprived of its constitutional lib-erties and is not permitted to function with the freedom ac-corded other political organizations.
All Communists are proud of their membership in our Party, proud to make it known to their friends, associates, and the world at large. But just as in the citadels of the open shop, when the C.I.O. was being organized, where the workers in many instances could not openly proclaim their union mem-berhsip, so , in some cases, because of the denial of democratic rights and the threat of persecution, certain individual Com-munists sometimes decide not to proclaim openly their Com-munist identity. In such cases they are fully within their rights as American citizens. It should be remembered that it was pre-cisely to prevent persecution for political beliefs that the secret ballot was introduced.
It is a notorious fact that in government and in private in-dustry persons merely suspected of being Communists or of associating with Communists-let alone known Communists-have been thrown out of jobs, blacklisted, and otherwise
persecuted. The Communist Party, more than anyone else, is concerned to end a situation in which some individual Com-munists do not feel free to proclaim their Party membership because of the threat of the blacklist or economic insecurity to themselves or persons who associate with them. This is one of the reasons why our Party opposes and calls upon the entire people to oppose the House Un-American Committee, the witchhunts of J. Edgar Hoover, and all legislation which violates the Bill of Rights and discriminates against demo-cratic minority groups. Further, and basically, we oppose all such committees, witchhunts, and legislation because they are part and parcel of the offensive of Big Business which aims at whittling down the civil liberties of the American people and strengthening the forces of pro-fascist reaction.
QUESTION: “The party maintains iron discipline and re-viles those within its own membership who dissent from its policies more bitterly than it does its enemies on the right.”
ANSWER: The Communist Party maintains the maximum degree of inner party democracy and unity. All basic decisions are arrived at through democratic processes which put to shame the pretenses to democracy of “its enemies on the right” who accuse the Communist Party of being “undemocratic.” All of our decisions are collective decisions reached by vol-untary agreement and majority vote, and then are binding upon all. Our democratically constituted national conven-tions are regularly preceded by a designated period of free pre-convention discussion involving the entire membership. The general policy and the decisions adopted by the conven-tion then become mandatory upon every member. It is non-sense to say that our Party “reviles those within its own mem-bership who dissent from it policies….” Discussion and application of policy within our ranks is based, like our “iron discipline,” on principle. It is true that we do not speak
kindly of those whom we expel from our Party as enemies of the working class, but then, the American people have never spoken gently of their Benedict Arnolds.
QUESTION: “The party subscribes to the notion that the end justifies the means, with the result that its members lie, steal and even kill to advance the Party’s cause.”
ANSWER: This slander that our members will “lie, steal and even kill to advance the party’s cause” is an attempt to at-tribute to us the jungle “ethics” of Big Business and the pro-fascists.
It is a matter of record that our Party has, from the very first, repudiated such predatory and anarchistic views. We hold that the end and the means are interconnected, that one rests upon, or flows from, the other. Even as our ends are just, and serve the cause of our people and humanity, so too are the means, methods, and the tactics which we employ to move the people in defense of their immediate and long-range interests.
Our Party and its members boldly proclaim the truths which will free humanity. Our enemies-the big trusts, the pro-fas-cists and their agents-fear, distort, and cover up the truth. They shudder at any accurate presentation of the facts of social and political life. They fear any unmasking of the evils of capitalism, of reaction and fascism, especially their American varieties. They strive to conceal the Nazi-like barbarism of the lynchers, the Southern Junkers. They dread the public unveiling of the warmongers. They seek to erect an “iron curtain” between the American people and their great and tested allies, the Soviet Union and the new European democ-racies.
As to “stealing,” it is not the Communists who rob the United States treasury in wartime or peacetime. It is not the Communists who wax fat on war contracts or tax frauds and exemptions. And it is not the Communists who daily and hourly rob the toilers of the fruits of their labors.
As for the canard that Communists “kill” to achieve their ends, we call attention to the fact that it is capitalist society especially in is present stage, imperialism, which kills millions through economic crises and wars, through the treadmill of exploitation, through colonial oppression, and through cul-tivated national, racial and religious prejudices and conflicts.
As for the implication that communists promote acts of terrorism, assassination, and putsches, we state that we con-demn, on principle, such precepts and practices. Any honest study of the theory and practice of the Communist Party will expose the preposterousness of such a charge.
We American Communists are patriots and Marxists, and for us there is only one road of action open-the road of pub-lic mass action. It is for that reason that we favor and support only such actions and movements which will enlist the co-operation and sympathy of the decisive majority of the people, the working people and all other anti-fascists and democrats.
On this question of ends and means, as on all other ques-tions, we Communists are willing to let the records of our ac-tions make clear the truth as to our views. It is not we, but our enemies-the enemies of the American people-who fear and shun the truth. We Communists disdain to conceal our views and aims.
Communist Party, U.S.A.
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