On the New Program of the American Workers Party
(1886 - 1961)
Karl Korsch (German: [kɔɐ̯ʃ]; August 15, 1886 – October 21, 1961) was a German Marxist theoretician and political philosopher. Along with György Lukács, Korsch is considered to be one of the major figures responsible for laying the groundwork for Western Marxism in the 1920s. (From : Wikipedia.org.)
On the New Program of the American Workers Party
Published: in International Council Correspondence Vol. 1, no.4, January 1935, pp 15-25.
Source: Antonie Pannekoek Archives
Transcribed: by Graham Dyer
The first question to be put with reference to the statement of principles of a revolutionary labor party has to do with whether and how far that program really breaks with the existing capitalist order of society. The A.W.P. is not lacking in the subjective will to make that break. It rejects not only the hitherto existing form of the bourgeois social order and its economic foundation, but also the previous and future forms of the Rooseveltian New Deal inclusive of inflation, “social credit”, and “state socialism”; it recognizes Fascism as merely an attempt to save the capitalist State and property, and lays bare within the Roosevelt administration the clearly arising tendencies to fascism. It rejects the traditional American concept of “politics” and the replacement of the real political movement by the parliamentary electoral movement. It proclaims a new type of State in the form of the workers' state based on workers' councils as a democratic instrument for solving the contradictions of the capitalist system and for accomplishing the transition to the communist society. It takes the standpoint of an unconditional revolutionary internationalism of the labor movement; and it separates itself from the Communist International because primarily this organization is “completely and mechanically” controlled by the Russian party and serviceable to the changing official interests of the Soviet Union so that the identity of its tasks with the immediate tasks of the international struggle of the working class is no longer unconditionally and at every moment guaranteed. In its economic analysis it decisively takes the position that even though the present world crisis may be temporarily “overcome”, the decline of the capitalist system is no longer reversible, and it regards the present crisis as the “beginning of the end of the present form of society”. It makes the claim of having recognized the nature of the impending revolutionary change and of having the capacity for the correct carrying through of the revolutionary proletarian class struggle and for the setting up of a free workers' democracy.
Nevertheless, the present draft program does not contain the break with the capitalist social order and all present and future further developments of that order. Even in the economic part of the program there is a striking gap, in that nowhere is there any attempt to come to grips with the concept of planned economy, and much less is the fundamentally capitalist-fascist character of all present day talk and pretense of so-called planned economy decisively pointed out. The draft speaks of “planned economy” only in two places. In the one it is taken for granted that a “planned socialist economy” exists and is making headway in the Soviet Union; and although in the next paragraph there is express mention of the “compromises” forced upon Russia even in the economic sphere and a statement of the impossibility of building a socialist economy in the Soviet Union alone, there is not a word of explanation as to why and to what extent the unlimitedly socialist character of the Russian planned economy accords with these compromises and impossibilities and in what that character consists. In the other passage which reveals a lack of clarity almost reminiscent of the Rooseveltian and Hitlerian “economic planning”, we read that the future workers' State issuing from the victorious revolution is destined “to undertake great projects of social reconstruction by the planned economy of the new society”. To this unsatisfactory treatment of the concept of planned economy may be added the ambiguous manner in which, immediately thereafter, in the section on “Socialization”, there is demanded only the expropriation of all “monopolies in industry and land”. In view of the monopolistic character of all capitalist property, that may, on the one hand, mean complete socialization. On the other hand, many doors remain open for limiting the “socialization” to the so-called monopolies after the manner of the “socialization program” of the German and Austrian Social Democracy from 1918 to 1933, or even according to the still further watered proposals of the new-socialist postwar “socialism” (de Man's “Plan d’action”).
Thus in the very incompleteness and ambiguity of the economic demands it becomes manifest that the carrying out of this program might require, instead of the revolutionary attack upon the whole of capital, possibly only one or another partial attack. Likewise the lack of theoretical clarity at the basis of these demands is proved by the form in which (in the last paragraph of the first chapter) “the central contradiction” of the capitalist system and its “solution” are defined:
“The central contradiction is unmistakably clear; it is the contradiction between a productive plant (!) now physically capable of supplying amply all the basic needs of men, of freeing men forever from hunger, want and insecurity, of assuring mankind as a whole thereby full and creative life - between this and a system of social relations that prevents this productive plant from operating effectively, that directs its operations not to the fulfillment of human needs but to the making of profits for private individuals and corporations. Out of this contradiction and the irreconcilable class divisions it creates, flow the many other contradictions that devastate modern society.”
What is here proclaimed is not the Marxist and revolutionary basic contradiction between the productive forces and productive relations and (what is strictly identical with this economic contradiction) the historical, social and practical contradiction and struggle between the possessing class (interested in maintaining the present relations of production) and the non-possessing proletarian class (interested in overthrowing the present relations of production), a class which, according to Marx, is “itself the strongest productive force”. Rather it is here asserted, after the fashion of Stuart Chase and other modern apostles of capitalist planned economy, that, even today, under capitalism itself, a new epoch has set in, in which “scarcity production” could be replaced by “plenty production” if only the present productive apparatus were no longer capitalistically misused but humanly used. As if the capitalist mode of production had not ever been at the same time the production of ‘plenty’ and the production of ‘scarcity’ and ever the one only through the medium of the other! As if the root of the capitalistic evil lay, not in production itself and in the capitalistic fettering of the productive forces (i.e. in the capitalistic suppression of the productive forces which could be released through the socialist mode of production and which even now, in the proletarian class struggle, are rebelling against the capitalistic relations of production) but only in an avoidable misdirection of this production, in the misuse of the available productive apparatus and in an improper distribution! The basic contradiction of capitalist society is not between the available productive apparatus and the productive relations. Rather is this whole material productive apparatus (the technical equipment of the industries), this whole enormous apparatus with its capacity which in times of peace, even in boom periods, is no longer completely used and which lies idle during the crisis - this apparatus is nevertheless, if one will only take into consideration also the “normal condition” of war, still today completely adapted to the capitalistic property relations. This adaptedness exists even for the wage workers and for the now rapidly increasing mass of those who are temporarily and chronically unoccupied.
Just as in the capitalistic division of labor the productive workers are assimilated in the most exact manner to their means of production, the “part-worker” to his ‘tool’ and the laboring man has become a mere appendage of the machine, so the growing army of unemployed, even in its long-known quality of the “industrial reserve army” of capital in peace and the more so in its new quality (now grown important) of the “military reserve army” of capital in war, forms in its functions an exactly determinate component of the equipment of the present-day capitalist mode of production. Anyone who takes as his starting point the means of production which are actually at hand must logically not only renounce the proletarian revolution in favor of a capitalistic reform, but in the end capitulate before fascism. The present capacity of production in its capitalistic form, computed by such theoreticians as the Technocrats and Stuart Chase is given by the existence of the means of production, by the enormous capitalistic productive apparatus at hand. When confronted with the storms to which the world market is subjected as a result of the crisis with the ravages of an “unregulated” competition on and, last not least, with the unavoidable rebellions on the part of the suppressed and exploited workers and of the growing mass of under-workers who are “planfully” left jobless in time of peace, that productive capacity can be protected only by means of the strong State, by which this technical foundation of capitalism is protected under all circumstances in war and in peace and defended with all ordinary and extraordinary means against all attacks of the workers as well as of the individual capitalists and special capitalist groups. That is the feeling today of the bourgeoisie, even where it itself suffers under fascism, and that is the feeling of a large and growing part of the people and of the peoples, even deep into the ranks of the workers and of the unemployed under-workers. The sophism at the bottom of all this, the deceptiveness of the illusion that the strong state of a Hitler or Mussolini or Roosevelt could really solve this problem, and the insufficiency of this static and evolutionary goal itself can be illuminated only when the basic contradiction is seen not from the material side in the relation between productive means (apparatus) and the productive relations, but from the human side in the relation between the productive forces which are potentially present in the working population and the present capitalistic relations of production (which are in full accord with the productive apparatus). The modern working class, which has developed upward, not without the capitalistic means of production, but with them and through them to the present level of its economic and historico-social-practical productive power, but which in increasing clarity of consciousness is already separable from those means of production and can already be joined to them ideologically in new socialist forms - the modern working class represents that “strongest force of production” which in its advancing development comes in ever increasing revolutionary contradictions with the fixed capitalistic productive relations, property relations, distribution relations, their State, law and all their ideologies. Its own State, the proletarian workers' State, is the strong State of which today fascists and half-fascists technocrats and Stuart Chasists dream only in a confused manner, but which becomes actual through the unfettering of that strongest revolutionary productive force which even today is the proletarian class itself, through the bursting of those fetters which even today is capital itself, and through the violent solution in the international proletarian revolution, of the sharpening basic contradiction existing between the two.
It is not my intention to say that this, the real meaning of the Marxist doctrine on the basic contradiction of capitalist economy was misunderstood by the authors of the program. There are Marxian “materialists” who look upon the Marxist doctrine of the “productive character of the proletariat itself” as an “idealistic” deviation of the master from his own materialism. This draft program is in general far remote from such dogmatic narrowness. Still less is it my design to base this whole criticism, say, on the single phrase “productive plant.” But the whole passage above quoted, which occupies a decisive position in the program, is saturated even in its style with those only apparently revolutionary, in reality superficial ideas which today are disseminated by the voluntary and involuntary pacemakers of the fascist counter-revolution regarding the possibility of a New Deal through a mere transformation of distribution and a few “planned-economic” invasions into the present system of production. Even where the program brings out, with a decisiveness not hitherto attained in any socialist program, the special significance of the industrial workers and particularly of the “basic industry workers”, for whom the revolutionary solution is pointed to as the only way out because their very situation in life, it defines as the goal of this action the creation of a condition in which “the shops run to serve the needs of society and not to make a profit for private individuals and corporations. This, and this only, will release the machinery now braked by the overload of capital debt and the impossibility of finding solvent purchasers for commodities”. This ostensibly revolutionary goal of the basic industry workers can today, in the exigencies of the crisis, be taken over even by the capitalist who is threatened with bankruptcy, and in Germany we find Hitler shouting: “The general welfare comes before private welfare”!
In the criticism of the political part of the draft program, I take as my starting point the view (won through study of the program and press of the A.W.P.) that the A.W.P. at its present stage of development is not yet a directly revolutionary party but is merely on the way “toward an American Revolutionary Labor Movement”. This becomes evident even from the external division of the program, where the aims of the party are treated quite separately from the means and methods which in the present and immediate future it thinks of employing in its “struggle for power”. The second chapter which treats of “the aim of the A.W.P.” is immediately followed by an intercalated third chapter which gives a criticism of the other labor parties and should really stand as an annex at the end of the program; and it is only in the fourth and last chapter that we get the answer to the question, “How the AWP will fight for Power”. The significance of this sharp separation between the so-called “final goal” (questions of the maximal program, questions of the program of principles) and the so-called “present tasks” or “transitional slogans” (questions of the minimal program, questions of the program of action) is sufficiently well known to anyone familiar with the Marxist movement from the history of the European labor parties of pre-war times. Such a party is (at the best) revolutionary in its theory and in the meaning which it theoretically assigns to its present actions and to the connection between them; it is also revolutionary in its practical tendency - more or less directed to the “final goal” - and it may in a certain measure, even in its present practice, fulfill that role which the Communist Manifesto of 1847-48 had once proclaimed for the Communists: namely, that they “represent in the present-day movement at the same time the future of the movement" or (what merely concretizes the same thing from two directions and in another form) that they represent in the national at the same time the international movement and in the political at the same time the economic and social movement on which it is based. It is not yet able, however, whether from objective causes, based on the outer development, or from subjective causes, based on its own development, to combine its different activities, distributed over different spheres and time intervals, among each other and with all the other actions of the proletarian class into the cohesive whole of one revolutionary action.
Where such a situation is given - and that this applies to the A.W.P. to its own character and its position within the present-day American labor movement is clearly proved, in my opinion, by the present draft program - it would be improper to take this standpoint of a “pure” and total revolutionary ideology and to regard the difference between the final slogans and the present demand of the program offhand, as so many “contradictions” and “inconsistencies”, or to deny to the party question any sort of “revolutionary” character because of the limitedness of its immediate practical tasks. The critic of such a program, and particularly the outside critic, must rather set out from the disconnectedness and transitional character of such a program as from a given fact. He must confine himself to pointing out the cases in which as a result of this (within certain limits unavoidable) division between future aims and present means and methods of the struggle, the revolutionary development of the party, oriented in its actions on this program, is hindered and endangered. He can protest when the revolutionary theory degenerates to a mere ideology, to the ideological cloak for an actually opportunistic practice, and he can prove that in certain cases, as a result of the peculiarly “revolutionary” position of the party on a certain form of proletarian activity, the present force of this proletarian activity is in reality weakened and its future revolutionary development fettered, while with an apparently less revolutionary attitude together with maximum intensification of the present activity the way for a really revolutionary further development is much better kept open.
The given starting points for such a criticism, one which is not ideologically doctrinaire but realistically revolutionary, is offered by the position taken in the program, on the one hand, to the question of parliamentarism, and on the other to the question of trade unions.
All the mistakes committed in the earlier development of the Marxist parties in Europe and there already shown up by reality are brought together with encyclopedic completeness in the program's attitude to participation in elections. It is not a matter of criticizing the decision adopted by the party in this field of tactics. A sober exposition of mere grounds of expediency, which make participation in elections a transitorily unavoidable necessity in present-day America, even for a proletarian and in its tendency revolutionary party, would suffice if not to refute all the fundamental objections which might arise against the tactical decision, at least to make them practically of no account. Instead of that, the present draft program has, in the first place, taken a position on this question which is thoroly contradictory - and this is by no means a dialectical contradiction, brought about through the relation between final goal and present tasks, but a simple and direct contradiction arising through unclear and inconsistent thinking and speaking. It has, furthermore, at the place where after long beating about the bush in the very last section of the program the practical decision is now really taken, it has forthwith added on to this opportunistic decision an ideological and apologetic illusionary and “revolutionary” justification by which itself and in addition to other or others are deceived. In doing so, it has decided not simply for parliamentary activity of the party, but has rather taken up with that thoroly unreal monster of a so-called “revolutionary parliamentarism” the nothingness of which has been proved by the previous experience of all Marxist parties in Germany and in all other European countries before and since the war, a something which, after the close of that historical period in which the Parliament constituted for the bourgeois revolution itself a means of struggle and not yet a mere means for coordinating the different competing class interests within the bourgeoisie, hence in the entire epoch of the beginning proletarian revolution has actually never and nowhere existed and which likewise will by no means exist for the present and future America now entering upon the era of the final struggle between revolution and counter-revolution, democracy and fascism, socialism and capitalism.
Because of the importance of the matter, I shall sketch in some detail the different stages by which in this program a revolutionary principle, which from the very beginning is formulated ambiguously becomes converted into a mere revolutionary phrase.
As early as the second chapter (which in itself is not concerned with present practice, but only with the “goal” of the party) we get some remarkable phraseology concerning the allegedly “common aims of all political parties” – as if (and particularly from the viewpoint of the revolutionary final goal) there could be such a common character of proletarian and capitalist parties even for a moment. The program itself describes in detail, in two special sections, “The Nature of the Capitalist Dictatorship” as the rule of a minority and the technique by which the capitalist class imposes this rule upon the great majority of the people and of the working class with all forceful means, direct and indirect.
This exposition is counterbalanced in the next section by "The Specific Aims of a Revolutionary Party", and on this occasion, if words have any meaning, parliamentary action as a possible means for the attainment of even the smallest part of these specific aims is radically rejected. This rejection begins - still somewhat weakly - with the observation that the A.W.P., to be sure, like the capitalist parties aims at the conquest and consolidation of state power, but that, unlike the capitalist parties, it regards this measure “merely as an essential (!) step to fundamentally changing the whole order of society”. It wants to bring this about “not by stepping into state power, the Presidency or Congress, but by doing away with the present basis of state power entirely”. The whole exposition immediately following reaches its climax in the result that in the given conditions of the political dictatorship of capital, resting upon the economic and social class character of the capitalist order, it would be utopian for the workers to believe that they could take over the state power along parliamentary paths. To this end, the working class would rather require other, newly forged weapons. The united action of the working class organizations must provide the basis for the construction of truly united revolutionary working-class organizations; the workers' councils which carry through the struggle for power “with all means”.
But all the theoretical clarity which with these formulations seems at first to be won, not only for an action lying in the remote future, but in tendency also for the present notion of the revolutionary labor party - that becomes illusory through the statements of the fourth chapter by which they are irreconcilably opposed. Here we find, in the next to the last section, devoted to the “United Front”, the remarkable inversion of the real relation between a genuine workers' united front and the revolutionary seizure and exercise of power through the workers' councils; namely, that the united front is not denoted as a breeding ground for the workers' councils but inversely “the so-called (why only so-called?) workers' councils” as merely “the most highly developed form of the united front”. But this little discrepancy between the fourth and the second chapter completely disappears before the magnitude of the catastrophic downfall which now comes about in the last section of this chapter, on the last page of this whole program. Once more in this section, which is headed “Participation in Elections”, but this time in a much more circumspect and reserved fashion, the “movement to the ballot box” is denoted as “in the last instance (!) not (!) the (!) most important (!) form (!)” of the political mass-movement. This reservation now serves merely as a transition to the pompous observation: “This does not mean that the AWP will neglect the traditional methods of American politics”. It will rather - the dam is now broken, and the floods so long held up rush back boisterously into their old accustomed course – “wherever and whenever possible, participate in local, state and national elections, and will fight to win elections”.
Now to the justification of this tactic there march up, one behind the other, all those well-known ideological pseudo-reasons which in Germany and elsewhere have over and over again been thoroly deprived of force. Beginning with the “revolutionary” possibilities of the election struggle as a tribune for propagating the aims and program of the party and for uncovering the misleading and concealing maneuvers of the opponents, and ending with those “strategic positions” into which the various elected party members will be placed through this election allegedly for the support of the organization and of the workers' struggles and for breaking down the capitalistic control over the State and for the public pillorying of the fraudulent government politics. One sees that the revolutionary “theory” of the basic part of the party program and especially the solemn promise “not to step into state office, the Presidency or Congress” is here actually reduced to a pure ideology of concealment, which enables the party also on its own account to faithfully carry on “the traditional methods of American politics”.
In the trade-union question also there is a contradiction between the theoretical position of the A.W.P. as consciously proclaimed in the program, and its actual practice as shown by the previous and continuing development of the party and as it receives at least an indirect expression in the concrete positions taken in the program on the questions of the present-day American trade-union organization and tactic. In its actual practice and in all concrete questions, the A.W.P., which in its past “has functioned primarily in the economic conflicts of the American labor scene”, recognizes even yet today the peculiar and independent significance of the economic and social struggles of the working class and renounces expressly not only a “mechanical” but actually also any other form of rule over the trade-union organizations and the subordination of their special aims to the “higher” aims of the “politics” carried on by the “Party”. In its theoretical position on the trade-union question, however, it takes its stand on that theory which in the best case (Lenin) is jacobinical-revolutionary and in the worse case (the German Social Democracy and other marxist parties of pre-war time) is simply bourgeois; namely, the primacy of politics over economics and of the political over the trade-union struggle. While it rightly reproaches the American Social Democracy with drawing too sharp and arbitrary a line of separation between the political and economic labor struggle, with leaving the leadership of the latter completely in the hands of the ultra-reformist bureaucracy of the A.F. of L. and with supporting in the trade-unions in all cases the reactionary measures of the right -wing bureaucracy against the progressive tendencies within the trade unions, still in the formulations of principle of its draft program the A.W.P. itself falls into the opposite one-sidedness. One may say that in the American labor movement of the present time the Socialist Party repeats the actual development, while the A.W.P. repeats the ideology of the German Social Democracy of pre- and postwar time, where the true relation between Party and trade unions was even then mirrored inversely.
In a sharp break with the actual character which it has previously revealed, the A.W.P. today wants to be above all a “political” party. For this reason it wishes to give a strictly political orientation not only to all its own activities, but in an extraordinarily abstract fashion to subordinate all other activities of the working class to this political activity of the Party. All other class organization of the fighting proletariat appear accordingly, even in this new program, under the bad and unspecific general name of “mass organizations” (to be won by the party). Even the trade unions, which in reality represent a peculiar and independent basic form of the proletarian class organization not replaceable by the party, come under this theoretical viewpoint. In the present draft program they are treated as, to be sure, most important but yet only of equal rank with the other “mass organizations” (by the side of farmers, negroes, professional workers and unemployed), through which the Party, mainly bent upon its own narrower political party tasks, strives to extend and strengthen its influence in a secondary way. Though in this connection the overwhelming importance of the industrial workers and especially of the “workers in the large shops, mills, factories and mines of the basic industries” is correctly emphasized, yet immediately following, with a somewhat striking “idealism”, the actual winning of precisely these most important workers is practically set equal to the purely ideological task of their merely theoretical attraction into the inner orientation of the Party. The program says that the A.W.P. wants to support itself “in a two-fold sense” on these industrial workers. It wants to win their membership, their confidence and influential positions in their organizations; but even though the actual progress aimed at in this way among the industrial workers were to be slight, the A.W.P. wants to “make the needs and the historical position of these workers the viewpoint of its theoretical orientation”. This “idealistic” turn of speech is not only suspiciously reminiscent of the manner of a merely parliamentary and electoral party, which also ever takes care to put the needs and the situation of broad masses of voters “in the mid-point of its orientation”. It also shows very clearly the insufficiency of such a merely formal attitude of the political party of the proletariat to all activities of the proletarian class struggle which are not or “not yet” politically formed.
Now of course the A.W.P. in this very profession of allegiance to the primacy of politics over economics and to the superiority of the conscious political struggle of the Party over all other less developed forms of the proletarian fight for emancipation, has wished to profess allegiance to that revolutionary conception of the relation between economics and politics, party and trade unions, which since Lenin and Trotsky is regarded as the true Marxist position on the trade-union question. The A.W.P. wants in its turn to repeat that great struggle which Lenin, around the turn of the century, carried through in Russia and on an international scale against the “Economists” and to restore to honor that famous phrase of the Communist Manifesto which states that in the last instance “every class struggle is a political struggle”. It quite correctly recognizes behind the apparent bowing of the “Socialist Party” to the “trade unions” the real alliance of all backward instead of forward looking elements in party and trade unions, and wants to set over against this alliance of all reactionary elements under the “hegemony” of the trade-union bureaucracy the alliance of all progressive elements of the whole labor movement under the leadership of the revolutionary party. Such a genuine combination of the economic and political struggle and of all other forms of activity of the working class into the single whole of a directly revolutionary struggle is the necessary goal of all proletarian revolutionists, regardless of whether they conceive this alliance in the “Leninist-Communist” manner as a bringing together of all isolated forms of struggle into the revolutionary political struggle or in the “syndicalist” manner as an extension and intensification of the direct economic action into the single whole of a directly revolutionary and social struggle. On this point there scarcely remains in the revolutionary end-result a single difference between the two tendencies which today are competing with and warring upon each other. The very same Marx who called every class struggle a “political struggle” has also in exactly the same sense called politics a “concentrated economics”. The coincidence of the two conceptions regarding the relation of the economic to the political class struggle first practically comes about, however, in the moment or in the period when, in the direct revolutionary action of the workers' councils, economics and politics actually coalesce. Until that time the claim to hegemony put forth by both of the tendencies, the “political” one of the Marxists and Leninists no less than the “economic” one of the syndicalists, contains a one-sidedness which restricts and weakens the practical class struggle of the proletariat. The identity which is present in the beginning of the economic and political class struggle of the workers can first be completely actualized in the full development of the directly revolutionary struggle. It can no more be brought about in advance through a merely formal “subordination” of the “trade union mass organizations” to the viewpoint of a revolutionary party than through the no less formal rejection of all “politics” in the other camp; and the damage unavoidably resulting from such an empty formalism strikes, as is especially clearly shown by the fate of the German Social Democracy, in the end not only and not even most severely the trade unions and the possible forms of organization to be “politicized” and “led” by the party in accordance with its “revolutionary” ideology, but also the party itself, just as in an earlier period with the German Social Democracy, so with the AWP even today there is concealed behind the ideologically raised claim to the primacy of the party over the trade unions, in reality the opposite practical tendency of subjecting its revolutionary political theory to the preponderance of the trade-union mass organizations and their practice, oriented to their own and by no means revolutionary interests. Such a germ of future capitulation is concealed, for example, behind the extraordinarily general declaration of the party against “any general policy of dual unionism” and the equally general assertion, added to this declaration as the only reason for it, that any “divided trade union movement opens the way for fascism”. This passage may be applicable to the policy of the Communist Party - a policy which is described immediately thereafter in considerably more concrete form - with its paper red unions bound to the line set by the party leadership, though even for this trade union policy of the C.P. the most fatal mistake - a point which the program completely overlooks – consisted in the fact that it has been an unprincipled tactic different for different countries and continually vacillating in the course of time and has accordingly been no more a consistent policy of splitting the trade unions than a consistent policy of conquering them; but how can a revolutionary proletarian party in the USA - a party which is up in arms against the ineradicable reformism of the A.F. of L. bureaucracy, and at the same time has to ward off the new half-fascist tendency of the Roosevelt administration to turning the trade union movement into an instrument of state policy, and which furthermore propagates as the next stage of development to be aimed at with reference to workers' united front actions the forming of revolutionary workers' councils - how can such a party, in such a pompous manner resign itself to recognizing the now existing trade union organizations for all future time? In reality there is here revealed, in this first practical drawing back of the American Workers Party before the enormous difficulties of its theoretically proclaimed revolutionary tasks, the unavoidable developmental tendency of a political party which, instead of injecting itself as a definite part, fulfilling important part functions, into the existing working-class movement, comes forth with a “theoretical” claim to totality, in the name of a “revolutionary” theory which, under the given relations, is unavoidably converted into an ideological glorification of a much more limited practice, and behind which the process of reducing the revolutionary proletarian party to a bourgeois opposition party and its final destruction through the American Mussolini or Hitler can be accomplished the more readily.
From : Marxists.org
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