Max Shachtman

After the Dissolution of the Comintern

New Stalinist Plans
to Undermine Labor

(July 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 29, 19 July 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Part I

The dissolution of the Communist International, which was actually buried by the Russian bureaucracy many, many years ago, is being followed up by new plans and radical changes for the various Communist Parties throughout the world. These plans and changes directly affect the organized, free labor movement wherever it exists, and are therefore of vital concern to it.

The first thing for every worker to do is to learn what is being planned by the Stalinists and to understand what the changes mean. Unless he does, he and his organizations and his class interests will fall easy victim to the reactionary campaign of Stalinism.

The decree dissolving the so-called Comintern was, first of all, a diplomatic gesture in the Kremlin’s foreign policy. It was designed to make easier the job of those capitalist politicians, like Roosevelt and Churchill, who realize that their fate in the war, at least as it is now developing, is bound up with collaboration with Russia. With one stroke of the pen, Stalin aimed at removing from the scene the specter of an organization which the extreme reactionaries in this country, and in England are still stupid enough – or pretend to be stupid enough – to regard as a revolutionary working class movement.

Behind Stalin’s Decision

The dissolution of the Stalinist International did not mean, however, and was not intended to mean, the dissolution of the Stalinist parties. Not their real dissolution, at any rate.

The Russian ruling class differs from all others in the world in that it operates and will continue to operate inside the labor movements of all capitalist countries. The indispensable instrument for, this is the network of Stalinist – or so-called Communist – Parties. For them to continue working, and working along the lines dictated by the Russian bureaucracy, they have no more need today for what was called the Executive Committee of the Comintern, than they needed it yesterday, or will need it tomorrow.

The Kremlin has a dozen way of controlling and directing the Stalinist parties, and any one of them is more real and more effective than the collection of paid serfs whom it appointed to the fictitious “executive committee.”

But it does not follow that this Stalinist network must or will continue to function under the old name and in the old form. It is quite possible that the various Communist Parties have already received their instructions to undergo a radical transformation by changing their name and their method of functioning. In fact, it is more than possible; it is probable – and there is already more than one sign to show that the change is already taking place.

What Happened in Costa Rica

The press has already reported that the little Communist Party of Costa Rica has decided to dissolve itself. That is what it did one fine Monday. The very same day, or a day later, all the members and leaders df that party bobbed up in a new organization, the Partido Vanguardia Popular (Popular Vanguard Party), constituted out of themselves, out of the usual fellow travelers, and out of whatever dupes it could attract under the new disguise. It is interesting to note that one of the first advantages gained by this self-conversion was the announcement by the local Catholic archbishop that the ban applying to membership in the former Communist Party did not apply to the new Popular Vanguard Party, and that membership in it was not incompatible with adherence to the church.

Why has this happened first in comparatively obscure Costa Rica? It is an old custom of the Stalinist bureaucracy to try out a new maneuver on a small scale in order to see, first, how it works out, and, second, what reaction it produces in the more important countries. There is, in this case, also a special reason. Costa Rica is, like most Latin American countries, a more or less Catholic country. The Kremlin has been making great efforts to establish friendly relations with the Vatican, and one of the obstacles in the path of a conciliation between these two pillars of political reaction has been the existence of the Comintern and its national sections.

Vatican-Kremlin Rapprochement?

When Costa Rica’s archbishop, Victor M. Sanabria, declared that “Catholics who so desire may enter the new party replacing the Communist Party without conscientious scruples,” and adds that “I have written a page in church history. Mora (the Stalinist leader) has written a page in political history ... Neither Mora nor I are trying to deceive anyone” – he indicated that the church has taken one-tenth of a step in the direction of comradeship-in-arms with the most reactionary force inside the labor movement. The near future will show how much further the Vatican or its representatives will go in this direction. The mere fact, however, that it has given even this much of a blessing to Stalinism speaks with murderous eloquence of the latter’s political degeneracy.

Developments similar to those that have appeared in Costa Rica may be expected in other Latin American countries. But not only there. We can see the beginnings of the new change in the United States, too.

For some time now, without too much publicity, the Communist Party in this country has been “experimenting” with a reorganization. The old branches have been gradually replaced by “community clubs.” We learn from the April 6, 1943, issue of the Daily Worker – which has nothing whatsoever to do with the Communist Party, as every sparrow knows – that:

“The transformation of many party branches into large clubs was a progressive and positive stride forward. Already we can witness its correctness and advantages. Where the clubs function correctly they have become integrated with the life and people of the community. Though in initial stages, some clubs begin to reflect in their discussions and activities the needs and troubles of the community. In some instances they have become known in the community as Communist clubs and as such have helped influence the people along the correct path.”

And so on.

Stalinists Prepare a Disguise

This transformation can easily become – if it was not deliberately intended for this purpose from the outset – the point of departure for the formal dissolution of the Communist Party into a “non-Communist” network of “community clubs.” Toward what end? Toward facilitating the organized campaign of the Stalinists to infiltrate, seize control of and corrupt to their own political purposes – that is, the purposes of Russian Stalinist bureaucracy – every labor and progressive organization in the country. How facilitate? By removing from themselves and their activities, or removing as much as possible, the discredited name and label of the Communist Party, whose complete subordination and exclusive loyalty to the Kremlin is nowadays known and rejected by the great bulk of the labor movement.

The change, in other words, does not mean for a single moment the actual liquidation of the Stalinist movement throughout the world. Stalin will never consent to such a step of his own accord – never. But he will not hesitate to reorganize his movement if it suits his needs, to reform it, to give it a new name or a new form, or a new field or method of activity.

(Part II will appear in next issue)

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