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CPUSA - 1945 - Cold War

At the end of World War II, the alliance between the United States and USSR quickly faded. With the approaching end of the war in Europe the American Communist Political Association began to make attacks on the public administration and began to accuse officials of an anti-Russian complex and consequently unfit to hold public office—the principal offense of these officials actually having been the attempt to lay down a policy of benefit to the United States.

With the close of the European war, differences and tensions began to develop between the Soviet Union and the United States. On May 24, 1945, the Daily Worker, organ of the Communist Political Association, published a criticism by Jacques Duclos, official of the French Communist Party, of the change of tactics in 1944 of the American Communist Party. Specifically, Duclos accused the American Communist Party of abandoning a Marxist line, of class collaboration and of treating the situation in the United States in a false light with no emphasis on the necessity for “conquest of power”.

Specifically, he accused Browder of opportunism, of “tailism” or following in the wake of political developments and abandoning the role of leader of the revolutionary vanguard of the workers, and of “exceptionalism” or attempting to draw up a different set of standards of conduct because of the allegedly different character of American problems.

The consensus of opinion based upon the history of the Communist International was that the Duclos article represented instructions originating in Moscow. Weight is given this view by the fact that in May 1944 the Central Committee of the French Communist Party approved the change of tactics of Browder and the American Communist Party which it now condemns. There is every indication that the American Communist Party has been studying these charges for some time prior to its publication of the document in the May 24, 1945, Daily Worker.

Browder had a companion piece in the same issue informing members of the Communist Political Association of the United States that since the war in Europe was over, American Communists must now reexamine their positions and if necessary prepare to make changes.

The transition to a more radical policy had already begun, however, as presaged by the attacks on the administration. In Western Europe all communist parties have recently reverted to their original formula of radical solutions of political and economic problems preliminary to their “conquest of power”.

Taking its lead from the article by the French Communist leader Duclos. it reconstituted itself, in June 1945, as the Communist Party and once again asserted its so-called aggressive role in domestic affairs. The CPUSA, having reconstituted itself, resumed its strident pro-Moscow anti-US stance. The Communist Party reversed its field. It no longer supported national-service legislation, and the talk about continuation of the no-strike pledge after the end of the war was abandoned.

The era of the united front was over. On Moscow’s orders, the head of the CPUSA, Earl Browder, was dumped. His crime had been to follow Moscow’s orders in 1941 and “disband” the party in a show of unity with the US Government. Now, that policy was in disrepute, and he had to go. The Soviet Union’s actions in Eastern Europe in establishing subservient puppet regimes increased tensions with the United States Communism was becoming a potent domestic political issue.

The development of communism in the postwar era did not exhibit any rapid and sudden shift, since the position of the Soviet Union did not exhibit any such shifts. It was, rather, a slowly developing policy of opposition to the aims of the Truman administration which became clearer as the diplomatic conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union developed over a period of months.

Throughout this curious history, the Communist Party never ceased to claim that it made its decisions on the basis of a genuine appraisal of the interests of the American people and of American labor. Those claims were, of course, false. The record shows that the purpose of the Communist Party was the support of the Soviet Union and that the program of the party was designed with only the interests of the Soviet Union in view.

This purpose was never avowed, and the program was always phrased in terms of the interests of America and of American labor. Throughout this decade in which the party favored first one objective and then another, it continually purported to be the champion of organization and of unionism. But it always found that the interests of organization and unionism favored whatever policy would aid the Soviet Union. This was not limited to foreign-policy matters. A peculiar and consistent characteristic of the Communist Party program was that it always found a tie-in between domestic and foreign policy.

In February 1946, Assistant Director Ladd of the FBI Intelligence Division recommended reconsideration of previous restrictive policies and the institution of a broader program aimed at the Communist Party. Ladd advised Director Hoover:

"The Soviet Union is obviously endearing to extend its power and influence in every direction and the history of the Communist movement in this country clearly shows that the Communist Party, USA has consistently acted as the instrumentality in support of the foreign policy of the USSR.

"The Communist Party has succeeded in gaining control of, or extensively infiltrating a large number of trade unions, many of which operate in industries vital to the national defense.?

"In the event of a conflict with the Soviet Union, it would not be sufficient to disrupt the normal operations of the Communist Party by apprehending only its leaders or more important figures. Any members of the Party occupied in any industry would be in a position to hamper the efforts of the United States by individual action and undoubtedly the great majority of them would do so.?"

In 1947, President Truman established by executive order a Federal Employee Loyalty Program. Its basic features were retained in the Federal Employee Security Program authorized by President Eisenhower in Executive Order 10450, which is still in effect with some modifications today. The program originated out of serious and well-founded concern that Soviet intelligence was using the Communist Party as an effective vehicle for the recruitment of espionage agents; however, from the outset, it swept far beyond this counterespionage purpose to satisfy more speculative preventive intelligence objectives.

After World War II, in line with other Communist parties worldwide, the CPUSA also swung to the left and, as a result, experienced a brief period in which a number of internal critics argued for a more leftist stance than the leadership was willing to countenance. Progressives - those who were willing to work with Communists in support of extensive social and economic reform at home while opposing confrontation with the Soviet Union abroad - had seen their political influence collapse since the mid-1940s. They viewed themselves as victims of Cold War hysteria and McCarthyism. They supported the emphasis that the CPUSA placed on organizing African Americans.

Cold War liberals, it is important to note, dominated American politics during this period and were the major force behind the marginalization of the Progressives.

Dalton Trumbo, the Oscar-winning screenwriter, was arguably the most talented, most famous of the blacklisted film professionals known to history as the Hollywood 10. By the time of America's entry into World War II, Trumbo was one of the most respected, highest paid screenwriters in Hollywood. He had also established a name for himself as a left-wing political activist whose sympathies coincided with those of the American Communist Party (CPUSA), which hewed to the line set by Moscow. Trumbo was part of the anti-fascist Popular Front coalition of communists and liberals in the late 1930s, at the time of the Spanish Civil War.

However, the publication of his anti-war novel "Johnny Got His Gun" in 1939 coincided with the shift of the CPUSA's stance from anti-Hitler to pro-peace, and his novel was embraced by the Party as the type of literature needed to keep the US out of the war.

Trumbo joined the CPUSA in 1943, the same year Victor Fleming's great patriotic war movie A Guy Named Joe (1943), with a Trumbo screenplay, appeared on screens. Trumbo reportedly harbored personal reservations about its policies as regards enforcing ideological conformity. Like other communist screenwriters, he proved to be an enthusiastic writer of pro-war propaganda, though except for the notorious pro-Stalin Mission to Moscow (1943), few films displayed any overt communist ideas or propaganda. Dalton Trumbo wrote two magnificent patriotic scripts, A Guy Named Joe (1943) and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944).

Appearing before HUAC in October 1947 with Alvah Bessie, Herbert J. Biberman, Lester Cole, John Howard Lawson, 'Ring Lardner Jr' , Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, and Samuel Ornitz, Trumbo - like the others - refused to answer any questions. HUAC cited them for contempt of Congress, and the Hollywood 10 were tried and convicted on the charge. Trumbo was sentenced to a year in federal prison and a fine of $1,000. He served 10 months of the sentence.

In 1949, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., wrote in The Saturday Review of Books, that Trumbo was in fact NOT a free speech martyr since he would not fight for freedom of speech for ALL the people, such as right-wing conservatives, but only for the freedom of speech of CPUSA members. The anti-communist Schlesinger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard historian, thought Trumbo and others like him were doctrinaire communists and hypocrites.

Kirk Douglas hired Trumbo to write the script for Spartacus in 1958. In the summer of 1959 Otto Preminger hired Trumbo to write the script for Exodus. A six-pack-a-day smoker, he developed lung cancer in 1973. Dalton Trumbo died from a heart attack in California on September 10, 1976.

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Page last modified: 01-11-2017 19:29:11 ZULU