CCHA, Report, 15 (1947-1948), 41-51
Communism in Canada and the U.S.A.
WATSON KIRKCONNELL, Ph.D., LL.D.
The most fundamental study of Communism would trace its sinister course from a false metaphysic and a false ethic to a fundamental degradation of human society. In its essence, it is a sin against the Holy Ghost, and its deepest iniquities are iniquities towards God and man in the image of God.
The scope of the present paper it much more superficial. It limits itself, by request, to the political history of Communism in the United States and Canada, and that within the confines of half an hour.
At the outset, one may generalize by saying that Communism (Marx-Leninism), like an earlier Marxist Socialism, has, in the case of Canada and the United States, been an alien importation from Europe, largely headed up by alien immigrants and foreign agents and conditioned in all its thinking by European patterns of thought.
Political socialism in Europe is sometimes regarded as beginning with the founding of the First International in London in 1864. Into that loose federation of trade unions and radical parties there entered, however, two violent forces of earlier origin. One of these was represented by Karl Marx, whose Communist Manifesto,(1848), written in collaboration with Friedrich Engels, clearly envisaged the use of violence to overthrow the existing order. The other, and still more turbulent, revolutionary was Michael Bakunin, the founder of Communist Anarchism, who had escaped from Siberia to England in 1861. Marx, as he grew older, came to be much more of a non-revolutionary gradualist; but Bakunin sought to the last to organize a sort of revolutionary general staff to instigate and direct the world revolution. The program of the Russian conspirator Bakunin was so nearly identical with that of the later Russian conspirator Lenin, that a brief recapitulation is desirable. Bakunin organized a secret international with its central executive committee of one hundred (“the International Brothers”), its national sections (“the National Brothers”), and an inclusive over-all frame-work (“the International Alliance of Social Democracy”). The International Brothers were to have absolute power over all national sections. All means to power – conspiracy, lying and murder – were regarded as completely justified by the end in view. A struggle between Marx and Bakunin led to the expulsion of the latter from the First International in 1872, followed by the virtual dissolution of the International.
Socialist organizations in the United States were begotten by immigrants from Europe and reproduced again and again the same pattern of disruption by a minority pledged to anarchistic violence. The Socialist Labor Party, organized in 1877, was virtually wrecked by the excesses of its revolutionary wing in the Haymarket Square outburst in Chicago in 1886. The Socialist Party, organized in 1901, faced, in its turn, savage attacks in 1904 and 1912 from powerful minorities that sought direct action.
The Socialist Party emerged from the First World War in a badly shaken and embittered state. It had consistently denounced the War as a capitalist conspiracy against the masses, and consequently incurred both the violent disapproval of the American public and repressive treatment at the hands of the American police.
Such a suppressed organization was profoundly influenced by the Bolshevik revolution of November 1917, and still more by the first Manifesto issued by the Communist International in March 1919 and addressed to the Socialists and revolutionary workers of the world. This Manifesto analysed the causes of the War in terms completely congenial to Socialist extremists everywhere and called for co-operation with the “higher working-class democracy” that had been evolved in Communist Russia. The result was a loud affirmative but with a variety of accents. All factions agreed in supporting the Third International but the terms of that support differed greatly. The main membership, by a referendum in May 1919, declared itself “in support of the Third (Moscow) International, not so much because it supports the Moscow programs and methods” as because Moscow was the champion of the proletariat against the combined capitalist forces of the world. This qualified overture was forwarded to Moscow but was contemptuously rejected by the Bolsheviks, who would accept nothing but absolute surrender to Russian leadership. In the meantime, however, a more violently revolutionary Left Wing had revolted from the American Socialist Party. The Left Wing itself then underwent a whole series of divisions and re-combinations. Within a space of three years it, had spawned no fewer than twelve Communist organizations, most of them short-lived and soon lost in mergers with other Communist groups. The two largest and most viable of these Red organizations called themselves “the Communist Party” and “the United Communist Party” and it was out of these that the agents of Moscow were most successful in building their official “Communist Party of the United States, Section of the Communist International.”
Three facts should be noted in this connection. One is that it was largely from the Canadian members of these two American Communist groups that the “Communist Party of Canada, Section of the Communist International” was formally organized in May 1921. The official paper of the Section, The Communist, Vol. I, No. 1, June 1921, makes this point quite clear in a front page article on “The Constituent Convention”:
In accordance with the mandate of the Pan-American Council of the Third International to bring about the formation of a Communist Party of Canada, delegates representing the Canadian Section of the C.P., the U.C.P. and other Canadian groups met in a constituent convention to take the first step in the preparation of the proletariat in this country for the realization of its dictatorship. The place and fashion of meeting, underground and illegal, in themselves denote the great change that the imperialist war and the Russian Revolution have wrought in the conditions of the class-struggle even in backward Canada. “Rat-hole” – as the lawabiding old spinster the S.L.P. would sneer, but extremely efficient under the changed circumstances, nevertheless.
The convention was called to order by a representative of the Pan-American Council who acted. as chairman .. .
Then followed the formal acceptance of the twenty-one Conditions for admission to the Communist International, the adoption of resolutions greeting our sisterp-parties of Germany and Italy and their admirable Communist activity, resolutions greeting the heroic Soviet Republics, resolutions on legal activity, and others that cannot be divulged for tactical reasons ... .
The result of the constituent convention is the organization of the vanguard of the Canadian Working class into the Communist Party of Canada, Section of the Communist International, with a program of mass-action as the vital form of proletarian activity, armed insurrection, civil war as the decisive, final form of massaction for the destruction of the Capitalism State, proletarian dictatorship in the form of Soviet Power as the lever of the Communist reconstruction of society ...
It will be noted that the Canadian Communist groups that united at this constituent convention were the “Canadian sections” of American parties and that the meeting was mobilized and presided over by an alien agent, viz., “a representative of the Pan-American Council” (of the Third International). The Canadian party had thus no status as a Canadian organization but was merely the regional by-product of a United States movement.
The second important fact is that the Communist parties in both the United States and Canada had their mobilizing nucleus among unassimilated foreign-language groups, whose recent arrival, depressed economic position, and carry-over of East European revolutionary passions rendered them particularly susceptible to the appeals of the Third International. Foreign language “federations”, each with its own foreign language press, had been attached to the Socialist Party of America from as far back as 1907; and it was these federations that supplied the bulk of the membership in the Communist parties. Thus the “Communist Party of the U.S.A.,” meeting in 1921, recorded a table of membership statistics showing that less than four per cent of its membership at that time was English-speaking;1 while the official Report of the Sixth National Convention of the Communist Party of Canada (May-June 1929) states categorically on page 12: “Although the overwhelming majority of the population is made up of Canadian and French-Canadian workers, 95 per cent of the Party membership is confined to three language groups – Finnish, Ukrainian and Jewish.” Similarly, the official Resolutions of the Enlarged Plenum of the Communist Party of Canada (1931), in discussing the Young Communist League, states (page 41): “Membership of the League consists primarily of young Ukrainian, Finnish and Jewish workers, with practically no Anglo-Saxons and French-Canadians.” In the interests of tolerance, one should emphasize the fact that a substantial majority in these immigrant communities were not Communist and were prepared to play a loyal part in the political life of their new countries. It remains true, however, that the great mass of Moscow’s Fifth Column in the United States and Canada was originally recruited from among recent immigrants from Eastern Europe.2 It was only later that an increasing number of native-born traitors were won over to obedience to an alien dictatorship.
The third fact is that the Canadian and American Communist Parties were from the outset organized from Moscow and directed by Moscow. This is made clear by Tim Buck himself in a signed article in The Worker (Jan. 19, 1935), where he states: “Lenin was the organizer of the whole revolutionary movement, including the Communist Party of Canada. It will be noted that every national Communist party was required, before joining the Communist International, to subscribe to “Twenty-one Points” drawn up in Moscow as conditions of admission, and that these points were formally accepted at the constituent convention of the Communist Party of Canada.3 Among these conditions was the requirement that “Each party desirous of affiliating to the Communist International should be obliged to render every possible assistance to the Soviet Republics.” It was further stipulated that “All the resolutions of the congresses of the Communist International, as well as the resolutions of the Executive Committee, are binding for all parties joining the Communist International.” Lest anyone should fall for the fellow-traveller version that the Communist International is simply a defensive project, designed to protect a peace-loving Utopia against capitalist hyenas, we should look for guidance to The Russian Press Review, October 1920, which asserts that the International is “an organ of aggression, the General Staff of the World Revolution, for the forcible overthrow of the capitalist state everywhere” and that its true followers must “prepare for revolutionary action, for merciless civil war.”
The fetters forged by Moscow for all its zealous conspirators everywhere are still more clearly seen in the Constitution of the Communist International. It there appears not only that every decision of this Red bureaucracy in Moscow must be carried out by every national Party and every Party member in the world (Articles 3, 5, 13, 21), but even that national Communist parties cannot hold conventions (Article 34) or Party officials resign from office (Article 30) without the permission of the “General Staff” in Soviet Russia. It is also recorded in the Constitution that the Moscow headquarters has authority to send its agents to, any country and that the authority off these agents over the native Communists in that country is supreme (Article 22). Each national party must send copies of all its minutes to Moscow (Article 29), and Moscow has power to annul or to amend the party’s decisions (Article 14).4 Nor should we distinguish unduly between the Communist International and the Government of the Soviet Union. Both are the creatures of the Russian Communist Party, which called them into existence and has always dominated them completely, first under Lenin and then under Stalin.5 Thus General Walter G. Krivitsky, former Chief of Soviet Military Intelligence for Western Europe stated under oath on Oct. 11, ,1939, before the U.S. Congress's Special Committee on Un-American Activities:
“The Communist International is not an Organization of autonomous parties. The Communist Parties are nothing more than branch offices of the Russian Communist Party.”
Earlier, at the ninth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Karl Radek had explained frankly in his official report:
"The Third International is the child of the Russian Communist Party. It was created here, in the Kremlin, on the initiative of the Communist Party of Russia. The Executive Committee of the Third International is in our hands.”6
The history of the Communist parties in the United States and Canada is intelligible only as we see in them the treasonous agents of a foreign power and at the same time a disciplined body of revolutionary shock troops, pledged to destroy us in the interests of that power. Their own motives may involve a thirst for blood and power or the warped ambitions of frustrated men and women. The fact remains that they are the spies and would-be gunmen of a Russian conspiracy.
For the first two years of their existence, the “Communist Party of Canada, Section of the Communist International” and the “Communist Party of the United States, Section of the Communist International” functioned as illegal underground parties. Acting under virtually identical directives from Moscow, they each then set up an above-ground “Workers’ Party,” which, by Comintern prescription, was under the control of the underground “Communist Party,” even as the latter was under the control of Moscow. Still later the term “Communist Party” was boldly used for the above-ground organization, in order that its political activities might have a better chance to attract susceptible recruits.
From the beginning, the Communists, in every country outside of the U.S.S.R., have been of two types, the visible and the invisible. The latter group is by far the largest. These secret members will vigorously deny their membership, even to the point: of deliberate perjury in court. If the ultimate program is to involve the wholesale slaughter of one’s fellow-citizens in the interests of a foreign tyranny, a consistent practice of Communist lying is a very minor concession to the Cause.
The annals of the Communist Thirty of the United States are naturally a record of unswerving loyalty to Russia in all policies and in all circumstances. Some of the more egregious examples are as follows:
I. The League of Nations
(a) For many years, Soviet Russia was hostile to the League of Nations. At the 15th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in December 1927, Stalin denounced the League as a racket that “only resulted in fooling the masses, in new outbursts of armament, and in fresh exacerbation of impending conflicts.” This sentiment was echoed by the American Communists, e.g. by William Z. Foster in his book Toward Soviet America (1932), where be declared that the League of Nations was “a grouping of imperialist bandits intent only upon their own schemes of mass exploitation and war-making” (p. 42).
(b) After the rise of Hitler, Stalin sought increased security by joining the League of Nations. Thereupon the Communist Party of the U.S.A. obediently announced that “the present League is not quite the same as it was some years ago, that the present League can and must be used for the cause of peace and democracy” (Daily Worker, July 3, 1937).
(c) In the autumn of 1939, Soviet Russia advanced “the cause of peace and democracy” by an unprovoked attack on the tiny republic of Finland and was unanimously ejected from the League of Nations as a war criminal. The League thereupon immediately became for the Russians and for Communist parties everywhere – a degenerate tool of capitalist imperialism.
(d) At the close of the Second World War, the Russians took a leading part, along with the “capitalist imperialists,” in organizing another League of Nations, the so-called “United Nations,” and the Communist Party of the U.S.A. joined in a psalm of praise over the new turn in policy.
II. Hitlerite Germany
(a) With the rise of Hitler to power, the Bolsheviks began to clamour for collective security. On March 17, 1936, Comrade Maxim Litvinov, speaking before the Council of the League, demanded “the collective organization of security” against the Fascist aggressors. This was duly echoed in the Daily Worker of New York is its call for “the creation of a united front of democratic states againt the Fascist aggressors” (July 3, 1937).
(b) All this was turned upside down on August 23, 1939 when Stalin, Molotov, Ribbentrop and Gauss signed the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact, and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the U.S.A., broadcasting over the NBC network three days later, gave the treaty his hearty blessing as “the best current example of the way to peace.” The war that promptly broke out was denounced as “a family quarrel of rival imperialisms” (Daily Worker, Nov. 6, 1939).
(c) In less than two years, Hitler attacked Stalin and the imperialist slaughter at once became a holy war to every Communist in the world. Within twenty-four hours a manifesto from the Communist Party of the U.S.A. was demanding that everyone should “support the U.S.S.R. in its fight against Nazi war” (The Communist, July 1941, p. 579).
The same pattern of subserviency to Soviet policy has characterized the history of the Communist Party of Canada. For the first ten years of its existence, the privately published records of its conventions were even candid enough to include the official directives from Moscow around which each such convention mobilized its obedient attention. These directives analysed at great length the current performance of Stalin’s Canadian agents, criticized them roundly for their shortcomings, and assigned them specific revolutionary tasks for the immediate future.
The organization by which the Communist Party of Canada carried out its treacherous assignments deserves analysis here, since it is typical of Communist organization in all countries threatened by the Soviet Union, i.e. in all countries of the civilized world.
First there is the illegal Party itself; the authentic “Section” of the aggressive world conspiracy. At the base of it all are “cells” or conspiratorial nuclei of three or more members in every conceivable sort of industry, club, school, church or association, busy at directed tasks of espionage, study, recruiting, and agitation. Higher ranks above these cells are organized with military precision into twelve districts, all under a central Committee in Toronto, served by a Secretariat. By the rules of the Comintern, every Canadian Communist is under the control of the national office (as the latter is under the control of Stalin) and may not even go from one town to another without permission. A junior organization, formerly called the Young Communist League but now known as the National Federation of Labour Youth, is also an official part of the Communist network.
The Party could scarcely have existed in Canada had it not been for the “foreign language mass organizations,” which here, as in the United States, provided almost the entire membership of the original Party. These auxiliary cadres have normally concealed their true character under the guise of cultural, educational, athletic or social activities in order to lure more flies into the web, but the spider who built it and controlled it has always been Communist. Each such organization is designed to spread Communist doctrine and to mobilize Communist fighters in its language field. They are organized on a national scale with branches in every important city and industrial centre of the Dominion. They represent as yet a distinct minority in each community, but they are a very ruthless and active minority. Almost all of them were suppressed for open sedition in 1940, but they are now operating freely and fully once more.
The underground Party is made incalculably more effective by the use of front organizations, a technique prescribed by Lenin in order to make it easier to convert to Communism the millions of workers in the capitalist countries “who are infected by the prejudices of social-democratic opportunism.” It is simply a cunning device to undermine our civilization. A number of ostensibly non-party organizations are set up from time to time, the statutes of which seem comparatively inoffensive and even meritorious to honest citizens of radical views. The control, however, through Communist nuclei or “fractions” is effectively in Communist hands, and the organization serves as a “transmission belt” for pro-Soviet propaganda and may even be a pawn in Soviet foreign policy. The most notorious of these Soviet “fronts” in Canada is the National Council for Canadian. Soviet Friendship, which began as an enormous and glittering swindle of innocents in 1943 and has ended today as a discredited handful of apologists for slavery.
But for really decisive action, in which local strikes can be merged into the general strike and the general strike into civil war, it is necessary to have control of a considerable section of organized labour. This technique was likewise planned and perfected by the international conspiracy, through the Profintern or Red International of Labour Unions, and imported into Canada for the destruction of our state. From 1930 to 1935, the policy was one of organizing out-and-out Red unions in a so-called “Workers’ Unity League,” whose record was one of unparalleled violence. In 1935, however, Moscow called for a change in policy throughout the world, disbanding the Profintern and ordering its agents to infiltrate into the great mass of the non-Communist unions in order to seduce and dominate them. In some cases this policy has been abundantly successful, for in the Canadian Seamen’s Union (A.F.L.) and the United Electrical Workers (C.I.O.) for example, the unions are openly and flagrantly ruled by Communists, and always subserve Soviet policy in Canada.
Over and above these four organizations – the basic underground conspiracy, the foreign language mass organizations, the front organizations and the trade union infiltrations – there has frequently existed the aboveground Party, taking part in elections and passing itself off on an innocent public as a legitimate group in our political life. It is laid down in the statutes of the Communist International that this “legal” or above-ground party must always be under the rigid control of the underground party, and that it must be exploited for revolutionary ends. The following extracts from the Theses and Statutes of the Comintern make this abundantly plain:
Parties desirous of, joining the Third International shall be bound ... to demand from each Communist representative in parliament to subject his entire activity to the interests of real revolutionary propaganda and agitation ... In countries where the power is in the hands of the bourgeoisie ... the Communist Party must learn to unite systematically legal with illegal work; but all legal work must be carried on under the practical control of the illegal party. The parliamentary groups of Communists, both in the central as well as in the local government institutions, must be fully and absolutely subject to the Communist Party .. . The task of the proletariat consists' in blowing up the whole machinery of the bourgeoisie, in destroying it, and all the parliamentary institutions with it, whether they be republican or constitutional-monarchy ... The election campaign must be carried on not for the purpose of obtaining a large number of seats in parliament, but for the revolutionary mobilization of the masses around the slogans of the proletarian revolution . . . Each Communist representative must remember that he is not a “legislator,” who is bound to seek agreements with other legislators, but an agitator of the party, detailed into the enemy’s camp in order to carry out the orders of the party there.
Those who realize that the real centre of gravity of the Party is out of sight will not be misled by the chameleon aspects of the “legal” superstructure. Thus the American “Section of the Communist International” has variously labelled its propaganda roof-garden “The Workers' Party of America” (Dec. 26, 1921 to Aug. 21, 1922), the “Communist Party of America” (Aug. 21 to December, 1922), again the “Workers' Party of America” (December 1922 to August 1925), the “Workers’ (Communist) Party of America” (August 1925 to April 1930), the “Communist Party of the United States” (April 1930 to May 1944); the “Communist Political Association” (May 1944 to July 1945), and back to the “Communist Party of the United States” (from July 1945 to the present). On the 16th of November, 1940, the superficial above-ground party formally dis-affiliated itself from the Communist International “for the specific purpose of removing itself from the terms of the so-called Voorhis Act,” which required the registration of the agents of a foreign power. Equally meaningless was the disbanding of the party as a party in May 1944 and its reorganization as a mere “political association.” These superficial changes no more altered the character of the basic underground party than the varnishing of a rattlesnake’s rattle would alter his teeth and poison glands.
There have been similar transformations of the “legal” roof-garden circus in the case of the Canadian party. From the winter of 1921-22 until March 1924, the above-ground set-up was called the “Workers’ Party.” From then until August 1943 it was officially the “Communist Party of Canada.” For strategic reasons it was then reorganized as the “Labour-Progressive Party,” a name which it still holds.
No history of the Communist Party of Canada would be complete that failed to include three inglorious episodes.
The first was the conviction of eight of their leaders in November 1931 as members of an organization pledged to the destruction of the Canadian state. These eight architects of treason were comrades Buck, Ewan, Boychuk, Popovich, Carr, Hill, Bruce and Cacic, and the clear findings of fact against them were upheld by the Courtm of Appeal in February 1932. They were accordingly sentenced to several years in Portsmouth Penitentiary as the traitorous agents of a foreign power.
The second episode came during the first two years of the Second World War, while Canada, along with Britain, was locked in a desperate struggle with Nazi Germany. At that time, Hitler and the Communists’ master, Stalin, were close friends and allies; and the Canadian Communists therefore did all in their power to slander our war leaders and sabotage our war effort. Once again the whole Party was strikingly showing itself to be – what it has always been – the treasonous agent of a foreign power. It became necessary to declare the Party illegal; and some 133 of the leaders of the above-ground organization were clapped into detention camps.
The third and crowning episode was revealed in 1945, when it was discovered that a Soviet spy ring in Canada was made up, with one inconspicuous exception, of members of the Communist Party of Canada , that it was largely recruited by the Party’s national organizer, Sam Carr; and that one of its prize spies was Fred Rose, Communist member of the Federal parliament at Ottawa. Today, Sam Carr is a fugitive from justice and Fred Rose is serving a long prison sentence for his treasonous work as a Soviet agent.
Even a brief review of the evidence is conclusive. The Communists of the United States and Canada are self-constituted outlaws who have formally covenanted with an alien power to give it their unconditional loyalty and to destroy their own countries in the interests of Moscow. For them to talk of their “rights” as citizens of the United States or of Canada is the purest hypocrisy. They have not only abrogated their citizenship. They have defiled it. Their history from its infamous beginning is an unbroken record of organised treason.
1James O’Neal and G. A. Werner, American Communism, New York, 1947, p. 88.
2It was these groups that formed both the mass and the organizing force of the revolutionary general strike in Winnipeg in May 1919. The few Methodist ministers who were associated with the outbreak were merely pious froth on dark alien tides that they did not in the least understand The true history of that pro-Soviet frenzy in Winnipeg will not be written until some scholar analyses in full the foreign-language revolutionary press of the time.
3The Communist, Vol. I, No. 1, June 1921, cf. p. 4.
4Cited in full in the New York Call, Nov. 30; 1920.
5As a pendant to the history of these Communist parties that have been the unfailing agents of Stalin’s revolutionary imperialism one should add a very brief note on an antiStalinist splinter group that may yet be heard from again. These are the Trotskyitea, who preach that Stalin has betrayed the Russian experiment and the world revolution for the sake of his own personal dictatorship. They recognize, as all must recognize today, that Stalin is working for Communist world power; but they claim that he has stultified its meaning by making it subserve his individual tyranny. The Trotskyites are known in the United States and Canada as the “Socialist Labour Party”, and they have their own “Fourth” International They are, if possible, more violently revolutionary than even the Stalinists, and their chief activity has been to incite violent strikes in the labour movement. Once Stalin is dead, they may throw in their lot with the Communists. They may be merciless critics of Stalin, but their meat is revolution. In fact, at a recent world congress of their Fourth International they decided, on general principles to give their support to the Kremlin’s revolutionary program everywhere throughout the world.
6Izvestia, April 3, 1920.