Town Meeting, Part 2
Bulletin of America’s Town Meeting of the Air
Wolcott D. Street, Editor
January 23, 1939, Vol. 4, no. 11
Thank you, Mr. Pollock! Now we present our second speaker, the General Secretary of the Communist Party in this country, Mr. Earl Browder.
Yes, America is menaced by foreign propaganda. The propaganda is a menace because it is a weapon of fascist aggression with tremendous military power behind it, which has set out to conquer the world, and above all the richest part of the world, America. It is a menace because it has powerful allies within the United States. The foreign propaganda that menaces the United States, and all the Americas, comes from Rome, Berlin, and Tokyo, from the powers that call themselves the "Anti-Communist Alliance." That war-making alliance proclaims that it is fighting to save the world from communism. It is peculiar that every blow it strikes, presumably against communism, injures American national interests. It seized Manchuria from China—closing the door of that great area to the United States. It conquered Ethiopia with gas, airplanes, and machine-guns—and destroyed the last remnants of the League of Nations’ authority. It wiped out independent Austria—and with it the sanctity of international agreements, spitting in the face of America. It made war against all of China, killing millions of men, women, and children. It dismembered Czechoslovakia—reducing democratic France to a third-rate power, causing all governments, including the United States, to multiply their armaments. It invades Republican Spain, and lays waste the country, hoping to gain naval bases on the Atlantic and possession of the key to Latin America. It shocks the world with pogroms against the Jews, and with forcible repression of Catholics and Protestants—all this under the propaganda slogan of "fighting communism."
Propaganda in support or toleration of these war moves appears in the United States. It ells us that America is also menaced by communism, as were Manchuria, Ethiopia, Austria, China, Czechoslovakia, Spain. And what is this communist menace? In the United States nothing less than President Roosevelt and the New Deal. So they seriously inform us, and expect us to get excited about it. But this fantastic nonsense, which finds foreign "isms" and propaganda in the middle-of-the-road progressivism of President Roosevelt, is itself the open and clear propaganda of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo axis. It is the opening gun of a fascist war of conquest against the Americas. Simultaneously all the reactionaries, and their dupes, speak up against American defense. They say that there is no fascist menace to America, that it is all invented by President Roosevelt, and of course the communists, who are the real war-makers, they say, and threaten the peace of the world by their criticisms of the fascist powers. This is the foreign propaganda that menaces America, menacing because it has military aggression behind it and is spread by some of the most powerful forces within the country and the leading spokesmen of the anti-New Deal party.
I know, of course, that I will be given the answer, "yes, there is a fascist menace, but there is a communist menace also, even if Mr. Dies did exaggerate it so much, and spread his net too widely." Is it true, however, frankly considered, that there is a "communist menace?"
Quite sincerely, I can declare there is no communist menace to America, first because there are not enough Communists to constitute a menace even if they wanted to, and secondly because the Communists don’t want to menace America, and wouldn’t if they could.
We have only a little more than a hundred thousand members, including the Youth League, and these have all been recruited upon the pledge to defend American democracy against all enemies, within and without. Let me read to you the preamble of the Constitution of the Communist Party:
The Communist Party of the United States of America is a working-class political party carrying forward today the traditions of Jefferson, Paine, Jackson, and Lincoln, and of the Declaration of Independence; it upholds the achievements of democracy, the right of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and defends the United States Constitution against its reactionary enemies who would destroy democracy and all popular liberties.
The preamble then goes on to define the full Communist program, to which we hope at some future time to gain the support of the majority of the people: namely, to make our national economy the possession of the whole nation, by its ownership and operation through a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Now, most people in America do not agree with this full Communist program. But neither can they, except when incited to hysteria by red-baiting, see anything seditious or treasonable about it. Most Americans presumably still want their national economy to be owned and operated for private profit by our "best families," while one-third of the nation subsists on precarious relief funds, subject to drastic cuts at the mood and whim of Congress. And so long as the majority wants this system to continue, we Communists join in the condemnation of any efforts to change it forcibly by minority action.
Neither is there any menace, behind the Communists’ propaganda, of any hostile foreign power. It is true, the Communists are in power in one great land, the Soviet Union, where they are building a new socialist society. But it is absolutely untrue that the Communists in the United States receive either instructions or gold from Moscow, despite all wild and irresponsible stories to the contrary. Our international affiliations only place upon us additional burdens to help the Communists of other lands who do not have our advantages of the relative freedom of a great democracy. And the Soviet Union, far from being any menace in international relations, is the most consistently peaceful and orderly nation on earth. Its relations with the United States of America are those which naturally obtain between the two most powerful nations of the earth, both interested in peace, both hating war and all war-makers, both threatened by the fascist war alliance, and therefore both interested in paving the way to the fullest possible understanding and cooperation.
The communists everywhere are fully agreed in wishing to give the fullest cooperation for peace and international order to all those working to that end. The Communists in the United States give full support to all measures looking to orderly progress within our country. Therefore, all talk of the Communists representing the menace of foreign propaganda constitutes in itself but the echo of Hitler, Mussolini, and the Mikado. When foreign fascist powers cease to menace their neighbors with aggression, when our native fascists cease to undermine all democratic faith and pledge themselves to democracy, then we can say of fascist propaganda that it is no more a menace. But until that happens the American public will recognize the typical fascist foreign propaganda that really menaces America by one sign: it is always excited about a mythical menace of communism and denies those real dangers which are forcing our country to unprecedented armaments for defense.
Thank you, Mr. Browder. And now may I present Mr. J.B. Matthews, author of the Odyssey of a Fellow Traveler, and an outstanding witness before the Dies Committee.
In our next installment of the January 23, 1939 Town Meeting we will continue with Mr. Browder’s response to Mr. Pollock. –Al Colombo, publisher