The Crisis of Communism
ON THE surface, the underground period seems like the dark age of American Communism. Little attention has been paid to it, as if nothing important could happen while the Communists were so busy trying to stay out of jail.
But something of the utmost historical importance did happen--a crisis so profound and far-reaching that the entire future of world communism was at stake in it.
The crisis came because world communism could not live on the proceeds of the Russian Revolution indefinitely. The Russian Revolution was enough to start it off; it was not enough to insure survival. For the impulse that came from the Russian Revolution was based on an illusion--the illusion that the entire capitalist system was about to go down. As long as this illusion persisted, the Russian Revolution and the world revolution were parts of one whole. The problems of the world revolution seemed to have been solved in Russia. The belief that the Russians had at long last found the answers gave Russians and non-Russians alike a contagious sense of destiny and confidence. Faith in the Western revolution was a necessary ingredient of the Russian Revolution, and faith in the Russian Revolution was a necessary ingredient of the Western revolution.
But what if the Russian Revolution had not solved the problems of the world revolution? What if it were necessary to rethink all the old problems again in specifically Western terms?