CHARGES are frequently heard that political organizations controlled and subsidized by foreign states, or by the dominant parties in those states, have gained a strong foothold in this country and have been engaged in stirring up class, racial and religious antipathies and prejudices in order to undermine the American democratic system and eventually overthrow the constituted government of the United States. The targets of these assertions are the Communist Party, the German Nazis and the Italian Fascists. Are the allegations true? Are the groups concerned likely to have an important influence in this country?
Judged by its membership figures, the Communist Party is small indeed. According to Earl Browder, its leader and General Secretary, there are now "about 50,000" enrolled members. But admittedly the turnover in the Party has always been large. The number of "comrades" who enter and leave the Party (voluntarily or by expulsion for such faults as "Trotskyism," "petty bourgeois Negro nationalism," etc.) runs very high in most estimates. Members are originally chosen, kept on the rolls, or expelled, depending on their individual zeal and obedience to the Party leadership and the Party "line." There is some truth, then, in the assertion of critics of the Communist Party that each active member is a strictly disciplined officer who in a future revolution may command many privates, and that hence the Party's official membership is not necessarily an index of its potential strength.
On the other hand, those on the periphery of the Party -- in part former members, in part those variously called "sympathizers" or "fellow travellers" -- constitute a variable political factor also. The editors of Fortune [i] have estimated that during the period 1930-34 (when, due to the depression, the Party's influence and following were undeniably on the increase) the number of "sympathizers" totalled from 300,000 to 500,000. This could not in any case be considered a numerically important portion of the 130,000,000 American people. Moreover, within the past year the Party has definitely suffered a setback. Its loss in
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