Written: March 1931.
First Published: The Militant, Vol. IV No. 6, 15 March 1931, p. 2.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
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Events of the past week in the Illinois coal fields provide another striking illustration of the role of pseudo-radicalism as a come-on for reaction. The great revolt of the miners there, which broke out of the bonds of Lewis and his outspokenly reactionary policy, was corralled more than a year ago by the Fishwick-Walker-Howat faction and diverted from its purpose. They could not do this by talking as Lewis talked. In order to head off, and tame, and finally break the uprising of the miners the Illinois leaders were obliged to put on the mask of “progressivism”. They appeared to express in words the militant aspirations of the insurgent workers. By this means, and with the help of the entire national movement of counterfeit progressivism, they deceived the miners and led them into a blind alley. Now, after having broken and disorganized the revolt, they have put the crowning touch to their betrayal.
Press reports from Springfield carry the news now of the liquidation of their sham battle with Lewis. They have signed a court decree recognizing the Lewis faction as heads of the International Union, and have issued a statement calling upon Lewis to join in a move with them to “end all warfare”. With the miners once more at the mercy of the coal operators, nothing remains except a division of spoils between the reactionaries and their progressive whips.
To the very end the latter ran true to form. It is all in the interest of the miners. “To continue this fight,” their statement says, “would mean the absolute destruction of the United Mine Workers of America.” Which is their way of saying : The miners are defeated – what is there left to fight about?
This shameful betrayal of a really magnificent movement of the miners was made possible by the policy of the official Communist party. Driven by events and the criticism of the Opposition to a break with the opportunist course they followed in union with Lovestone, the Fosters plunged – in the characteristic manner of unprincipled Centrism – into a policy of wild adventurism that had no relation to the facts of the situation. They disrupted the party and Left wing forces by their mad campaign against the best revolutionaries within them. They “boycotted” the convention, where Fishwick and Walker, with the help of Howat, were consolidating their movement. The false radicals were thus left a free hand. All the rest followed from that.
In the tragic experience of the Anglo-Russian Committee there was written, as in gigantic letters on a vast canvas, an example and warning for all time of the perfidious function of reformism, and particularly of its “Left” section. Every concrete experience, such as that of the Illinois miners, only serves to reiterate that warning. Reformism is bourgeois poison in the labor movement. The workers can be victorious only in irreconcilable struggle against it..
Last updated on: 5.12.2012