Written: September 1931.
First Published: The Militant, New York, Vol. IV No. 24, 19 September 1931, p. 3.
Source: Microfilm collection and original bound volumes for The Militant provided by the Holt Labor Library, San Francisco, California. Additioanl bound volumes from Earl Gilman’s collection, San Francisco, California.
Transcription\HTML Markup: D. Walters.
Proofread: Einde O’Callaghan (January 2013).
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The Second National Conference of the Communist League will mark an important milestone in the development of our organization and, consequently, in the history of American communism, whose banner we bear and whose future we represent. The conference is a culminating point in three years of preparatory labor for the grueling battles yet to come. Its deliberations have been grounded by all that has gone before and its results can be anticipated, even now, with reasonable assurance.
Our ranks have been welded together on the basis of a correct political line. If the conference accepts the proposals of the National Committee it will not find it necessary to confront the organization with any new or surprising turns. Our theses and other recommendations only represent a synthesis of the policies and methods already worked out and applied in our daily work and agitation on the basis of our platform. The approval of this line by the conference will necessarily carry with it an endorsement of the course on which the National Committee has guided the movement and a repudiation of the criticisms brought against it. Any kind of indefiniteness on this point is out of the question. The conference is to draw the balance and decide. Proceeding from this, the national conference is then obliged to declare an end to controversy over the disputed questions and to prohibit any further discussion of them. It can do this with full authority and with assurance that its command will be supported throughout the organization. Our conference preparations have been a triumph of proletarian democracy, a model illustration of its processes – the only methods yet discovered whereby a living workers’ organization can assert its collective judgment.
The discussion has been thorough, free, and untrammeled by any kind of suppression. The selection of delegates proceeds in the same way. After this, it will be impossible to question the representative character of the conference or its authority to speak for the entire organization. The membership as a whole will wait for its signal to terminate the discussion and concentrate all attention on the concrete tasks worked out on the basis of the fundamental decisions.
Outstanding among the questions concerning which the National Committee will insist on a categorical decision of the conference – because it has been the one subjected to the greatest dispute – is the question of our attitude toward the party. The platform adopted at the first conference answered this question correctly. Without that, the Left Opposition would long ago have suffered shipwreck. Now, with the help of the Second National Conference, we must take another step forward on the same path we have traveled heretofore. This stands first on the list of concrete tasks which proceed logically from the general recommendation already submitted in the thesis of the National Committee.
In our judgment the practical program of the conference should run approximately as follows:
It will be seen at once that the suggestions indicated above, taken all together, do not constitute a very ambitious program. All the tasks enumerated are small ones, they are comparatively simple, and they are all easily possible. Yet it would be a mistake for the conference to go far beyond them.
It is not for us to adopt grandiose projects which are beyond our capacities at the moment, which are soon forgotten and never accomplished. We are under no compulsion to imitate the bluff-programs of the Stalinists. We do not have to “make a showing” before anyone. We are only obliged to know what to do next with the forces at our disposal, and do it.
The practical proposals which have been outlined here proceed from this point of view. If we accomplish all of them – and we can do so without undue strain if we have the will – it will not change our position in a qualitative sense. But it will indubitably raise our hard-pressed faction to higher ground and prepare it for a further ascent. That is enough. No more can reasonably be expected from the Second National Conference. There is every reason to expect that it will not yield less.
Last updated on: 26.1.2013