James P. Cannon

Weisbord Blows The Whistle

(May 1932)


Written: May 1932.
First Published: The Militant, Vol. V No. 19 (Whole No. 115), 7 May 1932, p. 4.
Source: Microfilm collection and original bound volumes for The Militant provided by the Holt Labor Library, San Francisco, California. Additional bound volumes from Earl Gilman’s collection, San Francisco, California.
Transcription\HTML Markup: Andrew Pollack.
Proofread: Einde O’Callaghan (June 2013).
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There are more ways of judging leaders and would-be leaders of the revolutionary labor movement than to read their programs and theses, just as there are more ways of judging Texas steers than to measure the length of their horns. Sometimes a little act is more revealing as to the real character of a politician than a dozen statements and a hundred promises.

A few weeks ago we mentioned Weisbord’s action in taking his erstwhile comrades to court in connection with the reams of advice he has offered to us on the art of “leadership,” and concluded that advice from such a source would bear a close inspection. Now the same Weisbord, in order perhaps to throw a clearer light on the merits of his messianic claims, has demonstrated, by another action, his conception of how to wage the revolutionary struggle against the class enemy. For one who has read his theses, this performance will help to explain them; for those who haven’t read the theses, it will make a study of them superfluous.

In the April 20 issue of Class Struggle we read the following remarkable summary of the marine workers’ trial, in which Weisbord, starting in where the state’s attorney left off, invokes the testimony of the police stool pigeon Hoyle against the Lovestone group. He writes:

It was stated by the witness for the state, Hoyle, and reported widely by the press, that when he went for the dynamite with Soderberg he went from “A Communist hall on East 27th Street” (which could be none other than Lovestone’s headquarters) with several girls and in a car driven by a certain doctor. When the dynamite had been procured and they had returned, according to Hoyle, they stored the dynamite for the night and part of the next day at the same headquarters.

If this evidence is correct, then we see why Lovestone, who expelled Soderberg after he had been arrested, never published his expulsion and why Lovestone ... later entered the defense himself. Did he feel they were all in the same boat? (Our emphasis)

Let us rub our eyes and read this over again. Hoyle, whom Weisbord gives the euphemistic title of “witness for the state,” is the stool pigeon and provocateur whose “evidence” sent the three marine workers to prison for long terms. Everything he said on the witness stand was denied by the three workers in the dock, and by that fact the testimony of Boyle is completely discredited in the court of working-class opinion. It has no more standing there than the hounding demagogy of the district attorney, the biased rulings of the judge, or the class verdict of the jury.

But Weisbord is not satisfied merely to put Boyle on the witness stand again in the columns of his filthy sheet, and to dress up the stool pigeon as a dignified “witness for the state.” He has to bring out some of his testimony more clearly and to give it new implications against others in addition to those already sent to prison. To Hoyle’s reference to “A Communist hall on East 27th Street,” he finds it necessary to add in parentheses: “which could be none other than Lovestone’s headquarters.” And then he sharpens up the police tip with the observation that “if this evidence is correct” (when was the evidence of a stool pigeon ever “correct”?) it shows that “they were all in the same boat”.

There is very little need for a revolutionist, or for an ordinary militant worker for that matter, to comment on this attempt to “put the finger” on the Lovestone group. The thing, like a policeman’s badge, speaks for itself. But Weisbord, who published this rotten provocation, advertises himself as a communist; more than that, as a leader of communism; and still more, as an “adherent of the International Left Opposition.” It is just the possibility that some unsuspecting worker might take these pretensions at face value that impels us to offer two words of comment.

The Left Opposition is opposed to the right-wing group of Lovestone; and Weisbord, as the above-quoted testimony would indicate, is not at present friendly to it. But there the similarity of positions comes to an end. We fight the right wing on principled grounds with the method of political argument addressed to the workers; Weisbord blows the whistle for the cops. Between these two methods there is a chasm that no bridge can span.


Last updated on: 16.6.2013