Volume 3 Number 6 …………………….. June 1933
FOR THE GENERAL STRIKE TO COMPEL UNEMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL INSURANCE
by Albert Weisbord
We are entering the fifth year of the worst economic crisis this country has ever seen. In Spite of the temporary upturn we can declare the situation is getting worse. The reserve supply of the workers is long since gone and millions are actually on the point of starvation. The relief funds are “giving out” and millions who before could obtain some relief are being cut off. The tax burden is getting heavier and heavier bearing with especial weight upon the working masses. A policy of inflation is being carried out which is calculated rapidly and dramatically to raise the cost of living. Unbearable sweatshop conditions are becoming more and more the general prevailing rule.
The “new deal” of Roosevelt has sharply intensified the miserable plight of the masses. A policy of regimentation of labor has been inaugurated to mobilize the unemployed into labor battalions that will do the work of the state practically without pay. Big business has been enormously aided and consolidated. On behalf of these big business interests the decks are being cleared for a new world war.
The situation is getting so unbearable that in a thousand ways the masses, at first overwhelmed by the severity of the crisis, are beginning to strike back. All the signs point to a great wave of struggle ahead. Militant demonstrations have taken place in the most conservative farm regions (Wisconsin and Iowa). In one of these demonstrations the court of “justice” was invaded and a noose put around the judge’s neck. These tactics have brought action from the federal government in granting some of the farmers a temporary moratorium while at the same time paying off the banker mortgage holders. In the cities and industrial towns an outbreak of spontaneous strikes is occurring all over the country. In the South, in New England, and elsewhere in the textile mills, shoe factories, many fields a great burst of insurgency is taking place. And this coupled to the fact that the AFL unions have disintegrated to a point far less that half their number before the crisis.
The four full years of the crisis have created quantitative changes which only now are becoming qualitative ones. The masses are beginning to become more and more restless. The question arises what shall be the principal line of approoach of the vanguard Communists in the light of the present situation.
It should be clear that the principal question of the day should be the linking up of the unemployed and the employed. The neglect and failure of the Communists in the last four years to do this is a handicap but it can still be done.
It seems that not the slightest attention is being paid to this primary job. In all its campaigns the Communist Party has steadily separated the employed from the unemployed. The so-called “Red Unions” have done very little recruiting among the unemployed. The “Unemployed Associations” formed by them are kept separate from the unions themselves. The unions and the unemployed councils are kept far apart. In the bitter struggles that have taken place in a number of cities not the slightest attempt was made to involve the unions in the actual struggles with the unemployed. An end must be put to this kind of confusion and splitting of the working class.
In the first place we must change the whole direction of the unemployed movement. The movement must really take to the streets. It must really become involved in the workers neighborhoods. A real united front must be formed of all worker organizations and the unemployed groups into a cenetralized body that will seriously begin work so that the unemployed really can have a chance to obtain the necessities of life which they so desperately need.
The time for petitions, bills, legal drafts, marches on Washington, pageants and demonstrations of showy useless variety is long past. REAL SERIOUS WORK MUST BE DONE.
But if that is to be done there must be a complete change in theory as to what is this crisis. THIS CRISIS IS A LOCK OUT OF THE UNEMPLOYED. Let us not picture the crisis as the inevitable working of the contradictions of capitalism only. This is true enough. But if we are to arouse the workers into action we must show them that the crisis acts through men, through the bosses who have locked them out because their wages were too high, because their standards of living were too high, because their hours were not long enough, because they were not crushed enough. So far as the impoverished masses are concerned THIS CRISIS IS A LOCKOUT CAUSED BY A CONSPIRACY OF THE CAPITALISTS AGAINST THE TOILING MASSES.
In answer to this lockout we must raise the demands OPEN THE FACTORIES TO THE UNEMPLOYED—OPEN THE WAREHOUSES TO THE HUNGRY. Those demands are entirely different from the false demand WE WANT WORK which Karl Marx denounced almost a hundred years ago when they first were enunciated by the Anarchist Proudhon. The demand “Open the Warehouses” calls attention to the masses that the warehouses are stuffed with goods which they have produced and which have been taken from them. It leads the masses to consider how to open these warehouses and how to obtain the things they need. In the fifth year of the crisis, the whole question of direct action becomes a most important one. The more the masses go along the lines of direct action the more the legislation will begin to flow from the State houses and from Washington.
But these slogans are not yet enough. They do not concretely enough connect the employed with the unemployed. To do this two other demands must be raised into chief slogans: ANNIHILATE THE SWEAT SHOPS and A GENERAL STRIKE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL INSURANCE.
As to the slogan ANNIHILATE THE SWEATSHOPS there can be no question of its timeliness at the present moment. It is badly needed to link up to the unions with the unemployed movements and to stimulate the unions themselves into action. But it is on the question of the General Strike which our group was the first to raise that most of the controversy has taken place. So great was our pressure on this question that the official Communist Party through Hathaway was forced to raise the same slogan at the Albany conference. We note too that it was raised by Tom Mooney at the Mooney conference and was also raised by the I.W.W. To the disgrace of the Communists, it must be stated, the slogan of the general strike has not yet found favor among the Communists. The I.W.W. resolution was voted down with the statement of course “we are not against the general strike on principle” but it is not correct now. Always opportunists are not against the revolutionary act “on principle.” What this means is that they are really against it “on principle".
If the Communists at the Mooney Conference were not against the “General Strike” to compel unemployment insurance, etc., then they would have answered: We will not play with the slogan, but will begin carefully to prepare for the strike. We will see what effect this slogan will have on the workers organizations. We will call local conferences to see what the unions will say about it. We will try in every way to stimulate the unions to take this action as the necessary pressure to secure even a minimum of workers demands in this trying crisis. Where possible we will support unemployment demonstrations with local strikes. Wherever possible we will try to have local general strikes for limited duration, etc., etc.
But this is NOT the way the Communists have reacted to our slogans. We have been denounced as “adventurers” as “utopians.” We were told that the masses do not wish to fight, that we play with slogans, that this is not the time to call strikers, that we are syndicalists that we see “the process” etc., etc., ad nauseam. We wish to tell these “Communists” that we know all about the “process” but that the task of the communists is not to kow-tow to the “process” but to ORGANIZE IT, to STIMULATE IT, to ADVANCE IT. We declare that nothing will be obtained without pressure that this pressure must come from the organized working class as well as the unemployed. That THE ANSWER TO THE GENERAL LOCKOUT IS THE GENERAL STRIKE. That it is our duty to raise the slogan to feel out the masses and to try to prepare for the day when this slogan having really penetrated the ranks of labor actually begins to be put into effect. This is the way Communists must act. Let the opportunists sneer and laugh. The great timely stroke of the day would be the mobilization of the masses of the workers in a great general demonstration, a great general stoppage of work, to compel unemployment and social insurance and to compel the annihilation of the sweatshops.
On memorial day May 30th Comrade Sidney Daley passed away. With his death our organization suffers a real loss. We lose one of our best fighters, a youth of 22 who was already outstanding among us for honesty, courage and single-hearted devotion to our cause.
Comrade Daley was active in the Office Workers Union of the T.U.U.L. and was elected by that organization to be one of its representatives on the last hunger march that took place last winter in Washington. Driven to his illness by the terrible ordeal of that march, Comrade Daley never recovered. Throughout the long period of his illness Comrade Daley thought only of our organization. His last act was to turn over his small savings to the Communist League of Struggle and give his all that the fight may be carried on.
We shall never forget our dear Comrade. In his memory the Communist League of Struggle is building up a Sidney Daley Library for the use of working class fighters who want to carry on the fight where he left off. We urge all our members and sympathizers to contribute their books or money so that a really good library can be built up.
What are, at present, the chief elements of the political situation in China?
The two most important revolutionary problems, the national problem and the agrarian problem have again become aggravated. The pace of the peasant war, slow and crawling but generally victorious, is evidence that the dictatorship of the Kuomintang has proved incapable of satisfying the countryside or of intimidating it further. The Japanese intervention in Shanghai are the effective annexation of Manchuria have placed a relief the military bankruptcy of Kuomintang dictatorship. The crisis of power which at bottom, has not stopped for a single moment during these last years had to grow fatally worse. The struggle between the militarist cliques is destroying what remains of the unity of the country.
If the peasant war has radicalized the intellectuals who have connections in the countryside, the Japanese intervention, on the contrary, gave a political stimulation to the petty-bourgeoisie of the cities. This has only again aggravated the crises of power. There is not a single section of the bourgeoisie called “Nationalists” which does not tend to arrive at the conclusion that the Kuomintang regime devours much and gives little. To demand an end of the period of “education” of the Kuamnintang is to demand that the military dictatorship give way to parlimentarism.
The Left Opposition press has sometimes labeled as fascist the regime of Chiang Kai Shek. This definition was formed from the fact that in China as in Italy, the military-police power is concentrated in the hands of one bourgeois party alone to the exclusion of all other parties and notably, of the workers organizations. But after the experience of the last years, an experience complicated by the confusion the Stalinists brought to the question of fascism, it would not be very correct, nevertheless, to identify the dictatorship of the Cementing with fascism. Hitler, as in his time Mussolini, supports himself, before all, on the counter-revolutionary petty bourgeoisie; there is the essence of fascism. The Cementing has not this point of support. Thus in Germany the peasants march behind Hitler and by this fact indirectly support Von Papen; in China the peasants carry on the raging struggle against Chiang Kai Shek.
The regime of the Kuomintang contains more of Bonapartist traits than of fascism: Not possessing a social base, no matter how small, the Kuomintang, is half between the pressure of the imperialists and compradores on the one hand, and the revolutionary movement on the other. But Bonapartism can pretend to stability only when the land hunger of the peasants is satisfied. This is not true in the case of China. Hence the impotence of the military dictatorship which maintains itself only thanks to the dispersion of its enemies. But under their growing attack even this begins to be unhinged.
It is the proletariat which in the revolution of 1925-1927 morally and physically suffered the most. That is why at the present time it is the workers who are in the rear of the other classes and in fact not only of the petty bourgeoisie, beginning with the students, but also in a certain sense, of the peasants. On the other hand it is just this which proves that the third Chinese revolution not only will win but will not even be produced as long as the working class has not again entered into the lists.
The Slogans of the revolutionary democracy correspond in the best possible way to the political pre-revolutionary situation in China.
That the peasants, whatever their banner, fight for the aims or agrarian petty bourgeois democracy is what, for a Marxist, does not have to be demonstrated. The slogan of independence of China, raised anes to a white heat by the Japanese intervention, is a slogan of the national democracy. The powerlessness of the military dictatorship and the partition of the country among the militarist dictatorship and the partition of the country among the militarist cliques put on the end of the day the slogan of political democracy.
The students cry: “Down with the Kuomintang government". The groups of workers’ vanguard support this slogan. The “National” bourgeoisie demands they go on to a constitutional regime. The peasant revolt against the dearth of land, the yoke of the militarists, government officials and of usurious loans. Under there circumstances the party of the proletariat cannot favor any other political central slogan than that of the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (Constitutional).
Does this mean, it will be asked, that we demand from the present government the convocation of the National Assembly or that we should strive to convoke it ourselves? This way of posing the question, at least on the present stage, it too formalistic. During a certain number of years, the Russian Revolution coordinated two slogans: “Down with Absolute ****” and “Long Live the Constituent Assembly.” To the question who will convoke the Constituent Assembly for a long time we answered: the future will show, that is to say, the relation of forces, as they are established in the process of the revolution itself. This manner of approaching the question remains equally correct for China. Will the government of the Kuomintang try, at the moment of its disappearance, to convoke such or such representative assembly, what will be the attitude that we shall adopt in regard to this, that is to say how shall we utilize it in the interests of the revolution, whether we should boycott the elections or whether we should participate in them; will the revolutionary masses succeed in giving rise to an independent government organism which will take upon itself the convocation of the National Assembly; will the proletariat succeed, in the course of the struggle for the slogans of democracy, in creating the soviets; will the latter not render superfluous the convocation of the National Assembly? This is what is actually impossible to foretell. After all the tasks consists not in making prognostications from the calendar but in mobilizing the workers around the slogans flowing from the political situation. Our strategy is a strategy of revolutionary action and not of abstract speculations.
Today, by the force of events, the revolutionary agitation is directed above all against the government of the Kuomintang. We explain to the masses that the dictatorship of Chiang Kai Shek is the main obstacle which stands in the way of the National Assembly and that we can clean China from the militarist cliques only by means of an armed insurrection. Agitation, spoken and written, strikes, meetings, demonstrations, boycotts whatever may be the concrete questions to which they are consecrated, must have a corollary the slogans: “Down with the Kuomintang, Long live the Constituent Assembly!”
In order to arrive at a real national liberation it is necessary to overthrow the Kuomintang. But this does not mean that we postpone the struggle until the time when the Kuomintang is overthrown. The more the struggle against foreign oppression spreads the more difficulties the Kuomintang will have. The more we line up the masses against the Kuomintang the more the struggle against imperialism will develop.
At the acute moment of Japanese intervention the workers and the students called for arms. From whom? Again from the Kuomintang. It would be a sectarian absurdity to abandon this demand under the protext that we wish to overthrow the Kuonintang. We wish to overthrow it but we have not yet reached that point. The more energetically we demand the arming of the workers the sooner we shall reach it.
The official Communist Party, in spite of its ultra-leftism. favors “the resumption of the Russian-Chinese diplomatic relations". Now this slogan is addressed directly against the Kuomintang. To formulate it does not at all mean that one has “confidence” in the Kuomintang. On the contrary, this slogan has for object to render more difficult the situation of the latter before the masses. Certain Kuomintang loaders have had already to take up on their own account the slogan of the re-establishment of relations with the U.S.S.R. We know that with these gentlemen it is a long way between works and acts. But here, as in all the other questions, everything depends on the force that the pressure of the masses will attain.
If under the whip of the revolution, the Kuomintang government begins to make petty concessions of the agrarian question, tries to call a semblance of a National Assembly, sees itself obliged to give arms to the workers or to take up relations with the U.S.S.R. it goes without saying that we will at once exploit these concessions, that we will cling to them firmly at the same time that we show with perfect correctness their insufficiency so as to make of the concessions by the Kuonintang a weapon to overthrow it. Such is in general the reciprocal relation of reforms and of revolution in Marxist politics.
Does not the scope the peasant war is reaching mean that there is no longer time nor place for the slogans and problems of parliamentary democracy in China? Let us go back to that question.
If the revolutionary Chinese peasants today call their fighting organizations “soviets” we have not reason to give up the name. We must simply not get intoxicated with words. To believe that the soviet power is essentially rural regions can be an important, stable revolutionary power is to give proof of great frivolity. It is not possible to be ignorant of the experience offered by the only country where the soviet power has effectively won. Although the Petrograd, Moscow and other industrial centers and basins of Russia, the soviet power has held firmly and constantly since November 1917, in all the immense periphery (Ukrain, Northern Caucasus, Transcaucasia, Urals, Siberia, Central Asia, Archangel Murmansk) this power has appeared and disappeared several times not only because of foreign interventions, but also as a consequence of internal revolts. The Chinese soviet power has an essential rural, peripheral character, and still entirely lacks a point of support in the industrial proletariat. The less stable and sure this power is, the less of a soviet power it is.
Ko-Lin’s article which appeared in the German paper DerRote Aufbau, claims that in the red armies the workers represent 36%, the peasants 57%, the intellectuals 7%. I confess that these figures arouse in me serious doubts. If the percentages apply to all the armed forces of the insurrection, forces which according to the author reach 350,000 men, the result is that the army includes about 125,000 workers. If the 36% only applies to the red armies, it appears that of 150,000 soldiers, there are more than 50,000 workers. Is this really so? did they belong to the unions before, to the party, and did they take part in the revolutionary struggle? But even that does clinch the question. On account of the absence of strong, independent proletarian organizations in the industrial centers, the revolutionary workers, inexperienced or too little experienced, become fatally lost in the peasant, petty-bourgeois environment.
Van-Ming’s article, which appeared at the beginning of the year in the C.I. press, singularly exaggerates, as far as I can judge, the scope of the movement in the cities, the degree of independence of the workers in the movement and the importance of the influence of the Communist Party. The misfortune of the present official press is that its mercilessly deforms facts in the name of its factional interest. Hence it is not hard to realize, even by Van-Ming’s article, that the leading place in the movement which began in the autumn of last year (1931) belonged to the students or in general to the school youth. The university strikes had an appreciable importance, greater than the factory strikes.
To arouse the workers, to group them, to give them the possibility of leaning on the national and agrarian movements in order to take the head of both: such is the task that falls to us. The immediate demands of the proletariat as such (length of work day, wages, right to organize, etc.) must form the basis of our agitation. But that alone is not sufficient. Only three slogans can raise the proletariat to the role of head of the nation: the independence of China, land to the poor peasants, the National Assembly.
The Stalinists imagine that the minute the insurgent peasants call their organizations soviets, the stage of revolutionary parliamentarism has already passed. This is a serious mistake. The rebels peasants can serve as a point of support to the soviets if the proletariat only if the latter shows practically its ability to lead. Hence, without the leadership of the proletariat, the peasant movement can only assure the advantage of one bourgeois clique over another in order to break up finally into provincial fractions. The National Assembly, thanks to its centralizing importance, would constitute a serious stage in the development of the agrarian revolution. The existence of rural “Soviets”, and “red armies” would help the peasants elect revolutionary representatives. This is the only way at the present stage to link up the peasant movement politically with the national and proletarian movements.
The official Chinese Communist Party declares that its “principal slogan” is at present that of the national revolutionary war against Japanese imperialism (see Van-Ming’s article in the Communist International #1, 1932). That is a one-sided and even an adventurist way to pose the question. It is certain that the struggle against imperialism, which is the essential task of the Chinese proletariat, cannot be carried through to the end except by insurrection and revolutionary war. But it does not in the least follow that the struggle against Japanese imperialism constitutes the central slogan of the present moment. The question must be solved from the international angle.
At the beginning of this year, they thought in C.I. circles that Japan had entered upon its military action against China in order to push things immediately to war against the Soviet Union. I wrote then that the Tokyo government would have to be completely out of its head to run the risk of a war with the Soviet Union without having beforehand at least somewhat consolidated the military base which Manchuria constitutes for it. In reply to this estimation of the situation, the American Stalinists, the most vulgar and stupid of all, declared that I worked in the interest of the Japanese general-staff.--And yet, what have the events of these last months shown? The fear of Japan’s leading circles for the consequences of a military adventure was so great that the military clique had to send from life to death a certain number of Japanese statesmen in order to arouse the Mikado’s government to follow up the annexation of Manchuria to the end. That even today the war against the Soviet Union remains a very real perspective, there is not doubt, but in politices time has a great value.
If the soviet government considered war with Japan to be inevitable right now, it would have neither the right nor the possibility of carrying out a peace policy that is, an ostrich policy. In reality, in the course of the year, the Soviet government has concluded an arrangement with Japan to furnish Soviet naphtha to the Japanese war fleet. If war is right now inevitable, to furnish naphtha to Japan is equivalent to committing a real treason towards the proletarian revolution. We will not discuss here the question of knowing to what extent this or that declaration or step of the Soviet government is correct. One thing is clear: contrary to the American Stalinists whose zeal is beyond measure the Moscow Stalinists have been oriented towards peace with Japan and not towards war.
Pravda of Sept. 24th writes: “With vast impatience the world bourgeoisie was expecting a Nippo-Soviet war. But the fact that the U.S.S.R. has rigorously abstained from mixing in the Sino-Japanese conflict and the firm peace policy she is following, has forestalled war--” admitting that the attitude of the American and other windbags has any political meaning at all, it had only one meaning: they pushed the Soviet power on the same road where the world bourgeoisie pushed it. We do mean that they consciously served the Japanese general staff. Suffice it to state they are incapable of consciously serving the proletarian revolution.
The Chinese proletariat inscribes on its banner not only resumption of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union but the conclusion of a close offensive and defensive alliance with it. This implies that the policy of the Chinese proletariat must be in conformity with the whole of the international situation and above all with the policy of the Soviet Union. If Japan were today to thrust war upon the Soviet Union, the fact of drawing China into that war would be a question of life or death for the Chinese proletariat and its party. The war would open up boundless horizons before the Chinese revolution. But to the extent that the international situation and internal conditions oblige the Soviet Union to make serious concessions in the Far-East in order to avoid war, that is, to defer it as far as possible, and to the extent that Japan does not find itself strong enough to begin hostilities, the war against Japanese imperialism cannot constitute, in any case at the present time, the central fighting slogan of the Chinese Communist Party.
Van-Ming quotes the following slogans of the Left Opposition in China: “Reconstitution of the mass movement". “Convocation of the National Assembly” and “Resumption of diplomatic relations between China and the Soviet Union". Under the simple pretext that these slogans are it seems poorly motivated, in an article appearing in the legal organ of the opposition, Van Ming calls the Left Opposition in China a “counter-revolutionary Trotskyist-Chen du Hsiu group".
Now, even if we admit that the motivation of the revolutionary slogans was not fortunate, this does not give them, nor the organization which formulated them, a counter revolutionary character. But Van Ming and his like are obliged to speak of the counter-revolutionary spirit of the “trotskyists". If they do not wish their posts and emoluments withdrawn.
At the same time that they declare themselves so severe against the Bolshevik Leninists who have proved they have been right in the course of the events which have taken place in China from 1932, the Stalinists show themselves as indulgent as possible towards themselves that is towards the uninterrupted chain of their errors.
In the days when Japan was attacking Shanghai, the Kuomintang supported “the united front of the workers, peasants, soldiers, merchants and students to combat imperialism". But this is the famous “bloc of four classes” of Stalin-Martinov! Since the second revolution, foreign oppression in China has not weakened, but on the contrary has grown. The antagonism between the needs of the country’s evolution and the regime or imperialism has likewise become sharpened. Since then, all the old Stalinist arguments in favor of the bloc of four classes have acquired double strength. Now this time, the Stalinists have interpreted the Kuominatang’s proposal as a new attempt to deceive the masses. Very well! But they have forgotten to explain why from 1924 to 1927 the CI leadership helped the Chinese bourgeoisie deceive to the end, and why the philosophy which consisted in being at the Kuomintang’s beck and call has found expression in the program of the CI.
It is evident that we can and must support the slogan of democratic self-government of the election of functionaries by the people, etc. The program of democracy constitutes a great step forward in relation to the regime of military dictatorship. We must just bring together each time the isolated, partial democratic slogans with the essential slogans and attach them to the problems of revolutionary grouping and the arming of the workers.
The question of “patriotism” and “nationalism” like certain other questions contained in your letter, deal with terminology rather than with the essence of things. The Bolsheviks, favoring the national liberation of oppressed peoples by revolutionary means support by all means the movement of the masses of the people for national liberation not only against the foreign imperialists, but also against the bourgeois exploiters inside the national movement, in the nature of the Kuomintang.
Must we still introduce the term “patriotism” discredited and soiled enough? I doubt it. Must we not see in this attempt a tendency to want to adapt oneself to the petty-bourgeois ideology and terminology? If this tendency were to really appear in our ranks, we would have to fight it mercilessly.
Many questions of tactical and strategical character will appear insoluble if approached in a formalistic way. But they will fall into their right place if we pose them dialectically, that is, in the perspective of the living struggle of classes and parties. It is in real action that revolutionary dialectic is best assimilated. I do not doubt that our comrades in ideas and our Chinese friends the Bolshevik Leninists not only discuss passionately the complex problems of the Chinese revolution, but also participate not less passionately in the developing struggle. We are for a strategy of action--not for speculation.
Prinkipo Oct. 3, 1932
In regard to the point raised by Comrade Trotsky in this article that “… the war against Japanese imperialism cannot constitute, in any case at the present time, the central fighting slogan of the Chinese Communist Party” we wish to point out that the Communist League of Struggle declared itself as follows (THESIS CLASS STRUGGLE Vol. 1 No. 4 October-November 1931).
“4.The latest outrage of Japan, prelude as it is to a general dismemberment of China by all the imperialists, should Japan be successful, must be resisted with all the force of the Chinese toiling masses, led by the Chinese proletariat whose vanguard are the Chinese Communists.
“War by the Chinese people against Japan is the only form such resistance can take effectively. Such a war by the Chinese people against Japan can only be welcomed by the toiling masses and proletariat all over the world. A war by the Chinese people against Japan is not an imperialist war, but a war of a colonial country against an imperialist aggressor. It is the duty of the proletariat everywhere to aid and to support such a war with all its might. (Lenin) Such a war would have a most salutary effect on all the struggles of the oppressed colonial peoples for freedom (India, Philippines, Korea, Siam, etc)…
“5. In all their actions regarding the Sino-Japanese conflict the Communists must start from the understanding that the Chinese people must be supported against Japan. The Chinese Communist Party must take the lead in demanding support and in mobilizing the masses for war against Japan. But war against Japan must be only a starting point. In its seizure of Manchuria and Inner Mongolia Japanese imperialism but carries into action the fondest dreams of other imperialisms, especially that of the U.S.A. War against Japan by the Chinese people must be coupled with the demand that ALL IMPERIALIST POWERS GET OUT OF CHINA. War against Japan must be a prelude to driving our all the imperialist powers, including the U.S.A. form Chinese soil.
“The Chinese proletariat and Communist movement must thoroughly keep in mind that the puppet imperialist tools which compose the Chinang Kai Shek government can struggle effectively neither against Japanese nor against any other imperialism. War against Japan must be linked up with a drive to exterminate the Chiang Kai Shek Nationalist Government. Not the mercenary armies of Chiang Kai Shek but only the armed people can drive off the Japanese, the American and other bloodhounds. An armed Chinese people can make impossible any seizure by imperialists of extensive Chinese territory. The Chinese Communist Party must lead this struggle of the masses.
“The demand to arm the Chinese toilers must go hand in hand with the demand for the convocation of a real Constituent Assembly, truly representative of the oppressed Chinese people. The struggle against Japan must be a struggle for the carrying out of a revolutionary agrarian program, for the legalization of the trade union movement, for the eight hour day, and social insurance for the workers, etc. War against Japan must be combined with civil war in town and country for Soviets. This combined struggle, starting with a vigorous boycott and confiscation of Japanese property and that of their agents, must end with the confiscation of all imperialist and capitalist property and a proletarian Soviet regime.
6. The proletariat of the whole world must support the Chinese masses in their war against Japan and other imperialists (U.S.A., Great Britain France, etc.) First and foremost does the duty fall upon the proletariat of the Soviet Union….”
The Communist League of Struggle after carefully studying the articles of Comrade Leon Trotsky on the Tradegy of the German Proletariat and on the Collapse of the CPG and Our Task the opposition to the views there in expressed in the resolution of the National Committee of the German Opposition and after a full discussion take the following position:
1. We are emphatically in favor of the position of Comrade Trotsky. We believe that never has the prognosis and analysis of the Left Opposition been more correct and more verified by events than the position of the Left Opposition on Germany. The gigantic betrayal of the German proletariat by Stalinism in Germany is dead and that if the workers are to rise again they most resolutely build a new party out of the best elements that will follow the correct line as laid down by the Left Opposition.
2. The fact that Hitler has won so easily and the working class organizations have collapsed without a serious fight does not mean however that power is assured to Hitler for a series of years, as was the case with Mussolini. Fascist Germany starts out on its history in conditions of a very advanced capitalist disintegrations, of mass misery unprecedented in modern history and of a threatening tension in international relations. We must denounce any viewpoint that declares that the revolutionary movement is destroyed for years to come and that Hitler’s power must endure for a long time. Should a correct policy be taken in Austria and by the Communist International the situation is not entirely lost yet.
3. Precisely for this reason is the crying need of the hour firmness and resolute sharpness. Every bit of delay can lead to tragic consequences and to intolerable confusion. The Left Opposition must be prepared to break with any opportunist elements who have become demoralized by the rapid change of events and who would, by a false policy, paralyze the formation of a new party and the will of the proletariat to defeat Fascism.
4. Each sharp event in world politics has had its reaction within the German Left Opposition. The Chinese Easter affair saw the crisis with Urbahns, the contradictions of the situation in Russia sharpened by the Five year Plan, saw the expulsion of the worthless Landau clique the impending victory of the Nazis saw the capitulation of the Wells-Senin worthies, and now it is not unnatural that there should be vacillation in the camp of the German Left Opposition in the fact of the enormous debacle that has been experienced in Germany! This vacillation must be speedily liquidated and a correct policy promptly pursued if the Left Opposition is to live up to its historic mission in Germany and in the forthcoming events.
National Youth Day in Perth Amboy, New Jersey resulted in one of the most brutal attacks by the police who used tear gas bombs, guns, nightsticks and clubs against the workers and young workers, girls, children, women, Negro and white in order to break up the demonstration. About 500 youths and workers had come to participate in the parade from all parts of the State of New Jersey. The YCL was represented by Passaic, Paterson, Jersey City, Trenton, Perty Amboy, Newark, Elizabeth and other cities of the State. One of the features was the last number of Negro youth and children present. The Left Opposition was represented by the Comrades of the Perth Amboy unit of the Communist League of Struggle.
The parade was formed on Elm Street. We marched through the city to the city field to hold our meeting and to carry through our sport events program. The songs and shouted slogans of the marchers gave a fine spirit to the parade and made a good impression. When we got to the city field all the police were lined up and refused to give the marchers the use of it but after a meeting with a committee, they decided to let us use Coppers field at the other end of the city.
At Coppers field the meeting was called to order by Alexander who was followed by Charles White, Rebecca Grecht and Freiman. In every way the police tried to disturb the meeting but finding they could not do so made their plans for a regular attack. Police, dicks and thugs of the Legion began to infiltrate the demonstration and then at a signal a group of them came over to the platform, demanded a permit for the meeting and kicking over the platform began to slug the workers. Without the slightest provocation guns were drawn, shots fired, gas bombs hurled and a terrific beating given the workers. Several of the comrades were badly hurt and sent to the hospital and nine were arrested.
Throughout the demonstration and the events that followed the Left Opposition through the members of the Communist League of Struggle took a very active part. They were the last to leave the grounds and were given the responsibility of taking care of the affair after it was broken up, getting bail, sending out various committees to get help, etc. There is no doubt that the prestige of the Left Opposition was greatly raised in Perth Amboy by our correct and prompt action. The Party member now see that far from being counter-revolutionists we know how to take our place in the front ranks of the struggle.
In regard to the vicious cold-blooded assault on the workers at Perth Amboy we desire to point out several important lessons:
1. We are rapidly moving towards another war. Memorial Day is great patriotic war day. On such a day the bosses are strongest and the revolutionary forces weakest. The National Youth Day coming as a counter stroke to the patriotic parades is a counter-offensive that must stir up the bosses more and more as their war plans mature. We can expect there of that precisely on these days when the patriotic fervor and war fervor is highest and the workers demonstration is not on concrete issues directly facing the workers in their locality that the bosses will attempt to use their armed forces to smash up the demonstrations. (See the Mooney case, the Centralia case, etc. for models).
2. The Communists in starting their anti-war demonstrations on such a day as this must thoroughly prepare themselves and watch the situations carefully. They should pick as a center rather the large city where the proletariat is well organized rather than the little city far out of the anywhere there is practically no organized labor movement to protect them. Unless the communists have a real large mass following the demonstratical must not take the form where they can be easily attacked and slaughtered by a far superior force.
3. In the Perth Amboy demonstration the District organizer of the official party quickly left the scene. It was the Communist League of Struggle organizer to whom was entrusted the task of taking care of the retreat and organizing the defence so that the workers would not be completely routed. Her is another reason for the Left Opposition to take part in all the demonstrations of the Party and YCL. ******************************************************
A Conference on unemployment was called by Provisional Committee at Irving Plaza, Saturday, June 3rd at 11 A.M. and lasted to 5 in the evening. Four hundred and sixty-nine delegates representing two hundred and ninety-nine organizations were present. With the exception of the C.P.L.A. and delegates of the L.O., “eight strong”, as Amter referred to us the following Monday in the Daily Worker, the entire delegation was under the influence and control of the C.P. communist in the party controlled “A.F.L. Committee” acted as chairman throughout the entire conference.
One of the important proceedings of the conference was the unanimous condemnation of the Socialist and Lovestone unemployment groups: Workers Committee on Unemployment, Workers’ Unemployed League and the Association of the Unemployed, for their refusal to participate and cooperate in the united front. Three representative of the respective groups, however, were permitted to air their views. Jack Rubenstein of the Association of the Unemployed stated his objection to having employed groups participate and raise their own banners, desiring only the unemployed groups to do so. The reformist character of these opportunists was severely denounced and exposed by speakers from the floor, and a motion was passed condemning the “disrupters".
Comrade Weisbord and other delegates of the L.O. were permitted to speak from the floor for five minutes each during the discussion period. Weisbord added his approval of the conference’s action condemning the disrupters. He welcomed the changed attitude of the C.P. towards the united front and expressed a hope that it will be followed out sincerely. He pointed out that with this present attempt at a united front, the party has reversed its past position from a “united front from below” to a united front with organizations”, that this action negates the false theory of “social-fascism". He presented the unemployment program of the C.L.S., stated at the end of this article. Following Weisbord, Robert Minor saw fit to take the floor, speaking about twenty-minutes. His talk was consumed in part in denying the “right-about face” of the party and reaffirming the old policy of the “united front from below".
On the Resolutions Committee, Comrade Kit of the Alteration and Painters’ Union (a Left Oppositionist), was elected with six others, with Israel Amter as chairman. Kit, representing the minority viewpoint, voiced his objections to two points in the framing of the resolution on unemployment. Kit objected to the clause demanding “a shorter work day with no decrease in pay”, in favor of the clearer proposal, “six hour day, five day week, with no decrease in pay". A lively discussion ensued with the delegates of the L.O. defending the minority proposal. The latter was defeated after a vote was taken.
The resolution adopted for a program to organize a city-wide campaign for a Workers’ Ordinance contained the following proposals:-
Cash relief to the unemployed—ten dollars a week to couples, with three dollars a week additional for each dependent; seven dollars to single unemployed. Home Relief Bureau office should be established in a community when three hundred and fifty workers demand it; administration of relief should be handled by committee elected by workers. Workers who lose their jobs should receive four weeks pay to live on.
An appeal was made for all workers to assemble at City Hall for a mass demonstration on Tuesday, June 6th at 11 in the morning, where a delegation will be elected to present the demands of the unemployed before the board of estimate.
An interesting sidelight of the conference was the psychological behavior of the party-controlled delegates. In two instances, when delegates of the C.L.A. made a motion, some hands were seen in the audience to be uplifted in favor of the motion, but were immediately lowered when we raised our hands en mass for our motion. This mechanical reaction can be attributed to the Stalinist bureaucracy that stifles freedom of criticism and brands everyone with the stigma of being in league with the “counter-revolutionist Trotskyites” should they happen to agree with them on any issue.
We believe, that in spite of the attempt at a real united front initiated by the Provisional Committee, the conference will accomplish little or nothing unless it changes its line. The time is past, in the fifth year of the crisis to stage demonstrations before City Hall and present petitions to Tammany politicians. We must concentrate and work in the neighborhood activize ourselves in building block committees, establish food kitchens where the hungry can be fed and weld the workers in closer solidarity; to organize against evictions, by making adequate preparations to rouse and mobilize the whole neighborhood, by distributing leaflets before the eviction and making evictions so costly that the landlord would find it cheaper to keep a tenant than throw him on the street. Unite the unemployed with the employed by raising the slogans: “For a General Strike to Force Unemployment Insurance”, “End the Lockout-Open the Warehouse to the Hungry-Open the Factories to the Workers”, “End the Sweatshop Conditions"; organize a plan of self-help on a huge scale to make these slogans effective.
This is our program-the program of the C.L.S. This is the program that we will fight for as it is the only adequate program for unemployment in 1933.
While the unity negotiations—much to our chagrin—hang high and dry until the return of the leaders of the C.L.A., the little old C.L.S. is forging ahead valiantly on it own account. Within the past three months we have doubled our membership. The Fourteenth Street tea-drinkers will inquire cynically of one another… did they have 14 or 15 members before they doubled? Never mind. As we said at the beginning,—if we are a family group at least we are a prolific family, and the offspring are strong and vigorous. Our new members are for the most part sturdy proletarian fighters, some of them of long experience in the Communist movement. We have won two members from the C.P.U.S.A. and two from the German Communist movement.
Our New Jersey work is showing very satisfactory progress, as reported elsewhere in this paper. Only lack of funds prevents us from spreading immediately into Paterson and Passaic. Our open air meetings in New York have been started with large attendance. A bulletin is about to be issued in the German language-Der Klassenkampf. Our comrades are functioning in the mass organizations to which they belong, and we have been able to establish fractions in cases where we have more than one comrade. We are making some beginnings in Negro work, which have not as yet shown tangible results. In the field or unemployment, our long hammering home of a correct program is beginning to take effect, the last unemployment conference indicating that the movement under the influence of the Communist Party is adopting our line. A summer school is being conducted consisting of a very successful class in Karl Marx’s Capital which started last week at the Labor Temple with 50 people present, and a course in the Trade Union Tactics to begin next at our headquarters. After six weeks this will be followed by a course in Party Organization. Altogether our comrades are showing an excellent spirit, while we shall continue to make every effort to bring about unification with the C.L.A. we anticipate a further healthy growth in the meantime.
The Communist League of Struggle has received the following letter from Benjamin Gitlow who has recently organized another Communist Opposition group the “Workers Communist League". The question raised are important enough to warrant the publication of our reply. Gitlow’s letter follows:
April 4, 1933.
Communist League of Struggle,
133 Second Ave.,
New York City.
The recent events in Germany have deepened and intensified the crisis in the International Communist movement. This crisis is characterized by the suppression of the Communist Party of Germany, the largest Communist Party in a capitalist country. It is also characterized by the major defeat suffered by the Communist International in Germany and the destruction of its important base in that country. The Stalin leadership of the Communist International and its policies are directly responsible for the debacle of the Communist movement in Germany. Its splitting and left sectarian line made it impossible for the Communists to develop the necessary united front actions which would have enabled the labor movement to resist and check the Hitler fascist forces.
The extent of the crisis in the International Communist movement is further exemplified by the fact that the policies of the Stalin leadership towards German fascism have, because it facilitated the coming into power of the fascist forces, involved the Soviet Union in a very critical international situation. German fascism in power so strengthens the anti Soviet Union front, so intensifies the war danger, that a war against the Soviet Unions now looms as an immediate possibility.
Furthermore, the Stalin leadership has been busy wreaking and splitting the movement at a time when the greatest efforts should have been made to unify and consolidate the Communist movement. In addition the Stalin policies in the Soviet Union on industrialization, on the collectivization of agriculture, and its inner party regime have demoralized the Party to a very large extent, and greatly undermined and weakened the revolutionary masses. This weakening of the Soviet front outside and inside of the Soviet Union threatens the very security of the Proletarian Dictatorship.
Unless the Communist forces seriously get together to overcome this crisis the Communist movement will suffer a set back in spite of the fact that the objective conditions are favorable for a Communist advance. To maintain merely a critical attitude towards the Stalin regime is not enough. The Stalin regime must be held accountable for its wrong policies and misdeeds. Furthermore the Stalin leadership cannot be the vehicle for overcoming the crisis in the Communist movement. It lacks the confidence of the communists and the revolutionary masses to become the force for the revivification and unification of the movement. The Stalin leadership and its ruinous policies must be repudiated. No genuine unification, no reconstitution of the Communist International can take place without first removing the Stalin bureaucratic clique from leadership and discarding its policies.
THE WORKERS COMMUNIST LEAGUE realizing this fact, therefore proposes to the various Communist Opposition, namely, The Communist League of America (Opposition), The Communist Party, U.S.A. (Opposition), and the Communist League for Struggle that steps be taken for the formation of a block which shall work for the removal of the Stalin regime from the leadership of the International Communist Movement. The WORKERS COMMUNIST LEAGUE proposes that the block of the Communist Oppositions shall be based upon the following demands:
1. For the unification of the Communist Party of the United States.
2. That the Communist Party shall guarantee full inner Party democracy.
3. That all communists who have been expelled for their political and tactical differences shall be readmitted with full rights and to their former standing in the Party.
4. That wherever possible those expelled who are readmitted to the Party shall also be reinstated to the posts they held at the time they were expelled.
5. There shall be no discrimination against Party members because of their political and tactical positions.
6. That the various Communist Oppositions shall be guaranteed every facility to present their views not only to the Party membership thru the regular Party organizations but also thru the medium of the Party press
7. That the discussion in the Party should be followed by the calling of an emergency convention at which right to submit the opposition viewpoints will be assured and to which convention the various oppositions will be guaranteed representation.
8. That the leadership of the Party which is to be elected at the convention must include representative from all the viewpoints represented at the convention in order to assure a collective Communist leadership.
9. That the block recommends that the same procedure be followed in the other Communist Parties, including the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist International
It is expressly understood that participation in the block does not impose upon the communist oppositions which will join the block that they should give up their respective programs.
Comrades, we further recommend that after you have given our proposal consideration that a conference of the communist oppositions agreeing to the formation of a block be called at which the block should be consumated
It is the revolutionary duty of the communist oppositions to unite against Stalinism otherwise the crisis in the communist movement will continue for years to come and the workingclass will be left disorganized and without the necessary communist leadership to combat Fascism and reaction.
Hoping to hear from you soon relative to the decision of your organization so that the necessary organizational steps for calling the conference can be taken, I remain
Secretary Workers Communist League
Secretary, Workers Communist League
We must categorically reject your proposal that the Communist League of Struggle join hands with you to form together with the Lovestone group and the American League a “block which shall work for the removal of the Stalin regime from the leadership of the International Communist movement". Such a proposal we consider unprincipled and opportunist through and through. Because we believe that in breaking with the Lovestoine group you have opened the possibility for taking a real step forward, because we realize that in the past you have been the symbol for militant struggle and finally because we wish to leave absolutely no stone unturned to win to the cause of the Left Opposition every good fighter in the labor movement, we desire to discuss your letter at length.
You speak of the recent events in Germany which have resulted in the destruction of Stalinist Communist Party. But in all the important steps leading to this destruction you were heartily in accord. When Comrade Trotsky criticized the blunders of the CI in the revolutionary events of 1923 in Germany, did you not support Stalin, Bucharin and others against Trotsky? When, pursuing their policy of finding scapegoats, the Stalin-Bucharin leadership removed Brandler and put in their place the Ruth Fisher-Maslow type of worthies, did you not support the CI against the protests of the Left Opposition? When the Left Opposition pointed out that the German Party was being destroyed by the theory of building socialism in one country, a theory which was changing Leninism to national socialism, did you not give your full aid in the support of Stalin-Bucharin against the Left Opposition?
It was the Left Opposition that first began the fight against the bureaucratic apparatus headed by Stalin and Bucharin. It was the Left Opposition that first exposed the fact that the German Party was being destroyed. It was the Left Opposition that first attacked the theory of social-fascism, the splitting of the German Trade Union movement, the activities of the communists in joining the Fascists in the “ Red Referendum” of 1930; that first attacked slogans of the Communists which were aping the slogans of the Fascists such as “volks Revolution”, “Gegen Versailles”, etc. and pointed out the dangers of the theory of “democratic dictatorship” as leading to these vague and fascist slogans. Against the false theory of “democratic dictatorship” it was the Left Opposition that showed the way out with the theory of Permanent Revolution.
For over two and a half years the Left Opposition pointed out the necessity of a united front with the socialists and the trade unions of Germany against the Fascists. (not a united front the way Brandler formed it in 1923, a disgraceful united front that only aided the Socialists to kill the revolution, but a united front in the streets for battle). For a long time the Left Opposition has hammered home that Soviet Union rests in large part upon the German workingclass and the German Communist Party and called for the mobilization of the Russian Proletariat to support the German Proletaraiat should they rise in insurrection against the oncoming Nazi power.
Now at last the Comintern is paying for all its crimes and blunders. The Left Opposition has proven itself a hundred times correct in its analysis and prognoses. Now that the blow has fallen, a blow that has shaken the Comintern and the Stalin apparatus to its foundations, you have become aware that you must vigorously fight the Stalinist apparatus. Perhaps this does you credit. But you fail completely to realize that you up to now adhered to the very forces which caused the downfall of the movement in Germany, you still are opposed to the line of the Left Opposition. You still have not probed the causes for the collapse in Germany to its foundations, the theory of Socialism in one country, of which you are a supporter. Your criticism of Stalin’s policies on industrialization and collectivization is that Stalin has capitulated to Troyskyism! So you appear as a pure Bucharinist, standing for the building of Socialism “at a snails pace” or perhaps for the “Kulaks enrich yourselves” of 1926 or thereabouts. To expose the falseness of this position it is necessary to supply several missing theoretical links;
(1) In many cases the Stalin clique adopts to Trotsky’s line. But it does so too late…only under pressure from the masses, only when its own false line has gotten it into inextricable difficulties—only when its own false line has got it into inextricable difficulties—only when the objective situation has changedso that the policy can no longer be applied. Thus it is not Trotksy’s policies that we see but a contempible caricature of them.
(2) It is well known that Trotsky was the first to advocate the planned industrialization, meeting with the sneering opposition of the present leading clique. But the 5 year plan as carried out was not the plan proposed by Trotsky (See Trotsky’s book the real situatiuon in Russia). The Right Wing period was succeded by that time by the ultra leftist hence the exaggerated measures against the kulak (later to be followed by dangerous concession), the forced collectivization, the “shock troops” and other systems of forcing the industrialization.
(3) The mere factor of tempo alone is not decisive. In order to understanding the inner weakening of the Soviet regime as well as its precariousness in the world scheme of things it is necessary to see the profound contradictions of its economic regime for which its situation in the capitalist world as well as the manner of carrying out the five year plan are responsible. These contradictions are, first internal;
(a) between socialized industry and agriculture while still to a great extent on a capitalist basis
(b) between branches of industry with the resultant shortage of goods for consumption which heightens the workers discontent.
(c) faulty integration of branches of industry so that parts are missing for completing machinery etc.
(d) defective quality due to forced tempo with resultant break downs etc.
Second external: above all the position of Soviet Russia trying to build a socialized industry and agriculture while still bound up inextricable with the capitalist world. That the capitalist world in a crisis aggravates the situation. But the contradiction would be present in any case as a factor of paramount importance. Failure to take account of the real inter-relation of Soviet and capitalist economic forces is responsible for the disastrous theory of building Socialism in one country, which basically is accountable for the pacifist capitulatory attitude of the Soviet regime internationally. If we add to this the fool’s theory of Social-Fascism, the caricature of the united front policy. and the bureaucratic regime which stifles the Communist parties throughout the world we have a basis for criticism and a positive theory and tactic to counterpoise to the false line of Stalinism. But a group not yet separated ideologically from the Lovestone group, nor from the party, can only criticize the effects of the false line, not the line itself. The very fact of declaring that the Soviet Union is now in a very critical position because of the victory of German fascism is an admission that the Soviet Union cannot build Socialism in one country alone, that is rests not upon its internal strength alone buy upon the international working class.
Can Stalinism be fought negatively, without a clear cut thoroughly worked out political line which will enable us to expose the source or its errors and by means of which we can replace the Stalin leadership? It is very obvious that it cannot. The Left Opposition internationally has worked out a body of theory through the writings of Comrade Trotsky and it is about to adopt a set of theses opposed to Stalinism. You do not even take a stand on the views of the Left Opposition. You are willing it seems to demand the restoration of Trotsky to the Party but apparently upon the same terms as you would fight for the restoration of Lovestone or not matter which expelled comrade.
You want a block “for the unification of the Communist Party of the United States". But is not the question of a program more important even than the question of unity? For what do you want unity? If you are convinced that the Left Opposition is wrong it is not your duty to fight for our “right” and our “Freedom” but for your freedom. Similarly it is your duty to raise as the main point not the question of “unity” and of “freedom to criticize” but the question of your program. It is the opportunists, the reformists, the conciliators of all shapes and forms who constantly prattle “unity” “freedom” of criticism” “democracy” in order to put over their own program of reformism.
Let us remind you what Lenin wrote in his famous pamphlet “What is to be done". First he quotes Marx"… Party struggles… give a party strength and life….The best proof of the weekness of a party is its diffusoness and its blurring of clear cut differences…. A Party becomes stronger by purging itself.” Then Lenin goes on to declare that Communists must raise the cry not of “freedom” but if they are convinced they are right, they must demand the substitution of their program for that of the others.
What then are you fighting for? We see this naively revealed in points 3, 4, and 8, of the proposals of the Workers Communist League: calling for restitution of expelled comrades to their former posts in the Party and for collective leadership including representatives of all viewpoints. They want a return to the good old days when Gitlow with Lovestone was in control of the Party’ Not an intrasigeant fight for a correct line in the future, but a sigh for the past is what this document represents. The collective leadership as called for could only turn the party into a perpetual debating society, a fertile field for continuous unprincipled factional fights as indeed it was in the good old days when Gitlow, Lovestone, Foster and others were in power.
Let us summarize your mistakes in this connection: Instead of fighting for a program you fight for “unity". Instead of fighting the particular program of Stalin you fight against “Stalin". Instead of seeing the program as the source of all errors you see “Stalin". Instead of building a principled united front you want to build an unprincipled grouping of the most heterogeneous elements, a grouping in no way superior to the Party. Here it is you show opportunism not only on questions of program but on questions of organization as well.
You are willing to fight for the return of Trotsky into the leadership. Good. But why? Because he is correct? Then you must see the program of the left opposition. Because he is incorrect but still a Communist? Then how can you unite yourself with the Lovestone clique which still declares Trotsky is a counter-revolutionist and endorses he expulsion?
You ask us to fight for your return into the leadership of the Party. On what basis? Certainly if the left opposition were in control of the party it would know how to utilize all the tested leaders in the party no matter how opportunist their inclinations might be so long as on the whole they were adaptable to the policy of the party and carried out the line of the party. We would know how to utilize a Bucharin or a Zinoviev. But that can be done, as Lenin did it, only on the basis of a thorough appreciation of the defects and limitations of these people and a thoroughly correct policy of the Party which only the Left Opposition could guarantee.
The Communist League of Struggle has more than once proposed united front activities taking in all the Communist groups on different working class issues. This is a very different matter from forming a political block that is a more or less solid, permanent grouping with groups with which it has nothing in common (expect the very broad indisputable fundamentals of Communism). The necessity to oust Stalin we heartily concord in, but for this negative purpose we cannot unite with groups which agree with the theory of building Socialism in one country which tolerate the betrayal of the Chinese revolution through blocks with Chiang Kai Shek, which say nothing against the disgraceful affair of the Anglo-Russian Committee, which repudiate the Left Opposition under cover of its theory of “Thermidore” (and this stand of the Lovestone group Gitlow has not repudiated) which capitulate to the AFL in America and abandon the organization of the unorganized. By such a block the Left Opposition would lose its identity in the eyes of the masses in America and hence lose the possibility of struggle for the vital principles in which the issues of our day are embodied. Our task is rather to unify the ranks of the Left Opposition so that it will be equal to its theoretical and practical duty of winning the ranks of the Party and of the working class for its line.
The Communist League of Struggle was always in favor of a united front of all Communist and labor organizations for the purpose of doing this or that specific task. But not for a block with the right against the Party. Particularly is this the case with you and with comrades around you. You have broken with the Lovestone group. You are willing to fight for the reinstatement of the Left Opposition into the Party. You are willing to work out a positive program to struggle against the terrific crisis which has struck the Communist International. All that is to the good. In all this we are willing to go more than half way to meet you. But consider the situation. Your group is in a hopeless position, in some respects having good instincts but absolutely without a rudder, without a principled theoretical base. You have no masses. You must be ground to pieces in the course of the struggle. You must either move more and more to the right or your group must solve the contradictions of your position by moving towards the Left Opposition.
We offer you not an unprincipled block against Stalin but a series of open discussion before our joint membership so that all the fundamental propositions can be discussed anew to the end that a real working agreement can be reached. ***************************************************