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James P. Cannon

A Statement on Two and a Half Internationalism

Published 27 December 1924

Source: James P. Cannon and the Early Years of American Communism. Selected Writings and Speeches, 1920-1928 © Spartacist Publishing Company, 1992. ISBN 0-9633828-1-0; Published by Spartacist Publishing Company, Box 1377 G.P.O. New York, NY 10116. Introductory material and notes by the Prometheus Research Library.
Transcription\HTML Markup: Prometheus Research Library
Copyright: Permission for on-line publication provided by Spartacist Publishing Company for use by the James P. Cannon Internet Archive in 2005.

The following article attacks the Central Executive Committee minority led by C.E. Ruthenberg for hampering the struggle against Ludwig Lore, who was at the time the editor of the party’s German-language paper, the Volkszeitung, and leader of an important group of trade unionists in the New York Workers Party. The article was published in the Daily Worker magazine supplement and was signed by Cannon, William Z. Foster, Alexander Bittelman, Earl Browder, Fahle Burman, William F. Dunne and Martin Abern—the entire CEC majority minus Lore.

In view of the present situation in the party, we find it necessary to make a statement regarding our struggle to eradicate the Two and a Half International tendencies in our party.

In its recent decision on the Farmer-Labor Party, the Comintern pointed out the existence in our party of remnants of the ideology of the Two and a Half International, as exemplified by some of the writings of comrade Lore. The CI called upon us to wage a sharp ideological struggle against these tendencies. This the CEC has done and will continue to do until the entire party is completely won over to the point of view of Leninism and the CI. These efforts of the CEC to defeat ideologically the Two and a Half International tendencies were hampered and weakened by the tactics of the minority opposition.

Our tactics for combatting the remnants of the ideology of the Two and a Half International in our party were the same as the tactics applied by the CI in other Communist parties, notably in the cases of Serrati in Italy and Smeral in Czechoslovakia. These tactics can be grouped under the following three heads: (1) to defeat ideologically and politically these tendencies, to prove them wrong in the eyes of our membership and followers; (2) to strengthen in our party the ideology and prestige of Leninism and of the CI; (3) to compel under all circumstances full execution of every party member and every party unit of all decisions of the CI and of the CEC even by means of disciplinary measures. These principles have been successfully applied by the Comintern.

In pursuit of these aims the present CEC took sharp issue with the remnants of the ideology of the Two and a Half International when these manifested themselves in the activities of some of our comrades in the industrial field in the printers union, in the needle trades, in the miners union, and in several other labor organizations. In all instances the CEC immediately sent its representatives to instruct and direct these comrades to the Leninist point of view. The CEC took prompt action in every single instance when the Volkszeitung or any other party organ manifested deviations from the CI line of policy.

Through its educational department the CEC laid the basis for spreading Leninist ideology among our membership. Our party schools, study classes, and our press have been utilized in every possible way, through articles by comrades Zinoviev, Stalin, Kamenev and others to strengthen the Bolshevist ideology of our party. By a recent decision of the CEC the powerful speeches by comrades Kamenev and Stalin against Trotskyism were ordered printed in pamphlet form.

It was also by a decision of the CEC that comrade Olgin wrote his series of three articles explaining the decision of the CI regarding the deviations of comrade Lore. All these efforts have contributed greatly towards the Bolshevization of our party.

In this ideological campaign we have been persistently hampered by the minority opposition. The tactics proposed by the minority always tended to crystallize the tendency of the Two and a Half International and not to dissolve it or break it up. Every move of the minority strengthened the position of this tendency. The minority carried on a senseless campaign of petty personal persecution, going to the extent of furnishing misinformation to the CEC on two important occasions, whose only effect was to create sympathy for and strengthen the prestige of those who have been charged by the CI as manifesting remnants of the ideology of the Two and a Half International.

Not in a single instance did the leaders of the minority under their own names take issue publicly in the party press with any individual of this tendency inside or outside of our party. This was done, however, by members of the majority, as witness the above mentioned articles by Olgin, the debate of Foster against Nearing, Cannon’s speech in the Workers School in New York on the Bolshevization of our party which was ordered published in the Workers Monthly, and the articles by Bittelman against Salutsky and Boudin.

The minority felt no responsibility for the welfare of the party. For this reason they were continually trying to provoke the CEC to such action as would create a crisis in the party, if not an actual split, and thereby strengthen the very tendencies which it is our duty to combat. All through the year the minority by their foolish tactics have been building up the Two and a Half International tendency. Now they are strengthening the right wing of the party generally by their advocacy of an opportunistic farmer-labor party policy.

The minority showed its utter disregard for the CI decisions by maintaining a permanent caucus throughout the country at the very time when the CI was fighting militantly against such manifestations of Trotskyism in the Russian and other parties.

The inevitable result of such a reckless policy as the minority proposes would be a disastrous split, which would cost the party large numbers of valuable proletarian elements, and which would strengthen the Two and a Half International tendencies. On the other hand, the policy of the CEC, which is the policy of the Comintern, will Bolshevize these proletarian elements and stamp out anti-Leninist deviations.

Ours is a young party, it has many unripe elements within it, and the task of Bolshevizing them is a difficult one. It can only be accomplished along the lines now being followed by the CEC, that is by a patient, persistent, intelligent, strategical, determined, relentless application of the principles of Leninism.

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