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James P. Cannon

Unify the Party!

16 November 1925

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 resolution was adopted by the Political Committee and published in the Daily Worker, which also announced that Ruthenberg and Cannon would address party membership meetings around the country in order to secure support for it. The resolution was signed by Max Bedacht, Cannon, William F. Dunne, Jay Lovestone, C.E. Ruthenberg and the National Executive Committee of the Young Workers League. William Z. Foster was the only Political Committee member who did not sign it. The Foster faction retained control of the party’s Chicago District Committee, which voted down the resolution by a vote of nine to eight on November 28. According to a Foster faction circular dated 3 December 1925, the Political Committee majority was forced to postpone voting on the resolution in Chicago membership meetings while it sought support in other districts.

1. The beginning of the process of Bolshevizing our party has created a very critical situation for the party. Certain right wing elements are opposing the reorganization of the party and this attitude finds encouragement in the attack made by Lore and his followers against the Communist International and the party.[1] Elements outside of the party, counting on this situation, are encouraging those opposing the Bolshevization to leave the party and to make a stand against the Communist International. The party for more than a year has been engaged in an inner factional struggle over the question of the correct line of policy and leadership of the party. The remnants of factionalism carried over from the preconvention period have not yet been liquidated. This factional struggle, while an expression of the growth of Communist understanding within the party, has seriously affected the party work among the broad masses of industrial workers and exploited farmers, so that there has been an actual falling off of the effectiveness of the party in mobilizing these masses for the class struggle against the capitalists. The policy followed by a section of the former majority under the leadership of comrade Foster objectively leads away from the Communist International and thus provides a rallying point for the right wing of the party. This policy, if not changed, will do great harm to the party.

2. That section of the former majority which supported the policy of comrades Cannon, Dunne and others was right in making an energetic and determined struggle against the policies of comrade Foster. In openly combatting the policy of comrade Foster they gave a warning to the party as to the direction in which this policy was leading. The struggle within the former majority group over the question of the relation of the party and the party leaders to the Communist International has resulted in a definite and open split in the former majority group. This process is not, however, completed. Many comrades who at first followed the policy sponsored by comrade Foster since the convention are beginning to change their course. Continuous efforts must be made to clarify the situation in order to assist these comrades to completely adopt the platform of the Communist International and Central Executive Committee.

The Basis of Unified Leadership

3. The former differences on political questions have been settled by the decisions of the Parity Commission and the national convention of the party. There is therefore no longer any reason for political groupings in the party on the basis of former differences. The decision of the party convention, the decision of the Communist International delivered to the convention, and the events since the convention have broken down the old divisions and created new ones. The party leadership must reflect all these decisions and events and must be based upon them. It must represent a unification of all those who follow and fight for the political line of the Communist International. The party situation requires the unification of all groups within the party which stand for the line of the Communist International and for the unity of the party. The remnants of the factional struggle within the party must be quickly liquidated and the whole party drawn into the work among the masses. At the present time, when the opposition to Bolshevization and reorganization is developing, when Lore and Salutsky are renewing and intensifying their attacks on the Communist International, when the Socialists are gleefully speaking of the “disintegration” of the Communist movement in America, it becomes obligatory to effect the unification of the party. It would be an error to maintain old factional groupings or to form new ones. This would weaken the struggle for unity and Bolshevization and would objectively strengthen the tendencies which are mobilizing to resist it. Under these conditions the interests of the party imperatively demand the unification of all members of the party who are for the Communist International, and their united struggle for the party and the Communist International.

The Party’s Immediate Tasks

The basis for the unification of the party is a common energetic struggle to carry out the following main tasks of the party:

A. Energetic support of the Bolshevization of the party through (1) carrying through the reorganization of the party on the basis of shop nuclei and street nuclei (international branches) in the shortest possible time; (2) the organization and mobilization of the membership for work in the trade unions through a campaign to have all the members of the party become members of the trade unions and the systematic organization of active trade union fractions; (3) an energetic struggle against the right wing and opportunistic deviations and, as part of this struggle, the development of a systematic Marxist-Leninist education to raise the theoretical level of the party; (4) the Central Executive Committee will subject its policies and actions in all fields to constant review and criticism. This prerequisite to Bolshevization has not been practiced by the party up till now.

Our Trade Union Activities

B. The trade union policy of the party must be fundamentally revised and our work in this field reoriented according to the line laid down by the Communist International and the Profintern. Vacillating tactics which oscillate between opportunism and leftism must be replaced by sure and confident Leninist tactics which combine firm principle with the greatest flexibility and adaptability to concrete problems. The trade union work of the party must be unified with the general political work of the party. We must make the aim of our trade union work the revolutionizing of the trade unions and the drawing of the organized workers into the struggle against the capitalists as a class. The building of a firm and centralized structure of party trade union fractions must be carried on with greater energy and a clear distinction must be made between the party fractions and the general left wing movement. The party must assist the organization of the left wing in the trade unions on a broad basis and aim to combine all the progressive and opposition elements into a bloc. The official name of such a bloc is of secondary importance. The party must not hesitate at the measures necessary to prevent the narrowing down of the organized left wing movement to the Communists and their close sympathizers.

The Labor Party Campaign

C. The struggle for a labor party must be again brought to the forefront of the party work and for this purpose the party must develop a program for the 1926 election which will again mobilize the whole party for a systematic campaign to achieve this purpose. The campaign for the defense of the Soviet Union against imperialism, work among the Negro workers, work among the women, must be connected with the campaign for a labor party and must serve to create the sentiment for and aid in the actual establishment of a labor party.

Work Among the Masses

D. The great task before the Workers (Communist) Party at the present time is to unite the party and mobilize all its forces for work in the class struggle. The energy of the party members must be thrown into mass work in all fields. Activity among the masses as a prerequisite to Bolshevization must be drilled into the consciousness of every party member. The party must fight with all its power and with every necessary strategy against the attempt to isolate it and throw its energy back upon itself. The party must also conduct a resolute struggle against the tendency to construe “party work” only in the sense of inner party work as well as against the tendency to make an artificial separation between mass work and inner party work.

Unite in Support of This Program

4. The policy of the Central Executive Committee is to draw the entire party into the work of carrying out the decisions of the national convention and to give every member of the party the opportunity to work for the party, make it a real force among the masses, draw the whole party into constructive work for the building up of the party and wipe out all factional lines. All comrades who accept this platform must be given full and complete opportunity to participate in party work and responsibility, according to their ability and without any discrimination.

5. The Central Executive Committee welcomes the stand in favor of unity and the progress already made by the Young Workers (Communist) League towards the liquidation of factionalism and the unification of forces. The National Executive Committee of the league now joins in the adoption of the resolution of the Central Executive Committee of the party as the basis for the continued work and for the complete unification of the league.

6. The Central Executive Committee calls upon all units of the party and the Young Workers League to seriously study and consider this resolution and to adopt it as their platform. The adoption of this resolution on the party situation by the Central Executive Committee, the District Executive Committee, City Central Committee, and in the shop nuclei and branches should be the signal for the wiping out of all factional lines and united work of all supporters of the Communist International for the building up of the party.


1. Lore had been expelled from the Workers Party at the August convention for opposition to Bolshevization and “open opposition and hostility to the party and the Communist International.”