James P. Cannon


Written: 1928
First Published: December 15, 1928The Militant, New York, Volume 1, No. 3, December 15, 1928
Source: Microfilm collection and original bound volumes for The Militant provided by the Holt Labor Library, San Francisco, California.
Transcription\HTML Markup: D. Walters
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On Monday evening, December 10, two women comrades, Maria Rein! and Pauline Gutringer, who were selling The Militant on the sidewalk in front of the Workers Center on Union Square, New York City, were set upon by an organized squad which had been detailed to execute the slogan given out by party officials-to “prevent the sale of The Militant at all costs and beat up the Oppositionists.”

“Get out of here, you counterrevolutionary prostitutes!” This and similar commands, mixed with unprintable obscenities, were hurled at the two working-class women before a crowd of several hundred which quickly gathered.

Screaming epithets and calling the women comrades every name in the vocabulary of the underworld, they seized the two comrades by the arms and began to push them away. The communist women resisted and stood their ground. The papers were torn from their hands. Comrade Rein! attempted to recover some of the papers and received a fist blow in the face.

The police appeared and immediately seized the two women, leaving their attackers unmolested. The two communist women who had attempted to sell The Militant on the sidewalk were then forcibly driven away by the police.

These events are the direct result of a planned campaign of incitement by party officials who themselves never yet took part in a fight and who lacked even the courage to participate in the attack on the women comrades. Wolfe, who ran away from the party like a craven during the Palmer raids and also after the Bridgeman raid,” directly incited to physical violence against the Opposition in his speech at the Workers Forum on November 25. Dr. Markoff, in his speech to the Italian party membership meeting on November 28, said, “The Oppositionists are worse than Mussolini and his Fascists. We must beat them politically and physically.” Party comrades have been directly instructed by such functionaries as Miller and Benjamin that they must not speak to the members of the Opposition but should spit upon them. More than that, physical assaults against comrades attempting to sell The Militant on the streets have been directly discussed and planned in committee meetings of the party in the New York district, where every kind of bourgeois and anticommu’nist literature is freely sold in the party’s bookstore.

The methods of violence which the bureaucrats are copying from the labor fakers are necessary only for a false policy. Their methods condemn their policy and will defeat it, for communist ideas are stronger than the gangster’s fist.

None of the Foster comrades participated in the shameful gangster attack. It is primarily the proletarian revolutionists in the party ranks who must defeat this course. They must burn the incipient fascist tactics out of the party with a white-hot iron. They must compel a free discussion of the disputed questions in a normal communist way.

For our part, we will take up the challenge of gangsterism incited and organized by poltroons who never yet took a blow on the picket line or in a raid. Our task and duty is to reach the Communist workers with our views. Since we are deprived of our party rights by expulsion and suppression, we must do this through The Militant. We will sell The Militant before every workers’ institution and meeting. The rights of the revolutionary workers are higher than the rights of landlordism. We will maintain these rights by struggle. In this struggle our strength will be multiplied by steadfast belief in our views and by our courage to defend them.