Editorial Notes

Lying as a Political System

(April 1931)

Written: April 1931.
First Published: The Militant, Vol. IV No. 8, 15 April 1931, p. 2.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: This work is in the under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists’ Internet Archive as your source, include the URL to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

An article in the Daily Worker of March 17th contains the statement that, in the summer of 1930, the opposition made overtures to the Lovestoneites on the basis of work within the Muste movement and against the Communist party. At the outset it will be seen that there is something wrong here. We have been told so often and so long ago about the unity of the opposition with the Right wing, that the allegation now of mere “overtures” for such a bloc, and only in the summer of 1930 at that, comes like an anti-climax. The first rule for people who bear false witness is that all must tell the same story. The Stalinist Hessians of the Pen, who are in the business, ought to remember that in the future.

However, this discrepancy is bridged over by some brand new testimony which reveals “details” of the great conspiracy just discovered by the Foster G.P.U. “In the summer of 1930,” they say, “conversations were held between Cannon and Lovestone. The purpose of these parleys was to work out a common base of struggle.” In this statement there is no truth whatever, and no semblance of truth. It is a lie made out of the whole cloth in order to bolster up a position which has been politically exploded. The Opposition made no “overtures” and held no “conversations” with Lovestone. And that is not because we reject the idea of talking to political opponents, but because to the leaders of this petty-bourgeois faction we have nothing more to say. The last “conversation” we held with them was at the Plenum in the latter part of 1928 when our expulsion from the party was confirmed. What we said on that occasion was printed In the Militant, and our remarks were addressed equally to them and to the Fosterites who stood united with them on the same reactionary platform. We did not have to invent that “alliance”. It was open and public and all the world could see it. And it didn’t happen by accident. It is to cover up the fact of this alliance that Foster concocts the fiction of the bloc of the Right and the Left and invents “conversations” to support it. Or is there also another reason? All signs indicate the reconstitution of the bloc of the Right and the Center in the Russian party. Is the article of March 17th a part of the camouflage to conceal the preparations for it in America?

If the latter is the case – and the assumption is not without foundation – they are proceeding with it in a characteristic manner. The Centrist bueraucracy reflects the pressure of alien classes upon the movement of the revolutionary proletariat. As such it stands in contradiction to the historic interests of the movement and its existence depends upon systematic deception. Driven by an uncontrollable impulse, they must and they do lie automatically, as a man afflicted with the tic must twitch the muscles of his face.

The struggle for existence also in politics sets its conditions for all forms of life. The bureaucrats of Centrism could not live politically without saying one thing and doing another. And they follow this course with an increasing ease and proficiency as the contradictions and difficulties of their position multiply. An example is the recently proclaimed campaign “against exaggeration”, which was immediately followed – as was to be expected – by a veritable flood of bigger and better lies, chiefly against the Opposition. How could it be otherwise? For what purpose would they promise truth except to make falsehood appear more credible?

It is quite obvious that moral indignation is without avail in such a situation. We are confronted here with social and political phenomena which must be appraised objectively and scientifically. In the interests of the proletarian movement we explain and also refute the lies of the bureaucrats. But we cannot and we do not promise to refute them all. The volume is too great for a semi-monthly paper to cope with. One cannot bring down a flock of quail with a rifle.

The best we can do is to single out and refute some of the characteristic instances of this game of falsification, enough to expose the whole system. In spite of all limitations the International Opposition has managed to do this. The notorious affair of the “Wrangel officer” was such a ease. “The alliance with Coolidge and the Austrian Government” was another. The “bloc of the Right and the Left” – embellished lately with cooked-up disclosures about “overtures” and “conversations in the summer of 1930” – is a third. All the rest follow the same pattern.

Last updated on: 14.12.2012