Written: August 1931.
First Published: The Militant, Vol. IV No. 20, 22 August 1931, p. 1.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
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When a false policy and a bureaucratic regime end as they must in the ditch of disaster – select the scapegoats and cast the whole responsibility upon them. This is the sacred creed of Stalinism. Losovsky, the General Secretary of the Profintern and consequently a wheel-horse in the Centrist machine, is a very adroit practitioner of this odious method. Things have come to such an appalling state in the American Left wing unions, despite the most favorable objective conditions, that some kind of an explosion could not be avoided. In a properly administered movement the situation would be reflected by an upsurge from below. Since that is forbidden we usually get as a substitute the horse-play of “self-criticism” from above. Losovsky performed this sickening ritual in his speech at the Eleventh Plenum of the Comintern. Speaking or the American unions there as reported in the Inprecor, he unburdened himself of the following remarks:
“What is the fundamental weakness of our American trade unions? They do not know how to intervene in the economic struggle of the toiling masses, and when they do intervene, they frequently do it bureaucratically. Our trade unions lack internal life and trade union democracy; every union has the ambition of going in for high politics, instead of concerning itself with the every day needs of the workers. Party leadership consists in the fractional nuclei substituting themselves entirely for the trade unions: the trade union members suddenly hear that since such and such a date not X, but Y is chairman or Secretary of the union.
“Functionaries are removed and appointed behind the scenes, as if this did not concern the rank and file members, party and non-party, organised and even unorganised workers who follow us. Workers to whom membership in revolutionary trade unions is connected with privations, with the risk of losing their jobs must have faith in their unions, they must know where they are going and whom they are following. One cannot therefore reduce the trade unions to a few officials and circular instructions. Such a trade union cannot grow. A trade union can grow in the midst of struggle, it can grow through the development of trade union democracy, it can grow, if every worker, every member, knows well his elective leading organ; the union will grow, if the leadership will carry every question to the masses. Nothing of this kind is as yet to be seen in the United States, and it is not surprising that the Seamen’s and Miners’ Unions have lost most of their members.”
This is rather plain talk about the state of affairs in the unions directed by the Communist Party of the United States, and every word of it is true. There is nothing new however, in the revelation. And if Losovsky speaks openly about the situation only now, it is not because he was in the dark about it before. Every one of the monstrous practises he condemns in the speech at the 11th Plenum has been concretely exposed time and time again in the Militant. Of course, our exposition of the evils that are sapping the life out of the Left wing unions was “counter-revolutionary slander.” But every militant engaged in trade union work knew the truth and could testify to it out of his own experience. The little Losovskys could confuse the issues with bluster for a time, but they could not prevent the policy from bringing forth its inevitable fruit. The tragic results of Stalinist administration of the trade union work have accumulated on every side to such an extent that the truth cannot be covered up any longer. Matters stood at this pass when the General Secretary of the Profintern with that pompous air of infallibility which distinguishes all the apparatus men when they criticize others, took occasion to tell what everybody already knew.
What Losovsky said is true enough but he did not tell the whole truth. To be honest with the Communist workers he would have to say that the Minks and similar Overgaards, to say nothing of the Sazers, who have been having their fun with the Left wing unions, did not arrive at their positions by their own independent efforts and means. They are merely the office boys who have been appointed to these functions because of their unfailing readiness to do what they are told. The monstrous excesses they have committed against the revolutionary labor movement only represent the natural working of the nefarious system in which they have small and inconspicuous parts. To single out these inconsequential errand boys for attack while leaving the system and its apparatus which they represent untouched, and to pass that comedy off as a serious remedy for the prevailing evils, is to practise deliberate fraud against the workers’ movement.
The Communist workers who nourish the hope that Losovsky’s speech signifies a better course in the trade union work are sure to be the victims of another terrible disappointment. The maneuver is designed to delude them and to head off their threatening mutiny. It may have a temporary success, as has been the case before. The Communist workers are long-suffering and patient. They have a great faith in the Comintern which has been disloyally and shamefully abused by the usurping apparatus under Stalin. But the day of reckoning draws near. The very fact that Losovsky has been driven to make these astounding revelations is an indication of its approach. No Losovsky, unloading the whole responsibility for the debacle on the little Losovsky, can affect the slightest cure. Centrist bureaucratism is the real disease. Losovsky and Company are its fountain head. The revolutionary workers must recognize this and direct their blows at it.
Last updated on: 14.1.2013