James P. Cannon

Greetings To Communistes

(December 1931)

Written: December 1931.
First Published: The Militant, Vol. IV No. 36, 19 December 1931, p. 4.
Source: Microfilm collection and original bound volumes for The Militant provided by the Holt Labor Library, San Francisco, California. Additioanl bound volumes from Earl Gilman’s collection, San Francisco, California.
Transcription\HTML Markup: D. Walters.
Proofread: Einde O’Callaghan (February 2013).
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As this issue of The Militant goes to press we greet the first appearance of a fellow-fighter in the ranks of the Opposition. Communistes will carry to the Greek workers in America the same message which The Militant has carried in the English language through storm and stress for more than three years. We see in the enlistment of this ally an event of profound significance in the development of American communism. It shows to us that an important section of the communist proletariat, which has given proof in the past in labor and sacrifice of its revolutionary spirit, is finding its way, through a hailstorm of slander and misrepresentation, to the platform of the Opposition, which is the platform of Marx and Lenin.

The Greek Communists in America are not to blame if they have been disoriented and led astray on the great questions of principle which have arisen in the Comintern since Lenin’s death. They had no light to show them the way. Their own paper, Empros, which they established and maintained at such heavy cost, became converted, in the hands of corrupt and ignorant bureaucrats, into an instrument to deceive and mislead them, to lie, to slander, to befoul the banner of communism and trample it underfoot. It took time for even a small group of Greek communists to learn the truth. But the ideas of Marxism are invincible; they make their way through all barriers, including the barriers of language. Now, with an organ of their own, we can expect a rapid growth of our movement among the Greek workers in America.

The role of the foreign-born workers in American industry is well known. Their shoulders are pillars upon which a large part of the huge edifice of American imperialism supports itself. And the relative importance of these immigrants from other lands in the American communist movement has been even greater. As a result of their inhuman exploitation, their traditions, and their higher class consciousness, they turned to the ideas of communism sooner and in greater numbers than did the native-born proletarians. They stood among the actual founders of American communism; they were its backbone, especially in its early years.

If the ranks of the foreign-born communists did not grow and expand as the social conditions matured for the development of a genuine native movement, it can be attributed, in the first place, to the degeneration that overtook the leading circles of the international movement. The international factors are always the most decisive.

But here in America there was a contributing factor of deadly effect. The various language bureaus, without exception, became transformed into appendages of the Stalinist lying machine like branch offices of a business concern. They became poisoned with the spirit of the small businessman who does not want to be disturbed. In this atmosphere all criticism was stifled and all independent thought was beaten down. Instead of instruments to carry the truth of Marxism to the foreign-speaking workers, these bureaus became so many sources of infection to poison and destroy the movement. Empros existed for this purpose in the recent years. The sad effects of it are to be seen in every phase of the Greek workers’ movement.

Communistes will have the task of undoing this damage. It will have to explain to the Greek workers the reason for the failures and defeats. It will have to restore and popularize again the doctrines which the bureaucrats discredited. It will have to arouse in the Greek workers once again the spirit of inquiry, of criticism and independent thought. For it is these qualities – not blind servility and automatic hand-raising – that distinguish the revo-lutionary communist. It will be a hard task at first, but it will be accomplished.

Bolsheviks were never afraid of difficulties. The resurrection of the genuine movement of communism among the Greek workers in America will begin with the first issue of Communistes. We are confident that our Greek comrades-in-arms will be fully worthy of their great historic task.

If we were to offer one word of advice to the newly organized group of Greek Oppositionists it would be this: Do not chase after quick success. Stand firm on the line of principle and organize your cadre around it. The rest will follow.

Last updated on: 22.2.2013