Editorial Notes

The Struggle Against “Left” Reformism

(June 1931)

Written: June 1931.
First Published: The Militant, Vol. IV No. 11, 1 June 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.

The Conference for Progressive Political Action, which has already condemned itself forever by its bootlicking subservience to the labor reactionaries, has begun to feel the new winds blowing in the labor movement and is beginning to dress for the Occasion. The May number of the Labor Age, the official organ of the C.P.L.A., comes out with a red cover and a startling line of radical talk. In one issue we see a demand for the defense of the Soviet Union, a denunciation of “Karl Kautsky sham Socialism”, an appeal for “the building of industrial unions with a revolutionary outlook and aim,” and similar words which cost nothing and mean less as a criterion by which to judge the character and future activity of the pseudo-progressives.

Talk is cheap. He who believes in works is an idiot, said Lenin who knew how to estimate and deal with the Russian prototypes of Muste. A section of the social reformists always plays the part of weather cocks. There is no surer sign of awakening discontent than “Left” talk in the reformist camp. And never does reformism become more dangerous to the workers’ movement than when it assumes the protective coloring of radicalism.

International experience has revealed a unique division of labor among the bourgeois agents in the labor movement. We are witnessing now an American example. The black reactionaries, who are most closely and directly bound to the capitalists and the state, held open sway in the period of reaction. The conditions of the crisis, and the suffering and disillusionment of masses of workers resulting from them, are exposing these elements to the Communist attack. And in direct proportion as the outright capitalist slogans of Green and Woll lose their effectiveness, the “Left” reformists come into prominence to serve the same ends through deception.

This maneuver presents a real problem to the American Communists, who have yet to gain a serious influence with the workers. If the workers who are breaking away from their allegiance to the capitalist parties and the official labor reactionaries are captured by the “progressives” they will only end in a blind alley. Their revolt will not mature and raise them to the higher ground of the class struggle implicit in the present situation. That this danger is a real one, only a fool can deny. When we see the fraudulent progressives replacing the Communists at the head of the insurgent miners’ movement – to mention only one case – it is time to wake up and examine the question and the answers offered by the three factions to it.

The best service to the Muste movement is that rendered by Lovestone. The Right wing of Communism paints up the “progressive” qualities of Musteism, and moderates criticism to a whisper. Thereby Lovestone deceives a section of the Left wing workers, and disarms them in the struggle against it. The official Centrist faction contents itself with routine denunciations and confuses the situation with the false and ridiculous formula of “social-fascism”. This attitude is a direct service to the “Left” reformists, to which their undoubted advances testify. The correct way to fight the “progressive” agents of reaction requires in the first place a precise explanation of their function. From this must follow an unceasing criticism, with particular emphasis on their concrete actions, combined with the revolutionary tactic of the united front. This is the policy of the Left Opposition. Its adoption by the Communist workers is a pressing necessity of the struggle.

Last updated on: 31.12.2012