Editorial Notes

The Membership Campaign

(November 1931)

Written: November 1931.
Source: The Militant, Vol. IV No. 33 (Whole No. 92), 28 November 1931, p. 4.
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.

Twelve new members have been enrolled in the New York branch of the Communist League since the national conference. In this can be seen the first tangible result of the emphasis placed by the conference on the organizational side of our work. It is a gratifying manifestation, and it shows that our modest program for the enlistment of fifty new members by the first of the year has excellent prospects to be crowned with success. Every Oppositionist will set his heart on the attainment of this goal.

The American section of the International Opposition has conducted three years of solid propaganda work. By this an unshakeable foundation of principle has been laid under the organization, and a fairly wide circle of sympathizers have been gained for the Marxist program. It is time now to begin a deliberate and systematic campaign to enroll at least a part of these sympathizers into the ranks of the Communist League This is the next step. It stands first on the order of the day.

The discussion now taking place in the Spanish section of the Opposition on the character of the Left faction has an interest for us. The circumstances and the relation of forces are not the same here as there. In Spain the situation, as we see it, is such that the Left wing has exceptionally favorable opportunities to grow and expand as an independent force in the class struggle. For that, reason all our sympathies are with the tendency for the organization of a “broad” faction, enrolling the revolutionary workers of Spain directly into its ranks without routing them through the needless detour of the Stalinist official party.

Our own experience over a period of three years, on a smaller and more limited scale, argues against ultra-conservatism on the question of recruitment. In the formative period of our movement, it is true, we made a somewhat strict and narrow selection of forces. And necessarily so. Without a firm kernel to begin with, one already trained in the Communist party principle, it would have been impossible to maintain a consistent line and work out a uniform policy for the conduct of the struggle. But, proceeding from that, we have already had a fruitful experience in the enrollment of revolutionary workers without previous party experience. In the New York branch, especially, it can be said that a number of the best workers and defenders of our cause belong to this category. Lack of party experience undoubtedly has its shortcomings, and some very glaring ones. On the other hand it has compensating advantages. The worker who comes directly to the Opposition, skipping over the official party, has fewer distorted and perverted teachings to unlearn.

The strength of the Marxist Opposition lies first of all in the system of ideas which lie at its foundation. This has been said many times and cannot be repeated too often. From this it follows that the Communist League can by no means open its doors to anyone and everyone. Those with ideas directly prejudicial to Communism, or in serious conflict with the League on settled basic questions, cannot be regarded as proper candidates for membership. The admission of such people would only confuse the issues and compromise the principle struggle. The Left Opposition cannot be a debating ground of diverse tendencies. We do not speak for a “broad” faction in this sense.

The acceptance of unschooled but conscientious workers, who want to become Communists, does not present the dangers mentioned above. The League, for such workers, can and will become a school serving a double purpose wherein they will acquire their education in the elementary questions of Marxism at the same time they assimilate the standpoint of the Opposition on the more complicated problems which have divided the Comintern since Lenin departed from its leadership. The Opposition can teach them far better than the Stalinists can as has been concretely demonstrated already.

It is to be hoped that all the branches of the Communist League will see the question as the National Committee sees it and begin an earnest campaign for new members among the sympathizing workers. Every honest worker who has given practical indications of his friendship for our cause should be invited to join the organization. The accession of fifty new members by the first of the year will provide us with the necessary forces for an expanded program of activity. The gratifying results of the recruiting campaign in New York point the way and give the hope for success on a national scale.

Last updated on: 11.2.2013