Editorial Notes

A Progressive Tendency

(January 1932)

Written: January 1932.
Source: The Militant, Vol. 5 No. 5 (Whole No. 101), 30 January 1932, p. 4.
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The draft of a program published by the Opposition group of the Proletarian Party gives further confirmation of the progressive tendency represented by the new group. The document leaves a number of the most decisive questions unanswered, but In spite of this limitation – which is easily understandable in a group that has only recently taken shape – the programmatic statement of the Opposition gives a fairly clear impression of the nature of the revolt against Proletarian Party leaders who lived too long. in peace. The faction fight – or, more correctly, the split – in the Keracher organization is a fight of revolutionary workers against a sterile and conservative clique.

The sections of the program dealing with unemployment and the trade union question show the strong sides of the opposition as compared with the Keracher official faction. On both these points, so vitally connected with the daily work in the class struggle, the opposition group shows the impulse to break out of the sectarian passivity, garnished with high-sounding pseudo-Marxist talk, which has characterized the Proletarian Party from the beginning. The progressive and revolutionary tendency of the opposition in this regard is undubitable.

It must be noted however that this characterization applies mainly to its program on these points as compared to the official policy and practice. The formulations of the opposition are by no means adequate, and they are lacking somewhat in theoretical motivation. From this the danger can arise of an uncritical plunge into “mass work” for its own sake and the ending of the whole movement in a swamp. If this is defended as a necessary reaction to the “pure theory” of the Keracher group, it must be remembered that it was not the preoccupation of the Proletarian Party with theoretical questions, but the shallowness and falsity of its theories, that determined its isolation and its futility.

The paramount problem of the American labor movement – the prerequisite for its development on the revolutionary path in the next period – is the consolidation of a firm cadre of political vanguard fighters, that is, of revolutionary Marxists. In this task the clarification of theory takes first place. The specific weight of even a small group of this character will be far greater, and its influence on events in a rising wave of class struggles incomparable more decisive than a hundred amorphous “mass movements” which leave aside the fundamental problems for future consideration.

The formation of the cadres of the vanguard need not be contrasted to the mass movements, but their formation is the condition for the revolutionary effectiveness of the latter. If the opposition group of the Proletarian Party sees the thing this way its revolt against the dead routine of Keracherism can become the starting point for an important contribution to the Communist movement. We hope for a fruitful collaboration with them on this line. The best way to begin this collaboration is to conduct a frank discussion of all the important questions.

Last updated on: 23.3.2013