Editorial Notes

United Front Prospects

(January 1932)

Written: January 1932.
Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 3 (Whole No. 99), 16 January 1932, p. 4.
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The most noticeable single trend to be observed in the ranks of the more or less radical workers is the sentiment for unity of action. This sentiment permeates all the organizations to a considerable extent, and it corresponds to the needs of the day. As a consequence of this there is a great deal of unity talk to be heard. Some of it is a sincere expression of the workers’ feelings and moods, some of it a bait to catch their attention. The effect of all the talk so far, has been negligible. The labor movement, including its radical sections, has not been divided and disrupted without profound causes. Talk alone will never bring about the desired unity in struggle. It may, and to a certain extent does, exert a retarding influence on the process. Every hypocritical argument, every dishonest maneuver in the name of unity works against its actual realization.

On the other hand, the increasing pressure upon the workers strengthens their impulses for a common front of struggle, and raises the issue ever more insistently. Concrete manifestations here and there of solidarity in action are to be seen. And these are the best gauge by which to judge the prospects for the formation of the united front of militant labor. From this standpoint, last week’s mass meeting for the defense of the indicted marine workers has an exceptional interest. No single event in recent years has done so much to raise the hopes of the radical workers that a way can be found, despite all the differences between the various organizations and .groups, for the radical workers to get together for a united fight against the class enemy.

This mass meeting, like the defense committee which sponsored it, was an experiment in co-operation on a single issue of the class struggle – the defense of persecuted workers. No one can deny that it made a good showing. The hall was packed to the doors and the sentiment for unity resounded in the applause which greeted speaker after speaker who dwelt on this theme. Militant unionists communists, anarchists, syndicalists and socialists were represented on the platform as well as in the audience. The chief feature of the whole affair, and the one that determined its enthusiastic spirit, was the formal appearance of a united fight. There is every reason for the partisans of the united front – among whom we belong, to regard the demonstration as a significant step forward. It is no less necessary, however, to see the short-comings and the weak sides of this first experiment. There were not a few members of the official Communist Party in the audience, but it was not represented on the platform. Despite invitations of the defense committee, the party and the I.L.D. withheld participation in this public demonstration of support for workers under prosecution. There are people who put this fact down to the credit side of the meeting. They want a united front – without the Communist Party, But that is absurd as well as reactionary. The workers supporting the official Communist Party constitute the strongest and most dynamic force in the radical labor movement. The progress towards a genuine united front, with power behind it, has to be measured first of all by the pressure developing within, the party ranks in favor of such a policy.

The mass meeting for the marine workers in prison helped to consolidate the sentiment for the united front in the ranks of all the organizations which took part in it. In addition to that it had a value, as an object lesson, in stimulating these sentiments in the rank and file of the official party. This was probably its greatest significance.

Last updated on: 23.3.2013