Editorial Notes

Where Did They Learn?

(January 1932)

Written: January 1932.
Source: The Militant, Vol. 5 No. 1 (Whole No. 97), 2 January 1932, p. 4.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
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Honor to carpenters’ union Local 2090 of New York. This is the first union to respond to the appeal of the Marine Workers Defense Committee and to vote a donation for the expenses of its work. This action took place at its meet ing last Wednesday when a representative of the Defense Committee spoke before it on the case.

This act of solidarity was not performed without an internal struggle. Of course nobody flatly opposed the idea of helping union men to defend themselves in the capitalist court. Nobody ever does. The opposition to the contribution expressed itself in the form of proposals to delay, to “investigate”, to find out more about the facts, and similar fraudulent devices and subterfuges. And whom do you think were the exponents of these worthless and dishonorable maneuvers to cheat the imprisoned workers of the aid that is their due? As the news report in another column in this issue tell, it was the members of the Trade Union Unity League, the revolutionary trade unionists if you please, who spoke for this counterfeit caution. The reactionary elements in the union voted with them. An incongruous line-up, indeed.

Militants in the labor movement who have served their time on various occasions in the fight to gain trade union support for persecuted workers have grown familiar long ago with the technic of obstruction to this work. Never, or in any case hardly ever, do you encounter a straight out fight against the prisoners in question. The impulses of the workers are always on the side of their persecuted brothers; their tendency is to respond generously and unquestionably to their appeal. The reactionaries know that. That’s why they resort to flank movements, tricks, traps, maneuvers to put off and wear out the question. The favorite maneuver of all, when they are taken unawares, is to postpone action and “investigate”. They are never opposed to helping the men iu prison. God forbid! They only want to know more about the case. If it comes to trial and results in a conviction, before they get the necessary information – all the better.

This, as has been said, is, the well known strategy of the reactionary bureaucrats. But here we have “the vanguard of the proletariat” resorting to this hypocritical shrewdness. Is it not time for the trade union militants who draw their inspiration from the Communist Party to stop discrediting themselves in this manner? You cannot violate all the ethics of labor solidarity and then expect to be taken seriously as a revolutionist. You cannot fight reaction with methods and practices borrowed from the reactionaries.

Last updated on: 23.3.2013