Editorial Notes

The “Negotiators” Smoked Out

(May 1932)

Written: May 1932.
Source: The Militant, Vol. 5 No. 21 (Whole No. 117), 21 May 1932, p. 4.
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The letters of The Militant exposing the “unity” horse-trade which the Stalinists and the Lovestoneites were negotiating behind the back of the Party seem to have had a wholesome effect all the way around. The information put the proletarian elements in the Party on guard and has stimulated anew their interest in a side of the unity question which the bureaucrats left out of account in their pending “deal” – unity of the worker-Communists with the Left Opposition. In addition to that, the publication of the letters served to convince the diplomats of the Lovestone group at least that the secret game is up that the matter cannot be “arranged” behind the scenes. The Stalinists are no doubt also overcome with somewhat the same conviction, but they have been too busy answering questions lately to find time to issue any statements.

In the latest issue of the Workers’ Age, Gitlow announces the conversion of his group to the idea of letting the Party members, whose interests were being bargained off over the conference table, have a little information about it. “The Communist Party (Majority Group) is of the opinion – says Gitlow – that there is nothing to gain and a great deal to lose by keeping the unity negotiations behind a veil of secrecy.” Gitlow is right, even if the discovery is several months late and was made only after “the veil of secrecy” had already been torn aside.

In his contribution to the public discussion of the matter which was no longer a secret, Gitlow supplied some additional and important information. For one thing he verifies, what The Militant’s correspondent merely inferred, that Stachel is the leading spirit in the “unity” maneuver. That is quite in harmony with the proceedings as a whole. Stachel was the right hand man of Lovestone in all his perfidious work within the Party. In the eyes of the worker-Communists he was no less a symbol of “petty bourgeois politiciandom” than Lovestone himself. Stachel’s initiative in the matter characterizes the whole affair as another of those rotten petty bourgeois tricks, devoid of principle and of regard for the interests of the movement. By the aid of such methods, and through the instrumentality of such people, a business transaction between adventurers can be ratified; but a unification of the Communist proletariat – never.

Gitlow’s revelations go further than “comrade Stachel”. (Only a few days ago the same Stachel wrote in the Daily Worker that the Lovestones were “foreign elements to the Party of the proletariat.” But that only signified a hitch in the negotiations.) Stachel, according to Gitlow, said the Communist International was disposed to act favorably on a unity proposition. And he also said that the present Party leaders have no principle objections to another deal with the Right wing “renegades”. Gitlow writes:

“He (Stachel) let it be known that the letter of January 15th was received by the Communist International without any comment from the members of the Political Committee, who had forwarded it to Moscow.”

Well, they will have to make plenty of “comment” before the affair is ended. And – what is far more important – the Party members will also have something to say. The devastating splits, which the Stalinists and the Right wing together have imposed upon the Communist movement, coincided with the strangulation of Party democracy and the suppression of rank and file opinion. The Party members haven’t spoken yet, but their voices will ring out all the louder for the long enforced silence. The evil consequences of the splits accumulate, and with them grows the aspiration of the workers for unity. This aspiration will not be thwarted by the machinations of the splitters in the name of unity while the real issue at the bottom of the disruption – the departure from the Lenin path and the expulsion of the Left Opposition – is left out of consideration. The rank and file inquiry into the negotiations between Lovestone and Stachel may well be the starting point for the necessary and long-delayed discussion of the basic causes of the splits and the principled way to unity.

The Left Opposition will present its unity proposals from this point of view. We are not in the least interested in any kind of secret conferences held in the dark of the moon. We have no use for “propositions” whispered out of the corner of the mouth by some furtive Stachel or other. We have no “capitulators” to offer and no “concessions” to demand. We want to be united with the Party, t6 wage the revolutionary struggle in common with it, to observe a common discipline. At the same time we insist on the right to adhere to the foundation principles of the Comintern and to advocate them in the normal way of Party democracy. Nothing more, nothing less Such proposals need no “veil of secrecy”. They can and must be discussed openly, as every genuine and principled consideration – either of unity or of split – ought to be. For it is only when the questions are fairly put and under stood by the members, when they consciously act upon them, that the unity of the Party is firmly grounded, or the necessity of split clearly determined. The Stalinist and Right wing bureaucrats have dragged the Party into the ditch by unprincipled maneuvers and intrigues They will not get it out by these means.

Last updated on: 17.6.2013