James P. Cannon

S.W.P. Replies to Slander of New Republic

Ex-Liberal Organ Caught Lying in Issue of Bridges Ouster

(February 1938)

Published: Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 10, 5 March 1938, p. 2.
Source: PDF supplied by the Riazanov Library Project.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
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The following letter was sent to the New Republic last week by James P. Cannon, national secretary of the Socialist Workers Party:

To the Editor of the New Republic:

Your department of Washington Notes by T.R.B. in the New Republic of February 23, comments on the new attempt to deport Harry Bridges on the basis of affidavits by ex-members of the Communist Party purporting to connect Mr. Bridges with membership in that organization. Your correspondent adds: “The identity of these accusers has not been revealed, but it is understood they are former Stalinites who have turned Trotskyist.”

Like all other informed people who have watched the recent evolution of the New Republic, I fully understand the design behind this deliberate attempt to besmirch a political tendency by reference to anonymous “Trotskyists.” Since the New Republic gave its editorial blessing to the Moscow frame-up trials, it is only natural that you should extend the technique to the American scene. I am not naive enough to ask you to correct this statement in regard to the alleged “Trotskyists” who have allegedly become stool pigeons for the Department of Justice. I do challenge you to be more specific. Who are these “Trotskyists” to whom your correspondent refers? Give us the names!

Slander Retracted

Some weeks ago the Western Worker, California organ of the Communist Party, accused Harry Lundeberg, Secretary of the Sailors Union of the Pacific, of instigating the new deportation movement against Bridges. Mr. Lundeberg filed notice of a suit for libel. Thereupon the Western Worker promptly printed a front page retraction and apology. The frame-up and slander game around this issue continues.

The medium has changed from the official Stalinist press to the New Republic and the indictment has been switched from Lundeberg to nameless “Trotskyists”; otherwise the game remains the same. No doubt the Western Worker’s experience with Lundeberg has taught you caution in the use of names in connection with such foul accusations. But you will not be able to duck the issue by this contemptible device. You will still have to put up or shut up.

Beal Unmentioned

On the general question of stool-pigeonry it has been noticed that you have avoided all mention of the indecent campaign of the Communist Party to hustle Fred Beal back to North Carolina to serve a twenty-year prison term, imposed on him for his strike activity at Gastonia. The Non-Partisan Committee for the Defense of Fred Beal publicly stated that “active Communists, Art Shields and Willam F. Dunne, of the Communist Party’s International Labor Defense Organization, have brought pressure to bear on Professor Albert Sprague Coolidge of Harvard University and Miss Jessica Henderson of Boston, the two guarantors of Beal’s bail bond, urging them to withdraw their support of Beal, but have failed in that. Various members of the Non-Partisan Committee for the defense of Fred Beal have received messages seeking to intimidate them into abandoning the defense.”

This is real stool-pigeonry without precedent in the entire history of the American labor movement. This is real news and the stool pigeons are named by a body of well-known and responsible people. Why does the New Republic keep maliciously silent about the Beal case and shield the despicable stool pigeons of the Communist Party who would deprive him of all defense while it manufactures an accusation against anonymous “Trotskyists” in the case of Bridges? The answer is clear to all who knew what is going on: the ex-liberal New Republic has merely become an unofficial organ of the frame-up and stool-pigeon gang identified all over the world as Stalinists.

Feb. 22, 1938

James P. Cannon,
National Secretary Socialist Workers Party

Last updated on 2 August 2015