J.P. Cannon

Puzzled Reader Seeks Clarification

(August 1939)

Published: Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 57, 8 August 1939, 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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Dear Comrade Editor:

The July 28 Appeal shows some big improvements in the make-up of the front page. The complete short pieces and the boxes are a big help. Still, I think four continued stories are too many. We should aim at two. It would have been fine if the LaGuardia-Cop story and the Iowa frame-up story had been complete or put on other pages and replaced on page one by other complete short stories.

Diagramless Puzzle

The first story in the Workers Forum on page three served me as a good substitute for the diagramless cross-word puzzle which used to occupy my idle time. I am convinced it refers to Local B-1010 of the Electrical Workers but I’m damned if I have been able to locate it in any city, county, state, or country. It is a clueless mystery.

Also the “continuous string of sell-outs”. I suppose it is up to the reader to furnish his own proofs. Also to determine for himself whether it means bribery by cash payment, concession to the bosses in return for indirect favors or promises, or simply cowardice, fear of strikes or bad judgment. It is only a miserable pedant who wants precision in these little matters. And if we demand precision from our correspondent it might teach him a little prudence and responsibility in his speeches in the union and thus cramp his free-flowing style.

Mystery Deepens

Also if Katz and Sullivan can’t be trusted and have been “too long associated with Beedie and done the dirty work for him”, it puts it up to the reader to prove why they were both suspended from office by Beedie and why “the fight between Katz and Sullivan on the one hand and Beedie on the other was smouldering for almost a year.”

If it wasn’t enough to throw the reader off the track – as every well-constructed mystery story should do – your correspondent adds: “Katz and Sullivan, very popular with the rank and file, represented the healthy sentiment of the rank and file for trade union democracy.” After that I am completely convinced that “members have to doubt the sincerity of Katz and Sullivan” – but I don’t know why. Is it going to be cleared up in the next chapter?


J.P. Cannon

Last updated on 10 March 2016