A. Lozovsky

A Muddler on an American Scale

(October 1928)

From The Militant, Vol. 2 No. 2, 15 January 1929, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

(These remarks on American trade union questions by the General Secretary of the Red International of Labor Unions are reprinted from the Official Organ of R.I.L.U. printed in English for October.—Editor.)

[...] Things, however, are different in the United States. Here the Central Committee instigated an opposition against the Fourth R.I.L.U. Congress decisions on the American question. Even previous to the Congress there was much dissatisfaction in the Central Committee of the American Party with my sharp criticism of the erroneous attitude of the Party leadership to the Trade Union Educational League, its passivity on the question of organising unorganised workers, its incorrect attitude to the Negro workers, its incorrect attitude to the Negro workers, and the way it regarded the reactionary American Federation of Labour. This dissatisfaction was expressed in the protest of the American Communist Party C.C. against the R.I.L.U. appeal to the T.U.E.L. Conference, held in December, 1927, because in this appeal the necessity of organising the unorganised in the trade unions was stressed. This was further expressed in several articles, among which comrade Pepper’s articles occupy a special place.

In The Communist comrade Pepper published an article to prove that American capitalism is extremely strong, that the American working class is very poorly organised, that the Party is weak, and that there are many difficulties in general in America. This is what he said also at the Congress. Comrade Pepper sees nothing but the power of American capitalism, and discovering America anew, although this discovery was made long ago, completely passed over those vital problems raised in my articles on the eve of the Fourth R.I.L.U. Congress in the order of self-criticism. To befuddle the question still more, comrade Pepper launched the “theory” of the possible growth of the American Federation of Labour. Why did he do this? This was done in order to divert the attention of the Party from the immediate problem that faces us today, of organising the unorganised, to the future problems that will rise if the American Federation of Labour begins to grow again. All this teacup guessing had only one political meaning – instead of concentrating attention on the most urgent task to dispel the attention of the Party. I do no intend now to take up in detail Pepper’s “theory” as outlined in his nine points, but will merely say that whereas comrade Pepper previously frequently lost his bearings in European affairs, today he is all at sea in American affairs. He could be truly named: the muddler of the two hemispheres.

Let us leave comrade Pepper and take up the C.C. of the American Party. The American Communist Party C.C. declared itself to be against the Fourth R.I.L.U. Congress resolution on the American question. Why did they come out against this resolution? This the C.C. is concealing. When the members of the C.C. arrived in Moscow and saw that to oppose the decisions of the Fourth R.I.L.U. Congress would not be very expedient, they declared in Moscow that they had long ago expressed support for the Fourth Congress decisions. It was certainly comic to find at several R.I.L.U. meetings that whereas the majority of the C.C. had expressed support for the decisions, comrades Foster, Bittleman, Cannon and Johnstone, C.C. members, declared that there was not a word on the subject to be found in the minutes of the C.C.

Last updated on 8.8.2012