Felix Morrow

ALP Takes Pro-War Line
Under Cover of Attack on Stalinism

Move Against Discredited Stalinists Is in Reality a Blow
at Genuine Anti-War Forces Who Rely on Labor’s Own Might

(10 October 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 77, 10 October 1939, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The most flagrantly pro-war stand taken by any important labor group in this country was adopted by the state executive committee of the American Labor Party last Thursday, October 4.

Putting teeth into the decision, the state body the next day decided to require every ALP candidate to “re-affirm and to subscribe to” the pro-war resolution, and made provision that “any party candidate who fails, refuses or neglects to act in accordance with this decision of the state executive committee will be denied the nomination and support of the Labor party.”

“Acid Test”

Alex Rose, state secretary, in announcing this decision stated that while it applied specifically only to candidates, the “resolution on the European conflict” would be made the“acid test” of membership in the Labor party.

Characterizing Anglo-French imperialism as “the cause of the Western democracies that are fighting for the preservation of those democratic values and liberties which we in this country treasure so dearly”, the war resolution says “the great majority of the American people have looked forward to the day when the remaining democracies on the European continent would find the strength to resist the brazen aggression of Hitlerism.”

Follow Roosevelt

In line with this pro-Ally conception of the war, the resolution endorses Roosevelt’s proposed legislation for repealing the embargo and supplying Anglo-French imperialism with munitions. Following Roosevelt, too, this pro-war move is hypocritically characterized as an effort “directed toward keeping America out of war.”

In committing the ALP to this brazenly pro-war stand, the ALP bureaucrats pursued the strategy of identifying as “Communist” all opposition to such a stand. They were immeasurably aided in this strategy by the universal indignation against Stalin’s cynical alliance with Hitler and the Communist party’s attempts to justify the Stalin-Hitler invasion of Poland. A city conference of ALP functionaries Wednesday night adopted the resolution after a series of speeches which made the issue one between Stalinists and non-Stalinists, by a vote of 605 to 94.

The New York capitalist press is giving effective aid to this strategy of the ALP leaders, praising their action and calling their resolution an “anti-red resolution.”

Many Affected

Much is being made of the fact that Michael J. Quill, head of the Transport Workers Union, must adhere to the resolution, if he is to run for re-election for the City Council. But the resolution applies also to the Norman Thomas Socialists, Frank Crosswaith and Harry W. Laidler, who are ALP candidates. The Socialist Party officially is recorded as opposing the war as on both sides an imperialist war. If Laidler and Crosswaith adhere to the resolution, they should be thrown out, of the Socialist Party, or that party is branded as capitulating to the war-mongers.

Likewise the Lovestoneites cannot straddle on this issue. Either they denounce the ALP resolution or their anti-war professions are exposed as utterly worthless.

Attempts to condone the ALP stand as “really” directed against the Stalinists are today hopelessly discredited in the labor movement, their forces dwindling. The best proof of this was the miserable showing they made at the ALP city conference, where their spokesman, Irving Potash of the furriers union, made his main argument on the fact that the ALP had never taken a position on international events before, and therefore should not do so now! Precisely because of the impotence of the Stalinists, the ALP bureaucrats skilfully utilized them as the peg on which to hang their pro-war stand. Without the Stalinists as scapegoats, it is doubtful if the ALP officials would have been as brazen in their stand at this stage of war preparations.

Third Camp

The ALP resolution is not directed primarily against the Stalinists. It is directed against the anti-war forces. It is directed against the tens of thousands of class-conscious workers in New York who are not taken in by the democratic-imperialist apologies for the war any more than they are taken in by the Stalin-Hitler apologies.

The ALP resolution deliberately lies when it pretends that there are only two camps in this war – the “democratic”and the “totalitarian.” There is a third camp – the anti-war workers in this and every other country who stand with neither of the warring camps, who oppose both, who declare that there is a third alternative: the fight against both warring camps, the fight for a workers’ world.

Last updated on 15 February 2018