Felix Morrow

They Alibi for Social Patriots; Insult Leninists

(21 November 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 89, 21 November 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

To all our concrete analysis of their course, the Stalinists have always answered: “The Trotskyists are fascist agents.” (Now, presumably, we are no longer that, but Anglo-French agents; our alliances change always, in the Stalinist picture, to the opposite of Stalin’s.) This ‘answer’ has served them as a substitute for specific answers on the issues we raise.

The Norman Thomas socialists have borrowed this leaf from the Stalinists. To all our concrete analysis of their course, the Thomasites answer: “Bolshevism- Trotskyism leads to Stalinism.” Having said that, they need not answer us (they hope). The Lovestoneites have evolved a similar formula for the same purpose: “Trotskyism is inverted Stalinism.”

In this, as in so much else, the Thomas-Lovestone groups find themselves in the same camp with the democratic war-mongers. The Louis Waldmans, James Oneals, etc., have always insisted that Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky are of one flesh. Thomas and Lovestone lend fuel to that fire for the same reason that they support the pro-war resolution of the American Labor Party. They simply cannot conceive of standing on their own feet. Where two camps exist, they can conceive only of the tactic of joining one or another. The fact that the two camps of any size in the labor movement are both pro-war camps – the Hitler-Stalin war camp and the “democratic” war camp of Hillman, Lewis, Green et al. – does not deter them from their usual strategy of joining one of the camps.

To build the third camp, which is today small in its actual existence, but the only one which holds out a real future for humanity – the camp of revolutionary struggle against war – this is beyond the mental and moral grasp of the Thomas-Lovestone groups.

In a series of articles in this paper, I attempted to engage these groups in a serious discussion of the concrete meaning of the struggle against war. A number of articles I devoted to the issues raised by the pro-war resolution adopted by the American Labor Party, and in other articles dealt with the pro-war positions adopted by the CIO and AFL conventions, the danger of non-Stalinists who call themselves revolutionists, yet identify themselves with democratic-imperialist attitudes toward the Soviet Union, etc. etc.; and on each concrete question I dealt conscientiously, if sharply, with the false positions which, I believed and sought to demonstrate, had been taken on all these questions by the Thomas-Lovestone groups.

Their “Answer” Avoids the Issue

The only replies made by them to our detailed analysis has been:

1. The Call, Nov. 18, carried a half-column article whose whole point is contained in its title: Trotskyism, a Chip from the Stalinist Block. It refers to “the vindictive misrepresentation” in our press about the socialists and Lovestoneites, which “is rapidly approaching that of the Daily Worker in its old Third Period days.” In the one sentence on the ALP question in the article ,it says that we hid “the fact that this was not made a matter of discipline by the ALP and socialists indorsed by the ALP publicly recorded their disagreement with this position ...”

The fact is, that when The Call finally broke its embarrassed silence on the Oct. 4 ALP resolution several weeks later, in its Oct. 28 issue, I wrote an additional article dealing with that “publicly recorded” explanation.

I pointed out that The Call did not print the resolution, and with good reason, for its description of the resolution continued to be utterly dishonest.

“Of the fact that the fundamental motivation of the resolution is pro-Ally, The Call says not a word. Of the fact, that the resolution denounces Stalin from a democratic-imperialist standpoint and from no other standpoint, The Call breathes not a hint. Of the fact that the Socialist party member, Frank Crosswaith, ALP candidate, ‘expressed unqualified approval of the resolution as a whole,’ including the sections supporting Roosevelt’s proposal to lift the embargo, The Call says not a word.”

In previous articles I had analyzed in considerable detail the contention of the SP that it was correct to vote for the anti-Stalinist section of the resolution, and had demonstrated that that section was what its authors intended it to be: a war-mongering declaration for the democratic-imperialists.

The Call “answers,” as I said, by the methods employed by the Stalinists to avoid answering us.

Will Herberg Plods to the Rescue

2. The Lovestoneite Workers Age indirectly seeks to answer us in an article (Nov. 4), The ALP and the War Issue. Its author is an extremely ingenious fellow, Will Herberg. He is the author of the cleverest defense ever made of the Moscow trials – he drew an analogy between the Moscow trials and the trials of the latter days of the French Revolution, triumphantly asked who remembers today whether the French trials were true in detail, and concluded with the pregnant assertion that Stalin represented the correct course of History and that was enough for him. It is, therefore, the merest child’s play for Herberg to get around the ALP resolution.

The main part of his article consists of a friendly; in fact comradely, discussion with the ALP warmongers in which he points out to them that their position in support of the war is incorrect. Then, while the reader is still reading – or so he thinks – all this is whisked away, and the reader, rubbing his eyes, reads:

“It is manifestly not on the war question that the Stalinites are being ‘purged,’ even though they themselves and the Trotskyites both pretend it is; it is on the issue that the Stalinites are ‘blind servants of Russian international (foreign) policy,’ as the ALP resolution very properly puts it, and that they function as forces of disruption wherever they are found.”

The consummate dishonesty of the Herberg sleight-of-hand will only be apparent to those who read the ALP resolution. The resolution, having declared its fundamental orientation as pro-Ally, then denounced the Stalinists for “their callous disregard” of the fate of the democracies. That was the crime of the Stalinists for the democratic war-mongers, who, like. Leon Blum, had lived at peace with the Stalinists when they were in the democratic war-camp.

Apart from these two sentences, quoted above, the Thomas-Lovestone groups have maintained a dignified silence. For that’s all they have with which to cover up their nakedness.

Last updated on 19 April 2018