George Novack

Trial an Alarm Signal to Labor

Secretary of Civil Rights Defense Com. Warns of Danger

Rights of Labor Are Under Attack Now, Says Novack

(4 November 1941)

Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 45, 8 November 1941, p. 1.
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2019 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: George Novack Internet Archive 2019. This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

NEW YORK, Nov. 4. – George Novack, Secretary of the Civil Rights Defense Committee, today issued the follow- lowing statement on the opening proceedings in the trial of the 28 Socialist Workers Party leaders and CIO unionists now going on in Minneapolis.

“Federal Prosecutor Anderson’s opening statement to the jury is the most sweeping attack upon civil liberties and labor’s rights in American legal history. The federal prosecutor contends that, regardless of overt acts, the mere expression of their opinions is sufficient to establish the guilt of the defendants. This is a clear violation of the constitutional guarantees in the Bill of Rights.

What Prosecution Means by “Conspiracy”

“As evidence of ‘seditious conspiracy,’ the Prosecutor cited activities which have been engaged in for decades not only by the Socialist Workers Party but by many labor and progressive organizations. According to the Prosecutor, it is seditious to carry on working class political activities, to publish such Marxist classics as the Communist Manifesto and Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, to criticize any abuse or discrimination in the armed forces, to call the government of the U.S. imperialistic or capitalistic, and to maintain that the workers and farmers who form the majority of the population should govern the country.

“Even the demand for higher wages is branded a crime. ‘It is going to be a part of our case,’ declared Anderson, ‘... to show ... that the Socialist Workers Party was to guide and direct the activities of the union ... For Instance, if it was a question of labor pay per hour, ask for an increase; it that was received, then don’t stop there ... Always agitate and demand to cause a condition of unrest in order that there might be a breach between the employing class and the employee.’

Freedom of Speech Under Attack

“There is hardly a progressive idea or a labor activity which could not be proscribed if the government obtains convictions in this case. Here in the United States, and not only in Japan, the government is forbidding people to have ‘dangerous thoughts.’ Here in the U.S., as well as in fascist countries, trade union activities are being branded criminal offenses. Here, as under totalitarian regimes, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are in danger of extinction.

“The prosecutor’s blunt assertions are an alarm signal to every American who values our hard-won liberties and does not want to see them taken away under pretext of war-time emergency. The trial now going on in the federal Courtroom at Minneapolis is today the frontline sector in the struggle for civil liberties and labor’s rights in the United States.”

Novack also cited the need for funds to carry on the legal and relief work of the Civil Rights Defense Committee which is aiding the 28 defendants, and urged that all funds be sent to its office, 160 Fifty Ave., New York City.


Last updated on: 25 March 2019