How can it be done?
Once you agree that this State is your enemy the answer to the question is not difficult. Once you have freed yourself from the democracy illusion your road is clear.
Watch the State. Try to understand every one of its maneuvers. The State is often used by the capitalists not only as a big stick but also as poison gas or as an anesthetic, as is the case under the New Deal. Quite often you are told you are given privileges at the same time that your pockets are being picked. Analyze the functions of the State. Try to understand the forces behind its actions. And remember that if it ever yields anything to the workers it does so under pressure.
This leads us to the road along which the working class can arrive at the destruction of the capitalist State: revolutionary struggle.
The working class is placed in this capitalist society in a position where to live it must fight. This fight, to be effective, must be aimed not only at the capitalists but also at the State. And once the fight is effective enough it must inevitably lead to the smashing up of the State. This is the logic of the class division of today. And this indicates the program of action for the working class for today and tomorrow and day after tomorrow until the final reckoning with the capitalist system has arrived.
The fight begins in factory, mine, and mill. It is first of all a fight for higher wages, for shorter labor hours, for better working conditions. It is a fight for unemployment insurance, for social insurance generally, by which is understood that the State pays a minimum wage to those out of work, to the sick, the injured, and the aged. Capitalists love to indulge in humanitarian phrases. History has proved, however, that they never grant anything to the working class unless forced to do so by the fight of the workers. This is why the very existence of the working class is under the sign, Fight.
Every fight, however, demands its own organization. The working class has long created agencies for the economic struggles: the labor unions and the unemployed councils, the former to fight for better conditions for those employed, the latter to fight for those who are unemployed. We call these struggles economic because their main purpose is to secure for the workers a larger share of the products created by their own labor. They challenge the economic power of the ruling class.
Not much acumen is needed to realize that economic struggles can not remain purely economic. When you strike, when you form a picket line, the State in the shape of policemen and armed thugs rushes to the aid of the employers. When you demonstrate for social insurance you are again confronted with the armed force of the State which is busy “dispersing the crowd”. We are living now under the blue eagle. The National Industrial Recovery Act promised the workers pie in the sky. But under this new dispensation one injunction after the other is issued against the strikers. The very aim of the N.R.A. is to crush the resistance of the workers. It is therefore inevitable that whenever the workers are bent on actually defending their economic demands they are forced to fight the State.
We Communists hold that every class struggle is a political struggle. When you demand social insurance you address yourself both to the capitalists and to the State. When you demonstrate for home relief you present your demands to the city or State government which is a political body. When you fight for the eight-hour work day or the abolition of child labor by law you are defending an economic demand by directing your struggle against the State. When you fight for higher wages to be gotten from the owners of a plant or a mill you always confront the agencies of the State not only as policemen but also as injunction judges, as “mediators”, “arbitrators”, and other kinds of official “peacemakers” who have the interests of the employers at heart. This is why we say that every class struggle is a political struggle.
And it is here that we Communists come into the sharpest clash with the leaders of the American Federation of Labor and similar organizations, including the Socialist unions, all of which we term “reformist”. It is a foundation stone of the policy of such labor leaders to cooperate with the State. These leaders claim to defend the interests of the workers but they also claim that they have no quarrel with the system. The most they admit is that they have “labor disputes” with some “unfair” employers. The State to them is always fair. The majority of capitalists, they believe, is also fair. The minority of recalcitrant employers, they say, must be either cajoled or persuaded or else frightened by public opinion to fall in line. Once this is accomplished, they contend, nothing remains for the workers but to “cooperate” with their employers and the government for the common benefit of all.
Again we have before us a rosy picture. And again we must remain realists. We must see those leaders in action. We must unmask them before the workers.
At first, however, we call your attention to the very outlook of those leaders, to what is called in scientific language their ideology. They proceed from the conception of unity of interests between employer and employee. By this alone they deceive the workers. There is no more unity between the employer and employee than there is between the robber and the robbed. There is a clash of interests. There is an eternal antagonism. There can be no peace and no unity between the exploiter and his victims. The capitalist strives to secure for himself as much of the workers’ product as he can get by force or fraud or both; the workers, resisting exploitation, strive to get as big a share of their own product as they can force the boss to yield. That is fundamental. That is the law of capitalist society. It is the division of classes. It is the never ending class conflict as long as capitalism lasts. This conflict may not always break out in violent actions, like demonstrations and strikes, but it always smolders underneath. Capitalist society is a battle ground and the workers are an army on the march against the enemy.
He who says then that there is unity of interests between employers and employees is committing treason to the working class.
Needless to say, the State is not “neutral”. At best the State only pretends to be a friend of the workers. Under the N.R.A. you are told you have equal rights with your employers and that the State is in partnership with both. What this guarantee is worth could be seen by the fact that when 60,000 miners in the bituminous coal fields went on strike in defense of their fundamental rights, the government in league with the leaders of the A. F. of L. did their damnedest to crush the strike. The truth of this statement is revealed in the shooting and killing of pickets in Philadelphia, in the calling out of militia with artillery and machine guns against the striking miners in New Mexico and Utah, in the injunctions against peaceful picketing of bakery workers, furniture workers, and shoe workers in New York City. When a labor leader of the reformist type tries to persuade the workers that the State is equally fair to employer and employee, he is blinding the workers and undermining their resistance.
This is exactly what those “labor leaders” have been doing for many years. They have been preventing the workers from realizing their own strength. They have been putting every obstacle in the way of their fighting to secure better living. They have practically discarded the strike — that instrument of power by which the workers can force concessions from their exploiters. They call the strike an “expensive” and “barbaric” method of struggle. They are so much concerned about the well being of the employers that they are afraid of some damage to their profits as a result of a successful strike. They have discouraged many a strike which broke out spontaneously because the workers could stand their conditions no longer. Wherever these leaders call a strike because they are forced to do so by the militant spirit of the rank and file, that strike is a sham, a subterfuge, a maneuver to avoid a real struggle. Instead of broadening the strike, calling out neighboring industrial establishments and spreading the struggle over a wide area, instead of firing the strikers with confidence, with enthusiasm, with a consciousness of their strength, the leaders smother the movement by underhand machinations with the bosses. The leaders are happy when they secure something like an arbitration to settle the dispute.
And what is that board of arbitration which is to decide over the destinies of the workers? As often as not it is composed of an equal number of representatives from the workers and the employer. Those who represent the employer know very well how to defend his capitalist interests. The reformist leaders who represent the workers do not defend their interests because they do not believe there is a fundamental clash between capitalism and the working class. They are submissive. They are servile. The two parties to arbitrate agree on an “impartial” chairman who is to decide between them. The impartial chairman is either a lawyer or a capitalist politician. Under the N.R.A. the “arbitrator” is often a blue eagle State agent, which is often worse than an “impartial” chairman. The fate of the workers is left in the hands of people who belong to the enemy class.
Nor is this all. The reformist leaders are guilty of having broken innumerable strikes. They are guilty of having imported strike breakers to break the resistance of what they choose to call “outlaw strikes”, which in reality were strikes in defiance of the cringing policies of the reformists. They are guilty of having called the sheriffs and the militia to force dissatisfied strikers into submission, which means to force them to work for a hunger wage. They are guilty of trying to crush every working class protest arising against their policies within their own organizations.
Nor is that all. Under the N.R.A. the reformist leaders have been incorporated into the administration as members of the innumerable advisory boards. They work hand in glove with the greatest labor baiters, open shop bosses, and such individuals as the former chief of police of New York City, the notorious forger of anti-Soviet documents and killer of working class demonstrators, Grover Whalen. They rush to every place where the workers, dissatisfied with their starvation wages, demand a living wage. Like real State agents they threaten and use force; like betrayers from within; they deceive and split the workers’ ranks.
You will not be surprised if we call these reformists traitors to the working class. They are that. And there is no fundamental difference in this respect between reformists belonging to the Republican or Democratic parties and the reformists belonging to the Socialist Party. William Green or John Lewis, Matthew Woll or David Dubinsky, Edward McGrady (now raised to the post of Assistant Secretary of Labor for his good services to the bosses) or Sidney Hillman — no matter how different their coloring may be, they are all birds of a feather.
They claim to be pure and simple unionists and their slogan is “No politics in the labor movement.” What a lie! They themselves are steeped in politics. They are mixed up with the State. They are part and parcel of the machinery of the State. They are not free of politics; they are only engaged in rotten politics, in capitalistic politics, in politics that tend to deliver the workers bound hand and foot to their masters.
But, you may ask, Why labor unions? Isn’t the Communist Party a political party? If so, what has it to do with labor unions?
We Communists are in favor of labor unions because every kind of struggle requires its own organization. Moreover, we Communists are the only political party that takes the labor unions seriously. To us the struggle for higher wages, shorter work hours, better conditions, unemployment insurance, is the fundamental struggle of the working class. We say this struggle has to be conducted with unity and strength. We say the workers who are unorganized must organize into strong industrial unions based on shop committees and mine committees elected by the workers themselves and must have a leadership rooted in the masses. These unions must educate the workers to understand their class interests. They must teach them the lessons of unity and concerted action and must lead them into strikes and other class battles against the bosses. We say that the workers organized in the reformist unions must form a revolutionary opposition which will head the struggles of the workers against the will of the leaders. The more the workers fight, the more their strength grows. The stronger they become, the more successful is their fight.
We Communists give our full and unqualified cooperation to the revolutionary unions that are affiliated with the Trade Union Unity League, because they are the only real unions in this country: they adhere to the principle of industrial unionism, which means uniting all the workers of the same industry in one union, as against the principle of narrow craft unionism pursued by the reformist unions; they adhere to the principle of the class struggle as against the principle of class peace pursued by the reformist union leaderships; and they are rank-and-file unions where the workers themselves manage and lead in close co-operation with committees freely elected from their midst. At the same time we Communists give our support and indorsement to the revolutionary opposition within the reformist unions. We try to lead the workers in every one of their economic struggles and we try to develop a mass struggle of all the workers, no matter what their party or organizational affiliation. If confronted with an injunction we say, “Smash the injunctions by mass violation.” If confronted by hired thugs attempting to break the picket line, we say, “Don’t yield, offer resistance. If the police are sent by our exploiters to crush our fight, stand solid, put up a mass front.” This may not be in accordance with the law — boss law — but it is in accordance with your sacred class interests.
We have mentioned social insurance. We want to say a few words more about it. There are about 17,000,000 unemployed at the present time. They must live. This vicious system has excluded them from productive work, but all the goods accumulated in this country are the fruit of their labor. They are entitled to all the wealth. They insist on their right to live. The working class cannot allow its members to perish because the exploiters have created a system that cannot work any more. The capitalists are determined to grant no social insurance, which includes unemployment insurance. In 1932, Roosevelt in his campaign speeches promised unemployment insurance. He has long forgotten his pledge. It was never meant to be redeemed. The leaders of the A. F. of L., after opposing unemployment insurance as a “dole”, finally came out in favor of it — in words. In action, however, they try to break every struggle of the workers for social insurance. The Communists alone have led numerous fights for unemployment insurance in the form of demonstrations, hunger marches, delegations to the Home Relief Bureaus. The Communists were instrumental in organizing the Unemployed Councils, which, working hand in hand with the revolutionary unions, are fighting for unemployment insurance and immediate relief. It may be said with full assurance that whatever aid has been obtained by the unemployed is due to the militancy of the workers under Communist leadership.
While these struggles are fundamental, there are a number of other struggles which are no less important and which in their entirety form the class struggle of the workers against the capitalist system.
War is inseparable from the capitalist system. The Great War of 1914-18 was fought for the redivision of the world. In the fifteen years after the conclusion of the first imperialist war all the contradictions of capitalism are much sharper than they were prior to 1914. More rivalries among nations, more armaments, greater international tension, sharper conflicts, as the conflict between the U. S. A. and Great Britain (“the war of the dollar against the pound”). War appears to the capitalists as a way out of the crisis. War is a great feast for the robbers. It means huge war orders, an orgy of speculation, an accumulation of unheard-of fortunes which may look like the overcoming of the crisis, temporarily at least. War offers to the capitalists the prospect, or at least the hope, of victory over the other imperialist powers and in consequence gigantic indemnities, seizure of territories, extension of colonial possessions, and otherwise an increase of markets, spheres of influence and other gains. War, to be sure, means squandering the wealth and the man power of the nations; it means actual devastation of provinces and countries and death for great masses of the people; but these “costs of war” have never deterred the capitalists from plunging the countries into that bloody mess.
Witness the dismal failure of all the so-called international conferences to settle disputes among the imperialist nations. Not only have all the conferences of the last years ended in fiasco, but they have actually led to a sharpening of all contradictions that rend the capitalist world asunder.
There was the Lausanne Conference where the greatest European imperialist powers tried to settle the reparations problem. It seemed to be settled, but the settlement was shipwrecked on the rocks of America’s refusal to yield on the question of war debts. The Lausanne agreement has remained suspended in the air.
There was the question of Manchuria, invaded by Japan. The League of Nations made the gesture of trying to settle the dispute. It sent the Lytton Commission to study the problem. In reply Japan quit the League of Nations. War in the Far East has not stopped for over two years.
The Geneva Conference met for months and months. It was supposed to reach a disarmament agreement. The result is an increase in armaments throughout the entire imperialist world. There is only one class of industries that is prospering in the capitalist countries: war industries. Naval armaments are making tremendous progress. Swanson, the Secretary of the Navy, advanced the “second to none” program for the American navy. This program is being carried out with great dispatch. The Japanese imperialists and the imperialists of Great Britain have replied with a gigantic naval construction plan. There is a race of armaments between the French and Italian imperialists.
The World Economic Conference was a total failure. The result is a sharpening of all international rivalries “Economic nationalism,” promulgated by the leading imperialist nations, is a method of economic warfare; at the same time it is a method of preparing the economic system of the imperialist countries for the coming armed conflict. Never has the question of markets for the capitalist countries been as acute as it is at present. The question of markets is nothing but the question of redividing the globe among the imperialist nations. And that means war.
The forces that produce war are more powerful in 1933 than they were in 1913. The only country that stands for peace and that tried to promote a program of peace, disarmament and unhampered world economic intercourse in Geneva and London is the Soviet Union.
War against the Soviet Union is a fundamental policy of capitalism. Between 1917 and 1922, the U. S. A., England, France, and Japan fought the Soviet Republic with arms. They dispatched armies of intervention into the Soviet territory and they financed the counter-revolutionary generals that were trying to overthrow the new workers’ rule. When intervention and counter-revolution collapsed before the irresistible onslaught of the workers and peasants organized in the Red Army under the leadership of the Bolshevik (Communist) Party, and the foreign armies had to be withdrawn, there began the economic war against the Soviet Union. This war continues to the present day. But not this alone. There have been innumerable attempts at military intervention. In 1929, an army was actually sent into Eastern Siberia through the Manchurian war lord, but this attempt was frustrated by the quick and decisive action of the Red Army. Over and over again Soviet embassies and trade missions in the capitalist countries have been raided and Soviet representatives imprisoned. Over and over again officially sponsored campaigns were conducted in the capitalist countries against the Soviet Union. The Fish Committee is still fresh in the workers’ minds. It was a Congressional committee supposed to investigate Communism in the United States. It did not investigate Communism; it made no attempt to study Communism as a social phenomenon. Instead it made it its specific business to disseminate the most malicious propaganda against the Soviet Union. Nor was the Congress of the United States alone guilty of fabricating insidious lies against the Workers’ Republic. Cabinet members and politicians in high standing degraded themselves by spreading tales about Soviet “dumping.” The “forced labor” story was widely circulated and made the basis for discrimination against Soviet imports.
Whether openly hostile or pretending official “friendship”; whether recognizing the Soviet Union, as this was finally done also by the U. S. A., or stubbornly refusing recognition; whether concluding non-aggression pacts or severing commercial treaties or even severing diplomatic relations, the attitude of the imperialist countries towards the Soviet Union remains that of an enemy camp. There is not a secret confab of the imperialist powers in which conspiracies against the Workers’ Republic are not hatched. The recognition of the Soviet Union by the U. S. A. has not changed that.
We live in an atmosphere of imminent war. All national policies are now directed towards the preparation for war. What are these so-called conservation camps if not training grounds for the future army to be used in the war? What is this militarization of the schools and colleges if not preparation for war? What are these numerous “war games” on the water and in the air, on the land and in the sea if not preparations for war? What is this mobilization of the industries of the United States, with administrators ready in every section, with a machinery so timed as to make it possible to put the whole country on a war basis within a few hours? What are these repeated declarations by cabinet members that the navy was needed for the purpose of “expanding American commerce”? What is this modernization of the army, modernization of battleships, and the huge increase in the aerial forces of the United States, if not preparation for war?
Roosevelt’s government is a war government. And it is in order to screen these war preparations from the public view for a while that pacifist phrases are used. Roosevelt talking of world peace! Socialists applauding, trying to make the people believe that Roosevelt is an angel of peace. Reformist union leaders singing in unison with Roosevelt’s apostles of peace. A mutual admiration society for laying a smoke screen. Gabriel over the White House. While this hosannah is being sung the munitions plants are working overtime; poison gas is manufactured in huge quantities; tanks and armored cars are turned out by the thousand; dozens of new formidable battleships are being feverishly constructed to make the navy “second to none”; the bulk of the public works appropriations is turned to military purposes; three hundred thousand youths are being drilled in the “conservation camps” under army officers; a militarist propaganda under the slogan, “Stand behind the President”, is in full swing and reminds one of war time under Wilson; plants that do not at present work for the war are mobilized to begin such work at a moment’s notice; and the entire war machinery is being perfected by the application of the latest inventions. The administration of the N.R.A. is backed by the war industries and administered by leading war mongers. The N.R.A. has the slaughtering industry uppermost in mind. The N.R.A. means war.
Here as elsewhere we Communists remain political realists. We say to the workers, Words are chaff; they mean nothing; they mean less than nothing; deeds count. The deeds of the Roosevelt government are war deeds.
We say the workers must fight against war. The workers must realize that war is against their interests. There is only one war that is just — and that is the war of an oppressed class for its liberation or the war of an oppressed nationality for its independence. All other wars are predatory wars. Wars of imperialist powers among themselves or against the Soviet Union, wars for the seizure of territories or the securing of colonies are wars for the profits of the exploiters, but they are fought with the bodies of the workers and farmers. The workers and farmers must resist. We cannot stop war altogether. It is not possible to prevent the coming of war as long as capitalism lasts. However, war can be postponed. We can hold a threat over the heads of the ruling class preventing them at least for a while from plunging us into the carnage. The time element counts. Workers’ organizations may grow in the meantime. The Soviet Union may increase its power. The working class may become a greater factor internationally, forcing the governments to refrain from immediately carrying out their war plans.
The fight against the war danger is a political fight. The working class must be aroused. There must be protest meetings, mass petitions, demonstrations, strikes. The powers that be must be given to understand in an unmistakable away that the workers and farmers are dead set against war. This spirit must be communicated to the army.
If this fight has been carried on with sufficient determination, the ground is prepared for action when war comes. The workers do not realize that it is in their power to postpone war. It is. Workers in ammunition plants, go on strike! Shut down your plants! Prevent governmental strike-breakers from resuming work! Railroad men, refuse to handle war materials or to transport troops! Keep guard over your railroad yards and depots lest transportation facilities be used by governmental agents. Marine workers, do not load either men or ammunition! Truck drivers, refuse to assist in war work! Workers of other industries, help the strikers. Farmers, refuse to give your foodstuffs and raw materials to be used for the slaughter!
If the workers rise in this way against war, the capitalists with their armed forces will try to break the deadlock. There will be attacks on strikers. There will be bloodshed. The workers will have to offer resistance. We Communists do not close our eyes to the fact that this means civil war. But when the masses are organized and fight in great numbers under revolutionary leadership the victory is assured. Part of the army is certain to waver and to join the people. There may be victims, but their number can not be compared to the losses in life and limb that the workers would suffer in the imperialist war.
Victory in the civil war spells the doom of the capitalist State.
We Communists do not say to the workers that they have to begin the civil war today or tomorrow. We say that the civil war is the inevitable outcome of long and arduous struggles against the capitalists and their State and that these struggles must be made the every-day practice of the working class.
We have mentioned above that the capitalist State changes its form and tactics in accordance with the interests of the ruling class. When social conditions are more or less stable, when no great mass movements threaten to overthrow the rule of the owners of wealth, the State allows itself to appear democratic. You are told then that “the people” are the actual rulers of the land.
But even when the State appears in its democratic guise it is democracy for the owners of wealth and a dictatorship over the masses. The system in the United States is a democracy for the Morgans and Mellons, the Rockefellers and the Fords, and everybody that “counts” inasmuch as it carries out their will. But what about the striking miners that are being gassed? What about the hunger marchers that are being clubbed? What about the textile workers that are being shot down in cold blood? What about the milk strikers that are being surrounded by squads of deputy sheriffs, beaten and jailed? What about the legal weapon of injunctions used against strikers fighting for a bigger crust of bread? What about those numberless cases of workers’ blood being spilled for the sole reason that they are trying to defend their right to live?
Democracy for the rulers, dictatorship over the workers; terror, legal or extra-legal, is always used against the workers even where the semblance of democracy is preserved.
This semblance, however, is easily and eagerly removed whenever it suits the interests of the rulers. The system we are living under in the United States can hardly be called a democracy even in name. Even the pretense of representative government has been abandoned. Congress has ceded its prerogatives of lawmaking to one man, Roosevelt, who is a virtual dictator acting through a number of boards appointed by him. All this vast economic legislation that has been introduced now is not of Congressional origin and has not received Congressional approval. In foreign policies Congress has long become nothing but a rubber stamp, while the treaty power is in the hands of the President and his advisers. There was once prevalent in America the theory of the “balance of power” between the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of the government. It is no accident that the executive branch has gained ascendancy over the rest. This is in keeping with the interests of Wall Street. It assures quick action. It makes for quiet “deals” away from the glaring light of publicity. It makes it unnecessary to dicker with numerous legislators who may have to reckon with the moods of their electors (although by and large it has not been difficult for Wall Street to keep Congress in line). It clears the ground for further developments along the road of an open dictatorship.
Wherever capitalist democracy is displaced by open capitalist dictatorship for the primary purpose of crushing the revolutionary labor movement that threatens capitalist rule and for the purpose of fusing the State with big business in order to overcome the crisis of capitalism, there we have fascism. Fascism is brute force against a rising working class which begins to challenge the capitalist power. Fascism at the same time attempts to organize industry and commerce on behalf of the owners of wealth. The iron hand that is used against the workers and poor farmers is aimed to force there to accept lower wages and worsened working conditions in order thus to secure greater profits for the employers. Government regulation of industry and commerce, government subsidies and aid from the treasury, i. e., from the taxes squeezed out of the masses of the population, also have the purpose of increasing the profits of the great industrialists and bankers. Fascism is a form of government which reduces the overwhelming majority of the population to abject poverty and degradation so that a few heads of large corporations may prosper.
Fascism uses both the strong arm of oppression and the method of the crassest demagogy. In order to beguile the dissatisfied masses, fascism sometimes uses anti-capitalist phrases; it thunders against exploitation; it promises the abolition of classes; it poses as a friend of the small man. All the time it tries to divert the attention of the exploited from the real cause of their misery by arousing their nationalistic prejudices, by promising them prosperity as a result of national aggrandizement, by persecuting national minorities. Such has been the case in Italy, Hungary, Poland; such is the case in Germany where we have fascism in its sharpest manifestations.
Fascism, however, may assume different forms and may appear in varying degrees. We in the United States witness the growing fascization of the State. Those attempts to prevent workers from striking; those N.R.A. codes supposed to organize industry and commerce by State regulation; that “partnership” between government and industry and government and labor that has been proclaimed as the policy of the Roosevelt administration; that reign of terror that is sweeping the strike areas of the country — what is it if not the manifestation of fascist tendencies? That dictatorship of one man so eagerly acquiesced in by everybody, except, of course, the revolutionary workers — what is it, if not something very much akin to fascism? That propaganda of super-nationalism which comes from high places in Washington, especially after the collapse of the London conference, is it not reminiscent of fascist tactics? We have no clear-cut fascism yet in this country. But we certainly have a fascination of the governmental apparatus, and there is being developed an atmosphere where fascism may quickly become the order of the day. The trend towards fascism was clearly analyzed at the Anti-War Congress which met on September 29, 1933, with over 2600 delegates from various workers’ and other organizations. The Congress organized as a permanent body the League of Struggle Against War and Fascism.
One of the major policies of American capitalism is the oppression of the Negro people. The Negroes as workers or farmers are more exploited and more cruelly oppressed than even the white workers and farmers. The Negroes are paid less for the same work; they are discriminated against in the matter of jobs; intellectual Negroes are not admitted altogether to certain occupations. And this holds true not only for the South but also for all parts of the country. In order to maintain and perpetuate this economic inequality — which means additional profits for the landlords and manufacturers — the white ruling class is subjecting the Negro people to a system of political and social inequality and degradation. Jim Crow segregation is iron-clad in the South, but it is also used in other sections of the country as evidenced by the rigid color line drawn in New York around Harlem. Most of the Negro people are disfranchised. The South especially does not recognize any political rights for the Negroes, but elsewhere the Negroes are not much better off politically or socially. To insure this double inequality the white ruling class conducts the most vicious propaganda among the white masses against the Negro peoples presenting the latter as an “inferior racer” “unfit for civilization”. To back up this system in the interests of the blood-suckers they use the specific American weapon of lynching.
We Communists say to the white and Negro workers Comrades, understand the meaning of this system as established and maintained for the benefit of the bosses. When they speak about the “purity of the white race” they in reality mean the profits of the white exploiters. When they speak about the white race as being a ”master race” they are in reality concerned with piling up more millions for the masters. When they tell white workers not to assemble in the same hall with Negro workers, they try to prevent the white and Negro workers from uniting to fight against their common bosses. When they say, “The Negro must know his place”, they mean he must allow himself to be worked to death for a pittance and to be hounded without any aid from his white fellow toilers. When on behalf of the bosses the labor bureaucrats refuse to admit Negro workers into the labor unions they are out to prevent a coming together and a mutual understanding between white and Negro exploited. When the bosses together with their police and court officials organize lynch orgies they are out to terrorize the Negro people in order to prevent them from offering resistance. And when they persecute and torture and kill the Negroes they have in mind not only the extra blood and sweat they can get out of Negro toil but also the greater freedom to exploit the white workers and farmers. For they know full well that when you set one part of an enemy camp against the other you weaken both. By their terrorist activities against the Negroes — comparable only to the activities of the German fascist bands — they weaken not only the Negroes but also the white workers and farmers, because they forestall their united action against the common foe.
Another chapter of American capitalist rule is the oppression of colonial and semi-colonial peoples, like those of Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Cuba, and many others. Wall Street capitalists are taking the cream off these countries, leaving the workers and the poor farmers in servitude, poverty and starvation.
We Communists say it is the duty of the workers to fight against capitalist terror, against manifestations of fascism, against the oppression of the Negroes, against the imperialist domination of other peoples. We say it is in their interests to fight. We appeal to the class interests of the workers and the other exploited masses of the population. Stand guard. Offer resistance to capitalist terror. Fight for your right to organize, to assemble, to strike. Break the capitalist dictatorial rules directed against you. Do not submit. Strike back. Join hands with the oppressed nationalities groaning under the iron heel of American imperialism. Above all things join hands with the Negro members of your class. Remember: the class ties are the strongest of all ties. You are exploited by the same set of robbers, the ruling class. You are persecuted and oppressed by the State acting on behalf of the same class. You can liberate yourself only when you join forces against your oppressors. In unity is your strength. Black and white, foreign-born and native worker — your interests are the same and they are directly opposed to the interests of your rulers.
Freedom must be fought for and this fight cannot wait. It is a matter requiring action right now and every day. Your employers try to prevent you from organizing: organize! They will try to fire your organizers: stand pat, defend them! They will try to discharge more answer by calling a strike; picket the plant! They will send policemen and hired deputies to break up your picket line: stand firm, don’t yield! They will send a reformist union leader to persuade you to accept boss arbitration: drive him out like a yellow cur! They will put some of your leaders in jail: demonstrate, protest, fill the court room with hundreds of workers, demand the release of your comrade, picket the court house, picket the judge’s house, call other workers to help you in your struggle; make your struggle the struggle of great numbers of class conscious workers!
Your masters send marines against a Latin-American country as was recently done against Cuba when 29 warships were mobilized to crush the workers’ and farmers’ revolution. Armed intervention in Cuba is an actual fact. Your masters always aid the local exploiters against whom the masses have risen. Their aim is to maintain in the Latin-American countries a puppet government, submissive to Wall Street because Wall Street is getting hundreds of millions out of the toil of the local masses. Remember that you cannot be free as long as the colonial and semi-colonial masses are oppressed. Remember it is the same enemy you are fighting and the same struggle will liberate all of you. It is for this reason that the workers have to fight against every step of American imperialism, extending a brotherly hand of aid to the peoples of the oppressed countries.
The bloody anti-Negro terrorism is cutting into the very vitals of the working class. Resist. Violate the Jim Crow rules, both in the North and in the South. Unite with the Negroes in the same unions, in the same cultural and social organizations. Negro and white, fight side by side. Stop the lynch crimes. Organize; teach the lynchers the lesson of unified resistance. Make them feel in their very bones that one can not murder members of your class and escape unpunished. Once a strong united front of white and Negro workers and poor farmers meets the lynchers in the proper manner, they can put an end to these murderous attacks.
Remember that by fighting for full economic, political, and social equality of the Negro people the workers are fighting for their own liberation.
When we Communists say freedom, we mean it. You white workers must show your colored brothers that you are in earnest about Negro equality. How can you prove it? The proof is not in words, but in action. The reformists pay lip-service to Negro rights. But they don’t mean it; they have never fought for Negro rights. We Communists are the only Party that has introduced Negro equality in the practice of our organizations and our everyday fights. We say to the white workers: to prove your sincerity about Negro freedom you must fight for the self-determination of the Negroes in the Black Belt. By this we mean the right of the Negroes, if they choose to do so, to establish their own State in that territory of the South where they form the majority of the population. The Negroes are a nation like any other nation and they are entitled to their own State.
We have enumerated the basic struggles of the workers. There are many more struggles. Each day brings its own tasks. Each step the capitalists and their State demands new struggles of the workers. These struggles are not separated from each other. They are intertwined into a united whole. One struggle helps another. One victory makes others more easy. All of them strengthen the working class. All of them weaken the capitalist system. The struggle is always for immediate demands, but it inevitably implies the ultimate goal: overthrow of the capitalist system. If you keep your eyes open you will soon realize that only those who are for the overthrow of the capitalist system actually fight for immediate demands. The reformist labor leaders and the Socialists, who are not fundamentally opposed to capitalism, are not really fighting for immediate demands. Take the instance of the strikes or of the struggle for unemployment insurance. Whatever fighting has been done in the last few years for higher wages and unemployment insurance and relief was done under a revolutionary leadership with the closest participation of the Communists, who are in favor of the overthrow of the capitalist system by force.
These struggles have not been invented. They are a necessity. They are an outcome of existing conditions. They are vital to the very existence of the workers. With the deepening of the crisis, with the increase of the number of the unemployed, with the increase of the war danger, with the increase of the capitalist attacks on the standards of living of the masses, with the increase of the fascist danger, with the increase of lynch terror, mass struggles of the workers have become a greater necessity than ever. These struggles will be the more effective, the greater the masses that participate in them and the stronger their unity and will to fight. This is why the Communists advocate the united front of action. By this we mean that all workers, no matter what their organization or party affiliation, shall unite for specific actions. To take one instance: the struggle for unemployment relief could be much more successful if great masses of workers, whether Socialists or Communists, whether member of red unions or reformist unions, were to unite in their action in support of that demand. The same holds true for the fight for Negro rights. The same holds true for the fight against the war danger and for any other line of struggle. We therefore appeal to the workers to unite. We explain to them the vital necessity of united action. We say: You may belong to any party, or to any labor union or you may belong to none; you may or you may not have disagreements with the Communists on certain issues; what we urge you to do is to unite and fight on the issues that are of basic importance for the working class. In calling you to a united front we have no other interests at heart but the interests of the working class. If your reformist leaders disagree, use your own judgment. If possible, force these leaders to yield to a united front. If they are so entrenched in the service of capitalism that they do not heed your demand, overrule them and join the united front.
We propose that the united front activities should be carried out under the leadership of specially elected committees representing all sections of the workers united for particular action.
Much malicious gossip has been peddled around by the reformists about our united front tactics. They say we are trying to “capture” this or that organization to make it serve our “Communist purpose”. Above all things they complain that we are criticising them, “abusing” them while we are seeking to unite with them in a united front. The truth is we have no other purposes but the purpose of carrying through a successful fight. We do not wish to capture anybody or anything by maneuver, although we are eager to influence workers and to attract them to our ranks by making them realize the correctness of our program and tactics. As to criticism, we always criticise those organizations which, while pretending to defend the interests of the workers, do not follow the line of the class struggle and thus betray them. We agree to suspend our criticism of the reformist leaders in connection with the united front action if they faithfully carry out their pledges in this united front. If they try to sabotage the united front, if they continue to betray the interests of the workers in connection with the united front, then it is our duty before the workers to expose their betrayal. The more clearly we do that, the sooner will the workers free themselves from the damaging reformist influence and join the united front of action.
Next: VI. The Revolutionary Overthrow of Capitalism and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat