Brian Pearce

Constant Reader:

Old Acquaintance

(March 1960)

From The Newsletter, 19 March 1960.
Transcribed by Christian Hogsbjerg.

The following quotation from James P. Cannon’s History of American Trotskyism (1944) is offered as comment on Peter Cadogan’s letter in The Listener of March 10. Cannon is describing the American Trotskyist movement in the early 1930s.

‘Many people came to us who had revolted against the Communist Party not for its bad sides, but for its good sides; that is, the discipline of the party, the subordination of the individual to the decisions of the party in current work. A lot of dilettantish petty-bourgeois minded people who couldn’t stand any kind of discipline, who had either left the CP or been expelled from it, wanted, or rather thought they wanted, to become Trotskyists. Some of them joined the New York branch and brought with them that same prejudice against discipline in our organization. Many of the newcomers made a fetish of democracy. They were repelled so much by the bureaucratism of the Communist Party that they desired an organization without any discipline or centralization whatever.’

Coy Connexion

The reference in last week’s news item about the merger of the three Fascist organizations to the relationship between these people and certain elements in the Tory Party reminded me of a little-known fact about Henry Brooke, the Minister for Housing.

Between 1936 and 1939, while he was deputy director of the Conservative Research Department, Brooke was also chairman of ‘Truth’ Publishing Company. This fact he does not see fit to mention in his entry in Who’s Who. The reason may be that the weekly magazine Truth, founded in 1877 by the radical Henry Labouchere to expose scandals without fear or favour, possessed in the 1930s the reputation of specializing in a rather significant way in those scandals with which persons with Jewish names happened to be connected.

Careful people who like to know the sources of statements like this may like to note that Mr. Brooke’s association with Truth was mentioned in a letter by Horace B. Samuel to Time and Tide for November 22, 1941, and this was reproduced in Claud Cockburn’s newsletter The Week for January 21, 1943.

Anti-Fascism, 1914?

John Gollan, general secretary of Britain’s Communist Party, told the Daily Worker rally at the Albert Hall that ‘our rally takes place when, for the third time in history, we are faced with the menace of German militarism’.

When Khrushchev and Bulganin laid their wreath on the Cenotaph four years ago, with its tag referring to ‘two wars against German aggression’, a slight whirring noise was heard, possibly caused by a film camera or something. It gave an excuse, however, for one bright young man from the Foreign Office to remark to another: ‘That’s the vile German agent and defeatist Lenin turning in his grave’.

What gives a special flavour of cynicism to these retrospective whitewashings of the 1914–1918 war is that the Stalinists concerned get angry when other people do the same thing ‘out of turn’, so to speak, i.e., otherwise than in accordance with the current needs of Soviet diplomacy. Thus, in the January number of World Marxist Review, a Bulgarian Stalinist blames the Yugoslav ‘revisionists’ for having organized in 1958 a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Allied breakthrough on the Salonika front, when imperial Germany’s ally Bulgaria was defeated!

The John Gollan mentioned here is, by the way, the same as the young Communist of that name who was sent to jail in Edinburgh in 1931 for giving soldiers leaflets attacking British militarism.

Rome and Moscow Again

Just because the Stalinist and Catholic Action ‘machines’ are at daggers drawn in the British trade union movement today; one should not suppose that this must be so always and everywhere – at any rate so far as the Stalinists are concerned.

In the February number of World Marxist Review an article on the preparations for the Italian Communist Party’s national congress contains the following phrases:

‘As to the Catholic movement, the draft theses point out that the main Catholic forces, as clearly revealed by the last congress of the Christian Democratic Party, are veering to new positions, insisting on decisive struggle against the monopolies and for far-reaching social changes ...

‘The soundness of the traditional policy of our Party for agreement with the Catholic world is reaffirmed by the facts ... And since the victory of socialism in Italy will depend on the formation of a much broader alignment of forces than the alliance of the workers with the poor peasant strata, actions for agreement with the Catholic world must be envisaged as a component of the Italian way to socialism, as a long-term perspective, of joint struggle and of alliances not only with the Catholic followers, but also with their organizations’.

Last updated on 15.10.2011