Karl Radek

American Workers and Soviet Russia

(28 June 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 54, 28 June 1922, pp. 400–401.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2019). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The Second and 2½ Internationals are constantly discussing the question of whether they should or should not demand the recognition of the Soviet Power.

What does the recognition of the Soviet Government mean? The King of Abyssinia and the Emperor of Annam as well as Nicholas II were recognized by every “civilized country”. But the gentlemen of the Second and 2½ Internationals almost look upon themselves as upon heroes because they actually decided to demand the recognition of the Soviet Power. Legal recognition means actual relations with Russia, and no matter with what hatred the capitalists look upon the first proletarian government, they must recognize it, and they do recognize it for the simple reason that they are in need of trade with Russia. Trade with Russia is impossible on a large scale without definite and binding treaty relations with the Soviet Government.

If the demand for the recognition of the Soviet Power at the time of intervention and the armed struggle against it had any revolutionary significance at all, it now appears as the slogan of those capitalists who desire trade with Russia. The Second and 2½ Internationals are only the mouthpieces of these capitalistic circles, to the extent that they are not actually forced by the workers who sympathize with Soviet Russia but are not in a position to turn their sympathies into action. An example of how to recognize Soviet Russia in contrast to the recognition of the heroes of the yellow International, was set by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.

The New Republic, a radical bourgeois weekly published in New York, reports that the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Federation at their Fifth Convention decided to issue a loan of one million dollars which is to serve to organize a clothing cooperative that is to aid in the construction of the industry in Russia. In this cooperative the representatives of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and those of the Soviet Government will work on a basis of equality. The representatives of the Soviet Government will for their part, furnish the factory room and the raw materials. Only workers and labor organizations may become shareholders. The cooperative is obligated to spend all profits exceeding ten per cent for extension purposes.

This bourgeois weekly from which we cite these news also brings excerpts from the speech delivered by Comrade Hillman, the President of the Union.

“Many people speak of world economic reconstruction, but if we should leave the work of reconstruction in the hands of those cliques that caused the war and have now concluded ‘peace’, we shall accomplish nothing but the formulation of a banal phraseology, and new formulas which, were they to be carried out, would only result in one part of the world ruling the other. Were this to happen life would become ten times as difficult as it is now. The working class of our country as well as the workers of the other countries should rise and make it clear that the work of establishing peace in this world is not only one for a few officials and Ministries of Foreign Affairs, but that the vital problems of millions of men. women and children are to be solved by the masses of all countries. The working class of the world should take upon itself the economic rebirth of Russia which has set the example for creative work.”

The bourgeois weekly reports that the Clothing Workers convention listened to Hillman’s speech with great interest and accepted his proposal.

The aid which the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America decided to furnish Soviet Russia should serve as an example to the proletarians of other countries. The American clothing workers have pointed the way that is most beneficial to Soviet Russia, and which if followed should contribute considerably to the liberation of the Russian workers from the yoke of foreign capital. Such a step would lighten the work of preserving the social conquests of the revolution and would accelerate the economic development of Soviet Russia which in its turn would be in a better position to aid European proletariat in its struggle of liberation.

Forced by the attitude of the working masses the gentlemen of the Amsterdam International were compelled to collect money for the famine sufferers of Russia. For every crumb of bread which they furnished Soviet Russia, their agents left behind them a trail of venomous propaganda against the Workers’ Government during their stay in Russia. It suffices to mention the activities of Brantel, member of the Austrian Social Democracy, who after arriving in Georgia with medicaments from the Amsterdam International and spending two weeks there, published a long pamphlet (without knowing either the language or the local conditions) in which he speaks like a expert and points out that Bolshevik regime in Georgia destroyed all the treasures of this little paradise, clear through to the Georgian mountains which the senile Kautsky used as a crutch for his geographical handbook.

Hillman, the President of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, is not a Communist. He is an honest American worker having arrived in Russia not for the purpose of making revelations but for the purpose of aiding the Russian workers, made an excellent study of the conditions under which we are living, and then returned to America to organize the relief work. The Amalgamated Clothing Workers’ Union is not a Communist organization; it is a union of workers suffering under the dictatorship of capitalism. This union is not part of the yellow A.F. of L. headed by Gompers, but in times of need it furnishes more aid to the other unions than some of the biggest labor organizations. This is due to the spirit of solidarity that pervades it

That is why after the Amalgamated Clothing Workers had heard Hillman’s report they declared:

“We helped the famine sufferers by sending them $500,000, but that was only temporary relief; we must aid in a way that will do away with the famine in Russia altogether.”

The Russian workers will receive this news with great joy, not only because $1,000,000 means material relief but also because the spirit in which the American clothing workers have given this money is the spirit of the Russian workers.

Last updated on 27 December 2019