From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 9, 1 May 1931, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
“A worker in South Bend, Washington,” the Daily Worker (3-17-1931) informs its readers, “writes: What is the difference between a Lovestoneite and a Musteite? I have been reading the Dally Worker for a year now, but I have never seen this question answered.”
The perplexity of the South Bend worker is easily to be understood and sympathized with. After reading the Daily Worker for a year, he has not been able to find an explanation of the difference between the Right wing of the Communist movement and the Left wing of reformism. That the oracle who replies to him in the Questions and Answers column tacitly accepts the implication of the worker’s question is already an illuminating revelation of the confusion and ignorance that Stalinism sows in every important political question? How could it be otherwise? To expect clarity on such problems from these professional incompetents, is to look for milk from a bull. Is it not the beginning and end of all their wisdom that there is no difference between anybody and everybody who opposes the “line” that prevails for the moment, regardless of the nature of the opposition? Does not “every worker know” that Hoover, Fish, Borah, Green, Thomas, Hillquit, Muste, Lovestone and Trotsky are one and the same person, masquerading as many only with the mischievous purpose of confounding philosophers of the “third period”? It would appear that questions settled so long ago by the Daily Worker no longer required the elaborate reply which it devotes to the South Bend worker, especially when the reply consists principally of the usual superficial journalistic denunciation of Lovestone and Co., which are repeated all the more violently the more the author seeks to make his readers forget that only yesterday the Stalinists were so amorously celebrating with Lovestone the their joint pogroms against the expelled Left Opposition And these “settled questions” would really require no reply but for two reasons: the fact that they are not yet “settled”, and secondly, the need felt by Stalinism, in order to hold its own head above water, to promote the campaign of slander and falsehood against the Left Opposition. That is why, in the midst of his reply, the anonymous writer in the Daily Worker presents his readers with the following information:
“Lovestone stopped all his ‘criticism’ of the Musteites and the so-called ‘Lefts’ in the socialist party long ago. Nor was Lovestone alone in this. The Trotskyites who considered themselves the ‘Communist leaven (in) the new progressive movement’ made overtures to the Lovestoneites on the basis of work within the Muste movement and against the Communist party.
“In the summer of 1930 conversations were held between Cannon, leader of the Trotskyites, and Lovestone. The purpose of these parleys was to work out a common base of struggle against the Communist party and the Communist International. While they had to keep this alliance more or less secret from their followers, the spirit of ‘cooperation’ on the basis of the Muste program became so prevalent in the Trotskyite group that Cannon, on pressure from Shachtman et al., was forced to castigate his followers who, like Bart Miller of the Lovestone group, took the cue of their leader without its diplomatic trimmings and went too openly into the Muste camp. The flesh and blood alliance of the Trotskyites with the Muste group did not mature. They could not travel quite so fast as the Lovestone group had done, but their hearts were set on the distant green fields of the Musteite ‘mass movement’. They had an international anchor.”
Were it not for certain unintended avowals contained in these sentences, it would hardly be worth refuting the fantastic fabrications out of which they are composed. But the Communist movement is living through a period where lying is invested with the cloak of official authority and backed by an unprecedented apparatus for “distribution”.
Falsehood No. 1 is a distorted quotation from an old Militant in which we said that “the Communists must establish contact with the workers in the ranks and combine with them for a common struggle. Without the Communist leaven the new progressive movement will have no backbone ... Without asking anybody’s permission the Communists must become a part of it, influence it from within, push it to the Left and help to shape it into an effective fighting force. Ruthless criticism of the Muste leadership is an indispensable part of this work for the future of the movement” (9-15-1929). We have not, changed our opinion on this point. The party leaders, who change their opinions every week, will yet be compelled to accept our point of view – without understanding it, it is true, and without being able to execute the policy as Bolsheviks.
Falsehood No. 3 is the alleged “summer of 1930 conversations” between Cannon and Lovestone to negotiate “a common base of struggle” against the Comintern. Why in 1930? Did not the Daily Worker inform us for a year prior to that, date that “the Trotskyites and Lovestoneites have concluded a united front of renegacy against the party”? If it was “concluded” early in 1929, why the 1930 conversations? Are we to draw the daring conclusion that the Worker was lying about the “united front” at least between the summer of 1929 and the summer of 1930? Rash as such a deduction may appear, we can come to no other! And while conversations are being discussed, will the Daily Worker be kind enough to inquire of comrade Bittelman about some “conversations” that a certain representative of the Comintern had – not in 1930, but in the late winter of 1931 – with the “Right wing in Canada about a common base of struggle”? Such a report would make more interesting, more valuable and more truthful reading ...
Assorted falsehoods: Just where did the “spirit of cooperation on the basis of the Muste program” become prevalent in our group, and require “Cannon, on pressure of Shachtman. et al. [who is this ‘et al.’?] to castigate his followers”? Which of the Oppositionists “went too openly into the Muste camp”, or into that camp at all? Hasn’t the Worker writer confused us here with his yesterday’s comrade-in-arms in the struggle against Trotskyism, Bert Miller, who is now fighting “Trotskyism” on the other side of the barricades, as many of his similars will do tomorrow? ...
In an unguarded moment, the Worker makes a damaging confession: We did not go over to Muste, that is, to the Left wing of social democracy, because we “had an international anchor”. If this has any sense at all, it means that our association with the Russian and International Left Opposition “is keeping us” in Communist waters. But, dear Messrs. Browder and Co., it is precisely ‘because we proclaimed our solidarity with the Russian Opposition, because we “tied ourselves to the international anchor”, that you expelled us on charge of being ‘’counter-revolutionists!
Well, there’s nothing that can be done about it. A feeling of hopelessness overcomes one when confronted with these gentlemen of the Stalinist school. It is politically impossible to have them stop lying – they would first have to stop living politically. It is even impossible to have them tell one lie and stick to it. But then, that is the curse of the liar’s life: he can never remember accurately the lie he told yesterday, and what is even more distressing, he is in the Stalinist concentration camps with the competition of his fellow-toilers who are constantly trying to “catch up with and ourstrip” him in their products. Against such convict labor we raise our voice in protest. In vain. The Browders really enjoy their abominable labors.
Last updated on 27.12.2012