Weisbord: Cult of Confusionism

(May 1931)

From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 10, 15 May 1931, pp. 4 & 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The American movement has been presented with a new group, the “Communist League of Struggle” and the first issue of its paper, the Class Struggle, behind which are massed a baker’s dozen of supporters of the high priest of confusionism, Weisbord. On the masthead of his group Weisbord has hoisted the banner “Adhering to the International Left Opposition” in the hope of thereby accrediting himself with the name of the Marxist wing of the movement today, and in actuality only to soil and discredit this banner. That he has neither the political right nor the authority to utilize this banner does not concern Weisbord any more than he is concerned with an honest treatment of facts in disputing with his political opponents, primarily with the Left Opposition in the United States.

As to the axis around which Weisbord’s whole, creaking theoretical and practical machinery revolves, we find nothing that is new in Weisbord’s paper. His “original” contribution to the policy of the Left Opposition (in reality, it is a vulgarized plagiarism from Urbahns, Paz and similars) is the proposal that in order to separate the Communist movement from Menshevism and to “re-establish mass work”, the Left Opposition should make a bloc with ... the Lovestone Right wing. Hopeless “Right wingers” that we are, according to Weisbord, we have nevertheless rejected this ingenious idea in the past, and still do. We are fortunate enough not to be entirely alone in our “sectarianism”, especially when comrade Trotsky has expressed himself in our sense on this same proposal of Weisbord. Only four months ago he wrote:

“The leading comrades in the United States inform us that in the American League, certain comrades – to be sure, only individual ones [these individual ones amounted to exactly two comrades: Pollack and Ahrens. – Ed.] speak for a bloc with the Lovestoneites in the name of ... ‘mass work’. It is hard to imagine a more ridiculous, a more inept, a more sterile project than this. Do these people know at least a little of the history of the Bolshevik party? Have they read the works of Lenin? Do they know the correspondence of Marx and Engels? Or has all the history of the revolutionary movement passed them by without leaving a trace? Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of the American League has nothing in common with such ideas.”

A group with so hopelessly confused a platform as Weisbord’s is not one to cause anybody great concern. Confusionism is not a political tendency. It can cause political damage, but Weisbord’s capacity for either good or bad is fortunately very strictly limited.

The whole art of Weisbord’s “thesis” lies in platonically embracing a few phrases from the Left Opposition; pinning them on to an ‘’economic analysis” which analyses nothing, indicates no trend and allows for every possible variation; justifying his bloc with Lovestone with the invention that there is no such thing as Centrism; merging the three groups in the Communist movement into one single “Right tendency”, outside of which stands the genuine Leninist (i.e., Weisbord!); and demanding the outright capitulation “as individuals” of the expelled Oppositionists, of everybody, that is, except Weisbord who “can never abandon its grouping”.

One could go on for pages with comment on the confusionism in Weisbord’s platform, which is soaking wet with ignorance, an arrant insolence at times, and worse yet, with revolting falsehoods and slanders against us lifted off the dungheaps of Browder-Foster-Lovestone and Co. A few instances will have to suffice to give the measure of the man who seeks to teach us Bolshevism, the man whom “the history of the revolutionary movement passed by without leaving a trace”.

Weisbord justifies his criminal action in joining with Foster – while himself a faction agent of Lovestone – to expel the Left Opposition from the party in 1928–1929: “46. The driving out of the Lovestone and Cannon misleaders from the C.P.U.S.A. did not change its essential character”!

Weisbord condemns us for having seen in the Smith vote of 1928 an indication of the radicalization trend in the working class (an honest evaluation of our position of that time would take into account that while we misused the term “radicalization”, the whole context of our documents then indicated that we understood by it the discontent of the workers). However false our appreciation may or may not have been, Weisbord, in 1931, discovers a radicalization process in ... the crime rate rise and bootleg drinking. “34. The life-breaking pressure on the masses is further shown by the tremendous growth of the crime rate. On the one hand this is an illustration of rebellion by the masses ... Prohibition has helped to intensify the class struggle.”

Weisbord (under our pressure) finally proposes the extension of credits to the Soviet Union, not in the proletarian revolutionary sense of linking this demand with the class movement of the unemployed in capitalist countries, but in the Stalinist sense of a pure and simple business proposition between the Soviet state and the foreign bourgeoisie.

Weisbord, who specializes in “self-criticizing” the other factions, has not a single word to say about his own vicious inner-party faction record as a henchman for the Lovestone Right wing since the day he left the Socialist party and joined the Communists in 1925.

Weisbord, his political line being an impossible mixture of loans made from the viewpoints of the three other groups, finds it impossible to assail the platform of the Left on the basis of principle, resorts to slander and lies, a method learned from Lovestone and Stalin, and in the process, can find nothing better to do than to repeat the Daily Worker and the Revolutionary Age. Our comrades are condemned not only for alleged positions today but for alleged positions (nine-tenths of them inventions, pure and simple) of years gone by: “(d) the theory that the farmers must lead the Labor party movement; (e) Cannon was the first to make an alliance [!] with Pepper – 1923 ... was violently opposed to the organization of the unorganized (Passaic strike 1926) ... participated in actual betrayal [!] of the New Bedford strike ... unprincipled united front with former Cannonites (Bill Dunne and Co.) still in the party” [1] and so on to the point of nausea.

The Opposition on an international scale has, in the past, had to contend with similar confusionist groups, which not only hampered its growth but even discredited it in the eyes of the Communist workers. None of these groups (like Urbahns, Paz, Pollak, etc.), however, ever gave so prominent a place in their movement to such pillars of Stalinism – slander and falsehood – as Weisbord does. The weaker one’s position in principle the more such rotten “props” are required. But nothing substantial, nothing of consequence can ever be built upon them.


1. Unfortunately for Weisbord, who has been carrying this tale around as a backdoor whisper for months, Dunne has just issued a violent statement denouncing Weisbord as well as the Left Opposition. Dunne’s venomous and disgraceful vilification of the “Trotskyists” is on a par with the outpourings of those second and fourth rate Stalinist functionaries who have surrendered their revolutionary birthright for the opportunity to mount the ladder of the apparatus by trampling on the rungs of their own past, seeking to purchase consideration for themselves from the infallible center by routine denunciations of the proletarian revolutionists.

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