I. We break with Trotsky: by Albert Weisbord
II. Whither Italy: by Robert Barnett
III. Fascist Germs in Local Government: by Maurice Clifford
IV. Dialectical Materialism and “Just as Good” Pragmatism (2): by AW
CLASS STRUGGLE Official Organ of the Communist League of Struggle
(Adhering to the Internationalist Communists)
133 Second Avenue, Room 24, New York City
Editor: ALBERT WEISBORD Associate Editor: VERA BUCH ***********************************************************
To the Stalinists this capitulation of Trotsky to Menshevism and reformism was long a foregone conclusion. To them, Trotsky is only living up to their old characterization of “counter- revolutionary renegade.” To us, however, this collapse of “Trotskyism” is only part of the terrible capitulation of the revolutionary forces to be seen throughout Europe. The fact is that the victory of Fascism in middle Europe and its great growth everywhere had thrown the whole revolutionary movement into terrible confusion and route. If the great general Trotsky has led his army from the Communist Party into the Socialist Party, this is only part of the universal collapse of both Socialist and Communist Parties.
It is not for the Stalinists to shout gleefully: “I told you so” for it is clear as day that the Communist International is dead as a revolutionary force, the period of degeneration (1924-1932) having been closed with the period of collapse marked by the blackest cowardice and treachery in the failure to struggle against the victory of Hitler. Completely impotent in the Spanish and Austrian revolutions, having destroyed all semblance of proletarian democracy in the Soviet Union, having disrupted and paralyzed the working class throughout the world, having called but one congress in ten years in the midst of the most crucial events, the Communist International stands condemned as a counter-revolutionary force, using the Russian Revolution against the world revolution, using the Russian Soviets to prevent Soviets and the victory of the proletariat elsewhere.
As for the Socialist International, this also is dead—not as a revolutionary force, however, for as such it died 20 years ago in 1914 at the outbreak of the world war, but even as a counter- revolutionary force it has outlived its usefulness. It is not the Socialists who refuse to help the capitalists, it is the capitalists, pushed to the wall by a dying economic system, who must dismiss the Socialists and use other and less costly agents—Fascists.
As a result of this situation splits have occurred in both Internationals. As the Socialists have degenerated from parties of social reform to mere Radical parties, that is parties which fight merely for the bourgeois democratic republic (remember the slogan of the Socialist Party of Germany: Vote for Hindenburg and keep out Hitler). Groups of honest workers have split away from such degenerate organs. These groups are moving to the left and if they are not in all cases revolutionary fighters for Socialism they are, at least for the present, militant fighters for Social Reform. At the same time as the enormous betrayal of the Communist International makes itself felt, as the Communist Parties, now replacing the Socialist Parties in giving up revolution for national reform, display their complete impotence, splits are occurring in that body as well. In both cases the splits and new groupings formed take on a centrist character; that is, they appear revolutionary in phrase but remain opportunist in content.
In this situation the only way out is the regrouping of all revolutionary elements into a new Communist or Fourth International. While the new International has to be formed for the most part out of the centrist tendencies and organizations which are now dominant, at the same time the revolutionary International cannot be developed in any other way than that of unrelenting struggle against centrism. Ideological intransigence and flexible united front policy, are, in these conditions, two weapons for attaining one and the same end.
The formation of a new Communist International must from the very beginning avoid any aspect of being a haven for centrism and thus become a Two-and-A-Half International which would attempt to conciliate the differences between opportunist centrists, on the one hand, and genuine revolutionists, on the other. Fusion with centrist parties, thus liquidating independent action, is an absolutely impossible policy for the Internationalist Communists.
How to Build the Fourth International—Trotskyism or Leninism?
Trotsky, evidently, has forgotten all of this. He actually believes that the Socialist Parties can be moved entirely to a revolutionary position. As a leading French comrade extremely close to Trotsky wrote: “Comrade Trotsky reminded us particularly a year ago of the French example. There, in spite of the break of the Bolsheviks with the Second International, the whole section was won over to the Third International. We know of no law that says that a repetition of the Tours Congress (where the French Socialist Party joined the Comintern en bloc.-ed.) is impossible. On the contrary, many of the prevailing conditions speak for such a possibility.” What vicious nonsense is this? This is, indeed, to deny the ABC of Marxism or Leninism. It is really true that another “Tours Congress” is possible, that we can “reform the Second International” (Cannon)? With such a theory the International Secretariat under Trotsky has become coolie for the Second International. Here Trotsky is repeating all the errors of his infamous 1912 “August Bloc” against Lenin.
The job of building a new revolutionary International will not be an easy one. Its formation can be achieved only in the course of a long hard process of splits in the ranks both of the Socialists and the “Communists.” The revolutionary kernel must remain intact in order to attract those elements around itself. In many respects the job will be more difficult today than it was in the days of Lenin. We can only turn to the situation that faced Lenin in the days of 1914- 1919 to see the enormous difference between Leninism and Trotskyism.
The Third International took five years to build, in the course of which time the various centrist groupings were tested by the great events taking place around them. In the first place the World War and its aftermath had ground all reform hopes to pieces and had compelled the masses to put an end to the horror around them. A great revolutionary wave sprang up throughout all Europe that enabled many a Socialist centrist to follow in the current of revolution and made it easy for Socialists to become Communists and for the inevitable splits to take place. Besides, we must keep in mind that we had a great Communist Party under the direction of a Lenin that actually had been victorious in its revolution and for the first time in history genuine revolutionary forces had taken control of a country one-sixth the size of the globe and containing close to eight percent of its population. In the light of the push of the masses and the breakdown of order and stability it is no wonder that the Socialist International, having been composed of revolutionary elements from its beginning, broke up and large sections were able to become Communist fighters.
Even then, the process of making Socialist centrists into effective members for a Communist International was an exceedingly fitful and uphill task. Far from making it easy for centrist elements to join the Communist International, Lenin put all sorts of barriers in the way (see his 21 Conditions) and repeatedly warned that it was necessary to test centrists in actual conduct in revolutionary situations before their opportunism could be considered liquidated and they become fit for a Bolshevik International.
Today the situation is quite different. It is infinitely more difficult to change Socialist Parties into genuine revolutionary organizations. Both objective and subjective conditions show that a much harder task in many respects lies before us. The present break-down of economy cannot be compared in intensity with the situation during and immediately after the war. The threat of Fascism cannot be compared to the horror of war already experienced and which had so enormously depleted the population. The revolutionary wave has given way to the aggressive advance of reaction. If we turn to the Soviet Union we see that Lenin has been replaced by a Stalin and that it is no longer internationalist Bolshevism that prevails but rank opportunism and pessimist centrism. Both the push and the pull, therefore, that would be able to transform centrist groups into revolutionary groups do not exist today as they did in 1919.
Besides all this, we cannot forget the history of the revolutionary movement during those past 20 years. The formation of the Communist International and the mutual struggles between the Socialist and Communist Parties under Lenin periodically cleaned out the best revolutionary elements from the Socialist Party. All that remained of them in the main was a petty-bourgeois shell. If workers followed the Socialists Party, it was not in order to obtain Socialism but rather to secure social reform. Certainly, now, after all these years, even though a new generation in part has grown up, it cannot be said, in spite of the frightful failure of the Stalinist International, that the revolutionary workers did not know what the fight was all about and did not understand the true value of the Socialist Parties. Such an opinion displays a fearful underestimation of the working-class.
The whole policy of Trotsky is to forget this history. To forget that when the Tours Congress was first held the mass of the revolutionary workers were still around the traditional Socialist Parties but that for many years this no longer was so. To forget that the workers detest and abominate the parlimentarian, counter-revolutionary leadership that infests the Socialist Party and that would crawl on its belly in the most servile fashion at the first sign of civil war.
How to Fight Fascism—Trotskyism or Leninism?
In liquidating the French Ligule Communiste and sending its members into the French Socialist Party, Trotsky has argued that time is pressing, since civil war is on the order of the day in France, and in order to prevent themselves from being isolated, therefore they should join the Socialist Party, especially since the united front established between the Socialist Party and the Communist Party had decided to bar the “Trotskyists.” Of all this argument, certainly this much is true, namely, the united front between the Socialist and Communist Parties cannot wipe out the errors of each, but rather multiplies all the errors. The cadres and apparatuses of both parties will not correct their false program and policies simply because they have agreed not to criticize each other but to come together with the purpose of fighting against Fascism and war. Rather it must mean a further cementing of the yoke of the bureaucracy of both sets of leaders upon the masses and an entrenchment of opportunism. Only if the genuine revolutionary wing takes part in the united front can there be any gain for the masses. Only if these genuine revolutionary elements win control of the united fronts can there be any hope for the victory of the proletariat.
Now assuming that the united front established in France between the Socialist and Communist Parties will not basically improve the position of the proletariat and further fully appreciating the dastardly character of the decision to bar the French Ligule from the united front, does it follow that the French Ligule must dissolve and join….the Socialist Party? The idea is that if they don’t join they will be barred from taking part in the decisive events which are to come.
But the first question that comes to our minds is: how can anyone prevent an independent organization from carrying out anti-Fascist and mass work? Is it not true that if we have a correct line it is precisely in the period of impending civil war, when events are moving fast and verifying our prognoses, when the masses are alert and active and are ready and anxious for the battle, that a genuine revolutionary group has the best chance to convince the masses? The line of Trotsky leads to the positively absurd position that a revolutionary group can do mass work only when the masses are quiet, but when civil war is on the order of the day, then it is harder to reach the masses! According to Trotsky, in order to win the revolution precisely when the insurrection is on the order of the day the workers must liquidate their vanguard Communist Parties and run into counter-revolutionary organizations! Was this the reason why, precisely in 1912 when the labor movement was picking up again in Russia, Trotsky was willing to have the revolutionary elements liquidate and fuse with the Mensheviks? The whole position of Leninism is opposed to this capitulatory line.
Trotsky is able to answer that after all what we had in France was no PARTY but only a LEAGUE. He writes: “But the proletarian party must be independent. Quite so. But the Ligule is not yet a party. It is an embryo and an embryo needs covering and nourishment in order to develop.” In other words since the Ligue is not yet a Party, therefore give up the Ligule and you will have the Party! This is indeed to kill the embryo. It is only through independent work and only through having a Ligule functioning in the present important period that there is any hope for a real revolutionary party actually to be established.
Trotsky points out that the French Ligue was miserably and pitifully weak. But what is the reason for this? Trotsky wails that it is all the fault of the Communist Party. “But the Stalinist apparatus isolated the Opposition mechanically from the very first steps of its existence.” Can it be that this is the only reason for the failure of the Trotsky group to grow in France? Trotsky writes: “The successes of the Ligue are obviously much smaller than many of us had hoped.” Can it be that Trotsky’s own narrow, hesitative policies that had something to do with the fact that all this time the French Ligue has not been engaged in mass struggles and won a place for itself as a political influence? This point we hope to take up later on. Right now we must point out that there is no force under capitalism that can prevent genuine revolutionists from carrying on revolutionary mass work within the strength and capacity that they may have.
Taking for granted that the French Ligue was a weak organization, does it follow that it must therefore join the Socialist Party and by thus doing will be better able to fight against Fascism? Let us keep thoroughly in mind exactly into what kind of a swamp Trotsky has led the members of the French Ligue who have followed him. First of all the French Ligue is liquidated. The future of the paper, “La Verite,” is entirely up to the bureaucracy of the French Socialist Party. If that paper is permitted to run for an issue or two, it is because such a “left” paper front is necessary for the moment to the Socialist bureaucracy. But how long will that continue? As soon as it will be convenient for the Socialist misleaders they will order the paper liquidated. And the French Ligue members will have to obey or be expelled. Will they then walk out of the French Socialist Party? Of course not. As J Lhuilier point out: “Entrance into the S.F.I.O. (French Socialist Party—Ed.) cannot be realized otherwise except through a complete submission to Blum and a certain degree of capitulation to the Two-and-A-Half International. In any case, not even the left wing, who still respect the statues of their party, will support our admission.”
Secondly, it is admitted that the members of the French Ligue are very weak politically. Does anyone believe that such a weak group will be able seriously to influence the French Socialists Party with its highly efficient bureaucracy and parliamentary cretins? On the contrary the weak forces of the French Ligue will be thoroughly swamped. They go into battle telling the French workers to join the Socialist Party of France headed by tested and tried criminals to the working-class. What workers will hear their piping little voices? People who admit after all these years that they have been miserable failures are going to convince no one. As for the sympathizers in and around the Communist Parties, they will withdraw their collaboration with profound disgust and revulsion.
Thirdly, what precedent can be found in the annals of Marxism and Leninism? On the contrary, throughout their whole lives these great leaders of the working-class pointed out repeatedly that in all alliances which the Communists make they must remain with a free hand and independent criticism through their own organization. Trotsky is forced to go to Plekhanov for some sort of parallel stating that Plekhanov did the same thing fifty years ago in Russia, as though the whole world must follow with bated breath the antics of every Russian revolutionary.
It is when Trotsky mentions Marx and Lenin that he actually rises to the greatest heights of audacity. He writes that Lenin had at one time advised the Communist Party of England to join the Labor Party. What rank dishonesty to bring forward this example! Trotsky knows very well that the Labor Party of England was a federated, loose organization which the Communist Party could join and yet keep its right of criticism and its organization intact. If he does not say so openly Trotsky nevertheless implies the downright lie that Lenin favored the liquidation of the English Communist Party and that joining the Labor Party meant the end of the Communist Party. Nothing could be further from the truth than this.
It is as bad with the example from Marx. In his two speeches to the Communist League, 1850, Marx stressed the tremendous importance of the separation of the proletariat from the petty- bourgeoisie and the Communist from the Democratic Parties. Never did Marx give up his independent organization. Further, in those times it was necessary to aid the fight of democratic capitalism against feudalism and its remnants. The proletariat was still too immature to try to seize power in its own right. How entirely different is the situation today when the dictatorship of the proletariat is already long overdue historically. Then the democratic parties were the parties of progress clearing the field for the struggle between capital and labor. Today the fight between capital and labor has reached its highest point. And is it not close to renegacy to urge that the proletarian, that is Communist Party (we beg pardon, League) liquidate and run into the democratic party?
Fourthly, is it true that the Socialist party can fight against Fascism? Is the French Socialist Party any more “left” than the Austrian Socialist Party? What did it matter that masses of workers were willing to fight physically against Fascism? Indeed, what did it matter that this or that official stuck by his post? Is it not a fact that the Austrian Socialist Party signally failed in action and proved itself completely bankrupt to produce any sort of effective insurrection? As a matter of fact the French Socialist Party will not be so substantially aided as was the Austrian Social Democracy. The leadership and cadres of the French Socialist Party will prove their criminal inability to fight Fascism the moment the first gun is fired.
Fifthly, how will it improve the fighting qualities of the members of the French Ligue to fight Fascism by entering an organization within which they will be handicapped in every possible way? Especially as the time is so short! (The principal argument is: “Time is pressing.") will it not mean the complete end of any illegal apparatus that might be formed by an independent Ligue? Will it not mean the entrapping of the best revolutionary fighters, presumptively, and putting them into such an organization that they will not be able to fight?
Sixthly, why not join the French Communist Party and not the Socialist Party? Because, the answer is given, the Communist Party is moving to the right, the Socialist Party to the left. Because the Comintern apparatus is strong and stable, and the Socialist bureaucracy is not so strong. This argument is false and capitulatory from end to end. The thesis here is that the chief fighters will be found in and around the Socialist Party, that the Communist movements have degenerated to an impossible point. On the contrary, the splits that may occur in the ranks of the Communists are to us, generally speaking, although different countries may illustrate the law in different degrees, far more important than the splits in the Socialist Parties. For years the mass of revolutionary fighters were to be found in and around the Communist Parties. Certainly this was true in the days of Lenin. And up to 1933 it was Trotsky himself who declared to the militants that they could reform the Stalintern. Not to the Socialist Parties but to the Communist Parties must the Fourth International look for its chief adherents. The fact is Trotsky grossly overestimates the strength and leftward trends of the Socialist Parties. At the same time he underestimates the militancy that still exists in the Communist Party movement. While Trotsky gives us the false illusion that the Socialist Parties are becoming revolutionary, he tells us that there is no hope in splits in the ranks of the Stalinists.
Equally false is his argument regarding the stability of the bureaucracies. If it is true that the apparatus of the Comintern has at its command the money and power of the Soviet Union thus giving a certain stability to the Communist Party bureaucracy, it is also true that sections of the apparatus well know the meaning of the victory of Fascism and are willing to fight against it. On the other hand can one imagine the “socialist” prime ministers and parliamentary fakers in the Socialist Parties, tied up as they are with capitalist interest, will permit the Socialist Party to be “stolen” from them and turned over to the revolution?
Since the French Ligue has joined the French Socialists Party, “La Verite” no longer comes out with the particular lessons warning the French working-class of the necessity to drive out the misleaders from their ranks. The claws of the paper have now been cut off. There is “general advice” about the need for a workers militia and dictatorship of the proletariat and what not. But nothing on how to fight against the specific enemies of the working-class by name and their crimes of which the working-class must take full cognizance. Evidently Trotsky has followed his own words of last year: “Before taking seriously the fine words of the centrists concerning the dictatorship of the proletariat it is necessary to exact from them…the expulsion from their ranks of parliamentarians, trade-unionists and other traitors, of bourgeois lackeys, careerist, etc…. It is precisely on this plane that one must now deliver the principal blows at centrism.” Yes, precisely. And precisely this is what is being betrayed by Trotsky today.
Finally, the whole world now knows that Trotsky organizes a revolutionary group only to liquidate it when the time for battle comes. Who can trust him now? Who wants to join that kind of a group and give his life for it? A leader who cannot distinguish between tactics which may change at any moment and basic strategy, a Communist who declares that the vanguard organization should be given up in the name of “mass work”, such a muddlehead can only bring ruin upon the whole revolutionary movement. That such a Communist leader can be Trotsky shows us how correct the estimation was of him that he is good in times of revolutionary upsurge and under firm control, but rotten in a period of defeat and disaster.
As in France, so in England, although with different arguments and pressure. In England, it is declared, the Independent Labor Party, don’t you see, is bringing up and vacillating, not knowing where to go. The conclusion should be—let us work within the I.L.P. trying to win the best elements to us. That would be Leninism. Trotskysim, however, means to give up our banner and organ and independence and merge unconditionally with the I.L.P. exactly at a time when the advanced working-class sections in England are entirely without compass or rudder.
How to Build an Organization—Leninism or Trotskyism.
The Menshevist capitulation of the International Secretariat already could have been discerned a long time ago and it was to the credit of the Communist League of Struggle that this was pointed out in the “Class Struggle". In Vol.1 No.3 (Sept. 1931) our statement can be found. “Our adherence is not to this petty scheming Secretariat, with its false line; we demand the ousting of such a Secretariat. We demand honest and full discussion on all questions of difference among the Left Opposition groups.”
The fact that at no time was the International Secretariat, tolerated and supported by Trotsky, worthy of the name “Bolshevik Leninists” but was penetrated with all the evils that existed within the other groupings, namely: bureaucracy, careerism, factionalism, cliquism, etc…Again and again members of the Secretariat had to be expelled as “intriguants” or renegades. “Tell us with whom you go and we will tell you what you are” certainly could be applied to Trotsky. Surrounded on all sides by international Cannons and Shactmans could there be any other way out than capitulation?
A fundamental error was made by the “Left Communist” center in not compelling the organizations connected with it to enter into mass work from the very start and to fit themselves for building up an independent movement capable of leading the revolution. There was a complete failure to test the leadership in actual concrete struggle in many cases. Phrase- mongering literary intelligenzia took the lead. If we can say “our own” Max Shactman was not the worst, from this we can see what the others amounted to.
A second fundamental error was the failure to convoke a regular International Left Congress where a comprehensive and collective program and strategy could have been worked out and adequate cadres and discipline established in the various countries. For years the International Secretariat had criticized the Stalintern for not calling any congresses to discuss the events and to take appropriate action. Yet from the very beginning there had been no congress called of the “Left Opposition” itself.
All we ever had to go by were the essays and articles of “Our Leader,” Trotsky. Instead of a Marxist leadership being developed in each country capable of standing on its own feet, what we got was something as follows: “19. But if … and then …and if? To foresee everything and to provide for everything in advance is impossible.” “To conclude: the Koran says that the Mountain came to the prophet. Marxism counsels the prophet to go to the mountain.” With such homilies and good-night stories does the “old man” put his little children to sleep at night giving them the comfortable illusion that these methods can build up genuine Marxist cadres. However, if Trotsky follows Rakovsky in capitulating to reformism there are groups that will hold firm. It is our business to connect these groups and rebuild the Internationalist Communist center which has been destroyed.
(To be concluded next issue when we shall take up the fusion of the Communist League of America with the American Workers Party—Muste group.)
Fascism has now held the reins in Italy for twelve years but where has it driven the horse? Though the No. 1 jockey of Italian capitalism sits in the saddle and furiously pulls at the bit, the animal proves balky and insists on galloping downhill at an unchecked breakneck speed which jeopardizes both horse and rider. Already observant spectators can see that relatively weak Italy which came too late to the imperialist starting post is rapidly losing ground in this vital race for her life. Her foreign trade has declined from 44.5 billion lire in 1925 to 13.5 billion lire ($702,000,000) for 1933. While a reduction of her adverse trade balance has also followed from the high point of 18 billion lire ($936,000,000) in 1925 to 1.4 billion lire ($75,000,000) for 1933, this has been made possible only by the most drastic reductions in national economy and enormous subsidies to the merchant marine. These subsidies have ranged from 300 million to 330 million lire ($17,160,000) annually over the last six years. But even by these measures it has not been possible to stave off the alarming decrease in exports seen in the last few months of 1933 and the beginning of 1934. Furthermore, imports have risen at least 4 1/2% in the first months of the year and are now probably much greater. Tourist trade, which is relied on to redress Italy’s unfavorable balance to the extent of 40 million dollars, has rapidly fallen off due to the deepening of the crisis and the devaluation of the dollar.
The long term debt has risen for 84.4 billion lire (1928) to 92.7 billion lire for the end of February 1934, while the floating debt which in 1928 amounted to a little more than 1.6 billion lire totaled in the same month in 1934 the staggering figure of 9,874,000,000 lire. The following table illustrates clearly the unprecedented rise in the public debt.
At the outset of fascism 1923, public debt……..95 billion lire
To-day……………….1934, regular debt…….98 billion lire
To-day, Additions stemming from fascism ……….72 billion lire
Total………………………………………….170 billion lire
170 billion lire translated into our currency is in excess of 8.9 billion dollars or 4080 lire ($210) per capita. But this is not the total balance sheet. To this, one must add the War Debts, the Morgan Loan of more than 16.5 billion lire, the semi-state obligations (such as the cost of the government controlled merchant marine and the commitments of the fifteen State Credit Associations which by now are probably in excess of 10 billion lire), the trifling 2 or 3 billion lire for the telegraph, telephone and postal service, and the 40 billion lire in state annuities for work already done or for which Italy has already contracted.
National income has declined from 100 billion lire in 1929 to less than 60 billion lire ($3 billion) at the depth of the depression. Taxes have exceeded 34 billion lire—more than one-half of the income on which it could be levied. Bankruptcies have steadily climbed upward. From a mere 1,896 in 1921 the sum has reach 21,308 for 1933. This is an increase of 4,000 over the previous year of 1932. Since 1930 the budget has not been balanced. Each year discloses a wide gap between expenditures and receipts. In the fiscal year of 1932-1933 (the last for which complete figures are available) the 21.9 billion in expenditures were covered by only 18 billion in revenue leaving a net deficit of 3.9 billion lire. For 1933-1934 the World Almanac estimates the deficit will be over 3 billion. In 1931-1932 it was over a half billion and in 1930-1931 it was 4.8 billion. In this way the debt mounts year by year and 20% of the budget must be devoted to charges on the public debt. Another 30% goes for military purposes while public works receive less than 12%.
(Since 1926 production in coal, lead ore, iron, steel and chemicals has steadily declined. Some slight gains were made in sections of the iron industry, copper, finished lead, sulphur and super phosphates. But these advances were made mainly in 1928-1929 and have since been wiped out. At any rate they have been more than offset by the present condition of the natural silk industry which is on the verge of collapse.
While the rest of the capitalist world found itself compelled by a rapidly decaying social system to rationalize by leaps and bounds, Italy, because of her relatively inferior position, was forced to resort to the even more drastic measures than the rest of Europe. To-day, concludes “Fortune”, the magazine of the big bourgeoisie, “Even after allowing for the many services that the State supplies to the people, it is practically certain that the standard of living has not been raised at all” and that it is probably among the lowest in Europe. These deductions are further substantiated by other bourgeois economists. Hugh Quigley, Chief Statistical Officer of the Central Electricity Board of Great Britain, writing in “Current History” for June, 1934 gives the following figures, taken from official fascist sources. These bare numbers describe, as no words can, the miserable plane to which the Italian worker has been reduced.
Year—Type of Worker— Rate per Hour— Cents at $0.052 per lire
Average Industrial Wage….A little over 2 lire….about 10.4cents
Average Agricultural Wage….Rate much lower (No figures given)
Women and Children..From less than 1 to 1.75 lire…5 to 9.1cents
Average Industrial Wage……………1.75 lire….9.1cents
Agricultural-Highest Wage, Men……..1.18 lire….6.14cents
Agricultural-Highest Wage, Women……64 lire to .64 lire..3.33cents
Average Wage (Inc. Agricultural )……..1.5 lire…..7.8cents
But even these deplorably low subsistence average do not reflect the real wages which the Italian worker receives. One must still take into consideration the numerous indirect taxes which fall from the fascist heavens like a veritable deluge of bricks upon the backs of the Italian workers. To compute the true cost of these taxes is impossible since exact figures are purposely made unavailable. But we do know that almost ONE-HALF of Italy’s total revenue of 18 billion lire comes from the indirect levies upon everything on which the workers can be made to bear the lion’s share of the burden: customs, sales, tobacco, homes, salt, the slaughter of animals, bachelors, childless couples, matches. One can almost say the very right to breath the putrid air of fascist barbarism is taxable. Income tax supplies but 20% of the State’s revenue and cuts sharply into the lower brackets, reaching farm income as low as 534 lire (from 1927 to 1933 this was $27.76). On all other incomes the tax begins with those of 2,000 lire ($104) with the highest tax set at a mere 25%. Naturally, in Italy as elsewhere, it is in this category that most of the evasions take place.
But the mulcting of the worker does not end with taxation for there is the 14 million dollars a year exacted as dues from this Syndicates of workers and Associations of employers, the greater portion of which is contributed by the workers and the smallest part of the which is spent on them. In disbursing this tribute 83% is devoted to the upkeep of the apparatus, 1% goes to guarantee (to the employers) the fulfillment of the collective labor contracts and the remainder of it is supposed to take care of educational and vocational training which in Italy means excellent advise on how to die young for God and Country.
Nor have we yet turned the last page of this tale for we have not taken into consideration the tremendous sacrifices demanded as a result of the “Battle of Wheat” which raised the import duty on wheat until in 1931 it was pegged at 150%. What this means to the Italian worker can be appreciated only when one realizes that 45% to 50% of all the calories required by Italian laborers and clerks are derived from wheat based foods. It would therefore be bad enough if Italy were self-sufficient in wheat, but during the most successful period of the “Battle” she still had to import 18 million bushels. This year, due to the heavy rains, the plight of the Italian worker will be even worse for it is estimated that Italy will have to import 35 million bushels of wheat.
Together with the haunting spectre of high food prices the gargantua of unemployment casts its huge shadow over Italy’s workers. The emaciated figures of the government, wasted away by the customer treatment prescribed by Mussolini’s quacks follow:
January 1928…………….. 439,211 registered as unemployed
January 1929……………. 650,000 registered as unemployed
January 1932……………1,051,321 registered as unemployed
February 1933………….1,229,387 registered as unemployed
February 1934………….1,103,550 registered as unemployed
But, Mr. Quigley informs us, (not that we need him to tell us this) that these figures are not complete and do not apply to the entire body of labor. He estimates that at least 1/3 of all the workers in industry are idle and conservatively sets the number of unemployed at 2 million. The true figure, however, is probably nearer 3 than 2 million and not even the bloated God of capitalism can predict at how many million the bottom will be reached.
While much has been made of the services which the State supplies the people their real value is very insignificant. For example, Dopolavoro (appropriately called Dopo for short) is one of the principal agencies of State service. Ostensibly gives its members meeting rooms, the use of stadiums, special railroad fares, better steamship rates, cheap theatre tickets, tax free food in Dopo restaurants, special libraries, reading rooms, lectures and instruction in athletics. Its main function, however, is to prevent the workers from revolting against their miserable conditions. As a result of subtle forms of coercion, Dopo now has registered 1,920,000 members but the benefits still remain illusionary since it is yet to be adequately demonstrated how a worker who must sweat nine hours a day, six days a week to make the miserable pittance or $3.74 can take ocean voyages, make extended railroad trips, attend the theatre, or even use the libraries since Italy’s illiteracy rate is very high. (27% in 1921)
Now of what other great accomplishments can Mussolini boast? The draining of the marshes of the Campagna? The building of the longest double track tunnel in the world? That the trains run on time? That Italy has now excavated the Glory that was Rome? But all this is but a mere handful that even “Fortune” admits has"not been achieved without an enormous -to American eyes a fantastic amount of sacrifice.” Typical, however, of the way in which Mussolini publicizes and boasts of his great contributions to the welfare of Italy’s most impoverished masses are his slum clearance schemes. Some of these filthy, crowded tenement sections in which Italy’s workers are compelled by necessity to live have been swept away to make room for boulevards and parks for the rich. But does Mussolini construct any municipal dwellings to rehouse the displaced populace? Under no circumstances could he contemplate even such a reform for it would interfere with the profits of the landlords. In fact, the slum clearances have actually increased landlords’ profits by decreasing the supply of apartments. In this way rents are made to soar and the burden of the proletariat is augmented.
It general, the remainder of Mussolini’s “handouts” to the worker have been on a par with his slum clearance projects. Quigley writes, “Its (fascism’s) record of public service, particularly in the smaller towns and the suburbs of the cities—public services represented not only by utilities but by such things as sanatoria and schools—is poorer than that of any European country in the same political category and is certainly poorer than of pre-fascist Italy.” Surely if, in 1934, democracy is inexorably driven to fascism because even reform is too expensive, then it follows that fascism, which is itself a costly mechanism, must seek even more drastic means of economy to compensate for its own expensiveness.
It is not for nothing, therefore, that Mussolini is forced to drive the workers back to the land—a land so limited in dimensions and poor in quality that it requires the most diligent cultivation to make it productive. But fascism, because it finds it difficult to bribe the most loyal of its hoodlums with jobs, is compelled to further aggravate the contradictions between city and country by chasing the jobless back to the farm. But how can the workers go back to the farm when there is no land for them? And even if there were land it would still be impossible for them to go back since the tempo of rationalization would make their absorption impossible. This can be easily grasped from the fact that from 1928 to 1934, 207,000 agricultural workers were permanently shelved while 99,090,000 more bushels of wheat were produced an increase of 50%. What is true of wheat is true of other agricultural commodities like barley, oats, corn, beans, potatoes and sugar beets. It is therefore obvious that the workers cannot go back to a land already oversupplied with labor and which, in an area three-quarters the size of California, supports a population ten times as large. That it does support such a large population, however, is due not to its fertility but to the extremely low level of subsistence to which the Italian peasant has been reduced.
One cannot fail to conclude from all this that Italy, like all other powers, must gird her loins for war. With a small, vexatious and unfruitful colonial empire that is exceedingly poor in raw materials Italy has no other recourse but to take to the path of foreign adventure. Italy therefore spars for time like a crafty boxer who skips around the ring until he can swing the knockout blow. Italy tries to keep her workers distracted until she can send them to the battlefields, there finally to dispose of them forever.
War is on the order of the day for it is only war which can ruthlessly destroy men and goods, unearth fresh markets for exploitation, and supply new sources of raw material. Here, again, Italy has added reason for going to war. She can mine only one ton of coal of every fifteen tons which she requires. She has no fuel oil and her total iron-ore production is only 1/100 of the U.S. Mesaba Range. While Italy once led the world in the production of sulphur she now produces only 1/5 as much as the U.S.A. and were it not for the forced labor which works the mines and the large subsidies of the State she would be unable to maintain even this fractional production.
If Italy is to wage a war she must have men. It is no wonder that Il Duce exhorts bribes, and coerces the workers to swell the ranks of a population which already numbers 344 to the square mile. Though Mussolini reduced the legal age of marriage, allows honeymooners cheaper railroad fares, gives special food doles to those who acknowledge illegitimate children, gives prizes to mothers, give bonuses and lowers the tax-rate for those who raise large families and taxes childless couples and bachelors the birth-rate still goes down. In 1923 it was 29.23 per thousand. Each year since it has shrunken until in 1933 we find it at 23.5 per thousand.
It is for the same martial reason that more than 3 1/2 million children of both sexes are cajoled and compelled to enroll in the various youth organizations (The Ballila, Piccole, Avanguardista and Giovani Italians) where they are uniformed and fully equipped with miniature armaments. When they grow up they are admitted to the Volunteer Militia for National Security which, as the Party’s Army, now numbers 398, 000 men. This discipline, however, is not confined exclusively to the youth groups. In school as well they are fed on a diet of the rankest kind of chauvinistic gibberish that Mussolini’s propaganda machine can advise.
Besides the Volunteer Militia Italy has a standing army of 247,021 soldiers, a military police (Carabinier) of 30,629 men, most of whom are former army men, and a reserve of 2,350,000. The air force numbers 25,000 active airplane and a personnel of 24,591. In 1932- 1933 Italy spent 7.45 billion lire on her air-force alone. She now has 81 airports and 86 flying fields all of which are fully equipped.
The “planning” of Il Duce only aggravates and does not solve the contradictions between 47% of Italy’s workers engaged in agriculture and the 3% in her factories, a proletariat numerically inferior to Italy’s professional classes and but 1/10 the number of her artisans and handicraftsmen. But if Italy’s proletariat is small, a large portion of it is well regimented in her large trustified industries. In this respect Italy is very similar to Tsarist Russia. Many of her industrial concerns are organized on the same plane as those of highly developed capitalist countries. Montecanti, for example, Italy’s largest chemical concern has $77,000,000 in assets, employs 27,500 workers, consumes 10% of Italy’s electric output and itself produces 1/2 of its own requirements. Montecanti by itself produces 88% of all Italian pyrites 33% of Italy’s’s sulphur, 66% of her chemical fertilizer, 100% of her ammonium phosphates and calcium nitrates. In addition, Montecanti owns 51% of Acna which is Italy’s sole producer of dyes.
In the Italian automobile field Fiat reigns supreme with an annual production of 33,360, 80% of Italy’s total. Fiat employs 29,000 men and has 7 3/4 miles of plants around Turin. Fiat is a vertically integrated corporation. It produces its own machinery and tools, makes its own iron, steel, and hydro-electric power. In addition to autos Fiat manufactures railroad equipment, tractors, plows, diesel and airplane engines, tanks and military ordinance supplies. It is important to note that the combined assets of Italy’s ten largest corporations, while only 750 million dollars, represent more than 9% of all corporative assets.
From all this one can readily conclude that Italian fascism like German fascism has not signified the birth of a new social order springing from the womb of the old. Rather, it is a self- induced abortion brought on by the terrific fright which capitalism sustained when it realized that is was about to give birth to the dictatorship of the proletariat. Capitalism cannot practice abortion too often without weakening itself in the process. Despite the semblance of restored vigor the revolutionary babe will be born. But now it may not take the usual period of gestation.
Up to the end of the 19th century the only type of city government that had been widely developed in the United States was the decentralized Mayor-Council form of government which was based on the federal analogy of checks and balances by which the legislative and administrative functions were separated and allotted to the Council and Mayor respectively. But with the beginning of the 20th century the form of city government began to experience deep- rooted changes which have centralized and consolidated its powers. And in the period before us we can see the form of local government more and more turning in its new direction. This turn is due to efforts further to blend government with industrial and financial management in a new synthesis of power. As such it is the product of imperialist capitalism which has organized its most highly perfected state form in the countries abroad where today it raises it vastus face of FASCISM. In the field of municipal government this concentration of powers has up to now found its most apt expression in the Council-Manager of the City-Manager plan.
About the turn of the century the “strong Mayor” type of city government was proposed. By giving the Mayor greater administrative power the concept of a “general manager” in public administration came into being. However, the City-Manager plan was rather a development of the Commission plan of local government. The Commission plan entirely disregarded the idea of a chief administrator, made possible the elimination of the checks and balances and introduced direct methods of popular control—the initiative, referendum and recall. A small Commission (from three to nine) constituted as a group the city Council. The Commissioners served in a dual capacity; collectively they were the legislative body and individually they served as administrative heads of the city departments. This simplified the government but, at the same time, it failed to bring about adequate co-ordination of activity, and administrative weakness which grew out of the diffusion of responsibility among the Commissioners. This weakness the City-Manger plan sought to overcome by further centralizing all administrative power. The appointive executive provided by the latter plan was its one unique feature. The plan retained three integral principles of the Commission plan, first, the small Council in which was vested every power of the city, legislative and executive, that is to say, the Unification of Powers. Secondly, the Councilmen were the only elected officer in the city government, that is, the Short Ballot. Thirdly, they were selected on a non-partisan basis. The Council was required to appoint a chief executive office called a City-Manager. He was chose on the basis of training, ability and experience regardless of the local political line-up and frequently from distant cities. He was supposed to be an expert, put in full charge and he was responsible to the Council.
The checks and balances system was good enough for the quiet 19th century days-the cades of the peaceful development of competitive capitalism- when the United States was building its productive forces and the home market was still expanding. The Mayor was considered primarily as a grand ward politician, that is, as a dispenser of patronage, rather than as an administrator; and with the operation of the “spoils” system, the cities treasuries were plundered regularly. Though the men who were engaged in carrying on the industrial and commercial interests of the community grumbled at bad municipal government and heavy taxes they found it more profitable to pay the cost and attend unremittingly to their own private business. With the birth of the new century United States industry reorganized itself for competition in the world markets, and by the end of the first decade trustified industry based on finance capital had definitely established itself as the dominant force in political life. It is then we find the men of big business more and more taking a leading role in municipal reform. It was they who were the prime moving forces for the Commission form of government as well as being the sires of the City-Manager plan.
As the urban population grew by leaps and bounds municipal activity kept pace. The governments of the growing cities took over one by one services usually performed by individuals or left unperformed when the cities were smaller. Detroit, for example, added 81 new activities between 1910 and 1920 and 55 others in the next decade compared to a total of 147 acquired during the 86 years prior to 1910. In this way came about the consolidation of powers in municipal government.
The 20th century business men who had already reorganized industry drew an obvious analogy between its corporate form and government. They made it manifest that the management of a city is in reality a business undertaking of tremendous complexity. Many were the reasons with which big business men supported the new form of city government. They sought to increase the efficiency of government and to reduce cost. They wanted complete freedom of executive action from the influence of ward politicians who might be swayed by popular pressure. Besides, with a centralized government they could handle union and labor troubles more effectively. But, principally, their hope was to gain control of the municipal government through their own men to enforce these measures. They proposed the concentration of executive power in one responsible officer. In a business corporation the stockholders choose a Board of Directors which in turn selects the President or Manager. The company executive picks most or all of his operating staff, being responsible to the directors merely for getting results. Why not apply this to the form of city government? The voters are the “shareholders” who elect their “Board of Directors”, the Council or Commission. Under this pressure the system of checks and balances gave way to one of centralized power and action. Thus it is that the City-Manager plan is pushed forward in the era of imperialism when rationalization becomes the mode everywhere and the government is modeled after the trusts.
The rise of the City-Manager plan is the manifestation in municipal government of the increasing recognition of the technological revolution in industry. It replaces the amateur by the technician. The technician, trained by industry, now organizes and runs the city, setting up the basis of experience and providing the tradition which will support the aims of the Technocrats. The plan is the most advanced point in the movement toward government by experts. The Commission plan centralized the powers of the city government but it did not guarantee experts to administer the various departments. The City-Manager plan strengthened the Commission plan at its weakest point by insuring a high grade of professional skill at the head of the cities administrative service. Of 629 City-Managers 52% have been chosen from responsible business or industrial positions and 43% more were selected from other government posts. These figures apply to the principal life work of these men and the percentages are precisely reversed for their immediate positions, 42% coming directly from business or industry and 52% from prior government posts.
The City-Manager appoints competent department heads, also experts, chosen on the basis of training and experience, without regard to “politics.” The Manager appoints all other city officials and employees (subject to the civil service regulations) and he may suspend or dismiss them for proper cause. He assigns to each his particular work. With his “cabinet” of trained experts, engineers and technicians he gathers around himself his own “brain trust.” He meets with the Council, advising and steering legislative matters, although he does not vote on them. He is the autocrat of the city administration. Note how well this lines up with the “strong man” movement in government.
Concurrently with the growth of the Commission plan and the City-Manager plan the “strong Mayor” proposal, too, gained ground. A similar centralization of powers took place in the office of Mayor, who was made responsible as the chief administrative officer of the city. The recent proposals of Samuel Seabury and Al Smith for a new charter for the City of New York follow this concept. They would abolish the Board of Aldermen, centralizing all power in the Board of Estimate (Council) and giving it far wider powers than it now has. The Mayor, supreme in the Board of Estimates, would dominate the city government.
Despite the continuance of the old decentralized bodies, that is, the Boards of Aldermen and Estimate, Mayor LaGuardia has already concentrated the power in the executive division of New York City’s government. This may be seen in his “emergency bill”, passed by the state legislature, which gives to the LaGuardia controlled Board of Estimate power to consolidate, merge and abolish city and county departments, abolish useless offices, cut salaries, except those of teachers, policemen and firemen, and to furlough (without pay) even these employees for one month in a year. These powers are carried out in his administration of the parks, hospitals, markets, etc. To head the various departments LaGuardia also has chosen his experts, his “brain trust,.” in several instances calling them to New York from other cities. Meetings of the Board of Estate start promptly, the proceedings go forward briskly and in a businesslike manner. The Mayor keeps “business” hours in his office, an unheard of practice in previous administrations. In becoming an exponent of action, in his desire to get things done through administrative control, LaGuardia, too, becomes and example of Mussolinism in local government.
Besides its development in large industrial and manufacturing cities the City-Manager plan has been introduced also into the residential community, often the suburb of an industrial region. Here the working class is small, the petty-bourgeoisie predominate, yet the small property holder, store and business proprietor and professionals are a minority to a newer element of the population. This element is made up of people (foremen, office staff, professional men, salesmen, etc.) Whose jobs have been given them by big business. Besides, there are those who are entirely dependent upon their investment in trustified industry. They are the dividend check cashers and coupon clippers, in short, rentiers. It is because they are so intimately connected with trustified industry that they have rationalized their city governments.
The City-Manager followed the example set by the trusts in his drive for efficient and cheap government. From them he copied the mechanization, electrification, motorization, incineration and standardization which were introduced into the municipal departments to release employees for other duties or to dispense with them altogether. Redundant posts were abolished, duties combined, the wages and salaries bill reduced. This rationalization of the government, accompanying the concentration and consolidation of its powers, led to the government becoming “trustified.” It is now “organized capitalism” in miniature. It is virtually corporative government, the corporate city-state.
When government breaks down under crucial tests the centralization of powers comes into being. It is significant that natural catastrophes had a great deal to do with centralized forms of city government. The decentralized government of the City of Galveston faced a desperate situation following the destruction of a large part of the city by the tidal wave of 1900. Much of the public property—streets, schools, light and water plants—was destroyed or badly damaged. The destruction of private property was such that the ability of the population to aid was diminished. Many of the wealthy class deserted the city. The old government failed in the crisis. It was then that the Texas legislature acceded to the request for a Commission to govern the city. A few years later Houston adopted the Commission plan with the addition of the initiative, referendum, recall and non-partisan ballot and initiated the rapid spread of Commission government until the peak was reached in 1917 with about 500 Commission governed cities.
Likewise the 1913 flood in Dayton, Ohio brought into bold relief the inefficiency of the decentralized administration which broke down at an equally critical moment. In Dayton the City- Manager Charter was adopted and was followed almost immediately in this move by Springfield, Ohio. The spread to a whole host of other cities was rapid. April 1934 saw 448 communities in the United States under this form of government. Included were 20% of all the cities of between 25 and 50 thousand population, more than 25% of those between 50 and 100 thousand and nearly one-fifth of those having more than 100 thousand inhabitants.
While the Council-Manager plan is largely confined in operation to cities, in theory the principle applies for counties and even for states. In 1919 Kansas had a “State Manager” with administrative control of all state institutions. The numerous county “Managers” and the steady growth of enabling legislation are cumulative evidence of the adaptability of the Manager plan to county administration.
The years 1917-1918 were a period of even more crucial testing and the simplicity of centralized control allowed economy and efficiency where they were most needed. The great army training camps which the federal government established during the world war were given all the facilities of modern cities and were put under the guidance of practical managers known as “Officers in Charge of Utilities” who, in many cases, were members of the City-Managers’ Association. Here the federal government used the Manager plan where it wanted efficiency and speed. City-Manager cities undertook various phases of war work in a very determined manner, handling the fuel question, the housing problem and furnishing water, electricity and other services in the nearby cantonments. The imperialist war brought out the value of an administrator with centralized authority and the City-Manager plan was promoted as a war measure. In the first half of 1918 more cities put the Manager plan into effect than any whole year previously. Because the centralization of powers was found to be a requisite in meeting the emergences created by natural disasters and war, we may look for an accelerated movement in this direction as the cities are faced with grave social emergency arising from their inadequate handling of the problems of relief for the unemployed.
In all phases of the movement to centralize the powers of the city governments we see a very fertile field for the growth of fascist forms in the government itself. Just notice how much like the fascist doctrine of the Corporative State is the operation of the City-Manager plan which gives to the whole mechanism of city government that single controlling, composite mind which fascism finds necessary for its success. We must not minimize the threat of danger which lies in this path because remnants of democracy still surround it. He chief administrator of the cities in the fascist countries is appointed, not elected, and where the appointment is made by the Council it must be confirmed by the central government or is made by it in the first instance as is the German Burgomaster and the Italian Fodesta. Should fascism come it will dispense with democratic forms as Hitler did in Germany. Already in America we have precedents for such action. In Alaska the governments of many communities are carried on by U.S. officers whose duties correspond very closely to those of a City-Manager. And when the Commission plan was adopted by Galveston three of its five Commissioners were appointed by the Governor. In Washington, D.C., which has been under Commission government since 1878, the three Commissioners are appointed by the President and the Senate. While this grew out of the relation of the national government to this particular city, it is a precedent which can be extended to other cities. Here we have the germ of fascism arising from above through the beginnings of the fascisation of the apparatus of the government, which we may call the “cold” growth of fascism. And when we consider the hundreds of cities now government by Commissions, “strong Mayors,” or City-Managers we must declare them to be a huge predisposition for the inroads of fascism.
In this connection it is very significant to note than in the Commission or City-Manager forms of government there are usually no “party” candidates as such. Party lines are destroyed as much as possible and the theory is openly carried out; the city must be run as a good business is run. There must be no class struggle in municipal elections. The destruction of political parties in municipal elections which control so much of the people’s lives leads to the general attitude that parliamentarism, political parties and oppositions are harmful to the community and to society, itself a tenet of fascism. Then non-partisan provisions of these plans ostensibly aimed at the separation of local affairs from national politics. Actually they counterposed class-collaboration to the class struggle by rendering ineffective on a city scale the political organization of the working class.
Moreover, these plans were introduced by Liberals as an extension of democracy, making it practical and workable. They hailed them as laying bare the process of government so that the busy, ordinary voter could exercise his full share of control. If the move to centralize the city government was attended by such democratic flourishes, referendum and recall this was only a seeming liberalization. To say that non-partisan elections on the Short Ballot gave the voter more direct control over the officers to be elected is to be specious. Whereas the decentralized Councils of the Mayor-Council governed cities were elected by wards, both the Commission and the City-Manager plans usually elect their governing bodies from the city at large. Whereas, before, the Ward Councilman was responsible to the desires of his neighborhood constituents and far closer to the people, the Councilman-at-large is much more removed from control in fact. This is part of the tendency to remove control from the many to the few. The smaller the controlling board the easier can it be “reached” by big business. It is easier by far for the trust-trained and dominated Councilman to become the controlling influence in a small centralized body than could be possible in the larger, localized Board of Aldermen, for example. The more direct control which is exercised over the Council or Commission is in the hands of the industrial and financial interests. Only they find in this simplification of democracy any extension of control.
In its attack on racketeering and graft the City-Manager plan is very close to fascism which also attacks gangsterism and parliamentary graft and turns against the parliament as well. Do not forget Mussolini’s relentless drive against the Mafia and L’affaire Stavisky which, in France, has been a focus of fascist activity. And fascism’s accomplishments in road-building, draining the Pontine Marshes and routing Italian trains on schedule are up to the par of the City- Manager’s drive for competency, efficiency and cheap government.
As we unravel the many loose threads in this skein we find them inextricably joined in a Gordian knot. Liberalism, the City-Manager plan, fascism are all linked to imperialist capitalism and to each other by myriad chains. We have seen how war-like, imperialist capitalism has discarded the pacific form of the checks and balances system of government in general and created in its stead the highly concentrated, unified, trustified, efficient and, in turn, war-like form of the City-Manager plan. And how like fascism this plan is in all its facets! The concentration of powers which was good to meet the emergencies of war time is equally needed by the bourgeoisie in the class struggle to combat strikes and all forms of rising working class movement. The non- partisan provisions of the City-Manager plan prepare the basis for the fascists’ only party (bourgeoisie controlled) which can brook no opposition. The same Liberals who campaigned so spiritedly for the Unification of Powers and the Short Ballot as an extension of popular control, “making America’s democracy democ!” will be found mastered and entrenched in the arising fascist movement.
DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMMUNISM
Six Mondays at 8:30 beginning Monday, November 13th
Instructor ALBERT WEISBORD
Admission 15 cents Workers School—139 Second Ave., Room 24.
IV If Dialectical Materialism is Communism, Pragmatism is Americanism. And, after all, there is a close connection between Americanism and Communism, as has been illustrated in fact by the relation between the U.S. and the S.U., for Communism begins where capitalism ends and the U.S. is the highest developed capitalist country, while the Soviet Union is the lowest developed Communist country. Therefore the craze in Russia for American exports, for American goods and machinery. Industrially Russia is becoming Americanized with the object of overtaking and surpassing the greatest capitalist country in the world. Both America and Russia stress action, the creative faculty in man, practical activity. Both have a philosophy catering to Humanism, that is posing as treating man not as a means but as an end, and the system extant in the country benefits not a class but entire humanity. Both America and the Soviet Union have a “cause.” The Russian lives for his Communism, the American, at least the American in the heyday of America, thought of his work and lived for his work. In both cases it is production and not consumption that is the dominant aim of life, in America the production of profit, in Russia, the production of a better control over nature and higher standards of society.
Pragmatism, as an American product, would have to carry forward into its philosophy precisely these aspects of America. Stressing empiricism or inductive analyses of the data around us without prejudice of preceding conclusions, emphasizing practical “pragmatic” activity, constantly asserting the necessity of action and experience to verify the concreteness of all truth, Pragmatism only reflected the general utilitarianism of bourgeois life. Pragmatism preached that change was constant but that luck and chance was a great factor in the universe and the results of its workings could not be predicted. Combined with these views went a sort of revolt against all absolutisms, and just as the liberal talked of democracy and every man counting for one, and each having the right to his point of view, so pragmatism invented a sort of philosophic democracy and humanism, in which all causes, all opinions, all ideas counted for the same and had the same justification. One idea, one note.
The real founder of Pragmatism was William James (who gives credit, however, to Peirce as his forerunner). It will pay us to study this first development of Pragmatism under James. James himself has little to do with the term “practice” as used by materialists. “Experience” may mean a great many things. We “experience”, for example, an apple. This can mean that the apple is really there, or that it is our “experience.” In all “experience” there must be both the objective factor, material reality, and ourselves, subjective sensibility. In the sense that James uses the word, there is no object without our experience of it. That is as much as to say, for example on the question whether the earth existed before mankind, or organic life, that since we cannot say that the earth was “experienced’ by anyone then, we cannot really say that the earth existed before us. Here we see that James, pretending all the time to have really developed a scientific method, flew in the face of all science.
James could not even say, as the materialist, that matter existed independent of mankind’s “experience” of it. To James the mind was equally important to the object conceived and felt. If the mind was outside and independent of materiality, then the question arose how does thought itself come about, does thinking come from the brain? Here again James dodged a most fundamental and yet simple scientific question.
To James science was “our” science, that is the laws of science, since they were relative, since they were discovered by the human mind, were purely mental laws which had nothing directly to do with the actions of matter. Time did not exist outside of us, it was a mental concept. The “pure” reality outside of us we would never know for we ourselves helped make the reality we know. Truth? We never know truth. Truth is not an expression of the actions of nature outside of us, truth is merely that which works. Further, as James wrote: “We have the right to believe at our own risk any hypothesis that is live enough to attempt our will.”
If Truth is merely a question of “cash value” and convenience, this, of course, can only be explained by a theory that truth is our creation, that it is psychological, a figment of our mind. Thus while, on the one hand, Pragmatism was constantly affirming that it was not related to Idealism (though its founder, James, was a religionist, as we have seen); essentially it made matter depend upon mental activity and so led back to idealism in the long run. However, instead of doing this openly and frankly, pragmatism tried to avoid the entire question of whether matter is primary or not by stressing the necessity of avoiding “dogma” and too great intellectualizing.
To James, Pragmatism was anti-intellectual. “It has no dogma and no doctrines save its method.” The best way to do away with the problems was to avoid theory and turn to action. The basic test, after all, was how much cash can you get out of it? As James put it: “The pragmatic method is primarily a method of settling metaphysical disputes that otherwise might be interminable. Is the world one or many? Fated or Free? Material or Spiritual? …. The pragmatic method in such cases is to try to interpret each notion by tracing its respective practical consequences. What difference would it practically make to anyone if this notion other than that notion were true?”
If Pragmatism turned away from theoretical solutions and avoided them and turned to the day to day facts around it, this was not in the same way science did so. Pragmatism, indeed, wanted to scoop out the materialism of empiricist science and to stuff science with its own nonsense. Again let us hear James: “Pragmatism represents a perfectly familiar attitude in philosophy, an empiricist attitude, but it represents it, as it seems to me, both in a more radical and in a less objectionable form than it has ever yet assumed. A pragmatist … turns away from abstraction and insufficiency, from verbal solutions, from bad a priori reasons, from fixed principles, closed systems, and pretended absolutes and origins. He turns towards concreteness and adequacy, towards facts, towards action and towards power.”
If Pragmatism turned to the concrete reality rather than any discussion of the fundamental problems of philosophy, it was in order by means of this trick to put forward its own concept, one that went hand in hand with the theory that truth was a mere matter of convenience, namely that the only correct approach to nature was not the monistic approach but the pluralistic one.
As we have seen both idealism and materialism were monistic philosophies, that is, they identified matter and sprit, the first in order to make sprit dominant, the latter in order to make matter the prius. The older agnostic camps (Locke, Kant) had adopted a dualism agreeing that both matter and spirit existed but denying that we could know either through ordinary logical processes.
James, however, adopted a pluralistic approach, because to him truth was not only concrete but discrete, that is each event was to be judged by itself. It suddenly appeared on our horizon. It latter disappeared. Whence did it come, where did it go? This was not for us to answer, said James. Each event must be separate. No objective necessity and causality existed in nature. The world was not determinate but indeterminate. Chance, luck (and God) existed. It was not for us to question absolute first principles but only results, consequences.
Given man as a creative factor in an indeterminate world, a world given over to luck, accident and chance, it was no accident that James should stress will, man’s will as the essence of that creative factor. Here James showed himself really part of the Kantian school of Free Will which he himself was willing to adopt as a “doctrine of relief.” Very often, in reading the Pragmatists, one gets the impression that they have nothing to do with Kant and the Kantian school, that they have broken away from German metaphysics. In essence this is not so. To quote G. Stanley Hall: “In modern Pragmatism, the true Kant has been resurrected, indeed has been for the first time really discerned.” ("Why Kant is Passing,” American Journal of Psychology, Vol, 33, p. 386.)
The truth is that Pragmatism is but one of the many schools of Voluntarism. James openly declared his agreement with Bergson and Bergson with James although Bergson’s school of philosophy opens wide the door to abstract idealism. All the schools of Voluntarism stressed the reality of “wish” and “will” over matter and how matter indeed consisted essentially of this wish and will.
Lest anyone believe that Pragmatism and materialism have much in common we point out in the words of James just why he could not be a materialist. “Materialism means simply the denial that the moral order is eternal, and the cutting off of ultimate hopes; spiritualism means the affirmation of an eternal moral order and the letting loose of hope.”
It is very clear why James was not a materialist. He difference between materialism and his moralism was this, according to James himself: “On the one hand resistance to evil, the acceptance of poverty, martyrdom if necessary, in a word, the tragic life; such is the difference between the two beliefs.” And James was for the social compromises, for the Epicurean life. The Sydney Hocks know well where their bread is buttered!
In the 20th century James’ Pragmatism is continued by Dewey who has restyled it “Instrumentalism". (Others have called it “Experimentalism”, because professors conduct a bitter rivalry over names.) We have spent so much time on James because in fact, no matter what may be said by Hock and Company, Instrumentalist does not differ much from the Pragmatism of James. All the essential points are carried forward. Dewey too, believes in Pluralism because “Pluralism leaves no room for contingency” and Dewey believes in the Santa Clause “Contingency” and the Americanism of “Give us a break.” According to Dewey, Instrumentalist carries on the work of James generally and indeed stresses even more strongly than James the importance of the individual.
The attitude of Dewey towards Materialism can be seen by his consistent struggle against Marxism, his rationalistic chauvinism during the last war, his counterposing to labor his own “instrument” a “new third liberal party.” This professional ignoramus knows so little of the movements he is attacking that he can actually write that Marx “had no conception, moreover, of the capacity of expanding industry to develop new inventions, so as to develop new wants, new forms of wealth, new occupations; nor did he imagine that the intellectual ability of the employing class would be equal to seeing the need for sustaining consuming power by high wages in order to keep up production and its profits.” Here is combined that ignorance and naivete which so characterized the American “professor.” According to Dewey high wages bring high profits and one may be sure that the intellectual superiority of the capitalist class will see to it that we always get high wages. How pragmatic, Professor Dewey!
We can now turn from the metaphysics of pragmatism to the historical and social views of the Pragmatists. The right wing again may be seen as embodied in the position of James. His is given in his argument for peace. (See his “Moral Equivalent to War".) “But I do not believe that peace either ought to be or will be permanent on this globe unless the states pacifically organized preserve some of the old elements of army discipline. … Martial virtues must be the enduring cement. … obedience to command must still be the rock upon which states are built.” This is the “esthetic and ethical” way of doing away with war. And now to ignorance and naivete we get downright viciousness. The pragmatic view of history was to make an “ethical and esthetic” interpretation evidently—and the reader will at once say, how naive, how childlike, how like Harvard University. Butt hen this naive theory of “esthetics and ethics” is seen to embrace a political theory that could be hailed by Hitler and Mussolini themselves. Let us remember James, the neurotic, James constantly on the verge of suicide and afraid to go out in the dark alone (see article by M.Baum, “The Monist” Vol.42) by his wonderful pacifism which could declare: the old elements of army discipline must be preserved, obedience to command must still remain, etc., etc.. There’s Harvard Pragmatism for you.
Later the Pragmatists together with the Bourgeoisie generally condescended to deal with the mode of production as an “effective cause” or one of the causes why things happen to happen in society. These historians then began to invent the “Economic Interpretation of History” which looks almost as good as the real thing, the materialist conception of history, but in reality was offered as a substitute for the Marxist approach. The “Economic Interpretation of History” differed from Marxism in that it adhered to a pluralistic approach. “Economics” was only one cause, there were other motive powers in history just as great, psychology, ethics, biology, religion, individuals, etc., etc., and we should not be so illiberal as not to allow all the causes to have equal sway or to deny the right of anyone to explain events by one cause rather than another.
In this manner the liberal historians of the economic interpretations school showed their eclecticism, borrowing from the idealists the right to view history as the unfolding of an idea, and from the materialists the idea that perhaps we should pay attention to the materialist needs of the masses, needs based upon their economic relations and the given mode of production.
The difference between the two showed itself clearly in their treatment of the labor movement. All these people of the “economic interpretation school” spoke against the class struggle as “the only thing,” claimed that the social forces did not have to clash, that the evolutionary gradual process of reform was far more likely to result in workers amelioration than the road of Marxism, that is, insurrection of the masses leading to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The Pragmatic historians and sociologists were never weary of pointing out that there is no “must” in history, that everything is an “ought” and that truth is but one aspect of “the good,” that is, ethics covers the entire field and not forces beyond our control. If Socialism was to come—and some began to concede the good points of a sort of socialism—then it would be adopted because of its inherent “justice,” because moral people would decide it “ought to come,” rather than it would come as a matter of historic inevitability. There was no inevitability in history.
Just as America was a substitute for the real thing, offering its utopia of unlimited individual opportunity in a new country where the forces were unknown and indeterminate and where luck and change played a large part in individual lives, to the harsh reality of the class struggle and Socialism via the rough road of civil war, so Pragmatism became the substitute philosophy for Marxism. It poses as almost Marxism and looks so much like Marxism that many Americans are willing to accept the spurious and believe they have the real thing.
In many respects Pragmatism runs parallel with Dialectical Materialism. Both believe in the necessity of action, but whereas the materialist action is bound up with theory, through testing out and correcting our theoretical reactions to the events outside of us, to the pragmatist action takes the place of all theory, the action of the individual replacing the existence of materiality. Both philosophies believe in change, but whereas to the pragmatist, change is mere perpetual motion, to the materialist change is movement.
And there is an enormous difference between motion and movement. Movement means evolution. It means that there are basic starting points from which the events move, that there is an orientation and direction which the events take, that there are unfoldings of these events which may be predicted. Not perpetual motion but the driving …… of the bourgeois revolution until it is completed and made permanent is the Marxist formula.
In both philosophies man is seen as the creator, but by the materialist there are seen the limitations of man’s creation. Men may create but not out of the whole cloth; he is limited by his material environment. Not so with the pragmatist who is limited only by man’s will and who helps to create his entire environment.
Both the materialist and the pragmatist place each question on the basis “will it work?” But to the pragmatist this is to defend opportunism, to defend sophistry and the philosophy “each man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” Your pragmatist operates merely from day to day without any perspective whatever. For him truth is convenience or even whim. Not so the materialist. Whether a thing will work or not must depend upon a profound analysis of the given concrete situation and the contradictory laws of motion that are revealed so that our action will harmonize with the forces of history and our freedom will be the consciousness of our necessity. Pragmatism, however, is a philosophy without perspective.
Both schools emphasize that truth is concrete. Not only the pragmatist but the materialist constantly underlines empiricism, the necessity to observe the concrete data of the present without prejudice or bias. To the pragmatist, however, life is a mozaic, a picture puzzle, each piece separated from every other piece without the slightest continuity. To the pragmatist, therefore, there is really no history as there is no predictable future, there is only the present. Like a blind mole, Pragmatism sees with its nose rather than with its eyes, understands only just what is before its nose.
Both schools talk a good deal of experience as the best teacher and the necessity to get beyond verbalisms and to test everything out in action. But the pragmatist does not understand experience as only one form of practice, while your materialist stresses practice, events of nature even beyond man’s “experience.” Does space exist? The materialist would say, if you doubt it, step out of a tenth story window and be convinced for yourself. Your pragmatist would declare that there could be no laws of space unless we “experienced” them. It was our experience, our sensations that were real and not space itself.
According to the pragmatist, therefore, we could learn nothing from history since all truth began de novo with each individual’s “experience.” Here was a philosophy good for anarchism, as Kropotkin clearly saw. Its stress on individualism, its denial of the historic forces and the limitedness of man’s creative ability played right into the hands of the anarchist (liberal turned mad) who could then preach that it was not necessary to wait until capitalism reached a certain level of development before the “militant minority” could storm the government buildings and seize power by the coup d’etat. Everything had to be tested out by “experience” and if your coup d’etat failed this time, why, all that was necessary was to try again.
Both Pragmatism and Materialism discussed the effects of the economic forces of society upon history, but while with the Pragmatist this was one of many forces, to the Materialist the economics of a given society was but part of the material environment which at the same time limited and bound the making of history, and yet compelled history to move forward.
Pragmatism belonged to that middle-of-the-road agnostic school that was willing to compromise and take all irreconcilable elements with no questions asked. Its left wing was a sort of variation of shame-faced materialism; its right wing openly flirted with religion.
Here, too, it endeared itself to the Liberal (and to the Anarchist!) Especially was this true in regard to its views that there is no “must” in history. That if Socialism was to come it would have to come because of “justice” and in view of the fact that it was reasonable and good. To Kropotkin, as well as Kant and James and Spencer the “good will” worked wonders.
On this question of whether Socialism or the insurrection and dictatorship of the proletariat is inevitable, Pragmatism, Instrumentalist, Experimentalism, Fascism and the Catholic Church all shout “No!” But on this question Pragmatism has made a sort of change of front. To William James Socialism was not inevitable because capitalism would remain forever. To John Dewey the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is not inevitable because reform is better than revolution. In both cases their class desires were hidden by the formula that “nothing is inevitable”, but their views were issued in a period when the proletariat was advancing and it was the object of bourgeois apologists to forestall the advancing tide.
The situation is different today, however. It is Fascism that is advancing and the proletariat retreating. Today the instrumentalists like Hock tell the proletariat that Socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat are not inevitable, because in their hearts they believe that Fascism is going to come and they must trim their sails in advance in order to meet it. Certain “left wing” professors try to cover up their pessimism by stating that Marx was a fatalist and that to declare that socialism is inevitable will prevent the workers from fighting Fascism. Needless to say the workers will reject this as rank slander and will push aside as the rank forerunners and capitulators of Fascism that they really are these pretentious professors who, from their swivel chairs in the big universities, dare to insinuate that the workers are passive and that the proletarian victory may never come.
At one time Pragmatism became the official philosophy of American liberalism of all kinds, but today in 1934 we are able to add that Pragmatism can be not only the philosophy of Liberalism, but as the Liberal of today becomes the Fascist of tomorrow, Pragmatism may well contain within itself those principles which Fascism will heartily claim for its own. Note the stress on action; action, the need for change, the importance of man’s will, especially individual man’s will, the defense of truth as convenience, as political trimming, demagogy and opportunism, the open door to religion, the struggle against Marxism, the attack against the inevitability of Socialism.
It is no accident that William James is the direct inspirer of Mussolini. Pragmatism, eclecticism, fits in exquisitely well with a movement that is born of desperation, that breathes through demagogy, that knows not what will happen from day to day, and that moves convulsively to avoid the ever increasing conflicts overwhelming capitalism in its death throes. Pragmatism, What is that but another word for “No Perspective!” Pragmatism here is the American philosophic link that may yet link Liberalism with Fascism in this country.
THE CIVIL WAR IN SPAIN
It seems that the insurrection in Spain has been crushed, but by no means has it been the overwhelming victory that the government expected. While the government has won and while all military reactionist and fascist tendencies have been greatly strengthened, by no means has the last word been said. It may well be that what has been destroyed is not so much the revolutionary movement as the many illusions the workers had as to the chances of victory. The very stubborn fighting of the miners in the Asturias is an ominous warning to the ruling regime that the Revolution by no means will be easily liquidated. At this moment it would be well to draw attention to several important lessons that must be learned from the events in Spain.
1. The cowardice of the petty-bourgeois liberal elements, especially the Catalonian Independence groups which had boasted how much they hated the Madrid gang and how they had the army in full control. This froth that effervesced as brilliantly on the surface of the Social Revolution was soon blown into thin air by the first breath of serious fighting. All the gallant officers on whom they had relied seemed literally to vanish. As the Madrid troops marched upon the government buildings, like frightened mice they all ran away, squeaking piteously. The hardened Catalonian politicians, bold bad men as they had appeared, servilely opened their soft, pudgy hands and nervously fingered their gold watch chains hastened to make peace with Madrid and rat upon the workers.
2. As the Anarchists of Catalonia had relied on these liberals so had these liberals relied upon the Anarchists to do the fighting for them. But each failed the other. The disgraceful situation existed where the traditional revolutionary center, Barcelona, actually was quiet in a period when the working class of Spain was in bloody insurrection. This terrible result could only come about do to the blackest treachery of the Anarchists. Russian history is repeated; when authoritarian proletarian centers are set up for Communism and Soviets the Anarchists sabotage and turn against the workers.
However, from now on the disintegrating Anarchist influence must steadily decline in Spain. Already even the C.N.T., supposedly Anarchist controlled, has steadily moved in the direction of Communism, as can be seen from the sharp battles that rage between the leaders of the Federation of Iberian Anarchists and the “anarcho-syndicalist” leaders of the C.N.T. The present treacherous conduct of the Anarchists must further accentuate these tenencies. From now on Proudhonism, Bakuninism and Kropotkinism must steadily decline. Even the C.N.T. must even change its whole cause or disappear from the scene.
3. Wherever the fighting united front of the workers organizations was set up, there was the battle the sharpest. That is the first lesson. But, the united front is not enough; there must be genuine revolutionary leadership. That is the second lesson.
For a long time the Communist Party of Spain had fought the idea of united fronts. With their crazy Stalinist practices they had done incalculable damage in splitting the workers and allowing valuable time needed for preparation to be entirely wasted.
The Socialist Party officials, on the other hand, with their legalistic and democratic illusions, had no desire for a united front for Communism and Soviets. Was it not Prieto who had declared that it was a good thing the Socialist Party had not received a majority of votes as Spain was not ready for Socialism anyway? It was only when the hot breath of Fascism actually began to scorch them that they declared their willingness to fight. In this respect the S.P. of Spain behaved essentially like the S.P. of Austria, and with the same unfortunate results. Not built for struggle, with a membership and leadership trained only to cast ballots, what kind of a fight could be put up? What kind of preparations were made? What program had been worked out to win the peasantry and, above all, the army? How were the workers to be armed?
In all the time the S.P. officials had sat in the sumptuous offices of the government, they had not made the slightest effort to arm the people, to liquidate the Spanish Constabulary or even to change the character of the Spanish Army. Now, too late, the Socialists saw what should have been done as the Madrid forces, solidly united, shot them down.
As in Austria, so in Spain, the Spanish Socialists will learn the lessons. As the workers see the Socialist leaders advise them to go into battle unprepared while they themselves run away, the repercussions must be tremendous. Splits must occur in which honest workers will move towards the Fourth International.
To prevent such splits, to send the Internationalist Communists into the Socialist Party, to form non-aggression pacts with such a Party would now be suicidal indeed. While every effort must go into building up the fighting united front, complete independence of action by the Internationalists alone can save the situation.
4. It has been opined that the recent Spanish insurrection was too hastily called and that the Soviets formed were premature. Such a Menshevik point of view must be sternly rejected. True, the elements in the united front had not prepared properly for the struggle. This is always the case when opportunists control the united front and there is no genuine Communist Party. Nevertheless, the time to fight was now. To delay till Fascism took power would have been absolutely fatal. Before Fascism is consolidated, while yet the reactionary regime is young and new, that is the time to accept the gage of battle. The Spanish workers, at least, did not repeat the fatal blunders of the Germans.
Far from being too late to form Soviets, Soviets should have been organized long before, at the very start of the Spanish Revolution. The real trouble was the inability of the workers’ organizations to form fighting united fronts up to now, united fronts that could lead to Soviets.
5. The events in Spain demonstrate clearly the fact that if the Internationalist Communists are well organized, nothing can prevent them from working among the masses and carrying on the fight against Fascism. In this respect the Spanish Communist Left will break with the dead wood of Trotsky and the International Secretariat and be one of the foremost leaders in taking up the task where Trotsky left off.
A good deal now depends on the French situation,. Should the French proletarians give a good account of themselves there is no question that the Spanish workers will soon respond—and better than ever before.
THE ASSASSINATION OF KING ALEXANDER
The assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia is one of those trifling incidents which, nevertheless, may cause a sharp turn in the present political situation. How far the world has changed from 1914 can be seen from the fact that it is not a Serbian patriot who shoots the Austrian tyrant as at Sarajevo, but it is the Serbian tyrant who is killed by an organization harbored by the old Austrian-Hungarian ruling elements.
The assassination of the king by Croatians bears witness to the unbearably tense situation created in the puppet kingdoms of the Balkans and the ruthless militarist which have been foisted upon the people, particularly in Yugo-Slavia. The poverty of the masses, the widespread graft and corruption in the government, the severe subjugation of the national minorities, the terror established by a grasping King who favored Fascist methods, all these relationships could not but lead to various attentats, one of which was bound to succeed.
The terrorists had been harbored by Italy and Hungary. These Croatian assassins were therefore being used in a bigger game which included the following ends: 1. The weakening of Yugo-Slavia both internally and in relation to Italy. 2. The acceleration of a new Austro- Hungarian empire to which King Alexander was deadly opposed. 3. To prevent the approaching German-Yugo-Slav alliance which the King had favored.
The whole affair could not but strengthen Italy’s hands as both against Yugo-Slavia and against France. The attempt was another demonstration that the League of Nations solved nothing, that the cauldron of national animosities is again about to boil over in a new world war. As the French continental hegemony weakens, Italy’s ambitions rise. As the old victorious countries can no longer control the situation and fight amongst themselves, the war danger becomes increasingly sharp.
What effect will the assassinations have upon the political situation in France itself? It must intensify the pressure against the left, consolidate the right, and move the Bonapartist government closer to Fascism. This can have only one result, the acceleration of the tempo of the class struggles, the sharpening of all conflicts into civl war. Civil war impends in France.
RUSSIA AND THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS
The entrance of the Soviet Union into the League of Nations has been hailed by the Communist Parties as a great step to peace and as an indication of the improved condition of the Workers’ State. In reality just the opposite conclusions must be drawn.
Russian foreign policy has gone through three stages: the first stage under Lenin where Russia and the Communist International was one. At that time the C.I. was a real revolutionary body. The League of Nations then posing as a pacifist body could not do otherwise than declare war on the Workers’ State. It is significant that not until Lenin was out of the way did any strong capitalist state recognize Russia.
The second stage under Stalin (1924—1932) coincided with the steady degeneration of the Comintern. Soviet State policy was divorced from the international revolution. In this period the Russian dictatorship of the proletariat could still rely on the international working class. Fascism had not yet destroyed the trade unions and workers organizations. While the strongest European countries fitfully recognized the Soviet Union, the United States still kept aloof.
If the U.S. now recognizes the S.U. it is because we have entered into a third stage of development. The Communist International is dead. Russia can no longer rely on the international workingclass, thanks to Stalin’s Socialism in One Country. Unable to rely on force, Stalinism must rely on tricks and maneuvres to stave off the inevitable war. International revolution gives way to nationalist pacifism, emanating from the C.I. itself.
The recognition of the S.U. by the U.S. was, then, not a sign of strength but rather a sign of weakness. Countering the U.S., England bids for Russia’s entrance into the League of Nations. That Russia is forced into this League of Robbers speaks volumes on the decline of the S.U. On such slim hopes do the Stalinists depend to stave off the capitalist’s inevitable attack.
A final point is added by the fact that the League of Nations itself has altered its character. Starting out to “organize the world” under British-French hegemony, it could not even stop the war in the Chaco. Completely bankrupt as an “organizing” force the League of Nations has turned into a mere war alliance. Stripped naked of its pretentions the League of Nations now stands girded for war. This is the mechanism that the Soviet Union enters cooing dove-like, Stalinist notes of peace?
THE A.F. OF L. CONVENTION.
The changes voted at the A.F.of L. Convention, while they are significant of the pressure exerted upon the officialdom and of the new situation that confronts the workers, are not in the least revolutionary. It is plain that there will be no departure from the course that is binding the A.F. of L. officialdom closer and closer to the government and thus paving the way for a fascization of the unions. The enlarged Executive, even if it represents merely a manoeuvre of one clique to outwit another, still allows a little leeway for some differences to develop, is a trifle less hidebound than the old. The motion for “vertical” or industrial unionism eliminates a long-standing fight to change the antiquated craft structure of the A.F.of L. The pressure is coming from the mass of unskilled workers who constitute our new membership in the unions. But, so it appears, this policy does not touch the already existing unions, but is to apply to the new organizations which will be built from the so-called “Federal” unions—the local groups formed in the unorganized basic industries such as steel and automobile. Some of the important unions of the A.F.of L., as for example the United Mine Workers, the United Textile Workers, and to a certain extent, the International Ladies Garment Workers, are already on an industrial basis. The convention, rejecting the proposal to remove all A.F.of L. officials from N.R.A. posts, took a stand for closer cooperation with the government in its class-collaboration, strike-breaking apparatus, the labor boards.
The growth in numbers, according to their own figures, falls far below the peak membership of the post-war period. While about five million workers have been signed up as members, only between two and three million are actual dues-paying members. The prohibitive high dues are responsible for workers dropping out in masses. This we predicted a year ago when certain people—who have since had to draw in their horns—lost their heads over the “tremendous” growth of the A.F.of L.
The “Left Wing” opposition (The Lovestoneites) painted itself red by borrowing the slogan which the Communist League of Struggle advanced nearly two years ago: “the one-day general strike for unemployment insurance.” Naturally, they would—after events, the big general textile strike, the San Francisco General strike—have proved up to the hilt the correctness of our slogan.
WATER FINDS ITS OWN LEVEL
Gitlow is crawling back into the Socialist Party where he came from and where he belonged. He takes with him Zum, another Lovestoneite leader. The Lovestone group is breaking up. While their international center is smashed and now their own national forces are disintegrating, openly Lovestone is negotiating to go back into the Stalinist apparatus.
After all Lovestone cannot complain, Is he not made welcome by the biggest fakers of the A.F.of L.? Is he not called upon to lay down the policy in the Paterson A.F.of L. unions? Does he not receive an ovation at the National Convention of the I.L.G.W.U.? The fact is, Lovestone is feared by nobody. And the more he ingratiates himself with the labor agents of the capitalists, the more favorably will he be received again into the Communist Party.
Nor can Cannon complain. A little while ago Gitlow was hailed as a sterling fighter approaching the ranks of the American League. Now, alas, he has joined not Cannon … but the Socialist Party. Yet there is really an inner logic in the situation. Was the American League any better than the Socialist Party? And will not Cannon himself enter the Socialist Party —as his brothers have done in France—where again he can greet his old Comrade-in-Arms, Gitlow?
A FINAL BIT OF TREACHERY
We quote from the “Minneapolis Labor Review” of September 28th: Governor Floyd B. Olson was highly commended Wednesday evening for the manner in which he had handled the Truck Drivers’ strike. The commendation was in the form of a unanimous vote by the Minneapolis Central Labor Union.
“It is noteworthy that the motion was made by the business representative of one of the largest unions in the city and very probably the state, the Milk Drivers and Dairy Employees’ union, and that it was seconded by a member of the General Drivers’ union who was secretary of the Strike committee, Grant Dunne.”
We have already analyzed the treacherous role of the Cannon group in the Minneapolis Truck Drivers’ strike. This is a fitting climax to it all. Grant Dunne, C.L.A. member, seconds the motion to thank Governor Olson for calling out the troops.
The “Militant” of October 13th denies the action of Grant Dunne, stating “It was not Grant Dunne who seconded a resolution praising Olson’s strike policy, but William Brown, President of the union. … This resolution was introduced by an official of the milk drivers’ union who is a member of the F.L.P. It was seconded by William Brown, who is a member of the F.L.P. and has been for some years.”
In order to checkup both statements the “Class Struggle” wrote to the “Minneapolis Labor Review” asking for either a verification or retraction of the statement. To date no answer has been received. Careful scanning of the Minneapolis paper since September 28th shows no denial of the original story. It is significant also that the “Militant” does not print a statement of Grant Dunne, himself.
The “Militant” writes that it was William Brown, the President of the union, who seconded the motion. But there is no sharp criticism against Brown. Did Brown do it with the consent of the members of his union? Did Grant Dunne and the others protest? What about the other Cannonite delegates to the Minneapolis Central Trades since the motion was unanimously passed?
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