Lynch the Lynchers of the Negroes and Poor Whites
The Recognition of the Soviets
A Portrait of National Socialism by Leon Trotsky
The Paterson Textile Strike by Sam Fisher
Liberalism and Fascism by Albert Weisbord
Fascist Organizations in the U.S. by Murray Braun
The League Celebrates by Phillip Soyer
LYNCH THE LYNCHERS OF THE NEGROES AND POOR WHITES
A veritable wave of lynching has taken place throughout the country. Already this year shows more than twice as many as last year and far more than any year since 1926. within a few days of each other, California, Maryland, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Tennessee were the scene of lynch mobs. In one place a Negro was burned without any charge against him. In another place a Negro was lynched after being released by the Grand Jury. In California the Governor of the State, himself, vigorously applauded the lynching that took place. And if Governor Rolph was later rebuked by President Roosevelt, it was not because the President, chief of the Democratic Party, steeped to its eyes in the blood of its lynched victims, was opposed to the lynching, but rather because he was afraid that lynching is dangerous fire to play with and that “the mob”, once aroused, might decide to lynch profiteers and parasites rather than poor Negroes and whites.
Lynching is an old American peculiarity. It is a symbol of the violence of social relations always prevalent in American life and a prime characteristic of America. It is part of the traditions of “direct action” that the people of America hold dear to them. However, it has been the direct action of the small property holders, rather than that of the toiling poor. This has been so from the early days when lynching did not have the same meaning that it has today.
There is no use denying the fact that the lynching wave today is only another bit of evidence that liberal influences, peaceful persuasion doctrines and gradualist methods, are disappearing in the intense heat of the crisis. The masses are restless. They take to the streets. They have abandoned hope in the law and the “regular” methods to get relief. They are discontented. They want to break something, they want to destroy something to show their wrath and their temper. The capitalists are using this temper today in a reactionary manner. They are taking the petty bourgeois small property elements, now desperate and facing ruin in the crisis, and throwing their energies in reactionary directions against the Negroes and the poor toilers. But there is no reason why only small property elements, at the budding of rich planters of the South and reactionary Capitalists generally, should be the only ones to do the lynching. The workers must teach the small farmer and poor toiler to turn his lynching traditions in the proper directions. He must declare to the poor toilers that for every poor toiler or Negro who is lynched let us lynch two profiteers, two plutocrats, two oppressors of the poor, two holders of mortgages, two bloodsuckers of the people. This is the way to “Americanize” Communism and to show the people of this country that Communism knows how to utilize the traditions of this country in the right manner. We must hail the action of the poor farmers in Iowa who recently threw a rope around the neck of a judge in Lemars, Iowa and threatened to lynch him if he permitted further foreclosure of their farms.
How different is this position from that of the liberals as, for example, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People! These people together with the Socialist Party are actually advocating a “Federal Anti-Lynching Bill”, i.e., for a stronger centralized state apparatus and for a federal police to prohibit the lynching. These misleaders of labor and the Negroes do not yet know, evidently, that it is futile to appeal to the ruling class in control of the State to stop the fascist tendencies embodied in the lynching of the poor and the Negro. Indeed their very agitation for a federal police and stronger army only strengthens the fascist tendencies in the Roosevelt regime and the power of the government to be used against labor. The lynching supported by the sheriffs and police and lawyers and bankers as they are, will not be overthrown by the law but in spite of the law and against the law.
The lynching of the Negro is the lynching of labor, for in the U.S. the Negro has come to symbolize the unskilled laborer. The Negro is turning toward Communism. The Share-Cropper movement in Alabama, the Scottsboro trial, the great participation of the Negro masses in all unemployment movements, are all indications that the Negro masses are not going to take their miserable lot lying down forever. There is no question that the Negro masses will be among the very best fighters. They are striking back just at the moment when fascism, intensifying the “national question and the `race’ question tries to throw the declassed and ruined petty bourgeois elements against international solidarity of labor of all races and creeds. After the Negro lynching will come the Communist ones, and then the turn of the broader labor organizations. The lynching of the Negro is but another application of the general dictum of the ruling class “divide and conquer".
The whole proletariat must awaken to the menace that the present lynching wave means to them. For the masses in the street? Yes. For direct action? Yes. But let us see to it that the people learn to know who their real enemies are, and that their enemies are the capitalists, the bankers, the manufacturers, the big employers and plantation owners. Let us raise the slogan so that these capitalists will hear it plainly: LYNCH THE LYNCHERS OF THE NEGROES AND THE POOR TOILERS!
Why did it not take “a half hour” as Litvinoff, the Soviet Foreign Minister thought it would take, to get the Soviet Union recognized? Could it be that Litvinoff thought the only question the capitalists were concerned with was the question of credits and trade? Certainly in the discussions between Litvinoff and Roosevelt, it was Roosevelt who showed himself the man of principles and ideals, it was Roosevelt who demonstrated that he was the politician and that the U.S. was interested in Revolution far more than in the trade of the moment. While all that Litvinoff could say was dollars and cents like a regular travelling salesman, it was Roosevelt who took the opportunity to spread the propaganda for his religion and his principles all over the world. And if the matter of recognition took weeks rather than a half hour it was not that Litvinoff was not prepared to sell the Revolutionary movement, but that Roosevelt the cautious politician wanted to be sure that it was a real sale and not a swindle.
It would be a sorry mistake for anyone to believe that Roosevelt has proved his “liberalism” by the recognition of the Soviet Union. Quite the contrary. The reasons were anything but “liberal". Behind the recognition of the Soviet Union by the United States was all the pressure of capitalist antagonisms and conflicts that are destined to shake the entire world. First of all we should mention the growing tension between Japan and the U.S. The seizure of Manchuria and the move on Mongolia, the beginning of the partition of China as a whole, the closing of the door of the East to American trade and influence, must be placed in the very foreground. Again, we must consider the necessity of the U.S. to counter the four-power pact and to secure its forces in the balance of power among the world imperialisms. Thirdly, if a war is to break out between Fascism allied with Japanese militarism on the one hand and Soviet Russia on the other, it is better to recognize Russia so as to be able to sell arms and ammunition to both sides rather than to one. Of course in any war between capitalism and communism, the interests of the capitalist countries will come first with Roosevelt. But after all what the U.S. wants is a good war against Russia that will destroy not only Communism, but the other side as well. To have an exhausted Japan and Europe, this would be excellent for U.S. capitalism.
It is totally false to declare, as do the Communist Party and the Russian diplomats, that the recognitions of Russia is a great step forward for peace. To some extent Soviet recognition aids the international working class and certainly we are for the strengthening of the forces of the international working class. But it is not true that to aid one side of a class war necessarily prevents or even delays a fight. This is true only under some circumstances and under very relative conditions. In Lenin’s day the relative strength of the Soviet Union did not lead to peace but to the invasion of Poland and the attempt to connect the Russian with the German revolutions. Lenin was not a nationalist pacifist like Stalin, but an internationalist revolutionist. In the days of Lenin and Trotsky the Communists were not talking about the possibility of “peaceful coexistence” between Soviet Russia and the capitalist world.
Similarly today, though from an opposite viewpoint, to strengthen the Soviet Union may very well lead to the hastening of the day when war begins. The fact is that the real brake to international war against the Soviet Union, namely the European militarist cliques in and even more desperate position, should Japan consider the recognition of Russia a threat to her position, it will, nay it must, only urge them on to even more frantic efforts than before. Our point is that, objectively speaking, the strengthening of the Soviet Union in this manner can force the issue of war even sooner than otherwise. In any case while we are wholeheartedly for the recognition of the Soviet Union, we must fight the utopian pacifism of the Communist Party which declares that the recognition of Russia by the U.S. is a great step for “peace".
In this matter of recognition of Soviet Russia there enters certain domestic problems. First of all, there is the American fascism whose herald Roosevelt has become. In recognizing the dictatorship of the Soviet Union, it is not Communism that Roosevelt is striving to make “respectable” but the idea of Dictatorship. It is a fact that Roosevelt already through his domestic policies has gone a long way to make “dictatorship” respectable in the eyes of many Americans.
The Republican Party stands flabbergasted. Its concepts appear ancient and worn out compared with the innovations of the “New Deal". For that matter the same thing has happened to the American Federation of Labor. For years its officials have bitterly protested any semblance of recognitions of the Soviets. In this, they were only following their employers. But now their employers have left them holding the bag. The American capitalists, for their own interests, have changed their mind. (And for that matter they are changing their minds about the value of the A.F. of L.. officials too). What is the poor A.F. of L. officialdom now going to do? It must make the best of it. Soon it will appear with a statement that it also is for recognition of Russia. The A.F. of L. officials must prove their value to the government and if they are to remain in their fat jobs they must begin to `sell’ to the workers `Russian Recognition’ as they `sell’ the NRA. Already the Socialist party has begun this change of tactic. Up to now its leaders have been in the van against the Soviet Union, the German, Karl Kautsky, actually calling for international intervention against Russia. Now that the government has recognized Russia, shall the Socialist Party be far behind? Not at all. After all Kautsky is a German. It is not the German interests the Socialist Party of the U.S. defends; it is the “American” interests. No doubt in a very short time, we shall hear the Socialist Party denouncing the Left Opposition for its attacks against Russia !
Through recognition of Russia Roosevelt wishes to put over another demagogic gesture, namely that soon unemployment will be over, for all the people will be at work on the jobs that Roosevelt has been able to obtain. What a critique of the present situation! We have always fought the propaganda of the Communist party officials like Earl Browder who raised the slogan of: Recognize Soviet Russia and Get a Job. This is a great illusion. We have been for the recognition of Soviet Russia not because we have any hopes of ending the unemployment crisis this way but because it will help the Russian and international working class in their battles, for, in spite of all, Russia is still a workers’ state.
Here is what Earl Browder wrote in his pamphlet, “Out of a Job": “Recognition of the Soviet Union. This is a central political demand of the working class, and also would alleviate unemployment through the development of increased volume of trade which the Soviet Union would place in the U.S. if `normal’ relations were established.” Earl Browder and Franklin Roosevelt—what a `normal’ pair! Would Russian Recognition really alleviate unemployment and how much? Even were Russia to obtain $1,000,000,000 a year credit to buy stuff (an utterly fantastic sum since the talk is about one tenth to one fourth of this) then only 500,000 workers would be put to work—or only one half to one third of the annual increase in the population of the U.S.! Does anyone call this a substantial alleviation of unemployment? Further at this late date it is amply clear that increased production does not necessarily mean an increased number of producers. And, finally, let us not forget that some day Russia will have to pay for the stuff with exports of oil, lumber, furs, manganese, wheat, etc., which will deprive other workers of work in proportion as Soviet goods drive out others.
However, the outstanding feature of the Recognition of the Soviet Union is the outright treachery of the Russian Communists and the Communist International. The more Stalinism has aided in the defeat of the international proletariat, the more it has come cringing for favors from the capitalist class. There is no extent to which Stalin and Litvinoff will not go. Here is “point 4": “Not to permit the formation or residence on its territory of any organization or group and to prevent the activity on its territory of any organization or group, or of representatives or officials of any organization or group which has as an aim the overthrow or the preparation for the overthrow of, or bringing about by force of a change in, the political or social order of the whole or any part of the United States, its territories or possessions.”
How different this is from the days when Lenin and Trotsky were leading the Communist International! Is it any wonder that the Socialist Party, Father Walsh and Roosevelt are rejoicing? The words are very clear. Neither the Communist International nor any other body on Russian territory can act for the overthrow—not only of the U.S. government, but even of the capitalist system in the U.S. or in its territorial! “Workers of the World Unite!” What a mockery from the mouths of these degenerate Communist International officials. Here we have the decision of the Stalinists to destroy the Communist International and the Communist International agrees to it! Is there any further proof needed that the Communist International is dead?
What is going to happen to the remnants of the Communist Party? Every careerist, every professional man who wants a job, every crook who wants to put his finger in the pie of Russian trade will now try to join the Communist Party. As these unwholesome elements will flock into the Party, the real revolutionaries will leave it, leave it to join us, the Communist League of Struggle and the Left Opposition.
Naive people believe that royal dignity lies in the king himself, in his ermine cloak and crown, in his flesh and blood. But royalty is a relation between people. The king is king only because his person reflects the interests and prejudices of millions of people. When this relationship is swept away by the stream of events, the king proves to be but a dried-up gentleman with a hanging under-lip. The freshness of experience should enable a certain senor, who at one time called himself, Alfonso XIII, to tell us more about this.
The difference between a leader by the will of God and a leader by the will of the people is this: That the task of the latter is to build the road himself or at least to aid a social relationship, to give an undivided answer to a collective question. The debates over the personality of Hitler grow all the hotter, the more you look for the secret of his success within the man himself. At the same time it is difficult to find another political figure in whom the whole knotty mass of impersonal historical forces could be found. Not all embittered petty bourgeoisie can become Hitlers; but a bit of Hitler can be found in each one of them.
The rapid growth of German capitalism before the War did not at all mean the simple extirpation of the middle classes. While certain sections of the petty bourgeoisie were crushed, new ones were created; handicraftsmen and shopkeepers around the large industries, technicians and managers in the factories. But while they maintained their numbers—the middle classes lost their last shreds of independence. They clung to the edges of heavy industry and banking, gathered crumbs from the table of the Cartel, and lived on the intellectual alms of their old political theorists.
Its defeat in the War blocked the path of German imperialism. The external dynamic transferred itself to the interior; the War passed over into Revolution. The Social Democracy, which had helped Hohenzollern carry the war to its tragic conclusion, now forbade the proletariat to conduct the Revolution, but proved itself incapable of leading it. The German working class went through the triumphs and disasters of war, revolution, Parlamentaryism and pseudo-Bolshevism. While the old bourgeois parties were continually spending themselves, at the same time the motive power of the workers was broken.
The post war chaos found the handicraftsmen, shopkeepers and superintendents not less aroused than the workers. The agricultural crisis threatened the peasants with destruction. The decay of the middle layers did not mean their proletarianization, especially since within the proletariat itself a gigantic army of chronically unemployed appeared. The pauperization of the middle classes into the official doctrines and above all, the teachings of democratic parlamentaryism.
The numerous parties, the intermittent fever of elections, the continual changing of ministries--all of these aggravated the social crisis brought about by the kaleidoscope of unfruitful political combinations. From an electrified atmosphere of war, defeat, reparations, inflation, occupation of the ruhr, crisis, want and bitterness, the petty bourgeoisie rose against all the old parties which had deceived it. The deep grievances of the small business men who could not avoid bankruptcy, whose educated sons were without positions and futures, whose daughters were unmarried and without dowries--these grievances demanded an iron hand.
The banner of National Socialism was raised by the lower and middle officers of the old army. The decorated officers and corporals would not willingly submit to the fact that besides their heroism and suffering not helping the Fatherland, they themselves should receive no special recognition and reward. This is the reason for their hatred of the Revolution and the proletariat. They were dissatisfied with the bankers, industrialists and ministers who placed them in positions as bookkeepers, engineers, postmasters and school teachers. Therefore their “socialism". On the Yser and at Verdun they had learned to risk their own and others lives, and how to command. This made a powerful impression upon the little man in the province. So these people became leaders.
At the beginning of his political career, Hitler, perhaps because of his greater temperament, represented a louder voice and more self-confident and spirited stupidity. He brought with him to the movement no kin of a prepared program except the revenge of the embittered soldiers. Hitler began with curses and railings at the Versailles Treaty, the high cost of living, failure to reward the deserving petty officers, and at the Mosaic inheritance of the bankers and journalists. There were plenty of battered, worn out people impoverished and reduced in circumstances. Each one of them was itching to strike out with clenched fist. Hitler understood this better than anyone else. Of course he did not know how the difficulties would be overcome. But his cries rang like orders and commands from an unmerciful fate. Decayed classes—like sick people—never tire of voicing their complaints and listening to consolations. All of Hitler’s speeches were based upon this note. Sentimental formlessness, undisciplined thinking, ignorance with a touch of book-learning—all of these negatives changed themselves into a positive. They gave him the possibility of uniting within the beggar’s sack of `national Socialism’ all forms of discontent and to lead the rabble wherever it drove him. Out of his earliest improvisations there remained in the mind of the agitator only that which found general approval. His political ideas were the fruits of the orator’s acoustics. So the lottery continued. In this manner the program was established. From such raw material was created `the leader’.
Mussolini was better versed in social subjects than Hitler, to whom the police mysticism of a Metternich is closer than the political algebra of a Macchiavelli. Mussolini is an intellectual, bolder and more cynical. For proof of this it is sufficient to point out that the Roman atheist uses religion just as he does the police or legal apparatus, while his Berlin colleague devoutly believes in the infallibility of the Roman Catholic Church. In days past, when the present Italian Dictator proclaimed Marx to be “our immortal master, he defended quite skillfully the theory that the chief characteristic of present day society is the antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. “Of course,” wrote Mussolini in 1914, “between them are numerous members of the middle classes who, so to speak, make up a unified human fabric; but, in a period of crisis, the interests and ideology of the middle classes are drawn towards one or the other of the two main contending classes.” A very important generalization! Just as the science of medicine makes it possible for its adepts not only to heal the sick but also to bring the healthy by the shortest route to the grave; so also the scientific analysis of the class struggle—which by its originators was meant to mobilize the proletariat—furnished Mussolini, in his vacillations, with the possibility of mobilizing the middle classes against the proletariat. Hitler accomplished the same task by translating the methodology of Italian Fascism into the language of German mysticism.
As long as the Nazis were only a party and not a State power, they made practically no inroad among the ranks of the working class. On the other hand the big bourgeoisie—also those who helped Hitler financially—did not consider the Nazis as their own party. The “National Awakening” was based entirely upon the middle classes, the reaction of the nation, the heavy ballast of history. The political skill lay in welding together the petty bourgeoisie by means of hatred towards the proletariat. What was to be done in order to make everything better? Above all, press down upon those who are below. Helpless before the tremendous internal difficulties, the petty bourgeoisie hoped, through the destruction of worker’s organizations, to revive their social dignity.
The Nazis gave their victory the usurped name of Revolution. In reality, Fascism in Germany, as in Italy, left the social order untouched. Hitler’s victory, as an isolated face, has no right to the name Counter revolution. But it cannot be considered as an isolated facta. It is the completion of a series of convulsions which began in Germany in the year 1918. The November Revolution, which gave power to the workers and soldiers councils, was in its basic tendency proletarian. But the leadership of the workers gave the power back to the bourgeoisie. In this sense the Social Democracy opened the era of counter revolution. It did not allow the revolution to complete its course. As long as the bourgeoisie was dependent upon the Social Democracy, and consequently upon the workers power, the Regime maintained itself—but always on compromises. But soon the international and internal position of German capitalism left no room for concessions. Just as the Social democracy had rescued the bourgeoisie from the proletariat, so Fascism, on its part, had now to rescue the bourgeoisie from the Social Democracy. Hitler’s victory is merely the last link in the chain of counter revolutionary delays, procrastination and betrayals.
The petty bourgeoisie hate the theories of evolution, since evolution determinedly works against them: Progress brings them nothing but bankruptcy. National Socialism draws back not only from marxism, but also from Darwinism. The Nazis curse materialism because the victory of technique over nature means the victory over small capital. The leaders of their movement are liquidating `intellectualism’ not so much because they themselves are 2nd and 3rd rate intellects, but because their historical role does not allow them to carry forward to the end certain pet ideas. What the little business man wants above all, and without regard to science and history, are absolute guarantees against competition, inflation, crises, and bankruptcy. The evolution of economic thought during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries is countered by national Idealism as the source of greatness. Hitler’s nation is a mythological dream of the petty bourgeoisie itself, a pathetic mirage of an eternal Reich on earth.
In order to lift the Nation above historical forces the question of race is used as a prop. Historical decline is looked upon as racial degeneration. The characteristics of the race are construed without any regard whatsoever to changing social conditions. Disregarding “mere economic doctrines” National socialism descends still one more story lower: It calls upon zoology in its fight against dialectical materialism.
The Race theory—especially contrived for a presumptuous dabbler who looks for a universal key to all the secrets of life—appears extremely pitiful in the light of history. The religion of a pure German race Hitler had to borrow second hand from that French diplomat and amateurish writer, Gobineau. His political methodology, Hitler found ready made in the Italian model. Mussolini used the Marxist theory of the class struggle to his own good advantage. Marxism itself was the fruit of German philosophy, French history and English economy. In the genealogical tree of ideas—even the most backward and stupid—- there is no trace of “Race Supremacy".
The poverty of the National Socialist philosophy naturally did not prevent the university professors from jumping on the Hitler bandwagon with the greatest enthusiasm—since there was no question about his victory. The years of the Weimar regime were, for the majority of the professional world, a period of confusion and unrest. Historians, economists, jurists, and philosophers became involved in conjectures as to which one of the contending theories would be the true one, that means, which position would finally prove itself to be victorious. The Fascist Dictatorship took the doubts of Faust and the vacillations of Hamlet out of the University lecture halls. Science left the twilight of parliamentary relativity and once again entered into the Reich of Absolutism. Einstein had to leave Germany.
At the summit of fascist politics is the theory of race supremacy, a bloated and bragging degeneracy of chauvinism, on a par with phrenology. Just as the fallen Adel Trost found his blood in old Deszendenz, so the petty bourgeoisie seeks to revive itself with the old mythological tales of its Race. It is worthy of note that the leaders of National Socialism themselves are not true Germans, but a native of Austria, like Hitler, of the one time Baltic province of Czardom like Rosenberg, of the colonies like the temporary delegate of Hitler, Hess, and the new minister Darre. The school of barbaric, national scrimmages in the cultural ring taught the leaders those ideas which later found an echo in the hearts of the most barbaric classes of Germany.
Individualism and classes—Liberalism and Marxism—are the evil. The nation is the good. Solely on the threshold of ownership does this philosophy turn into the very opposite. Only private property is sound. The idea of national property is the child of Bolshevism. Idolizing the nation, the petty bourgeoisie still do not wish to sacrifice anything for it. On the contrary, they expect the Nation to give them possession and find adequate means of crushing the workers.
Alongside of present day economy—international in scope and impersonal in method—the Race theory looks like an ideological cemetery of the Middle Ages. The Nazis have to make concessions in advance. Race purity, whose spirit is shown by means of a pass, must (according to a domestic decree) be proven through certain desirable activities. According to the present state of affairs this simply means—competitive ability. The Race theory simply returns by the back door to liberalism, which is now cleansed of political freedom.
The program on which National Socialism came to power reminds me very strongly of the Jewish warehouses in the backward province. What doesn’t one find there of low price and still lower quality? —remembrances of the lucky times of free competition and the hazy, intermediate stage of the solid guild system; dreams of the resurrection of a colonial empire and illusions of a self-sufficient economy; phrases of return from Roman to the old German justice and guarantees of American moratorium; animosity against the inequality between city and country and the animal fright before the equality of the skilled and unskilled worker; thundering nationalism and fear of the internationalists—all of these international phrases of political thought fill the intellectual strong box of a new German Messiah.
Fascism uncovers for politics the dregs of society. Not only in the peasant’s but also in the skyscrapers of the city the 13th or 14th century still lives alongside of the 20th. Millions of people use the electric current and still continue to believe in the magic powers of charms and prayers. The Pope preaches through the radio the wonders of the transformation of water into wine. Movie stars run to fortune tellers. Aviators, who drive the marvelous creations of the genius of mankind, wear amulets next to their bodies. What unbelievable examples of darkness, ignorance, barbarism! Desperation gave them a basis. Fascism gave them the direction. Everything that was thrown out of the national organism, as cultural excrement, through the natural development of society, has now risen from the morass to the surface. Capitalist civilization vomits undigested barbarism. That is the physiology of National Socialism.
German Fascism, like the Italian variety, rose to power on the backs of the petty bourgeoisie by using them as a battering ram against the working class and democratic instructions. But Fascism, once it is in power, is something else than a regime of the petty bourgeoisie. Mussolini is right: The middle classes are incapable of independent political action., In periods of crisis they are called upon to carry to the very end either the program of the bourgeoisie or of the proletariat. The role of Fascism is to press them into the service of capital. Such slogans as the State absorption of Trusts and the abolition of unearned incomes are thrown overboard immediately upon the assumption of power. On the contrary, the particularism of the German provinces—which is based upon the individualism of the little business man—has given way to that police centralization which modern capitalism wants. Every success of National Socialism, both political and otherwise, inevitably means the crushing of small by large capital.
But the program of petty bourgeois illusion is not scrapped on account of this; it is simply divorced of all realism and abandoned to ritualism. The union of all classes is symbolized by forced labor and the utilization of May Day for `all the people’. The retention of Gothic script as opposed to the Latin is symbolic of the reprisal against the yoke of the world market. The dependence upon international bankers, and among them also Jewish bankers, is not lessened one iota; therefore the slaughtering of cattle according to the Talmudic ritual is forbidden. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the streets of the third Reich are plastered with symbols.
As the illusions and symbols show themselves more and more to be pitiful bureaucratic masks, National Socialism appears before the whole nation as the purest embodiment of Imperialism. The theory that sooner or later Hitler will fall a victim to the inner bankruptcy of his regime is completely false. The Nazi program was necessary in order for the Nazis to achieve power; but at every step of the way, Hitler finds this power useless for the fulfillment of his program. The tremendous utilization of all the power and strength of the people in the interests of imperialism—means the preparation for war. This undertaking has no patience with any kind of opposition from within and leads to further mechanical concentration and strengthening of power. Fascism can neither be reformed nor let alone. It must be overthrown. The political course of the Nazi regime leads to only one alternative: War or Revolution.
After the fourteen weeks of struggle the Paterson textile strike as come to an end, signally defeated. Not only did the main body of silk workers fail to get satisfaction for any of their demands, but the end of the strike has seen them demoralized and disgusted. As a result of the strike settlement the silk workers received in wages: Pickers, Quillers, Winders $14-$15 a week for forty hours (if and when they work the forty hours). The broad silk weavers get an average of $18-$20 if they operate four looms; while the highest paid workers, the loom fixers, will make $32. In other words, what the workers got was the cotton code applied to the silk industry and what it will amount to will be the dollar a day and board standard which Roosevelt has made his own.
That this settlement is a defeat, pure and simple, can be judged by comparing the demands of the employers and the workers at the very beginning. As far back as July 7th the employers through their Silk Association proposed to avoid a strike on the basis of an $18. average wage for broad silk weavers for forty hour week. Countering this proposal, later, the American Federation of Silk Workers, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor through the United Textile Workers, demanded $36. for 30 hours a week. What a far cry is the settlement from the demands of the union! And in this connection let us not forget that since the beginning of the year the cost of living has jumped up so rapidly that the actual settlement leaves the workers very much worse off than before. The $18. of today is equal to the $12 -$13 before the NRA.
The broad silk workers in the old days used to look down upon the dye workers, feeling superior to them because they were unskilled and “did not know the value of organization". But in this strike the dye workers also organized and were able to settle for $23 a week for forty hours. Here is a lesson which the broad silk weavers may well learn to their profit.
There are other features of the agreement that should be commented upon. It is declared that if it is proven that the silk cities elsewhere pay more than Paterson then the Paterson employers will give a 5% increase, after 60 days. But it should be remembered that Paterson was always the silk center of the country and always had a tradition of higher pay than elsewhere. Paterson has been the scene of repeated militant struggles. Secondly, what is even more important to the worker, is the fact that the looms in Paterson are relative old and even a five percent increase per yard would not allow the paterson weaver to equal the pay of other centers.
The agreement provides for an arbitration committee to revise the terms every sixty days. This committee has the power to postpone any changes for this length of time and thus if the workers want to strike they will have to give notice of at least two months. This allows the employers plenty of time to stock up and to break up the strike moves of the workers. The fact that the code has been signed means that the agreement has the effect of law and compulsory arbitration has now been foisted upon the militant Paterson workers for the first time in their history.
The strike in Paterson was part of a general walkout in the entire silk industry affecting all branches, silk throwing, weaving, broad silk and jacquard, and dyeing. Altogether 60,000- 70,000 workers were out in most of the silk centers of the country. For the first time in the history of the silk industry a simultaneous strike movement affected the silk throwing mills of the Lehigh valley, the weave shops of Allentown, Easton, Phillipsburg, Paterson, Hudson County, Pawtucket, New York City and a large number of other towns.
Here was a situation which would have delighted the honest union organizer. Yet these vast spontaneous walkouts only embarrassed the Paterson union `leaders’. Instead of putting themselves at the head of events, they dragged miserably at the tail. Instead of utilizing these outbursts to build up a solid union, they were left bewildered, not knowing what to do with the men and women who were out, making no plans for coordination of the walkouts, having no plan of action, no strike strategy nor tactics.
The Paterson employers were not averse to a national strike for the following reasons: The silk employers have competitors in the rayon and cotton branches of the textile industry. These silk manufacturers wanted to equalize competition with the rayon industry that had been given the wages of the cotton code. Knowing very well that the Paterson workers would not work for a $12 week minimum they launched an attack against the cotton and rayon code, declaring that these codes were dragging down the silk industry and the silk strike was justified if it could get the wages of the cotton and rayon workers raised to the level prevailing in Paterson. The silk bosses, then, used the silk workers as instruments to raise the cost of production for their competitors in order to drive them out of business. The silk strike was calculated to be a weapon to club Roosevelt in line in favor of the silk bosses.
Secondly, the Paterson employers wanted a national silk code and were for a national silk strike to get it, so that the wages of the mills out of town could be raised to the wages of the Paterson mills. In this way, since Paterson is nearer the great New York City silk market than is Easton or Rhode Island, for example, the competitive advantages would be all in favor of Paterson as against the other cities. For these reasons we can say that the Paterson strike was to a certain extent also a sort of lockout as well.
It is extremely significant that not one of the organizers in the strike, whether of the American Federation of Labor or Communist National Textile Workers Union exposed this situation to the workers. On August 7th when the A.F. of L. union sent a letter to the Paterson Manufacturers asking them for a conference to avoid the strike, the bosses refused to attend, stating that they wanted a national code and would make no city settlements. Max M. Baker, Secretary of this Association, indeed called on the workers to fight against the cotton code which was so terribly low, and Mr. Wilson of the Chamber of Commerce of Paterson spoke severely on the necessity of putting the rayon industry with the silk in a new code and not in the cotton code.
It is a fact that when the strike broke out, the employers were very well prepared for it. They had received notice practically two months in advance. By working day and night they had been able to stock up very well, especially in view of the drop in demand.
Under such circumstances, having the situation well in hand,d the employers could afford to play around with a strike. It would weary the workers and prevent them from really taking advantage of the situation.
One of the prime causes of the defeat of the Paterson workers was the fact that the officials of the American Federation of Labor—among whom were the Lovestoneites, Eli Keller and Jack Rubenstein—worked hand in hand with the employers throughout the strike. On July 8th, when only the `blanket code’ of Roosevelt was in existence, a code which but repeated the provisions of the notorious cotton code, Mr. Schweitzer, one of the A.F. of L. officials in Paterson, declared that the code was working well. Although spontaneous strikes had broken out by July 9th, it was not till July 22nd that the broad silk workers were allowed to come together to vote for the strike. Although the strike vote was practically unanimous, it was not until September 1st that the strike was actually called by the A.F. of L., and it was not until August 28th that the `Communist’ union, the National Textile Workers Union, condescended to take notice of the situation, issued a leaflet and called a meeting.
The Schweitzers and Kellers played the bosses’s game in several ways. They gave as their reason for postponing the strike for two months—the necessity for organizing a strike on a national scale—exactly what the Paterson bosses wanted. These leaders themselves made no effort to bring about the strike nationally, in fact they were caught completely unprepared when a national strike broke out around them. They made no efforts to go to Rhode Island or South Manchester or Holyoke, to Chester or other places where really key silk and rayon factories are to be found. If the Paterson officials finally decided to strike when they did, it was because already Stroudsburg and other places were on strike, because the workers or Paterson were demanding it, because they could not delay any further without being exposed, because the bosses were by now prepared, because contrary to their expectations fifteen thousand dye workers had come out in the Paterson area and were creating great enthusiasm with their militancy, and because, finally, the National Textile Union at last decided to enter the situation. Instead of fighting the employers, McMahon of the United Textile Workers declared that he was for the northern employers against the southern employers; Schweitzer went into `negotiations’ for months, finally issuing a statement on August 22nd that he had been `fooled” by the manufacturers; yet during the strike he actually accepted money from the employers to go to Washington, D.C. on their behalf!
This last point on the trip to Washington is too extraordinary not to explain in detail. During the middle of the strike, both the A.F. of L. and the Communist Union took money from the employers for busses and expenses so that a delegation of workers could go to Washington to represent `Paterson’ at Washington. There they all were, employers, workers, Lovestoneites, Stalinites, A.F. of L. fakers—all just one happy family to see Roosevelt and Johnson and to tell them that the interests of “Paterson” demanded a better code than that of the cotton industry of the south. From that time on no one could tell the difference between the A.F. of L. fakers led by the Lovestone Communists and the Communist Party fakers. The workers began to denounce both.
To work for the employers meant to holler for the NRA and the A.F. of L. officials rallied round the NRA as their saviour. The union members were the bulk of the great NRA parade that was held in Paterson, and all sorts of speakers were there to tell them that Roosevelt would save them yet. The Communist Party made no attack on the Lovestone Communists for their support of the NRA. Most of their workers marched in this parade themselves!
To work for the employers meant to tell the workers not to march on the picket line. And this the A.F. of L. bureaucrats told the dyers in the beginning. It was only when the National Textile Workers Union began to picket and through their picketing activity began to attract the dye workers to them that the A.F. of L. announced on September 12th that picketing would be allowed. To work for the employers means to praise the police, and at the biggest rally of the strike, at the Hinchcliffe Stadium, it was the leader of the dye workers, Vigorito, who, speaking with the Communist, Gitlow, if you please, praised the police of Paterson for their kindness during the strike. A few days afterwards the police demonstrated their kindness by shooting point blank into a crowd of dye strikers in front of the National Silk Dyeing Co., seriously wounding nine workers, and brutally injuring many others.
It was the dye workers that threatened to change the whole situation for the employers. Up to this strike the dye workers had been abandoned by the unions in the field and had not taken part generally in the textile strikes of the past. Now these terribly exploited workers got into action and began to come into the unions and to carry on a most militant strike. They soon flocked into the National Textile Workers Union, fooled by the Communist phrases used there and believing that this was really a militant union. It was the militancy of the dye workers that gave the color to the strike and made the employers bare their teeth in anger as they saw all their stocks, which they had hoped to sell, pile up in the dye houses of Paterson (controlling 85% of all the silk dyeing in the country). It was for this reason that the employers demanded a five weeks truce in September, the workers to go back under the old conditions and a board of arbitration to settle the matter within that time. While the officials of the union were for this dastardly betrayal, the workers howled down the committee that reported on it and forced the strike to go on.
Here was the great opportunity for the National Textile Workers Union. With a proper understanding, they could have utilized their base among the dye workers to carry out a really militant national policy. They could have forced a real united front in the strike. Instead of which the Communist Party Ballams proved to the workers that they were mere tricksters and did not want unity in the strike. Although they knew very well that they had only a fraction of the members the A.F. of L. had (although they had the big dye shops under their influence) nevertheless they proposed a united front on equal terms with the A.F. of L.. This allowed the Kellers to declare that the NTWU was not “sincere” in its proposals for united front, that the smaller group wanted mechanical control of the strike, and with these slogans they rejected any united action. To this blow against the dye workers, the Ballams added the trip to Washington by bosses’ money. The dye workers now began to leave the NTWU and to swing to the A.F. of L. since, if there was to be no militancy and no real fight, if the Communist Party misleaders were no better than the A.F. of L., it was far safer for them to be in the A.F. of L. than in the NTWU.
Of course the A.F. of L. leaders, and the Lovestones, Kellers and Rubensteins, backed up by the “left” Communists, as the James P. Cannons and such, wanted no unity with the NTWU or any unity in the strike. In every way they tried to separate the workers. When the employers, frantic at the militancy of the dye workers and their effective tie-up, wanted to settle the strike of the dyers separately this was allowed. When they wanted to demoralize the silk workers and settle the strike with the Jacquard weavers only, this was okayed. On all sides the workers found themselves cut to pieces.
In this strike, again the Communist Party proved its complete bankruptcy. To the mountain of crimes which have destroyed the National Textile Workers Union in the past, a great pile of new crimes were added. All the older workers who had experience with the fake Communism of the Communist Party shunned the NTWU. It was chiefly the new layers of workers, the dye workers, that the NTWU was able to influence. The delay of the Communists in entering the scene, the choking control of the Communist Party, the bureaucracy of the Ballams who finally condescended to leave their soft jobs in the “FSU” or the “ILD” to go into `the dumps’ and `lead’ a strike, the lack of militancy, their empty phrase mongering, their lack of sincere efforts to create a real united front, their acceptance of money from the Paterson employers, their violence toward the revolutionary elements around the Communist League of Struggle, all showed that Stalinism could only kill the National Textile Workers Union.
We must say clearly and plainly the role of the Communist leader, John J. Ballem, in this strike was that of a strike-breaker. As we have seen, when the strike was called by the A.F. of L. the demands were for $36 a week for 30 hours and two looms for weavers. The union officials were evidently guaging their demand from the success of the needle trade workers in New York City. It is true that Mr. Schweitzer very soon afterward showed that so far as he was concerned he was willing to cut the demands down, but these were the demands which the workers had voted for and around which they had rallied unitedly.
Now into this situation comes Mr. Ballam, `Communist’. He declares at a time when the strike is still on the upgrade and enthusiasm very high, and when the NTWU is still a weak force, that the demands of the A.F. of L. are far too high, and are impossible and foolish. He changed the demands to $30 a week for 35 hours and 3 looms for weavers and came out for local settlements. That the American Federation of Silk Workers did not stress the demands of the poorer paid workers instead of those by the semi- skilled and skilled was of course a mistake. But it was a positively criminal strike breaking act for the leader of the other union, the Communist leader, Ballam, to state that he would join the employers in fighting the A.F. of L. demands as too high, that these demands were foolish and that he, Ballam and his union were willing to break the strike demands and settle for less. Is it any wonder that this strike breaker was well treated by the employers and that he was invited to a conference with them? Here is how the newspapers reported this conference: There Ballam inquired of Mr. Evans, Attorney for the Institute of Dyers and Printers about the dye shops that are still open in Hudson County (what did he want, the employers to close their shops for him?) and Mr. Haines asked Ballam, “Will you organize a group to go down to Washington, Monday?” Ballam answered, “I will report this to the United Strike Committee and we can promise to send dye and silk workers, several truckloads of Southern Mill workers from Burlington, N.C., which was accepted. And of course, the bosses paid all the expenses!
Ballam not only did his best to break the strike, he did his best to break his own union, the National Textile Workers Union, a union of fighting traditions (Passaic, Gastonia, etc.) equal to the best in the labor movement. Exposed in his fake maneuvers for “united front” (but to be under his control), defeated in his attempts at “united front from below”, deserted even by the dye workers toward the end of the strike, Ballam conceived of the idea of liquidating the National Textile Workers Union entirely and organizing an entirely new and independent union of Paterson!
By this one action the Communist Party forfeits all the respect it ever had among the textile workers. It was ample proof of what we had been telling the workers—The Communist Party cannot build revolutionary unions. It can only kill them. To plan to liquidate the NTWU, what was that but the liquidating of all the glorious strike traditions of the Communists—Passaic, Gastonia, etc.? What was that but informing everyone that the leaders have no faith in their union, they have no influence over the workers, that they want to dissolve their own organization for they feel they cannot keep it up, that by means of tricks, they hope to fool the workers into believing that the `new union’ will be better than the old. Tricks cannot take the place of policy. Ballam proved himself no better than Ballam’s ass. The workers laughed at him and ran away from him more than ever. The little groups each at the loom fixer’s association, the twisters’ association, etc. knew very well this was only a trick to get them to join an organization which the Communist Party would `capture’. It was another maneuver `from below’.
Is it any wonder that the workers lost faith in all the union leaders and in all the Communists `right’ or `left’? We must keep in mind that the leaders of both the A.F. of L. and of the NTWU were `Revolutionists’, `Communists’. Yet with `Communists’ at the head of both unions, unchallenged in the field, the strike is betrayed and sold out! And what is more, the workers know it. They howled down Mr. Brown and Ballam of the Communist Party, Keller and Rubenstein of the Lovestone groups, they prevented the A.F. of L. leaders from speaking and tore their programs to pieces. Again and again the rank and file refused to settle the strike on the terms of their leaders. It was only after fourteen weeks of fighting, absolutely surrounded and cut to pieces by the bosses and their agents in the fight, the Ballams, Kellers, Schweitzers, McMahons, that the workers succumbed.
What was the role of the Cannon Group, the Communist League of America, falsely claiming to be “Left Oppositionists” and hiding behind the banner of Leon Trotsky? Its paper, the Militant, from the very beginning, urged the workers to join the A.F. of L. and to fight the Communist Party. The Communist Party were splitters and traitors, but the Lovestoneites, the A.F. of L. misleaders, they were the real fighters! The Cannon group called for the liquidation of the NTWU. The Militant fought against any idea of a united front with the NTWU. In their issue of October 7th, they declared it was a mistake for the NTWU ever to have been organized in Paterson in 1928, that the Associated Silk Workers (now the UTW) was “permeated with a radical outlook” and that the “Stalinists had no such grievance against the Associated” in 1928 so as to form a new union. They go on further to say, “On the other hand, the Associated Silk Workers barring minor errors here and there, has done itself proud in the present strike situation. Through its militant actions it has enlisted the great majority of the silk workers. It has earned and properly deserves the support of the entire labor movement.” This issue was distributed `free’ to hundreds of workers in Paterson.
Is this not the rankest treachery possible? Here is the red paint to cover the Kellers and the Schweitzers. Is it any wonder that Keller was willing for James P. Cannon to speak at the meetings although Weisbord was not allowed? (However, Cannon always found himself `too busy’ to attend especially now when `mass work’ is so important!)
The Communist League of Struggle has nothing in common with the trade union policy of these fake `Left Oppositionists’. From the very beginning we went into the field with a policy of a real united front between the NTWU and the A.F. of L.. , We offered our help to both unions. We were rejected by both. We went on the picket line in the strike. We held a series of meetings warning the workers at each turn of the road of the dangers and contemplated betrayals. We pointed out that in this era only the revolutionary Communists can organize the unorganized and that the Lovestoneites and the Stalinists must fail. It is because of our trade union line and our careful analyses that the workers came in hundreds to our meetings and that now we have been able to build up a permanent influence in Paterson.
The defeat of the strike is not the end of the movement in Paterson. The dye workers who settled early at $23 a week for 40 hours and the Jacquard weavers who settled at $25 minimum will now be attacked. The Communist League of Struggle is now in the field to see to it that a steady war is carried on against the employers and against the NRA until a real revolutionary union is built up that can effectively fight for the workers. We now have a good club functioning, new and fine headquarters at 49 Ward Street, near Main, and have established a center which the militant workers of Paterson can truly call their own.
The Fascist tendencies within the Roosevelt regime bring sharply to our attention the problem of the relation of Liberalism to Fascism. For here is a man, Roosevelt, and a Party, the Democratic Party, that considered themselves as representing a liberal opinion in this country. And indeed with Roosevelt in power we have certain liberal gestures at the present time. Have we not the social worker, Frances Perkins, as the head of the Department of Labor? Have we not the recognition of Communist Russia? Have we not the end of Prohibition? Have we not the NRA as ‘The Magna Charter of Labor’ magnanimously allowing the workers to `join a union of their own choosing’, forbidding the `yellow dog contract’, and announcing as its purpose the raising of the purchasing power of the `forgotten man’ and the restoration of prosperity.
And yet symptoms are not lacking to show us that the `liberalism’ of Roosevelt is not `pure’ liberalism, but at best `mixed liberalism’, a liberalism mixed with definite fascist characteristics. If we have a Miss Perkins, we have a General Johnson. If we have the recognition of Russia, we have, as a condition to such recognition, the demand for the liquidation of the Communist international. We have the growing tension of war with Japan and the popularization of the very idea of dictatorship. If we have the NRA, we have the low wage slavery codes, the dollar a day and board of the Conservation Camps and the unemployment regiments of labor, the compulsory arbitration, the rise in the cost of living, and the definite increase in company union and fascist union tendencies.
The `mixed’ type of liberalism, in which liberalism begins to show a dual personality (a Dr. Hyde turning into a Mr. Jekyll as it were), must not surprise us. It is the most natural thing in the world. In our generation liberalism can readily turn into fascism, just as in the past generation, it turned readily either into laborism or even into anarchism or socialism. It is no accident that in Europe the liberals of yesterday have become the fascists of today, just as it will be no accident that the liberals in America today will inevitably become the fascists of America tomorrow. To find out why this is sos, we must look behind the history of ideas, which, indeed, is no history, to the real history of men and events.
Liberalism arose hand in hand with the rise of manufacturing and merchant capital and with the Industrial Revolution, in countries where capitalism was in control both economically and politically, and where capitalist society as a whole was on the upgrade. Liberalism was the product of capitalist propertied classes, who were comfortably situated, who had a stake in the given society and who felt that they had a great future before them.
As long as the capitalists were in a life and death struggle with the old regime, it was quite proper that their ideology, liberalism, should take on features in opposition to that of their enemies, the feudal lords. Did the feudal lords stress the social order and society? Then the capitalists who were opposed to this social order stressed individualism. Did the feudal lords stress the need for regulation (for their benefit) by the state? Then the capitalist spoke of liberty, absence of regulation, so that the merchant and industrialist might profit. Thus, against “Society” liberalism set up the individual, against the feudal theory of mutual dependence, the theory of independence; against the hierarchy of feudalism, the slogan of liberty and equality, against the theory of the political control by the few (the elite), the slogan of democracy, against the theory of class lines, the theory of no classes and equality of individuals.
What was behind all these slogans of liberalism? The necessity of the capitalists to rationalize the system of social relations that would guarantee to them their power and their profits. There came a time when the capitalists were successful in defeating the ancient regime and, as the capitalists passed from an opposition class to the class in power and began to dominate the state, themselves, then their ideology and their `liberalism’ began to change. Now, faced with other classes, including the modern working class, which they had created and which was raising its own demands, 19th century liberalism was driven along two lines. First it had to recognize `society’ and the subordination of the rights and wills of the individuals to the social well being, and second, it had to recognize the doctrine of evolution, i.e., of change. With these modifications, Liberalism began to take on a pseudo `scientific’ coloration.
This new liberalism made a great appeal to the lower middle class and to the skilled workers who were being bribed by the special privileges of an imperialistic economy. Instead of talking about `liberty’, it spoke about `happiness’ and the greatest good in the greatest number to be brought about by the judicious legislation of the state. As liberalism became `democratic’, it began to rely more and more upon the state to preserve `individualism’. Together with economic reform, freedom of speech and the press were measures to prevent the bursting forth of fierce class war. Against revolution, the liberals of the 19th century counter imposed `peaceful’ evolution, precisely at a time when the working class was evolving from liberal sentiments to socialism, and when in England, changing from a wing of the liberal party the workers were making the liberals a wing of their Labor Party. Already in the late 19th century we see liberalism tend to disappear as the great forces in the imminent class struggle between Capitol and Labor line up for mastery.
However, we must not imagine that Labor broke with liberalism at once. Certainly laborism (Labor Party-ism) was in one sense the very triumph of liberalism, the victory of liberalism in the camp of Labor. The whole laborite camp was thoroughly corroded by liberalism, with its denial of the class struggle, its ideas of class collaboration, and its illusion of increased social reform through Democracy. Through `Lib-Labism’ (The Liberal Labor Coalition effected in England) a section of liberalism turned 180 degree around. If, earlier, the state was not to interfere, now the State was to be be-sought for social reforms, for nationalization schemes, for taxation of the wealthy, for protection of the weak. Individualism gave place to a theory that social action and social force were decisive, that the individual, for example, can be curbed by the trade union. From this there is only a slight step forward to the assertion that individualism can only be developed through social action. From the shift of emphasis from liberty as the means, to happiness, the end of life, it is but a slight step forward to declare that since the end is important, all means are justified if only the end be reached, even the denial of liberty. And thus Liberalism commits suicide, precisely at a time when the class struggle reaches its final battles.
Liberalism arose as a movement in defense of capitalist private property. Fascism is a continuation of this defense. And so there is a direct line of connection between liberalism and fascism. If liberalism appears in those countries where the capitalists are well developed in their struggles against the feudal regime, historically, fascism appears as a dominant movement in those countries which, next to the Soviet Union, were the weakest links in the chain of capitalist imperialism, which the masses were breaking. Fascism thus is a post war movement basically directed against Communism and formed by the capitalists in order to liquidate the proletarian revolution threatening its power.
If fascism arose first in countries predominantly agrarian (though with a well developed and considerable industry), later, as the crisis of capitalism grew more decisive, fascism moved from the secondary states to the primary, from the outskirts in the very center of world capitalism. it has established itself in Germany and industrial Europe. It is advancing even in England and the U.S.
Fascism is the violent development of corporate and state capitalism (with its semi-public and public property) creating its own governmental forms. Fascism is the open dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, with the aid of the petty bourgeoisie, against the workers. It arises at a time when capitalism had no further use for its classical parliamentarism, when democracy as a bourgeois class state has become thoroughly exposed to the masses. Imperialism, i.e., reactionary, monopolistic, capitalism, had already taken away the economic base for the `checks and balance’ system of 19th century democracy, with its `talking shop’ parliaments and many independent parties. The world war had emphasized the complete bankruptcy of political liberalism.
Fascism openly replaces the “democratic” slogan “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” with the slogans of “Responsibility, Hierarchy, Discipline.” Fascist theory openly calls for violent action by the propertied minority. Fascism, then, builds up a complete theory of nationalization of capital, of the untrammelled corporate `totalitarian’ state, of compulsory class collaboration and of the dominant role of religion in state and life.
In all of this, it is easy to see just where fascism differs from liberalism. However, it is the primary task of this article to show the tools of fascism within liberalism itself, to show the intimate connection of liberalism and fascism and how the ideology of one can easily spring from the other.
In the first place it is clear that both liberalism and fascism are a defense of private property in the means of production. When capitalism is going up, liberalism is fitting for the capitalist; when capitalism is going down throughout the world, then he betakes himself to fascism. Both liberalism and fascism have the same roots—defense of private capitalist property. And what is more, both liberalism and fascism get their supporters from the same class—the petty bourgeoisie. The fascist is the desperate petty bourgeoisie harnessed to the chariot of imperialism.
We have seen that liberalism believed in free competition but free competition means the spoils belong to the winner and that the stronger can knock out the weaker. Free competition means individualism. But individualism can lead to hero worship and to caesarism, the victory of the strong individual, of the strong Napoleon. Has not the liberal worshipped the strong individual, the strong capitalist who could win in free competition? Can he now object to the worship of a strong political hero, of a Hitler or a Mussolini? If the liberal never objected to the dictatorship of the capitalist in the shop, can be object to the dictatorship of the capitalist agent in the state, especially when shop and state are more and more becoming one?
If the liberal believes in seeing “both sides”, will he not also see the side of the fascist and give them `due credit’? If the liberal believes abstractly in free speech, will he not fight for the free speech even of the fascist? We have seen how hard the `American Civil Liberties Union’ in the name of liberalism, has fought for the Ku Klux Klan and for the German Fascists in America. If we must always see `both sides’, then is there not a `good side’ to Hitler and the Fascists, especially when they are protecting you and yours from the bad Bolsheviks? After seeing both sides then we choose and the liberal in the 20th century has to choose and does choose—now Communism, now fascism—depending upon who has the power in the see-saw struggle.
The liberal is ready to recognize the rights of society. Very well, then, since the liberal was not opposed to the capitalist state, but indeed, latterly, stood for its extension, can he now be opposed to the `totalitarian’ state? Let us not believe that the fascist “totalitarian” state (everything for the state, nothing outside the state) would do away with the individualism of the capitalist. Indeed, it is the only way for the capitalist to preserve his individualism, because it preserves his property. Fascism does not crush the “liberty and independence” of the capitalist. It only enhances them.
The demand of the liberal for “liberty” very often meant “cheap government". Cheap government is one of the principle reasons for the victory of the Nazis in Germany. The fact is that, under the Weimar constitution, the German state was becoming bankrupt, it could not meet the interest on its debts. It could not meet the demands for social insurance and for a living wage without disrupting its whole capitalist life entirely. The victory of fascism has brought to a successful realization the dream of the liberals—the cheap state—at the expense of the workers and poor toilers generally.
The liberal is against all class struggles. At first he tries to deny the existence of classes. Then to harmonize the interests of the opposing classes. In this opposition to classes the liberal is at one with the fascist. The fascist also preaches class fusion. Just as the liberal did in the past, so the fascist today fights Marxism and the doctrine of class war. The class peace of the fascist, however, is the peace of the cemetery. If the liberal is for inaction and the fascist for action, this will not separate them. The liberals try to keep the workers from action; the fascists aim to physically destroy the action of the workers whenever it arises.
Finally, in the philosophic field, let us not forget that the `liberal philosopher’, Wm. James, is the direct inspirer of Mussolini and rightly so. 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 last death throes. Pragmatism, what is that but another word for `No Perspective’? Pragmatism, what is that but action without theory, motion without movement? Wm. James, inspirer of Mussolini and of John Dewey and the latter’s bootblack, `Professor’ Sidney Hook—here is the philosophic link that may yet connect American Liberalism with Fascism.
If Roosevelt is able to impose the seeds of fascism from above, it is because below there is sufficient soil rich enough in which to plant it. The same set of objective factors which make necessary the cartelization of industry and the scrapping of `rugged individualism’ is also bound to produce a number of embryonic fascist groups from the ranks of the petty bourgeoisie itself. It is for this reason that as early as August 1930, one already finds the beginnings of a real American fascist organization—the American Fascistic Association and Order of Black Shirts. Naturally, fascist organizations existed among the foreign population even earlier than 1930, but in the Black Shirts, one finds an organization adapted to the American scene and modeled along typically American lines. Taking advantage of the strong tradition of the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Shirts took out a charter in Atlanta, Georgia, and commenced their operations with the slogan, “Drive the Negroes out of jobs and put whites in their place.” They did not forget the Communists, however, and also proposed to fight Communism in Georgia. Since there never were many Communists in Georgia, this provided them with a program easy to fulfill while the Negro (as the Jew in Germany) supplied the psychological basis necessary to attract a large membership.
The southern bourgeoisie has been well prepared by the Ku Klux Klan for an attack upon the Negroes as the cause for all his troubles. The Black Shirts, therefore, accepted its American heritage rather than the German precedent of spearing the Jew. At the same time they were thus given an opportunity to show some results since they were in this way able to supply a few of their members with jobs. Thus they cloaked themselves with an economic panacea for the unemployed white. While the Black Shirts contended that they made no charge for membership, every member was compelled to pay a fee of one dollar to have his name placed upon their unemployed list. For this honorarium the members were given the right to wear a black shirt and received the promise of a job. Since the organization, however, had no jobs to offer its members, it attempted to create them by the simple expedient of serving demands upon employers to fire their Negro help and employ whites in their places. By this process the Black Shirts contended that in a short while they were able to supply jobs for 600 men.
The official organ of the Black Shirts at that time was an anonymously edited weekly of the same name containing the motto “America for Americans". Eventually, they undoubtedly intended to include the Jew and the Catholic. At least by this slogan they left open for themselves the loop hole whereby this could be done. In the issue of August 29th, 1930, the claim was made that more than 27,000 members had joined. This was, without question, an exaggeration although the possibility of a tremendous gain in its followers is not to be underestimated when one keeps in mind the race prejudice, the industrial conditions in the South, and the heritage of the Ku Klux Klan.
Very early in its career the Black Shirts attempted to fulfill their promise to fight Communism by strongly supporting the prosecution of six Communists arrested in Atlanta, ostensibly for insurrection. These workers faced a death sentence if convicted and the Black Shirts Clamored for their blood. It was said that the Black Shirts went so far as to intimidate citizens fighting for a fair trial.
Of the men responsible for the organization of the group of blackguards, it is sufficient to say that the leader, R.A. Gordon, was defeated in 1930 for the office of mayor of Atlanta—- an ordinary politician disappointed with the failure of a democratic ballot to put him into a nice fat job. Gordon was aided and abetted by R.S. Gulledge and Holt Gwinner. The chief spellbinder of the Black Shirts was J.O. Wood—one time candidate for the governorship of Georgia. Wood, however, was soon afterwards repudiated by the Black Shirts and denounced by them in their paper. Wood probably wanted too much for his services.
Six months prior to the organization of the Black Shirts, the Fascists League of North America pretended to disband. Count Ignazio Thaon di Revel as president dissolved the group after a vote of 50 delegates representing 87 out of 93 chapters with a total membership of 12,000. In a farewell address, Count Revel stated that the organization had been successful in its fight against Communism and anarchism and that all of its aims were accomplished. Three years later we find the Fascio Arnaldo Mussolini Association of Hoboken gathered in Public School No. 3 one evening in 1933 to hear William A. Meyer, Heinz Spanknoebels’ successor as leader of the Friends of New Germany. Meyer, on this suspicious occasion was accompanied by a bodyguard of 20 of his associates dressed in white shirts, blue trousers and blue caps with swastikas. In the speech which Meyer came to deliver, he declared that the object of the Friends of New Germany was to help “the expulsion from the United States of the Communistic Jew". Since this meeting took place just after the Spanknoebel fiasco in New York, Meyer made certain to announce that while the movement had met with a great deal of opposition in New York City because of the large Jewish element, it was proving successful in the smaller towns of the East. In Union City, he asserted, the number of `Friends’ were increasing daily, and plans had been made for the establishment of a group in Hoboken.
While the Friends of New Germany have recently received a great deal of publicity there remains much that is unknown about their activities in the United States. Nazi agents amply supplied with money from a ten million mark appropriation from the German Government have deluged this country with pamphlets, weeklies, and magazines in an effort to ferment the same creed of racial and religious hatred which Hitler has popularized in Germany. Even mimeographed chain letters have been utilized to spread the vicious doctrines of their party.
According to a report which appeared in the New York Evening Journal of Nov. 1, 1933, Nazi units have been established during the past four years in many cities, including New York, Brooklyn, Rochester, Newark, Montreal, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles. These units were part of the official parent organization of the NSDAP (National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei) but did not, however, reach any significant size until April 1933 when ample finances and new agents were sent here from Germany. The Nazi party then formally dissolved the NSDAP units in this country and organized new cells with new names. These new groups while directly financed and controlled by the Nazi party of Germany are purportedly independent groups having no connection with the German Government.
At first the leadership of New York was given to Paul Paulsen, who immediately commenced an intensive campaign of propaganda. Mail boxes were stuffed with posters and leaflets were inserted in books in the public libraries. Most of these leaflets bore the stamp of the Fichte Association (Fichte-Bund) 30 Jungfernsteig, Hamburg 36. As an illustration of the type of trash widely circulated by the Nazis a short resume of one of the leaflets will be of interest. This one is entitled “The Destroyers of International Goodwill Unmasked". The leaflet begins by claiming that the things being said about Germany are `monstrosities and atrocities’ and that the following must be taken into account:
1. At the outbreak of the Revolution in Germany, Salamon Kosmanowsky, a Jew who called himself Kurt Eisner, succeeded in getting power over Bavaria and shot ten hostages all of whom were Christians and one of whom was Countess Hell von Westrap. The leaders of the rebellion, however, were all Jews.
2. Under the Bolsheviks countless bishops and priests as well as three million Christians were executed by the Tscheka—an organization under `Jew leadership’. This led to no protest on the part of the Jews.
3. When Hungary tried to rid itself of her `Jewish Oppressor’, Bela Kun, and his murderous accomplices, the World Press cried out, “Down with the White Hungarian Reign of Terror.”
4. Kautsky, a Jew, gained admission to the archives of the foreign office, made extracts of the documents, and thereupon altered and distorted them in the World Press.
5. In the whole of Germany not one person was killed during the National Revolution, yet the lie was spread that 1400 were executed in Hamburg alone.
6. Not a single case of rape was reported, yet it was said that Jewish girls were outraged.
7. Not a Jew was murdered.
8. Not only France but international Jewry and their Marxist followers fear Hitler will put an end to the suffering of the German nation and other countries will follow the suit of Germany in “safeguarding the attainments of Christianity".
With this sort of drivel, the membership of the Friends of New Germany, within a comparatively short period rose in New York City to 8,000. The Nazis, who at this time were under the leadership of Heinz Spanknoebel, began to center their attention upon the German American societies. These societies claim a nominal membership and influence of about thirteen million, and at first Spanknoebel encountered a great deal of opposition from the leaders of the older groups. These men were well satisfied burghers who did not at that time see the necessity for fascism in the United States, nor the desirability of embroiling themselves in foreign controversies. Spanknoebel, however, had a task to perform and he was here to see it done properly. Soon Spanknoebel gained control of the German American groups.
From the modest beginning made at this meeting the Nazis have progressed so rapidly that today they control practically all of the German groups in the U.S. The few liberal officers, who have felt out of sympathy with Hitler, like the Ridder brothers and Magistrate Brandt Jr. have considered the safety of their own hides as of paramount importance and have resigned their executive positions. It may even be that all of this was a mere show in order to cover up the true situation and that these men too are in sympathy with the movement. At any rate, the field has now been left clear for the untrammeled work of Herr Hitler.
We print herewith the statement of five workers in regard to the theft of the library of the Communist League of Struggle by Rosenberg of the American League. It is another link in the chain of evidence which we have been forging since the theft occurred in November 1931. It is now plainly to be seen that Rosenberg was intimately connected with James P. Cannon, the leader of the Communist League of America and with I. Zimmerman of the Lovestone Group.
The statement follows: “On Monday evening, November 20th, the undersigned workers met Jack Rosenberg sitting in a restaurant with another member of the American League. As Rosenberg left the restaurant, we went over to him to ask about his version of the story regarding the theft of the library of the CLS that we had heard so much about.
“When we asked him point blank whether he had broken into the headquarters and stolen the books, he affirmed this, and declared he was young at the time and had to be excused because of his youth. When we asked whether or not he intends to return the books or the money equivalent, he made the remark that we could not get blood out of a stone. In answer to our question as to where the books are now, he said he did not know, but that James P. Cannon of the American League and I. Zimmerman of the Lovestone Group had sold the books for the Marine Defense Committee. We then asked him whether he would sign a statement to the above effect and he refused.
“We denounced him as being nothing but a thief who had no business in the revolutionary movement. Rosenberg then said it was not his fault but that he had got his political training from Weisbord, that the Communist League of Struggle was organizing thefts and he declared that Weisbord had suggested the blackjacking of workers who were coming up to the headquarters in order to raise money for the rent. Our comrades then denounced him as a liar and stool pigeon, especially for his circulation of these slanders in Paterson, and then a fight started.”
(Signed) N. Grenn, Phil Lewis, Henry Weser, Leo Lind, Sam Fisher.
“I, together with Sam Fisher who was also present asked Jack Rosenberg to whom he had given the stolen books and he replied: “To the Marine Defense Committee”, and in reply to a further question, answered, “To Cannon and Zimmerman.”
“I then asked him, did they know how you got the books, and to whom they belonged?” He replied, “Yes, they knew how he got them and to whom they belonged.” --(Signed) Leo Lind, Sam Fisher
We wish to call to the attention of our readers that Cannon and Zimmerman have set the following precedents in this affair:
1. It is the first time that the leaders of a Communist group have actually handled property stolen from another Communist group.
2. It is the first time that the so called `Left Opposition’ group united with the `Right Wing’ Lovestone group. It was at this time that Cannon was protesting “we shall never make a united front with the right.” This united front was made for the great principle of robbery and disposal of stolen goods.
3. It is the first time that hooligans who actually raided and robbed Communist headquarters were admitted as honorable members of the ~Left Opposition’, membership, it would seem, being the reward for their hooliganism.
4. It is the first time that a `Defense Committee’ organized to defend worker prisoners has been used as a `Fence Committee’ to handle and to dispose of goods so stolen.
We want to know how much did Cannon pay Rosenberg for the job? We want to know who bought the books? We want to know what the members of the American League and of the Lovestone group think of having actual crooks at their heads? Did Cannon get the vote of his membership before he disgraced the whole movement?
(Editors Note: We have been informed that a membership meeting of the Communist League of America has voted to consider The Communist League of Struggle as an enemy group and to have no further connection with it.)
On Saturday, November 4th, the Communist League of America held its celebration in honor of the sixteenth anniversary of the birth of the Soviet Union and the fifth anniversary of its own organization and the `Militant’. At a gathering of this sort we do not usually expect lengthy and studied analysis of the principles and struggles of the organization, but we certainly don’t expect an omission of all mention of these principles and struggles, since at such celebrations revolutionists rededicate themselves to their cause. And, since here was an official section of the International Left Opposition, accepting the leadership of Comrade Trotsky, we expected a spirit worthy of such adherence.
We wish we could report the affair in all seriousness; but as soon as our pen turns to some of the significant details, it is tempted—in fact, it is forced to write a little off key. And it is neither our fault nor the pen’s—and this is serious—as serious as the apprehensions of the banquet committee over Ben Gitlow, who was specially invited (together with Calverton, Hook, and others).
Don’t misunderstand us. Not apprehensions over Gitlow’s political opinions. No! No!— But it’s almost nine o’clock. —The comrades and guests are gathered. Where is he? He should be here! What time is it? It’s time to serve and he is not her on the scene!— It is whispered about here and there, “He is not here yet. He is not here.” The committee is worried. He is not here. —“Who is not here?” Comes a sighing question. “Ben Gitlow!”, it is whispered.
At last the conquering hero comes. He was accompanied by his aged mother.
Somehow we expected the audience to rise and sing the `International’. Logically speaking, we could not understand the omission at this point.
But with a little better logic, if we must say it, we will, with many others, omit or skip the meal that was served and pass by Shachtman’s gracious eulogies before and after each speaker. We will simply notice that the latter were most highly pitched in respect of Comrades Lindgren and Gitlow. Why?—what if Lindgren (the first speaker), announced that seven years ago he knew with absolute certainty that a new Communist Party and a new International were `urgently needed’. “ After seven years of waiting, I have at last found it,” he proclaimed proudly,—just like that. There goes a `Marxist’.
Letting him go, we will go straight to the heart of the banquet. The main speaker of the evening, as you no doubt, have already guessed, was—Ben Gitlow. He was introduced as one of the great fighters, a great leader, etc. The stage was all set. For a worthy preparation, there was a worthy performance.
Gitlow got up—(great applause) --he was aware of his responsibility. He was given twice as much time as any of the other speakers. He had the floor to himself, like a conqueror. With rhetoric, fat and sloppy as his ideas, he was going to lead the lost opposition out of the wilderness.
“No one”, he believed ,"can pat himself on the back now and say that he was right.— Neither I, Ben Gitlow nor Trotsky. That is to say, let the past bury the past, let bygones be bygones.—We need the unity of all communist forces for action,” he cried. “For action was repeated again and again.” Not a word about a political program! Not a word about the struggle of the Left Opposition! Not a word about Trotsky! Gitlow, you see, was for `unity’—(hic --” pardon me)—and hic—for `action’.
“It is needed It is urgent. It is imperative! The defeat in Germany showed that Stalin did not let Germany have its own Communist Party.” Stalin might have been the best theoretician; Stalin might have been the best Communist in Russia; Stalin might have been the best Marxist. Still that would not have helped. Germany needed and did not have its own party.”
This and other such gems from our old friend,—the Gitlovian or Lovestoneite theory of exceptionalism.
“And further”, we heard him roar, “you may have the best party, you may have the biggest party, with the best theoreticians. It would be no good unless you attached it to the masses.”
There’s a formulation for you on the relation of the party to the masses. Page the attacker.
But enough of this main star of the evening. He did not utter a single word in common with the L.O! In fact, there was not a single speaker to talk about the Militant and the struggles of the L.O.! Everything was made extremely comfortable for Comrade Gitlow as though a concession or two were needed to bring him to the banquet, eh--what?
A number of Comrades and sympathizers are ashamed of this performance. it was a slap in the face of the L.O.
And they are asking, “Is Gitlow going toward the L.O., or…?
However, there was dancing; and entertainment was provided by two artists who were brought by Gitlow. In short, it was Gitlow’s night. It was an historical celebration. ( written by Philip Soyer)
It seems as though the future of the Marine Worker is very gloomy. The following is a classic example of one of the many sectarian groups, calling themselves `Revolutionary Industrial Unions’, in operation on the New York City waterfront.
On Wednesday, November 29th, I made application to join the Marine Workers Industrial Union No. 510, I.W.W. When I arrived at the meeting called, I found myself subject to a very severe attack because of the fact that I was a member of the Communist League of Struggle, and was thereupon rejected by a vote of eight to seven (there being 15 people usually around at a meeting of the great ~Industrial Union’). Those who were most bitter against me were those elements who had been in the Communist Party at one time and who had received their training and also their reactions from the Stalinist bureaucracy. Always the real Communists must pay for the crimes of Stalinism.
The Communist baiters in the hall presented a resolution that all members or applicants who are members of a Communist organization are to be considered agent provocateurs and to be expelled from the organization. These `successors’ to Bill Haywood have rapidly degenerated the formerly militant I.W.W. into a mere lumpen organization—at least so far as the local in the N.Y. harbor is concerned. I do not believe that it is necessary for any Communist even to answer this sort of resolution. If it is approved by the General Executive Board it is another sign that Fascists and syndicalism are well intertwined together.
The rejection of my application means that the I.W.W. is pursuing the same type of tactics as the fakers and the bureaucracy of the A.F. of L. and that of the Minks of the Communist Marine Workers Industrial Union. Every union has become a `philosophical society’. If you do not agree with the political and philosophical opinions of the cliques who control the organization, out you go. In this way these Industrial Unions are excellent mechanisms for the creation of scabs and nonunion elements.
Upon the rejection of my application, at once Comrade N. Grenn got up and declared that he too was a member of the Communist League of Struggle adhering to the Left Opposition and what were they going to do about it? The `Industrial Union’ at once decided to suspend him until the next meeting to take up his case. They declared that in printed statements, the Communist League of Struggle stood for the defeat of the I.W.W.
In order to meet this attack Comrade Grenn came to the next meeting with the following statement from our group: “The I.W.W.presents itself to the working class in a dual and inconsistent capacity. In the first place it presents itself as a propaganda society, propagating what has come to be called a variety of syndicalism, a theory that the workers can take the control over production without the guide of Marxism, without a political party, and through industrial action and industrial unions only. Such propaganda the C.L.S. considers incorrect and dangerous. And in so far as the I.W.W. is such a propaganda organization, all Communist organizations must strive to defeat it generally and to drive it out of the ranks of the working class.
On the other hand, the I.W.W. poses to be a `union’, a system of industrial unions, which are to act as unions, take in all the workers in the industries who apply for membership and fight for their material interests as bona-fide unions must. In so far as the I.W.W. is a union actually taking in all the workers in the industry and fighting for their interests, it is not the aim of the Communist League of Struggle to destroy such an organization. Our members are in order to join the I.W.W. wherever, as workers in an industry. They feel they can get protected by the power of unionism, in this case represented by the I.W.W. Further, our members, in any union of which they are a part, have the duty not to destroy the union, but to build it up, to make it truly a militant organization. We must fight against syndicalism, but not against unions protecting all workers in their day to day economic battles. Unfortunately, the I.W.W. has not seen fit to separate adequately the particular syndicalist dreams of its leadership from the job of unionism itself. It is for this reason that the I.W.W. has failed both as a revolutionary propaganda society and as an effective union. The job of any member who joins the I.W.W. is to see to it that the I.W.W. becomes a real bona-fide union taking in all workers regardless of their political beliefs and fighting militantly and correctly in the every day battles in which the workers need protection and for which they join.
Upon the reading of this document, N. Grenn was expelled and the I.W.W. has again been saved from `Communism’. (author Henry Weser.).