Volume 4 Number 6-7 …………………….. June-July 1934
How New York Fought Conscription 71 Years Ago ……..by Maurice Clifford
Is Adequate Unemployment Insurance Possible in U.S. Today? …by N. Schwartz
Family Relations Under the Soviets—14 Questions Answered …by Leon Trotsky
Fascism in Britain ……………………..by Fred Browner
Pseudo-Communist Intellectuals (Concluding Article) …by Albert Weisbord
DUE to the fact that the “Class Struggle” has come out so late we have not been able as yet to comment on some of the significant features of the May Day demonstrations in New York City. To us the most outstanding event was that for the first time we did not march together with the official section of the Internationalist Communists, the American League. The American League marched with the Socialists. We marched with the Communist movement. Between us yawned the deep abyss of the class struggle. Through this simple demonstration everyone could see what the differences between the Communist League of Struggle and the Communist League of America really were.
The American League members proudly report that they were welcomed by the Socialists and that they carried the banner of the Fourth International into their midst. We, on the other hand, had our banner torn down by the Stalinists in the parade. The banner of the American League was not torn down because their members did nothing to antagonize the bureaucrats in the trade unions with whom they marched, they did nothing to show that the Fourth International must grow only through dissensions and splits within the Socialist ranks; they covered up the Socialists with red paint, and were needed by the latter in order that the Socialist mis-leaders could claim, that they really stand for the united front. It enabled one of the right wingers in the Socialist Party to exclaim in his speech to the mass meeting: So far has the influence of the Socialist Party grown that it has even taken Communist groups into its demonstration.
In the parade the American League carried no banner that could possibly antagonize the reformists in the Socialist Party. Cannon praised the members of the Young Peoples Socialist League. The American League members left it to the Lovestonites to carry a banner “Defend the Soviet Union.” In all their actions, the Cannon group has given the impression that the Fourth International is a new international which anybody in the labor movement can join, a sort of international Labor Party if you please. On the other hand, we, too, carried the banner For A Fourth International, and, while it was torn down, it was because we made it plain that the Third International is dead, and only by a ruthless struggle against the Communist Party international leadership can the revolutionary movement be revived.
This indeed strikes the heart of the matter. Like typical centrists, the American League have swung from one extreme to another. Hitherto, they used to say “Never a united front outside the party or against the party,” “No united front without the party,” etc. Now they enter into nonaggression pacts with the most rotten reformist elements. Comrade Swabeck openly hails Sidney Hook, a vicious anti Marxist, as “Comrade,” because he believes that in this way he can ingratiate himself with the American Workers Party and win them for the Fourth International. Joe Carter and the youth organizer of the Young Peoples’ Socialist League lock themselves in a fraternal embrace as though the differences between the Y.P.S.L. and the Communist Left were not differences between exploiters and exploited.
EVERYWHERE the Cannon Group is dragging the Banner of the Fourth International in the mud. They make it clear that the Fourth International, if they guide it, is going to be but another two and a half international. It will be a resting place for all weary radicals who are tired of “fighting each other.” This is the way to destruction.
The Fourth International can arise only as a result of a long, tireless process in which a most intransigent struggle is carried on against all reformist elements along the line that Comrade Trotsky himself has suggested in his various articles on the recent rise of centrism and the dangers open to us. The Fourth International can arise only as a result of mass work and activity on the part of its various sections. It cannot arise through maneuvers alone. It is significant that the Cannon group has miserably failed in all its mass work, in the coal fields, in the food industry, in the needle trades and in Paterson. In Minneapolis it made itself partner to a sellout in which the workers, were forced into a scheme of compulsory arbitration. It is no wonder that in Boston, in Montreal, in Toronto, in New York, splits have occurred in its ranks.
Failing in mass work, the Cannon group turns to substitutes, to deals and tricks with the Left Socialists, the Musteites, the Max Eastmans, Lores, Salutsky-Hardmans, Sidney Hooks and others of their kind. In order to get a “Mass” party quickly and without effort, they are willing to take in all shady political elements and call it a “new deal” or “Fourth” international. In the meantime they prove to be the bitterest fighters against us, who, first of all in this country, came out for a genuine Fourth International.
False tactics are intimately bound up with false strategy and program. The Cannon group has tried to justify its marching with the Socialists. It said, “The masses are there.” As a matter of fact, more people were at the Union Square Communist demonstration. So far as the militant workers are concerned, the overwhelming number of course went to the traditional Union Square demonstration, grouped around the Communist Party. The Cannon group said: “It was necessary to show the workers we need a united front.” But May Day is not “united front” day. It is revolutionary labor day. And on this day it is the function of the Left Communists to unfurl their banner at that demonstration which symbolizes Revolution and not Reform. We do not make a united front with the Socialists for “revolution” for we know they are against revolution. We make united fronts on concrete questions of the day only. Behind all its actions the Cannon group showed a right wing pessimism, an overestimation of the “masses” around the Socialist Party, and the revolutionary possibilities of the Socialists, and a complete underestimation of the necessity to win former Communist Party members and their sympathizers to us.—A. W.
A REPORT OF THE YOUTH UNITED FRONT DEMONSTRATIONS, AGAINST WAR AND FASCISM:
May 30th witnessed two antiwar demonstrations of a similar character. Both “united front” demonstrations in the end turned out to be very poor showings, as far as results were concerned. In the official organs of the different groups and parties we see the “reasons” why there were two demonstrations, rather than one, when both were opposed to war and fascism. While ostensibly coming together to fight war and fascism both groups split on the question of the “name” of the demonstration. The Communist Party group wanted the name to be “United Youth Demonstration Against War and Fascism.” The split also occurred on what slogans should be raised by the “united front demonstration” as distinct from the slogans raised by the separate organizations themselves.
At the first meeting of the United Youth Committee against War and Fascism on May 5th, the following organizations were represented: the Young People’s Socialist League, the Spartacus Youth Clubs, the Youth Section of the Communist League of Struggle, and various other Socialist groups together with the Lovestoneites and Anarchists. To this meeting there came two “observers” from the National Students League, who, after giving a report, proposed that the United Youth Committee dissolve and that the individual organizations making up this body send its representatives to the May 13th conference of the American League Against War and Fascism (Communist Party controlled). This proposal was rejected and in its stead a motion was passed to the effect that a delegation be sent to propose unity of both conferences.
On Sunday, May 13th, the delegation of the United Youth Committee appeared at the conference of the American League against War and Fascism which agreed to have a joint demonstration, allowing the conference of the United Youth Committee and its component organizations to carry their own banners and slogans. The name of the demonstration would have to be, however, National Youth Day. At this point, the chairman of the United Youth Committee delegation, Ben Fisher of the Young People’s Socialist League, after consulting the other delegates, announced that the conference he represented would not accept this unless the slogans involving the four German youths, who were deported from Holland at the Fourth International Youth Conference, and the six Y.P.S.L.’ers, who were beaten up by the American Legion at Mitchel Square, a year ago at a similar demonstration, were advanced by the united demonstration.
No sooner was this statement made than all chances of having the “united front” disappeared. Of course, the Y.C.L. did not want its conference to raise the banner of the Fourth International. But, it said it was willing to allow the component organizations to raise that banner and to call the demonstration by whatever name they wished. Our comrade, Jarvis, urged the chairman, Ben Fisher, not to allow the Y.C.L. to split the forces of the workers over the question of a name and who is to carry the banner for the German youths or the six Yipsels. But, supported by the Cannon group, Fisher stood adamant. The Y.C.L. immediately won its point, They proved to all sympathetic delegates present that our conference “in reality” was not interested in a united front demonstration.
We were then forced to retire to our own conference. At this conference it was the delegates of the Communist League of Struggle, who alone provided the opposition to reformism. We alone fought that our demonstration should have the character of being against Imperialist War and Fascism. Strange to say it was Carter and Garrett of the Spartacus Youth Clubs who took the leadership in the fight against us. It was Carter who said our point was a “minor” one and moved that the conference be one only against war and fascism, and not against imperialist war.
In every possible way Carter and his former pals in the Yipsels (Who called him “hello Joe” and put their arms around him) tried to give the impression that between the Communists of the official Trotsky group and the Young People’s Socialist League there were nothing but love and harmony. It was Carter and Garrett who supported the motion that “Only those slogans acceptable to all organizations be carried in the demonstration.” Here is the principle of non aggression pacts with a vengeance.
In making the question of the “name” of the demonstration the “main question” and in failing to see that the principal question was to try as much as possible to prevent the Y.C.L. and the Y.P.S.L. from dividing the workers, the Spartacus Youth Club showed that it was a regular centrist, opportunist, organization. It is always the opportunist who forgets the “reason” for the united front.
As a result of these bickerings neither demonstration was very effective. Only about 700 people turned out for the United Youth Committee, and while much more turned out for the Y.C.L., too many were adults mobilized by the Communist Party itself. In our demonstration it was only the Communist League of Struggle members who raised the slogan of protest the deportation of the two American delegates from Holland (The Spartacus group conveniently forgot the Americans) and who called for the ejection from this country of Fascist ambassadors and consular agents. Only we (together with the Lovestonites) called for the Defense of the Soviet Union. Other slogans we raised were: “Protest the Raid on the Youth Conference for the Fourth International … .. All Aid to the Colonies in their Wars against the Imperialists,” “Demand an Asylum in the U. S. for Leon Trotsky … .. For a Fourth Youth International,” etc.
Were it not for the fact that the original call of the United Youth Committee came out for the release of the four German delegates arrested in Holland, and that the other conference, run by the Communist Party would have refused to allow us to raise this slogan, we would have marched with the Y.C.L. in spite of the crimes of the Stalinists in splitting the ranks of the workers.—G.J.
HOW NEW YORK FOUGHT CONSCRIPTION 71 YEARS AGO
by Maurice Clifford
Today the ominous shadows of Imperialist War and Fascism raise the question of what we, who oppose these reactionary and anti working class forces, are to do when war is upon us. To help us find the answer to this question a survey of the history of the experience of the workers in the past, in our country in particular, will point the way for the workers. This study, too, will reveal the faults, weaknesses and mistakes of the workers, and help us to avoid them when we have to take similar action.
One of the richest episodes in the history of the American proletariat is the occasion of the draft riots which took place in the City of New York in the summer of 1863. Some half dozen works which deal in whole or in part with this riot are in praise of the suppressive activities of the police. Historians of note dismiss the events in a single sentence, if they notice them at all, James Neal in “The Workers in American History” honors the episode with an entire paragraph, and in a footnote refers to Hermann Schlueters more extended comment, “an excellent account,” in “Lincoln, Labor and Slavery.” However, Schlueter is not entirely correct in all his conclusions. So it is that we must turn to the daily and weekly papers published at the time to excavate the facts for ourselves.
Basically, the causes are to be found in the economic, political and social manifestations of the time. The Civil War had the immediate effect of destroying the rising labor movement in the United States. Strikers were regarded as hostile to the Union and guilty of treason. Military forces were employed to break strikes… and strikes were declared illegal. In New York City Negro workers were used to break the strike of longshoremen. The grafting and swindles of the times are notorious and are treated by Gustavus Myers in his “History of the Great American Fortunes.” Wages rose but prices rose far faster and the profiteers made enormous gains. Currency inflation became general. In order to meet its obligations for materials and supplies to carry on the war, the government began issuing in 1862 irredeemable legal tender notes commonly called “Greenbacks” which soon fell greatly in value. Many State banks failed with enormous losses, their bank notes unredeemed. Thus the absolute rise in the prices of necessities due to the war, accompanied by the fall in purchasing power of money due to inflation, together resulted in a tremendous fall in the standard of living of the workers.
The Civil War thus raised the class consciousness of the American workingman to an unequaled degree, and labor engaged in a determined struggle to maintain its standards. As is always the case, the ruling class, through the legislature, sought to unload all the war burdens from its own shoulders onto those of the great mass of the people. So far as the workers were concerned, the military legislation was designed to throw not only the financial burdens but also the human sacrifice of the war upon them. Of the two and one half million in the northern armies, New York State alone supplied nearly half a million soldiers. The casualties were tremendous. From the time of Bull Run, the first battle of the war, through Gettysburg, which, up to that time, was one of the most costly in dead and wounded in the history of the world, New York’s losses represented nearly two fifths of those of the entire North. By 1863 the stream of enlistments had almost ceased, despite the inducement of bounties as high as $1500 to volunteers. So it was that in February, 1863, the Liberal, Lincoln, urged and secured the passage of his infamous Conscription Act. It was the first time universal military conscription had been carried out in the United States.
The immediate cause of the draft riots of the workers was their conscription for military duty. The New York “World” of Saturday, July 18, 1863, editorially regards the riots as the “spontaneous outburst of popular passion, primarily at the draft, next at the $300 exemption clause…” which provided that the propertied class could shift the blood tax which the war demanded on to the shoulders of the working class. Section 80 of the Regulations of the War Department made provision for “Certificates of exemption (and discharge) from the draft by reason of having provided a substitute or of having paid commutation money,” $300. As J. T. Headley recounts the situation in “The Great Riots of New York,” “most of those drawn were laboring men, or poor mechanics, who were unable to hire a substitute…. If a well known name, that of a man of wealth, was among the number, it only increased the exasperation, for the law exempted everyone drawn who could pay $300 towards a substitute. This was taking practically the whole number of soldiers called for out of the laboring classes.” So it was that the rich man’s sons were virtually exempted. This class discrimination met with the active resistance of the working population of the city. For four days were conducted, violent, bitter, and almost wholly leaderless struggles with their class enemies and their agents.
During this bloody week, from early morning on Monday, July 13th, until Friday, July 17th, 1863, business came to a standstill, the railroads and omnibuses ran infrequently. Over fifty buildings were burned, two of them police stations, three were offices of the Provost Marshal (where the drawings for duty in the army were made); one was an arms factory; an entire block of homes was consumed in flames; hotels and newspapers also were the objects of the fiery wrath of the enraged workers. Moreover, it is our sad duty to note, that the workers’ anger was not limited solely to their class enemies, but was turned viciously against a part of themselves, the Negro population. One of the burned structures was the Colored Orphan Home on 43rd Street near Lexington Avenue. On 28th Street near Third Avenue a dwelling inhabited by Negroes was set afire. In Clarkson Street a lynched Negro hung from a lamp post far into the night. Of the eighteen known killed by the rioters, eleven were Negro workers, their wives and children. In general, homes, factories, and stores were wrecked and looted, and property estimated to be more than $1,200,000 destroyed. The toll taken among the workers is not known definitely, but unofficial counts add to more than 1200 killed or dying as result of their injuries.
In particular, the disturbances began early on Monday morning when a demonstration formed near Central Park. The crowd marched through many of the streets in the uppermost part of the city, compelling laborers in every quarter to knock off work and fall in. After a march of about an hour, the parade halted in front of Provost Marshal Jenkins’s Office where the demonstrators crowded as many as they could into the confines of the hall, at number 977 Third Avenue.
A balance of 264 names had remained to be drawn from the previous Saturday’s enrollment. Soon after the drawing of these names began at 9 o’clock, a stone hurtled from outside crashed through the window and precipitated the opposition of the assembled workers. For a description of what happened we shall refer to the columns of Tuesday’s “Tribune.” “Provost Marshal, engrossing clerks, etc. made their escape by the back door and climbing fences… . One of the clerks who endeavored to save some of the papers was seized by the crowd, the papers taken from him by force and torn to pieces. In a few moments thereafter a man appeared with a can of turpentine, which he poured on the floor of the office, and setting fire to it, the room was soon in a blaze.”
The scene outside is described by “A Volunteer Special…. (Special Deputy Policeman) in his book “The Volcano Under the City.” “About 9 o’clock street cars were compelled to stop running on 2nd and 3rd Avenues. At the same time a number of men began to cut down telegraph poles and sunder the wires near the enrollment office, with the evident idea of interrupting the communications of the city authorities. This was the first overt act of the mob and indicates previous planning.
Unfortunately, there was in reality no organization among the workers capable of planning. However, there must be noted the fact that instinctively the insurrectionary crowds drew a sharp distinction between the volunteer firemen and soldiery, on the one hand and the police, on the other. In regard to the volunteer firemen we let “A Volunteer Special” speak.
“Fire Engine Company No. 33 was composed of ‘roughs’. They were the free handed, daring, turbulent, volunteer firemen….. eagerly ready at any time for what they called a ‘muss’…. Their leading rough had been drawn in the conscription on Saturday…. and all the ‘boys’ decided that the proper thing to do, under such circumstances, was to smash the enrollment Office, break the wheel, burn the papers,, and so destroy evidence that the Draft had called for their man. These were the men who headed the first charge made…. All fire companies were organized on the Volunteer System and like No. 33 were half in sympathy with the draft resisters. Such conduct as they exhibited in the riots had a direct and powerful influence upon the subsequent abolition of their entire organization and the substitution of the existing ‘paid’ department.” This quotation speaks volumes on why the ruling class during and after the Civil War found it necessary to increase enormously its paid henchmen, its mercenary police and other agents of the State.
As for the soldiers, we shall see that many of the rioters were returned army men; and the workers were able to win a good many of the soldiers over to their side. It was only the scum of the police against whom the masses waged implacable war and who, in return, were responsible for the ensuing massacres. This puts down forever, the despicable howls of the kept Northern press which has tried to damn the New York riots by tales of how the rioters were against the Union Army and for the Southern shareholders.
During the fight on July 13th, Superintendent of Police, John A. Kennedy, making a tour of inspection in mufti, was recognized by the throng. Tuesday’s New York “Tribune” reports cries of “D--n the Yankee Perlice son of a -(not lady); down with him, duck him, drown him.” David M. Barnes, in “The Draft Riots in New York,” describes the chief attacker of Superintendent Kennedy as a man in the uniform of a returned soldier. Kennedy was severely beaten, until he was unrecognizable.
From the Provost Marshal’s Office the demonstration swelled down Third Avenue. At 42nd Street they were met by a detachment of thirty to forty Invalided Soldiers whom they surrounded. The soldiers fired, killing and wounding some twenty to thirty of the closely milling workers. The military, scanning the surly countenance of the workers, frightened at the hornet’s nest they had stirred, took to their heels. They threw away their muskets to run the faster. These were seized by the workers and used against the soldiers whom they pursued with vengeance.
THE vast crowds swayed to and fro, attacking indiscriminately every well dressed man. The general cry was: “Down with the rich men!” “Down with property!” “Down with the police!” From the “Tribune” we learn that “a gentleman connected with the press … was attacked by the crowd.” Late in the afternoon, a building in 29th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue was attacked, because, as was alleged, “Horace Greeley boarded there.” The house was gutted and two police were wounded.
Miscellaneous activities of the mobs were attacks on the house of Mayor Opdyke, on lower 5th Avenue, the burning of the home of the Provost Marshal General of the City, Col. Nugent, in Yorkville, attack on the office of the N. Y. “Tribune.” In the evening a large body of Irishmen and Irishwomen tore up the tracks of the Fourth Avenue Railroad. The tracks of the Hudson River Railroad likewise were torn up, and telegraph offices at William’s Bridge and Melrose on the Harlem railroad were destroyed.
Calls were issued for citizens to volunteer as “Specials” and General Sandford issued a call for ex-officers and soldiers to aid in suppressing the mobs. In connection with this we read in “Harper’s Illustrated Weekly” of August 1, 1863, that “of 400 muskets which lay idle at the 37th Regiment, only 80 found men to carry them, though urgent appeals for men were made by the authorities and the officers of the regiment.”
Before we leave the accounts of the first day we must comment on the viciousness and brutality with which the police attacked paraders carrying the American flag and placards reading “No Draft,” killing several outright. (Page 82, “The Volcano Under the City.") “A Volunteer Special” tells us the reason. Police President Acton, in answer to a question: “PRISONERS?” almost screamed the angry President."Don’t take any! Kill! Kill! Kill! Put down the mob. Don’t bring a prisoner until the mob is put down.” Inspector Carpenter instructing his men: “We are to meet and put down a mob. We are to take no prisoners. We must strike quick and strike hard.” This brutality was supported and urged on by the press.
The second day of the riots found other arenas of conflict. Workers swarmed into the streets on the East Side, in the neighborhood of the ferry to Williamsburg. Third and Second Avenues and the side streets from 34th to 18th streets were milling with striking workers. They massed for an attack on an arms factory located on Second Avenue at 21st Street, which was owned, in part, by the Mayor of the City. The building was stoned, entrance was forced, and the store of arms was seized. Some of the guns were stored in another building for use should they be needed later. Others were retained by the rioters. The building was then fired.
Soon police reinforcements came. The New York “Herald” of Wednesday prints: “there were certainly about 400 police on the march… . They were well armed, and … determined to do their part of the work.” Keep in mind the instructions and orders of Police President Acton, and Inspector Carpenter, just mentioned. A furious charge followed, and the rioters were chased and scattered, those caught in buildings were clubbed vigorously. “As the rioters were literally tossed downstairs, other policemen caught them as they rolled or tumbled out of the doors and administered a second dose. Other houses were inspected and vengeance visited upon every rioter caught.” A horrible gauntlet for the rioting workers.
IN the meantime the masses reassembled on the block above, where at 22nd Street stood the plant of the Union Steam Works, converted into an arms factory, an even larger one than that of Mayor Opdyke. While marching through the avenue, the police were met by the militia headed by Col. H. F. O’Brien. The united forces counter marched down the avenue. The New York “Herald” writes: “There was no opposition whatever offered to the military as they filed past; but as soon as the police made their appearance the fight commenced in earnest. A shower of bricks came down upon their heads from all directions and a hand to hand encounter immediately followed. The police rushed into the various houses on the route, and rushing upstairs used their clubs against any person, young or old, whom they met. In these encounters there must certainly have been ten or fifteen clubbed to death.” This vicious attack dispersed the workers only for them to reassemble further up the avenue. In the “Herald” we read that “Colonel O’Brien held a revolver in his hand, and was riding up and down between either line of the crowd. He, as it is stated fired his revolver into their midst, the ball killing a woman and child, which she held in her arms.” The workers withdrew, defeated. As for the fate which awaited Colonel O’Brien, the tale read, that a little later, upon leaving a saloon, he was apprehended alone by several of the mob of workers. Instantly he was surrounded, his sword and pistol knocked from his hands, and he was beaten down mercilessly. Women took a prominent part in this attack. On the pavement he was kicked, and dragged through the gutters by the feet. For a while his body was suspended from a lamppost. On Thursday the “Herald” writes that it is the “universal sentiment that Colonel O’Brien’s blood could be placed on his own head because of the outrages he had committed upon the people.”
Tuesday brought the Governor to the city. A throng was assembled at the City Hall and Governor Seymour was introduced. He addressed the crowd as his “friends,” and assured them that he had their interests in his heart. Some of the crowd here shouted, “Send away those bayonets,” referring to a company of soldiers drawn up in front of the City Hall, but the Governor declined to interfere with the military and, bowing to the crowd, retired. Later that day in a proclamation Governor Seymour wrote: “the only opposition to the conscription which can be allowed is an appeal to the courts… . Riotous proceedings shall and must be put down.”
For three more days business was suspended. Struggles between the working population, on the one hand, and the police and military, on the other, continued. The arsenal on Seventh Avenue and 35th Street, at the site of Macy’s huge Department store, was the object of many conflicts which resulted in high casualty figures among the workers. On West 29th Street barricades were erected, whereupon the soldiers fired volleys into the crowds, killing thirteen by shells. “One of the killed was a young soldier who had been in seventeen battles.” ("World").
In the “Herald” of Saturday we learn the “Case of James Ruttgers of the 17th Regiment, who was killed by one of his own officers when he deserted to the mob and called upon his comrades to follow him.”
On Monday, in consequence of the rioting in the adjacent district, Col. Manierre adjourned the draft and removed the enrollment slips and other material from the Provost Marshal’s Office at 29th Street before it was attacked by the mob. On Thursday Provost Marshal General, Col. Nugent, announced to Governor Seymour and Mayor Opdyke that he had received from Washington a telegram in the following words: “The draft in New York and Brooklyn is suspended.” This suspension lasted for five weeks.
The Common Council of the City of New York met and passed over the veto of Mayor Opdyke an ordinance appropriating $2,500,000 providing bounties of $300 to parties who may wish to enlist to serve three years in the war, or to every poor man conscripted who does not wish to join the army under the draft, thus enabling him to procure a substitute or to gain his own exemption at his option. But they incorporated in their measure a section which nullifies the rest, for it directed the Comptroller not to make any payments until the Conscription is declared legal by the courts. In the “Herald” of Sunday, July 19, appears the following comment: “It appears that the U. S. authorities are determined to give no excuse, if possible, to the State courts to investigate the question of constitutionality.” This action was designed to invalidate the findings of judge McCunn who had held the law to be unconstitutional.
Other cities in the North reacted sympathetically to the rioters. A traveler from New Haven communicates to the “Times” that Sunday evening a delegation of 300 Irishmen voicing independence and opposition to the conscription rode down to New York City on Sunday night, with the obvious intent of participating in the disturbances which developed on Monday morning. In the “Herald” we read that the Philadelphia Council defeated all ordinance appropriating a half million dollars to provide exemption bounties. But it voted $1,000,000 for relief of the families of the drafted. The Chicago “Post” of the 21st of July reports that most of the opposition to the conscription comes from the Germans. In Newark, New Jersey, a riot of several hundred assembled about the offices of the “Daily Mercury,” the proprietor of which, was also the District Provost Marshal. Riots broke out in Hartford, Connecticut, Boston, and Newport, Rhode Island, where the opposition was mainly directed against the enrollment officials. In Boston gun shops were broken into, and in Hartford troops were sent to protect the armory and arsenal. In Jersey City, on Staten Island, in Jamaica, N. Y., in Westchester County, in Brooklyn, in Albany and in Troy, New York, riotous proceedings developed. In Troy, “some 400 workers of the Rensselaer Iron Foundry, and the Albany Nail Works, marched through the streets of the city proclaiming that the draft should not take place. They stopped in front of “The Times” Office, which they stoned and gutted, destroying all the property within. They next visited the colored church and threatened to destroy it. Next they released all the prisoners in the jail.” (From all account in the “Tribune” of July 17th.) In Rochester, N. Y., the Council appropriated $207,300 to pay $300 bounties to each man drawn in the draft. (New York “Times,” July 22.)
From the New York “World” of July 2l we learn that “a mob of women at Lancaster descended upon the courthouse where the draft was in progress, armed with heavy spoons, knives, and other kitchen implements. The boy turning the wheel was rapped on the knuckles and over the head and drawn from his post. The wheel was overturned.”
In New York City, finally, on Friday July 17th, the riots were suppressed. Quiet was restored. On Saturday stores and business places reopened, and well dressed persons ventured on the streets again.
Of the connection of the draft riots to the foreign situation especially in regard to the British government’s sympathy to the slaveocracy and the French Emperor’s schemes in Mexico, Hermann Schlueter writes: “It was fortunate for the Union’s cause that the majority of the workingmen in New York in those July days of 1863 did not make common cause with those who had been driven to riot and revolt by the injustice done them by the property holders and the legislature…. A successful revolt in New York might in those days have been followed by consequences which one trembles to contemplate, especially if the menacing attitude of the foreign powers, and particularly of England, is considered. The Union would have fallen on evil days had not the American and German workingmen of the City of New York at that time exalted its cause above that of their own class.”
Schlueter here abandons his Marxism for the objectively lends his aid to those who denounce the New York riots as “counter revolutionary” and operating for the benefit of the slave holders. Schlueter fails to see that we have here a genuine revolutionary movement, a mass struggle of the workers against their class enemy, the capitalists. Had the workers won, it would have precipitated a workers’ revolt throughout the Union, which, far from ending the Civil War, would have completed the democratic revolution which ended up by “freeing the slaves” with the proletarian revolution.
However, the workers in America were too immature. The “Socialists” kept aloof. The trade unions had been broken up. There was no leadership. Nevertheless, the New York City riots against the first conscription act must stand as one of the harbingers of the proletarian revolution. Just as the American Revolution sounded the tocsin for the bourgeois as a whole, so the American Civil War sounded the call to arms for the workers.
Often genuine revolutionary movements start out in reactionary garb. We must not be fooled by this. The attack on the Negroes by the white workers was entirely incidental. What is real is the fact that the Civil War of the bourgeoisie had started the Civil War of the Workers. New York City was a fitting forerunner to the Paris Commune of 187l. We, the American proletariat, can exclaim that there was no error in direction when the revolutionary First International eventually moved its headquarters to New York City. These are part of the traditions that will be forever cherished by the revolutionary working class of this country.
IS ADEQUATE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE POSSIBLE IN THE U.S. TODAY ?
by N. Schwartz
Now that President Roosevelt himself has come out for job insurance and for old age pensions, the question arises how far is social reform possible in the United States at the present time? Is it possible that, at a time when fascism is raging throughout Europe precisely because of the severe strain which social reform puts upon the capitalist system, that the U. S. can engage in an adequate system of social reform, or more concretely in an adequate system of unemployment insurance? In order to answer this question we shall first turn to the typical systems of unemployment insurance that have been adopted by European countries and see what kind of legislation they had passed. Then we shall consider the situation in this country.
Great Britain has been enjoying unemployment insurance during the past 14 years. In 1920, eleven million workers were covered, and by July 1933, it rose to 12,883,000. When first inaugurated as compulsory, the average expected rate of unemployment was calculated at 6%. The past ten years showed an average of 12.2%, reaching as high as 26.5% in 1930, and possibly as high as 40% in 1934. This discrepancy in calculation resulted in the fund running into debt in one year to the amount of 525 million dollars. The total paid out was 595 million dollars toward which the workers contributed 70 million.
The British bill of 1933 shows contributions to be 20 cents weekly by the employer, 20 cents by the employee and 20 cents by the State, with slightly lesser amounts for ages 18 to 21 as well as for women of all ages. At least thirty contributions must have been paid during the preceding two years for a worker to be entitled to benefits. The applicant must prove continual unemployment, be capable of and available for work, but unable to obtain suitable employment. After waiting six days, the applicant is entitled to a benefit for 26 weeks per annum. Those insured for over five years are entitled to a little more. The amounts received are $3.81 and $3.37 for men and women respectively ranging in age from 21 to 65, $3.12 and $2.68 between 18 and 21, $2.00 and $1.68 from 17 to 18 years, $1.37 and $1.12 at ages under 17 years. There is all additional family allowance of $2.00 per week for a dependent adult and 50 cents for one dependent child.
After exhausting 26 weeks of benefit, the worker is not entitled to further insurance until he has paid at least ten more contributions. This means that the worker is thrown on public as well as on private charity unless he finds work. The pitiful allowance which he receives from the unemployment insurance fund, forces him to call on charity at all times in order to keep from actual starvation.
The British plan excludes all workers in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, domestic service, civil service, Army, Navy and Air Force, policemen, teachers, permanent employees of railways and public utilities. It excludes non manual workers earning over $1,200 a year and those under 16 and over 65 years of age. The administrating authority is the Ministry of Labor acting through “insurance officers,” unemployment exchanges, local courts of referees, and an “Umpire” whose decision is final in cases of dispute. Contributions are in unemployment insurance stamps which are sold at the Post Office. Due to the inadequacy of the insurance plan, Emergency Work Relief had to be resorted to. In the district for New South Wales, in July, 1933, there was a total of 27,088 men employed at an expenditure of $116,148.11 or an average of $4.29 weekly, a mere trifle over the insurance pittance. It was estimated that if this scheme had not been in operation, the persons employed would have received food relief involving an expenditure of $3.00 on an average. This proves that the relief work netted the worker $1.29 for which he was compelled to sweat and slave 28 hours.
Let us now turn to Germany (before Hitler’s time) which had about the same occupational exemptions as Britain. Workers under 21 were not eligible unless their families could support them. Six and a half per cent of the basic wage was the contribution, one half was taken from the worker while the other half came from the employer. While the State give no direct contribution, it shouldered a huge responsibility when the disbursements exceeded receipts and this imposed a government obligation.
Benefits varied from 75% to 35% of the wage rate and an applicant had to wait at least 14 days. For the first claim the beneficiary had to be insured for 52 weeks in the previous two years; for subsequent claims this requirement was 26 weeks in the previous year. The “Emergency Decree” of June 16, 1932, reduced the rates of benefit to about 23% on an average and this rate prevailed since. It is payable for 20 weeks normally and only 16 weeks for seasonal workers. Emergency relief follows when this is exhausted.
The German plan at first figured on an average annual unemployment of 1 1/4 million, while in 1931-32 registered unemployment rose to six (6) million. This resulted in a deficit in four years totaling $365 million and since then showed a deficit of at least $200 million annually. Prof. Hugh H. Wolfenden, an outstanding authority on Unemployment Insurance, commenting on this situation said: “The figures raise in a very serious aspect the question whether the rate of unemployment can be predicted within reasonable limits, and they cast great doubts upon the possibility of the State being able to keep out of financial entanglements.” This may be viewed with horror on the part of the upholders and defenders of Capitalism, but for the working class, it becomes at once the best reason for the advocacy of such a program.
Other European countries have provisions, varying in minor respects, similar to those in force in England and in Germany and we do not have to treat of them specially. The condition in Switzerland and in Czechoslovakia however is unique in that the legislation depends upon the trade unions for its functioning.
In Switzerland unemployment insurance is both compulsory and optional in different cantons (cities or provinces). Its history dates back—on a grand scale to 1900. It was supervised and administered by unions which paid the beneficiaries. The plan broke down during the war period and was revived again in 1920 when the State granted subsidies to insurance plans.
In Czechoslovakia, there is a subsidized voluntary plan based upon the trade union organization. Benefits do not exceed two thirds of the salary, for a period of 26 weeks and a smaller payment for the next 13 weeks. In order to be eligible, one must belong to the trade union for a period from one, to five years.
In regard to all this legislation let us emphasize how extremely inadequate it is, in regard to the number of workers covered, in regard to the amount received, in regard to the length of time payment is made, in regard to the assessments upon the workers themselves. And yet even this unemployment relief has proven too great a strain upon the dying capitalist system. In England, Germany, Austria, everywhere, the unemployment insurance and other social reform measures have been drastically revised and downward.
Let us now turn to the United States. Unemployment insurance is not something new in America. Since 1916 there were over 100 different bills introduced in the legislatures of 26 different states. At the present time there are about 65 such bills pending. The classic bill was first originated by Prof. J. R. Commons and became known as the “Huber Bill.” It was sponsored and introduced in the State legislature of Wisconsin in 1921. This bill did not become law. In 1923, 1925, 1927, 1929, other similar bills were introduced. The constant agitation resulted in a change of draft and a bill was finally signed in Jan. 1932. It was intended to become effective July 1, 1933, to guarantee annually to every worker 42 weeks of 36 hours each. The rest of the 10 weeks, if there was no work, was to be compensated for by payments of two thirds of the salary. This was high sounding indeed, but we find that it has already been postponed to July 1, 1934, with a blind hope that by then, the payrolls will increase at least 50%. If it ever does go into effect, it will only cover 139,000 persons in certain industries where the fluctuations of employment are not too drastic.
The act applies to all employees except those earning over $1,500 per year, or who have not worked 40 weeks in the last two years, these being known as “non qualified” employees, Those excluded are, farm laborers, domestic service, relief projects, teachers, public employees, part time workers, interstate railroad workers and loggers. The contributions are to be made only by the bosses based on 2% of the payrolls plus 2% for administration purposes during the first year, and, half that amount for the next year, and that ends it. The benefits are to be paid after two weeks waiting and not to exceed 10 weeks. The rate is $10 weekly, or 50% of the average weekly wage, whichever is lower, with a minimum of $5 per week. No benefits shall be payable until the employer has made contributions for one year.
Early in 1932, a commission composed of representatives of the Governors of the States of New York, Ohio, Mass., Pa., New Jersey and Conn., were considering the same kind of a bill which was passed in Wis. The State was to act as custodian, investor and distributing agent. The State was to assume the cost of Administration.
At the A. F. of L. convention in Cincinnati, 1932, the earlier decision of these labor fakers was reversed and for the first time they drafted an unemployment bill. They demand that the whole amount be paid by management as a cost of production, and that the contribution shall be 3% of the payrolls. They want to broaden the list of those eligible to include the clerical workers. Benefits are to be 50% of the weekly wage, not to exceed 15 weeks, and paid only after a waiting period of three weeks. In no case must the amount exceed $15. This fund is to be administered by the State as the A. F. of L. opposes company control of unemployment reserves.
Now we are prepared to go into the Wagner-Lewis bill. This bill (S. 261.6), does not directly provide for unemployment insurance. It merely taxes employers 5% of their wage payrolls unless they put themselves under a system of insurance which will give the worker on the average $7 minimum a week for a minimum of ten weeks. Even this miserable bill (7 dollars a week for ten weeks) excludes agricultural laborers, domestic service, and a host of other occupations. The provisions of the bill are not to go into effect before July 1, 1935. No one who is now unemployed is eligible. But only those who work for ten consecutive weeks after the bill is in operation. Besides that, in the industries which the bill does propose to cover, we estimate the payrolls for 1933 to have been about 15 billion dollars. The 5% tax proposed would thus amount to but three quarters of a billion dollars as revenue to be disposed of.
As for the Lundeen Bill (H.R. 7598), this bill declares that the pay should be but $10 a week, but it does not declare when the insurance should start and for how long. It has very ambiguous proposals on whether a man may be compelled to work when others have refused to work because of the low rate of pay. And finally, what is indeed the most treacherous point, the Bill declares that the Secretary of Labor has the authority to go into every workers’ organization to supervise its elections and to make sure that only “rank and file” are elected on the “workers commissions” which are to be part of the state machinery. In this way the unions and other workers organizations are to be harnessed to the capitalist state machinery which is used against the workers.
If we accept the figures of the A. F. of L. submitted April 27, 1934, we will find close to eleven million unemployed, exclusive of the C.W.A., P.W.A. and C.C.C. workers. This bill also excludes all the youths who became of age during the past three years and all the petty bourgeois elements who were driven into the ranks of the proletariat during this depressions total of at least eleven million additional men and women, thus making a grand total of 22 million. The part time workers as reported by the A. F. of L. equal about 10 million more.
If we divide the imposed unemployed tax of three quarters of a billion dollars by even 20 million, we get a total of $37.50 per worker. This is on the assumption of the fund already being on hand, a preposterous assumption indeed! An adequate unemployment insurance plan must take cognizance of all unemployed, at least all those who are physically capable and willing to work, but can’t find work through no fault of their own. indeed, it is a sorry state of affairs for our legislators to cope with. A minimum of four billion would be required to pay 15 million workers for 26 weeks at the rate of ten dollars weekly. Is that enough?
Professors who are subsidized by the State institutions or even those institutions controlled by private capital, are useful tools for thinking up ideas how to tighten the chains that bind the workers. They cannot understand what it means to be limited to a minimum wage. Only those who are constantly pinched and are compelled to stint every minute of their lives, realize that even, with full pay, their families suffer from malnutrition. When these workers are thrown on the dump heap, through no fault of theirs, it is a colossal gall to offer them only a part of the wages received while at work and that only for a preposterous limited period. Their level is so low now that it is impossible to save even a farthing from their miserable wages, and our demand must be full remuneration for the entire period of unemployment.
In the occupational exemptions there are elements for whom we must fight to be fully considered alongside of the urban workers. According to the U. S. Bureau of Census of 1930, there are close to 4 million farm laborers and wage workers. Their status in comparison to the urban worker is deplorable. We cannot overlook this part of the working class and we must demand that they also receive benefits after harvest periods equal to earnings during the season.
At this stage of the crisis, the problem of unemployment insurance is far more complex than in a period of so called prosperity. Any scheme propounded must start with a huge liability because we have close to 50% of the working population either wholly or partly unemployed. The disadvantages of all schemes proposed, particularly in all parts of Europe, is due to the fact that they are limited to skilled workers only or those organized in trade unions.
In what condition do we find industry today? We call attention to the fact that industrial payrolls in 1929 amounted to 10 billion dollars while in 1932 it dropped to 5 billion. While 1933 showed no improvement for the workers in industry or in any other enterprise, the cost of living for families of wage earners, particularly lower salaried workers, increased during the entire year ending Dec. 1933 as announced by the Dept. of Labor. The largest rise occurred in household furnishings, which increased 11.6% from June to Dec. Clothing advanced 11.5%, food 9.1%, fuel and light 7.2%. Up to April 24, 1934, as compared with 1933, we find the following startling facts. The price of farm products rose 25%, food products rose 14%, textile products (mainly cotton goods) rose 60%. In fact all commodities lumped together rose 27% during this period, while money wages were actually lowered.
What are the conditions for the poor workers in this country? The head of the investigating department of the Survey Graphic, Mary Ross, had the following to say in all article dated Jan. 1934. “How large a share of the American people is living at a substandard level no one knows. We do know that one in ten is dependent on public funds or private charity for every need. How the wind has blown for others is shown in another of the cooperative studies of the Public Health Service and the Milbank Fund, covering some eleven thousand persons in certain districts in Birmingham, Detroit and Pittsburgh. The enumeration included practically every family in the selected areas, and the areas were neither slum districts nor upper class residential streets. The intent was to get a sample of people on restricted incomes who were self supporting in ordinary times. In 1929, 10% of these people had been ‘poor’ in the definition of the study, that is, they had family incomes of less than $150 per capita per year from all sources, including charity and food tickets. In 1932, 45% were ‘poor’.”
Our demands must be that all unemployed receive for the entire duration of unemployment an amount equal to the minimum wage to be set up for the workers after adjustments are made to comply to the increased cost of living. We must also demand workers control over this fund so that an equitable and fair distribution will be assured. It is up to Capitalism to give us such an Unemployment Insurance Bill. If not, let it take the consequences.
In order to have adequate unemployment insurance it would mean that 22 million people now looking for work would obtain regularly each week a cash benefit of at least $15. This would amount to $660 million a week or over $17 billion a year. Even $10 a week for 20 million people would amount to over $10 billion annually. What country in the world could stand that strain for any length of time?
As the last issue of the Class Struggle put it: “Fascism, rather than such a system of unemployment insurance, that is the more likely perspective. And that is why we must fight for unemployment insurance because through this fight we will have to complete the struggle for bread with a struggle for political power itself.”
FAMILY RELATIONS UNDER THE SOVIETS
Fourteen Questions Answered by Leon Trotsky
1. “Does the Soviet State turn men into robots?”
Why? I ask. The ideologists of the patriarchal system like Tolstoy or Ruskin, object that machine civilization turns the free peasant and craftsman into joyless automatons. In the last decades this charge has mostly been leveled against the industrial system of America (Taylorism, Fordism).
Shall we now, perhaps, hear from Chicago and Detroit the outcry against the soul destroying machine? Why not return to stone hatchets and pile dwellings, why not go back to sheepskin coverings? No; we refuse to do that. In the field of mechanization the Soviet Republic is so far only a disciple of the United States and has no intention of stopping halfway.
But perhaps the question is aimed not at mechanical operation but at the distinctive features of the social order. Are not men becoming robots in the Soviet State because the machines are state property and not privately owned? It is enough to ask the question clearly to show that it has no foundation.
There remains, finally, the question of the political regime, the hard dictatorship, the highest tension of all forces, the low standard of living of the population. There would be no sense in denying these facts. But they are the expression not so much of the new regime as of the fearful inheritance of backwardness.
The dictatorship will have to become softer and milder as the economic welfare of the country is raised. The present method of commanding human beings will give way to one of disposing over things. The road leads not to the robot but to man of a higher order.
2. “Is the Soviet State completely dominated by a small group in the Kremlin who exercise oligarchical powers under the guise of a dictatorship of the proletariat?”
No, that is not so. The same class can rule with the help of different political systems and methods according to circumstances. So the bourgeoisie on its historical road carried through its rule under absolute monarchy, Bonapartism, parliamentary republic, and Fascist dictatorship. All these forms of rule retain a capitalist character in so far as the most important riches of the nation, the administration of the means of production, of the schools, and of the press, remain united in the hands of the bourgeoisie, and in so far as the laws, above all, protect bourgeois property.
The Soviet regime means the rule of the proletariat, irrespective of how broad the stratum in whose hands the power is immediately concentrated.
3. “Have the Soviets robbed childhood of joy and turned education into a system of Bolshevist propaganda?”
The education of children has always and everywhere been connected with propaganda. The propaganda begins by instilling the advantages of a handkerchief over the fingers, and rises to the advantages of the Republican platform over the Democratic, or vice versa. Education in the spirit of religion is propaganda; you will surely not refuse to admit that St. Paul was one of the greatest of propagandists.
The worldly education supplied by the French Republic is soaked with propaganda to the marrow. Its main idea is that all virtue is inherent in the French nation or, more accurately, in the ruling class of the French nation.
No one can possibly deny that the education of Soviet children, too, is propaganda. The only difference is that in bourgeois countries it is a question of injecting into the child respect for old institutions and ideas which are taken for granted. In the U. S. S. R. it is a question of new ideas, and therefore the propaganda leaps to the eye. “Propaganda,” in the evil sense of the word, is the name that people usually give to the defense and spread of such ideas as do not please them.
In times of conservatism and stability the daily propaganda is not noticeable. In times of revolution, propaganda necessarily takes on a belligerent and aggressive character. When I returned to Moscow from Canada with my family early in May, 1917, my two boys studied at a “gymnasium” (roughly, high school) which was attended by the children of many politicians, including some ministers of the provisional government. In the whole gymnasium there were only two Bolsheviks, my sons, and a third sympathizer. In spite of the official rule, “the school must be free of politics,” my son barely twelve years old was unmercifully beaten up as a Bolshevik. After I was elected chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, my son was never called anything but Chairman and received a double beating. That was propaganda against Bolshevism.
Those parents and teachers who are devoted to the old society cry out against “propaganda.” If a state is to build a new society, can it do otherwise than begin with the school?
“Does the Soviet propaganda rob childhood of joy?” For what reason and in what manner? Soviet children play, sing, dance, and cry like all other children. The unusual care of the Soviet regime for the child is admitted even by malevolent observers. Compared with the old regime, infant mortality has declined by half. It is true, Soviet children are told nothing about original sin and Paradise. In this sense one may say that the children are robbed of the joys of life after death. Being no expert in these matters, I dare not judge the extent of the loss. Still, the pains of this life take a certain precedence over the joys of the life to come. If children absorb the necessary quantity of calories, the abundance of their living forces will find reasons enough for joy.
Two years ago my five year old grandson came to me from Moscow. Although he knew nothing whatever about God, I could find no particularly sinful inclinations in him, except for the time when, with the help of some newspapers, he succeeded in sealing up hermetically the washbasin drainpipe. In order to have him mingle with other children on Prinkipo, we had to send him to a kindergarten conducted by Catholic nuns. The worthy sisters have nothing but praise for the morals of my now nearly seven year old atheist.
Thanks to this same grandchild, I have been able in the past year to make a fairly close acquaintance with Russian children’s books, those of the Soviets as well as of the emigres. There is propaganda in both. Yet the Soviet books are incomparably fresher, more active, more full of life. The little man reads and listens to these books with the greatest pleasure. No, Soviet propaganda does not rob childhood of joy.
4. “Is Bolshevism deliberately destroying the family?”
5. “Is Bolshevism subversive of all moral standards in sex?”
6. “Is it true that bigamy and polygamy are not punishable under the Soviet system?”
If one understands by “family” a compulsory union based on marriage contract, the blessing of the church, property rights, and the single passport, then Bolshevism has destroyed this policed family from the roots up.
If one understands by “family” the unbounded domination of parents over children, and absence of legal rights for the wife, then Bolshevism has, unfortunately, not yet completely destroyed this carry over of society’s old barbarism.
If one understands by “family” ideal monogamy, not in the legal but in the actual sense, then the Bolsheviks could not destroy what never was nor is on earth, barring fortunate exceptions.
There is absolutely no foundation for the statement that the Soviet law on marriage has been an incentive to polygamy and polyandry. Statistics of marriage relations, actual ones are not available, and cannot be. But even without columns of figures one can be sure that the Moscow index numbers of adulteries and shipwrecked marriages are not much different from the corresponding data for New York, London, or Paris—and who knows?—are perhaps even lower.
Against prostitution there has been a strenuous and fairly successful struggle. This proves that the Soviets have no intention of tolerating that unbridled promiscuity which finds its most destructive and poisonous expression in prostitution.
A long and permanent marriage, based on mutual love and cooperation—that is the ideal standard. To this the influences of the school, of literature, and of public opinion in the Soviets tend. Freed from the chains of police and clergy, later also from those of economic necessity, the tie between man and woman will find its own way, determined by physiology, psychology, and care for the welfare of the race. The Soviet regime is still far from the solution of this as of other basic problems, but it has created serious prerequisites for their solution. In any case the problem of marriage has ceased to be a matter of uncritical tradition and the blind force of circumstance; it has been posed as a task of collective reason.
Every year five and a half million children are born in the Soviet Union. The excess of births over deaths amounts to more than three million. Czarist Russia knew no such growth of population. This fact alone makes it impossible to speak of moral disintegration or of a lowering of the vital forces of the population of Russia.
7. “Is it true that incest is not regarded as a criminal offense?”
I must admit that I have never taken an interest in this question from the standpoint of criminal prosecution, so that I could net answer without obtaining information as to what the Soviet law says about incest, or if it says anything at all. Still, I think the whole question belongs rather to the domain of pathology on the one hand, and education on the other, rather than that of criminology. Incest lessens the desirable qualities and the ability to survive of the race. For that very reason it is regarded by the great majority of healthy human beings as a violation of normal standards.
The aim of socialism is to bring reason not only into economic relations but also as much as possible into the biological functions of man. Today already the Soviet schools are making many efforts to enlighten the children as to the real needs of the human body and the human spirit. I have no reason to believe that the pathological cases of incest are more numerous in Russia than in other countries. At the same time, I am inclined to hold that precisely in this field judicial intervention can do more harm than good. I question, for example, that humanity would have been the gainer if British justice had sent Byron to jail.
8. “Is it true that a divorce may be had for the asking?”
Of course it is true. It would have been more in place to ask another question: “Is it true that there are still countries where divorce cannot be obtained for the asking by either party to a marriage?”
9. “Is it true that the Soviets have no respect for chastity in men and women?
I think that in this field it is not respect but hypocrisy that has declined.
Is there any doubt, for example, that Ivar Kreuger, the match king, described as a dour ascetic in his lifetime, and as an irreconcilable enemy of the Soviet, more than once denounced the immorality of the Russian Komsomol boys and girls who did not seek the blessing of the church on their embraces? Had it not been for the financial wreck, Kreuger would have gone to his grave not only as a just man on the Stock Exchange but also as a pillar of morality. But now the press reports that the number of women kept by Kreuger in various continents was several times tne number of the chimneys of his match factories.
French, English, and American novels describe double and triple families not as an exception but as the rule. A very well informed young German observer, Klaus Mehnert, who recently had a book published on the Soviet youth, writes:
“It is true the young Russians are no paragons of virtue…. but morally they are certainly no lower than Germans of the same age.” I believe that this is true. In New York, in February, 1917, I observed one evening in a subway car about two dozen students and their girl friends. Although there were a number of people in the car who were not in their party, the conduct of these most vivacious couples was such that one could say at once: even if these young people believe in monogamy in principle, in practice they come to it by devious paths.
The abolition of the American dry law would by no means signify that the new administration was striving to encourage drunkenness. In the same way, the Soviet Government’s abolition of a number of laws which were supposed to protect the domestic hearth, chastity, etc., has nothing to do with any efford to destroy the permanence of the family or encourage promiscuity. It is simply a question of attaining, by raising the material and cultural level, something that cannot be attained by formal prohibition or lifeless preaching.
10. “Is the ultimate object of Bolshevism to reproduce the beehive or the ant stage in human life?”
11. “In what respect does the ideal of Bolshevism differ from the state of civilization that would prevail on earth if insects had secured control?
” Both questions are unfair to the insect as well as to man. Neither ants nor bees have to answer for such monstrosities as fill human history. On the other hand, no matter how bad human beings may be, they have possibilities which no insect can reach. It would not be difficult to prove that the task of the Soviets is precisely this to destroy the ant characteristics of human society.
The fact is, bees as well as ants have classes: some work or fight, others specialize in reproduction. Can one see in such a specialization of social functions the ideal of Bolshevism? These are rather the characteristics of our present day civilization carried to the limit. Certain species of ants make slaves of brother ants of different color.
The Soviet system does not resemble this at all. The ants have not yet even produced their John Brown or Abraham Lincoln.
Benjamin Franklin described man as “the tool making animal.” This notable characterization is at the bottom of the Marxist interpretation of history. The artificial tool has released man from the animal kingdom and has given impetus to the work of the human intellect; it has caused the changes from slavery to feudalism, capitalism, and the Soviet system.
The meaning of the question is clearly that a universal all embracing control must kill individuality. The evil of the Soviet system would then consist in its excessive control, would it not? Yet a series of other questions, as we have seen, accuses the Soviets of refusal to bring under state control the most intimate fields of personal life, love, family, sex relations. The contradiction is perfectly evident.
The Soviets by no means make it their task to put under control the intellectual and the moral powers of man.
On the contrary, through control of economic life they want to free every human personality from the control of the market and its blind forces.
Ford organized automobile production on the conveyor system and thereby obtained an enormous output. The task of socialism, when one gets down to the principle of productive technique, is to organize the entire national and international economy on the conveyor system, on the basis of a plan and of an accurate proportionment of its parts. The conveyor principle, transferred from single factories to all factories and farms, must result in such an output performance that, compared with it, Ford’s achievement would look like a miserable handicraft shop alongside of Detroit. Once he has conquered nature, man will no longer have to earn his daily bread in the sweat of his brow. That is the prerequisite for the liberation of personality. As soon as three or four hours, let us say, of daily labor suffice to satisfy liberally all material wants, every man and woman will have twenty hours left over, free of all “control.” Questions of education, of perfecting the bodily and spiritual structure of man, will occupy the center of general attention. The philosophical and scientific schools, the opposing tendencies in literature, architecture, and art in general, will for the first time be of vital concern not merely to a top layer but to the whole mass of the population. Freed from the pressure of blind economic forces, the struggle of groups, tendencies, and schools will take on a profoundly ideal and unselfish character. In this atmosphere human personality will not dry up, but on the contrary for the first time will come to full bloom.
12. “Is it true that Sovietism teaches children not to respect their parents?”
No; in such a general form this assertion is a mere caricature. Still, it is true that rapid progress in the realms of technique, ideas, or manners generally diminishes the authority of the older generation, including that of parents. When professors lecture on the Darwinian theory, the authority of those parents who believe that Eve was made from Adam’s rib can only decline.
In the Soviet Union all conflicts are incomparably sharper and more painful. The mores of the Komsomols must inevitably collide with the authority of the parents who would still like to use their own good judgment in marrying off their sons and daughters. The Red Army man who has learned how to handle tractors and combines cannot acknowledge the technical authority of his father who works with a wooden plow.
To maintain his dignity, the father can no longer merely point with his hand to the icon and reinforce this gesture with a slap on the face. The parents must retort to spiritual weapons. The children who base themselves on the official authority of the school show themselves, however, to be the better armed. The injured amour propre of the parent often turns against the state. This usually happens in those families which are hostile to the new regime in its fundamental tasks. The majority of proletarian parents reconcile themselves to the loss of part of their parental authority the more readily as the state takes over the greater part of their parental cares. Still, there are conflicts of the generations even in these circles. Among the peasants they take on especial sharpness. Is this good or bad? I think it is good. Otherwise there would be no going forward.
Permit me to point to my own experience. At seventeen I had to break away from home. My father had attempted to determine the course of my life. He told me, “Even in three hundred years the things you are aiming for will not come to pass.” And, at that, it was only a question of the overthrowing of the monarchy. Later my father understood the limits of his influence and my relations with my family were restored. After the October revolution he saw his mistake. “Your truth was stronger,” he said. Such examples were counted by the thousand, later on, by hundreds of thousands and millions. They characterize the critical upheaval of a period when “the bond of ages” goes to pieces.
13. “Is it true that Bolshevisim penalizes religion and outlaws religious worship?”
This, deliberately deceptive assertion has been refuted a thousand times by completely indisputable facts, proofs, and testimony of witnesses. Why does it always come up anew? Because the church considers itself persecuted when it is not supported by the budget and the police force and when its opponents are not subject to the reprisals of persecution. In many states the scientific criticism of religious faiths is considered a crime; in others it is merely tolerated. The Soviet State acts otherwise. Far from considering religious worship a crime, it tolerates the existence of various religions, but at the same time openly supports materialist propaganda against religious belief. It is precisely this situation which the church interprets as religious persecution.
14. “Is it true that the Bolshevist State, while hostile to religion, nevertheless capitalizes the prejudices of the ignorant masses? For instance, the Russians do not consider any saint truly acceptable to Heaven unless his body defies decomposition. Is that the reason why the Bolshevists preserve artificially the mummy of Lenin?”
No; this is a wholly incorrect interpretation, dictated by prejudice and hostility. I can make this statement all the more freely because from the very beginning, I have been a determined opponent of the embalming, mausoleum, and the rest, as was also Lenin’s widow, N. K. Krupskaya. There is no doubt whatever that if Lenin on his sick bed had thought for a moment that they would treat his corpse like that of a Pharaoh, he would have appealed in advance, with indignation, to the Party. I brought this objection forward as my main argument. The body of Lenin must not be used against the spirit of Lenin.
I also pointed to the fact that the “incorruptibility” of the embalmed corpse of Lenin might nourish religious superstitions. Krassin, who defended and apparently initiated the idea of the embalmment, objected: “On the contrary, what was a matter of miracle with the priests will become a matter of technology in our hands. Millions of people will have an idea of how the man looked who brought such great changes into the life of our country. With the help of science, we will satisfy this justifiable interest of the masses and at the same time explain to them the mystery of incorruptibility.”
Undeniably the erection of the mausoleum pursued a political aim: to strengthen the authority of the disciples eternally through the authority of the teacher. Still, there is no ground to see in this a capitalization of religious superstition. The mausoleum visitors are told that the credit for the preservation of the body from decomposition is due to chemistry.
Our answers absolutely do not attempt to gloss over the present situation in the Soviet Union, to underestimate the economic and cultural achievements, nor still less to represent socialism as a stage which has already been reached. The Soviet regime is and will remain for a long time a transitional regime, full of contradiction and extreme difficulties. Still, we must take the facts in the light of their development. The Soviet Union took over the inheritance of the Romanoff empire. For fifteen years it has lived surrounded by a hostile world.
The situation of a besieged fortress has given the dictatorship particularly crude forms. The policies of Japan are least of all calculated to develop in Russia a feeling of security; but also the fact that the United States, which carried on war against the Soviets on Soviet territory, has not taken up diplomatic relations with Moscow to this very day, has had an enormous and, naturally, negative influence on the internal regime of the country. (Leon Trotsky wrote this article late in 1932, more than a year before U. S. recognition of Russia. Ed.)
FASCISM IN BRITAIN By Fred Browner
In a five story building adjoining army barracks on Kings Road, Sloans Square, London, is the center of the British Union of Fascists. Entering the hall, I saw a few youths in black shirts standing by, and, asking them where I could secure some information and literature on the movement, I was shown into a small office. There I was able to obtain several pamphlets and the advice: “No, you cannot go through the building. If you want any information go to the office across the hall.” In the office across the hall a blond girl, also wearing a black shirt, brought me over to the desk of an organizer who asked me: “What do you want to know?” In answer to my questions about dues, membership elections, and other Fascist organizations in Britain, I learned that “the dues to members who are employed is one shilling a month, as a subscription to our papers, the “Fascist Week,” and the “Blackshirt.” Anyone eighteen or over can be a member. We may start a junior organization later. Elections? We have no elections. We have a Leader (Sir Oswald Mosley) and the rest of our functionaries are appointed according to merit.
“There are three other Fascist organizations in Britain,” I was told. “They are the Imperial Fascists, the National Fascists and the British Fascists. These groups are small and insignificant. Their main function is to fight Bolshevism, though they are also anti-semitic. While the British Union is also against Bolshevism, we are not anti-semitic and we do constructive work as well. We want to build up Britain.”
British Fascism, like the others, borrows from Marxism. This is particularly so with the British Union of Fascists inasmuch as their Leader, Sir Oswald Mosley, was formerly a member of Parliament for the Labor Party. According to Mosley, Fascism “comes to each great nation in turn as it reaches the crisis which is inevitable in the modern age. That crisis is inevitable because an epoch of civilization has come to an end. It is our task to bring to birth a new civilization and to organize its system.” With the people of Britain disillusioned with the general “hot air gallery” called Parliament, with the decline of Britain and her losing fight to keep her colonies, she is faced with growing discontent at home and the necessity to cut down her reforms. Fascism, however, attempts to offer a solution, both internally and externally. “Our policy is the establishment of the Corporate State. As the name implies, this means a state organized like a human body. Every member of that body acts in harmony with the purpose of the whole, under the guidance and driving brain of the Fascist Government…. To that interest of the nation as a whole, all lesser interests are subordinate, whether Right or Left, whether they be employers’ federation, trade union, banking or professional interests. Within the Corporate State structure, interests such as trade unions and employers’ federations will no longer be the general staffs of opposing armies, but, the joint directors of national enterprise. Class war will give place to national corporation. All who pursue a sectional and anti-national policy will be opposed by the might of the organized state.” Thus Fascism replaces “Class war” with “national cooperation.” Rather does Fascism replace the working class unions with “company unions” and compels “cooperation” at the expense of the workers.
Mosely intends to build up the home market. “The first function of the Corporate organization will be to build up the Home Market. If it be true that our export markets are bound to diminish rather than increase, the Home Market is the only outlet. That Home Market is continually curtailed by the reduction of wages and salaries in order to reduce costs in the effort to recapture foreign markets. In fact, we ruin the Home Market in the effort to capture the illusory foreign markets which are now closed against us, whatever our cost of production. It must be the business of Corporate organization to reverse this tendency and to build up the Home Market.
“To do this we must establish Corporations or self-governing areas of industry. Within the corporations will be represented employers’, workers’ and consumers’ interests, which will operate under the guidance or Corporate government.
“They will be charged with the task of raising wages and salaries and the standard of life over the whole area of industry, as science increases the capacity to produce goods. At present, no employer can raise wages without some rival, who pays lower wages, putting him out of business in an unregulated competitive system. Consequently, wages are forced down…..”
Thus the Fascists make a bid for the petty bourgeoisie in the city. No more competition! The middle class may yet be saved from being forced into the ranks of the working class. At the same time the Fascists do not forget the “big fellow.” They will build up the export trade.
“Instead of pious persuasion of the present statesmanship at the interminable international conference, we shall be armed with real power to secure the entry of our goods into foreign markets. The Corporate system will lead, naturally, to the consolidation of both our buying and selling organizations abroad. We are the biggest buyers of foodstuffs and raw materials in the world. Under the Corporate system, we shall be organized to use as our seller our power as a buyer. We shall make our trade slogan: Britain buys from those who buy from Britain. The power to transfer our purchases in bulk elsewhere will compel the sellers of food stuffs and raw materials to lower the barriers against our manufactured goods. That power will be vigorously used by Fascism, until we have built a self contained Empire which will make us independent of the chances and chaos of the world market and supplies.”
But the program is far from complete; the Fascists must keep the Empire intact. This is, indeed, the real essence and heart of British Fascism.
“Corporate organization will be of the greatest service in the development of the Empire which is already our best market. The Dominions and the Colonies are natural producers of foodstuffs and raw materials, and the Mother Country is highly organized to produce manufactured goods. Here exists a natural balance of trade which should be exploited. The Dominions are already well organized in the farmers cooperative systems etc. to take advantage of the situation.”
Nor, says Mosley, will Fascism lead to war. “Exactly the reverse is the case. Today the chaotic struggle of private interests for raw materials and for markets often involves their governments in war. This, in fact, is one of the prime causes of war. In place of that struggle the Corporate system will establish a system of buying and a system of selling abroad which is subject to some supervision and regulation by the State. When the inevitable occurs, and the most civilized states of Europe are all governed by Fascism, we shall thus take a long step toward peace. In place of the private struggle of predatory interests, we shall have a rational discussion and settlement among organized and competent Governments of the subjects which are the prime causes of war. It is the muddle, not organization, which leads to war. Chaos is more dangerous than thought and method. Fascist organization is the method of world peace among nations bound together by the universal Fascism of the twentieth century.”
On the one hand, the Fascists advocate a policy of “Britain for the British,” on the other hand, they discover that the ultra nationalism of Fascism means not war, but peace. This is pure demagogy which they themselves do not take seriously. Viscount Beaverbrook’s article in the London “Evening News,” on “Armaments Mean Peace,” points out quite clearly the efforts of the Fascists for peace. Viscount Beaverbrook, now an admitted Fascist, is a leading publisher in England controlling some large papers.
The Fascists also ridicule the faith of the Socialists in democracy. “The Socialists say that their remedy is Socialism. To reach Socialism by evolution, they admit, will take several generations, while even the ‘Socialism in our time’ of the I.L.P. is calculated by its leaders to take twenty five years to achieve. Meanwhile, the country crumbles and all are threatened with destruction by the collapse of the system. So Socialists are condemned to ‘either complete futility, or to the adoption of revolutionary methods in place of the evolutionary ideas they have so long pursued. They shrink from revolution, so, in practice, they make bold promises in “Opposition” and run away from them in office.
“The situation today moves too quickly for the Socialism of the Labor Party and the I.L.P. It moves toward the Communists, who are organized for revolution and desire to promote it. They cannot achieve that position until the Old Gang of Parlimentarism have muddled us yet further toward catastrophe.”
Nor will the Fascists organize a Government which the people do not want. “Fascism is not a dictatorship in the old sense of the word, which implies government against the will of the people. Fascism is dictatorship in the modern sense of the word, which implies government armed by the people with power to overcome problems which must be conquered if the nation is to live and to be great. If Fascism does not come to power before collapse, a revolutionary situation may arise. In a state of collapse, the organized force of Fascism alone will stand between the State and anarchy, which a Communist struggle must produce in this highly developed and civilized country. Against that contingency we must organize, although we do not seek a situation of violence.” In case, how, ever, the people do not want to save the country from chaos “….it could even occur that a dictator, a Fascist and a patriot, might resolve to save the nation against its will. Otherwise he would have to make confession of inability to act, to persuade, or to govern. On the other hand, the Dictator could and would avail himself of plebiscites in cases where they might end discussion and serve a useful purpose: for Fascism is no less determined to secure popular representation than to secure government itself.”
But should the question arise who shall judge the fitness of those who are to rule Britain, William Joyce (in his pamphlet, “Dictatorship") has an answer: “The men who make England Fascist are men whom all England cannot rule; and hence they must rule all England. Strength is the test of effective dictatorship, and Victory is the test of strength.”
In Britain the inevitable question arises of the relation of the movement to the Royalty. And Mosley answers: “Our Fascist Defence force will certainly not be used against the forces of the Crown, to which we are loyal. It will only be used against the forces of anarchy if and when they begin to operate in that collapse of the system to which the muddle is heading. The purpose of the Fascist Defence Force is, in fact, entirely defensive. Prior to any such contingency it is organized to protect our meetings and propaganda from the organized violence of the Reds, who seek to prevent free speech in Britain and have been largely successful in that purpose.”
Nor will any equality be possible under Fascism because, says William Joyce, “The inheritance of mental and physical characteristics, the existence of insuperable differences of environment, the laws of biology and psychology, make it impossible that there should exist any real equality between men.”
Thus, Fascism in Britain also has the theory of race superiority of the English over the Indians and other colonials. Britain must keep its Empire.
Britain, the Fascists admit, is on the decline. They would prepare for a desperate effort to raise it again. Says Mosley, “What I fear much more than a sudden crisis is a long, slow crumbling through the years until we sink to the level of a Spain, a gradual paralysis beneath which all the vigour and energy will succumb. This is a far more dangerous thing, and far more likely to happen unless some effort is made. If the effort is made, how relatively easily can disaster be averted! … What a fantastic assumption it is that a nation, which within the lifetime of everyone has put forth efforts of energy and vigour unequalled in the history of the world, should succumb before an economic crisis such as the present.”
Fascism in Britain prepares itself for the time when it is called upon by the British Imperialists to boost up a collapsing system, to give the stinking corpse of Capitalism another lease on life, to keep the oppressed Colonials under British domination, to “unify” the Empire for another Imperialist War.
Fascism is already making a bid for support to the British middle classes, to the students and professionals with promises of “reducing costs,” ending compensation,” having “industrial peace,” “cooperation between the employer and the employee,” etc., promising the students positions in government because they are of the fittest, and giving work to all.
To the Working Class of Britain, Fascism as in other nations promotes work, but only through the regimentation of labor. It means that the trade unions will become the company unions of the Capitalists. Fascism means the intensification of the crisis and a quick coming to a head of all the contradictions. It means that the declining Britain will again try to save its Empire through war.
Should the present threat of war increase, should Britain still further lose her hold upon the Colonies, should she be compelled once again to reduce the reforms of her working class, should the United States press her still more in their fight for markets, and above all, should the proletariat threaten to seize power, the Fascists will undoubtedly be called upon to do their task of annihilating the working class organizations and thus “unify” Britain.
The working class organizations of Britain must prepare today. They are today capable of smashing physically the Fascists in Britain. Any attitude such as the one expressed to me by one of the organizers of the Labor Party “That neither the Fascists nor the Communists can possibly win over the English people, as the English are not susceptible to any form of radicalism and there is no danger from either the right or the left,” must be immediately whipped from the ranks of the workers as a disintegrating force.
The Labor Party, together with its affiliated Trade Unions, have memberships of about two million; the I.L.P. has between 15-20 thousand. These organizations together with the Communist Party and the Communist League of Britain, can effectively wipe out the Fascist organizations so that no trace whatsoever will remain of them. Meetings by Mosley such as those held in Albert Hall and Olympia must not be permitted by the working class organizations.
A United Front against the Fascists must be formed by the working class organizations of Britain now. Let not the Labor Party feel secure in its present position. With the probability of the Labor Party winning the next elections, the eyes of the workers will be upon them. Another betrayal by the Labor Party will move the class forces very rapidly to a decisive struggle for power.
PSEUDO-COMMUNIST INTELLECTUALS ( II ) By Albert Weisbord
The intellectual has a truly great role in the revolutionary movement, provided he becomes thoroughly proletarianized and tested. As Lenin has so well pointed out, Socialism, because it is a science and a philosophic method, because it is a program as a strategy and tactic, comes from without the working class and not from within. A purely workers’ movement must be a limited one, as the I.W.W. and the A. F. of L. show. The revolutionary movement takes a great step forward precisely when Scientific Socialism fuses with the labor movement as a whole. Paradoxical as it may seem, the working class can win its fight only when it identifies its interests with that of the whole of humanity, when it fights not only for itself but for its allies, members of another class, whom it leads and controls. If the workers must fight for the peasants, it is the intellectual who must provide the leadership of the workers.
While the movement is immature the intellectual comes from the student section of the propertied class. The danger here is that, in a disguised form, the intellectual will then bring into the ranks of the proletariat all the vicious traits of the ruling classes. The untested intellectual who has not yet broken from his class comes into the movement with a sectarianism, a pedantry, a careerism, a bureaucratic snobbery, a cowardly and intellectual instability, a “gentlemanly anarchism” and lack of organizational sense which can prove fatal to the movement as a whole. However, as the movement grows more mature, more and more workers take the lead, become trained in Marxism and form their own layer of intellectuals.
The American revolutionary movement has had a great paucity of genuine revolutionary intellectuals. Outside of De Leon, who is there whose works are really original and stand out even a few months after written? All this, of course, is part of the difficulty of forming a genuine revolutionary Communist Party in this country. For, after all, viewed socially, it is the Party that is the intellectual. The very fact that there has been no genuine Communist party has stimulated the rise of all sorts of fakes and quacks who pose as “Communist Intellectuals.”
This has been certainly the case with the so called Communist Party of the U. S. Now that Soviet Russia has been recognized by Roosevelt and there may be hundreds of millions of dollars in credits passed out, around the Communist Party there has clustered a large number of bankrupt professionals, lawyers without clients who want to get something from the I.L.D. or indirectly some other business, accountants who may want to keep the books of the Amtorg, Intourist, or other agency, engineers who want a cushy job in the Soviet Union, students who may want some office work in some other branch, etc., etc. This mob constitutes a real danger to the Communist movement, especially where the Communist Party is too weak to control and lead these “friends,” theoretically.
There is a big difference between this new group of intellectuals and the old type, “The Masses” or “The Liberator.” In the old days we had a group of literary adventurers, declassed Greenwich Villagers, chatter boxes of the type of Floyd Dell, Max Eastman and others. They were more or less idealists. Some of them had some money. They were filled with a spirit for the “masses.” Later it is true they began to lose this idealism and to capitalize as much as possible on the movement. The “Modern Monthly” group represents this decadence. “Freedom” turned into lectures on “Sex Expression,” and what not at 50 cents a throw. However the new type, of intellectuals, those around the “John Reed Club,” the “Pen and Hammer,” etc., etc., those now trying to put out the “Monthly Review”, are of an entirely different sort. They are hungry and so they are far more serious. If the old type were anti organization men, the new type are top sergeant martinets. If the old type stressed their intellectual independence, the new type hangs from the words of the Party bureaucracy. They are “broken” intellectuals, party hacks, who refuse the duty of dangerous concrete work among the masses and substitute for it the obedience of the Cadet with his fingers on the seam of his trousers. More and more of these creatures are entering the Party itself, encrusting the bureaucracy with an ever thickening layer.
The rise of Fascism has thrown new layers of intellectuals to the left. Some of them have gone to the American Workers Party where they have constituted its “brain trust.” The leader of “pure theory” has now become Sidney Hook, the “theoretician of practice” is Salutsky-Hardman (and Ludwig Lore). Attached to this hydrocephalic brain is Muste who is the face, and Budenz the feet. These pseudo communist intellectuals have found the American Workers Party an excellent stamping ground indeed. No longer foot loose, they are not only in a party which flirts with communism, they have become the “head” of that party. And as the American Workers Party is a “substitute” for a Communist Party, so Sidney Hook, Salutsky-Hardman and company are substitutes for a “head.”
First of all we must understand who this Hook is who is writing programs and theses telling the proletariat how to revolt against capitalism. He is a typical case of “Jewish boy makes good.” Through studious bootlicking of Professor John Dewey he got himself a job on the staff of New York University. Through his very good work in urging workers to revolt against capitalism, New York University has promoted him to the head of the Department of Philosophy. Astounding, you say? Not at all. It is Simply that New York University understands Sidney Hook far better than Arne Swabeck and James P. Cannon of the American League. The climbing, pushing Sidney Hook will yet make his services still more valuable to the capitalist class, just because he is appearing as a “Communist.” For Sidney Hook is a “Communist but without Dogma.” He is a “pragmatic” Communist, a “John Dewey” Communist. He is for Communism and even for Marxism but without Marx! This is what makes him leader of the Anti Communist forces within the American Workers Party.
Sidney Hook started out as an unrestrained devotee of Dewey. To John Dewey, following Wm. James, the universe was not entirely material, but there was room for chance, for luck, for “accident.” The laws of science were only the laws of man. There was even a possibility for God to exist somewhere. Nothing was inevitable, not even Socialism. In opening up the world to luck and to God, Dewey was trying to find a new basis for religion. Like a typical liberal, neither here nor there, he stood between the orthodox camps of materialism and idealism, vacillating and swaying between the two. And how natural for a Sidney Hook to take to this philosophy! With a little “luck” would he not be made professor? As professor, would he not try to “Charge the world” by proving that “brains” (that is a professor sitting in a chair) could be the decisive force to prevent Communism, in spite of the material development of society leading directly to Communism?
At first, then, Hook began a bitter attack against Marxism. He was quite content to support Dewey’s attitude during the last war, where he whooped it up for the war and became a patriotic jingo of the most dangerous stripe. He was quite content to be the disciple of a school stemming from a religious pessimist such as Wm. James, constantly on the verge of suicide. With the cry that Marxism is dogma, Hook tried to put doubts into the mind of those he came in contact that anyone can predict what will be the outcome of the social forces now at work. With the shout that Marxism is a new religion bringing in a new God, Matter, Hook surreptitiously brought in his own little religion, the religion of “an open world,” a “world of luck, of chance, of accident” where material laws do not apply.
The second stage of Hook’s development came when, with the typical “boldness” of the “professor,” Sidney Hook then informed the startled world that Marx was really an instrumentalist, that is, a forerunner of John Dewey. It seems there are two parts to Karl Marx, who was a sort of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, as it were. Not Marx himself, not Engels, nor Lenin, nor Trotsky, nor the whole Marxist revolutionary movement really had understood the “real” Marx. The fact is Marx was really a pragmatist!
So long as Hook attacked Marx he did no damage to the working class movement and could have very little influence there. But now the open attack gave way to “interpretations.” Like a crooked fingered talmudist, Hook began to interpret Marx away. In his efforts to reconcile Marx and Dewey, Hook was trying to reconcile Communism and liberalism. It is for his steady injection of this liberal poison into the ranks of the working class that Sidney Hook has been promoted by, New York University. New York University is also “pragmatic” and judged by the pragmatic test, Hook is a good boy for the capitalist class.
In all this criticism by Hook it is essential to notice that as the class struggle grew more acute and Hook tried hard to break into the ranks of the workers, he continued his attack against Marx not from the “right,” i.e., not from the standpoint of religion or from the standpoint of liberalism, but from the “left,” i.e., from the point of view that Marx was breeding a religion, a religion of materialism; that Marxism was fatalism; that it did not lead to action soon enough. There is no doubt, also, that Hook will try to use the arguments of Comrade Trotsky, to show that the pessimism, the fatalism of the Communist Parties throughout the world was due to their adherence to Marxism.
Is it not a farce, Hook stands for action, and Marx, Lenin and Trotsky stand for “dead philosophy"? At least that is how Hook puts the question. Hook stands for action! Can there be any doubt about it? He says: If we say that Communism is inevitable, then the workers will not fight. (We will get Stalinism, he might say, very cleverly, trying to get into the Fourth International) If we say that Communism is not inevitable, that nothing is inevitable, that much is open to chance, then the workers will fight harder. Here is the argument from the “left.” The Head of the Department of Philosophy of one of the biggest capitalist universities tries to appear as stimulating the workers, giving them a theory of insurrection which will be better than Marxism. Is it really true that Hook stands for bringing the revolution quicker? On the contrary, having shown that action is necessary, he carefully confines himself to the chair; having proven that workers should act, he himself cowardly refrains; having “shown” that Communism is not inevitable, he then begins to fight the dictatorship of the proletariat and tries to substitute “democracy” for it.
We hope that our readers will forgive us for dealing at such length with this sickening shyster. We leave him to join the American League (Cannon group) if he wants. As for us, we know that he has been born 40 years too late. 1934 is not the time for the “Socialism of the chair” to arise. America is not the place. Soon enough the “Herr Doktor” Hook will get the hook and be forgotten.
We turn now from “pure science” to the “practical science” of Salutsky-Hardman, the other side to this brain trust of the American Workers Party. Mr. Hardman was, at one time, an influential member of the Communist Party. He was expelled. He is now one of the chief bureaucrats of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union (editor of the Union paper “Advance"). We may be sure that his “Communism” never interfered with his licking the boots of Sidney Hillman and Company. And we notice that if the American Workers Party now and then fulminates against the A. F. of L. officialdom, it scarcely attacks Sidney Hillman or the Amalgamated bureaucracy and never calls its Salutskys to task.
Salutsky-Hardman’s ambition is to be another Morris Hillquit. He is the contact with the trade unions. He is the one who stresses that Communists must think of “service” to the unions and not push themselves forward too much. It is necessary, then to ask, what is his trade union line?
“The needle trades unions needed the support of the labor union leaders and their political connections in the small towns where union-tired clothing manufacturers sought to operate open shops, and they could not afford to be looked upon as part of the ‘opposition crowd’.” (American Labor Dynamics, p. 23) Now it is clear what kind of revolutionary politics Salutsky is for and to what lengths he is willing to go to justify the hand that feeds him.
Mr Hardman, if you please, is also a pragmatist. To him, too, the victory of the proletariat is not inevitable. Let us hear him speak of it in his own words: “The early days of trade unionism were abundant in preamble radicalism. Statements of rather modest immediate objectives were, as a rule, escorted by cheerful declarations of what was wanted in the distant but just and glorious future…. The pioneers of American trade unionism…. had no doubt as to what Was due to come on that great day of reckoning which they thought was far off but inevitable. There was comfort in that sense of certainty…. If on close examination it was found that knowledge was really no more than an abiding faith, what did that matter? The movement was the stronger for having been mostly a theology.” (p. 105 same book)
Sitting far above the battle, Hardman, “Communist,” could estimate things in their “true” proportions. “… The stakes of either side in industry are closely and intricately related…. No state of complete coincidence between the two sides is possible, since at bottom they fight over division of spoils” (my emphasis). So, to Hardman, the workers were fighting over the spoils just like the capitalists, and there was no difference between them. How like a trade union flunkey, secret agent of the bosses within the union, using both the union and the bosses for his own double crossing purposes!
Such was the “realistic” (translate opportunist, swindling) “Communism” of this worthy Hardman. In 1920, when be was expelled, he could write to C. E. Ruthenberg: “Personally, I will not change my attitude to the movement …” but by June 1925 he could write: “All these people who talk against labor banks and class collaboration, they want to make conditions worse and worse for the working class in hopes of goading them to rebellion. They would sacrifice the interests of the workers to their doctrinaire ideas of revolution. We, on the other hand, with our labor banks, cooperative housing, etc., are making the world better for the workers, and let the revolution take care of itself.” Salutsky-Hardman takes care of the practice, as Hook takes care of the “theory.” It was Hardman who welcomed the vicious slugging of Communists in the Amalgamated and the expulsion of elements of the left wing organized to fight Hillmanism. It is Hardman who is the advocate of the “Labor Party” today as the only way for labor to become free. It is Hardman who finds no agency too small to use in an indiscriminate attack against the “Reds” and “Communists.” Yet at the same time he takes care to be the liason man of the trade unions to the revolutionary movement, constantly affirming that he, too, is a “revolutionary” and he, too, “adheres” to the movement. For Hardman the short and ugly term “renegade” is all too appropriate.
Against these elements the Fourth International groupings must carry on a bitter unending fight. To imagine that the Fourth International can take in such cheats, and deceivers, is itself to betray such opportunism as to show oneself incapable of understanding the ABC of revolutionary policy. Yet this is exactly what the American League is doing. In its negotiations with the American Workers Party, does it call for a repudiation of the Hooks and the Hardmans? No, because the American League is too closely bound up with the Eastmans and the Lores! Surely this cannot be the line of Comrade Trotsky.
“For the revolutionary Marxist the struggle against reformism now changes itself almost completely into struggle against centrism… . Before taking seriously the fine words of the centrists , . . it is necessary to exact from them … the expulsion from their ranks of parliamentarians, trade unionists, and other traitors, of bourgeois lackeys, careerists, etc … It is precisely on this plane that one must now deliver the principal blows at centrism” (Leon Trotsky on Centrism, Feb. 22, 1934).