Volume 1 Number 1 ----------- NEW YORK, MAY,1931 ------------- Price 5 Cents
Communist League of Struggle ………..By Albert Weisbord
May Day, 1931 ………………………… By Vera Buch
Legal Lynch Law For 8 Negros ….. By A Negro Comrade G.L.
Thermidor and Bonapartism ………….. By Leon Trotsky
The Position of the Communist League of Struggle
Constitution of the Communist League of Struggle
Communist League of Struggle
by Albert Weisbord
On March 15th 1931, the Communist League of Struggle was organized. It arises out of the sternest necessity. There is no other way out for the advanced class-conscious worker.
Two facts stare us in the face. First the utter incapacity of the other groups, with their false policies and practices, to lead the workers successfully toward the proletarian revolution; second, the fact that we have not much time to lose to begin to build a real Communist organization in the United States.
The Communist League of Struggle raises high again the red banner of class struggle which has been dropped into the mire of opportunism so long. We realize the great difficulties that face us. We come out at a time when the greatest confusion reigns in the radical movement.
It is precisely because of these difficulties that the Communist League of Struggle is organized. We do not rely on subsidies from abroad or on a petty-bourgeois clientele. Our sole reliance is on our internal strength, on the knowledge that our correct line and actions must win the majority of the working class to us as the Bolsheviks did in Russia.
What are the principal differences between the other Communist groups and us?
First, we are an internationalist group through and through. We connect in the most intimate, living, concrete way, the international perspectives of struggle with our tasks in the United States. We adhere to the basic principles of the International Left Opposition, lead by L.D. Trotsky.
Second, we are thoroughly rooted in American life. We are a Marxist group, understanding and utilizing the laws of motion that flow from the internal contradictions and antagonisms springing from American Imperialism.
Third, we alone connect theory and practice in a Leninist manner. Not we are guilty of helping to betray or, of running away from strike struggles. The members of the Communist League of Struggle by their record have shown how to organize the unorganized, how to advance the cause of Communism in the concrete everyday battles of the workers. Not an isolated sect, but a two-fisted hard group of Communists is what we are forming.
We alone raise the Leninist slogan A vanguard party! No leadership without Communist behavior in the dangerous concrete struggles of the masses! We must clean the Menshevik pus out of the Communist movement!
The basis of a Communist movement must be confidence. By our deeds we will create this confidence in the minds of the broadest masses.
Of all the Communist groups, we alone are not a reconstituted faction that poisoned the party for so many years. We aim to cut across the other groups with the axe of Leninism, to drive a deep wedge between the right wing opportunists and the revolutionists everywhere.
We start as Marx started, with a Communist League; as Lenin started, with a League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class. Upon our shoulders lies the heaviest responsibilities. We can not shrink from our duty. We shall pursue our course regardless of what others say or do.
MAY DAY, 1931
May Day 1931—A call to action for the Communists to take up the Banner of Struggle for International Revolution.
The capitalist world sinks ever deeper into the crisis. It heaps misery upon misery upon backs of the toiling masses. For countless millions of human beings life today is a torture house of hunger, unbearable toil and black anxiety. In China, and India, in other colonial countries, revolution presses forward. Everywhere the capitalist rulers look anxiously for remedies. But they can find no way out of the blind alley. War looms as the only solution they will choose.
Amidst all the chaos and suffering the Soviet Union, the Workers’ Republic, stands firm and strong. No intrigues of Stalin, no blunders of the Communist International have yet dimmed this hope of the workers of the world.
For our new-born Communist organization, the way in America lies clear. This country is drawn further and further into the whirlpool of the world crisis. There is no separate course for us. Only the international Communist revolution will give any permanent solution to the anxious problems of the masses.
Ten Million Now Jobless
Ten million unemployed suffer the pangs of hunger and cold. And in the factories with new speed-ups and wages cut to the bone there is a hell just as bad. On the farms, gaunt starvation stares the producers of food in the face.
The government runs from this relief measure to that but no real help is forthcoming. The profits of the big corporations pile bigger than ever. And to curb the discontent and restiveness of the masses, to crush the rebellion that is brooding in the cities and in the country, anti-foreign and anti-red measures are being carried out. The Fish Committee recommendations will strike a heavy blow at the radical movement. Lynching, aiming to crush the rebellious spirit of the Negroes is increasing to a terrible extent. The latest legal lynching planned in Alabama of eight Negro youths is a dastardly crime which the whole working class must rise to prevent.
We are not fooled, either by the phrases of the Communist Party that the whole working class is in a “revolutionary upsurge” or by the Lovestone idea of the “docility” of the workers. The masses are not revolutionists yet, but they will respond quickly to any real Communist leadership. That they are not docile is proved overwhelmingly by the big wave of strikes in recent months. The textile strikes of Danville, Va.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Lawrence, Mass.; Shelton, Conn.; the longshoremen’s strike of New Orleans, the strikes of the anthracite and West Virginia miners, all these are but forerunners of bitter if short strike battles in which the workers will strike back for some of the terrible worsening of their living conditions.
The trade union movement is in chaos and disintegration. The Communist movement is no better. The Trade Union United League has miserably fallen down in its important tasks. But amidst this chaos the appearance of the Communist League of Struggle with its clear cut theses comes as a fresh message of hope.
Must Not Forget Past Struggles
On May 1931 we raise the call to action. We base ourselves upon the best traditions of the American working class. We do not forget that in the eight hour day struggles of the workers of this country was the origin of the first May Day as Labor Day. We do not forget the bitter workers’ struggles of the past in this country; we do not forget the Knights of Labor, the Western Federation of Miners, the I.W.W. in its militant days. We carry forward the traditions of Passaic, of New Bedford and Gastonia in which battles we ourselves fought at the head of the workers. We are armed with the science of Marx and Lenin, not with cablegrams from Moscow.
For this coming May Day we call upon the American workers to take their place in the ranks of the revolutionary workers. We join in a united front with the Communist Parties demonstrating the world over. We call upon our members and followers and upon workers everywhere to join in the demonstration called by the Communist Party, to leave their machines, bring out the workers from their shops, to come forth upon the streets in a mighty demonstration against capitalist starvation and unemployment and for Communism.
Men and women workers, young and old, Negro and white, join with us in the struggle.
Sharpen the struggle against the exploiters!
Join the Communist League of Struggle!
All power to the Working Class!
-- Vera Buch
NEW JOBLESS LINE FOR T.U.U.L.
At the meeting of the Trade Union Unity Council of New York held March 27, we were again greeted with an old story. Sam Nessin, head of the Unemployed Council took the floor and in regular routine fashion criticized the work done during the past year.
“From now on we start on a new policy,” said Nessin. A review was made of the past work. He said that a few mass demonstrations and open air as well as indoor meetings held in the headquarters, somehow did not draw the masses. The new policy, he continued, is to start at once on the plan of organizing on a block basis. Concentration will take place in certain residential quarters where the poorest workers live and a survey will be made of all unemployed. In connection with this, tenant leagues will be organized with the idea that those who are out of work shall not pay rent. This will enable them much more easily to protect and put up real resistance against evictions. They will also attempt to find out which families need the aid of public charitable institutions and see to it that their needs are fulfilled.
All of the “new” plan, with the exception of the last idea was proposed by Albert Weisbord several months ago, in an article which appeared in the Militant.
Nessin also proposed the opening up of kitchens in the blocks to feed the hungry workers. This was not as yet finally adopted by the Unemployed Council.
As a delegate from the Office Workers Union, I acquainted them with this five months ago. At that time it sounded somewhat off the beaten path and every delegate that spoke after me, deliberately evaded it. They were not under instructions to support it and since it did not emanate from the top, they couldn’t use sufficient common sense to determine whether it was right or wrong.
-- NATHAN SCHWARTZ
Delegate, Office Workers Union
PARTY THUGS ATTACK THREE WORKERS
Lead by paid functionaries of the Communist Party, about 20 strong arm men attacked three members of the Communist League of Struggle who were giving out leaflets, Saturday, March 21 to workers who were entering New Star Casino, 107th St. and Park Ave., to attend the bazaar arranged by the Needle Trades Workers Industrial Union.
The leader of the gang was Milton Weich, a paid Stalinist flunky. Those attacked were Sylvan A. Pollack, managing editor of Class Struggle; Harry Fisher, unemployed worker and Thomas Bunker, seaman.
About 15 minutes after the three workers started to give out the leaflets announcing the Friday night lectures of the C.L.S., the thugs arrived on the scene. Fisher, who had given out leaflets many times in the past was the first one attacked. Weich demanded that Fisher give him the leaflets. When he refused the Stalinists got into action. The 3 workers defended themselves the best they could but due to the overwhelming odds retreated before the superior forces. Fisher’s right cheek was cut.
Fisher was attacked by Party functionaries on two other occasions. When he was giving out leaflets with Vera Buch, director of the school of the C.L.S. near the district office of the Communist Party, Fanny Rudd, a paid Party organizer incited a mob to attack the two militants. Fisher was also attacked when giving out leaflets to workers on 14th Street.
All proletarian members of the Communist Party and militant workers generally should protest against this method of using terror against Communist workers. These attacks against the C.L.S. will not prevent it from continuing its activities in the working class struggle.
FIVE WORKERS FACE CHAIR IN PATERSON
Five militant members of the National Textile Workers Union are facing the electric chair in Paterson, N.J. where they are being held in jail without bail charged with killing a bootlegging silk boss named Max Urban. The workers are Benjamin Leib, Lewis Bart, Helen Gershonowitz, Louis Harris and Albert Katzenbook.
The workers were arrested on Feb. 18, following an eight weeks strike at the Urban mill where the workers demanded a pay increase of one half cent a yard for weavers on the two day shifts and one cent a yard on the night shift, also the 40 hour week for all workers. Previous to the strike, wages had been cut 50 percent. The strikers were trying to win back a small part of the cut.
The arrests took place following a fight on the picket line in which not only Urban participated, but many of his gangsters too. It is believed by some that Urban was fatally wounded by his own henchmen due to differences over bootlegging questions.
The attempt to send the five workers to the electric chair must be resisted by all militant workers. It shows that although the N.T.W.U. has been considerably weakened by the sectarian line of the official Communist party and expulsions of the unions’ founders, yet the mill owners and their flunkies realize its potential strength. As in Gastonia in 1929, the Paterson bosses arrest the leaders of the union and hold them on murder charges.
This proves that the right wing Lovestone group is wrong in its stand that the N.T.W.U. is dead and the only hope lies in the Muste leadership in the U.T.W. and Associated Silk Workers.
The right of the workers to strike must be defended by the whole working class, which must mobilize to smash the vicious frame-up. Not a small, Party controlled campaign but a united front of all working class organizations is needed at once.
LEGAL LYNCH LAW FOR 8 NEGROES
In the town of Scottsboro, Ala. with a population of 2,500 people, eight Negro youths ranging in age from 14 to 21 years are victims of the age old system of lynching for an alleged attack on white womanhood. This time the lynching act is not being perpetrated by mob violence, but by strictly "legal” means.
A special dispatch from Scottsboro to the Norfolk Journal and Guide states: “The biggest holiday in years for the mountainous sections of Northern Alabama took place here Monday (April 6) as nine Negroes faced trial for an alleged attack upon two white girls.”
Nine Negro lads, according to the testimony given in the Jackson County Court, were riding a freight train on which were several white lads and two white girls, disguised as boys. The Negro boys are said to have overpowered the white boys and thrown them off the train, and then attacked the girls.
From the news story in the New York Times, it is stated that the two girls appeared as state witnesses. No mention is made of the white youths who rode on the same train. Nor was it told what was their conduct toward these girls at the time of the alleged rape.
The white boys it would seem, should have made valuable witnesses for the state. We wonder why the state did not make the proper efforts to produce them. If innocent themselves and playing the role of protectors of the girls, it seems reasonable that they should gladly come forward to testify against those Negroes who endangered their own lives by throwing them from a train.
Eight of the Negroes have been sentenced to the electric chair. The state claims in answer to a protest from the International Defense that it has acted justly and rightly. The governor of the state declares that no matter how much protest is made against the electrocutions of these condemned Negro youths, he will not interfere.
The judge utters the customary legal twaddle in defense of bogus justice. "They were given every opportunity to provide counsel for themselves,” he said, “and I appointed able members of the Jackson County bar to represent them. More than a thousand members of the Alabama National Guard have been stationed here to protect them. I personally will welcome any investigation on the trial.”
We would like to know how these inexperienced Negro boys without funds were to provide themselves with proper legal counsel. The court in the legal order of things went through the farce of appointing attorneys to defend them. But is any one so naive as to believe that able members of the bar at Jackson county would give them adequate defense? And is the calling out of 1,000 members of the Alabama Guardsmen more than a grand gesture?
On the one hand it seems a sort of stage play to satisfy the “enlightened” public sentiment while on the other, it is a yielding to the cannibalistic blood craze of the howling mob which makes merry over every conviction and cruel death of hopeless victims.
It is interesting to note that the counsels appointed to defend these boys allowed all and each of them to deny his own guilt and at the same time to accuse all the others, a pretty sure method of convicting all.
* * *
The procedure in the case of the Negroes in Scottsboro is not new. Ever since the civil war which purported to free the Negro slaves, it has been the rule in the Southern courts that the word of a black person has not been worth the effort in stating it, if pitted against that of a white person. If a white man said that a certain black man did any specific thing, nothing this side of Mars will induce the “gentlemen” of a Southern jury to believe otherwise.
In the “bible belt” of the South when a Negro is accused in court of the rape of a white woman it is equivalent to conviction and becomes an occasion for gala festivities.
If the Negro is not turned over to the mob by the sheriff, then the method known as “due process of law” is used in order to quiet the cry of “injustice” by the liberal elements. Then the state uses its court for the supposed fair trial. Thus the gullible are appeased and the same end is reached.
-- By A Negro Comrade—G.L.
“Mass meeting of Communist League of Struggle New York City, denounces legal lynching of eight Negro youths. This frame-up calculated to crush the Negro masses must be smashed. We demand the death penalty for lynchings, complete equality and national liberation for the Negroes.”
THE ST. LOUIS CONVENTION
As we go to press a convention called by the Illinois and West Virginia miners organizations is scheduled to open in St. Louis to organize a new miners union. Already a conference has been held in West Virginia and a West Virginia Miners Union formed. This marks one of the most important recent developments in the labor movement. The miners are openly rebelling against the Lewis-American Federation of Labor officials and against any one who joins with these officials. The agreement that Farrington and Fishwick made with Lewis as to who should rob and betray the workers was the final act that whipped the miners into action.
Where is the Communist Party’s National Miners Union in all this movement? Nowhere! It has practically collapsed. Under the brilliant treachery of the past and present Communist misleaders everything was done to prevent the N.M.U. from being formed and to kill it when formed. It was formed a year too late, at a time of great demoralization. The first convention was adjourned (by Stachel and Swabeck) just when most of the delegates were coming out of jail and could at last attend it. They had been arrested towards the beginning of the meet. The convention was adjourned so hastily that not even a constitution or program of action or even a functioning office was established. A Young Communist League member was put in charge of the union. Later, to be sure that the National Miners Union would be killed the name was suddenly changed Mine, Oil, and Smelter Workers Industrial Union and then just as suddenly again called the N.M.U. The president was driven out. The secretary was sent away. The organizers staff was repeatedly changed. The whole work was dropped.
The more criminal the Party leaders’ actions, the wilder become their "theories". They declared the United Mine Workers with a couple of hundred thousand exploited miners as members was “outright Fascist". All those who did not leave the U.M.W. even in the anthracite (where the N.M.U. really did not exist) were expelled forthwith. The left wing in the Anthracite was thus also annihilated. The recent Anthracite strike was carried on completely outside the slightest influence of the Communist Party or National Miners Union.
The new union movement in Illinois and West Virginia, the anthracite strike of 20,000 miners and the St. Louis Convention, is further evidence of the growing move to the left on the part of the masses. The Illinois movement is also new evidence of the decline of the A.F. of L.
The great danger is that the Muste group of “Progressive” (Howat, Hapgood, Ameringer et al.,) will be allowed to control the movement and thus to shunt off the movement to harmless channels. These “Progressives” do not wish really to fight the American Federation of Labor misleaders. For a long time they helped Farrington and Fishwick betray the masses of Illinois coal miners. Now, having been used by Fishwick enough, they have been kicked out. And having been kicked out, they try to utilize the tremendous discontent among the coal miners for themselves.
What shall be our policy in this situation? First of all, the Communists must form a militant left wing in the Illinois and West Virginia new union movement. The left wing must draw up a fighting program for the industry and most sharply attack the Muste misleaders and try to oust them. It is not a question of attacking the past of these misleaders and ask them to be good (Cannon group position) and then make deals with them. It is a question of declaring relentless unceasing war on them, to drive them out of all influence. The attack must be based on present crimes and their present programs. The left wing at St. Louis must also fight for the program of the N.M.U. and for joint action leading to amalgamation with the N.M.U.
Second, the N.M.U. must send delegates to this convention, not to liquidate the N.M.U. (as Lovestone and Cannon desire), but to propose a joint conference later to discuss the question of amalgamation. The N.M.U. must present a fighting program that must include a struggle against the Muste misleaders.
Third, at the same time the N.M.U. delegation must categorically reject the positively criminal policies of the Foster leadership. It must be made clear to the workers in the St. Louis convention that the phrase-mongering bureaucratic theories and practices of the N.M.U. are things of the past.
Fourth, the N.M.U. and the Communists must everywhere organize a left wing in the U.M.W. especially in the Anthracite so as to bring together all militants in the industry.
The Communist League of Struggle warns the miners in the N.M.U. of the liquidation tendencies of the Cannon and Lovestone groups. We look upon eventual amalgamation of the new unions as strengthening the new union movement, they look upon amalgamation as a method of liquidating the red unions.
CURRENT COMMENT by SYLVAN A. POLLACK
THE CLASS STRUGGLE
In adopting the name Class Struggle for its official organ, the Communist League of Struggle is following the best traditions of the Communist movement of this country. In 1918 and 1919, a Marxist magazine was published in the United States known as the Class Struggle. In its columns were printed for the first time in English many of the writings of Lenin and Trotsky. To a large extent it helped shape the development of the Communist forces in this country. After the split from the Socialist Party and the definite organization of the Communists as a separate movement it continued publication as the theoretical organ of the Communist Labor Party, until the Palmer Red raids of 1919 drove the movement underground.
Twelve years after its suspension a new Class Struggle is born. It will not be merely another newspaper but will strive to become a paper for all of the toiling masses. It will connect the past struggles of the American workers with what can be expected in the future. It will publish articles built upon the iron foundations of Leninism and will try to avoid all the opportunism and deviations from the Bolshevik principles found so often in the columns of the Daily worker, Revolutionary Age and the Militant.
It is starting modestly as a monthly but with the support of the militant working class will develop into a mighty weapon of the class struggle. It is determined to continue publication under all and any circumstances, including the driving of the Communist movement underground, the objective of the Fish Committee.
It will publish the writings of the Leninist leaders of the International Communist movement, news and articles of the class struggle in America and the rest of the world. It also hopes to develop a corps of workers’ correspondents who will write of conditions on the jobs, in the trade unions and labor fraternal organizations, as well as express their own opinion of problems and activities of our movement.
UNITED FRONT AGAINST THE PARTY!
"Double-facedness and subterfuge are the characteristics of all opportunists. Driven away from one position they always attempt to smuggle it in under some other pretext. This is the case in the attempt to retreat under fire from the idea of a political bloc with the Right Wing outlined in Weisbord’s articles in the Militant to the proposal for a ‘United Front’ on everyday tactical questions. Can’t we at least get together with them in the trade union?’ they ask. No, not even in this limited sphere, BECAUSE WE ARE NOT GOING IN THE SAME DIRECTION WITH THEM. From the start, that is from the day the Lovestoneites were expelled from the Party, we rejected all ideas of a common front with them. And correctly so.” James P. Cannon, Dec. 23, 1930 (emphasis by Cannon).
# # #
During recent months Cannon, Schactman and the other spokesmen of the Cannon group have been constantly denying that any work separate and distinct from that lead by the official Party could be conducted by Communists outside the Party. “To do so,” they cried, “would mean to make a united front against the Party!” The writer of these lines was expelled from the Cannon controlled organization on Mar. 17, 1931 because he dared take issue with the right wing, sectarian line of Cannon.
Cannon and Co. have stated on many occasions that only the activities of the Party can be supported. If the Party refuses to do any work, then all we can do is criticize its lack of action was their line of reasoning. Which means, of course, to sit back comfortably in a swivel chair waiting for the Browders, Fosters and Bedachts to lead the workers along the correct path!
Cannon has also been quite insistent against any joint activities with the Lovestone group. Make a united front with the right wing against the Party?! Not Cannon! He and his colleagues would only support the “center” (the Party) in fighting the Right wing, which is rapidly going towards Social Democracy.
Yet what do we find? The Friends of India’s Independence, whose main sponsor is none other than Bert Miller (who is too much of a right winger even for Lovestone), arranged a protest meeting against the execution of three Indian Nationalists—- Bhagat Sinch, Raj Guru, and Sukh Dev, by the British government. The scheduled speakers included Louis Budenz, Conference for Progressive Labor Action; Ludwig Lore, N.Y. Volkszeitung; Carlo Tresca, Il Martello; Roger Baldwin, American Civil Liberties Union; Bert Miller; Bertram D. Wolfe of the Lovestone group and James P. Cannon!
Here we find Cannon in a united front in which the Party is not a part and which follows a line against the Party, including not only the Lovestone group, but those far to the right of Lovestone (such as Budenz of the Muste group; Miller, who is on the road to Muste; Lore, a left Social Democrat and Baldwin, the liberal).
Why the sudden change of policy, Comrade Cannon? Have you suddenly decided that you could not continue your bluff any longer?
Less than two weeks after the formation of the Communist League of Struggle, we find an apparent change of policy on the part of Cannon. This is the same Cannon who has criticized the officials of the Communist Party for making a complete change of policy without any explanation either to the membership or the workers as a whole.
The same Cannon who in 1923 made an alliance with John Pepper to orientate the Party forces toward the farmers and in 1925 made a bloc with Lovestone against Trotsky and for Stalin and Bucharin.
Cannon’s speaking at the “united front” meeting is merely a gesture to cover his lack of real work in the class struggle. After the meeting is ended he will again sit down and rest comfortably for about six months. If any one asserts that his group is not doing any work, he will point with pride to the meeting arranged by the Friends of India’s Independence. This will be his “mass work” cloak to cover his omissions. However, it will not fool the militant working class. Not mere gestures once or twice a year but regular, sincere, activities are needed. The Communist League of Struggle has been organized for that purpose.
CODER AND MILLER
In the Daily Worker of March 13, we find a blurred photograph on the front page showing Charles Coder, Trade Union Unity League organizer and Lewis Hurst, Young Communist League organizer. It is accompanied by an eight column streamer and a news story telling of their being flogged into insensibility and then being thrown into a river and drowned in Dallas, Texas.
On page four of the same issue of the Daily Worker we find the photograph of Carl Miller and a Central Control Commission statement announcing his expulsion from the Party as an “unreliable dishonest element". It continues by pointing out that Miller joined the Party last fall in Philadelphia, also that he originally came from Texas. How later he was sent to Trenton, N.J. as a representative of the International Labor Defense and of his disappearance after getting hold of $75 of the organization’s funds.
One “mere” detail that Harrison George and the rest of the Daily Worker staff forget to mention in their news stories about the Dallas affair is that the Charles Coder whom they praise as a working class hero on page one, is the same Carl Miller whose expulsion as a common thief they announce on page four.
Evidently Miller, or Coder as he is now named finding the pickings so easy in the Philadelphia-Trenton district went back to his home state and became converted to Communism for the second time within a year. The Fosters and Stachels who run the Trade Union Unity League immediately appointed him district organizer. Things, however, did not run so easy this time for Miller-Coder. The capitalist authorities of Dallas did not know that he was planning another financial coup like the one in Trenton and arrested him, later beating him up with the Y.C.L. organizer, Hurst.
Perhaps the next time Miller-Coder joins the party (under a different name, of course) he will choose a less dangerous spot than the Lone Star state and one where the financial returns are better.
As for the proletarian members of the Communist Party and the left wing workers who support it, what have they to say about such reckless, irresponsible action on the part of the so-called leadership?
THERMIDOR AND BONAPARTISM
by LEON TROTSKY
Concerning the question of Thermidor and of Bonapartism, I will only speak very briefly, for I have already expressed myself several times on the necessity of developing this theme in an article. The danger in this question, as well as in every other historic question consists of the fact that we are too apt to draw analogies too formally, no matter how important and fruitful they may be, and that we are wont to reduce the concrete process to abstractions. Thermidor was a transitory form between Jacobinism and Bonapartism. What was really characteristic of the Thermidor was the fact that the government was formally controlled by the members of the same party. Part of the Jacobins, or quasi-Jacobins, destroyed the other part, the true Jacobins, by an appeal to open civil war. Bonapartism signifies the victory of the bureaucratic-military centralist power over all the various shades of Jacobinism. In the language of the class struggle, this means the gradual change of power from the sans culottes to the leisure class.
If we take into consideration theoretically the possibility of a counter-revolutionary victory in the Soviet Union that does not mean that the latter must take on the form of the French Thermidor. It may skip this stage directly to Bonapartism, or intermingle the two, just as the October Revolution intermingled the end of the democratic revolution with the beginning of the socialist revolution. Such a mixture of historic stages corresponds perfectly to the social development of Russia and to its entire history.
What we must take into consideration above all is the immense role of the Russian Party or rather, at present, of its apparatus. With us the party is far more advanced than the State apparatus. For example, Rykov, from the point of view of the party, has been entirely liquidated, but still remains the head of the state. Thermidorian elements have materialized in the life of the party: genuine “Jacobins” have been replaced by opportunists, but Bonapartist elements have also developed largely, that is in the selection of the apparatus according to a single commandant (Stalin). Weakening of the character and of the spine is a very important preparatory work of Bonapartism.
The counter-revolution has not yet become victorious, the question is not yet settled, and that is the reason for our implacable struggle against the Korschists and the other howlers. One physician says: the man is sick, there is hope of curing him; it is my duty to do all in my power to put him on his feet again. Another says: no, he must die, and turns his back on the patient. What can these two physicians have in common?
But when the counter-revolution does come, will it take a Bonapartist, a Thermidorian or a combined third form? It is impossible to say, but our duty consists in observing attentively the existing elements of the possible variants of counter-revolution and their dialectic development.
Comrade Landau writes me that some comrades have expressed the opinion that the proletariat is the weaker class in Russia. This question cannot be solved nor even correctly posed in cross section. We must look at it dynamically. Theoretically speaking, it is not impossible that a victorious counter-revolution will prove that the Russian working class has become so weakened that it is no longer able to hold the power in its own hands. But that can only be done by open civil war. Politically we must prevent this possibility by reinforcing the political and economic points of support of the proletariat. There is no economic or political scale by means of which we could daily weigh the relation of forces and in this manner decide upon a “point quotation". The most important fact is that the bourgeoisie is as yet far removed from victory, but that within the present regime the germs of very important elements of its victory are growing.
So much, for the present, on this question.
For years the defeated German rulers have tried to unite Austria with Germany. Now both countries have agreed to have the closest working union possible. They have formed a common tariff wall and customs union. At once a howl arises from the capitalists of other countries. Fists are shaken. Sabres are drawn. War threats are hurled.
The United States looks with favor on this Anschluss. America is trying to work closely with Germany against Britain so as to attack Britain from both the front and the rear. Besides, it helps secure the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Germany by Wall Street.
The German-Austrian Anschluss intensifies all the contradictions of world capitalism and leads us still closer to the next war.
* * *
The King of Spain has “resigned” the throne. Spain is now a republic. This is not a social revolution. It is a political revolution only. So far as bettering the conditions of the masses is concerned, it means very little. Yet the formation of a Spanish Republic should be a great opportunity for the masses. The workers must break away from their treacherous leaders -- the socialists and the anarcho-syndicalists—and push the revolution further. Not a palace revolution, not a mere change of rulers, but a real workers’ republic must be formed. All objective conditions for a real revolutionary crisis are present. Will the Communists live up to their responsibility?
Should the masses get active on their own behalf, we shall soon see the “Republicans” rush into the arms of the Royalists and beg the King to “restore order". The monarchist forces are still intact. They are waiting for just this.
* * *
Gandhi is going to London. India is better off without him. The Lovestone group actually thought Gandhi “symbolized the revolution". In only shows how Lovestone symbolizes Communism.
Gandhi never demanded independence for India. He never raised any demands for the masses. It is with great pleasure we read how this “symbol” is being repudiated by the masses and his prestige broken. The trip by Gandhi to London is a confession that he can no longer control the Indian masses, that the masses intend to take things into their own hands and repudiate both Gandhi and those Communists who think the Revolution is so low that Gandhi is their “symbol".
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The peasant armies in China are making great headway. Says Sweetland, correspondent for the Chicago Daily News: “Communist armies of which there are 21 in China today have shown a thoroughness, a despatch, and an efficiency which have never been equaled by any other armed force in China.” That is what the bourgeoisie thinks. More power to this guerrilla war!
We must always remember Lenin’s words and deeds in support of the peasants’ guerrilla war in Russia after the defeat of 1905.
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Sandino’s valiant army is fighting for Nicaraguan independence. As we go to press, the Daily Worker, organ of the Communist Party, is still strangely silent on this. Why? Shall we suggest that brave Latin-American "expert” --Harrison George, squander a few more thousands of dollars of the R.I.L.U.’s money (a few more won’t matter) and take a trip down there to discover Nicaragua? We warn him, however, to keep away from the Nicaraguan rebels.
The Communists must work actively for the defeat of the American marines in Nicaragua. Large-scale help must be given the Nicaraguan masses fighting against American imperialism. The Communist League of Struggle raises the cry: A united front to drive out the marines from Nicaragua!
WHITHER THE MARINE WORKER?
The bitter cry of the marine worker from the abysmal depths of chaos is mocked by a resounding echo. In the situation he finds himself today, bewilderment and near panic has taken the place of his usual stoicism.
On the waterfront of New York there are no less than seven labor organizations, tugging at different points of the compass, to steer him along the “right” course. Meanwhile, aboard the ships, harbor craft and longshore, wages are being slashed, hours lengthened and speed-up methods imposed. It is little wonder that over 95% of the marine workers are unorganized. Think of it, only 5% of this basic industry organized and this 5% we shall observe are in unions that so far as economic activity is concerned amount to nil. Prominent is the Marine Workers Industrial Union which began as a club evolving to a league which finally under the guidance of the official Communist Party gave birth to the union in its present form. Few marine workers’ organizations in recent years could boast of as fine a body of tried class conscious workers as that which mustered under its banner. These workers were for the most part experienced in class struggle organization from ports ranging from the North Sea to Australia.
Did Good Work in South America
The organization of the waterfront at Buenos Aires by some of these very workers is still an epic in marine circles. But alas; “Papa” Losovsky saddled upon the M.W.I.U. his protege, little “Papa” Mink. Now Little Mink is a “tried in struggle” worker who knows the marine industry from A to Izzard. He derived his experience for the most part by steering a taxi a zig-zag course thru traffic crossing the intersections of Philadelphia’s streets on a starboard light and listening to some old sailors talking. The little “Papa” disclaims all knowledge of longshore work of course Mink with Hynes—his man Friday-and Harvey—his “yes” man have a dirty record of bungling and criminal neglect among the workers. The misleadership of the first New Orleans strike, the cruel heart-breaking, blundering fiasco of the Philadelphia waterfront, where the I.L.A. members “beat up” the marine workers organizers, are past history, but the hurt still rankles so long as official party misfits control the machine they have set up.
Why did Mink, Johnstone and Co. deviate from the R.I.L.U. program and not only neglect but actually refuse to build up left wing groups in the reactionary unions? The Independent Tidewater and Boatmen’s Union was offered them on a platter but they declined. The attitude of Mink toward the marine worker has been one of steering contempt and it must be confessed that the long suffering marine worker reciprocates, as witness: of a membership of over four thousand only some four hundred remain.
Workers Revolted Against Mink
Some months ago several members of the M.W.I.U. revolted against the Losovky-Mink bureaucratic regime and formed a rank and file movement. Unfortunately contrary to their original declaration of principles for adherence to the defence of the Soviet Union, the Marine Workers Solidarity League as it is called, by adopting a neo-syndicalist attitude, has slowly disintegrated until only a small handful of ‘die hards’ remain who are more concerned with the quality of the stew served in their hall than the class struggle.
The A.F. of L. organizations, the I.S.U. and I.L.A., are the most potent economic organizations in the marine sphere. The present program of the I.S.U. leadership for the 100% Americanization of the merchant marine and the subsequent introduction of naval discipline for the avowed purpose of forming an efficient adjunct to the U.S. Navy in time of war is steadily forging ahead. It is significant that no Communist group has so far done anything about it. During the longshore strike at New Orleans the I.L.A. in keeping with their nationalist policy raised the cry: “foreigners are scabbing on us.”
The concrete Naval Reserve plan of Furuseth and the raising of the foreign element bogey with threatened mass deportation are but details of the ground work being laid by the marine bosses for the impending imperialist war, when worker will be pitted against worker.
Harbor craft workers in this port have again felt the lash of the boss in a recent drastic cut in wages, so that even the I.T.B.U. have been prodded into activity. These workers in the near future will need all the aid they can muster. With seamen signing on ships for $50 per month and two watches (i.e., four hours on and four off) with no overtime pay for work performed in excess of twelve hours, inferior food and hell-hole fo’c’sles, cutting of wages on lighters so that lighter captains when their barge is not loaded receive only a dollar per diem, wholesale slashing of wages on tow-boats and longshore couple with increased speed-up compels one to ask, whither the marine worker?
THE WASP, published monthly at Cleveland, Ohio,64 pages, 25 cents
A long felt need in the Communist movement has been filled by the publication of the first issue of The Wasp, a satirical monthly magazine. It is edited by Tom O’Flaherty, considered by many the foremost satirist in the movement. The weakness of the magazine is that it is not tied up with any branch of the Communist movement and is published as a free lance proposition. Another danger is of vulgarizing problems facing the workers in an attempt to write a light vein. While a great deal of criticism is made of the capitalism system it is not coordinated with what is needed as a remedy. However on the whole it is worthwhile reading, and should be obtained by those who want a relaxation from economic and political literature. It is also a good tract to give workers just becoming aware of the class struggle.
Those who remember O’Flaherty’s brilliant daily column which appeared regularly in the Daily Worker until about two years ago when he was expelled from the Communist Party on the charge of “Trotskyism” will be glad of the opportunity of renewing acquaintances.
KNITGOODS WORKERS CONFERENCE
The Knitgoods Workers Shop Conference held at Irving Plaza on March 22 by the Knitgoods Section of the Needle Trades Workers Industrial Union proved the great need to organize the workers of this trade whose situation is becoming really desperate. It showed too that not without a struggle inside the union will this object be accomplished. There were 52 delegates from 46 shops plus 11 representatives from unorganized shops. This is a very small number compared with the 20,000 people who work in the trade in Greater New York. And yet if the union will be on its job, this number can be the beginning for a good campaign.
The conference was opened in a bureaucratic manner worthy of the American Federation of Labor but not to be tolerated in any Trade Union Unity League section. The secretary of the knit goods section, Rabinoff, introduced Sarah Chernof as the chairman Appointed by the Trade Committee. Before the delegates had time to wink an eyelash Chernof was in full swing making a speech and without a word from the conference introduced an order of business (also handed down by the Trade Committee).
Elected Only Old Timers
Elections to credentials and resolutions committee brought forth only the old timers such as Rappoport and Steinhart who for years have been sitting on the organization of workers in this trade like a hen on an egg, only this egg is never allowed to hatch.
Then came the report of the trade committee by that brilliant organizer of the textile workers of this continent (especially New Bedford) comrade Rappoport. He spoke chiefly of the bad conditions in the industry and of the change of the knitgoods local from the National Textile Workers Union to the Needle Trades Workers Industrial Union. It seems that the reason for the change is that today (owing to style in the trade), many former cloakmakers and ladies’ garment workers, union people, are now working on knitgoods.
Discussion was limited by motion to 5 minutes. I took the floor and told first of a neat little 10% wage cut that had been handed down in the place where I work. Then I criticized the lack of activity of the union and also the leaflet for the conference for not making a fight against piece work, one of the great evils for certain types of workers. Especially I stressed the need for democracy in the union, election of chairman and discussion of the order of business from the floor. My five minutes being up, Chairman Chernof cut me off in spite of my efforts to continue, although she managed to be quite lenient later to other speakers.
That other delegates thought in a similar way was proved by the rest of the discussion. One worker said it was a shame the chairman had “shut off the first speaker whose remarks were quite interesting to the audience.” Another spoke vehemently against the bureaucratic appointment of the chairman.
Worsened Conditions Brought Out
The discussion generally brought out the terrible worsening of conditions by the crisis. Everywhere wage-cuts to the bone. Added to this the unemployment of 50% and the uncertainty of any job. It is plain this industry, always unorganized, poorly paid, has come to be one of the most wretchedly exploited. There were several encouraging reports of small strikes, sometimes successful, led by union members in the shops.
Rappoport in his summing up was obliged to admit that the criticism of bureaucratic methods was correct and ordered it to be put in the minutes that the chairman henceforth is to be elected, and order of business proposed from the floor. (What is happening!)
The resolutions committee brought in a resolution in support of the conference to defend the foreign-born, which was accepted unanimously. Also another which is to be put out as a leaflet on the organization of the trade. I took the floor here to criticize their demand for “price committee” and proposed instead, “In shops where there is piece work we fight for price committees until such time as the union can enforce the demand for straight time wage.”
I said the resolution should have come out more strongly and enthusiastically to the effect that the N.T.W.I.U. is the only organization with the program to fight and to organize the workers. The criticism on piece work was adopted.
With a motion for the entire conference to become an organization committee (but no time set for it to meet again), the conference adjourned.
Capitulated to Lovestone
The lack of real concrete plans for organization of the industry was the big failure of this conference. There should have been plans presented for shop meetings, for mass meetings in different neighborhoods, for leaflet distribution, for educational work, sports and social activities for the youth, etc. This would have sent the delegates away enthusiastically to rally the workers in their shops. It must be mentioned too that the N.T.W.I.U. has capitulated to the attacks of the Lovestone group in giving up the fight against piece work and in the question of hours.
The change from the textile to the needle union has brought no new members (since the toilers were already organized) and has lost some good silk workers and other textile workers who were members of the old local affiliated to the N.T.W.U. These workers cannot join a union, as there is no group of the N.T.W.U. in New York. The withdrawal of the knitgoods workers marked one step in the disintegration of the N.T.W.U.
The conference was not broadly representative. No Negroes were present, although some work in the trade. There were few young girls, although they work in great numbers in the lowest paid sections of the trade as examiners, trimmers, folders, etc. getting $12 to $15 a week.
Yet there were encouraging signs. The acceptance of the criticism on bureaucratic methods and on piece work was a distinct victory. What is necessary now, if this conference is to mean anything, is for all workers in the trade to join the Knitgoods Section of the N.T.W.I.U. and to fight to force the union to do its work of organizing, to improve the wretched conditions of the workers.
ATTACK ON THE FOREIGN BORN
During recent months the capitalist class of the country has been attempting to cover up the unemployment crisis by intensifying the campaign against the foreign born workers. The bosses’ press from New York to San Francisco is trying to create a state of mind hostile to them implying that by deporting the aliens the unemployment situation will be partly remedied.
Since Secretary of Labor Doak took office, an intensified campaign against the foreign born workers has been instituted. Thousands of workers have already been deported, while hundreds more are taken in the dragnet every week. Recently Doak announced that a special campaign against seamen would be inaugurated. A raid on the Seamen’s Institute in New York followed with many arrests. This is no accident. The seamen who are now in the United States have been in many parts of the world where the workers are more advanced politically than in this country. Many of them have been in the Soviet Union and tell their comrades here of the achievements of the Workers Fatherland.
The deportation drive is being constructed not only to throw sand into the workers’ eyes in relation to unemployment. It is also closely tied up with plans for the next war and a drive against the Communist movement. In Akron, Ohio, we find Paul Kassay, a Hungarian worker, arrested and being held for trial charged with attempting to destroy a government dirigible. He is accused of being a Communist agent. Here we can easily see the coordination between the drive against the foreign born, plans for the coming war and the first move in the direction of driving the Communist movement underground.
The Position of the Communist League of Struggle
Theses Adopted, New York City, March 15, 1931
I.-THE WORLD ECONOMIC CRISIS
1. The whole capitalist world in 1931 finds itself in the throes of a crisis shaking it to its very foundations. Whether we turn to the industrial imperialist countries, to the agrarian, or to the colonial and semi-colonial countries, we see the same havoc and destruction.
In Great Britain (1930) industrial production fell 2-% below 1929. Textiles fell 35%, ship building fell from over 50% of the world’s total to 39%, coal and steel industries were particularly hard hit as well. A fall in new capital issues occurred reaching the lowest point in six years. Exports fell 21% in values and 18% in volume. Imports are the lowest since 1922; exports the lowest since the war. Unemployment rose to over 3 million or about 20% of the working population.
Germany has felt the crisis even more severely. Industry as a whole fell off 14% (1930 as below 1929). Coal and lignite fell 15%; pig iron and steel 28%. Exports fell 18% in values from 1929 to 1930; imports fell 28%.
There are 5,000,000 unemployed. 28% of all workers are unemployed and 27% on part time. In the textile industry 21% are unemployed and 41% on part time; in chemicals 22% unemployed and 20% on part time; in shoes, 31% unemployed and 57% on part time.
France was the last country to be drawn into the crisis, due to exceptional economic conditions, (such as the high development of usurer capital and a large rentier class, the large tourist trade, the big reparations payment in kind, etc.) Chemical production fell 20% in the last year; autos and textiles are heavily depressed. The decrease in tax returns amounts to $20,000,000 and many bank failures are reported. Over a million are now unemployed.
In Italy heavy industry fell 29%. Wool and worsted production is only 70% of normal. Exports and imports fell 20% in values. The registered unemployed in 1930 were 650,000—230,000 more than in 1929.
In Czechoslovakia industrial production as a whole was 20% less in 1930 than in 1929. Coal consumption was 15%; building 25% less. A severe textile crisis prevails. Exports fell 12% and imports 20%.
In Japan the unemployed now number 1,000,000. Some industries are curtailed as high as 50%. There is a widespread textile depression with two million spindles idle. Foreign trade fell 30% in value.
Even more severely hit than the major industrial countries of Europe have been the back ward agrarian countries (Poland, Hungary, Spain, Roumania, Jugoslavia, Baltic States). The great fall in prices of grain and raw material (coupled with the drouth as in Hungary) have affected them greatly. Millions of peasants live in the most intense misery in these countries.
This is even more true of the non-European agrarian countries, colonial and semi-colonial (Cuba, Central America, South America, Canada, Ausralia, India, China). Huge stocks of coffee, sugar, tea, cotton, wheat, meat products, frtuis, raw materials such as metals, rubber fertilizers, oil etc. have piled up. Production is almost at a standstill. Crops are deliberate destroyed. The masses are starving. The oppressive political regimes, the great fall in the price of silver, etc., have intensified the economic crises in these countries.
Of all the countries in the world only the Soviet Union stands outside the capitalist economic crisis. Unemployment there has been eliminated. The rate of production is advancing more rapidly than in any capitalist country. Exports rose 18.3% in value over last year. Imports rose 37.1%. Every indication is at hand that the Five Year Plan will be fully accomplished in the time set and even before, in spite of the very low market price of wheat and raw materials, the basis of Russia’s foreign trade. Here is being fully demonstrated the superiority of planned socialist production over capitalist anarchy.
2. The present crisis brings out in sharpest relief all the basic contradictions of capitalism name (a) the contradiction between use value and exchange value; between production for use and production for the market, for profit. (b) the contradiction between social production and individual appropriation; (c) the contradiction between increased use of science in production and the tremendous waste (of the soil, of labor-power, and of materials and means of production); (d) the contradiction between the order and despotism in the factory and the chaos and anarchy in the market. (e) The contradiction between the unlimited possibility for scientific advancement with increased output and the relative diminution of the limited market. (f) the contradiction between the falling relative value and the rise in surplus value (rate and mass) and the increased mass of use values produced. (g) The contradiction between the falling tendency of the rate of profit and the rising proportion of constant to variable capital. (h) the increasing hold of dead labor over living labor; (i) The growth of the unemployed and pauper armies with the growth in strength and energy of capitalism; (j) The development of private property contradicted by the expropriation of the direct producer from the means of production and the separation of the owner from the productive process. (k) The contradiction between city and country, between industry and agriculture. (l) The rise of monopolies concurrently with the intensification of competition. (m) The ruin of the rural and urban petty bourgeoisie and the consolidation of the new petty bourgeoisie (dependent on the trusts) and rentier (coupon clipper, parasitic) classes; (n) The development of national self-sufficient systems of production coincidently with the further internationalization of markets and division of labor. (o) The drawing in of the most backward countries into the vortex of capitalism simultaneously with the further colonization of these countries and the obstruction of their development. (p) The export of capital and the increasingly uneven development of capital.
Concomitantly arise the socio-political antagonisms generated by these economic contradictions.
3. The present crisis is not quite like the crises that have occurred before, although the basic causes are the same. These basic causes are (a) the output per worker increases more rapidly than the total disposable production, leading to the discharge of workers even when production is increasing. This increased output per worker is due especially to the increased productivity of the workers. Through the introduction, widespread application and improvements of machinery, etc. the worker with the same amount of labor power expended can turn out larger and larger quantities of commodities. (b) production increases more rapidaly than the possible consumption under capitalism. The solvent demand is greatly limited by the poverty of the masses. While the basic causes of the crisis are the same yet we see the following new features. (a) The crisis affects the whole world simultaneously. (b) The crisis is far more intense than heretofore. (c) So great are the contradictions of capitalism that today it is the crisis and stagnation of business than is the normal long-drawn phase of economic life while the revival and prosperity eras are the abnormal, short-lived periods. More than ever are the words of Engels true! “The acute form of the periodical process with its former decennial cycle seems to have given way to a more chronic, long-drawn alteration between relatively short and slight business improvement and a relatively long undecided depression, both of them differently distributed over the various industrial countries … Is it possible that we are now in a preparatory stage of a new world crash of unparalleled vehemence?” (Volume III Capital, page 574 footnote).
These new features are due (a) to the capitalist rationalization -- the “scientific” and “systematic” increase in the mass and rate of exploitation and (thus the “scientific” sharpening of the economic contradictions and social antagonisms of capitalism). (b) to the to the relative and absolute diminution of world markets. (c) to the radical structural changes in world economy.
This characterization of the present world economic crisis shows clearly that capitalism is overripe; that imperialism is the last reactionary phase of capitalism; that the temporary and partial stabilization of post war imperialism can not last long and is ready for its proletarian grave-diggers.
II.-THE CRACKING OF CAPITALIST “STABILIZATION”
4. Before the war with the emergence of imperialism as a phase of capitalism, already all the objective factors for socialism were present. These factors were the following: (a) capitalism was no longer progressive but had become reactionary, stirring the forces of production. Capitalism had reached its last phase, imperialism, where it took a definite turn to stagnation and decay. (b) A huge socialized technique and production of wealth ready for socialism had been created. (c) A large mature proletariat had arisen capable of being the instrument overthrowing the present capitalist world. (d) a body of Marxist knowledge had become the property of the masses.
Under these conditions such intense contradictions were generated and developed as to make the whole epoch of imperialism one of wars and revolution. Throughout the world revolutionary situations arose. To produce such revolutionary situations certain objective changes took place. (a) The ranks of the bourgeoisie and ruling classes were cracked. (b) The sufferings of the masses became unbearable intense. (c) An unusually great activity of the masses occurred.
However, not every revolutionary situation results in a revolution (insurrection). To attain this a subjective factor must be added to the above objective factors, namely: “The ability of the revolutionary classes to carry out revolutionary mass actions strong enough to break (or to undermine) the old government … “ (Lenin).
With the world war and the revolutionary wave that followed in its wake, the epoch of imperialism entered a new stage qualitatively different from the one existing before (from 1900 to 1914). Distinctive of this new stage are the following: (a) the proletarian revolution is victorious in the U.S.S.R. (b) post-war capitalism, with all its force, can not get back to pre-war stability. The decline of capitalism can not be stopped. All the attempts at “stabilization” become desperate efforts merely to slacken the tempo of the international revolution. This can be seen by the fact that, during this time, while some revolutionary situations are liquidated by the forces of international capitalism, yet other revolutionary situations can not be liquidated and new ones constantly arise. At the same time a whole host of other situations begin to take on a revolutionary character. (Germany 1923, Bulgaria 1924, Esthonia 1924, China 1925-1927, Austria, 1927, India, China, Indo China, Spain 1930, besides Mexico, Nicaragua, Haiti, Porto Rico, Finland, etc.).
Before the war, neither revolutionary situations nor actual revolutions could have been created by the activity of the socialist, revolutionary parties throughout the world. No matter how well or tirelessly these parties worked, the bourgeoisie was too strong, the level of activity of the masses, generally speaking, too low. Basically, these revolutionary situations had to develop by themselves from the objective contradictions in capitalist society. When, during and after the war, these objective contradictions did cause revolutionary situations to arise, by that time the subjective factor had become so powerful as to be able to mature such revolutionary situations, in a number of countries, into actual revolutions. Today imperialism has become so much weaker, today, so close is the situation in a number of countries to a revolutionary one, that it is possible for an international Communist movement, provided it has a Leninist policy, and especially now when it controls a state backed by 163,000,000 workers and peasants, to develop situations otherwise still non-revolutionary into revolutionary situations in different countries at different times. (This does not mean that a CI can “order” a revolutionary situation in any country at any time). It is a fact that today, with the correct policy, it is far easier in many countries to disintegrate the capitalist armies, to ruin the prestige of the ruling classes, to expose the petty bourgeoisie, and to activize the masses to an extraordinary degree than before.
Every worker knows that, under some conditions, the activity of a Communist group can “develop” a strike situation, where without this Communist group no such situation would have been “developed". Today the Communist Party (under some circumstances and with a Leninist policy) can be the decisive force both in stimulating the exploited and oppressed masses with the understanding of the impossibility of living in the old way and in helping to make the ruling class unable to govern as of old. Since the war the old power and might of the ruling classes have been irretrievably broken. Further, the experiences of 1918-1923 weigh mightily on the memory of the masses -- the ruling classes in many countries were unable to govern at that time. Finally the Soviet Union with its tremendous economic and political weight will be able to throw this weight at times to as to help break the economic and political power of different sections of the international bourgeoisie at critical moments.
Therefore it is clear that very often, the activity of revolutionary organizations, if they estimate the economic and socio-political situation correctly and base their strategy and tactics accordingly, if they are rooted among the masses and have their support, can be the very decisive factor (a) in developing ("creating") a revolutionary situation where none exited before and (b) in maturing a revolutionary situation to an actual successful revolution
The recognition of this qualitative change in imperialism must be the cornerstone of Communist international strategy. Today it is possible to have “sudden” changes to revolutionary situations, “sudden” revolutions. Today there has been raised to hitherto unheard degree the decisive importance of revolutionary organizations, first as factors maturing ("creating") revolutionary situation and second, as factors changing revolutionary situations to actual revolutions (insurrections).
The fatal error in the Communist “Majority Group” (Lovestone) is that it fails to see this fundamental feature of the present stage, and to make it an integral part of any American analysis.
The fatal error of the CI and its U.S. “Leadership”, is that it caricatures and distorts this basic conception. Not understanding it, this leadership transforms it into a theory justifying putch-ism, making of the party a sect more and more isolated from the masses, more and more stifled by an absolutely sterile bureaucratic machine. The official C.P. “Leaders” in the U.S. fail to see that an insurrection can come only after the development of a revolutionary situation. They fail to understand that to develop this revolutionary situation one must follow a Leninist line of mass work, such as united front, and work in reactionary unions. One must also have a profound economic analysis, an understanding of the peculiarities of capitalist America, and of the true relationship of American to international capitalist society.
The result of this rear-guard putch-ist line of the CI (and their cable-correspondence school lawyers in the U.S.) Has been to negate the influence of revolutionary organizations to such a degree that (a) in places where a proper policy could have led to the creation of a revolutionary situation, no such situation ever developed (Austria, Mexico, England). (B) Where a revolutionary situation could have led to a successful revolution matured (Spain). (C) Where a revolution had broken out it was crushed (China, Bulgaria, Germany).
The result of this negation of the decisive subjective factor has been to give force to the theory that revolutionary situations can arise only as in the pre-war period; that we must “wait” till such situations will spring of themselves from the basic contradictions of capitalism.
5. Since the war there has been a great intensification of the uneven development of capitalism, an uneven development now sharply accentuated by the present crisis.
In the first place the center of economic gravity has now been shifted from Europe to America. The U.S. is now almost equal to all of capitalist Europe and makes up 40% of the capitalist world economy. The U.S. produced (end of 1928) 19% of the world’s wheat, 65% of the world’s corn, 47% of the cane sugar, 41% of the coal, 72% of the oil, 45% of all types of power, 83% of the total gas, 42% of the total electricity, 50% of the total iron and steel, 40% of the lead, zinc and aluminum, 45% of the chemicals, 26% of the paper pulp, 27% of the rayon, 55% of the cotton, 23% of the cotton spindles, 80% of the autos, 40% railroads, etc.
Besides this direct production, American manufacturers directly control the production in many other countries and through agreements and cartels dominate many industries which they do not directly control.
The U.S. consumes on the average 87-90% of what it produces. It consumes 65% of the world’s rubber, 53% of the world’s tin, 48% of the coffee, 72% of the silk.
Of the total world exports the U.S. is now contributing 18%. (18% of the world total exports of manufactured goods). 25% of the total world wheat exports, 90% of the corn exports, 12% of the coal, 12% of the oil, 5 1/2 % of the cotton goods, 24% of electro-technical products, and 35% of the world exports in machinery, come from the U.S. Already half of the exports are finished commodities and two-thirds are finished and semi-finished.
On the other hand the imports are moving more and more to raw materials. U.S. takes 40% of the world oil imports, 50% of the world’s pump imports; 15% the wool imports, etc. (The figures for rubber, tin, coffee and silk have been given above) The total weight of the U.S. imports is 12% of the world total.
Of the world’s wealth 40% is in the U.S. as compared to 45% in Europe (including Russia). 40% of the world’s annual income is in the U.S. as compared to 38% in Europe (including Russia). It should be noted that Europe is still behind pre-war standards, both as to wealth and as to income. (either mass or per-capita). While before the war the income and wealth of the U.S. were only those of Europe, they are now greater than Europe. Within the U.S. is to be found (March 1931) 4 1/2 billion dollars in gold or 40% of the whole world’s supply.
The basis for the U.S. hegemony throughout the capitalist world rests upon (a) the enormous natural and power resources, (b) the great food supply, (c) ample raw material at hand, (d) exceptional equipment and rationalized technique, (e) huge home market, (f) lack of decisive feudal relationships, (g) non-exhaustion through war, (h) tremendous reservoir of capital.
6. As a result of the shifting of the economic center of gravity to the U.S. a most severe struggle is now taking place between Europe and America, between Great Britain and America, and between all the leading capitalist powers, for world supremacy. The European capitalists feel the tremendous impact of America. War debts payable to the U.S. amount to 12 billion dollars. Private loans of the U.S. capitalists abroad amount to about 15 1/2 billions—- (Europe forty-eight billions, Canada four billions, Latin America 5.5, Far East 1.2—two-thirds in government and one-third individual corporations, railroads, and public utilities.)
More and more the U.S. is becoming a decisive and integral part of world capitalism. Whole countries are totally dependent on the economy of the U.S. for their very existence such as Bolivia (tin), Peru, (copper) Brazil, (coffee) Chile, (nitrates) Malay Peninsula, (rubber and tin) Cuba, (sugar) Japan, (silk) and others.
7. This impact of America imperialism has been met with desperate resistance by the other capitalists. Europe is now rehabilitated and is giving ever sharper battle to U.S. The reactionary Briand “U.S. of Europe” plan is an attempt among others to consolidate continental capitalism against the U.S. The recent attempt of France to form an “Agrarian Bloc” to meet foreign competition is another example. Many international cartels (steel, chemical, radio, leather, wire, textiles, zinc, glass, cement, potash etc.) Have been formed to face growing U.S. competition. All continental European countries now have high tariffs on manufactured goods (in 1927 the figures were: Austria 16%, Czechoslovakia 27%, France 21%, Germany 21%, Hungary 27%, Italy 22%, Poland 32%, Spain 41%, Jugoslavia 23%, etc.)
The resistance of reconstructed Europe to some extent has been successful. In many fields (e.g. shipping) U.S. has been checked. U.S. share of the imports of the United Kingdom fell from 18.6% in 1925 to 14.7% in 1930 (in values). In 1923 Germany imported 19.1% of her total imports from the U.S. In 1927 this fell to 14.7%. In spite of this, Europe still lags far below its prewar wealth and income and has barely passed its pre-war level of production although it has a greater population than ever.
8. Far from being removed from the contradictions convulsing the world, the U.S. has become a definitely indissoluble part of world capitalism, world markets, world division of labor. A crisis in the U.S. rapidly affects the rest of the world. Every disturbance abroad is reflected at home.
The U.S. is not an independent system. Over 30 articles absolutely needed in time of war, over 100 products normally purchased, cannot be obtained in the U.S. and must be imported. (antimony, camphor, chromite, iodine, platinum, mercury, opium, nickel, mica, rubber, sodium, nitrate, tin, tungsten, vanadium, etc.) Of the total wealth of the U.S. about 7% is invested abroad (war debts, loans, branch factories, net foreign trade, etc.) The income derived from this investment is then about 7% of the total income of the U.S. The foreign trade of the U.S. was $9,640 million dollars in 1929. All these facts show how closely the U.S. is linked up with the rest of the world. A revolutionary crisis in Europe must rapidly and violently affect the U.S. as well.
9. A gigantic struggle is being waged between the U.S. and the British empire for world supremacy (the recent trip of the Prince of Wales to South America and the proposed counter-tour of Lindburgh). It is a struggle over all parts of the world in every conceivable sphere of activity.
Matching the reactionary “U.S. of Europe” of Briand, is the plan of Mond for a self-sufficient monolithic British empire. But the centrifugal tendencies within the British empire are demonstrating agin, and are but accelerating its decline.
The dominions (Canada, Australia) are being deeply penetrated by the United States. (American industries in Canada alone are valued at 3 billion dollars). These dominions are taking a more and more independent attitude towards Great Britain. The break down of the recent Imperial Conference bears witness to this. The growing industrialization by America of these dominions is coming into sharp conflict with the aims Great Britain itself. The growing foment in India and Indonesia and revolution in China are dealing death blows to the Tories’ reactionary hopes.
10. The international export of capital has but greatly intensified the uneven development of capitalism and sharpened its contradictions. The floor of capital to the various colonies far from decolonizing these countries has emphasized their colonial status. Under the impact of this import of capital the colonies are becoming industrialized, but the industrialization does not result in an all rounded development of those colonies. On the contrary this rounded development becomes thoroughly checked. The colonies live but for the imperialist country. The most reactionary elements (feudal-military regime, usurer, country gentry, etc.) are all the more firmly foisted on the masses. The native bourgeoisie become thoroughly penetrated by foreign capital. In the main it is but the face and tool of the foreign imperialists. The formation of large scale factories on the other hand, bring forth a strong and modern, independent proletariat.
It is similar with the relatively backward and politically “independent” countries (South America, and to some extent, Canada, Australia, etc. They are penetrated through and through by foreign imperialists. Some of their industries are developed but mostly those not in competition but rather supplementing those of the dominant imperialist country. The native bourgeoisie becomes but the puppet of the foreign imperialists, while the proletariat pressed more and more, becomes more and more self reliant and developed. The invasion of international capital brings with it the economic and political penetration of the agrarian country by the foreign power.
11. The economic effects of the crisis must only greatly aggravate the very causes that lead to the present crisis and lay the basis for still more catastrophic crisis in the future.
First of all a tremendous intensification of rationalization is taking place. In Great Britain, Manchester, the very home of free competition, is now the scene of amalgamation of all cotton mills. Trustification is becoming accelerated, actively aided by the largest banks of the empire. The demand is growing for the creation of a tariff to protect Great Britain’s industries. “Mondism” has become the dominant philosophy. With the aid of the Labor Party the employers have cut wages everywhere, lengthened hours, and speeded up, (coal, textile, etc.)
In Germany this has been done on an even greater scale. A national wage cut of 10% has been given. In Italy a 12% cut for all workers and employees was recently announced. The Fascist government is doing all it can to rationalize Italian economy. Everywhere, both the rural and urban petty bourgeoisie face ruin. The full weight of rationalization however, hits the working class.
Secondly, the struggle for markets has reached its most acute stage since the war. Each nation literally wars against all the others. (German-Austria Anschluss, tariff war between Hungary, Czechoslovakia, etc.) In the course of the crisis Germany and Czechoslovakia have improved their export positions over England and France on the continent. The U.S. has flooded the export market (in 1929 the difference between the U.S. exports over imports amounted to 841 million dollars. In 1930 the difference was 782 million dollars, a sum larger than most years, in spite of the great fall of prices. Many international cartels have fallen to pieces and others in the making fail to materialize. France’s agrarian bloc collapsed. A great cry is being raised against the dumping of wheat by the American Farm Board. Great Britain’s Imperial Conference with the dominions fell through. Tariff barriers (U.S., Canada, etc.) are being raised everywhere. The recent proffered resignation of the chairman of the economic and financial section of the League of Nations was an emphatic recognition of the impossibility of the League of Nations “to harmonize the interests of the family of nations.”
Thirdly, the “scissors” between the agrarian and the industrial countries is being aggravated on a world scale. Prices of grains, raw stuffs, fell as low as 50% in some cases. On the other hand prices of finished goods fell but 10-15%. This has meant an even greater subjugation of these countries by the leading imperialist countries. The debtor countries are unable to meet their debts and must borrow further. (note recent heavy loans to Roumania, Italy, Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Spain and South American countries. The great monetary crisis in China, etc.) Even Germany despite the most heroic efforts by its bourgeoisie has failed to balance its budget and has been forced to borrow close to $100,000,000.
The world crisis most seriously intensifies the uneven development of capitalism. The weaker countries become still weaker, further and further penetrated by the leading powers. The debtor countries become still more indebted, the colonies and semi-colonies still more enslaved, the struggle among the leading powers still more intense.
12. A greatly increased political instability is one of the direct results of the crisis. Here is the clearest indication of how transient and ephemeral the much vaunted “stabilization” of capitalism is. While we do not declare that this is the basic final crisis of capitalism yet the political and revolutionary crisis in different parts of the world make it plain that such a final crisis of capitalism is not out of the question. The revolutionary movement must grasp this idea thoroughly and make it one of the cornerstones of Communist policy. Much depends on the understanding and practice of the international Communist movement.
The sharper struggle for markets is leading the foremost imperialist powers into a great military-naval race, preparatory to war. The complete failure of the disarmament conferences, the naval races between the U.S. and England, France and Italy, the new German Cruiser “B”, the revision upward of the Japanese fleet, all bear witness to this. The armed forces and military budgets stand higher than ever. On this field too the League of Nations has demonstrated its complete futility.
The League of nations, indeed, is facing a crisis of its own. The hostility of the U.S., the Briand “U.S. of Europe” plan, partly aimed at Great Britain, the attack on the Versailles treaty by Germany aided by Austria, Hungary, Italy and others and the attitude of the Soviet Union are giving fatal blows to the League of Nations as a whole.
13. The present world situation has thrown many countries into a profound political crisis. Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Panama, have all experienced actual political revolutions. Rumors of political revolutions shake all the other countries of Latin America. These “palace revolutions” are primarily the result of the changed relation of forces in South America between the United States and Great Britain. On the whole, the United States (especially in Argentina) has greatly benefitted by the change of puppets in power and has consolidated its position. On the other hand, these coups d’etat show the desperate plight of these countries, and the growing hostility of the masses to the ruling regimes.
The agrarian countries of Europe find themselves in a precarious position. The recent heavy loans to these countries are attempts to bolster up the existing political rulers. Particularly, Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Roumania face intense situations. In Spain the political crisis has reached a most acute stage, and has already been transformed into a revolutionary crisis.
Recently riots have taken place in Adelaide, Australia. A marked growth of the left to is be noticed in New South Wales. The Labor Government there has refused to pay debts, and has announced a “program for socialism in three years.”
In the colonial countries, revolutions and revolutionary situations are abundant. The present situations in Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Philippines, India, China, bear witness to this.
14. In India the movement has rapidly advanced, (taking the form still of resistance to tax gatherers, strikes, riots, civil disobedience, no-rent campaigns etc.) The London Indian Parley, the release of many prisoners in India, and the proposed new Indian constitution are measures forced upon the British imperialists by the Indian masses. The betrayal of the movement by Ghandi & Co. will but deepen the movement and revolutionize it still further. The effect of the world crisis presents a greater opportunity to the Indian revolutionists than ever before.
The basic slogans for the Communists today in India must be Lenin’s "Three Pillars” that is, a basic slogan for the proletariat (say the 8 hour day) a basic slogan for the peasantry (confiscation of the land) and the slogan of Democratic Republic. To these “three pillars” the slogan "Freedom for India” must be added. Only around all these slogans can the masses be effectively mobilized. It would be a gross error for the Communists to stress the slogan of Freedom for India alone as does the nationalist Indian bourgeoisie. The slogan for “Constituent Assembly” by itself is not incorrect, but is complete and may be dangerous, for it does not take into consideration the fact that British Imperialism can maneuver so as to make the slogan of Constituent Assembly a SUBSTITUTE for a democratic republic. The slogan, Constituent Assembly, can be used correctly only in conjunction with the slogan for a Democratic Republic.
The slogan of Soviets can be appropriate only when a sufficiently acute revolutionary situation has been engendered around the “three pillars”, when the class struggle and civil war rage in the villages and towns. In this connection it must be emphasized that Soviets can be built even while using the slogan of Constituent Assembly. The two slogans of Constituent Assembly and Soviets need not be antagonistic at all times. But what must be stressed is the actual organization of civil war in the village and town and the leadership of the proletariat in this civil war. Only the dictatorship of the proletariat in India can make permanent its revolution.
The Communists must make plain to the masses the role of the nationalistic Indian bourgeoisie and the role of Ghandi as an agent of this class. Not only the experiences of 1921 must be gone over, but all the treacherous actions of the present Ghandi campaign (the salt campaign, the anti-machine movement, passive resistance, opposition to workers, records at the Nationalistic Congress, the Delhi Truce, etc. etc.,) must be elaborated. Simultaneously mass movements in town and country against native usurer, gentry, well-to-do peasant, bourgeois, must be effected. By no means must the Chiang Kai Shek disaster be repeated. The criminal negligence of the CI in failing to build the Communist Party but in building worker-peasant parties instead must be speedily liquidated. (It is clear it is not OUR business to organize peasant parties).
It is plain that the main task of the Communists must be the smashing of all caste and religious barriers and the stimulation of movements of the masses around the “Three Pillars” and freedom slogans. These movements, directed against both native and foreign rulers and bourgeoisie, soon break any united front with the native bourgeoisie who may desire a nationalist revolutionary movement under the sole slogan of “Freedom for India” from the British. Nevertheless, and this is most important to understand, so long as a section of the nationalist Indian bourgeoisie is heading the fight against British Imperialism under the slogan of “Freedom for India” from Imperialist rule, it is necessary for the Communists to enter this united front. So long as this movement unleashes the energy of the masses which otherwise could not be unleashed, and so long as the masses have not been actively mobilized around the correct slogans and while the exposure of the native bourgeoisie is but in its incipiency, the Communists must enter national revolutionary movements. That this national revolutionary front temporarily contains sections of the nationalist revolutionary bourgeoisie (whom the masses follow) that the sole slogan is “Freedom for India” from British Imperialism and that later the united front will have to be broken by the development of the class struggle in the villages and towns of India does not alter our present tactic. The center of attack must be against British Imperialism and its conscious reactionary agents within India.
15. China. It is now abundantly clear that the Chinese masses are recovering from the crushing defeat of 1927. The Chinese Revolution is agin on the upgrade. Strikes are increasing in the cities. (1928—400,000 on strike, 1929—750,000). The monetary crisis in China and the pressure of the world crisis has enormously accentuated the terrible misery of the masses in the city as well as in the country. Fame is taking the country side. (56,000 people affected!) A huge peasant guerrilla warfare is being successfully waged in the interior of China, covering at least six provinces and 30 million people. The Communists must stimulate, support, organize and lead this peasant movement. On the other hand, it must be clear that no matter how much the Imperialists and native Chinese rulers may be weakened, armed peasant bands cannot take the place of mass peasant uprisings, the peasant movement can not take the place of a proletarian struggle, and peasant "soviets” cannot replace the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The crime of the CI in China was not that the C.P. of China in 1925 joined a national revolutionary front but that the CI SUBSTITUTED the Kuomintang for the Communist Party. It thus succumbed to Sun Yat Sen-ism, introduced class collaboration in place of class struggle, sacrificing the class struggle to this national revolutionary front against foreign imperialism. It failed to raise the “Three Pillars” slogans to lead the civil war in village and town on concrete demands of the masses against the native exploiters as well.
Today the slogan of Constituent Assembly is still correct in China. In this respect the situation may be considered generically the same as the one in India, or the one in Russia after the defeat of the 1905 Revolution.
The colonial revolutionary situations in China and India are of the greatest importance to the rest of the world. The independent role of a hardened revolutionary million-headed proletariat competent to lead coupled with the inevitable betrayal of the anti-imperialist struggle by the native bourgeoisie and ruling class demonstrates again that only the proletariat MUST take the leadership of the struggle into its hands. Only the proletariat can complete the bourgeois democratic revolution. In China and India as in Russia, the workers in alliance with the peasantry must establish not a democratic dictatorship of the workers and peasants, but a dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the lesson of the Russia Revolution.
16. The effect of the crisis has been to sharpen tremendously the internal contradictions in all the leading capitalist countries of Europe. A great growth of budgets has taken place due to military expenditures and increased payments to unemployed. (In England direct drain on the treasury due to unemployment rose from fifty-eight million in 1928 to an estimated two-hundred and seventy-five million dollars in 1931. The total payments in 1931 will equal 700 million dollars.) Simultaneously the revenues have been much curtailed. The result is great increase in forced loans by practically all government and great increase of debts. (England has the greatest debt in its history, Germany has just had to borrow close to $100,000,000, etc.) The fall in prices makes the payment of war reparations more onerous than ever. The continued rationalization coupled with the crisis has made the masses truly desperate. Real wages fell in Germany, France, Czechoslovakia, etc. A growing unrest is present. The 4 1/2 million Communist vote evidences this. All the elements of a revolutionary situation are appearing in Germany (and similarly throughout Middle Europe). We must bear in mind that the masses of middle Europe, particularly in the defeated countries, have an income and standards of living far below pre-war, and what is most significant have absolutely no reserve power (all savings were wiped out after the war) to withstand a long-drawn economic crisis. A new strike wave is occurring in Great Britain (mining, textile, railroad situation etc.) A distinct move to the left is to be seen in a section of the Labor Party.
Preparing for the most violent conflicts fascism is strengthening itself. In Italy and in Poland the fascist state has consolidated itself (note the Pilsudski “victory” at the last elections). In Finland a violent anti-Communist campaign has raged. In Austria the fascist forces grow with those forces in Germany.
The growth of fascism in the leading industrial countries of Europe (England and Germany) shows more than anything else the fear of revolution on the part of the bourgeoisie. In England Sir Mosley breaks with the Labor Party to form a fascist party. In Germany the fascists have won truly outstanding victories (vote over 6 million). The growth of fascism in these two industrial countries shows to what desperate straits the whole bourgeoisie even the highest is put.
III.-FASCISM--A CONSTANT AND GROWING DANGER
17. The complete confusion of the Communists on the question of fascism at the very moment when the fascist movement is showing alarming symptoms of growth makes necessary a detailed analysis of fascism.
Historically, fascism appears as a dominant movement in those countries which, next to the Soviet Union, were the weakest links in the imperialist chain which the masses were breaking. Fascism thus is a post-war movement basically directed against Communism and formed by the bourgeoisie to liquidate the proletarian revolution threatening its power. For fascism to arise the following characteristics had to be present (a) instability of capitalist relationships, (b) a considerable amount of de-classed social elements (such as ex-soldiers), (c) pauperization of the urban petty-bourgeoisie and intelligentsia, (d) crisis among the peasants, (e) threatening proletarian action to seize and to hold state power.
Fascism first arose in countries predominantly agrarian though with a well developed and considerable industry and commerce (Italy, Hungary, Poland). Fascism with its merging of all interests of bourgeois society within itself alone, arises only because of (1) the great pressure of international finance capital (2) the decisive role of large scale corporate and trustified industry (where interest bearing capital supersedes entrepreneur capital) in the country. (3) The desperate crisis within the bourgeois ranks and the prime necessity to take advantage of the breathing space granted it by the muddled actions of the proletariat. These conditions forced all conflicting bourgeois interests temporarily, to become united in order to mobilize all layers of the petty bourgeois for violent struggle against the proletariat.
18. Fascism accelerates state capitalism but not every development of state capitalism is fascism. State capitalism and public property grew enormously during the war and afterward, in all countries. Fascism is the violent development of corporate and state capitalism (with its semipublic and public property,) creating its own governmental forms.
Nor is every reactionary movement fascism. Fascism is not royalism though royalists may be fascists, nor is it Bonapartism. Fascism is the open dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, with the aid of the petty-bourgeoisie, against the workers. It arises at a time when capitalism had no further use for its classical parliamentarism, when democracy as a bourgeois class state had become thoroughly exposed to the masses. Imperialism-reactionary, monopoly capitalism, had already taken away the economic base for the “check and balance” system of 19th century democracy, with its “talking shop” parliaments and many independent parties. The war had emphasized the complete bankruptcy of political liberalism.
Fascism openly replaces the “democratic” slogans of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” with the slogans of “Responsibility, Hierarchy, Discipline". Instead of “peaceful legal action of the majority” fascist theory openly calls for violent action of the minority.
Fascism, then builds up a complete theory of nationalization of capital, of the untrammeled corporate state, of compulsory class collaboration (prohibition of strikes, murder of militant workers, etc.) of the dominant role of religion in state and life.
19. Fascism and social-democracy (with syndicalism) are the right and left arms of the bourgeoisie. Nothing marks better the degeneration of the Comintern since the death of Lenin than the identification of social democracy and fascism and the theory of “social-fascism” that now passes muster in Communist ranks. Fascism has an entirely different role than social democracy. While fascism is a violent minority attack from above, with forces recruited mainly outside the working class, social democracy is a passive reformism demoralizing the ranks of the workers from within. Social democracy (and syndicalism) prepare the way for fascism.
Fascism from the very beginning borrows its political program, its social demagogy, from the reformist socialists. The bourgeoisie, through the Fascists in their desperate effort for time, promise everything. Mussolini’s original 1919 platform stood, among other things, for annexation of Fiume and Dalmatia, universal suffrage for men and women, proportional representation, reduction of age of deputies, abolition of Senate, economic councils with legislative power elected by professional groups, eight hour day by law, management of industries by those workers’ organizations which prove capable of it (i.e., workers’ control), nationalization of munitions plants, heavy capital levy, confiscation of certain church property and abolition of certain clerical privileges, heavy inheritance tax, seizure of 85% of war profits and revision of military contracts, for a republic (later changed)! The central slogan was made “Class peace in production, class war in distribution".
Fascism in Germany shows the same social demagogy (union with Austria, abolition of unearned income, complete repayment of war profits, nationalization of great trusts and a share in the profits, against the Young Plan, the League of Nations and the Versailles Treaty, against international finance capital, against usurer, speculator, and profiteer, and anti-semitic, for a national economic parliament and participation of workers in industry, etc.)
The fascists show the same demagogic flexibility in their tactics. They give special place to the ex-soldier. They even pretend to lead some strikes and to aid the peasantry in confiscating the large landed estates. In Italy, leading fascists, after the seizure of power, proposed unemployment bureaus, no discharge of workers at will of employers after trial, classification of workers and minimum wage, standard hour wage, one week vacation, sickness, death, unemployment and other insurance, etc.
Reformist social democracy prepared the ground for and aids fascism. The socialists’ attacks on Russia and on the Communists, their class collaboration practices, their national socialism, their concrete support of rationalization and of compulsory arbitration, their theory of “State Socialism” with compensation to owners; these theories and practices prepare the ideological and tactical base for fascism (note the formation of “Socialist Fascists” who affirm ’fascism is the first step to socialism’). Dependent on the given relationship of forces, the bourgeoisie now uses social-democracy, now fascism to defeat the workers.
20. In the trade union movement fascism borrows the slogans of syndicalism (no politics in the union, federalism and local autonomy, reduction of salaried officials to a minimum, referendum, low union dues, industrial unionism, etc.)
The fascist “unions” like “company unions” are not really “unions” at all but strike-breaking, stool pigeon organizations. The fascist “unions” differ from “company unions” in that the former are national industrial bodies. Under the fascists the regimentation of the workers becomes more complete. The “unions” become connected with the state, their contracts recognized by law.
The fascist “unions” (officially religious) supplement the criminal work of the “catholic” or “christian” unions. Both are class collaboration agencies, the latter demoralize the workers with pacifist persuasion, or religious non-resistance; the former aid the capitalists with violent attacks in every possible manner.
We must reject as the rankest drivel and poisonous nonsense the “theory” of the Communist Party misleaders that the reactionary “free” unions such as the American Federation of Labor are “outright fascist". Such a “theory” runs counter to the whole of Leninist thought that fascism can find little base among the workers, even the skilled. It displays a menshevist distrust for the masses, an overestimation of the strength of the enemy which, unless it is stamped out, spells disaster for the Communist movement.
IV.-THE POSITION OF THE SOVIET UNION
21. The situation within the Soviet Union, our Fatherland, must be of the utmost concern for us. The difficulty and delicacy of the subject must lead not to less discussion but to more. There is no question but that, on the whole, here comrade Trotsky was correct both in stressing industrialization and the necessity of a “plan,” and in proposing an intensification of the war on the kulak. When we recall Bucharin’s slogan to the peasantry “Enrich yourselves” and how there was solemnly discussed in Russia the possibility of the “kulaks growing into Socialism,” when we recall the arguments that any plan of industrialization was “premature” and would lead to terrible catastrophes and “war in the village,” when we recall how backward the original industrialization plans were and how far the masses outstripped the “Party Leaders,” then the conclusion is ripe that the attack on comrade Trotsky on this question only hid the right opportunism of the Stalin-Bucharin regime.
The five year plan, belated as it was, and its speedy execution, mark a tremendous step forward. The industrialization of the Soviet Union must tend greatly to strengthen the revolutionary movement and to hasten the end of capitalism. But the economic progress of the U.S.S.R. does not by itself necessarily lead to an advance of the world revolution. If with such an economic advance there should be fastened upon the Communist parties still more the theory of building socialism in one country, if this should lead to a further nationalist viewpoint, if this should fasten the hold of the bureaucrats still more, if this should lead to Trotsky deportations and Blumkin murders and violence to every Communist opposition movement, then indeed it is possible to state that unless the Communists throughout the world (aided by the very economic advance of the Soviet Union) can guard against this degeneration from Leninism, it is possible to have an economic advance of the Soviet Union simultaneously with a setback to the world proletarian revolution. Trotsky’s exposure of the elements of Thermidor generating within the Soviet Union is correct.
22. The energetic carrying through of the Five Year Plan is demonstrating the growing strength of the Soviet Union and the superiority of socialist planned production over the anarchic capitalist method. This truly heroic advance is taking place in spite of all attempts to create a credit blockade or to prohibit all imports of Soviet goods and in spite of the terrifically low prices of grain and other products which the S.U. must export.
All industry in the 1929-1930 period had a level 100% above the pre-war level of the years 1926-1927. In 1930 the total increase in production was 24.2% (the Plan called for a 21.5% increase). The actual increase has been 30.2 million tons. Coal production in the two years of the Plan has increased 86.6 million tons; iron ore 17.4 million tons, pig iron 9 million, steel ingots 10.3 million, tractor production has increased by 12,600 units, shoes by 102 million pairs, matches by 16 million boxes, rubbers by 85 million pairs, cotton cloth 51 1/4 metres, electrical machinery by 400 million dollars and agricultural machinery by 230 million dollars.
The prolongation of the struggle between the Capitalist world and the Soviet Union has led to the illusion in some circles that the S.U. can coexist peacefully of for a long period of time with the rest of the world. Such a theory is extremely dangerous to the workers. It is a class-collaboration theory. It must be completely eradicated. A life and death struggle is going on between these systems of economy.
23. The base causes for the failure of the foreign capitalists to overthrow the Soviets are the following (a) The enormous and inaccessible territory and the economic self-sufficiency of the country, (b) the numerical and moral strength of the population led by a hardened Communist Party, (c) The failure of the bourgeoisie to unite in time, (d) the weakening of the bourgeoisie by revolutionary movements of the masses (e) the loyal and tremendous support of the international working class.
On the other hand the Workers’ Fatherland was unable to defeat the capitalists decisively due to the following: (a) The capitalist reservoir of the U.S. was able to strengthen and rehabilitate the European bourgeoisie (b) The working masses outside of the S.U. were unable to seize and hold power due primarily to the weakness of the Communist movement (c) Russian economy was relatively weak. On the one hand this weakness (coupled with the complete economic breakdown after the war) prevented the S.U. from defeating the enemy. On the other hand, due to the indecisive role of Russian economy, the Russian market could be lost without at once disastrously affecting capitalist economy.
This can be seen by the following figures showing the weight of Russia in world economy in 1927 (total production then about pre-war). At that time Russia produced but 2.8% of the world coal, 6.6% of the oil, 7% of the water power, 2% of the electricity, 3.5% of the iron, 4% of the steel, 1.3% of the copper, 4.2% of the chemicals, 7% of the ships, 8% of the railroads. Its imports were but 1.3% of the whole world total (U.S. exports to Russia in 1928 were but 1.3% of the U.S. total exports). Its exports are but 1.1% of the world total (Russian imports to the U.S. are but .#% of the U.S. total.) The prewar wealth of Russia was lower than that of Germany, France or the United Kingdom, its per capita wealth the lowest by far of any capitalist country. (In 1926 Russia’s wealth equaled but 10% of Europe’s alone, or little over 4% of the world’s wealth.) Russia’s prewar per capita income was also the lowest in the capitalist world. It is this indecisive importance of the Russian economy that explains why the capitalist world did not immediately go to pieces on the loss of Russia.
24. The Soviet Union can remain self-sufficient only on the lowest pre-capitalist technical plan. The developments of industry in the Soviet Union, the Five Year Plan, the necessity to strengthen rapidly and materially the dictatorship of the proletariat if the Workers Fatherland is to ward off the blows of the enemy and face the present tense situation, mean a greater extension of foreign trade in and out of Russia, a more complex economic interrelationship between the S.U. and the capitalist world.
The Soviet Union can not remove itself from its capitalist environment. While in its internal economy it is in a peculiar transition period, laying the basis for Socialism, yet as part of a world dominated by capitalism, it must be affected by capitalist markets, and prices. These prices must vitally affect the Soviet economy and its growth, quantitatively, and qualitatively.
The increasing imports of the Soviet Union must make the Russian markets more desired by the capitalists than ever. A big drive must be initiated by the Communists for large, long-term credits to the Soviet Union. This is particularly appropriate at the present time, in the time of crisis. These credits would ease the position of the S.U. considerably and would strengthen the dictatorship.
The growth of exports of the S.U. has well caused the capitalist world the gravest apprehensions. The growth of these exports intensifies the contradictions of capitalism and hastens its end. The Comintern controlling the S.U. can thus play a decisive and creative role in disintegrating the capitalist world and helping to usher in the successful world revolution. Already the export of grain, oil, timber, pulp, furs, cotton, etc. is being felt throughout the world. Frantic attacks against Soviet “dumping” are being made but to no avail. The masses rejoice at the lowering of prices. The planned economy of the S.U. is already proving itself superior to that of the whole capitalist world.
25. All the signs point to a much heightened danger of war of the capitalist nations against the Soviet Union. The crisis makes the seizure of the Russian market all the more desirable. The fear of the Five Year Plan, the Soviet competition on world markets, the consolidation of the proletarian dictatorship, the growing disintegration within their own ranks, all these factors are impelling the capitalists to actual war. The trial of the saboteurs has clearly exposed the plots of the imperialists aided by the socialists. The Chinese Eastern R.R. affair, the world wide religious crusade against the Soviet Union, the training of 100,000 white guards in Paris, the Fish Committee report, and the U.S. embargo on Soviet pulpwood, etc., the attack on the Soviet representative in Japan, all these are part of the barrage precedent to actual warfare against the Soviet Union. Now more than ever the working class throughout the world must rally to the unconditional defense of the Soviet Union.
V.-THE ECONOMIC CRISIS IN THE U.S.
26. The tremendous stock exchange crash November 1929 coincided and helped usher in the most serious economic crisis in the entire history of the United States. Given the average year of the years 1923 to 1925 as equal to 100, then the total manufacturing production fell from 119 (1929) to 83 (1930) (or 30%), total mineral production from 115 (1929) to 92 (1930) or 20%, steel from 131 to 65 (or 50% drop), iron from 118 to 62 (or 49% drop), autos from 135 to 39 (or fall of 71%!). Cotton consumption fell from 115 to 81 (fall of 30%). The lumber, non-ferrous, petroleum and other industries also were particularly hard hit. Car loadings fell from 48 1/2 million (11 months 1929) to 43 million (same period 1930) or about 15%.
Domestic wholesale and retail trade fell 10% (mail order houses fell 30%). Postal receipts dropped 14%. Foreign trade fell from $9,640 million to $6,904 million or a drop of 28%. Imports fell about 30% in value, exports 27%; in volume imports fell 15%, exports 19%.
How deep the business stagnation has reached can be seen from the following: building contracts 1930 were but 50% of 1929; unfilled orders generally fell from 81 to 64.5 (or drop of 21%); U.S. steel orders from 87 to 76 (drop of 13%); textile orders fell 50% from the 1925-1929 yearly average. Lumber stocks on hand rose to 82% over 1925-1929 yearly average, raw material stock rose 26% over the same period, textiles 27%, metals 24%. Given 1923-1925 yearly average as 100, commodity stocks rose generally, cotton from 127 to 265, refined copper from 78 to 327, etc.
Life insurance sales fell 4%, N.Y. bank debits fell 37%, stock sales 28%, new capital issues 31% in 1930 over 1929.
27. The present economic crisis in the United States is far more profound than any ever before experienced. This can be seen best by contrasting the present crisis with the 1919-1922 period in the United States. The U.S. was able to recover relatively quickly then, due primarily to the weakened condition of capitalist Europe and the great demand by Europe on U.S. economic support for its rehabilitation and reorganization. Today Europe has already been rehabilitated and stands as the bitter competitor of the U.S. Whereas a rapid recovery took place in 1922, no such recovery can be expected in 1931.
Counting 1920 as 100, general business fell from 111 in 1919 to 94 in 1921, a drop of 17 points or 15%. Counting 1929 as 100, there is a fall from 105 in 1928 to 81 at end of 1930, a drop of 24 points or 23%. Considering the average year of the period 1923-1925 as 100, then the 1919 crisis saw a drop in industrial production from 80 to 66 or 14 points (20%). Today the plants are operating but 60% of the 1929 total man-hours! Imports fell 11%, and exports 12% below 1921.
The present crisis, then is already approximately twice as severe as the largest crisis ever experienced in this country. This does not mean the U.S. is as yet on the decline, as is Great Britain, or imperialism as a whole, The law of uneven development of capitalism may permit the U.S. capitalists to emerge temporarily as strong or even stronger than ever. However it is crass opportunism to believe that tha U.S. will be the first to recover, or that capitalism in the U.S. Will “reach new peaks only to fall to new lows” (Lovestone). Quite the contrary, the cracking of capitalist “stabilization” is making more and more probable the approach of a world wide political and revolutionary crisis which must drag in the U.S. as well.
28. Most acutely has the crisis affected the agrarian toilers in this country. If before 1929 they were in a chronic crisis, now they are truly in desperate straits. The development of capitalism in agriculture has led to a sharp differentiation among the agrarians. On the one hand we note in the period 1920-1928 the rise in importance of “factory farming". The number of agricultural laborers in proportion to farmers has increased. Mechanization of farming has grown by leaps and bounds; production per acre and per laborer greatly augmented. On the other hand, over 3 million of the farm population were forced to leave the farms, expropriated from the means of production. Total acreage decreased by 13 million acres. The purchasing power of the farmer (1929) fell to 80% of 1919. Mortgages increased to $10 billion or 25%. Tenancy has greatly increased. Peonage is still widespread. The conditions among the toilers of the South and Southwest, particularly the Negroes, are worse than those even of eastern capitalist Europe!
In 1930, although the volume of production was about the same the value of 44 corn excepted crops was but 72% of that of 1929. (Tobacco values fell to 77% of 1929, cotton to 55%, wheat to 61%, corn to 67%.)
To this drastic fall in prices must be added the impoverishment of wide masses of farmers due to the effects of the corn drought, and river floods. On top of it all has come the bankruptcy of many farm banks and the sharply growing “scissors,” the growing gap between manufactured and trustified industries and agriculture. While agricultural prices fell 45-50% in many cases, wholesale prices generally of industrial commodities fell but 10-15%. (Less for finished and manufactured goods than for semi-finished or unfinished).
There is no other outcome for the mass of farmers in this country than stark ruin. None of the capitalist schemes have been of any avail except to drive the farmer down still further. The rise in tariff rates has availed the dirt farmer nothing. The scheme of a Federal Grain Board with* a revolving fund of 1/2 billion dollars has proven completely bankrupt. The dumping of wheat by the Grain Board has lowered prices still further. The appropriations are but drops in a bucket. The sole remedy proposed is for the farmer to curtail production, to destroy his crop and his means of production, to become bankrupt!. This policy was actually approved in the Daily Worker editorial of August 7th, 1930!
VI.-THE PRESENT STRAINED POLITICAL SITUATION
29. A strained political situation is looming in the United States. For the first time in the history of the U.S., Congress is practically deadlocked in both houses. The small income tax returns and the extraordinary expenses have caused dissatisfaction in the ranks of the administration bourgeois supporters. Every effort is being made to unload the dull cost of the crisis on the masses. Opposition to the administration is increasing. Despite Hoover, the majority of the Wickersham Committee came out against the Prohibition Amendment. Over the head of the president, Congress passed appropriations for farm and drought “relief” and overruling the presidential veto, passed the Veteran “Relief” Act.
In the Democratic Party a deep rift is taking place (struggle between Roosevelt and Tammany Hall and Smith-Raskob vs. the South). In the Republican Party the “liberal” insurgents have organized themselves into a separate conference, meeting conjointly with “liberal” Democrats. A strong move is being made for the organization of a third party for the 1932 elections. The growing demand for social insurance, the impoverishment of the farmers, the effects of the economic crisis are all forces leading certain sections of the bourgeoisie to attempt a new Third Party in order to divert the resentment of the masses into safe channels.
The present economic and political situation creates an especially favorable opportunity for the formation of a Labor Party, a form of independent political action of the working class. The doubling of the socialist vote the last election, 1930, have shown ways in which the masses have shown their desire for such independent political action.
30. A sharp attack is being launched against the Communists, accompanied by a vigorous drive against the foreign born. The recommendations of the Fish Committee have become the platform of the reactionaries. These recommendations called for (among other things) (a) deportation of alien Communists, (b) exclusion of immigrants, (c) suppression of Communist papers, (d) denial of citizenship, (e) suppression of the Communist Party, (f) embargo on Soviet goods, etc. The recommendations without even being passed by Congress already are being carried out by the administration. Many anti-foreign-born bills are pending in Congress. Wholesale raids and arrests by immigration authorities are taking place (recent raid on Finnish workers’ hall in New York City; raid on Portuguese colony, Newark; on the Seamen’s Institute, etc.) 100,000 foreign seamen are to be deported according to reports. All immigration has been practically stopped. Terrorist tactics have greatly increased. The Communist papers "Young Pioneer,” “Young Worker,” “Revolutionary Age,” “Vida Obrera,” have already been denied mailing privileges. The largest number of civil liberties cases since the war has been reported. The number of Negro lynchings has more than doubled in one year (24 in 1930). A considerable number of Communists has been murdered (Lurio, Gonzalez, Weitzenberg, Katovis, Wiggins), other Communists have been kidnapped and beaten, still others given extremely long penitentiary sentences (Gastonia, Imperial Valley). The Michigan cases are being revived. A whole series of states are introducing and reinforcing their criminal syndicalist and anarchist laws. A savage offensive against the Soviet Union has been launched. Embargoes have been placed on Soviet pulpwood and timber. Plans are being laid for the recall of American technicians now in the Soviet Union, etc. The United States looms as the very antipode of the Soviet Union.
31. The growing resistance to the present reactionary regime can be clearly seen in the American colonies. Haiti, Nicaragua, Cuba, and the Philippines are all scenes of actual revolt against the puppets of American imperialism. Fearing more revolts, Secretary of State Stimson has been compelled to state categorically that no recognition of de-facto governments in the Caribbean countries would be granted by the U.S. The riots in Haiti, and the election of an anti-American Haitian to leading office, the stiffening Nicaraguan guerilla warfare, the tremendous general strikes and street fighting in Cuba, the deep ferment in the Philippines (enormous street demonstrations) and actual peasant revolts all show the sharpness of the situation.
Attempts have been made to pacify the colonies, e.g., the promise to withdraw the marines from Nicaragua and Haiti, Hoover’s recent trip to Puerto Rico, etc.,
32. The strained political situation is also demonstrated in the war preparations of the United States. We cannot stress too much the rapidly growing danger of American imperialist war. Never before, in peace times, were the naval, military appropriations so high, (1930—825 million dollars appropriated, 1931—850 million dollars) never were so many men under arms, (1930, 138,000 in regular army, 114,000 reserve officers, 183,000 National Guard) so large a fleet (15 new cruisers now being laid or completed) so many soldiers in reserve organizations, so well-equipped a force, so many new innovations introduced and experiments carried on, so thorough an industrial survey and mobilization, so centralized a political machine. The printed memoirs of Pershing are part of the steady stream of propaganda accelerating this process.
VII.-POTENTIALITIES FOR RADICALIZATION
33. Nowhere better than in the United states has the Marxian law of capitalist accumulation—the greater the strength and energy of capitalism the larger the unemployed and pauper armies—been demonstrated. The intense capitalist rationalization since the war has meant the following: (a) the workers of this country suffer the highest accident rate, the highest industrial disease rate, of any country in the world. Vital statistics show a smaller percentage of the population alive over 40 years of age than in any country. (b) Here the relative wage is the lowest. While over 500 people paid income taxes on incomes over one million dollars—a record—over 90% of the people are poor (that is, below the government standards of decency in income), (c) Nor have real wages actually advanced. Counteracting the reported rise in real wages since the war are the increased wear and tear on the worker, the chronic unemployment and part time work, the complete lack of social insurance, the necessity to support “dependents” over 40 who can no longer get work, etc.
The living and social conditions of the workers have grown worse since the war. The number of deaths is increasing faster than the number of births. The rapid pace which the worker must keep up, coupled with the break down of family life under capitalism has led to a great increase of nervous disorders, cancer, etc. and to a big wave of suicides. The malnutrition of the masses is well evidenced by the thousands of deaths yearly from pellagra. In 1916, a “prosperous” year, 15% of the New York school children were undernourished. Conservative estimates today would place the number at 250,000 undernourished school children in New York City and 6,000,000 throughout the nation.
34. The life-breaking pressure on the masses is further shown by the tremendous growth of the crime rate. On the one hand this is an illustration of rebellion by the masses. It is an anarchist method of striking back at the exploiters and oppressors. (The “Baumes Law” is one method of reply by the bourgeoisie.) On the other hand we must note that the bourgeoisie is deliberately widening the net so as to entrap as many workers as possible. The widespread application of the vagrancy laws, the method of enforcing the Prohibition Amendment, etc. have sent literally millions of workers to jail.
Throughout the whole period of the war and since, the ruling classes have exerted the greatest pressure to regiment and discipline the masses. The system of forced labor has never been given up in America. Widespread peonage still exists in the South. Mass arrests on charges of violation of the vagrancy and prohibition laws provide an army of labor for the building of roads, state construction work, manufacture of jute and cotton goods, etc. The practice of farming out prisoners to plantations is carried on throughout the country particularly in the South.
The jailing of millions, besides securing an army of convict laborers, is calculated to break the spirit of the toilers, particularly the youth, to make them know their place. Besides, from this criminal element a potential fascist army can be formed. The racketeers bred by the trusts, and the gunmen and strike-breakers recruited by detective agencies for the large corporations are legitimate fruits of this crop. Modern capitalism breeds a desperate criminal type, potentially fascist, completely under the control and bidding of the ruling classes.
Finally, these wholesale arrests also enormously strengthen the power of the ubiquitous state bureaucracy and corrupt political machines. This bureaucracy exacts a heavy toll from the masses.
The growth of the crime rate brings with it a dialectical movement that aids the workers as well. The masses have become hardened. The corrupt state becomes thoroughly exposed in their eyes as a class instrument. The "Majesty of the Law” no longer means anything to them. They learn to hate the capitalist state and politicians.
35. The foregoing tendencies are no better illustrated than by the Prohibition enforcement. The Prohibition Amendment is a direct attack upon the masses. (a) it is an intensification of rationalization; (b) it means the augmentation of the police and armed forces of the state and the entrenchment of the bureaucracy; (c) it is an attack on the historic standard of living; (d) it goes hand in hand with an attack on civil liberties; (e) it is one of the ways to break up workers’ organizations and strikes; (f) for the first time we have the principal reply set into the Constitution of the United States that the worker belongs to the employer, not only when he produces but when he consumes, and that the worker in consuming is but caring for the capitalist’s machine which he dares not damage.
However, capitalism can not do away with alcoholism. Alcoholism is necessary to besot the worker, to drug and to dope him. It is the physical companion to religion. It is needed to make the worker forget his sufferings, to get him to do dangerous jobs, and to cheat and swindle him. Besides it is a prime necessity for the degenerate wealthy parasites and their counterpart, the underworld.
Prohibition enforcement too brings with it its own dialectical contradictions. Therefore the fierce fight that is now going on between wets and drys. Respect for “law and order” is breaking down. The class character of the state, the protection of the privileged classes, the cesspool of corruption connected with the prohibition enforcement, become plain to the worker, who, not drinking so much, can see and think more clearly. Prohibition has helped to intensify the class struggle.
36. The present economic crisis has greatly aggravated the sufferings of the masses. Unemployment has rapidly risen to over 10 million with about 10 million more on part time work. In times of crisis we have not only the number of floating, latent and stagnant sections of the unemployed always with us (Marx) (to which are added the new armies of immigrants and paupers) but part-time workers, adults newly come of working age, wives and children, formerly dependent, now forced to seek work, discharged employees in domestic and personal service, and ruined sections of the petty bourgeoisie urban and rural-farmers).
Generally in time of crisis the worker gets paid below the value of his labor power. In 1930 while unemployment averaged 14% (near 20% at the end of the year) payrolls fell 20% average. Drastic wage cuts are in the order of the day. Average weekly wages in money fell 22% in the two years 1928-1930 according to the National Industrial Conference Board. At the same time the cost of living fell but 4% in 1930 (average) below 1929, thus really the cost of living rose for those who were fortunate to get work. (Estimates of the fall of 5% in real wages have been given.)
It has been shown that the unskilled poorest paid laborer is the worst victim of wage cuts, speeding-up, lay-offs, and unemployment, but the skilled too are feeling the pinch. The fall of real wages coming exactly at a time when unemployment is rife, causes the greatest misery among the masses.
The situation is even worse, if possible, among the agrarian masses. Farm wages fell 25% in the South, 15% in the North and West. The wage level of the laborer has reached that of 1916. So desperate have the farmers become that actual seizures of food have taken place (Arkansas). The government has been forced to promise “relief” to the farmers.
The urban petty-bourgeoisie has also felt the weight of the crisis in full force. Bankruptcies increased 35% in liabilities over the average year in the 1923-1925 period. The largest bank crash in the history of this country occurred in 1930 (Bank of U.S. with assets of one-quarter billion dollars), radically affecting the assets of hundreds of thousands of depositors. One thousand, one hundred bank failures occurred in 1930 involving three-quarter billion dollars. In 1929 there were only 600 involving one-quarter billion dollars.
According to R.G. Dun & Co., 270 banks failed in the first quarter of 1931 (involving 144 million dollars). In 1930, in the same period, 124 banks failed.
37. All the capitalist agencies have shown themselves absolutely bankrupt in the face of the crisis. Never was there so much downright lying handed out as official statistics and forecasts. And indeed it is impossible for the American capitalist government either to understand the crisis or to give substantial relief to the starving masses. The Federal Grain Board can give the farmers no remedy except to curtail production. By its operations the grain speculators, the bankers and brokers have been greatly aided. The Farm Seed and Drought Relief Acts are but a drop in the bucket and will but flow into the coffers of the dealers and farm sharks.
The government has obstinately rejected all social insurance schemes. Instead it puts forth the theory of public works. Certainly the building of more jails, armories, reformatories, etc., can only make things worse for the workers. As for roads, dams and such increase of capital investment, they but lay the base for still greater crises. Under the hands of the corrupt political machines, the fund for public works becomes but an added source of graft and plunder. Only a very small percent of it finds its way as wages, and then in such a way as to be a club to batter down wages and working conditions and to strengthen the crooks in office. The whole myth of public works panacea becomes thoroughly exploded the moment the bourgeoisie sees that the undue expenditures means an increase in the tax rate.
38. The great sharpening of the inner and outer contradictions of American capitalism gives the basis for a tenseness of relationships, a restiveness of the masses which can enable the Communists with a correct policy to lead the masses into such activity as to radicalize them. There is a great potentiality (not actually) of the masses becoming radicalized generally and relatively quickly. The decisive factor is the policy of the Communists. No other group can mobilize the masses for the coming struggles.
The American Federation of Labor is steadily declining. Its base, the United Mine Workers, has disintegrated to a great extent. Its principal unions in the building trades have fallen down considerably. Its officials have done yeoman service for the employers in the present crisis. They agreed to an infamous anti-strike pact with the government, they have taken the lead in the attacks on the Communists, on Russia, and on the foreign born and immigrants. They have a damning record of recent strike betrayals (Elizabeth, Marion, Danville, Philadelphia, etc.). They have most brazenly put their whole weight to thwart any move for social insurance.
Simultaneously in the present period the masses are moving to the left. The great March 6th (1930) demonstrations, the food riots in Arkansas, the opening up of a period of spontaneous strikes (Lawrence, Bridgeport), and strikes carried on against the decisions of the A.F. of L. (Philadelphia, Anthracite) show that the masses are getting into motion against the bourgeoisie. Note also the Illinois new union movement.
Ever since the war, the working class, now an army of 32 million, has laid the basis for greater united effort than ever before. The composition of the working class has become far more homogeneous than before. The gap between skilled and unskilled has decreased as a result of capitalist rationalization. The stoppage, restriction, and prohibition of immigration has greatly unified the workers. The entrance into industry of millions of women (10 million) and youth has greatly strengthened this movement. The youth particularly have played a great leavening and cementing role. At the same time great sections of the petty-bourgeoisie (farmers, store keepers, etc.) have become proletarians. The large-scale migration of the Negroes to the North and their deeper penetration into the ranks of the workers have tended to close the gaps of the working class army and wield it into a monolithic whole.
The movement to the left by the workers is calling into being an “opposition” movement in the A.F. of L. (Muste and the Conference for Progressive Labor Action), and in the socialist party (the Stanley group). This movement arises not as a symbol of the left wing but as a protective covering to keep the masses from deserting these organizations. The Muste and Stanley groups, as a whole, do not really wish to fight the Greens and the Hillquits. They are quite willing to live in the old way. They do not wish to break with the past. Their historic role is to serve as decoy ducks to enable the A.F. of L. and the socialist party to continue to mislead workers moving further and further to the left. The communists while free to unite with them on certain issues must sharply attack them at all times.
The great prospects for struggle that are opening up, the potentialities that exist for widespread and sudden radicalization of the workers, have not in the least been taken advantage of by the leadership of the official Communist Party and the Lovestone and Cannon groups. Indeed, their crimes and blunders are turning the workers away from the Communist movement. The left wing in the A.F. of L. and other reactionary unions and worker organizations has been annihilated. The new unions are in a state of chronic collapse. Few achievements can be recorded. The unemployment movement has been criminally handled. The Communist movement itself is disintegrating.
VIII.-THE STRUGGLE FOR NEGRO EMANCIPATION
39. It has been truly said that the acid test for the Communist movement is its policy and practice on the question of Negro emancipation. So much addled nonsense has been written that it is necessary first of all to refute the muddled theories that have misled the Communists of all groups.
In the first place we must reject the line of reasoning of Pepper, never repudiated by the Communist Party, to the effect that the South is a “colony” of American imperialism. This is but a resurrection of the long exploded theory of infra-imperialism, that the South and the West are “colonies” of “Wall Street” etc. Such a theory has nothing to do with Leninism. The South is one piece with the erst of the United States. It shares political control. The industrialization of the South shows a complete capitalist development is taking place, something no “colony” can show, except to the theorists of “decolonization".
Nor can one maintain that the “Black Belt” is a “colony". The “Black Belt” is economically and politically indissolubly connected with a larger area, the South. Each section of the “Black Belt” is part of its respective state, with state traditions and customs. The “Black Belt” economically is part of a cotton belt and cannot be treated separately. Besides, the "Black Belt” has constantly shifted, from the North (Virginia) to the South (Georgia) from the East (Georgia) to the West (Mississippi) and east again. Now one region, now another, becomes part of the “Black Belt” (that is, acquires a population the majority of which is Negro), or is relinquished.
In the second place, we must reject the theory that the Negroes in the U.S. comprise a nation in the full sense of the term. For a people to comprise a nation there must be a common definite system of economic relationships (primitive communism, slavery, feudalism, etc.) giving rise to a common political and social system. Generally nations have had a land that they had conquered or held from time immemorial and had become rooted to the soil. From these relationships a common language, culture, customs, political regime arise.
This is the situation in Africa, and in the West Indies. It is not the situation in the United States. Here the American Negroes have had no lasting distinct language, culture, state. They were not rooted to the soil. They had no separate territory, as conqueror or conquered. They were never feudal peasants ingrained in the soil. Originally, the Negro was as much domestic as agrarian. He was a slave, not a peasant, and did not live predominantly in that part of the country which is now known as the “Black Belt". The Spartacus flight of the Negro from the South via the “Underground Railway” route is part of the tradition that made the Negro feel the South was just one vast prison.
We must also categorically reject any “theory” that “proves” the Negro "peasant” must be the mainstay of the movement. The line of the Communist Party in this question (” … and the Negro peasantry, petty and middle-bourgeoisie will be the driving force of this movement because it is a national revolutionary movement,” (The Communist, March 1930)) is the same line in the U.S. as that which led to the betrayal of the Chinese masses by the Comintern in its deals with Chiang Kai Shek. Such a policy must be eliminated from the Communist movement.
First of all, today, of the eleven and one-half million Negroes, five and one-half million are in cities and towns. These urban Negroes lead the agrarian. Over two million are now in the North (partly as a result of a steady migration from the South during and since the war). Second, entirely contrary to the Stalinist-Pepper idea, the Negro farmers, almost entirely tenants, are not tenants because they were once independent or feudal peasants, owning their land, who were later reduced to tenancy. In this respect the Negro tenant is entirely different from the European. The Negro tenant is usually a laborer who has a “share-cropping tenant” status so that it will be easier to chain him to his labor and to prevent his escape. It is a method to bind the laborer to the soil, not a step in removing him from the soil. In Europe long-term tenants are the rule in backward agrarian countries where a feudal peasant holdings have been reduced to tenancy. In the U.S. the tenancy is for one year only. There the peasant seldom moves. Here the Negro tenant is constantly on the go (after his year tenancy expires). The Negro migration within the South is greater than the migration of the Negro to the North!
Furthermore of the total number of Negroes gainfully employed, less than 40% are gainfully employed in agriculture, while the number working in manufacturing and mechanical industries alone has risen to 30% of all Negroes gainfully employed. Besides, of the Negro agrarians, at least 50% or from one and one-half to two million are out-and-out agricultural laborers. Share-cropping tenancy as a step removed from peonage is not a method to proletarianize a peasantry but a method of binding the laborer.
40. Although the American Negroes can not be considered as a nation in the full sense of the term, living in a “colony,” nevertheless they must be considered at present as a national minority. This was the opinion of Lenin (Theses Second Congress) and Trotsky. The case of the American Negro so far as his socio-political relations are concerned, is essentially similar to that of the oppressed national minorities and colonial peoples everywhere. In all such cases we see an effort to check the “normal” free interplay of economic forces under capitalism, we see an effort, by force, to prevent the sale of Negro labor power for example, at its value, or to lower its value, or to try through the development of a caste system to prevent the workings of capitalist laws so that the rulers may obtain a super-profit. The economic remnants of slavery that are so strongly felt in the South especially are but methods to secure these super-profits. These methods were originated by capitalism itself.
We must completely reject the anti-Leninist theories of the Lovestone group that refuses to see that the American Negroes must be considered as a national minority. If the American Negroes are not a nation in the full sense of the word, certainly they once were a nation in that sense, in Africa. If they have no common language today, certainly they have traditions of common culture, language, customs, political and economic relationships, etc. They have the common traditions of slavery, and it must be fully noted, the tradition of having at one time, immediately after the Civil War, actually administered state power in some of the Southern states. Further there is such a thing as the “Black Belt” where the negro people predominate. And finally they are discriminated against and oppressed as a group. They have not been assimilated either in the South or in the North.
42. Led by the nose by the false anti-Leninist theories of the present leaders of the C.I., the leaders of the Communist Party have actually orientated themselves on the Negro “peasants". The fight for national liberation of the Negroes has been raised by the party as the central task. Leadership is allotted to the Negro petty bourgeoisie. The American Negro Labor Congress has been liquidated and a Negro “Civil Liberties Union” (League of Struggle for Negro Rights!) has been substituted. Such a position is entirely alien to Communism. It must be stamped out of the movement.
The primary job of the Communists is to reach the Negro proletariat and first of all, in the cities of the North. The principal slogan raised must be COMPLETE EQUALITY FOR THE NEGRO. The main job, of course, is in the South and there above all in the cities. The work in the countryside must be centered on the Negro agricultural laborers. The theory that 800,000 Negro farmers in the South must be the basis of the movement must be completely rejected.
The Negro population of the U.S. lives in conditions of stark misery and destitution that beggar description. Their death rate is double that of the whites. In the factory they are discriminated against, getting everywhere much lower pay than the white workers. They are the last to be hired and the first to be fired. Many A.F. of L. unions bar the Negro worker. Among Negro women, nearly one-half the married women work, as compared with 20% among the white women. Their living conditions are on the lowest possible level. They are crowded in segregated slum districts, nearly always near if not identical with the vice sections of the cities. The extraordinary high crime rate among Negroes speaks at once of their worse conditions, of their rebellious spirit and of the especial hounding of the Negroes by the police. Without political rights, Jim-crowed, persecuted and despised, the Negroes stand truly as a pariah caste in America.
The Leninist slogan of self-determination for the Negroes must be raised as a supplementary one, working hand in hand with the principal slogan Complete Equality for the Negro. Such a policy helps to guarantee that such complete equality will be carried out. This policy awakens the rural Negro. It will raise the fighting spirit of the Negroes. We must guard against the slogan Self Determination and National Liberation for the Negro being counterposed against the slogan of complete equality. It must not become a slogan “Back to the South.”
When properly used the slogan of self-determination for the American Negroes becomes the best weapon to smash the reactionary and utopian Garvey "Back to Africa” movement. On the other hand this demand of the Negroes in the United States will cause the Negroes all over the world (Liberia, Haiti, South Africa, West Indies, etc.) to wage their struggle for independence even more sharply than before. (The attempt of the Cannon group to declare the Negroes of even these other countries must not fight for national liberation must be branded as an out-and-out white chauvinist, Menshevist view).
41. In all united fronts the Communists make on the question of national liberation of the Negroes, the Communists must fight for proletarian hegemony of the movement. Only Stalinites with their infamous Chiang Kai Shek traditions can propose that the peasantry or petty-bourgeoisie take the leadership. The Communist Party Stalinites have raised the theory that since the movement is a national liberation one, therefore, the proletariat cannot lead.
Such a theory is false to the roots. It lays the basis for the complete betrayal of the proletariat and the Negro masses. It is true that the civil war did not complete the bourgeoisie-democratic revolution in the South (not because the Negro slaves did not get the land, the plantations broken up into small farms—that is not the basic test—but because the continued treatment of the Negroes as a national minority were remnants of pre-capitalist times, modifying the “classic” workings of capitalism. But the Russian revolution has demonstrated that Only The Proletariat can Complete The Bourgeois Democratic Revolution.
Certainly national liberation of the Negroes can not be effected outside of the proletarian revolution in the United States. This is a policy that moves the entire Negro masses to support the proletariat. Within the Negro liberation movement the proletariat must take the helm from the petty-bourgeoisie and boldly announce its own interests. Its interests are ultimately for a Soviet Republic. The Communists must fight for the eventual formation of a Negro Soviet Republic as part of the Soviet Republic of the United States and of the World Soviet Republic.
42. The recent reports to the U.S. Senate on Indian affairs reveals the truly deplorable conditions among the American Indians. American imperialism has almost annihilated this people. The Communists must fight for the unconditional national liberation of the American Indians.
IX.-THE DEGENERATION OF THE COMINTERN SINCE THE DEATH OF LENIN
43. The Comintern today is in a profound crisis. The narrowing down and great loss of prestige of the C.I. leadership, the weakening of the sections of the C.I. and mass expulsions show how deeply opportunism was part of the Communist movement. The formation of three different separately organized international Communist groups speaks of the disintegration of the movement. But it also marks a step forward, since such a situation exposes the rottenness in many national groups, hardens the real Leninists, and prepares the way for new advances.
We owe it primarily and above all to L.D. Trotsky for exposing the situation since Lenin died, for bringing to light the testament of Lenin which the other leaders had deliberately hidden, and for uncovering many facts of Party history concealed by the bureaucrats from the membership.
The steady degeneration of the C.I. since Lenin’s death is best illustrated (a) by the theory of building socialism in one country and the national socialist tendencies flowing from this theory. (b) by the objective protection given enemies of the working class (Chiang Kai Shek, reactionary British Trade Union General Council). (c) by the suppression of Lenin’s writings. (d) by the “rude and disloyal” internal regime. (e) by the generation of Thermidorean elements within the Soviet Union and the strengthening of bureaucracy.
The theory of building socialism in one country discredits the very idea of socialism, discredits the proletariat. It leads to the greatest contempt for other Communist Parties. It springs from a belief that the international revolution is far away. It tends to glorify the peasantry. It casts false illusions concerning the self-sufficiency of the Soviet Union on the international working class.
The Stalinist (also Bucharinist) theory of building “socialism” in one country alone leads directly to the coarsest Menshevist national socialist view. Diplomatic state intrigues replace frank proletarian international policies (the signing of the Kellogg Peace Pact, the profuse apologies for “dumping” etc.). The Five Year Plan is counter-posed to the international revolution. These bureaucrats sow the suspicion that there would be the greatest reluctance if not down right refusal on their part to aid revolutionary outbreaks in Europe by the armed forces of the Workers Fatherland. Now more than ever the Red Army must be sensitive to the demands of the international revolution. The mere suspicion of a delay might make the difference between success or defeat or might spell disaster.
Since 1924 the C.I. leadership has deliberately hidden the writings of Lenin (of the 30 complete volumes of Lenin’s works, only 4 have been published in English after 13 years!). The advice of Lenin for the removal of Stalin has been suppressed. (Not for the first time did these “Leninists” suppress Lenin’s writings—note the early days of the February Revolution.) The degenerate C.I. regime has deliberately prevented the international working class from absorbing the invaluably precious writings of V.I. Lenin.
Since the Fourth C.I. Congress the robotization of the Communist Parties and puppetization of the leaderships have steadily increased. There can be no question but the next war will find the Stalinized leaderships disgracing themselves.
44. In the United States precisely at a time when the subjective factor is so decisive and in a country where the responsibility is so heavy, the disintegration of the C.P. has exposed three groups with definite right wing tendencies. These tendencies must be cleaned out of the Communist movement.
From the very beginning the Communist movement in the U.S. met severe obstacles both objective and subjective. The principle objective difficulties were due (a) to the retarded domination of the capitalist mode of production (frontier, free land, etc.), and the uneven development of capitalism; (b) the unchecked capitalist advance and the exceptional opportunities for advancement before the ware, leading to a large petty-bourgeoisie, relatively better conditions for the proletariat, a huge wave of immigration disuniting the workers and retarding the growth of class consciousness; (c) to the shift of economic center of gravity since the war with its concomitant huge growth of American imperialism, parasitic rentier class, and corruption of a section of the upper layers of the proletariat.
The obstacles inherent in the Communist movement in this country are mainly (a) remnants of social democracy (parliamentarism, legalism, lack of direct action, pacifism, nationalism, national socialism, democratic illusions, belief in ultra-imperialism (organized capitalism), contempt for agrarian, colonial, anti-military, Negro, etc.; work, loose party organization and false organizational structure); (b) remnants of A.F. of L.ism (bureaucracy, orientation to skilled workers, class-collaboration theories and practices, contempt for unorganized and impoverished masses, etc.); (c) remnants of anarchism (individualism, individual terror, minority action, putchism, false theory of the state, etc.); (d) remnants of syndicalism (fusion of roles of union and of political party, anti-political, anti-election participation attitude, false understanding of role of industrial unions, failure to work within reactionary organization, to mobilize all oppressed sections of the population, false views on organization questions and the relationship of leaders to members within working class organizations, etc.)
To these obstacles must be added the special ones that arose from the poor social composition of the Communist movements, the division of the Party into foreign-language federations, entirely isolated from the American proletariat, each leading its own separate nationalist existence.
45. There has never been a genuine Community Party in this country. The Lovestone-Foster-Cannon joint leadership (up to 1928) drove the movement into non-Leninist channels, especially after the death of Comrade C.E. Ruthenberg. The major failures of this joint unprincipled leadership may be classified under two heads: (a) failure to separate the Party from the class; (b) failure to build a party or to root it among the workers.
The failure to separate the Party from the class, to make it truly a "vanguard” and “general staff” organization was evident on every side (a) in the absence of Marxist theory (lack of adequate research, failure to teach in any adequate manner the basic economic works of Marx—Vol. I to III of Capital, etc.)—failure to translate many important volumes of Marx’ and Engel’s works, failure to put forth any original serious theoretical work, failure to train a broad cadre of theoretical leaders; (b) vulgar Marxism (e.g., national socialist tenancies, theory of American exceptionalism (Lovestone) of bourgeoisification of working class (Foster-Cannon, et al); (c) existence of foreign federationism; (d) lack of tests for membership; (e) degenerate leadership, never tested in any struggle as Communists, rotten with careerism, factionalism, petty bourgeois diplomacy, subsidy corruption and bureaucracy. We must clean this pus out of the Communist movement.
Similarly we must stress the complete failure under the joint Foster-Lovestone-Cannon leadership to build an organization that could be called a PARTY or to root it among the masses. For a long time no concrete mass work was done, the “party” being an agglomeration of 18 foreign-language federations utterly isolated from the masses. These foreign federations pushed forward only those leaders who did not wish to fight, who would allow the federations to stagnate as they were. When concrete work was attempted only the skilled workers in the A.F. of L. were touched. (The main slogan was “Amalgamation or Annihilation.") The sole method used was that of maneuvers and tricks with A.F. of L. fakers from the top. In the political field an orientation to the farmers (well-to-do farmers at that) took place. No effort was made to organize the unorganized. Indeed the organization of the unorganized was denounced on principle. There never was even seriously attempted anti-imperialist work, anti-militarist work, Negro work, work in the South, etc. For four years the leaders sabotaged the C.I. theses of Lenin on organization. To the very end (1928) shop nuclei were mostly on paper. Within the Party the most rampant fakery, lying, dishonesty, were the normal everyday methods of leadership.
46. The driving out of the Lovestone and Cannon misleaders from the C.P.U.S.A. did not change its essential character. Today as before, the C.P.U.S.A. is essentially a right wing Communist organization (though some of its phrases and forms appear leftist). The mountain of opportunism in the C.P. can be seen in every major part of its work. We mention only some of the more recent outstanding examples: (a) estimation of the crisis as a cyclical one; (b) theory that internationally the crisis was the basic final collapse of capitalism; (c) theory that American imperialism was on the downgrade; (d) theory that the masses were actually radicalized all over the country, counter-attacking the bourgeoisie; (e) anti-Marxist Proudhonist slogan “Work or Wages"; (f) opportunist method of propagating the social insurance bill; (g) apologetic attitude on question of Soviet Union underselling capitalist world (so-called “dumping"); (h) failure to building unemployment organization (failure to develop non-party workers, to establish workers’ democracy), to build unemployed block councils according to plan, to hold demonstrations in workers’ quarters, to lay the basis for “food riots,” desperate tenant eviction battles, etc., to establish mobilization points in the workers’ quarters, failure to map out an adequate program of “self-help” for the unemployed. Instead, there were criminally futile methods of demonstrations solely before City Halls, and open parks far removed from workers, placing the workers in traps with consequent isolation of unemployed from employed, of the vanguard from the army, etc.; (i) actual gross overestimation of the enemy (theory that all forces in opposition are now one reactionary mass; theory that the A.F. of L. is "outright fascist"; “new” theory of social-fascism, etc.); (j) collapse of new unions (miners, textile, marine, shop, etc.); (k) capitulation to A.F. of L. fakers, refusal of Communist Party to enter strikes (Marion, Danville, etc.); (l) abandonment of mass reactionary unions; (m) criminal handling of Gastonia defense and subsequent attack on Gastonia defendants; (n) abandonment of any real work in the South; (o) kulak agrarian program (advice to farmers to curtail production—Daily Worker, editorial Aug. 7th, 1930); (p) abandonment of united front tactic (or when infrequently adopted carried out in an opportunist manner, e.g., anti-religious united front with bourgeois Atheist society but not with labor groups meeting on greeting Soviet fliers, etc.); (q) abandonment of Labor Party slogan; (r) out-and-out petty-bourgeois anti-Marxist line in Negro work (theory driving force must be Negro petty-bourgeoisie and peasants, dropping of any mention of Negro proletariat and its role in the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, the anti-Marxist theory of building organizations for "Rights,” failure of Communists to take independent position in this national Negro united front; (s) petty-bourgeois demands and methods of mobilizing bank depositors; (t) theory that those expelled for adhering to the Cannon, Lovestone or other Communist groups are counter-revolutionists to be physically annihilated; (u) breaking up of workers’ meetings; (v) reign of terror inside the Party; (w) failure to test leadership of the party in struggle; (x) perpetration of ills of the past (factionlism, bureaucracy, fakery, no shop nuclei, etc.); (y) use of frame-up method (expulsion of Weisbord, Pollack, and others from the Party) etc.
47. The Lovestone leadership has been well fitted by its past to move further and further to the right. Inside of its ranks is a section openly moving to the socialist party. The basic right wing errors of the Lovestone Group are as follows: (a) national socialism (failure to see the mutual dependence of America and the rest of the world-declining imperialism, refusal to abide by international discipline, etc.); (b) grossly exaggerated estimation of strength of American imperialism (theory of exceptionalism, theory of South as a reservoir of reaction, etc.); (c) theory that present U.S. crisis is a cyclical one (since it will be over “in two years” and the U.S. will “reach new peaks"); (d) theory that international capitalism will grow stronger and revolutions will be crushed (since only in this way could the U.S. reach “new peaks” soon); (e) tendency to see only the strength of the enemy ("Fascism on the Rampage” “Reaction at the Helm” etc.)’ (f) petty-bourgeois unemployment slogan “Don’t pay now"; (g) theory world economic crisis (is) but a “depression"; (h) denial of possibility of radicalizing the masses—theory that American workers are “docile"; (i) orientation solely to the A.F. of L.; (j) liquidatory attempts on new unions (textile, needle); (k) blank denial of any necessity ever to split from the A.F. of L.; (l) grossly opportunist methods of united front (e.g., with Levy) in which the Lovestoneites fail to attack prominent labor fakers and betrayers; (m) treacherous alliance with Muste group—stating that the principles of the Muste group are acceptable to the Communists (n) false estimation of the Stanley—S.P. group as “militant,” “left wing"; (o) treacherous Indian program (principal slogan at one time “Free Gandhi,” failure to sharply attack Indian bourgeoisie, etc.); (p) anti-Leninist Negro position that we must not fight for the national liberation of the American Negroes; (q) failure to test the leadership in any concrete struggles as Communists; (r) recent change in organization, with trade union fractions in place of shop nuclei; (s) downright theoretical political dishonesty - the Resolution on Trotskyism and failure to state whether Trotsky should have been expelled, failure to state their own errors in the expulsion of Trotsky, dishonest covering up of their theory of socialism in one country, etc.
48. It is impossible to declare that one group (Lovestone) is more to the right than the other (official Party). We must not be fooled by the make-believe “left” phrases of the Party bureaucrats. The fact is both groups have the same basic history of criminal mishandling of the Party and the same general program (theory of building socialism in one country, national socialism, Chiang Kai Shek adventures, theory of cyclical crisis, corrupt factional leadership, etc.). Both are right wing groups essentially, differing only in the form and tempo of development of their opportunism.
49. In spite of its adherence to the International Left Opposition the Cannon group in the United States is a very plain right-wing sectarian group. It is but a factional remnant of the old Cannon group in the Party using the name of L.D. Trotsky as a mask. The very adherence of the Cannon leadership to the International Left Opposition headed by Trotsky shows its brazen unprincipledness.
The whole history of the Cannon group leadership makes it entirely unfit to carry out the principles of the International Left Opposition in this country. (a) the Cannon faction was an ardent supporter of the “apex theory"; (b) Cannon’s theory of “deep-going radicalization” of the masses in the U.S.—see Platform of 1929; (c) the theory that the vote for Al Smith showed this deep-seated radicalization; (d) the theory that the farmers must lead the Labor Party movement; (e) Cannon was the first to make an alliance with Pepper—1923; (f) he was the first to unite with Lovestone against Trotsky (1925). (As a member of the Polcom he was in a position to know true facts at the time); (g) the Cannon leadership was violently opposed to the organization of the unorganized (Passaic strike 1926); (h) they were the originators of the unprincipled “faction to end factions” - 1927; (i) worked hand in hand with other cliques in criminally mishandling the party; (j) participated in actual betrayal of the New Bedford strike, 1928 as heads of the I.L.D. in approving the actions of the I.L.D. district representatives, actually sending the two principal leaders to jail at a critical moment of the strike!
The Cannon group has since amply shown its open right wing character: (a) propagation of the view that Trotsky desires only a propaganda society in the U.S.; (b) failure to print a single agitational leaflet in over two years of existence; (c) throwing all energies into building up of a publishing business; (d) tacit united front with anti-Marxist Max Eastman; (e) unprincipled united front with former Cannonites ("Bill” Dunne and Co.) still in the party; (f) pessimistic perspective of struggle in the U.S. and belief that only propaganda is necessary today—absolute refusal to engage in mass work or in united fronts; (g) theoretical bankruptcy on important questions not touched by Trotsky (vacillating attitude on Labor Party, wait of full year before printing any kind of unemployment program, barrenness on Negro question, etc); (h) Menshevist position that the Negroes must not fight for self-determination even in South Africa; (i) Anti-revolutionary view, Chinese peasant revolution does not exist; (j) against Chinese peasant guerilla warfare and failure to see rise of Chinese revolution; (k) false position on unemployment, orientating on the employed (30-hour week as central slogan) rather than the unemployed; (l) liquidatory attitude towards new unions (needle trades article by Cannon, Sept. 15, 1930); (m) against Communists joining the National Revolutionary Congress in India on united front basis; (n) protection of anarchists arrested by GPU in Russia for counter-revolutionary activity (under demand: We want proof whether the anarchists had a fair trial!); (o) refusal to test leadership in struggle; (p) loose organizational structure; (q) unregenerate lack of self-criticism.
The sole value of the Cannon group is that it has published the writings of L.D. Trotsky in this country.
50. In regard to the utterly corrupt leadership of all three right wing groups our position must be to eliminate them entirely from all influence in the Communist ranks. In regard to the groups themselves, since they are after all Communist groups, we must fight that the members of all groups be readmitted into one Communist Party, not as groups but as individuals. The Communist League of Struggle, however, can never abandon its grouping until the right wing policies of all these groups are defeated and a Leninist line carried out. Only in this way can there be reconstituted an International of Lenin. Only in this way can the advanced workers be won over to a Leninist conception of Party democracy and a broad line drawn between the Communist movement as a whole and the Mensheviks.
In the meantime the Communist League of Struggle must try to effect a united front so that all Communist groups can work together on concrete issues on the basis of the recognition of the Communist character of each group. This will also help to re-establish mass work, to resist the violent tactics of the party officialdom, and to place the Communist groups on a correct path. The danger is that the line between Menshevism and Communism will become so blurred, due to the right-wing tactics of the Party, Lovestone and Cannon groups as to set back the whole revolutionary movement.
51. With the death of Lenin there has come a degeneration of C.I. leadership. To reconstitute a Leninist International the following organizational principles must be effected (a) the closest working together of all Communist groups as against their class enemies; (b) the sharpest ideological intransigence; (c) the firm establishment of those principles insuring the greatest inner party democracy (possible under the given circumstances) and the utmost development of initiative and ability from below; (d) the recognition and carrying out of the Leninist theory of the process of creation of leaders. The absolute prerequisite for leadership, particularly in a legal party, must be the ability to carry on concrete mass work in a revolutionary manner. To this must be added correct and profound Marxian understanding, absolute honesty and courage. Only with such leaders can the working class be successful in its revolutionary struggles.
On this basis the above-mentioned American Communist groups as they now exist, must be declared woefully deficient and only the sharpest struggle for the above principles will be able to prevent the degeneration of these groups and to create the necessary organization of the vanguard of the proletariat for victory.
X.-THE TASKS OF THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF STRUGGLE
52. The sharpening of all contradictions and antagonisms throughout the world and the dominant role of America in the capitalist world places extra-ordinarily heavy responsibilities upon the Communists in this country. Basing itself firmly upon the teachings of Marx and Lenin, especially as embodied in the theses of the first four Congresses of the C.I., and following the correct political line of the present theses, the Communist League of Struggle must make as its basic task the winning of the working masses for independent working class action and for Communism.
53. The very sharpening of the situation makes all the more imperative the vigorous application of the united tactic by the Communists. The united front is a vital necessity for the workers. By means of the united front the Communists can come to grips with the class enemies rooted inside the ranks of the workers. It enables the Communists to reach and to win the masses. Finally, the united front tactic is a method by which the Communists’ character is rounded out, their ability, revolutionary science and integrity are put to the test. In all united fronts the Communists must constantly act independently and, by enunciating boldly their own program, must strive to win the masses to their side away from the control of their temporary allies.
54. The Communists, at this time especially, must not drop the slogan of a Labor Party. This slogan was approved by the Comintern during the time of Lenin. It is still correct to view the Labor Party as a most important form of the united front (really as an integrated series of united fronts). The present political situation makes it not unlikely (though the formation of a Labor Party is not inevitable) that it will soon again be an important issue before the workers.
55. The unemployment campaign must be the central campaign of the Communists among the masses.
The proletarian quarter must be the base of the unemployment movement. (Here is the best place to stage demonstrations, to connect the employed with the unemployed, to draw in the widest strata of the masses.) The program of the unemployed councils must have for its major immediate objective the seizure of the necessaries of life; it must be based on getting food and shelter for the jobless. The formation of Tenant Leagues, putting up the most desperate resistance of every kind to every eviction that takes place must be effected on a wide scale. Here we must learn from the experiences in the Passaic, New Bedford, coal mine, and Gastonia strikes. In every section food mobilization points must be set up where a good dish of food can be sold at cost, where masses can be mobilized, where “contributions” from stores can be obtained, where a movement for extension of credits can be supported, where the color line can most effectively be wiped out.
The immediate program must be non-payment of rent, resistance to evictions, reduction of the cost of living, extension of credits by food shops to those unemployed, seizure of food, fight for social insurance. The unemployment movement must be closely bound up with the movement for resistance to wage cuts and worsened conditions and for the shorter work day.
The widest united front movement must be created in order to mobilize the broadest masses. The unemployment movement must help in the organization of the unorganized and in the creation of a strong left wing to win the workers in the reactionary unions to a militant policy.
56. The trade union work must remain a most important part of the Communists’ work. The principal job is the organization of the unorganized, the building up of a strong revolutionary trade union movement where none existed before. Only the Communists have the capacity to organize the masses of unskilled and to hold them in new unions. These new unions must be saved from the destructive tactics of the C.P. bureaucracy. More than any other group, the Communist League of Struggle, by the past of its membership, has founded and built up the new union movement.
At the same time it is necessary to intensify work in the reactionary unions, to build again a left wing to struggle against the fakers and Muste "progressives” who have misled the workers.
This trade union work must be linked up with the general struggle of the Communists against rationalization and for complete social insurance and the shorter work day.
57. The struggle against the menace of another imperialist war and the campaign for the unconditional defense of the Soviet Union must be intensified. These struggles must be conducted on the most concrete basis. These campaigns must interpenetrate all the other campaigns of the Communists. Large direct aid must be given the revolutionary colonial masses struggling against American imperialism. Serious anti-military work must be begun. The Communists must be thoroughly prepared to meet the onrush of the coming imperialist war.
58. The Communist League of Struggle adheres to the basic principles of the International Left Opposition. It must fight for a thorough cleansing and purging of the ranks of the Communists from top to bottom. It fights for the readmission of the International Left Opposition into the Comintern and for the reinstatement of Comrade Trotsky and his colleagues into rightful posts of leadership.
Forward in the struggle for Leninism! For an international Communist movement and an American section that will not disgrace itself!
Constitution of the C.L.S.
This organization shall be known as the Communist League of Struggle (Adhering to the International Left Opposition).
Our purpose is to build a Communist organization to be the vanguard, the general staff, and driving force of the workers in their struggles for better conditions, for the dictatorship of the proletariat and for Communism.
Any applicant who subscribes to the teaching of Marx and Lenin (particularly as laid down in the theses and decisions of the first four Congresses of the Communist International), who accepts the basic principles of the Communist League of Struggle, and who undertakes to abide by its discipline and to engage actively in its work, shall be eligible to membership in the Communist League of Struggle.
Proletarian applicants must undergo a probationary period of one month before membership can be obtained. For all others (non-exploiters of labor) a three months probationary period shall be established. Where tested revolutionary fighters apply, the probationary period may be eliminated by special decision.
The structure of the Communist League of Struggle shall follow closely the theses on organization laid down by Lenin at the Third Congress of the Communist International. The basic unit must be the nucleus; the basic guiding policy, the theory of democratic centralism.
Article V—Initiation Fees and Dues
The initiation fee shall be two percent of the member’s average weekly wage (based on preceding year). The dues shall be two percent of the member’s actual weekly wage payable weekly.
Article VI—International Adherence
The Communist League of Struggle stands for the unconditional defense of the Soviet Union. It adheres to the basic principles of the International Left Opposition and strives to carry them into effect in this country.
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