Official Organ of the Communist League of Struggle
(Adhering to the International Left Opposition)
Eight Negro boys are scheduled to die in Alabama on July 10! The capitalist class South of the Mason-Dixon line which has been in the habit of lynching Negroes are preparing to lynch legally these youth on a framed-up charge of attacking two white women. Their usual procedure is to take Negro workers and poor farmers to the outskirts of the town and hang them. Then if their fiendish sadist desires are not completely satisfied, they pour kerosene on the bodies and have a Roman holiday watching the flames eat into the flesh.
However, in recent years this crude manner of murdering Negroes has brought some protests from the petty bourgeoisie. While they are not opposed to killing Negro workers (or white workers) they prefer the “due process of law". Hence instead of taking the boys arrested in Scottsboro out to the woods and finishing them quickly, the ruling class manufactured a farcial trial and sentenced them to die “legally". However that does not mean that even now, the danger of an old fashioned lynching is completely out of the question. Some Southern newspapers feel that the old method of a rope party should have been used in this case as in the past. Perhaps before July 10 is reached, a lynching party will invade the jail and take the boys out and finish them quickly. This has been done in the past. The keeper usually states he tried to prevent the invasion of the jail but he was overwhelmed by superior forces. Sometimes the governor “investigates” and the matter is dropped.
National Campaign Opened
Due to the intensive agitation of the Communist Party and the International Labor Defense a national campaign to defend and fight for the release of the boys has been started. This campaign has amply demonstrated the betrayal policy of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. How that petty-bourgeois organization retained as its attorney to “defend” the eight boys none other than Stephen R. Roddy, after that individual had been completely exposed as in alliance with the court that sentenced the eight Negro boys to death.
We welcome the editorial in the May 5 issue of the Daily Worker that states: “We demand that every man and woman who claims to be willing to fight to save the lives of these innocent boys shall come forward now and joint in one common united fight on the one platform of uncompromising struggle to save these boys at any cost. WE DEMAND THAT DIFFERENCES OF OPINION ON OTHER SUBJECTS SHALL NOT BE ALLOWED TO INTERFERE WITH THIS ONE STRUGGLE OF LIFE AND DEATH. Those men and women who claim leadership of the Negro liberation movement, or of any trade union or other working class organization, who value something else more highly than the struggle for the lives of these boys—let them expose their treachery, cowardice and self-interest by refusing, as the national office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has refused, to associate themselves, with such a movement.
“We believe that only a mass movement can save the lives and liberty of these boys. Already only a mass movement—after the boys were already condemned to death—has brought any sort of an effort to save these victims. Only a mass movement was able to even make the national office of the N.A.A.C.P. acknowladge publicly the fact that these nine boys are dying on the electric chair on July 10th.” (Our emphasis).
Will Aid in Struggle
The Communist League of Struggle notes that the Party at least formally stated its willingjess to make a broad united front to save the condemned boys. We will do all within our power to save them from burning in the electric chair six days after the celebration of Independence Day on July 4!. Let all workers and working class organizations jkin together with the International Labor Defense and the Communist Party to save the youths from death.
Three delegates representing the Communist League of Struggle attended the united front conference held May 17 in New York City, arranged by the I.L.D. They were Vera Buch, Norman Hawkins and Oscar Waishair.
When the adoption of a telegram to be sent to Gov. Miller of Alabama was placed before the delegates for adoption it only called for a new trial for the arrested young workers. Comrade Buch immediately took the floor and made an amendment calling for the release of the condemned boys and self-determination for the Negro masses. The amendment was accepted by the chairman and incorporated in the telegram. Comrade Buch also pledged funds and full resources to the conference in the name of the C.L.S.
We must criticize the bureaucratic manner in which the conference was run. The chairman was appointed from above, no discussion was allowed as to any convention procedure, seven hours were taken up with interminable speeches. Only 15 minutes were allotted to discussion from the floor. Above all we must stress that the “program of work” adopted by the conference was really no program of work at all. Only 10 per cent of the delegates were Negroes.
In passing it should be mentioned how the Cannon group has been treating the case. No delegates of the Cannon group were noted at the conference. In the May 1 issue of The Militant we find an article of 300 words which gives the barest outlines of the entire situation. Of course, that is in line with Cannon’s usual approach to the Negro workers. Now he has gone one step further. The seven times, the word Negro is used in the regular white chauvinist manner of “negro". But what can one expect from a group that opposes self-determination for the Negro masses even in Africa!
Then as to the May 15 issue of The Militant, it does not contain even one word on the Scottsboro case!
Workers! Rally to the defense of the Scottsboro prisoners! Only by our mass power will we save them from the electric chair!
Smash the frame-up! Free the arrested Negro boys!
Death for lynchers! Complete equality and national liberation for the Negroes! ----- P.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *FOR PATERSON TEXTILE GENERAL STRIKE
Five members of the National Textile Workers Union are being charged with murder in Paterson. On April 26 the International Labor Defense Paterson Textile Workers Defense Committee called its second conference. This was attended by a total of 28 delegates, 25 representing 14 organizations and 3 delegates from shops.
It is unfortunate that the I.L.D. still clings to its disastrous narrow policy in defense work, the same sectarian policy which was so harmful in the Gastonia defense. The delegates of the Communist League of Struggle (Thomas Bunker, Albert Weisbord and Vera Buch) were not seated as delegates in the conference but were told to remain only as spectators. The reason given was that this was a Paterson conference and we came from New York City! Since there is no defense conference for the Paterson defendants in New York, this decision means that our organization is not allowed to take part in an organized fashion in this important defense. The help which we offered was turned down with evasions instead of being gladly welcomed as it should have been. Of course we knew that the real reason behind this refusal was the fact that our organization is outside of the official Communist Party, the leaders of which are now putting a strangle hold upon all workers’ movements, choking the life out of them.
We noticed the Lovestone group members who actually work in the mills in Paterson, (namely Keller and Dawson) were not even present! Evidently the Lovestone group wants to live up to its theory that the N.T.W.U. is completely dead. Certainly if the members of the union are killed by the bosses, Lovestone will be then correct!
The small number of shop delegates present at the conference speaks volumes of the weakness of the National Textile Workers Union in Paterson. Yet now the textile workers need the union more than ever before. Their hours are 12, 14 and even 16 hours a day and their wages have been cut in some places over 50%. For months during 1929 and 1930 the irresponsible Party officials talked of calling a general strike in Paterson every other day. Now that the situation is ripe indeed, all such talk of a general strike has been dropped. Does the Party itself want to liquidate the National Textile Workers Union in Paterson (as it did in New York City?) Is the I.L.D. trying its old Gastonia trick of spending thousands of dollars on expensive lawyers but having no mass demonstrations for defense?
The Lovestone group is continuing its deadly attack on the new unions. It has made an alliance with the Conference for Progress Labor Action which is working to unite the U.T.W. of the A.F. of L. and the Associated Silk Workers in order to start a drive in Passaic-Paterson. Comrades of the Party wake up! See that the best union organizers are sent into Paterson. See that fight is put into the N.T.W.U. Resist the efforts of Lovestone and Co. to smash the N.T.W.U. in conjunction with the fakers of the U.T.W. and the Associated Silk Workers Union and the “Progressives” of the C.P.L.A. Demand that the founders of the N.T.W.U. (Weisbord, Buch and others) be restored to their rightful posts in the union. Prepare the field now for a general strike in Paterson. With proper organization work, this can be done. The economic battle can be linked up with the struggle to free the five N.T.W.U. members who are being framed up. Our organization, the Communist League of Struggle pledges its all in this fight.
Smash the frame up system in Paterson!
Organize for a general strike in Paterson!
For a broad united front for a defense of the N.T.W.U. Prisoners!
For the right to strike and to organize!
Put fight into the N.T.W.U.!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *CIVIL WAR IN HARLAN by Thomas Bunker
Since March 1st this year, the black spectre of starvation, arson, and violent death has stalked Harlan county situated in the mountainous southeast corner of Kentucky.
Civil was has broken out. Already 3 have been killed. On the one hand the Harlan County Coal Operators Association, dominant politically, and strongly entrenched with Sheriff John Henry Blair, high priest of thuggery, and the state guard. Against them are starving workers and their families, grim, bitter, and determined to fight to the last ditch. Already there has been the rattle of machine gun fire, the crack of high powered rifles in the hands of mountaineers perched on ridges, dynamiting, looting of stores, wholesale burning of miners’ homes and shootings in which brother has actually killed brother.
On my first visit to Harlan in 1924 as an employee of the Louisville and Nashville R.R. conditions were much different from the present. Then the Ku-Klux-Klan ruled. On alighting from the train I was approached by a stocky individual who held his arm in a slightly bent manner peculiar to gunmen of the south, and asked in a drawling manner the “natur” of my business.
I soon learned that this curious procedure was characteristic of the sections in which the coal operators were a law unto themselves. In the town itself, a general air of prosperity seemed to pervade. Coal orders were heavy, coal prices were at their post-war peak, and even the drab shacks of the miners in their prison-like monotonous formation, seemed to reflect the sunshine of plenty. Hooded sheet parades, and fiery crosses on the mountainsides, signalized the “movement” to oust the Pope and “keep the ‘nigger’ in his place.” This latter is of particular interest when we observe events that occurred later.
The miners were lulled into a false sense of economic security, had their union neatly sabotaged by the mine operators and everything was “Jake.” Came the depression and the lowest wages ever paid in these coal fields. When the operators again slashed wages during the month of February this year, the miners found themselves working from ten to twelve hours a day to obtain a daily wage ranging from two to four dollars. The miners soon recognized their paramount need and began to organize a union locally, making Evarts the headquarters.
Union Workers Fired
As fast as the miners enrolled they were systematically fired from their jobs. Over 10,500 were organized but none of the organized were allowed to work. The operators set out to rush an injunction thru the Federal court at Richmond, Ky., the Black Mountain Coal Corp., and the P.V. & K. Corp. staging a gun fight to give impetus to their plea in court. Sixteen houses were fired by the thugs at Cawood and as a result the miners were able to obtain warrants against two undeputized guards, charging arson.
Last month some of Sheriff Blair’s deputies drove to the Black Mountain Camp and arrested a Negro worker on a warrant charging “banding and confederating.” Whilst the Negro worker was in the custody of the deputies, shooting broke out and one of them was killed. The deputies in turn shot and wounded Will Burnett a white worker who lies in the hospital under guard charged with murder. This incident in itself is significant proof of the solidarity of the white and Negro worker in the south when faced with actual warfare in the class struggle. It is not strange to Communists; that even in a section of the south that only recently was Klan ridden, white fights white in the defense of a Negro. The inanity of the K.K.K. becomes obvious to the workers, who gravitate toward each other regardless of race, and fight shoulder to shoulder against the common enemy.
Dynamite Shook Harlan
A heavy blast of dynamite shook Harlan and “Bloody” Blair complains the blast was a ruse to divert his thugs so the miners could form a party to snatch the Negro from jail. The A. & P. store at Evarts was broken into by a hungry group of workers and cleaned out of everything even taking chicken feed. The next day the store was restocked and once more promptly looted. A pitched battle between deputies armed with machine guns and workers, armed with rifles and pistols ended with four killed and some three or four wounded. Blair could not account for the fact that although the deputies outnumbered miners two to one and were superior in armament the deputies suffered the heaviest losses. The deputies has been sent to shoot up the town of Evarts so that women and children were compelled to leave the camp.
A Condescending Savior in the shape of the United Mine Workers of America appeared on the scene with the usual A. F. of L. policy. Bill Turnblazer of Jellico, Tennessee, the U.M.W. district president, immediately appealed to Gov. Stampson of Kentucky for troops. Turnblazer informed Gov. Stampson that the U.M.W. were not at fault but that outsiders from other states were to blame. The Governor stated that it had been a fertile field for Communists, and reds, blah! blah! blah! The soldiers arrived on schedule under the command of Dan Carrell of Louisville. To greet them the U.M.W. fakers rallied as many as possible at the railroad station but more than a thousand miners, for the most part armed, stood pat at Evarts. The miners who fought against overwhelming odds and never gave ground, now, thanks to the A. F. of L., find themselves facing the business end of guns projecting from tanks, backed up with infantry and a squadron of cavalry.
The A.F. of L. Policy
Listen to the union organizer give them some good old A.F. of L. fighting tactics. “You men that are on Black Mountain property—get out. You men that are on P.V. & K. property—get out. This doesn’t mean maybe. Whatever you do, don’t violate the injunction. There isn’t anything left for you to do but get out. You’ve just one excuse, if your wife is pregnant, you have 21 days … Keep within the law and win.”
Ten days ago Turnblazer and Dwyer of the A.F. of L. signed an agreement with the personal representatives of the governor in which they pledged to “co-operate in every way to bring about a settlement of conditions at the earliest possible moment.” Before me as I write, lies a copy of the semi-monthly pay slip No. 780-127, issued to C. H. Jones by the Black Mountain Corp., for the first half of March this year. Fifteen days work at machine mining and entry, nets this miner a total of $33.32. Deductions are as follows: Miners supplies $1.10; Smithing 31 cents; Check weighman 98c; Hospital 50 cents; School 40 cents; Doctor 90 cents; Burial Fund 50 cents; Rent $3.50; Coal 95 cents; Scrip $13.00; Life insurance $2.50; Miscellaneous 25 cents. Total deductions $24.89. Amount due payday, $8.43. The miners are forced to trade at the company stores where the prices are boosted.
The Black Mountain Corp. not only boost prices at the commissary but compel the miners to spend a certain percentage of their wages there. Witness the following: condensed milk 15 cents a can at Black Mountain; 3 cans for 21 cents at Evarts. Flour $1.50 a bag at Black Mountain, 61 cents a bag at Evarts. Oleomargarine 45 cents a pound at Black Mountain, 10 cents or 3 for 25 cents at Evarts, etc., etc. The miner whose pay slip we read states: “I bought a bill of goods at Evarts (independent store) for $14.90. I priced the same goods at Black Mountain and it came to $51.95.” The miners repudiate the charge that they fired on the Black Mountain Mine. They are good shots, they say, and can hit at 1000 yds. “If we had been doing it we would have hit someone.”
The war in Harlan is only another proof of the potential radicalization of the workers, and their growing hatred for the capitalist state and its minions the politicians. The failure of the A.F. of L. to keep these mines organized (The U.M.W. held sway in this area prior to the Klan entering the field), shows plainly the disintegrating of the United Mine Workers Union. Lesson after lesson appears in the Harlan situation, and forefront of all is the acute necessity for the Communists with a correct policy to mobilize the masses for this and coming struggles. The Lovestones, the Fosters and the Cannons have blunderingly failed to see the potentialities for immediate radicalization of the workers.
Do they, like the socialists, require a “barometer”—If so, let them give Harlan a place on their barometric chart.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Cannon Group Refuses Debate
Although the Cannon group has always claimed that it favors a full discussion of the differences in the Communist movement, it has turned down the challenge for a debate sent it by the Communist League of Struggle. Similar challenges were sent to the official Communist Party and the Lovestone group who did not reply.
The letter from the Cannon group signed by Arne Swabeck reads as follows: “We have your letter of April 9 in which you propose a debate with a leading member of our organization. I have brought this letter to the attention of our National Committee and I am instructed to reply as follows: The program which you propose, we have already debated in several issues of the Militant, and we see no reason for any further discussion.”
While the Cannon group refuses to debate with a Communist organization, it has seen fit several months ago to debate an anarchist named Walter Starret who has no influence in the labor movement.
Both Cannon and Lovestone are willing to meet set-up men. The Communist League of Struggle is not afraid to tackle anyone for it has convictions as to the correctness of its line of action.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
TO THE HONEST MEMBERS AND SYMPATHIZERS OF THE LOVESTONE GROUP:
It is now almost two years since you have been expelled from the Communist Party. Some of you were expelled although you were not entirely for the principles of Lovestone, simply because the new party officials wanted to get rid of you. Others of you were expelled because you were against the rude Stalinist actions of the misleaders of the Party. But most of you really believed that the principles enunciated by Lovestone, Herberg, Bert Miller, Wolfe, and others were Leninist principles essentially correct. You had not been given a chance to read the polemical works of Trotsky. Under the name of Leninism, your leaders kept you from the writings of Lenin. It was only in this way that Lovestone could lead you to attack the principles of the International Left Opposition.
Looking back at the past you took pride in the fact that among you were some of the very founders of the Communist movement in this country; that the CI had declared that under Ruthenberg, your group was the most loyal and politically correct of any, that the CI had once declared the Lovestone CEC was not a right wing CEC (although by that time the CI itself was moving fast to the right); that some of you had been in the front ranks in the organization of the unorganized (in Passaic and New Bedford); that you were the spearhead against the Lore socialists who were in our midst as “Communists.”
But what is the situation today? Step by step your leaders have been leading you still further on the road to opportunism, to Menshevism. Take stock of the situation before it is too late.
Do you still agree with the shameless pamphlet of Wolfe against Trotsky? Can any of your officials today have the gall to say Trotsky should be expelled from the Communist movement? You must smash the contemptible lie spread by your leaders that Trotsky and the International Left Opposition does not stand for the unconditional defense of the Soviet Union, the workers’ fatherland!
Do you believe with Lovestone that the crisis will be over in two years (guaranteed by Lovestone himself); that we shall reach “new peaks” that the workers in this country are “docile” and will not fight?
Do you think that it is an accident that out of your ranks, trained by Lovestone, have sprung OPEN RENEGADES from Communism, Bert Miller and Company? Can you not see that Bert Miller but does what Lovestone is planning to do—later, that Miller is but the vanguard of Lovestone himself?
Do you agree with Gitlow that the program of the C. P. L. A. is “acceptable to Communists"? That no struggle must be made against the Musteites, Loreites, Salutskys and other such elements in the C. P. L. A.?
Comrades, we wish to warn you, LOVESTONE IS QUIETLY PREPARING A LORE-MUSTE-LOVESTONE ALLIANCE. Muste calls for an “intelligent” Communist Party and of course is not the C. P. majority Group “intelligent” (translate right wing!)?
A vicious attack is being made against all the new unions. Your leaders are for the liquidation of the National Textile Workers Union, the National Miners Union, the Needle Trades Workers Industrial Union. By this act they repudiate all the battles, all the traditions of struggle by the Communists in the organization of the unorganized, and fall into the arms of Muste, Salutsky, Lore, and such.
Comrades, Communists, wake up! How much more can you stand? Lovestone is moving to Menshevism. WILL YOU GO WITH HIM?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
CURRENT COMMENT by Sylvan A. Pollack
MUSTE ACCEPTS LOVESTONE’S MINERS PROGRAM
The Lovestone policy of only working within the American Federation of Labor influenced Muste and his “Progressive” group to such an extent at the St. Louis miners convention held April 15, that its achievements were nil. While only 99 delegates were present, they represented some of the most important mining districts such as Illinois, Ohio and West Virginia.
The decision of the convention was to elect a so-called policy committee whose task is to report on further possible “action.” Actually it is only a research body with no power and will never make any move unless forced by the rank and file coal diggers. This convention showed once again that the Conference For Progressive Labor Action is not a body for action but an organization to prevent militant deeds on the part of those miners revolting against the Lewis-Fishwick pact.
The Howat-Hapgood group who were the sponsors of the convention were willing to accept the betrayal policies of Fishwick-Farrington and only as a last resort called the St. Louis meet. It was attended by many rank and file miners who wanted real action against the betrayers and the mine owners.
The right wing Cannon group attitude towards the convention was one of criticizing the Party and behind the back making deals with Howat and Muste. Jerry Allard and Joe Angelo, delegates at the convention taking their cue from Cannon took such a conciliatory position towards the Howat misleaders, that Cannon was forced mildly to criticize them in the May 1 issue of the Militant. Like Stalin, Cannon believes in the scape-goat system.
In the April 15 issue of the Militant, there appeared a three and a half column article by Schactman on the convention. One paragraph is devoted to mildly slapping the Musteites on the wrist, the rest of the space being devoted almost exclusively to attacking the Party.
As we stated in the last issue of the Class Struggle: Lovestone and Cannon stand for the liquidation of the National Miners Union. The Lovestone group openly admits it in their articles in the Revolutionary Age. The Cannon group stands for a united front between the Howat forces and the National Miners Union. Of course, in such a manner that the N.M.U. would disappear from the scene both organizationally and ideologically.
The Communist League of Struggle again warns the coaldiggers against the liquidation tendencies of Cannon and Lovestone. We stand for a bona fide amalgamation of the N.M.U. and the workers represented at the St. Louis convention. This to be done in such a manner that the Muste-Howat forces will be isolated from influence and the militant miners both in and out of the N.M.U. take the helm. This is the correct Leninist approach to the question.
MAY DAY IN NEW YORK
About 20,000 workers participated in the May Day parade arranged by the Communist Party in New York. It was preceded by a march of a maximum of 3,000 workers arranged by the Socialist Party and an earlier parade under the auspices of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that brought out no more than 2,000 people, including many Russian white guard elemants. Both of these attempts to disrupt and isolate the revolutionary celebration of May Day were a fiasco.
In addition to the 20,000 workers who were in the line of march about another 10,000 gathered around Union Square to join with the militant demonstrators. However, these workers were barred from the Square by Mayor Walker’s police. When the Veterans parade and meeting ended, those in the Square were allowed to remain and participate in the Socialist meeting that followed it. In fact, the Veterans turned over their platform and amplifier to the Socialist management committee. This is an open indication of the cooperation between the reactionary Veterans organization and the Socialist Party. When the Socialist meeting ended police squads cleared out the Square and allowed only the red marchers to enter. This resulted in the revolutionary gathering being much smaller than it would have been if the police had not interfered.
The holding of an open air demonstration this year on the part of the Socialist Party is quite significant. In the past they have been satisfied to celebrate May Day in halls with well-known opera singers as the main attraction. However, due to the leftward movement on the part of the masses, the Socialist Party leaders were forced to come out in the streets as a gesture of their “militancy.”
In 1930 the Veterans of the Foreign Wars, for the first time held a meeting in Union square on May Day in opposition to the revolutionary celebration of the workers’ holiday. As a result, the red demonstration was held later in the day than originally planned. This year, we found the Veterans meeting in the morning, the Socialists in the afternoon while the Communists were kept out of the Square until the late afternoon. This may be a possible indication of a move to squeeze the revolutionary workers entirely out of Union Square next May Day.
Then again, the holding of a May Day meeting by the Socialists was an attempt on their part to keep the rank and file union workers from the militant demonstration.
One thing was definitely proven; in spite of the fact that the Communists have abandoned the workers in the reactionary trade unions and have given the officials free hand, the workers do not follow these officials. Here is another indication that the field is extraordinarily ripe for the Communists to build up a strong left wing movement in the existing trade unions.
We can say that the demonstration and the mobilization of about 30,000 workers (not 100,000 as stated in the Daily Worker) was in spite of the Party, not because of it. If the Stalinist functionaries had not conducted (as they still do) a sectarian appeal, and denounce all who do not agree with their incorrect program, as fascists and agents of American imperialism, there is no doubt that even more workers would have responded on May 1, especially when the present unemployment crisis is considered.
In spite of intrigue on the part of the official Communist Party, the Lovestone group and its allies, Bert Miller and Ludwig Lore—about 250 attended the Albert Weisbord-Louis F. Budenz debate at the Labor Temple, Saturday, May 2. The topic was “Shall the Workers Support the Conference for Progressive Labor Action in Preference to the Communists?” Budenz, secretary, C.P.L.A. took the affirmative and Weisbord, secretary, C.L.S., the negative. William L. Nunn, instructor, department of economics, New York University, presided.
A. J. Muste, chairman of the C.P.L.A. originally consented to debate Weisbord. After the posters, leaflets and advertisements announcing the debate were released, pressure to kill the debate opened. According to reports, William Z. Foster who was scheduled to debate Muste a week later, threatened to withdraw if Muste debated Weisbord first. Under the Party’s pressure, Muste decided not to debate Weisbord and assigned Budenz in his stead. This was the time for Miller, the “communist” watch-dog and advisor to the C.P.L.A. to step in with his “expert” advice. Lore also advised Budenz not to go through with the arrangements.
Before the Communist League of Struggle knew that Muste would not be present and that Budenz would appear in his stead, members of the Lovestone group circulated that information among the workers. This shows how close organizationally Lovestone is to Muste and Co. Their most intimate activities are known to Lovestone before being made public to the broad masses. Even on the night of the debate, Lovestone camp-followers stood outside of Labor Temple to inform potential listeners that “Muste would not show up.”
HARRISON GEORGE MUSES ON THE RED ARMY
Harrison George, (Jorge) sewage disposer, extraordinary of the Daily Worker, in his column of garbage labeled Red Sparks, discusses the Russian Revolution and tells how Stalin defeated the counter revolutionary forces of Denikin in 1919. In fact, according to Jorge, it was Stalin, not Leon Trotsky who led the Red Army to victory.
This tripe is peddled to the readers of the Daily Worker as a result of a series of articles on the Russian Revolution written by Trotsky now appearing in the Saturday Evening Post. Of course, Jorge does not like what Trotsky has to say. If Jorge found it satisfactory, that would be a good reason to examine its worth.
Jorge, the Latin-American and agrarian “expert” of Stalin in this country is opposed to Trotsky writing in a bourgeois sheet, such as the Saturday Evening Post. Jorge and the rest of his kind forget to mention that Karl Marx was for a period of time the London correspondent of the New York Tribune. But then, who would expect Jorge to know anything about Karl Marx. If Stalin can be brought forward as the leader of the Red Army, why not be logical and claim that Lassale, and not Marx wrote Capital? That would be in keeping with the Stalinist interpretation of history.
BILL DUNNE IS HEARD FROM
In Moscow, four thousand miles away from New York, Bill Dunne cables a “reply” to the declaration of the unprincipled alliance between him and Cannon which appears in the theses of the C.S.L. Due to the many miles of water and land that separates him from the United States, “brave” Bill Dunne advocates the use of the fist against “renegades.”
A careful reading of Dunne’s cable-gram appearing in the May 1 issue of the Daily Worker shows that even now, when brought on the carpet by the Communist Party officialdom, he takes an evasive attitude. He links up the “renegades” (Cannon, Weisbord, Lovestone) in one mass and then issues a general blast against all of them while at the same time making no direct answer to the charge contained in our theses, that is, an “unprincipled united front with former Cannonites (Bill Dunne & Co.) still in the party.”
Nowhere in his “reply” does Dunne deny our charge of a united front between Cannon and himself (formerly a leader of the Cannon group). Also, nowhere in the Cannon group is there any criticism of Dunne. Articles having criticism of Dunne are censored and denied publication in the Militant.
We do not object to any supporter of Leon Trotsky trying to continue his membership in the Party. In fact, we ourselves want to again become Party members. What we do object to is Dunne’s procedure of continuing his membership in the party—not on the basis of principles but on the basis of where the largest pay check is to be found. Such a methods of approach must be met with utter disgust from all militant workers.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
For the Spanish RevolutionThe Ten Commandments of the Spanish Communists
by LEON TROTSKY
1. The monarchy has lost the power, but hopes to win it back. The possessing classes are still firm in the saddle. The republican and socialist bloc has based itself upon the republican upheaval, in order to keep the masses from the road of the socialist revolution. No faith in speeches! Let us have action! In the first place: the arrest of the most prominent leaders and supporters of the old regime! Confiscation of the property of the royal family and its most compromised henchmen! The arming of the workers!
2. The government, with the support of the republicans and socialists, will try by all possible means to enlarge its base towards the right, in the direction of the big bourgeoisie and will try some capitulations in order to neutralize the church. The government is an exploiters’ government created to protect the exploiters against the exploited. The proletariat is in irreconcilable opposition to the government of “socialist” republican agents of the bourgeoisie.
3. The participation in power of the socialists means that violent clashes will increase between the workers and the socialist leaders. This fact opens up great possibilities for the revolutionary policy of the united front. Every strike, every demonstration, every approach of the workers towards the soldiers, every step of the masses towards the real democratization of the country from now on will clash with the resistance of the socialist leaders as men of “law and order.” So it is all the more important for the Communist workers to take part in the united front with the socialist, syndicalist, and non-partisan workers and to draw the latter under their own leadership.
4. The Communist workers today comprise a small minority in the country. They cannot in an immediate way aspire to power. They cannot at this very moment set themselves the practical task of the violent overthrow of the republican-socialist government. Any attempt in this direction would be a catastrophic adventure. The masses of workers, soldiers and peasants must go through the stage of socialist republic illusions, in order to get rid of these illusions all the more radically and definitely. Not to be fooled by phrases, to look facts straight in the face, obstinately to prepare for the second revolution, the proletarian revolution.
5. The task of the Communists in the present period is to win the majority of the workers, of the soldiers, of the peasants. How can this be done? By carrying on agitation, by training cadres, by “patiently explaining” (Lenin), by organizing. All this on the basis of the masses’ experience and the active participation of the Communists in this experience: a broad and bold united front policy.
6. The Communists do not take any step, with the republican-socialist bloc or any part of it, which either directly or indirectly could restrict or weaken the Communist freedom of criticism and agitation. Everywhere, the Communists will tirelessly explain to the masses of people that they shall be in the front ranks in the struggle against all kinds of monarchical counter-revolution, but that no alliance is necessary for such a struggle with the republicans and socialists, whose policy will inevitably be founded upon concession to reaction and will tend to cover up its intrigues.
7. The Communists put forward the most radical democratic slogans; complete freedom for proletarian organizations, freedom of local self-government, eligibility of the people to all posts, admission to suffrage of men and women from the age of 18, etc.; creation of a workers’ militia and later of a peasant militia. Confiscation of all property of the Royal family and church property for the benefit of the people, in the first place for the unemployed, for poor peasants, and for improving the conditions of the soldiers. Complete separation of church and state.
All civic rights and political advantages to be granted to soldiers. Eligibility to be officers in the army. The soldier is not an executioner of the people, nor an armed mercenary of the rich, nor a proletarian, but a revolutionary citizen, a blood brother of the worker and peasant. (*See translator’s note at end.)
8. The central slogan of the proletariat is that of workers’ soviets. This slogan must be tirelessly and constantly put forward and popularized and at the first opportunity we must move to its realization. Workers’ soviets do not mean the immediate struggle for power. That is certainly the aim but it is one which the masses can attain only by the road of their own experience and with the help of the Communists work of enlightenment. Workers’ soviets today mean the bringing together of the scattered forces of the proletariat, the struggle for the unity of the working class, for its autonomy. The workers’ soviets take up questions of strike funds, of feeding the unemployed, of connections with the soldiers, in order to head off bloody encounters among them, of connections between city and country, in order to insure the alliance of the workers with the poor peasants. The workers’ soviets include representatives of the army corps. It is in this way and only in this way that the soviet will become the organ of proletarian insurrection and later the organ of power.
9. The Communists must immediately work out a revolutionary agrarian program. The basis of this must be the confiscation of the land of the rich and privileged classes, of the exploiters beginning with the royal family and the church, for the benefit of the poor peasants and the soldiers. This program must be concretely adapted to different parts of the country. In every province, each with its own economic and historical peculiarities, there must be created a commission to work out a concrete agrarian program, in close cooperation with the revolutionary peasants of the region. We must know how to hear the peasants’ voice, in order to formulate it in a clear, accurate manner.
10. The so-called left socialists (among whom there are some good workers) will invite the Communists to make a bloc and even to unite their organizations. To this the Communists will answer: “We are ready, in the interests of the working class, and for the solution of concrete determined tasks, to work hand in hand with any group and any proletarian organization. To this very end we propose to create soviets. In these soviets, workers’ representatives, belonging to different parties, will discuss all present day questions and all immediate tasks. The workers’ soviet is the most natural, the most open, the most honest and healthy form of this alliance, considering the common work. In the worker soviet, we, Communists, will propose our slogans and our solutions of problems, and we will try to convince the workers of the correctness of our course. Each group within the workers’ soviet must enjoy complete freedom of criticism. In the struggle for the practical tasks proposed by the soviet, we, Communists, will always be in the first rank. That is the form of collaboration which the Communists fraternally propose to the socialist syndicalist, and non-partisan workers.
By insuring unity in their own ranks, the Communists will win the confidence of the proletariat and of the great majority of the poor peasants; they will take the power into their armed hands and will open up the era of the socialist revolution.
Kadikov. April 5, 1931
*Translator’s note: This explanation is especially necessary because of the great hatred of the military in Spain, who appear everywhere as a great burden upon the people.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *MARINE WORKERS, LET’S FIGHT!
Some marine workers upon reading our polemic in the last issue of the Class Struggle, “Whither the Marine Worker,” said in effect, “yeah! you tell us.” Our principle task; wherein the Marine Workers Industrial Union has failed is the organization of the unorganized. First: we should get together the militant workers of the industry to form a Committee of Action. The initial function of this committee would be to work out a program for the industry as a whole, for each section of the industry, and also for each union. Then should be started the formation of left wing or progressive groups within the M.W.I.U., the I.S.U., I.L.A., and other workers organizations. (Note: By other workers organizations it is not meant that energy be misspent on the stewpot known as the Solitary League, whose interpretation of the dictatorship of the proletariat is dictatorship of the solitariat).
Further, we should unite all our forces with the M.W.I.U., demanding the carrying out of the R.I.L.U. program, which the M.W.I.U. does not. We are not for the dissolution of the M.W.I.U.; on the contrary, we must strive to make the M.W.I.U. a real fighting organization. In connection with this I should point out that the possibilities are very favorable at this present due to the large number of militant seamen experienced in the labor field, that are ashore. The task of ridding ourselves of the Mink bureaucracy will be no easy one. We must emphasize the demand that the Union belong wholly to the workers, and that the workers choose their own leadership. That the leadership be a real leadership, and reflecting the interests of the rank and file. Insistent demands for the industry to organize for a general strike. Contrary to Foster’s notion that the A.F. of L. membership are “social fascists,” the members of the I.S.U. and the I.L.A. are discontented workers. The winning over of these workers must begin from below and not from the top as was attempted by Cannon and Lovestone. The general charge that the seaman is anarchistic is not altogether correct.
The seaman in the past has been the victim of an odd environment. Miles out at sea, the ship’s destination a foreign port wherein his only “ally” is the bourgeois consul, it is small wonder he took matters into his own hands as an individual when occasion arose. But, in the same manner as the present day shipmaster is little more than a uniformed lackey of the ship owners, due to the rise of huge merchant fleets, more flexible communication, increased speed, etc., so should the seaman lose his isolation. The union should be an integral part of each ship’s crew.
The seaman must be made to feel he is no longer alone, that he is in constant contact with his union, and that his fight as an individual, is the fight of the union as a whole.
Particular stress should be laid on the importance of fighting the Fureseth proposal of a Merchant Marine Reserve. This proposal that is sugar coated with job preference is downright reactionary and is calculated to split the ranks of the workers. The creation of a Reserve means the introduction of naval discipline into the Merchant Marine, so that workers could be tried before a court of naval officers for any offense against the boss shipowner. Should this statement be challenged I refer the seaman the articles T124X under which British seamen sailed when bound for the Soviet Union just after the war. To quote an incident: the crew of the British tug “Saucy” were tried before a court martial, with all the paraphernalia of slung swords and cocked hats, for the alleged looting of another towboat that had wrecked on the Murman Coast.
A vigorous campaign should be waged against the Seamens Church Institute and its branches. The discrimination against colored workers in the “prostitute,” the brutality of the blackjack toting thugs, hired to maintain “discipline,” and the scab role played by this shipowners crimp join in strikes.
Militant marine workers, let’s come together!—N.M.P.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *LOOKING FOR A JOB (Actual experience)
Out of work, broke, more or less unkempt and discouraged, it is with leaden feet I shuffle thru the street peering at each passer-by in the vain hope that one of them for no reason in the world, would step out of line and offer me work with remuneration. Reason dictates I should apply to prospective employers in person, but reason goes awry when hunger is a constant gnawing pain. I overhear two others discuss the favorable prospects for work on a certain construction job at Twentieth Street, so immediately repair there to report for work. After some difficulty and much walking I locate the place and the foreman in charge. My query brings a snarled “nuttin doin,” my body seems to become suddenly colder but I force a grin and a polite “thank you” and turn to leave. I realize as I walk away the foreman is still talking to me and hope rises as I turn and stand confused before him, requesting a repetition of his question: “What ward you in fella?” I confessed to being homeless and that I had “carried the banner” in the Hudson tube station. “How in the hell do youse expects to woik if yer ain’t slept none?” Disgusted, he turns away and I count myself lucky to have missed a task-master so easily disgruntled. The quest must go on so I hike to the United Fruit Company where a clerk with a supercilious air hands me a formal application. On this form I jot down details of my family, friends, past employers, and of course my own history. Visions of tropical countries and economic security with a resultant well lined stomach spur me to write furiously. The form completed I hand it back to the clerk who in a detached manner flips it onto a desk and proceeds with his writing.
Out in the street again, rain is falling and the weather appears colder, whilst uppermost in my thoughts is the ever-recurring question, where do I eat? Altho early afternoon the stores are beginning to light up due to low visibility, and my spirits rise somewhat. The sleek dignified limousine and the busy vari-colored taxi roll merrily along splashing thru puddles and avoiding collisions with pedestrians and each other that speaks well for the slaves at the wheel. The scene does but remind me of the period in my life when hunger was a synonym for appetite. Christ but I’m hungry! That reminds me …
I am seated in a Bowery mission listening to an ex-convict exhort the “boys” to save the Bowery for Jesus. Finally the painful session ends, and herded like cattle we are ushered into an iron cage where soup and bread are served. Still raining; so with squelching shoes I plod toward the Hudson tubes to spend a night of dodging from radiator to radiator and avoiding the “special” with their curt “talk a walk bo.” Crossing Broadway however, my attention is arrested by a well lit church reverberating to a pipe organ, that conjured up visions of warmth and rest. Gingerly mounting the church steps I halt at the top as the words of the Magnificat to the tune of an old time chant strike my ears. “He hath filled the hungry with good things but the rich he hath turned empty away.” The quondam chorister within me almost murmured a pious “Amen,” but the audible ejaculation of the half-starved proletarian was, “the overfed bastards.”—T.B.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *CRUCIAL MOMENTS IN TEXTILE STRIKES
If we examine the role of the Communists in the major textile strikes of the past five years, we shall be able somewhat to judge just how weighty a factor in the life of the American working class today is the Communist Party. We can prognosticate how it will behave in times of revolution.
The organization of the unorganized severely exploited workers of this country into militant unions is one of the most important tasks before the radicals in the labor movement. This task can not be accomplished without long and bitter strikes. If Communists are to do their duty they must participate in and lead these strikes. The American Federation of Labor and the I.W.W. have signally failed. Upon the Communists alone rests the responsibility for they alone have the program to meet and to overcome the forces that stand in the way. If now we turn to the textile field and see the Communist Party leaders not living up to their responsibility, it is not because of lack of general program but because of lack of understanding and of will to carry out the program. In short these leaders have not behaved as Communists.
Today there are wonderful opportunities for the Communists to permeate the whole American working class. This is a period of sharpened world situations, a time of deep economic crisis. Everywhere we have severe wage cutting and worsening of workers conditions. It would surely seem that the Communist Party would have better than ordinary chances to win leadership in strikes. Yet strangely enough, should we turn for example to the textile workers we see the Communist Party unable to make the slightest headway. It has abandoned the entire field to the reactionary officials of the American Federation of Labor. Wherever important strikes have broken out, since the Gastonia strike, as for example in Elizabethton, in Marion, N.C., in Danville, Wa., in Philadelphia, Reading and Allentown, Pa., in all of these strikes, without exception, the American Federation of Labor has led the workers to defeat practically unchallenged. Only recently in Lawrence did the National Textile Workers Union step into the situation.
Worse than that, our positive achievements are being lost. In Passaic in 1926 we had 12,000 members. In 1928 we had 25 members. New Bedford, soon after the strike, had about 2500 members. By 1930 this had fallen to one hundred. In the Gastonia region in 1929 there were over 2500 members. Perhaps ten remain now. When the National Textile Workers Union was organized in 1928 there were 5000 members in good standing. Today there are about 250 at the most. Such drastic loss of membership can not be traced to an unfavorable objective situation.
MILITANT WORKERS SUPPORT COMMUNISTS
Many honest and devoted Communists have given their all to create these achievements. But here and throughout our article we draw a sharp distinction between the officials of the Communist Party and the Communist membership. Around the Communist Party are gathered the best militants in the labor movement of this country. However when we ask ourselves why the Communist movement has not been more of a factor in American life we must weigh the fact that the loyalty and untiring efforts of these honest Communists are more than mollified by the policies and practices of their leaders. It is not too much to say that every single Communist accomplishment among the textile workers was made only after intense struggle inside the ranks of the Communist Party, struggles that had to be made against practically all the Communist Party leaders! This is the astounding truth of the matter as we hope amply to show in the course of this article.
And after all, this should not be so astounding, for the fact is we have never had a genuine Communist Party in this country. Originally the Communist Party was formed by the heterogeneous groups split off from the Socialists, the Syndicalists, the Anarchists and the “pure and simple trade unionists” of the American Federation of Labor. These groups brought over with them a good part of the baggage they were supposed to have dropped—their vulgarization of theory and lack of knowledge, their lack of experience in mass struggles as revolutionists, their corrupt inner organizational practices to which they had been accustomed in their former organizations.
It is true, peculiar American conditions have presented enormous objective difficulties to the growth of a real Communist movement. However counteracting these difficulties are extraordinary opportunities. Nowhere else is the rate of exploitation so high, the relative wages so low. Nowhere else are the workers worn out so quickly. In no other developed country have the workers so little security through social insurance. In no such country is there the racial oppression that exists against the Negroes, the downright peonage of the agricultural masses, etc. A Communist Party can grow certainly, but only if it understands thoroughly American conditions and the relations of these conditions to the international situation. To become a genuine Communist Party it has to root itself deeply among the most oppressed sections of the working class, express their needs, fight their battles, recruit its forces from their best elements.
MUST WIN CONFIDENCE
The Communist Party must win the confidence of these revolutionary workers who are willing to give their lives for the movement. To win this confidence the Party must have a leadership chosen to represent the movement because of tested ability and Communist behavior in mass struggles, profound Marxist knowledge, the highest level of honesty, integrity and courage.
This would have been the normal growth of the Communist Party. But the Communist Party was destined not to have that normal growth. In the United States there were large numbers of immigrants who at one time or another had felt the fist of Czarism. When the Czar was overthrown and after a few months the red flag of Bolshevism was raised these people flocked into the Communist movement by the thousands. In many countries among the poorest workers and peasants the highest enthusiasm was aroused by the events of the Russian Revolution. In America this happened as well. But in this country the Russian Revolution had a secondary effect which temporarily was decisive. For here the Russian Revolution attracted to the Communist Party many people not rooted in any degree in American conditions, who joined on a nationalist basis and who for a long time continued in their eighteen foreign language federations to lead their isolated nationalist lives. The controlling set among these members were not the coal miners, not the steel, not the textile workers but the highly skilled workers and many non-workers. Knowing they themselves could not attract the American masses these elements tried to push forward any intellectual who could speak “American” to be their “American face". Such intellectuals took the easy way out and compromised with these non-revolutionary sections of the Party. Indeed only such compromisers had any chance for leadership. Instead of entering into the serious work of winning the great mass of unskilled workers (poorest sections of the foreign born, Negroes, Mexicans, poor whites of the South, and such) the leaders were content to play around with the members the proletarian revolution in Russia brought to them. It was only with the Passaic strike that the Communist leaders were forced to make a show of organization of the unorganized. It was only when the Gastonia strike had actually occurred without their participation that any work in the South was decided on.
ORDERED TO JOIN A.F. OF L.
The Passaic strike can be traced to a wage cut of 10% handed down by the employers to an already impoverished textile proletariat. At that time I was working as a weaver in the nearby silk center of Paterson, N.J., where I had gone in order to start some organization work. Soon I was leading a silk strike in Hudson County, New Jersey. Simultaneously I was organizing in Passaic where almost a thousand members had joined the union.
Already I had, in two different “theses” presented the argument to the Communist Party center that the Communists should turn their face to the highly industrialized smaller cities of the country and should begin the job of organizing the unorganized workers. Of the millions and more textile workers, for instance, less than 5% were organized or rather disorganized in a dozen or so different unions, each small and futile, each fighting the other, each composed in the main of the most skilled workers. My program of action met with resistance.
Among the Communist Party leaders a fierce fight began to wage. One set (Foster, Browder, et. al.) took the position: To organize the unorganized was I.W.W.ism, was “dual unionism". They argued we had to work inside the American Federation of Labor only and that we could not afford to offend these A.F. of L. officials. Another set of “leaders” (Cannon-Dunne) argued if Communists were to lead strikes, the employers would never settle with the strikers, the strikers could never win. Therefore the Communists should never lead directly but must only influence the American Federation of Labor which the employers trusted. Finally, there was a third set of officials (Lovestone-Weinstone) who took no clear position. They refused to be against the organization of the unorganized but they refused to help. Their attitude was in effect: “If Weisbord wants to break his head, let him. If the strike succeeds we can claim it. We have nothing to lose.”
While the leaders argued I continued my work. Soon I was called in and told there was no more money to continue. The officialdom had reached a decision at last. I received a peremptory instruction forbidding me to issue union books and stamps and to turn over all the members to the American Federation of Labor. But life mocked their decisions. We were already on the eve of the Passaic strike. In spite of all the enormous difficulties, not the last being the conduct of the “communist leaders” the strike began.
THE STRATEGY OF THE STRIKE
The strategy of the Passaic strike was simple yet far reaching; This strategy was 1. to strike the key mill in passaic. 2. to extend the strike without undue haste but promptly to all the mills that had given the wage cuts. 3. to involve all the textile mills in Passaic, broadening and deepening the fight. 4. to penetrate into the silk and dye textile fields; 5. to extend the strike if possible into a general strike in Passaic. 6. to call the Paterson silk workers out thus eventually having 100,000 men solidly on strike in the compact Passaic County region. 7. to force an alliance with the other textile union 8. to enter vigorously into Lawrence, Massachusetts, and to coordinate with strike action there and nationally.
When one hits, one must be prepared to hit hard. Everything depended on our direct blow. We had to clean out instantly and completely the mill that was first struck. Here the employers entirely underestimated our preparations. At a given moment, our delegates inside the mill closed down their machines. The foremen dared not stop them. The eyes of all the workers were on them. Calmly they marched to a central point and together went to see the superintendent. We had anticipated the superintendent would fire them all and would try to force them to leave by the office gate. It was our job to get back to the workers and to see that all the workers came out together. When the delegation arrived the superintendent had already called in the chief of police with a dozen policemen. To their surprise however, the delegation instead of being “peacefully” shoved outside, fiercely fought off the police, and rushing back into the building called the strike. Our tactic was entirely successful. Like a vast sea the workers poured out of the mill and soon a great cheering picket line was marching in front of the mill gates. The shock troops had gone into action. In two days the Botany mill with over 5000 workers was completely tied up.
From then on the strategy worked almost according to clock. Deliberately we called out mill after mill. By the end of the first week all the textile workers whose wages had been cut were enthusiastically on strike. From the very start efforts were made to discipline and to solidify the workers and to give them confidence in their strength and power. When the strike started the union established its own proletarian police. These police wore orange bands on their sleeves and had full power to maintain order. Their work was so effective even drunkenness was stamped out for a while.
ALL MILLS SHUT
By the end of the fourth week all textile mills of Passaic were shut. By the end of the seventh week the strike was still sweeping forward, had enveloped the huge dye works in Lodi, had penetrated into the environs of Paterson, had laid the base for a general strike in Passaic. The crucial hour had arrived.
But the Communist leaders in New York never grasped this. They shrank from the extension of the strike. Their original pessimism resulted in a slow mobilization, a lack of national coordination, their early desire to “dump” the strike, to get rid of it in every possible way, their final ruin of the struggle.
During the first three weeks of the strike not a single person was sent to help me. The first person who was sent me by the Party (Jack Bryan) was later drove away as a labor detective and agent provocateur. No person of prominent ability was ever sent to aid the conduct of the strike itself. (All the “big” leaders stayed quietly at home or went abroad!) Only in the fourth week of the strike when all the initial difficulties were already overcome and the strike had grown to large and dramatic proportions did someone come to aid in the relief work.
FAILURE TO ENTER PATERSON
Worst of all was the failure to prepare for the extension of the strike into Paterson. By the time of the seventh week the situation in Paterson had become very favorable for strike action. At the same moment “peace” and “settlement” committees of all kinds began to spring up. Inside the Communist Party a deep controversy arose as to how to secure “peace". It was my position that the best road to “peace” under the circumstances was that of vigorous bold action in Paterson and Lawrence and that the entire forces of the Communist Party be mobilized for such an action.
It was a wonderful situation. Everyone expected this move. It was the winning move. If such a strike had been called in Paterson the whole city of Passaic would have walked out in general strike. The rubber workers were ready (about 1000 had joined our “Rubber Workers Union”, bear in mind) and there were about 10,000 rubber workers in Passaic and vicinity. The other industries, handkerchief, tobacco, clothing, etc., would have quickly followed the rubber workers. As it was, over 300 workers spontaneously quit the Garfield Manufacturing Company and struck for more wages and for better conditions. As did 250 workers who came out of the very large silk dyeing mill in East Paterson of their own accord. The strike fever was growing. Urgent calls came from workers delegations to come to Paterson. Without Paterson we could not hold effectively the 4000 dye workers out in Lodi. This was the greatest time in the history of the strike. It also marked the greatest failure of our Party. Had the Paterson strike occurred the strike would have quickly ended in a victory.
TRUSTING IN “PEACE”
Instead of this path, the Party leaders took the course of believing and trusting in the efficacy of the “peace” committees. Every rumor of “peace was magnified into a roar. Such “militants” as Robert Dunn, A. J. Muste, Sidney Hillman, Rabbi Wise, Senator Borah were feverishly consulted. Phantastic illusions were conjured up. The result was disastrous. The Paterson campaign died still born. The Lawrence campaign died of inertia. At a time when every moment counted, action was suspended. The necessary breathing space was given to the employers. They launched a terrific offensive. Almost 700 armed men entered the field. A line of bayonets was flung before the East Paterson dye mill. The union headquarters was raided. The leaflets calling for the rubber workers strike were seized. All the leaders of the union were arrested and held under enormous bail. A vigilantes’ committee headed by churchmen was formed to drive us out of the city. The sheriff declared “riot law". All meetings were broken up Picket lines ended. Civil Liberties for the strikers vanished. Tons of propaganda against the strikers were poured out from Washington, from Trenton, and from a host of other places. Red White and Blue Societies distributed constitutions to hungry strikers. National Security League red-baiters and notorious labor provocateurs appeared on the scene. The courts turned out injunctions, eviction notices and criminal convictions by the score. All possibility of any extension of the strike was wrecked and from then on we were steadily put on the defensive. The peak of the strike had been definitely reached.
LEADERSHIP IN PANIC
The first attach of the employers threw the Communist central leadership into a panic. I shall never forget the day I was called in from the field early in the strike (This was in June. The strike lasted till December-January.) The strike then was healthy and strong. Positively no workers were back at work. I was solemnly informed by Foster that a special decision (originated by “Bill” Dunne) had been made in Chicago for me to carry out: namely, “Since the Passaic Strike was lost". (these were the exact words that began the decision) the strikers should be put on a chartered boat, taken to Boston, and marched through the textile towns of New England as a “demonstration.”
This was not lunacy. It was their method-under phrases of “demonstrations” of course—of liquidating the strike of dumping it off their shoulders. Loyal as I was to the principle of strict Party discipline I refused to carry out this decision. It was never carried out.
I have mentioned in passing how every effort was made to drive the leadership out of the strike. Employers, government, churches, vigilantes’ committee, and even the officials of the American Federation of Labor tried their hand at it, but to no avail. In the meantime as the strike wore on we made efforts to get into the American Federation of Labor. We had a two-fold purpose: first to unite with the millions of workers inside the A.F. of L. and second to throw out those officials who separated the workers and with their class collaboration policies served as labor lieutenants of the employers. In the course of events we had raised a huge movement to compel the officials to affiliate us to the American Federation of Labor.
The A.F. of L. officials were not averse to taking in our members. They desired nothing better than to go into Passaic and to choke off the strike. The employers knew this. That is why they themselves tried in every way to get the A.F. of L. into the situation. But one thing stood in their way, the Communist leadership in the field. The mill owners then declared they would treat with the A.F. of L. but not with the Communists. The A.F. of L. officials declared they would take in the strikers, but Weisbord would have to leave.
This bait the Communist Party leaders in New York swallowed hook, line and sinker. Their gloom turned to glee. They declared the terms of the A.F. of L. to take in the strikers but to throw out the Communists spelled victory. They declared they had positive guarantees the mill owners would settle with the strikers if I left and that the American Federation of Labor officials would not break the strike, that it was a “recognition” of the Communists in the labor movement, etc.
Led to believe settlement depended only on my withdrawal, led to believe that I would soon return to Passaic and would come back to the union at the earliest possible moment, I felt it necessary to retreat. The Communist Party officials had united on a motion to the effect that our affiliation to the A.F. of L. with the removal of the Communist leaders “was a distinct victory for our policy". This I voted against. I proposed the following: “The proposal to join the United Textile Workers in form and manner decided is a retreat. If it was not a question of facilitating this kind of a settlement (just and speed settlement) we would not at this time and in this manner join the U.T.W.” This motion was defeated. The Communist Party officials had their way. No settlement came. The strike dragged on four more weary months. Soon the textile organizations collapsed.
NEW BEDFORD STRIKE
A year and a half later, in April 1928, the New Bedford strike broke out. At that moment I was in Russia, 4000 miles away, when I received a cablegram that a strike had broken out and that I must return to America to participate in it. All of the Communist officers were in America at the time but not one would enter into the strike. These leaders had worked out a convenient theory of “division of labor between brain and brawn". They could no longer deny the necessity of organizing the unorganized but they violently fought against their doing it. They were too big for the work, to brainy for such low tasks.
Thus when the important New Bedford strike broke out these leaders were only too glad to allow two honest rank and file Communists who were in the field and who wanted to do such work, to carry on alone. These two organizers aided by the local Communists in Boston did the best they could under the circumstances. Indeed it was their untiring work that at the crucial moment really compelled the officials of the independent union there to count the strike vote before the eyes of the voters and to announce the strike was on. (This independent union, the American Federation of Textile Operatives, soon joined the A.F. of L.)
The first immediate problem was what should be our relations to the union in the field, now in the American Federation of Labor? Here the Communists in the field at once adopted a correct policy. Since the A.F. of L. union had but 2,500 out of the 30,000 strikers, our job was to go in directly to organize the unskilled workers not admitted into this union. Since the A.F. of L. officials refused picket lines, etc., we ourselves were to carry on the militant work of the strike. Since the A.F. of L. heads had at first refused to organize relief or defense for anyone but their own members, we were to undertake this. All the time however, making it clear that, far from disrupting the strike, we were really organizing it in every possible way. Far from bringing disunity we urged united picket lines, tried to cooperate with the members of the A.F. of L. union.
PARTY LEADERS INTERVENED
How different was the situation in Paterson later (winter 1928) when the New York leaders of the Communist Party personnel intervened. In Paterson also there was an independent union, the Associated Silk Workers Union. Before the strike (continuing the false policy of Passaic), our comrades had actually tried to get the independent union to join the A.F. of L. This move the officers of the Associated resisted on the ground that the A.F. of L. was too reactionary. Thus it was not the Communists but the really conservative officers of the union who appeared radical. Matters were made worse by the Communists declaring against the coming strike, while the officials posed as being for it. In reality these officials were against the strike and as soon as the strike began, they told the workers quietly to go back to work. Now the original blunders of the central leadership of the Communist Party were intensified. No effective efforts were made to expose the Associated officials. Instead of mobilizing the workers, the New York Communist Party leaders attempted to win over the Associated officials. To show their friendship to these officials, the Communist Party heads actually forbade the National Textile Workers union, whose secretary I then was, to go into Paterson to organize the non-unionized silk workers there. When I proposed that the National Textile Workers Union start organizing work in Paterson, to organize those not in any union only, and through pressure from without as well as pressure from within to push aside the conservative officials and to allow the workers in Paterson a chance to win their strike, I was told that to organize the unorganized was to break the strike!
As a result of the many errors of the Communists in charge and of the clever maneuvers of the conservative officials, the strike petered out very soon in Paterson. To cap it all the Communist Party chiefs decided to tell the workers to go back to work while the strike officially was still on. The left-wing made up of Communists and sympathizers,—found itself entirely isolated. When the officials of the union eventually forced a split relatively very few workers came with us.
Fortunately no such policy as the above was pursued in New Bedford. And the result was entirely different. Here we were able to take the leadership in this valiant struggle lasting six months. Thousands of unorganized workers flocked to our banner.
In the wage cutting campaign of 1928 in the cotton mills of New England the employers had adopted the following line of attack. First to give wage cuts to some of the outlying places. There was some discontent but no adequate resistance. Then the wage cut was given in March to 28,000 cotton workers in Fall River. Then wage cuts came to New Bedford, the very heart of the cotton industry of the north.
When the wage cutting first reached Fall River the militants were caught without preparation, since the Passaic strike the Communist Party bureaucrats (represented by Ballam) had abandoned all textile work, and the workers were forced to accept the wage cut without struggle.
When the indignant resistance of the New Bedford workers forced the strike it was plain what our strategy had to be namely (1) to re-open agitation in Fall River and to mobilize all forces to extend the strike there. (2) to penetrate into the valleys of Rhode Island and with the extension of the strike into Fall River to coordinate this action in Rhode Island and in all the mills where wages had been cut. (3) to mobilize all forces into a national movement to support the New Bedford strike.
This time no resistance was offered in the Communist Party center to this line. And for a very good reason. Practically every single Communist Party leader of importance had packed up his bag and had gone to Moscow. The Center was deserted. Perhaps it was better so. The blunders that were committed in Paterson later were not committed then in New Bedford. Nevertheless without these leaders nothing could be done on a national scale. The result was no effective extension of the strike in Fall River could take place. There was no one to pay any attention to our desperate plea for capable organizers to be sent into the field in time into Fall River and elsewhere. The organizers already overburdened in New Bedford had to take upon themselves the job of preparing strike action in Fall River as well.
In Fall River we accomplished truly heroic work but due to our isolation and lack of national support and due to the very excellent preparations of the employers when the strike in Fall River did break out and over a thousand workers did brave the holocaust of terror that burst upon them the strike was ruthlessly, murderously crushed. And the only hope of extending the New Bedford strike and thus forcing an early victory came to an end. Let us hope that the boys in Moscow turned at least once in their sleep when they heard the news.
In New Bedford, too, sharp events were taking place. The nearby towns of Massachusetts were emptied of police to reinforce those of New Bedford. From Fall River, from Taunton, from Brockton, from Quincy, from all over it seemed, they poured into the strike area. Hundreds of strikers were arrested at a time. Even the militia were called out. For the property of William Morgan Butler, of the Republican Party, sir, was at stake. However, the strikers’ lines held firm. Their spirit remained good. The militia were soon won over by the strikers. They began to murmur against their service. They were withdrawn.
NO NATIONAL SUPPORT
The national support of the strike was so poor as to be worse than useless. In the matter of relief not only was it poorly handled but actually a decision passed which prevented the strikers from getting relief from any point outside of New England and a few other cities. In regard to defense even worse decisions were arrived at. Although almost 1000 arrests took place, no real national campaign was started. But far worse was the local policy. In a crucial moment of the strike the two local leaders who had carried on the work from the beginning (Murdoch and Beal) were arrested and faced trial. Our representative actually made a deal with the state prosection (so he confessed later) not to appeal the case of one of the organizers (Murdoch) provided the latter would be sentenced to two months in jail on one count instead of the possible maximum of six months on the three counts of the indictment. Most outrageous of all, the other leader Beal was actually ordered by the I.L.D. representative to plead guilty when he was innocent. And thus in the midst of the strike the principal Communist local leaders were jailed "by agreement". In the Communist center, I demanded we publicly repudiate this dastardly agreement. No public repudiation ever came from Cannon, I.L.D. head, or anyone else. An agreement was an agreement and though it cost but $100 to appeal the case, this was not done, though the strike be broken!
With such “national support” what could we do in the field? It is no wonder we could not win a full victory but only a partial one. There came a time when the workers became quite weary, when the A.F. of L. officials took a vote of their own members to return to work (although two more weeks out would have meant complete victory) when this vote failing the officials brought the greatest pressure to return to work, when the whole city was organized to crush the Communist forces in the strike, when a second vote was foisted on the workers and counted by the officials as a vote to return to work—at this time we could not hold the ranks of the workers longer. They had seen their leaders jailed “by agreement” with the Communist Party officials, they had seen themselves cut off from national relief “by order of the Communist Party leaders” they had seen the kind of national support they had received and in spite of their great respect and admiration for these organizers, they broke ranks, followed the A.F. of L. and returned to work. The strike was over. One hundred thousand workers got back 5% of the 10% of the wages that had been cut.
THE GASTONIA STRIKE
The last major textile strike was the Gastonia, N.C., in 1929. The significant story of Gastonia should be told. It cannot be told in this issue.
Certain painful conclusions force themselves upon us. The battle has to be waged on two fronts. At every crucial moment of the strike we have not only external, but internal struggles. Often the internal struggle is more costly. On the one hand we see the textile workers acting with the greatest courage and fortitude overcoming the obstacles, the brutality and cunning of the mill owners place in their way. We see the Communist Party members striving loyally to help them. On the other hand we see a little clique of men calling themselves Communist leaders in reality neither Communists nor leaders. Resembling the officials of the Socialist Party or of the A.F. of L., they, like old men of the sea, ride on the back of the workers movements, strangling its every effort.
But there is no need to despair. Let the Fish Committee howl as it may. The American workers are not so backward. There will be formed through the course of such struggles and in a hand to hand conflict with these old men of the sea, the necessary Communist Party which the workers must have to be victorious.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *U. S. PREPARES FOR WAR
That the limitation of armaments and all other so-called peace conferences are just for domestic consumption in the respective countries is again proven by the announcement of the United States War department made public on May 13.
The plans of the War Department call of an immediate drafting into the army all workers between the age of 18 and 45 as soon as war is declared, of the draft law which has already been drawn up for presentation!
The plan as announced by the War Department is worked out to the smallest detail including the demobilization of the troops after the war is ended.
Workers! The capitalist class of the United States as well as the capitalists of every other country are preparing for another world wide blood bath. When war is declared it is the duty of all militant and class conscious workers to conduct activities for the defeat of their own imperialist masters at the same time fraternizing with the worker-soldiers of the other countries (the allies of the United States and the so-called enemy).
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *WE HEAR A NOISE!
Cannon took a chew of our theses and the result was political indigestion followed by a gaseous emission in the form of Shachtman’s article in the Militant of May 15th. Poor Shachtman get so excited, my! how excited. And well he might, for his members are beginning to realize his fight against the Fosters and Lovestones is like the fight between Tweedledum and Tweedledee:
“Tweedledum and Tweedledee agreed to have a battle.
For Tweedledum took Tweedledee’s nice new rattle.”—or something like that.
“Honest Jim” Cannon, filled with “principles” is very angry we use the title “Adhering to the International Left Opposition". By what right? he asks. By far more right than you have to say you are part of the Communist International, by the right of our political line, by the right of our deeds.
To the marionnette Max, our theses contain nothing “new". Now, Maxie, isn’t it “new” to have a group, adhering to the International Left Opposition, to take a clear stand on such questions as the “Struggle for Negro Emancipation” for example? Where is your position? Why did you wait over a year after the crisis began before even letting others write an unemployment program for you? Did you not yourself admit once that only our group had been correct in analyzing the situation in the U.S. as one containing the premises of quick and sudden radicalization depending to a very great extent on upon what we, that is, the Communists, did?
But “Honest Jim” cannot answer these questions. He must resort to drawing red herrings, Shachtman starts the article in his usual “smart alecky” style by claiming we have “a baker’s dozen of supporters". One would think reading Shachtman that hundreds of thousands of workers were rallying to his banner! Actually the membership of the Cannon group is not many times larger than the Communist League of Struggle. Besides, we shall grow, Maxie dear. And your argument is just like that of Lovestone and of Foster.
The old bogy of Urbahns, Paz, etc., is taken from its dusty nook in the garret and waved as a flag to prove that we are the supporters of the positions of those individuals. What nonsense! Then Maxie (suddenly a left winger) hollers “No united front with the right wing against the Party!” Does Morgenstern and Goodman agree to this? The Party will not defend them. What do you propose to do to save them? Why don’t you call a united front? When will you do it, when it is too late? If Morgenstern and Goodman go to jail it will be due as much to your treacherous conduct as to the I.L.D.’s. Yes, we are ready to make united fronts with all right wing groups, even with you.
In the second place, as we pointed out in the previous issue of the Class Struggle although Cannon and his colleagues are quire insistent in opposing a united front against the official Party, they periodically make a gesture in that direction (Cannon’s agreeing to speak at Bert Miller’s united front meeting on India, at which other scheduled speakers included Miller, Bert Wolfe, Lore, Budenz, etc.)
We can quite correctly claim that Cannon and Shachtman’s refusal to participate in the day by day struggles of the workers is a fundamental part of their general orientation, not a development since they have attempted to hide under the cloak of Trotsky’s prestige. Examine the record of Cannon and Shachtman in the party, and what do you fund? neither of them (and they are the leaders of the Cannon group) have since they joined the Communist movement participated in any struggle of the workers—major or minor.
Cannon was always a swivel chair warmer while in the Party and a mighty poor one at that. Shachtman was first an office executive (like Herberg, Zam, and Darcy of the Young Communist League (editor of the Young Worker)). While later he held a similar position in the International Labor Defense (editor of the Labor Defender). It would be surprising indeed if men with such a background would take the initiative or even become the tail-end of any serious struggles on the part of the working class.
Shachtman weeps how Weisbord helped Lovestone expel him and his aides from the Party in 1928. While we are on the question of expulsion, where were Cannon and Shachtman when Trotsky was attacked by Stalinist henchmen in the year 1923?
At that time Cannon was a member of the Political Committee, the leading body of the Communist Party of the U.S.A. That body as well as the Central Committee of which Cannon was also a member on many occasions discussed the differences within the C.P. of the S.U. It was not until 1928, five years after Trotsky was attacked do we find Cannon “convinced” that Trotsky is correct and Stalin wrong. Although not in any way near such a strategic position as Cannon to read the necessary documents, Comrade Weisbord came out for the Left Opposition only one year later than Cannon and Co. Why did it take Cannon and Shachtman five years to “discover” Trotsky is correct, even though they had the opportunity of examining his program before anyone else in the American movement?
Nowhere in his article does Shachtman even make a serious attempt to answer the points raised by us. He merely mentions some of our charges and calls them untrue. They include the role of betrayal of Cannon in the New Bedford strike and Cannon’s political relationship to Bill Dunne. Further elaboration of these two points are to be found on other pages in this issue of the Class Struggle (see Current Comment and Weisbord’s article on textile strikes, pages 4 and 5).
The Cannon-Shachtman group realizes that it has no leg to stand upon. Its role in the American Communist movement (with the exception of printing some of Trotsky’s works) is a purely barren one. It has no historical excuse for existence and will disappear from the political scene much sooner than many workers realize. --P.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *INTERNATIONAL NOTES
Riot and Revolution. These words signalize the political situation throughout the world. The developing Revolution in Spain still remains as the most important event during the past month. An analysis of the Spanish developments will be found in another place of this issue.
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In Egypt, Cairo was turned into a shambles when close to 600 people were shot down by the governmental troops. The workers and students are in the lead in battling the forces of oppression.
In China, nothing the imperialists do can prevent the disintegration of the central Nanking government. Civil war among the military cliques has broken out again. The ruling class again is showing that it cannot rule The masses plunged into the greatest conceivable misery are striking back. The Communist movement gathers strength. In the cities now the proletariat also is stirring. What must be effected is a conjuncture of proletarian and peasant forces under the leadership of the proletarians. This will insure the moving forward of the whole chain of revolutionary events in China .
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Two sets of antagonisms mark the struggles in Latin America; on the one hand the titanic rivalry between the two imperialist giants, U.S. and British imperialisms, on the other hand the struggle of the colonial masses for liberation from all imperialist rule.
In Argentina the wildest rumors prevail. Another palace revolution is brewing against Uriburu. The last such revolution resulted in the successful U.S. imperialism replacing Britain’s favorite, Irogoyen, with its own puppet Uriburu. With the Prince of Wales’ trip to Argentina, what more natural event than that a new “revolution” against the U.S. puppet dictator should result? The Price of Wales is, of course, a revolutionist, but not at home, thank you. However, the masses of Latin-America are growing more and more weary of the role they have to play. The anti-imperialist struggle increases with greatest intensity.
In Lima, Peru, the strike of the taxi men as spread to Callao and to other parts of Peru where all workers are participating. Police shot into the strikers killing one and wounding several. Martial law has been declared.
The valiant Nicaraguan rebels have been reinforced by active troops in Honduras. The situation is of great importance, much underestimated by the 13th street Communist Party in the U.S. A disciplined revolutionary army is built up in the heart of Central America. Important battles are being won. Secretary Stimson is beginning to squeal. We must aid these rebel forces. Let us get together all forces willing to send money or supplies or to aid in way to defeat the imperialist murderers, especially the Yankee government ones, of the Latin-American toiling masses.
The New York Times of May 16th reports the situation in Cuba as follows: “Rebellion in Cuba reported to Capitol. Havana hears country is on verge of outbreak.” The bloody dictatorship of Machado, tool of Wall Street, plus the increased resistance of the masses, greatly influenced by events in Spain and in Latin America, are bringing things to a head.
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The biggest situation in capitalist Europe, outside of Spain, remains the growing struggle between Germany and France. The German-Austrian Anschluss has been buttressed by a pact including Hungary and Italy. Against this alliance, France is mobilizing all resources for the sharpest kind of a fight. All the old war hatreds flare forth as before. The last imperialist robber war solved nothing. The next imperialist war now being prepared must be met with civil war of the toilers against all exploiters.
The position of Ramsay MacDonald, “labor” bloodhound for the British robbers is a delicate one. One the one hand, in any really critical situation England must support France against Germany. On the other hand, French imperialism must be countered on the continent, Germany must be put in a position to pay its war debts to England, etc.
* * *
For the last ten years Czar Ferdinand of Bulgaria has been receiving large sums of money from the German government. This has just been exposed by a Communist member of the Reichstag.
It seems that the Kaiser had promised Ferdinand 25 million marks for his own personal use if Bulgaria should enter the war on the side of Germany. The bloody tyrant agreed, war was declared and the “human cattle” delivered for slaughter. After the war Ferdinand demanded payment. The Republican Government of Germany carried out the agreement.
But this did not yet satisfy Czar Ferdinand. The inflation period in Germany wiped out the purchasing power of what he had received. So he demanded a new payment in gold. From 1924 to 1926 three million gold marks were paid him. In February 1931 the Bruening government agreed to give him 500,000 gold marks annually.
Only one thing more remains to be said. The “socialists” raised not one word in protest! --A.W.
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HELP SUSTAIN THE CLASS STRUGGLE
The Communist League of Struggle wants to publish the Class Struggle regularly. At the present time its regular appearance is of major importance to the Communist and Left Wing forces. Without the support of the workers we will not be able to issue the paper on time. Do not delay! Send in your contribution today!
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LOST AND FOUND DEPT.
Lost strayed or stolen—the “third period.” Finder kindly return to Stalin and Molotov, Moscow, U.S.S.R.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *EXECUTIVE MEMBERS HAVE GOOD RECORDS
The Executive Committee members of the Communist League of Struggle have a good record in the revolutionary movement. They are Albert Weisbord, Vera Buch, Sylvan A. Pollack, Sam Watts and Kurt Ahrens.
Albert Weisbord was a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party before his expulsion. He was leader of the Passaic strike 1926 and directing organizer and Party representative in the New Bedford, Fall River and Paterson textile strikes (1928) and in the Gastonia strike (1929). Comrade Weisbord was arrested many times for sedition, etc., In 1926 he was sent as delegate to the Fourth R.I.L.U. Congress and in 1929 was the Communist Party and Trade Union Educational League representative to the Mexican Red Union Convention. When expelled, he was secretary of the National Textile Workers Union. He was one time acting District Organizer of the Workers (Communist) Party in Philadelphia and Detroit District Organizer of the Party in Michigan.
Vera Buch joined the Communist Party in its very first days in 1919. She was an organizer in the Passaic strike, coal strike (1928) and Gastonia strike. In the course of the Gastonia strike she was one of those indicted for murder and faced electrocution. She was a member of the Communist Party Political Committee in the Detroit District and was women work director in that district and in the coal strike of 1928.
Sylvan A. Pollack was a member of the left wing of the Socialist Party and a foundation member of the Communist Party. At various times he was on the editorial staff of the Daily Worker, editor of Solidarity, organ of the Workers International Relief and national publicity director of the International Labor Defense. Comrade Pollack has also participated in many struggles in the capacity of the W.I.R., I.L.D. or publicity representative (Passaic, New Bedford). He was also the I.L.D. District Organizer in the Anthracite coal fields. Comrade Pollack was arrested numerous times, including the time of the Palmer Red Raids in 1919 and in the coal fields in 1920. He is now out on bail awaiting trial on a sedition charge.
Sam Watts was an “active” in the Young Communist League. He is in the movement since 1925 and has headed various plumbers helpers youth organizations and helped organize a number of strikes in New York City.
Comrade Watts and Comrade Pollack were expelled from the Young Communist League and the Communist Party respectively for “Trotskyism.”
Kurt Ahrens was a member of the Communist League (Opposition) and was expelled in March 1931 for protesting against the refusal of the Cannon group to participate in the struggles of the workers. Comrade Ahrens is now working as an automobile mechanic.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *BURIED TREASURE
“Nowhere is there a more deplorable and contemptible spectacle than that presented by unorganized workmen … They are worse than cowards and parasites; they are traitors—traitors to the working class and themselves. They bite the hand that feeds them… The worse enemy of Labor is not the employer, but the unorganized workingmen … Out of their colossal ignorance and stupidity are forged fetters for the whole working class. Were it not for their treason, the exploiters would be helpless … The unorganized are the real enemy of Labor; the true obstacle to Liberty.” pp. 26-27-28 of Wm. Z. Foster’s pamphlets “Trade-Unionism—the Road to Freedom” published by the International Trade Union Educational League. This was the spirit of Foster in the Steel Strike and the Stock Yard Strike; this was how he organized the unorganized! This pamphlet is quoted approvingly by Foster in his book “The Great Steel Strike” published in 1920. A few months later Foster was a “great Communist leader"!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *THE CPLA PROGRAM “ACCEPTABLE TO THE COMMUNISTS”—Gitlow
This appeared in the Revolutionary Age, organ of the Lovestone Group, in its issue of December 13th, 1930. Let us look at this program particularly as it stood on December 13th.
I. THE C.P.L.A. AND THE COMMUNISTS
1."We are as unwilling to cooperate with the Communists as the A.F. of L. itself.” Letter of Muste, Labor Age, July 1929.
2. “Communists are Strikebreakers”—Title of article by Louis F. Budenz, issue of Labor Age, January 1930.
3. The C.P.L.A. pledged itself practically to drive out Communists from the unions. “It would be deplorable if the result of experience with disruptive Communist tactics should be used as a pretext to foist a dictatorship of officials upon the American labor movement … The C.P.L.A. does not promote or countenance the formation of so-called “nuclei” groups of workers in labor organizations who act under instructions and orders from an outside agency and carry out its behests”—Official C.P.L.A. statement “The Minority’s Right to Criticize”—Labor Age, August 1929. (Our emphasis).
II. THE C.P.L.A. AND THE A.F.L.
While quoting approvingly Green’s remarks “If there is any such thing in America (as class war) then it is the class war between the A.F. of L. and the Communists”—see article Dixie Crusade in Feb. 1930 Labor Age,—the C.P.L.A. took the most abject, prostrate sycophant position before the officials of the A.F. of L.
1. Take the editorial in the January 1931 issue of the Labor Age which says that under Gompers the A.F. of L. was a fighting organization! In various other issues Labor Age praises to the skies such out and out labor betrayers as Farrington, Fishwick, Walker, Green, McMahon, Gorman, Hoffman, Zaritsky, Wolff, Laderman, Spector, Dubinsky, Hochman, Schlesinger, Broach, George Harrison, etc.
2. Nor has the C.P.L.A. failed to express itself on various specific trade union questions. Let us take three important industries and see how the Labor Age, official organ of the C.P.L.A. dealt with them.
First let us take the miners situation. According to Muste (Labor Age, March 1930) in his article “The Crisis in the Miners Union” if Walker, Fishwick and Farrington win “then there is an excellent chance that a progressive, fighting, democratic, clean, intelligent, union may emerge". Farrington is the man who was getting $25,000 a year from the Peabody Coal Company while in the union employ, and in regard to him Muste declares that he has “skill in dealing with operators for the union"! To Muste, John H. Walker, president of the Illinois Federation of Labor, was a “master strategist”—this is the “Progressive” Muste!
Let us turn to the needle trades situation. Here the officials did everything they could to drain the very life out of the movement. Hundreds of gangsters, slugging militants, thousands of members expelled, conditions in the industry rapidly made worse for the workers, etc., etc. marked the rule of the bureaucracy in the needle trade unions. But how does it appear to the C.P.L.A.?
In an article “The Rebirth of a Union” appearing in Labor Age, Sept.. 1929, the full blame for the wrecking of the union is land on the “Left". Says this article, “Among other causes for the conditions into which the union had fallen was the internal strife in the union itself between “rights” and “lefts” and the utter failure of the latter (our emphasis) to cope with their problem when they got control of the situation three years ago.” Yes, it is true that the communists did not cope with the situation well enough three years ago. The C.P.L.A. group should have been more severely attacked, the new union should have been built sooner, the policy of Foster, “no new union,” of Dunne “Crawl back on your bellies,” of Lovestone, sabotaging the new union, should have been repudiated very sharply at that time. What was wrong with the Communists is that they had too many Mustes as their leaders!
The same article gives the reason why the I.L.G.W.U. is “reborn.” One reason is that the manufacturers wanted this union. But the chief reason is given that the workers turned their back on the Communists who did not want unity. The rebuilding of the union began because leaders forgot differences and got together!
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In 1929 the officials of the I.L.G.W.U. in connivance with the manufacturers called a fake cloakmakers strike and called in Governor Roosevelt to “settle” it. The officials, closely linked up with the Democratic party and all its dirty politics, then spent all the time of the union convention in eulogizing Governor Roosevelt and attacking the Communists. How did the “progressives” react to this?
“True the Governor was of great help (so!) in speeding up the strike settlement and the Lieut. Governor was particularly helpful (so!) in assisting the union to gain certain favorable concessions which the union could have secured through its own efforts. But a resolution of appreciation had already been passed by the shop chairmen and printed (evidently this was approved by the “progressives") … why was it necessary to reinforce this with telegrams?
“Nevertheless the Cleveland convention shows the I.L.G.W.U. is finding itself and is returning to those militant measures which have made it a great union in the past.” (Editorial, Jan 1930, Labor Age—our emphasis).
In 1930 another fake stoppage was called. The Labor Age—March 1930—in another editorial hailed this as a “great victory” and this victory was due to “the herculean efforts on the part of such men as Dubinsky, Schlesinger, Hochman.” Is this not enough to make a cat laugh?
Finally we take the trade union situation in the textile industry. Mr. Muste, chairman of the C.P.L.A. gives his opinion on the Passaic strike. According to him (Labor Age, March 1931—book review) the left wing did not give the U.T.W. officials cooperation! Also the left wing should have entered the U.T.W. before it actually did.
It is true that this program should be acceptable to the Lovestones and the Gitlows. Did they not frantically try to get the Mustes and the Robert Dunns, the Rabbi Wises and the Senator Borahs and other such “militants” to scurry around. Did not Gitlow, Foster and all the others declare that it was a “victory” to enter the A.F. of L. though the Communist leadership was decapitated? We are proud to say that only we carried on a class fight against the Mustes, Gitlows, Fosters, Cannons and the other “progressives” on this question. Our only regret is that we did not fight hard enough.
During the New Bedford strike the C.P.L.A chiefs were all for the A.F. of L. and did everything they could to break the N.T.W.U. and really to break the strike there. For an analysis of this strike I refer you to my various articles that appeared in The Communist at that time. Like Gitlow, Muste today—doubts if the N.T.W.U. is a good union. Only Muste here is more to the left than Gitlow, for the latter is very sure that the N.T.W.U. is no good, indeed that there is no N.T.W.U. at all!
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After the Communists had raised the whole question of the organization of the unorganized textile workers in the South, Green of the A.F. of L. was forced to take it up. Here is how Muste described it (Dec. 1929 Labor Age—article: “Militancy and Money"). But the main body of President Green’s speech was a passionate appeal for a big campaign in the South.” Yes, indeed, Mr. Green was very “passionate.” In various southern strikes that took place, under the aegis of the A. F. of L. (Marion, Elizabethton, Danville) not a word of criticism occurred during the course of the strikes. Only months later when the whole world knew of the actual sellouts of the workers that took place there, did the Labor Age come out against the way in which the A.F. of L. labor traitors had sold out the strike. But always in general remarks (the way Cannon criticizes the Mustes) never concretely, specifically, never calling out by name the very traitors to labor’s cause. Quite the contrary, Gorman, Hoffman, and all the other labor skates are repeatedly praised. Perhaps they were members of the C.P.L.A. themselves!
In one union the Musteites did have considerable influence, namely the American Federation of Full Fashioned Workers, part of the United Textile Workers Union. What was the result of all this influence. In an article Sept. 1930, Labor Age, Budenz is forced to admit that the F.F.H.W.U. signed a national agreement with the bosses for a 20% wage cut for 16,000 workers. To this was added a speed-up system officially endorsed by the union. The union in all this time had lost 50% of its control over shops. A terrific defeat! Now let us hear Budenz: “Why did such a strong, rich and wide-awake union as the hosiery workers fail to organize its industry? We believe that very little blame can be laid at the door of the hosiery workers union. The trouble goes straight back to the sate of the labor movement in this country.”
Now we understand. It is the workers who are to blame. Budenz must have been reading Wm. Z. Foster’s book, “Trade Unionism—the Road to Freedom"! It is true that the union paid enormous sums in fines and legal expense, it is true that regular A.F. of L. methods were used but the fault, so says Budenz, lies in that the workers had no “union psychology,” they had no “workers education” a la Brookwood.
Says Budenz: “This is a serious situation, and it remains to be seen whether the union’s hope that wage cuts will come (so!) in the non-union shops and that this will drive these workers into the union will be realized.” Do you hear this Communists? This is the program that is acceptable to Communists (of the Lovestone stripe!)
III. THE WAR PROGRAM OF THE C.P.L.A.
In the August 1929 issue of the Labor Age there is an article by the very chairman of the C.P.L.A. himself, the dean of Brookwood College and former minister. His article is entitled “No More War” and in this article Muste pretentiously works out a whole program how to fight war. Here it is:
(a) Eliminate war books from the schools; (b) get your children to join Pioneer Youth Organization (the liberal, socialist, pacifist outfit—a fine way to fight war!); (c) oppose the R.O.T.C. and C.M.T.C. (but how?) (d) The slogan is raised: “Not a cent from labor for military training at least (our emphasis) so long as one solitary striker has less than enough to support himself and his family in decency. [Muste, timid little rabbit as he is, is not even wholeheartedly against war as any good pacifist out to be, but he must hem and haw and put conditions. But let us go on.] (e) No private manufacture of arms (a fine way to reduce armament) [Muste in short is for a rationalized, nationalized manufacture of arms so that the U.S. will be better prepared for the next war] (f) Get your Congressman to go against increase of military establishment. [Isn’t this truly a “progressive” way of fighting war? And note it is only against an increase in funds for armament.] (g) against conscription, says Muste. [Perhaps because conscript armies revolt sooner?]. (h) “We must insist … our government cooperate with other powers with the utmost energy and speed in order to reduce not merely limit disarmaments. In view of the signing of the peace pact, it is almost as silly to spend hundredsof dollars for national defense as it would be to increase expenditures for that purpose.”
At this very moment the Soviet Union was proposing complete disarmament. Not one word about this from Muste. Does Muste want to reduce armaments? Not even that. All he wants it that the U.S. “cooperate” with other powers (especially with his former darling—Ramsey MacDonald). But suppose the others do not wish to cooperate? Shall we reduce then? Of course not. And do you really think the other power (MacDonald and Co.) really want to cooperate?
Is this man Muste not a monumental fool --we ask you dear readers. And note the reasons for Muste desiring cooperating in disarmament—the Kellogg Peace Pact makes such expenditures silly, since the Kellogg Peace Pact does away with war!
In order to show very much he is really for arms reduction, Muste asks us all to write to President Hoover to demand an arms cut.
This is the war program of the spokesman of the C.P.L.A. When this program becomes acceptable to the Lovestone group, then we unhesitatingly brand that group as renegades to Communism.—A.W.
(To be continued)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *At a C.P. “UNITED FRONT”
The downtown unemployment conference was held on Sunday, May 10. Delegates representing about twenty different organizations namely the Communist Party, Young Communist League units, International Labor Defense branches, Workers Clubs, Trade Union Unity League unions were present. The delegates were party members with the exception of one or two who were very close to the party.
At the chairman’s table was sitting Jack Johnstone, Sam Nessin, the chairman and one of the workers who took the credential to the committee which was meeting in another room. When we handed in our credentials he took them over to Nessin. Poor fellow, he did not know what to do! Nessin smiled good naturedly and told the worker to take it to the committee, for he knew that John Stueben was there to see that everything the committee reported would be “kosher.”
In the discussion it was brought out that unemployment was increasing and the proof given was that the Prosser Committee stopped its relief. It was further stated that more propaganda was necessary, greater concentration on the flop-houses, etc., as though they have not concentrated enough on those places. It was also said that if any unemployed worker needs immediate relief, he should be sent to the charity organization—Salvation Army, etc. Nobody proposed that the Council concentrate on proletarian neighborhoods with a program as the main objective of which was to fight to get food, clothing and shelter for the unemployed.
The chairman called all the delegates by name and when the delegates of the Communist League of Struggle tried to get the floor, he promised it to them, but always called on someone else even though they had not asked for the privilege to speak.
The reporter for the credential committee was Anna Lyons. All delegates were seated except the C.L.S. on the ground that it is not a workers organization. She said that with a silly grin on her face. No discussion was allowed. The C.L.S. delegates were told by the chairman that they cold not speak on the report of the credential committee because they were not seated. A vote was taken. All voted for the committee’s report with the exception of one Party sympathizer, who was afraid to register his abstentation. Our delegates were then ordered to leave the hall. If we can be seated in the Scottsboro conference why not in an unemployed conference? ----- Harry J. Fisher.
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In the Next issue:
"MY EXPULSION FROM THE COMMUNIST PARTY” by ALBERT WEISBORD
An exposure of Stalinist manipulations. —Watch for it!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *WITH THE YOUNG WORKERS
It has been often said that the Young Communist League is in a crisis. Strictly speaking this is not so. The claimants reason that since its progress has been at a standstill, it is now at a point where it must go either forward or backward. The fact really is that the organization is stagnating.
The Y.C.L. has been and is afflicted with a bankrupt bureaucracy. The reign of the bureaucracy running the league is unchallenged by any one, and yet the bureaucrats can show no results in concrete work. This bureaucracy however, is very "liberal". It is quite willing to criticize itself and admit mistakes. There are not so many of these, however, because they donít do very much work.
The word "bureaucracy" is never used in this inevitable self-criticism; there are better descriptive phrases which do not smell so much, such as; lack of a collective leadership, low idealogical level, no concrete guidance, complete separation of rank and file from district leadership, inability to create enthusiasm for carrying out work. Yet, it is just these factors that expose a bureaucracy.
The bureaucracy tries to cover up its bankruptcy by "shock plan" splurges which are rupturous attempts to "pump life into the work." The quotas of the plans are invariably to high to even think of attainment, or else are just equal to the regular activity.
The procedure is something like this: First, The Young Worker and district communications get "all het up" about the new plan and one district or section challenges another in revolutionary competition to extravagantly large tasks. Next the district speaker comes down to the unit with an outline and line of talk which every rank and filer knows by heart. Then all physical contact with the district disapears and the communications start screaming that everyone is far behind in their quotas, and we must organize "shock troops" to bolster up the now decrepit plan.
At the end of the "shock period" the time is extended and when further extension is ludicrous the results are announced: The Young Worker subs have dropped from 1200 to 750; we have 85 new members instead of 200 called for in the plan; a few more small gains and the "plan" has died from natural causes.
The leadership has failed in concrete and physical guidance. At the recent demonstration at the Post Office protesting the ban of The Young Worker from the mails, the district took complete charge. Complicated plans were made for resisting the police, etc. The police showed up in full force but the district leadership did not. All the "organizational preparations" collapsed and the demonstration only took place because the rank and filers took matters into their own hands.
What is the matter with the Y.C.L.?
1. The leadership is a bureaucracy and idealogically inert.
2. They have never been tested in mass struggles.
3. There is still the large petty-bourgois fraction affecting and limiting the work.
What must be done?
1. The leadership must now engage in the building of the shop nuclei and show the membership by example and concrete physical guidance how to do this work.
2. Those leaders who have been tried and found wanting and those who refuse to enter mass activity must be removed.
3. A cadre must be built up of those who have passed this acid test Ė Communist behavior in mass activity. Ė NORMAN HAWKINS.
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