Volume 6 Number 1 …………………….. January 1936
The Logic of Sanctions
How Progressive are the Progressives in the A.F. of L.?
Japan’s New Grab in China
French Fascism “Peaceful and Gradual”
Socialism in One Country and the Coming War
Which Way for the Oehler Group?
WAR AND CIVIL LIBERTIES [V]
Also: Bootleg Coal by W. Van Wagoner, “M. Finn Resigns from the Y.C.L.”,
The Fight Against the Deportation of Ferrero and Sallitto by Albert Strong,
Statement to all WPA Teachers by Minority Group No. 1555, Letter from Abroad—J.O’Donnell, etc.
We have been denied second class mailing rights by the U.S. government for refusing to turn over the names and addresses of our subscribers to the U.S. Postal authorities.
Official Organ of the Communist League of Struggle (Internationalist-Communist)
133 Second Avenue, Room 24, N.Y.C..
Editor: ALBERT WEISBORD ………… Associate Editor: VERA BUCH
THE LOGIC OF SANCTIONS
Let us be very clear from the outset—Sanctions have nothing whatever to do with Ethiopia and the preservation of its independence. It has a good deal to do, however, with the preservation of the British empire. From this alone we can judge how debased are the Stalinists who cry for military sanctions.
Sanction is a term meaning law enforcement. It signifies the power of the state that actually sees to it that the laws are enforced. In this case, the law is the covenant of the League of Nations and the Sanctions are the measures that the imperialist governments intend to use to enforce that Covenant. Hitherto there has been no genuine body of international law for the very reason that there has been no international state or government capable of enforcing such law. Up to now international sanction has had one meaning—military conflict leading to war.
That the sanctions put forth by the League of Nations have nothing to do with Ethiopian independence is clear from the way Great Britain and France were prepared to dismember Ethiopia and turn it into spheres of influence to be shared with Italy. A treaty had already been prepared to do this. And—most shameful thing—the Soviet Union bureaucrats had agreed to go along. But Italy demanded the whole thing and Ethiopia refused to commit suicide and various other interests intervened so the plans of the plunderbund miscarried.
In all of this it is plain that only when the basic interests of Great Britain or France are touched adversely that the League of Nations jumps to the talk of Sanctions as though the Covenant was not a pact of murderers and robbers of the first order, but a document to be morally respected by the whole world.
When Fiume was seized by Italy and Vilna by Poland and Memel by Lithuania and Bessarabia by Rumania, there was no such outcry. When China was attacked by Japan and partially dismembered, nothing was done. When Great Britain seized Egypt and vast colonies and mandates, no whisper of a protest was heard. But now the sacred vested rights of the British empire are so much as touched and at once the offending capitalist nation is to be shown the teeth of sanctions. All the world is called on to protect the holy British Empire. The gods themselves are called down from their moral heavens to blast the intruder with the curse of eternal damnation.
Now what have the workers of the world to do with all this? Fighting all imperialism, can they be for British Imperialism? Struggling against all militarism, can they be for the militarism of the League of Nations? Striving to overthrow all capitalist governments and states, can they maintain the set-up of the League Covenant?
Yet that is precisely what the Stalinists have set themselves the task to do. They have joined the League of Nations. They hail Great Britain and France as forces for peace. They demand that the infamous Versailles Treaty be enforced by military sanctions. They endorse the huge military and naval budgets of the leading imperialist powers. They plead with the capitalists of those powers to be taken into the government and allowed responsibility for these crimes. Thus the Stalinists become the stinking stool pigeons of the bosses the world over.
If the Stalinists had the slightest interest in the workers and toilers of the world or, indeed, in the welfare of Ethiopia they could not have taken this course. The hope of Ethiopia lies not in the help of the British empire, but in the smashing of the capitalist system and the League of Nations. It is to the great advantage of Ethiopia to spread the war into Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and through all Africa. Were Haile Selassie a real fighter against world imperialism and not a puppet emperor he would have taken this course from the very beginning. Yet such a revolt in Egypt, Morocco, Africa, Arabia, Iraq, Asia, etc. could only be accomplished against the League of Nations and its sanctions. Thus the policy of Stalinism and the Soviet Union is a deadly weapon to crush all colonial revolt and eventually to defeat even Ethiopia. The working class must turn away from this point of view as from lethal poison.
The fact of the matter is that all talk of the reality of sanctions--short of actual war--is just so much poppycock. Like the “disarmament” conferences they are simply screens for war.
What sort of sanctions can be carried out? Economic? But is it forgotten, in the first place, that Germany and Japan and the United States are not members of the League of Nations and that Austria and Hungary are not part of the scheme? Do those who talk sanctions believe that all these capitalist countries will forever play the game of England? Especially in these times when the struggle is so sharp, markets so badly needed, and world war so near is the very idea of a united world ridiculous.
Besides Italy is too intertwined in the nexus of world finance, industry and trade for sanctions, even if they could be enforced, not to lead to a tremendous dislocation of world economy bringing widespread social convulsions in their wake. Again does anyone imagine that the world capitalists, in their lust for gain, will not break these sanctions and smuggle in goods? Does anyone imagine the Italian war machine will not protect these smugglers? Is it possible to imagine economic sanctions that will not inevitably lead to clashes, to reprisals, to war? Once war breaks out, it will be no longer a question of sanctions. The Allies of Italy will pour into her all the stuff they can to fill her needs. It will now be a fight to a finish for world power.
And yet the Soviet Union Stalinists dare spread the propaganda that military sanctions mean peace! French and British workers are to support their capitalists, join their armies, shoot down the workers of another country, all in the name of peace! Stalin here puts Woodrow Wilson entirely to shame.
What method can there be behind this madness of Stalinism? Can it be that the Soviet Union, having been pressed into a desperate isolated position and fearing a united war against her, wishes to ferment and provoke a war in Western Europe? Such a war would relieve the tension on her borders. Or if she were dragged into the war it would insure that Great Britain, France and others would be on her side. Or, at worst, it would provoke the war before her enemies were fully prepared.
So, then, this is the policy of Stalin. Can any worker believe that by becoming responsible for a new capitalist war by which the mass murder of millions of workers will be accomplished that the Soviet Union shall be saved? Under Stalin the Soviet Union has become a force not for peace but for war! And the “Leagues against War and Fascism” must be renamed to “Leagues for Military Sanctions and Class Peace.”
Already the matter of sanctions has had tremendous effects in favor of the reactionaries. A gigantic increase in nationalism, in militarism and in Fascism is taking place all through Western Europe. In France, Laval yields more and more to the Croiz de Feu. In England, Baldwin takes the helm. Within Italy, of course, sanctions have only strengthened the regime and stiffened the wavering supporters. The crimes of Mussolini in Ethiopia are forgotten in the face of the great danger of world war now facing the country.
And as Fascism and reaction become strengthened everywhere the revolutionary labor forces lie crushed. Not even waiting for the war to break out, not even protesting against it, unlike even the Socialists of 1914, the Stalinists, in advance, before the war breaks out, already show their yellow traitorous colors and mobilize for the great betrayal.
Perhaps it is true that the next world war will be followed by the proletarian revolution, for Communist victory is ultimately inevitable, but the workers of the world will never forget the millions dead in that way. They will never forgive Stalinism for helping to bring war on and mobilizing the workers behind their capitalists to shoot down their fellow workers of another country. If the proletarian revolution does follow the war it will be due to the heroic strugle of the workers against capitalist war and sanctions, against class collaboration and against Stalinism. The rise of the world proletarian revolution will spell death to Stalinism.
In the meantime the Fascists, especially in France, are taking full advantage of the excellent opportunities offered to them by Stalinism. They are pointing out that the Soviet Union is hungering for war and calling for military sanctions that would cause millions of dead. It is now the turn of the French Fascists to exclaim they stand for peace and the Soviet Union for war. It is they who pose as pacifists and call for struggle against Communism and the Soviet Union as the only way to silence the war provocations and mongerers of the world! Such a policy must isolate the workers still further and insure victory for the reactionaries in France.
The line of the Fourth International alone points the way out for the working class: United Front for civil War against Sanctions; Struggle to overthrow all Capitalist States; Deadly hostility to all Fascism; Defense of the Ethiopian people and all Colonial risings; Implacable struggle against Stalinism and for the International Proletarian Revolution.
HOW PROGRESSIVE ARE THE PROGRESSIVES IN THE A. F. OF L.?
Much ado is being made about the fight in the A.F. of L. led by John L. Lewis, “Common Sense” has come out hailing Lewis as Labor Leader No. 1. The Socialist and Communist parties have been scarcely less eulogistic. Here and there references are made to the treacherous past of Lewis, Hillman, Dubinsky, McMahon and Co., but these references are mere gestures to appease the skeptical ones. In reality, like a pack of hounds, the whole so-called revolutionary press has pledged its full support to the new “Progressives".
To none of these elements does the slightest suspicion arise that perhaps the Lewis-Hillman-McMahon gang have their own anti-working class purposes to carry out. The most cynical of the revolutionary press accounts refer to Lewis’ ambition to be the leader, but they do not go beyond this. Other accounts deal with the fight between Lewis and Hutchinson as a purely political fight between the pro New Deal Democrats and the old stand-pat Republicans. Certainly all these factors of personal ambition and political intrigue are involved, but these matters only scratch the surface of the real issues.
The labor and revolutionary press has turned from the aforementioned factors to stress as the real issue the question of industrial unionism. And since the “left wing” in the trade unions has always advocated industrial unionism, could there be any doubt that Lewis had joined the “Left Wing". Thus the fight between Hutchinson and Lewis becomes transformed into a fight between “rights” and “lefts". The criterion for whether you are “right” or “left” is above all your attitude on industrial unionism.
Such a criterion is false to the roots. The form of unionism is important only insofar as it allows full scope to the function of unionism, that is, to the expression of irreconcilable struggle by labor against capital. Structure, forms of orginazition, cannot be ends in themselves. The big question is: Does the union fight the boss? Certainly every revolutionist should be the first to show the inadequacies and defectiveness of craft and trade unions in carrying on the class struggle and the great improvement industrial unionism would make in cementing solidarity and in strengthening the workers’ struggles etc. But no revolutionist should be blind to the fact that industrial unionism can also play right into the hands of the employers, if need be, and indeed, at times, even more so than craft unionism.
A good example of this is John L. Lewis’ own union, the United Mine workers. Were ever strikes more cynically broken, was ever a union more gangster-ridden, was ever a bureaucracy more powerful than in this “industrial union"? Or we can turn to the United Textile Workers, which McMahon also calls an “industrial union". There is no officialdom in the country that has been more servile to the employers and whose record of abject betrayal is more base. Or, finally, we can offer the I.L.G.U. of Dubinsky, or the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of Hillman, as evidence of the fact that the mere inclusion of all workers in the industry into the union, does not improve the conditions of the mass of members one bit. Thus it is absolutely false to make a fetish out of industrial unionism in and of itself.
For that matter it is the same with the weapon of General Strike which often forms another fetish for industrial unionists. That the general strike is a tremendous weapon for the proletariat cannot be denied. But it is equally undeniable that the General Strike has been abused by Liberals and Socialists as a weapon not for power but to get seats in Parliament (Belgium, Sweden) and actually was used in Germany in 1918 by the Social-Democrats to fight the revolutionary movement!
Thus, without being fooled for one moment by the talk of Industrial Unionism by Lewis and Co., let us put the real criterion to these gentlemen: Do they believe in and carry out the class struggle? Even a slight examination of the records of these new “leaders” of the “Progressives” would show no greater scoundrels, blackguards, racketeers and downright murderers flourish in the labor movement than these same elements. Labor lieutenants of the capitalist class they have always been and such labor lieutenants they will always be.
But what about the whole “left wing”, the mass of progressive workers who are fighting for industrial unionism, are they not truly progressive"? Granted that forces leading to sharper class struggles against capital have been generated by the present battle in the A.F. of L. in spite of Lewis and Co., and that the movement is greater than its leaders and that many true progressives are in its ranks, still it would pay to make a closer analysis of the body of Progressives. Before we do this, however, we must come to the true issue that has created the New Deal Progressive group in the A.F. of L.
The basic issue at stake in the present struggle in the A.f. of L. is the question: Shall the workers of the U. S. through the A.F. of L. become incorporated into the state apparatus of the capitalists or not? Here is the true issue which is carefully avoided in all discussions by the “Progressives” since to put the question this way is to show that the Progressives are not Progressives at all, but advocates of state regimentation on the road to Fascism. John L. Lewis is only carrying out General Hugh Johnson’s advice for the formation of “vertical” unions well integrated with the government.
Now we begin to get a different slant on the whole fight. We notice, too, the following evidence piling up:
1. The main advocates, Lewis, Hillman & Co., all hold government jobs or aspire to government jobs. Roosevelt has opened a large number of posts in the government to labor men, not only in the Department of Labor (e.g. Ed. McGrady, as assistant to Frances Perkins) but in the multitude of administrative boards which have been established. As the struggle between capital and labor sharpens, opportunities for these labor skates increase and their market price soars.
2. Lewis, Hillman & Co., as true agents of the government make the fight only when the government tells them to and when the government has more need than ever of controlling labor in its own interests and in the interests of the big trusts.
3. It is to be noted that the National Unions behind Lewis and Co. are practically all unions in highly competitive industries (textile, coal, clothing, oil fields, etc.) where trustification is somewhat belated and where the big financiers together with the government need the unions to help bludgeon the capitalists into associations to fix prices, regulate production, fix wages, etc. (See October, 1934 Class Struggle for an exposure of the U.T.W. in the last general textile strike as a most valuable capitalist agency.) The A.f. of L. unions were a most essential part of the government’s scheme in bringing “order” from chaos in the competitive industries through the N.R.A. codes, government regulation, etc.
4. The tremendous growth of state capitalism including relief and emergency work has brought into existence entirely new relations of forces. To the foresighted one it is clear that private industry is on the road to being played out. Government regulation controlling all workers, government projects, etc., these are the lines of development to which the “Progressive” Labor “leaders” want to adopt themselves.
5. Some of the vociferous elements behind John L. Lewis and Co., namely the Socialists and Stalinists, hail the development of state capitalism and want to be part of the Roosevelt regime. Already the Paul Blanchards, the Charles Solomens and others have cushy jobs under the New Deal, the other Socialists are hungry for the same treatment. As for the Stalinists, what is good enough for Stalin is good enough for them. They shout to make the relief projects at low pay permanent. They acclaim Roosevelt’s recognition of the Soviet Union, they fight for American property interests in Cuba. They frame bills (such as the one called “Workers Insurance Bill”, in which the unions and other workers’ organizations are to be incorporated into the Department of Labor of the U.S. Government, etc. The very fact that it is the Socialists and Stalinists who most loudly support Lewis, Hillman and their Gangs, shows that these movements could not possibly be “Progressive”, that is, movements that sharpen the fight against the capitalist system but can only be reactionary movements to head off workers discontent and revolution.
The anti-revolutionary character of these “Progressives” can be seen from the talk which now appears on all sides to form a Labor Party. (Note: the Stalinists go even further, they fight not for a Labor Party, but for a Farmer-Labor Party, farmer first, and for one of the variety now headed by the crooks, Olson and Lafollette!). In order to counter the growing disillusionment, radicalization and direct action on the part of the American workers, these fakers mean to shunt the workers revolutionary energy into legal, peaceful, ballot-box futile exercises, at the same time going along with all fascist state capitalist trends developed by the government. We are to follow in the footsteps of Europe at a time when the revolutionary bankruptcy of European labor is apparent even to the most backward worker.
That Lewis is forming his “Progressive Bloc” really to fight revolutionary Communism is made crystal clear in the very speech in the A.F. of L., in which he supposedly threw down the challenge to the Old Guard. In this speech Lewis declared: “What is the future of our country?” Who among us does not know the hazards of the present moment? The teachings of the prophets falling upon the ears of a population that is frightened and disturbed and depressed and discouraged, the nocturnal and surreptitious attempts of interests to form a philosophy, the philosophy of the Communists on the one hand and the philosophy of the Nazis on the other hand, equally repugnant and distasteful to the men of labor. And yet it is constituting a serious and deadly menace for the future.”
And it is this speech that the Stalinists and Socialists hail! (Very significantly the dastardly Daily Worker in reporting the speech “omitted” reference to that part in which Communism is a menace as deadly as Fascism.)
Thus if John L. Lewis and his gang have their way, a great step forward will have been made in regimenting the workers, in organizing “vertical” unions in competitive industry to create “order” for the employers, (thru N.R.A. codes and the like) is incorporating the unions into the government (via Wagner “Labor Bills” and boards, etc.) and in attacking the revolutionary workers.
We hold no brief for Hutchinson, Well, Green and Co. quite the contrary, the sooner these men grace the lamp poles of Washington the better. But there is this much to be said for the old craft unionists. They have not shouted: “We want Work.” Make the Projects Permanent. Hail Roosevelts State Capitalism. They have always talked of keeping the union separate from the State. They stood for stand-pat laissez-faire as John L. Lewis and shyster Hillman stand for Statist regimentation. In the old craft unions, Communists were unwelcome but expulsions were hampered by rules of local autonomy. Under Leis centralized “vertical” machine no antiquated rules of jurisdiction will save the revolutionary worker from expulsion all along the line,
Under such circumstances it is folly for the worker to choose Lewis instead of Green, the “Progressives” instead of the “Old Guard". It is like the choice between Roosevelt and Hoover. We must fight both cliques to the finish. A real “Progressive” movement must be launched by the militant sections of the working class, in which the sole test will be the test of the class struggle, the battle against the bosses.
There is ample material for such a real “Progressive” movement. Objective circumstances greatly favor it. Inside the A.F. of L. many workers now misled by the John L. Lewis—Norman Thomas—Earl Browder circus can be won over. Especially the new workers. And most especially the workers now in Federal Unions. Then, of course, there are the innumerable independent unions outside the A.F. of L. (See Article: Two Basic Tasks for the I.W.W.—Class Struggle, Vol. 5, No. 12, Dec. 1935)
Soon enough the “Progressives” will be tested and broken over the wheel of events, just as the A.F. of L. itself will be broken by the violence of the struggle. Once the “Progressives” take upon themselves the responsibility of constructive measure, once they try to enter the South or to organize the unorganized in the basic, heavy, trustified industries of the country, once they try to even touch the decisive Negro question, once more there will be verified the analysis of the C.L.S. that no liberal, no reformist, no middle-of-the-road elements can organize the unorganized. Only revolutionary action, on the whole, can build unions today. Either the revolutionists themselves do the job or the job will not be done at all—till the day of the revolution.
The ones who will be the first within the A.F. of L. to find this out will be the Federal Unions. Here is the spot on which to concentrate our efforts. Not the S.P. or the C.P. but the men now massed in the Federal Unions will be the bearers of the real Progressive Movement in the A.F. of L. that will know how to brush aside the fakers and join hands with the revolutionary workers in a class struggle industrial union movement in the U.S. These are the men, too, who are the potential carriers of the Fourth International.
FRENCH FASCISM—“PEACEFUL AND GRADUAL”
Under the pressure of the European war threat and with the internal economy of the country steadily deteriorating, the French situation cannot do otherwise than move gradually towards Fascism, and in this the Communist and Socialist Parties and their several allies are the best aides the Laval government has for selling the policy to the workers. In fact, we can take as the slogan of the present period: “Forward with the People’s Front Towards Fascism".
A few salient facts will picture the economic situation. During the second quarter of 1935 the sales tax index fell to 88 compared with 99 in 1934 and 109 in 1933. Coal production in the first six months of 1935 was more than a million tons below the total for the same period in 1934. Since 1930 there has been a 14% decline in coal production and a 25% reduction in the employment of miners.
The situation of the farmers grows more and more acute notwithstanding the reduction of 10% on interest on mortgages and land leases. The low price of wheat is what has driven the farmers to organize the “Peasants Front”, to hold meetings to demand a moratorium on farm debts, higher prices, state control of trusts, banks, etc., and to threaten a tax-payment strike.
Unemployment is increasing with futile attempts made to deal with it through public works. As was to be foreseen, the decree laws with their policy of retrenchment and wage cuts for state employees has solved nothing and there is a steady fall in government revenues.
Meanwhile the Peoples’ Front, or rather, its officialdom, is sinking deeper and deeper into a mass of class collaboration. The right wing of the Radical Socialists is helping Laval dope out decree laws. How futile the protests were and how the C.P. and S.P. crippled any effective fight against the decree laws and actually helped put down revolt in Brest and Toulon, we have shown in a previous article.
Within the last few months some new decrees have been put over, political in character, and having really dangerous possibilities. For example, the one replacing the municipal police with State police in the Communes of the Seine and Seine-and-Oise Departments, where there are some Socialist and Communist Communes. This would not merely give a chance to root out elements of possible sympathy towards the working class, and thus help to disarm the workers, it would also give the chance for Fascist infiltration such as took place (in Germany) under Von Papen and von Schleicher late in 1932. Then there are other drastic decrees on censorship of the press, to crush any resistance to the war, and thus pave the way towards Fascism.
The leaders of the S.P. and C.P. are ready to fall into any trap, no matter how fatal. One of the most dastardly things they have done so far is to agree (in the Chamber of Deputies on December 6th) to the disarming of all defense groups, including their own. The challenge was given by one of the Fascist Deputies and Blum and Therez fell for it. This was not foolishness nor misled innocence, it was downright treachery. It was not a mistake but a betrayal, and one having terrible consequences.
Even supposing the government were to apply impartially these laws which call for the disarming and dissolution of defense leagues, penalizes anyone caught carrying a revolver to a public meeting and extends the law regarding the press to all who provoke to crimes of murder, pillage and burning, even where these laws enforced against the Fascists, the Croix de Feu and other groups could afford to do without uniforms and individual weapons when there are any number of estates in the vicinity of Paris and at other important points where whole arsenals can be concealed, and when there are any number of motor cars at the disposal of the Croix de Feu, ready to go at a moment’s notice and to transport weapons as well as men wherever they are wanted.
It is childish, however, to suppose that the new laws will be enforced against the Fascists. Their stores of arms, airplanes, etc. have existed illegally for a long time and no amount of hollering in the workers’ press has been able to do anything about it. Laval’s Fascist leanings are being more and more talked about. What will really be enforced of these laws is the prohibition of workers carrying arms. It will be possible to send to prison any worker who arms himself against the Fascist attack on his meeting or on his group which he knows is pending. In fact, the arms are being snatched out of the workers’ hands at the very moment when events are drawing towards armed revolt as the only possible way out for the working class. And it is the workers leaders, the C.P. and S.P. officials, who have signed away the workers’ right to arm and fight.
As the C.P., in Germany, made a united front with the Nazis in 1931, at the time of the “Red Referendum”, voting with them to abolish Parliament (the Prussian Landtag), again, in France, we see C.P. and S.P. lining up with a Fascist proposal. But history cries out against the betrayal now that nothing has been learned, that the French workers could not have profited from the German workers’ defeat to drive out their own false leaders and take their revolution into their own hands. In Germany, the fight between the two working class parties confused the workers and paralyzed their resistance. In France, the workers are ready to fight, so the Stalinist and Socialist leaders, cynically learning from the past how to be more clever traitors, have united in order more fatally to nip in the bud the workers’ struggles.
On other fronts, too, the betrayal is being carried out. The unity of the two trade union groups has finally been accomplished. This was to be expected. But here the Stalinist red unions have agreed to resolutions which: 1. Condemn all fractional work inside the C.G.T.; 2. Agree to support all decisions of the League of Nations in the economic field and 3. Ratify the plan of economic and social renovation which the C.G.T. sponsors (another DeMan Plan which makes the trade unions the executive agents for state capitalism).
The C.P. has degenerated to a state of patriotism and sentimental nationalism almost unbelievable. It is no longer the working class they talk about, it is now the “Nation”, the “People” the “French". We will give a few passages quoted from L"Humanite (see L’Internationale, organ of L’Communist, of Nov.15).
L’Humanite on October 8 carried a front page headline in big letters: Will they let Col. de la Rocque fire on Frenchmen?” The General Secretary of the C.P. spoke as follows at the 7th Party Congress (L’Humanite of Oct. 13)— “In this very municipal election,” said he, “a half-dozed reactionaries are clamoring for the votes of the population in this quarter. Well, we Communists want to unite the people of France. And we suffer from everything that lowers our people, our country,,,,A few weeks ago, in an international sport competition, the French crew was terribly beaten. Many Frenchmen felt bad about this and the French communists share their feelings…. Noblesse Oblige! The Bolsheviks of France who love their country and its high traditions must be worthy of such lessons. Always to do the best for our people, for the national unity of France.”
L’Humanite of November 12, referring in enormous letters to the Armistice Day Parade: “The people of Paris shouted: ‘Long Live the Republican Army’…No anniversary of November 22 ever saw such affluence, such emotion. The living spirit of the trenches arose. We went forward, veterans, mutilated soldiers, nurses, reserve officers, even the priests, our decorations on our breasts.”
L’Hmanite of October 14, quoting the C.P. Secretary, Thorez, at the Party congress: “We must have the policy of a great party set free from individualist and anarchist theories, which openly proclaims its watchfulness for the future of its people and of its country. (applause)”
The Trotskyist leaders have been thrown out of the S.F.I.O. but are trying their best to get back. And as a counter-weight to the Trotskyist influence among the Socialist youth, a few miscellaneous left groups are getting together under M. Pivert within the S.F.I.O with a milk and water program. (for analysis of their program see L’Internationals.) The Anti-war Conference is disintegrating under the dominance of the pacifists and such anti-Marxist syndicalist groups as the “Revolution Proletarian.” Out of the Anti-War Conference has come, however, the one progressive step it is possible to note in the present situation, namely, the formation of a trade union left minority which is putting out a paper, the “Trade Union Vanguard” and is preparing to fight inside the C.G.T.
SOCIALISM IN ONE COUNTRY ALONE AND THE COMING WAR
In no phase of work have the Stalinist theory and practice of Socialism in one Country been so downright menacing to the international proletariat as on the question of the defense of the Soviet Union. Stalinism not only destroys the world revolution, but destroys the Workers’ State of the S.U. as well. We leave to another time the matter of an all-rounded analysis of how Stalinism affects Russia internally. We turn now only to the specific question of the defense of the S.U. in the coming war.
The Bankruptcy of Russian Diplomacy
With the death of Lenin and the rise of Stalinism the workers of the Soviet Union became steadily more isolated and weaker in their international position. This isolation, instead of being vigorously resisted, was idealized by Stalinism in the theory that the workers could build Socialism in one country alone. The Soviet Union could co-exist peacefully side by side with capitalist States. “We Russians have got ours, let the Germans and others worry about themselves.” This was how Stalinism taught international solidarity. The slogan: Workers of the world, Unite! was conveniently buried.
Once the diplomacy of the S.U. was freed from the control of revolutionary Communism, it rapidly lost one position after another. In the period before 1933, that is, precisely when the German bourgeoisie was moving to Fascism, the S.U. formed the closest alliance with Germany and hailed the German Government as its best friend. It was in this period that the German C.P. fought, not the German capitalists, but the Versailles Treaty, and attacked, not the Nazis, but the Socialists as their chief enemy. Thus did Stalin help Hitler get into power. Due to this policy, too, the German proletariat was unable to prevent Hitler from smashing the workers’ organizations of all Central Europe.
After 1933, the S.U. forms the closest alliance with France, that is, precisely the next country turning to Fascism. However, now it is demanded that the S.U. do more than make negative alliances and establish merely non-aggressive pacts. The capitalists demand that Russia enter positively into all the criminal intrigue as their ally and share responsibility with the exploiters and robbers of the world.
The Stalinist diplomats, having by now completely purged themselves of the Trotskys and Rakowskys and substituted instead the traitorous Bessadowskys are only too ready to become part of the capitalist scoundrelly machinations. All during the time which the workers could have defeated Fascism, before Hitler had come to power and while there was a revolutionary situation, these Stalinists had shouted from the housetops that Russia owed no duty to the workers elsewhere, that the German workers had to look out for themselves, that the Red Army would not be mobilized to help the European proletariat, etc. Of course, while Russia was declaring, “Let the workers of each country look out for themselves”, this did not prevent the treacherous Stalinists from interfering intimately with German affairs, from urging the German workers to unite with the Fascists, (referendum of 1930), to split the trade union movement, to run away without a fight, etc. Russian Nationalism was international enough when it came to aiding Chiang Kai Chek"s and Hitler’s rise to power.
So much for Stalin’s policy while Hitler was attaining victory. Now that Hitler is in power and the workers’ organizations are smashed in Central Europe, no longer do the Russians holler, “The S.U. can defend itself. It does not need outside help, the S.U. can exist peacefully side by side with Fascism, etc.” Instead the Russian diplomats, crying, “Peace is indivisible”, scurry frantically hither and thither, licking the boots of the capitalist class, trying to curry favor. In order to get this favor, the Russian diplomats must join the robber gang itself and give up all idea of working class policy.
At first, with the slogan: The S.U. wants Peace!, the Stalinist diplomats tried to protect themselves with a net of “Non-Aggression” Pacts. But of what value were such pacts to France or England? They might be of some value to the small states bordering the S.U., but neither France nor england touch soviet territory. (On the other hand, both Germany and Japan refused to sign such non-aggression pacts with the S.U.) these non-aggression pacts, therefore, had to be supplemented by others.
To win the favor of the Western Capitalists, therefore, the Russian bureaucrats were forced to sign Mutual-Aid pacts, such as the Franco-Soviet Pact. These same people who declared Russia would not fight for others, now engaged to aid the French and other Capitalists should they be attacked. Thus the Russian Revolution was pledged by Stalin to uphold the French imperialist system and its armed forces.
However, even this was far from sufficient for the capitalists. Suppose Germany attacked neither France nor Russia, at first, but only Austria or Hungary or Lithuania, etc. Was it not clear than an attack on Lithuania by Germany was equivalent to an attack on the entire French System and the Versailles Treaty? Indeed, any real change in the status quo in Europe was an “attack” against France. And thus the Russian workers were dragged by Stalin into a full-throated defense of the status quo of the Versailles Treaty. Russia joined the League of Nations.
As a member of the League of Nations, Russia must now praise this band of robbers and cut-throats as a force for peace. Stalin must now maintain the particular partition of territory which England and France and the U.S. as victors in the last war disposed upon the defeated powers. In so doing, Russia is forced to repudiate her own revolutionary past when she denounced the seizure of territory from the Soviet Union and fought to overthrow the League of Nations. As a member of the League of Nations, too, Russia is forced to support the colonial conquests of England and France and to uphold their imperialist armies. “Stalin has actually agreed to the disbursement of Ethiopia by the League of Nations!
Naturally, Russia’s support of the French and other imperialist armies was played right into the hands of capitalist reactionary forces, such as the French Fascists. Not only the German workers but now also the French must have for Stalinism only the deepest contempt and hatred. Blow after blow is given to the international working class by Stalinism and thus blow after blow is given to the real defense of the S.U. which can be undertaken successfully only by the workers of the world. Member of the League of Nations as it is, Russia as a workers state is more dangerously isolated than ever before.
The crime of Stalinism is to work along the lines that not the international revolution but national class collaboration can save the S.U. and bring the workers to power. Stalinism has also believed the crash of capitalism would come of itself, that the European capitalists would fight among themselves leaving the S.U. alone to build Socialism peacefully. The Stalinists are destined to see all their Utopian dreams crash. A powerful united front of the capitalist class is being formed against the S.U. to tear it to pieces. And it stands completely isolated both from the workers—and so long as Russia remains a workers state—from the capitalists as well.
The Breaking Down of Russian Defense
In the meantime how well has Stalinism prepared the Soviet Union for the coming war? Here, too, the abandonment of revolutionary principles has done the S.U. no good. It is no consolation to the Russian workers that they know reaction and Fascism is growing stronger and the international workers organizations have been crushed. The fate of the revolutions in China, Germany, Austria, Spain, must begin to worry them. They are beginning to become uneasy and restless under Stalinism. The Kirov assassination showed this clearly enough.
Nor have the workers failed to understand the military significance of the destruction of the Communist International, of the Russian Communist Party, of the Soviets, of the trade unions, etc. What kind of a war can be fought when the revolutionary left wing is crushed, the old Bolsheviks are driven underground, their society dissolved, many revolutionary fighters in jail or exile, etc.? The Soviet Union can defeat its powerful enemies only when the workers are imbued with the highest revolutionary morale, only when their initiative and enthusiasm are aroused to the highest point and they take matters into their own hands. It is precisely these things, however, which Stalinism has destroyed. By turning its back to the international proletarian revolution Stalinism has destroyed not only the general staff and vanguard of its army, but the basic morale of its entire force.
Together with the slogan: Workers of the world, Unite!, Stalinism also discarded the important military slogan: Communism knowns no Boundaries and turned from the offensive of the International Revolution to the bourgeois slogan of National Defense. But to give up the revolutionary offensive is to give up more than half the battle. Indeed it is to give up any really effective defense as well! It is a monumental strategical blunder.
To declare that the Red Army will fight only if the particular borders that now constitute the S.U. are invaded is to declare that the Red Army will stand by and watch the Chinese proletariat be slaughtered and do nothing about it. It is an open permission to the implacable enemies of the workers that they have completely unlimited time to consolidate their forces before attack. Thus Hitler is given all the time in the world to win the forces necessary and to build up his united front. Thus Japan is allowed to have her own way in Manchuria, Northern China and Inner Mongolia. And suppose Japan also moves on Outer Mongolia, not directly part of the Soviet Union? What then?
If Stalinism keeps to its theory of pure national defense, then the Russian workers will have to see the ferocious forces of Japanese capitalist imperialism thrust into their very vitals without any resistance. Such a policy would be a monstrous crime on the part of Stalinism and would perhaps be fatal to the Soviet Union. Yet if Stalinism intervenes on behalf of Outer Mongolia, then is it not admitting its own bankruptcy?
If Stalinism can fight for barren Mongolia, then why not for Manchuria at a time when Japan was much weaker and Hitler not yet in power? And can Stalinism fight for Mongolia without calling for a world-wide colonial revolt and international proletarian revolution? Here we see the horns of the dilemma which will yet gore Stalinism to death.
But these are not the only crimes of Stalinism. It was only by overcoming the greatest resistance by the Soviet bureaucrats that the workers, led at the time by Trotsky, were able to put forth and carry out the first five year plan of industrialization. And then the plan was so poorly executed by the bureaucracy that Russia found itself with half the horses it had in the beginning (thus threatening the life of the Cavalry) and with a terrific waste in material and a loss of living standards for the workers. Such a situation was bound to effect the military forces, especially the army.
The poor operation of the first Five Year Plan also had the effect of driving the peasantry further away from the workers and straining the relations between them. As the peasantry is bound to compose the majority of the soldiers in the Revolutionary Army it is clear that such antagonism could only weaken the defense of the Soviet Union.
Another weak point in the defense of the S.U. has been created by Stalinism in the manner in which it has handled the National Question. The weakest points facing Europe in the S.U. today are precisely the points where the peasantry has been treated most harshly and where the national question has not yet been entirely solved, namely, Ukrania and Caucasia. Stalinist bureaucracy is bound to create further nationalist disaffection in these lands to the detriment of the S.U. defenders and the advantage of capitalist aggressors.
As for the Army, too, there is no question but that Stalinism has caused it to deteriorate politically. No longer is there the same relation between army and proletariat. The factory workers no longer are allowed to bear arms. And no longer is there the same relation between soldiers and officers as before. Today there has been crystallized a regular rigid caste of professional officers whose careers lie solely in the army. It is in the hands of these precious “Red” militarists that the initiative of the army has been entrusted.
Nor can we leave this subject without pointing out the Stalinist theory of Defense (but no offense) has resulted in a complete neglect of the Navy, a terrifically gross underestimation of the submarine as a weapon (especially against Japan) which will yet cost the S.U. dearly, once the war starts.
In short, Stalinism absolutely guarantees that the S.U. will be defeated in the coming war.
Stalinism Will Be Destroyed In The Coming War
It is exactly for this reason that we can be absolutely sure Stalinism cannot last through more than a year or two of any war in which the S.U. will be fighting for its life. Although Stalinism looks so secure and stable at the moment, once let the proletariat become thoroughly aroused and armed as in war-time, and Stalinism will be cast off the body politic as one would cast off so many lies.
Russian workers have tolerated these Stalinist bureaucrats only because they feared to weaken the Soviet Power and thus induce a war. But let the war start, and the very exigencies of the war will compel action against the bureaucrats. Like Napoleon III’s bombast “We are ready to the last button”, the hallow boasting of Stalin will be exposed soon enough. Seen through Stalinist destruction of the forces of the international Revolution, of party and of union and of Soviet, will take its heavy toll on the battlefield. Under the criminal misleadership of Stalinism, there must be expected a serious breakdown of national economy, one reverse of the army after another.
How long will the armed proletariat be expected to stand for that sort of nonsense. It must always be remembered that within Russia the proletariat has not yet lost its fundamental power, that there is no class capable of overthrowing it and re- establishing capitalism. The Russian workers do not need to have a civil war to push Stalinism into the ash can. As the strain of war grows more severe, the organized workers will do the job by more vigorous police action. The workers of factory and regiment after ample preliminary action in which they will have built again their Communist Party, and revived their unions and soviets, will simply march into the Kremlin and roughly elbow the Stalinists aside.
Once war is declared not a thousand Stalins will be able to stop the Red Army in its revolutionary cource. Like magic internationalist Communists will arise. The Red Flag will fly. The colonial masses of China and Asia will be stirred to revolt. The workers of Europe will be called to action.
The Soviet Union will be able to give a magnificent account of itself, once the masses are really aroused under new leadership. The Japanese hyena will find the Russian workers’ boot planted with terrific force on its snout. The Nazis will discover the miraculous power the workers can have who are fighting for their own and for all humanity’s future.
As the war goes on, the proletariat of Europe will again raise its head. This time there will be no longer the Stalinist cry: We got ours, to hell with you. This time there will resound the call to International Revolution and the Russian workers will prove with their lives their willingness to fight to the end for world communism.
But for this a new Communist Party and a new genuinely Communist fourth International are necessary. Either the Fourth International or chaos. That is how the matter stands today.
(Note: The final article in the series: The Line-Up in the Coming War, of which this is the third, will appear in the next issue and will deal with the role of the United States.)
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WAR AND CIVIL LIBERTIES (V)
A Federal Sedition Bill
The frenzied rush to pass state seditionary laws in the months following the armistice could not fail to leave an indelible impression upon the Congressional delegates assembled in Washington. Every senator and representative who had any patriotic blood in his body sought to surpass the zeal of his colleagues by introducing a sedition bill which purported to excel all others in comprehensiveness. The attorney general, it must be mentioned, played no small part in this stampede to deluge Congress with legislation which would suppress all opinions unsympathetic to the bourgeois point of view. Indeed, the length to which the attorney general was prepared to go can be gathered from the reason which he set forth for the necessity of a sedition law. The Trading with The Enemy Act, said the attorney general, provides that the post master shall receive a translation of every foreign-language publication that criticizes the policies of any government before any distribution takes place. This protective censorship ceases with the war and makes exceedingly difficult the problem of treating effective “radical propaganda of a more violent character.”
This argument and others equally cogent were drummed into the ears of Congress. After many committee hearings and a long careful deliberation, one of the proposed measures, the “Graham Anti-Sedition bill”, passed the Senate on January 10, 1920, eight days after the Palmer Red Raids, but was defeated when it later came up for ratification in the House of Representatives. Since then, Congress has adopted no federal sedition bill although from time to time various measures have been suggested. This is to be accounted for by a united working class opposition together with the passing of the revolutionary crisis. The bill, however, is in readiness and all that is needed now is a propitious occasion for its enactment. As the United States moves closer to either war or fascism, the greater will the demand grow for such legislation. Just as in the last war certain measures were in readiness prior to the day when they were needed. So with the Sedition Bill. The process of keeping proposed laws dormant until a situation arises which permits their passage is no new tactical maneuver. It is important, therefore, to discuss the Graham bill, since it is a very thorough-going measure and probably with but a few minor modifications ultimately will become law.
Profiting by the experience of the state legislatures in drafting their bills and with the text of all these laws as a guide, the Graham bill was able to cover the ground exhaustively and include many provisions previously overlooked. It declares:
Section (3) No person shall orally or in writing or by the use of any sign, symbol, picture, caricature, or otherwise teach, incite, advocate, propose, advise, aid or abet or encourage forcible resistance to or forcible destruction or injury of human life, private or public property as a means of changing the Constitution, laws or government of the United States or defeating the authority thereof.
Section (4) No person shall write, print, publish, edit, issue, circulate, distribute, transport, display or sell any book, pamphlet, handbill, poster or pictorial matter which is forbidden by the above Section.
Section (5) No person shall display at any place, a red flag as a symbol of any of the forbidden acts. Nor can one display any flag, emblem, picture, motto or device which intends to incite or indicates a purpose to commit any of the forbidden acts.
Section (6) the following are unmailable: All books, pamphlets, etc., symbols, etc., which are intended to overthrow the government by force or whereby the use of physical violence to persons or property is advocated as a means towards the accomplishment of industrial, economic, social or political change or “wherein or whereby an appeal is made to racial prejudice the intended or probable result of which appeal is to cause rioting or the resort to force and violence within the United States.”
Section (7) No person shall import matter declared unmailable.
Section (10) No person shall contribute any money or anything of value to, or permit occupancy of any room by an organization having for its purpose the acts declared illegal.
Section (11) “…giving, loaning or promising of anything of value to any such unlawful association shall constitute affiliation with such unlawful association: “and shall be prima facie evidence of teaching, advocating or defending said forbidden things against the person so giving, promising or loaning…”
Section (12) If an alien is convicted under this section, he shall first serve his sentence and then be deported. If naturalized, his citizenship canceled.
Section (13) A stool pigeon section, that no one can refuse to testify on the ground that he might incriminate himself since immunity is granted.
The implications of this law are so numerous that it is possible to treat only a few of the more potent ones. It is essential to remember that the United States already has sufficient law on the statute books to punish seditious conduct of a physical nature.
The United States Criminal Code also includes those who plan or counsel such violence although it is true that the penalties in no case are as severe as those in the new act. Even mere speech, if the words approach close to success, can be adequately punished under the normal law. The Graham Sedition Bill, however, goes far beyond the domain of acts and punishes all opinions abhorrent the bourgeoisie. Therein lies its great virtue and necessity; otherwise the old law would suffice. So sweeping are the provisions of the Graham Bill that not even moral force can be used. Under the restrictions of Section 6 the publication of any facts or pictures concerning the terrible crimes committed against the Negro people would be treasonous per se. In this connection, we must point out that the attorney general in urging the passage of a federal sedition law, called attention to the fact that all of the radical parties attempted to enlist the sympathies of the Negro on their side. Certainly, the sound legal advice that one has a right to defend oneself against lynching even if it means death to the lynchers would be a high crime if incorporated into a slogan and used by a radical party. Strikes irrespective of their nature could readily be brought within the purview of the law. Under this act one could not distribute certain of the Congressional reports because of the numerous extracts which they contain from the revolutionary press. The United States could easily go as far as the Canadian Government did in Winnipeg, where a strike leader was indicted on a charge of seditiously publishing two verses of Isaiah beginning “Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees”, for the American law is so framed that it is the intention with which an otherwise permissible act is done and not the nature of the act itself which forms the foundation upon which guilt is determined. Even the reading of the Declaration of Independence if done by the wrong people, might be forbidden as it formerly was in the Philippines.
I suppose that a cartoon holding Morgan and his henchmen up to ridicule by exposing the profits which they derive from wars would be an infraction of Section 3 and the public display of a picture of Lenin or the hammer and sickle, a crime without the necessity of further proof. Under the same section forbidding an attack against the existence of “constitutional government generally” one could not advocate the violent existence of even a fascist dictatorship, either here or in Europe, since nearly all of them have written constitutions and in many cases also the ballot, (Germany, Italy). What is meant by the word “encourage” used in the same subdivision? Would contributions to the defense of prisoners indicted under this law be construed as lending encouragement to others to commit the same offense? Only history can give us the final answer to these and similar questions. There can be little doubt, however, that if America continues along the path which it has pursued until now, that the interpretations will be even more drastic than has been suggested. The eminent jurists who sit on the Supreme Court will find words and theories—as they have always done—to legally justify the new repressions. Nevertheless there can be no question as to the unconstitutionality of the law. Article 3 of Section 3 of the Constitution defines treason as consisting “only in levying war” against the United States or “in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” It would seem, therefore, that these laws re-define the nature of treasonous conduct to include categories heretofore not comprehended therein and forbidden by the Constitution. This evasion, however, is not a novel distortion of our non-democratic constitution, which has always been used as a check upon the will of the people.
In the absence of a federal sedition bill, the attorney general, as previously pointed out, has cooperated with the states. Where this could not be done, it has used whatever laws were on the books. Thus the Lever Food Control Bill, a wartime measure, was dragged out of its grave in order to enjoin the United Mine Workers in bituminous miners strike of November 1919 and drive the 425,000 striking workers back to the pits. At least the attorney general claimed before Congress that “The Department of Justice, appreciating the efforts which the red element was making in influencing the miners had an injunction issued ….preventing further activities on the part of the miners.” (under the Lever Act—R.B.). “There were flagrant cases where alien members of the Union of Russian Workers and the Communist Party of America continued to influence the miners as in the state of West Virginia, but through the efforts of the Department of Justice these individuals were thoroughly investigated and their cases submitted to the Labor Department with a recommendation for deportation, thus clarifying the situation in this locality.” “Through the prompt action of the Federal Government …..the strike was broken … “ (66 Congress 2-3 Session) In the Spring of 1920 these methods were effectively repeated against the switchmen and yardmen.
We see then that no matter how few laws are available, the United States manages to muddle along. In a pinch it requires no new legislation to control the workers. To imagine from this fact, however, that the United States will make no efforts to improve its legal machinery would be a great mistake. We must anticipate that with the political awakening of the American working class, more and more restrictions will be placed upon civil liberties. That is one of the ways in which the bourgeoisie attempts to check class consciousness. Unless the workers mobilize beforehand, laws like the Anti-Sedition Bill are a foregone conclusion.
LUSK COMMITTEE RAIDS
While there were numerous raids during the war, they were of minor and sporadic phenomena. Poorly organized and involving comparatively few workers (although it is true there were 35 of them) they cannot compare with the post-war raids climaxed by those of Palmer on January 2, 1920, which apprehended more than 70,000 suspects in a nationwide dragnet. It is only during this period that the Government for the first time develops as American technique on the high plans of continental effectiveness. New roads were blasted which for the first time Europeanized the American treatment of working class movements. The Lusk, Buford and Palmer raids give us a prophetic insight into the future orientation of bourgeois efforts to destroy the class solidarity of the workers. In the discussion which follows we have, for the sake of clarity, divided the raids into three categories although this partially destroys the chronological sequence in which they occurred. The calendar in the next paragraph should enable the reader to understand how the activities of the federal and state governments intertwine to make a unified continuous reign of terror.
May 1, 1919—Bomb Plots
June 1919—Bomb Plots
June 12, 1919—Lusk Committee Raid on Bureau of R.S.S.R.
June 21, 1919—Lusk Committee Raid on Rand School, left wing S.P., and I.W.W.
June 23, 1919—Lusk Committee Raid on Rand School
August 14, 1919—Lusk Committee Raid on Union of Russian Workers
November 7, 1919—Buford Raids of federal Government against the Union of Russian Workers
November 8, 1919—Lusk Committee Raid on 71 Headquarters of Communist Party
November 11, 1919—Centralia Attack
December 21, 1919—Buford Sails
December 28, 1919—Lusk Committee Raid on Headquarters of Communist Party, Union of Russian Workers
January 2, 1920—Palmer Red raids
January 3, 1920—Lusk Committee Raids on foreign language press.
On March 26, 1919 both houses of the New York Legislature by joint resolution appointed a committee of six, popularly known as the Lusk committee, “To investigate the scope, tendencies and ramifications” of seditious activities and, “To report the result of its investigation to the Legislature.” The reasons assigned for the appointment of the committee were: The vast number of people instigating a strong sentiment in favor of overthrowing the government, the duty of the legislature to learn the truth concerning this state of affairs and lastly the necessity to frame laws which would permit the government to cope with any unusual condition which they discovered. The committee in accordance with the customary procedure was given the usual power “To compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books and papers.” Instead of proceeding legally to fulfill the duties assigned to it, the committee immediately commenced a series of raids to secure evidence upon which they could later base prosecutions. Hand in hand with the determination to exceed the limitations of their authority had to go a decision to operate outside of the law for if instead of breaking into the headquarters of radical parties on warrants, the committee had subpoenaed witnesses, the witnesses would have the right to refuse to testify where the evidence would not have been forthcoming, was secured; and since under New York law, unlike that of the United States, evidence illegally obtained in violation of constitutional rights can be used at the trial against the defendants, the committee accomplished its self-imposed function.
The first raid which the committee decided to undertake was against the bureau of the Russian Socialist Soviet Republic established in April 1918 in the World Tower building by the Soviet ambassador to the United States, L.A.C.K. Martons. On the basis of an affidavit setting forth the discovery of a leaflet entitled “Gwans from Omsk”, advising the workers of Omsk to set up soviets, which was found on the floor of the Bureau, a magistrate issued a blanket search warrant to the committee to bring before the magistrate, “All documents, circulars and papers printed or typewritten, having to do with socialist, labor, revolutionary or Bolshevik activities; all books, letters and papers pertaining to the activities of said Bureau, all circulars and literature of any sort, kind or character.”
On June 12, the state police laid siege to the Bureau, ransacked the entire place and carried away in trucks everything which they thought might be of value. This loot was taken, not as the warrant directed to the magistrate, but to the committee, where a man named Nathan, a rumanian Jew, in the employ of the British Secret Service, examined these documents which interested him and made 3500 photostatic copies which he took to London. Later, these photostats were carried by Nathan to Copenhagen where they were used in the negotiations with Litvinoff for soviet recognition. (Testimony of J.D. Moore—former member of State Conservation Comm., U.S. Judiciary Comm. (House)66:2-,pg 170)
Those letters which the committee found particularly savory were read into the record in order for the press to gobble them up. The committee also broadcasted to the world the names of every person on the mailing list of the Bureau without showing whether these people had any connection or sympathy with the work of the Bureau. I suppose interested authorities in other states then investigated the names and took such steps as they deemed advisable. It is not unlikely that the raid on the book bindery in Cambridge, Mass., in which 4500 copies of “The Proletarian Revolution in Russia” by Lenin and Trotsky were confiscated, resulted from disclosures made in raids like those of the Lusk Committee.
The next objective on the list of the committee was the Rand School, the headquarters of the Left wing of the Socialist Party (43 W. 29th St.) and the I.W.W. hall at 27 e. 4th St., all of them in the city of New York. The three warrants issued by chief magistrate, Wm. McAdoo, were executed simultaneously at three o’clock in the afternoon of June 21 by a conglomerate aggregation of committee representatives, city policemen, members of the state constabulary and private volunteers from the American Protective League. Again a truck was loaded with documents and driven to the offices of the Committee where it was discovered that they had made a valuable haul.
“In all of these places large quantities of written and printed matter … were obtained, and in addition therein much valuable information was had concerning the identity of the leaders of the radical revolutionary movement in America as well as the names and addresses of thousands of members of these various counties of this state as a direct result of the information thus obtained.”
Two days later, the Rand School was again invaded on an affidavit that people at the school had said, “It is a good thing they haven’t opened the big safe on the third floor.” This time experts drilled a hole in the safe and removed its entire contents. Then the attention of the raiders was drawn to the fact that many papers which were being taken were not included in the warrant, one of the state troopers replied, “Oh, that ain’t what we’re after. We want to get at the source of the financial support of the Rand School.” It is not difficult to imagine what would have happened to these supporters if a Federal Sedition Bill like the one discussed in the preceding pages was in effect at the time, for even the Socialist Party would be a revolutionary organization within the meaning of its provisions.
In August the headquarters of the Union of Russian Workers was raided and the chief writers of Club Vola—Peter Banco, Nahum Stepanuk and Peter Krawchuk were indicted for criminal anarchism by the grand jury. Later these workers were deported on the Buford.
At nine o’clock in the evening of November 8, seventy-one headquarters of the Communist Party were entered by a group of more than 700 policemen under the leadership of the bomb squad and assisted by the state constabulary as well as representative of the committee. Tons of literature was seized and over 6000 prisoners taken. (Lusk Comm. Reports vol. 1 pg. 768) This raid, it was afterwards admitted, was necessary because, “To check the process of organization, positive and drastic action must be taken. In consequence of this determination, evidence as to the location of the various branches which had been opened by the Party in Greater New York, and the nature of the seditious activities being carried on, having been obtained, search warrants were prepared by counsel to the committee for all these branches, and the same were issued by Chief Magistrate, Wm. McAdoo.” The reader will remember, of course that the ultimate purpose of the Lusk Committee was to frame legislation to deal with the existence of any new change in social problems. As one would expect from the manner in which the committee carried out its instructions, the final result was that while no laws were proposed, many indictments were handed down under existing statutes by the extraordinary grand jury called to hear the evidence of the Lusk Committee.
Finished with New York City, the committee proceeded to mop up Utica, Rochester and Buffalo. The same tactics were repeated against the Communist Party, the Union of Russian Workers and other organizations in those cities. Again the raid “formed the basis of numerous indictments found against the ringleaders of the revolutionary organizations in the cities aforementioned.” (Ibid, pg 24) On the day following the Palmer Red Raids the Lusk Committee made its last stab and raided the premises of “Elore”, the Hungarian Communist Daily located at 5 East 3rd St., New York City, where the “Communist World” was also printed. “Dar Kampf” and the Ukranian paper “Robitnik". The value of the printed matter taken from these establishments came to $20,000.
The Federal Preparations For the Raids of Nov. 7 and Jan. 2
So far we have principally discussed the role which New York State played in the post-war period. The failure of the Federal Sedition Bill to become a law compelled Washington to rely upon local machinery to stem the tide of radicalism falling within the domain of the newly created legislation. The inactivity of the United States in this field, however, did not incapacitate it from taking an active part in the arena of events. For its lack of success in the realm of legislation, the federal government compensated itself by making vast strides in other directions. Perhaps the very reason that various states had already undertaken the prosecution of seditious utterances accounts for the Congressional failure to see the urgent necessity for duplicate legislation. In this way a division of labor occurred which left the attorney general free to concentrate upon functions which did not conflict in the least with American traditions of democracy. Why should foreigners have the privilege of stirring up trouble in a land which affords them a refuge from autocratic Europe? It is the old, old story: “If you don’t like this country, why don’t you go back to Russia where you came from? You, who are here by sufferance, have no right to complain.”
Furthermore, all of the law essential to a mass deportation movement was already in operation. There was no need, therefore, to propose new legislation which would only create a furore and perhaps retard the activities of the Department long enough to ruin its effectiveness. Such an attempt to be successful must proceed swiftly and without warning. To debate the matter for months would be a fatal blow to its effectiveness. Only through the deportation laws could this be accomplished since they have been considerably improved during the war when the situation did not permit any objection to their passage.
By the Act of May 1, 1917, anarchists for the first time were subjected to expulsion as well as exclusion and all restrictions as to the time within which this could be done were eliminated. Previously, expulsion proceedings for anarchist views at the time of admittance into the country had to be commenced within five years from the date of entry. Under the Act of October 16, 1918, the provisions of the 1917 law makes the following persons of all times subject to expulsions and exclusion: (1) alien anarchists; (2) aliens who advocate, who are affiliated with or members of an organization which advocates opposition to all organized government; (3) aliens who believe in, who advocate, are affiliated with or members of an organization which believes in or advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the government of the United States, or of all forms of law, or the duty, necessity or propriety of assaulting or killing any officers of the United States or of any organized government because of their official character; (this would include resisting the provocateur attacks of police during a strike or advocating physical violence against the butchers of Hitler-R.B.) or the unlawful damage, injury or destruction of property; (4) aliens who write, publish, distribute, print, display or have in their possession for such purposes any matter advocating the above offenses; (5) aliens who are members of an affiliated with organizations that write, circulate, display or have in their possession for such purpose, matter of character described above; (this would include membership in any non-partisan organization like the I.W.O. or the League Against War & Fasism if it undertook to circulate communist literature—R.B.); (6) the giving, loaning or promising of anything of value to be used for these purposes shall constitute advising, advocating and teaching the prohibited doctrines and if given to an organization for that purpose shall constitute affiliation with it. (Immigration Act of October 16, 1918 as amended June 5, 1920)
All aliens coming within these categories are subject to summary deportation without the right to avail themselves of constitutional guarantees. It makes no difference whether they have been in this country for a long time or whether their views were acquired after their arrival to these democratic shores where everyone presumptively has the right to speak and print what he pleases. Nor does it make any difference that the alien expresses these views for the first time at the deportation proceedings. Mere belief is sufficient.
With the law in readiness, the Department of Justice began to groom itself for its new tasks. In answer to an eloquent plea for a red crusade, Congress voted an appropriation of $2,600,000 to the Department of Justice for the “detection and prosecution of crimes against the United States". The appropriation of this deficiency allowance of one million dollars, (the other $1,600,000 being for the ordinary functions) however, was not sufficient and in a short time, the Department requested an additional sum to carry on its work, for, said the attorney general, “The largest part of the activities of our present bureau of investigation which spends this money, has been with radical work… At present 30 to 50% of the field activities of the bureau of investigation has been concerned with that work and probably one-third of the work of the Washington office. In the latter part of January, our field reports indicate that 62% of our work in the country was in connection with the so-called radical movement.” (Judiciary Comm. (Senate) 66:3 pgs 614-615) The Department of Justice, however managed very well with the money originally granted to it. Not only was it able to finance the raids of January 2nd, but it was also able to finance a marvelous espionage system at the head of which it placed a notorious private detective named Flynn.
For months prior to the raid of January, the Department of Justice madly scoured the country in search of private detectives of the vicious Pinkerton variety. Every available scoundrel willing to enlist in the service of “Uncle Sam” was recruited into a general intelligence division dominated by these outlaw elements. With the papal blessing of the Department of Justice these hooligans were converted into workers and shipped to strategic industrial centers, where, with the connivance of the employers, they secured jobs as miners, lumberjacks and steel workers. As soon as Communist Party units were established in districts in which the agents of the Department of Justice were located, these provocateurs were among the first to join. (See N.Y. times 1/3/20)
Extreme precautions were taken to conceal the identity of these stool pigeons and very few were discovered. As early as August 1919, the Director of the Bureau of Investigation warned his special agents to “constantly keep in mind the necessity of preserving the cover of our confidential informants.” Even at the deportation hearings which followed the raids, no one was permitted to disclose the names of any of these squealers. One of them, however, betrayed himself and thus we have been able to find out how these labor spies operated.
Dyntro Iwankiw joined the left wing of the Socialist Party and later became active in forming the Communist Party local in Youngstown of which he became the financial secretary. By serving a short sentence for writing an article entitled, “The Third Revolution in Russia”, Iwankiw was able to develop some prestige among the workers. Characteristically, he also served sentences for embezzlement and bootlegging. Then, in August 1919, he was arrested in connection with the Union of Russian Workers, he was released upon the discovery that he was an employee of the Amesworthy & Gavitt Detective Agencyof Pittsburgh which was engaged in supplying the Department of Justice with information. Post writes of Iwankiw: “He reported daily to the detective agency that employed him, the detective agency forwarded his reports to its clients, and the clients furnished information at its discretion to representatives of the Department of Justice.” (82-83)
Through the information supplied by Iwankiw, the division of radical activities organized by the Bureau of Investigation accumulated a great mass of data upon the general subject of radicalism. To the 50,000 individual biographies of alien enemies and the 460,000 more or less complete reports on Germans (Annual Report: Attorney General, 1919) which the Department of Justice already possessed, the newly created Radical division added a classified list of 60,000 complete biographies of radical agitators. In many cases the Department also possessed photographs and finger prints. Attorney General Palmer in testifying before the Senate on November 14, 1919,said: “One of the first matters receiving the attention of the Radical Division after its organization, was the various Societies in the United States adhering to anarchistic doctrines. Principle among these was the organization known as the Federation of the Union of Russian Workers…. It was necessary, however, in order to prove the anarchistic nature of the organization, to secure copies of the constitution, as well as copies of documents and literature published and circulated by it.” “… it then became necessary to locate the officers of each of the locals and to establish their membership to this society. Again this Department experienced great difficulty in establishing membership, as the members had been advised to carefully guard against information connecting them with the organization.”
The next step was to establish in the division a card index system in August, 1919, which has now grown to number over 100,000 cards. (In the 1920 Annual Report by the general attorney, this number was put at 200,000—R.B.) giving detailed data not only upon individual agitators connected with the radical movement, but also upon organizations, associations, societies, publications and special conditions existing in certain localities. This card index makes it feasible to determine and ascertain in a few moments the numerous ramifications of individuals and their activities in the United States thus facilitating the investigators considerably.
“The card index is so classified that a card for a particular city may be called for and will show the various organizations in that city, together with their members, and the names of the officers thereof. In view of the numerous inquiries received by telegraph and also in view of the fact that one of the main characteristics of the radicals in the United States is found in their migratory nature, make necessary the carrying out of such an index system, as prompt answers must be made to such inquiries.”
“There was also established in the Radical division a careful reviewing system of the reports of the special agents upon radical investigations, which has resulted in a close and intimate touch between the department in Washington and the field officers of the bureau in any part of the country, so that no step in the investigations can be taken without the knowledge of the Washington office being called to the same promptly” (66 Cong: 2-3 session)
“Investigations have been made into anarchistic groups in Paterson for many years, and it was not until the latter part of 1919 that there investigations began to crystalize into direct evidence against the individual members in that city” (Ibid) Even attorneys known to habitually defend radicals were closely watched and a check was kept on all visitors in their office.”
With the voluntary collaboration of the post office, it was relatively easy for the attorney general to discover that there were “222 radical newspapers published in foreign languages in this country….and 105 radical newspapers published in the English language. In addition, 144 racial newspapers are received and distributed to subscribers here” (Palmer to Senate November 14, 1919) To do this job, “All of these radical publications are read and translated by the Department of Justice in cooperation with the Post Office Department, a form of forty translators, readers and assistants is employed” and daily reports are received on the radical articles that appear.” (Ibid)
The attorney general without disclosing the source of his information in 1921 stated before Congress, “I have here mailing lists of these radical papers showing who is reading this stuff.” (66 Cong:2-3 Sess) Could these records have been obtained from the post office which compels the editors of all radical papers desiring second class mailing rights to turn over the names and addresses of their subscribers? Justice admitted: “We use a great many of the records of the Post Office Department in this work.” (Judiciary Comm. (House) 66:2-3 pg. 27). Now what records could be more important to the Department of Justice than the names and addresses of the members and sympathizers of the radical groups? When in 1931 the “Class Struggle” learned that it could not secure second class mailing privileges unless it disclosed the identity of its subscribers, to its amazement it discovered that every radical paper had cooperated with the government in this respect. How relatively easy it is, therefore, for the government to know in advance exactly whom it wishes to arrest in a raid. The communist working in some remote mining camp or buried away in a huge steel mill can be easily hunted down and closely watched. As soon as a crucial moment arises, he is the first to be arrested and for all his thinking he cannot fathom the ability of the government to detect him so easily.
RAID OF NOVEMBER 7TH, 1919
With this general orientation, the Department of Justice commenced its preparation for the mass deportations which were to follow in November and January. First, however, it was necessary to fix upon a pretext which would justify this unprecedented lawlessness and stir the apprehensiveness of the petty bourgeoisie to such a point that it would hesitate to sympathize with the deportees. For this purpose the Department of Justice decided upon the Bomb Plots of May and June 1919. These bombings, were attributed, of course, to the mad, long-haired, bewiskered radicals without reconciling the harmless character of the people receiving the bombs and the inability of the well informed Department of Justice to locate any of the perpetrators. Even liberal writers, generally so naive and gullible, have hazarded the opinions that the bombs were placed to be discovered rather than to explode. The press, however, did not fail to publicize the plots as much as possible and in place of the I.W.W. the government now created a new bugaboo--the “Reds". Regularly the United States sent to newspapers and magazines a plethora of gratuitous material (postage pre paid) which they could easily reproduce and which they were to administer in sufficiently large doses to insure a welcome reception for the “Red Raids". The newspapers, big and small, eagerly grabbed this free service. Sex was shoved off the front page, and communism, now a national phenomena, became the leading topic of the day. The New York Times of 1919-1920 is almost unrecognizable to one who has grown to maturity since the war, with its screeching headlines, “Uprising of Reds Plotted at Gary” (October 30), “Plot to Put Bombs in Christmas Mail” (November 30) “Red Bomb laboratory Found Here: Hid in Secret Room in Russian House” (November 26). This was the way in which the staid New York Times wrote. One can, therefore, imagine the temper of the press in general toward the Bolshevik Revolution which spurred the class consciousness of the workers and sent them into revolutionary organizations by the thousands. One of these, the Federated Union of Russian Workers, in a short while swelled to such proportions that it reached a membership of about 7000. Originally under the domination of the anarchists, and dedicated to the overthrow of Tsarism, the Russian Federation in this period was principally influenced by the communists. Because of the following two clauses in its constitution the members of the Russian Federation were subject to summary deportation. First, a belief in the class struggle which involved an understanding of the necessity to “Take possession by forcible social revolution of all the wealth of the world”, and second, a pledge that in order to accomplish this the members would engage in “The work of organizing the great mass of Russian immigrants for the speedier liberation of Russia and all mankind". Once this was accomplished the Russian Federation asserted that there would come into existence “A society of free producers aiming to satisfy the needs of each individual person, who in turn will give to society his labor and his knowledge".
This organization constituting as it did a direct threat to the capitalist system and demonstrating its ability to rally the Russian workers around its banner, could only incur the enmity of the capitalists and the desire to exterminate its influence completely. The federal government, therefore, in anticipation of the sailing of the Buford, at 9 o’clock on the night of the second anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution swooped down on the headquarters of the Federation in every key city in which they had branches and arrested everyone found on the premises. While reports as to the number of cities in which raids took place are very conflicting, the New York Times enumerates the apprehension of leaders in the following 16 cities: New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, Baltimore, Akron, Youngstown, Newark, Elizabeth, Hartford, Waterbury, Ansonia, Bridgeport, New Haven and Seymour.
All of the raids were conducted in a most ruthless manner. In New York City, the Peoples House which had been raided on two previous occasions was literally wrecked by the police and then intentionally allowed to remain unguarded so that the hoodlums of the neighborhood could walk off with the things which the government was forced to leave behind. Merely the papers seized by the authorities filled several large trucks (Times 11/8/19) while everyone found on the premises was compelled (on his way out to the patrol wagon) to run a gauntlet of policemen swinging blackjacks. The far from proletarian Times reported in its issue on the following day: “A number of those in the building were badly beaten by the police during the raid, their heads wrapped in bandages testifying to the rough manner in which they had been handled".
Although the majority of these Russians for years had been attempting to communicate with their families or to secure passports to their native country, the United States, after its experience with Trotsky, persistently refused to allow these men to leave voluntarily. While determined to get rid of them, the government was equally determined, if possible, to prevent them from assisting the Russian Revolution. Both of these ends could be served only by forcible deportation to White Russia where the barbaric hordes of Denikin and Kolchak could put them to death. Fortunately, physical obstacles prevented this and in the pitch black of an early winter morning the Buford, an old veteran of the Spanish-American war, sailed under sealed orders for an unknown destination. Out of 249 deportees on board the dilapidated hulk making a dangerous winter crossing, 184 were members of the Russian Federation. Some of those were leaving behind their destitute wives and children without any means of support or knowledge as to when they would be reunited. Others had come to the United States as infants and were being sent to a country where they knew neither the language nor the people. One was a mere youth of 17.
The deportees were given but a few hours notice; their relatives not even that much. Not until the vessel was on the high seas were the families of the deportees notified in the newspapers on the following morning. A wife of a deportee, who had come to the Barge Office the next morning with warm clothes for her husband, was laughed at by the official in charge and advised that the boat had sailed the day before.
Everything was done quickly and secretly. Even the lawyers did not know of their departure since they were never apprised of the intention to deport the men. But this is no new trick. Ever since 1917, the government had been developing this technique of sugar coating autocracy with liberalism. When Pietro Marrucho was arrested for having in his possession copies of the anarchist paper “Cronacca Soverssiva”, he was rushed from Pennsylvania to New York and out of the port the next morning, contrary to an agreement with the Bureau of Legal Advice to permit it to review every case. When Angelo Varrichio, an Italian Socialist and I.W.W. was transferred from Utica to New York, his presence at Ellis Island was at first denied. On March 25 his attorneys were assured by telegram from Washington that Varrichio’s deportation would be held up until they could secure a writ but on the very next day Varrichio was secretly placed on board the “Europa” bound for Italy.
Charles Recht complained that so many obstacles were placed in the way of getting a petition for a writ of habeas corpus signed by a prospective deportee that he had to smuggle them into Ellis Island in his socks. Walter Nelles, who once signed the writ himself because he could not visit the deportees had this experience with the courts. He had been retained by the friends of six workers taken from Spokane to Ellis Island and held incommunicado. When the clients were produced before Judge A.N. Hand and asked whether they knew Nelles they said, “No". Nelles offered to show them the telegram from their friends, but the objection of the Assistant district Attorney was sustained. the proceedings were dismissed and the six Scandinavians were immediately deported to Sweden.
The Buford deportees therefore could expect no better treatment. Indeed they were fortunate that they ever reached Russia, for the trip through the Baltic to Libau had to be made between rows of floating mines which had not yet been removed. So great was the possibility of a collision with a mine that the Buford was accompanied by a destroyer on this part of the voyage in order to rescue the crew in the event of a catastrophe. Of course the presence of a destroyer was also a warning to the passengers against seizing control of the ship.
(To be concluded)
JAPAN’S NEW GRAB IN CHINA
Tremendous changes are taking place in the Far East. The carefully constructed balance of power has been overturned never to return again. A great sharpening of the relations between China and Japan and between Japan and the Soviet Union has occurred, also marking the fact that new contradictions have arisen both within Japan and within China.
Ever since the start of the world economic crisis in 1929, Japan has imperatively felt the need of improving her position. Her economy was extremely unbalanced. First of all, she relied principally upon silk products, markedly hit by the crisis. Second, she relied mainly upon the United States both in her exports and imports, a situation upon which the Japanese imperialists could not but look with alarm. The fact that the industrial depression hit the U.S. very severely, curtailing sharply all trade with Japan, and the fact that the political relations between the two countries became more and more strained, compelled the Japanese ruling class to seek new ways out.
The first step was to change the basis of her textile industry from silk to cotton. In this the Japanese capitalists were extraordinarily successful. As we wrote in our General Theses, “The Struggle for Communism": “By 1931, Japan, forced off the gold standard, was able, by ruthlessly driving down the masses, to make a great step forward in winning the markets. Greatly extending the rationalization of its industry, reducing the number of workers running the same textile machinery by 4.3%, at the same time speeding up all machinery, paying wages 1/7 of those of Great Britain and cutting the wages 52% while stepping up the cost of living 10%, Japan is able to reach first place in cotton textiles, surpassing even Great Britain and rapidly dominating Asia, increasing its share in India and in South America. By such aggressive measures, Japan has shoved up its proportion of world exports by 25%.
By 1934, for the first time in its history Japan reported more cotton than silk, cotton making up 22.7% of the total exports and silk but 13.2%. Japanese cotton exports have begun even to flood the United States as the following figures dramatically show: In the year 1934, 7,700,000 yards of cotton cloth was shipped to the United States by Japan; in 1935, in the month of January alone, about 7,000,000 yards were exported to this country. This is a truly remarkable increase.
By 1934, raw cotton was making up about 32% of the total imports into Japan. However, this presented new problems to Japan. Half of this cotton was coming from the United States. The total Japanese trade to the United States amounted to over 25% of all her trade. New steps would have to be taken if Japan were to achieve independence from the United States to any extent. The first thing to do was to find sources of raw cotton other than those in the United States. These sources were found in Australia, in India, in Egypt, in Ethiopia, in Brazil and elsewhere. Today, the friendliest economic ties are being constructed between Australia and Japan on the basis of Japan’s enormous purchases of wool, cotton, grain and meat from Australia. As for India, so great were the inroads that Japan was making there that the British government in London had to take official cognizance of the crisis that the British textile industry was being placed in, owing to the ruthless Japanese competition in the Far East and India. Regarding Brazil, the increasing influence of Japan can be seen by the fact that while in 1933, Japan ordered 9,000 bales of cotton from that country already in 1934 the total order jumped to over 200,000.
The change from silk to cotton and the winning of important world markets by Japan, of course, immensely strengthened her in relation to China and made all the more imperative that the other objectives of Japanese imperialism be achieved, namely to end Japan’s general reliance upon the United States, to develop new commodities, to become self sufficient in basic materials, in respect both to iron and steel and to food. This is one of the chief reasons for Japanese expansion into Manchuria, Mongolia and China.
Here, too, Japan’s progress has been remarkable. Step by step, with a sort of stop-watch precision, she has been able to seize Mukden, Harbin, Jehol and thus all of Manchuria, which is transformed into the Empire of Manchukuo. The Chinese Eastern Railway is taken over and Russian trade practically wiped out. Complete monopolies in oil and other materials are established in favor of the Japanese capitalists. The Open Door is slammed tightly shut. By 1933, the Japanese were able to impose the Tangku Treaty upon the Nanking Government which compelled the Chinese to withdraw all troops from an immense region south of the Great Wall. As soon as this region was demilitarized, at once the Japanese began maneuvering with Chinese politicians and generals for the taking over of this portion of Northern China. At the same time Japan is ready for the next step into Mongolia. Chahar is seized and the invasion in Sulyuan and the rest of Inner Mongolia is begun. An autonomous movement is now started in the Northern provinces of Shantung, Hopei (in which the two important cities of Peiping-Pekin and Tientsin are located) and Shansi.
Step by step the hold upon China and the Nanking Government by Japan increases. In 1934, while 18.5% of China’s exports went to the United States, 15.2% went to Japan and of China’s total imports, 12.2% came from Japan while 21.9% arrived from the United States. Every attempt by the Nanking Government to maneuver with other imperialist powers, as when Britain proposes a loan to Nanking, is met with new attacks by Japan to compel Nanking to reject the loan and to become more hopelessly bankrupt or to borrow from Japan alone.
All of those “successes”, however, have only brought Japan into the midst of the greatest contradictions, the solution of which can be found only in open military struggle. The axes of the struggles revolve around the following basic points: 1. The struggle against the Soviet Union and against Communism and revolution. 2. The struggle for the establishment of a Japanese “Monroe Doctrine” in which the program Asia for the Asiatics (i.e. Japan) will be enforced and the Far East become to Japan what South America is to the United States.
Japanese Imperialism cannot win these battles. The attempt to do so will break its neck.
The Chinese Nanking Government has been able to solve none of the great problems which it had inherited after the slaughter of the Chinese proletariat in 1927. The new blows which Japan has given Nanking by its seizure of so much of Chinese territory has only plunged it into a still greater crisis and exposed its absolutely intolerable weakness. It has been forced to see the South of China practically autonomous under the leadership of the ruling clique of Canaton. It has now lost the last remnant of its prestige in the decision recently arrived at, not to fight Japan over the question of the new seizures of North China. The Kuomintang forces are being split wide open. The hatred and bitter contempt which the masses of the Chinese people have for Chiang Kai Shek and the other traitorous Chinese leaders are reaching the open breaking point. A new Civil War is the order of the day. The masses of people, who want to fight to save China from Japanese and other imperialism, will be forced to fight the ruling cliques of China to the end.
Naturally, the Chiang Kai Sheks who betray the people to Japanese and other imperialism have turned to the greatest terror against the masses. In 1934 in Peiping and Tientsin alone over 800 political prisoners were taken by Chiang Kai Chek, while the toll between November, 1934 and March, 1935, in these two cities amounted to 230. Thousands and thousands of such prisoners are annually tortured to death in the dungeons of China. A special Chiang Kai Shek force, called the Blue Jackets has been created to intensify this terror. An army of a million soldiers has been put in the field under the direct leadership of the Generalissimo himself to crush the Communist movement in the interior of China. All of this to no avail. The new seizures by Japan of the North of China below the Great Wall has now stirred up a movement of tremendous size that must broaden and deepen until it will overwhelm the Kuo Min Tang murderers.
At the same time most important economic changes are being realized in China. China is rapidly becoming industrialized, and in what direction can be seen from the following figures: While in 1913, cotton imports amounted to 30% of the total, in 1934 it amounted to but 2.6% of the total while the imports of machinery and metal increased to 15.4%, and in that year was the most important item on the entire import list. These figures speak volumes as to the transformation taking place within China. It also tells us why, in spite of the beheading of so many hundreds of thousands of workers and militant toilers in China, the movement constantly raised its head again with new leaders and new forces.
The many headed elements of the Chinese proletariat are learning their lessons in revolution in a very hard but excellent school. The frightful misery of the masses (aggravated by the recent drastic fall in prices due to the rise in the price of silver as a result of America’s inflation policy and heavy purchases of silver on the world market) is breeding a new storm of revolution, which must break out in the not too distant future.
A significant metamorphosis is coming over the mass of small property owners, peasants, artisans of entire China. In the old days of Confucius teaching the man, who took up arms, was looked down upon and considered far inferior to the scholar or man of learning. This is no longer so. All the schools from the elementary school for children to the university are taking to military training with a vengeance. The number of volunteers for military training is far larger than can be accommodated. This is an excellent sign. It is a sign that the people are awakening, that they know they can defeat world imperialism only when all the people are armed, when a workers’ or people’s militia is organized and when the days of the supremacy of the mercenary armies of Chian Kai Shek and Co. are over.
As far back as 1931, we wrote in the Class Struggle, Vol. 1, No. 4, (speaking of Japan’s invasion of Manchuria): “The latest outrage of Japan, prelude as it is to a general dismemberment of china by all the imperialists, should Japan be successful, must be resisted with all the force of the Chinese toiling masses, led by the Chinese proletariat whose vanguard are the Chinese Communists.
“War by the Chinese people against Japan is the only form such resistance can take effectively. Such a war by the Chinese people against Japan can only be welcomed by the toiling masses and proletarians all over the world. A war by the Chinese people against Japan is not an imperialist war but a war of a colonial country against an imperialist aggressor. It is the duty of the proletariat everywhere to aid and to support such a war with all its might. (Lenin) Such a war would have a most salutary effect on all the struggles of the oppressed colonial peoples for freedom (India, Philippines, Korea, Siam, etc.)”
It is only the Chinese people that Japanese imperialism fears and not the miserable Chinese puppet generals and their mercenary armies. In order to defeat the Chinese people, Japan must wage a ruthless war against all forms of revolutionary action, the principal stream of which in Asia comes from the Soviet Union. Thus, in the eyes of all the robber imperialists in Asia, the real job is the destruction of the Soviet Union. This would clear the field for the new partition of Asia, just as, conversely, “The victory by Japan over the Chinese people or the Japanese seizure of Manchuria and Inner Mongolia would be a terrific blow against every liberation movement throughout the East. It would hasten the dismemberment of China. It would result in a smashing attack against that part of China now under Soviets and strengthen all the Chinese village reactionaries. Reaction would triumph in Japan as well. The Japanese proletariat would be given a severe blow. The military landlord clique would rule more firmly than ever.
“Victory by Japan … is a direct threat against the Soviet Union. …The seizure of Manchuria and Inner Mongolia offers imperialism a consolidated base of attack against Russian-Chinese trade and against the Chinese Eastern Railway. It is a thrust to split Siberia, a menace to Outer Mongolia (under Soviets), a move at Turkestan, and a threat of outflanking the Communist forces within China. Victory by Japan imperils the whole Soviet Union …”
All this was written in 1931. Not a word has to be changed today except noting that which the C.L.S. feared has actually come to pass to a considerable extent.
To the imperialists one point stands out more prominently than any other and that is there can be no peace in Asia unless the Soviet Union is destroyed. The first Russian Revolution was bad enough. As a result a great democratic ferment shook Persia, China, India and all the other colonial countries. The 1917 Revolution, however, has been incomparably more disturbing. The Soviet Union has been the inspiration of the toilers of all these lands in their struggles against imperialism. The victory of the workers in the Soviet Union completely upset the relations of forces in Asia. In Mongolia, in China, in Japan, everywhere a vast movement has arisen whose fate is completely wrapped up with the events in that country where the workers first took power.
In spite of all the pressure Japan can bring to bear, “banditry” in Manchuria is worse today than in 1931 when Japan first invaded that country on the pretext of putting an end to “banditry". The vast peasant masses of China are still carrying on their fight against the pick of Chiang Kai Shek’s troops. Mongolia is putting up a stiff battle because it does not have to fear that its rear will be attacked by a Russian Imperialist regime.
It is for this reason that Japan’s invasion must culminate in an attack against the Soviet Union. It is for this reason that Japan since 1931 has refused to enter into any non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union. It is for this reason that it carries on a steady provocative policy of invasions into Soviet territory in order to provoke a war. It is for this reason that it has compelled the Soviet Union to part with the Chinese Eastern Railway for only $18,000,000 in cash ($50,000,000 in cash and products) payable in three years. The war between the Soviet Union and Japan is inevitable.
At this moment when China is seething with revolutionary discontent, when the masses are on the verge of a new civil war against the Kuo Min Tang generals, who are selling the country to Japanese and other imperialism, the bureaucracy of the Soviet Union has taken a frightful reactionary course repeating on an even worse scale the terrible crimes of 1925-27. Under Stalinism, the Russian Revolution is made to function to destroy not imperialism but the Chinese Revolution.
Again Stalinism is raising its disastrous theory of “The bloc of four classes” under the guise of “peoples front". Again they are telling the people to put their faith in the “left” Kuo Min Tang and “left” generals. Again they are urging the Chinese workers not to carry on a genuine struggle against those Chinese capitalists who may talk and prattle of struggle against Japan. With their France-Soviet pacts and League of Nation alliances, the Soviet bureaucrats are actually playing the game of world imperialism, harnessing the Chinese workers as dray horses for British and French “democratic” imperialism!
At this very moment every attempt to form a genuine revolutionary Communist Party is denounced by the Stalinists, who now counterpoise to Chiang Kai Shek the ideal of bourgeois democracy of some sort. All talk of proletarian revolution is forgotten. Should some Chinese generals place themselves in a position to fight Japan the Chinese workers will be urged to follow these capitalist militarists, even though it means the end of the proletarian revolutionary movement in China. The Russian Stalinists have always been ready and willing to sacrifice the Chinese revolution for their nationalist aims.
With their theory of Socialism in one country alone they refused to enter into the struggle of the Chinese masses in the decisive period of their fight. They allowed Japanese imperialism to invade the country with impunity and consolidate its positions at will. They gave the Chinese to understand that Russia would look after its self alone and recognized no principles of international solidarity.
With their idealization of the peasantry, the Stalinists have abandoned the workers struggles in the cities to link up their lot with the struggles of petty proprietors and small property interests giving expression at the same time to the wonderful theory that the workers of China would be liberated by the peasants war and not that the workers revolution would liberate the benighted peasantry. In a thousand ways, therefore, the Stalinists have sidetracked the movement from proletarian internationalist revolutionary channels to nationalist petty bourgeois reformist ones.
In contradiction to Stalinism the following policy must be pursued: (See General Theses of C.L.S.) “The basic slogans for the masses today must be Lenin’s three pillars, that is, a basic slogan for the proletariat, (say the eight-hour day) a basic slogan for the peasantry (confiscation of land and annulment of debts) and the slogan of Democratic Republic. Today the slogan of Constituent Assembly is still correct. At the same time there must be brought forth the slogan of busting all foreign imperialists and effecting the complete independence and unity of China.
“The struggle for a constituent assembly and the ‘three pillars’ must go hand in hand with the demand to arm the Chinese toilers. The struggle against Japan must be a struggle for the carrying out of a revolutionary agrarian program, for the legalization of the trade union movement, for social insurance for the workers and other measures of reform. War against Japan must be combined with civil war in town and country for Soviets. This combined struggle, starting with a vigorous boycott and confiscation of all imperialist and capitalist property must end with a proletarian Soviet regime.”
WHICH WAY FOR THE OEHLER GROUP
The Oehler Group is now freed from the discipline of Cannon and Schactman and the centriam of the Workers Party. Its task is no longer merely a negative and critical one but now must become a positive one of entering into and participating actively in the class struggle. In its split from the Workers Party in the course of its struggle against fusion with the Socialists and the centrism of Trotsky, the Oehler Group has taken a definite step forward towards the left.
The life of the Oehler group will not be an easy one. It will face extremely hard blows. It will find that many of the chatterboxes it took with it from the workers party will drift away. Already we see definite disintegrating tendencies inside the Oehler group, which show how precarious its hold is upon its few members. The units are not functioning. In New York City, where over half the membership is supposed to be, one unit has not met in weeks, in another case, only a small part of the membership show up, etc. The fractions in the mass organization generally do not function. The newspaper put out (introductory number) is extremely sterile. The meetings held are poorly attended. In the past few cases only 50 or 60 workers showed up, a portion of the audience being C.L.S. members and sympathizers and about 30 being members of the Oehler group and its youth section.
The Oehler leadership, however, does not dare to probe to the root of all this and find out the reasons for the disintegration. To counter the reverses in fact they must give the illusion of great successes being imminent. As they lose members in the hard course of the class struggle, they must try to make up the losses by “negotiations” and round-table discussions, etc. They have opened up “discussions” with the Field Group, with the four Italian workers, who call themselves Bordighists, with the Dixon Group in Chicago and with the P.P. split-off in Buffalo. Significantly enough, howevr, they have not made an effort to open up discussions with the Communist League of Struggle.
In proceeding in this manner the Oehler group shows very clearly that it has an extremely long way to go before breaking with its opportunist past. (For it must be recalled that the opportunism of the Cannon-Schactman group did not begin with the moment that Oehler discovered it, but many years before when the Oehlers never uttered a word of complaint but readily did the bidding of their factional leaders). The Oehler group is going the way of the ill-fated workers party. It is trying to build a new workers party (called “revolutionary") on a meaner and more petty basis with less talent. Such a course spells destruction.
We are not opposed to the Oehler group engaging in discussions leading to unity with other groups. The Oehler group needs such discussions badly. It has an extremely poorly worked-out and as yet incomplete program. Its leaders are not well developed. Stamm has been in the movement an extremely short time and has no record whatever to speak of. Oehler has a record of practical field work, but under the stifling tutelage of Cannon has not been allowed to develop theoretically and was kept from real leadership training in the workers party and Communist League of America. These two individuals will be bound to pull at logger heads sooner or later. Oehler will tend to try to build a group in his own image, of workers who do practical work and who are not afraid of undertaking the dangerous concrete tasks of the Class Struggle in the basic industries. Stamm will try to win to himself smart-alec Jewish youth, whose sole ambition is to scribblers and mouth shooters and who will be trained by Stamm as Stamm was trained by Shactman. And around them will be the Blackwells who—thousands of miles away—pose as leaders of the Mexican youth—and whose sole talent consists in drawing pictures, exactly like Shactman—and bringing into the Oehler group petty gossip and intrigue.
Under such circumstances, the Oehler group needs plenty of discussion. The trouble is, however, it is avoiding real discussion, a discussion that only the Communist League of Struggle can give it. Why does the Oehler group rush to discussion with the Bordighists, for example? Is the group so important? It is made up in New York City of exactly four people, one or none of whom speak English. Why do we stress the English part? Because it is a fine indication of how much these people have really engaged in the struggles of the American workers. They live entirely in Italy and Europe. They have little to do with the American workers. They are bound to the sterile international Bordighist fraction. They can tell the American workers practically nothing. They have an extremely false program in which they denounce Lenin on the colonial question, break with Marx and Trotsky on the question of permanent revolution, “expose” Russia as a capitalist state which they refuse to defend, instead calling for a new revolution within the Soviet Union. they oppose the Leninist 3rd and 4th Congresses of the C.I. etc., they refuse to raise the slogan of the defense of the Ethiopian people, etc., etc. Now what can the Oehler group have in common with these people?
Does Oehler think he can really convince these four? More power to him if he can. But what is more likely being planned is that some innocent and vague declaration will be drawn up, signed by both, which will mean nothing and which will be interpreted by each party in whatever way they see fit. Thus there may be reached some agreement in words (which is highly doubtful) but there will be no agreement in fact and the Oehler group will start off with a basis for a bitter factional fight at the very start. A fine beginning!
Or take the discussions of the Oehler group with the Field Group. The four Italian workers at least are honest working men, who are quite decent chaps and have a certain loyalty to the working class. But that cannot be said for the really stinking Field group. The Field group is not made up of workers. Its leader, Field, is a person only recently having discarded the Wall Street broker business and gone into the labor movement in which he had retained all his pawnbroker habits. Why do we stress this, because we wish to be personal or nasty? Nonsense. What we are trying to stress is the fact that it is typical of the petty bourgeois careerist to offer himself as a “leader” to the workers, without having tested himself in the actual workers’ struggles, without having a long record of loyal activity behind him.
The leaders of the revolutionary workers must be men who have a long and honest standing in the workers’ struggles, men who have been thoroughly tested, men who have gone to jail, men who have come up from the ranks in accomplishing better than anyone else the dangerous tasks allotted to them. Can that be said for the Field leadership? Certainly not. Yet this is one of the cardinal principles, which the Oehler group in breaking from its centrist past, must hold on to more firmly than ever. Far better for workers to vote with their feet than with their hands; i.e., far better that a leadership be established which may not be right on every question, but which is thoroughly trusted than some smart-alec pawnbroker and Columbia tutor. (When will the workers of this country learn this? Here, too, is to be found the reason for the hostility of so many workers who have turned to the syndicalist and I.W.W. movements in opposition to the political groups that have been formed in the past in this country.) The Oehler group must raise firmly the principle: No leadership except tested in struggle; no leadership except coming from the ranks, no leadership except refreshed constantly in the struggle, for the proletarianization of the intellectual and the intellectualization of the proletariat.
Oehler himself should be ready to take this course, a course inevitable for any real left group. Why does he not do so? Is it because he will lose his own elements, who cannot stand such strenuous and revolutionary principles of internal political life? Is he afraid of Stamm and the bunch of kids he got from the workers party? Why should Oehler turn to Field and not to the Communist League of Struggle?
Let us compare the leadership of the two groups:
Field group: 1. Field entered the movement about 1931; was Columbia special tutor on railroads; was special agent for petroleum Institute; was writer for bankers and industrialists on economic subjects, taking anti-marxist viewpoints; was associate editor of a Wall Street magazine fighting the workers. 2. As soon as he got into the C.L.A. he began a fight for leadership. 3. Got himself into the 1934 hotel strike under scandalous conditions and conducted a truly scandalous strike in which he cooperated with the N.R.A. authorities, boosted the New York Post, threw the workers into chaos and caused their defeat. He was finally literally taken by the neck and thrown out by the workers of the union who turned to Stalinism. 4. The Field Group participated in a textile union in which they worked hand in glove with the A.F.L. bureaucrats, fought against strike action by the workers at a time when such action was imperative and, finally, also were thrown out by the workers, who turned to Stalinism. 5. A group formed (organized by the yellow Socialist Gitlow) finds Field in its ranks urging for an unprincipled bloc against Stalinism. The principles of Field were: First to organize a party and then to discuss principles, and to this, he was willing to join even with such freaks as the Rabbi Harry Waton. 6. Upon Gitlow entering the Socialist Party, the Field Group, officially declared, “We are, therefore, opposed to the policy of IMMEDIATELY taking steps to join the Socialist party: NOT THAT WE REJECT IN PRINCIPLE THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DEVELOPMENTS TAKING PLACE IN THE S.P. AND ALSO IN OUR OWN RANKS AS MIGHT MAKE SUCH A STEP ADVISABLE” (Our emphasis) (October, 1934, “Labor Front"). That is to say, the Field Group did not think the split in the S.P. between Thomas and the Old Guard would take place and so he thought Gitlow’s action merely premature. To join the S.P. or not was a mere tactical question to him. 7. As an independent group the Field group is willing to jockey with anyone that comes along and hide their principles at the slightest provocation: Here is their record: a) They united with Gitlow. b) They wanted to unite with Harry Waton. c) They flirted with Zack and made a bid for him. d) They flirted with the C.L.S. until rejected by that organization. e) Now they go with the Socialist Labor Party of Germany and the London bureau and actually print the documents of the former organization written by former Lovestone-Brandler agents whose whole life was a consistent struggle against the entire history of the Communist left Opposition. f) They offered to discuss with Lovestone. g) They work with the Bordighists claiming to be close to them. h) They urge unity with the Oehler group. They are indeed a “maedchen fuer alle” (prostitute), who urges all and sundry to “come up and see me some time.” 8. And the program of this group! To them the term “Communism” stinks and should be left to the Stalinists. They are for a loose party with plenty of factions for all where each careerist can fish for the clients he would otherwise not be able to have. They believe that real hope lies in the Socialist Party. They work with the centrist London Bureau. They believe the revolutionary unions formed in 1926 and later should never have been organized, that work should be conducted only in the A.F.L. and then in collaboration evidently with the labor fakers in the A.F.L., etc., etc., (See August, 1935, “Class Struggle").
We ask the members of the Oehler group to compare this record with that of the Communist League of Struggle. First of all compare the mere physical record:
Vera Buch: Joined Communist Party 1919, was Organizer in Passaic Strike (1926), Organizer, Auto Workers (1927), Organizer, Save the Miners Union (1928), Organizer, Gastonia Strike (1929) and was one of those facing electrocution in the Gastonia trial. Member of District committee Detroit Communist Party, author of several working class pamphlets, founder of Communist League of Struggle.
Albert Weisbord: Joined Socialist movement 1919. First strike activity 1921, 1922. Head of Y.P.S.U., member N.E.C.S.P., joined communist Party 1924, went to work in textile industry, organized National Textile Workers Union, led Passaic strike, New Bedford strike, Paterson strike, directed Gastonia strike, member N.E.C. of C.P. etc., etc., founder of C.L.S. 1930, etc. Jailed over 14 times, out on bond of $100,000 on counts with penalty of 62 years, etc.
These comrades never betrayed a strike. They never worked hand in glove with the government and labor fakers. They were never kicked out bodily by the workers. Their policies never caused defeats of the working class. They bitterly fought Gitlow and Lovestone from 1928 on as they had fought the Cannons from the very beginning of their Communist activity. The membership of the Communist League of Struggle is entirely a proletarian one, the leadership well tested.
In the light of these facts, why does the Oehler group turn to the Field group and away from the C.L.S.? Is this not a typical centrist action, hard to the left wing but pretty soft to the right? Let the Oehler group beware of the old saying: Tell us with whom you go and we can tell you what you are! In this respect a few nasty suspicions come into our mind which we cannot dispel. Can it be that EVEN BEFORE THE OEHLER GROUP SPLIT FROM THE WORKERS PARTY, OEHLER AND STAMM HAD COME TO A SECRET AGREEMENT WITH FIELD? How does it come about that both Oehler and Field have dropped the word “Communist” from their name? Why does the Oehler group take a name very similar to that of Field, calling itself Revolutionary Workers League (working for a revolutionary workers party) while the Field Group calls itself League for Revolutionary Workers Party?
Why are the discussions with the Field Group held in secret? When the C.L.S. discussed with the Field Group it was before both memberships. Our members were able to take a good look at the Field Group. We were all able to see how the line of debate progressed and what was behind the fine phrases spoken. But how does the Oehler group act? In typical Cannon-Shactman style, first they discuss secretly with the field Group. They will make deals with the group. They will hide their real differences. They will try to patch up some agreement which both will later interpret entirely differently. They will hide from their membership how the agreement was achieved, what errors were exposed in the debate, etc. They will come to the membership with a fact accomplished and then do their best to put it over. This is real Menshivism, real opportunism in organization methods.
But Oehler and Stamm cannot control their members so easily. In our opinion the members of the Oehler group must fight hard against this sort of Cannon-Shactmanism inside their own ranks. They must demand: 1. All groups put forward their opinions first in writing and the documents should be submitted to the membership. 2. The debates should be held before the New York joint memberships so that the members should be thoroughly informed and able to draw their own conclusions. 3. All statements must be plain and explicit not to permit “adaptable” Mensheviks like the Field group to read into the statements centrist positions. 4. Complete break with the London Bureau and S.A.P. on the part of the Field Group as a precondition to any discussions. 5. That the Communist League of Struggle be invited to participate in this discussion.
Oehler and Stamm seem to fear the Communist League of Struggle mightily. Stamm has gone so far as to deride us publicly without the permission of the organization to do so. He has placed his organization in a ridiculous position and has exposed himself as a mere smart-alec whom no serious adult worker in this country would follow. In one meeting for example, he declared: That the C.L.S. stood for the slogan, “Cap the Climax, put a tax on beer”, a pure invention of his imagination and one that shows him to be a real political idiot. It is just like these fellows who are not yet dry behind the ears to try to fool their membership with such tommyrot and actually believe it themselves. This is the fine way taught Stamm by Shactman, the only way he knows at the present time, until the C.L.S. will be able to knock into his head new ideas and new methods or drive this out of the movement entirely.
Why should Oehler fear us, anyway? Was not Weisbord the one who first inspired him in the Communist Party to enter the work of organizing the unorganized (If Oehler will be honest with himself he will remember the conversation held with Weisbord in Kansas City in the winter of 1926-1927). Was it not the Communist League of Strugle, who first fought Cannon and Shactman for their refusal to do mass work, their refusal to enter into united fronts, their insistence on being mere propaganda sects? Was not the Communist League of Struggle the first to expose the organizational line of Trotsky and his rotten methods of building the I.C.L? Did not the Communist League of Struggle first come out for the Fourth International? Did it not first break with the Trotsky line? Did it not predict the collapse of the workers party within a year? Did it not break with the Stockholm Youth Bureau first of all? Did it not always carry on an intransigent struggle against opportunism and centrism? Was it not the first to call for the slogan, “Workers Control over Production"? In how many ways is the Oehler group really deeply indebted to us?
What differences have we? On the Trade Union Question? On the Negro question? On the Unemployment question? On an estimation of the present situation? On the War question? Russia? Organization? etc. Certainly these are very deep differences and unless we bridge them we can never get together. But are these questions larger than the question of the London Bureau with which they discussed so amicably with Fields or than the question of the Permanent Revolution with which they discussed with the four Italian workers? Assuming that the differences are too great for fusion, would it not be profitable for both groups to at least be asked to explain in full the points in which we are in disagreement? Why do they continue the Cannon-Schactman slander against us in their group? Because they wish to turn to the right? Because they fear they will not make a good showing before their membership and so place their petty positions over the interest of the working class as a whole?
Let the Oehlers and the Stamms (but leave the Blackwells out) answers to these questions. One thing is clear. Should the Oehler group continue its course towards the right fusing with elements that will bring it a rotten membership and corrupt leadership, it cannot survive very long, but must be torn to pieces in a very short time.
The following letter has been sent to the Oehler group:
January 6, 1935
Revolutionary Workers League
We were glad to receive your letter of January 3rd in which you informed us that you are sending us under separate cover, the International News bulletins which contain part of your P.C. Convention drafts and also asking us for our programmatic material.
We are quite willing to send you our programmatic material including the back files of our paper. Our theses on war, organization and trade unions are in preparation. As soon as they are issued we should be glad to send you copies.
Permit us to venture the opinion that the mere reading of our material is not quite sufficient for a full appreciation of our point of view. There are certain questions such as those revolving around the slogans, “Lynch the Lynchers of the Negroes and Poor Toilers”, “For a Limited General Strike for Unemployment Insurance”, “Workers Control of Production—Open the Factories to the Unemployed—Open the warehouses to the Hungry”, “Self-determination of the Negro People”, “War in behalf of the S.U. is Historically a Progressive War”, etc., etc., which can be very profitably discussed in person. Especially is this important at the present time, when your organization is only in the process of formation and when your views are not yet crystallized in hard and fast forms.
We believe that it would be to the mutual advantage of both organizations to commence a series of discussions on all the questions which may separate us. We are ready to meet a committee of the Revolutionary Workers League to arrange the details of such discussions. We should also like to present our point of view to your forthcoming convention to be held February of this year in Chicago.
Please let us hear from you.
COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF STRUGGLE
Albert Weisbord, Secretary
BOOTLEG COAL by W. Van Wagoner
Between Tamaqua and Mahaney City on the main highway near the top of the Volcan is the spot of historic interest to the revolutionist of yesterday and today, the tree from which the first primitive struggle of the Molly McGuires in the hard coal industry was drenched in blood. Since that time the fight remains the same, reappearing each time on a higher scale. The few Mollies are now lost among the many hundreds of working class fighters killed in the class war between the miners and the coal barons.
The present phase, the rapid rise of the bootleg coal industry can be explained no other way than as a transition to a newer form of productions, workers control of the mines and breakers. This means workers control of the capitalist machine now idle and rusting away since the beginning of the crisis. Each year the Reading machine (when the writer of this article speaks of the Reading, it is as the miners themselves use the term, meaning all the hard coal industry: God gave the Land to the inhabitants, the coal to the Reading and a pick and shovel to the miner so he could make Andy Mellon and the Reading Company rich) is like the entire capitalist system. A large part is idle and slowly rusting away. The immense breaker and thousands of tons of all the rail equipment formerly used are in plain view of the idle miner and the railroad worker. Only a small part of the workers have partial employment, meaning the section of the working class in America that has fought the hardest and more often is on the verge of starvation. These workers have always been organized in their unions and they still consider themselves a part of the industry, not declassed elements but members of society that can produce a needed article. It is in the light of this background of conditions that we can understand the present developments of the coal miner’s life.
Even in the best days there was the beginning of the present bootleg industry. The miner and his family were never well off. His work was seasonal and his net yearly income was never enough to afford many luxuries. Besides, very early in the life of the miners they are forced to learn auxiliary ways of making a living and many of these are not exactly legal. In picking berries the miner is compelled to enter the lands of the company. At Christmas he finds need of a tree, sometimes for use, often for sale. These are to be found on company estates; future reforesting for mining timbers is forgotten. In the Fall he looks for game. Here he has interests slightly different from the village babbit or city sport, he will use any method at his disposal.
One of the items of his living cost would be the cost of fuel. This as always eliminated by picking coal from the immense pile of waste slack. Usually in this slack was to be found plenty of good coal. The miners’ kids, their women and some times they themselves in idle time gathered their own coal. Frequently a few bags could be sold (at a bargain price) to the village babbit, the preacher and the company watchman also. Thus already much of the population was involved in illegal activity.
As unemployment grew the idle miner turned to picking coal and extended their field of operation from the slack piles to the openings of the pits, using the same methods as had to be used a century before, namely, hand labor. The writer visits some of these bootleg mines and already they had dug far into the hillsides, using some mechanical means, such as block and tackle, as hoists. Some had built small breakers and screens operated by the old motor of a former Ford or “Chevy". Transportation varied from the absolute half-ton 1916 Ford to the most modern five-ton and ten-ton trucks.
In this setup it was only natural to see a development of all the stages of former modern industry and all the laws of marxist economics repeating, only this time in a very compressed period. The rise of a subdivision of labor has grown to such an extent that the miner, who at the start of the bootleg activity dug the coal with a pick and shovel and carried it up a crude ladder made of trees (cut on company land) now used company power with the help of the Coal and Iron police, (who also need some extra change) and never sees the consumer to whom he secretly sells the coal by the bag or ton. (The check weighman rule of the U.M.W.A. cannot apply here.) Large and small firms arise to transform his primitively created product into a market commodity to be sold as far off as New York City. A trucking syndicate arises, sales agents and companies and finally, as in the prohibition era, the racket chieftains add all the practices of that period.
Under these conditions the life of the miner grows worse. His hours are long, his earnings little and all the safety rules-ventilation, check-weighmen, etc. for which he and his unions fought are nowhere to be found. Accidents are many and often severe. The worker miner (not the racketeer) or trackmen on icy roads lives a lean, hungry, dangerous life. Sickness comes. All hospitals, etc. are privately supported by reading funds and endowments. Since the crisis, he cut to the bone, is harassed by thugs and cossacks, and he knows no peace. As his life and that of his father’s have consisted of a way between the miner’s existence and the Reading profits. His eyes turn at every step to the idle giant industry that he and his fellow workers can use. He feels that he can use this idle machine. When he digs in his primitive groove for a few dollars he does not think he is stealing. He still goes to church and often brings his bags of bootleg coal to keep it warm. He never uses the word confiscation, and will not understand if we use it. Workers control and management using his union (UMWA) as the instrument, is foreshadowed and idle minds worked on a percentage basis. This can and must develop to workers control and management of the Reading Coal and Railroad by the joint council as a step to complete ownership and control by the workers themselves as a part of emancipation of the working class and on the road to a classless society of the future.
THE FIGHT AGAINST THE DEPORTATION OF FERRERO AND GALLITTO
by Albert Strong
Since the first meeting of the Ferrero-Gallitto Defense conference which was called at Stuyvesant Casino on July 22, 1935, the Conference has been broadened to include all defense bodies, various radical and liberal groups and trade unions the authors and other nationally know personages.
On Sunday, January 26th at 2:30 p.m. at the headquarters of the I.L.G.W.U., there will take place a special enlarged meeting of the conference, at which there no doubt will be many delegates from trade unions and other labor organizations. Together with this broadening of the Conference to include large numbers of mass organizations of labor, every effort is being made to form Ferrero-Gallitto Defense committees in important cities throughout the country. This will be the next step in the defense work elsewhere. Whatever success we have had so far has been due not only to the fact that a correct class struggle policy was pursued but because the organizations in the Conference were willing to cooperate with such a policy.
On December 10th, a formal demand by the Immigration authorities was made on Vincente Ferraro to surrender himself at Ellis Island and to appear in complete readiness for deportation on the S.S. Conte de Savoia sailing December 28th. Upon receipt of this notice, the Conference inaugurated a truly nationwide protest to Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor. There were sent out to selected individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. over 10,000 protests. All of the defense groups in N.Y.C. sent out these protests in their own mailings. Such organizations as the Greater New York Federation of Churches, the Brooklyn Federation of Churches and Missions, the League for Industrial Democracy, the Workers Alliance of America, etc., sent out thousands of protests.
In all of this defence work the Communist League of Struggle has played a leading and important role. Comrade Weisbord was made chairman of the Emergency Committee and the writer is permanent secretary of the Conference. In the past the Conference itself has met at the headquarters of the C.L.S. and even now the national office of the Conference is located there. In this way the Conference has demonstrated its confidence and trust in the activities of the Communist League of Struggle in the defence work.
Approximately 2,500 postal cards have been returned to the conference indicating that protests have been sent. The Conference is certain that many persons have sent protests without returning the postal cards as they did not care to have any publicity attached to their names. Among the cards returned to the conference were about 175 different trade unions and central trades bodies, including the Joint Board of the Dress and Waist Makers Union and numerous locals affiliated to the I.L.G.W.U., the Federation of Dyers, Finishers, Printers and Bleachers of America, protesting in the name of 35,000 workers in their organization, the Toledo Central Trades, the Central Labor Union of Philadelphia and Vicinity, the Tri-City Labor Council, Clinton, Iowa, the Brotherhood of Railway Trainman, Cleveland, Ohio, etc., etc., and from such liberals and intellectuals as Upton Sinclair, Scott Nearing, Norman Thomas, etc. Cards were received from trade union officials such as Dubinsky, Antonini, Schlossberg, and a host of others too numerous to mention.
On December 23, a delegation went to Washington to demand of Assistant Secretary of Labor, Ed McGrady, that the deportation proceedings be dropped. The delegation consisted of Rose Pesotta, national vice president of the I.L.G.W.U., Ulisse de Domenicis, manager of the Baltimore Joint board of the A.C.W.U., William Taback and Albert Strong of the Defense Conference. McGrady at first refused to see the delegation, denying that he had agreed to the appointment which had been made. Only after several prominent A.F. of L. officials resident in Washington, had requested that the delegation be received, did McGrady yield and consent to see the group five hours later. The delegation demanded that McGrady cancel the order for the deportation of Ferrero and Gallitto, but this former A.F. of L. official obstinately refused to do a thing about it. He claimed to know nothing about the cases despite the fact that this labor faker had personally signed the deportation order.
The delegation asked on what grounds the men were to be deported. Flustered by this and other irksome questions of the delegation, McGrady sent for the Department’s files on the two cases and for a special attorney of the Labor Department to advise him. McGrady declared that Ferrero and Sallitto had their day in “courts” (a hearing before the Deportation Commission of the labor Department) and that his Department had found the men guilty of advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. As for proof on this point, all McGrady could do was to say that Ferrero and Gallitto had rented part of their restaurant premises in Oakland, California, to the editor of a magazine, “Man!”, which continues even now to be published and circulated through the U.S. mails. The Labor Department holds that the “crime” for which these two men are to be deported is that they aided in distributing and handling the legal paper, “Man!” but McGrady had to admit that the Labor Department had absolutely no proof that either of the men were ever employed by “Man!” in any capacity, nor did he have any answer to the question why it should be a deportable offense to aid in distribution of a legal paper.
This labor faker and Red-baiter, McGrady, could only apologize to the delegation for his conduct in signing the order of deportation by declaring that once the Labor Department had found the men guilty, he, as a sworn officer of the law, had to sign the order. McGrady volunteered the information that the case could be appealed from the Labor Department to the courts and at the same time he remarked to the Department’s attorney that he hoped he was not saying anything he shouldn’t. With this, he dismissed the delegation.
The delegation was able to see at first hand the tremendous volume of written protests which have already swamped the labor Department. These were sorted in various folders in the order of their importance, unions, union leaders, well known liberals, etc.
On December 27th Ferrero surrendered at Ellis Island. He was accompanied by an attorney, who served a writ of Habeas Corpus on the officials present, thereby automatically preventing Ferrero from being shipped to Italy the following day on the S.S. Conte de Savoia. A hearing was scheduled for January 3rd but it was postponed to the 10th. In the meantime Ferrero is forced to remain on Ellis Island as bail cannot be set until after the hearing on the writ. The Joint Board of the N.Y. I.L.G.W.U. has agreed to furnish the bail.
At the same time a formal demand has been made upon Domenick Sallitto also to surrender himself at Ellis Island on January 10th for deportation to Fascist Italy on the 11th. In the meantime the Conference is continuing its work of having protests sent to Washington from all parts of the country. The conference intends to fight these deportations vigorously every step of the way and to aid this fight has engaged the legal firm of Sherr & King. Thus the Conference now has the double expense of a legal battle in the court room and also of mailing out the great mass of letters necessary to deluge Frances Perkins with the protests of the labor and liberal movements of the country. By dint of tremendous efforts, the Conference has been able to raise funds to send the protests to liberal thinking and working class organizations so far. But at this critical moment, when finances are so sorely needed, its funds are nearly exhausted and it is calling on all those in sympathy with the defense work to send their contributions at once to Albert Strong, Secretary, P.O. Box 181, Station D, New York City.
This is a fight for the rights of all workers! It is a fight for the protection of the foreign born! It is a fight against the deportation frenzy of the authorities! It is a fight for free speech and press for the workers. It is a fight against Fascism! SUPPORT THIS FIGHT—NOW!
STATEMENT TO ALL WPA TEACHERS: BY MINORITY GROUP NO. 1555
SOME QUESTIONS FOR DR. ERNST
Dr. Frederic Ernst is going to speak on Remedial Teaching in Secondary Schools at the invitation of the Remedial High School Teachers Association. They sent to all the schools specially engraved letters boosting the lecture and urging all W.P.A. workers to attend. In the light of the importance of this lecture, therefore, we take the occasion to pose the following questions to Dr. Frederic Ernst, which we hope he will answer tonight.
Dr. Ernst, how do you stand on the question of a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work? Do you think it fair that teachers whose regular rate is at least $1.50 an hour should be made to work for 80 cents per hour? Do you think that stone cutters, carpenters and others working for the W.P.A. should get the union scale or “prevailing rates” and that we Remedial Teachers should get a scale far below decency and the boasted American standard?
Dr. Ernst, can it be that you are for the permanency of the Remedial Reading and Teaching Projects because you wish us to scab on the regular teachers, because you wish to introduce permanently into the school system the practice of paying half pay for professional work?
We know that you are going to speak ERNSTLY on the necessity to remedy defects in the learning of the students, but will you say one word about the atrocious facilities under which the W.P.A. remedial teachers have to work? Will you tell us why you have forced us to conduct classes in hallways, why we are not allowed even dictionaries often sorely needed, why we are blamed for all the poor results due solely to the impossible conditions given us? How do you dare to appear before a teaching public when your incompetency in handling the various projects has become apparent to every one with the eyes to see and the mind to understand?
Dr. Ernst, is there not a little hypocrisy in your declaration that you favor the permanency of Remedial Teaching when you know that the regular teachers are overburdened with work, which is being constantly increased? Is your system one in which there are overworked regular teachers and underpaid remedial teachers? Under such conditions how can you expect us to remedy, no matter how hard we work, what you have spoiled for so long a time?
Dr. Ernst, do you know that the remedial teachers are carefully barred from any contact with the regular teachers, that we have been treated as outcasts? Do you think such discriminatory treatment will lead to the best sort of relations in the schools?
Do you know, that remedial teachers have been hounded and transferred for the flimsiest reasons? Do you know, for example, that at Bryant High School recently one of the remedial teachers was transferred because she “looked gloomy”, and when she replied: “How else could I look on that sort of pay, what with the lack of security in the work and the knowledge that I can be transferred at the slightest whim of those in charge.” She was further called down for her “arrogance” and “impudence". Do you think we are going to endure such intolerable working conditions “permanently"?
Finally, it is our purpose to join the ranks of labor and to fight militantly side by side with the rest of our fellow workers. What is your attitude towards this? Do you intend to stop your anti-labor policies and quit firing from the school system all those who are ardent fighters for the rights of labor and whom you call “Communists".
Dr. Ernst, we demand an answer to these questions. If you cannot answer them, we can.
We call on all W.P.A. remedial Teachers to fight for the following demands:
1. Prevailing rate of pay—$1.50 an hour. If the W.P.A. refuses to pay more than $24 a week for professional work, then we demand a commensurate reduction of hours, namely, a four hour day, a four day week. The fifth day we can use to look for a decent job with decent pay.
Remember the AFL unions have won prevailing rate of pay. So can we. The Art Projects Workers have won a twenty-four hour week basis, etc. We can do likewise.
2. Improved working conditions: Protection against the petty despotism of the Principals and Department Heads, rest rooms, adequate facilities for work, privacy for the classes, regular norms and techniques worked out, no segregation of W.P.A. Remedial Teachers from the others.
Let us work closely together with the Teachers Union and the High School Teachers Association. Let us build up a militant Educational Project Workers Industrial Union.
Project #1555 W.P.A.
P.S. To all W.P.A. Remedial Teachers: If you agree with us, write us at 133 Second Avenue, Room 24, New York City.
LETTER FROM ABROAD
I acknowledge your last two communications also October issue, “Class Struggle". Your article on Abyssinia is admirable for clarity and revolutionary policy.
A very large section of the workers in the I.L.P. and the “Socialist League” are in agreement with you on this fundamental issue and in the “New Leader” and the “Socialist” have raised the slogan, “Turn the coming Imperialist War into Civil War". Sir Stafford Cripps has indeed spoken and written on this question in a somewhat similar strain as yourself in “Class Struggle".
The Stalinist Party is pursuing their usual tactics and zig-zag policy, just now agreeing to anything the Labor Party is advocating, hoping that by such a complete servile and hang-dog attitude the L.P. will include them in the “Third Labour Government". Indeed they are loudly clamoring just now to get certain seats (parliamentary) and in return they will lick the soiled shoes of the Labor Bureaucrats. Perhaps this is explained by the increasingly precarious position of the Stalin Bureaucracy in Russia, which hopes to be saved for a time by an alliance with the “United Front” of bureaucracies (Third Labor Government). “History knows degeneration of all kins.”—V.I. Lenin.
I would have written you before and dealt with the conference suggestions, etc., but have been very ill and am only just now recovering. But when I was in the hospital, I gave the literature on the proposed conference to certain comrades so that the idea of a conference preparing for the Fourth International will be spread around.
For the rest—the British Isles is in the birth throes of the darkest reaction in the history of these Islands and even the most advanced revolutionary workers are to be found in an attitude of pessimism, defeatism and expressing the sentiments of (1) no use forming another organization, (2) fascism is bound to come and nothing can stop it. (3) the Fourth International can and will be formed after the workers have had bitter experience of Fascism and war. And in many other ways we can see the whole world in the throes of cultural and physical darkness and the sufferings of pioneers will alone once again keep alive the revolutionary flame and prepare the human race for a giant stride forward, the greatest step in human evolution, the world revolution.
You comrades in the U.S.A. have a great responsibility for your position is more favorable than here. The workers in America have not experienced the betrayals, the sell-outs, the flunkeyism and the amount of false propaganda that the workers in Europe have, albeit the leaders of the A.F. of L., the Stalinist Party and the Workers Party have proven and are proving themselves apt pupils of our worthies. The last named W.P. is the most absurd political concoction ever produced.
I get the organs of two French groups when published and am interested in the metamorphoses of French working class politics. Congratulations to Comrade Buch on her article on the French Fusion, C.I. and S.I. She has certainly made a deep study of groupings and has in a very capable manner pointed out the fiascos of the “Fronts”, “Peoples Front”, “United Front” etc. Both, I expect, will lead to the “War Front".
You can rely on me to remain on the active list and to utilize every opportunity for bringing the workers of the British Isles closer to you in the U.S.A.
Fraternal greetings and kindest regards to all.
Yours for the Fourth International
John O’Donnell, London, England
MANIFESTO TO THE DELEGATES OF THE CLEVELAND CONGRESS AGAINST WAR AND FASCISM
Down with Military Sanctions!
Down with Pacts with Capitalist Governments!
Full Aid to the Ethiopian People!
Out with All Fascist Officers and Goods from the U.S.
This National Congress against War and Fascism meets under the most serious of circumstances. During the past year Fascism and Reaction have become strengthened on almost every side. The opening guns of the new world war can already be heard in the Italo-Ethiopian conflict, in the struggle between China and Japan and in the battle over sanctions by the League of Nations. In every country in the world, enormous increases in the military, naval, and aviation budgets and forces are recorded. Nothing can stop the impending head-on collision and the new slaughter of innocent humanity unless the workers take matters entirely into their own hands with a firm revolutionary program.
The capitalists, both “Fascist” and “Democratic” dare to plunge the people into a new blood bath for the simple reason that Labor has become paralyzed and unable to fight. The recent history of Germany, Austria, Spain, France and elsewhere gives ample evidence of Labor’s weakness. Unless this Congress takes up this failure of the international labor movement and works out a program vital to the needs of the workers, it will go down simply as another futile talk fest worthy of the support of no serious worker. Labor has been defeated not so much from blows from without as from demoralization from within.
Today the ranks of the workers are being infested with all sorts of agents, who in one form or another, advise the workers not to fight, but to make peace with the bosses of their own country. This is the chief reason for the coming war. The bosses know very well that the workers have been poisoned and betrayed into not conducting vigorously a struggle against the capitalist class to overthrow the entire capitalist system.
In Germany, the workers were told that their chief enemy was the French or the English bosses, responsible for the hateful Versailles Treaty. The Socialist and Communist parties aided this propaganda and thus played right into the hands of the Fascists, who alone were able to smash the Versailles Treaty.
In France, the workers are told by the Communist and Socialist parties that the chief enemy is Germany, that “Democratic” France is in favor of Soviet Russia and that the workers should support the French military forces and vote for the war budgets. Patriotic speeches on the beauties of French culture, etc., fill the air at all workers meetings. In this way the French workers are chained to French imperialism and the day of war and the victory of Fascism is hastened.
In England, the Communist Party does its best to support the Labor Party, which in turn whoops it up for military sanctions in order to support the League of Nations, that band of capitalist robbers and murderers. In Czecho-Slovakia, the Communist Party, abetted by the Socialists, also call on the governments of the world to apply military sanctions against Italy. Thus the English and Czecho-Slovak workers are taught to support their capitalist governments and urged to give their lives for world imperialism and to shoot down their brothers of other countries.
In Russia, the workers were urged by Stalin to believe first that the German Government was their friend, then the French Government and now the British Government and the Roosevelt regime are their best friends. In the League of Nations, the Soviet Government diplomats have done their best to provoke military sanctions that would plunge the world into a new capitalist war. The Soviet diplomats are quite willing to have Ethiopia dismembered so long as it is done by the League of Nations of which it is a part.
In the United States, on all sides we are urged to support the capitalist class. Instead of organizing the power of labor, white and black, to smash the lynching mobs stirred up by Southern bosses and their police agents, and to lynch the lynchers of the Negroes and poor toilers, we are told to put our faith in Anti-Lynching Bills of no value whatsoever. Instead of the demand for workers’ control over the factories and an end to the destructiveness of the Roosevelt regime, we are led to make servile demands such as: Make the relief Projects Permanent--all the groups responsible for these demands refusing even to raise the old A.F.of L. slogan of a Fair Day’s Wage for a Fair Day’s work and to demand the prevailing rate of wages for all relief project workers. They refuse to fight for a One Day General Strike for Adequate Unemployment Insurance. Such servility plays right into the hands of the reactionary and potential Fascist forces in this country which are rapidly developing under the New Deal.
The sole way to stop the capitalist war in its tracks, is to annihilate every form of class collaboration with our bloody enemies, the capitalists, that may appear in our ranks. We must destroy those organizations in our midst that do the work of the bosses, that declare we should support military sanctions, that shout for the French and other armies, that whoop it up for the Roosevelt regime or would make the workers believe that we can stop war by liberal, pacifistic, reformist measures. Against capitalist war, the only way out for the masses is social revolution that would put the power into the hands of the workers.
In the struggle against Fascism, we must demand that the fascist Ambassadors and their agents be thrown out of the country and enforce a complete embargo on Fascist goods. We must fight that the government be turned over to the workers to see that these anti-fascist aims are really carried out. Instead of the treacherous slogan: Support bourgeois “Democracy” against “Fascism”, we must fight against all capitalists, whether “Fascist” or “democratic". Instead of the League of Nations, we must support a Soviet United States of Europe, which would work together with the workers of the rest of the world. We must give full aid to the Ethiopian people and stimulate the widest resistance of the colonial masses of Africa, Asia and elsewhere to the attacks of European and American imperialism.
Above all, in every possible way, we must continue to the end the job of wiping out the power of the capitalists, who alone are responsible for the unemployment of the workers, the misery of the masses, the destruction of the wealth of the country and the slaughter of workers in war time. Our program must be: Physical annihilation of the Fascists, wherever they raise their heads. Smashing of boss-inspired lynching mobs which lynch the Negroes and poor toilers in the U.S. Organization of the mass of workers into militant industrial unions. Militant struggle for the opening of the factories to the unemployed, the opening of the warehouses to the hungry and for Workers’ Control over the entire productive system of the United States.
Instead of a pacifistic, legalistic, Labor Party that would betray the trade unions and other workers’ organizations into the hands of the bosses (as the Labor Parties have done in the past all over the world), we must build up a genuinely Internationalist Communist Party and a Fourth Internal that will answer capitalist war and Fascism with world revolution.
Communist League of Struggle
National Office: 133 Second Avenue, Room 24, New York, N.Y.
M. FINN RESIGNS FROM THE Y.C.L.
Statement to Section 1-Y.C.L.
A careful study of the recent decisions of both the Comintern and Y.C.L. Congresses and the applications of the decisions here in America has brought me to a position of sharp disagreement which may be stated as follows: As a class conscious worker interested in the welfare of the proletariat nationally as well as internationally, I can recognize nothing but a conscious policy of liquidation of revolutionary forces if the Y.C.L. is to become, as Gil Green puts it, “A mass non-party, non-political youth organization, interested in Socialism.”
Despite declarations of the need for a Labor Party, People’s Front, etc., the fact remains that over thirty-six million workers are as yet unorganized and that little will be done along this direction by supporting John L. Lewis, one of the most servile agents of finance capital, whose support of such legislation as the Wagner Labor Disputes Bill, Guffey Bill, is well known. Such legislation can only tie the unions to the government with their provisions for arbitration boards, etc.
In one of his speeches at the last A.F.L. convention, Lewis stated as follows: “What is the future of our country? Who among us does not know the hazards of the present moment? The teachings of the prophets falling upon the ears of a population that is frightened and disturbed, and depressed, and discouraged, the nocturnal and surreptitious attempts of interests to form a philosophy, the philosophy of the Communists on the one hand and the philosophy of the Nazis on the other hand, equally repugnant and distasteful to the men of labor. And yet it is constituting a serious and deadly menace for the future.”
And it is to this John L. Lewis that the Communist Party gives it unstinted support!
The Communist International brushes aside class distinctions when it declares for the establishment of a People’s Front of the French type in democratic America, England and Norway, in Fascist Germany, and Semi-Fascist Spain, colonial India and China.
The support that the British and Czecho-Slovakian Communist parties give to imperialist sanctions, both economic and military, definitely stamps them as social imperialist organizations. The French Communist Party votes for French war credits, unites with agents of finance capital (as, for example, with the Radical Socialist Party), calls for the French to war on Germany. Thus the struggle against Hitler is transformed into a struggle of nation against nation rather than that of class against class.
Witness the spectacle of Earl Browder stating at the debate with Norman Thomas that it is our duty to call upon the American bourgeoisie to fight Japan if Japan attacks the Soviet Union, and thus gives up our class struggle.
Thus the Communist International, after beheading the German, Spanish, Chinese and other revolutions and today repeating all the old vicious practices of the Socialist (yellow) International, stands exposed as a force only paralyzing world revolution and as such no longer merits my support.
I, Therefore, resign from the Young Communist League of America and call upon all revolutionary workers to join the Communist League of Struggle, the Internationalist Communists of the United States, and fight for the creation of a Fourth International that can really defend the Soviet Union and accomplish the world revolution.
“A MARXIST STUDY OF PROBLEMS OF WAR.”
Starting Wednesdays Jan 15, 8:30 p.m.133 Second Avenue, Room 24
Instructor: Albert Weisbord