Volume 6 Number 2 …………………….. February 1936
The Second Stage of the New Deal
The Labor Party Question
Shall We Defend the Soviet Union?
The Religious War in Germany
The Role of America in the Coming War
WAR AND CIVIL LIBERTIES [VI]
Also: Company (Government) Union or Workers’ Union--Statement on the Expulsion of George Jarvis from the Artists Union; Open Statement to the National Executive Board of the Workers Alliance of America; Leon Trotsky--Wrong Again.
SHALL WE DEFEND THE SOVIET UNION?
In the Constitution of the Communist League of Struggle there is to be found the following statement (Article VI): Up to now this decision has not been reviewed by the organization as we have felt that in spite of the degeneration of Stalinism, the Soviet Union was still a workers state and as such had to be defended. However, with the growth of Fascism, the danger of war and the increased degeneration of the Soviet Union leadership, many revolutionary groups are considering the question anew and in some cases are capitulating to capitalist forces in their conclusions. This new situation compels us to take up the matter again.
We do not speak of the Anarchist sects, who from the very beginning scolded at the Russian Revolution because it was compelled to centralize production and to create an iron dictatorship of the proletariat to ward off its many enemies. These people, after all, had never represented the proletariat, but only the declassed and desperate elements of the petty bourgeoisie in both city and country.
Nor do we speak of the miserable Mattick group, which is composed of German nationalists, objectively bringing into the labor movement defeatist tendencies capitulatory to Fascism. This German group believes that Fascism is inevitable, that the trade unions should be smashed in this country and that political parties are not necessary. Thus, like the good Fascist agents they objectively are, can they take any other position except that Russia must have a new revolution since it is nothing but a new form of capitalism? “Deutschland ueber alles” still stands good for them. However, their influence is really nil.
But there are other groups, some of them still worth while, who are being affected by recent events to tend to the position that the Soviet Union should not be defended. We have already pointed out in a previous number of the Class Struggle (October 1935) the dangerous theory that Trotsky is spreading, and which is being absorbed by some groups, namely, that in the Soviet Union both Thermidore and Bonapartism have been completed. Also, the Bordighist fraction has raised the slogan for some time, that the Soviet Union is not a workers’ state, that it must not be defended by the workers of the world, but that a new civil war and revolution must be staged in the Soviet Union before the state is restored to the workers. The exact slogan which is used is: Against the defense of any state, Democratic, Fascist or Soviet. Thus the Soviet Union is lumped with the capitalist states and indeed the whole analysis of the Bordighists show that they consider the Soviet Union now a capitalist state. In a sense, the Bordighists are only following the old slogans of Urbahns in Germany, (The Lenin-Bund) some eight to ten years ago. Unfortunately, however, they are influencing too much the Hannaut group in Belgium and the Davoust group in France.
In all of this discussion it should be clear from the outset that we have nothing in common with the Stalinists and the Lovestonites, who whoop it up for the Soviet bureaucracy night and day and spin out elaborate arguments to defend every degenerative action that is announced by Stalin & Co. and who are in fierce competition with each other for recognition by Stalin. Quite the contrary, the C.L.S. was the first group in this country to raise the slogan of the necessity for the formation of a new Communist Party in the Soviet Union, for the ruthless extermination of Stalinist influence.
Nonetheless, our disputes with the Stalinists and Lovestonites have never been on the question: Shall We Defend the Soviet Union? But, How Shall We Defend the Soviet Union? And we have shown how under the methods used by these gentlemen, the Soviet Union was sinking deeper and deeper into the capitalist mud. The question to which we address ourselves in the present article is, has quantity become quality, has the Soviet Union so far progressed along admittedly capitalist paths that it can no longer be considered a workers state, but a capitalist state?
The degeneration of the Soviet Union along capitalist lines can come to no surprise to those, who understand the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism. Under conditions of objective ripeness for socialism throughout the world, it is possible for a proletariat in a backward country to take the initiative and seize the power, but it is not possible for such a proletariat to hold power indefinitely without the victory of the workers in the advanced industrial countries to support it. The workers in the Soviet Union seized the power and established the dictatorship of the proletariat--of that there can be no question. But, the workers of Germany, France, England, the United States did not follow up the Russian Revolution with revolutions of their own. Thus, the thin red line of Russian revolutionists had to retreat, overwhelmed as they were by the waves of peasant forces from within and the capitalist environment from without. Under Lenin, the retreat took on an economic form alone, (The N.E.P.) carefully controlled by the political revolutionary control of the proletariat. Under Stalin, the retreat took on a political character and from a retreat has turned into a rout and debacle.
The very theory of Socialism in One Country Alone, originated by Stalin, shows how deep the rout actually was. And, of course, as Stalinism degenerated further and further, the weight of the Russian Revolution was thrown against the World Revolution, the Russian Communist Party destroyed as an active revolutionary force, the Communist International and the Soviet Union prevented the rise of victorious Soviets elsewhere. Stalinism did not confine itself to one country alone but spread its disastrous policies throughout the world. In fact, we may state that the effects of Stalinism were felt more severely outside of the Soviet Union than inside.
Within the Soviet Union the Stalinist bureaucracy has always been limited by the fact that the proletarian revolution had been victorious, that socialist relation had been set up, the capitalists had been destroyed as a ruling force, the industries had been socialized, the armed proletariat had seated itself in office and in power and had dictated its will to the rest, through its organ, the Communist Party. Outside of the Soviet Union the Stalinist Bureaucracy was not so limited and so they could cooperate with the capitalist agents abroad to destroy the movement for the world revolution.
In the Chinese Revolution of 1925-1927, they cooperated with Chiang Kai Shek to destroy the Communist and revolutionary movements there. In Great Britain, they cooperated with the reactionary Trade Union officials to break the General Strike movement of 1926. During the period that German capitalism was moving to Fascism, the Stalinists cooperated closely with the German regime, declared Germany was the closest friend of the Soviet Union, refused to unite with other organizations for a struggle against Fascism, turned the attention of the German workers to the French bosses and away from their own German bourgeoisie, and worked vigorously with the Fascists before they seized power, refusing to fight Hitler when Nazism did take power.
Having thus helped to demolish the trade union and workers’ movements of central Europe by helping Hitlerism come to power, the Stalinist bureaucracy now proceeded to destroy the workers actions in the other capitalist countries. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union joined the League of Nations, and boosted these robber powers. The Russians came out for the strengthening of the French and Czecho-Slovak armies and the British Navy. Today, they work strongly for military sanctions on behalf of the reactionary Versailles Treaty. They now declare as firmly for France and England as they did for Germany and just when the French capitalists are turning to Fascism, do they support now France, now England, as a great “democratic” power and as a great force for peace and friend of the Soviet Union.
Stalinism works hand and glove with American Imperialism, declaring that the workers must fight in the capitalist American army if the United States enters the next war against Germany and Japan. The Cuban Communist Party calls for a reduction of rents on American property in Cuba and against any confiscation of American property. Mrs. Roosevelt is invited to make addresses before the Communist Party controlled organizations such as the Youth Congress and League against War.
Everywhere “Peoples Fronts” are set up that tie the workers hand and foot to the employers of the country in which the “Front” is set up. Nationalism, Chauvinism, class collaboration of the rankest kind now becomes the set policy of the Stalinists. Revolutionary meetings are no longer held. The Communist International is in fact liquidated and fusion with the opportunist Socialist parties is pressed with the greatest vigor. Thus has Stalinism given up and now fights the world revolution.
Is it any wonder, then, that Stalinism has merited the undying hatred and contempt of the workers and toilers of the world and that the Soviet Union is becoming more and more isolated? Is it any wonder that French and Belgian workers who are now urged to build up the capitalist armies are beginning to wonder whether the Soviet Union that can tolerate such a disgusting leadership is still a workers’ state? Is it any wonder that German and Austrian workers of Central Europe who know how the Communist Stalinists ran away from Fascism after playing with it so disastrously are debating whether they should support the Soviet Union or not?
In its foreign policy, above all, Stalinism has revealed itself as an out-and-out counter revolutionary force that must be wholly destroyed if the workers movement is to solve any of the basic problems which confront it at the present time.
Simultaneously there has taken place a great degeneration of proletarian forces within the Soviet Union. If by dictatorship of the proletariat we mean not the essence of the state in answer to the question which class rules whom, but merely the form of the state, relating to the question, which class is in the seat of government, then we can say, the dictatorship of the proletariat as a form of state has been entirely destroyed, and we have today the proletariat itself no longer in the seat of government as it was in Lenin’s day, but a dictatorship of a bureaucracy over the workers, made up of enemy and alien class elements.
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union has been destroyed as a revolutionary force and now within and without the official C.P. there have been organized the nuclei of hostile parties, having entirely different premises. The trade unions exist no longer as organs for the defense of workers rights. Strikes are now acts of treason. The cooperatives are ended. The Soviets are no more the instruments of the broadest democracy for the oppressed toilers.
The old revolutionary leadership has been wiped out. The internationalist wing has been destroyed, the old comrades of Lenin are in jail. The forefront fights of the revolution, formerly organized under the society of the Old Bolsheviks have been dispersed and their organization dissolved. The terrorist arm of the Revolution, the G.P.U. is gone.
The material condition of the proletariat, in relation to the standing of other classes steadily tends to deteriorate. An inflation policy is adopted which makes the money wages of the workers practically valueless. A passport system is adopted to prevent workers, moving from place to place. A greatly increased speed up system is introduced. The workers are forced often to work overtime and the seven hour basic day is abandoned for anyone who wants to or who must work longer.
At the same time all sorts of bourgeois forces appear in charge of the situation. Bourgeois specialists are put in control of the factories and thousands of such elements are imported from abroad who infest the atmosphere with bourgeois propaganda. The old sabotage trials against the saboteurs of workers control are now things of the past. Special food stores are created for the bureaucracy both industrial and Soviet and Communist.
In the city, the State takes to the issuance of more and more domestic loans so that now there is a considerable element that lives entirely off the interest paid by the workers state on these bonds and loans. A brisk money speculation flourishes on the border.
In the country, the kulak elements are now favored. Far from having been liquidated as a class, the kulaks were practically driven into the farm collectives and there allowed to take charge of the middle peasantry and through them regain their influence over the entire peasantry. Thus, the peasants have now been solidified under the leadership of kulak elements. These elements are no longer so hostile to the Stalinist regime, which is making one concession after another to them.
The peasants have now been given equal voting power with the workers, which in a country so predominantly peasant, means that no longer will the workers be able to express their hegemony through the rule of the ballet and through the Soviets. Thus, the country will now openly dominate over the city and the kulak will represent the countryside as the bureaucrat represents the city.
With such concessions the bureaucrats in the city have now the opportunity of organizing a firm alliance with the petty bourgeois property holders of the country against the proletariat. Kalinin makes open speeches in favor of the dissolution of the Soviets and the substitution of a parliament instead as being more “democratic". Secret balloting is inaugurated so that secretly new parties hostile to the workers can arise and be organized throughout the country with their own counter revolutionary program and candidates.
The army. too, becomes gradually transformed. Instead of short term service for the mass, instead of the rifle being tied firmly to the shoulder of the worker, the rifles are now removed from the barracks of the factory, the training of the ordinary worker decreases, the professional army rises in numbers, the old Czarist ranks are now introduced within the army and a large corps of officers, whose permanent careers are those of militarists, is formed.
Reaction pervades every form of social life in the Soviet Union and blow after blow is given revolutionary life. The Soviet coins drop the words, “For World Revolution"; Christmas trees are set up for the children; the Society for Militant Atheism drops its activist agitation. The educational system drops its experimental work with vast numbers of children and goes back to the tracks of bourgeois educational methods. There is even talk that the old history text books are too dry and do not give the ancient regime credit enough and that these revolutionary text books must be revised.
Reactionary movements find their way into the home life as well. Divorce becomes harder to get. The youth are “put in their place"; the slogan: “sanctity of the home” is raised. The youth are to interfere less with politics and to play a greater part in “home building". Fashion styles are introduced with a great flourish and fashion parades held. American jazz, American lipstick and cosmetics, American bourgeois ideals are introduced together with American machinery and American experts. When Stakhanov is interviewed as to what his extra speed in labor brought him, he is photographed with several bottles of liquor before him and he proudly mentions the fact that he is now able to buy more drink as well as more food for his family.
All of these tendencies are greatly welcomed by the white guards and capitalist forces throughout the world. They are given prominence in capitalist papers and bourgeois publicists speculate upon this degeneration in thousands of articles. This great capitalist publicity is also having great effect upon workers groups throughout the world, who now declare that the Soviet Union is no longer a workers’ state and must no longer be defended. Indeed, it is very difficult to persist in declaring the Soviet Union must be defended by the international proletariat when the Russian workers are headed by elements that are moving at such breakneck speed in their attempts to reestablish capitalism in that very Soviet Union.
Nevertheless, we maintain that the proletarian groups that have yielded to the capitalist pressure in their campaign that the Russian workers are now dominated by a capitalist system, have lost their balance. They have lost faith in the Russian workers and in the working class as a whole. And thus, these very groups unwittingly become pawns in the hands of reaction and fascism, spreading defeatist poison among the workers everywhere.
Is it true that there is capitalism in the Soviet Union? Certainly, many of the collectives are no better than joint stock companies where the partners cooperate to produce goods more efficiently, but which still operate within the frame work of commodity production. Certainly the issuance of government bonds has created a class of renters and coupon clippers. Certainly, private traders still flourish. Certainly the bureaucracy draws an exceptionally large portion of the total product for itself and robs the other groups. All these things are true, yet they are not decisive in the analysis of the whole situation.
The decisive aspect of the economy of the Soviet Union is the fact that the industries are socialized, there is no private ownership of the means of production. There is no dominant capitalist class. There are only remnants of the capitalist class and would be agents of a new capitalist class, which is germinating, but no capitalist class dominates. The number of people, who are coupon clippers are relatively insignificant. The amount of money borrowed by the government at interest rates compared with the capital wealth of the country is trifling. The number of factories given to concessionaires or worked for royalties is practically nil.
It has been argued that the socialization of industry in the Soviet Union is no different than the nationalization of industries would be in the capitalist United States. However, behind the nationalization of industries would be the former private capitalists for whose benefit the nationalization had occurred. He would be the owner of securities and mortgages on the industries. He would be drawing enormous interest and profit. He would use his great income to open up new industries and avenues of trade is order to enhance his accumulation. If this were not done, then there would be not nationalization, but socialization and a civil war would intervene.
It has been further argued that the big bureaucracy in the Soviet Union that has hogged all the cushy jobs in the industries, in the state and in the party, form in reality a new capitalist class which is exploiting the workers of the Soviet Union. But bureaucrats are merely operators. They are not the owners of the industries. They may be getting a higher salary than they should. They may be creaming of a reconstituted capitalist Russia. They may be the germs of a new bourgeoisie, but they make no pretensions of owning the particular factory to which they may by attached or any section of the industry as a whole.
If it should be imagined that a new capitalist class now dominates the Soviet Union, then we must ask these people so anxious to “prove” Russia should not be defended (generally Germans or demoralized sects out of touch with real living forces). When did the Russian workers lose power to the capitalists anyway and how did they manage to do it?
Certainly only petty Anarchists and the miserable German group of Mattick, following the German nationalism of Karl Kautsky, would deny that at one time the workers of Russia did seize the power and take over the factories in their own interest. Otherwise, what was the terrible civil war all about? Can we even imagine that the capitalists of the entire world would send in the greatest army in their history at a terrific cost and that millions of workers would lay down their lives in defense of the Soviet Union if the Soviet Union had not represented an order hostile to the capitalists and friendly to the workers and toilers of the world? According to these smart alecs, then, the whole world was fooled; both the capitalists and the workers were deluded into thinking that the civil war in Russia was fought over the question of Capitalism versus Dictatorship of the proletariat, when in fact the issue was old form of private capitalism versus new form of public capitalism, (however, without a capitalist class and private ownership of industries). To such renegades, history means simply nothing.
If in 1918-1919 the workers under Lenin actually formed a dictatorship of the proletariat and took over the industries for their own benefit, then we ask: JUST WHEN DID THE WORKERS LOSE THE POWER? Was it in 1921, the year of the New Economic Policy of Lenin? Was it in 1928 when Trotsky was exiled? Was it in 1935 when Russia joined the League of Nations? We ask our so called revolutionary friends to give us please some Marxist criterion so that we can tell when one class losses power to another.
Marxism teaches us that a ruling class loses power through civil war. Now what civil war occurred during Lenin’s or even Stalin’s time that forced the proletariat to give up their workers state? The crushing of the Kronstadt revolt, the defeat of the Workers Opposition, the crushing of Trotsky’ Opposition and that of Bucharin and Zinoviev certainly were not civil wars. Or perhaps our smart alecs will tell us that ALL OTHER CLASSES LOSE POWER ONLY THROUGH CIVIL WAR EXCEPT THE PROLETARIAT. The proletariat, you see, can be swindled out of power. They are the most cowardly and stupid class in history, evidently gullible dolts susceptible to the gabbing of every demagogue. This is the opinion that is in the back of the minds of our smart alecs and proves only—what smart alecs they really are.
The Russian working class like every other section of the workers of the world have not been backward either in heroism or in understanding the logic and science of the class struggle. They did not give up their lives for nothing. Once having taken power, once having run the industries for their own benefit, there is no class in the world that can take these things from them without the sharpest sort of struggle. Only those who are far removed from the workers, who have lost complete faith in the revolution can think otherwise. With such decayed elements it is not worth while overly discussing.
Certainly, the Russian workers have been forced to retreat steadily with the retreat of the world proletariat. They have been forced to give up the dictatorship of the proletariat as a form of state, that is, they have been forced to see the state party and industrial apparatus not in the hands of workers themselves, but in the hands of nationalist bureaucrats, who would like to reinstate capitalism. But this is not the same as giving up power. THE BUREAUCRATS LIKE EVERY OTHER BUREAUCRATIC APPARATUS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD HAS TO SERVE THE CLASS THAT IS TRULY IN POWER, IN THE SOVIET UNION, NAMELY THE WORKERS.
The bureaucrats weaken the workers: They are extremely wasteful and costly. They place the Soviet Union in the greatest danger, but at the same time, they are the prisoners of the Revolution and cannot move too far away from the proletariat. Hence we have the trial of the saboteurs. Hence we have the five year plan. Hence we have the push towards the collectives. Hence we have the subetnicks and the Stakhancys. Hence we still have revolutionary propaganda in moving picture and print, etc. Essentially and basically, it is the workers’ will that still dictates in Russia, although the dictatorship of the proletariat now operates through the form of the dictatorship of a bureaucracy compelled to work in favor of the Revolution.
This bureaucracy, of course, not only expresses the workers’ will, but also helps to destroy the workers will. Such is the dialectics of the situation. The trouble with Russia is that the bureaucracy has taken on for itself at the present time, the role of the sole or main creative force and that this is insufficient to save the Soviet Union from destruction. The fight to the bitter end goes on against the bureaucrats on our part is a fight how to defend the Soviet Union. In every possible way we have shown that the methods and activities of the bureaucrats cannot defend the revolution, but must cost the international working class so much as to destroy the world revolution and with it the Russian Revolution as well.
We have already seen why the bureaucracy is so strong in the Soviet Union and why the workers have been forced to retreat step by step. Behind the bureaucrats is the entire power of world capitalism from without and petty bourgeois peasant and kulak, Nepman and renter capitalism from within. But quantity has not yet become quality and workers have not yet given up their dominant interests. We say to our smart alecs: Not so fast in your analysis. We have no Thermidore yet in Russia. Nor have we Bonapartism. We still have but bureaucratic centrism, when the bureaucrats are forced to yield to a socialistic environment and a workers’ will. We still have not dominant capitalism, whether state or private in the Soviet Union. Only a civil war, only world victory of Fascism in a catastrophic world war can bring this about.
There is no doubt that should Fascism launch a very vigorous and sustained attack against the Soviet Union that large numbers of the bureaucracy will be glad to open the gates to Fascism from within and help to rebuild capitalism in Russia. This is precisely the crime of Stalinism, that it builds up these elements and gives them the opportunity to destroy the rule of the workers in the Soviet Union. There will also arise all sorts of nationalist groups, peasant groups and Nepman groups, that will cry out against fighting Fascism and will call for peace and capitulation of Bolshevism. Given a devastating and prolonged war, the leadership of the bureaucracy will break down. Soviet economy will tend to crack and the “smytchks” (alliance) between workers and peasants, between city and worker and between worker and bureaucrat will be destroyed. A great movement will rise to the right.
But this will not be the only result of such a war. The workers themselves will be roused to the greatest heights of resistance. They will ruthlessly brush aside all petty bourgeois considerations. They will wipe out Stalinism itself. Let us repeat it. Stalinism cannot last in any large scale and prolonged war in which the Soviets will be engaged. Up until now the Russian workers have tolerated Stalinism because they did not wish to weaken the Russian dictatorship in front of the enemy. They did not desire to provoke a war. But once war will have been declared there will be no limits by which the proletariat will retrain itself. It will raise again—it must—the revolutionary banner. It will impose the most ruthless terror—it must—upon any capitalist element that will hinder the progress of the Revolutionary war. A New Communist Party, a new Soviet system, a new trade union movement will shake off the lice of Stalinism with the first real vigorous shake of its mighty shoulders.
And let us bring to mind the important fact that since the workers have not yet lost the power, essentially there will not be necessary a new civil war in order to oust Stalinism. All that will be necessary will be some vigorous police action. And police action is not civil war. Let the contradictions, which Stalinism has engendered, pile themselves up and endanger the life of the revolutionary army now composed of workers and toilers with arms in their hands and all that will be necessary will be the sending of a few regiments of soldiers to the Kremlin to replace the ruling apparatus. By that time within the regiments and soviets and trade unions and elsewhere a new communist element, the adherents to the views of the Fourth International will have shown themselves and won leadership over the workers.
Nor will it prove possible for Stalinism itself to call on reactionary elements to defend it physically against attacks from the workers in strike and army formation. Stalinism itself is hateful to the reactionary forces and like Robespierre a century and a half ago, is slated for the guillotine by the white guards and capitalist elements as well as by the workers. There is much greater likelihood of the ouster of Stalinism by forces from the left, provoking a counter attack from the bureaucracy to the right of Stalin and entrenched in industry, collective, trade and Soviet. But as yet there is no class within Russia capable of taking the power from the workers. The Civil War that may occur as part of the revolutionary war of the Russian workers against foreign intervention will not be a civil war of the workers to overthrow Stalinism, but a civil war of the bureaucrats, and peasant capitalist agents to overthrow the rule of the workers.
Again as in 1918-1919, the workers of Russia, in all probability, will be faced with a combined attack. It will be necessary for them to fight against a counter revolutionary civil war and a counter revolutionary interventionary war at the same time. Will the Russian workers be able to accomplish this mighty job? Yes, but only if the workers of the rest of the world understand the true issues and reform their own ranks under the banner of the Fourth International; only if the workers understand that the Soviet Union, in spite of Stalinism, is still a workers state and must be defended. Any group that refuses to declare for the defense of the Soviet Union and its workers, any group that with shyster like ambiguity prattles that the Soviet Union is not a workers state, not a capitalist state, but something God knows what in between, that must not be defended, must be treated as renegades and traitors to the cause of the international working class no matter how “good” their intentions are and how much they have been provoked by Stalinism.
The groups on the road to renegacy and abandonment of the international proletarian struggle are trying with might and main, in the light of the oncoming world attack by Fascism against the Soviet Union, to “prove” why the Soviet Union should not be defended. Some of them (Kautsky, Anarchists, German Mattick group, etc.) take the ground that Russia was always capitalist. As Kautsky put it, “The Russian Revolution is the last of the capitalist and not the first of the proletarian revolutions.” If this were true, of course, it would mean that the workers have no interest in defending the Soviet Union. (This did not prevent Kautsky, however, from defending “his own German Junker Fatherland").
Other groups (Urbahna German group, Bordighist Italian Group, etc.) adopt another line. They say that Russia is not a workers state, also vaguely hint it is not quite a capitalist state, but some sort of Barnum’s what is it. Is this not typical of sectarianism? They refuse to “play” because life does not fit in with their metaphysical formula. They imagined the dictatorship of the proletariat ideally in one way, and it came out practically in another way. So they won’t have any thing to do with it. They refuse to see that the Russian workers have been placed in a very bad position with the failure of the world revolution to be realized, and that they have been forced to tolerate what they would otherwise certainly not have done. They refuse to see that the dictatorship of the proletariat can sometimes operate through a bureaucracy during a transition period, or in other words that while the dictatorship of the proletariat has been destroyed as a form of state, it still exists as the essence of the state and that there are socialist relations in Russia that show the state is a Workers’ and not a Capitalist State. These groups (Urbahns and Bordighists, etc.) in order to cover up their entire bankruptcy now invent a new category, a state without a ruling class! They turn from Marxism to bourgeois political nonsense and lose all right to be listened to any further.
There are still other groups who take the position that because some capitalist states might take the side of the Soviet Union, therefore, the coming war in which the Soviet Union will be a part is but another imperialist war and that we must be ‘neutral’ in this war and not defend the Soviet Union. Because other capitalist countries may be involved on the side of the Soviet Union, therefore, the war of the workers state will not be a revolutionary war and a war to aid the workers state will not be a progressive war.
The Russian workers, it seems, are to be punished because certain capitalists find it to their interests to fight on the side of Russia against other capitalist powers. First of all, let us be clear about the basic elements of our problem. These smart alec Marxists—do they really believe that French or British or American capitalists will fight FOR the Soviet Union as they pretend to believe? If so, what reason do they give for the seemingly non-Marxist rule that bosses and workers will collaborate together to destroy capitalism? Is their opinion really not a back-handed way of saying that Russia is not a workers’ state but a capitalist state and the capitalists have no more anything to fear from the workers of the S.U.? And if they meant this, why did they not dare to say this? Or if it is true, as they pretend to maintain, that the S.U. is still a workers’ state then what makes them believe that the bosses will take sides if this state is attacked?
Do these smart alecs actually believe that the capitalist will declare war on each other, leaving the Soviet Union intact to spread communism throughout the world as capitalism dooms itself? Evidently these people think the capitalists are as foolish politicians as they themselves are.
Or do these groups maintain that it is a crime for the Soviet Union to try to split the forces of the enemy? Certainly we hold no brief for Stalinism and its concessions to world capitalism, leading to destruction of world revolutionary forces. But were Lenin or Marx alive they too would have to try to divide the united forces of the capitalist enemy to annihilate it better. Lenin and Marx, however, would have relied on the international working class revolutionary forces to paralyze the capitalists as to prevent their unity against Soviet Russia.
Moreover, let us assume the impossible and that capitalist states throughout the world are at war with each other, leaving the Soviet Union free, would it not be possible, and even imperative, under some circumstances for the Soviet Union to take a hand in that war in order to help the proletariat of a given country to revolt and overthrow its rulers. Here the entrance of the Soviet Union would not be in collaboration with the capitalists of other countries, as Stalinism would have it, but to destroy those capitalists at a moment when they are weak and divided and when the workers are armed and ready for revolt.
But we shall stick to what is much more probable, that the Soviet Union will be attacked from all sides by the capitalist powers and that the other capitalist countries will not intervene on Russia’s behalf until the revolutionary forces of the Soviet Union are destroyed. Under such circumstances, what should be the position of the workers of the world to such a war?
It is clear that any analysis that would lead us to declare that the workers must remain neutral in such a combat is thoroughly counter revolutionary. In a war of the Soviet Union against counter revolutionary interventionary forces, we have as our duty to defend the Soviet Union. As Marxists we will know very well that no capitalist government will want to defend the Soviet Union fighting for Communism. As revolutionary workers we must do our utmost to see to it that the embattled Russian workers are aided with men, materials, supplies and credit of all sorts. We must advocate a proletarian war on behalf of the Russian workers. All the more so, especially when, as we have seen above, it is precisely in the course of this war that the Russian workers will unleash their revolutionary aims in full and eradicating Stalinism, will reconstitute a genuine Communist Party and international.
As Marxists, we can take it for granted that the Capitalist government in Washington, assuming that the Soviet Union is a workers’ state, will not favor such intervention on behalf of Russia. Thus the cry: Support the Soviet Union, help defeat the capitalist counter revolutionary interventionists, etc., will be a rallying cry against the capitalists of the United States and their government agents in Washington as well.
Nonetheless, let us finally assume the impossible, as the smart alecs have already done, and imagine that the capitalist American government would declare war against say, Japanese imperialism at war against the Soviet Union. Does this now mean that the war in which the Russian proletariat is fighting for its life and raising the revolutionary banner throughout Asia and Europe, suddenly becomes an imperialist war simply because the American capitalists enter the war with their own imperialist aims? Should the Soviet Union be destroyed because American capitalism attacked German or Japanese for its own interests?
As a matter of fact, such a blunder on the part of American capitalism would cost it its head and for that very reason we cannot assume what the political degenerates assume. Let us suppose that an American fleet will sink the Japanese, how will that destroy the revolutionary forces of the proletariat unleashed by the war? Or let us suppose that an American army is sent to help the Russians and are infected with the revolutionary propaganda of their Russian brothers in arms. They win the same battles. They witness the same scenes of the enthusiasm of the masses and the liberation of the toilers and workers from the oppression of their masters. Does anyone think that the worker and farmer soldiers of the American army will not be infected by the tremendous recrudescence of revolutionary democracy and Communism that will be part of the fighting tactics of the Russian Army?
No, it is very clear that as soon as the Russians demonstrate their revolutionary ability that the American capitalists will flee from them like poison and could at best only confine their actions to the destruction of their own rivals (say, Japanese imperialism) in order to be free the better to destroy the menace of communism throughout the world. The very fact that the degenerates believe that American capitalism will aid the Soviet Union revolutionary forces shows that they do not believe, in fact, that the Soviet Union is a workers state, but is a capitalist state with which the American capitalists can make favorable alliances.
The groups adhering to the Fourth International must announce the following basic principles:
1.The Soviet Union is still a workers state and as such must be defended.
2.The workers and Red Army of the Soviet Union at war against capitalist fascists forces can conduct only a Revolutionary War for the Liberation of Humanity.
3. Any aid given to such a Revolutionary War is historically a progressive act. A war against a country conducting a counter revolutionary war is historically a progressive war. Regardless of the subjective intentions and imperialist aims of those, who may find themselves temporarily on the side of the Soviet Union, such a war objectively helps to defeat world capitalism and imperialism and to spur on world revolution and socialism.
4. It is the duty of the working class of the world, in the course of aiding this revolutionary war, at the same time to strive with all their power to destroy every imperialist agent, or policy, that might be using the war of the workers for their own aims. The war must be taken into the hands of the workers and toilers entirely and transferred into an open revolutionary war against capitalist imperialism and fascism throughout the world.
THE RELIGIOUS WAR IN GERMANY
It is a sad commentary on the class struggle in Germany that while no news about the workers struggle penetrates into the capitalist press, yet the columns are filled with a bitter war on religion that is going on within Germany. Here is ample indication how the workers’ organizations have been crushed, how little the proletariat can articulate its needs. The church has been the traditional haven for the refugee. The very fact that the class struggle has to take on a religious guise and be a fight primarily among sections of the petty bourgeois church goers show how far underground the class struggle has been driven. On the other hand the religious question covers up in fact the struggle over deeper material interests, economic and political.
The religious question in Germany is being fought out on four fronts: Namely, the Jewish, the Catholic, the Independent Protestant, the Neo-Pagan. For the Nazi it is a question of insuring complete nationalism preparatory to their struggle against the Bolshevik. For centuries Germany has been the battle ground on which the various religious schools have fought themselves out. Already in the 16th century in England, and even before in France and Italy, the politicals knew how to use the church for their own purposes. In Germany, however, where material backwardness coincided with dearth of understanding of the real material forces governing the world. Everything has always stood on its head theoretically, and in the stuffy attic of religious metaphysics, the German philistine worked out eternal truths entirely devoid of practicality. Realistic thinkers were too often found only among the Jews.
In its struggle to identify nationality with religion and vice versa, Germany is only trying to do what England and France did centuries ago. Even so, the job is harder.
The Catholic Menace
The struggle against the Catholic Church is in the first place a struggle of industrial capital of North Germany against the agrarian junkers especially of the South. It is thus a struggle on the one hand of city against country and on the other hand of industrialist supporter of Hitler against the old style Kaiser type Junker and capitalist. In this respect it is only another aspect of the general fight that was waged between Hitler and Hugenberg, between Storm Troops and Stahlhelm, between the old federal regime and the new centralized one.
The Catholics with their ultra mundane sympathies, with their recollections of the “Old Holy Roman Empire” were closely bound up with the politics of other countries, especially Austria and Italy and were committed too much to provincial federalism with its semi-independent Bavaria and other Kingdoms to be of much service today. In smashing the Catholics, German Fascism puts an end forever to the subordination of German policy to any foreign clique and sets out on its own. The smashing of the provincial Catholic apparatus gives room for many state jobs to good Nazi henchmen. At the same time, Bavaria is made into a mere administrative and police district and the whole country is entirely centralized by Berlin. Thus does Hitler complete the job of Frederick the Great and if now Austria is to enter this scheme of things it is only as a vassal with no friendly forces capable of sympathizing with her special aims from within.
The attack on the Catholics also helps straighten out the Western front, the important Ruhr region so close to Catholic France. A completely inimical regime is now set up and any sympathy for French culture and religion is blasted away. The Ruhr is made more safe for Berlin. No longer will the French be able to play at dreams in which the Ruhr is to be carved away from Germany and set up as a buffer state.
The Nazis cannot tolerate any apparatus that can be dual to theirs in control of the State. The Catholics are too numerous in Germany (about one-third of the population) and have been too well organized for them not to have menaced the monolithic national unity which has become the Nazis aim. They have not been patriotic enough, also, to understand that all German gold is to be kept in Germany for use by the German state, and is not to be shipped to another country via the Pope. In aiding the drain of gold from Germany, the Catholics here tended to rival the Jews in their disintegrating tendencies from Fascism’s point of view. Under the Concordat of 1933, the Catholics have been bound to obey the exchange laws of Germany and very rigid has been the enforcement of these laws and drastic the punishment wherever Catholics, especially priests and nuns have been involved. The Catholic organizations have too much wealth not to be tempting prizes for the robber bands of Hitler and now that the wealth of the workers’ organizations has been distributed and dissipated by the gang, the rich Catholic organizations are the prizes next in order, it seems.
The attack on the Catholic church in Germany would seem also to go along with the general separation from the middle class that Hitler has affected ever since he “purged” the Nazi ranks from “extremists” not so long ago. The adherents of the Catholic church were in the main middle class elements, who had always been resentful of the great trusts and industrialists and, who had to a certain extent, believed that Hitler would take over these trusts and run them for all the people. Among the Catholic middle class the disillusionment with Hitler had gone further than among other sections.
It must not be forgotten, also, that the Catholic church had been the sponsor of the Catholic Centrist Party, which had been in power so long during the Second Reich of the Weimar Republic. It was this party that had coerced with the socialists and trade union forces to run the capitalist government. Catholic centrist liberalism had proved too conciliatory to Marxism. Catholic pacifism and “turn the other cheek” stuff had often been invoked to calm the people and prevent them from bursting forth against the Versailles Treaty and oppressors at home. In the Catholic unions, which the church had formed among the workers, the ideal had been set of a socialism, which should come about through complete harmony and peacefulness of all classes and charity for all. Now Catholic internationalism and pacifism and christian unionism is no longer needed by the bourgeoisie of Germany. The German bourgeoisie is preparing for the most frightful blood bath in history. All elements must be steeled to force the violence and national hatred for all other groups. The Catholic Church finds itself completely out of place in Nazi Germany.
However, the job of uprooting the Catholic influence now centuries old, from amongst the mass of people, is no small task. The Totalitarian German State in attempting to guide the subjects of New Germany in every walk of life has been compelled to take cognizance of the powerful entrenchment of the Catholic Church in social life. As in Italy, a struggle between Fascism and Catholicism must take place on questions of education and morality and especially must there be a fight over such institutions as the confessional, the control over the youth and the special Catholic organizations.
Fascism, understanding very well the power the priest wields through the institution of the confessional and all the latent treachery to the state this institution involves, has decided to smash it once and for all. Confessional organizations are no longer allowed to criticize or oppose government measures or introduce disunity in the Third Reich. All activities except strictly religious ones are sternly forbidden to the confessional societies. Dr. Frick, Nazi Minister of the Interior, has been especially opposed to all Catholic newspapers, Catholic civil servants leagues, Catholic youth, apprentice, labor or educational organizations. Thus has Fascism attempted to reach the most backward elements most influenced by the confessional and bring them closer to the State. The youth have been torn from the jealous hands of the clergy. Education has become the complete monopoly of the State. The charitable organizations have been restricted and liquidated. The church is confined to abstract dogma—dogma on which it can only choke to death.
Against the morality of the Catholic Church the Nazis are setting up their own morality and especially is the fight severe on such questions as sterilization, involving the immortality of the soul. Always, the Catholic Church has opposed all forms of sterilization. Now under the Concordat of 1933, the Catholics are bound to obey the laws on sterilization. In 1934 alone, there were 200,000 cases of sterilization reported in Germany. And, when we keep in mind that causes sufficient to bring on compulsory sterilization are not only such matters as congenital feeble mindedness, but also such social distractions as “chronic alcoholism” and “melancholomania” (extreme case of the “blues"), which may be brought on by environmental influences, then we can understand how this has become a mighty weapon by which the state is attempting to terrorize the population and wipe out its own enemies.
The Jewish Menace
In two articles on the Jewish Question appearing in the January and February 1935 Class Struggle, we pointed out those social traits, which the Jew had come to represent, which made him an enemy to German Fascism. We do not wish here to go over the material presented in those articles, but merely to emphasize certain features of the Jews. which, apparently, made it necessary for Nazism to open fire upon them.
For the industrialists, the struggle against the Jews is part of their struggle against the oppression of finance capital. The smashing of the Versailles Treaty and the end of reparations was not the time to recognize the institution of interest bearing securities and of the rule of the international bankers and financiers, but to break such institutions with their burdensome debts. By means of an aggressive attack against ‘Jewish’ capital (whether of Downing or of Wall Street), the new German rulers could rally the whole people, especially the rural elements of the middle class, around themselves into one solid mass.
The attack on the Jew meant a lot of money for the state apparatus through bribes for protection, through liquidation of Jewish property, etc. It meant a chance for the German storekeepers and other tradesmen to wipe out their clever Jewish competitors and to enrich themselves at the Jews’ expense. For the boorish, mystic German intellectual it meant a chance to get the Jews’ professional cliental, to take patients away from doctors, students from teachers, clients from lawyers, etc., etc.
Like the Catholic, the Jew had his own form of internationalism. Like the Catholic, the Jew, too, was a pacifist in his own way, and in economics believed in the doctrine of laissez-faire. Thus the attack of the German totalitarian state against all forms of economic and political liberalism brought on the attack not only against the Catholic, but first of all against the Jew as well. It is no wonder that the Catholics have been called an aid to the Jews. And, if the Catholic has been attacked for bringing an alien morality into the German soul, the Jew has been attacked for his materialist unmorality in which everything, including German honor, was ready to be sold for cash.
The struggle against the Jew in Germany has been symbolic of the desperate efforts by which the Nazis have attempted to unify the entire population around themselves. They wish no longer to be troubled by the ever present religious conflicts that tore Germany to pieces for so many centuries. Whatever elements they cannot assimilate they will either destroy or expel. With the Jews, it is easy, because they are politically helpless and the Nazis like no better opponents than those who cannot fight.
In eliminating the Jews, the Hitlerites can raise again that spurious cry of purity of the race behind which are concealed the yells of pan-Germanism of yester year with its Deutschl and Ueber allies and its philosophy of pig-dogism, all other races being pig-dogs in the eyes of the Junkerthum reigning at that time. The cry of race serves the Nazis a double purpose: Not only to crush all national minorities within the country, but to perpetuate the German national minorities abroad and to force unification with the Austrians and the Germans in Poland, Czecho-Slovakia and other regions of Europe as well.
But the real reason for the attack against the Jews is not so much because they are intellectuals or merchants or financiers or of different race or religion, but because in the past, they played a leading role in labor and communist organizations. The program against the Jew is traditionally part of the attack against “Jewish” Marxism and “Jewish” revolutionism. Fascism has as its very reason for life, the incessant and ruthless struggle against the new social order of Communism that is being born from the explosions created within the old order. It is true that without Communism there would be no Fascism, without a decaying social order giving birth to a revolutionary proletariat, their would be no need for the resistance by degenerate capitalism in the form of Fascism.
By attacking the Jew as revolutionist and Communist, they lay the base for attacking Communism as Jewish and thus prepare for a holy crusade against the world forces of Communism concentrated for the time within the borders of the Soviet Union. The fight against the Jew is the preliminary for the Nazis to the fight against the Soviet Union. Only this time the brave Nazis, who can lick Jewish weaklings will have a different enemy to face and the pig-dogs of Hitler will find the best of Communism planted well on their snout.
The Protestant Menace
The German Protestants have been divided into two chief churches, the Lutheran and the Calvinist. Both of these churches had traditionally stood for individualism and laissez-faire in economic and social life. With the rise of the Totalitarian State under Hitler, these church organizations with their antiquated ideologies have been given blow upon blow. Many Protestant pastors have been banished and others imprisoned. The Government set up an official German Church, called the German Christians, under an appointee of Hitler, Reichebishop Mueller. Under the blows of Mueller both the Calvinists and Lutherans have come together to resist this new tyranny, and have formed a United Calvin-Lutheran Church. Incidentally religious disharmony between Lutherans and Calvinists was thus brought to an end under the attacks of a common enemy. There was also organized thus a Protestant Opposition to the decrees of German Fascism.
In order to bring all Protestants into line, a decree was passed giving the Minister of Interior, and later a special officer in that Ministry, the final authority to decide all legal disputes in the church. Thus the hand of the government is now mixed everywhere into church matters, deciding all questions of funds and property, menacing the living of all independent ministers, and constantly threatening confiscation of all independent church property. With a loss of their former state support and the increasing pressure against them, the independent church men and ministers face an ever increasing set of difficulties that must soon overwhelm them.
Incidentally, in discrediting all the old forms of organized religion, the Nazis in their own way, are working for the abolition of all religious prejudices and superstitions and for Atheism.
Thus, in attacking the Independent Protestant Churches, the Fascists attack the last vestige of the hegemony of the old order, whether aristocratic, or petty bourgeois liberal. Every remnant of the forces of the Second Reich of Weimar fame is thus harried to the very end and allowed no place of refuge, where, under the guise of religion or any other symbol, these elements could cook up political conspiracies against Hitlerism. No wonder Hitler was tempted to crow: Nazism would last for 1000 years.
It was the individualism of the protestant churches more than of any other religious body, which was responsible for such liberalistic movements as bourgeois feminism and metaphysical free thought. Many a protestant church man was to be found in the ranks of the trade unions or even in the ranks of the Social Democratic Party. These people had to be chased not only out of their labor organizations, but out of any place where they could possibly come together to hash over their old ideas.
And to be sure that these weepers and wailers would not be able to find comfort in their religious protestant dogma of Original Sin, the Nazis have roundly abused them for such an “non-Germanic” doctrine. No weeping, no wailing over the past, but joy, pure unadulterated joy must be the spirit in every German’s bosom. Joy is ordered as one would order beer or as some of the Nazis order boys. A regular organization for the building up of German joy has been founded. The Independent Protestant boys are “blue” boys, they are always moping of original sin, a doctrine given Germans by their enemies. The original Germans never had any sins, original or otherwise, just, evidently, as they never had any original ideas. Today the original sin in the religious world in Germany is to talk about original sin. The poor independent Protestants, who wanted the joy of being miserable, must now be miserable in their joy, and must not only take it, but like it as well.
The Nazi Neo-Pagan Movement
Within the new German state, the Nazis are organizing their own vanguard and truly German religion. The essential characteristics of this cult, strange to say, are to be found in the works of the H.S. Chamberlain, (an Englishman) ("The Foundations of the 19th Century") and of the Nazi chieftain Rosenberg, a Balt. ("The Myth of the 20th Century"). To these books one should add “My Struggle” of Hitler himself, (an Austrian). These Germans carry forward the traditions of Fichte, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.
Rosenberg’s work closely follows the outline of Nietzache with some modifications, since, unlike the latter, he finds Christ has something likable about him and believes that Christ was an Amerite-Nordic (whatever that may mean), who as a revolutionist brought not the olive branch, but the sword. However, Christianity proves to be nothing but Judaism in another guise. Matthew was a Jewish fanatic, Paul a materialist rabbi, Tertullian an African jurist and Augustine a mongrel half-breed.
These Fascist theoreticians thunder against the Old Testament, against the Sermon on the Mount, against the Doctrine of Grace, against the Doctrine of Original Sin and against the Cross, that woeful symbol of torture. Instead of the cross, there is placed the swastika, which to Rosenberg means the ancient sign of the Sun God. Against the internationalism of Christianity there must be substituted a religion of race and blood. The miserable mercy for the underdog must be changed into a peon of praise for the superman. Here then is a doctrine of might and of race that takes the Germans back to the Icelandic Sagas and Eddas and the Niebelungen myths of the old Germanic tribes.
And with this, Herr Rosenberg takes us not to the primitive communism of the Germanic tribes, away from Jewish intellectualism, which we would expect, to be associated with sagas and eddas, but to the superstitions of the medieval world. Abandoning the electric light and even the oil lamp, the Fascists go back to the days of the torch light and faget. This mumbo- jumbo mysticism, this return to the medieval past, is part of the intellectual mechanism that all Fascists must have. They dare not look the future in the face. This would only mirror for them the gibbet and the gallows. They dare not go forward with evolution, but only back, back to the emotional rituals of frightened ignoramuses. Yet, it is precisely this substitution of emotion for intellect that will enable the Nazis to mobilize their swine into a holy crusade against Communism. The old dies hard. Blood clots form on the brain. In a mad brainstorm, the diseased are convulsed in spasm until kind death releases them from their tortures. This is the case with German Fascism.
This call from the present to the past can give no consolation to the German philistine. In the past, too, the Germans were not able to make their own history, but others had to make it for them. Pressed back at one time by Slav and Lithuanian, for centuries the stamping ground of Swedish, French and other armies of Europe, reduced in one period to such destitution as to induce the people to cannibalism and to compel the King of Prussia to invite all European nationalities to come into the country and repeople the land, there can be no great comfort for the German rulers in any consideration of the past. It was the French that first ended the backing of Germany into petty principalities, and it was the French that first compelled the liberation of the German peasantry. However, not even the French were able to put guts into the German bourgeoisie so as to allow them to overthrow their Junker rulers, whose spurs were on their neck. And even the German workers, it seems, were not able to take historic initiative into their own hands for their own emancipation, but must wait for events from without to launch them on their way.
That Germany can make no history, not for itself and not for others, it will soon find out, when Fascism goes to war with Communism. This will be the end for German pig-doggery and all of its religious theories.
THE LABOR PARTY QUESTION
Throughout the whole period of the depression we have steadily pointed out that the economic and political contradictions generated in the United States would make it not unlikely that the Labor Party Question would again be an important issue before the workers. In this respect, we had long ago differed from such groups as the Communist League of America (Cannon-Shactman group) which in 1931 had stated that the question of a Labor Party had less of a timely significance than in the past and we, at that time, reaffirmed our position that on the contrary, “The Labor Party question will tend to become ever more and more important in the ranks of the working class.” (Class Struggle, Vol. II, #7, 1932).
At that time we also had an important disagreement with Comrade Trotsky on our reasons why we were not for a Labor Party, (in which conclusion we were by that time at one with Trotsky). Trotsky had implied that the more probable perspective in America, was the huge growth of a Communist Party putting such pressure on the employing class that the Labor Party would be organized by capitalist elements solely as a weapon against the Communist Party. Thus, Trotsky, apparently together with Cannon, envisaged the “Europeanization” of the Americana working class as taking the form of mass Socialist or Communist Parties as was the case in Germany.
To this we answered in 1932 as follows:
“We believe such an analysis is not correct. Certainly there are great possibilities, never utilized by the Stalinists, for the large growth of the Communist Party, in the United States, but certainly also in the light of present day facts and conditions in America. We cannot agree that the most probable perspective to which we can turn is that the Labor Party, like the Zubatov Unions under the Czar, will be organized mainly as a deliberate move against Communism. As we see American conditions today (tomorrow may compel another analysis based on new world events), we can declare that out of the great complex of social forces leading to the formation of a Labor Party, the primary leading force will be the movement of the working class to the left on the road of independent political class action against the capitalists and even if such a movement were to have in it capitalist elements, who are primarily concerned in utilizing the Labor Party against Communism and even if those conscious anti-Communist elements were dominant, yet the Labor Party movement itself would be unleashing those very forces destined to overthrow all anti-Communist plans. To conceive of the Labor Party primarily as a movement controlled by capitalists and formed to meet the menace of Communism rather than primarily as a spontaneous movement of the workers against the capitalists is to distort the picture.” (Class Struggle, Vol. II, #7, 1932)
Today the picture looks a little clearer. Under the blows of the depression, large sections of the population are becoming discontented and radicalized. In the United States, however, the working class has never taken the political initiative. Nor has it engaged very much in parliamentary activity. Thus, it has been the middle class elements, both city and country, who have taken the leadership in the new political movements that have arisen. At the same time, because they have been small capitalist elements rather than propertyless proletarians, the form of their activity has been in the nature of such movements as the Townsend Plan, Huey Long, “Share the Wealth”, Father Coughlin’s League, Epic Plan, etc. The demagoguery of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” has been able to keep them close to the Democratic Party for the time being.
It is highly significant that whereas in the old days of 1919 or 1923 the discontented farmer and middle class groups would have gravitated towards an open alliance with the workers in the form of Non-Partisan Leagues and Farmer-Labor groups. Today the petty bourgeoisie shies away from such formations and instinctively feels that labor is not awake to do anything, rather middle class eyes must turn in the direction leading toward Fascism. Today, if the Labor Party is to be formed, it will be formed not so much from the initiative of the farmer and the middle class as from the initiative of Labor itself.
Up to now it has been the middle class that has been articulate, that called itself the “people”, that engaged in political movements of protest, etc., in this country. And the reasons for this situation have been many and clear. Class formations were much delayed in this country, the middle class was the mother class of all from which large scale capital and labor gradually precipitated. Workers could eat without worrying about the state. Direct action on an economic plane rather than parliamentary indirect action through the state was the method by which the masses improved their lot.
When conditions grew bad for the wage-workers, they could always strike or mass together in physical demonstrations. This the farmers could not do. When times were hard, the farmers could appeal only to Congress and the State legislatures and as their conditions were generally not bad enough to occasion movements of insurrection and rebellion, their protests had to take the traditional form of legislation and election campaigns. Thus, in the past, when new parties had arisn to challenge the two old parties it was always the farmers and the middle classes that led the way and the workers followed in their trail. And this condition existed even beyond the time when the farmers and middle class elements were the major portion of the population. Witness the formation of Farmer-Labor parties even in the twenties of the 20th Century. (Note: Farmer comes first and then labor.) It was a hang over of 19th Century times.
The present situation, however, is an entirely different one. Today we witness a tremendous growth of state capitalism and an enormous army of laborers attached to the state in one form or another, dependent on the state for their livelihood. In a unique manner economics and politics have become intertwined and the workers, if only to try to secure their jobs, must turn to politics. What the State and government do, is today of vital concern to the proletariat affecting him directly and immediately.
It is at this point that the proponents of the Labor Party declare that the workers in defending their interests must take more and more to political action and follow in the footsteps of the European workers. They must begin to form a political party of their own, a Labor Party separate and distinct from the two old parties and representing the interest of labor. Thus, it can be seen, that not Trotsky, but the C.L.S. was correct on the matter of whether the Labor Party question would be more or less important as events unfolded in this country.
Within the labor movement we see definite tendencies towards the formation of such a labor party. The American Federation of Labor today is on the verge of a split on just this question, for the Labor Party question is intimately connected with the question of industrial unionism that the so called Progressive Bloc of John H. Lewis and Co. have formed. The Socialist Party is also split into two groups on this matter, the proponents for a Labor Party being found in both the right and the left wings of the Socialist camp. As for the Communist Party, it has now gone completely over to the Labor Party idea for its own reasons.
At first the Communist Party came out only for a “revolutionary” Labor Party, that was to be the American way of the workers seizing power. Thus, the Labor Party was conceived as another Communist Party and that by a mere change of name the workers could be “sneaked” into a revolutionary movement. Soon the Communist Party was willing to drop the idea that the Labor Party could be “revolutionary” and came out merely for a “class” party, making the sole condition that the Labor Party should be based on the labor movement. This viewpoint rapidly degenerated still further and the Communist Party was hollering for a Farmer-Labor Party. Then later it would work with the particular Farmer Labor movement of Minnesota that is controlled to the hilt by big business and racketeers and has practically nothing to do with either farmers or laborers, so far as control by them is concerned. The C.P. was also now quite willing to work with the LaFollette progressives in Wisconsin, and with the Townsendites and the Epic-ers, although these were supporters of Roosevelt, and finally it has come out in one way or another for Roosevelt himself.
Thus, we must note a very important point, namely, that the Communist Party is advocating the Labor Party movement as part of its policy of abandoning the world revolutionary movement and making its peace with Roosevelt and the American capitalists, who, they hope, will support Russia in time of war. In believing that the Labor Party would be more opportunist than the Stalinist Party and would be formed to combat the influence of the Stalinists. Today we see the Communist Party doing its best to form a Labor Party in order to bury revolutionary communism forever.
The same basic orientation is to be found among the Socialists, who are in favor of a Labor Party. It is significant that it was the right wing, in its struggle against the left wingers, who were conceived to be impatient intellectual revolutionaries of the Communist type, which talked of rooting itself deeper among the AFL unions and giving these unions political direction along labor party and socialist lines. Now that a section of the labor bureaucracy itself is moving towards the Labor Party and the left wing is trying hard to go along with them in their progressive bloc, the right wing, as a method of keeping out the revolutionary elements from the new formations of Labor Party and unions that may exist, is also not averse to following along with the Labor Party movement.
Thus we find, as an extremely important difference between the movements that led to the formation of Labor Parties in England and Europe on the one hand, and the present movement for a Labor Party in the United States on the other, that whereas in England the Labor Party movement was organized by labor organizations genuinely moving to the left and trying to take power from the capitalists, believing, however, that power could come to the workers peacefully and gradually, the Labor Party movement in the United States, is no such innocent affair, but is led by renegade and traitorous elements, who wish to tie up the American workers closely to the capitalist class and fight the revolutionary movement.
Does that mean, however, in spite of those on top, who are behind the plans, that the Labor Party movement cannot be historically progressive? Here, too, the C.L.S. has been correct in its prognosis and in its polemic with Trotsky. Trotsky was wrong when he believed that the Labor Party in this country would be organized only by revolutionists or only in order to fight the mass influence of the Communist revolutionists. At that time, he wrote, “We can only affirm with the greatest assurance: Especially since the United States, in the period from 1921 to 1924 has had already an important rehearsal in the creation of a “Labor” or “Farmer-Labor” Party, a resurrection of a similar movement cannot be a simple repetition of that experience but a far more pregnant and more crystallized movement, i.e., either under the guidance of the revolutionary Communist Party or under the guidance of reformist elements against the growing Communist Party….
“One can imagine that the trade union bureaucracy and its Socialist and left democratic advisers may show themselves to be more perspicacious and begin the formation of a “Labor Party” before the revolutionary movement becomes too threatening. In view of the groping empiricism and provincial narrowness of the American labor bureaucracy and aristocracy of labor such perspicacity seems very improbable.”
The American workers have passed by the Socialist and Communist parties, which have proven to be miserable failures. Not because these parties have been too revolutionary, but precisely because they have been too opportunist, not because they have been too advanced, but because they have been too backward, not because they were too international, but because they were in their own way entirely too nationalistic.
Under such circumstances it is possible that the Labor Party, in spite of labor bureaucracy of all sorts, can serve to set certain elements of the masses on the road to struggle against the capitalist state and the other capitalist parties. The labor bureaucracy will try to clamp the workers down forever to reform, but whatever reformist ideas many workers have to start out with will be quickly burned away under the conditions of today. Many will become disillusioned with the Labor Party and will be prepared to move further and in the course of fighting for reforms they will learn how to become revolutionists. This process will be accelerated if the Internationalist Communists are in contact with the Labor Party masses. It is precisely for this reason that we must work within the Labor Party, if and when it is actually formed and large masses of workers are to be found within. The formation of a Labor Party in a sense breaks the old chains of the workers and the new chains wrought by the leaders of the Labor Party itself will prove too weak to restrain many of the workers who will be then in a better position to work for the overthrow of all wage chains completely.
It is not only rotten reformist elements that are advocating a Labor Party. At one time certain revolutionary groups advocated its formation and even today, no doubt many radicalized workers could persuade themselves that the revolutionary movement will be advanced if they go out to build a Labor Party. The arguments that they advance are various depending on the group putting forth the position. The Labor Party was conceived as a bridge over which the masses in this country had to cross in the course of their travels from capitalism to communism and a communist party. At another time the Labor Party was conceived of merely as an integrated series of united fronts. Another argument often given by Socialists is that the Labor Party can seize the power and bring in a new social order peacefully. A final set of arguments are of the Stalinist character that have to do with “Peoples Fronts”, “Labor Governments” and the Soviet Union.
First let us deal with the Labor Party as a bridge. It has been said that the American workers were the most backward in the world, that they were extremely capitalist minded and for a long time had been devoted to the old parties of capitalism. To wean them away from capitalism would be a hard and difficult job. Stages were necessary before the workers would be ready for the revolutionary position of a Communist Party. The workers of the United States would have to go through all the stages that least tear the workers away from capitalism. It would give them an independent party of their own and be part of the process of making them class conscious, turning their attention on the capitalist state, making demands on the state and finally taking it over.
Now there are several serious defects to this argument. It presumes that there is no such thing in history as the law of uneven development with its corollary, the law of combined development. However, Marxism teaches us that the law of uneven development is one of the most important laws of history. The workers of Germany did not have to go through all the illusions of Liberalism, of Lib-Labism, of Laborism that the older generation of English workers had gone through. The German workers could go directly to an understanding and support of social democracy. The Chinese workers do not first enter into small shops and then into big factories. They are at once introduced to the largest possible workshops and to the most improved machinery and regimented in the most modern style. The Chinese workers have been able to skip both the stages of Liberalism and of Social Democratic reformism, but at once are able to embrace and understand the theories of Leninist Communism. Thus, if stages of history are not entirely skipped, certainly they can be gone through very quickly, telescoped and combined.
It is the same with the American workers. They rise to consciousness as a class not in the 19th Century, but in an era of war and fascism that is coincident with the decline of world capitalism as a whole. They have not the time nor the opportunity for all the luxury of experimentation of the older class conscious European workers before. With a keen empirical sense and instinctive understanding of the changed situation that faces them concretely the American proletariat will stand on the shoulders of his brother sections abroad, learn quickly their lessons and go forward.
Another important point that our Labor Partyites fail to take into consideration is the peculiarities of the American scene. It is true that the American worker has not yet been class conscious and politically minded. He has not yet entirely learned that the state is a capitalist engine to suppress and repress him and that he must destroy this executive committee of the capitalist class. And this condition has existed not because the American worker has been dumb or stupid, but because he was able to get a living without paying overly attention to the state. The state itself had not shown its repressive character too sharply in this country and had only belatedly grown to the huge Leviathan of the present. Contrary to the assumptions of Labor Party advocates, however, once the American worker does learn to deal with the state as an enemy he will be able to deal with it far more effectively then the European worker from whom he is supposed to learn and whose technically cultural superior he really is.
If the American worker has been backward in looking to the state he has also been forward in looking towards his own energy in direct physical action to wring for himself the livelihood and standard of living that he felt belonged to him. In America we have not among the workers that great awe for the state apparatus that is to be found in Germany for example. The American worker has not had occasion to trust his life and future into the hands of some deputy or representative. He has always taken care of his own interests, either individually or in mass form through such measures as strikes, etc.
Now such a vigorous American working class with its native contemptuous feeling towards the state, fresh and undefeated as yet, with full confidence in its powers to get a livelihood for itself and brush all obstacles aside in the process, must look with derision upon such methods as parliamentary action to obtain something for himself. The Labor Party is conceived as a bridge to making the American worker ‘politically’ minded. Many of the American workers no longer need such a bridge. The developments of state capitalism of world wars, of deep going depressions, of permanent unemployment, of European Fascism, etc., etc., have made them politically conscious already. And they need no further “education” along this line.
The Labor Party, however, is indeed a bridge, but a bridge in another direction. It is a bridge to teach the rough American the politeness of parliamentary language. It is a bridge from the street into the lobby hall of Congress. It is a bridge to make the impatient workers, who want direct action into patient clients waiting for relief. This may have been inevitable in the old order of Europe where worker was once serf and slave and has centuries of patience and respect for the ruling class to his credit. But it is quite foreign to the American spirit.
And at what time do these American Labor Partyites want us to follow European labor? Precisely at a time when European labor is showing that it is being burned out and has proven itself unable to take advantage of the opportunities of the present to prevent Fascism and new capitalist wars. At a moment when bourgeois parliamentarism and workers legal parliamentary parties of reform are completely bankrupt, at that very moment we are supposed to continue to follow european labor in the very methods, which have patently broken down and which the advanced elements of European labor themselves are repudiating!
After all the American workers can read and they do—more than any other working class in the whole world. After all the American workers can learn the lessons from abroad. In Britain, in Belgium and elsewhere powerful labor parties were formed and were actually in the seats of power. Yet nowhere were the workers in any material sense aided. Today the Labor Parties play the most miserable role in boosting military sanctions, in supporting the league of nations, in hollering for war, etc., etc. The proponents of a Labor Party in the year, 1936, will have a tall amount of explaining to do.
It has become crystal clear to all by now that no Labor Party has yet stopped Fascism and that no Labor Party has yet stopped war. The Labor Party is not fit to do these things. It has thus become apparent that Labor Parties today appear too late on the scene of history to effect very much good. This is no longer an era of prosperity, of reform, of peace, of democracy. This is an era of violance of sudden political changes, of war, of dicktatorship, of physical struggle. All American workers now know that even to win reforms of a paltry nature they must adopt methods entirely foreign to the methods of parliamentarism and reformism. For such workers the Labor Party is indeed a bridge, not forward towards effective political action, but backward towards bankrupt European parliamentarism.
It has been, also said, that the Labor Party is an integrated series of united fronts. This was the argument advanced by the Communist League of Struggle at a time in 1931, when it still favored the formation of a Labor Party. This was at a time when the so called Trotskyists were tiny sectarians, shrinking from participating in mass struggles, refusing even to enter into any united front of which the Communist Party was not a part. It was only the debacle of Germany and the artificial turn made by Trotsky at the time that compelled Cannon-Shactman and Co. to talk of independent mass work and united fronts. This they did only until they could unite with Muste and find some excuse to crawl into the Socialist Party where again Cannon could holler that somebody else should do something, but he himself retire to his many pipes and sandals to think over the problem of how to avoid work. As part of the Trotsky movement at that time, we were engaged in a bitter struggle to move the adherents of that viewpoint into mass activity and believed the advocacy of the Labor Party as one of the methods.
Now it cannot be denied that the Labor Party when formed on a federated basis, is indeed an integrated series of united fronts. Instead of a separate conference of abolition of injunctions, protection for the foreign born, unemployment insurance, etc., etc., the labor organizations federated around a Labor Party in reality fuse all these conferences into one, when they construct the planks of their platform containing these very points.
Here again, Trotsky was wrong. In answer to us in 1932, Trotsky wrote: “To consider a “Labor Party” as an integrated series of united fronts, signifies a misunderstanding of the notions both of united fronts and of the party. The united front is determined by concrete circumstances and for concrete aims…” Here Trotsky confuses what OUGHT TO BE with WHAT IS.
We revolutionists would like to organize united fronts only on specific issues at specific times. During the united front we reserve for ourselves a free hand to break with our temporary allies and keep complete freedom of criticism and independence of action and organization. The united front should be one in physical action in the street and not talking fests in parliament. Nevertheless, it is possible to have united fronts that will not live up to all of these or any of these conditions. The Labor Party based on a federated membership of trade unions and labor organizations is one of the forms that a united front can take, regardless of the idealist norm that Trotsky or anyone else sets up.
However, where our error consisted in at the time when we favored the Labor Party, because we favored the united front action, was in concluding from the above premise, that the Labor Party was only or merely a united front. As we put it then in 1932: “What we failed to realize was that the Labor Party was an amorphous mass movement that rapidly became a PARTY, that it was more than an integrated series of united fronts but a PARTY; or to put it another way, we failed to realize that in INTEGRATING this series of united fronts, we were creating another PARTY, organization with aims that vary, an organization that to the masses carries an entirely different meaning than ordinary united front.”
What must always be kept in mind in this connection is that a party exists for the seizure of power. Every worker knows that. To ask him to organize a Labor Party is inevitably to give him the conception that the Labor Party is the instrument for seizure of power. But already many a worker has become well aware of the fact that the victory of the Labor Party will do him no good, that he cannot get power peacefully.
Before the World War, before the Russian Revolution, before the Advent of Fascism, etc., certain elements among the workers might have had many illusions about the possibility of reforming capitalism “closer to their hearts desire”, and that through democratic means they would be able to bring in socialism. Long ago, Napoleon knew the rule: No social revolution without terror…How indeed can we understand that one could say to those who possess fortune and public situations, “Begone and leave us your fortunes and your situations!”, without first intimidating them and rendering any defense impossible.” (See “Opinions and Reflections of Napoleon”, by L. C. Breed, p.448)
The Labor Party is no instrument for struggle. It is not organized for any other basis except to elect delegates to a Congress or Parliament that itself is rapidly becoming out of date and powerless. Whether they want to or not the workers must adopt the conclusions of Marxism that even if they want a modest reform they will have to fight like tigers to obtain it, a fight that will take place in the streets against the forces of reaction and by no means will be led in Congress or House of Parliament.
It is precisely for this reason, of course, that the renegade Stalinists do advocate the formation of a Labor Party. They do not want to struggle against the bosses any longer. They are bound by the Franco-Soviet Pact and the Litvinov-Roosevelt Russian Recognition agreement not to oppose bourgeois democracy any longer, but to idealize it and support it as much as possible. The advocacy of the Labor Party by the Stalinists goes hand in hand with their alliance with the employers, their defense of bourgeois democracy, their hollering for military sanctions, their formations of “People’s Fronts” with capitalists and their agents, their demands to become part of the government so as to protect bourgeois democracy better. The very fact that the treacherous Stalinists now find it in line with their policy to boost the formation of a Labor Party ought to make every worker suspicious of the class collaboration that this implies.
The Communist League of Struggle position on the Labor Party is very clear. The labor Party comes too late on the scene of history to be of any help to the workers at the present time. The Labor Party cannot stave off Fascism but rather with its delusions of democracy will pave the way for Fascism. It cannot prevent war. It cannot win reforms in the present period. It is not capable of energetic physical action. It can only act as a substitute and as an opponent for revolutionary action. It is not fitted to the awakening into political life of the American working class.
Instead of such an organization, we come boldly forth with the appeal to the workers to take matters into their own hands, to stage militant demonstrations for adequate unemployment insurance, for adequate relief, for Workers Control of Production with its opening of the warehouses to the hungry and the factories to the unemployed, with its physical defense bodies for Negroes and the lynching of the lynchers of the Negroes and poor toilers of the United States. We know that the period of liberalized and socialist illusions will not be a protracted one for the workers of this country and that sooner or later, and we are confident that it will be sooner, the workers will turn to the militant position of the internationalist communists, the Communist League of Struggle and the Fourth International.
WAR AND CIVIL LIBERTIES (VI)
The Raid of January 2nd
On December 21, 1919, the Buford sailed and aboard it, according to the jubilant dispatches of the press, went the most dangerous revolutionists to be found in the whole of America. Now “John Public” could breathe easily. The trembling pillars of society no longer stood in danger of toppling. With this highly explosive cargo of human T.N.T. on its way to Europe, the “nation” was led to believe that social strife would soon come to an end and life again return to normal. For the bourgeoisie, however, this illusory hope never existed. They knew that no such easy deliverance from the menace of Bolshevism existed. Only by their own two hands could they choke this terrifying colossus, which increasingly threatened to destroy the stability of capitalism. To avert such a calamity, the Department of Justice continued its feverish efforts to strangle the awakening political consciousness of the proletariat. Night and day the work went on. With the welcome departure of the Buford, the Attorney General immediately commenced preparations for the final and most devastating of all the “Red” raids. Immigration inspectors were hurriedly called to Washington to fill out blank warrants of arrests and elaborate plans, which were certain of successful completion, were devised.
Before the week was over, the under cover agents of the Department of Justice were advised that the raids would take place on the night of January 2nd, and to “facilitate the making of the arrests”, they were to call meetings of the C.P. and the C.L.P. for that evening. In the same and other bulletins of confidential instructions issued from time to time thereafter, agents were further informed: “Our activities will be directed against the radical organizations known as the Communist Party of America and the Communist Labor Party of America, also known as Communists.
“… the warrants will be forwarded to the immigration inspectors, who will at once communicate with you and advise you of the names of the persons for whom he has received warrants. You should then place under surveillance, where practical, the persons mentioned, and at the appointed time you will be advised by me by wire, when to take into custody all persons for whom warrants have been issued.
“The strike will be made promptly and simultaneously at 8:30 p.m. in all districts. The meeting places of the Communists in your territory and the names and addresses of the officers and heads that you are to arrest, are on the attached lists.
“At the time of the apprehension of these persons every effort should be made by you to definitely establish the fact that the persons arrested are members of either the C.P. of America or the C.L.P. …"As soon as the subjects are apprehended, you should endeavor to obtain from them, if possible, admissions that they are members of either of these parties, together with any statement concerning their citizenship status.
“You will also arrest all active members where found.
“I LEAVE IT ENTIRELY TO YOUR DISCRETION AS TO THE METHOD BY WHICH YOU SHOULD GAIN ACCESS TO SUCH PLACES.”
Under the law then prevailing, it was impossible in deportation proceedings, to search a house or a meeting hall, or to seize property. There is no statute, which authorizes the issuance of a search warrant in such matters and the warrant of arrest does not permit a general search of the premises. Searches can be undertaken only when the court issues a special warrant for that purpose. Immigration officials, however, are precluded from applying for such judicial warrants. Searches and seizures without a warrant are, of course, unconstitutional. In immigration matters, therefore, no legal search can be made under any circumstances and whether the Department of Justice undertakes the task of rounding-up aliens is immaterial since the former cannot legally delegate its duties to the latter. Nevertheless, along with the other instructions, agents were commanded to: “Apprehend all the officers, irrespective of where they may be, and with respect to such officers, their residences should be searched and in every instance all literature, membership cards, records and correspondence are to be taken.
“Meeting rooms should be thoroughly searched.”
“Locate and obtain the charter. All records, if not found in the meeting rooms will probably be found in the home of the recording secretary or financial secretary, but in every instance, if possible, records should be found and taken.
“All literature, books, papers, pictures on the walls of the meeting place, should be gathered together… with the name and address of the person by whom obtained and where obtained.
“In searching meeting places, a thorough search should be made and the walls sounded.”
“Immediately upon the apprehension of the alien, or citizen search him thoroughly. If found in groups in a meeting room, they should be lined up against the wall and searched. Particular efforts should be made to obtain membership cards on the persons who are taken.”
Everything was now in readiness. In Washington, the Attorney General, the Commissioner General of Immigration and the acting Secretary of Labor made up the general staff responsible for the proper deployment of the government forces. At the appointed hour, every nook and corner from coast to coast, which might harbor a communist, was raided with machine like efficiency. In virtually all of the important cities and working class suburbs of the country, the Department of Justice broke into public lecture halls, closed meetings, private homes and public dances. Headquarters were ruthlessly destroyed and all literature, regardless of its innocent character, was seized or confiscated. Everyone found on the premises was indiscriminantly carted off to jail. Many received severe beatings at the hands of the police. Foreigners, who looked like Russians, were arrested merely because of their nationality. Strangers meandering suspiciously near the raided premises were dragged inside and taken to the police station along with those found in the building. People were yanked out of their beds in the middle of the night and their homes turned upside down to find incriminating evidence. Instructions were faithfully followed. Those who fell into the clutches of the Department of Justice were shown no mercy. Whether it was man, woman, or child, made no difference to these brutes. A young woman, for example, whose three week old baby had died a few days before the raid, was taken to a Newark jail, where she was subjected to such a grueling examination that when she was removed to Ellis Island on the following afternoon, she collapsed from exhaustion. In another jail, two small girls of about eleven were imprisoned until midnight. In the city of Boston, Mrs. Vasiliewska, the mother of three children, was put in a cell with her oldest daughter, aged ten, until midnight, when the child was permitted to go home alone to a distant part of the city. The next day, Mr. Vasiliewska was locked with Mrs. Colyer for six hours in a dirty toilet and then taken to Deer Island, where she was obtained for 33 days.
To summarize the stupendous and all embracing character of these raids is impossible within the limitations of a few brief sentences for such extensive suppression is without previous parallel in American history. Only on the Continent and in the Russia of the Tsar, can similar instances of a tyrannical exercise of power be found. To prove this, it is sufficient to set forth but a few typical facts selected almost at random. In Cleveland 25 groups of policemen ransacked 25 foreign sections simultaneously. In Chicago, where the fear of a tip off induced the authorities to hold the raid a day earlier, over 300 different places were entered. The raiding began at four o’clock in the afternoon and continued well into the night. Concerning the second Chicago raid, made on the day originally designated, the “New York Times” reports, “The big problem tonight, however, was to find room for the prisoners taken in the Hoyne roundup.” In the tiny state of Connecticut raids were conducted in 17 towns. In Newark the federal police aided by Legionnaires piled into 15 automobiles to make the necessary arrests. In New York City about 3000 were made prisoners and 700 finally taken to Ellis Island.
Clayton, the attorney for the Assistant Secretary of Labor, estimates that a conservative calculation of the number arrested would be about 9,000. F.A. Shannon in his “Economic History of the People of the United States”, put the total at 70,000, (pg. 818). Palmer, himself, admits that out of 6,396 warrants, 3500 were served. But it is also admitted that no less than 3000 people were arrested for whom there were no warrants. C.M. Penunzio, Superintendent of the Immigrant Labor division of the Inter-Church World Movement, testified before Congress that he had “a statement from one of the authorities of the United States government estimating that there were ten prisoners arrested for every warrant issued.” (Comm. on Immigration & Naturalization (House) 66:2-3). These official figures, it must be remembered, do not include the thousands who were released because they would not be deported as aliens or the hundreds turned over to the state for persecution under the syndicalist laws. The respectable Congressman from Washington claimed that in one Eastern town, if the instructions of the Department of Justice had been faithfully carried out every man, except the mayor and the postmaster, would have been placed in jail as enrolled members of the C.P. (Rules Comm. (House) 66:2)
Considerable efforts were made by the government to give spectacular publicity to the raids. The United States was made to appear on the verge of a bloody revolution fermented by the Bolsheviks. The material for these comprehensive news stories emanated from Washington and were directly supplied to the Associated Press by the propaganda bureau of the Department of Justice. Men were forcibly photographed in chains and not permitted to shave in order to make them look like the cartoon revolutionists of the national press.
According to a government release four bombs were discovered in a Communist meeting hall. These bowling balls were taken to the United States Attorney’s office where they were deposited in a pail of water and exhibited to gullible reporters, who gave liberal play to their imagination in describing the havoc, which these “dangerous missles” would have caused had they exploded. Naturally, no attempt was ever made to inform the public of the chemical contents of the iron balls and I am certain that efforts to ascertain their explosive qualities would have met with stern governmental resistance.
With the Palmer Red Raids, the “New York Times” commenced a new crusading tirade against the “Red Menace". The choicest portions of the paper were devoted to an acceleration of communism and a laudatory recital of the excellent job done by the Department of Justice. Its issue of January 2nd devoted two full columns on the front page and seven full columns on the next page to the activities of Palmer. This is more than the equivalent of an entire sheet of that bulky paper. On the third of January, the “Times” splurged with one-third of the front page devoted to radicalism and all of the succeeding page. Front page headlines for January 5th were: “Red Concentration Camp Here Urged”, “Soviet Counterfeiting Liberty Bonds”, “Palmer Counts On 2,720 Deportations.” This policy was pursued for weeks. When the Communists were finally driven underground, as a result of the raids, the exclusion of the Socialists from the New York Assembly replaced the former as headline material.
Since the Department of Justice boasted that it knew the name and whereabouts of practically every enrolled Communist in the United States, it was possible to issue thousands of warrants in advance of the raids. The Party, however, was growing so rapidly that many new members were unknown to the Department and it became necessary for Caminetti, the Commissioner General of Immigration, to issue the following supplementary instructions on December 29th: “Aliens will be held on local charges and opportunity afforded that night and the following day for service upon them of the administrative arrest warrants.” In other words, suspected communists were to be held on any possible pretext while the agents telegraphed to Washington for warrants. This procedure in cases of extreme emergency is legally permissible, if the officials comply with the law in all other respects. The Alien Act of 1918 provides that the warrant of arrest must be signed by the Secretary of Labor and can issue only according to the Immigrations Rules, which prescribe that the applicant must show a prima facie case bringing the alien within the categories outlined in the last installment of this series, and must be accompanied by some substantial supporting evidence. Where agents apply for telegraph warrants, the written application must be in the mail.
These elementary facts of law, the learned Attorney General either blithely ignored or naively professed to interpret otherwise, for at one of the early meetings with the representatives of the Department of Labor, he proposed to transmit the names of aliens for whom he wanted warrants of arrest, but insisted that he must not be required to produce the proof. Naturally, he assured the Department of Labor that he would posses sufficient evidence to justify the arrests. When Mr. Parker of the Labor Department replied that this could not be done, the Attorney General exclaimed, “Do you mean to tell me that there is no law under which you can issue a warrant for the arrest of an alien when I certify that he is subject to deportation?” “Mr. Attorney General”, was Mr. Parker’s calm response. “Not only is there no such law, but no such law would be constitutional if there were one.” (Post, page 56-57)
Mr. Parker’s advice, however, was completely lost on the Attorney General, who proceeded to act as he had intended originally. “The detective auxiliary to the Department of Justice”, writes L.F. Post, “Soon turned this constitutional prerequisite into a farcical formality,” The Department of Labor “became hardly more than a mechanical toy for the Department of Justice.” “Proof of probable cause for an arrest is usually made by an affidavit to the effect that the affiant has been “informed and believes” that the accusation he thereby makes is true. He may, in fact, have no information nor any reason for belief on the subject. The accusation itself, as well as the oath, may be false. But if the “information and belief” affidavit accuses any person of having done something … a warrant to arrest the person accused must issue.
“Affidavits of ‘probable cause’ were supplied in job lots. They were mimeographed forms filled in and sworn to by supervising detectives upon information reported by subordinate detectives. The affiant seldom had any other information; their informants often had none at all.” “…they were often defective. Some were not sworn to. Some were not even signed by the affiant. Some were as blank as when they were ground out by the mimeograph machines, except for names and wear and tear.” Upon these affidavits the Solicitor of the Labor Department, “perfunctorily” signed warrants of arrest. (Post, pg 67-68)
Many of the warrents were requested by telegraph on the basis of the names and addresses secured at the time of the arrests. Out of 200 typical cases examined by Panunzio, 89 were arrested before warrents were issued. In 48 cases no date is recorded. In some notable instances, almost two months elapsed between the arrest and the issuance of the warrent while in others flagrant irregularities appeared. Only 47 of the 200 cases could be considered regular on there face.
Warrants or no warrants every one apprehended was hustled into huge trucks and dumped at the nearest police station. In New York City, the prisoners were placed under heavy guard and taken to the sinister Park Row headquarters of the Department of Justice, where a special inquisition sifted the wheat from the Chaff. All through the night, citizens and aliens were sharply interrogated as to their political affiliation. Those who proved recalcitrant were turned over to a strong arm squad, which applied the third degree until all signs of obstinacy disappeared. As fast as the examinations were finished and the evidence obtained upon which the government could secure warrants and prove a case at the trial, the aliens were transferred to Ellis Island. For many days the boats carried an incessant and swollen stream of prisoners to this citadel of refuge from European oppression.
Where the secretary of a Communist unit was caught, the bloodhounds immediately set out on the trail of everyone listed in the books. As late as January 13th, the Department of Justice was kept busy executing warrants. with the third raid on “Novy Mir” on the 13th, the finale was written to this phase of the terror.
Prisoners, who were too far from immigration stations were temporarily locked in dilapidated dumps mustered into service at the last minute. Frequently ten to thirteen men were placed in cells made for a single occupant. In some cases the police refused to feed those in jail because they were not state prisoners. The New Englanders were marched through the streets of Boston, heavily chained and taken to the immigrant Station at Deer Island, which had been abandoned three months before. With the thermometer hovering around zero, there was neither steam to heat the premises nor window panes to keep out the cold. But if on Deer Island there was not enough steam, in one of the Hartford jails there was such an abundance of heat, that the men were compelled to either go naked or scantily clothed. Although more comfortable cells were available in the same building, the warden in charge refused to make any transfers, because it involved too much red tape.
For 410 prisoners on Deer Island, about 35 ragged blankets and filthy mattresses were supplied. Prison help was so inadequate that with the aid of the prisoners, it required 3 1/2 hours to serve a single meal. Had the men failed to volunteer their services, it would have taken a whole day to distribute dinner. New prisoners invariably went hungry since no advance provision was ever made for their reception.
No toilet facilities were provided. “The men were forced to urinate through the iron barred doors on the narrow walking platform in front of their cells. They were forced to wrap their excrements in papers or rags, throw these out on the platform or over, if they could, and let them fall five stories below to the bottom corridor. The urine collected in the cavities of the platform, overflowed there and dripped down from the 5th floor to the 4th, from the 4th to the 3rd….The men, who brought the food to their comrades, had to walk right through all this foul smelling mess, dragging through it, also, the large pots of mush, beans or hash; they had to pass bread through the same bars; they had to pour ‘coffee’ through the same bars into a cup or bowl held from inside.” (The Soviet of Deer Island, pg 13).
But worse than Deer Island was the concentration point selected for Detroit. In an unventilated corridor on the 5th floor of the Federal Building, 800 men and women were jammed into an area that could normally hold a maximum of 30. In front of the only available toilet, there always stood a painfully long line. The room had no outside windows, and as a result, the heat was sickening, while the stench overpowered one unaccustomed to it.
Rumors circulated among the Deer Island prisoners concerning what was happening to their wives and children, drove one insane and caused another to commit suicide. These stories, it is true, had some foundation in fact, because with the removal of the breadwinner from the family, his dependents were frequently left destitute. Where a few scanty pennies had been accumulated they were usually in the husband’s name and the wife was not allowed to see her husband in order to secure the authorization required to withdraw the money. Landlords, in many cases, were afraid to rent them rooms for fear that the police would wreck their houses. Friends, however, often came to their assistance and tided them through this desperate period.
Pursuant to instructions, no one taken into custody was allowed to communicate with anyone until after the examination and then only on permission of the Department of Justice. Neither relatives nor counsel retained by the families of the prisoners were permitted to interview them. Where friends went to the jail they were often arrested on the theory that no one but a communist would visit a communist. A man, who had been missed by his associates for a month, was finally located in jail, arrested without a warrant. In one notorious case, that of Andrea Salsedo and Robert Elia, the aliens were able to make their presence known only by the suicide of Salsedo, who jumped from an upper floor to his death on the sidewalk below. Elia was then hurriedly served with the warrant which had been in the possession of the Department of Labor for two months. Contrary to the requirement that aliens must be immediately turned over to the nearest immigrant station, Salsedo and Elia had been kept in the secret custody of the Department of Justice, without the knowledge of the Labor Department. It was this unlawful exercise of power, which the latter subsequently advanced as the excuse for its own dereliction in the matter.
In this stifling atmosphere the harassed aliens were given hearings before ignorant immigration inspectors, who were required to know only simple spelling, arithmetic and penmanship. Such was the general illiteracy of the staff that, in the raid on the Chicago Russian School, papers containing algebraic formulas were grabbed by the officers, who foolishly believed them to be coded documents.
Questions were supplied on forms and were frequently of a complex structure with many five syllable words heavily interlarded. Interpreters were rarely employed unless the prosecution was completely dissatisfied with their inability to elicit proper responses from the alien. On those occasions, when interpreters were used, they were invariably employees of the prosecution and sometimes testified against the defendants. In most instances they were as incompetent as the inspectors and as untrustworthy. Here is a typical example of their reliability to convey the correct answers of the non-English speaking aliens.
In one of the cases, a membership book of the C.P. was introduced into evidence despite the statement of the alien that it was not his. The alien was then asked whose book it was, in answer to which the interpreter, speaking for the defendant, said, “Same place live with him other fellows. Probably that book belonged to him.” As a result of the interpreter’s inaccurate use of the word “him”, the alien was thereupon asked, “What were you doing with this book?” To this query the interpreter replied, “He said he was beaten over that when he was asked the question and he cannot answer. He give him answer that it belonged to him.” (Deportation Cases of 1919-1920 M. Panunzio). In the case of the articulate workers, the prosecution resorted to more subtle tricks. For example, Peter Frank, an American citizen by birth, who had so testified at his hearing and who denied being a communist, but admitted membership in the “Shoe Workers Union”, was induced to sign the following statement, “I, the undersigned, not a citizen of the United States, on oath depose,” etc.
While the law places complete jurisdiction in immigration matters in the sole hands of the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice dominated the operations and shoved the former aside. Probably, from the government stand point, this was the only feasible course to follow, since an anamo lous situation existed with all the legal power concentrated in one department and the funds in the other. The Department of Justice, therefore, “Held several conferences with the officials of the Department of Labor and came to an agreeable arrangement for the carrying out of the deportation statute. (Statement of Palmer—Chafee, pg 243). In view of this understanding, Caminetti wrote to one of his subordinates just four days prior to the raids, “Under no circumstance should an officer (of the Labor Department—R.B.) proceed in the matter of the arrests except in cooperation with a Department of Justice representative. To do so would be to invite disaster.” (265 Fed. Rep. 17)
Now this is a glaring illustration of administrative contempt for the law, surpassed only by the utilization of the $16,000,000, appropriated for the “detectives and prosecution of crimes”, on deportations which have been held by the court to be noncriminal proceedings. The government, however, can be readily forgiven since this step may have been necessary in order to preserve intact the superficial liberality of this arch “stool pigeon” association.
But the Department of Justice did not make merely the arrests, conduct the preliminary investigation, hire the guards at Deer Island and possess a controlling voice in fixing the bail. For the first time in the experience of the immigration inspectors at Boston, a Department of Justice agent was present at the hearings and acted both as prosecutor and witness. in fact, one can say that the Department of Justice was everything including the judge. With this “democratic” body in complete charge, the alien defendant was denied the constitutional right of being “confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witness in his favor and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” The entire proceedings were conducted secretly. The public, the press, and the alien’s wife were excluded. So was his attorney during the major part of the trial. To these bewildered aliens, who knew little of our language and less concerning our legal procedure, no outside assistance was permitted. Inarticulate and isolated, they were informed that neither counsel nor friends would be allowed to interview them until all the questions were answered. But without anyone present to protect their interests, they had no way of determining such a fundamental matter as to whether their answers were being correctly translated or not.
For nearly a year prior to the January raids, the alien had been entitled to the right of being represented by counsel during the deportation hearing. This rule, however, was suddenly changed four days before the raid without notifying the Secretary of Labor, who was ostensibly ill at the time. Under the amended rule the alien was not to be allowed an attorney, until such stage of the proceeding as would be for the best interests of the United States. Several thousand warrants were than outstanding and it was not until January 27th, when practically all of the preliminary hearings were concluded that the old rule was restored. Nevertheless, even with the revival of the old rule, the alien was still not advised of his right to employ counsel until the hearing was nearly over and a lawyer could be of little value. After January 27th, those who insisted upon counsel were usually granted the privilege of retaining someone, but were penalized by having their hearing delayed for weeks or months. If the alien waived his right, he was given an immediate trial with the hope of being released on bail. (Testimony of Assistant Commissioner of Immigration: Comm. on Immigration & Naturalization (House) 66: pg 5) Confidential communications between the attorney and his client were seldom respected and often examined or confiscated for all of the aliens’ mail was subjected to a rigid inspection.
The evidence upon which the Department of Justice hoped to deport the aliens varied considerably. In most cases it consisted of photostatic copies of the Communist Manifesto and mimeographed copies of the Constitution of the C.P. or the C.L.P. as the case might be. In some cases the sole evidence was the mimeographed affidavit of the Department of Justice that the agent “is informed and verily believes”, that the alien is a member of the prescribed organization. Frequently these affidavits lacked even the signature of the agent.
Other forms of acceptable evidence were membership cards, which showed no dues paid, or cards, which the prosecution failed to prove belonged to the alien. In a few cases they went so far as to introduce tickets to social affairs given by the C.P. and subscription lists containing the items of those who contributed funds or who helped the wives of men who were arrested. In one case, that of an antique dealer, the only evidence against the alien was an ancient revolver which would not go off, a rusty dagger and some 60 odd volumes of radical literature. In 4% of Panunzic’s cases, no evidence of any kind was introduced.
This last situation is well illustrated by the trial of John Dudinsky, who was arrested on an information and belief affidavit, accusing him of membership in the C.P. At the hearing Dudinsky refused to answer any questions unless he was given permission to be represented by counsel. When this request was granted and Dudinsky still persisted in his refusal to commit himself, the Assistant Secretary of Labor decided that, “Notwithstanding the weakness of the proof against the alien, there seemed to be sufficient lawful evidence in the record to put him to the defense of his right to continued residence in the country and, therefore, I decided to open the case for further hearing. At the rehearing, the alien still refused to answer questions, acting on advice of counsel, and I then ordered that he be deported as an alien member of the C.P.” (Post, pgs, 193- 194). In view of this decision, it is interesting to note the sufficient lawful evidence, which existed against the alien. According to the recital of Post, himself, this evidence consisted in the following: An unsigned and typewritten copy of a purported examination of Dudinsky; an alleged letter of the alien, which lacked proof as to the authenticity of the signature or the correctness of the translation; membership cards in the alien’s name, but without proof that Dudinsky was connected with them; photostatic copies of what purported to be correspondence by the alien, but again without facts showing that it was his; typewritten documents of the C.P. and finally the affidavit of the agent. (Post, pg. 193)
Judicially, little objection can be made to those stringent regulations. The hearings are of an absolutely administrative nature. There is neither judge nor jury to determine any of the three pertinent issues: Are the views subversive? Does the organization adhere to such views? Is the alien a member of the organization? The power finally to determine these questions resides with the Secretary of Labor and is exercised by the incompetents previously characterized. Nor is there any practical appeal to a judicial tribunal. Aside from the obstacles placed in the way of obtaining a writ of habeas corpus, which we mentioned in the January issue, the habeas corpus once signed, has little value. The law states that deportation is not a criminal proceeding and, therefore, involves no punishment. There is no indictment, criminal information or accusation. The constitution, according to the courts, does not apply. It is contended that no question of taking life, liberty or property without due process of law is involved. No matter how sharply the courts may disagree with the Labor Department’s finding of facts, they cannot interfere unless there be an improper ruling of law. Even a citizen, whether native born or otherwise has no redress from an arbitrary finding that he is an alien if there be some scintilla of evidence substantiating the conclusion that he is. This is seen by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States making mandatory the deportation of a Chinese as an alien although the lower court found that the defendant was, in fact, born in the United States. The Supreme Court said that it was powerless to intervene in cases where the Secretary of Labor has the slightest justification for his decision. (198 U.S. 253). Naturally, this is not considered a violation of the “due process” clause of the Constitution, which our big corporations so successfully invoke.
The only available redress from an unfair hearing is by way of an appeal to the Secretary of labor in Washington, who determines the merits of the case on the basis of a record made by the inspector. This record, which the inspector can terminate whenever he feels that a favorable cause of action has been made out, together with a summary of the findings and the inspector’s recommendations, constitute the sole criterion upon which the issues are finally decided. This practice, incidentally, is still followed today but in a somewhat modified form. According to the “Report of the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement”, the verbatim stenographic minutes are not forwarded to Washington. Instead, the inspector informs the stenographer as to what parts he desires left out and often relies upon his own memory to make a resume of the hearing (pgs, 62-63). Since the courts cannot set aside the ruling of the Secretary, except in a few cases, the power concentrated in his hands can be readily abused. If the Secretary is reactionary he can be most ruthless in his decisions. If he is a liberal, like Post, only those directly within the purview of the law are forced to leave the country. But whether liberal or conservative the law itself is such an anti-democratic measure that anyone sworn to uphold it must eventually find many guilty.
Once the hearings were completed and this generally required a month or two, the alien was permitted to go free, pending the final determination—if he could raise the necessary bail. Since it was seldom possible for the alien to secure the $10,000, demanded by Palmer, imprisonment frequently continued until the alien was either deported or the proceedings dropped. This is precisely what the Department of Justice desired for the Immigration Inspector in charge of the Portland District said, “…we have tried to fix their bail so high that they would be detained because they could not get it.” (Commissioner of Immigration & Naturalization (House) 66:2-3). On the other hand, should the alien possess the necessary collateral, the companies refused to underwrite the bond. “A surety company in New York”, Post states, “intimated that it had been significantly warned of official criticism, if it wrote bail bonds for alien ‘reds’.” (pg—76). But, without the bond of a reputable company, no other form of bail was generally acceptable. The Assistant Commissioner of Immigration for the Port of New York, in reply to the question as to whether it would be satisfactory if a man deposited the specified sum in a postal savings account, stated that under his instructions he was required to get a special order from Washington before he could release the alien on such terms. (Commissioner on Immigration & Naturalization, (House) 66:1 pg 58).
The vast majority of the aliens, therefore, remained in jail, while their records reposed in the files of the Department of Labor awaiting a review that took anywhere from five weeks to three months. A total of five months imprisonment, if the period before the appeal is added, was not an unusual prospect, some were held even longer and were finally released only because the Department of Justice said that it could not afford the cost of feeding so many mouths. (Commissioner on Immigration & Naturalization (House) 66: 2-3). In one case, the Department of Labor was on the verge of dismissing the proceedings against an alien, who had been in jail for two months when the Bureau of Immigration brazenly suggested that the Labor Department withhold its decision indefinitely in order to give it an opportunity to search for proof. When these and similar requests were not granted the Department of Justice invoked the criminal law and threw the alien back into jail with the bail once more set at $10,000.
Had the majority of these prisoners really been communists, this practice might have been anticipated but in the opinion of the immigration officer in charge of the Pittsburgh District, 60% of the arrests in his section were attributable to the coal and steel strikes, (Judiciary Comm. (Senate) 66: 3 pg 30,31). It was the experience of the american Civil Liberties Union that of those sent to Deer Island, “Only a small fraction had anything to do with the Communist and Communist Labor Parties. Nearly half of the men had some knowledge and general sympathy for the Soviet form of government, while the other half was virgin soil, where something positive about Communism and industrial democracy was planted for the first time right here on the Island.” (Soviet of Deer Island, pg. 27).
What is Subversive?
The overwhelming majority of those held for deportation were on the ground of mere membership in the C.P., which the Secretary of Labor concluded was a revolutionary organization having for its purpose the overthrow of the United States government by force and violence. This, however, was not the case with the Communist Labor Party. Before members of the latter party could be deported, it was first necessary to establish that they were guilty of some forbidden overt act. Since both of these groups had split off from the Socialist ideology of gradualism and spoke in revolutionary phrases, it would seem as though any distinctions made by the Secretary of Labor were most arbitrary for the effect of this ruling is to make one legal and the other illegal. At first, the Secretary of Labor, like many of the workers, observed no fundamental difference between the programs of the C.P. and the C.L.P., and held that membership in either of them was sufficient to deport. The Secretary of Labor soon revoked his decision, however, when the theoretical leaders of the C.L.P. and their lawyers succeeded in demonstrating the legality of their brand of marxism: But as to the C.P., the Secretary was more firmly convinced than ever of their revolutionary character. “An examination of the documents submitted”, wrote Secretary Wilson in the Preis case, “clearly demonstrates the fact that it is the purpose of the C.P. to overthrow the government of the United States.” “It is apparent that the C.P. does not seek to attain its objective through the parliamentary machinery of this government, established by, and operated under the Constitution.” The C.P. of America is “….a revolutionary party seeking to conquer and destroy the state in open combat.” And how was this shown? Because it required its applicants to sign a statement that they read the constitution and program of the party; declared their adherence to its principles and tactics as well as that of the C.I., that they agreed to submit to its discipline and pledged themselves to take an active part in its work. The legal Marxists made no such demands upon its members. While the C.L.P. recognized the class struggle and the necessity for the political and industrial organization of working class in order to establish Socialism, its membership was not bound to take any definite action to bring about this condition, but merely to be “guided” by the platform of the party. Wilson wrote in the Miller Case: “There is in this application and pledge no intimation that the membership is required to accept the tactics of the Communist International or the tactics of the C.L.P., except insofar as they are expressed in the constitution and platform of that party. Yet it is not the principles advocated, but the tactics proposed to be pursued to secure their adoption which create the deportable condition.” “….it should be pointed out that the recognition of the class struggle between the capitalist class and the working class, the advocacy of the political and industrial organization of the working class to establish communist socialism, the declaration that he has no relations as a member of supporter with any other political party or the declaration that he is opposed to political organizations that support the present capitalist profit system and to any form of trading or fusing with any such organization, does not make an alien deportable under the law.” While these principles may sound very revolutionary to the conservative ear, there is nothing in these doctrines inconsistent with legislative methods of securing political control. On the other hand in war time, a diehard secretary might easily find that even the latter organization was illegal.
From the time of the announcement of this decision (April 27, 1920), hardly an arrest was made upon any ground but technical membership in the C.P. Lack of concrete activity, or the absence of knowledge as to the contents of the constitution of the organization were immaterial as long as the alien was knowingly a member of the Party. On this score, a few difficulties arose in conjunction with the automatic membership cases. These were instances in which the C.P. took over branches of the S.P. en-masse, and the alien subsequently denied that he knew that he had become a member of the new organization. Under these circumstances the name of the alien in the membership list was not sufficient and it was necessary to prove that the alien either signed an application or authorized someone to do it for him.
Illegal Acts of the Department of Justice
At least thirteen violations of constitutional and democratic rights can be charged against the government. Unless one accepts the view of the Supreme Court that any of these rights do not accrue to the alien since deportation is never the punishment for the commission of a crime. But if the aliens are not being deported for criminal views for what reason are they being deported? It is no accident that citizens are penalized for exactly the same opinions and that the proposed federal legislation provides that the aliens shall be compelled to serve sentences first and to be deported afterwards. Only on the basis of the distorted views of the Liberty League could one object to indicting the Department of Justice on the following counts:
1. The wholesale arrest of aliens and citizens without warrants or due process of law. (4th Amendment)
2. Houses entered without search warrants and property seized where even a warrant would not confer such rights. (4th Amendment)
3. Property wantonly destroyed. (5th Amendment)
4. Defendants held incommunicado. (5th Amendment)
5. The establishment of a propaganda bureau by the Department of Justice at government expense to justify illegal acts and to arouse public opinion all of which is outside the authority of a legal department. (General laws)
6. The usurpation by the Department of Justice of the power and authority of the Department of Labor. (General laws)
7. Interfering with the mails. (General laws)
8. The imposition of excessive bail, and cruel and unusual punishment (the 3rd degree) (3th Amendment)
9. The employment of provocation agents.
10. Compelling persons to be witnesses against themselves.(5th Amendment)
11. Depriving persons of their liberty without due process of law. (5th Amendment)
12. Failure to provide the accused with a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, to be confronted with the witnesses against them; and to have the assistance of counsel. (5th Amendment)
13. Deprivation of the rights of free speech, free press and the right to peacefully assemble. (1st Amendment)
Thus we see that the United States in certain respects apes the tactics of Czarist Russia with its mass raids and exiles. In one of the blackest eras of Russian reaction (1873-1876) 1500 agitators were arrested and 193 sent to Siberia. In the American Red Raids of Palmer, at least 3000 were arrested and 556 ordered deported. These are official figures covering only the raid of January 2nd. Post calculates that at least 4000 arrests were made and that out of less than a thousand deportations which were ordered, he was responsible for more than 500, (pg 167) Other estimates of the number jailed range from the 9000 of Attorney Clayton to the 70,000 of the historian Shannon. Some confusion also exists as to the number ordered deported. The American Civil Liberties Union asserts that it was 762, which together with those, who sailed on the Buford would make over a thousand. After the voyage, however, comparatively few of those, who were ordered deported were compelled to leave the country. To account for this several unsatisfactory reasons have been advanced. It was said that disrupted diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia made deportations difficult and that the indirect transportation made them too expensive. But these are not plausible explanations in the light of the actual journey made by the Buford. A much sounder view is the inadvisability of deportation to Red Russia and the impossibility of deportation to those parts controlled by the Whites.
In conclusion a word or two must be said concerning the developments since the period of which we have written for we are now on the brink of another world wide blood bath, which in spite of all the Nye investigations and churchly peace proposals, must eventually include the United States. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance, at least sketchily to outline the improvements, which the United States has made in its coercive machinery. We have already spoken of the prospective anti-sedition bills and similar measures, which in the future will be made into laws. In the meantime the United States has made great strides in perfecting its administrative apparatus.
The annual number of deportations have risen steadily since the war with 19,426 workers being sent out of the country for 1932. During the years from 1920-1932, over 131,000 aliens were deported on warrants, and during half that period approximately as many permitted to depart voluntarily. The transcontinental train, which proceeds from coast to coast to pick up deportees is kept almost constantly in motion. “At the present time,” states the National Commission on Law Enforcement, “over 100,000 suspects are being investigated by the Department of Labor annually.” (Report, pg.24). This requires a tremendous working force and efficient system of operation, which can become a great menace in wartime to the civil liberties of the citizens as well as to that of the 14,204,149 foreign born and the 6,284,613, who are not naturalized (census 1930). One only need examine the methods which the Law Enforcement Commission states are used to apprehend aliens to realize how quickly the same methods can be adopted against all workers. In addition to the stool pigeons and the systematic raids on workers dances, (the most spectacular of which was the raid directed by the secretary of the Finnish Fascists on the dance of the Finnish Workers Educational Association, attended by 1000 workers, who were compelled to line up against the wall and prove their right to remain in this country), there are among others, the checkup of files of newspaper subscribers and readers, the checkup on restaurants, boarding houses, pool rooms, etc., where aliens congregate; the reports of police obtained by arrests made in the course of strife; the reports of public hospitals anxious to get rid of public dependents, (now we have the relief-R.B.); and finally, “In certain localities, the immigration authorities are working out a system with some of the larger businesses, which are apt to employ aliens.” (Report pg 54-55). Even if no concrete action is taken, the fact that the alien (or citizen) is discovered in a suspicious environment forms the foundation for police files, which can be advantageously used in the future. But more ominous is the constant proposals put forth since 1920, to fingerprint aliens, photograph them, prevent their right to speak in public, the day-to-day checkup etc.
Arrests in deportation cases are still generally made without warrant and hearings continue to be conducted in the old arbitrary manner. In some localities fingerprints are taken and in others photographs. (Ibid, pg 62-67). While most of the deportations are for matters like illegal entry, still in a certain number of cases this is merely the pretext used to dispose of militant strikers. At the same time, the number deported for expressions of political opinion have risen sharply in the past few years, among the latest being the case of Forrero and Sallitto, whom the government seeks to deport to Italy because they rented part of their store to a radical newspaper. In this connection, two noteworthy modern trends must be pointed out.
First the deportation of anti-fascists to fascist countries at the instigation of the foreign ambassador coupled with the refusal to permit voluntary emigration to countries willing to accept the alien. In the case of Guido Serio, an anti-fascist, the Immigration Bureau refused to allow Sesrio to go to Russia even though it would save the government the expense of deporting him. At the same time, since deportation is not a penalty, it would serve the real purpose of ridding the United States of Serio’s presence. Nonetheless, Serio was sent to Italy and neither the fact that the United States District Court advised against such action nor the certain death, which awaited Serio could force the Labor Department to alter its decision.
Second, the process of denaturalizing citizens for radical beliefs and then deporting them for exactly the same reason. Thus, the alien is converted into a world outlaw and in law as well as in fact, (save for the Soviet Union) becomes a man without a fatherland.
Of course, the Immigration Law still provides that, “…nothing in this Act shall exclude, if otherwise admissible, persons convicted, or who admit the commission or who teach or advocate the commission of an offense purely political.” Since anarchists or communists are the only ones, “not otherwise admissible” this leaves the democratic right of asylum open, namely, for fascists and white guardists. As a matter of fact, native born Americans are now compelled to seek asylum abroad as witness the case of Bill Haywood, the Gastonia organizer, etc. With this development it may not be long before America establishes her own Siberia as well.
As early as 1919, Senator McKellar of Tennessee made the proposal to set up such a haven in Guam and as recently as August 12, 1935, a lengthy article appeared in the “New York Times” concerning the plan of Colonel C.A. Seoane to make use of the uninhabited Rat Islands of the Aleutian group as a penal site. The Times writes of these islands: “They comprise 1000 square miles—about Rhode Island’s size—and are more than 1000 miles from Alaska’s mainland, 2000 miles from the nearest United States port and more than 2000 miles from Hawaii.” Colonel Scoane proposed that all male prisoners receiving sentences of 5 years or more be sent there and be made to provide their own sustenance. “There is no danger of escape, because the distance to the mainland could never be negotiated in an open boat. The islands have no tree growth, and such small boats as might be furnished for fishing purposes could never be used as a means of escape.” this place, Col. Seoane points out, possesses the following advantages: (1) Economy of operation. (2) Almost the entire prison population of the United States could be accommodated. (3) It is escape proof. (4) It is more human than close confinement. (5) It would solve the problem of prison made goods. To this, I would like to add three reasons of my own: (1) Many would die of the inability to wring a living from nature. (2) The thugs could be more easily influenced to dispose of the radicals. (3) All contact with the outside world would be cut off.
In the meantime, the usual attacks upon the right of the workers to organize into unions and political parties continues with unabated virulence. Everyone is familiar by this time with the fact that important strikes are always characterized by extreme violence. Usually the militia is called out and martial law established. Vigilante terrorism forever stalks in the background, lynching Negro and white workers. If none of these methods succeed in crushing the spirit of the workers, government mediation boards are wheeled upon the scene and the strikers are sold out with the connivance of the AFL officials and the Labor Department as in the case of the San Francisco General Strike, two years ago. With the millions of unemployed, who truly have nothing to lose but their chains, an inseparable feature of capitalism, this situation must become immeasurably worse. Add to this, the haunting specter of war and one cannot escape the conclusion that soon it will no longer be a question of taking communists off the ballot, of exacting loyalty oaths from teachers and students or making compulsory the display of the American flag at all public meetings. Even such measures as anti-Nazi and anti-lynching bills will lose their significance since in such a period it will be quickly demonstrated how these laws can be used to dispose of the communists. With fascism ascendent in Europe and the general lawlessness of the American bourgeoisie, we must be prepared not for an extension of democracy, but for the fascist suppression of all forms of liberalism. Nevertheless the fight must go on. We must continue, for example, to oppose such statutes as the Brownell, “Public Enemy Law:, making the association with people of evil reputation prima faccie evidence that the consorting was for an illegal purpose. Nor can we place much reliance on the limitation with which the Court of Appeals has surrounded it for in periods of hysteria, the lower courts can safely disregard its mandates. Always there marches forward the tendency to pass reactionary legislation in the guise of crime prevention. In this category falls the recent 60 Point program of Governor Lehman, 28 of which are definitely objectional because of the obvious way in which they limit civil liberties. Most of all, however, we must be social realists and understand that we are in for an unprecedented era of the total submergence of civil rights, unless the workers take matters into their own hands and play the game of history to their own benefit.
THE SECOND STAGE OF THE NEW DEAL
Now that the Supreme Court has sent the A.A.A. after the N.R.A. into the discard, an end has definitely come to the second stage of the New Deal. We can look back now upon a whole period beginning with March, 1933, a period of experimentation in state collectivism and state control.
The first stage of the New Deal, which lasted about a year and a half, we have called the honeymoon period. What hopes were not raised during that time! No more promising pair ever left the altar than Papa Roosevelt and Mama New Deal accompanied by a trunk full of promises and several suitcases full of alphabets.
Everything that was wrong was going to be made right. Business was going to be regulated back into prosperity. Prices were to be raised (and they were!). The farmers were to be paid just for plowing under cotton and wheat and the processors were to be allowed a higher price. Child labor was to be no more. The working man at last was to get a new, square deal. No more was he to work all hours for what he could get; the government would set his wages and hours and under the paternal arm of the President, labor unionism—according to the ballyhoo of the labor “leaders”, at least—was to flourish throughout the land.
The New Deal was to be a clearing house where all class contradictions would be wiped off the slate and boss, worker and farmer were to step out arm in arm headed for the Dawn of a New Day. As for the intellectuals, they were not forgotten either and the “forward looking” ones, organized in a Brain Trust and “planning” their heads off, sat on the top of the world. Prosperity was the least item in the Roosevelt program; the whole of society was to be made over from top to bottom. “Human rights” were the keynote of the program.
Nobody ever sighed: “It was good while it lasted”, over that honeymoon. The jolts of reality, which exploded all the New Deal bubbles one by one, were just too hard for all concerned. The ideal of pleasing everybody, of getting all classes to pull together, was something that simply could not be done. A juggler may choose to play with concussion bombs, but if he does so, an explosion is bound to come sooner or later.
The second phase of the New Deal began with the Work Relief Bill, in November, 1934. Here was an open confession that prosperity could not return to private business through the New Deal. It was openly admitted and planned for that the State would have to support many millions of people for a long time to come. In the meantime the capitalist opposition to New Dealism, which at the beginning had appeared to be snowed under by the alphabet avalanche, had grown stronger and had finally crystallized in the Supreme Court decisions condemning the N.R.A. and the A.A.A. as unconstitutional.
The fact is the Supreme court like the old gray mare, has seen better days as far as its prestige is concerned. We might also mention the fact that Congress cut no figure at all either in the Supreme Court decisions or in the attacks against the New Deal. Congress has just quietly and without comment taken a back seat, and so thoroughly has Roosevelt done his job of centralizing the State that it has occurred to no one to demand “More Power to Congress". Thus has the United States lined up in the present world march away from legislature and towards dictatorship.
It is worth commenting in passing on this curious sight, which could occur nowhere else but in America, of a judicial body attempting to set aside the decisions of the administration in power. No such court as our Supreme Court exists in Europe, and if such a court did exist and did attempt what the Supreme Court has done, can anyone imagine the administration being able to continue in office and, in fact, to announce that its future policies are going to be quite the same as before? When a European administration finds itself unable to solve the problems of the nation, it resigns, a new cabinet and a new Prime Minister must be elected.
As for the Constitution, it has at least as many foes as friends. While there are still plenty of old ladies organized in the D.A.R., who are truly horrified at the indignities shown the supreme Law of the Land, and while the anti-New Deal forces may try to hang their individualism on the constitutional peg, yet “To Hell with the Constitution”, has become a fairly familiar slogan these days. Notwithstanding the Supreme Court decisions, Roosevelt stands an even chance of being reelected. With the pacifist plea, “Keep the United States out of War”, which was the keynote of his speech to Congress, backed by the farmers and by the easy millions of people who are now directly or indirectly dependent upon the Federal government for their livelihood, Roosevelt may yet beat the Liberty League and the reviving Republican Party.
We cannot here go into the question of the constitutionality of the NRA and the AAA, and the meaning of the Supreme Court decisions. For this see the article entitled, “The End of the NRA” in the August 1935 Class Struggle. We wish to point out here that, now that the New Deal has suffered a definite, if perhaps temporary defeat, there are two courses open, which American capitalism can now take. These two issues will be clearly lined up in the coming elections. They are old time individualism, competition, “laissez-faire,” on the one hand, and state collectivism, state regimentation and control, on the other. Both of these courses will be equally unable to get the country permanently out of the crisis and on the road to prosperity. Both are equally bankrupt as far as any benefit to labor is concerned.
The opposition to the New Deal began to take shape in the latter half of 1934. A veritable Babel of voices arose, each outcry gathering a following of some aggrieved group around itself. We can classify these opposition roughly as follows:
1) Utopian schemes, like the Epic and Townsend Plans. These attract the middle class people, who are ready to clutch at any straw amid the whirling waters of the crisis, which have swept away everything they considered enduring and inalienable in life: their income, their property, their homes, their security. Ruined farmers, clientless physicians, debt-ridden storekeepers, such people as these readily fall for innocent and well meaning plans, which can solve the national problems about as successfully as Billy Sunday or Aimed MacPherson could show the way to Heaven. America was always a land of Utopia, and if it is still today, it is because classes and class interests are still pretty hazy to many minds, especially to those of the middle class, who have lost their independence, and will have to line up either with trust capital or the working class.
2) Schemes that sound Utopian but are far from innocent having a definite fascist leaning, such as Huey Long’s Share the Wealth Clubs, Coughlin’s National Union for Social Justice, etc. These schemes appeal to the same type of people as the Utopia mentioned above, although perhaps to the mere hard driven elements among them. The program of the Detroit priest, definitely anti-labor and anti-Wall Street, put over with plenty of oratory, is strikingly like that of Hitler before he came to power.
3) Liberal opposition from various sources. Judge Brandels (in the NRA case,) and Senator Borah may be mentioned here. This opposition is against the New Deal as “unconstitutional”, as destroying personal liberty, as giving too much power to the President, as threatening to bring in Fascism. This is an attack that seems to come from the “Left”, but is not really so, since these elements are pretty bankrupt so far as a program of their own is concerned.
4) Business opposition to the New Deal which takes on different forms. It hollers about the constitution on the one hand, and on the other attacks the New Deal as Socialistic, or even Communistic, as “pampering labor and throttling” business, etc. It sometimes comes out openly in defense of property and business as against the “human rights” theory of Roosevelt. The real basis for this opposition is quite simple. The New Deal has failed to bring back “normal” conditions or wide spread prosperity, even though it has raised the profits of the big corporations considerably. While these groups are talking about the freedom of business, and about individual initiative, it must not be supposed for the moment that they are free from finance capital or are looking for that sort of freedom. Indeed, finance capital is to a certain extent committed to the opposition. It is to government regulation and control that this “individualism” is exposed.
Various groups began attacking the New Deal as far back as the fall of 1924. First came the American Liberty League, with a list of powerful corporations backing it. Then at the Constitution Day celebration in Philadelphia, in September, 1934, Bainbridge Colby, Secretary of State under Wilson, Colonel McCormick, editor of the Chicago Tribune, and Edward Hayes, National Commander of the American Legion, attacked those, who considered the Constitution, “flexible”, and opposed the New Deal. At about the same time the Union League Club called upon the Republican Party to make war against the New Deal as “dangerous and unAmerican".
In October, 1934, the Illinois Manufacturers Association, launched a movement against the “increasing inroads of Federal government into private business.” In November of the same year, the Edison Electric Institute, representing 80% of the electric power interests of the nation, declared war on President Roosevelt’s power program as set forth in the Tennessee Valley Authority and similar projects. This body accused the administration of using public utility enterprise. In March, 1935, Hoover cropped up to appeal to the convention of the California Republican Assembly on behalf of old time individualism, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. The National Association of Manufacturers in its recent convention opened up on the New Deal calling for the right of private business to run itself and solve the crisis in its own way. The Bankers Association has also declared itself against the New Deal, fearing, no doubt, that nationalization of the banks will be the outcome of the administration’s policy of taking over securities and mortgages. Finally, the decisions of the Supreme Court against the NRA and AAA crystalize and focus all those capitalist opposition.
Private business, free and uncontrolled, the “unthrottled initiative of the American people”, old time individualism, laissez-faire, is there anything here that we do not know thoroughly? “Back to the Hoover period”, should really be the slogans of all the capitalist opposition, the anti-New Dealers. Is there anything in the situation now that can solve the crisis that was not there in the Hoover period? Not a thing. Whatever little increase in business there has been, has been due to the federal spending policy. There is no increase in market through other sources, no new outlet for manufactured goods. Whatever feathers and war-paint these groups may put on for election campaign purposes, we know them all for what they are, and what they can do for the nation was shown in 1932: Crash of banks on all sides with ruin of countless stock holders; ruin of farmers with foreclosures and taking over of farms by the big banks; business unable to provide jobs and huge armies of unemployed turned loose on the communities to starve.
It is possible the “individualists” may win again, and again will come another crash, which will force the capitalists to turn once more—if not to the New Deal, at any rate under some form or other to what the New Deal stands for. Collectivism and state control are the only way to save capitalism from complete chaos.
But on the other hand, the New Deal cannot solve the crisis, either, cannot bring about the old “normal” conditions. The New Deal has got the country into a mess of a different sort. In a way, the Supreme Court decisions were a God send for Roosevelt, as they came at a time when it was quite plain the New Deal could not work, and have given him a chance to plead for further New Deals before the full collapse of the old ones had come to light.
If the government subsidies and work relief managed to puff up business artificially like a sick man kept alive under an oxygen tent, on the other hand this spending policy has meant a terrific increase in the public debt. In a lesser degree this would have to happen too, under the laissez-faire system, as witness the plans of the Reconstruction Finance corporation under Hoover. But, under the New Deal, there are such huge numbers of people living off the administration that nearly half the nation has become parasitic … a forced parasitism of those, who are willing and able to work productively, not to be compared to the robber parasitism of those, who own the industries and all the productive forces. Any fool can see that such a system cannot continue long. Taxation must increase to keep pace with public debt, inflation must become worse, bonus or no bonus.
Agriculture, which was in a crisis since 1922, has also been put under an oxygen tent. But the terrible fate of the cotton industry, which has lost the world market to Japan and Australia is proof enough that the New Deal could save nothing. If some of the well to do farmers have been sitting pretty on their government bounties for curtailing their crops, on the other hand, hundreds of thousands of poor farmers have gone bankrupt and more hundreds of thousands of tenant and share cropper farmers have been driven off the land, facing complete starvation.
If the capitalist will have to turn again to New Dealism sooner or later, it is not that the Roosevelt policies can save the situation permanently. What they really do is to pave the way for a heavy handed policy of crushing labor completely, of wiping out Congress and the legislature completely, of centering power in the hands of a dictator. To call the New Deal fascist does not fit the situation, but it is perfectly true that the New Deal contained certain germs of fascism, which could flourish later into the thing itself. Roosevelt, the “humanitarian”, may not be a dictator, but he is a forerunner of possible dictators; one who has paved the way for dictatorship.
The anti-New Dealers holler about the powers the President has taken over, and indeed he has taken extraordinary powers, such as no one man in public life short of Hitler or Mussolini possesses. Right of taxation, of treaty making, of almost unlimited appointments and expenditure, these rights, NRA or no NRA, remain in the President’s hands. His system reduces Congress to a helplessness from which it will not recuperate. The fact is that these are times in world history, when only dictators can save the day for capitalism, and without formulative theories of dictatorship, in fact, as a good humanitarian democrat, Roosevelt has realized a system of highly centralized government power.
The New Deal also stood for collectivism. There is a germ of truth in the shouts of Fascism and the shouts of Socialism in the New Deal. Both these systems are collectivist, with the vast difference, that Fascism is collectivist for the benefit of the capitalist class and Socialism for the benefit of the workers, which could later be taken over and converted by a real dictator into a genuine Fascist dictatorship.
A.A.A. and Labor Codes
Individualism as the leading philosophy of all classes has been dealt a stiff blow by the New Deal; it will be hard to revive public confidence in it for very long.
Labor has had its own history under the New Deal, and has learned its own lessons. As against the flat starvation of the Hoover period the workers have seen counterpoised the stagnation of being on relief, the humiliation of waiting on line, and in the second stage, boondoggling and work relief at $10 a week. For the Negroes the New Deal has invented more clever ways of discrimination, and the relief starvation brought forth such outbursts as the Harlem hunger riots in 1935.
The Manufacturers Association declared its policy towards labor—a familiar one—union smashing, wage-cuts, little and very low relief. Roosevelt never stated where the work relief would lead to, but we state it plainly: It will lead to forced labor, to concentration camps. Labor can choose neither of these courses.
Foreign policy has not yet figured much in the opening guns of the election campaign except for Roosevelt’s “pacifist” assurance of keeping the country out of war in his speech opening Congress. If an outbreak of war should occur in Europe involving many nations, as may very well happen before next November, neutrality will become a keen issue. American labor learned in 1917, exactly what liberal promises amount to, and will be more wary this time.
In the honeymoon period of the New Deal, labor came out in masses in the streets, parading in support of the New Deal. Roosevelt’s labor policy worked for a time. It enabled the AFL officials, placed in fat posts in the government apparatus as Labor Board representatives to sell out the mass revolts of 1933. The strikes of that period expressed the working class revolt against the crisis, a revolt long delayed because of the very immensity of the disaster, as well as because of the unorganized, leaderless state of the workers. But the first little upturn in business brought such a wave of strikes as had not taken place since the post-war days since 1919. There were not strikes against the New Deal so much as strikes against the effects of the crisis.
But in 1934, came an even greater wave, swelling to a general strike in San Francisco and a general textile strike of half a million people. As far as the spirit and intentions of the workers were concerned, these movements, and the numerous other strikes that occurred, were aimed against the wretched conditions, which the New Deal had crystallized in the Labor Codes. They were strikes upon a higher plane than any previous strikes in this country, since they involved the workers at once in conflict with the administration, through the Labor Relations apparatus.
Labor union officialdom here became so far bound up with the bosses that actually today, we can use two distinct movements within the AFL, each one reflecting one of the major tendencies among the capitalists. The so called “Progressive”, “Industrial Union movement headed by John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers and including nine big unions is precisely a movement of those officials, who have become so bound up in the New Deal that they neither can, nor wish to leave the administration and have become prize New Dealers, mobilizing labor around Roosevelt and his policies. Actually this has gone so far that the UMW … voted to give money from its treasury to re-elect Roosevelt! The Green forces, on the other hand, the “conservatives”, the “craft-unionists” are supporting the capitalists on the other side of the fence, the free competition variety. (For the full arguments on this situation, see the article in the January, 1936 issue of the Class struggle, “How Progressive are the Progressives in the AFL?)
There is no doubt but what the years of the New Deal have meant that millions of workers have moved towards class-consciousness. The Labor Party movement is evidence of this, in spite of the completely corrupt motives of the union and S.P. officials, sponsoring the movement. Even the organization of the unskilled in masses into the AFL has been a step on the road of class progress.
The problem which the capitalist forces cannot solve either through the state collectivism of the New Deal, paying the way for downright Fascism or through competition and the “freedom” of private business, this problem labor must begin to face.
To face the task of taking things into their own hands, to begin to talk about Workers Control over production, to organize the masses of unorganized into fighting unions, to see beyond the Labor Party, a real revolutionary workers movement based on groups in the factories and among the unemployed, to begin to think of a State of the Workers as the alternative to the New Deal, these are the tasks of the moment for labor and this is Labor’s election campaign program.
THE ROLE OF AMERICA IN THE COMING WAR
Although the new world war, the overture to which has now opened in Africa, will undoubtedly first extend through Europe and Asia, it must not be supposed for one moment that the United States will not be involved. Quite the contrary. At all times the capitalists of America have sharpened the contradictions in europe, compelling the inevitable explosion there.
During the whole post war period, America has been the decisive arbiter in European affairs. It was she, who furnished the capital reserves to bolster up a dying Europe and to roll back the waves of Bolshevism. It was she, who with the fourteen points of Wilson, helped to hack Europe to pieces after the war and to Balkanize it. It was she, who poured in the money to rehabilitate Germany. It was America, who placed all of Europe on rations, as it were, handing out doles in order to insure that the European countries would never be able to unite against the power of America but rather, could be set one against the other at will. Finally, it was the United States that, pouring in its thousands of American experts into Russia, helped to grind European capitalism to pieces, placed as Europe was between the upper and nether milestones of the United States and the Soviet Union.
Thus, the frantic convulsions of the petty European countries, leading as they do directly to the new World War, are but a logical result of the conditions foisted upon the capitalists of Europe first of all by victorious capitalist America.
Especially marked was the pressure of the United States during the crisis. By means of wholesale dumping of goods abroad, through the violent manipulation of world currencies and prices, through the pressure of a prohibitive tariff, this breaking up the highly complicated economic inter relationship between Europe and America, the capitalists of this country forced debtor, Europe, still further into debt, upset the equilibrium of whole countries and compelled the desperate regime of these lands to recoup their losses through foreign adventure in the form of war.
Thus, in fact, America, to maintain its own hegemony, becomes the chief fomenter and organizer of war. Such a world war, it is hoped by the American rulers, will ruin and bankrupt Europe, will destroy Bolshevist Russia and imperialist Japan, and, upon this pyre, American imperialists intend to rebuild anew as the supreme and unchallenged masters of the world. Having helped reduce the world to chaos, the American Capitalists will then come forward with their plans to “organize the world”, and lead it out of chaos through the American plan.
Of course, United States capitalism will not enter the war in the beginning. Why should it? Let European capitalism and Russian Communism both break their own heads. America calculates to sell them goods, restore its prosperity, reduce discontent at home, find new markets for its stuff, reap enormous profits and then, finally, when all the combatants are exhausted, will step in with its own armed might and clean up the loot of war for itself. Should Russian Communism be able to destroy the united forces of capitalist Europe and Japan, it could be the United States that would then step in to put the finishing blows to Bolshevism and crush any European proletarian revolution that might raise its head. Should Russian Communism go under, unable to cope with the ferocious Fascist attack launched against her, then the United States might step in to aid the restoration of capitalism in Russia and to deprive weakened and bloody Europe of its prey. Such, briefly, would be the policy of American capitalism as to its entrance into the coming World War. The United States is strong enough to prevent attack against itself in the first place; it will be strong enough to dominate in the end.
Should the war break out, America’s first job would be to insure complete control over South America. During the last war, all the holdings of foreign capitalists in the United States were relinquished, and this country, instead of being a doctor became the foremost creditor of the world. During the next World War, the British will be forced to relinquish in a similar manner all their stocks and bonds and other securities in the Americas. Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile will then have but one master, “The Colossus of the North".
This does not signify that the United States will attempt physically to annex Latin America to the United States. Quite the opposite process may be imagined, namely, many countries of Latin America, economically dominated by the United States, may try to obtain entrance into the United States as a State of the Union, while the capitalists of this country, in order to keep certain of their privileges, may strive against it. Even now this is the situation in Puerto Rico, and to a lesser extent, in the Philippines and an echo of this is to be heard even in Cuba. Were the United States rulers willing to take in Cuba or the Philippine Islands as a regular State of the Union, there is no question but that the bourgeois cliques of these countries would welcome such a move wholeheartedly. What the masses would say about this question is another matter. At any rate, we have here many signs to indicate that American imperialism does not have to travel exactly the same road as British or European.
Should another world war break out, it will be of such a devastating character as to eat truly at the very guts of the combatants. Cities and industries will be destroyed wholesale and that country, which will be in the position of non-combatant will be favored indeed. Thus, America will undoubtedly increase its production and commerce enormously and, if the war is prolonged to any degree, the United States will be unbeatable, in comparison with the rest of the world.
There is no doubt, but that the British colonies will be tremendously affected by the conflict and, in proportion as the palsied hands of the central governors at London, will be unable to control the situation, the colonial masses will be able to realize their goal of independence from British imperialism. Unless by that time proletarian revolutions have occurred in the imperialist countries stimulating the Colonial revolutions, the heir to these colonies legitimately will be the United States and perhaps, too, on the shoulders of United States capitalism, there will have to be born the responsibility of crushing the aspirations of the colonial masses for their independence and economic liberation as well as the job of putting down Socialism in Europe.
As far back as 1858, Marx wrote to Engels, raising the question of the relationship between a revolutionary Europe and a capitalist America, as follows: “The difficult question for us is this: On the Continent the revolution is imminent and will also immediately assume a Socialist character. Is it bound to be crushed in this little corner, considering that in a far greater territory the movement of bourgeois society is still on the ascendant?” (See Correspondence Marx to Engels, Letter of the 8th, October, 1858).
This “difficult question” is precisely the one pressing upon us at this moment, and the lines of its solution have already become more or less clear. The bankruptcy of capitalist Europe prevents America from remaining on the ascendant. Instead, the United States becomes enmeshed more and more in the general downfall, compelling the proletariat of this country, as well, to enter into the final struggle for Socialism.
We cannot believe that Marx assumed that the American workers would willingly be mobilized into vast armies and sent to Europe to crush the Socialist proletarian movement there. On the contrary, should such action be necessary on the part of the American capitalists, it would surely lead to wholesale revolt by the American workers. The Seattle general strike, the mutiny of the soldiers in Archangel, the luke warmth of the American Army in Siberia, the general traditions of America, all indicate to us the course events would take. Americans are willing to be missionaries, but not mercenary soldiers.
The problem has been presented in a slightly different manner by Karl Kautsky and the opportunist Socialists. These people believed that imperialism was not a stage of capitalism, but a policy that would lead to “ultra-imperialism". In the stage of “ultra-imperialism,” it is assumed that there will arise one or several countries so powerful as to be complete dictators of world events and to occupy in the international arena approximately the same position as the United States Steel Trust in the steel industry of this country or as the British tin cartel in the tin production of the world.
Now, if we assume that as a result of the coming world war, both capitalist Europe and Communist Russia will become mutually exhausted, so much so that not even the proletariat of these parts of the world by itself will have the strength to overcome the capitalist system, then indeed this situation would be more or less realized, with the United States playing the role of the big trust putting “order” into chaos and “peace” into international affairs. Even so, this will not mean that the conclusions of the Kautskys will be affirmed, since the class contradictions will not grow less sharp but more so. The American proletariat will find no way out of the impasse of continuous over production and unemployment, the colonial masses will find no way out against the dominant new Roman Caesars of the world, the American imperialists, save insurrection.
Even if we assume that the European proletariat will be unable to take the grand historic initiative towards Socialism and will lose the leading position in that respect, this can only mean that the proletariat of the United States will be thrust into the forefront and upon its shoulders there will devolve, more than on those of any other, the task of overthrowing world capitalism and establishing world Socialism.
COMPANY (GOVERNMENT) UNION OR WORKERS’ UNION?
Statement on the Expulsion of George Jarvis from the Artists Union.
On Monday, January 20th, George Jarvis, a member of the Artists Union, in good standing, was called before the Executive Committee of the organization and brought up on charges for expulsion. The charges were brought by members, whose names Jarvis did not even know and who refused to place their charges in writing, a procedure that every responsible labor organization in America has adopted as a matter of course. The charges were very vague, consisting of statements that Jarvis was a “disrupter”, that he made disparaging remarks about the organization and and told workers not to join it.
Fellow worker Jarvis denied all of these charges as being absolutely untrue. He pointed out that ever since he had been a member of the union he had conducted himself in a militant union fashion in the struggle for better conditions for the workers both in the Artists Union and on the relief projects. He had been on most of the picket lines that the union had organized and had carried banners in the demonstrations. He proved that he had been active in trying to get fellow workers into the organization. He had been a faithful attendant of union meetings, taking part in all union activities. He had even been elected by his project local, connected with the Artists Union, to the important committee to see Miss McMahon on the question of reclassification.
In spite of the mass of evidence that Jarvis presented as to his union activity, he was scarcely given a chance to defend himself and the motion that he be expelled was railroaded through at the executive.
The matter was then taken up at the membership meeting on January 22nd, and at the late hour of eleven o’clock, after a long and tedious lecture had been given to another subject, Jarvis’ question was taken up under the form of accepting the report of the executive. At first the officials actually refused to give Jarvis a chance to defend himself and then magnanimously he was given three minutes to speak, a three minutes later extended to fifteen because it was too raw to throw out a member without even giving him a chance to defend himself. Out of two hundred people present, only about forty members voted to expel Jarvis, the rest abstaining, and thus an active member of the union was expelled.
We believe that the entire procedure was illegal and of such an outrageous character as to be absolutely intolerable in a free workers’ movement, for:
1. Jarvis was not given any charges in writing.
2. His accusers made the vaguest charges without any substantiation.
3. No witnesses were brought against Jarvis.
4. Jarvis was not allowed to make a decent defense in the executive. He was allowed to speak, but once and then briefly and was often interrupted. When he had finished, he was not allowed to answer entirely different charges, which were brought against him after he had spoken.
5. The charges were of an extremely trivial character such as, “Jarvis made too many points of order”, etc., etc., which no responsible labor organization would have permitted to be made against a member.
6. The record of fellow worker Jarvis was not allowed the slightest consideration.
7. The union did not even form a special trial committee such as exists in all other labor organizations, which committees are made up of impartial fellow members of the union, but the very political opponents of Jarvis became his judges. Accusers and judges were one. Not even the most reactionary organizations in the labor movement permit such a procedure.
The members if the Artists Union should know that to expel a member from a union means that this worker has no longer any adequate protection from being fired. It means that the worker becomes an outcast among his fellow members. It means that a black stigma is placed upon his name and record before all other union men. For a real union man such action by a union is a terrible disgrace.
A genuine union must take in all the workers of the trade or industry. Only when a man is a scab or a rat, an agent provocateur, a strike-breaker, an agent of the government or employer, should he be expelled. Otherwise the union begins to discredit itself and can no longer have the confidence of the workers. To take a good union man, an active militant fighter, and throw him out of the union for the reasons given Jarvis is a positively scandalous situation that demands the most serious consideration on the part of all the members of the union.
The Real Reasons for the Expulsion of George Jarvis from the Artist Union.
The real reason for the expulsion of fellow worker, Jarvis, is that he has been an advocate of real militant struggle for the union, while the executive committee is run entirely by members and sympathizers of the Communist Party, who, under the secret conniving of the Communist Party, are gradually transforming the Artists Union into a government or company union.
Let us recall the following class collaboration gem from the #1262 Bulletin put out by these same Communist Party members: “We expect all workers on #1262 to conscientiously perform all their duties to the best of their ability and to be alert for opportunities to extend the usefulness of the project". So, under the leadership of the Communist Party working hand in glove with Roosevelt, the union has become a speed up agent to speed up and drive the artists to harder and harder work. This is the kind of a statement that we expect from a COMPANY UNION OR A GOVERNMENT UNION but not from a workers’ union.
At the same time there is no firm, vigorous demand for a prevailing rate of pay. The Communist Party members have been quite satisfied with the miserable conditions that the projects have enforced for the mass of workers. During the period when the AFL unions struck for prevailing rates of pay, the Artist Union Communist Party officials went right ahead and worked their heads off, “conscientiously… alert for opportunities to extend the usefulness of the project”, and transforming the members of the Artists Union into unwilling scabs on the job.
It was fellow worker Jarvis who pushed forward the motion to instruct the Artists Union delegates on the CPC to urge a referendum of all project workers for a general strike to support the demand for reinstatement of the 700 Educational Project Workers, who had already been fired. It was the Communist Party fraction that immediately ruled the matter was “out of order". At the same time, we have the scandal of an Artist Union member, Charles Mattex, who is part of the supervising staff of the Federal Art Project, bringing up another member of the Artists Union on charges before the project 1262 executive board for “experimenting and not doing his best work". Such a rat is a member of the Artists Union in good standing, but militant fellow worker, George Jarvis, is expelled.
We wish to warn the members of the union that the Communist Party, which has made its peace with the bosses and government forces of America, in leading the organization into the swamp of company unionism. The posters of the Communist Party affairs are sprinkled all over the meeting halls. There is every indication that the Communist Party wishes to make the union merely another auxiliary to its own aims and to make coolies of the workers of the Artists Union.
It is this same Communist Party that advocates building up the French Army and the British Navy. It is this same Party that calls for military sanctions in the coming war. It is this same Party that, through the Litvinoff-Roosevelt Pact is tying the workers to the government closer and closer. It is this same Party that whoops it up for 100% Americanism and urges the workers to shoot down the workers of another country and support the capitalist governments at home (U.S., France, etc.).
The Communist party clique does not wish to discuss these crimes. It calls them “politics” and hollers, “No politics in the union". Every faker, who wants to put something over on the workers does the same thing. At the same time, their Communist Party posters are everywhere and they themselves in the stealth of the night put over their own nice little “political” schemes and shady deals.
The expulsion of fellow worker, Jarvis, plays right into the hands of the reactionaries, the Fascists and the employers. It means that the Communist Party now is going to work hand in glove with the other labor fakers to expel the militants from the unions. The Communist Party clique is not above printing the expulsion of Jarvis, thus giving his name to the authorities and seeing that he is fired.
Fellow workers, the case of George Jarvis is not an isolated incident. Behind the expulsion lies the great question: Which way for the Artists Union, union of the workers for struggle for better conditions against the capitalists and the Roosevelt regime, or Company-Government Union? We call on you to reverse the shameful decision of expelling fellow worker Jarvis and reinstate him honorably into the ranks of the union. We call on the members to throw out the petty Stalinist Party clique that now chokes the union to death.
PROGRESSIVE GROUP, ARTISTS UNION,
Vincent O. Icelari, Secretary
133 Second Av, N.Y.C., Room 24
OPEN STATEMENT TO THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE WORKERS ALLIANCE OF AMERICA
At the National Convention held in Washington, March 2-4, 1935—which created the Workers Alliance of America, the Militant Action Committee of the W.A.G.N.Y. then presented the following program:
1. Unification of the W.A.A. with the National Unemployed league and the National Unemployment Councils and all other unemployed organizations into one body with a common class struggle program.
2. The raising of the slogan of a ONE DAY GENERAL STRIKE FOR ADEQUATE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE.
3. The organization of physical defense bodies including both Negro and white poor tenant and cropper farmers, but made up mainly of white and colored workers, to check the lynching of the Negroes and white toilers in the South and everywhere that lynching is a menace to the labor covenant.
4. The fight for WORKERS CONTROL OVER PRODUCTION—the opening of the warehouses to the hungry and the factories to the unemployed.
To the July, 1935 Convention of the W.A.G.N.Y., and again in the August WPA strike in New York City, we proposed that the New York City organization recommend to the N.E.B.that:
5. The Workers Alliance of America organize the project workers into a National Project Workers Industrial Union affiliated with both the W.A.A. and the organized labor movement.
These five basic points have become more necessary to be carried out today than ever before and the recent events have completely proved the minimum of the progress of the Militant Action Committee. The failure of the W.A.A. to take in large numbers of project workers has proven that the only way to win these workers is not through the locals of the W.A.A., but through the formation of a regular National Industrial Union of project workers. These project workers are more than ready for such an organization as the project strikes in many parts of the country—some of them general strikes—simply testify. THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE BOARD AT THIS SESSION MUST TAKE UP SERIOUSLY THE FORMATION OF A NATIONAL PROJECT WORKERS INDUSTRIAL UNION. This is the crying need of the hour for the 3,500,000 workers or so, reputed to be on the relief jobs of the government.
Instead of raising the demand for Workers Control of Production, the N.E.B. has tied the unemployed workers to the relief machinery of the capitalist government, exactly what the Militant Action Committee feared it would do. The capitalist Roosevelt regime is boasted as a “constructive” agency and the workers’ attention is turned away from the legitimate demand to take over the factories, which have locked them out and to run the factories for the interests of the workers. This N.E.B. policy only leads to such foolish slogans as “Shoot Us or Feed Us”, (demand of Illinois Workers Alliance under Gerry Allard), and “Make the Projects Permanent”, (although the projects have nothing constructive about them and the workers are really put to work on what amounts to war preparations).
All this only serves to make secondary the question of conditions on the job and has taken the place of vigorous strikes for prevailing rates of pay. And instead of a militant struggle for adequate unemployment insurance this whole question has been allowed to drop.
The Washington Convention voted to open the negotiations with the N.U.L. and the N.U.C. and instructed the N.E.B. to do so. Instead the N.E.B. first met, not to join hands with the other unemployed organizations, but to reject the offers of unity made by them. We demand that the N.E.B. carry out the will of the membership and form one unemployed workers organization throughout the country without further delay.
At the Washington Convention there was great enthusiasm for the resolution of the Militant Action Committee on the question of physical defense against lynching, especially in the South. This resolution was referred to the N.E.B. for action. Instead of action, nothing whatever was done, to our knowledge, Hilliard Bernstein, Virginia organizer of the Workers Alliance, has been forced to go around with an armed body guard, as we are informed, to protect himself from the constant fear of lynching. In Tampa, Florida, three Southern organizers of the Workers Alliance have actually been lynched, one, Joseph Shoemaker, being murdered. Yet the N.E.B. has steadily sabotaged, so far as we can infer, the formation of such Negro and white physical defense groups.
Going further in the wrong direction, the Workers Alliance of America has actually organized Jim Crow locals in the South. In the very city of Tampa, according to reports, the Negroes do not meet with the whites and the two groups are segregated in mass meetings. This is a scandalous situation that plays right into the hands of the lynchers and the Ku Klux Klan.
The Militant Action Committee calls for an end to this intolerable Jim Crow policy of the N.E.B. and for the carrying out of the left wing resolution put forth at the Washington Convention.
LEON TROTSKY—WRONG AGAIN
In his article on “Sectarianism, Centrism and the Fourth International,” in a recent issue of the New Militant, Trotsky honors the Communist League of Struggle with a brief analysis of our tendency as one of the sectarians. He shows here the same inability to apply his own teachings that he showed in 1934, when he made a correct, even brilliant analysis of Centrism and then turned right around and proceeded to fuse his organization with the very Centrists whose bankruptcy he himself had exposed.
The description of sectarianism is in the main correct. We must disagree, however, with one very important point, namely the idea that every faction during its initial stages must go through a period of “pure” propaganda, i.e., the training of cadres. “Pure” propaganda, without participation in concrete struggle, will neither train cadres nor will it win that confidence among the workers, which lays the basis for the building of the party later. This point was the chief bone of contention between our group and the old Cannon group, in which we were overwhelmingly correct in our struggle for the united front and “mass work” against Cannon’s sectarian fear of “going against the party". Trotsky here shows his own deep rooted sectarianism. Yet we can say that in the main his description of sectarianism is not a bad one.
But when it comes to applying his own theories and proving that “Weisbord” is a sectarian, there is not a shred of connection between Trotsky’s own analysis and the remarks he has to make about us. There is rather the evidence of what he calls, “The constant irritability of the sectarian” at the disintegration of his own movement. The whole history of the C.L.S. so far proves that whatever else we may be, “sectarians” cannot be applied to us.
“To the sectarian”, says Trotsky very correctly, “Discussion is a goal in itself. However, the more that he discusses, all the more do the actual tasks escape him.” There is no group we know which in any way measures up to the C.L.S. in its efforts to fight the tendency merely to discuss. Those whom we have expelled from our ranks for no other reason than because they wanted only to discuss and refused to engage in the concrete tasks of the group or in the day-to-day class struggle, can give a very different account of us.
From the very first month of our existence as a group, while keeping up a steady stream of propaganda in the shape of lectures, classes, pamphlets and our paper the Class Struggle, we have constantly participated in united front work, in work in the mass organizations (unions and unemployed groups) and even in independent organization of the unorganized, straining our limited power to the utmost. We maintained a fraction in the Unemployed Councils until our members were expelled by Stalinist maneuvers (in fact we lost a member through death as a result of the Washington Hunger March in 1932) and since then our comrades have worked actively in the Workers Alliance.
In New Jersey, it was in active participation in struggle among the unemployed that our comrade, Sam Fisher perished. Is this the record of a sectarian group? We do not mention the previous history of the leading members of our group, which was always a record of participation in mass struggle. Trotsky himself admitted in 1932 in advocating a “bridge” between the C.L.S. and the Cannon group that we had a contribution to make in mass work.
Finally, what kind of a sectarian group is it that is moving its national headquarters to Chicago, as we are doing, in order to be in close touch with the workers of the basic industries, and with that section of the country in which it seems likely the fiercest class battles will burst forth? Every step of our life as a group refutes the charge. Is it an accident that the Nazi paper the “National American” singles out our group and mentions our forum at the Labor Temple in its efforts to “put the finger on” dangerous radical groups?
But while Trotsky fails completely to prove our sectarianism, by his article as well as the history of his grouping, he proves his own sectarianism to the hilt. We do not speak here of the Trotsky of the Petersburg Soviet days, nor of the Commander of the Red Army. These days are far behind us. Nor are we interested in psychoanalyzing the causes of his personal deterioration. The working class wants to know whom to follow and upon whom to turn its back. That is all.
“As a rule life passes him by without noticing him, but now and then he receives in passing a fillip that makes him turn 180 degrees around his axis.” What does this describe if not Trotsky, himself, turning his back on all his own teachings on the independence of the party and fusing with the Centrists? Under the gesture of “reaching the masses” the “Bolshevik- Leninists” of all countries confessed that their sectarian past had cut them off from the possibility of reaching the masses on their own account. The theory of the “pure propaganda period” had so poisoned the whole outlook and approach of these groups that any really healthy tendency had to break from them.
In no country did this movement ever take root, due to the fact that it remained always a covenant of negative criticism rather than a movement tackling and solving the actual problems of the workers. Add to this the maneuvers, intrigues and hysteria which Trotsky describes as the sectarian substitute for analysis of reality and which exactly describes the life of his International Secretariat and we see Trotsky’s movement in life carrying out everything he condemns.
P.S. In one point we agree with Trotsky. Field is certainly a “bourgeois radical.” But we have wasted too much time on that subject already.
WITH THE TAXICAB DRIVERS
A situation has arisen in the taxicab industry, which may yet come to bedevil the corrupt and servile leadership of the union. After a long period of collaboration marked by indifference to the needs of the men the officials are faced with a prospect they dread. A second strike only a short period after the first has taken place in “Mama” Cohen’s garage and the implications may be such that the entire industry will be thrown into convulsions. But in order to understand the situation a few facts on the history of the preceding events would be in order.
About two months ago or so, when the first strike was called in Cohen’s garage because of intolerable conditions, a similar battle was being carried on against Marshall’s garage. While the strike was on, the fleet owners supported by General Motors decided on a bold and decisive move. They were going to dispatch their cabs through some of their brother fleet owners, who were not on strike. Cars were shipped wholesale to Benny Gold’s, to Rosenthal’s, etc., and the result was that at times, union members in these garages were operating scab cars. The bureaucrats of the union bewildered by such an audacious move were frantic. To pursue a militant policy was against the grain of these individuals. Their servility, inspired the bosses to more resolute action. Not only would the owners send scab cars out, but a studied effort was made to smash the union. Not only were union members discriminated against in certain garages, but tons of leaflets were printed and distributed in all garages counselling the men not to job the union. The bosses brought in large numbers of Negroes as strike breakers among the whites, who before had been segregated, only working in certain garages.
The situation had grown progressively worse and rumblings of discontent were manifest amongst the drivers. Drivers resented the dilatory policy of the union officials and in Benny Gold’s garage over 100 men spontaneously and against the advice of the shop delegate refused to take out cars until the question of scab cars were decided once and for all on the spot. The shop delegate after a conference of about 20 minutes with the boss came out and reported that Marshall had signed up to the satisfaction of the union and Cohens had entered into negotiations with the union. With that he ordered the men back to work. It was later proven that Cohen had never settled and such action caused demoralization amongst the strikers and forced them back to work with no concessions gained. This move on the part of the delegate served to add fuel to an already deep burning resentment amongst the men. Eventually the union officials had to call a mass meeting at Palm Garden to account for their actions.
The men assembled in thousands at 3a.m. on a Saturday morning, coming from all sections of New York. As one hackie expressed it: “The coffee pots were deserted". All drivers arrived imbued with the spirit of “Strike at all costs". Not since the last strike were the hackmen as enthusiastic about fighting for better conditions. But a strike was not to be. After the first five minutes of speech making by President Canazeri, the boys knew what was in store for them. Official after official paraded on the platform and cautioned the men against any effective struggle. A strike, they counseled, was premature. Let’s use strategy, bide our time, etc.
By this time, it seemed that the cabbies were pretty much fed up with this sort of tommy-rot. Grumblings were heard throughout the hall. The crowd became unruly. Someone from the audience called for “Communist”, Sam Orner, to be given the platform and immediately the crowd joined in. The chairman, Canezari rushed to the head of the stage and in a thunderous voice challenged the workers as to who’s boss, “I’ll put Sam Orner on when I damn please, and don’t think you guys can give me any orders.” But even tough guy, Causzeri had to make way for the will of the men, there was no question the men were determined to hear Sam Orner and so it was.
A leader in the last taxicab strike, Orner was a symbol of struggle and fight. To say the least, the men expected to hear a talk and how to counteract the scab maneuvers of the bosses. Instead, the Stalinist Orner preached subservience to the corrupt union officials and have a long winded speech on why a strike at this time is not feasible. By this time, the men were leaving the hall in droves. It was a clear rebuke to scoundrel leadership.
So, I say, the second strike, called in Cohen’s garage recently may have such implications that the bureaucracy against their will may be forced to take action that will in turn, doom them.
Counterpoised to the program of the officials of the union, the progressive element within the union calls for a set of immediate demands, including: 1. Minimum wage scale of $30 a week; 2. Abolition of the blacklist; 3. No discrimination against Negroes; 4. Expenses for the extras who are forced to hang around garages and don’t receive work. 5. Recognition of the union.