Volume 3 Number 8 …………………….. August 1933
Table of Contents:
1. Roosevelt and Labor’s Misleaders— Vera Buch
2. To Defend the Trade Unions Conference— Jack Bauer
3. Bonapartism in the Roosevelt Regime— Albert Weisbord
4. International Notes (Austria, Soviet Union, France, Chaco)
5. The White Terror in Cuba— Albert Weisbord
6. The Negro Church and the Communist Movement— Philip Lewis
7. C.L.S. Ousted from Unemployed Council—Sam Fischer
ROOSEVELT AND LABOR’S MISLEADERS
The American workers are meeting the New Deal with a wave of strikes. The sufferings of the last few years and the threat of worse to come are bearing fruit in the shape of thousands of miners on strike in Pennsylvania, thousands of textile workers out in Reading, Philadelphia, Paterson, and elsewhere, shoe and rubber workers in Massachusetts, etc. Some of the strikes are spontaneous, some are led by the AFL or other conservative unions, some by the TUUL. Altogether a wide range of industries is embraced. But labor’s “leaders” from the AFL to the Communist Party are collapsing before the test of the present moment. There is no effective. scientific leadership of the workers in this critical hour.
As regards the interpretation of the National Recovery Act, the predominant union attitude is that the New Deal gives a wonderful opportunity to organize. Some labor papers actually hail it with exultation. Says an editorial in the Federation News of August 5th (Chicago Federation of Labor): “Like a beneficent storm, sweeping over the landscape with a refreshing effect, the National Recovery Administration moves its forces faster and faster into motion"…."Now comes the Blanket Code to lift almost in a day the whole level of living.” (!)
The Advance of June, 1933 (Amalgamated Clothing Workers) states as follows: “The law holds out to the workers in this country a great, in fact, an unprecedented reward if they will use their native intelligence, energy and militancy to improve their conditions and to create powerful organizations. The law does not provide for punishment of the workers, if they fail to use the opportunity, but the punishment will not fail to follow. And labor will have no one, but its own incapacities to blame for its failure to make the most of an historic occasion.”
And last but not least, the Progressive Miner, in an editorial of July 21st: “The real test of the American working men and women is at hand, with the passing of the “National Recovery Act". The American working men and women have achieved a long sought goal (our emphasis V.B.) one for which thousands have died without reaching. This achievement is the “Right to organize in organizations of the individual’s own choosing” free from intimidation or coercion from anyone or anything. And this right guaranteed and protected by the powers of the Federal Government.” Those, who have wondered what course the “Progressive” Miners Union, under its Socialist and Musteite leadership would take, can find the answer here. This misleadership is all the more dangerous in that it offers itself as an opposition to the AFL, claims to be forging new paths, etc. Other labor papers, while not openly praising the Recovery Act, at any rate take no positive stand of resistance against it; a mild warning to organize or “the bogey man will get you” is the general reaction.
The treachery to the workers in this stand lies in the failure to point out that if organization is permitted, it is only in such unions as support the administration in its no-strike, class- collaboration policy. The treachery lies in the failure to point out that under the New Deal strikes are outlawed. The Act itself, in making the Labor Codes subject to the approval of the Government, practically accomplished this. But now assurance is made doubly sure by the establishment of the Federal Mediation Board. Is anyone so blind as to think there can be effective union organization without strikes? What other weapon has the worker to enforce the preservation of or to increase the value of his labor power?
The question arises, what then is the significance of the recent activity of the AFL and other conservative unions? Shall we see a strong conservative labor movement again built up? The question is already answered. Bound hand and foot to the government through participation in Federal Labor and Mediation Boards, committed to the policy of class collaboration; pledged to prevent strikes, the AFL and other conservative unions can only become even more effective agents of the employers than before. The present union “drive” which has resulted in a sudden gain in membership in the “International” unions represents an attempt at self preservation on the part of the bureaucrats. Union treasuries are depleted. The skilled workers of the craft unions, hard hit by unemployment, are no longer the reliable milch cows they formerly were for the pockets of their officials. Now new initiation fees and dues will be collected, the bureaucrats will obtain a new lease on life. Under the pressure of necessity, they are even turning to industrial unionism, and are talking of organizing “Federal” unions in the big unorganized industries. But the mass of unskilled workers, under the terrible conditions which will result when the NRA really gets into operation with its accompanying rise of prices, cannot long remain in organizations which can be no more than dues—collecting agencies and sell out centers for support of the government.
For those who need proof, events that are happening under our very noses are showing in a glaring light that the AFL is still the AFL. The “general silk strike”, which (according to the newspapers) the United Textile Workers talked of for Paterson and other silk centers has proved to be simply a fade out. Evidently the Musteites, who have influence in Paterson, were not anxious for this strike. The sell out of the soft coal miners of Pennsylvania, whose strike is a protest against the new labor code, simply caps the climax to the long black record of the Lewis machine as agents of the coal operators. Coming as it does at this crucial moment when the miners, the vanguard of the working class are setting the example of struggle, this betrayal takes on a particularly vile significance.
If we ask, why is it that workers like the miners of Fayette County who were among those betrayed by John L. Lewis in the strike of 1932, can now turn again to such treacherous leadership, we must point out the collapse of the TUUL as an explanation. The almost non-existence of the National Miners Union, the National Textile Union and the other Red union leaves the workers so helpless that they are compelled to accept the most reactionary leadership. The TUUL can still enter a situation to give out a leaflet as in Payette Co. It can still occasionally “lead” a strike, with such results that the workers afterward turn to the reformists as in the Auto strike of last winter in Detroit, where the Briggs workers left the Red union to join the AFL, and in the recent laundry strike in New York, where as the result of the TUUL’s wretched failure two laundries, which has participated in the strike, have joined the AFL and others are considering a similar step.
In the political field, the guidance given the workers is not better. The Socialist Party is spreading the illusion that the New Deal offers an opportunity to the workers if only they will be sensible and make use of it. The New Leader of July 29th declares: “Never were the people faced with a clearer issue. Never did they have a greater opportunity, a graver responsibility to the future…They have the votes to win any New Deal they want at the elections. They have the numbers, IF THEY UTILIZE THE OPPORTUNITY GIVEN THEM BY THE NEW DEAL to build themselves into a mighty force to meet the menace that faces them, and make a New World rather than a “New Deal".
It is only in the Communist ranks that a clear cut denunciation of the “Slavery” act is sounded, and a call to battle given. But even here there is no potentiality of the leadership the workers need. Had the Party a correctpolicy now, notwithstanding its weaknesses and failures in the past, it could now rally the workers. But the Party cannot have a correct policy. The very first step in combatting the Recovery Act consisted in excluding all political organizations, including itself, from the “trade unions” conference, (with 10 AFL locals present) which was supposed to undertake the struggle. The Party’s first step was to commit suicide. At a time when unity is more than ever necessary for the workers, the party is continuing its disruptive tactics. All members of the Communist League of Struggle have been expelled from the Unemployed Councils and those in other organizations dominated by the Party, have been threatened as a result of the statement the C.L.S. issued as the “yellow opportunism” of the Party in the above named conference. The Party continues to sabotage the slogan of a General Strike first raised as the C.L.S. Last winter as a rallying point for the unemployed and actually accepted by the Party at the Albany Conference of the unemployed. This slogan at the present time is a crying necessity to spread, unify and connect the strike struggles, which are meeting the New Deal, and for the more bitter struggles which are to come.
The party has signally failed to analyze correctly the new turn of the Roosevelt administration. It is plain that the errors made in Germany have not profoundly influenced the party, for we see here an underestimation of the sharpness and seriousness of the turn the country is making, in the direction of Fascism. (Since Hoover was already a “Fascist”, according to C.P. definition, an accurate estimation of Roosevelt is not to be expected.) No thesis has been published analyzing the new turn. Nor have the other Communist groups done better. An article by Will Herbert in the Workers’ Age of August 1st concludes very definitely that we have not Fascism or are we on the road towards Fascism. “As elsewhere”, declares Herbert, “The special form of Socialist demagogy of the American Fascist movement will arise out of the specific historical development of this country. I may venture to suggest that it will assume the aspects of a peculiarly populist brand of “Socialism” that has such roots in the United States.” In other circles there is talk of a system of state socialism like the benevolent despotism of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth century kings, and comparisons with France of the Third Republic, etc. These comrades, it seems, are not living in the world in which we live, nor in the America in which we live, the America of sharpening class lines, the world of universal capitalist crisis and approaching world conflict. They do not see the helplessness of the employing class and the need for drastic action to maintain profits; they do not see the growing radicalization of the workers and the potential dangers which lurk therein to the employing class. The new storms, which soon must break, must submerge these groups unless they learn better to pilot themselves in the rapidly changing situation. V.B.
THE “DEFEND THE TRADE UNIONS” CONFERENCE
On July 15th the Communist Party called a Conference for the Defense of the Trade Unions, in Webster Hall. The Communist League of Struggle came well prepared for this conference. For the first time in our history we were able to get a bloc of eight delegates. These delegates were the result of the activity of the C.L.S. in mass organizations. They represented the Brooklyn Executive, Steel and Metal Workers Industrial Union, 5th and 6th Street Block Assembly affiliated with the Unemployed Councils, German Workers Club, Militant Youth Club and the Communist League of Struggle. A forcible three page statement was put out to all the delegates analyzing the crisis in the Trade Union movement, the crime and blunders of both the American Federation of Labor and Communist Party misleaders and giving a program of action. This statement was kept by and made a deep impression upon those present. Over 900 delegates and about 1000 visitors attended the conference.
Severino, a Communist Party member, was elected chairman. In his opening remarks, he stated that the difference between Hoover and Roosevelt is the difference between tweedle-dum and tweedle- dee, and that the purpose of the conference was to organize the workers to fight the capitalists.
Bauer, a delegate from the 5th and 6th Street Block Assembly, was nominated for the Resolutions Committee, but the nomination was ignored. However, we were so persistent that the chairman finally was forced to recognize and accept the nomination to the accompaniment of applause from the audience.
June Croll, one of the speakers for the National Textile Workers Union, attacked the textile code. She became particularly indignant over the fact that it did not provide for a minimum work week of about 30 or 35 hours and heatedly took the stand in favor of fighting for such a provision.
At the Resolutions Committee meeting there were ten obvious party members or close sympathizers besides Bauer. A chairman was elected. The motion was to read the resolution presented by the organizers of the conference, allow five minutes (in all) for discussion and then vote to accept or reject it. Bauer pointed out the unfairness of such procedure and after great difficulty, prevailed upon them to read all the resolutions presented and then discuss and vote. There were only two resolutions presented: That of the Communist Party members and our own. The others were just appendage resolutions presented by Communist Party affiliates like the Unemployed Council and the Furriers’ Union.
There was little time for discussion. We were continually receiving messages from above that the conference was anxiously waiting for our resolution and to hurry up. At one time we received the report that the Communist League of Struggle delegates had been barred from the conference because they represented a political organization. So the Communist Party had actually degenerated to the point where it could rule that politics had no place in a defense of the trade unions, that we are “to organize the workers to fight capitalism”, without political organizations!
Meanwhile, in the conference itself, after the delegates had listened to many speeches, the Credentials Committee made its report to seat all but “four delegates from the Communist Party, ten from the Y.C.L. and three from the Communist League of Struggle.” The reason given was that the workers want to get somewhere and political organizations would only quarrel and get nowhere!
We cannot believe that the Communist Party and Y.C.L. actually did have delegates there for they had evidently decided beforehand not to end any. But it was this subterfuge that was used to kick out the C.L.S. delegates. In order to do so, all the Party members decided to kick out the C.P. and Y.C.L. from the conference. Several records in yellow opportunism were thereby broken: This was the first time the theory was raised by communists that the C.P. had no place in a workers’ conference. It was the first time the C.P. had called a conference and excluded all political organizations including itself. It was the first time the C.P. confessed that it could not fight the Fascist moves of Roosevelt and the actions of the government.
Let us return to the proceedings of the Resolutions Committee. The C.P. resolution was vague, ineffectual and opportunistic. Comrade Bauer attacked it on the following grounds: First of all, it mentioned the United Front and then went on to speak of workers and rank and file getting together. In other words, there was still no definite proposal of a real united front, organization with organization. The C.P. has learned nothing from the criminal blunders of the past and does not really mean United Front when it says so.
Then he bitterly attacked the suggested provision for the Textile Code, demanding a guarantee of at least 30 hours of work a week. Since when do Communists ask for work? Marx denounced Proudhorn for this over three-quarters of a century ago. We must demand a minimum wage and maximum hours, but not that the workers must sweat “not less” than 30 or 40 or any number of hours.
The C.P. resolution failed to analyze the nature of the Roosevelt regime as one having Fascist germs and tendencies. Finally, instead of preparing for a general strike of limited duration to compel social and unemployment insurance, it contented itself with sterile calls for more conferences, educational committees, issuing more leaflets, etc. Discussion was cut very short and their resolution railroaded through by a vote of ten to one. Comrade Bauer demanded the right to make a minority report, but did not even get a second to his motion and was given to understand that he could present his minority resolution, only if recognized from the floor by the chairman.
After the main resolution was read, Bauer got up and demanded the right to read the minority report. This threw the conference into a turmoil. The party bureaucrats raised one loud objection after another, but the chairman finally ruled that the minority resolution could be read.
Bauer was given the platform and presented the only minority report of the conference. (The Cannon group, Lovestoneites, etc. were not represented). First of all he proceeded to attack the main resolution on the grounds that it contained no careful analysis of the Roosevelt government and put forth no definite program of action. He was cut short in this, however, by persistent howling from the opposition and the chairman ordered him to read the resolution.
Our resolution put forth the following militant program of action: Vigorous united struggles must be made against the new Fascist tendencies of Roosevelt.
1. Broad united fronts must be established, which will take in all the trade unions of the country. Every effort must be made to draw in the AFL and the Socialist locals and general organizations and see to it that they are given a place within any united front conference that is commensurate with their influence within the labor movement as a whole.
2. A militant aggressive strike policy must be started against the sweatshop, price fixing, compulsory arbitration moves of the government.
3. Now, more than ever, must there be created a strong and real connection between the employed and the unemployed and the trade unions mobilize the unemployed. The slogans must be raised: End the Lockout of Unemployment—Open the Factories to the Unemployed—Open the Warehouses to the Hungry—Annihilate the Sweatshop System now sponsored by the Government!
4. Finally, the labor movement must put forth a gigantic effort to prepare for a GENERAL STRIKE OF LIMITED DURATION, to compel social and unemployment insurance, to smash the Industrial Recovery Law, and the Fascist moves of Roosevelt.
Applause, especially from the visitors, followed the reading of the resolution. But no discussion was allowed and the main resolution was hurriedly passed. When one of the delegates nominated Bauer for the permanent executive committee the chairman completely disregarded the nomination.
At the end of the conference, we distributed a leaflet charging the Communist Party with yellow Opportunism. How else can we describe a party, which organizes a conference to fight the National Industrial Recovery Act—a political measure—and in this conference declares that all Communist organizations must be expelled and must not be allowed to take part in the conference?
The whole affair was just another bureaucratic—thight—compartment, a united front conference with only ten locals of the AFL present! Comrade Weisbord offered to lead the discussion on the Textile Code and was barred from the conference. They railroaded through a resolution, which stressed “at least 30 hours” of work a week and provided for fighting capitalism by working out a bill, calling conferences, organizing educational committees by issuing leaflets… and to make their fight all the more effective, no political organizations are to take part! Trotsky is certainly correct when he calls the American Communist Party the most stupid party in the Comintern. As an international and as an American revolutionary tendency , Stalinism is dead. J.B.
Editor’s Note: Three documents were presented to the delegates of the “Defend the Trade Union” Conference. The first was a three page statement signed by eight delegates, the second a resolution to the conference, the third a statement issued as the delegates were leaving the hall. As the first two overlapped, we are printing them together as one, leaving out redundant parts:
STATEMENT AND RESOLUTION TO THE CONFERENCE
President Roosevelt has declared the country is in a state similar to that of war. He is at war—against the working class and the organized trade union movement. For four years the capitalists of America have tried to get out of the crisis by “peaceful” “Democratic”, and “Ordinary” methods. Now they are going to try “extraordinary” methods, methods that tend towards Fascism.
In preparing for further Fascist measures, Roosevelt is spreading the myth that he is the “strong man”, who can stand above all classes and represent the nation as a whole. As a matter of fact, Roosevelt is laying the base of Bonapartism, as a step forward for Fascism.
As a part of this tendency the government is directly entering into industry in a thousand ways, the most important being the measures in the National Industrial Recover Act. But as Roosevelt tries to organize capitalism, he only brings it to a head, and bringing it to a head, it topples over.
From now on every struggle against the factory owner becomes a struggle against the government. Every economic strike now must take on a strong political character. The chief enemy now becomes the government and the unions must engage further in political struggles.
THE CRIMES AND BLUNDERS OF THE TRADE UNION LEADERSHIP
What is urgently needed at the present time is a searching analysis of the situation and an adequate militant program of action. First of all, it must be acknowledged that the crisis found the trade union movement unprepared and if Roosevelt is now raining new blows on the head of Labor, it is partly due to the terrible weakness of the trade union movement.
However, it must be said, that it was the officials of the conservative trade union movement, who helped to weaken the unions and to demoralize them in every possible way. These officials entered into the infamous “Anti-Strike” Pact with Hoover. They submitted to wage cut after wage cut, without the slightest resistance. They made no real effort to stop the rapid withering away of the AFL organizations. They allowed the trade unions more and more to become company unionized and racketeer controlled. It is natural, therefore, that the AFL should now be but a shadow of its former self.
The blunders of the Communists in the trade union field also greatly weakened the movement. The theory was put forth that the AFL was a Fascist organization and must be destroyed rather than won over. Foolish splits took place where the Communists took only a handful out and organized paper unions with them. But worst of all, the “Red” unions were often no better than the AFL itself. A stifling bureaucracy has been built up within the new unions. Many unions have been transformed into another edition of the Communist Party. All those, who disagree with the Communist Party are treated brutally and disloyally. Well known strike leaders have been expelled under most outrageous frame ups and without a trial. Members of the Communist League of Struggle have been expelled from the Marine Workers Industrial Union by physical force and the same story can be told by members of other organizations as well.
With such a policy the new unions, which in many instances, have a great opportunity for doing something valuable, not only become very ineffective, but with their false policy of “united front only from below”, actually aided the conservative misleaders to split the ranks of the working class and prevented all genuine united fronts from being established for years. We wish to declare openly that it was the terrible crimes of the trade union bureaucrats aided as they were by the false actions of the Socialist Party, the Muste and Lovestone groups, on the one hand, and the blunders of the Communists on the other hand, that has led to such a crisis in the trade union movement as it faces at the present time.
A MILITANT PROGRAM OF ACTION
In view of the above situation we, the undersigned bona-fide delegates to the present conference to Defend the Trade Unions, hereby present the following RESOLUTION ON A MILITANT PROGRAM OF ACTION:
1. Vigorous united struggles must be made against the new fascist tendencies of Roosevelt. We have now, both the opportunity and the clear necessity. Broad united fronts must be established, which will take in all the trade unions of the country. Every effort must be made to draw in the AFL, and the Socialist locals and general organizations and to see to it that they are given a place within any united front conference that is commensurate with their influence within the labor movement as a whole. With such a policy, many unions and organizations may be induced to begin a real united struggle. Up to now the conferences called, have been perfect examples of HOW NOT TO RUN A CONFERENCE AND HAVE BEEN AMPLE PROOF THAT THOSE, WHO CALL SUCH UNITED FRONT CONFERENCES, do not mean what they say.
2. A militant aggressive strike policy must be started against the sweatshop, price fixing, compulsory arbitration moves of the government. The trade unions must be organized into united bodies so that a joint campaign can be made, joint strikes conducted, a united front presented to the government, joint action taken for the organization of the unorganized and for the mobilization of the unemployed.
3. Now more than ever must there be created a strong and real connection between the employed and the unemployed and the trade unions mobilize the unemployed. The slogans must be raised: End the Lockout of unemployment—Open the Factories to the Unemployed --Open the Warehouses to the Hungry—Annihilate the Sweatshop System now sponsored by the Government! Union centers must be opened for the unemployed. The unemployed must be taken directly into the unions. The closest connections must be made between the unions and the various unemployed organizations.
4. Finally, the labor movement must put forth gigantic effort to prepare for a GENERAL STRIKE OF LIMITED DURATION, to compel social and unemployment insurance, to smash the Industrial Recovery Law, and the Fascist Moves of Roosevelt. This is the slogan and the tactic of the hour. It can be done. It must be done. This conference must go forth, pledged to the raising of the slogan of the General Strike of limited duration (say one day or so, both locally and nationally) and for its organization and preparation.
This resolution is submitted by the following delegates:
Fred C. Browner, Brooklyn Steel and Metal Workers Industrial Union-TUUL
Jack Bauer, Philip Lewis, Unemployed Councils 5th & 6th Street Block Assembly
Walter Mareik, German Workers Club
Ben Klein, Sylvia Freeman, Militant Youth Club
Henry Weser, Albert Weisbord, Sam Fisher (alternate), Communist League of Struggle
FELLOW DELEGATES TO THE CONFERENCE TO SAVE THE TRADE UNION!
WE CHARGE THE COMMUNIST PARTY WITH YELLOW OPPORTUNISM!
President Roosevelt is smashing the trade unions, outlawing strikes and setting up the machinery of Fascism. More than ever before in the history of this country from now on all economic strikes will tend to be political in character. From now on strikes will be not only against the bosses but against the Roosevelt codes, against the government.
At this very time the Communist party organizes a conference to fight the National Industrial Recovery Act—a political measure—and in this conference declares that all Communist organizations must be expelled and must not be allowed to take part in the conference. Not even a word of discussion was allowed from the floor.
Comrades, in this way the Communist Party commits suicide. It shows the workers that they can expect nothing from the Communist Party in their real every day struggles against the growing Fascist tendencies. JUST AS THE GERMAN COMMUNIST PARTY UNDER STALIN SHOWED THAT IT DID NOT KNOW HOW TO FIGHT FASCISM, SO THE AMERICAN COMMUNIST PARTY DEMONSTRATED IT TODAY TO ALL THE WORKERS PRESENT BY DECLARING THAT THE STRUGGLE AGAINST ROOSEVELT"S FASCIST TENDENCIES IS NOT A POLITICAL STRUGGLE, BUT ONE FOR THE TRADE UNIONS AND FRATERNAL CLUBS TO HANDLE. And this at a conference that had ten locals of the AFL present. Ten locals! Can we not see that as an American revolutionary tendency Stalinism is dead?
But if the Communist Party has confessed its bankruptcy, we have not. We came to the conference with a real program of action. The Communist Party even refused to let it be heard. That is why we were expelled by the Communist Party delegates from the conference with the yellow AFL slogan “No political organizations allowed".
Fellow delegates! Protest this act of expulsion of the Communist League of Struggle by the Communist Party delegates, mislead by a false theory. Come to our meeting to hear our program, which the party leaders would not let us tell. Fight the false line of the June Crolls and the others that we must demand “not less than 40 hours a week". Fight the false line that the Communist organizations cannot defend the trade union from Fascism.
BONAPARTISM IN THE ROOSEVELT REGIME
In the last issue of the Class Struggle (Vol 3 No 7), we printed what we consider a very important article on the subject of “The Fascist Tendencies of Roosevelt". In this article we attempted to show that the moves of Roosevelt were and had to be in the direction of Fascism. We wrote then, “We do not say that we have a fullfledged Fascist regime in America as yet. We do say, however, we have the beginnings of it, the germs of it.” We intend to analyze this theme and the role of Roosevelt from all angles in the succeeding numbers of our paper.
If, then, we are moving in the direction of Fascism, albeit only starting in that direction, the next question is, what is the mechanism of the transition period from parliamentarism to Fascism? And the answer is Bonapartism. Our thesis is that Roosevelt is laying the basis for Bonapartism, on the road to Fascism, paving the way for Fascism. It is to the study of Bonapartism in the Roosevelt regime that we dedicate this article.
In all cases in the past, preparing the way for Fascism, there was a Bonapartist regime. Let us hear Comrade Trotsky on this question. First, we turn to his article, “On The 4th of August".
“They (the opportunists-ed) enumerated dozens of features in which the Papen-Schleicher regime differed from classical Bonapartism and always ignored this fundamental characteristic, which makes them similar: The preservation of the equilibrium between the two irreconcilable camps. There is nothing worse than that pseudo-Marxist thought, which full of conceit, stops just where the question first begins. The analogy with Bonapartism, quite concrete, precisely defined, not only clarifies anew the role of the last Giolitti cabinet maneuvering between the Fascists and the Socialists, but also throws a burning light on the present traditional regime in Austria. NOW ONE CAN ALREADY OPENLY SPEAK OF THE PROFOUND LOGICAL NECESSITY OF THE PERIOD OF “BONAPARTIST” TRANSITION BETWEEN PARLIAMENTARYISM AND FASCISM, (our emphasis-- ed). The example of Austria demonstrates the enormous importance, which an exact delimitation between Bonapartism and Fascism has (or more exactly should have) for the aims of practical politics…”
In his brilliant work, “The Only Road”, Comrade Trotsky in his chapter, “Bonapartism and Fascism”, has this to say as to when Bonapartism arises in relation to Fascism, (referring particularly in Germany). Trotsky writes: “In its time we designated the Bruening government as BONAPARTISM ("caricature of Bonapartism") that is as a regime of the military police dictatorship. As soon as the struggle of two social strata—the haves and the have- nots, the exploiter and the exploited—reaches its highest tension, the conditions are given for the domination of bureaucracy, police, soldiery. The government becomes “independent” of society. Let us once more recall: If two forks are stuck symmetrically into a cork, the latter can stand even on the point of a pin. That is precisely the scheme of Bonapartism. To be sure, such a government does not cease being the clerk of the property owners. Yet the clerk sits on the back of the boss, rubs his neck raw, and does not hesitate at times to dig his boots into his face.”
What are the characteristics of Bonapartism? Briefly, they may be enumerated as follows:
1. In the case of Napoleon Bonapart and of Louis Napoleon, Bonapartism arose due to an equilibrium of forces in which all the various classes were deadlocked; each could not overthrow the other because of mutual paralysis and exhaustion and all were forced to tolerate a man on horseback with strong traditions, a man who satisfied no one class and yet alone could restore order for the nonce. In the case of Von Papen and of Von Schleicher in Germany and of Dollfuss in Austria, however, we have the case of a Bonapartist regime, where the classes are deadlocked not after all the forces have been spent in actual street battles and after exhaustion, but in the interim, before the struggle of the deadlocked classes has actually reached a definite solution and has been fought out in the streets.
Says Comrade Trotsky in the same chapter of the book mentioned above, “The Bonapartist regime can attain a comparatively stable and durable character only in the event that it brings a revolutionary epoch to a close; when the relationship of forces has already been tested in battles; when the revolutionary classes are already spent; while the possessing classes have not yet freed themselves from the fear: Will not the morrow bring new convulsions? Without this basic condition, that is, without a preceeding exhaustion of the mass energies in battles, the Bonapartist regime is in no position to develop.”
2. The state apparatus is centered in the hands of one strong man—the man on horseback. With the mutual exhaustion of classes or their mutual paralysis, this man and the clique around him can take an “independent” attitude. The illusion is given that the man and the state regime are above all classes.
3. The administration rests above all upon the state bureaucracy and the military police apparatus. It is this military police apparatus that keeps the order and preserves the regime.
4. Freed from direct responsibility to any class, buoyant with the illusion of being above classes and directing them, resting only upon the armed might of the state mechanism, Bonapartism inevitably brings in its train an adventurist foreign policy. Glory, fame, is everything. The sword is rattled, the day of war and fame is eagerly talked of. If this has not been done with Dollfus and Von Papen, it is because of the short duration of the regime, necessitated by the fact that Bonapartism in their case was only the transition regime before the actual advent of Fascism.
5. Today Fascism does not necessarily have to come about in the “hot” Italian style with its civil war and its march on Rome. It can appear in “cold” style also as the German experience shows. Fascism does not have to arise where the workers are actually in revolt (Italy). It can arise where the workers are on the verge of the insurrection, before the insurrection (Germany) or it can arise where internationally, the situation has become tense due to the necessity to liquidate the revolutionary organizations of the working class all over the world (Austria). Finally, Fascist germs can appear where there is the potentiality of a deep going radicalization of the masses, a sudden radicalization with its sudden threats. (English “National Government"; present regime in the United States). It seems to us that it is especially in the latter cases of “cold” Fascism that the transitional regime of Bonapartism is necessary. It is this Bonapartism that opens the gates for Fascism, that prepares the way for the Fascist dictatorship, by its own military dictatorial decrees, etc. In the case of Germany as in the case of Austria, Fascism comes about not only by the mass pressure of the Fascists from below, but also because of the fascisation of the government apparatus quietly and steadily through the mechanism of Bonapartism from above.
So much for the question of Bonapartism and its relation to Fascism. The question now remains, what are the signs that Roosevelt is laying the base for just such a Bonapartist regime? Let us give some of the evidence in outline form: America is at a gigantic turn of the road. On both sides, from the top and from the bottom, individualism is giving way to collectivism. Class ideologies are definitely appearing openly. Gropingly the two classes are coming to face each other as such. On the one side, from the point of view of the bourgeoisie, there exists a political immaturity and theoretical helplessness in the face of the coming class battles. This was strikingly demonstrated under Hoover, when nobody seemed to know exactly what to do about the situation. A strong man was needed to give a direction and unification to the various fragments and sections and layers of the bourgeoisie as a whole. On the other side we have the same amorphousness among the workers. The virtual collapse of the union movement, the socialist movement and the communist movement has left the working class practically leaderless and helpless, paralyzed by its own immaturity. Nevertheless the four full years of the crisis are making the workers stir. They are on the road to radicalism, they are potentially dangerous. And the events can come suddenly. In this era of post war imperialism, there occurs violent economic and political fluctuations, fluctuations, which have all the possibilities of dangerous explosions within them. Here we have that lowering of the storm clouds, that heightened tension, that equilibrium in class forces that can well lead to Bonapartism.
More and more the state apparatus is being centered in the hands of one man. A myth is being diligently spread from the White House of Roosevelt being the strong man to save the country. His popular vote was enormous, the greatest any President ever had, so great as to place him above and over the parliamentary institutions, like Congress or the Supreme Court. He takes care deliberately to break all precedents from the time of his flight to the nominating convention of the Democratic party, to his rude and undiplomatic manner of international intervention.
His first measure was to give himself dictatorial power in the banking situation by invoking the war emergency acts. His whole policy has been to demand from Congress more and more power so that Congress practically dissolved in his favor and turned over all the reigns of administration and much of legislation into his hands. All the “plans” of Roosevelt are in “HIS” head. In his campaign speeches Roosevelt never uttered a word of such ideas as the national recovery act, etc. They sprang “full grown” and were put over in dictatorial fashion.
That Roosevelt means to create his own army of functionaries and military officers responsible to him and to him alone, can be seen by the various measures already carried out and the new ones proposed. He has placed himself in charge of revising all the pensions involving hundreds of dollars annually. Is there any doubt that those, who retain their pension will look to HIM, Roosevelt, and not the party for his security and will follow HIM, Roosevelt to the end? Thousands of posts that used to be parcelled out by the victorious political party are now being taken away from the control of that party by Roosevelt and placed in his own hands. In this way, Roosevelt has not only weakened Congress and its prestige, but also the party as such and has placed the power in HIMSELF.
If all this has been done CONSTITUTIONALLY, in accordance with the United States Constitution, let us not forget that the Constitution offered excellent opportunities for the development of Bonapartism. The United States Constitution already in reality allowed for the tremendous development of the power of the President. The President has more power than any other single man in other capitalist countries of its weight and importance was allowed to have. It is not necessary to push aside the constitution of the United States in forming a base for Bonapartism.
There can be no doubt that Roosevelt means to supplement his power by means of a great increase in the state apparatus responsible to him. It would not surprise us were the next move the creation of a strong FEDERAL POLICE FORCE. The ostensible reason can be a drive against racketeers, against kidnapping, against grafters or even against “profiteers”, etc. This can provide a good excuse. Besides, who is going to enforce his various measures like the Industrial Recovery Law? Who will see that the Codes will be enforced? Will it be the municipal and state agencies? Obviously not. It will be the federal forces that will be put to work.
Here then is the general process taking place: The local and state forces give way to the federal forces; the federal forces do away with the old checks and balance system and become more and more centralized; the Houses of Congress and the Supreme Court give way to the President. The apparatus swings from the party to the President and the party gives way to the Leader, the Strong Man.
It is the National Industrial Recovery Act that exposes the Bonapartism in the Roosevelt regime in the strongest fashion. In his blank codes, overriding protests even from employers’ associations, in his rude haste, in his regimentation and militarism of labor and of capital, more than in any other case, Roosevelt gives the illusion of the independence of the State standing above all classes and making all classes fall into line.
The same picture is given in Roosevelt’s international relations. His brusque militant aggressive undiplomatic manner of speech at these international gatherings, his personal interventions, his constant rattling of the sword and the might of the Big Navy, all these not merely imitate the actions of “the great” Roosevelt, “T.R.” but coming as they do in the period of heightened tensions, lay the basis for Bonapartism on the road to Fascism.
With his left shoulder Roosevelt leans on little Miss Frances Perkins. With his right, he is supported by General Johnson. What if the equilibrium should fail? There stands such as Huey Long, the K.K.K., the Khaki Shirts, the forerunners of a real Fascist movement which will carry the policy along.
The present situation in world affairs finds France in a particularly precarious position. In one sense France really lost through the world war. She lost the great alliance she had with Russia. Before the war, France had a firm alliance with England, and Russia due to the great rise of the German Empire under the Kaiser, which had to lead to a clash of Germany both against Russia and against France. Today, France has lost that alliance. Again she is faced with the rise of a new German Empire. Germany stands today with a better and more highly nationalized production machine than ever before. The German Socialist Party, the German Communist Party, the German Trade Unions and working class organizations, no longer exist to put a brake before the Hitler Fascist ambitions. And now behind Germany stands the United States, which can use the German ambitions to counter England and France’s attacks against the United States.
During the world war, France had the support of the United States. This support is no longer here. The growing tension between the United States and Japan--and France, helps Japan. The growing tension between the creditor United States and the debtor European countries, of which France is one of the chief debtors, and the growing capitalist disintegration generally (struggle for exports, struggle between franc and dollar, etc.) has moved France and the United States further and further apart.
France has also lost the support of the Russian Empire, for the Russian Empire is no more. It has been replaced by the U.S.S.R. controlled by the revolutionary workers, who have wiped out the debts to France, wiped out the capitalist alliances with France and declared war upon the whole capitalist and French systems. For a long time France has tried to break the Russia nut. But the first workers State still survives and must be reckoned with. The old French market in Russia is now gone, perhaps never to return.
How now can France cope with the capitalist rivals and enemies surrounding it? To replace the United States and Russia it has made a firm alliance with Japan. But more important to Europe than that perhaps, is the attempt on the part of France to build up another subservient empire in the eastern part of Europe to replace Russia. A whole series of states were supported by French imperialist might—Poland, Rumania, Jugo-Slavia, Czechoslovakia, with strong influence in the Baltic states and Hungary. These states, when linked together, are powerful enough. The total population of the first four is about 80,000,000 people or more than the population of Germany. From the point of view of military action, these states have been excellently armed by France. They are indeed only enormous armed camps, armed prisons of their peoples in behalf of French imperialism. In this manner France tried to form a new ring around Germany on the one hand, and with Japan as its ally, a new ring around Russia on the other.
However, it must be admitted that France is in a far weaker position than it was in the past before the war. The buffer states, Poland and the others, are mere fragments. They cannot take the place of the old ally Russia. France tries desperately to patch the pieces together. A new state is gradually being fused through The Little Entente (Jugo-Slavia, Czechoslovakia and rumania). Already each one of these states has pledged not to make foreign treaties without consulting the other. Poland is also trying to form a Baltic Alliance, with Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. These states are entirely subsidized by France and with the fall of the French franc, with the fall of French economy, with the end of reparations and the rise of Germany, with the completion of a closer union of Germany with Austria, these fragments must fall to pieces again. The building up of this new empire in behalf of French imperialism must prove too costly for French economy. The strain is too great for French shoulders.
But as France realizes this, she grows more desperate and more bold. Like a wolf driven into a corner, French imperialism begins to bare its fangs. It will support any adventure. It arms itself and all its allies to the teeth. It stands ready to plunge the whole world into a new gigantic conflagration before it will yield its European supremacy.
On the other hand the pressure of Germany is becoming greater and greater. While before the war, it planned to conquer the whole world, Germany must strive to win Anschluss with little Austria. But, whereas before it took the world ambitions of Germany to bring matters to a head, now even the question of a union with little Austria is resisted with such fury as to show that even that event could bring matters to a head, so great has become the instability of world affairs.
Yet it seems Austria must move more and more within the orbit of Germany. The visitors of the Nazis in Germany, coupled as it has been with the complete collapse of the German Socialist and Communist organizations, has placed the workers of Austria before a real crisis. The crisis in Austria as in Germany is the question of Fascism or Communism. But now it is at a lower level. The principle fight has been won. That fight was in Germany and the Fascists won it. In Austria the Communist Party is too ridiculous, the Socialist Party too thoroughly corrupt and degenerate to offer any real resistance. On the other hand, the Fascists are divided in their loyalties to the House of Rapsburg or the House of Hohenzollern. Yet the present situation cannot last long. The present regime of Dollfuss is only the Bonapartist intermediary regime paving the way for Fascism. And Austria will be taken in within the bounds of the German system as some sort of special and enlarged Bavaria.
That Dollfuss is playing the same role as Von Papen, Von Schleicher is as clear as day. Already the Communist Party is illegal, the party press confiscated, the Socialist Party press strictly censored, their mass meetings forbidden, their conferences dispersed, the trade unions attacked and strikes absolutely forbidden in many places. Strict police vigilance is now the rule. The distribution of leaflets is now an offense liable to arrest, etc. etc. At the same time that the May Day traditional demonstration was banned in Vienna, there took place all sorts of provocative parades of the Fascists and the Heimwehr under the protection of the government. The auxiliary police is being infiltrated thoroughly with fascist forces. The Fascist groups in the countryside have been openly armed.
Concurrent with these political measures have gone severe economic measures against the workers. Wage cuts were instituted for Social Insurance employees. Railroad workers received cuts in overtime pay and in pensions that go as far as forty percent in the lower ranks. Unemployment insurance has been restricted for the great bulk of unemployed to 20 weeks (formerly 30 weeks) and for some even to 12 weeks. Emergency relief has either been cut off entirely or drastically reduced. Young workers up to the age of 25 now receive no relief at all. Compulsory participation in religious exercises has now been instituted in all schools.
All over Europe the question of Fascism or Communism has become the acute problem within each regime. And with the victory of the Nazis in Germany there is the greatest danger of a victory of the darkest forces of reaction everywhere.
However, with the growth of virulent nationalism all the contradictions among the capitalist nations themselves are growing acute. If the Soviet Union up to now has not been seriously molested, it has been due to the strength of the international proletariat, upon which the Soviet Republic ultimately rests, and upon the sharp irreconcilable differences among the capitalists themselves. These differences are growing sharper. This accounts for the wave of recognition of countries for Russia. Spain is now recognizing the Soviets and even more important is the impending recognition of Russia by the United States.
While the recognition of Russia by the United States will be a great victory for the Soviet Union and for the international working class, we must have no illusions about it. It does not mean that the U.S. has become more “liberal". Quite the contrary, it may mean that the tension between the U.S. and Japan is getting greater, or it may mean that in the coming war against the Soviet Union, the United States wants to sell ammunition to both sides before entering the field itself. And recognition of the U.S.S.R. will aid the profits of America. Let us be prepared for these alternatives too. Besides, the employers of the U.S. are being hard hit by the crisis. They may want to sell more goods to the Soviets to increase their profit. However, this will not substantially relieve the unemployment crisis in the U.S. Let us make no mistake about that. Indeed it can only lay the base for an even bigger capitalist crisis in the future. However, it will aid the Soviet Union and that alone will be a big gain for the American workers.
War in South America:
The war in South America goes merrily on. By now, thousands have been killed in the Chaco and tens of thousands more wounded. The ruling cliques in Bolivia and Paraguay, stimulated by the pressure of the United States and English imperialists, who are struggling for the control of South America, have drafted their poor Indian peons and sent them to the slaughter.
The facts of this new massacre of the toilers are briefly as follows: Bolivia is landlocked. Chaco gives access to the Paraguay River and the Atlantic Ocean. This is the immediate issue at stake. But further, the United States has about $133,000,000 invested in Bolivia in government bonds, in tin and in oil. Tin makes up over 92% of Bolivia’s foreign sales, mostly to the United States, which controls Bolivian tin in competition with the British, who control Malayan tin. In Bolivia, the U.S. owned National Lead Co. controls over 80% of the tin resources in Bolivia. The International Mining Co. owns 8000 acres. The Fabulos Co., 6000. The Guggenhemm Co. of Baracoles Tin is capitalized at $40,000,000. So thoroughly is the tin controlled that even the Bolivian Director of Mines is an American. Besides that, the Standard Oil has a concession of 7« million acres of oil land. It has the right to operate railways, harbors, telephones, telegraphs, and other public utilities. Its wells are kept in reserve for American Imperialism. But a pipe line runs through the Chaco.
Bolivia has felt the full crushing weight of American Imperialism. Its population of about 3,000,000 is over 85% illiterate. In the whole country, there are only 40 primary schools. The peons are forced to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for board only. It is no wonder that such companies as the National Lead Company showed an operating cost of 20% lower than the world average, and even in the worst depression year declared a 15% dividend.
It is the same with the smaller agrarian country, Paraguay (population 800,000). This is controlled by Great Britain in the same way as Bolivia is controlled by the United States. In the terrible jungle of the Chaco, the battle is being fought out and already since July of last year, there have been at least 50,000 casualties. Both the U.S. and Great Britain are making big profits in selling war supplies. Last year the League of Nations announced that Bolivia alone had just bought $20,000,000 more of arms and ammunition. Business is good for the big bosses. That is why they wish no peace until the fight is fought out no matter how much the masses pay. The United States and English imperialism jockey with each other about peace. One wished the south American countries (ABC group) to do the settlement, the other the League of Nations. Only the victory of the working class in both the U.S. and Great Britain will put an end to the slaughter of the colonial masses such as that in the Chaco.
THE WHITE TERROR IN CUBA
The situation in Cuba has reached a point of high intensity. The general strike is in full swing, with martial law proclaimed and the island in a ferment. Numbers have been killed and many wounded in the anti-Machado demonstrations, that have taken place. These outbreaks, which include in their hostility the United States Government as well as the local authority, are no sudden occurrence, but rather the result of years of unbearable oppression. Cuba is only a small country with 4,000,000 population and about 44,000 square miles area. Yet wholesale assassinations have taken place there, which have made this one time garden spot a veritable hell. The New York Times reported not long ago, before the outbreak of the general strike, seven killed in one day, four on another day, under the dreaded Ley del Fuege (Law of Flight), the excuse by which President Machado murders his opponents. An open military dictatorship in the style of the worst Chicago gangster rule prevails, which it is estimated has already cost the lives of over 2500 people. Over 350 members of the AFC organizations alone have been killed according to their registrations.
Since the Spanish American War, the United States imperialist government has never really relinquished its prize plum. By articles II and III of the Platt amendment, the government to be established was forbidden to contract a public debt over the amount it could meet with ordinary revenues. Also the U.S. was allowed to intervene for the “preservation of Cuban independence, maintenance of government adequate for the protection of life, property and individual liberty". This of course means that the United States Government will send in its armed forces, whenever the masses make an attempt to end the rule of capitalism and vicious landlordism, which controls the lives of the people.
Since 1898 the U.S. has literally controlled the island with its armed force almost all the time. The first time the army stayed from 1898 to 1902, the second time, after the liberal revolution took place against President Palma under Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. intervened with its army from 1905 to 1909. Then during the world war, General Crowder was sent in to control the country. Only after the war was the military control taken away. And in 1924 Machado running as Liberal Party candidate was elected President.
To understand the situation in Cuba today, one must realize that Cuba is essentially a one crop country. Eighty percent of its income comes from sugar. The market for sugar collapsed in 1925 and since then has been in a chronic state of crisis. This chronic crisis was enormously aggravated by the world economic crisis that was ushered in 1929 everywhere, and, which had an especially severe effect upon agrarian raw material crops. The following tables tell the story.
I SUGAR PRODUCTION
1929…It was over 6,000,000 long tons.
1931…Production restricted to 3,122,000 tons.
1933…Production restricted to 2,000,000 tons.
II EXPORTS TO UNITED STATES
1932…This had fallen to 1,700,000 or a drop of 18% in one year, reaching the lowest level since before the war.
1928…The price was 2.4 cents a pound
1929…The price was 2 cents
1930…The price was 1.4 cents
1933…The price was .68 cents or a total drop of about 80%
IV TOBACCO PRODUCTION IN VALUES
1929..The crop was worth $38,000,000
1932.. $13,000,000 or a total drop of about 65% in one year alone 1931-1932 the drop being 43%
V. U.S. FOREIGN TRADE TO CUBA
1929 exports 14,000,000 imports 27,000,000
1932 exports 2,500,000 imports 5,000,000
An analysis of the receipts of the four chief railways in Cuba and of the United Railway of Habana shows the same cataclysmic fall in income and prices.
To these woes have been added the fact that Cuba is one of the richest morsels of American Imperialism, which drains all it can out of its colonies. The National City Bank controlling the sugar output of Cuba, the Electric Bond and Share controlling Cuba’s electric power and charging extortionate rates, thereby, together with their affiliates, have made Cuba into a vassal state. Cuba is now loaded with external debts to the tune of 72,000,000 dollars, thus giving it a greater per capita debt than any other Latin American country. As recently as 1930, in order to bolster the desperate Machado regime, the Chase Bank was induced to make another loan to Cuba of $50,000,000. And we must remember that by Platt Amendment Cuba cannot default its debt.
To maintain this frightful exploitation, a ruthless military gangster dictatorship has been set up by Machado. An army of 12,000 picked men compose the most excellently trained police force in Latin America to defend Machado. This army is well paid and well taken care of, not only by the regular allotment, but by the enormous graft obtained through the expenditure of the $100,000,000 for supposed “public works".
All opposition parties have been crushed. The leaders have all been driven into exile. Menocal, leader of the non-cooperative conservative section is in the United States, as is Mendieta of the Nationalist Union, who had been defeated by Machado for the Liberal Party candidacy in 1924 and who had been forced to flee to Florida. Another opponent, Gomez, also fled to the U.S. in 1931. Besides this bourgeois opposition there is an affiliated student movement, which has been in the very forefront in the attacks against Machado. The high schools have been closed down for several years. The University of Habana has been shut for a long time. The ABC organization has 5000 members, who carry on a regular guerilla warfare against the government.
The bourgeois opposition wants merely a change in the dictators. It is the struggle of one clique against another clique, which has managed to get the spoils and the power to mullet the masses. The students are more liberal. They actually want a constitutional regime and a regular democracy. However, they do not make any demands for labor. They are not interested in socialism or social reforms necessarily. Petty bourgeoisie through and through, they are desperate elements driven by conditions to take the forefront of the fight against Machado. They have carried on their fight very bravely. As we have seen, thousands have paid with their lives. The ABC has issued the order, when about to be taken, shoot to kill, for they will kill you anyway. War to the death, war to the finish with guns, bombs, knives and all possible means has been decreed even under “peaceful” circumstances before the outbreak of recent critical events. In many cases the attempts of the students have been successful, as when Bello, President of the Senate, Hererra, Chief of the Secret Police, and others were killed. But their fight is on the relatively futile individualist terrorist manner of the intellectuals, who have not mobilized the masses in their behalf.
And yet the masses are not neutral. On the contrary their deep sympathy is with the students, although the students are not fighting for the demands of the laborers and toilers. Yet the workers know that all are not to be considered one reactionary mass against them and that the workers must aid the democratic students in their fight against the Machado military dictatorship.
The labor conditions are so frightful on the island of Cuba that workers and toilers must enter into a life and death grip with the administration. Here is the report from the Monthly Labor Review of December, 1932, issued by the United States Department of Labor and being a report of the U.S. Consul in Cuba. He writes that since July 1st, 1931, wages had been cut 25%, but had really fallen 40%. Complete chaos existed in the country said agricultural laborers in many cases GETTING NO WAGES AT ALL, BUT MERELY ORDERS ON THE COMMISSARY DEPARTMENT. One place paid 10 cents a day (5 cents cash). Two years ago, these places had paid from 40 cents to 60 cents a day. The working hours are now from sun to sun or 12 hours a day in summer_. According to the U.S. consul, “Wages paid in 1932 are reported to have been the lowest since the days of slavery in Cuba.” The fact is regular slavery exists since all the workers get, in most cases, is THEIR BOARD. The following table gives the fall in wages:
1931—unskilled laborers (per diem) time 1.75, piece .60, carpenters 2.90, mechanics 4.83, painters 3.75, firemen 2.00
1932—Now all of them get only 50 cents a day the highest category getting as a maximum one dollar per day.
Even locomotive engineers, who seven years ago got as high as from 200-275 dollars a month and four years ago about 150 a month, now are getting only thirty dollars for a month’s work.
With this labor situation, it is no wonder that the Cuban workers have been most militant and in constant struggle against the Machado regime. The Communist Party of Cuba carried on under very great difficulties, but already had made good headway in winning over the labor movement when its leader, Julio Antonio Mella was murdered by Machado. Since that time, again and again the workers have gone on strike in most militant fashion. Machado has been forced to drive the Cuban Communists underground, to smash all strikes with the full weight of his military forces, to declare the unions outlawed before the workers were beaten. Now again the struggles are increasing in the city. On January 10th, street fights took place in practically all the principle cities of the Island on the anniversary of Mell’s death, leading to many shootings and at least 15 wounded in demonstrations. In the countryside, the peasants in a number of places have taken to open guerilla warfare, roaming in bands and sniping at the federal forces, receiving the support and sympathy of the agrarians everywhere.
All the signs show that matters are coming to a head. The strong labor demonstrations in the cities, the peasant outbreaks, the guerilla war in the country, the terrorist outbursts of the students in the cities, the military censorship of the press, even at times, the English press, all shows that Machado is being isolated, that only his armed might and the money and power of the United States government support him. If the resistance against him becomes too great, as the outbreaks of the last few days seem to indicate, the unstable support of the U.S. can easily be withdrawn and another set up in his place. Another alternative would be the granting of concession by Machado to the bourgeois opposition factions, but for this it seems events have already gone too far. Armed intervention by that “kind father” the U.S. now looms imminent, notwithstanding the Roosevelt “liberal” gestures of withdrawing the armed forces from the colonies. Meanwhile the terrible social, economic conditions will continue to prevail. The masses will continue to be ground down in virtual peonage and slavery.
All the general principles of the Left Opposition are illustrated in the situation in Cuba. The fight is now a democratic fight, the revolutionary movement is fighting for a bourgeois democratic regime. But only the proletariat will be able to make the revolution permanent, to complete the democratic revolution and carry it further to the social revolution.
The crying shame of the hour is that the Communist Party in Cuba under the Stalinist whip has not appreciated this fact, and will take a backward position, not allowing the proletariat to take the hegemony in the movement. If the same mistakes are made in Cuba that were made in China, the revolutionary movement is doomed.
On the other hand, the Communists in this country have shown themselves almost utterly oblivious of the great fight the Cuban masses are making. The proletariat of Cuba cannot win its battles without the great, immediate, unstinted aid of the workers in the U.S. particularly the advanced workers. This must be done at once and to the limit. It has already been proved a thousand times that the American Communist movement is imperialist and bourgeois through and through, that we have yet to create a real genuine Communist Party. One of the acid tests for such a party is the support of the Cuban and other Latin-American toilers in their fight against American Imperialism and for Socialism. A.W.
THE NEGRO CHURCH AND THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT
A series of pertinent questions confronts us regarding the Negro church and the Communist movement. What is the relationship between religion, the church and the Negro? How is the Negro church distinctive from the white church? How many Negro churches are there in the United States and what proportion of the membership is composed of workers? Does the Negro church offer a good medium to the Communists to reach the Negro masses?
“Religion” wrote Marx, (Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right"), “is the moan of the oppressed creature…the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” If religion is generally a haven of escape from life for oppressed, ignorant masses, this is greatly intensified in the case of the Negro. The history of the Negro in America is a history of enslavement and oppression by his white skinned master. Torn from his African habitat and transplanted on alien soil, the Negro, despite his white owners’ attempt to “civilize”, that is to Christianize him and stamp his domination over him, has never completely assimilated the white man’s religion.
The Negro church assumes a vital significance in the life of the black man in America. Enslaved, overworked, beaten, terrorized and denied every elementary human right as the Negro was, the church was the only refuge that the slave holder permitted his slave to run to so that the slave could pour out his sorrow. The building of separate churches was very advantageous to the slave holder. It made his slaves more amenable to slavery, and acted as a safety valve for the slave’s consciousness of oppression, that threatened to explode in slave rebellions.
Since the forced arrival of the Negro in America, he was not allowed to attend the white man’s church nor to mingle with the white congregation in common worship. Nor did the “freeing” of the slaves after the Civil War alter the situation. Jim-crowed by the whites in their churches, as in other matters, the Negro built his own institution from which the white chauvinist was excluded. In this environment, the ex-slave enjoyed comparative liberty to breathe and move as he liked.
The influence of the Negro church grew tremendously and became the pivotal point about which the religious and social life of the Negro revolved. Ostensibly assuming the same religious denomination as the white, mainly Methodist and Baptist, yet as Comrade Trotsky has said, “The Negro church” (see The Negro Church-Mays and Nicholson) is owned by a poor race, (many of the Negro churches are store fronts) supported by its members and further, this fact alone gives the Negro minister an opportunity and freedom in his church life that ministers of some racial groups might well covet. If the Negro minister sees fit to condemn from his pulpit practices with respect to low wages, long hours, the working of children in industry, the unfair treatment of women in factories, the denying to the workers the right to organize, and the injustices of an economic system built on competition, self- interest and profit—he is more likely not to be censored than his white brother, who preaches in the same city. No committee will wait on him advising him to go slow. No leading financier will walk out of the church threatening never to return. To the contrary, it is highly possible that the Negro minister would receive congratulations and “amens” from his congregation if he were to preach such a gospel.” It is a fact, however, that the petty bourgeois Negro minister has rarely denounced the capitalist system or white supremacy. Religion is not the ideology of struggle, nor is the church an instrument of war against the masters. Besides, he fears for his life if he, a colored man, begins to denounce accepted bourgeois institutions.
A survey of the Negro church and its membership reveals approximately 47,000 churches throughout the country with an approximate membership of 5,000,000. Seventy-six percent of the total number of churches with 56% of the membership are in rural sections. Of the 10,056 urban churches with a membership of 2,238,871, the composition of the membership is as follows: 1,000,000 are in domestic service, 1,000,000 are unskilled industrial workers, 250,000 are skilled and semi-skilled workers, 100,000 are in arts and professions and 70,000 are in business. (Figures quoted from The Negro Church by Mays and Nicholson). These statistics show that 60% the overwhelming majority of the urban church membership belong to the working class.
The religious behavior of the Negro in his church is extremely emotional. His emotionality has been intensified by the white masters refusal to permit the Negro other outlets enjoyed by them. Consequently, because of greater discrimination and oppression, the colored masses are generally more religious and have greater need to seek an outlet in religion and the church from their unbearable misery. It is this religious emotionalism, popularly expressing itself in revival meetings, that has given birth to the famous Negro spirituals, such as “Go Down Moses”, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, “Deep River” and many others, part of the Negroes’ genuine contributions to American culture.
On account of the fact that the church of the Negro in America is comparatively a poor church, composed largely of a membership of downtrodden black masses, the Negro church offers a good opportunity to the Communists to win over the Negro for the Communist movement. One of the ways the Communists can reach the Negro workers outside the economic field is to address them from the pulpit of the church. If the Communists are to reach the Negro workers and win them away from religion, they must enter into a united front with Negro churches on concrete issues affecting the Negro.
The American Communist Party is correct in making one of its chief tasks of the party to win the Negro share croppers and proletariat for the movement. The Party is correct in adopting the slogans of “Self-determination for the Black Belt” and “complete equality for the Negro". But the party is incorrect in believing that “the Negro peasantry, petty and middle-class bourgeoisie will be the driving force of the movement, because it is a national revolutionary movement.” (Communist, March, 1930). The vanguard of the Negro masses must be the industrial Negro worker, as the experience of the Russian Revolution has shown that “only the proletariat can complete the bourgeois democratic revolution”, (Thesis on the Negro question C.L.S.)
The Scottsboro case offers a good example of what the C.P. can do to arouse the 12,000,000 Negroes in the country and win adherents to the cause. The Scottsboro case has caused Negro ministers to throw their church doors wide open for Communist speakers to enter. This is, however, but a beginning. The task of winning the bulk of the Negro masses still lies ahead of the party, if it can succeed in doing so. The Negro, once won for the movement, will make the most loyal fighter. The Party must not only expose and fight against the white chauvinism outside its ranks, (Garveyism, N.A.A.C.P., Congressman DePriest, National Urban League, etc.) but against the appearance of the slightest tendencies of chauvinism within its own ranks. Says Comrade Trotsky, “It is possible that the Negroes….through self- determination will proceed to the proletarian revolution in a couple of gigantic strides ahead of the great bloc of white workers. That, however, can only happen provided the communist party carries on an uncompromising merciless struggle, not against the national prepossessions of the Negroes, but against the colossal prejudice of the white workers and give it no concessions whatever.” P.L.
C.L.S. OUSTED FROM UNEMPLOYED COUNCILS
At the June 3rd United Front Unemployment Conference, the C.P. stated that it had changed its past attitude and now wants all organizations to work with it no matter what their political views. The C.L.S. members thought the Party was sincere and entered the Unemployed Council to help build it up into a real mass organization. Our members were assigned to the 5th & 6th St. Block Committee, which had a name, but no life—that is, it did not meet regularly, nor did it carry on work in a systematic manner. It was after the hard daily grinding work of our comrades that the Block Committee was put on a functioning basis. Some of our members were elected to the Executive of the Committee.
As soon as that happened, the bureaucrats of the Unemployed Council stepped in and sabotaged the work. The outgoing captain of the Block Committee refused to hand over the records to the new captain. There was other interference as when we arranged for a meeting at the hall of the Downtown U.S. employed council and found the hall locked and no lights.
Despite the sabotage of the U.C., the work of the 5th and 6th Street Block progressed. Meetings were held regularly, leaflets were put out, open air meetings held. The organization was beginning to root itself among the workers of the neighborhood.
A call came for the conference to Defend the Trade Unions, the 5th and 6th Street Block Assembly elected two members of the C.L.S. as delegates. They, with other members of the C.L.S., signed a resolution which the C.L.S. put out to the conference.
On July 20th, when the weekly meeting of the Block Assembly took place, the Down Town Unemployed council mobilized all its reliable henchmen from the Henry Street Block Com. and the 13th and 14th Com. and packed the meeting with people, who had as much to do there as the man in the moon. All they had to do was to vote as the bureaucrats demanded.
Our delegate was not allowed to complete his report on the conference. Confusion broke out, and the bureaucrats moved for the expulsion of all C.L.S. members. Without giving us a chance to defend ourselves this was passed.
The result is that the 5th and 6th Street Block Assembly does not exist any more, as the workers of the Assembly predicted would happen if our members were locked out.