I. Scottsboro and Gastonia--Two Communist Trials--by Vera Buch
II. Three Weeks with Leon Trotsky--by Albert Weisbord
III. Negotiations with the Communist League of America (Opposition)
IV. Christian Georgyevich Rakovsky
V. A Strategy of Action and not of Speculations Letter to Pekin Friends by Leon Trotsky
Scottsboro and Gastonia--Two Communist Trials by Vera Buch
Labor trials, monuments of the stages of the class struggle, dot the history of this country: Haymarket Square, Haywood and Pettibone, Mooney and Billings, Sacco and Vanzetti, Gastonia, Anarchists, Syndicalists, trade-unionists and finally the Communists marshal the ranks of labor. The work of the Communists in the South has resulted in a number of trials since the opening wedge in Gastonia in 1929. There have been the cases in Norfolk, Va., in Atlanta, Ga., Scotts Hill, Ala., and recently the Herndon case. These trials arose out of the attempts at organization on the part of Northern Communists who to a certain extent managed to root themselves among the working classes both colored and white in these localities. But the Scottsboro case involves no organizers and no Communists. It is on the surface merely a sex case with its defendants some of the poorest, most ignorant and downtrodden people this country can show. The Communists come in from the outside to champion the cause of these obscure victims.
Whether the Scottsboro affair is really a labor case at all is disputed. The Communists have been accused of capitalizing the misfortune of the nine boys to get their clutches on the Negro masses. But they were accused also of capitalizing the Gastonia trial to boost the circulation of the Daily Worker, to capture the white masses, and similar nefarious crimes. As a matter of fact the Communists have shown a grasp of underlying social forces and of the real needs of the Negroes in undertaking the defence of this difficult case. In it bursts forth in lurid tragedy the fate of the whole Negro people. The Scottsboro boys may never have heard of a labor union, and certainly they never heard of a Communist until the International Labor Defence reached a friendly hand through their bars in 1931, but they just as surely symbolized the struggle of the Negro masses as the Gastonia defendants in 1929 symbolized the upheaval of the “poor white trash” of the South, groaning under their new-found industrial exploitation.
Both cases arose out of the same environment, the new South with its brutal factory exploitation, its enormous surplus of labor power, its illiteracy and drunkenness, its looseness of sex life, its bitter race prejudice. Poverty there has now levelled the white worker so low that only his prejudice remains to lift him above the white man, and under these circumstances, the basis is laid for prejudice too to be bludgeoned out of him. Wandering groups of people seeking jobs from town to town, such groups as the one from which the Scottsboro case sprang, were familiar in the Southern industrial sections even before the crisis. Today a whole nomad population not merely of youths but of entire families lives on rails and in box cars, cut off from normal relationships. The Scottsboro case is a dramatic outcropping of conditions that prevail through the country but particularly in the South. Even in normal community life there under the conditions of recent industrialization, the family tie was bound to become weaker, and sex life freer. Early marriages accompanied by broods of children, complete lack of property ties, the proximity of the mills where by moving about a better way might be found, have proven a strong inducement to men to move on in search of new jobs and to forget to come back. Left with a family on her hands, what can the wife do but to take another man? Legality doesn’t matter for the poor--but it matters a great deal for the “lar” which becomes the more stringent as people become laxer.
In the flimsy company-owned shacks of the textile mill villages, several families crowd in together, parents, children and youth often sleeping in one room. Seventeen or eighteen people living in a four-room cottage is not unusual. What kind of “morality” can be expected under such circumstances? I well remember on the main street of Bessemer City, a squalid mill village near Gastonia, there was a two-room shack, in the large front room of which, always open to the street, stood six beds. Here three married couples and their children lived and slept. Complaints of their rowdy behavior were frequent. In the mills the foremen have a habit of seducing the young girls, with or without pregnancy. The price in 1929 used to be three dollars. No doubt it has greatly depreciated since. It is such a background that produces the Victoria Prices and the Ruby Bateses who ride with men on freight trains and accuse Negro youths of rape. Any of the slim girls in overalls I used to see going home from the night shift in Gastonia at six in the morning, wan-faced, their hair white with the cotton of the spinning-room, would fit into the Scottsboro case. It happened that in Gastonia they became strikers instead. We saw a stream of such girls in the Gastonia jail that summer of 1929, brought in for a few days or a week to await trial for drunkenness or sex misdemeanors. Two courses are open to the girls in the mill villages: To slave in the mill, to get married early, to raise a swarm of children, to continue slaving in the mill. Or, to slave in the mill, to put on a lot of cheap rouge, to go out with men indiscriminately for a few odd dollars, to continue slaving in the mill, to flaunt a few pretty, cheap dresses, to get syphilis and go to jail, to continue slaving in the mill. There was nothing else. Is it any wonder we have Gastonia strikes, and Scottsboro cases?*
*It is this social background that explains some otherwise puzzling features of the Scottsboro case. Why does the word of a prostitute carry such weight with the jury? In some states the testimony of a woman who has been proven to have been in a house of ill fame would not be accepted. The whole case could never reach court in other parts of the country. After all who ever heard of a prostitute being raped? Race prejudice alone does not account for the Scottsboro verdict. It must be understood that the two girls of the case are typical girls of the working class in the South. Their lives are not repugnant because not out of the ordinary. The jury is defending its own.
The question of the Negroes underlay the Gastonia case almost as much as the Scottsboro, though it was not so apparent. Labor organization could not get very far in the South without coming up forcibly against the race barrier. True, there are few Negroes in the textile mills (in South Carolina they are forbidden to work next to white people and everywhere they are not permitted to work on the machines), but they were nevertheless present in the community and they worked for low wages on other lines. It happened that on the Bessemer City strike which took place in a neighboring town at the same time as the Gastonia strike, a waste mill employing only Negro help came out on strike (only to go back again quickly as the bosses spread the rumor it was a trick of the whites to get the jobs). The Union came out openly for the Negroes joining on terms of full equality. The next day all the papers in the South carried headlines. Most of them considered the Communists were cooking their own goose by daring to throw the Negro issue into the strike. But why the Hubbub? The Communist organizers were attempting to undermine at once the two solid pillars of profit of the industrial South, exploitation of cheap white and of cheaper colored labor. Not only that, but in drawing these two sections of labor together, in calling upon them to unite, to “fight shoulder to shoulder,” they were threatening to undermine the profit system altogether! The necessity to keep colored and white workers apart is basically the reason for the persistence, depth and bitterness of the prejudice against the Negro, for all the discrimination, the Jim-Crowism, the deprivation of legal rights, the disfranchisement,the lynchings.
Thus it is in the deepest sense of the word that the Scottsboro case is a class, if not a labor case. Of these boys who left home to look for work and fell into this frightful trap compounded of all the elements mentioned above, any colored youth can say: “I can be the next.” The whole race in fact can see its fate tragically mirrored here. It is no wonder that this case has stirred the Negro people as they have not been stirred in years, and that the general interest in this case is wider perhaps than in any other affair involving the Negroes since the Dred Scott trial. The very Alabama rape law itself is an unspeakable commentary on “justice” for the Negro. The rape of colored women by the whites has been going on since the first woman slave was dragged to a plantation hell, but where are the laws punishing the white men who seem to be able very conveniently to set aside race prejudice for these occasions? A curious contradiction exists between the freedom of facts and the stringency of the laws, as indeed there is a contradiction, too, between the much-vaunted “Southern chivalry” towards women and the degraded life actually led by large numbers of Southern women both Negro and white.
As far as the actual issues involved are concerned, these two cases do not belong in the same category. Gastonia was a classic labor case arising out of an economic struggle. Behind the charge of murder the questions of the strike, the conditions of the mill workers, their struggle to organize, their defence of their union headquarters, burst forth irresistibly. Even the prosecution which wished to make it a plain criminal case had to become involved in discussions of picket lines, of mass meetings, of strike committees, etc. It was essentially a trial of the life of mill workers, which was one reason why the farmers’ jury of the second trial rendered a verdict of guilty upon a life which they did not understand. But in the Scottsboro trial the labor movement does not figure in the least degree. What is involved here, at any rate on the surface, is “merely” the democratic rights of an oppressed people, a national minority, their right to a trial such as anyone would have, with a jury of their own kind. Even looking at it in a broader sense, the fight of the Negroes is still a democratic one for the “inalienable” rights of the vote, of free speech, of equality before the law, etc.
But who in this trial defends the rights of the Negroes? Not the liberals as one might expect (note the N.A.A.C.P. has long been out of juridical participation in the case but the Communists. The liberal Leibowitz is engaged by the ILD, a Communist led organization. There is no organization of Negroes in Alabama to take over the defence. A group must come from the outside. These anomalies are due to the fact that while this country like every other highly developed industrial country has produced a Communist movement, yet the struggle of the oppressed racial minority, the Negroes, is still only in an embryonic form. The Communists are attempting to obtain leadership of the struggle, and if they make the Scottsboro case more than a mere publicity stunt they have a good chance to do so.
The Communists stress very much the necessity of both colored and white masses to unite in the defence of the Scottsboro case. And indeed, the task appears too great for the Negroes alone. The 50,000 Negroes the N.A.A.C.P. calls for in Washington would probably be far more effective were 100,000 white people added to them.
The methods the Communists use in these trials seem to arouse mingled admiration and hostility. Their position is as follows: Since the courts are controlled by the capitalist ruling class, legal procedures are to the benefit of the prosecution, so that a worker in a labor case or a Negro in any case has little chance for acquittal. Hence the only hope of freeing the defendants lies in rallying powerful mass support which will demand their release. This support will be expressed not merely by propaganda but by demonstrations in the cities, by mass meetings, by telegrams of protest from organizations to the authorities, to protest strikes, etc. The public pressure must be great enough to appear to constitute a menace.
As to the effectiveness of this tactic, history can throw a little light. The Sacco and Vanzetti case aroused the masses of this country as has nothing else, yet the really huge and spirited demonstrations on behalf of these two workers--coming too late--were powerless to move the decisions of the State of Massachusetts. On the other hand, it was the “mass pressure” both at home and abroad that saved Mooney and Billings from death. In the Gastonia case, without the support and publicity aroused by the International Labor Defence the defendants would not have had the ghost of a show. The reduction of the charge against them from first to second degree murder and the release of nine of the original sixteen defendants was a partial victory, so too is the saving of the scottsboro boys so far from the electric chair by the ILD.
The enemies of the Communists see them in the role of the last straw that finally turns the balance of “justice” completely against the defendants. Even their friends sometimes find their proximity a little too hot for safety. But really, the trouble is exactly that there has not been enough of the Communist tactic. There has been not too much but too little “mass pressure.” The Communists have been far too ready to capitulate to the hostility they arouse. Leibowitz orders them to get out of Decatur and they get out. In the Gastonia case they gave up all pretence of strikes and demonstrations in and around Charlotte where the trial took place. “It might irritate the prosecution.” The Scottsboro defence is just now beginning to take on possibilities of a “mass” movement. In the Gastonia affair golden opportunities were never even tapped to organize a local defense movement among the workers and the North Carolina liberals, both of whom were strongly sympathetic. Feeling among the workers ran so high that a jail-break was talked of when the adverse verdict was rendered. If here is to be “mass pressure” it must be by masses, not by handfuls. If there is to be “militant action” at least there must be firm, aggressive conduct, not apologetic meekness.
The trial of a labor case plays a two-fold role of trying to achieve the freedom of the defendants and of serving as a tribunal by which the views for which the accused workers found are broadcasted to the world. Thus the trial itself becomes a significant factor in the mass action. It crystalizes a certain stage of the class struggle. It is a drama in which the most fundamental social forces put forth spokesmen. The Gastonia trial might have voiced the deepest sufferings and aspirations of the downtrodden mill workers of the South, counterposed to the bigotry, the hatred, the prejudice which poisoned the flowery outbursts of the cotton mill lawyers hired by the State. The Scottsboro trial might give voice to all the woes of a race now paying the supreme penalty of oppression in the person of the eight boys. That these results are only partially achieved cannot be blamed entirely on the Communists. Lawyers do most of the talking in court and lawyers are not party members. The Scottsboro boys cannot articulate the agony of their strange but by no means accidental fate. In the Gastonia trial there was a real capitulation on the part of the ILD to legalism, so that defendants who might have expressed the ideals for which the Communists fought were not even put on the stand.
A labor trial decides whether those who are victimized--often the best representatives of the working-class--are to continue in life and liberty or are to be removed whether temporarily or permanently from participation in the cause. Hence the lives of defendants should be fought for desperately every step of the way. This means the best possible legal defence. Little things have a certain decisiveness. The fact of Ruby Bates and her friend Leslie Carter appearing trim and well-dressed in court while Victoria Price wore her habitual cotton dress and sweater (assuming the defence to have controlled the conduct of its witnesses) was a slip. It was a serious slip in the Gastonia trial to have accepted the juror Campbell who subsequently “went insane” in the first trial, considering that the streak of insanity in his family was known to the defense. It was the general assumption that the first jury would have brought in an acquittal. Yet to declare that convictions hang upon these slight matters would be to see the thing too narrowly. A labor trial involves complicated social and economic forces in which generally the balance of power turns against the defendant. All the more reason to be careful of every detail in order to swing the balance the other way. A good legal battle backed up by all the pressure that can be brought to bear from the outside are both urgently needed now to free the unfortunate Scottsboro defendants.
(Editor’s note: This article has been published in part in the New York Sunday American of April 16, 1933).
It was my good fortune to spend three weeks with Leon Davidovic Trotsky. For this privilege I was quite willing to travel the six thousand or so miles by sea and rail from New York City to Istanbul. Once in Istanbul, only a narrow strip of water separated me from the goal, and I made the last lap of the long journey in a little steamer that sailed out of the Golden Horn to the island of Buyuk Ada (Prinkij) in the Sea of Marmora.
It was May. The clear limpid light so characteristic of the Mediterranean region heightened the colors of the blue sea, of the green pines fringing the shores, of the deep purplish hills that stretched all along the coast. Anticipation leaped ahead much faster than the little ship, as the many mosques of Istanbul, glittering in the bright morning sun, gradually diminished behind me.
I was travelling to the modern St. Helena on which was exiled the greatest revolutionary figure since the death of Lenin. By a peculiar turn of fortune, Trotsky the veritable organizer of the Russian Revolution, first acting President of the St. Petersburg Soviet in 1905, leader and organizer of the Red Army, had been exiled from his own country and deported to this distant out of the way place off the coast of Asia. Curiously enough, it was in the name of that very Russian Revolution that the deportation had been accomplished by Stalin with the direct aid of Kemal Pasha and other Turkish dictators to whom Communism was anathema!
The parallel with Napoleon was obvious, but would it hold good in this case? Would Trotsky in exile strut and pose in Napoleonic fashion with flashing eyes and tossing head, or would exile leave him brooding and morose? Certainly as Commander of the Red Army, Trotsky had played a remarkable role, not only as revolutionist but as military commander. It was through his concrete clear analysis of problems, his disciplined audacity and organizational power, that he had been able to form the steeled Red Army from the raw band of recruits that were his, to inspire them with the necessary courage to break the ring which two million white guardists and interventionists, captained by a most able and experienced general staff, had set around the heart of Bolshevist Russia.
All historical parallels limp, but certainly, within well defined limits of course, the parallel between Trotsky and Napoleon can be drawn. Napoleon was the representative, the brilliant sword, so to speak, of a new class that was coming to power--the bourgeoisie of France. Already dominant in the economic sphere, the capitalist class felt compelled to break the social and political relationships that feudalism and the ancien regime had encrusted on the structure of society. But the uprooting of feudal anachronisms and the destructions of the ancien regime in France could only mean war against the entire ancien regime of Europe. Not otherwise could the new class hope to survive. Napoleon’s invasions were bourgeois crusades in which the rising bourgeoisie felt the call of God (or “Reason") to construct a new world, a bourgeois world, in their own image. The whole army of Napoleon breathed the idealism and morale that only the consciousness of fighting for the progress of the whole human race could bring to the soldiers. What through Napoleon was finally defeated and exiled, was not feudal dominance overthrown and did not capitalism triumph?
So with Trotsky, although matters indeed stand upon an entirely different plane of events. The proletariat had broken the chain of capitalism at its weakest link. A new class was coming to power, building a new system of society. But the working class of Russia knew very well that it was a question of life or death to them--that either world capitalism must go under or the Soviet Union. Necessity breeds the men. Trotsky became the cutting arm of the proletariat, an arm that cut through and broke to pieces the ring of enemies in Russia, an arm that moved on Warsaw and proudly raised aloft the banner “COMMUNISM KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES.” And today Trotsky still stands as an intransigent internationalist struggling vigorously with all his might against all narrow merely nationalist tendencies. However, let us not push the parallel too far lest we say too much and thus too little. We must never forget what Leon Trotsky himself would stress, that the French victories were the victories of NAPOLEON, while in Russia they were the victories of the BOLSHEVIK PARTY organized and trained by Lenin.
The modern St. Helena was not far off and soon the steamer approached Buyuk Ada. Here was the place--a pleasant island so small that two hours walk would take one all around it. In the center was a large hill with thick clusters of pines. The shores were studded with hotels and villas each with a large garden overflowing with the richly colored and fragrant flowers and trees of all descriptions. Around the dock clustered a small village. The island, where formerly were detained exiled Turkish noblemen, was now a popular summer resort. What charming consideration, I thought, the protagonist of the “Permanent Revolution” has been given a “permanent vacation"!
I hailed a carriage: “A la maison de Trotski,” I said, and with a crack of the whip the horses were off. It was not long before the vehicle stopped at the entrance of a moss-grown, cobble-stoned street leading directly to the sea. There, facing the sea, surrounded by a high wall, was the house and garden of Trotsky. I went to the gate. At once a swarthy Turkish special officer barred my way. The illusion of “vacation” at once evaporated. This was not “vacation” but exile, and not only exile but jail. The prisoner could walk about, he could take his boat and fish, but only at the greatest personal risk--and always with the officers at his side. Stalin’s will and Turkish officers obeying it--what a combination! “I am from America. I want to see Leon Trotsky,” I said in English. He called another officer who went to the house. Soon some one came running out. I was welcome. The guards stepped aside, the gates were unlocked, the dogs stopped barking, the gates clanged behind--I too was a prisoner!
Trotsky lives in a large pleasant two storied house, formerly inhabited by a Turkish business man, which now Trotsky rents from its Turkish owner after his former house was burned down by a fire of unknown origin. On the ground floor are the living quarters of those comrades who aid him, and of the cook, a pleasant Greek woman, and above are the quarters of his immediate family (including his wife and grandson), and his office, library and study.
Order and discipline are apparent everywhere. The library is neatly arranged, the papers carefully filed, every document in its place. Everyone knows his task and quietly and efficiently goes about doing it. Everything seemed peaceful and secure, only the automatic pistols and various small arms now and then to be seen in the house gave an inkling that there was the possibility of danger and that here were men determined to fight for their lives at all costs. Before I left I was to see the efficiency of the watch in action.
Trotsky lives with his immediate family and with several comrades who help him in his work. I found his wife, Natalia, an extremely cultured woman, in the forties, who, a revolutionary in her own right, had willingly and understandingly suffered all the privations of her husband and actively helped him in his tasks. It is as the head of this little intimate group that Trotsky reveals his considerate and gentle character. He would press one to eat and to feel at home, and watched solicitously over the health and welfare of his companions. Simple, generous, considerate, Trotsky displays these characteristics in all his personal relations--in fact the little group lived in a noble plane of relationships entirely unaffected. Between the “Old Man” as he is affectionately called, and those around him, has been built up a great warmth and tenderness of feeling.
Upon my arrival, I was taken into the study where Trotsky was working on the second volume of his “History of the Russian Revolution.” He greeted me warmly, inquired after my health, insisted that I come immediately to stay at his house, and worked out a program of discussions. Here I was able to observe intimately what kind of man was this Trotsky.
What I saw before me was a strongly built, stocky, medium-sized figure of 53 years or so. Handsome features, delicately etched, have been touched by the cares of the revolution. His familiar thick mane of hair, formerly jet black, is now streaked with grey, but his eyes still snap behind the thick glasses, and his firm features still hold all their aggressiveness. The strong, well-shaped hands, broad back, graceful carriage, healthy, glowing tanned skin, the brilliant smile that illumines at once all his features, everything about Trotsky suggests the combination of grace and strength, of brilliance and reserve, of biting humor and relentless determination, that have characterized him in everything he has done.
This disciplined yet abounding vitality was apparent in his sincere courteous manner. A patient listener, he knows how to make one feel that he is steadily absorbing all information. But, at the same time, Trotsky never wastes time: and at any undue encroachment on his working hours, his eyes snap impatiently and one feels at once that one is holding up the mighty forces of destiny. It was the same with his speech. In a clear tenor voice, he speaks slowly and decisively, each word spoken as though carefully calculated, but like his written style, compact with thought, and scintillating with striking phrases. “The style is the man” indeed.
It might be expected that the fall from power would have left Trotsky broken or morose or pessimistic. Far from it. The exile and imprisonment have apparently not put him on the defensive nor withered away his strength, even though the climate has given him malaria from which he suffers intensely in hot weather, and though he is on a diet due to stomach troubles. In spite of these physical handicaps and political reverses, he seems to preserve an admirable philosophic calm, a deep confidence in the correctness and ultimate victory of his views. The final triumph of the proletariat and of the Left Opposition is to him absolutely assured. A contagious optimism pervades all his thoughts.
And these things came out in all our conversations. Trotsky showed a tremendous catholicity of views. We talked of China, India, Germany, Italy, Spain, America, Russia, the Negro question, the Labor Party question in America, the world economic crisis, the personal traits of the leading actors on the European political stage today, literature, military tactics; on all these questions Trotsky showed himself a broadly informed man with unusual penetration.
I asked him: “What do you think of the German situation--Suppose the Hitlerites seize power?” “To me,” Trotsky replied, “Germany is the key to the international situation. Let us look at the East--Japan will not attack Russia immediately. In Asia things go more slowly. Japan will have her hands full for a while with Manchuria, which can well become for her what Morocco was to the Spanish dynasty. Besides, Japan has far too much respect for the new Red Army of Russia to try war without a guaranty from the West. The West is decisive. If the world is to turn Communist, and the Revolution made permanent and enduring throughout the world, it must come from the contradictions in the West. And the key to the West, to Europe, lies in Germany.”
“In Germany,” he continued, “all the conditions are ripe for a Communist Revolution. On the one hand, Germany is the European country par excellence of large scale industry, welded into monopolies and trusts and fused with the State itself. On the other hand, of all the great industrial countries, Germany is the only one where the masses of people have suffered so much and been reduced to such a low standard of living. Here too the mass of workers, already socialistically minded, have seen the Socialist Party take power and yet fail to bring Socialism.”
“In the face of these conditions, it is disturbing to find that all working class revolutions in Germany have been defeated, that the Socialist Party is still able to keep its influence, the Communist Party does not grow to any extent, and to cap it all, a great growth of Fascism is taking place under the direction of Hitler’s Nazis.”
“What do you consider the reason for this growth of Fascism?” I asked, “And what will become of it?”
Trotsky found one of the principal reasons in the blunders of the Communist International which, he considers, under Stalin’s direction, has become nationalistic and opportunistic.
“Chiefly due to the blunders of the Communists,” he stated, “Hitler may be able to take power. And Hitler in power signifies the actual massacre of the Communists and their virtual elimination together with the destruction of the German Trade Unions. Such developments would cut down the Communist Parties everywhere. They would remove the greatest obstacle to a world war against Soviet Russia, namely, the resistance of the energized international working class. Soviet Russia cannot remain indefinitely Communist if the workers elsewhere cannot aid it, despite the internal strength of Russia, fortified by the Five Year Plan.”
Trotsky strongly implied that a Communist International that could commit such blunders as to lose the decisive German revolution and thus the Russian Revolution could no more be a worthy instrument. If these revolutions were to be lost, the Communist International, as now constituted, would be declared useless and a new International, really following Marx and Lenin, established. And the groundwork of this task must be laid now. The deportation and exile of Leon Trotsky, far from disarming him, only gave a greater opportunity for him to meet his foreign comrades who came to him from all parts of the world. Already an International Left Opposition has been built up with sections in all principal countries. Today these sections strive to reform the Communist Parties; tomorrow, with the possible death of the Communist International, they may become the kernel of a new International.
Our discussion on Revolution brought me to ask the question: “What was the relation of Revolution to Evolution, of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat to Democracy? To Trotsky, Revolution is not only a break of the gradual evolutionary process but a part of it. There is always a moment when the gradual accumulation of forces eventually leads to the next “step” in evolution, the “jump.” The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is not only a break from “Democracy” as we in the United States understand the term, but also a development of it.
For this reason, in backward countries, as in Russia, and now in China, India, or even in countries such as Italy today and perhaps Germany tomorrow, where Democracy may be non-existent or destroyed, the Communists must advance, at a given moment, democratic slogans, as for example in China, Ireland, Italy, India, the slogan of “Democratic Republic.” But, as the history of Europe has shown since the war, only the movement of the workers can allow Democracy to triumph (republics to be permanently established, people to have votes, feudal remnants eliminated, etc.), but by that time the workers push the Revolution forward and turn it into a Socialist one. The Democratic Revolution can triumph only under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, but the Dictatorship of the Proletariat pushes forward the Democracy into Socialism. This is the essence of Trotsky’s brilliant exposition of “Permanent Revolution” which Lenin and he carried out so successfully in Russia in 1917.
Of course I questioned Trotsky as to his opinions on America. They were in line with his views of the development of World Revolution. “America,” he said, “is the great reserve of world capitalism. The United States is the very antithesis of the Soviet Union and sooner or later these two titans must come to life and death grips. This, of course, does not prevent them from having many things temporarily in common, as the hostility to Japan’s Manchurian adventure, the absence of both the United States and the Soviet Union from the League of Nations, and the trade and technical relations between America and Russia showed. For America has to fight not only Russia, but the British Empire and the attempt to organize a united states of Europe against the power of America. As capitalist Europe had striven to “Americanize” itself industrially, so America will become “Europeanized” politically.
“And what chance is there for a strong Communist Party in the U.S.A,” I queried. “There is no doubt in my mind,” was his answer, “that now in the United States class lines will have to be openly recognized and a mass workers party emerge. Whether such a party will take the form of a Labor Party, in the English sense, or the mass growth of a Socialist or Communist Party or some unique combination, it is difficult to say, but it is quite certain that whether in the worst period of the crisis, or when a possible upturn takes place, such a class politics will arise.”
“But your Socialist and Communist movements are the worst of any!” he exclaimed. “There is no Socialist Party so corrupt as the American one, no Communist Party so crude as the Communist Party of the U.S.A., and no “Right Wing” group of Communists so crassly opportunist as the American. But the leaders of these elements will be pushed aside by the virile working class movements that are bound to arise. Should a Labor Party be organized by such a spontaneously arising working class movement, it is the duty of the Communists, even if they have to join it, constantly to criticize it and expose its limitedness. On no account must the Communists help to organize a Labor Party but must build a Communist Party in opposition to it.”
Such were some of the more important views of Leon Trotsky on the world political situation. It is evident that his years of exile and imprisonment have not impaired him in the least. He is a terrific worker. I have seen him at work from early morning till late at night. We have gone fishing together at three in the morning and I have seen him retire the same evening only at eleven or twelve o’clock.
For Trotsky, sport is the only recreation possible. And Trotsky goes in for sport as he goes in for everything else, planfully, thoughtfully, enthusiastically. Fishing now is his great hobby. Early in the morning he would be up, and woe to him who came late--he would be left stranded on the shore. And to fish with Trotsky is in itself great sport. To watch him cunningly creep up on the places where he thought fish might abound and deftly spread the nets around, to see him then seize the rocks previously collected in the boat and hurl them in the water, driving the fish into the nets; to see his eyes sparkle and his enthusiasm grow as the nets would be brought up literally loaded with beautiful silver, gold, red, blue, and green specimens of the deep; to partake of his humor as the fish were picked from the net and collected, and to enjoy with him the fish caught that day at the dinner table--for Trotsky fares very simply--this was a pleasure indeed. Sometimes the fishing was not so good. Then Trotsky’s face would reflect this great failure of man against nature. Instead of coming in, we would stay out all morning. Natalia would grow anxious and soon send the outboard motor boat (of American make) after us with breakfast and sometimes even with dinner. Then we would eat bread and cheese and perhaps an egg or two on the boat and go on with the serious work of fishing. Trotsky indeed is an inveterate fisherman, going out in all kinds of weather much to the worry of all of us and to the discomfort of the police guards, especially once, when a storm coming up on the Sea of Marmora drove the little row boat on the rocks where Trotsky was stranded and drenched all night.
However, fishing can not quite take the place of hunting, a sport which Trotsky misses very much. He is a very good shot. Once, laughingly he pointed out how difficult it was to shoot wild ducks with a pistol, and then seeing one riding the waves about 250 yards from us, tried to get it with his automatic. At my own attempts the duck merely grinned (as only ducks can grin) and I consoled myself with the thought that with the little boat violently tossing on the waves and with the duck tossing at the same time, how could one, with a pistol, hit a duck at that range? But the duck stopped grinning and started ducking when Trotsky began to shoot and the bullets began zipping all around its little head.
It is well that Trotsky knows how to shoot, for there is no question that he may be called upon to use that art sometime. Tens of thousands of old Russian White Guards reside in Istanbul, many of whom frequent Buyuk Ada. As we go fishing, anxiously we scan the shores, without letting the “Old Man” know of it, to see if there is some one lurking in the woods to take a shot. As we eat some one patrols the grounds; a guard is kept all night watching the place; but even these precautions can not be very effective. What could a little guard of three men do if a real attack were made?
Even while I was there someone burst through the gate, began to beat the police guard, attacked the personal secretary of Trotsky, and started to move toward the house. One of the comrades was forced to pull his pistol and as the intruder stopped, another felled him to the ground and with some difficulty we tied him hand and foot. Only then were the police “guards” on hand. They carried him to the police station and as I left the island they were still questioning the man. So it goes. There is no question, as even the secret service police of the Soviet Union had to point out, that Trotsky’s life is daily in danger of attack. And there is no question that with his death a truly great man would leave the scene.
We herewith print our letter to the Communist League of America (Opposition) of February 15th. The reply to this letter was printed, in essence, in the April 8th issue of the Militant. We are also printing the joint Resolution adopted.
Communist League of Struggle
(Adhering to the International Left Opposition)
133 Second Avenue, Room 20
February 15, 1933
TO THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE, COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF AMERICA (OPPOSITION)
The resolution of the New York Branch of the Communist League of America (Opposition) printed in the Militant of January 28th, 1933, gives us another opportunity to place the question of unity before all the comrades of the Left Opposition.
1. We state again we earnestly desire the unification of the Communist League of America and the Communist League of Struggle, both adhering to the views of the International Left Opposition. This unification was never more necessary than at the present time. We are ready and willing to take our place as loyal disciplined members of the International Left Opposition.
2. We know of no basic differences that separate us from the International Left Opposition. This is certainly true of the question of Centrism. When we have said in our previous statements that we fully agree with Comrade Trotsky’s views on this question, this was no mere formal declaration. For the sake of still greater clarity and in the interest of unity we are willing to state once more our views on this question and to elaborate them.
3. First as to the question of Centrism in general. The thesis of the Communist League of Struggle of March 1931 did not contain a statement on this question. In Comrade Weisbord’s “Draft Statement” (published in the Militant of September 15, 1930) which has been referred to in one of the letters of the Communist League of America, the following statement was made: “However it seems that Comrade Trotsky is incorrect in designating the struggle between Bucharin and Stalin (and the national groups around them) as one between “Right” and “Centrist” tendencies in the Communist movement. It is in reality a struggle between two forms of the “Right.” Both philosophically and politically the conception of a “Centrist” Communist wing is wrong. Centrism can be used as designating Socialists not Communists. This was Lenin’s usage of the term. Practically, it gives the illusion that the Centrists are more to the “left” than the “right” and that “Centrists” are more easily swayed and have no real policy of their own.
It is to be noted that the above statement is that of an individual comrade made before the Communist League of Struggle was organized. However, since it was the statement of a comrade now a theoretical leader of our group, we do not wish to exclude it from discussion. Comrade Weisbord’s views have been influential in determining the views of the members of the Communist League of Struggle which have been expressed at various times in discussion with members of the Communist League of America. In the above statement, Comrade Weisbord should have pointed out that the term “centrism” can include tendencies within the Communist camp and that both the Bucharin and Stalin tendencies were of a “centrist” character. The group as a whole fully accepts Comrade Trotsky’s views on this question as obtained through reports of his discussions with Comrade Weisbord last summer, through his letters to us and his discussion of the question in print particularly in the pamphlet “What Next?”
Comrade Trotsky points out in this pamphlet that while centrism in general, “speaking formally and descriptively,” is composed of the trends between Marxism and Reformism (this would correspond, in part, to the statement above) nevertheless the question of determining the character of particular groups or parties must rest upon analysis of the movement with its concrete composition and above all of its tendencies. Herein lies Comrade Trotsky’s great contribution which has enabled our group to clarify its views on this subject and to find a characterization of specific groups more in conformance with the needs of the movement which requires the sharpest differentiation of the true Left Wing from the Stalinist and “Right Wing” Communist tendencies as well as from the non-Communist reformist tendencies.
Comrade Trotsky designates Stalinism as Bureaucratic Centrism, moving between official reformism and Marxism, because of its zig-zags which suggest the lack of an independent class base. Stalinism in the Soviet Union rests upon the Soviet Bureaucracy, but at the same time is tied to the working class by the frame of the Proletarian Revolution. This means (as we have stated in our answer to Comrade Trotsky--Class Struggle, vol. II, no. 7), “that on the one hand this centrism has a more permanent base than the ordinary forms of centrism which are by their very nature ephemeral and transient, and that, on the other hand, it will be a tendency capable at moments of yielding to the pressure of the working class and thus having leftward zig-zag peculiarities.”
4. We must recognize that the similarity of tactics which distinguished the Communist Parties in various countries is not due to similar conditions in these countries but to mechanical acceptance by these parties of the zig-zags of Stalinism and their application of them to their particular situation. Thus the bureaucratization of the C.I. creates a similar regime throughout the world, and we can therefore designate the Stalinist regime everywhere as one of “Bureaucratic Centrism.” Comrade Trotsky points out that Centrism in different countries takes on many different forms and in a given country may even include groups which are at war with each other. This fact must be kept in mind in characterizing the groups in the American movement.
5. In its thesis of March 1931, the Communist League of Struggle has declared: “…the disintegration of the Communist Party has exposed three groups with definite right wind tendencies. These tendencies must be cleaned out of the Communist movement…. Today, as before, the C.P.U.S.A. is essentially a right wing organization (though some of its phrases and forms appear leftist,… It is impossible to declare that one group (Lovestone) is more to the right than the other (official party). We must not be fooled by the make-believe “left” phrases of the Party bureaucrats.”
This part of the thesis was faulty in that it omitted to take a position on centrism, did not sufficiently differentiate between the groups in the U.S.A., and did not sufficiently analyze the character of the Stalinist regime. We have accepted Comrade Trotsky’s designation of “bureaucratic centrism” as applying to the American Party as well as to the rest of the Comintern. It also appears to us that on the whole the tendency of the American Communist Party is and has been towards the right. This we think we have proved in our thesis and articles. We do not find in this belief anything inconsistent with the views of Comrade Trotsky. Indeed in several of his articles Comrade Trotsky has pointed out that, in spite of its “left” zig-zags, Bureaucratic Centrism as a whole moves to the right of Marxism Leninism.
In our thesis we have characterized the Lovestone group in relation to the official Party as follows: “both are right wing groups essentially differing only in the form and tempo of development of their opportunism.” This statement should have been amplified. Both groups are varieties of Centrism. But subsequently in our paper and in speeches we have fully developed our view of the Lovestone group as moving rapidly towards reformism. However, on important questions of principle, there is still a basic agreement between the Communist Party and the Lovestone group (especially on the theory of building Socialism in One Country, in the nationalist Socialist tendencies exhibited by both, etc.). Not merely in words but in action the Communist League of Struggle, by entering into situations in which it alone combatted the representatives of the Lovestone group, has made plain its attitude towards them. On the other hand, we must stress the point that while we strive to win the Communist Party more than ever to our principles, the present critical situation in Germany should wipe out all tendencies of limping after the Party, or underestimating the depths which separate the Left Opposition from the Stalinists.
6. On the question of a block with the “Right” we believe our previous statements to be amply adequate and not in need of repetition.
7. As for our estimate of the Communist League of America, we have stated in our thesis: “In spite of its adherence to the International Left Opposition, the Cannon group in the United States is a very plain right-wing sectarian group. It is but a factional remnant of the old Cannon group in the Party using the name of L. D. Trotsky as a mask.” However, since March 1931 we can notice a hesitating change has occurred on the part of this group, particularly on the question of mass work which we had considered constituted the principle dividing line between the two organizations. This change we have recognized in our answer to Comrade Trotsky. We note that more agitation is being done, the American League is taking part in united front conferences, some effort is being made to get a better composition into its group, there is some talk of “reorganizing” it, there is a greater sensitivity to proletarian struggles, and one of the leaders of the group even attended a conference in the coal fields. Whether this change is due to the pressure of our criticism or not, we can not help stating that this is an advance.
It is the common acceptance of the International principles of the Left Opposition that we consider to be the principal basis for unification of the two groups. We consider ourselves capable of rounding out both theoretically and practically the work of the American League to bring the American movement closer to the spirit of the International Left Opposition and by our work to help put an end to the unprincipled factional struggle that now exists in the ranks of the adherents of the Left Opposition.
If we have, in our previous statements, given room for the impression that we wished to stress secondary questions unduly or to make “manoeuvres” rather than to seriously seek unity, we can only say that this was far from our intentions.
The Communist League of Struggle repeats: LET BOTH ORGANIZATIONS COME TOGETHER. LET THE RESPECTIVE COMMITTEES MEET TO WORK OUT PLANS FOR UNIFICATION. LET US BRUSH ASIDE PETTY OBSTACLES AND UNIFY THE FORCES OF THE LEFT OPPOSITION IN AMERICA.
COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF STRUGGLE
1. Previous discussions and correspondence between the Communist League of America (Opposition) and the Communist League of Struggle have established the principal ground for common work and a possible eventual fusion of the two organizations.
2. With this fact as the point of departure the joint conference of representatives of the two organizations agrees upon a program of collaboration.
3. In this collaboration the Communist League of Struggle adopts the following standpoint:
(a) It accepts the thesis of the International Preliminary Conference of the International Left Opposition.
(b) It regards the Communist League of America (Opposition) as the American section of the International Left Opposition and supports it as such.
(c) It will enter into collaboration with the Communist League of America (Opposition) in various activities with the objective of a fusion with it and will conduct itself accordingly in this collaboration.
(d) Criticism of the Communist League of America (Opposition) on the secondary points of difference, which may appear in the “Class Struggle,” will be regulated in content and tone by the above standpoint.
4. The Communist League of America (Opposition), on its part, will welcome the cooperation of the Communist League of Struggle in concrete activities and will facilitate the fusion of the two organizations after the actual possibilities of common work have been sufficiently tested in the period of collaboration between the organizations.
5. It is agreed that the Communist League of Struggle shall be given the opportunity to bring its special point of view on the remaining differences before the membership of the Communist League of America (Opposition) in the forthcoming pre-conference discussion and at the national conference.
6. The decision on the question of the integration of the Communist League of Struggle into the Communist League of America (Opposition) is to be made by the forthcoming national conference of the latter after opportunity has been given, by the intervening period of collaboration and discussion, to judge the maturity of the conditions for this action and the necessity for it. The undersigned representatives of the two organizations at the joint conference will work for the consummation.
FOR THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF AMERICA (OPPOSITION)
(Signed) Max Shachtman, J. P. Cannon, Martin Abern
FOR THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF STRUGGLE
(Signed) Albert Weisbord, Sam Fisher, Vera Buch
(Editor’s Note: The following article is a reprint from the May 21st, 1921 issue of the magazine “Soviet Russia,” the official American magazine of the Soviets at that time. Then Comrade Rakovsky occupied in the Ukraine a position corresponding to that of Lenin in Russia. But this was in the days of Lenin. Now, Rakovsky, one of the leaders of the Left Opposition, has been exiled to Siberia under conditions which may well lead to his destruction. This is in the days of Stalin. The Class Struggle urges all its readers and sympathizers to support the fund and campaign which the Left Opposition is initiating for the succor of the Left Oppositionists jailed and exiled and tortured by Stalin.)
The present leader of the Communist reconstruction in Ukraine, the head of the People’s Commissars, Christian Georgyevich Rakovsky, was born on September 1, 1873 in a little Bulgarian town, Kotel. He belongs to the very old Rakovsky family known in the history of the Balkan revolutionary struggles, a family which from the beginning of the nineteenth century played an important role in the revolutionary movement of the Balkans in general, and in Bulgaria particularly. He early showed the heritage of his revolutionary family traditions. As a youngster, while in the sixth class of gymnasium, he was expelled for distributing Socialist propaganda and organizing revolutionary circles.
In 1890 Rakovsky, unable to finish his studies, went to Geneva, Switzerland. Here he immediately entered into the Russian Social Democratic organization at the head of which at that time were Plekhanov, Sazulich and Axelrod. Through Plekhanov, he familiarized himself with the international labor movement.
For seven years Rakovsky, thanks to governmental persecution, spent his time wandering between the universities of Switzerland, Germany, and France. In 1892 he was arrested by the authorities of Geneva for an attempt against one of the Russian agents provocateur. He was expelled by the Berlin police for his participation in the German labor movement and in the Russian Social Democratic movement. Finally the French Government permitted him to study there, but only under very strict police surveillance.
While working in Russian, German, French, Swiss, and other organizations, Rakovsky did not forget his native country. He published in Geneva a Bulgarian paper, “Social Democrat,” and directed the Socialist papers in Bulgaria itself.
After having completed his studies in the Medical Faculty in 1897, Rakovsky wrote a brilliant doctor’s dissertation which gives a Marxian explanation of criminality and degeneration, a work which has been translated into Russian. Upon his return to Bulgaria, there began a struggle against Russian Tsarism. Rakovsky organized throughout the whole country a great number of meetings, started a campaign in the press, and published a bit historical work under the title “On Russian Policy in the East.” In view of the fact that the country where his family was living was occupied by the Rumanians he was mobilized for military service, where he continued Socialist propaganda.
In 1900 Rakovsky went to Russia. He was immediately arrested and expelled through Reval to Germany where he completed his well known work Present Day France, published under the pseudonym Insarov. In order to get in touch with the French labor movement, Rakovsky entered the juridical faculty of the University of Paris; but within a year he returned to Russia and again was compelled to leave the country. The years 1900-1903 Rakovsky spent writing for the Russian Marxian review, Novoye Slovo, and other papers. In 1904 began the so-called “Rumanian period” when he reorganized the Socialist Party in Rumania, which had been liquidated by Social Democratic intellectuals.
There now began a violent persecution by the Rumanian authorities and bourgeoisie, and in 1907 Rakovsky was arrested following the peasant uprisings. He was deprived of his political rights, and entrance to Rumania was forbidden him. The whole organized Rumanian proletariat rose in his support and he returned to Rumania to arouse public opinion by bringing his case before the courts; but the Rumanian government did not give him this opportunity and tried to send him over the b order again. The border countries refused to receive the revolutionist who at that time was already known to the entire western European proletariat, and the Rumanian government, to solve this problem, was on the point of shooting him. This brought about an uprising of the workers in Bucharest which ended with a bloody conflict in which more than fifty workers and policemen were victims. An attempt to remove Rakovsky from Bucharest was foiled by the workers who tore up the rails. The Government, powerless itself, asked Rakovsky to exert his influence on the workers and agreed to return all his rights. This was done in 1912; it was a brilliant victory for the labor party over the Rumanian oligarchy.
During his “Rumanian period,” Rakovsky renewed his close relations with the Russian revolutionary movement. In 1905 he went on the mutinous warship “Prince Potemkin” and influenced the insurgent sailors not to surrender and to go instead to the aid of the striking workers at Batum. Later Rakovsky went to the relief of the insurgents who remained in Rumania thus bringing upon himself new persecutions. Compelled to leave the country in 1907 he renewed his relations with the Western revolutionary movement. He also returned again to Bulgaria where he founded the paper Forward.
During the great war the Rumanian government shamefully persecuted Rakovsky as well as the Socialist press. There were arrests and armed police attacks in one of which Rakovsky was wounded.
The Russian Government was watching the July manifestations in Galatz. In a telegram of June 17, 1916, the Russian envoy Poklevsky informed his government as follows: “For the happenings in Galatz the Rumanian government has removed from his post the Prefect Gussy. It transferred the prosecuting attorney and indicted Rakovsky and the chief syndicalist sponsors of the manifestations. The latter have convoked numerous meetings protesting against blood-shed in Galatz and in general against the war.”
These manifestations were so powerful and threatening that the Rumanian Government was compelled to release Rakovsky as well as other prisoners. When with Rumania’s declaration of war the workers were mobilized, the government again arrested Comrade Rakovsky.
These activities and especially the Zimmerwald conference, initiation of which Rakovsky shared with Lenin and Trotsky, stirred against him violent attacks of the European imperialist press of all countries, particularly of France, Italy and Russia. Thanks to the Russian Revolution on May 1, 1917, when the Russian garrison of the city of Jassy freed the political prisoners under the eyes of the Rumanian king and his spies, Rakovsky again was released from prison.
The Russian envoy Masslov in a secret telegram reported thus: “Yesterday on May 1 there took place in Jassy a meeting of the Russian garrison; those participating in the manifestation proceeded in an orderly fashion through the streets, the participants bearing red flags on which were inscriptions in Russian and Rumanian. During the manifestation the troops gathered upon the square to which they brought, in an automobile, the Rumanian Socialist Rakovsky who had just been released and who in a short speech greeted the soldiers. Rakovsky was answered in French by the Russian non-commissioned officer Giller, who concluded his speech with the wish that the same fate might overtake the Rumanian king that had befallen the Russian Tsar and that in the Balkans there should be formed, as soon as possible, a federation of democratic republics. Rakovsky was then brought in safety. In his conversation with me the Rumanian minister expressed his regret and accused his policemen for not executing the order concerning the removal of Rakovsky before the manifestation of May 1.” It must be added that this shameful action did not succeed owing to the fact that Rakovsky fell “gravely ill” in time.
From this moment there began the Russian-Ukrainian period of the activity of Rakovsky. After coming to Odessa he organized a great number of meetings, gatherings, and lectures, in which he advocated his slogan “Down with the War,” thus bringing upon himself persecutions and attacks from the Provisional Government as well as from the social-patriotic press and very quickly after his arrival in Petrograd he was entered on the list of the “twelve” whose arrest was asked by Burtsev as well as by the Rumanian Government. As revealed in a secret note of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tereschenko, and in a telegram of Kerensky of August 30 to the General Staff, every effort was made to put an end to the activities of Rakovsky. General Lukomsky, at the time of the revolt of Kornilov gave an order to arrest him but this did not succeed owing to the liquidation of the Kornilov attempt. After learning of this order Rakovsky went to Kronstadt.
At the time of the November Revolution Rakovsky was in Stockholm from which place he sent his greetings and support of the revolution. Upon his return to Russia, he was ordered to Odessa and Sebastopol with a body of sailors for the liquidation of the counter-revolution in Rumania and in Ukraine. Following his return to Moscow Comrade Rakovsky appeared again in Ukraine together with Comrade Manuilsky in the role of the head of the peace delegation. This activity of Rakovsky is known to everybody.
After the conclusion of the negotiations Comrade Rakovsky was delegated as a member of the Russian Soviet Embassy to Germany. He returned to Germany later in behalf of the Central Executive Committee together with Comrades Joffe, Radek, Bukharin, Ignatov, Marchlewski, but he was arrested in Vilna and forced back to Russia. In January 1919, according to the decision of the Ukrainian Communist Party, Rakovsky was called back and at the Third Congress of the Ukrainian Soviets confirmed as head of the Soviet of People’s Commissars. When the Soviet power returned after the crushing of Denikin, Comrade Rakovsky became again the head of the Soviet of People’s Commissars, being at the same time the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, and member of the Executive Committee of the Third International.
Letter to Pekin Friends
by Leon Trotsky
What are, at present, the chief elements of the political situation in China?
The two most important revolutionary problems, the national problem and the agrarian problem, have again become aggravated. The pace of the peasant war, slow and crawling but generally victorious, is evidence that the dictatorship of the Kuomintang has proved incapable of satisfying the countryside or of intimidating it further. The Japanese intervention in Shanghai and the effective annexation of Manchuria have placed in relief the military bankruptcy of the Kuomintang dictatorship. The crisis of power which, at bottom, has not stopped for a single moment during these last years, must have grown fatally worse. The struggle between the militarist cliques destroys what remains of the unity of the country.
If the peasant war has radicalized the intellectuals who have connections in the country, the Japanese intervention, ion the contrary, gave a political stimulation to the petty-bourgeoisie of the cities. This has only again aggravated the crisis of power. There is not a single section of the bourgeoisie called “Nationalist” which does not tend to arrive at the conclusion that the Kuomintang regime devours much and gives little. To demand an end of the period of “education” of the Kuomintang is to demand that the military dictatorship give way to parliamentarism.
The Left Opposition press has sometimes labeled as fascist the regime of Chiang Kai Shek. This definition was formed from the fact that in China as in Italy, the military-policy power is concentrated in the hands of one bourgeois party alone to the exclusion of all other parties and notably, of the workers organizations. But after the experience of the last years, an experience which the confusion that the Stalinists brought to the question of fascism complicated, it would not be very correct, all the same, to identify the dictatorship of the Kuomintang with fascism. Hitler, as in his time Mussolini, supports himself, before all, on the counter-revolutionary petty bourgeoisie; there is the essence of fascism. The Kuomintang has not this point of support. Thus in Germany the peasants march behind Hitler and by this fact indirectly support Von Papen; in China the peasants carry on a raging struggle against Chiang Kai Shek.
(to be continued)