MANIFESTO—COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF STRUGGLE
Hitler is the Chancellor of Germany! This event is of enormous international importance. It means that the attack against the German workingclass opens its most brutal and murderous phase. Nothing less than the destruction of all workingclass organizations is meant by Hitler’s rule.. The destruction of the German Communist Party and Trade Unions can break the back-bone of the workingclass all over the world. It removes the most important support of the Soviet Union. It leads inevitably to world war.
Comrades! At this grave hour of peril only the rebuilding of the Communist International on a Leninist basis can save the day. DEMAND THE REINSTATEMENT OF COMRADE TROTSKY, RAKOVSKY, AND THE LEFT OPPOSITION IN THE COMINTENR! Let us redress our ranks in time under a Leninist leadership. Such a leadership will see to it that the crying need of the hour- the formation of a real united front of the workers (Communist, Trade-Union and Socialist) against the Fascist danger and the capitalist system will be actually accomplished.
Such a united front can not only smash Fascism. It can put on the order of the Day: Sovient Germany and the World Proletarian Revolution!
AMERICA AT A TURNING POINT
America is at a grand turning point of its career, a turning point as decisive as was 1776, 1860, 1898 or 1917.
Up to now the U.S. has been called a “Young Country” but in what sense has it been young? Only in the sense that it is the youngest edition of the “Old”, of the old capitalist relations already existing in Europe. Measured by History and not merely by time “Young” America is “Old” compared to “Old” Russia with its Soviets and proletarian rule.
America in the colonial period was “Young” in a double sense. First it rejuvenated Europe. It was the existence of America and the other “free” colonies that provided an outlet for the productive forces of Europe, postponed the day when the contradictions of Capitalism would tear it to pieces, and permitted capitalist Europe to enjoy a hundred years or so of maturity. It was the monkey glands of America that postponed the days of European senility.
Secondly America was “Young” because it began by starting with the relationship of “Merrie England” before modern capitalism flourished. The direct producer controlled his means of production. But further, America was the land of dreams, it was the promised land the land for youth, a “way out”, a sort of Utopia if you please. No wonder so many people came to build Utopia here, America was the place where a man could wipe the slate clean. He could start anew. America took the place of Jerusalem, it took the place of Socialism.
America was unique, but not in the Hooverian sense of being beyond the bounds of Capitalist contradictions and class formations. If America reversed the process of Europe and turned proletarians into farmers instead of peasants into proletarians, it was only in order to, by stepping back, have a longer running start before the leap. As Karl Marx wrote long ago, “In the U.S. the restoration in this way of handicrafts based on Machinery is frequent and therefore when the inevitable transition to the factory system shall take place the ensuing concentration will, compared with Europe and even with England, stride on in seven league boots". (Capital Vol. I footnote p. 503). If here the domination of Capitalist relations was delayed, it was more than compensated for by the fact that here, in America was the “purest” Capitalism as well as the highest expression of Capitalism.
If America was unique it was in the unique form of the most violent contrasts that existed within its framework. The law of uneven development permitted to exist here the most highly developed capitalism with traditions of pre-capitalism, non-capitalism and anti-capitalism, a country of the most magnificent formation of classes on the basis of classlessness. Side by side with its tremendous rationalization went the tremendous waste of forces; on the one hand the careful utilization of all materials, on the other hand a reckless squandering of forces, land, power, material, men and a “youthful” ignorance of its limitations.
These same violent contrasts took shape in the political and social spheres as well. America was at the same time the country of “freest” labor and the country par excellence of forced labor (Slavery, indentured servants, peonage, chain gang, etc., to mention only a few) The country of the “Homestead” sees the greatest breaking up of the home. The land of “sancitity of womanhood” (the South) sees the greatest organized rape (Note the Number of Negro women raped in the South). The land of rampant individualism was the land where the individual most of all was but a cog in the machine.
Translated into social life the “pure” development of capitalism came to mean “Tempo”, speed, and individual violence. These were the characteristics of America.
Ideas limp after events. It is only in such periods as the present with its crises, wars, revolutions and convulsions that we can see clearly the great turn America is making. Let us take the economic situations. The crisis may be said to have started in the Middle of 1929. This is now 1933. According to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce Monthly Business Index if we take the Monthly average of the years 1923-1925 as 100 then regarding Industrial production as a whole the figures are:
Prod. Industrial Iron Auto Minerals Textiles and Steel ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 1929 119 130 136 115 115 1930 97 95 85 99 91 1931 81 50 57 83 95 1932 63 30 33 70 82 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Drop Almost 50% 75% 75% 40% 35%
According to the Annalist if we count 100 as Normal, 1929 saw the general business figure at 111 at its peak while the lowest figure in 1932 was 51, a drop of 59 or over 50%. According to the Annalist, December 1932 saw Iron down to 18.3, steel at 20.9, freight car loadings at 56.5, coal and electric power production each at 65 etc. According to population the U.S. was at the same level it was in 1899.
Commodity Farm Raw Finished Cost of Prices Prices Material Goods Living -------------------------------------------------------------------- 1929 96.5 104.9 97.5 96.2 100 1930 86.3 88.3 84.3 88.4 96.2 1931 73 65 66 77 87 1932 65 48 55 70 77.6 -------------------------------------------------------------------- Drop 30% 55% 40% 28% 28%
Table III shows the Monthly average of Foreign Trade, Imports and Exports
Imports Exports 1929 366,613,000 429,757,000 1930 255,076,000 315,098,000 1931 152,000,000 (Nov) 184,000,000 1932 104,000,000 (Nov) 139,000,000 ----------------------------------------------------------------
Note Imports dropped 72%, Exports 70% in this time and the favorable balance of trade dropped from $63,000,000 to $35,000,000 1932.
Table IV gives us the figures as to Monthly average of the number and liabilities of commercial failures and bank suspensions.
Commercial Failures Bank Suspensions --------------------------------------------------------------- Date Number / Liabilities Number / Debits --------------------------------------------------------------- 1929 1909 / $401 Million 54 / $191 Million 1030 2197 / 552 “ 112 / 72 “ 1931 2321 / 601 “ 358 / 277(Dec) 1932 2668 / 781 “ 95 / 46(Nov) --------------------------------------------------------------
Finally Table V gives us the figures as to Employment and Pay Roll totals based on Monthly average 1923-1925=100
Date Employment Payrolls ------------------------------------------------------------ 1929 101 1930 88.6 88.7 1931 75 86.9 1932 62.2 45.7 -------------------------------------------------------------
We do not wish to draw all the lessons from the figures of the crisis. Certainly, however it has been the crisis that has enabled ideas to catch up with events, for the American to realize that the America of the 19th Century (frontier, homestead, free land, unlimited growth, petty industry, “no classes”, etc.) is no more. If before America stood for open opportunity, today it stands for bankruptcy and unemployment. If before there was a high optimism and the idea that individual self-help and free competition resulted in the survival of the best, today there is a deep pessimism and the recognition of the necessity of State aid. All now rush for government aid. The Reconstruction Finance Corporation, governmental subsidies, tariffs, taxes, loans, all manner of measures are proposed—as well as unemployment and other special insurance. If before there was a developed rationalization today in wide areas people are reverting to barter and primitive forms of production and exchange of all sorts. Nothing could better illustrate the change in situation than the fact that whereas before approximately a million immigrants entered upon our shores annually, today the emigration exceeds immigration by about 100,000!
What is all this if not the basis for the fact that we are face to face with what Trotsky calls the Europeanization of American politics. If it means anything this means that more and more class lines will be recognized and open class parties will be organized. This, in turn, means the rapid breaking away of the American working class from both the Republican and Democratic parties and the establishment of mass workers’ party or an independent political party of labor, with a consequent liquidation of one of the old parties, just as the Liberal Party has disappeared in England.
In the International sphere this “Europeanization” is taking a liberal form. The “splendid isolation” of America more and more patently is coming to an end. Russia will be recognized in all probability; and more and more openly will the United States dole out its rations to europe and meddle in its politics.
That class lines are openly developing is becoming ever more clear. Take the demand of the American Federation of Labor for social insurance. Take the speech of William Green before the United States Senate Committee threatening a General Strike. Take the seizure of food that has taken place in various parts of the country. On the other hand, we can note the idealogical germs of Fascism in the new fad “Technocracy".
The Hoover Committees bewail the breaking up of the home and the dwindling of the influence of Religion. The moving pictures are taking to films showing discontent (See “I am a fugitive from a Chain Gang” and Cabin in the Cotton” as two good examples). Jazz has turned from “Oh! How I Miss you Tonight” to “Buddy Can you Spare a Dime". On all sides the idealogical changes are apparent.
American ideas are catching up with events. It is losing its 19th Century character. It is beginning to be cast in molds of class.
This gives enormous opportunities to us Communists. As Trotsky has recently written: “The elevation of revolutionary theory to new heights can be looked for in the next few decads from two sources: the Asiatic East and America.”
Just as at one time the revolutionary center was in England, then France, later Germany and today in Russia, so that now the Moscow ruling faction has already become a brake on the development of the world proletariat, this center can and must again be displaced. Back in 1874 Karl Marx moved the headquarters of the First International to the United States. It is possible that Marx was wrong only as to the time and not as to the general direction. “Certainly” Trotsky concludes, “Before the American Marxists there open up breath-taking perspectives.”
In the midst of the doldrums period into which the crisis has plunged the American labor movement, the Illinois miners Strike and the formation of the Progressive Miners Union stand out as the most significant working class events. The strike in the Central Illinois fields, against the powerful Peabody interest, has been conducted in militant fashion since last summer. The recent battle at Kincaid, Illinois between strike pickets and coal company thugs and strike breakers resulted in the death of a woman auxiliary member, of two strike breakers and many others wounded. Twenty-two members of the Progressive Miners Union are indicted for murder and over thirty others for unlawful assembly and inciting to riot. Terror reigns again in the coal mining towns, with the National Guard and company gunmen running rampant. The miners and their families are putting up a stern fight in the midst of unemployment, hunger and the importation of strike breakers from the starvation-ridden unorganized southern coal-fields.
The formation of the Progressive Miners Union marks the culmination of years of struggle against the strangle hold of the coal operators fat boys, the AFL bureaucrats of the United Mine Workers.. By the time the last general strike of the soft coal miners took place in 1927-28 the UMWA had reached a point of general disintegration and collapse before the onslaughts of the coal operators. The complete rottenness and corruption of John L. Lewis and his cohorts were exposed to tens of thousands of miners. During that strike the Communists through the “Save the Union” Committee and later the National Miners Union gained considerable influence, particularly in the Pittsburgh and Eastern Ohio districts. In Illinois the UMWA remained somewhat stronger with the “Left Wing” or Communist influence less. The miners of Illinois were not yet ready to split and to join the new Union. For them the struggle against the bureaucrats took the form of various local progressive movements which arose at different times. Unfortunately, the National Minors Union isolated itself from these movements. The Communist Party forced its mistaken policies in an entirely mechanical fashion upon the Union. The Illinois progressive movements were denounced as “social-fascist” its leaders were labelled “Peabody agents” (the honest rank and file progressives being lumped together with Walker and his men). At the same time men who had worked loyally and tirelessly for the union but who were not in agreement with Stalinist party policies were driven out from the Union amidst showers of mud. Such tactics could not win the confidence of the miners. They had to bludgeon their way without the help of the Communist Party to the point of a split from the AFL.
The climax in the Illinois came last summer when the Walker clique capitulated to a reduction of the basic $6, a day wage scale. The formation of the Progressive Miners Union has proven such a lodestone that we understand about 20,000 miners have joined its ranks with the addition of a well-organized and active Woman’s Auxiliary of several thousand members. If the Communist Party is isolated from this mass movement it can thank its tactics of violence and distrust of the workers and mechanical interference in the labor movements. On the failure of the party is build the influence which reformist groups are gaining. We see the C.P.L.A. and Socialist Party given front page space in the Progressive Miner.
One of the principal tasks before the Progressive Miners Union is the unification of the various organized groups of miners now in existence. The West Virginia Miners Union, the National Miners Union and drawing in of the Kentucky and other unorganized fields. Until this is accomplished the fight against unemployment and starvation will be seriously hampered.
The struggle of the Illinois miners should have labor’s full support. It is unfortunate that the C.P.L.A. does not see fit to broaden its relief efforts and take in all workers’s organizations willing to help and make a real campaign for relief. Donations of money, clothing and non-perishable food should be sent to the Progressie Miners Union, Gillespie, Illinois.
Japan’ military procedure in China is developing in spiral fashion: its scope is increasing from month to month. Such a system offers political and diplomatic advantages: by degrees first their own people and then the opponents are drawn in, while the world is confronted by a series of accomplished facts. But at the same time it also knows that the military clique at present has to overcome not only external but international difficulties. From the purely military point of view such action “par petits paquets” (in sections) carries a disadvantage with it. Evidently the powerful circles in Japan are of the opinion that China’s military weakness and the insoluble contradictions in the enemy’s camp permit them a certain loss of time, which is connected with a spiral advance.
In the meantime, with or without delay, the second phase (the phase of a real war) must inevitably follow the first. What is Japan’s political object? The leading Paris papers, which carefully render in the French tongue the views and remarks of the Japanese general staff, have continually emphasized that there cannot be talk of war but only of police measures. This information belongs as a necessary constituent to the “section method” of the spiral system. It will fall apart of itself as soon as the military action has come to a full development and as the defensive forces stand before the sought-for aims.
Japan’s aim is the colonization of China, a really grandiose plan. But we can also say that it surpasses Japans strength. Japan has arrived too late upon the scene. At a time when Great Britain must contemplate the loss of India, Japan will not suceed in making a new India out of China.
Is it however not possible that the rulers in Tokio are pursuing a different aim, namely a drive against the Soviet Republic? It would be hasty to declare such a plan as completely excluded. It can however surely not be placed in the front ranks. Only when Manchuria has been occupied and its position there consolidated can it be thought of, to make a drive in a northwestern direction. But while the Soviet government neither will nor can lead a war, evidently Japan will not decide to undertake an immediate aggressive path against Soviet Russia, before it has assured and strengthened its position in China and Manchuria.
A war against the Soviet Union would have to be carried on with quite other methods. Without strong allies in a position to finance the war extensively, it must be considered doubtful whether Japan will decide to overstep the boundaries of Manchuria. How far Tokyo today or tomorrow can count on million-dollar loans for military purposes, can be established better in Paris, London, or New York than here in Prinkipo.
Every attempt to repeat the Soviet Government’s aggressive plans in the Far East comes up against a lack of support. A war would mean a severe blow to the industrial plan with which Russia’s whole future is closely bound up. A factory which is 09% finished is yet no factory, and in Soviet Russia there are hundreds and thousands of factories which are still in the building. Through a war they would be for a long time turned into dead capital. All this is really so clear, that it does not need to be brought out further.
If we admit then a military conflict in the far East is nevertheless inevitable—and of this not only many politicians in Japan, but also elsewhere are convinced—in this case there is no ground for the Soviet Union to hasten this event. Japan has forced its way into China in consequence of a high-flown enterprise, which will have unexpected consequences. It can and will have military and diplomatic partial results, but these will be of a negligible nature, while the difficulties will be not only enduring, but will also increase. In Korea Japan already posses her Ireland. In China she is trying to get her India. One must be a completely dumb general of the feudal type to look down with contempt upon the national movement in China. A powerful nation of 450 millions of people which has awakened to self-consciousness by a display of arms. Japan will sink to her knees, if not to her waste, in the fat Manchurian soil, and will stick fast there. And since in Japan itself the industrial development has prospered in complete contradiction with the feudal structure of society, we must regard an inner crisis as quite inevitable. First the Selyakai Party must clear the field for the Minsei Party, which will develop further to the Left. Then the revolutionary party will lift its head. France has lost not a little through the financing of Tzarism. She is making a mistake if she believes that she has assured herself against losses by the financing of Mishado. It is quite plain in the Far East the Soviet Regime has no occasion to make haste or to sacrifice.
Consequently a war between Soviet Russia and Japan could only arise if the conflict were provoked by Japan designedly and knowingly with the consent of strong allies. The object of such a war could be incomparably greater than the question of the Chinese Eastern railway and the whole Manchurian problem together. Certain French papers have been rather hasty with the prediction that Bolshevism will go to ruin in the Siberian steppes. The steppes and the forests of Siberia have room enough to make way for the fall of many things, but is it so sure that it must be Bolshevism which is to go down there?
The idea of a war between Soviet Russia and Japan like the parallel thought of a war between Japan and the United States brings the problem of distances before us: a landocean or a waterocean as probable scenes of military operation. At the very first glance the strategic problem goes straight to the question of distances. Which brings up the point, many people come quickly to conclusions which are disagreeable for Russia; the weak protection of the Asiatic districts of the Soviet Union, the industrial backwardness and the lack of railroad connections must be seen as so many factors which are unfavorable to the Soviet Union. This is correct to a certain point. If however one approaches the question first from a purely military-technical standpoint, it must not be overlooked that these same powerful distances will likewise be allies for the Soviets. When we also admit the possibility of military success of the Japanese in the advance to the West, it can be easily seen that its difficulties in the section which lies behind the Japanese troops would increase with the distances. Its successes would be thereby complicated, and in the bargain Japan would leave behind its back its Ireland and its India.
Meanwhile we cannot contemplate the problem within such narrow limits. The war would not be carried out entirely by military means.. Soviet Russia would not stand alone. China is awakened. It will fight for its existence, and is in a position to do this. Whoever overlooks this factor, risks to lose his head.
The transportation of millions of soldiers on the Siberian railroad and their provisioning with all that belongs to the conduct of a war is certainly no light problem. But since now Russia’s industrial facilities are greatly improved, transportation by rail in case of necessity could be considerably increased. This will certainly take time. But a war over great distances would also be a war of long duration. One could perhaps propose a 5 year war plan or alter the industrial 5 year plan to correspond with the requirements of the war. Naturally the industry and culture of the countries affected by the war would be dealt a terrible blow. I proceed from the proposition that there is no other way. Once a war is inevitable it must be conducted thoroughly, and no help and means must be spared. The participation of Soviet Russia in the war through which the Chinese people would gain new prospects, would have to open up a patriotic movement of powerful scope in China. Of this there can be no doubt for anyone who understands anything of the logic of events and of mass psychology. In China there is no lack of human mayerial. Millions of Chinese have learned to go around with a gun. They do not lack the will to struggle, but only an ordered military preparation, an organization, a system and a trained leadership. Here the Red Army could render the Chinese very efficacious help. The qualified units in ChangKaiShek’s army as is known, have been built up under the leadership of Russian instructors. The experiment of the military school at Whempoo could, if it were put on a different political foundation (this question I will not broach here) be built up to powerful proportions. Then the Transiberean Railway, as the necessary military instrument, would have to advance not an army but only the quintessence of an army.
How troops can be improvised out of awakened and aroused human material the Bolsheviks have thoroughly learned, and should not have forgotten. I do not doubt that it would be possible in 12 or 18 months to mobilize a million fighters, to clothe, arm and train them and place them on the battle line, and that these troops would not fall behind the Japanese in anything which concerns training. With regard to preparation for fight they would be even superior to the Japanese. For the second million, six months would not be needed. I speak of China, and beside China stand the Soviet Republic, the Red Army, their powerful reserves … The leading French papers, which hold the world’s regard for reaction, have really been too hasty to bury the Soviet in Siberia’s cities. Hatred is generally a bad counsellor and it is particularly so in making prophecies.
But if, you will ask me, the prophets are so hopeful, why does the Soviet Government try with all means to avoid war? To this question I have already answered; the time factor in the Far East worked against Japanese imperialism which has already passed its peak and is moving to ruin. But setting this aside, it must not be forgotten, and this side of the problem is not to be underestimated, that the world does not consist of the Far East alone. The key to the world situation lies for the moment not in Mukden, but in Berlin. If Hittler attains power, it would be a far greater danger to Soviet Russia than all the plans of the Tokio military clicque.
At the moment when we write these lines, Spain is shaken by a wave of strikes, an almost general strike in the Asturias, general strike in Salamanco affecting 305 villages, near strike of railway men, of little conflicts in the cities and small boroughs. After the strike of January, 1932 the revolutionary movement had been weakened, as well as the peasant movement. It is now growing again with all its might. Anxiety is reborn among the rulers and the bourgeoisie because they had hoped that with the checks undergone by the proletariat in the first stage of the revolution, the workers movement would be crushed for a long time: “The regime was consolidated".
The present strikes are, in a large part, defensive. The strikes in the Asturias are a defense against the unemployment in the metal industry and in the mines. The crisis in the former has carried in its wake a deep crisis in the second. There are enormous stocks of coal. The government first tried to exhaust them in furnishing part of it to the Marine and to the railroads. But this was quite insignificant in view of the proportions of the job. As we have said the cause of the crisis is the decline of the metallurgical industry. The struggle will grow again rapidly and with more force.
The seething among the railroad workers is enormous. This conflict already existed in the time of Berenguer and was utilized by the Socialists against the Monarchy. The railroad workers are among the most exploited in the country. On the pretext that they have not been touched by unemployment, they are paid starvation wages. Many get no more than five pesetas a day (peseta normally about six to a dollar, now about thirteen to a dollar-Ed). At the same time there is a bureaucracy composed of functionaries and their families and friends who get fantastic sums. In spite of their betrayalls, the Socialists have the greatest influence among the railroad men. The members of the CNT (Syndicalists-Ed) are only in a minority. Without doing anything to chanalize the discontent and to organize communications, the CNT anounces the general strike. It can be only a setback if this is realized and this will weaken for a certain time, the movement of the railroad men, the most important of the Spanish workers’ movements since 1930, thus playing into the hands of the bourgeoisie and Socialists.
The strike in Salamanca is launched against the maintenance of the old feudal dukes. Among all the Spanish provinces, certainly it is Salamanca which possesses the most numerous remnants of feudalism. Entire towns are the property of a “Senor"; elsewhere the “Senor” is the owner of the principal square of the town; in another case, he is owner of the roads and can thus obstruct the passage of whom he pleases. The workers of Salamanca who, like those of Metramadura and of other peasant regions, are organized in unions, since the formation of the Republic, have undertaken the most energetic revolutionary struggle against poverty and exploitation.
Most serious of all, in this state of intense agitation, is the situation within the trade union movement and the workers’ movement in general. The C.N.T. is now experiencing one of the greatest crises in its history, a crisis due not, as before, to the forces of repression, but due to its own powerlessness before the problems posed by the Revolution. This crisis has greatly transformed the U.G.T.. (Socialist labor center—Ed) but we must hope, however, that the CNT will survive it and we must boldly struggle to obtain this because its name is deeply anchored in the hearts of the masses.
In this situation, the Party continues its criminal policy which in most cases is an element of confusion rather than a force, at the miners strike there were three trade unions, CNT, U.G.T. and V.S.R. (Communist). The Party did nothing to bring about concerted action and the trade unions were egged on to mutual self-destruction. When the railroad men’s struggle tookplace between the CNT and U.G.P. there arose the inevitable “United Front Committee of Railroadmen” (a bureaucratic fiction without any base among the railroad men) which calls on the railroad men to realize the united front by “jumping over” their respective organizations. However, the possibilities of improving the tactic and the internal situation of the Workers Movement is very great.
The expulsion of the “traitor group” (Buueion, Twilla, Adamo, Vega) is the chief event in the life of the party. Throughout the country and in the other countries are rising revolutions against the “sectarian group". The Stalinist maneuver will do great evil to the Party. But it did not succeed as the Stalinists had hoped. Two years of activity of the Communist Left, now become a force known to the whole workers movement, have been so confirmed by the events that the maneuver of Stalin will remain without success. We intensify the action by showing that the “turn” instead of prolonging in an artificial manner the life of Stalinism, will but accelerate its decomposition.
The low political level of the new leadership—still worse than the preceding—the creation of the Communist Party of Catalone, adhearing to the C.P. of Spain—an unheard of thing in the Communist movement—in order to try to win ground in Catalona, puts in relief the immense faults of Stalinism. The enthusiasm—not so great as they hoped—brought in by “the turn”, grows colder each day and exposes the emptiness of Stalinism. Fotunately, in spite of the national disproportion of forces, the Left Communists make progress in a steady manner.
CANNON’S LECTURE AT LOVESTONE’S FORUM
Two years back when the C.L.S. put forward the proposition of alloting both space and hall for discussion of differences in the Communist movement and for the other groups to do likewise the answer from the American League was that “this would be a united front against the party”, and they would have nothing to do with it. This position has by now been abandoned.
On January 8th, Cannon spoke before the Lovestone forum. On entering the hall he was immediately welcomed by the Lovestonite Lifshitz with the salutation of “Hello Jim” and a handshake thrown in. Seeing this one might ask, “Are these men really opponents?” Especially when in his opening sentences Cannon smilingly admonishes Lovestone for breaking into his home once before and then hurriedly and falsely assures the audience that Lovestone will not employ similar tactics again.
In his presentation of the “Program of the Left Opposition” Cannon automatically posed the question to the workers present “Is he really hear to rip into the right-wing?” If so why is it that America is not even mentioned? Are there no problems confronting us? What about the question of unemployment? What about the question of the united front? What about the Negro Question? What about the question of mass work? Unfortunately for the Left Opposition Cannon did not speak on the above points and later in its attack on Cannon the right wing brought forth the points of America and mass work. Even though Cannon dealt almost entirely with the Russian question he failed in his presentation to take up the Lovestone position on “Trotsky’s Thermiderian Views” allowing Wolf to bring it up.
Is it not odd that a vanguard organization such as the Left Opposition should allow the right wing to put over the point that it did, such as having Cannon speak at their hall? Why not at least a neutral hall? Or a reverse procedure Lovestone at the Left Opposition hall? Why a leaflet telling workers to come to both Cannon’s and Lovestone’s lecture at the same time? Or Left Oppositionist advertising Lovestone? If it had to be at Lovestone’s headquarters it should have been a debate! Not a lecture with the right wing in control of the chair and groups of picked speakers all ready to attack with the result that the Lovestonites were pushed away up to the left, while the Left Opposition appeared as a right wing sect. Why is it that Lovestone the one who brutally expelled and exiled the Trotsky forces was allowed to appear in the least degree as the one who would do his utmost to bring about unity in the Communist movement?
In the discussion period Comrade Fisher pointed out the role of Lovestone and Cannon on concrete issues, the unity of thoughts when they were in the party and later as leaders of two separate groups. The case was clinched by Comrade Jarvis who read the resolution of the C.I. condemning Trotsky and supported by Cannon and Pepper and also some extracts of a bulletin printed by the American League in relation to a present unrpincipled factional fight.
I am sure that the Left Opposition did not gain one iota of sympathy by this meeting. As for the right wing they left the false impression amongst some workers that they were doing all they could to aid unity.
NOTES ON THE RECENT UNEMPLOYMENT CONFERENCE
On January 22nd the Communist Party (through its “A.F. of L.. Committee") called a conference to consider the question of calling a state conference in Albany to present bills for social insurance and labor protection in the New York State legislature.
Strange to say, the C.P. made every show of having a real united front. Gone were the phrases, the A.F. of L. fascist, the socialists are social-fascists, the Trotskyites are counter-revolutionary, etc. There were actually present a dozen A.F. of L. Unions (really a miserable showing) and believe it or not even the Communist League of Struggle and other opposition groups were seated.
The events of the conference showed clearly why the C.P. tries to prevent the Left Opposition from participating in any “united front". It is because the Party is afraid it will be exposed as the opportunist phrase-mongering organization it is. Although the C.L.S. had only two delegates present it was able to muster 17 votes for Comrade Weisbord to be on the Resolutions Committee; it got even a larger vote for its motion that the Resolutions Committee be larger than the hand picked Committee of five selected by the Party; and it even got its motion passed, in spite of some Party leaders, that special letters be sent out to all central labor bodies, such as the A.F. of L., S.P., Workmen’s Circle, etc. to get them to enter the conference.
The Communist League of America brought forth a resolution stating the conference should fight for certain particular demands; that a real broad united front be organized and that another conference be held before the Albany one. As there was nothing in the resolution to which the C.L.S. was opposed, it was able to unite with the C.L.S. on these points. This temporary united front had also the effect of preventing Cannon from committing the blunder of asking for a vote on his resolution (Which we supported) “without discussion, for the record".
However, it was the C.L.S. program that eventually held the center of the floor throughout. The C.L.S., in spite of fist fight, when six Party men attacked Comrade Jarvis, was able to pass out its program to all the delegates. (This program is to be found at the end of these notes). The demand looking forward to a general strike startled the Party. Even the Lovestone delegate, who by the way made a pitiful showing throughout the conference, was forced to say that “six months from now it might be all right". The Party did not dare to vote against it and the conference DECIDED TO REFER IT TO THE ALBANY CONFERENCE.
We view this as a tremendous victory for the views of the C.L.S. and Left Opposition. The Albany conference will act only as a still greater sounding board for the voicing of the program set forth below:
TO THE DELEGATES OF THE UNEMPLOYMENT CONFERENCE
We are now in the fourth year of the greatest crisis in the history of this country. For four years the bosses have locked out the workingclass. At least 20,000,000 people are really hungry. This conference must realize that the time has passed for mere petitions and demonstrations. This conference must prepare for action.
WE PROPOSE THE FOLLOWING MAIN SLOGANS FOR THE CONFERNECE:
END THE LOCKOUT OF THE WORKERS
OPEN THE FACTORIES TO THE UNEMPLOYED
OPEN THE WAREHOUSES TO THE HUNGRY
WE PROPOSE THE FOLLOWING PROGRAM:
1. The present conference must be the preliminary of a larger united front conference which should take up the question and rise the slogan of a NATIONAL GENERAL STRIKE (of limited duration, say a day or so) to force Congress to act on social legislation for the workers’ benefit. It is not enough to present “bills” for the shorter work week, minimum wage, unemployment and social insurance, abolition of child labor, of night work for women, of speed-up, etc. The only way to compel the passage of such legislation is TO FIGHT FOR IT. The slogan of a general strike will electrify the workers all over the country and will furthermore unite the employed with the unemployed.
Of course, the general strike must not be handled in an adventurous fashion. It must be thoroughly prepared. But to raise the slogan is to begin to prepare for it.
2. The conference must take up the question of day-to-day work in the workers’ neighborhoods. Real unemployed centers must be built up in every block and big demonstrations arranged not before the City Halls for the benefit of policemen, dicks, and politicians, but in the workers’ quarter where the whole population can be mobilized for the fight. The ultimate object of such demonstrations must be to show the way to the workers to obtain food, clothing and shelter for themselves.
3. Every effort must be made to get the unions of the American Federation of Labor into our united front. Delegations must be sent to the central bodies of the American Federation of Labor and efforts made to unite with the conference that is called by the Socialist Party.
We warn against any political organization fostering the illusion that petitions to City Hall, to Albany, etc.; hanging around the lobbies of the legislatures, is the sole thing the workers can do. Well planned action in the workers’ streets is the best way to realize Labor’s demands.
Finally, it is our duty, as Communists, to point out that this conference must see not only the question of immediate relief and social insurance but also the necessity of nationalization of the key industries under workers’ control so that the necessary products can be turned over to the unemployed and starving masses.
Communist League of Struggle
(Adhering to the International Left (Trotsky) Opposition)
133 Second Avenue, N.Y.C.
“After Seven Years” The Editorial in the Passaic Herald-News
and the reply by Comrade Weisbord
(We reprint below the editorial of the Passaic Herald-News of January 9th. Gus Deak, the one praised in the editorial, was the local leader of the Communist Party in Passaic and approved our expulsion at the time. Editor).
ALMOST EVERYONE who lives in Passaic today remembers the great 1925-1926 textile strike which paralyzed business and industry in Passaic, Garfield, Clifton and Lodi.
As Wilifred E. Shuit, the pharmacist, puts it, “Passaic’s troubles, such as they are, date back to that strike, not to the stock market crash in 1929.
It was an ill-advised, disastrous, fruitless struggle, between workmen who fell under the spell of Albert Weisbord and industrialists who said they could not yield to a Communist’s demands. Wiesbord was a Communist and his strike (we say his advisedly) was a laboratory experiment in raising Cain with high pressure publicity methods. Weisbord came out to Passaic because it was an industrial community, close to New York, with a mill population very largely foreign-born, a fertile field for an ambitious young careerist in the radical movement. It had “front page” possibilities. Weisbord brought with him Margaret Larkin, an able newspaper woman whose job it was to telephone to the tabloids whenever there was the prospect of trouble and whose “sob stories” brought in relief contributions from the forty-eight States to keep the strike organization going.
We believe we are being fair to Albert Weisbord in saying that he was sincere in his general purpose, which was to stir up class hatred, create discontent and speed the day of the “American revolution”, but he was as intellectually dishonest as any criminal court shyster in the methods he used. There were two Weisbords the fiery orator whom his Slavic followers worshipped (they called him “Jezisco"!), and the other Weisbord, the quiet, logical person who sat down and talked with you alone. We have heard some say he was in it for what there was to be gotten out of it. We have heard good churchmen say the same thing of “Billy” Sunday, which we know to be untrue, because of close association with him. Such estimates of both men were wrong. Weisbord might have been a careerist, and no doubt he was, but he was not in it to feather his own nest with relief money. He was a clever, dangerous young fellow, who caused untold misery by calling a strike that he knew couldn’t be won, but he “believed his stuff.” Only in his method was he insincere……
The other day we have the pleasurable experience of meeting after all these years Gustav Deak, who was Weisbord’s “right hand man” in Passaic strike times, an intelligent, honest young fellow who rose by sheer force of leadership out of the ranks of the textile operations to become second in command to the cum laude honor man from Harvard Law School.
Gustav Deak, it will be remember, was one of the level headed strikers who were counted upon to restore industrial peace by organizing the United Textile Workers, once Weisbord took the cure to vanish in that “peace without victory” which resulted from the negotiations of the mill owners, the earnest Slovak Committee, and the editors of the daily newspapers. But Gustav Deak found it a hard job to get a job. There were no openings for him in the textile mills. He bore the ungodly brand of “agitator.” He finally obtained employment in the Wright Aeronautical plant in Paterson and had put in a few days’ work when a policeman tapped him on the shoulder and told him his pay envelope was awaiting him outside.
Today he has a steady job with a great corporation which doesn’t care what a man’s personal convictions are as long as he does his work well and causes no trouble among his associates. He has been with that company a long time as a cost accountant.
He owns a home and pays taxes in Garfield—something that all home owners don’t or can’t do in Garfield. Incidently he is president of the Garfield Taxpayers Association, which is trying to make Garfield administrators realize (as similar associations are trying to do in other towns) that it’s time to cut out the politics and to cut down the budget. He and other home owners are of the opinion that $2,500 is too much to pay an assistant janitor and $30 or $35 a week is too much to pay a laborer, hired for the sake of his family’s votes, when many Garfield taxpayers are earning $12, $15 or $18, a week today, and when their daughters are lucky to be able to bring in $5 in their pay envelopes from the garment shops.
Gustav Deak is a good man for the job to which he was elected. He knows that taxpayers’ associations cannot function if it is dominated by town clowns, seeking publicity, or run by politicians who are trying to save their friends’ scalps. He is intelligent, with no pretensions to superiority. He is candid and honest. Despite the fact that he was once a leader in a great strike, we’d call him conservative, with a forthright, frank way about him.
He’d make a good Garfield Councilman. Better than some we’ve known. We never had much use for party tags in municipal politics anyway. Having seen good and bad men running under all the various labels, Milwaukee, a city with a sober, thrifty administration, no public debt, and a good balance in its treasury, owes its enviable record to those good burghers, Socialists most of them, who talked politics in their beer gardens and singing society meetings, and who voted for honest men whom they knew would give them good government.
And so we hail the coming of men like Gustav Deak into the taxpayer’s movement. The more the better.
133 Second Avenue
January 23, 1933
Editor, Passaic Herald-News
Your editorial of January 9th entitled “After Seven Years” shows the same clever demagogy you used in 1926.
In this editorial you quote poor Mr. Shuit, the local druggist, to the effect that all Passaic’s troubles date from the strike of 1926 and since you make me responsible for that strike, I am also responsible for the present economic crisis. Of course it’s very easy to see why Mr. Shuit did not like the strike. During the year of the strike the workers were healthier than they ever were while working in the mills. There was no child labor, no night work for the women, no poisonous fumes and woolen lint to breather, no exhaustion of the workers. The death rate was not so high. Disease was less. Those are the statistics, Mr. Shuit. The workers were never so happy nor so healthy as when they were fighting the mill owners.
But Mr. Shuit, evidently, was not happy. He sold less pills and tonics and fake patent medicines. He had to use his castor oil for himself. He liked it better when Passaic had one of the highest death rates of any city in N.J. Business for him was better then.
We can understand Mr. Shuit. He lives off the sick and he moment the workers began to get well, he got sore. But why does the Passaic Herald News agree with him? Does that eminently honest paper also want to blame the crisis on me as well? The crisis, however, is due to the capitalist system embodies in “Mr. Botany” and Mr. Forstmann. They squeeze out of the workers all they can. They accumulate huge stocks of which they cannot dispose. The workers are so wonderful, so level, so docile, that they pour an ever increasing quantity of commodities into the hands of the capitalist owners of industry. So the factories have closed down, the bosses have LOCKED OUT the workers, and the slaves go hungry because their masters have so much and cannot get rid of it. Corn is burnt in Iowa, sugar in Cuba, coffee in Brazil, bananas are dumped in the ocean, milk in the rivers, to get rid of the huge surplus wrung from the workers, and the Passaic wool barons, I dare say, are they not praying for another war where goods will be destroyed, the unemployed killed off, and “times will be good again"?
But what have I, poor me, got to do with all that? How am I responsible for it? Don’t you remember, Mr. Editor, I was not even entirely responsible for the strike itself? Have you forgotten the ferocious clubbings, the vicious system of “riot” law that made Passaic “front page news” all over the country? If you are looking for a “public enemy” would it not be better to look in the direction of the mill owners and their agents?
There is one thing I do not understand in your editorial. You state, referring to me that “he was intellectually dishonest as any criminal court shyster in the methods he used". This is the first time I ever knew you to be against “shysters". Why, don’t you remember how we exposed the shysters of Passaic, how we brought to light the records of the men who were holding office at that time and their methods of administration? Did we not show that really a bunch of criminal gangsters and racketeers were running the government in the name of “democracy"? And did you not defend all these people? If I were really dishonest I believe I would find you my best defender. Did you ever speak up when the openly recognized agent-provocateur, Jacob Nosovitsky, was hired by the mill owners to bring a fake breach of promise suit against me? Did you speak up when a knife was planted on me by a policeman and I was arrested on a fake charge, soon dropped, of “carrying a concealed weapon"? And talking about intellectual dishonesty, don’t you remember how the “Passaic News” tried to fool the workers that it was"more honest” than the “Passaic Herald” when both were the agents of the identical interests?
In your editorial you state I was a careerist. Why must you always see things in your own image? There are still some men in the world, Mr. Editor, strange as it may seem to you, who are interested in principles and ideals, whose sole life is not bound up with “how much can I get out of it". “The hell with everyone but ME” America has produced such men before. John Brown, Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Philips, the heroic men of the Abolitionist movement, prove to us that the American people, the American working class will also produce its intransigeant and unbribed fighters against working class slavery. In that sense it is true I have a career. My career is to fight for workers everywhere I can. That is my profession. I leave to you the profession of apologizing for the employers.
The sad case of Gus Deak must be a great lesson to the workers of Passaic why it is the employer raised such a howl against “outside agitators". Here is a “local boy” Gus Deak, a plain young worker who entered the strike because he wanted more wages. Such a person without much idealism is soon bribed by the employers. He is interested in mere wages. The employers say, if you quit, if you abandon the working class fight, we will give you more wages, we will give you a home, we will reward you for your betrayal. Deak succumbed. He has his little home for the time being. But what about the other workers? For every Deak that leaves and becomes a “tax payer” a hundred will take his place and carry on the fight.
And how you rejoice at poor Deak’s capitulation!. How you seem happy that for a long time he could not get a job. And when he was finally broken over the wheel, and did leave his working class character because of a job with the General Electric Company, how you boost him, “Passaic Man Makes Good". “Gus Deak for Councilman". What a tragedy to be praised by the Passaic “Herald-News"!
But there is a much more serious angle to the matter than on the surface. For a long time Gus Deak was the local leader of the Communist Party. I have waited to read if there has been any statement made by the Communist Party. To my great regret there has been none. Here, as in a million other cases, the Communist Party has fallen down on the job.
You have written that the Passaic strike was “MY” strike. This is more true than even you realize. When the true story of that strike is told the workers will see that in order to carry on the strike, and not to sell out the workers, I had to carry on a mean bitter fight against practically every single leader of the Communist Party. It was in the course of that strike that I began to learn the number of fakers and charlatans who are at the helm of that party. I may tell you that I was the only one to vote against the abandonment of the strike in September 1926 when I was finally forced to leave by the vote of the Communist party supporting the demands of the misleaders of the American Federation of Labor.
I know that you will believe that this statement against the leaders of the Communist Party will help your cause. Far from it. The workers must be warned to clean out the fakers from the Communist Party, to build a real Communist Party that will know how to do its duty. It is for this reason that, although an honored citizen of Passaic, I have been out of the city for such a long time. My fight now is not so much to help in strikes, as to build a real Communist movement that will do its job. Maybe I shall yet come back.