One year Of the Communist League of Struggle
The Communist League of Struggle is now one year old. When we organized all our enemies confidently and hopefully predicted “You will not last three months”, “Your first paper will be your last”, etc. We have fooled these prophets of disaster. He laughs best who laughs last.
It is time to take stock of our achievements and to note our defeats. The outstanding achievement of our group has been its educational work. Our general theses and program adopted March 15, 1931, have splendidly stood the test of time. We need make no material revision of these theses which remain a distinct contribution to the Communist movement. Our thesis on Manchuria and the one on disarmament (to be published in our next issue) have carried forward the work of building a solid Marxist Leninist foundation for the working-class.
Our Workers School has been unique in the Communist movement. We alone have given such courses as the three volumes of Marx’s Capital, ‘Theses of the Congresses of the CI, and the Complete Works of Lenin. Be-sides these our courses in Dialectical Materialism, Proposed Roads to Freedom, Problems of Strike Strategy, and Tactics, of Trade Union Organization, are building up a theoretically trained cadre of members and sympathizers. To those must be added the steady weekly forums on all questions of current interest, our debates with Hays, Budenz, Waton, Silver, and others, the regular appearance of our paper, The Class Struggle, with many important and trenchant articles and the issuance of at least 100,000 leaflets. All in all, our group has done a great deal of work in this direction.
What have we done in the direction of mass work? We have put out regularly a shop paper in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We participated actively in several strikes (New York City Pocket-Book Makers, Paterson Textiles, Queens Laundry). In Paterson we exerted quite an influence. In the Laundry strike we actually led and won it. We have tried to participate in all united front activities and in some we alone upheld the Communist and Left Opposition position. We have stimulated the building of a Vanguard Workers Club which is growing.
Organizationally we have grown considerably first of all we cleaned ourselves of irresponsible and diseased elements who in the early-stages slipped into-our organization . Those who now remain have a good theoretical background and are testing themselves in action. Nationally we have now quite-a number of sympathizers.
Our chief defects arise from the fact that our growth is slow, that the best elements in the labor movement have not become attracted to us as yet,, that we have not yet received the endorsement of Comrade Trotsky. To correct these detects must be our principal task.
We have carried on in the face of great difficulties. In spite of visits by police, in spite of the raiding of our headquarters, in spite of the attack of the U.S. government on our paper, in spite of the vicious and slanderous attacks by all the other Communist groups united against us, and in spite of the discrediting of Trotskyism by Cannon, we have laid the bass for a real Left Opposition. Let us end our period of gestation. Let the next year show us as a powerful force in the labor movement.
on “The Soviet Union Stands for Peace” by M. Litvinoff
When liberals, socialists, and other pacifists bleat about disarmament, we are not surprised, but merely try to keep the workers from following these sheep. When, however, this yellow talk comes from a representative of the Soviet Union itself, as in M. Litvinoff’s speech at the Geneva Disarmament Conference, we have to sound the alarm of a much more dangerous treachery to the working class. It is not enough that the Geneva speech is spread through the press to all the nations; the Communist Party has to broadcast it in the shape of a one cent pamphlet, to make sure that the poison seeps thoroughly through all the Communist ranks
And at the same time they have the audacity to print Lenin’s article on “Disarmament” in the March Communist. Here we can no longer say.- “The left hand knows not what the right hand does"; we have to say “The left hand tries hypocritically to cling to Lenin, while the right reaches out brazenly to shake with the liberals and socialists.
Lenin against Disarmament
Lenin’s essay is beautifully clear. The world today is ruled by the capitalist class, armed to the teeth. If the working class is to seize power, this can be done only by the use of force, and this means not by fists or sticks, but by force of arms by weapons. Therefore the working class must grasp every opportunity to learn the use of arms and to get arms for itself. Lenin says. “To put `disarmament’ as a point in the program means to say in general we are against the use of weapons. In this there is not a particle of Marxism, any more than if we said: `We are against the use of force’.” And again “The Kautskian (read Litvinoff-Stalin) preaching of disarmament, addressed directly to the present governments of the big imperialist Powers is the most vulgar opportunism and bourgeois pacifism, serving in fact—in spite of the `good intention of the sweet-spoken Kautskians (Read Litvinoff’s) to draw the workers away from revolutionary struggle. For by such preaching, the idea is instilled into the workers that the present bourgeois governments of the imperialist powers are not enmeshed by the thousands of threads of finance capital and by scores of hundreds of corresponding (i.e. robbing, plundering, and preparing imperialist war) secret treaties among themselves. Our slogan must be: arming of the proletariat in order to conquer, to expropriate and to disarm the bourgeoisie. This is the sole possible tactics for a revolutionary class, tactics arising from the whole objective development of capitalist militarism and prescribed by this development.
Litvinoff the Pacifist
Yet Litvinoff’s speech repeats on every page the slogan of “total and general disarmament". This is the whole burden of his thought….."At the same time (at the Preparatory Commission) we pointed out the imminent danger of new wars and that the only means of averting this danger under the economic system existing in most countries, would be total disarmament….” “The Soviet Delegation is thereby only strengthened in its conviction that the only infallible way(our emphasis) to the solution of the problem of the-organization of peace, the problem of averting war, is the way recommended by it, the way of GENERAL AND TOTAL DISARMAMENT…. is the only effective guarantee against war and its devastating effects’’etc. etc
Says Litvinoff (pg 4) “Once war is excluded as an instrument of national policy the Soviet Government sees no need for maintaining armies and other armed forces and, on its first appearance at an international conference—at Geneva ten years ago—It proposed total general disarmament as the only way of putting an end to war. “Once war is excluded” this is exactly the language, not only of the pacifists, but of the imperialists themselves (the Kellogg Pact talked of “outlawing war"). Such language gives the illusion that war is an accidental function of the capitalist governments, which can be abolished or “excluded” if the governments desire. There is not a line in this whole pamphlet insisting upon the inevitableness of war under capitalism. There is not a line explaining the class interests which dominate governments, and which force governments into war, serving these interests. There is not a line to indicate that so long as a class society prevails, wars will break out with the same inevitability as the economic crises which have dogged the footsteps of capitalist advance for generations.
The Soviet Union “Loyally Cooperates”
Once more Litvinoff: “From the very first days of its (i,e. the Soviet Union) existence it condemned war is an instrument of national policy, by deeds ,as well as by words, declared against all indemnities and territorial annexations, and the oppression of any nation by any other, and proclaimed the principle of national self-determination. Ever since it has in its own policy pursued with strict consistency the line of PEACEFUL AND LOYAL COOPERATION WITH OTHER STATES. (Our emphasis) Now indeed we understand how the Soviet Union could have signed the Kellogg Pact, which spoke of a “family of nations” among which there should be no war. Evidently this envoy of the Workers Republic really sees his country as existing on a par with the robber imperialist states of the world. He can speak of “peaceful and loyal cooperation with France, the murderer of the peasants of Indo-china, the exterminator of the Riff, and the chief instigator of the attacks upon the Soviet Union itself. “Peaceful and loyal cooperation” with Great Britain, red with the blood of the Indian masses, tyrant of Ireland—with Mussolini’s Italy—with the United States, bloodsucker of the whole world, with its 20,000,000 million unemployed, its starving Kentucky miners, its Scottsboro victims, its murdered Detroit workers! Cowardly betrayal, of the working class can go no further. This is real licking of the boots of the Imperialist agents assembled in the conference, begging for peace at any price, so that Soviet Union may go on undisturbed to build its Five Year Plans..Where are the Communists in the party ranks, that such yellow talk is permitted to pass without an outburst of protest?
How to Stop War in China
Now we come to one of the most astounding statements in the whole speech: “The Soviet Delegation submitted to the Preparatory Commission for the Conference a draft convention for total disarmament, to be realized in the course of four years. This was four years ago, and it will hardly be denied that if our proposal had been accepted at the time, the events in the Far East would not have occurred, there would have been no threats of a new world war, and the economic crisis now being universally experienced, would undoubtedly have been less acute.” It is now very plain that Litvinoff actually believes that disarmament is possible and that it is the real cure for war. This is no mere slip of the tongue, no mere rhetoric. The class struggle no longer exists for this Stalin agent; all the life work of Lenin no longer exists. No wonder the Pacifists are railing this speech with delight. Instead of analysing the causes of the war in China, instead of calling for support and arming the Chinese people, he goes off into laments that his beautiful treacherous plans of disarmament have not been accepted. The revolutionary uprising of the Chinese people is to him not a subject for rejoicing but a subject for regret.
But Keep The Police
If the conference will not accept total disarmament Litvinoff generously offers to compromise on a reduction program wiping out the most “aggressive” types of armaments, such as tanks and super-heavy long-range artillery, ships of upwards of 10,000 tons displacement, etc. He would leave all light, armaments such as equip the police and militia, as well as the soldiers of standing armies of all countries. Quite enough armaments for any government aggressively to put down any working class insurrection anywhere!
Socialism in USSR—Sole Aim
Now openly and brazenly Litvinoff states what the Left Opposition under the leadership of Comrade Trotsky has been bringing to light already for several years as the chief source of the degeneration of the Comintern since the death of Lenin; the theory of building socialism in one country.
“The Sole aim of the Soviet Government is the building up of Socialism on the Territory of the Soviet Union, and in the face of this successful accomplishment of the first Five-Year Plan, of colossal achievements in every phase of economic life, it seems to the Soviet Delegation that what has been obvious from the beginning, must be by now as clear as day to anybody, etc. etc”
It could not be more plainly stated that the Soviet Union gives up all thought of aiding revolutions of the toilers in other countries, that it is not interested in such revolutions. It will make any compromise with the imperialist powers, provided only they will let the Soviet Union alone to go ahead undisturbed with its Five Year Plans. Let the oppressed and struggling masses of the whole world take note of this now openly expressed betrayal.
No-Change Since Lenin’s Day
Since some party members are actually attempting to defend this infamous speech we shall take up some of their arguments:
(1.)This speech does not represent the complete attitude of the Soviet Union towards war. The proposal of disarmament is advanced for the bourgeois powers in order to expose them. The Communist International will put forth the true attitude on war. This assumes that the Soviet Government presents two faces to the world, one for the bourgeois and one for the workers. As far as the Comintern is concerned any fool knows that its Russian section, the Russian Communist Party, leads and controls the Soviet Union. If the policy is two-faced, who is fooled? Not the bourgeoisie; they do not rely upon speeches; they watch the building of factories in the Soviet Union, the condition of the Red Army, they watch also the theory of building socialism in one country and its terrible effects upon revolutions elsewhere in the world. It is only the workers and oppressed toilers who are fooled by talk which cannot be distinguished from that of the pacifists.
As far as exposing the bourgeois powers is concerned, of course it is necessary to expose them. We would be far from advocating a boycott of the Disarmament Conference. This would enable the Imperialists to point to the Soviet Union as the party responsible for the failure of the disarmament plans. The exposure should consist in advancing a policy such as the following: Let the big powers disarm. But let the colonial countries, such as China, which are the victims of the big powers, keep their arms. Let the working class be armed for its struggle against the bourgeoisie. This would be a Communist program. Does some one say: The bourgeoisie will never accept this? But the bourgeoisie will never accept even the total disarmament or even such a thing as extensive partial disarmament. But to propose this is to advance the very same proposal made by the pacifists of all sorts themselves. It makes any real exposure impossible of the disarmament conference, which openly claims to seek disarmament and the end of war, at the same time that it secretly covers up and supports all sorts of secret war treaties and preparations for war among the Imperialists.
(2.) It is claimed, Things have changed since Lenin’s day, we now have a Soviet Union in the world, and the ‘Workers State must act diplomatically in order not to be destroyed by the big powers. The Soviet Union is indeed a new factor which changes in some respects our approach to the war question, though not the fundamental principles. We know too that there are times when compromises and retreats must be made, as in the Brest Litovsk Treaty. But such retreats and compromises are never of such a character as to fool the working class of the world. They are never an abandonment of principle, so that the working class cannot tell the difference between the communist delegate to a conference and a Dean Woolley of Mount Holyoke College..
And lastly, what is more important, if the Soviet Union desires to save itself from the clutches of the world-surrounding imperialists and certainly defense of the Soviet Union is still an aim of the whole working class—then it must be plain that the best defense is successful revolutions in other countries. In fact, in the long run, this is the main reliable defense. Let the Soviet Union give support to the struggling Chinese masses—who are in flesh and blood fighting the imperialists, not meeting with them in conferences to lick their boots—let it support the Indian masses in revolt—let it help to organize and lead the German Party in a much needed struggle for power and if such a struggle breaks forth, let it send the Red Army so that the German working class can really succeed in its revolution. This is the way to defend the revolution and the Soviet Union—not by pacifist proposals of disarmament.
Arms to the workers!--and let these arms be turned against the exploiters until exploitation is wiped from the earth—this is the Communist slogan against war. How far is the present policy of the Soviet Union from such a stand, and how deeply the Comintern has degenerated Litvinoff’s speech makes clear as crystal. The struggle must become all the sharper and more vigorous to conquer these elements of degeneration and give the working, class real Communist leadership. Vera Buch
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT., NEXT ISSUE---THESIS ON DISARMAMENT
“ THE MAN I KILLED” (Paramount Production)
Between intervals of offering incense to Mammon, comes a film of rare merit from the Mecca of money-worshipers, Hollywood. Such a film is “The Man I Killed” directed by Ernst Lubitsch, starring Lionel Barrymore, Phillip Hames and Nancy Carroll.
While the treatment is bourgeois-individualistic, its significance is of a social and collectivistic nature. Once again the omni-present problem of war that hangs over the masses’ heads like Damocles sword, is brought to bear down on our consciousness in the spirit of “All quiet on the Western Front”, but with a difference. While the former was content with a mere portrayal of the horrors of war, “The Man I Killed” points an accusing finger at the makers and profiteers of war—church and state;, priest and capitalist.
Paul Renoir (Phillip Homes),ex-French soldier, killed one man to make the world safe for … Democrats. Armistice is declared but Paul’s tender conscience is tortured with a feeling of guilt. Seeking peace of mind he enters a large Catholic cathedral in Paris, “Father” cries Paul, confessing on his knees to the priest, “I killed a man!” Alarmed, the confessor listens attentively to the circumstances of the killing. When he learns that the killing happened in the war, he tells the naive Paul to clear his conscience, as it was his duty to kill. “Duty to kill” screams Paul. “You tell me it is a duty to kill in the house of God. Six million were killed in the last war, ninety million will be killed in the next. You may think me insane, but if you think that is sanity, then I want to be insane!” Hurt that the church should be excoriated, the frocked faker, nevertheless, in a benevolent mood forgives Paul, “not only his sin but his blasphemy.”
Throughout the entire film there are utterances about war which lift the picture above mediocrity (the curse of American films.) When Paul Renoir goes to Germany to seek forgiveness of the parents of the German soldier he killed, he finds himself a victim of hatred by the German townspeople. The defeatist psychology of the Germans has intensified their nationalism and bitterness towards the French.. When the Doctor (Lionel Barrymore) father of the dead soldier killed by the Frenchman, greets his old cronies (who have all lost sons in the war) in a beer saloon, they refuse to answer him and show their disapproval because he shelters a Frenchman in his house “murderer of his sons". Angered by the prejudiced attitude of his life-long friends, the Doctor gives vent to his feelings. “You have lost all your sons in the war. Who has sent them to their death? It is we old men who are too old to fight. I have tasted the cup of bitterness as any of you. My heart is not with you.. It is with the young—Living—dead -anywhere.”
The cinema can be summed up as a vigorous “humanitarian” protest of youth (prospective cannon-fodder) against war. P.R. April, 1932 *******************************************************************
Red Herring Banquets
When they give banquets to Stalin on his fiftieth birthday, that’s a tragedy, but when they hand them out to Ameter it’s a joke. As the comrades gather round the herring (worthy symbol of the Party) it is to be sincerely hoped that no one has a copy of the REPORTS OF THE FIFTH CONGRESS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL with him. For it would be a mighty, poor toast to-turn to page 128 of these REPORTS and read the fol- lowing: “A few words on Comrade Amter’s speech on the American situation, I must say that Comrade Amter often does the American movement a bad turn” This was the official pronouncement of the chairman of Comintern on Amter in 1924. But there is no danger of such a toast. For who bothers about the C.I before the time when Stalin alone controlled?
These fiftieth birthday anniversaries, are they not a boomerang? Will not the party members see that when these so called leaders first knew of Communism they were already nearing old age? The Fosters, Minors, Badachts, Cannons et al, they have become worn out, not in the struggle for Communism, but in the struggle to keep and to hold a job. These “old” Bolsheviks are “old” alright. As Lenin might suggest, they should be placed in a museum for “old” Bolsheviks. There remain the Stacheles who pray daily that these old Bolsheviks should not stay too long on earth and keep them from getting their share next.
The more the Party goes down, the more banquets. The more the party crisis increases, the more must the apparatus give itself confidence by toasting itself and banqueting itself. All the little officials are there. The banquets are big successes for are there not jobs in the Amtorg, the Tass, the Cooperatives, the Camps, the Papers, the Stores, the Bureaus, the party, the Unions, the Auxiliaries, the Clubs, the Councils, the Leagues, etc, etc, etc? This is a depression and one must live.
The Detroit Reports
In the meantime a gigantic apparatus has been worked out to deceive and to lie to the party membership. Moscow lies to New York. New York lies to Moscow. The leaders lie to the members. The members lie to the workers. The workers however tell the truth in their reports. In the Daily Worker some time ago there appeared in the column for workers correspondence an article on the Detroit massacre. In this article the worker pointed out that the shooting took place while Goetz the local party leader of the demonstration, was urging the workers to turn back and not to go on with the demonstration. IN OTHER WORDS THE DEMONSTRATION WENT ON OVER THE HEADS OF THE PARTY LEADERS. All the workers gave 5000 as the maximum number of participants present.
Now let us hear how the Communist International itself reports this affair (Vol 12 # 11 Inprecorr, March 10,1932) “…… the police attacked a mass demonstration of about 50,000 workers. The masses marched from Detroit in complete order and without any disturbance to the Ford works in Dearborn where they intended to send in a deputation to the management…. The enraged workers flung up barricades and defended themselves against the police attack….”
Here is how the European workers learn the unexaggerated facts about America.. If 50,000 had taken part, then it would have been a great crime on the part of Goetz to have told this veritable army to have turned back before the delegation went in. As it was it was the Communists who urged the workers to turn back before the object of the Demonstration (sending a delegation to Ford)had been accomplished and it was the workers themselves who went further. This however is not told. But ….."the workers flung up barricades” on the paper reports of the International Press Correspondence. This is how New York lies to Moscow and Moscow lies to the rest of the world.
The Marine “Defence” Committee
The metropolitan capitalist press has carried reports of the trial of the three marine workers defended by Cannon,,Lovestone & Co, We do not desire to comment upon the case. However the trial itself brought forth several matters of interest to the entire working class from which we cannot refrain from speaking. It was stated by the witness for the state, Hoyle, and reported widely by the press, that when he went for the dynamite with Soderburg he went from “A Communist hall an East 27th street"(which could be none other than Lovestone’s headquarters) with several girls and in a car driven by a certain doctor, when the dynamite had been procured and they had returned, according to Hoyle, they stored the dynamite for the night and part of the next day at the same headquarters.
If this evidence is correct, then we see why Lovestone who expelled Soderburg after he had been arrested, never published his expulsion and why Lovestone WHO TOLD ROGER BALDWIN NOT TO TAKE PART IN THE DEFENCE later entered the defence himself. Did he feel they were all in the same boat? Now we also understand the great modesty on the part of Lovestone in not trying to become Secretary of the Defence Committee but carefully hiding under the cloak of Muste and Tresca…. Although making Tresca secretary greatly damaged the case.
Thousands of letters were sent out to raise money for the Marine “Defence” Committee on the ground that it was a class case. But when it came to the trial, the old opportunist technique of Cannon formerly of the I.L.D. again showed itself. To raise a lot of money to pay salaries (Walter Starrett and maybe others) to rely on the lawyers, this is the good old Cannon way. This time the Committee actually brought in the American Legion to testify as to the good character of one of the defendants! No United front with the right wing for Cannon, oh no, only with the American Legion of Tennessee. This is how the I.L.D. would be improved if Cannon had his way again and got back his job as secretary of that Organization ( at $45 per)
Some time ago we saw a copy of the minutes of one of the meetings of the Defence Committee. In this copy, we read a motion to the effect that Cannon, Zimmerman (of the Lovestone group) and Hudson were put on a committee to investigate rumors going around to the effect the case was not a class one, Soon after we heard from one of the Lovestoneites that our headquarters was going to be raided again by a bunch of men and our members attacked. Notice the Lovestoneites themselves would not do this—no they will send a few more girls among the seamen to induce them to do the dirty job. Now again we hear the same rumor. This time from no one less than Rose Karsner of the Cannon group who is in daily contact with Cannon himself and ought to know. Speaking to one of our members she threatened that after the trial we had better watch out for ourselves.
We shall watch out, of course. But, Workers, why this hysteria? Because the Cannons feel themselves bankrupt. Because the Cannons and Lovestones and Fosters have overcome opposition only by pogrom methods. We say DOWN WITH THE POGROM MAKERS.
Unity! Unity! Unity!
Again Lovestone calls for Unity. This time it is his “youth” headed by Zam (over 30) with Lifshitz (ever 40) present, that do the calling. Like the call of Spring it is eternal with Lovestone. But first of all we want to ask Lovestone: FOR WHAT do you want to unite? To fight the organization of the unorganized as you are doing everywhere? To destroy the new unions such as the Textile? To cover up the fakers such as you did in Paterson and elsewhere? Is it for this that you want unity?
And WITH WHOM do you want unity? With the Communist Party? But here is what you say about the Communist Party in your manifesto for Local 22 of the I.L.G.W.U. “Down with the so-called Left Group” (read Communist party) Do you want to have unity with the Communist Party and other groups when you say “Down with the Communist Party? And yet you want to be in the same party with those whom you call the masses to destroy? Are you not like Kautsky and the other opportunists in your shouts for unity without specifying on what program and on what basis?
The slogans: United Front and Unity are serious slogans, not to be toyed and played with. Only the Communist League of Struggle has seriously fought for a unity that would be worth while.
NEWS FROM GERMANY
During the past few issues we have played up the news from Germany so as to follow closely the events in that key country. What happens in Germany today vitally affects the movement here.
The second election has proved a crushing defeat for the Communists. In the first election it was definitely established by the election returns that in the proletarian quarters of the country, the suburbs of Berlin, the Ruhr regions, etc.. The Party lost not only relatively but absolutely. At the same the the Party gained in the semi-agrarian centers, the petty-bourgeois centers of Germany. Thus within the ranks of the supporters of the Party a deterioration can plainly be noticed. The second election wiped out even the small gains of the first election.
The next test comes in the election in Prussia. It seems to us that the Fascists will not lose ground but rather gain still further. Why should not the bourgeoisie of Germany turn fascist in the local elections? The election of Hindenburg was a gesture to the victorious Entente countries who won the war that Germany is willing to wait for the June reparation conference to see if the onerous burdens of the Treaty will be removed. To give the Fascists a stronger grip in the local elections will simply mean that the German bourgeoisie not only waits but begins to shake its fist. For the situation is now unbearable for the German ruling class. One way or the other, matters must come to a head-on collision, This applies also to the relations between the German capitalists and “their” workers, between the capitalists generally and the Soviet Union.
In regard to the crushing defeat of the Communists this must result as we have said, in a shake-up within the Communist Party. In what direction will Stalin travel? It seems to us that he can only travel further to the right. He must see the dangerousness of his course of isolation from the other groups and his false theory of social-fascism. But blinded by his theory of socialism in one country, he can only take the opposite tactic similar to Lovestone and of opportunist alliances. We do not view with great optimism the course that the CI apparatus will take in the next few months. The more the Party members will demand the correct course, the more will they come into conflict with the frightened bureaucracy, the greater the crisis within the Party.
At this moment the Left Opposition must move more boldly than ever. And this is actually taking place. Only Cannon remains with his sectarian policy. In Spain, in Greece, in Germany , the Left opposition is forming united fronts and carrying on work independently among the masses. This work and this work alone can bring nearer the day of victory for the Left Opposition.
IRELAND WAKES UP
The recent events in Ireland show clearly that Ireland is awakening. From a broad aspect, it is but another indication that the British Empire is disintegrating, that the unstable post-war equilibrium is more and more difficult to maintain, especially under the blows of the present crisis. It is highly significant that South Africa, Canada and Australia also show evidence of discontent with the British Imperial system and are moving farther and farther away from the center. It is at just this time, too, that India is seething with discontent.
Karl Marx once called India the Ireland of Asia, politically speaking. To some extent, then, we can speak of Ireland as the India of Europe, and indeed it is a fact that rebellious movements have arisen simultaneously in both countries, ever since the war. In 1921, when India was having its first post war stormy periods and the massacre of Amritsar took place, Ireland was having its civil war and bitter struggle against Great Britain. Now too both movements in Europe and Asia coincide. And just as, economically, the loss of India would be a death blow to Great Britain, so, politically, would the loss of Ireland.
The election of Fianna Fail and the De Valera group into power in Ireland shows that under the blows of the crisis, the most backward agrarian peoples are getting into action, that the contradictions of Capitalism are ever becoming more intense and their solution calling for ever more and more violence and head-on collisions.
What hand has the United States in this outburst? Every one knows that the basic axis around which the present-day imperialist rivalries revolve, is the antagonism between the United States and Great Britain. In regard to Ireland we should keep in mind that when Stimpson went to Europe he visited not London, but first Ireland, that the Irish republican movement derives a great deal of support from Americans, that the first ambassador sent out by the Irish Free State was to the United States and the first country to send a minister to Ireland as an independent nation was this country. Just as the Irish republican movement, was willing to unite with Germany in the 1916 Easter Rebellion receiving arms and money from Germany in a struggle against British Imperialism, so the Revolutionary movement in Ireland does not disdain to use help from the United States. And this is correct. And just as the United States tries to influence Canada and Australia and South Africa to move away from Great Britain and closer to it, just as the United States provides a haven for Indian Revolutionists of all sorts and makes use of the Indian boycott of English goods to push its own and win the Indian market for itself, so does the United States try in every way to “pose as the friends” of Irish freedom.
To understand thoroughly the present situation in Ireland one must understand the historic events that shook Ireland in the first quarter of the 20th century. In 1916, while great Britain was at war, the famous Easter Rebellion, the culmination of a century of Irish republican preparation, broke out. The rebellion was conducted by the Sinn Fain political party with its auxiliary the Irish Republican Army, under the leadership of Pearce, James Connolly and others, The rebellion was put down with great ruthlessness, the leaders, with Connolly at their head, being executed. However Guerilla warfare was carried on with the greatest persistency, skill, and heroism, by the Irish masses for nearly seven years thereafter.
Determined to crush the ever present guerilla warfare once and for all Great Britain decided to partition Ireland. In 1920 a “treaty” was ratified by the British tools in Ireland, and Ireland divided into two distinct countries, in this artificial manner did the rulers of Britain hope to crush the Irish people. The treaty separated Ulster, with a pop- ulation of 300,000 from the rest of Ireland with a population of 2,900,000 A separate parliament was created in the north of Ireland. In fact. all that was created was a never healing gash in the body of Ireland, a wound arousing the people constantly to the greatest hatred and fury against England. From 1920 to 1923 a bitter civil war again raged before the mass of the Irish people would submit to this outrage.
Finally in 1923 De Valera called on the rebels to lay aside, but not to give up, their arms. This was due to the fact that a split had occurred in the Fenian movement, and a section, supporting Cosgrave, had accepted the treaty of 1920 and had organized a parliament in the southern part of Ireland, what we now know as the Irish Free State. The Irish Free State was to have approximately the same kind of “freedom” as Canada. All the members of parliament had to take an oath of allegiance to the King of England.
In the first elections of 1923 De Valera won a big proportion of seats in the Dail but foolishly decided to boycott the Dail on the ground that he could not take the oath to the king, and thus allowed Cosgrave to run the government without any opposition. This was indeed a costly mistake and shows the eclecticism, the vacillation, the petty-bourgois character of the De Valera leadership. The British regime was allowed to consolidate itself and soon the actions of the government took on a very high-handed character, 77 of the leaders of the republicans were shot, a strict censorship was established on foreign books and papers, the protestant business men of Ireland were favored in many ways, etc., in short, the Cosgrave government showed itself to be thoroughly a servile tool of British Imperialism.
Then came the elections of 1927. Tho government got 46 seats, the Fianna Fail 44 seats, Labor 22 and the Independents 21 and so Cosgrave again kept office. But at this time there took place the assassination of O’Higgins, minister of “justice” and responsible for most of the shootings of the leaders of the republicans. The government replied with a drastic public Safety Act and with a law making it obligatory for a candidate to the Dail to take the oath to the king of England. De Valera was forced then to decide whether he would take the oath or lose all chance of determining through the ballot just how strong his forces were. He yielded. Thus many years too late De Valera decided that an oath means nothing, that his “holy principles” could be modified, that is was his duty to fight the government inside the Dail as well. In other words, due to the complete failure of his policy of boycott and the pressure of the militants inside his own ranks, the petty-bourgois De Valera was forced to retreat from his false stand and acknowledge that revolutionary tactics were to him an unknown language.
In the new election which took place the government received 61 votes Fianna Fail 57, Labor 13 and the Independents (mostly for Cosgrave) 21. But now that the policy of Fianna Fail had been changed, this election, far from bringing stability to Ireland, only permitted the antagonisms to become sharper and sharper. Tension grew daily, the Irish Republican Army resumed its drilling. Britain was forced to allow the Irish Free State to pass any legislation it saw fit, within certain limits, even though it was counter to legislation of London. The Irish Free state began to insist that it and it alone had the right to select the Governor General sent to represent the British interests over Ireland. Britain was forced to a compromise that if the Ulster boundary be recognized, the pro rata share of the British national foreign debt would not have to be paid by the Irish Free State. The Irish Free State began to send its ambassadors to the U.S., to Germany, France and to the Pope and in turn was recognized by these powers.
As the masses moved to the Left, the Government moved more and more to the right. The Bishop of Ireland called on the people to leave the Irish Republican Army and to turn in their arms. The government repealed that part of the constitution that called for initiative and referendum by the people themselves. The age-old pensions were made lower than those in Great Britain, etc.. It was plain that matters were coming to a head.
The economic crisis bringing to a climax the general economic woes of Ireland, brought the political situation also to the turning point. For over a century Ireland had steadily been going downward. Practically twice as many Irish had left Ireland as remained. Even in 1871 the population of what is now the Irish Free State was 4,000,000, while now it is about 2,900,000. Even cities, with the exception of Dublin which has grown from 375,000 in 1901 to 419,000 in 1930, have fallen away. The country itself showed in its economy a steady contraction of tillage and a steady expansion of grazing and cattle raising. The following table shows the situation clearly.
Number of acres. Yield Per acre 1923-27 av. 1930-31 loss 1923-27 av. 1930-31 Gain wheat 31,000 27,000 21,000 10,000 35.5 bu. 40.4 bu 4.9 bu barley 142,000 116,000 115,000 26,300 42.7 47.6 5.1 Oats 676,000 644,000 623,000 53,000 58.8 68.7 9.9 potatoes 382,000 347,000 346,000 36,000 185.3 251.5 66.2 flax 8,000 4,000 647 7,353 329.5 393.8 64.3
The rise of the yield per acre is accounted for by the fact that the very poor farms have been forced to give up; only the better equipped farms can stand the pace. The misery of the poor farmer has grown greater. And this can be seen all the more readily when we realize that during the crisis the prices fell greatly. If the 1911-13 average be considered as 100, then the prices fell from 143 in 1929 to 100 in 1931. Since the crisis fisheries fell about 50%. As for production, it is a fact that of the 283,000 registered workers in the Irish Free State, about 100,000 can be said to be unemployed. The great tractor factory in Cork which as late as January 1931 employed 3000 men now employs 500 (Jan..1932,).
Foreign trade fell off about 25%, tractor exports being particularly hurt, falling off from a value of $12,500,000 in 1929 to $2,550,000 in 1931.The poor people of Ireland had been aided by sums of money sent by their relatives and friends abroad, but even this aid has been greatly down. The Christmas holiday money orders in 1929 had been 158,000 with a value of 553,000 pounds. By 1931 this had fallen to 122,000 with a value of 435,000 pounds. There is no doubt but that in 1932 this will be still less.
These are the economic factors that have led to the political overturn. Two political groupings have arisen, one pro-British, clerical, headed by the Cosgrave government, the other the heterogeneous republican forces. De Valera stands on the extreme right of these forces as, to the left of him, in order, being the Sinn Fein movement, the Irish Republican Army and the Saor Eire (extreme left with Communist and Anti-clerical bent) and the small Communist movement.
De Valera can very well be compared with his Indian counterpart Ghandi. Both head a mass movement only to behead it. Both do not mean really to break with England. Both are forced to unleash forces which they cannot control. Both represent the native bourgeoisie in a colonial country, a native bourgeoisie that resents the tribute that the British imperialists seize from the country and wants to keep the plunder for itself. Both raise the banner of “independence and freedom” and both translate this slogan not in the sense of bettering the conditions of the masses, but in the sense of a higher tariff, one for India, the other for Ireland, so as to stimulate manufactures at home, and guarantee the profits of the Irish and Indian capitalists and bankers. Both stand for clericalism. De Valera is fairly beside himself with religious fervor and his group fairly lousy with catholic priests,
The Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army both represent various sections of the large petty bourgeoisie, mostly agrarian, in Ireland and are more radical. It is the Saor Eire that alone, besides the tiny Communist group, that tries to connect the Fenian movement with the labor movement and to represent the interests of the working class in Ireland. Besides these groupings there is the Labor Party, which poses as standing for the interests of labor, but which really represents the interests only of the skilled workers of Ireland, having close connections with Great Britain and not wanting really to break with the British Empire. The Irish Labor Party has been only a more despicable and tinier replica of the British Labor Party, on the whole.
As a result of the elections that have taken place, De Valera heading the conglomerate republicans got into power. Whereas before the Cosgrave government had 87 votes and the opposition 67 (Fianna Fail 56, Labor 10, Independent 1), now the Cosgrave groups got but 73 votes to a total of 79 for the old opposition (72 Fianna Fail and 7 for Labor). However Cosgrave still controls the reactionary senate (elected for 9 years) which can delay legislation for at least 18 months.
What is the platform of De Valera? We can enumerate the principal points as follows: l.Abolish the oath. Collect the annuities (sums of money due to the old English landlords from rents, guaranteed by the British government through bonds) and refuse to turn them over to the British government. 3. Repeal the public safety act. 4. Free the political prisoners and 5. Above all raise the tariff. Not a word as to social insurance, alleviation of the sufferings of the masses, etc.. A mere bourgeois program.
What are the perspectives of struggle? It seems clear that a new compromise and a new split in the Fenian movement is inevitable. There is nothing in De Valera’s program on which the British government is not able to compromise. But what is certain is that the De Valera victory, far from appeasing the masses, will only whet their appetite for more. They still call for social measures. De Valera will be forced to put them down. The fact of the matter is that De Valera will not be able to control the forces which have brought him into office.
The only leader of the agrarian masses that can accomplish anything is the proletariat headed by the Dublin proletariat. The Dublin proletariat must make every effort to push the revolution further. This can be done by mobilizing the masses around the following demands: First of all the masses must be mobilized around the slogan of the Democratic Republic. The mere abolition of the oath to the King is insufficient. There must be a Militant attack against the monarchy and aristocracy that has ground Ireland down for so many years. The initiative and referendum and other democratic clauses must be reinstated, the church and state separated, the censorship abolished.
Secondly, the demand must be raised for a social republic, for social measures to alleviate the sufferings of the masses. This must not be postponed nor delayed. In this way the support of the so-called Laborites can be firmly cemented. Full social insurance must be demanded. It must be made clear that the funds for this social insurance and labor protection (eight-hour day, etc.) can come only from the capitalists , landlords, merchants, and bankers.
Thirdly, by no means must the Irish Republican Army disband. Quite the contrary, the workers must raise the slogan: abolition of the old police, tools of British Imperialism, and for a workers’ militia . In a country where the masses for so long have carried on a guerilla warfare against the British Imperialists, this will be an especially effective slogan. The arming of the people, the workers’ Militia, is the only way to protect the independence of Ireland.
Fourthly, hand in hand with the above demands must go a demand for the nationalization of the key industries such as public utilities and their control by the workers effected by them.
Fifthly an agrarian program must be put forth and pressed by the proletariat. The workers in Ireland without the support of the poor farmers must lose. It would be a good idea if the demand for a moratorium on farmers’ debts be raised, if the poor farmers are told that they need not pay taxes any more to raise the money due on the annuities guaranteed by Britain to the former landlords. Such a demand would be immensely popular. Already we learn that with the refusal of the Irish Free State government to turn over the money collected from the rents to pay the annuities, the farmers themselves are refusing to pay these rents. This effort on the part of the poor farmers must be supported in every possible way by the labor movement of Ireland.
Finally, the demand must be raised for a United Ireland. In every possible way must the artificial boundary and dual nation set up by the British be wiped out. A deep fraternization must be set up by the workers and poor farmers in both sections of the country, north and south. Any amelioration of conditions in the south must affect the mov- ement in Ulster. There is no doubt that there are already deep stirring’s among the masses in Ulster who would like to join forces with the republicans of the south.
The Irish labor movement must make every effort to win support in Great Britain and in America. It must break its alliance with the greasy American politicians and rely on the poor Irish laborers in America. While the British Labor movement has, on the whole, a most despicable record on the question of Ireland, nevertheless there must be some sections of the British working class that are anti-imperialist. These sections must be organized and mobilized. The British Imperialis will not lose Ireland without a fight. In the course of this fight the DeValera’s will capitulate. Only the working class of Ireland aided by the workers of the rest of the world, particularly the British, and American workers, can carry forward this fight.
Here in America the labor movement, particularly the Communists should start wide united fronts, friends of Irish Freedom groups, to see that the revolution in Ireland becomes a permanent one.
RIOTS IN NEW ZEALAND!
CIVIL WAR THREATENED IN AUSTRALIA!
Read in the Next Issue: The Antipodes Stir.
SOCIALISM IN ONE COUNTRY
From the Second Congress of the Communist International (page 69)
“It is the habitual practice not only of the center parties of the Second International but also of those which have left it, to recognize internationalism in words and then to adulterate it in their propaganda, agitation, and practical activity by mixing it up with petty bourgeois nationalism and pacifism. THIS IS TO BE FOUND EVEN AMONG THOSE PARTIES THAT AT PRESENT CALL THEMSELVES COMMUNIST. The struggle against this evil. ..must be brought to the foreground the more vigorously BECAUSE OF THE URGENT NECESSITY OF TRANSFORMING THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT AND CHANGING IT FROM A NATIONAL BASIS ( i.e. EXISTING IN ONE COUNTRY AND INCAPABLE OF EXERCISING AN INFLUENCE OVER WORLD POLITICS) INTO AN INTERNATIONAL DICTATORSHIP (i.e. A DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT OF AT LEAST SEVERAL ADVANCED COUNTRIES CAPABLE OF EXERCISING A DETERMINED INFLUENCE UPON WORLD POLITICS) Proletarian internationalism..,demands…THE CAPABILITY AND THE READINESS ON THE PART OF ONE NATION ‘WHICH HAS GAINED A VICTORY OVER THE BOURGEOISIE OF MAKING THE GREATEST NATIONAL SACRIFICES FOR THE OVERTHROW OF INTERNATIONAL CAPITALISM.” ( our emphasis).
From the Third Congress of the Communist International ( page 121)
“As a result of this state of things we have an equilibrium which though extremely precarious and unstable nevertheless enables the Socialist Republic to maintain its existence THOUGH OF COURSE NOT FOR A GREAT LENGTH OF TIME WITHIN CAPITALIST SURROUNDINGS”