(Adhering to the International Left Opposition)
Volume 2 Number 6 July 1932
1. On the Brink of Civil War………………….pg 1
2. Hoover Disarms………………………………pg 3
3. Steel Worker Protests Stalin Policies……pg 6
4. Party Miseducation……………………………pg 8
5. Current Comment……………………………pg 10
6. Another Convention (NTWU)…………..pg 12
7. Announcement………………………………..pg 14
ON THE BRINK OF CIVIL WAR
Ever more quickly the crisis draws to a head; ever more sharply the class lines are drawn as the inevitable outbreak approaches. The Lausanne settlement does not materially alter the situation, since the moratorium has been in existence for a year, and there have been open declarations that Germany would not pay in any case. Thus the Lausanne agreement recognizes the existing situation rather than it creates a new one. The militarist Von Pappen regime serves as a stepping stone for advancing the country closer to the moment when the National Socialists must attempt to seize power.
The Socialist regime, unable to bring political stability in the midst of an economic situation of unprecedented strain, had to step aside. Its day is done; its task accomplished. It saved the country from Communism in 1918, when with machine guns it drove back the advancing Communist forces trying to take over the factories. Since then it has protected German business through some extremely difficult times: the starvation of the masses after the war, the complete bankruptcy of the inflation period, the revolutions of 1921 and 1923, and now the two and a half years of the crisis.
Step by step it has permitted the workers benefits and safeguards to be reduced, under the burden of reparations, until hunger has reached almost the breaking point. Unemployment according to reliable figures ( of the Wirtschaftskurve, published in the Frankfurt Zeitung) is much higher than generally supposed. It includes 50% of trade union members, with another 25% on part time. This means ten millions of people looking for work, and five millions on part-time employment, out of a population of some 60 millions. The suicide rate is twice that of the United States, and higher than that of any other country. Yearly incomes tell the story of universal poverty. Seventeen and a half millions of people have a yearly income of 1500 marks. (equal to about $370) or less. Six millions of people have a yearly income of between 1500 and 3000 marks (equal to $740). Only one million people have a yearly income over 5000 marks(equal to $1200).
Yet the cost of living is not low. Prices of necessities for a workers’ family in Berlin show the astonishing fact that the German workers are paying actually more for some items than workers in New York City. For very few items are the prices lower. This when weekly wages are from five to ten dollars, with the unemployed receiving much less.
In the face of these conditions the Von Pappen decree which went into effect July 1st cut down the amount of social insurance by 23%, with cuts in other categories of “crisis relief” and “welfare fund” 10% and 15%.(saving a cool half billion marks for the government). A 2% increase in taxes is thrust upon those employed, already heavily taxed. Support for invalided soldiers is reduced,—and Germany’s expenditures for ex-soldiers was already less than that of the U.S. with many more men involved. Salaries of State employees are cut 4% for 5 years.
That the present regime is only temporary is clearly recognized, just as it is recognized that within a few weeks—or at any rate very soon --- the inevitable class outbreak must occur. The past two years have already fully matured the forces which now await only the immediate occasion to break loose. Daily the class lines are more sharply drawn. On the one hand this is expressed by the dissolving of the conservative parties into the Nazi battle front (already in last Spring’s elections the number of parties was much reduced in comparison with two years ago.) On the working class side it is taking place through the recent drawing together of the “Marxist” forces,—the united front of the Communists and Social-Democrats, occurring for the first time since 1919.
The preparation of the Nazis, insofar as the mobilization of the population is concerned, the organization of their own ranks, the securing the support of big business, etc. has been going on most intensively during the past year. The great advance in votes is but the indication of the reinforcement, internal and external, of the movement. During this year the criminal weakness and hesitation of the Communist Party, its refusal until very recently to make the necessary alliance with other working class forces, has greatly facilitated the Nazi advance. Under the most varied slogans, the National Socialists have been able to win the wavering elements of the population.
Now for the National Socialists it becomes a question of immediate steps preparatory to armed struggle: replacement of the Socialist police by Nazis, taking over the army, taking over technical state positions, consolidating the peasant alliance, bringing the Royalists into the field, etc. These steps are envisaged by the Nazis and as far as possible are being approached. The revocation of the ban against the Sturmabteilungen (Nazi Storm Troops) greatly strengthens the Hitlerite position and intensifies the antagonisms since it throws in to sharp relief that fact that the ban against the Red Front Fighters has not been lifted. Yet the German workers are saying, if the Nazis are permitted to have uniforms, they will have theirs. To those active in its ranks, the National Socialists are giving three marks a day and maintenance, which is of course a great factor in winning over the unemployed.
The known support of the ex-royal family for the National Socialists raises the question of restoration of the monarchy. The monarchy for Germany meant a period of stability, of comparative well-being, of national glory, the memory of which must appeal to all except to the class-conscious workers. But this period is of the past. Germany’s productive machinery has been rebuilt to a remarkable efficiency under the Dawes and Young Plans, this excellent apparatus can function only under the terrible handicap of the world crisis, that is to say, it cannot function. The Nazis may promise through the Dritte Reich to bring back the old glamor of power, of German supremacy. But it is well understood that whatever stability can be achieved --- and such can be only temporary—can be brought about only by a terrific blood-letting of the working class, only by the relentless crushing of the Marxist forces.
That the possible Fascist regime would use the organizing ability as well as the financial backing of the Royalists seems very probable. It is just as probable that it would have the support and active participation of some of the Social-Democrats (Let us not forget, Mussolini himself was a Socialist once, belonging to a Centrist Italian faction). But as a form of the capitalist dictatorship it would be quite different from the monarchy. State capitalism has made rapid advances since the crisis. Only recently the government has been forced to buy up the shares of the Flick steel concern to prevent it from going into bankruptcy. So the government has added another business, steel, to its list of banks, shipping and other Industries which it now runs. Thus economically is laid the basis for the possible Fascist state.
The most significant of recent developments is the adoption by the German Communist Party of the line advocated many months ago by L.D. Trotsky . Finally after criminal (let us hope not fatal) delay, the Communists are calling for a united front with the Social Democrats and trade unions to fight the Fascist menace. The great danger now is that following the tremendous swing to the right which is now going on in the Russian Party, and in accordance with the historical Stalin policy of capitulation in united fronts (China 1927, English-Russian Trade Union Committee 1926) the German C.P. will become engulfed in this united front, will give up its independent stand, will not put forward the necessary Communist slogans for the battle. At a crucial moment like the present, such tactics would have the most disastrous results. Already huge demonstrations of the joint forces have taken place. A general strike is being planned. Breathlessly the outcome, so meaningful for the workers of the whole world is awaited.
The Geneva “Disarmament” Conference, the long-heralded, and much prepared-for, goes into recess with only another bag of wind as its achievement. If it has any value, it is merely in so far as it sheds a revealing light upon international relationships, and permits certain glimpses into the tricky game of bourgeois world politics.
Hoover’s proposals were not, as has been advertised, “hypocritical". Most sincerely, indeed, did this watch-dog of Wall Street strive to serve his masters in his clever—too clever—offers of partial disarmament. Every provision was calculated so as to strengthen the position of the U.S. and to handicap all rivals.
Firstly, from the point of view of international relationships, it is plain that America dominates by her economic might, depending less than other countries upon a mighty standing army and navy. Her problem, then, is to disarm her rivals. If Hoover’s proposals had been accepted and carried out, France, the financial and military mistress of Europe, would find her continental hegemony, based on superiority of arms, broken. On the other hand, a rapprochement was
intended towards Germany, following upon the favorable attitude of the United States in lightening the reparations burden upon Germany. (one can always be generous where one has nothing to lose, and in this case, much to gain.) Certainly to ease the burden of armaments of European countries would increase whatever hopes the U.S. bankers have of collecting the enormous war debts still due this country.
From the technical, purely military point of view, also, the Hoover proposals were just as cleverly figured to favor the strong points in the American armament situation. For example, no cut was proposed in big dreadnaughts, this country’s specialty. But the enemies’ specialties were to be cut. Cruisers were to be cut, hitting England; submarines were to be cut, handicapping France and Japan; Aircraft carriers were to be cut, aiming at both England and Japan. To be sure no cut was proposed in the small American standing army, which is after all, but a police army. Nor was manufacture of armaments to be prohibited, for is not this America’s strong point, and is she not equipped as no other country, to enter over night upon extensive manufacture of armaments sufficient to sustain any war? The proposed cut—as of course all armaments cuts proposed by all “disarmament” conferences --- would merely prune away antiquated material which the nations would be glad to scrap in any case.
Lastly, very interesting light is shed upon Litvinoff’s disarmament plan (which this paper has dealt with at length in previous issues). Let us not forget that Litvinoff also provided for partial disarmament in case his proposal for complete disarmament (which would “eliminate war"!) were rejected. To call Litvinoff’s offer “sincere” and Hoover’s “hypocritical” does not wipe out the great similarity of the two proposals and reveals to the full the folly of the Soviet proposals, made without the least exposure of the capitalist nature of war and war preparations. All police forces and arms were to be kept in Hoover’s proposals (and, by inference, in Litvinoff’s also) leaving ample forces for suppressing revolts and proletarian revolutions. Specific provisions were made for “colonial” forces to keep the colonies in the needful subjection. The fact that the Socialist International endorsed Hoover’s proposals not only exposes the bourgeois nature of the Socialist International, it gives one to think seriously also as to what is the true character of Soviet diplomacy. The whole pacifist movement, which considers partial disarmament a “step forward” is exposed as being at basis a bourgeois movement, since the rankest imperialists, in the interest of the imperialism of their own countries, can come forward with “peaceful” plans for partial disarmament.
Steel Worker Protests Stalinist Policies
The following letter has been sent us for publication by a comrade from Youngstown, Ohio. We are not in agreement with some of the opinions expressed in the letter. Our own view is given below.
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The policy which the Left Communist Opposition under the Cannon leadership has carried on from the very beginning is something new in the whole history of the class struggle. This is the first time in the revolutionary movement which a group of revolutionists refuse to do mass work because they do not like to hurt the Stalinist feelings. On account of this ridiculous and anti-communist policy of Cannon and Co. we missed the opportunity which the objective conditions offer us for three years, to have a strong organization all over the country, in a country with 40 million workers and where the Stalinist party and their influence is very insufficient among the workers. It is time for the L.O. to drop out that rotten policy and to quit being the tail of the Stalinists.
It is time for the L.O. to stop calling the Stalinist party “our party” (Cannon) and to stop calling what the Stalinists did in England 1926 and in China 1926-27, what they do to the communist movement since 1924, mistakes. We must expose the real character of the Stalinists to the workers the world over. It is not mistakes to split the communist parties in every country. It is not a mistake to unite with Chiang-Kai-Shek against the Chinese workers, it is not a mistake to jail and murder the leaders of the revolution and to replace them with Tzarist and Mensheviks (Martinov) and so on. It is not a mistake to sabotage the revolution (Germany). Everything the Stalinists have done in the last 8 years they have done not because they did not understand the teachings of Marx and Lenin, but because they did it purposely to keep the masses away from the Communist movement. Anyone who thinks the Stalinists do not understand what Lenin said in the Second Congress of the C.I. is a fool. Here is what Lenin said: The Communist International should establish a temporary agreement, even an alliance, with the revolutionary movement of the colonies and backward countries. It must not however pull (?) with it, but must absolutely preserve the independent character of the proletarian movement even if it is still in embryonic form.
For dear Comrade Cannon who for three years has been calling the communist betrayals mistakes, these things are not plain enough to understand, though it is plain not only for Mr. Stalin, Bukharin, Rykov, etc.—but it is plain enough for anyone without any Marxist knowledge. The fact is, Mr. Stalin never was a Communist and never will be. He is a plain egoist patriot, he hates the workers and internationalism and revolutions, that is the main reason why he exiled Comrades Trotsky and Rakovsky, and so on. The Third International is dead since 1923 and under the present leadership has done nothing but destroy the Communist movement. We must begin for a Fourth International, and the sooner we all realize that the better it is! The L.O. in this country under the Cannon leadership has become a group of Stalinists No. 2., since they deny the right to express his opinion to anybody who does not agree 100% with them. In the winter of 1930 I sent a letter t o New York and asked them to send someone out on a tour in order to do some work for our organization. The answer by Comrade Cannon was, we don’t need any advice. In June 1931 I wrote an article, also in August I sent a discussion article to the Militant, both of which are still to be published. As a worker and defender of Comrade Trotsky’s views since 1924, I appeal to the members and sympathizers of the L.O. to call an immediate conference in order to discuss the international problems which face the Communist movement, and the future work of the L.O. in this country, and to elect a committee (Not a la Stalin) but in a real communist way.
Following is part of a letter sent Comrade Plarinos, expressing the opinion of the Class Struggle on his letter:
We have received both your letter and the article you sent us for the Class Struggle. We will be glad to print your article. At the same time, I must tell you there are some things you write which seem to me (and the other comrades of our editorial board) to be mistaken. I refer to the demand you raise for a Fourth International. This slogan has not yet been raised by the Left Opposition anywhere, and for good reasons.
1. It is leaping ahead of events to raise such a slogan now. It is true, the Stalinist regime has brought the Communist International to very heavy losses. Errors have been made of a very serious character from the experience of the Chinese Revolution down to the German situation today. The Communist International on one important question of program (question of building Socialism in one country) has departed from the fundamental teachings of Marx and Lenin.
You conclude from these things, we must have a new International. But look at the question from another side. Is the—moment here now for such a slogan? After all, we don’t cross the Mississippi River while we are in Pennsylvania State, we wait till we reach Illinois or Tennessee. It is too soon now, and we do not see cause yet, to issue a slogan for a new International.
2. This International, the Third, has not yet betrayed. Here it seems to me, your opinions are too extreme. The policies of the 3rd International since the death of Lenin are terrible mistakes, but not yet betrayals. The 2nd International betrayed the workers in 1914 when it gave itself over to the support of the national governments in the world war. As far as that the 3rd International has not yet gone. If in Germany the Communist International would refuse to fight at the present time, this would again be a betrayal like that of 1914. But we see now that at last the C.P. of Germany is beginning to take Trotsky’s position (let us hope, not too late) and is making a united front with the Social Democrats to fight the Fascists. That they can still betray the German workers in some other form, is still possible, but they have not done so yet.
3. The Communist International still has much larger numbers of workers following it than the Left Opposition. In only two countries (Greece and Spain) is the L.O. larger than the official parties. It is not possible, to organize, while the great majority of Communists still follow the 3rd. We know, that the membership of the Communist parties is a new membership (this applies to Europe as well as to America). The old membership to a great extent has dropped out. The new layers of workers, awakened by the crisis, turn to the C.P. Yet this does not prevent the fact, that the Left Opposition can win directly only a few workers to itself. Even with correct tactics (which we have not yet seen in America) it would be very hard for the L.O. to win workers as the party can do. There is still the prestige of the Russian Revolution around the C.P.; there is still the material support of the Russian party behind the Stalinist parties.
4. We claim that we must function as a fraction of the C.I. and strive to correct the political line of the C.I. To change the leadership of the Stalinist parties, corrupted as they are, we believe to be impossible. But there is still hope in the membership. There are still some cadres --- those who do the mass work in the field, who lead strikes, etc. --- who are not too much corrupted, and who in time will have to think and see the futility, the uselessness, of giving their work to support the Stalin leadership.
5. While we consider ourselves a fraction of the C.I. we at the same time call for independent mass work by the Left-Opposition, which alone will enable our forces to grow. This is necessary, because we are not allowed to work in the party, and also to convince the workers that our policies are correct. Merely by our talking they will not be convinced, but by action.
6. The Communist International still keeps a communist program (except on the question of building socialism in one country). It still believes in the destruction of the capitalist state, and in the dictatorship of the proletariat. Therefore there is still hope to correct the errors which are principally errors of tactics.(Of course it will be necessary always to get rid of the Stalin clique leadership, before any change can be made.) and to restore the Left Opposition leaders such as Trotsky and his colleagues. It is true errors of tactics lead to change of program, if the errors are deep and not corrected. Again, it is here a question of time, it is a question how deep and how hopeless are the errors of the party.
7. It is possible we will have to change our line, and if the degeneration of the C.I. goes much further without correction, we will have to call for a 4th International. Let us see what develops in Germany, for example. The German workers are not such fools. They are hardened, developed workers who have been through two revolutions. It is possible that through the struggle in Germany the Left Opposition will become stronger, and with this prestige will be able to drive out the Stalin clique. It is also possible, if the workers are defeated in Germany, the masses of the workers everywhere will awaken to the corruption of the C.I. through this defeat, and will rally to the L.O. In this case, perhaps a 4th International will be formed but we will cross the river when we reach it.
The kind of education meted out to the new recruits of the C.P. is partly responsible for its 100% turnover in membership. In the latest pamphlet entitled “The C.P. in Action” Comrade Bittelman quotes Stalin to prove to us what were Lenin’s ideas. Evidently the party has reached the point where it finds it dangerous to permit even Lenin to speak for himself. The purpose is first to foist Stalin on the masses as the greater theoretician and secondly to permit this infallible genius to twist his understanding of Lenin in such a way as to cover his own mistakes and thus palm them off as compatible with Leninism.
For example, on pg. 13 we find the following: “The organizational principles of Bolshevism follow inevitably from the Bolshevik conception of the role of the C.P. What is this conception? Stalin states that in the following words. “The Party should be the vanguard of the working class. It should group within it the best elements, should embody their experiences, their revolutionary spirit, their unbounded devotion to the cause of the proletariat…. The Party is the political leader of the working class".
Is there a single idea in the above that even slightly …….. the position of Lenin and Trotsky as manifested in their constructive work in the first three congresses of the C.I.? To inject Stalin as an authority gives the effect of a superfluous wart on a smooth skin. It is necessary to quote Lenin on important matters and not what Stalin thinks that Lenin said. We could forgive this in the absence of Lenin’s works, but since they are at our disposal we are somewhat skeptical when Stalin is quoted instead. It is also to be remarked that every time Bittelman directs his lying slanders against Trotsky, this is done by a mere statement, unsubstantiated by facts. Not one quotation to prove that Trotsky really holds the views charged against him. No doubt Bittelman hopes all errors will be forgiven him by Stalin in payment of these lies and further honor may be bestowed upon him for constantly quoting Stalin, ad nauseam.
For example, this: “… It can be seen how slanderous are the assertions of the Trotskyite counter-revolutionists and other renegades that are trying to prove that Leninism is purely a Russian phenomenon, that the teachings of Lenin are not applicable to other countries. It was against this smuggling of Trotskyism into our literature, into the history of the Bolshevik party, that Comrade Stalin came forth so sharply, like our true Bolshevik leader, in his now famous letter to the Russian periodical Proletarian Revolution.”
As a theoretician Bittelman takes first prize in invention. No matter how one may distort, falsify and misquote Trotsky, this charge cannot hold for at no time has Trotsky or any of his followers even intimated that Leninism is a purely Russian phenomenon. As to the smuggling of Trotskyism into the literature, does Bittelman refer to the writings of Trotsky during 1917 to 1923.? If so, we may say these were passed by the censors of the C.I. with Lenin at the helm. True, Stalin after 1924 found damaging evidence against himself and it was he who falsified history. It was he who ordered Trotsky’s name to be stricken out from certain activities and his own substituted. This happened only after the death of Lenin.
PARTY HOOLIGAN TACTICS
Some time ago the Daily Worker carried an announcement that the party’s election campaign tactics included the “participation” of Communists in all election campaign meetings. We had a misgiving as to the meaning of this decision. Now it has become plain. In last weeks Militant we read of the breaking up of a street meeting of the Communist League of America (Cannon Group) by party members.
These hooligan tactics of the party must be denounced in the strongest terms. The breaking up by physical violence of meetings of workers’ organizations is a tactic which illustrates Stalinist rudeness in all its stupidity. Powerless to convince by argument or by superior achievement, the C.,P. finds no other resort than to destroy or attempt to destroy, by brute force all organizations which do not agree with it. The breaking up of a street meeting of the I.W.W. by the party a year ago did as much as anything else to make it impossible for the party to win over the honest militant workers a few of whom are still to be found in the I.W.W.
When the meeting is one of a communist group, the tactic becomes still more damnable, and when the meeting in question is actually calling upon workers to support the candidates of the C.P., to break up such a meeting becomes an act in the highest degree stupid and criminal.
The Communist League of Struggle has so far experienced only heckling in its meetings this season, which it has been able to handle. However, we protest just as vehemently against the breaking up of the meeting of the C.L.A. A letter is being sent to the district office of the party, voicing our protest.
UNITE FOR SPANISH REVOLUTION
That the ferocious persecution of the “democratic” government of Spain falls chiefly upon the leaders of the Left Opposition testifies to the vital activity of this group which has been using the united front tactic to great advantage in carrying forward the Spanish revolution. The raid on the offices of El Soviet on May 30th resulted in the arrest of 21 comrades including Andres Nin, These comrades have since been released, but the persecutions continue.
Several weeks ago the Communist League of Struggle sent a letter to the New York Branch of the C.L.A. offering to make a united front with this organization, and proposed a tentative plan of action, to defend the Spanish comrades who were then in jail. A reply was received acknowledging receipt of our communication. Since then we have had no further word.
At least this reply constitutes an advance over the previous receptions given our overtures to the C.L.A. Our last offer of a united front with them also on the question of the Spanish revolution. The answer then was the famous editorial in the Militant declaring that what was needed between the two organizations was not a bridge but a rope. We shall continue to propose the united front with the C.L.A. on concrete issues, trusting that in time these comrades will be induced to see that such working together of the two groups supporting the views of the International Left Opposition will not only further the attainment of the concrete object in question, but will do much to bring about a closer political cooperation between the two groups and hence to strengthen the Left Opposition in America.
ONE YEAR IN THE BROOKLYN NAVY YARD
It is now a year since the Communist League of Struggle, soon after its establishment as an organized group, began the publication of a Communist shop paper (the Red Dreadnaught) in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The paper has continued its regular appearance. At first received with suspicion and reluctance by some of the workers, its monthly appearance is now eagerly welcomed by the great majority. It has made contacts in the factory and has obtained correspondence from the workers there. It has put up demands for the Yard workers, and has brought to their attention a Communist viewpoint upon many matters. It has been persistently put forward the necessity for union organization and has supported the TUUL as the organization to join.
During this time, what has been the history of the Party, YCL and TUUL in the Yard? A couple of leaflets have reached the workers from the Party and YCL. The League has conducted some gate meetings. The TUUL (Metal Workers Industrial League) has so far a record of inefficiency and lack of accomplishment scarcely to be surpassed. After almost a year (during which there were several TUUL members working in the Yard) finally the office decides to organize the place, YCL members are colonized there. Meetings of the shop group begin to be called. It is decided to put out a paper. The members of the committee give up their evenings to prepare the paper. Is it distributed?—NO! What the C.L.S. with its tiny membership has been able to do faithfully and regularly for a year the TUUL cannot do.
When the Economy Bill passed Congress, a special leaflet was issued for the Yard by the TUUL, announcing a noo-day shop gate meeting with Hathaway as speaker. Was the meeting held?—NO! Perhaps Hathaway is too great a man to go out to speak at factory gates. At any rate, no meeting was held. With such irresponsibility can the TUUL expect to win much following in the Yard?
SUPPORT COAL MINE STRIKES!
That thousands of coal miners are on strike both in eastern Ohio and in Illinois is a fact which is too little known to the workers elsewhere. The capitalist press is silent about both strikes. The Daily Worker gives news to the Ohio strike, where the National Miners Union has won some influence. But on the Illinois situation, although it involves 40,000 miners and their families, the Daily agrees with the policy of the New York Times and keeps mum. The reason for this is obvious. There is no National Miners Union in Illinois. The Party’s sectarian hands-off policy towards the Illinois miners progressive movements has had the inevitable result that the miners there must conduct their struggle against the Lewis machine and against the coal operators without the help of the Stalinist Communists. Their fight now is against a 36 % wage cut. A certain degree of autonomy has been won from the Lewis machine, some locals not paying dues to the International Union. Of course, this is far from being sufficient, and the Illinois miners must continue their struggle until they achieve a complete separation from that vulture, the United Mine Workers. At the same time, they must strive to unite with militant groups elsewhere (National Miners’ Union, West Va. Miners, etc.) until a sound, fighting, country-wide organization has been achieved.
In Ohio the battle continues through many weeks, with frequent arrests and shootings, and with the United Mine Workers playing a strike-breaking role. Friends of labor everywhere must rally to the support of the coal miners immediately and with all means in their power. Money and clothes should be sent to the Workers International Relief—4 Freiter Bldg. Bridgeport, Ohio and to Illinois Miners Relief Committee—610 Illinois Mine Workers Bldg.—Springfield Illinois.
UNPRINCIPLED RESOLUTION OF THE LANDAU GROUPING
The latest issue of “Le Communiste” organ of the Landau grouping, carries a rather astonishing resolution. This deals with the relations of the “International Communist Left” (Landau group) and the C.I. This group declares its intentions of functioning as a fraction of the C.I. and at the same time of conducting independent activity. So far, so good. What is astounding, what arouses indignation, in this resolution is that it makes no mention whatever, not even by a single word, of the present attitude of this group towards the International Left Opposition of which the group has until recently been a part. It is true, this is a resolution on “relations with the C.I.” Whether the question is dealt with outside of this bulletin, we do not know. But this does not alter the fact that to ignore completely the Left Opposition seems to us an entirely unprincipled step which can only create confusion and must certainly alienate any confidence whatsoever in this grouping.
The third convention of the National Textile Workers Union passed in ghost-like silence like a ship in the fog. Even the Daily Worker could not work up a splurge about it. On July 8th we find an editorial, of course, the usual sack-clothe and ashes. The convention was held in Boston, which is not a textile center. Were there any textile workers there? From the condition of the union we can be sure, not many. In Passaic, formerly the guiding star of the movement throughout the country, the union does not exist. In Patterson, scene of many old and of recent battles it has the merest handful of members. In the Southern States it does not exist. In Philadelphia it never had a footing. Of New Bedford, Lawrence and other New England centers, of the tri-cities (Easton Allentown and Bethlehem), and the Anthracite, we do not have first-hand information, but from the lack of activity and the lack of textile news in the Daily, we can be sure the union is at a very low ebb in these centers.
Of course the editorial in the Daily Worker admitted the complete bankruptcy of the union. But the C.P. leadership cannot account for the cause of the failure. The errors admitted to: tendency to jump from place to place instead of carrying on a sustained activity, constant changes of leadership, “weakness in the application of trade union democracy”, weakness in the struggle against the United Textile Workers (AFL) leadership, failure of the party to lead, failure to penetrate the mills and carry on the day-by-day struggle, --- these things summarize the failure of the party in all fields of work.
To understand the collapse of the NTWU we must look back to the two previous conventions. In September 1928 the first national convention was held launching the new union. An abrupt turn was then taking place in the party’s trade-union policies, following the leftist turn in the C.I. so that the new unions were started suddenly, in some cases where sufficient ground did not exist (food workers) in others without sufficient preparation. In the textile field there was certainly a basis for the revolutionary union. The AFL union (United Textile Workers) covered only a few small centers with organizations of the skilled. To the masses of the unorganized it was known as a betrayer of strikes and a reactionary organization in spite of the short time for preparation for the first convention, the new union was launched successfully on the wave of enthusiasm of the New Bedford strike, with a not too poor representation from Passaic, Paterson, the tri-cities, Lawrence, the Anthracite, etc. The convention made a thorough analysis of the industry and laid plans for building a real organization.
The first year of the union showed steady progress. The prestige of the Passaic and New Bedford strikes was still fresh. The national office functioned efficiently. An organizer was sent to North Carolina, opening up the South for the first time to the Communists. Organizers functioned in New Bedford, Lawrence, Paterson-Passaic, tri-cities, Anthracite and Philadelphia. The membership steadily grew. Mill locals were beginning to be formed. Early in 1929 the Gastonia strike brought to the fore all the latent capacities of the revolutionary unions for leading in struggle new strata of the American working class.
In December 1929 was held the second convention of the NTWU. This convention marked a turning point after which the collapse of the union was very soon accomplished. During 1929 took place the splits in the American party with the driving out of thousands of worthwhile members, not only from the party but from their posts in the mass organizations. Albert Weisbord, National Secretary of the union, was driven out, Vera Buch was driven out. The old Passaic-New Bedford leadership (Keller, Dawson, Rubenstein, etc.) was driven out. In the convention of 1929, under the expert guidance of Bill Dunne, a most shameless frame-up was put over to the effect that Comrade Weisbord had deserted his post in the South (Weisbord being barred from the hall meanwhile by Party orders). The union deprived of its known, trusted leaders, used as the play-ball of the C.P. politicians, quickly melted away. The disastrous policies in the field completed the job. The South was abandoned. The Paterson “general strike” of 1930, so widely heralded was dropped. The strike of 1931 in Paterson was called on a most adventurous basis, with no preparation, with no mill locals, with nondescript leadership which did not have the workers’ confidence. The dirty treatment by the party members imported from New York given the members of the Communist League of Struggle who were active on the picket line did not help the strike any. The unrealistic united front tactics, (the famous “united front from below") which practically abandoned thousands of workers to the Muste-Lovestone alliance, weakened and isolated the NTWU forces. The Lawrence strike of 1931 was such a brilliant success for the NTWU that the workers, ignoring the UTW which was also in the field, organized a new group, the American Textile Workers Union, under the influence of the Muste group.
The awful conditions under which the textile workers now suffer find them still without an effective organization. The NTWU under the direction of the C.P. has been saddled with a tremendous load of failures, abandonments, and mistakes. The Daily Worker editorial admits very significantly that the workers lack confidence in the NTWU as their daily leader. Yet there is no hope from other sources for the textile workers. The treachery of the UTW has been proven long ago. The Muste leadership (with the able cooperation of the Lovestone members) can only drag the movement into opportunist channels. It remains for the few party members who are active in the textile field to throw off the throttling clutch of the old men of the sea—the Fosters, Browders Minors and Amters—and to insist that in spite of the terrible handicaps of the past two and a half years the NTWU make a new start as the real, militant, responsible leader of the textile workers.
Some time ago the Communist League of Struggle sent its Secretary, Albert Weisbord, to Prinkipo, Turkey, to visit Comrade Trotsky and to exchange views on the questions that separated us from the International Left Opposition. Comrade Trotsky received our representative in a most friendly and hospitable manner and made him his guest for three weeks.
As a result of the discussions, we are in receipt of several extremely important documents in which Comrade Trotsky criticized our group. These documents are not only important to our group, but, we believe, are historic documents of high value to the whole Communist movement.
An early issue of our paper will be entirely devoted to these documents and to the views of our group upon the matters raised by Comrade Trotsky.
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