The Presidential Elections by Vera Buch
The Democratic landslide certainly indicates a big victory for the ruling class of this country, with the two-party system unshaken. But let no rashly pessimistic conclusions be drawn from these results. What is necessary is to make a most careful analysis of the vote and of all forces driving to it. Above all, the Communists must strive through these election returns to get their fingers upon the pulse of the working class, to be sure just what are its mood. and its tempo at this stage of the crisis.
Why the heavy defeat of Hoover? (Keep in mind however that the electoral vote is not the popular vote: 15 million people after all, found America tolerable enough even under the crisis to want to keep Hoover in the White House). The reason is not so much the crisis alone but the policy of the administration during the crisis. The unending bluff (a temporary disturbance, not a deep-going crisis, the chicken in the pot, prosperity around the corner, public works, our great achievements, etc, etc.). The unmitigated hard-boiled conservatism. Not one crumb for the masses, not one single cent, literally, for the unemployed. Open unblushing support of the bankers, the big corporations. Open bolstering up of industry at the cruel expense of the working class. And lastly—let us not underestimate its importance -- the brutal affront given the unemployed by the breaking up of the bonus march. In short, a brazenly open bosses government.
But why the big Roosevelt vote? Here we must admit the disillusionment is not yet with the bourgeois rule, not yet with the “system”, neither is it Roosevelt’s lukewarm program with its half-promises of social insurance, of economy, of Federal relief, etc., which won the votes, but rather the old swing of the pendulum which can still be relied upon to take care of the discontent of the masses. How much longer it can be relied upon is another question. Our opinion is by the time another presidential election rolls around, there will matured other forms of expression for the revolt of which the crisis is now sowing the seeds.
The S.P. vote, making all allowances for wide-spread fraud, (which even the Republicans had to contend with in Democratic controlled districts) and for its exclusion from the ballot in some sections, was still a comparatively small vote. It was still some hundreds of thousands behind the high point of the Debs vote in 1920. We can readily see why the S.P. should increase its vote over the last election. The unprecedented support given Thomas through the press, radio, etc. (very interesting indeed, the S.P. is now accepted as one of the family, and the capitalists can laugh in their sleeves at the discontent which is turned off into this safe channel), the energetic campaign the party made, the radical-sounding platform, with these favorable circumstances the S.P, vote is easily explained. We must really ask, “Why was the S.P. vote so small?” Combines with the above advantages, the distress of the farmers and the blows dealt the middle class generally, with schoolteachers unpaid, doctors and dentists without patients, storekeepers and little business men out of business, why did not more people vote for Thomas and Maurer? It is out of the question to suppose the masses know the S.P. for what it is, a middle-class capitalist reform party and that they fail to flock to it in great numbers because they realize it will not fundamentally change the situation. For the comparatively small vote of the S.P. we have two explanations. First, the still surviving confidence in the old parties, and second, the inadequacy today, in the face of the blind alley the system is in, of a mere parliamentary program unaccompanied by leadership of the masses in concrete struggle for their immediate objectives, especially on behalf of the unemployed.
No third party of any size, outside of the S.P. entered the field. The liberal group headed by Dewey was obliged out of sheer ineptness to support the S.P. Liberalism as the philosophy of the rising bourgeoisie was a driving. force in the world in the 19th century. In America today it is an anachronism, without a class base. The only class it might appeal to, the middle class, is itself too hard pressed by the crisis, ground to pieces as it is between the trusts on the one hand and the threat of pauperization on the other, to be swayed by the passive impartial liberal program. The capitalists themselves are up against a stiff fight on the economic field. Politically this in their period of unyielding conservatism. Tomorrow they will face the alternative that is confronting Europe today, of Fascism or Communism.
A few tiny labor groups here and there chiefly under the influence of the Muste forces were able to put forward independent local candidates as the Independent Labor Party of the West Virginia miners, to Seattle Unemployed Citizens Union, etc. We must take into account however, the probable deepening of the crisis which is ahead of us. The bourgeoisie may be forced into a few social reforms such as unemployment insurance. This will be but a feeble straw to stem the rising flood of discontent. It is possible then the masses will turn to working class action through the channel of a Labor Party (in the English sense). Two other factors, however, must be considered, first, the world situation which offers possibilities of either a world war (China, Germany,) or a new proletarian revolution (Germany) or both, any of which contingencies would change the relation of forces here. Second, the course of development which the Communist movement will take is a prime factor upon which hinges either the progress of the working class upon a revolutionary path or its shunting off and thwarting in a party of reformism.
What of the Communist votes in the past elections? In the face of the unheard of misery of the third year of the crisis, the small vote of the C.P. can only be called shameful. We make every allowance for the well-known checks upon democracy which affect the Communist vote in any election (disfranchisement of the Negroes, of the foreign-born, of the youth, residence qualifications, pauper laws, fraud, etc.) We might triple the vote of the C.P and it would still be small in the face of the unprecedented exposure of the capitalist system which has taken place. The hunger and cold of possibly 20 million unemployed and their families, the desperation of the miners, of the textile workers, the pauper-like level of the Southern workers, the poverty of the Negroes, the wage-cuts and torture of speed-up and long hours to which the employed are subjected, the terrible general lowering of the standard of living for all the toiling masses, these are things which provide the most fertile soil for the growth of the Communist movement. But we must know that economic conditions alone do not make Communists. Becoming a communist or a supporter of the communist program is a matter of the head, not of the belly. We cannot however simply blame the poor campaign the Party made. The campaign was mechanical, as usual, and made little impression. But most of’ all it is the failure in action of the party which counts for its failure to win the working class vote. The right-wing unemployment work consisting of cut-and-dried demonstrations signature collection and marches, devoid of real action and above all without a base of an organization of the unemployed, the isolation of the TUUL due to the distortion of the united front, the bureaucratic methods within the party, the irresponsibility in mass work, abandonment of fields of struggle (North Carolina, Illinois, Passaic, etc.) the clown-like leadership hanging on the word of Stalin, the general decline in influence of the C.I. itself with which the poor condition of the masses in the Soviet Union has something to do, these things are the basis for the party’s failure.
To conclude, it is clear there is not yet radicalization of the American masses (page Browder and his 1930 thesis with its revolutionary upsurge and the Cannon group with “deep-going radicalization” in 1929.) There are great potentialities of radicalization as we stated in our theses of April 1931. Their development depends to a great extent upon the correct work of the C.P. and this in turn hinges upon the victory of the Left Opposition without which the prospect for the Communist movement is not bright.
The Spanish “Kornilovs” and “Stalinists”
by Leon Trotsky
As usual Pravda is silent on Germany. But to make up for this, on Sept. 9th it has put in an article on Spain. The article is instructive in the highest degree. It is true, it throws only an indirect light on the Spanish Revolution. But on the other hand it illumines brightly the political convulsions of the Stalinist bureaucracy.
The article says, “After the defeat of the general strike of January, the Trotskyists (here follow insulting rituals—L.T.) assert that the revolution was defeated and that the period of repulses had come.” Is this correct? If there were revolutionists in Spain who were preparing to bury the revolution in January of that year, such people neither have nor can have anything in common with the Left Opposition. A revolutionist can recognize the revolutionary period as closed only when the objective signs leave no room for doubt. Only despicable impressionists and not Bolshevik-Leninists can make pessimistic prognoses on the basis of a lukewarmness of the state of mind.
In our pamphlet “The Spanish Revolution in Danger” we have examined the problem of the line of general development of the Spanish Revolution and its possible rythms. The Russian Revolution of 1917 took 8 months to reach its culminating point. But this delay is not all compulsory for the Spanish Revolution. The great French Revolution gave the power to the Jacobin only at the end of 4 years. One of the causes for the slow development of the French Revolution lay in the fact that the Jacobin party itself was formed only under the fire of events. These same conditions exist in Spain: at the moment of the Republican Revolution the Communist Party was still in swaddling clothes. It is for this as well as other reasons that we thought it likely the Spanish Revolution would develop through a whole series of stages, including the parliamentary Stage.
We recalled at that time that the orbit of the revolution admit of ups and downs. The art of leadership consists among other things in not ordering the offensive at the moment of ebb-tide and not retreating at the flood. For this it is necessary above all not to identify the fluctuations of the particular “conjuncture” of the revolution with its fundamental orbit.
With the defeat of the general strike of January, it was evident that we had to deal with a partial retreat of the revolution in Spain. Only chatterboxes and adventurers can fail to take account of the ebb. But to speak of the liquidation of the revolution in relation to a partial abatement, can be done only by cowards and deserters. Revolutionists are the last to leave the field of battle. Anyone who wants to bury the revolution alive deserves to get the firing squad himself.
The subsiding and partial lull of the Spanish revolution has given an impulse to the counter-revolution. Such dramatic changes are notices in every revolution. After the defeat in a great battle the masses retreat and settle down. The leadership, not tempered enough, is often inclined to exaggerate the extent of the defeat. All this gives courage to the extreme wing of the counter-revolution. Such is the political mechanism of the monarchist attempt of General Sanjurjo. But it is especially the intervention on the scene of the peoples most mortal enemy that awakens the masses like the crack of a whip. It is not rare for the revolutionary leadership to be taken unawares in such an unexpected case.
“The rapidity and ease of the liquidation of the general’s revolt”, writes Pravda, “Show that the strength of the revolution is not broken. The revolutionary ascendancy has received a new impulse in the events of the 10th of August.” This is perfectly correct, In fact it is the only correct passage in the whole article.
Was the official Spanish Communist party surprised by the unexpected events? We are obliged to reply affirmatively, relying only on the proof in the Pravda. The article is entitled “The Workers Conquer the General". Evidently, without revolutionary intervention of the workers against the monarchist Coup d’etat they would have been obliged to send not Sunjurjo but Zamora into exile. In other words the workers at the cost of their heroism and their blood, have helped the republican bourgeoisie to retain power in its hands. Pravda, apparently unaware of this, writes: “The C.P. conducted its struggle ….against the right wing coup d’etat in such a way that it did not give even a shadow of support to the present counter-revolutionary government.” What the official C.P. is heading for is a special problem. At present it is a question only of the results of its efforts. The wing of monarchist landowners tried to dispossess the republican wing, although the republicans were careful in general not to dispute with the monarchists. But the proletariat steps upon the scene. “The workers defeat the General.” The monarchists go into exile, the republican bourgeoisie remains in power. How can be claimed, in the face of such facts, that the C.P. has given "a shadow of support to the present counter-revolutionary government"?
From what has been said, does it follow that the C.P. should wash its hands of the fight between the monarchists and the republican bourgeoisie? Such a policy would have been suicide, as the experience of the Bulgarian centrists showed in 1923. But the Spanish workers, intervening in a decisive struggle against the monarchists, could avoid giving momentary help to their enemy, the republican bourgeoisie in only one case: that is, if they had been strong enough to seize power themselves. In Aug. 1917 the Bolsheviks were much stronger than the Spanish communists in Aug. 1932. But the Bolsheviks themselves had no chance of taking power independently in the struggle against Kornilov. Thanks to the victory of the workers over the Kornilovians the Kerensky government lasted another two months. We will recall once more that battalions of Bolshevik sailors guarded Kerensky’s Winter Palace against Kornilov.
The Spanish proletariat showed itself strong enough to defeat the general’s revolt, but too weak to take power itself, under such conditions the heroic struggle of the workers could not help strengthening the republican government if only temporarily. Only nit-wits who substitute set phrases for the analysis of events are capable of denying this.
The misfortune of the Stalinist bureaucracy is that it does not see --- in Spain as in Germany—the real contradictions which exist in the enemy camp, that is the living classes and their struggle. The “fascist” Primo de Riveira is replaced by the “fascist” Zamora allied with the “social-fascists". It is not astonishing that with such a theory the intervention of the masses in the conflict between the monarchists and republicans should have taken the Stalinists by Surprise. Following their correct instinct, the masses threw themselves into the struggle, drawing the communists along with them. After the workers victory over the generals, Pravda began to collect the debris of its theory, so as to stick the pieces together again as though nothing had happened. This is what is really the meaning behind the stupid bluster according to which the C.P. it seems did not give “a shadow of support” to the bourgeois government.
But in reality, the C.P. has not merely given an objective support to the government, but as we see by the article itself, has not been able to differentiate itself subjectively from it. In this connection, we read "We have not succeeded in showing sufficiently the true face of the C.P. in all the units of the party as well as in all the organizations of the province and in opposing it to the manoevres of the social-fascists and republicans, thus demonstrating that the party fights not only against the monarchists but also against the republican government which covers the monarchy". By all the Stalinist literature we know well enough that the words “not in all the units,” …not in all the organizations"….etc… mean upon occasion. It is to conceal the cowardice of their thought. When on Feb, 15th 1928 Stalin first recognized that the Kulak was not an invention of the Left Opposition, he wrote in Pravda: “In some sections”, in certain princes” the Kulak has arisen. As the faults are due only to those who carry out the line, evidently they can only arise “in some places". So the party is only equal to the sum of the provincial groups.
In reality the quotation we have just given, stripped of its bureaucratic tricks, means: In its struggle against the monarchists the party has not been able “to show its face". It has not known how to oppose itself to the social-fascists and the republicans. In other words, the party has not only given temporary military support to the bourgeois and social-democratic government but has not been able to strengthen itself at their expense in the unfolding of the struggle.
The weakness of the Spanish C.P., which is the result of the policy of the epigones of the C.P. did not permit the proletariat to seize the power in Aug. 10th, 1932. At the same time the party was obliged to take part and did take part in the struggle as the left wing of the temporary general front, at the right wing of which was found the republican bourgeoisie. The leading coalition has not forgotten to show its “face”, holding back the struggle, curbing the masses, and at once, after the victory over the generals, it passed to the struggle against the communists. As far as the Spanish Stalinists go, according to the testimony of the Russian Stalinists they have not been able to demonstrate that “the party fights not only against the monarchists but also against the republican government".
That is the crux of the question. On the eve of the events the party was blackening the faces of all the enemies with the same soot. At the peak of the struggle, it daubed itself with the color of the enemy, temporarily gone astray in the republican social-democratic front. No one can be surprised at this except some one who did not understand until now the origin of bureaucratic centrism, In theory (if it is permissible to use that word here) it ensures itself against bureaucratic deviations by the very fact that in general it refuses to make any political or class differentiation. Hoover, Papen, Vandervelde, Gandhi, Rakovsky, all are “counter-revolutionists”,” Fascists”, “agents of imperialism". But each abrupt change of events, each new peril in practice forces the Stalinists to enter in struggle against one enemy, to get on their knees before the other “counter-revolutionists” and “fascists".
In the face of the war danger the Stalinists vote in Amsterdam for diplomatic, prudent, spineless resolution of General Von Schoenaich, the French free-masons and the Hindu bourgeoisie. Patel, for whom Gandhi represents the height of the ideal. In the German Reichstag the communists suddenly declare they are ready to vote for the “social-fascist” president in order not to permit a national-fascist president that is, they stand completely on the ground of the “lesser evil". In Spain the Stalinists show themselves at the time of danger to be incapable of opposing the republican bourgeoisie. Isn’t it clear that here we have not to do with occasional mistakes, with “particular” units, but with the organic vice of bureaucratic centrism?
The intervention of the working masses in the conflict of the two camps of exploiters gave the Spanish revolution a real thrust forward. The Azana government finds itself compelled to decree the confiscation of’ the land of the Spanish lords, a step it was as far away from a few weeks ago as from the Milky Way. If the C.P. had pointed out the differences between the real classes and their political grouping. If it had foreseen the real march of events, if it had criticized and exposed its enemies on the basis of their real sins and crimes, then the masses would have seen in the new agrarian reform of the Azana government the result of the C.P. policy and would have thought: We must go forward more energetically under its leadership.
If the C.P. entered surely and decisively upon the road of the united front to which the whole situation calls it, and criticized the social-democrats, not for their fascism but for their weakness, their fluctuations, their cowardice, in the struggle against bonapartism and fascism, then the masses would have learned in the common struggle and by criticisms would place themselves decisively behind the C.P.
In the face of the actual policy of the C.I. the masses are convinced at each new turn of events, not only that the enemies and class adversaries do not do what the communists had predicted, but that the C.P. itself turns at the decisive moment away from all it had taught. This is why confidence in the C.P, is not being strengthened. And it is why in part the danger arises that Azana mitigated agrarian reforms may only profit the bourgeoisie and not the proletariat.
With favorable, exceptional and fortunate conditions the working class can conquer even with a poor leadership. But these particularly favorable conditions are rarely met with. The proletariat must learn to conquer in less favorable circumstances. Moreover the leadership of the Stalinist bureaucracy as the experience of every country proves, and as the experience of each new month confirms, hinders communism, from utilizing favorable circumstances from strengthening its ranks and maneuvering actively, from finding its way about among the enemy and half-enemy groupings, and the allied forces. In other words the Stalinist bureaucracy has become the most important internal hindrance on the road of victory of the proletarian revolution.
Letters from Germany (Concluded)
(Editors Note: This is last of the letters written by Comrade Weisbord in June and July. For the first four letters see Vol II number 8 issue of Class Struggle, September, 1932).
The German situation heavily concentrates within itself in a classic manner all the Marxian laws of Revolution. We can note the following salient points:
1. No country is more ripe for Communism than Germany. It is the European country par excellence of heavy large-scale industry welded into monopolies and trusts and fused with the State itself. We have already pointed out the enormous growth of State Capitalism, Public property, in Germany. In the old days the “orthodox” Marxists used to declare that the Revolution would take place first in those countries most highly developed capitalistically. Certainly Germany fills this test. And together with this capitalist development has grown a great and well organized working class.
If we ask why did not the Revolution break out in the most highly developed capitalist countries (say U.S.A. or England) , we can answer with Lenin that other factors must be present, viz., the willingness and ability of the proletariat to fight to the finish. It is the law of unequal development of capitalism that resulted precisely in this that the U.S.A. and England being both victorious imperialist countries, were able to bribe decisive sections of the proletariat and to throttle all revolutionary action.
However, it is precisely in Germany where the masses and even the labor aristocrats are bribed least of all. For of all the great industrial and imperialist countries before the war, Germany alone came out defeated and crushed. And it is Germany alone that cannot for long bribe sections of its industrial proletariat as could England and America.
In short, here we have a classic Marxian combination: All economic and objective forces are ripe for the revolution together with a proletariat, the majority of the population whose education is high and whose terribly low standards of living and whose misery is bitterly apparent to all. Add to this a crisis more acute than anywhere else in the industrial world. Why then, we can ask, have we no revolution?
2. The second unique fact of the German situation is the complete and thorough bankruptcy of the Socialist Party in Germany. Actually the Socialists took power after the war. A Socialist President, Ebert, was elected. Why was there no Socialism inaugurated? In Germany, more than elsewhere, the Socialist Party became exposed as the agent of the counter-revolution, protecting capitalism. The victory of Ebert was not the victory of an immature Revolution which could only overthrow the Kaiser and the Junkers, but could not overthrow capitalism. No, as Comrade Trotsky has pointed out, it was the victory of an incomplete counter-revolution, strong enough to shoot down the workers and murder their leaders, but not strong enough to restore the Junkers, or even an open bourgeois party to power all at once, that resulted in Germany.
However, this counter-revolution, whose first victory was the election of Ebert the Socialist, has been maturing and step by step the Social-democratic parties have prepared the way practically as well as theoretically for this growth of counter-revolution. A steady back-sliding of “socialism” has taken place.
At first when Ebert shot down the masses and helped to murder Leibknecht and Luxemburg, Social-Democracy gave the reason that Socialism would surely come through the ballot and that it was necessary to go slowly through the ballot so as not to dislocate anything. Kautsky was actually put on a commission to “study” the question of “workers control". Socialism , it was promised, was actually “here".
The next step was to liquidate the factory councils as revolutionary bodies. The most that the Social-Democratic parties declared that it was possible to obtain at the moment, was a measure of social reforms. With the election of Hindenburg, 1925, these social reforms became less and less. The Socialist Party then took the next step backward, from advocating aggressive social reforms, the Socialist Party was content to “defend” the social reforms that had been already secured.
The third step backward was for the Socialist Party to give up one by one all the social reforms that the workers had actually secured in the course of their struggles. This process was greatly accelerated by the economic depression and the growth of Fascism.
The present year has seen the complete abandonment of even Social reforms by the Socialist Party. Now the Socialist Party declares, it is fighting only for the “Republic". The Republic has become the basic slogan and thus the Social-Democracy turns to a plain “Democracy” and from “Socialism” turns to “Radicalism". The grand height of the Socialist betrayal of this period was the vote for Hindenburg for President in 1932. Imagine, the Socialist Party actually put forth no candidate of its own and urged all, in the name of the Republic, to vote for Hindenburg. Could a more enormous, abject, patent, betrayal ever have taken place?
But the Socialist Party can not even defend the “Republic". It can only, Judas like, pave the road for the betrayal of the Republic. It is clear to all that the vote for Hindenburg was NOT a vote for the Republic but a vote for Von Papen and for a Bonapartism wiping out the Republic, kicking out the Socialists themselves from their cushy government jobs, and preparing the way for Fascism. The question we must now ask is, Why have the Socialists still influence in Germany among decisive sections of the workingclass?
3. The third unique point is the fact that Fascism is arriving into power via Bonapartism. In this connection we must stress the following: First, the enormous growth of the Fascists, that is the turning of the petty bourgeoisie to Reaction before the workers have attempted to seize power and have failed in the attempt. In other countries it was only after the country had been worked out by futile actions of the workers and the workers themselves wearied that Fascism had arisen (Italy). Second, through the Von Papen regime, a sort of Bonapartism is established before the class forces are burned out in civil war. This means that the Von Papen regime can not last long but only paves the way for Fascism. Hitler is right. He does not have to “March on Berlin” for he is already “In Berlin"! Third, a German Fascism itself does not provide a real leader, nor does the German Bonapartism of Von Papen-Hindenburg. All of them, in one degree or another, look to the Royalty, to the Hohenzollerns for leadership and prestige.
4. The fourth point that must be clarified is the relation between Von Papen and Hitler. What are the inter-relationships between the two? It is true there are antagonisms between them. Von Papen represents the Junker element more while Hitler relies on heavy trustified industrial capital. Nevertheless they are part of one class and Von Papen with his decrees and ukases, his practical elimination of the Reichstag prepares the day of plain Dictatorship just as Bruening with his temporary decrees prepared the day for Von Papen. Besides, Von Papen has certain preliminary tasks to perform which Hitler can not do for the German bourgeoisie. Not Hitler could appear in Lausanne but only Von Papen. Not Hitler could have risked his popularity with “Hunger Decrees” but only Von Papen. Not Hitler could have suppressed Socialist and Communist papers without an open struggle but only Von Papen. In this respect Von Papen is the Buchanan of Germany.
What is behind the differences between Von Papen and Hitler? The first question is: What share will Royalism play? With the Von Papen regime the Royalty and the Junkers will play a most important direct leading part. On the other hand, the Nazi movement is the attempt on the part of Big Business to set up a concern strictly its own and to take the political leadership itself, even though with the aid and even the personal leadership of the Kaiser. Connected with this struggle also is the struggle among the separate groups of the ruling class as to what share they will get of the results.
But far more important than this is the question of Civil War. It is a question of who will start the attack and when? The German bourgeoisie is carefully preparing its massacre of the Communists and workers. I refer you to the brilliant work of Karl Marx, his “Class Struggles in France 1848-1851” where he describes how the rulers prepared the slaughter of the June Days of 1848 in Paris. In this brochure Marx uncovers the strategy of the bourgeoisie, he shows how the Bourgeoisie did not attack at once. A provisional regime added to the Army and National Guard a “Mobile Guard” made up of slum elements. Marx shows how the government also tried to bribe a section of the unemployed by paying them wages through “National Workshops". Only when it was ready did the Government begin to provoke the workers by forbidding public meetings, by throwing many out of the National Workshops etc. In this way it stirred up the pretext which enabled it to bring in the army and then to begin the shooting of the masses.
The German rulers are preparing even more carefully than the French of 1848. They do not wish to begin before they are thoroughly prepared. The whole question is Just when should they start and unleash the dogs against the workers? Secondary questions consist of the problems: Shall the Nazis provoke the workers and start the civil war before they are in power or after they are in power; or shall the Von Papen regime itself take on the task of provoking the workers so that it will be the workers that will have to commence the action, upon which the heavy corps of the Nazis will come into action. All these questions are questions of tactics, but we must remember that civil war is an ART and tactics can decide the whole fate of the civil war. It is differences on these questions that have divided the ruling class sending some to Hindenburg, Hungenberg, and Von Papen and some to Hitler.
5. Finally we turn to the Communist movement. The blunders of the Communist International are as monumental as the crimes of the Socialist Party. The German Communist Party has heaped blunders upon blunders. It is this that accounts for the failure of the German Revolutions up to now; it is this that accounts for the turning of the petty bourgeoisie to Fascism; it is this that accounts for so many workers still remaining with Social-Democracy. The theory of building Socialism in one Russia alone, the absolute neglect of Germany, the program of “Peoples Revolution” “Against Versailles” “Freedom, Work, and Bread” and the “Red Referendum” played right into the hands of the Fascists. The theory of “Social-Fascism” that the Socialist is the chief enemy and that no united fronts can be made with the Socialist organizations and trade unions as such, these criminal policies have isolated the Communist Party and coupled with its attacks against the International Left Opposition, have rendered the Communist forces futile.
What are the probable perspectives? If I may venture one alternative that seems the following is opened up: (Considering the German situation alone, without international complications which of course can very well arise).
The Spanish Revolution at the Crossroads—Albert Weisbord
Recent events have exposed the fact that the Spanish Revolution still remains at the crossroads. It is still in its Kerensky Period, with a sort of dual power manifesting itself. On the one hand, there are the workers ever on the lookout, ever on guard to crush the enemies of the Republic; but not organized in Soviets and having no adequate leadership and thus incapable of seizing power for themselves. On the other hand, is the National Cortes controlled by the bourgeoisie who would themselves prefer a more stable regime even if it meant a return of the king. The Syndicates are too weak to crush the bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie is too weak to crush the Syndicates (revolutionary unions).
This unstable equilibrium, though it has lasted over a year and a half already, can not continue indefinitely. Either one or the other, wither the workers will succeed in seizing power or all reactionary forces will pool together to crush the proletariat and restore the monarchy if not establish a regular Fascist dictatorship. The present unstable equilibrium must come to an end either because of a shift of class forces within Spain or by a shift in the international situation (say, Germany) or by a combination of both. There is no question, for example, that should the Nazis crush the communists in Germany, the Revolution (and the Republic) comes to an end in Spain. While everything hangs in the balance, the proletariat in Spain has shown its greatest strength when it is fighting a defensive fight, against the Monarchists for example, and in doing the work which should be done by the bourgeoisie but which the latter is too cowardly and weak to do for itself. For example, take the last Monarchist attempt of General Sanjurjo. Sanjurjo actually had the conspiratorial support of part of the government and of the Civil Guard itself. It was not the bourgeoisie which crushed this uprising, it was the savage action of the proletariat which at once smashed to bits this reactionary movement, and although the government saved the life of Sanjurjo from the wrath of the masses, even the government was thrown for a loss and compelled to move to the left.
The Bourgeoisie, frightened at the power of the masses, exposed as a weak, tiny minority, utterly incapable of dealing with the Monarchists, or saving the Republic, indeed exposed as a group allied with the Monarchists, were forced to make concessions to the revolutionary forces. The government was forced to confiscate the property of the counter-revolutionists, deport their leaders, promise a greater reform in the army and for the peasantry, and actually granted a very liberal autonomy to Catalonia. All this marks a clear step forward in the Spanish Revolution, the appreciation of which step can be better seen in connection with the past periods of the Spanish Revolution.
The first period, November 1929 to January 1930. This is a period prepared by student riots, by the discontent of the bourgeoisie ground down by the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and by the economic crisis that affected them on all sides. This period is marked by the first general strike in November and December 1929. The workers here are supporting the students and the bourgeoisie, they play no distinct role; they merely push the leaders on to make the demand “Down with the King for a Republic” etc. The result of this mass pressure is the fall of the Dictator Primo de Rivera January 1930.
Succeeding Primo de Rivera is General Berenguer. He attempts to trick the people. He concedes that a National Cortes should be elected, that the absolutism of the Spanish Royalty be ended. But he means to fool the people, to have the National Cortes elected not by the masses but by the municipal delegates who have already been elected and who represent not the will of the people but the old Monarchist clique as before. The trick fails. All parties decide to boycott the fake elections. Army revolts backed up by Anarchist elements occur. The proletariat enters the fray. The Second General Strike is called. It starts from a small economic strike called in Madrid by the Socialists. It is seized upon by the Syndicalists and made into a general political strike that crushes Berenguer who falls March 1931 giving way to a provisional government headed by the Right wing Bourgeois Aznar. The King flees the country (aided by the bourgeoisie).
Real elections are then held. This marks the third period of the Revolution. A unanimous vote is cast for a Republic in the municipal elections. A republic is proclaimed April 14th, 1931. But the workers under the influence of the revolutionary Syndicalists, wish to go further. They call a general strike for April 15th It fails miserably, the Socialists fighting it tooth and nail.
Up to this point the Spanish Revolution has followed classic lines. The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the French Revolution of 1848 are the models. There is this difference, among others, with the Russian Revolution: There is no Bolshevik Party, the working class is thus weaker and the bourgeoisie relatively stronger. The King is not executed but allowed to escape. The Monarchists while driven to cover, still control the army and government posts. Spontaneous Soviets are not set up. But we see the same phases in the Spanish as in the Russian Revolution; the King is overthrown, the Miliukov-Gotchkov regime is ended and the “Bulygin Duma” period of 1905 is quickly passed through (Berenguer period). A provisional government is set up that represents the Kerensky period of the Spanish Revolution. As in Russia so in Spain. At first the Socialists take part. But when the Monarchy is overthrown, the Socialists defend the capitalists and fight the general strikes. As in Russia so in Spain, the theory of the Socialists is that since the capitalists are too weak to establish their rule, the workers must help them to establish capitalism, since capitalism must come before Socialism. As in Russia, the Socialists of Spain refuse to take power and bring in Socialism.
As in the French Revolution of 1848, the Revolutionary masses first demand a republic, then a republic with Social reforms. The ruling powers too weak to stop the masses must grant certain reforms for a time. The weak Louis Blancs (the Socialists) are taken into the government and flattered (The Spanish Republic was actually called a “Workers Republic"!) but the ruling class bides its time. It waits for its “June Days” to massacre the toilers. If the “June Days” have not yet come around in Spain it speaks volumes for the strength of the proletariat, the weakness of the bourgeoisie, and the instability of the international situation: it bespeaks the fact that we are in 1932 and not 1848. As the “June Days” period is delayed, the workers grow bolder. They move from Social Reforms to Socialism, to a demand on the part of the Communists that the workers seize power.
The elections of July 28, 1931, to the National Cortes showed the situation clearly. The Right Wing reactionaries got but 41 delegates out of a total of 470. The Radicals, Radical-Socialists and Socialists together got about 275 seats and forming a bloc took over the government, the Socialists taking three cabinet seats (labor, public instruction, public works) and were quite content to remain in a minority. But such a government can not crush the revolutionary forces which mount steadily in this period.
The fourth period (to October 1931) of the Revolution sees the Revolution move to the left. Many violent strikes break out all over the country. A peasant movement is organized strong in Andalusia led by the agricultural workers. The government is forced to confiscate the property of the King. The Monasteries and church’s are attacked and the church and State separated. The Jesuits are dissolved (but not banished, note). The separate government of Catalonia is recognized and agrarian and military reforms promised. A fourth general strike is attempted which is marked by a great deal of violence. It is crushed.
This period is followed by another (October 1931 up to the time of the Sanjurjo attempt). The movement seems set back. The trade union Syndicalist movement, falls from one million members to less than half. The Socialists grow. Insurrections in the Potassium mines and in the textile factories of Catalonia are put down. In November a drastic Safety Law of the Republic is put over. The fifth general strike (January 1932) is quickly put down …………. the Tarrasa insurrection in March.
What can we say about these last two periods?
1. The Socialists openly take the role of shooting down the workers.
2. The workers “experiment” with the attempt to seize power. (Note the similarity with the “July Days” of the Russian 1917 Revolution). They fail. A more sober mood sets in. The difficulties have become more apparent. The Syndicalist movement becomes split. The foolish putschist tactics of the Anarcho-Syndicalists become thoroughly exposed. A “group of 30” headed by Pestana, denounces the attempt to use the trade unions as revolutionary organs. This group fights for a moderate policy and going further, really fights against the revolution itself. The Syndicalists are split. It is this split that provokes the Anarchists to really seize the factories (fourth general strike). From that time the Anarcho-Syndicalists decline.
3. Refomism and liquidation tendencies grow. The Socialist Party, in spite of its open treachery increases its influence due to the failure of the revolutionary forces.
4. The Communist influence grows. The workers see not the trade unions alone, not putschism but a strong political party deeply embedded in the masses can succeed. A period of reflection and of study has set in.
The Reactionary forces mistook this period as one of defeat. They attempted through General Sanjurjo to turn the defeat into a rout. They in turn were routed. The Revolution enters into its sixth period with a decided swing to the Left.
(to be continued)
Snapshots from Europe
The Balkanization of Europe by Albert Weisbord
Anyone traveling through Europe today cannot but be impressed by the fact that the Versailles Treaty, far from establishing an amity of nations has only reproduced the Balkan situation on an enlarged scale. It is quite correct to say that all Europe has become Balkanized. On the trip from Hamburg to Istanbul one must pass through Germany, Czecho-Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Jugo- Slavia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. In each country there are the same violent national antagonisms, the same search and questioning of foreigners, the same high prohibitive tariff walls, the same swanking officers and officious frontier functionaries. The countries resemble huge armed prisons. Everywhere one sees soldiers, everywhere passports are carefully scrutinized. Daily the war is fought over again.
Have you a visa? Then see whether it is only a transit visa and if it is, then ask the police whether you can stop off to see the country or whether you must stay on the train throughout. And ask the police whether the same visa is good for the trip going through the country on the way back. If not, be sure to get another visa. And if you stay a day be sure to register with the police.
First there is the question of passports. They will be collected at the border and returned hours later. They will be examined again when we reach the capital and examined further when we reach the other frontier. Then there is the matter of baggage and luggage inspection. I travel with several Italians returning from Turkey to Italy. We enter Jugo-Slavia. Woe to the Italians. Their luggage is turned inside out and strewn around. Every piece is examined as though with a microscope. They are Italians! Have you chocolate, you cigarettes, have you some bologna, have you anything you brought in a country not your own? They, don’t you know, that each country has its industries to be supported, its chocolate, cigarette, etc. factories?
Finally there is the question of money. All your money is carefully recorded. All money is confiscated which does not meet the legal requirements. Here one feels the acuteness of the crisis, the completeness of the isolation of the various nations, an isolation intensified by the very interconnections and interdependence of the nations each with the other.
It seems as though all normal intercourse has become a crime and each country has walled itself around with a huge Chinese wall. Each country strives for self-sufficiency; each country prepares for the dreadful day when war will cut off all certain international commerce. Within each country conversation is carefully guarded. It is not good to speak to much, nor of politics. The pressure of the crisis and its political effects hangs like a pall around us. What is going to happen? Everything seems to be strictly under surveillance. We enter Nish (now Plevdiv) in Jugo-Slavia near the Bulgarian border and we see Jugo-Slavian soldiers leading a Bulgarian soldier away. We learn he is a deserter from the Bulgarian army who has fled his prison camp only to enter into another.
Bulgaria, Turkey, Hungary, Austria, shorn of huge strips of territory desperately bide their time. But it is not only these countries but the central countries themselves which have turned into Balkans, Czecho-Slovakia splits the German people as does the Danzig Corridor. Danzig, Poland, Lithuania, East Prussia, Czecho-Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, do they not represent a new Balkan problem? The solution of the old Balkan problem has only given us two Balkans.
If the matter has not yet come to a head it is because the old equilibrium has not been established; because the French, with their continental hegemony solidly support one set (Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, and Roumania) and there is no counter-weight to oppose the might of France,—none save that of Germany, which is only now arising, and that of Russia. The strengthening of Germany can lead only to the re-establishment of that equilibrium which must result in another war. The strengthening of Russia can lead only in the direction of a Soviet United States of Europe.
Istanbul—The Europeanization of Turkey by Albert Weisbord
The Europeanization of Turkey is now a fact. The lattice-laced harem windows have been opened; the old Arabic script forbidden, the old Turkish costumes have vanished. A great step forward has been taken by the nation since 1921, the time of the Revolution. Strange to say, this revolution was not a “peoples revolution” in the same sense as the Russian revolution of February 1917 or the German revolution of 1918. The fact was that the old Sultanic skin simply rolled away and a new and more vigorous capitalist leadership was able to take control. The nearness to proletarian Russia, the defeat after the world war, and the Turko-Greek war all roused the articulate sections of the merchants and capitalists from their apathy and a great movement for Europeanization set in.
But Europeanization has meant also the growth of all the antagonisms and contradictions inherent in capitalist development. The Turkish rulers had to strive first of all to break the chains that had harnessed Turkey to this or that imperialist power. The war with Greece marked a definite mile-stone in this direction. With great ruthlessness over 100,000 Greeks were driven out of Turkey. Now they can stay only in and around Istanbul. On the other hand a similar number of Turks have been driven from Greece and have been given the lands of the former Greek residents. The struggle against Greece meant the struggle against superior European culture, but this culture could be overcome only by adopting and surpassing it. This the new Turkish rulers attempted to do.
The struggle against Greece meant also the struggle against the domination of the merchant capitalist whose seat was Constantinople (now Istanbul). The Turkish landlord caste could not overcome him. The new rulers must now turn to industry. Only the industrialist can defeat the merchant. Hence the strenuous effort to induce capital to build factories in Turkey. Hence the great job at the Turkish-Russian and Turkish-Italian accords where over $40,000,000 will be loaned to Turkey, on very liberal terms, for purposes of industrialization. The capital has been moved to Angora. Each day sees advances, a careful policy of Turkish Nationalism and Turkish Capitalism.
These very developments must prove to the Turkish people that their revolution has not been permanently achieved. They are now Europeanized but has that relieved them of their miseries? The streets of Istanbul are now paved: the women act in an emancipated manner. Taxis, movies, radios, exist, but all these innovations brought in from the rest of the world only emphasize the struggle which is still ahead to really free Turkey.
The economic crisis exists in all its brutality in Istanbul. Prices of many important articles have fallen as much as 89%. The taxes rise steadily. A clerk tells me that he must pay 30% of his weekly wage to the government as income tax. We enter a moving picture theater. It can hold from four to five hundred people. Ten persons are there. We go to one of the most important hotels. It is empty. We enter the most fashionable evening salon where nightly great crowds used to gather. Only a very few people are sipping their coffee. The musicians mournfully play to an empty hall. There are plenty of people in the streets but very few in the stores.
And the situation in the countryside and among the workers is just as bad, in fact worse. We see coal barges unloaded by hand, each man staggering under a huge burden of coal carried on his back, for about fifty cents a day. We see the peasantry barely existing, in spite of the very low standard of living to which the masses have become accustomed. This condition cannot endure too long. It is for this reason that the militaristic dictatorship keeps an iron control and censorship over all Turkey and that the Army receives special treatment and favor. Should the world economic crisis continue, not only in Europe generally but in Turkey also the passions, the hatred of the masses will burst asunder this iron control of the new dictatorship. The people then will open up the jails where languish even now many Communists, workers and peasants, and will attempt to carry forward the revolution begun in 1921 and to make it permanent and enduring in the manner of Russia.
Vienna—City of By-Gone Dreams by Albert Weisbord
“Es gibt nur ein Wien". There is only one Vienna. This is the song of the Viennese. And true it is—but in more senses than are generally understood.
Vienna remains the city of unexcelled beauty. The whole city is still a monument: each building, each street, each section of the city has been worked out with an eye to symmetry, to harmony, garden follows garden, palace follows palace. Museums, wonderful church’s, statues surround one everywhere. Here is Vienna of old, ancient seat of emperors for over 600 years, old frontier post of the Romans.
And the Viennese live in the past. Austria has shrunk to Vienna, and Vienna has shrunk to the remnants of the past—to a shadow. The sole industry is that of conserving traditions. The old churches, museums, gardens and palaces need guardians. The people of Vienna have become the guardians of the past. The living stream of history has moved past, leaving Vienna only a pleasant lake,—for tourists.
But now there are not so many tourists. The splendid cuisine’s are still there,—and they are as splendid as ever—with wonderfully well prepared food and drink,—but all quite empty. The Kaiser is gone. And now the tourists have gone. Feudalism has fallen; the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, that former “Prison of peoples”, has burst asunder. And now capitalism too is falling.
Yes, it is a sad world. And the Viennese burgher weeps, over the whipped cream in his coffee, comfortably and gently. The difference between the Austro-Germans and his harder brother from Berlin can well be illustrated by the following story. A Viennese and a Berliner meet and recount conditions in their respective countries. Says the Austrian to his brother German: "How is it with you?” “Ah” answers the Berliner, “It is very serious, but not hopeless. And with you? “ “Ah”, replies the southerner, “It is hopeless, but not very serious.” This is the attitude of the burgher Austrian whose sole production has been good consumption.
With the masses it is different. “Decent” poverty is not infrequent. "Hard times” have brought Vienna to the verge of bankruptcy. Without any independent source of livelihood, without great industries, Vienna stands peculiarly helpless. Under the leadership of the Socialists, the Viennese proletariat had been gradually lulled to sleep, ---- to take its place as museum porter and statue duster and garden tender. This soporific influence is gradually disappearing under the influence of the crisis. As in Germany, Fascism stands before the gates. The Fascists seek to call back the shades of yesteryear, ---- to call back the Hapsburgs and Hohenzollerns, to bring back to life the statues of the past.
The workers are beginning to realize that they cannot always remain palace-caretakers. Helpless now, they await events from abroad, but when these events come, when the storm that is so darkly brewing over Europe bursts forth in all its fury, from the Austrian mountains as well will come forth the echo’s of the thunder that will shake the world.
No one smiles in Berlin nowadays. Everyone seems tense as though grim unexpected things could happen to him at any moment. The brown-shirted Nazis swaggering through the swell portions of the city pushing every ill dressed person aside, the worry and anxiety in the Jewish quarter where the young Jews have organized a corps for self-defense, the groups of dark-jacketed workmen that sullenly hug the streets, the shooting affrays that occur every single day, these are but the superficial phenomena which show what a fiery fever is burning within the body politic. It affects the children as well. The children, too, in Germany, are strongly political. The class struggle spares no one.
The shadow of the barricades falls everywhere. I went to the cemetery where Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht lie buried. Theirs is no princely tomb. Around them lie the bodies of others who fell in the same dark days of 1919, behind them are mounds of nameless proletarians who also paid with their lives for their boldness in fighting for a new day.
Above all the heap of dead the Communists have built a monument --- a barricade. The barricade! No groaning, no wailing, no sentimentality. The stern monumental barricade looks down upon us and symbolizing the shade of Liebknecht and Luxemburg casts its shade upon us too. There is no escaping the civil war.
But who wishes to escape the civil war? Freedom is the consciousness of necessity. Above the barricade built by the German workers has been placed a huge hammer and sickle, the symbol of future rule. Not only shadow but light exists. A troop of children, Pioneers, are just leaving the grave. They had dipped their Red Flag in respect. They had taken their manly oath: vengeance on the tyrants, civil war to the end, the victory of our class.
The Germans have carried on the traditions of the French. There in Paris, in the cemetery of Pere La Chaise can be seen the wall of the Communards where the flower of the French proletariat made their last stand, fighting to the end. The Gallic cock had announced the dawn. The first red rays are already to be seen in the East. The murder of Liebknecht and the others are not the death but the stirrings into life of the German masses warmed by the rays of the Revolution.
What a mighty proletariat is the German and what colossal conflicts are brewing there! It was my privilege to witness three gigantic demonstrations in the Lustgarten. The first was that called by the Communists to protest against the decrees of the Von Papen regime. It was a magnificent affair. In every section of the city the workers gathered at the designated places. We marched four abreast in perfect order. In front marched the strong men of the illegal Red Front Fighters. Behind them came the musicians, then followed the mass of workers, in the center the woman and children, in the rear more Red Front Fighters. For who could tell when and where the column would be attacked by the murderous Nazis?
Everything is held in readiness. The police search all persons in the parade before it starts. Before and behind lumber huge trucks filled with the despised “Schupos”, ostensibly to “prevent” trouble. The workers too have prepared. Everywhere flags, signs, slogans, songs, cheers, the steady heavy march of the iron battalions of the proletariat—and on the side of the procession, the nurses, doctors, hospital men, “in case of emergency.”
But nowhere are the Nazis to be found on the streets. The parade in each quarter is too enormous. Unlike the Americans, these workers have been through the hell of war and of Revolution. They know how to fight as the freshness and discipline of their ranks testify. All the Nazi locales are closed. As the workers pass they shout “Nieder mit dem brune Morderpest". There is no reply.
It is significant that the woman take matters even more seriously than the men. As they clench their fists and shout “Nieder” they really MEAN it. The “Hunger Decrees” are well doing their work. No one could look into the eyes of these proletarian woman without becoming conscious that hunger was being answered by Revolution! The men were a little less tense. One saw them smile now and then. It was a sign that the Revolution was not here AT THIS MOMENT, that time and events must first flow by a while.
The columns now began pouring into the Lustgarten facing the former Kaisers Palace, from all sides. What a powerful scene! Everywhere Red, red flags and the Hammer and Sickle. No one broke ranks. Each column took its respective place. The bands stopped playing. The bugle sounded. The Party speakers arose. Their speeches were short and to the point. The best language, after all, was the demonstration itself. It was the sign manual by which the proletariat declared that the advent of Hitler’s Nazis into power meant Civil War. The demonstration dissolved as it had formed, in a thoroughly organized disciplined manner.
Organization, discipline, solidarity, on these rocks, waves after waves of Fascism and hysteria have dashed themselves in vain. These are the strong points—and also the weak points—of the Germans. It is these characteristics that help the Socialist Party as well to keep their influence over the masses. That the Socialists are strong could be seen in the Socialist demonstration that was held the very next day in the Lustgarten also.
The Socialist demonstration was just as large. If it did not have exactly the same force and spirit, if it contained large numbers of white collar workers, if it displayed the Red-Black-Gold flag of the Republic, yet, on the other hand, here were the mass of disciplined German Trade Unions represented and the Red Three-Arrowed banner of the “Eisene Front” mingled with the Republican flag. The Socialists were not fighting for Socialism, they were fighting for a Republic. Yellow Reformism had turned a shade blacker and under the alchemy of its leaders, Social-Democracy had turned into a still baser metal “Radicalism". Already masses of Communists were beginning to understand the policy of L.D. Trotsky. Mixed in the Socialist demonstration were out-and-out Communist organizations who by participating wanted to demonstrate their “United Front".
Still one other demonstration was to take place—the Fascist demonstration in celebration of their being legalized while the Communist Roto Front was not. Here we had an entirely different demonstration. There was no street parade in the quarters of the city. The proletariat would have torn them to pieces. The workers had bravely marched and showed themselves. Not so the fat-bellied grocer, the cowardly intellectual, the student youth, the Herr professor, the bourgeois, the clergy, the Royalty. They came in limousines, taxis, trolley-cars, trucks, in twos and threes, individually like a drove of pigs going to the trough. Only in the fashionable Unter Den Linden and in the Lustergarten itself were the uniforms of the Nazis seen.
Here was the old Kaiserthum and the old Speiserthum, Royalty and knavery, sheepery and piggery, monkey and tiger, prince and pimp, professor and prostitute, student and slum, grocer and gambler, all herded in together under the banner of “good luck” the black Swastika. This scum, this trash, this hysterical mob, this frenzied high-class and low-class rabble, these would-be black hundreds of 1932, a bitter lesson awaits them.
Within the Communist Movement
The November 3rd issue of La Verite carries the item that the foreign journals of the Italian Communist Party have just published the expulsion of six comrades from the Communist Party of Italy which is illegal, for differences of views with the Central Committee of the Italian Party. In announcing their expulsion these papers actually gave the names and Italian addresses of these comrades. This is a direct provocation for the Fascist government to arrest or kill these comrades. On this new infamy we reproduce the estimation of II Prometeo, the paper of the Italian Bordigist group.
“The workers and militants who do not submit to the degeneration of the program and Communist policy laid down by the center are directly given to the police and to Fascism at the same time as the leading center hides the decisions of the lower units of the party then they condemn the acts of desertion in front of the enemy committed by the very elements who make themselves the propagandists of the centrist policy.”
“The C.E. declares that the communique concerning the expulsion of Brighenti, Barioni, Drago, Sansone, La Camera and Gilodi, is a direct act of police provocation.”
The L’ Humanite of November 2nd announces sensational news namely that Adame, Trilla, Bullejos and Vega, practically the entire central leadership of the Spanish Communist Party have been expelled as traitors! These four were the very pillars of Stalinism before and who would eat Trotskyism alive. Overnight these heroes have become traitors and tomorrow perhaps, like the French celor, they will be “stool-pigeons.” These are the people to whom Stalin entrusts the job of fighting Trotskyism.
We are very glad to quote the decisions of the Chinese Left Opposition in regard to the Chinese situation as given in their letter of May 20th, 1932. Says this letter “During the last three years the defensive struggles of workers elements in China have not ceased, in spite of the period of calm; sometimes they increase and sometimes they diminish. The disposition among the workers of a will to fight continues even now in the question of the anti-Japanese struggle and of participation in the armed battle. It is a different question as to the struggle. The official party estimates that the workers struggles are regularly increasing in the cities. According to the party, at present we are passing through a period of revolutionary upsurge. In the course of the struggle against the blind estimation of the official party, some of our comrades fell into the opposite point of view. They declare that at present the serious wounds borne by the preceding revolution (1925-1927) are not yet healed, that is to say that the working class in China has not yet regained confidence in itself. The present situation easily distinguishes itself from that of 1928. One can not therefore make the bad policy of the party responsible for the weakness of the struggle on the part of the workers. Still more, they estimate that since the struggles of the workers in the cities is still weak, since the roots of the old methods are not torn up among the workers as a whole, the question of the execution of the problem of the conquest of power is not realizable.
That is why they say, in the present period, it is necessary for us to lead only a defensive struggle and to adjourn the struggle for power to the future, that is to say, after the economic regeneration of China. The present proletariat in China is not capable of executing this task (conquest of power) and it is why the economic regeneration becomes a period which must precede the third Chinese revolution.
We (the C.E. of the Bureau of the Opposition) estimate that the point of view that we have just reported is liquidationist. We think that the present situation particular to China is characterized as follows: The process of development of the national liberation struggle continues. The peasants who have received nothing from the agrarian decrees can not re-enter into a reactionary path. The source is the national struggle in the cities is not exhausted, although the workers movement has still not increased. But the situation at present does not resemble that of 1928 (the day after the great defeat of 1927). Our task is the following: to strive to direct the struggle of the workers, from the defensive struggle, to pass to the offensive, to re-unite the national liberation struggle to the agrarian struggle in order to prepare the transition on the road to the third revolution. As to the movement of the peasants which actually the official party studies, we estimate: we must support it, make great efforts to reinforce the poor peasants and the leadership of the party in the soviet territories under control of the “red army”, to work at all costs for the liaison of the struggle in the city and the country. Some of our comrades reject completely the objective of the peasant war in the present period. In this question also they have passed directly to the opposite pole, that of the erroneous policy of the official party according to which the creation of soviet power depends exclusively in the peasant forces.”
Here we see that the line of the Communist League of Struggle has been completely confirmed by the letter of the Chinese Opposition.
Within the past few weeks the Communist League of Struggle has made several steps forward. A very well attended series of lectures has been given in the Labor Temple (average attendance over 100) and several successful affairs. (especially the November 5th celebration) held in the headquarters. Three classes have been organized with a good attendance. Especially noteworthy is our activity in Perth Amboy.
Recently a meeting was held “Three Weeks with Leon Trotsky” in Perth Amboy. The whole Party unit and sympathizers turned out to hear Comrade Weisbord. The meeting was very successful. The Party members even applauded at the end. They declared they had never understood the line of the Left Opposition before. They urged us to come again. It is quite possible that a good group can be organized there.
A good deal of propaganda was made to help our German Comrades of the Left Opposition. Recently a collection was taken and ten dollars sent to aid the Permanente Revolution. We know that this sum will be much appreciated over there. We hope it will be only the first of a series of donations by our group.