William F. Dunne

The Struggle Against Opportunism in the Labor Movement – For a Socialist United States

A Contribution to the Discussion of Major Problems of Marxism-Leninism in Our Country


This is a time of great decision.

The convictions expressed in this booklet are the result of some forty years of experience in the political and trade union movements of our time–since the turn of the century. The facts which here highlight some of this experience are cited for the sole purpose of establishing to some extent the authority of the writer to deal with the important questions treated herein.

The author has been a member of the organized labor movement since the age of sixteen. He is at present a member of the National Maritime Union. During the war years he worked V “ships”, various other war industries, sailed with the tanker fleet and spent the latter year and a half of the war period on naval, military and air bases in the Aleutian Islands.

He was a member of the Socialist Party in 1910. The panic of 1907 forced him to give up his university studies and he learned the trade of electrician on the Northern Pacific Railroad, beginning at Paradise, Mont., and working from there to the Pacific Coast and back to St. Paul. As a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, he was active in the left wing movement of the time, in the McNamara defense and later the Tom Mooney defense. He held such union offices at business agent of Local 213, I.B.E.W., Vancouver, B.C., Vice-president of the British Columbia Federation of Labor, Vice-President of the Pacific District Council of Electrical Workers, business agent of Local Union 65, Butte, Mont., vice-president of the Montana State Federation of Labor, etc.

He was chairman of the joint strike committee of the metal trades and metal miners in 1917-18, editor of the Butte Daily Bulletin, (official organ of the State Federation and Butte Central Labor Council which grew out of the strike and became the voice of the labor-farmer movement which broke the Anaconda Copper Mining Co. control of state politics for a number of years.)

Elected to the Montana State Legislature with the slogan of “all power to the workers and farmers,” he introduced the first resolution in any legislative body in the United States calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Siberia and recognition of the Soviet Government. The Butte Daily Bulletin, published for some five years in the stronghold of the copper monopoly, was the only daily paper in this country to support without reservation the Russian Revolution, Nov. Seventh, 1917, and the program of the Bolsheviks.

This writer was a member of the Propaganda League which preceded and prepared the way for the Communist Party. He brought the Socialist Party branch in Butte into the Communist Party. He is a charter member and founder of the Communist Party.

He is one of the founders of the Federated Press. He was co-editor of the Daily Worker from its inception in 1924 in Chicago and continued in that capacity when it was moved to New York in 1927. Earlier, he had exposed Lovestone as a careerist disrupter in the Central Committee of the CP. He was denounced and threatened with expulsion by Zinoviev and later by Bukharin for this necessary action.

As a member of a delegation of newspapermen in Outer Mongolia he exposed the intrigues and war plans of Japanese and British imperialism in Central Asia in 1928-29. He was the organizer of the defense for the Gastonia textile union organizers charged with murder by the agents of the Manville-Jenckes Co. for defending their strikers’ tent colony against armed attack.

As an officer of the Trade Union Educational League and later of the Trade Union Unity League he was active in the whole long series of struggle in coal mining, steel, auto, textile, metal mining, electrical and machine building, marine transport, and in the organization of hunger marches and the unemployed movement which preceded and followed the crisis of 1929-30. These are the movements which laid the base for the organization of the Committee for Industrial Organization and which later became the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

In 1931-32 the writer was employed as a personnel specialist in the Stalingrad tractor plant. He exposed the Ku Klux Klan-Trotskyite conspirators among the 500-600 technicians–recruited in this country–who had murdered one Negro worker, beaten another almost to death, wrecked key machines and departments and prevented the vital plant going into production. The writer feels some pride in having made a small contribution towards building the Stalingrad bastion against which the Nazi hordes broke their back.

In 1934-36 he was working on the Daily Worker in an editorial capacity. He covered the San Francisco waterfront and general strike for the Daily Worker and took an active part in the organization of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union and the American Newspaper Guild. In 1937-38-39 he was engaged in organizing the left wing political movement in the Rocky Mountain States and the Pacific Northwest. He had been in opposition to Browder and his opportunism and supporters since the latter part of 1931 when Browder had prevented the consolidation of the heavy industrial districts, extending the workingclass base of the CP and had disrupted and wrecked a mass movement of miners and metal workers and their families against unemployment, hunger, starvation wages and police oppression in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and the panhandle of West Virginia. He opposed handing the CP machinery over to John L. Lewis and the uncritical support of both Lewis and the New Deal.

In the first year of the war he wrote a 22-page letter to Browder and Foster stating that their program was placing unions and labor itself in complete subjection to the war aims of monopoly capitalism.

This writer was at sea in the Caribbean when Browder made his Madison Square Garden speech in January, 1944, the prelude to the dissolution of the Communist Party. Coming ashore at Marcus Hook he learned of the speech for the first time. In New York he told comrades that Browder was preparing to liquidate the CP. Browder launched a personal campaign against him, stating that he was calling for the organization of another Party. After an elbow fractured in a gale off Hatteras had healed, and being under contract, he went to the Aleutians. Following the Duclos letter, he wrote Foster that it was his belief the immediate task was to restore the integrity of the CP. Returning to New York after the end of the war but delayed by demobilization, he resumed activity in the Party but was prevented from holding office by bureaucratic questioning of his status and rights as a charter member.

Reading the official reports of the convention in “Political Affairs” and later in “Marxism vs. Revisionism” he discovered the political forgery of quotations from “Mastering Bolshevism” which accused the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of having failed to understand the danger of and failing to fight Trotskyism. He preferred charges against and demanded the expulsion of those responsible. He was expelled.

But this action by incurable opportunists does not and cannot settle the question of the disastrous effects of opportunism in the labor movement–and how to fight it and defeat it. The purpose of this booklet is to aid in this historic and decisive struggle.

Pamphlets by this writer include “Workers Correspondence” – “The British General Strike” – “The Threat to the Labor Movement” – “Gastonia–The Class Struggle in the South” – “Why Hearst Lies About Communism” – “The Trotskyite Permanent Counter-Revolution,” etc.