First Published: by Proletarian Publishers of the Communist Labor Party, 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
This pamphlet, by Comrade Joe Dougher is the second in the series, “The Veteran Communist Speaks.” Comrade Joe indeed is a veteran Communist. His leadership in the struggle of Labor began some 66 years ago when, as a boy of 10 he organized and led his first strike in the coal fields.
From that time on, Comrade Joe has never stopped fighting. In 1930, he joined the Communist Party of the USA where he continued his fight for socialism. He was one of the early leaders in the struggle against the murderous and corrupt leadership of John L. Lewis in the UMWA.
During the Spanish Civil War, Comrade Joe was a Battalion Adjutant in the Lincoln Brigade. Eventually he was wounded and finally sent home. Back in the USNA, Comrade Joe plunged into the struggle of Labor. He soon earned the enmity of Gus Hall and his ilk in the coal and steel commissions of the Party.
Because of his deep knowledge and broad experience in the industrial workers’ struggle, it was only natural that Comrade Joe should be chosen as the first Organizational Secretary of the old Provisional Organizing Committee.
After the destruction of the POC, Comrade Joe continued to struggle for the formation of a new Marxist-Leninist Communist Party. This struggle led him to the Communist League, where he rejoined many of his old comrades in the fight for the emancipation of the proletariat.
Comrade Joe’s life should be an inspiration to the younger Comrades and to all Communists. Singleness of purpose, absolute moral, intellectual and physical commitment to the struggle, these are the attributes that make Joe dear to us all.
* * *
My name is Joe Dougher. My nickname is Jobey Dougher. My father’s name was Michael Dougher and his nickname was Jobey and both my grandfather and my father were Molly McGuires.
I was born March 23, 1897. When I was ten years old, I went to work in the coalbreaker picking slate and joined the union with my father’s union book for the initiation fee. The regular dues were 50 cents per month. We breaker boys paid 25 cents per month, half dues, with one-half of a vote. We worked ten hours a day for 63 cents a day, six and a fraction cents per hour. Some days we had to work extra, cleaning coal that was condemned by the inspector for having too much slate. I and two other breaker boys organized a strike demanding a raise in hourly pay, a bonus for when we worked on condemned coal and nine hours of work a day.
A very close relation of my grandfather’s was Palmer Dougher, who was a leading Molly McGuire. He was the secretary of the Ancient Order of Hibernians for Lackawanna County when the leaders in Schuylkill County were arrested and later hung. They also looked for Palmer, but never found him. He got out and went to New York State, remained there for five years, then returned to Archbald, Pa. where he lived until he died.
At that time, the coal operators owned all the land around the mining collieries and all the houses that the miners lived in; they had to buy everything they needed from the company stores and also pay rent. When they worked full time the prices were raised and most of the time they did not receive any money. Even the roads they walked on were company owned. The patches or towns were completely controlled by the coal and iron police, hired and paid for by the coal companies, and authorized by the state.
The coal companies completely controlled the miners and their families through a network of informers who reported to the companies everything the miners did. It was worse than slavery. When the children became six or seven years old, the mine foreman would tell the father to send the child to work picking slate in the breakers where they sized and cleaned the coal, if the father wanted to keep his job. When the children became older, they then drove mules that pulled the empty cars to the places of work to be loaded by the laborers, then pulled the loaded cars to the shafts or slopes to be pulled up to the outside and dumped into the breakers. In this period of child labor, there were no schools in the patches and the youth were illiterate unless they were taught by the family.
This was also the period when unions were developing throughout the country. The Mollies were trying to build the Knights of Labor in order to change their conditions and get out from under semi-slavery. Whenever a labor leader came into the patches or towns, the coal and iron police would beat them up and run them out of the area. If a labor leader sneaked in at night and met with some of the miners in their homes, as soon as the police found out who was visited by the labor leaders or met with him, they would break into their homes, beat them, sometimes breaking their bones and crippling them. Then they would throw them and their children out of the houses and if anyone tried to come to their assistance, they would beat them up and also drive them out of the area.
In the winter months some of them died of pneumonia or froze to death. When the workers would try to draw their pay they would be told that they had not done enough work and did not have any pay coming. In the mines the foremen abused and drove them to work harder; if they talked back or could not work harder, they would fire them and the police would beat them up and sometimes broke their wrists, fingers or arms with the clubs.
When English and Welsh mine workers immigrated over from the old country and into the coal areas, because they had been miners they were given all the skilled jobs such as track layers, brandishmen, fire bosses and foremen. The Irish however were given the mining and laboring jobs. Then the company used them against each other; so the Mollies began fighting back in the only way that they could, using the same kind of violence that was used against them. When the foremen would abuse or threaten to fire one of them, the Mollies would get a notice to him through devious ways. If he persisted, then the Mollies would do to him what was done to them, retaliating against the police and the mining bosses.
Because of the publicity that was given to the trials of the twelve Mollies who were hung in Pottsville, the seven who were hung in Mauchchunk and the consistent struggle of the miners, they succeeded in organizing the Knights of Labor in many parts of the Anthracite. They also succeeded in winning some concessions from the coal operators. But because of the looseness of the organization (Knights of Labor), wrong conceptions of how the organization should be constructed and the struggles carried into life, they practiced democracy without provisions for discipline and coordinated centralism.
They would hold a congress of all of the members of a whole area, they would democratically come to conclusions on what demands they would go back to their home areas and fight for, but using their own tactics. The result was that some would be working and others would be striking, as a result, some locals won concessions, other were driven back to work. About this time, 1900-02, the United Mine Workers’ Union, with a much more articulate leadership and a more centralized organization came into existence, under the leadership of John Mitchell.
On April 1, 1902, Mitchell and his organizers, some of them from the soft coal fields and some from the Anthracite, felt the miners were ready, so they and the miners met and called the strike. The owners of the Scranton Coal Co. issued a statement: “The grass would grow over the Eynon shaft before they would accede to the miners’ demands.”
Later, in Scranton, at a solidarity parade, the miners from Archbald, who worked in the Eynon shaft stated, “We will eat the grass that grows over the shaft, but we will not work until our demands are met.” A man named Baer was the chairman of the coal operators’ organization. He stated that the operators would never accede to the demands of the mine workers. However, in the parade the miners were singing:
Lord above send down a dove with
Wings as sharp as razors To shave the hair from the grizzly
Who wants to cut the miners’ wages.
For six long months there were terrific struggles with the coal and iron police and state militia, and many miners lost their lives. For instance, about a thousand miners from Hazelton marched to the Latimer Colliery where the scabs were working; the coal and iron police and the militia shot them down like dogs, but the scabs could not keep working.
During the course of the strike through the connivance of Teddy Roosevelt and a commission set up by Congress, the miners were supposed to have won a resounding victory. They got recognition of their union, a ten hour day, a wage increase and safety measures; but they also got a permanent conciliation board, which in fact was permanent arbitration between contracts which paved the way for collaboration between coal companies and union officials. The whole trade union movement is still paying for conciliation and arbitration which is practiced by all of the unions between their contracts today.
This was the period when the union officials started to collaborate with the companies and corporations and did not fight for or enforce the agreements. It was also the period when some of the union officials took payoffs, padded the payrolls and expense accounts, set up loan shark apparatuses with the union money and some of them became quite rich. Also we see the murdering of local and district honest union leaders. This has been going on for many years starting with John L. Lewis and continuing with Tony Boyle.
Over the years many mine workers were murdered in the soft coal fields of the Appalachians, especially in Kentucky, but also in Ohio and Pennsylvania in the Anthracite. Between the years of 1926 and 1929, when John L. Lewis was the International President and Rinaldo Cappalini was president of District No. I, thirteen mine workers were murdered. The last two were named Alex Campbell and Pete Reilly, who were machinegunned in the afternoon in front of Campbell’s home. This was the period when the miners were carrying on a struggle to oust the yellow-dog contractors from the mines and the officials of the union were supporting the contractors. These are some more good reasons why Socialism is necessary in our Country!
Let us return to 1907 when I participated in my first strike. It was during this strike that I learned some important political lessons. First from the officials of the local union, who told us we must go back to work because the union had an agreement that we would have to live up to; then from the politicians who told us we should go back to work because our fathers and brothers could not work and we wouldn’t have any money coming in to live on. But we responded by telling them to tell the company to give us our demands. Then the parish priest sent for us and told us that the president of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Company who owned the coal breaker, had talked to him and asked him to get us back to work. The priest also said that he had told him that he, the president, always treated the people of Archbald good.
We told the Father of the Parish, if the president is so good as he claims, tell him to stop his breaker bosses from hitting us on the back with pieces of coal and making signs to us to pick slate faster.
We did not go back to work until the company agreed to raise the hourly pay a few more cents and pay a bonus when we worked on condemned coal, which meant receiving four hours pay for three hours work. They also agreed that when the agreement between the union and company ran out, about a month from then, we would get a nine hour day and another raise on the hourly rates, which we did get about two months later, after a six week suspension from work, when we refused to work without a contract.
After another few years, I drove mules in the mines, first starting with a single mule, then a two mule team and then later running cars. When I was driving mules, we were working nine hours a day, from seven in the morning until four in the afternoon, eating lunch on the fly. While we were working, we carried our lunch in a bucket that had water in the top part of it. We had to be in the barn to clean and harness the mules at six-thirty in the morning, then take them to the mines, then at four in the afternoon, we had to take them to the barn and unharness them. This was another hour we did not get paid for. Our pay included only the hours from seven in the morning until four in the afternoon.
When we were in the mines I and other drivers organized a strike of all the drivers to get another hour pay for taking the mules to and from the mines and barn time. Practically the same thing happened to us when we were breaker boys. First the union officials threatened to kick us out of the union unless we called off the strike. We told them to go to hell! Then the local politicians began to work on us. They told us what they would do if we would call the strike off. Then the parish priest sent for us, and told us that Mr. Dorrance, the big mogul for the Hudson Coal Co., had called him. He had promised Mr. Dorrance he would get us back to work because the holidays were coming and the families would not have money. Then he said, “You boys would not want to have your Parish Priest break his promise, and you know I would not want you boys to do anything wrong.”
We told him, “We won’t do anything wrong, we will stay on strike until we get the barn time,” and we did. The name of the priest was Reverend Thomas Comerford. We called him Father Tom. He was the brother of Michael Comerford, who was head of the chain of Comerford Theatres, and before that for many years he ran a gambling house in Scranton, Pa.
After that my mother died. I left home and did some traveling, working at many kinds of jobs and services. When I was twenty years old, I returned to Archbald, Pa., and went to work at the same Eynon Shaft for the Scranton Coal Co.
About this time, the First World War had started and I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. While in the Navy, I served on a protective deck cruiser that was converted into a mine layer. We laid mines in the sea off the Irish coast and laid the northern anti-submarine mine barrage across the North Sea from the Orkney Islands to Norway.
When the war was over, I traveled around the western part of the country working in many camps in the woods, oil fields, coal and ore mines, then went to sea as a fireman or oiler. While working the woods in Aberdeen and Centralia, Washington, I participated in two strikes, got acquainted with the Industrial Workers of the World, joined them and stayed with them for about a year.
I then came back east to the Anthracite about 1926, and immediately went to work in the mines in the Gravity Slope Colliery. There I saw that the agreement between the United Mine Workers and the coal companies was being violated in the third mining area. The workers’ pay was being made up to the minimum wage that was applied to special unforeseen kind of conditions and changing to new kinds of mechanical mining with prices applied by the coal company without negotiated prices.
I became active in the local union, had to struggle to establish prices, conditions, higher wages and organized an opposition to the local union officials, who were stooges for the politicians and coal companies. I was elected president of the local union and chairman of the grievance committee, helped to establish the highest wages and best conditions of any colliery in the Anthracite and helped to organize and develop the General Body of the Hudson Coal Co.,composed of delegates from thirteen local unions. I became one of the leaders and active in preventing yellow-dog contracts from being established between the miners and the coal companies, ousting them from where they existed and enforcing the agreements between contracts. I activized the rank and file on how to participate in forming the new demands for the next contract to be struggled for, by sending resolutions to the district and national scale committee on what the demands should be and electing delegates to the district and national conventions to fight for them. Also I fought for more democracy in all divisions of the union, enforcement of the safety laws and more effective safety laws.
The struggles of the general bodies, composed of local union delegates from the different coal companies, to oust the contractors, became very intense from 1926 to 1929. All through District No. 1, the General Bodies leading the rank and file fought to oust the contractors, and the district officials under Rinaldo Cappalini, unofficially supported the contractors. They even had an armed bag man in the district office as a persuader. His name was Frank Agatti.
During those years when the contractors had thirteen leaders of the miners murdered, we decided come hell or high water we would not let it go on any further. We got together delegates from 16 local unions and we sent a telegram to John L. Lewis requesting him to call a district convention to investigate and stop the murdering of mine workers in District No. 1. Lewis did not even answer us.
In the name of the sixteen local unions, we called a special convention. Delegates from fifty locals came to the convention. We held the convention in session, organized committees to go out in the towns around collieries and hold mass meetings of the miners, in order to tell them we would come into their meeting to speak and ask for delegates to be sent to the convention. We ended up with delegates from 132 local unions out of 136. The Constitution of the district stated that the majority of the local unions constituted a quorum to transact the business of the district.
We then sent a telegram to Lewis and asked him to come in and preside at the Convention. He did not answer. We then elected the officials of the district. I was elected the board member from the first inspection district. Then the coal companies refused to recognize us as the officials of the district. Lewis then sent in a so-called commission to investigate the district. They immediately started running around in the district handing out positions as district and international organizers. At the same time, the coal companies and the politicians got busy using all of their combined influence. The coal companies kept forcing us into strikes, for recognition of our union officials and committees. When we became the minority, they expelled us, the leaders, nine of us from the union, for what they called “dual unionism.”
I was expelled by the national and district boards, but my local union refused to accept the expulsion at that time. The Constitution stated that to be finally expelled, your local union must accept the expulsion. I was still functioning as the president of the local and chairman of the grievance committee. At this time, the treasurer of the local had spent $200 of the local’s money and the secretary reported it. I raised the issue that he must be made to pay it back, or we would report it to the bonding company. He agreed to pay it back, but the district officials used this as an excuse, stating that money was being misused by the local union and they set up a provisional local under the district’s control. The night they came to the meeting to set up their control, between eight hundred and a thousand of us marched into the hall to stop it. They brought in about twenty-five state troopers and drove us out of the hall. Later, they expelled me from the local union, but the miners said they would not work unless I did, so I still worked in the mines.
After the Wall St. crash, about 1930, some of the Communists who were active in the union struggles asked me to join the Party. At first I refused, then they came to visit me and gave me some of Lenin’s Selected Works, including What Is to Be Done? and the Iskra Period. I became intensely interested and stayed up two whole nights studying the material, then I went to see the comrade who asked me to join and told him, “I want to join.” This was the kind of organization I was looking for, but I did not know it was the beginning of my road to understanding.
When I was in the Party about two weeks, the district leaders made me the section organizer. I had organizational understanding but very little Marxist-Leninist understanding. I considered the assignment very important because I was receiving directives and understanding from the Party and was organizing the workers. I met with three of the leaders, Piatt, Weber and Mason and came to conclusions on how to organize rank and file committees in the mine locals, and also on how to build the Unemployment Councils, which we proceeded to do.
We had about twenty Party members in the county. When I visited them and called a meeting, half of them came to the meeting. I made a report on what we intended to do. Right then I learned my first lesson about cynicism from a group of discouraged, sectarian Communists. Their argument was that the workers could not be depended on because they tried to organize them before, but could not. This was the same kind of argument that we sometimes hear today. I asked for volunteers to go to city hall with me to ask for a permit to have an unemployed march through the city of Scranton and to meet at the Washington monument in the Court House Square.
About six weeks from then, an old blind man from a Lithuanian organization along with a member of the Young Communist League agreed to come with me. We went to see the Director of Public Safety for the permit. He’ said, “You people must be Bolsheviks,” and had the police chase us out of the City Hall. We went to the northern end of the county and picked out a place to have our first Unemployment Council meeting in front of the Simpson Hose Company Fire House, near Carbondale. We went in the morning with leaflets calling the people to the meeting. Practically the whole town turned out, about five thousand people. We elected an executive committee of eighteen people.
After the meeting, we had a meeting of the executive. We elected a chairman, recording secretary, financial secretary and treasurer. Then we gave them petitions to the County Commissioner with our demands. They also became members of the Unemployed Councils and we gave them collection lists to raise money to get gasoline and trucks to take them to the march into Scranton from Dickson City.
We had this in every town on the way to Scranton; then we went down to the southwest end of the county, the southeast end and outlying towns to the east and west. When we were nearly ready for the march, we demanded a meeting with the County Commissioners and went in to meet them with a delegation of one hundred. They agreed to raise the Poor Board Relief immediately from $5 to $20 per month. We gave them our set of demands and we told them they had better be ready to grant them the next week. When we came 12 in with the march we had 30,000 at the court house, and they had a commission set up with the president of the Wicks Hardware Co. as the chairman. After we gave them all a copy of our demands and read them, a fine woman named Hazel Davis, principal of a school, got up and stated that our demands were necessary and under the circumstances reasonable. She made a motion that the demands be accepted.
Wicks got excited and stated they couldn’t be too hasty, they needed time to consider them. They must meet with the Commissioners and be sure they would have sufficient funds. We told them, “You’ve already had enough time! We told you before that when we came in with the march you had better grant our demands. Now, we are here and you had better act or we will start to shake you out of this courthouse. We are not going back home to be hungry; we will raid the stores and your homes to feed our families, and we are capable of doing it.” They almost begged us to give them a few more days. We stated we would give them four days to grant our demands; if they were not met, we would be back with all of the working people of the county, not to beg, but to take. On the third day they granted our demands.
They set up a County Public Assistance Board with three Assistance Office, one each in Olyphant, Scranton and Old Forge. We had Unemployment Council locals in every town in the county, with four in Scranton, and Grievance Committees at the Assistance Offices taking up cases every week. We participated in a very successful state hunger march. We had delegations meet with the Governor, State Senate, and House of Representatives Committee and won about 90 per cent of our demands. We also participated in the National Hunger and Bonus Marches in Washington.
This was the period when we recruited hundreds of unemployed workers into the Party and had thousands supporting us. This was happening practically all over the country and state.
At the same time, we built Rank and File Committees in the local unions and created rank and file struggles in District 1. We were preparing for a strike to settle our grievances and enforce the agreement. The coal companies and the politicians brought Rinaldo Cappalini (who was hooked up with gangsters) back into activity with the yellow-dog contractors and crews that were building up again, along with miners from Pittston and Wilkes-Barre area. They organized a mass meeting at the Mitchell monument at the Court House in Scranton, and at the meeting Cappalini called for a rump convention naming the place and date for the convention. It was a trick like the Trotskyites would pull.
We from the rank and file locals decided we would go to the convention because we did not know what they would try to pull. At the convention Cappalini called for a strike. We stated that the strike would be premature because we were not ready for a strike, many other local union memberships were not ready for a strike, and that the coal companies, politicians, and union officials would be able to defeat it. But Cappalini called for it anyhow, to begin a week later.
We immediately called for a meeting of the Party fraction and decided we would recommend to the rank and file not to strike unless we could see some possibility of winning it. They accepted the recommendation. After the third day we came to the conclusion in the fraction that by getting into the strike, along with mass picket lines and activity, the strike could be won. We pulled our locals out on strike after two more days of mass picketing and marching to other collieries. We pulled out five more locals; then Cappalini called the strike off and sent the other locals back to work. We had to retreat and go back to work.
Some of the best members were fired, and we again had to start building our Rank and File Committees all over again. Thomas Maloney, the leader of the Glen Alden Coal General Body, was active at that time carrying on a struggle to force the district officials to fight for the miners’ grievances and enforce the contract. We, from the Rank and File Committee met with Maloney and asked him to form a united front with us. He agreed and we began working together. We supported him for District President against John Boylan, but Boylan having control of the district tellers counted out Maloney, but the grievances were not settled or the contract enforced.
As short time later, we got involved in a district strike that we were all supporting to get our grievances settled and the contract enforced. The strike was successful, but Maloney met with one of the court judges named Fine, a Monsignor named Curran and representatives of the coal company. The five of them came to some kind of phoney agreement and Maloney called off the strike.
A German born anarchist found out about the sellout and sent each one of them a bomb through the mail. Maloney got the first one and was killed. The police intercepted the others. This made it difficult to build opposition to the officials for some time. This was also an example of how individual terror does not work and fakery by workers’ leaders has a dampening effect on the workers’ movement.
This was also the time when Roosevelt was becoming very popular, when public assistance was at its height, and when the PWA then the WPA came into being. At that time we were raising the question of Social Security, the government taxing the big incomes and paying the workers unemployment compensation equal to wages. At this time too, the Party was using the experience gained in the Trade Union Unity League. That experience included the work we did in struggling to organize the unorganized into independent revolutionary class unions, when we were practicing democratic centralism in the unions. Also it was at this time when we were raising the issue of no officials or organizers of a union getting any higher pay than the highest paid worker, that the unions should be industrial unions, not craft unions, that we should get time and a half for overtime, and double time for Saturday and Sunday and a five day week. Also we raised that the workers should have a safe place to work, should not be speeded up and have conditions not damaging to their health. In this period we organized silk mills, shirt and pants factories, button and lace works, shoe factories, and other small shops in the area of activities.
Under Browder’s leadership changes towards revisionism in the Party began even before these activities. At a meeting in Scranton of trade union activists where Foster made the presentation on work in the trade unions, I raised the idea that I thought that in a short time we could possibly make the revolution. Foster and the two comrades laughed about it. I did not at that time have enough understanding to explain how I felt, but I felt the mood of the workers. In 1932 we had the masses so mobilized and moving that anyone, no matter who, could have defeated Hoover and the Republicans.
Some time later Stalin and the representatives of the Comintern told the U.S.CP. that while they were attacking Roosevelt and the NIRA, the Republicans and monopolies were building uniformed open fascist organizations to establish fascism. This did not mean that the Comintern did not understand that Roosevelt was the representative of capitalism in the United States, but Browder, who was a master liberal shyster enamored with Roosevelt, used situations of this kind to begin placing on the Central Committee petty bourgeois liberals from other organizations and the Party, and step by step liberalizing the Party and building support for Roosevelt and the Democrats.
Around this time, John L. Lewis, President of the United Mine Workers, was promised by the Republicans to be appointed Secretary of Labor as payoff for selling out the miners’ conditions. He was also the father of speed-up. In the meantime, during his term in office, every contract he got for the miners, whether it was wage increases or shorter hours, came out of production. He and his henchmen never made seniority part of the negotiations or contracts; even after 90 per cent of the unions had seniority, the coal operators were allowed to eliminate all militant miners when their coal breasts were played out. He allowed the coal companies to install new machinery and new methods of mining between contracts without negotiations. He allowed individual miners, between contracts, to sign yellow-dog contracts and hire mine workers to work at an unbearable pace. He did not yet put up a real fight for adequate safety laws or enforcement of the existing laws, allowing hundreds of miners to be killed unnecessarily over the years, practiced gangsterism and murder under his leadership, the same as Tony Boyle after him. We, the Communists in the mine fields, because of these reasons fought to eliminate Lewis in the Anthracite through Rank and File Committees. In the soft coal fields through Rank and File Committees we carried on this fight and also built the National Miners Union, a progressive union. We would have eliminated Lewis if Browder and the revisionist Central Committee did not come into the picture.
Lewis did not have much organization under his control. He could no longer control the miners. He knew this and because he was angry with the Republicans and the coal operators for not helping him to become the Secretary of Labor, he began to talk very progressively, adapting himself to some of the Trade Union Unity League slogans such as “Organize the Unorganized” and a “Committee to Build Industrial Mass Unions.” And like I said back further in my writings, Browder was clever enough to take advantage of every possibility to weaken the militancy of the workers and workers’ leadership in the Party. There were ten thousand miners in the Party at this time, but they were fast voting with their feet and leaving the Party when they saw the developments that were taking place. Browder said Lewis was the greatest labor leader in the country. Foster knew better than that. We had enough influence in the labor movement to decide who the leader of the CIO would be. It should not have been Lewis. It was the Party who made it possible to build the CIO.
In the early stages the Party loaned the CIO organizers, gave them contacts from the International Workers’ Order, a fraternal organization, and mobilized the unemployed workers to mass picket in front of plants for sit down strikes. It was the Communist Party in the minefields, plus the Wagner Act, which was the forerunner of the Labor Relations Act (which means negotiations and conciliation to avoid strikes), that returned to John L. Lewis the Mine Workers Union and we made John L. Lewis the leader of the CIO. The Party gave the unions built-in fakery that we are paying for today. Lewis was also a good teacher of the aristocracy of labor.
If we in the Party did not have built-in revisionism, we could have educated about five hundred of those miners for section and district cadre, and about one hundred national leaders; instead of that we built bourgeois leaders to drive them out of the Party.
Let us look at another example of the revisionism that permeated the Party. In a passage from Foster’s book, American Trade Unionism, on page 282, questions and answers, we see this
Q. Do Communists form factions (organized Party groups) within the trade unions?
A. No. In the earlier years of the Communist Party the policy was sometimes followed of the Communist Party members in a given union meeting together to plan educational work in the organization, but this practice has been discontinued as tending to create possible misunderstanding among rank and file of the unions. We Communists, like’ other members, function through the regular democratic procedure and committees of the union. We are resolute opponents of factional control of unions, whether by a conservative bureaucratic clique or by some special political group. The Communists have full reliance that the union membership at large, if given an opportunity for a free discussion of the issues before it and the right to decisive democratic action upon them, will arrive at sound policies. For this reason Communists are everywhere and always most consistent and determined fighters for trade union democracy.”
This quote surely testifies to Foster’s revisionism. Most workers know that the AFL and CIO always practiced bureaucracy and parliamentary trickery and even in their best days connived with the bosses in the plants.
Browder went even further than this when he stated that Communists would no longer have to function as Communists within the trade unions unless they themselves wished to. They would not need to be known as Communists unless they wished to, and they should not run for leading positions in the unions, but should support others for leadership. Foster did not disagree with this.
Foster’s passage and Browder’s statement do not correspond with Stalin’s statement that the Communist Party must be the sum total of all organizations or Lenin’s statement that “The Communist’s ideal should not be a trade union secretary, but a tribune of the people, able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression.”
In the Scranton area at this time, the Party had four silk mills organized into independent unions. But we turned them over to the Textile Union; we turned the Laborers Union over to the Hod Carriers and Common Laborers Union; we turned some small shops over to the Machinist Union and we turned some dress shops over to the Amalgamated Clothing Union. We also turned over the Pants and Shirt factories to the Amalgamated Clothing Union while they were on strike and they signed an agreement for the same pay for the check-off of union dues. The workers blamed us as well as the Amalgamated. They were all sellout artists at that time.
Steve Nelson went to Spain in order to become the Comissar of the Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Loyalist Army, and I became the organizer for the Anthracite and Williamsport areas and a member of the District Committee of the Eastern Pennsylvania District. Early in 1937, I also volunteered to go to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War in the Loyalist Army, as a sergeant training companies for the Lincoln and Washington Battalions of the 15th Brigade. I went to the officers’ training school and became a company commander with a lieutenant commission, acting as a captain. I trained four companies including the first Canadian Company. Then I went to the front as the adjutant of the McKenzie Papenue Battalion. I participated in the Aragon and Ebre offensive and was badly wounded at Puentes De Ebre. I received shrapnel wounds on my body and bones of my left foot were smashed.
This battle was sabotaged by a former tsarist Soviet General, who was in charge of the whole operation and Chopek, a Czech military officer from the Red Army and the P.O.U.M. Anarchists. We in the 15th Brigade were in reserve the night before the attack. We were supposed to go into the trenches the night before, but we were not sent in until daylight. It was supposed to be a surprise attack and under these circumstances that attack should have been called off and made at another time. However, we went as planned into the trenches from the center where the P.O.U.M. Anarchists’ Brigade were supposed to be. But they had moved up to the high ground on the left flank where we were to move up to with our heavy machine guns and anti-tank guns and where we were to give cover for the battalions coming up through the center and right flank.
We were forced to stay in the center where our heavy equipment was not effective. If we moved up to the high ground, we would have had to fight P.O.U.M. Trotskyites for the trenches. They did not fire a shot during the entire attack. The attack was to begin at 11:00 a.m. with an airplane barrage that was supposed to last 15 minutes. When the barrage was finished the artillery was supposed to begin at 11:15 for 15 minutes; then the tanks were supposed to come up and we were supposed to follow them in platoons. They would clean out the machine gun nests and we were supposed to take the town. The airplane barrage began on time and finished, but the artillery did not begin until over 20 minutes later; then they went past us like passenger trains. We could not keep up with them. They carried brigadiers on top of the tanks. They went right through the town, turned around in back of the town and came back. Twenty-six tanks were lost. Our battalion had orders to advance to the crest of the hill looking into the town, then wait for our flanks to come up with us and then together we would attack and take the town.
Our flanks never did get up to us. We got orders to dig in and hold the position under all circumstances. The brigade sent up a people’s work party to help us dig trenches and build up earth works with sand bags and timber to hold the position. When our flanks did not get up, it became obvious that we would not be able to take the town. The battalion commander was called back to the brigade headquarters so I was responsible for the operation. I had not had any sleep the night before and none this night. I had to see that the wounded were taken back, the dead buried, and the food and water brought up. I designated two of the battalion runners to dig a fox hole for me, as I had to sleep when I got back to the headquarters. We lost half of the battalion, either wounded or killed in action. When I got back to the headquarters, the two runners had dug only a little niche for me in back of a small incline. I was just about dead on my feet. I designated one of the company commanders to take charge. I crawled into the niche, pulled my feet up under me and went to sleep. During the night they tried to drive us out of the position with heavy machine gun and mortar fire. When I stretched out in the niche, I got hit in the left foot with an anti-tank bullet that expanded and smashed the bones. If the runner had dug the fox hole as he was supposed to, I would have not been wounded and could have fought on further.
I saw two very good men killed because of another brigadier not doing what he was ordered to do, when we were infiltrating up the hill in the attack. A Comrade lying on the ground was hollering for another to help him. He was out in the open and another Comrade trying to help him got killed by a sniper. When I got up to where the Comrade was, I asked him where he was hit. He said in the hip. I asked him if he had a bandage. He said no. I told him I did not have one either and I had to go up on the hill. I had to keep in contact with the battalion. I told him to turn over on his side and drag himself back behind a little knoll, then the stretcher bearers would be able to get him. I went further and a seaman named Stone came up with his crew and a machine gun. He went to the wounded man and got killed. Then Milton Herndon, Angelo’s brother, who was using the name of Braxton, went over to him and was killed. Then this wounded, crying, hollering Comrade did what I told him to do, crawled back and saved himself. I write this up to show how important iron discipline is and why it should not be violated.
After this sabotaged action was over, a Commission was set up to investigate and check back to see where those who were responsible came from, and who was responsible for them being there; who was responsible in the echelon or departments of the Red Army and who sent obsolete artillery and other equipment and spies over as volunteers to Spain. It all reverted back to Tukhachevsky, the Marshal of the Army and his henchmen. That is why when Khrushchev made the statement that they would rehabilitate Tukhachevsky because he was falsely accused by Stalin, I immediately knew that Khrushchev was a liar and a renegade and could not help but know he was involved in many ways in sabotaging the Red Army. It is no wonder that Khrushchev was able to get Zukov and other top army officials to help take over the Soviet Community Party and liquidate the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, but I am also sure that the time is not too far off when it will be re-established.
The Loyalist Army and the Loyalist Government in Spain decided we could no longer play an important role in Spain because the Government had plenty of trained reserves to back up their army, but did not have food or equipment to arm and supply them. We from the United States and Canada were not getting enough volunteers to maintain a reserve force and we had played too important a role in the past, and they wanted us to be preserved. They did not want us to become decimated because it would not be good for us or for them. We agreed with them, so they sent us home. Thirty-six hundred volunteers from the United States and Canada went over and only eighteen hundred of us came back, the rest were killed. Those coming back were all wounded at least once and some three and four times.
We came out through France. We were supposed to go through Paris, where thousands of members of the Popular Front and the French Communist Party were mobilized to greet us, but the authorities rerouted our train. When the French Comrades found out we were rerouted, a few hundred of them using cars or any other way they could, met the train with coffee and donuts in the few minutes we could be stopped at the four different places.
When we got to Le Havre the police marched us into the immigration building and kept us there until the ship was ready to leave. The Immigration officials told the ship’s crew that we were a bunch of bandits that were kicked out of Spain, and they were kicking us out of France. At first the crew would not have anything to do with us, but after a few days we gave the crew a party and we had a good time with them. We pulled into New York a few weeks before Christmas in 1938.
After about a week, I went to Philadelphia, reported to the Party and became the West Philadelphia organizer doing full time work and also became a member of the District Committee and Bureau.
Upon my return to Philadelphia, I found the situation in the Party very bad. For instance, in Philadelphia when the Party would have discussions on cadre and replacement of section organizers in the District, and I would raise the names of capable workers or comrades, especially those in the industrial sections, Darcy, the district organizer, would always object. The result would be that young petty bourgeois talkers and speech makers would be sent to the industrial sections. After about six months the organization would break down and many good comrades would leave the party. The organizers would come back to the city discouraged, and we would lose them also. Then I and a few other comrades like me, would be sent out to the sections to pick up the pieces. Each time it happened it would be harder to revive them and we would lose more industrial worker members. During Sam Darcy’s leadership, we became a district run by the petty bourgeoisie, but they all called themselves workers.
During this period I was the District Trade Union Secretary. Later, about 1941, at a time when the organization was at a low ebb, I was sent into the Anthracite to be the organizer there, and also responsible for Bethlehem and Williamsport. This was the period of the war when we were supporting Roosevelt’s seven points, which was a program to win the war and to build Russian War Relief Organizations. At this time, upon a suggestion from the National Committee, I wrote an article on “Why the Anthracite Coal Mines should be Nationalized”. The article explained that the method of mining employed was causing coal to be lost that would be needed in the future. It also explained that coal did not have to be used for fuel, especially Anthracite coal. I explained that through a process of liquifying and extraction of chemicals the coal could be worth more than if used for fuel and the column dumps could be used for fuel. I took it to the National Committee of the Party and never heard anymore about it. That is what they did with any article of importance, especially if they didn’t like who wrote it. Their answer was the silent treatment.
About this time I received permission to work in the mines due to the fact that I had been expelled from the union in 1929 for what they called “dual unionism”. However, I was reinstated in 1936 when Lewis was playing his progressive role. Later when the war was on, and I could get a job, which I did, I went to work in District 7 as a timberman in» the Nesquehoning Colliery, Lehigh Valley Coal Co. I would have to work two weeks and four days before I got paid, because two weeks pay was being held back. The union officials had connived with my former wife and the politicians to frame me up on a charge of not making alimony payments to her when I was working, as the court order had stated.
When I got into court they had added “Not reporting” to the Domestic Court Officer and the court vacated the bail because it was not enough. At court I proved that I had visited her and had told her that as soon as I got a pay check I would give her a payment. When I had run out of report forms I had written to the court officer for more forms and he had not answered me. The court decided I would have to produce the higher bail before I could be released. My wife secured a friend to go with her to go my bail, but the court officer stated it was not appearance bail, but compliance bail. When my wife came to see me, I told her to get another friend to go bail and to tell the officer we were going to follow it up and hold him responsible for misrepresenting bail.
He did not seem to worry about that. My wife went to the district office to see Darcy and the lawyer. Darcy decided that it was my own domestic affair. Then my wife asked the lawyers for a copy of the charges and the court order. They said they had lost them. I told my wife not to worry about it any longer because the job would be gone anyway. I stayed in jail for five and a half months and was released on my own cognizance which completely proved that the bail was not the reason for keeping me in jail, but rather that they wanted 24 me out of the mines, and Darcy the stool-pigeon and the lawyer were in on it.
I went to the Manpower Board and raised the question of the urgency of the war being won and that they needed timbermen. I told them that they had framed me to get me out of the mines, and I wanted my job back. They told me it was not the company’s fault and they could not wait over five months without a timberman, so they had hired one. They said you go any place in the Anthracite where you know there is a job, and if they do not hire you, we will make them hire you. I did just that and got a job on a shaker shoot robbing back pillers.
Just about this time another one of those petty bourgeois Party organizers was sent to the Anthracite named Kastro, but he complained about being sick with a spot on his lung and wanted to go back to Philadelphia. In the meantime he was saved by the draft and inducted into the army. Later when he came out, he had to be expelled from the Party for factionalism. When he was gone, the District Bureau assigned me to take his place. I accepted the assignment because I did not want to be eliminated from the party. I later learned that the leadership did not want me in the mines amongst the mine workers. This I learned from my former wife’s attorney.
It is easy to see that the Party was beginning to really fall apart on all levels. Just about the time I had come into the Party, Foster was a leader of the Central Committee. Under the leadership of Foster and Browder, some time later, the Control Commission was liquidated which was the widening of the doors to opportunism and revisionism.
Foster did not disagree with this liquidation, in fact they bragged about the unity of the Central Committee. A little later, the Trade Union Unity League was liquidated, which had carried on and had organized the struggles to organize the unorganized, for democracy in the unions, for good conditions for the workers, to expose the collaboration between the union officials and the bosses, for union recognition and check-off of dues and for unions on an industrial basis. Browder and the Central Committee liquidated the Trade Union Unity League without disagreement from Foster. Next Browder liquidated fractions in the mass organizations without disagreement from Foster. Browder then liquidated the shop clubs in the unions.
As I’ve stated before, he then stated that Communists should not run for leadership in the trade unions and Communists would not have to function as Communists in the trade unions. This was liquidation of the Communist Party within the trade unions without any disagreement or struggle from Foster. Browder liquidated the Young Pioneers and the Young Communist League, thus giving up the education of the Comrades’ families by the Party. Again no visible disagreement or struggle from Foster. Browder and the Central Committee liquidated all of the mass organizations which the Party organized and led; also the organizations of the unemployed, Tenants Leagues in the districts, the League Against War and Fascism and the Negro Congress. About the only thing that was left was the liquidation of the Party, which Browder accomplished without any visible disagreement in 1944, as it was becoming clear the Nazis were losing the war.
Now let us look and see how the groundwork was laid for the liquidation of the Party. At this time the representatives of the imperialist countries began to raise the idea that when the war would be over the new relationship that had been established on a world scale should be continued. When the war would be over they stated, a new society would be created, one that would not be capitalist or socialist, but could unite all the forces in the world and have permanent peace.
This was the cue that Browder was waiting for and he began to create the conditions for the liquidation of the Party. He wrote his pamphlet “Teheran, Our Path in War and Peace”. Later he wrote a pamphlet entitled “Teheran and After”, which was used to put across the idea that the necessity for a Marxist-Leninist Party no longer existed, that with the new coming relations of forces, we would no longer have the need for class struggle, strikes or violence. Again we did not see any visible disagreement or struggle against this line by Foster.
There was no discussion bulletin with any disagreement with the policy advocated by Browder from Foster or anyone else. I was a delegate to the 1944 Convention and my impression was that all the Parties throughout the world were in agreement with Browder’s line. Browder was able to create that impression without saying so. The more speakers I heard, the more I thought the whole Party and all Parties were in agreement on the line to be adopted. When Foster spoke I didn’t understand him. He did not say he was for the resolution or against it; he said he was for unity, and the other things he said were very confusing.
When he was done speaking, all of the leadership stood up clapping for him, which left me more confused, and I felt if everybody there was for it, it must be alright. So I voted for it. I left the Convention thinking it was unanimous, and I was still thinking so when the Duclos letter came out.
Then I began to find out Foster and Darcy disagreed with Browder’s whole policy, and they were threatened by Browder and the rest of the Central Committee with expulsion if they brought their disagreement to the membership. Foster knew this was a direct violation of democratic centralism, and should not be tolerated, but acting true to form like he always did, he disagreed and then voted for it and supported it. It was Foster’s duty as a Communist to place his disagreement on the Resolution to liquidate the Party in the discussion bulletin, and participate in the discussion that would emanate from it. Foster was just as much to blame as Browder for what happened in the Convention because he kept his disagreement secret.
It was not a question of retaining monolithic unity, it was Browder and the Central Committee who were violating democratic centralism, the line and policy of the party, when they did not put the discussion out and involve the districts, sections and membership in preparation for the Convention. It amounted to a conspiracy to liquidate the Party. Darcy and Foster became part of it, by keeping it a secret, not only before the Convention but during the Convention. If they had spoken out, the Party would not have been liquidated because we would not have supported it. This was a big leap forward in the promotion of opportunism and revisionism, discrediting the Party all during the years of Browder’s leadership. During the discussion periods before the Convention, there were also violations. Foster had the right to disagree with Browder’s policies, but he did not do so. His silence made him a part of the revisionism.
I don’t however want to leave the comrades with the impression that Foster’s revisionism lay only in the fact that he remained silent on the question of liquidation of the Party. Revisionism was the keystone of Foster’s line on every question. However, there is one question that I must mention because of the great confusion that exists around it, much of which can be attributed to Foster. This pressing question is the Negro National Colonial Question. Foster, true to form, put forward the position that the U.S. was exceptional, that the Negro Question was exceptional, that the Negro Nation was a ”nation within a nation.”
Obviously there is no such thing, and this position most definitely negates the basic question of land. The very idea of breaking up the imperialist state of the USNA frightens the bourgeois philistines to their very souls, because it marks the end to their imperialist privileges over the subjugated nations. I just wanted to note this in order to show the comrades how deeply revisionism had permeated the Party, not only from Browder but from Foster as well.
When Foster and the other leaders were brought to trial under the Smith Act, and were charged with advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence at the earliest possible time, I and my Comrades close around me thought that Foster, as Dimitroff did before him, would give a good account of himself, defending the Party, the working class and people. But to my amazement, through his lawyer, he asked to be severed from the trial because he was sick with a bad heart and might die in the trial.
What better way could he have died, but to fight defending the Party and the working class that he was a part of. He had his chance to die a glorious death in the interests of the working class but he did not. The bourgeoisie was glad to sever him from the trial. He remained active and lived like the 28 bourgeoisie in a New York apartment and a summer home on the Hudson River, and to crown it all off, he asked China to accept him in his retirement, but changed his mind and went to the Soviet Union to die amongst the Soviet Social Imperialists. It is easy to understand why those who are doing their utmost to split the Marxist-Leninist Movement are trying to make a working class hero out of him.
After the liquidation of the Party, we were functioning as the Communist Political Association. A friend of mine who was the secretary of the Negro YMCA in Wilkes-Barre got me an invitation to address a quarterly meeting of a group of businessmen who supported the YMCA. I explained to them what the line of the Association was, but they did not believe me. One hard-headed businessman got up and stated, “Are you trying to tell us that you Communists no longer believe the workers should strike and the changes can come about peacefully?” I stated that that was the line. He said, “We are not foolish enough to believe you.” I then realized that when I thought hard enough about it, I could not believe it either.
Soon after that we had a class is Scranton for a group of Comrades. The district sent in a school teacher to explain the line of the Association. After she made her presentation to the class, an old time miner raised the question, “Are you trying to tell us we will no longer need to strike?” She said, “That is exactly what I mean.” He then said, “I don’t want to hear any more of that shit, I would rather listen to Joe Dougher. I’m going back home” and after lunch none of them came back to the class. That was the beginning of the end in my mind for the Political Association. I began to regain my senses. From then on I began to have real difficulties with many of the leaders.
About this time, the Party was reconstituted. Darcy had just returned from San Francisco where he was supposed to stand trial on an old charge that was placed against him during the General Strike in the city. I did not know what kind of compromise was made, but one thing I know, he did not go to jail.
Around this time, Darcy was brought up before a Commission, charged with advocating a different line than the Party’s line; also for writing a revisionist book which he refused to turn over to the National Committee for examination. I had the extreme pleasure of making the motion that this stool pigeon be expelled from the Party and he was expelled. He was an extreme example of opportunist petty bourgeois leadership on the National Committee.
After Darcy’s expulsion, at a National Bureau meeting, Dennis persuaded me to become the district leader in Philadelphia and I accepted with the understanding that Phil Bart would be the secretary. But with the connivance of Dave Davis going to the national leadership, it was decided that I should not be the district organizer. This was done without me being advised or any meeting with me as to why the change. I did not know until Bart came into the district as the new district organizer. I raise this as another example of the connivance that went on in the Party.
Some time later, when I went into the Williamsport area, I met with the young section organizer who was only a short time out of college. I asked him what kind of role was being played by five or six organizers in the most progressive unions, who were former section organizers from the Party. He told me they met with him from time to time to give him advice. I asked him if they ever turned in any recruits and Daily Worker and Sunday Worker subs. He said no. I told him that they were not functioning as Communists, and we would have to do something about it.
We then visited each one of them and notified them to come to a meeting. At the meeting I explained that they were not playing the role of Communists, but were playing the role of opportunists, and if they continued, their membership would be at stake. We gave them tasks to carry out and assigned them to a club. When I went back into the section meeting later, the organizer told me they had not carried out the tasks nor had they come to the club or section meetings.
At that time I had already been elected to the National Committee along with four other workers; however this was only to placate us. I learned this because the only assignment I was given from the national office was to go where a mine workers’ convention was being held, meet with our comrades 30 from the mine fields, and give them guidance about what to do at the convention; however they had not provided the opportunity for me to go back to make a report to the National Committee. This was another indication of what they thought of workers.
I went to the National Headquarters in New York City in order to take up the matter of Williamsport. I met with Shodash from the Fur and Leather Workers Union, and Ruth Young of the United Electrical Workers Union, National Executive. They both were on the National Committee of the Party. They both promised to contact the leaders of the four other unions that functioned in the area and were also leaders in the Party. They promised that they would all come to a meeting that I would arrange in Williamsport and straighten out these ex-section organizers in the interests of the Party.
I arranged the meeting and notified the big shots, but none of them showed up. I arranged a second meeting, but the same thing happened. They gave the issue the silent treatment, the same as they did many other issues. It must be stressed that these supposed to be comrades were national leaders of the Communist Party!
Then in 1948, when I was a member of the National Committee, the Committee assigned me to the Ohio District to work in steel and coal where Gus Hall was the State Organizer. And if I am not mistaken, he was the chairman of the National Steel Commission. He was to have a job for me in steel when I got there. I was invited to a Steel Commission meeting where I heard reports on the great things they were doing in Ohio, especially in steel. Edwards, who was from the National Tube Co., in Lorain, and Hall gave the reports. They were supposed to be doing very effective work there and in the Republic Steel Plant in Cleveland. I waited around for about a month for a job that Hall was supposed to have for me; then I realized he was not able to get me a job. We did not have influence in anything in steel; in other words, the reports I heard about steel in Ohio were nothing but a lot of bullshit!
I went to the office at the Lorain plant of the National Tube Co., a U.S. Steel plant, and made out an application for a job, explaining that I had machine shop experience. I was hired and assigned to the machine shop carrying away chips from the machines. I was transferred to the Lorain section of the Party and saw Edwards who was the section organizer. I told him I was working in the plant and had been transferred into the section and asked him when I could meet with the Section Committee and be assigned to work. He told me for the time being we do not have a Section Committee functioning. I asked when I could meet with the club I would be assigned to. He told me the clubs were not meeting.
I asked how the members were attached to the Party. He said “I collect the dues and turn them in.” I asked about the status of the organization in Cleveland around Republic Steel and Youngstown. He said, “About the same as Lorain.” I asked about the Progressive Party Club I heard him reporting about in Cleveland. He said, “We liquidated that club to keep the Trotskyites from taking it over.”
I said, “In other words there is no organization here.” So I made a date with him and went to work to get a section and club meeting, began visiting the Comrades in the outlying towns and got the Party functioning.
About that time Steve Nelson came there on a tour. He attended our section meeting and asked how I found things there. I said I don’t know much about the rest of the Party, but I know when I got here that in steel the situation was and still is very bad. I also raised that I was sure Gus knew about it. He raised it with Gus and from then on I did not get any leadership from Gus, and I think he would have been much happier if I was not there. From then on the whole leadership was constantly trying to find fault with just about everything I was doing.
I became very active in the plant and section organizer of the Party. I was elected chairman of the Anti-Discrimination Committee for the local union of 16,000 workers and elected by the committee as chairman to the executive board. We revived the Progressive Party Club, carried on activities in the union around the issues of hiring Puerto Ricans, accepting Negroes as apprentices in the skilled trades and enforcing 32 seniority rights for Negroes and Puerto Ricans in the plant. We fought for Negro and Puerto Rican workers being hired in the supermarkets and hiring a Negro school teacher in the school. We fought to prevent a Negro worker from being taken back to North Carolina where he would be lynched on a frame-up charge of rape and got a Negro steelworker released from jail where he was being held incommunicado as a material witness to a murder for six months. We got him his job back in the steel plant with his seniority retained. I mention these activities because under Gus Hall’s leadership this kind of activity was dwindling away.
During the steel strike, when the officials of the local union made a phoney agreement with public officials not to give any public assistance to those who had less than four in the family, we organized a demonstration at the Assistance Board and forced them to give assistance to every steel worker on a strike who needed it. This was also at a time when such activities were dwindling away under the leadership of Gus Hall. The revisionism in the Party was rapidly deepening.
The professional Communists who were full time leaders were supposed to get paid according to their need. Gus Hall got, not only the highest pay in the district, but the Party bought him a good home, and when his wife was approached to place the home up for bail for some of the eleven Party leaders were being held in jail, she refused, while other Comrades and sympathizers who had to work and sweat to buy a home were willing to put up their homes for bail.
At this period the Party was practicing the caste system, whereby the national leaders were receiving top pay and expenses, the district leaders were receiving secondary pay and expenses, the section leaders third rate pay and expenses. This was the period when because of the continuing persecution and arrests of leaders, and because of the leaders hiding themselves, not only from the police and agents, but with very little exception from the Party itself, the sections and membership were left without any leadership. This amounted to desertion before the enemy, the worst kind of liquidation. Gus Hall was one of those in hiding.
We must contrast this with what happened in the French Party which functioned while under the Petain Laval fascist dictatorship and occupied by the Nazi armies. Because of the danger of fascism in our country, it is important that we understand just how the French Party functioned. They retained an active Party which gave leadership and worked and fought in the underground. They pinned down a German army that could not be used on the Russian Front, and they played a big role in defeating Hitler and his armies.
The French Party met in units of three from the bottom to the top. One was responsible for political leadership, another for organization and the other for mass work. Each one in the unit had contact with one other person from the higher unit with the like responsibility, and he or she could not expose his or her name to the other two in his unit. This created a structure where each unit member only knows three other people besides himself and even if they were tortured and talked they could only expose three others.
When the situation was really serious and dangerous, they did not meet as a unit, but each one, as they got their directives from the contact above, would carry out the directives to the other two. In this way, there would be only two of them together at any time, yet there would be continuous directives, check-up and struggle. When an apparatus was set up to make propaganda material and distribute it to the members for use, a relay would be set up of sometimes three or four comrades who would deliver the material from one to the other until it got to the one who could begin its circulation to the units of that area. Even the areas were separated except for a small unit contact with their district. Contact with the districts and Central Committee was maintained by small units.
To understand why the Communist Party of France was able to function under such serious circumstances, you must understand why all the tenets of Leninism are an absolute necessity, especially iron discipline, monolithic unity and democratic centralism.
The whole Party rallied around the Central Committee, all of the lower organizations subject to the control of the 34 higher organization. Without this the French Party would have fallen apart just like the United States Party fell apart, and here they were only threatened with jail, the Party was not even outlawed.
How can Gus Hall or any of the revisionist scum have the nerve to call themselves Marxist-Leninists. He and the revisionist scum from the Soviet Union should go and stick their heads in the holes of the swamps of revisionism. That is where they belong.
Later, when the Party had gone completely revisionist and I returned to Philadelphia from Ohio, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn approached me to become the Eastern Pennsylvania District Organizer. At the meeting when she approached me, during her speech, (after she was released from jail) she stated, “Comrades, I promise you there will not be any more Smith Act victims.” I asked her, “How the hell can you promise us there will be no more. Where did you get this information?” What lousy people they were!
Another example: when functioning in Ohio about 1952, Hyman Lumar who was then the educational director in the Ohio district, had me sign a petition on some issue that was publicized and later used by the Lorain local union of the Steel Workers Union. Then I was removed from the Executive Board, as chairman of the Anti-Discrimination Committee, for what they called superseding the Grievance Committee because I was forcing them to take up a Negro worker’s right for a job because he had the most seniority. Hyman Lumer is now the National Education Director of the Party. Knowing his role, I believe he had me sign the petition so they could remove me from the executive board of the union. I will have more explanation about Hy Lumer further on.
One more example: Frank Peoples, a member of the Party in Lorain, lived near us in Lorain and worked in the same plant where I worked. We heard complaints from the Puerto Rican tenants about the exorbitant rents he charged. We then raised it at a meeting and we were immediately faced with charges of us too being landlords because we had arranged with our landlord to rent two rooms to Puerto Ricans across from our apartment. We had agreed, because of some rental ruling, that we would pay him along with our rent. We paid him what we collected. Later, at the trials, this same Frank Peoples, whom the Party was defending as a landlord, showed up as a stool pigeon, testifying against us and paid $26,000 by the FBI. He was also able to buy the apartment we lived in and jacked up the rent so high that we moved.
Phil Frankfield became the state organizer of the Ohio District, and this made me feel good because I worked with him in the Eastern Pennsylvania District and admired him. Little did I realize how shallow he could be when the going got tougher. A short time later, when the Supreme Court refused to review the convictions of the first group of national leaders, and they had to go to jail, he came to me in a panic. He said “Joe, you are a sitting duck because you are on the National Committee; I will give you an address to go to!” I said, “Phil, I am not going to run and hide. If I was being sent some place where the Party was not functioning it would be necessary to work undercover to maintain the Party, I would do it, but I am not going to hide from the membership. That would be liquidation of the Party. I stayed where I was a few months.
Later, Hyman Lumer came to me and told me, “We want you to go down on the river to Steubenville, Ohio, to get the clubs and sections to function and set up a steel and coal commission. I will give you a contact for down there, another contact in Cleveland; change your name and get a new Social Security card and look for a job in steel or coal. When you get located, visit the contact in Cleveland, and someone will come to see you.”
My wife and I got the sections and clubs meeting, some of them in West Virginia and some in Ohio; then we set up a Steel and Coal Commission, but I could not get a job. We ran out of money and could not pay our rent. I got in touch with our contact in Cleveland and they raised money for us, but Hyman Lumar told them not to send it, that we would be taken care of. His idea of taking care of us was to give us $25.
My wife got a job getting orders for pictures. She got $1 for each order. This got us eating. Later she got a job as a bookkeeper with a real estate agent and I got a job in a small steel plant on the labor gang where they had a company union. They would send us into the furnace to clean and repair them before they were cool enough, then they would take us out of the furnaces to load or unload box cars or trucks in the middle of the winter with the sweat dripping from us. If we complained, they would fire us. I got arthritis in my knees so bad I could not walk.
Later on, there was a steel strike and when it was over I got a job in the Wheeling Steel Plant in Steubenville, in the blast furnace, where in a short time I became second helper. I joined the union, became active on the Congressional Political Action Committee and my wife Flossie became secretary of a housing committee, working with the secretary and treasurer of the steel local, a Negro minister and others. They succeeded in getting a housing project started and defeated a City Councilman who was holding up the project.
About the last of September, 1953, on a Thursday, I was to become the union steward for the blast furnaces. This was arranged by the union, as the steward was being transferred to another department. I was arrested however on Tuesday. The contact Lumar had given me turned out to be a stool pigeon who was afraid to meet with us. He also admitted to me that he was being visited by the FBI and had promised them he would not be active in the Party. I believe Lumar knew he was a stool pigeon and left us high and dry without money to live on. I believe he was trying to discourage us and drive us out of the Party.
About ten agents from the FBI came to our apartment to arrest me and put handcuffs and chains on me to try to make me look like I was a desperate criminal. For the next few days there were FBI agents around the house and in cars trying to intimidate anyone who might wish to see or talk to my wife. The FBI also wanted the landlady to let them into our apartment while she was at work, but the landlady refused.
I was taken to a U.S. Commissioner for a hearing. I waived a hearing and he set bail at $25,000 and held me for court. At the FBI headquarters, they tried to question me, but I told them, “I gave you my name and address, this is all you will get from me.” I then pulled a chair over in the corner, put it against the wall and went to sleep. Later, when some other agents came in and made a noise, I woke up and I heard one of them say, “That guy is liable to be facing twenty years in jail and he goes to sleep!”
I mention this because it shows how the bourgeoisie underestimates the strength of the working class. Even our weak revisionist leaders join and overestimate the strength of the bourgeoisie. They are not dialectical and historical materialists; but we Marxist-Leninists are dialectical materialists and we have faith in the masses, but the petty bourgeois leadership in the Party did not.
Then I was moved to another county name Cadiz and placed in jail. At this time, I smoked cigars and cigarettes. In jail I rapped on the doors for attention; when the keeper of the jail came I told him I was not yet tried or convicted of any crime. I smoke cigars and cigarettes and you have no right to deprive me of them because I have the money to pay for them, and to prevent me from having them is a form of torture. He said you are not our prisoner, you are a prisoner of the FBI. I told him I don’t care who I’m a prisoner of, I am in your jail and you are responsible for me while I am here, and I want my cigars and cigarettes. He said he could get in touch with the FBI.
About an hour later, he came in with six cigars and five packs of cigarettes. He said there would be no charge. The FBI had donated them. They may have still thought they could use me. They never give up! I explain these happenings in order to show the young comrades that as long as you have an organization behind you, you do not need to be worried about the bourgeoisie. They are handicapped unless we have fascism, which we must not allow to come into being, and even if it does we must lead the struggle to overthrow it if we want to live a decent life and not be hungry and miserable.
The next day, three United States Marshals took me to Cleveland and turned me over to the chief marshal of that district. His name was Win. When I was arrested, I had insisted that they allow me to dress up in order to look decent. He said, “You can’t say you were abused with your pockets full of cigars. And they tell me you are an Irishman.”
I said, “Can’t an Irishman be intelligent also.”
He laughed like hell and said, “I must tell that to my son-in-law because he is Irish.”
Again I say you cannot fall for the baloney they hand you because they will try to make a stool pigeon out of you by either abusing, torturing, terrorizing or placating you. If you are honest and determined, you cannot help but hate them thoroughly. This is also for the young comrades.
The next day they moved us over to the Cayugo County jail and placed us in the special security cells that they used for those who were charged with murder, burglary and armed banditry in order to create the idea that Communists were the same as these murderers and bandits. The bourgeoisie uses every opportunity to discredit the Communists with untruthful propaganda because they know we will do away with the exploitation of man by man whereby there will no longer be a profit system with sixty dynastic families that make up the biggest monopolies and use our country for their benefit and aggrandizement. They now want to be royalty and as they gain the knowledge of how to change and control the genes, they will create zombi slaves to do their bidding, and exterminate the rest of us if we let them.
A number of years before I was arrested and was still in the steel plant in Lorain, Ohio, the leadership of the Party in Ohio and the national leaders told me I should not go to the National Convention. This they said was because they were “afraid” that if I took time off, the company might find out I went to the National Convention as a member of the National Committee and kick me out of the plant. So when the Convention was held, the same people conveniently forgot to have me nominated or elected to the National Committee, yet later Hy Lumer had me sign a petition which gave the union an excuse for kicking me off the Executive Board in the union anyway. I believe he did this deliberately.
Another man that I had admired, Steve Nelson, also turned revisionist. In an interview with John Gates, editor of the Worker, he deliberately condemned the Soviet Union for sending troops to Hungary. In order to understand why I condemned Nelson for his position, it is necessary to understand certain things.
Firstly, that leading up to the Second World War, Hungary was controlled by the fascist dictator Horthy. Also, that when the war broke out Hungary supported Hitler Germany, mobilized the Hungarian nation and developed an army to fight alongside and with the German Nazi Army. When the Nazis were defeated, the fascists from the Hungarian army sent into Austria, maintained contact with over 60,000 of the demobilized army in contact with the CIA, and thousands of others who were sent to the U.S. to be trained as espionage agents for the U.S.
Then the Hungarian Government, without enough investigation of the situation, gave Cardinal Minzenty the right to leave the embassy of one of the other capitalist countries and participate again in the life of Hungary. Also all of the citizens or subjects of the countries under fascism were given amnesty and were allowed to return to Hungary and become part of the life of the country.
The United States immediately sent all of the agents that had been trained to Austria, and all of those who were in Austria went across the border armed with plenty of Austrian money and began to run around the country disrupting public meetings. Minzenty used the Catholic clergy and contacts to support the Horthy fascists in their drive to overthrow the Socialist Government. Minzenty placed himself at the head of the fascist forces directing the drive to overthrow the Socialist Government. They killed more than a couple thousand people including some government leaders and murdered Jews only because they were Jews.
The CIA was also involved in their attempt to carry through a counterrevolution. At this point, Khrushchev and the Russian Government refused to intervene, but the Chinese representatives told Khrushchev if he did not move to intervene they would. Only then did Khrushchev move to send in troops to help put down the counterrevolution. If the Chinese had not acted, the United States would have controlled a base on the border of the Soviet Union.
In Europe, with the way the Soviet Union has been going ever since, who knows what could have happened. This is the period when the renegade from Communism and revisionist Steve Nelson wrote his infamous article that was carried in the Worker condemning the Soviet Union for what he called interfering with the Hungarian Socialist democratic rights. This is the Steve Nelson who was admired as a genuine Communist here and in Spain and who now supports the Social Imperialist renegades from Communism in the Soviet Union.
Some time later, on a trip from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, in a car, Steve tried to explain to me that we must go back and examine all of the Communist leaders of today and the past including Lenin because of their mistakes. I told Steve it was not Lenin that made mistakes, but rather it was us who had made mistakes because we did not practice Leninism. He did not have anymore to do with me after that, like the others who capitulated after being tried under the Smith Act. He was facing twenty years and gave up the struggle; today he is one of the renegades in the Communist Party of the U.S.A. and is now the Commander of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. He is a disgrace to the 1800 U.S. and Canadian heroes who died in Spain. If they were living, they would spit in his eye!
A few years earlier, the National Committee sent what they called colonizers out to the industrial areas in order to “help” lead the workers, not to learn from the workers as the Chinese practice. A group of them came to Ohio, however not more than one or two of them stayed. One of them, who worked in the plant where I did, was so lazy that the other workers did not want to work with him. He did not last long when the attacks on the Party developed. The rest of them skipped back to New York or the other cities where they came from. This was another example of the petty bourgeois capitulation.
Now back to my arrest and trial. Eleven of us were being held for trial under the Smith Act, charged with teaching and advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence at the earliest possible time.
Five were arrested in Pittsburgh, one in Akron, Ohio, one in Lorain and the rest around the Cleveland area. They organized a Defenders Committee and the Ohio District organized a broader committee to carry on the struggle to defend us. We immediately began a campaign to reduce our bail.
Our argument was that the bail was not for the purpose of keeping a defendant in jail but was for the purpose of guaranteeing their appearance in court. When bail is placed so high that you cannot raise the amount, it is political persecution. After a month of campaigning, the bail was reduced for the Comrades who were arrested in Pittsburgh. Some of them were reduced from $35,000 to $7,000 because the court said we were accused of being a secret organization, the rest of us had our bail reduced from $25,000 to $5,000.
We then began to campaign for a change in the method of selecting jurors. The jury Commissioner would see individuals or write to individuals who he believed would make good jurors and then select them. Our argument was that this was not democratic and the jurors should be taken from the voters list and in order for it to be a jury of our peers it should be from working people’s neighborhoods. We won this point.
When I was first put in jail along with another Comrade, Comrade Greenfield, a lawyer named Cavanaugh came into the jail to see us and wanted to defend us. I told him I would consider letting him defend me if he would act as my counsel technically, only in order to inform me of whatever law I would need to know in respect to what my rights would be before the court or an appeals court. He said, “I must represent you wholly.” I left him and went back to my cell.
While I was in jail I was ashamed of the Comrades. Outside of myself, Bethencourt and Greenfield, the others participated in jail corruption, looking for special privileges, paying for extra food and kowtowing to the keepers or turnkeys. There was a hell of a difference between us and them, and the difference prevailed all during the trial.
At a meeting of the defenders, we agreed we would put out a constant stream of literature and leaflets on the trials 42 by us defenders, and carry on a campaign to get competent lawyers. We raised the argument that if the court appointed lawyers who were not top lawyers and competent, we would not be getting a fair trial because of what the government would do and our trial was complicated. To our surprise the judge agreed with us.
The Federal Court did not pay lawyers appointed by the court, so the judge asked seven of the top lawyers corporations to pay one of their top lawyers whom he would appoint, and then he would appoint four others whom the corporation would pay. The trial went on, but we did not do so well in our defenders committee.
We began by putting our leaflets out at the important plants. We went to the National Tube Co., in Lorain, about a dozen times to a different gate and a different shift each time; then we went to the big Chevrolet plant where some goons came out after some police went in and knocked the leaflets out of our hands. We just picked them up and distributed them when the workers came out. After that we could not get anyone to come out there again.
A few days later, we went out to the Ford plant, on the outskirts of Cleveland and were giving the leaflets out to the workers in the cars going in and coming out during the change of shifts. The road where we were giving them out was composed of one side being an independent borough and the other being in the city of Cleveland. Police from the independent borough stopped those who were on that side.
I and some others were on the city side. The two leaders of the defenders called us over so we could be arrested along with them. They took us all up to the City Hall and when the shift was over, we were turned loose. I was burned up! No one would ever come out there anymore.
The same thing happened at an electrical plant, where the leaders of the union threatened us. They would not come out or would not agree to mobilize the Party to protect us when passing out leaflets. After that, thousands of leaflets that the defenders had produced laid in the office, while Bethencourt and I were the only ones giving them out.
We would go to the Lorain plant three or four times a week at a different gate each time or a different shift; then after the distribution was over we would visit workers we knew who worked in the plant and discuss the case with them; then we would ask if they were willing to testify in court as to our character if we had them subpoenaed as witnesses.
We had fifteen of them lined up including Negroes, Puerto Ricans and Anglo-Americans. When we reported it to the rest of the defendants, they decided that we could not have them subpoenaed because none of the rest of them could produce such witnesses and it would look bad for them. We argued that for Communists to be able to produce such witnesses it would help the whole case, but they decided against it.
About this time, they decided to ask the court to try us instead of the jury because they stated the judge would understand our problem better. Three of us voted against it, Greenfield, Bethencourt and I. I believe they were trying to make a deal, but were afraid to tell us.
About this time, they tried to convince me and Bethencourt not to take the stand. I told them that if they did not agree with us taking the stand, I would ask the court to sever me from their cases and try me alone, because I am a Communist, a Marxist-Leninist, and they were not. I told the Comrades that I with my lawyer would map out my own case.
At that time, Steve Nelson agreed with me that I should take the stand and the rest did not pursue it any longer. When I met with my lawyer, whose name was John Briggs, a graduate from Harvard University, and one of the top lawyers from Cleveland, he said, “Joe, we will spend the next few days discussing your case.”
When we were done discussing, he told me, “Joe, you are going to be acquitted.” I told him I did not have any objections to getting acquitted, but according to what happened to all of the others under the Smith Act, I believe my road will not be easy. He said, “Tell them your whole story as you told me.”
And this is what I told them:
From the time I was ten years old, I went to work picking slate in the coal breaker.
I joined the union on my father’s book, paying half union dues of 25 cents a month, and having a half vote. I told them how I was active in a breaker-boy strike for wages and conditions; how later at twelve years of age I drove a mule in the mines, how I participated in struggles of the drivers for barn time, for cleaning and harnessing the mules as well as driving them in the mines; how I later ran cars and tended foot of a mine shaft.
I explained how my father got killed by a railroad train coming home from work on a night shift, only about two hundred feet from our home and that my mother was left with ten children to raise. My oldest brother went to work in the coal breaker picking slate when he was seven years old. At that time, if the father did not let the young sons go in the coal breaker to work, the coal operators would not let them work either, and coal was the only industry there.
Child labor did not mean anything to the coal operators. Profits were all they were interested in. My six sisters, as soon as they were able, went to work for families who could give them a small pittance. We, four brothers, went to work as soon as we were able.
My mother who was a dressmaker and seamstress had to sometimes stay up all night making dresses, aprons, sunbon-nets and other clothes so she could feed us children; and what I want to emphasize here is that at that time there was no union and the companies did just about what they pleased.
It was only after the union was established that we were not compelled to trade in the company stores, and did not have to work twelve hours a day. I also want to emphasize that it was the immigrants that came from Europe and were acquainted with the revolutionary philosophy of Marx and Engels through the Communist League, that made it possible to establish the Knights of Labor, and later the United Mine Workers’ Union.
Many came out of the Irish struggles for independence, many from the Welsh and English mines, and the Germans who were Social Democrats had gained their class consciousness from the movement around Marx and Engels. Samuel Gompers and Peter McGuire, who organized the Federation of Labor, were Social Democrats, who were considered revolutionary at that time. It was the class conscious workers who made it possible to organize the workers into unions.
Another thing the lawyer told me: “Joe, you impress me by the struggles you were in. You struggled honestly for the things you believe in and the jury will believe you.”
He also said, “Tell them everything you can remember that you did during your life, both bad things as well as the good, giving your version of what happened and why, and I will be there on the sidelines helping you out when you are done. The government won’t have anything to raise that you did not tell the jury, they will figure you told them everything’.’ And that is exactly what happened. They only kept me on the stand for about four hours, because they did not like the answers I was giving them.
When they asked me if I knew George Watt and Joe Brandt who belonged to a secret committee in Pittsburgh, I replied, “I do not know anything about a secret committee, but I met Joe Brandt and George Watt over on the Ebro River in Spain when I and they along with thirty-six hundred other Americans were fighting side by side with the Spanish People’s Loyalist Army to keep the Spanish Fascist Generals, Hitler’s Fascists, and Mussolini’s Fascist armies from taking over the Spanish People’s Democratic Republic.
“All of this was at a time when we were raising the issue, ’ Help us make Madrid the coffin for fascism,’ ’Lift the embargo of the Capitalist Countries,’ especially of the United States, ’Sell Spain the Materials and Equipment that she needs’, and for which they had gold to pay. We fought in that war at a time when people here in the U.S. were supporting Hitler and Mussolini, and because we did not lift the embargo, we in the United States and the rest of the capitalist countries had to fight them in the last World War.”
They asked me if I had lied in order to get my passport when I went to Spain. I said certainly I lied because if I hadn’t, I would not have gotten my passport. I would have been embargoed.
I also told them I was going to tour France and that later I would visit England and my cousin in Ireland. They knew we were going to Spain because when we got to Le Havre, so they kept us on the ship, about 300 of us, so the American Consul in France could talk to us. He said the border between France and Spain was closed and we would not be able to get to Spain and that they were ready to provide any of us with expense and transportation back to our homes if we would change our minds. We all told him we were not going to Spain, so they let us off the ship. Later, we went to Paris and then to Marseilles, then to Perpignan and over the Pyrenees.
I gave them a run-down on my whole life. I told them how I became a registered Democrat, and later learned that the Democrats in office in the Borough Council and Board of Education were running the borough into tremendous debt because of graft and corruption. We also discovered that the voting registration had over fourteen hundred names on the voting list who did not exist, some of them never existed, some had died, others moved away from the borough, and most all of these names had been used in the elections for years.
I told them that I was very active in Local Union No. 1682 of the United Mine Workers, as president of the local and chairman of the Grievance Committee, also a leader in the General Body composed of delegates from thirteen local unions of the United Mine Workers of the Hudson Coal Company. Hughey Brady, a cousin of mine, was the Democratic County Chairman and the Borough Tax Collector and worked with the coal company officials against the interests of the mine workers.
I organized opposition in the biggest local, where I had been organizing struggles for wages, conditions and against yellow-dog contracting. That was how I became the leader of the local. Then I organized a Policy Committee composed of representatives of the four local unions of the borough and carried on a struggle for the same conditions in all of them as in the Gravity Slope Colliery. We were in a struggle for a contract in the caved areas and the enforcement of the agreement in the rest of the colliery.
We did not trust the District Number One officials of the union to fight for our grievances for us because they sold us out on the previous grievances by not putting the proper evidence before the board and referees. We decided then, that in the future I would represent the local before the board.
The company made us one offer which we rejected and the umpire decided we would have to make a test in order to decide the rates. Millions of dollars were involved in the outcome of the grievance.
My brother and I were crossing the middle bridge in the town one evening and Brady stopped us to talk about the grievance. He said that he understood that Dixon had asked him to talk to us. He said that Gaughan (my brother in law) and my two brothers Eddie and Tommy could take good headings down in the slope and that everyone would be happy. I told him the rest of the miners would not be happy and the test had to go through.
He then began to threaten me and said if I didn’t go along, he would get rid of me in the local, and he would line up all the men against me. I told him, “I do not care what you do and if it is a struggle you want, you will get it; you have been getting away with this kind of trickery for years, but now the end has come.”
I told him that we would have a mass meeting on Thursday night where I would make a report on what took place before the board, and that I would include in my report what you wanted us to do. “You said you and your stooges will get rid of me, I believe we are going to get rid of you, when I report the whole thing to the meeting.”
All of the workers were incensed about it. I told them that with their permission I would call a meeting of the policy committee of the four locals and then call a mass meeting of the people of the whole borough to set up a Civic Association to clean up the corruption on the Borough Council, Board of Education, and the voting registration.
We had a meeting with a couple thousand attending. 1800 members signed up, then we elected an executive board of 18 members. At that time there were several ethnic groups in the 48 mining towns and we made sure they were all represented on this board.
We then started making a census survey of every individual in the borough and then compared it with the registration. We found fourteen hundred names that did not exist and the majority were used in the last elections.
We then went to a meeting of the Board of Education and the Borough Council and told them that we as citizens of the borough and members of our organization have hired a certified accountant and an attorney to examine the financial records of your organization. They told us we could not see them, so we decided to go to court, which we proceeded to do.
We also petitioned the court for an examination of the voting registration of the borough. We got a preliminary hearing before the judge and he decided he would set a date later for a regular hearing. Then Brady, my cousin, went down to New York and had a meeting with Mr. Leamey, the President of the Hudson Coal Co. and told him he was having difficulty with the court because of me and my activities in the union which was causing the company to pay out millions of dollars.
He also told them that I was a Communist radical, and he on the other hand had always supported the company, and now the court was giving him the cold shoulder and was favoring us.
Mr. Leamey told Brady that he would see that the situation was changed.
The next time we went to the court house, the Commissioners and the judges would hardly talk to us. They gave us a hearing about a week later, and the judge decided to eliminate 14 names from the registration. He also decided that there was not sufficient time to examine the registration before the elections and insufficient evidence that warranted the examination of the borough or the Board of Education books. He just eliminated the whole case.
This was my first lesson with the courts, also with being called a Communist radical, at a time when I did not know anything about Communism, however, it set me thinking about it. Later I learned another lesson when we contested a union elections count.
The district officials through the tellers counted out our candidate for election. When we charged them with a fixed election, they set up what they called a court of equity and told us we had no evidence in spite of the fact that we had proved the local unions voted more people than they paid per capita tax on, and voted workers who did not vote. We had thousands of affidavits that they ignored when we petitioned the court for redress. We were told that as long as the union gave us a hearing before a court of equity, they would not interfere. Then I began to wonder about our system.
I explained previously in these writings about my struggles in the unions and in the Communist Party, and I explained to the court also how and why I joined the Communist Party. I also explained that we Communists know that the working class is between seventy-five and eighty per cent of the people. The middle class is fifteen per cent of the people. The monopolies and the rest of the capitalist class are only ten per cent of the people.
I also explained that when we organize the majority of the workers and we gain the support of the middle class, or at least their benevolent neutrality, then we the working class would assume control of the nation.
When the government attorney asked me just how we would go about taking control, because of the revisionism in the Party, and the rest of the defendants’ influence, I answered through the democratic process unless suppression were used.
If I were before the court today, my answer would be entirely different. It would be because of the masked dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and their oppression and suppression of the people, we would set up a people’s militia or a people’s army, whichever you would want to call it. We, the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party would lead the proletariat, the working class, our allies the middle class, whose support we would have or at least their benevolent neutrality, and the rest of our allies, the small farmers.
We will be fighting for their right to make a living on their land, and those who were forced off their land to have the right to go back to it. We will support the Negro Nation in the South, who will be fighting for their independence, the Mexican national minority, who will be fighting in the Southwest for control of their autonomous region, the Indians who will be fighting for their autonomous regions, the Puerto Ricans who will be fighting for their independence.
Then we, the working class, led by the Communist Party with its leading element the proletariat, and our allies, will demand that the bourgeoisie turn the state over to us and if they do not, we will fight and take it from them!
After their defeat we will begin to build Socialism under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, in order to guarantee that capitalism will never again come back into being. We will end the exploitation of man by man and build a beautiful world that can be a heaven on earth.
We must always remember that it is the workers through sweat and blood and tears who built this country into a great nation with the scientific and technical advancement already achieved. Under Socialism the full release of the understanding and energy of the working class and the people would be accomplished. Everything would be done for the working class and not held back by the exploitation of the working class by the profit system of monopolies.
It would be possible to be working one hour a day in a very short time while at the same time having an abundance of everything under these conditions. All of the people will be saying, “Long Live the Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, “Long Live Socialism,” “Let us Prepare for Communism and a Permanently Peaceful World!”
This answer certainly is different than the line of the revisionist petty bourgeois Communist Parties in the world today. We must realize that revisionism and petty bourgeois liberalism creates terrible catastrophes for any Party that falls into it.
There are so many examples of this kind of liberalism like what happened in Indonesia, and now Chile, where the Chilean people are paying with their blood, especially the working class and the peasantry. Meanwhile, the same revisionist stinkers who helped build misleading support for Allende are trying to eulogize him and build him up as a hero. Allende, until a short time before he was murdered took the recommendation of the revisionists of the Communist Party of Chile to pass legislation that took away the arms from the workers and peasants. He relied on military generals as recommended again by the revisionists, who constantly insisted that Socialism could be established peacefully. When he was cornered and about to be killed, he cried that he was betrayed.
Allende’s government was doomed from the beginning. It is the revisionists’ distortion of the Marxist-Leninist theory of the state that led to its overthrowal and the slaughter of thousands of precious workers and peasants. At the present time, these events also prove that the revolutionary movement can never be tolerant of revisionism and petty bourgeois liberals who attempt to lead people to Socialism peacefully. It never happened and it never will.
The Communist League was supporting the Chilean people, but was critical of the Communist Party of Chile and the C.P.S.U. and warned about what could and did happen. All those in the “left” like the October League who were critical of the C.L., should now criticize themselves and all of us together make sure that Gus Hall and the revisionist CPUSA does not cause it to happen here in the United States.
I also told the court how I became an independent Republican and helped set up a Republican organization in the borough and the county. We had committees of five people watching at each polling booth in the borough elections, writing down the names of each person who went in to vote. We had overseers and an inspector or judge on each polling district board.
During the elections, the Democrats controlled the court and only one judge could act on anything pertaining to the elections, because one of the judges was running in the elections. When the Republican judge would issue a court order to be carried out, the Democratic judge, who was president of the court would issue a contradictory court order and it was up to the sheriff to serve the order that would help him.
I was the inspector on one board and my brother was the judge on another board which gave us minority representation on those two boards that we could trust. But we could not trust the minority representatives on the other two boards. Brady had the constables and members of the boards that we were serving on accuse us through the ward constable and charge us with holding up the elections. The judge issued a court order that removed me and my brother from the boards and appointed representatives who Brady wanted and gave them full control of all the boards.
They were not satisfied with removing me from the board. They arrested me and put me in the Dickson City jail in another borough of the County so the Republican leaders back in Archbald could not have served the Habeas Corpus that would force them to produce or release me.
I succeeded in getting a note out of the jail window to a youngster and gave him a dollar to deliver it to my brother in law; but I didn’t know my brother in law was hooked up with the sheriff. He got the note and they moved me to the jail in Old Forge, another borough in the county. That night, about midnight, the sheriff’s deputies brought me to the judge’s chamber for a hearing.
He told me, “Joseph, you were a bad boy in this election, but if you promise you will be a good boy, I will release you.”
I told him that I was not a bad boy, but he was a bad judge, and I would rather you did not release me because I would like this to come out in the open. The judge said that is all, and he told the deputies “Take him outside and release him.” In spite of everything they did, the fact that they bought off some of our overseers, and constables drove our committees away from the polls, our candidates got beat in the borough by a very small margin.
In the next elections, we carried the county as independent Republicans, helped to elect the Governor, who was Pinchot, an independent Republican, as well as other county officials, including a judge. But during my activities in the union, I became fed up with the independent Republicans. Their progressive role amounted to a lot of words and they did the same things as the Democrats in District One.
When we were preparing to organize a strike, I organized a group of mine workers to go to Harrisburg to see Governor Pinchot, whom I knew personally. I explained to him what was happening in the mines and that we might be forced to strike to correct the conditions. He put his arm across my shoulder and said, “I know what is happening back there and I agree with and sympathize with you and support you.”
“But,” I said, “Governor, that is not why we came here. When we go on strike, we do not want the local mayors or sheriffs to call in the state police to club and break us up.”
“Joseph,” he said, “if they use the state police to interfere, send me a telegram and I will withdraw them.”
We thanked him and left for home feeling good. A few weeks later when we were on strike, I was the picket captain in the borough and I met every morning in a garage with all the picket line captains. Before they went to the picket line, the deputy sheriffs and the state police surrounded the garage.
I heard the sheriff’s chief deputy telling the other deputies and the state police, “Don’t interfere with Dougher.”
I hollered out to them, “We are coming out and I do not want to be exempted either.”
They clubbed us on the head, arms and back, broke some of the miners’ arms and drove us through the woods. We sent a telegram to Pinchot and I think he told them to club us harder. In spite of all the police terror, we won the strike, but I learned that all capitalist politicians are the same. So when the Communists, who were the most honest and most active in the union, asked me to join their Party, after reading some of their material, I joined. I have been a Communist ever since, and I will be until the day I die.
I told the court about all my activities that I could remember, including my role in the steel plant in Lorain, Ohio, as chairman of the anti-discrimination committee. I told them of my role in helping to prevent a Negro man from being sent back to North Carolina to be lynched on a framed rape charge, my role in getting Negro teachers hired in the schools. I explained about the struggles that I participated in around the hiring of Negro and Puerto Rican workers in the plant where I worked and in other plants and supermarkets. I spoke about how I helped get a Negro worker from my plant released from jail after being held incommunicado for six months as an eye witness to a crime. And that we got him his job back and his full seniority. We got a representative to present a bill to give him restitution from the state for the time he was held in jail and for losing his furniture and job.
When the trial was finished, five of us were acquitted, one was released by the court, and the five who were found guilty appealed their sentence and were released from jail. I want to emphasize that if you fight back in court, with the right kind of jury, you have a chance to be acquitted. I was the only one who was on the National Committee of the Party who took the stand to defend myself with a lawyer as counsel. I was the only one acquitted by a jury.
I believe our trial may have something to do with influencing the Supreme Court to decide that it was not enough to accuse us as Communists, with teaching and advocating the overthrow of the government at the earliest possible time. That, and the fact that the Party became completely revisionist.
After I was acquitted, the leadership decided that I should fly to New York, address the Congress of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and then make a tour of the country. When I told them in my speech that Communists cannot compromise with the bourgeoisie and must fight back in the courts to defend the Party on the stand, the speech guaranteed that I was not going to make a tour of the country. John Gates would not talk to me! When I went to the National Headquarters, they told me they did not have the money and I would have to contact the district to raise funds for me. About a month later, the same people sent Walter Lowenfels, a poet, on a tour, raised money for him, and he wasn’t even a good poet.
I know I’ve given numerous examples of the rotteness of the Party, but I must give you comrades another, because I feel the urgency of the situation and the necessity of exposing the revisionist leadership of the so-called Communist Party led by Gus Hall, Claude Lightfoot, Hyman Lumer and Steve Nelson, etc.
I must raise a very pertinent question:
What happened to the seven million dollar Defense Fund that was raised by the Party from members, workers and sympathizers? It was not spent on the defense of the leaders because as new leaders were indicted and arrested, new drives were developed and new funds were raised.
I will give some of the answers myself, as I do not think that the revisionist Party leaders will at this time.
As the Party was under serious attack and there was a real danger of the Party being outlawed during the Truman and Eisenhower administration, the money was divided up between the national and district leaders to invest it and be in a position to sell the investment when the Party would need the money. This was done to safeguard the money, because there was a real danger that if the Party were outlawed, the funds would be confiscated.
There was nothing wrong with safeguarding the funds, but it is what happened to the funds later that left a bad smell that still exists and gets worse all the time.
During the period when I was in the POC, the person in the Party who had the records of who had the money, came to us and told us that large sums of money were being lost to the Party. This was so because some of the leaders who had it were leaving the Party and keeping it; sometimes as much as four hundred thousand dollars in the possession of one person. This person who had the record raised with the National Committee that a special meeting should be called to decide to take the money away from individuals and place it in a safely guarded fund.
When the committee met with persons who had the money, the person who had the record was not invited to the meeting. This proves to me they were not trying to safeguard the money, but were discussing how to manipulate the money.
All of the top district leaders and national leaders who left the Party with the money went into businesses such as service stations, parking lots, exterminating businesses, trucking businesses, or what have you. Some opened snake ranches, motels, bars, apartment buildings, just like any other manipulating scoundrel in business. Some of the National Committee members negotiated with each other to see how much each would leave the Party with. Some of them who were district and national leaders now are in business.
I am sure the CIA and FBI agents in the Party could have used it against the leaders, although they could not use it now because the statutes of limitation have passed. I am sure in the past they used it as a club over their heads to keep them in line to mislead the workers and the rest of the people; the same as the Labor Reporting Act is used to keep union officials in line by the IRS, the Secretary of Labor, the CIA and the government. This is what we must call control through corruption. Any honest individual would be foolish to support the revisionist Communist Party with either time or money.
Let me for just a moment discuss the Labor Reporting Act because it shows very concretely how corrupt our government is. The government which is rotten and corrupt and becoming more and more corrupt all the time, knows all about corruption in the unions.
The Labor Reporting Act was passed by Congress after about six months of a propaganda campaign carried on by a Senate Committee. Senator McClellan of Arkansas was the Chairman of that Committee. John F. Kennedy was a member of this committee which proved on television that some of the union representatives were taking payoffs not to organize shops and plants; not to enforce agreements after they were organized; padding payrolls and expense accounts, embezzling funds, practicing gangsterism in the local unions.
Then the Senate Committee used this propaganda to pass the Labor Reporting Act, and this bill was passed almost unanimously. Under this bill the Internal Revenue Department has, through their representative agents, the right to examine the expenditures, the expenses, the treasury and all financial transactions of the unions nationally, state and locally. They keep them under surveillance with the CIA and FBI planting agents amongst them.
Under this bill, the Secretary of Labor has the right through complaint of seven workers to take over any union, lock stock and barrel and retain it until all corruption is cleaned up, before returning it back to the union officials. No union yet has been charged, indicted or taken over by the Internal Revenue Department or the Secretary of Labor. They simply use the corruption in the union as a club over the officials of the unions. They must do as they are told or be charged by the Revenue Department for not paying taxes on ill-gotten funds.
It is a terrible thing to know that Congress passed the Labor Reporting Act that was signed by the President and is used by the Executive Branch and the Congress in order to control the unions by rotten corruption which makes them even more corrupt.
When Yablonski raised the fact with the representatives of the government, that union funds were being embezzled, neither the Internal Revenue Department, the Secretary of Labor, Attorney General, CIA, nor FBI moved to investigate his charges. Everyone of them can be blamed because if they had moved in, the Yablonsky family would be alive today. Hundreds of mine workers would have signed the complaints necessary to take the union over. Even when the government representatives did move in, it was only to correct the election fraud. They did not want to disturb the corruption. This is the kind of government we have!
Before I go into what I must consider one of my last warnings to the Comrades in the Communist League and all of the Marxists-Leninists throughout the country. I have a few other things to say about some of the renegades of the revisionist Communist Party of the USA.
During the period of about 1955 or 1956, and during the discussion period before the Convention, I wrote an article on Unity and its importance. In the article I raised the question of “Unity for What?” I explained that the Republicans and Democrats strive for unity, but we Communists must have unity around Marxism-Leninism and all its tenets, structure and line. I showed it to Hy Lumer and he said, “Give it to me, I am going to New York, and I will turn it in for you.” That was the last I saw or heard of it anywhere.
At a much later time in Philadelphia, at a Party membership meeting conducted by Lumer, I asked him “What effect does foreign markets have on the American economy?” His answer was, “It has hardly any effect.” I asked, “Will the U.S. have an overproduction crisis?” He said “No, the Government would not let it happen.” This is the present revisionist Communist Party Educational Director.
At another time, before that occurred, when I was down on the river in Ohio, the person who was responsible for the area came to me and told me “I received directives from the National leadership and there are to be no more meetings of the Section Committee, no more meetings of the clubs. You are not to contact me, I will contact you if it is necessary.”
I told her I disagreed with this, it is the liquidation of the Party, I want to protest. She said, “Write it up and I will give it to the leadership.” That was the last I heard of it!
Again I must make a comparison so it will not happen again.
In France, the Party functioned as the leadership of the underground struggle, tied down a whole Nazi occupation army, and kept it from being sent to the Russian Front at a time when the fascist government of Petain and Laval controlled the country. Just compare that with what happened and is happening in the Communist Party USA. If you have an ounce of Marxist-Leninist understanding you will steer clear of the renegades within the CP. leadership, who are playing a dastardly role of misleading many people and trying to hold back the revolution in the U.S., Latin America and Canada, and who are hooked up with the Soviet revisionists.
A short time after the trials (because I knew many honest workers and other people in the CP. in Philadelphia and other parts of Pennsylvania, and would have more possibilities in struggling against revisionism) we asked for a transfer back to the eastern Pennsylvania District. Much to our disappointment and surprise very few workers were left in the Party and most of the others as well voted with their feet!
When I got to Philadelphia, Joe Roberts, the district organizer, who was one of those who later left the Party and went into the exterminating business, asked me to visit with him some of the former members and members in the Anthracite and Williamsport areas. I was not yet ready to get out of the Party, so I went with him.
When we went to visit a very good ex-comrade, a miner from the Panther Creek area, he said, “Joe, you are very welcome here and you can come to visit me anytime you wish, but not with him or any of those leaders who left us high and dry without any leadership when the FBI was going all over the place visiting and trying to scare the membership. I was doing the best I could to give them leadership when those guys were hiding from us with no contact with us. I don’t want to have anything to do with these cowardly people. I don’t want to be in their Party.”
The same thing happened with the rest that we visited. When we were in Williamsport, the Comrades who were held together by Comrade Ault, quietly whispered to me to come back later so they could talk to me alone about what should be done.
When Roberts flew to Pittsburgh, I went back and met with them. I told them I was joining a Marxist-Leninist caucus inside the Party and was active in promoting it. They said they would join and that they were developing a program for a Six Hour Day with Eight Hours Pay to overcome unemployment and they would be discussing it later. We did discuss it and later when I brought it to a district committee meeting, the leaders threw the copies of it on the floor.
When Roberts made a report on what had taken place at a National Committee meeting he said, “Foster stated the whole National Committee was permeated with revisionism and that was a hell of a thing to say.” I then took the floor and stated, “Foster was right, the National Committee is 60 permeated with revisionism and our District Committee is also.”
From then on I was not informed where any Party meetings were, but I was busy building the caucus. Later, at a special membership meeting of the whole caucus, we decided we could not do any more good by staying in the Party and we organized the Provisional Organizing Committee to Reconstitute a Communist Party on a Marxist-Leninist basis.
Armando Roman was elected the General Secretary, I was elected the Org. Secretary and became very active. I made a trip across the country and many other trips to Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, St. Louis and many other places; I made hundreds of contacts and recruited many of them into the POC.
In a short time, I was in conflict with Armando Roman. I wrote an article for the Vanguard on the Labor Reporting Act, explaining why it became law and how it was being used. He found many reasons that were phoney for not putting it in.
Later, I wanted to set up an organization locally wherever we had enough members. We would elect an organizer, a membership secretary, financial secretary, treasurer, mass organization secretary and trade union secretary constituting them as the political bureau. He kept saying, we are not yet ready for that; I kept saying we must start doing mass work and we must have the set-up for it.
A short time later, he said he was sick and went into the hospital. I and the rest of the leaders took over the work and began to expand it. In a few days he came bouncing back out of the hospital. I don’t think he was sick at all. I believe he had so much ego, he thought the organization would fall apart without him and afterwards I thought that is what he wanted.
Around this time, at a membership meeting in New York, he raised ’the fact that the Labor Day parade was the next day and they had leaflets printed. He wanted the whole membership from New York to be there putting out the leaflets, and the comrades from out of town, who could stay over, should help put them out also. Comrades Creasey and Ault from Williamsport stayed and they were the only ones putting them out. Not one of the New York Comrades showed up. Nor did the leaders or anyone else. This was the old Party all over again.
>A little later, Armando was subpoenaed to an executive meeting of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in Washington. He asked me to go with him. I said I would be glad to. Then he took me to see a lawyer who asked who I was. Armando told him I was the Org Secretary of our organization. The lawyer told me, “You cannot be in here, because you might be giving information later to someone else. You must wait outside.”
I waited outside until Armando came out. He said he was going to Washington alone. When I found out that the lawyer was a Communist Party lawyer, I got very suspicious.
Later, at a meeting in New York, a very good, sincere Comrade, a Puerto Rican woman, reported a strike in the factory where she was working. They were all Puerto Ricans and they needed help. Armando agreed to meet with them and then never showed up. The Comrade quit the POC, and I began to think it was no place for me either, and got out.
I decided I would not say anything to him because I thought maybe he would change, but Armando came to Philadelphia and began to raise with the Comrades I knew that I was a chauvinist and they kicked me out of the POC.
That was when I wrote two articles raising the question of Armando, who considered himself the champion of the struggle of the Puerto Ricans for independence, and if he was really behind it, then why did he not go to Puerto Rico and organize it.
Later, Jules Abercaugh from Philadelphia, who I believed left the Party and was in contact with Milt Rosen and Mort Sheer, who at the time was organizing the Progressive Labor, introduced me to them and also Lou Linett, who was also supposed to be against the Party, revisionism, and supported China. We found out later that Linett was a stool pigeon for a number of years. Abercaugh got in contact with Rosen and Sheer and I found out later Abercaugh remained in the Party and was an informer for them. When he died, the leadership 62 of the Party attended his funeral.
When I met with the leaders of the Progressive Labor they told me their aim was to build a Marxist-Leninist Party so I joined. They had me speak at a demonstration outside the United Nations. I attended a meeting and conference with a youth organization that they were building on the lower east side of New York. I warned them at the youth organization that the government had set up close to them, along with the Trotskyites, would take the organization out of their hands unless they became very active carrying on struggle and intense education with the members. And that is exactly what happened.
Some months later, they were preparing a conference to set up the Progressive Labor Organization. They told me it would be organized along Marxism-Leninism and they assigned me to make contact with developed workers and get five workers who would be the editorial committee responsible for the magazine. However, when we came to the conference, they had a slate all made up that they read to us for approval. They made no motion to accept them and that was it. They then proposed a school teacher to be the editor of the magazine, and made a motion to accept him. There was a lot of discussion about the policy and program, but very little about Marxism-Leninism. I told myself this is another petty bourgeois relic of the Communist Party; I might as well forget it before I become entangled with Progressive Labor.
Then I spent about six months with Comrade Ault trying to build a Committee for a Six Hour Day with Eight Hours Pay that Comrade Ault and I intended to use as a nucleus to begin a Marxist-Leninist Party.
At first we were able to establish a committee. We had a couple of small unions connected with it, including the sugar workers who brought the issue to the Packing House Workers Convention and asked them to adopt it in their demands. They succeeded in getting it on the floor and the leaders had to extend themselves to table it.
Then the FBI and the CIA began to trail me all around the East, getting the union leaders and politicians to red-bait us because Paul and I were well known Communists. As fast as we would get members for the Committee they would scare them away. We tried to get others to lead, but they would scare them away or give them jobs in the Navy yard, others in construction and others in industry. All we were able to do was create jobs for opportunists.
I was old enough to get Social Security, so I retired with the hope that when I would find or hear of anyone who was willing to build a Marxist-Leninist Party I would join them.
Later, when I moved to the Anthracite, I was approached by a man named John Heron, who told me he worked with the FBI on the Hoffa case and he suggested that I should write a book with the title “I Was There.” The book would explain that I participated in the Spanish Civil War and was also a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party. He said he would help and also get the kind of help needed to get it published. He stated that he and I could easily make a million and a half dollars. I said, “I suppose the book would be slanted against Communism.” He said yes. I asked him if he was asked to approach me and he said he was. I told him there would be no book! A few days later, I was approached by a man named McAndrew who said he was an insurance agent with the same kind of proposition. I told him, “You people never give up, do you? There will not be any book and I do not want to hear anymore about it.”
Later I read in the Guardian that they had established a Radical Forum for their readers to participate in, limiting the articles to less than two thousand words. I wrote an article, April 4, 1972, that was a thrust for a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party containing about eighteen hundred words, but they did not put it in. A few weeks later, I asked if they intended to put it in, but received no answer.
When I wrote again on May 22, 1972 asking for their reason for not putting it in, and was I to assume that they like other so-called radical papers and organizations were controlled by the CIA, they answered saying that they would not to be able to use it, etc., and asked for articles in the 64 future. But when I sent a letter in for the letter column on Gun Control and our Constitutional Right to bear arms, that did not go in either.
When I read an advertisement in the Guardian of the Red Worker by the October League in Atlanta, I sent them a copy of the article but they could not use it at the time, because they were busy with a United Front to build a Marxist-Leninist Journal.
Allow me just a moment to say a few words about the O.L. and other “left” organizations. The O.L. has always tried to build up William Foster as a great Marxist-Leninist hero of the working class. At the same time, the CP. is doing the same to Gus Hall. There was no difference between Foster and Browder, both were revisionist dogs, and there is no difference between them and Gus Hall. The fact is that the CP. never was a Marxist-Leninist Party, although its membership was composed of many fighting, militant workers.
The O.L. however does not understand that, otherwise they would never hail Foster as a great leader. The October League, until now promoted the idea, along with other organizations, that a Party was not necessary. They stated that Marxism-Leninism could lead the masses and accomplish the change from imperialism to Socialism through the United Front. This cannot happen.
Their line changed however after the Communist League united with many other organizations in order to set up a standing committee to organize a conference of all organizations who are dedicated to building a real Marxist-Leninist Communist Party. Then all those in the U.S. who are opportunists planted in the organizations got very excited. They began running around the country accusing the CL. of being “Trotskyites”, “Police agents”, “Leftists” and many other things. This is the same old game of the bourgeoisie and their stooges, accusing Communists of doing and practicing the very things they themselves are doing and practicing!
Back to my story! The O.L. asked if I would want to be contacted and they invited me to their Conference on the Journal in Atlanta. I participated in the Conference and there I met Billy from the Communist League and we agreed to keep contact with each other.
One last thing before I conclude! I must criticize myself for creating the impression that Jefferson and the others who wrote the Constitution were great leaders, in my thrust for a Party that I wrote up. If they were great, they would not have retained slavery or made property the basic law of the Constitution. Even the feudal lords and the slave masters came into being through revolution.
We cannot consider Jefferson or Washington any greater. As I developed, and because of my long years in the revisionist Communist Party, I still retained some of my revisionist baggage. But that is quickly being done away with, as I am now receiving a real Marxist-Leninist education.
Later, I told Billy, “When you and I spoke at the Conference we agreed with one another.” After attending the Communist League meeting and going with them to Toronto, Canada to attend a Conference of the Canadian and Quebec Communist Parties (M-L), I joined the Communist League, which is uniting with other groupings to form a real Communist Party. The C.L. is where I am now and where I intend to be. I think I have found the correct place to build the Revolution!
Editor’s Note: The Communist League no longer exists. It was one of the organizations which participated in the formation of a multi-national Marxist-Leninist Communist Party–The Communist Labor Party, U.S.N.A.
 Molly McGuires – In Ireland leading up to Easter Sunday, 1916, all the revolutionaries used to meet to discuss the revolutionary events and to plan their strategy and tactics at a pub called Molly’s. These revolutionaries from then on were called the Molly McGuires taken from the name of the pub where they would meet. These revolutionaries played a big part in the struggles of the Irish people for their independence from England. After 1916, they were rounded up and deported, first to Australia and then they came to the U.S. They were a key force in this country in the forming of the Knights of Labor.
 Ancient Order of Hibernians – This organization was an Irish benevolent society, organized in Ireland, but later formed in the U. S. It was a nationalist society.
 Knights of Labor – This organization was a national labor organization. It was organized in order to help the miners become organized so that they could fight for better wages and working conditions. It was an articulate organization, but did not understand the principles of democratic centralism which hindered the development of the organization and the effectiveness it had.
 Anthracite – This is an area of hard coal comprising a number of counties in Pennsylvania.
 District No. 1 – This was one of the organizations of the United Mine Workers. They were led firstly by the International; on a secondary level were the districts which were composed of various locals; and then the locals, which were the lowest form of organization. Districts were usually formed around states. It was an excellent way of doing things and helped to insure the best possible participation on the part of the rank and file.
 Orkney Islands – These are islands in the North Sea off the coast of England.
 General Body – This organization was composed of rank and file delegates from locals of one particular company, which would have many different plants. For instance, the big coal companies had many different mines, but only one company. So the workers who worked for one company, but at the various plants would get together to discuss the conditions and wages at their particular plant, but were able to unify their action against the company. It was also an excellent form of organization and gave the rank and file a way of not only working together against a company but also watching the union officials.
 Yellow-dog contracts – These are non-union contracts. Many times made between contracts with the union.
 National Hunger and Bonus Marches – The hunger marches were marches to agitate and demand immediate relief, a moratorium on all debts and rents if the workers could not pay, against unemployment and for social security. The bonus marches were to demand that veterans wanted bonuses commensurate with the wages of other workers.
 PWA – Under Roosevelt’s administration this program was developed to provide employment for the many workers who were out of work. This program was called the Public Works Administration.
 WPA – same as above – Works Progress Administration, (p. 14)
 NIRA – National Industrial Recovery Act. A program set up under the Roosevelt administration in order to try and alleviate the severe economic crisis. However, it was really a fascist attack on the working class, and was one of the measures passed that started laying the basis for a fascist state here in the U.S. during the 1930’s. HR>