MIA: History: ETOL: Document: Education for Socialist Bulletin: The Fight Against Fascism in the USA 6.
Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line
—Socialist Workers Party [US] Education for Socialist Bulletins—
The Fight Against Fascism in the USA
Appendix B: From “The Capitalist Witch-Hunt—And How to Fight It”
The following is an excerpt from a resolution adopted by the February 1950 plenum of the National Committee of the Socialist Workers Party. It is reprinted from the March-April 1950 issue of Fourth International , predecessor of the International Socialist Review.
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Liberals, labor officials and the Stalinists often call upon ie government and its agencies for action against ultra-reactionary elements. Jewish groups, for example, request the Post Office Department to ban anti-Semitic literature from the ails. Defaming the Trotskyists as agents of fascism, the Stalinists during the war demanded the suppression of The Militant , etc.
No Dependence on Capitalist State
The working class and the minorities must vigorously oppose every transgression upon their civil and constitutional rights, from whatever quarter they come, and utilize every safeguard provided by law. But they cannot entrust the protection of their liberties to the capitalist regime or expect the powers-that-be to stop or eradicate the menace of fascism.
First, the government itself today spearheads the assault on the people’s rights. The President orders the loyalty urge; Congress passes anti-labor legislation; the courts levy fines and issue injunctions against the unions. Second, the capitalist parties work hand in glove with white supremacists the South and the Big Business enemies of labor in the North who are behind the witch-hunt.
Third, the authorities have time and again demonstrated by their action and inaction their lack of interest in punishing or removing the perpetrators of violence against the Negroes, the unions and the liberties of the people. Neither the Federal or State governments convict any lynchers in the South, Nor have the officials displayed much zeal in uncoverig the murderous assailants of Carlo Tresca, William Lurye, the Reuthers, and other labor figures.
Government Shields Fascist Elements
On the contrary, the capitalist state apparatus screens and shields fascist forces and collaborates closely with them. In Peekskill the local authorities and police connived in the attacks by the mobsters and hoodlums; Governor Dewey’s investigators whitewashed their role; and the entire paid press tried to unload responsibility for the violence upon the “reds.”
Even when, under pressure, government officials pretend move against mobsters and Ku Kluxers, they only make theatrical gestures to appease outraged public opinion without actually punishing the real criminals. For every slight tap the capitalist agencies offer the right, they deliver a hundred harsh blows against the left. This has been illustrated by the Smith Act. While the 30 Fascists indicted under this Act in wartime were left off scot-free, the Trotskyists and Stalinists were convicted and given heavy jail sentences.
The same procedure has been followed in the loyalty purge. While the Attorney-General’s blacklist includes a few fascist groups, in practice it is almost entirely applied against members of leftist organizations. The U.S. Department of Defense has given away the whole game by omitting the Ku Klux Klan, Silver Shirts and similar fascist outfits from its own subversive list applied to draftees.
“Under conditions of a capitalist regime,” Trotsky once wrote, “all curtailment of political rights and freedoms, no matter against whom they may be originally directed, in the end inevitably fall with all their weight on the working class—especially on its most advanced elements.”
How to Fight Fascism
Class-conscious workers should not fall into the trap of demanding infringements of anyone’s civil rights, including those of the fascists. At the same time they should recognize the real situation and make it plain to others. The civil rights of fascist elements are not being threatened; the authorities are in league with them. They are in no danger of persecution or need of defense. They are not the victims but the sponsors and beneficiaries of the current repressions.
The menace of fascism does not arise from their propaganda but from their gangsterism, their mob attacks upon advanced workers, Negroes, and labor organizations. With tacit acquiescence of the authorities, the fascists operate as extra-legal agencies of repression against the institutions and freedoms of the working class and minorities. Consequently, the real situation is that the labor organizations and minorities are obliged to act in self-defense to protect themselves against reactionary violence.
The history of Italy and Germany conclusively proves the folly and futility of relying upon the capitalist government, its police, or its parties in the fight against the fascists. The masses can safeguard their rights, their lives and their organizations only by mobilizing the full strength of their own forces in the most vigorous united and independent defensive actions against the race-bigots, anti-Semites, union-busters and mobsters who threaten them.
Organized labor has the ability as well as the duty to assume the leadership in this struggle. The trade unions are not only the chief bulwarks of democracy and the centers of proletarian power; they are likewise the main target of the capitalist authors of the witch-hunt whose ultimate objective is the destruction of the labor movement. The anti- labor campaign and anti-red hysteria are inseparable aspects of the monopolist drive toward the establishment of a police state in this country. Thus the defense of civil liberties is a life-and-death matter for American labor.
Without full democracy and freedom of expression inside the unions, they cannot effectively fulfill their tasks of defending the welfare of the workers and leading the struggle against reaction. Thus the fight for union democracy is directly interlinked with the general struggle for civil liberties.