From Fourth International, Vol.6 No.11, November 1945, p.351.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
A new Marxist paper published in Canada, Labour Challenge, has just been received by us. In the July number (Vol.1 No.2) the editors review the lessons of the recent elections in Canada. They state in part:
It can afford us no great pleasure to say that our criticisms of some aspects of the CCF program and policy were proven correct by the election results. For we can only understand the elections as a defeat, although of a temporary character, for Canadian labor. The 180% increase to 28 seats in parliament won by the CCF is no cause for complacency or rejoicing. Eighteen of these seats are from Saskatchewan and of the remainder, 9 from other western provinces with one from the mining district of Nova Scotia. None are from the industrial and population centre of Canada, Ontario and Quebec, which is a grave weakness and danger signal.
... We must use the word defeat in describing the election results for in many cases, including Saskatchewan and Quebec, the CCF received less votes than in the preceding provincial elections of last year! There are those who would explain this defeat simply on the strength of the propaganda campaign of the Gladstone Murrays and Trestrails backed up by the war-swollen profits of the capitalist class. We must answer them with the simple truth that the reactionary and decadent ruling class will fight much harder and with more powerful weapons before it succumbs to the forces of social progress. But we must admit that the pamphlets Social Suicide and the condensed version of the Road to Serfdom [Hayek’s book, reviewed in the June 1945 FI] had some effect in confusing many middle class elements and some workers. The fact that isn’t mentioned is that the CCF leaders did little or nothing to educate their members and even many of their candidates in the socialist answers to this elementary capitalist propaganda.
The mistake of underestimating the reactionary role of the [Stalinist] Labor-Progressive Party over a period of years permitted them to play a damaging role of no small consequence, particularly in the Ontario election which had a profound psychological effect on the Federal election ... The LPP’s consistent pounding on the false line, that the Tories are the main danger and that we must unite with the Liberals to defeat them, bore fruit. It influenced many workers to vote Liberal and a small handful to vote LPP. The political action committee of the Trades and Labor Congress of Canada, AFL central body, endorsed King at the last moment. This stab in the back by the craft union bureaucrats is directly attributable to the Labor-Progressive Party which holds the balance of power in the non-political T&LC of C ...
In part we attribute the defeats of June 4 and 11, for the CCF and labor, to the capitalist propaganda campaign, the gigantic sums spent by the old parties, who were aided by the LPP. But the main reason for the defeat and the point we must emphasize if we are going to learn from mistakes, was the passive, wishy-washy campaign conducted by the CCF in most constituencies. The organizational policy of the CCF in maintaining only an electioneering party proved false and meant that when the election rolled around in many constituencies there was a real scarcity of election workers ...
While the organizational question was a factor in the defeat the most important question is political. The election was fought by the CCF on an abstract program of nationalization of the monopoly industries and other general reforms. No real distinction was made between natiorralization under bureaucratic capitalist control like the CNR [Canadian National Railway], etc., and nationalization under a socialist government with workers’ control. The immediate problems of the workers such as lay-offs were not adequately handled. The promises of the CCF in many cases actually appeared to be smaller than the promises of the Liberals and Tories. The policy of tail-ending the Liberals on the conscription and other war issues, including the important issue of peace, pursued by the national leadership, further tended to blur the real issues in the election. the cautious, negative, abstract campaign played into the hands of our opponents and forced the CCF supporters on the defensive. A militant, positive, concrete, socialist campaign would bave gained votes from all sections of the exploited masses and forced our opponents on the defensive ...
The Congress recently held by the POUM, the tone and the content of the resolutions approved, represent the lamentable finish of that Party, as well as the conclusion of a centrist party’s experience. That is to say, of a party which wanted to combine revolutionary language with opportunist policy and practice. After this Congress, the POUM will not even be that. The POUM has been converted into a Catalonia party, after having thrown overboard the Marxism which it claimed to have come to defend.
In the theses approved in this Congress – theses which were distributed to those present only in the Catalonia language – it is decided to liquidate the peninsular (all-Spain) organization of the POUM and limit the action of the party to Catalonia, and orientate toward the building of a type of Catalonia labor party.
Responding to a question from Senor Irla, President of the Catalonia Parliament, the POUM has advised the setting-up of a National Council of Catalonia, based upon a political Catalonia Bloc of all parties. This organization should take the power in Catalonia after the fall of Franco.
The fundamental task of this organization is to prepare in advance the repressive police forces “in order to avoid,” says the POUM, “uncontrolled excesses and unthinking actions at the moment of the fall of the regime,” to “prevent any situation which would give to” the exterior any impression of abandonment,” to “assure the transfer of power with a minimum of disorder ...”
This exterior, the theses explain to us at another point, is a Europe, dominated by British finance capital, champion of the present war of liberation in which the proletariat is supposed to take a decisive part.
Stated in another manner, what concerns the POUM is that the replacement of Franco should be done within the framework of capitalist domination, under the directives of the Anglo-American imperialist bandits.
This preoccupation, this “law and order” obsession is the axis, the essential line of the theses approved in the POUM’S Congress. War to the death against the Committees, the workers’ militias, to the “uncontrollables,” to the revolutionary action of the proletariat! It is without doubt in relation to this orientation that they propose to place the Catalonia youth into a cultural-sport organization, an organization which would necessarily have a rigid discipline.
Exaggerated Catalonia nationalism, one single military organization of the Catalonia youth, hatred toward mass revolutionary action, and toward the vanguard cadres of the workers, zeal for repressive measures, all this under the sign of a Europe dominated by British imperialism. This is the policy approved by the POUM Congress.
Contrasted with this essential line of policy approved by the Congress, its phrase-mongering about nationalizations, control of foreign commerce, workers’ control, plays the role of miserable petty-bourgeois demagoguery. Only the power of the proletariat in arms can realize and assure such measures.
Facing this explosion of reactionary fury, which has at least the quality of knowing where it wants to go, the policy that the so-called left wing of the POUM defended in this Congress is the policy of impotence and betrayal. This “left” dreams of a past, which was resoundingly shattered in the Civil War. It wants to continue the POUM, that means, the hybrid intermediary policy which from 1936 to 1939 made the test not only of its impotence, but also of the damages that these intermediary, centrist formations can cause in a revolution.
Facing this situation, the only conclusion that the workers’ vanguard can draw, is that of continuing the work which will lead to the building of the Internationalist Communist Party. The task and the duty of the proletarian militants that are in the POUM must be to leave this political quagmire, and to join our efforts in order to give to the Spanish proletariat, in the cadres of the Fourth International, that revolutionary party, without which victory is impossible.
(Reprinted from Lucha de Clases, organ of the Spanish section of the Fourth International,
Lyon, January 15, 1945.)
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 Trotskism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Last updated on 12.9.2008