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Labor Action, 19 May 1947


Arthur Stein

Books You Should Know ...


From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 20, 19 May 1947, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Stalinists on the Waterfront
by Art Preis
Published by Pioneer Publishers for the Socialist Workers Party, April, 1947; 31 pages, 10 cents.

With the ripening of imperialist conflicts between the United States and Russia, a constantly increasing barrage of anti-Russian and “anti-Communist” propaganda is filling the daily press. What most of these outpourings have in common, however (aside from their usual anti-labor slant), is their identification of Stalinism with the ideas of Marxism and revolutionary socialism. As a result of this reactionary origin of most attacks on Stalinism, the reactionary nature of Stalinism itself has become blurred in the eyes of the public.

For these reasons, it is good to see a substantial, well documented pamphlet on Stalinism originate from a revolutionary socialist source. Preis’ pamphlet also has the value of attacking Stalinism from the point of view from which, it can be seen in its most profoundly insidious colors: its treacherous role in the labor movement, which arises (in our opinion) from its fundamentally anti-working class roots.

The pamphlet presents a detailed and documented exposure of the record of betrayal of the Communist Party bureaucratic machine in the National Maritime Union. It also tells, often in words quoted from the Stalinist press itself, a few vivid episodes of the story of CP strike-breaking, elsewhere; the coal strike in 1943, the Montgomery Ward and San Francisco machinists’ strikes in 1944.

The last part of the pamphlet deals with “a class struggle program for maritime workers.” It is in this section that we note a painful omission: there is no mention of the very acute problem of discrimination against Negroes and other minorities in the unions of the maritime industry.

Our differences with the Socialist Workers Party on the question of Stalinism are too well known to be discussed here. But these differences – though they make a sentence here and there objectionable to us – will not keep us from properly judging the substantial contribution of this pamphlet on the maritime situation. Stalinists on the Waterfront should be read and used by everyone interested in building a strong and militant trade union movement.

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