From New International, Vol. I No. 1, July 1934, pp. 31–32.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
The Communist – June 1934, Vol. XIII, No. 6. 20¢
THE reviewer cannot conscientiously recommend this issue – or any other – for light summer reading. The reading is light enough. But it is dangerous to read on these hot summer days, for it makes the blood boil.
The editorial for the month is on the Lessons of May Day. Its attempt to indict the Communist League for its participation in the united front with the SP, IWW, trade unions, etc., is sufficiently exploded by what this united front is contrasted with: “the united front organized and led by the Communist party”. Needless to say, the editorial does not breathe a word of the; efforts of the Communist League to organize a real organizational front of all working class organizations, which the Stalinists repudiated in the name of the “united front from below”. According to the usual Stalinist formula, the trade union workers did not march with the CP because the workers were “forced” to go in the other demonstration “either by fooling these masses with ‘Left’ slogans or by forcing the workers in the unions under their control to come to the Socialist demonstration or else pay a fine”, etc., etc. Formula No.2 of Stalinism is also invoked: i.e., the first half of the editorial says they got the trade union workers, the second half (“self-criticism”) says they didn’t. Thus, the first half says:
“In New York City, despite the efforts of the bureaucrats in some trades organized in the AF of L, more workers participated in the demonstration at Union Square than at the socialist demonstrations.”
Notice, it is organized workers that the Stalinists are claiming, not the parade of Stalinist fraternal organizations. But the second half of the editorial reveals that their May Day conference “had delegates from only three locals of the AF of L, while on other occasions we have already had tens of AF of L locals participating”. And the editorial sadly “must record that the demonstrations were weakest in the main industrial towns and cities, such as Gary, Youngstown, and in the steel, mining, auto and other industrial centers throughout the country”.
If there is anybody who still doesn’t know why the Stalinists had no organized workers to speak of, Jack Stachel supplies the answer in the chief article, Some Problems in Our Trade Union Work. Not a word is said in this article about the fact that throughout this period of mass strikes, the Stalinists have been completely isolated from practically all of the stirring struggles. Why they have been is clear enough, however, from the mystical formulations of Stachel. The central task is declared to be the AF of L. But “does this mean that we are giving up building the TUUL unions? On the contrary”, etc. However, there is a new wrinkle in the Stalinist trade union “policy”. Up until now all doubters were answered by the oracle: “The way to build the TUUL unions is to work in the AF of L.” Now Stachel cautiously suggests that maybe the two tasks aren’t identical, by saying,
“In each case we must weigh ... where we must throw the main weight: in the AF of L, or in building the TUUL unions.”
But this verbal change merely leads up to a typical Stalinist slogan: setting up an independent federation of labor:
“How shall we achieve that? Some may think, by calling a TUUL convention, where, by changing our name and our constitution, we shall get them all to flock in.”
Oh, no, says Stachel, that”s too crude. But what he proposes is:
“What we have in mind is that one or two of the important independent unions, together with the ‘New York Central Labor Union’ which we can build, and a number of outstanding TUUL unions, would come together”, etc., etc.
Last updated on 25 February 2016