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The New International, April 1944

Notes of the Month

Ups and Downs of the Labor Party Movement


From The New International, Vol. X No. 4, April 1944, pp. 99&ndassh;104.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


What would be a Labor Party of the American workers, worthy of the name?

If one is not inhibited by the nominal similarity with the British or Belgian or Australian Labor Parties, that is, by the mysticism of words, there are no limitations placed in advance upon the revolutionary development of such a party. We have known parties bearing the name “Labor Party” which were reformist through and through but, as in the case of the Social-Democratic Labor Party (Bolsheviks) of Russia and, for a time, the Norwegian Labor Party, there have also been revolutionary parties with that name. The character of a party is determined not by its name – not in the first or even second place – but primarily by its program, its leadership and the extent to which the leadership carries out the program. However important other factors may be – for example, the organizational structure – they cannot be put on the same plane of decisiveness as the program.

Labor Party and Marxian Party

The Marxian socialists are of course the proponents and builders of a revolutionary party. Throughout the world, the organized Marxists are only a tiny minority of the working class. In the United States, their situation is complicated by the fact that they function within a proletariat that has had virtually no socialist political education and is still tied to the political parties of capitalism. The problem of building up a revolutionary party that speaks for substantial sections of the working class is directly connected with the problem of breaking the allegiance of that class to the bourgeois parties and setting it in motion as a politically independent class. The solution of the latter problem leads to the solution of the former. The key to solving the second problem, today, in the United States, lies in the struggle for an independent Labor Party with a militant class program.

A workers’ party, to be effective, must not only have the support of millions of workers, but must act on the basis of the boldest and most radical program of our time, the program of revolutionary socialism. Such a program, consistently worked out, is the foundation stone of the Workers Party. It seeks to have this program adopted by the majority of the American workers. Its campaign for the formation of a Labor Party by the trade unions is essentially a campaign for this program. But, just as some time will elapse between now and the time a representative Labor Party is established by organized labor, so some time will elapse between then and the time such a Labor Party, or, more accurately, the decisive elements in a Labor Party, adopt as their own die fighting program of revolutionary socialism.

Meanwhile? Should the revolutionists refuse to support a Labor Party unless and until it has adopted a fully correct program, refuse to support it because its program is reformist? This does not follow. Where the Labor Party represents a genuine step forward, a break with capitalist politics, a means whereby the class independence of the workers can be expressed politically, it is entirely correct – more, it is imperatively necessary – for the revolutionary vanguard to support it, to support it on the basis of its own program and in spite of the reformist program of the Labor Party.

Does it follow that the revolutionists should give such support to any and every political group formed by workers or calling itself “Labor,” regardless of any other consideration, such as its program, for example? The Marxists have a “maximum” requirement for working class politics – a revolutionary program. A party that does not have a revolutionary program merits the support of the working class only if it meets two minimum requirements: that it be organized separately from the capitalist parties and run its own independent candidates; and that it be the political machine of the organized working class. This is still far from a revolutionary socialist workers’ party, such as corresponds to the real needs of the working class, and is capable of dealing with the great political and social crisis of our time. But it is the workers organized politically as a class, separately from the capitalist parties; it is a workers’ party, even though, by virtue of its reformist program, it is a middle class workers’ party.

It must be added that it is not a reformist workers’ party in the same way as, say, the German Social-Democratic Party. It is a special kind of reformist party. It is – that is, it should be – constituted by the trade unions, based upon them, controlled by them. The trade unions embrace all political opinions. Their control of the Labor Party makes it an arena in which the revolutionizing of the party (again, more accurately, of the decisive elements in the party) may take place; consequently, an arena in which the Marxian vanguard can and must function.

The minimum conditions that; must be fulfilled before a Labor Party is worthy of that name are thus indicated. Given these minimum conditions, working class support, critically rendered, is entirely justified. This is the fundamental approach of the Workers Party to the problem of the struggle for a Labor Party in the United States.

Tactics in the Concrete Situations

However, there is no Labor Party in the country that meets these conditions. There is a growing dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the Democratic and Republican Parties among the workers. There is a growing sentiment for independent political action by labor, or by labor in combination with the farmers and other middle-class elements. There are even many unions which have adopted resolutions committing them to the formation of a Labor Party, but which have gone no further than the word. There is also the American Labor Party in New York, the recently formed Michigan Commonwealth Federation, and groups of varying strength that have been formed to establish something like an ALP in other states. There is the CIO’s Political Action Committee under the chairmanship of Sidney Hillman, with its tentative plan to call a national convention this year. And there is, finally, the special question of the Stalinists.

A fundamental approach to the Labor Party question, no matter how correct, does not yet answer in advance the countless problems of tactics to employ in concrete situations. It may give the key to the answer. But the key must, as it were, be inserted into the proper lock and turned in the right direction. That is not simple. The campaign for a national independent Labor Party can easily deteriorate into pure and simple propagandism, devoid of any positive significance for the actual development of the Labor Party movement. It can easily become, paradoxical as this may sound, a sectarian refuge from the real fight for independent political action by the American working class.

The “concrete situations” which demand tactical consideration generally arise today in those hard-to-define movements which are located somewhere between the outright capitalist politics that are the tradition and current practice of the AFL and the independent working class politics of a genuine Labor Party, genuine at least in the sense of the conditions set forth above. Such movements are an inevitable stage in the political evolution of the American workers. They were an inevitable stage in the British and German evolution. What will distinguish the American development from, broadly speaking, the European, will be its duration or durability. Between bourgeois politics pursued by labor and independent politics there is always the attempt at a combination of the two. If this statement seems too dogmatic, it is certainly incontestable in one of two modified forms: (1) there may be such an attempt, and (2) there has been such an attempt, as witness the course of the American Labor Party.

How are the revolutionists and the class-conscious militants to orient themselves in such movements, in such situations? These movements – transitory and internally contradictory – constitute a special problem, of which the ALP is a good example. The mere fact that the ALP was set up as a labor-vote-getter for the New Deal wing of the Democratic Party was an implicit recognition, not only by the labor officialdom in New York, but even by Roosevelt, that hundreds of thousands of workers were restless under the old policy of outright capitalist politics in the labor movement. The ALP represented a partial abandonment, at least in form, of this kind of politics. Yet it did not represent the adoption of independent working class politics; it was not a genuine Labor Party, regardless of whether or not thousands of. its working class supporters thought of it as one.

Because it was not a real Labor party it was impossible for revolutionists to call upon the workers to support it in the elections, for a vote cast under its symbol would not be an expression of independent class politics. This, highly summarized, was the position taken by the Workers Party in New York. Yet, although the ALP was not our party – the party of the working class – it proved to be our problem – the problem of the working class. The fight in the recent ALP primary elections showed how true this was. The fight was a part of the struggle taking place throughout the organized labor movement – not perfectly identical with it, not fought in the

same sphere, but part of it nevertheless. The ALP battle was fought not only at the polls, but in the unions. Its outcome was affected by the situation in the unions, and in turn affects that situation. It had a direct connection with the future of a real Labor Party development in New York and affected the fate of a Labor Party movement nationally. What course should the revolutionists have taken? This is not an academic, but less a “historical” question, because similar problems will arise tomorrow and elsewhere.

The ALP Primaries Fight

The two main forces contending for control of the ALP – the primary fight was a fight for control of the party machinery – were analyzed in a recent issue. There was the Dubinsky-Rose-Counts group, in formal control, but losing ground; and the Stalinist-Hillman bloc. Of the three choices before the ALP, these represented two. The former stood, more or less, for the ALP as it was – a political machine of the reformist labor officialdom for corralling labor votes for Roosevelt in return for modest concessions, and for putting up minor candidates “independently” here and there. The latter stood for destroying the ALP as it was, and certainly for destroying the chances of making it what it should be, in order more easily to turn it into an instrument with which the Stalinists, reoriented by their new policy, can operate within the Democratic Party.

In addition, there was a third choice, represented in one degree or another by the Workers Party and those holding a similar position, by individual union militants and, formally, on the basis of resolutions once adopted, by some of the unions themselves. These forces were exceedingly weak because they were dispersed and unorganized and without much more than formal agreement among themselves. Their choice was to convert the ALP into an acceptable Labor Party, one based upon the unions and maintaining its independence from the capitalist parties.

Why “convert”? Why not ignore the ALP and proceed with the organization of a genuine Labor Party as if the unacceptable ALP did not exist? Such a position would have been Utopian. The bulk of the militant workers – using the term in its broadest sense – looked upon the ALP as the basis, to say the least, of the kind of Labor Party that was desirable and necessary. The workers who were ready to “ignore” the ALP were those “not interested in politics at all” or the capitalistically-minded workers who are altogether opposed to working class politics.

The Workers Party, in the fight between the two main groups, therefore began by urging the left-wingers, progressives and militants in the New York unions to combine to put a third ticket into the primary elections with a program for a real Labor Party. Its efforts did not meet with sufficient response. No third group was formed, no third ticket presented. The field of choice in the primaries was reduced in the end to the two main groups. The Workers Party then called upon the registered ALP voters to cast their ballots for the misnamed “right wing” as a lesser evil in comparison with the equally misnamed “left wing,” i.e., the Stalinists.

Why? How reconcile this policy with a refusal to support the ALP candidates in the regular elections?

Two different problems – two different policies. In the regular elections, the test is: “Is this a genuine Labor Party we are called upon to vote for?” The ALP failed to meet this test. In the primary elections, the question was: “Who shall control this party? Under the control of which of the

two groups to which we are now limited (if we are to vote at all) is there a better opportunity to convert the ALP into a genuine Labor Party, a better arena for the advocates of such a party, more ‘elbow room’? Between the two, whose victory will retard the struggle for a Labor Party?” The answer was not difficult to give: the Stalinists were the greater evil; the Dubinsky group was not a “good,” it was also an evil, but the lesser evil. It was not that Dubinsky aimed at converting the ALP into a real Labor Party. It was that the Stalinists, in accordance with their all-but-plainly-stated new policy, were determined to liquidate the ALP into their faction of the Democratic Party and that wherever they control, totalitarianism and putrefaction set in.

The Stalinist Victory

The primary election was won by the Stalinists. The utterly stupid, inept, conservative, licked-before-you’re-started, liberal-labor, pro-Roosevelt whimperings the Dubinsky group substituted for a militant campaign (which they are incapable as well as unwilling to conduct) helped play into the hands of the Stalinists. Yet the vote against the Stalinists is noteworthy. In the first place, almost fifty per cent of the enrolled membership of the party voted – a remarkably high figure which is probably a record in such elections. Everyone felt, and rightly, that this time it was make or break for the ALP. It was not regarded as a mere fight for power between two gangs – nor was it. In the second place, the official figures for the four main boroughs of New York City (up-state voting was inconsequential) showed 51,129 votes for the Stalinist-Hillman bloc, which is not very much greater than the high vote cast by the Communist Party when it ran its own candidates. This indicates that the vote for the bloc was cast mainly by the Stalinists and their direct followers. The vote for the Dubinsky slate – which had no such party machine as the CP at its disposal – reached the very high figure of 36,502 in the same boroughs, which exceeds the vote of the nonagenarian Social-Democratic Federation by almost a thousand times, and undoubtedly includes thousands of workers who have learned to know what Stalinism and Stalinist control mean, as they demonstrated in smashing defeats of the Stalinists in a series of union elections conducted in the same period.

The defeat of Dubinsky left the Stalinists in real control. Hillman and his embarrassed cohorts from the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and associated unions were given a formal majority of the new State Committee by the gleeful and shrewd Stalinists. The latter control, lock, stock and barrel, the ALP in the five boroughs of New York City, the only city where the ALP has any serious meaning. The famous “Hillman Plan” – for making the trade unions the basis of the ALP – which tricked many people into thinking that perhaps the Stalinist-Hillman bloc ought to be supported, was not even mentioned by the new leadership. As a matter of fact, Hillman announced its abandonment by accepting the preposterous LaGuardia “compromise” proposal, which rejected the original “Hillman Plan.”

To all intents and purposes, the ALP is now the Communist Party. Any working-class organization that supports it in any way under the impression that it is some sort of Labor Party is deceiving itself and others. It might just as well proclaim its affiliation and support to the Communist Party directly – at least before it is formally “dissolved.” The fight for a Labor Party in New York continues – but it is no longer a fight directed toward the ALP, as it were, but a fight directed against it. It is now nothing but a Communist-Party-controlled bridge back to the Democratic Party. In Minnesota, the Stalinists have greeted (and undoubtedly helped to engineer and promote) the dissolution of the former Farmer-Labor Party into the Democratic Party. That is their line. In New York, entry into Mr. Farley’s party will be rather more difficult than in Minnesota. But efforts will not be spared.

The Stalinist victory in the ALP, facilitated in its own way by Dubinsky-Rose-Counts, is even clearer in its meaning now than it was before the primary election. It marks a setback for the genuine Labor Party movement, and it would be absurd to ignore this fact. A setback is not death, however, and the basic forces moving the American workers toward independent class political action have not been and cannot be eliminated by the Stalinists or by anyone else. The task is now to continue more energetically the work of agitation, propaganda and organization, to bring the more advanced unions together for the purpose of launching an independent Labor Party. The lessons of the destruction of the ALP will help launch the coming party under more promising auspices.

Two Policies in the ALP Fight

In the New York fight, the Workers Party was the only organization to put forward the policy described above, a policy whose validity is now demonstrated, alas, by the very victory of the Stalinists. The Socialist Workers Party acted differently. That is, it acted not at all. It followed, to use one of its favored objurgations and to use it appropriately for a change, a policy of “abstentionism.” The fight between the two factions and the situation it created did not, it appears, concern the SWP; its mind is on higher things, such as its alleged defense of the allegedly genuine but considerably degenerated “workers’ state.” It found, before the election as afterward, that there were no real issues in the fight. “The campaign was fought over one single question: Who would make the best lackey for Roosevelt ... For a worker striving to create a genuine Labor Party independent of the capitalist parties there was no choice between the two contending cliques inside the ALP.” (The Militant, April 8.)

There is profundity for you, there is perspicacity for you, there is revolutionary statesmanship, if you are looking for them. No issue – except who would make the best lackey for Roosevelt! There is a real analysis of the social and political differences between the two factions for you, if you should happen to want it. in a nutshell! What has happened to the argument often made by The Militant, quoting Trotsky, that “Stalinism is the syphilis of the labor movement”? Bah! Rhetoric! What has happened to the thesis that Stalinism is the greatest danger in the labor movement? That’s for another time and another place! Has the failure to defeat the Stalinist faction resulted in the destruction of the ALP, its destruction by a more reactionary and not a more progressive force? Has the Stalinist victory resulted in advancing the movement for a real Labor Party or in retarding it – or has it perhaps left the situation just as it was yesterday and the day before? What are the effects of this victory upon the struggle for a Labor Party, not in the pages of The Militant, but in the union movement – good or bad? What are the effects of this victory upon Labor Party movements and half-movements outside New York State – good or bad? No answer from The Militant on these trifling points! It seems that it was all just a matter of a couple of butlers fighting in the pantry to see who will serve the boss. Nothing else involved. A matter of total indifference to us. A bored yawn, a ho-hum, and let us pass on to something interesting.

But before we let The Militant pass on to topics that interest it more, it is worth noting that, in contrast to our policy, The Militant has in the past urged its readers to vote in the regular elections for candidates put up by the ALP itself. Let us not debate this matter here. What is important is the fact. By this policy, The Militant and the SWP implied that the ALP was a genuine Labor Party, in some respects at least, to some extent, “genuine” in the limited sense defined above. Or, to narrow the point as much as possible, the policy implied that to some extent the ALP was a vehicle for expressing independent working class political action. To exactly that extent, the ALP was – again, according to the SWP policy – a working class party and therefore the SWP’s party.

But when this party is threatened with liquidation into an outright capitalist party, is threatened by domination of a reactionary force which is “the greatest danger inside the labor movement” – the SWP is bored with the whole business, finds that there is nothing at stake in the fight, no issues involved and now that the fight is over and the patient is dead – well, thank God, we can continue as if nothing had happened.

“Thanks, I Don’t Smoke”

If someone had decided to stand firmly on his head, he could not do it more consistently than the SWP did in both cases affecting the ALP, In the regular elections, when the issue was – “Is the ALP a real Labor Party? Is a vote for it an expression of independent political action?” – it answered, “Yes, vote for the ‘independent’ candidates of the ALP.” In the primary elections, when the issue was – “Who shall control the ALP, those who seek to move it backward, liquidate it, or those under whom the conditions for fighting for a real Labor Party are more favorable to militants?” – it answered, “Not interested. Not important. Thanks, I don’t smoke.”

That would be enough for one day. But The Militant must perforce embroider the yawn it substitutes for politics with a pompous sermon from history. It seems there are people – and so indeed there are – who call themselves “anti-Stalinist,” and fight Stalinism with a bad program and worse methods. And “all they accomplish is to antagonize thousands of workers by then- bureaucratic high-handedness and build up support for the Stalinists.” Is it these people The Militant is getting at – the Dubinskys, the social-democrats or the renegades from Marxism? Not at all! It is another fish they want to fry in the lard of history. Here is the lard just as it appears on the spatula:

We witnessed this phenomenon in 1938 in the faction fight of the auto union. Homer Martin, then president of the UAW, by his red-baiting, his bureaucratic high-handedness, only built up Stalinist strength. At that time a group of petty bourgeois opportunists, the late unlamented Lovestoneites, cliqued up with Homer Martin and excused everything on the grounds of the “Stalinist menace.” They accomplished little more than to disgrace themselves. We witnessed an equally disgraceful performance today on the part of a group of petty bourgeois opportunists – ex-Trotskyism, who alibied their support of the Dubinsky-social-democratic clique on the grounds of the “lesser evil.”

History, as we have had deplorable occasion to note, is not the long suit of the editors of The Militant, and politics not their forte. In this particular case, to serve bad politics, they suborn history, and recent history, in a shameless and perfidious way. We use the terms as scientifically as Noah Webster: Shameless, without shame, immodest; perfidious, faithless, contrary to loyalty and truth. To wit:

1. The late unlamented Lovestoneites did not support Homer Martin as a lesser evil, or any kind of evil. They supported him as a “good.” They opposed the formation of an independent third group in the UAW on the ground that the Martin group was quite satisfactory. They did not merely “support” Martin, they were part and parcel of his group, its organizers, and indistinguishable in any political or organizational respect from Martin himself. They covered up all his defects and even crimes. They had no program except his program. Not as an analogy, but as an illustration of what we mean, we can take the period of the civil war in Spain. We, as well as the Cannonites, supported bourgeois democracy as a lesser evil in comparison with fascism. That did not make us bourgeois democrats; we supported it with our own independent revolutionary program and criticism. The social-democrats and Stalinists, however, were part and parcel of the machinery of bourgeois democracy, with no independent program of their own. Does the editor of The Militant understand the difference? Perhaps! Does he want to understand it? No!

A Little Bit of History

2. The policy of supporting Martin in 1938 as a lesser evil in comparison with the Stalinist gang was the particular policy of the SWP. It was originated and most prominently enunciated by the then leader of the party, Cannon; we supported it along with the rest of the SWP at that time. It is a pity that we cannot quote Cannon’s long editorial in full; it is a double pity for the editors of The Militant that Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type, which led eventually to Cannon’s editorial appearing in quotable print. Here are the most cogent, excerpts from it:

... The class conscious and militant forces in the unions must take the lead in the life and death struggles of the unions to overcome the dread disease of Stalinism in their ranks. They must become the champions of the united front of all union-loyal and constructive forces against the Stalinist wrecking crew.

This is the burning problem right now in the automobile workers union. In their mad drive to control or wreck the UAW, the Stalinists have formed a factional combination with the ultra-reactionary, red-baiting Frankensteen [Hillman? Oh, no: Frankensteen! – Ed.] and his similars against the Martin administration. This crooked factional maneuver is carried forward, of course, under the slogan of “an end to factionalism.” In this, the jingo-Stalinists only slavishly imitate the hypocritical tactics of the imperialist diplomats who always advance their war preparations under the guise of peace conferences and peace pacts.

Will a single intelligent militant In the auto unions be taken in by this cynical stratagem? Can they really wish, after the horrible experiences of workers in the Stalinist-controlled unions, to experiment with such “control” in the great organization of the auto workers?

... No, the militant and progressive members of the UAW must give a different and more responsible answer to the Stalinite drive for control of their union. They cannot stand as neutrals on the sideline of the struggle for control of their union. If the militants in the auto union want to save their organization from such a fate, they need an active policy now in the present situation.

Take note, you shameless and perfidious editors of The Militant, who were the ones to compare the UAW and ALP situations, even though they are not identical, but only... comparable – take note! What, said Cannon, should this un-neutral and active policy be? Let us see just what was “this phenomenon in 1938 in the faction fight of the auto union” and who “alibied their support of the Dubinsky – pardon us, the Martin – clique on the grounds of the ‘lesser evil.’”

The policy here recommended does not imply extensive negotiations over questions of program, etc. It does not necessitate formal agreements of any kind. The most important facts are already known, and the duty of responsible militants is clear. In the crisis provoked by the Stalinite bid for power, the militants have no choice but to support the Martin administration as against the Stalinite-Frankensteen combination. And this support should be given openly, frankly and aggressively. (Italics in original)

All this, and more that was to the point, appeared in the then official organ of the SWP, the Socialist Appeal, of May 14, 1938, the year, if we are not mistaken, when the present editors say they “witnessed this phenomenon.” Whatever they witnessed then, it is evident that they did not witness the files of the Socialist Appeal. If they had, they might have seen the wisdom of following Cicero’s motto, “Malo indisertam prudentiam, quam loquacem stultitiam – I prefer silent prudence to loquacious folly.”

Using the words scientifically again: it is shameless to attribute your own policy to others (and stupid to renounce it when it was right); it is perfidious to attack your own party and party leader under guise of attacking others; and it is shameless and perfidious to tell brazen and easily-exposed falsehoods.

3 and finally. It is the editors of The Militant who put the UAW and the ALP on the same plane. They do not belong there. The former is and was a genuine workers’, class organization. The latter was not, and certainly is not now. However, what is correct is that the problem in the two fights was analogous and comparable. For reasons already set forth, we favored supporting the Dubinsky group against the Stalinists for control, in the absence of a really independent group. We supported it, as Cannon said, without “extensive negotiations over questions of program ... [or] formal agreements.” There were no negotiations at all, no agreements at all. We not only did not support the Dubinsky program, but more than any other group in the labor movement we fought it, and fought it on the basis of our own revolutionary class program. To compare our strictly defined support of Dubinsky in the ALP with Lovestone’s complete fusion with Martin in the UAW is not only to perpetrate a fraud, but is stupid. It is not only stupid but suicidal. We shall see how far The Militant is able to go with this stupid and suicidal line.

The problem of the ALP may be terminated, so far as the bored editors of The Militant are concerned. Actually, the problem will face all of us, every class-conscious militant and progressive, many times yet, in many places and in many guises.

The New Party in Michigan

In New York, the movement for a Labor Party has suffered a temporary setback, which we must try to make up with all possible speed. But such is the power of the idea of independent working-class political action that it is down in one part of the country only to rise in another. Detroit, the most important citadel of the organized labor movement, has just witnessed the formation of the Michigan Commonwealth Federation. It is a great step forward. Adequate to the needs of the day? No, far from it. But it is a great step forward.

Is the Michigan Commonwealth Federation a genuine Labor Party, one that meets the minimum conditions set down above? Yes and no. It was formed on the basis of a deliberate compromise between the pro-Roosevelt and pro-Labor Party forces, in which the former were given more than they gave. The resolution adopted leaves the door wide open for support of Roosevelt and the fourth term, which is the principal plank in the program of the Stalinists and the labor bureaucracy. The forming conference deliberately avoided the name “Labor Party” in order not to give it the clear-cut class character it must have; it even considered the name “Farmer-Labor Party” too “narrow.” Its leaders wanted to make it a party of the “common people” and a modified version of the Cooperative Commonwealth Party of Canada seemed to suit that wish best. The conference equivocated on the key question of allowing members of the new party to support and vote for candidates of the capitalist parties. But —

The MCF voted to base itself upon trade unions, whose affiliation it seeks. This already establishes its superiority over the New York ALP. It was established in recognition of the need of a party separate and apart from the two capitalist parties and in opposition to them. Contrary to the ALP, which bore the stigma at its birth of being organized to win traditionally socialist workers to a vote for a capitalist candidate, the MCF was organized in opposition to the Stalinists and even to the Hillman-Stalinist-CIO Political Action Committee, which aims to do the original job of the ALP without forming any kind of new party. Finally, the MCF was organized mainly by rank and file militants and by some of the lower rank union officials, without the blessings of the top flight union leaders such as the ALP originally had in the persons of Dubinsky and Hillman.

From the very beginning, the MCF has a fight on its hands, a fight it will not conduct effectively if it continues to fear the big bureaucrats as much as it does, continues to look for some way to make compromises with them, continues to hope that a serious fight – not a cat-and-dog fight, but a serious, sober, dignified political fight conducted on the basis of sound principles and organized in every labor organization – can be averted forever. The fate of the ALP is recent enough experience to show that an organization like the MCF either marches forward swiftly and consistently to genuine independent political action on a working class basis, or it disintegrates in the course of hopeless internal battles.

Prospects of the MCF

The MCF will no more be able to avoid the problem of Stalinism than did the late ALP. Stalinism cannot be ignored or maneuvered out of existence. It can only be fought, and to fight it effectively and with progressive results for the labor movement, it must be fought on a militant, working class program and by democratic methods. The road the Stalinists are taking, the road along which they want to trick or drag the whole labor movement, should be clear to anyone with eyes in his head. In Minnesota, they have already helped (if they did not inspire) the dissolution of the Farmer-Labor Party into the Democratic Party, that is, the party of Roosevelt, Farley, Cotton Ed Smith, Byrd and the Great Bilbo. New York is next. In Michigan, they are already in the Democratic Party up to the hips, and we just learn that some of the Stalinists or Stalinist stooges have been elected (already!) to attend the Democratic national convention as part of the Michigan delegation. Browder and Bilbo! Frankensteen and Farley! Long live Teheran! On to Warsaw! A plague on them all. Labor must build a party of its own, free of all this scum and cynicism and intrigue and treachery and reaction, ready and able to strike two blows – and better ones – for every one it receives.

Is the MCF a genuine Labor Party? We have tried to explain what is meant by the otherwise equivocal answer, Yes and No. It is a most important step forward on the road. It contains all the necessary elements for developing the kind of party that the labor movement needs. It must be supported by every good militant. Above all, it must be supported as against the Hillman Political Action Committee and the Stalinists, both of whom are whetting their daggers for its heart.

Compared with either of them, the MCF, even as it is right now, is miles ahead and on the right road. The job is to keep it there and keep it moving forward.

The MCF is young, fresh, enthusiastic. It is the most promising development in the labor movement since the beginning of the CIO. Is its future assured? If it takes the road mapped by the great strategists and statesmen of the ALP, Dubinsky, Rose, Counts, Alfange and the others, the answer is a most emphatic “No!” If it does not work out a strong working class program, does not win and base itself primarily upon the magnificent and powerful unions of Michigan, does not refuse to compromise with or condone capitalist politics and the various spokesmen for it, the answer again is “No!” But if it does work out such a program and roots itself in the unions and turns its back squarely on capitalist politics, its future is assured and bright. It can become the forerunner, perhaps the leader, of a powerful national political movement of labor. To fumble such a great opportunity would not be a pity – it would be a crime.

The militants of the Workers Party and all those who work with them will bend every effort to speed the movement to success. There is no more urgent task in the country today.

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