Socialist Appeal Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Socialist Appeal, March 1935, Volume 1 No. 2, Pages 1,6 and 18
Transcribed and Marked Up by Damon Maxwell in 2009 for the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line.

Notes of the Month

Decisive Action Of The N. E. C. In Indiana.

The National Executive Committee of our party has acted to clean up the situation in the party in Indiana with a promptness and decisiveness that deserve the highest commendation. It has been obvious ever since the Detroit convention and the adoption of the Declaration of Principles that Emma Henry and her small group of die-hard right wingers were not willing to act as a loyal minority. We must expect differences of opinion in the party. Intellectual struggle on fundamental principles is a sign of vitality and is not to be discouraged and suppressed.

Two things must go with differences of opinion on fundamental problems: one, the majority must give the minority the right to advocate its views; two, the minority must be a loyal minority, that is, it must help build the party and not paralyze the activities of the majority. The right wing group in control of the state of Indiana was not a loyal minority. It went to the extent of permitting if not initiating a referendum for the state to withdraw from the Socialist party. That constitutes treason to the party and must tee dealt with decisively.

The N.E.C. suspended the Indiana charter and sent Paul Porter to take charge of the organization on behalf of the Socialist party. Emma Henry and her followers turned out to be in a hopeless minority and all indications are that the party will advance by leaps and bounds now that it is freed from the dead hand of the right wing.

As was to be expected the old guard of New York rushed to the aid of their Indiana sympathizers. A supplement to the New Leader hurls fire and brimstone on the N.E.C. Underneath the rage of the New York right wingers can be detected the fear that the N.E.C, will act with as much decisiveness in the case of every disloyal minority. If it is true that the New York right wing is preventing about 600 members from joining the party because these new members might help the militants, then in our opinion the right wing is guilty of absolute disloyalty to the party and should be dealt with decisively by the N. E.C.

A justified criticism of the N.E.C. is that it has not kept the party membership well informed about events in Indiana. Whatever happens in any section of the party is of tremendous importance to the whole party. The members must be mobilized against any attempt to paralyze the party and that means that the N.E.C. must find ways and means to keep the membership informed.

*  *  *  *

Roosevelt And The A.F. OF L. Leadership

One of the pillars of the Roosevelt administration has been the officialdom of the American Federation of Labor. Undoubtedly reflecting the blind confidence of the vast majority of the laboring masses, Green, Woll, Lewis, Hillman and the other leaders of American organized labor looked to the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt to make it easy for them to enlarge the membership of their international unions. In turn they were more than willing to sing his praises in and out of season and to defend him against attack from left and right.

The hope and faith of the labor leaders in the great white father sitting in the White House were due mainly to the insertion of Section 7-A in the National Industrial Recovery Act. The A..F. of L. officials did a lot of wishful thinking. They considered section 7-A as a guarantee of the administration’s interest in the organization of labor and in collective bargaining. Had they had the slightest conception of what Marxism is and analyzed the actions of the Roosevelt administration from the angle of class forces and relationships they would have had no difficulty in explaining what actuated Roosevelt in consenting to the insertion of that section in the NRA. Anxious to get the support of the great masses behind him in order to keep the capitalist machine functioning he had to throw a bone to the labor leaders in the form of a vague formulation of the right of labor to organize into unions of their own choosing.

The great mistake of the labor leaders was not in taking advantage of section 7-A in so far as it created a conviction amongst the workers that now they had the authority of the government in organising unions but in actually relying on the administration to stand behind labor in the struggle for union recognition. The Communists went to the opposite extreme and urged the insane tactic of attempting to organise the workers for a struggle against the NRA at a time when they had the utmost confidence in it. The correct attitude taken by those who understood how to analyse social relations from a Marxist viewpoint was to explain to the workers that they must rely on their own forces and their own strength and not upon any law and at the same time take advantage of the psychological stimulus to organization which section 7-A furnished. It was also necessary to make clear from the very beginning that there are grave dangers lurking in the NRA and that the organized force of the working class is necessary to avoid. those dangers.

What happened was that a few of the more astute labor leaders actually saw the necessity of launching an effective organizational drive while the vast majority permitted the wave of strikes following the slight improvement in economic conditions and the passing of the NRA to go by without any great gains for their organisations. The failure to organize the workers in the automobile industry and in the steel industry can be laid squarely on Green, Tighe and the rest of that gang of fossilised “labor lieutenants of the capitalist class”. They relied on boards appointed by the administration to hold fair elections and thus avoid the struggles which are so terrifying to them. They leaned on broken reeds and now after the workers have exhausted their initial energies, these labor officials are making threats which no one takes seriously.

But labor leaders, to justify their existence, must show some results. And when the heavy hand of the government upon which they relied, keeps shoving them back they begin to rear and snort. The labor leaders did not like the idea of S. Clay Williams, multi-millionaire tobacco king, being appointed head of the NRA. They protested and demanded his removal and of course Roosevelt had ears that heard not. And when the automobile code was extended without labor having been consulted the A.F. of L officials made a show of real resistance.

Roosevelt himself was a little too holy to be touched, so the officials concentrated their wrath upon their former friends and counselors, Donald Richberg and Leo Wolman. Roosevelt was being misled by these evil spirits. It helped the labor officials nought. The President invited the whole Executive Council of the A F of L to the White House and assured them of his undying devotion to the cause of labor and left the labor leaders just where they were.

Driven to desperation. Green and his buddies did. put up a fight to insert a prevailing wage clause in the administration works-relief bill and succeeded in having the prevailing wage amendment adopted in the Senate. But that victory is meaningless because reactionary republicans who are opposed to any kind of work-relief voted for that amendment and the chances are all in favor of the administration’s ultimate victory.

The thirty-hour-week bill will be bitterly fought by the Roosevelt forces. Senator Wagner’s “National Labor Relations Act” enthusiastically backed by labor and bitterly opposed by the National Association of Manufacturers, is opposed by the administration. That bill has a weak provision for outlawing company unions but also comes dangerously near compulsory arbitration. In spite of its defects, it would undoubtedly act as a stimulus for the organization of unions provided the labor leaders would take advantage of it and not rely on it as they did with section 7-A. Labor has not as yet learned the great lesson that union organization and better conditions of labor come as a result of struggle and not by virtue of any legislation.

In opposition to the Wagner bill the administration recommends the extension of the NRA for another two years. By this time it should be clear to everyone that the NRA is a snare and a delusion as far as labor is concerned. The automobile and steel industries will not be organized by virtue of the NRA or any other law and judging by the past, the official labor leaders will have to be driven into an organizational campaign. Militant lodges in the steel union are getting restless and our hope is in the militant action of all progressive trade unionists.

The rift between Roosevelt and the union officials is bound to grow wider with time. Then what next? A third party, a progressive party or a Labor party? That is too important a problem to discuss in a short editorial. It will he discussed in an article in the next issue.

*  *  *  *

Welcome “The Socialist Call

As we go to press (pardon, as we turn the handle of the mimeograph machine) the long-delayed but nevertheless joyous news arrives that the “Socialist Call” new militant Socialist weekly, will make its first appearance, March 15 in New York City. Our understanding is that it will be a propaganda paper having as its primary purpose the interpretation of news for the wide masses from a socialist point of view. It will not have as its main object the discussion of Socialist party problems but the bringing of the socialist message to workers and other elements in society who are not as yet members of the Socialist party.

However, the circumstances under which is born impel us to the conclusion that it will teach socialism to the masses from the point of revolutionary Marxism. Whether it openly confesses it or not, the new socialist weekly has come into being because of the deep dissatisfaction of most of the party members with the attitude of the “New Leader”, organ of the right wing of the party. To justify its existence it will have to report and discuss national and international events from a point of view directly opposed to that of the “New Leader”, from the point of view of the revolutionary class struggle. It is impossible to conceive of any paper teaching socialism in the abstract, a socialism neither left nor right, and the “Socialist Call” must teach that kind of socialism which does not intend to organize the masses for capitulation but for struggle and victory.

Nor is it possible to expect that party controversies can be altogether excluded from a socialist paper. The “New Leader” does not conceal its views on party problems and the “Socialist Call”, without filling all of its pages with a discussion on party problems, will also be compelled to present its militant viewpoint on the burning questions of party life.

Every militant in the Socialist party, every left winger, is under a most serious obligation to support the “Socialist Call” in every way possible. Contributions and subscriptions can be sent to the “Socialist Call” 41 East 20th St., New York City.

*  *  *  *

A National Socialist Weekly

While we are on the subject of socialist papers, we must mention the fact, by this time known to every party member, that the National Executive Committee is about to launch a national socialist weekly paper. Its character will of course differ from that of the “Socialist Call”. Being an official socialist paper representing the party as such, it will necessarily present the viewpoint of the majority of the National Commit tee. We are given to understand, that it will not involve itself in the least in the controversies on principles and tactics between different tendencies in the party.

As a national Socialist weekly, it will serve a very valuable purpose and judging from the enthusiasm with which the announcement of its launching has been received by party members it will have no difficulty in living and growing. The support which every militant and left winger will give to the “Socialist Call” should not in the least interfere with the aid which he must give to the official organ of the Socialist party.

*  *  *  *

The Workers’ Alliance Of America

Unity of the unemployed throughout the country in their struggles for more adequate relief and for unemployment insurance has been and still is a vital necessity. The spectacle of a dosen different organisations of unemployed fighting practically for the same demands is disheartening. Due to Communist perverse tactics the unemployed have been organised by different political groups and kept apart because every political group fears that the other groups will capture control of the organization and use it for its own political purposes. The real interests of the unemployed logically demand the unity of all unemployed organizations with the different political tendencies working loyally with in that organization.

But so long as Communists are Communists, which means so long as they persist in disruptive and destructive tactics for the purpose of gaining mechanical control we must face the issue squarely and not give way to sentimental desires for unity. The problem in the labor movement both of the employee and unemployed is to isolate the Communists and let them do as little harm as possible.

A gratifying step forward in the unification of the unemployed has been taken at a conference of various unemployed organizations recently held at Washington D. C. Approximately 125 delegates representing 17 states and over half a million unemployed workers united to form the WORKERS’ ALLIANCE OF AMERICA. Headquarters will be in Milwaukee. David Lasser is Chairman and Paul Rasmussen, Secretary.

A wonderful beginning. And now the task is to organise the millions of unemployed and to unite their struggles with the struggle of the employed. In that task it is the duty of every Socialist party member to volunteer his services.

No Expulsions Because Of Membership In The R.P.C.

As we predicted in the February issue of the SOCIALIST APPEAL, the New York right wing took advantage of the NEC resolution on the Revolutionary Policy Committee and its advocacy of armed insurrection to begin expulsions of RPC members. That was exactly why that resolution was dangerous and why we should fight against it. It threatens freedom of expression and democracy within the party. It threatens to cut off all discuss ion on a vital problem.

We are opposed to the attempt on the part of the RPC to insert the phrase “armed insurrection” into any program for the Socialist party. But we are for the right of any member to advocate that idea.

What Now?

For all practical purposes there is neither a communist nor a socialist party in Germany at present the Hitler government is firmly intrenched.. For how long? No one knows. It may be for a very short period.. It may last quite a long time. One thing is certain. The Hitler government cannot solve the contradictions of German Capitalism which brought it into power. It cannot save the German middle class from which it has drawn its main strength. It cannot abolish, nor even lesser, the misery of the German working class, as it has promised to do. Already there are signs of a growing conflict within the ranks of the National Socialists, There are already visible signs of a growing dissatisfaction among those who tools: the socialist phrases of Hitler seriously. It will not take long before now opportunities for socialist propaganda and organization will again rise in Germany, German Socialism is not dead; it is only stunned. But when it comes brick to life, it will not and cannot be the Socialism of the pre-Hitler era German Socialism will have to come back as the regeneration of Revolutionary Proletarian Socialism, that will be ready to fight for Socialism. Kantorovitch – ASQ Reprint No. 1

Mussolini takes the doctrine of the “white man’s burden” seriously. He is now in the process of sending thousands of Italian troops to convince the Ethiopians that the civilization of the white man is so much superior to that of the black man that the latter should gladly accept the former as his master. Only as an incident in the process of educating the Ethiopians will Mussolini annex some territory for Italy. Let us hope that the Ethiopians with the guns and ammunition furnished by white capitalists will convince him that they are a very difficult people to teach.

It’s a mighty poor husband who can’t get his wife to say a few words of praise about him once in a while over the back fence. Upon the occasion of our Presidents second anniversary in office this past week. Mrs. Roosevelt told the newspapermen what a wonderful man her husband was. Mrs. Roosevelt considered that her husband’s biggest achievement was the “change in the nation’s thinking to recognize the rights of the weak.” Furthermore she liked the T.V.A. and the C.C.C. and all the little homesteads out in the country. She mentioned the Presidents inaugural address, quoting the line: “The only thing we have to fear is fear.” Those words, the “first lady” thought “will go down in history.”

Top of page

Socialist Appeal Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 12 February 2009