Socialist Appeal Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Socialist Appeal, June-July 1935, Volume 1 No. 4, Pages 1-6
Transcribed and Marked Up by Damon Maxwell in 2009 for the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line.

Notes Of The Month

Death Of The N.RA. Neither To Mourn Nor To Praise

That most of the labor leaders were shocked almost into insensibility by the decision of the Supreme Court, which put a quietus on an already expiring bird, is a clear indication of how great was the reliance of these leaders on the National Industrial Recovery Act. Willingly and enthusiastically they deluded themselves into believing that section 7a settled the whole problem of organizing the American working class. They thought they could point to that section and scare the boss into recognizing a labor union. Alas, the bosses were not so easily scared. They are made of tougher fibre than a great many labor leaders.

Millions of workers actually believed in the N R A to the extent that they were willing to go out and Struggle for a right which they believed the government at last recognized. Undoubtedly, advantage could have been taken of the situation and we need not at all admit that section 7a was passed for the benefit of the working class to assert that it created a favorable psychological impetus for organization.

But the labor leaders looked upon section 7a not as an AID in the struggle to organize the workers but as a SUBSTITUTE for that struggle. They permitted themselves to be enmeshed in a net of boards end elections which killed the spirit of the workers and actually prevented organization. The golden opportunity for organizing the basic Industries of steel, rubber and automobiles was not taken advantage of and that failure left organized labor with only slight gains in membership. Instead of struggling at the point of production they pleaded hat in hand before Roosevelt and his boards. What a miserable spectacle!

Upon What Will Labor Leaders Rely Now?

Then came the bolt from the venerable fudges of the Supreme Court who did not, it seems, consider the embarrassing position into which their decision would hurl the valiant leaders of American labor. Whatever gains were made in the past two years by organized and unorganized labor are threatened with extinction. It is true that good-hearted employers solemnly announced that they would do nothing to interfere with wages and conditions of labor set by the codes tut one might as well believe hogs that promise not to eat if taken before food. The American Federation of Labor leaders are men of some wisdom and they really do not believe the captains of industry when they promise not to cut wages and these labor leaders are therefore disturbed not only because the workers might suffer but also because the organizations of which they are the leaders will be affected.

To state that the decision which invalidated all of the NRA codes has created a crisis for the American labor movement does not at all mean to give a belated endorsement to the NRA and. to suggest that the workers must struggle to have it reenacted. It simply means that under the circumstances it must be recognized that to rely on some legislative enactment as a substitute for the MA to defend the standards of labor against attack is to make the same blunder that was made when faith was placed in the NRA.

There is no course left open for organized labor other than the course of struggle. Not only can the gains thus far made be kept intact. More can be won than has already been won provided there is no hesitation no cringing, no reliance upon some saving legislation.

Absurd indeed would it be for us to expect that an obvious lesson should be taken to heart by labor leaders who have boon trained to look to the government to organize the workers. And, all indications point to the fact that the Wagner Labor Disputes Bill is the next piece of legislation which the A.F. of L. leaders will look to as a substitute for struggle.

The fears of the Communist party and of some other radical groups that the Wagner Bill is dangerous because it provides for compulsory arbitral ion are exaggerated. It is true that in so far as it provides for mediation and arbitration after both sides have consented, it lays the base for interminable delays which inevitably sap the strength of the workers. It is also true that once having given its consent to mediation a labor union cannot withdraw that consent. Those are very serious dangers. Nevertheless the greatest danger involved in the Wagner Bill is not in its content but in the fact that the A. F. of L. leaders will not use it as an aid for struggle but as a substitute for it.

No Exaggerations In The Socialist Call!

If there is any movement that is and must be based on objective truth it is the revolutionary socialist movement. No one should be able to question the facts which form the foundations of the theory and practice of that movement. To be a socialist propagandist, lecturer or writer means to be so scrupulous about factual matters that no listener or reader would assume to raise any doubt about them.

There is a prevailing assumption that the capitalist press is not to be relied on; that it is full of bluff and exaggeration in the ordinary news of the day; that In dealing with labor matters it distorts and falsifies the facts. That assumption is largely a correct one and socialists have made great capital out of the fact that a great number of people are inclined to doubt the veracity of the capitalist newspapers.

Socialist newspapers must have a reputation for veracity which is spotless. In the last analysis it is the only way to gain the confidence of the great majority of people. Especially must revolutionary socialist papers be careful not to distorter to exaggerate.

The above remarks are induced by the fact that a report appeared in the Socialist Call giving the number of those participating in the May 1st demonstration in Chicago as five thousand. The correct number could not have been more than two thousand at the utmost and fifteen hundred would have been the safest estimate. We do not know who is responsible for the exaggerated number nor the motive of the one who is responsible. We know that those who were present and read the report in the Call mast have shaken their heads and consciously or unconsciously begun to doubt, all the reports and all the figures given in the Call. A very dangerous and unhealthy situation!

Should the Call continue that way then it is inevitable that the number of those who from their experience know that the Call exaggerates will increase to an extent where its effectiveness will be greatly diminished if not destroyed. The responsible parties mast be warned and if that is not sufficient must be eliminated.

Nothing more dangerous to our movement can be imagined than the absurd idea that one has to color the news in order to generate enthusiasm; that one should not report the exact truth because our weakness would then become public. Our movement is weak it is true but that weakness cannot be glossed over and concealed by exaggerations; it can be eradicated only by correct policies and one of those correct policies is to cling closely to the truth and not create illusions of strength.

It would seem that the attitude of intelligent revolutionists to the Stalinist press should deter any socialist reporter or editor from following the path of the communists. The confused and bewildered communists actually admit that the Daily Worker lies, but excuse the lies on the ridiculous theory that it does no harm and one has to fool the masses. That the communists have raised exaggeration and bluff to a system is to be expected. Any movement that is based on principles that cannot stand the test of critical examination is bound to rely on untruths.

A revolutionary socialist paper such as the Call must champion the truCall can be relied on and if some mistake does creep in it will be immediately corrected if it is found out. Only in such a way can the Sail gain the confidence of the membership of the party and of the working class in general.

Stalin “Understands And Approves”

Pierre Laval, representing French imperialism visited Moscow, there to have a friendly chat with Joseph Stalin, “first disciple of Lenin and the beloved leader of the world proletariat”.

Now there is nothing that is wrong for the revolutionary leader of a revolutionary country to meet and discuss matters with a representative of a country the government of which protects its capitalist masters in their exploitation of tens of millions of colonial slaves and is ever ready to suppress with blood and iron any attempt of the working class to better its conditions. So long as there is only one country where the proletariat is the ruling class so long will there be the necessity for that country to come to agreements with capitalist countries.

Certainly, there is nothing wrong for the Soviet Union to detain the help of one imperialist country against another imperialist power and thus utilize for its benefit the antagonisms existing between various capitalist nations. In doing so however the revolutionary working class of the world must not be confused and led to believe that an imperialist government has over night become the friend and supporter of a working class government. Great care must be taken lest it appear that the Soviet Union places its stamp of approval upon the acts of any imperialist government and thus weaken the struggle of the working class against that government.

It may be necessary at times, for diplomatic purposes, for the one representing the Soviet Union to leave many things unsaid and even to say things which are nothing but diplomatic evasions. In such a case the revolutionary party or international must come out with a statement of the whole truth which would leave no doubt as to the true nature of the situation. If the Communist International were An truth a revolutionary international and not a pawn in the hands of Soviet foreign policy the difficult problems which are a necessary result of the existence of one proletarian country in a capitalist world could be solved in practice.

Under no circumstances however is it necessary or permissible for one who assumes to be and is actually the leader of the Soviet Union and the Communist International to Issue a statement which can have but one Interpretation, and that is that capitalist Prance is justified in her “national defense policy”. That goes way beyond what any diplomatic representative of the Soviet Union has the right to say, let alone a representative of a supposedly revolutionary international. A statement of such a nature can in the very least create tremendous confusion and at the worst lay the foundation for social chauvinism and defense of one’s “fatherland”.

It is interesting to note the difference in the texts of the statement given out by Stalin and Laval as published in the New York Times and in the Daily Worker. The former had the following clause in the statement: “Above all the duty falls upon them (France and Soviet Russia) in the interest and maintenance of peace, not to allow the means of their national defense to weaken in any sense. In this regard, M. Stalin understands and fully approves the national defense policy of France in keeping her armed forces at a level required for security”. The Daily Worker had the following version: “It is precisely in the interest of the maintenance of peace that these states are bound in the first place in no way to weaken their state of defense which in France is maintained by armed forces on a level corresponding with her need of security.” Even the latter version is bad enough but the fact that “Stalin understands and fully approves is diplomatically omitted is very interesting. Thus “conscience doth make cowards of us all.”

Only a simpleton would hesitate to choose the text given in the New York Times as the correct one.

It would be absolutely wrong to jump to the conclusion that , because of the statement issued by Stalin, the French Communist party will immediately cease its struggle against the militarization of French youth and against French armaments. It may be that in self-defense the French party for the time being will intensify its struggle against the Laval program of huge armaments. Any attempt by the Communist party of France to act in accordance with Stalin’s Statement at the present moment and come out in favor of the program of the French capitalist class would mean the death of that party in short order. Not even the confused and bewildered members of the party would tolerate such a sudden betrayal.

At the present period Stalinism cannot afford openly to draw logical conclusions from its theories and statements. The result is an apparent contradiction between what Stalin says and what the Communist parties do but this contradiction cannot last very long. Opportunism in theory inevitably leads to same in practice and we can predict with assurance that in all probability the Communist party of France will find some way at a critical moment to justify, for the sake of the “struggle against Hitler and for the defense of the Soviet Union”, support of the French, bourgeoisie. Meanwhile confusion becomes worse confounded.

Revolutionary Socialists, not tied to the mental apron-strings of .Stalinism, can think and see clearly in the matter of the relationship of Soviet Russia to the capitalist world. It is not in principle wrong for the Soviet Union to enter the League of Nations or to make a military alliance with a capitalist country, but it must be recognized that such an act is a result of the weakening of the natural ally of the Soviet Union, the revolutionary proletariat, and the consequent weakening of the Soviet Union. Revolutionary Socialists will under no circumstances cease their struggle against their own capitalist governments even though it may happen that their government might be an ally of the Soviet Union in some war. The actions of revolutionary Socialists will be determined by their profound conviction that for the Soviet Union to lean upon agreements with capitalist countries is to lean upon a broken reed and that only the revolutionary proletariat can in the long run save the Soviet Union.

Quite interesting is the fact that the right wing socialists are praising Stalin for his “realism” in making an alliance with France and blaming him only for not entering into a similar alliance with them. They spoof at Trotsky’s “revolutionary romanticism” in insisting that only the forces of the world revolution are the basic forces for safeguarding the existence of the Soviet Union. Interesting and instructive. Making alliances with bourgeois governments is something that rightwing Socialists are adept at.

Stalin may understand and approve. Also the right wing social democrats. But not the revolutionary Marxists.

Top of page

Socialist Appeal Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 05 March 2009