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The Militant, 20 January 1946

Pioneer Paragraphs

James P. Cannon

1934 Minneapolis Strikes
Showed Way to All Labor

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 3, 20 January 1945, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Minneapolis was the highest point of the second strike wave under the NRA. The second wave surged higher than the first, as the third wave was destined to transcend the second and reach the peak of the CIO sit-down strikes. The giant of the American proletariat was beginning to feel its power in those years, was beginning to show what tremendous potentialities, what resources of strength, ingenuity and courage reside in the American working class.

In July of that year, 1934, I wrote an article about these strikes and the strike waves for the first issue of our magazine, the New International. I said:

“The second strike wave under the NRA rises higher than the first and marks a big forward stride of the American working class. The enormous potentialities of future developments are clearly written in this advance ...

“In these great struggles the American workers in all parts of the country are displaying the unrestrained militancy of a class that is just beginning to awaken. This is a new generation of a class that has not been defeated. On the contrary, it is only now beginning to find itself and to feel its strength, and in these first tentative conflicts the proletarian giant gives a glorious promise for the future. The present generation remains true to the traditions of American labor; it is boldly aggressive and violent from the start. The American worker is no Quaker. Further developments of the class struggle will bring plenty of fighting in the U.S.A,”

The third wave, culminating in the sit-down strikes, confirmed that prediction and gave us ground to look forward with the greatest optimism to still greater, more grandiose demonstrations of the power and militancy of the American workers. In Minneapolis we saw the native militancy of the workers fused with a politically conscious leadership. Minneapolis showed how great can be the role of such leadership. It gave great promise for the party founded on correct political principles and fused and united with the mass of American workers. In that combination one can see the power that will conquer the whole world.

(From History of American Trotskyism, by James P. Cannon, pp. 165–167. Pioneer Publishers, 1944; 268 pp., cloth $2.75, paper $2. Order from Pioneer Publishers, 116 University Pl., N.Y. 3, N.Y.)

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