From The Militant, Vol. III No. 16, 19 April 1930, pp. 1 & 3.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
In a star-chamber proceedings in New York five Communists, including Wm. Foster, were found guilty on April 11 of unlawful assemblage and face a maximum sentence of three years in jail. They had been among the leaders of the unemployed demonstration on March 6th at Union Square.
Typical capitalist justice was dispensed from the time of their arrests till the frame-up was consummated and convictions were secured. So-called civil liberties were again mocked at by the agents of the bosses. A jury trial was denied the defendants. Three judges in special sessions court ruled on all points. No evidence was permitted to be given that stated the case and views of the defendants and the workers. Moving pictures showing that Police Commissioner Whalen had deliberately precipitated a riot were not allowed, nor could witnesses testify to the deliberate and provocative acts of Whalen’s Cossacks against the participants at the Union Square demonstration. The riot was precipitated by the police on the pretext that the demonstrators could not march to City Hall to present the facts and grievances of the unemployed regarding the unemployment situation before Mayor Walker. The bosses and their governmental agents were bent on railroading the workers to prison. Sentence has not yet been pronounced. The case will be appealed to the State Supreme Court.
Thus do the capitalists show their concern for the misery of the unemployed and those who try to defend their interests.
It is necessary for all workers, workers’ organizations and other groups to rally on behalf of the convicted comrades. A broad defense movement is needed. Among the issues are the right of free speech and assemblage; against the star-chamber proceedings; the right for the workers to express their grievances through demonstrations, parades, etc. without interference by the bosses’ agents. Labor must show its solidarity. May Day can become one of the outstanding rallying days on this and other important issues confronting the working class in the United States and throughout the world. Repressions of the capitalists against the workers are taking place throughout the country. In New York they have taken a most virulent form. The New York capitalists have taken the initiative and given the lead for the capitalists elsewhere.
Regarding May Day we have pointed to the necessity for a genuine united front of all working class forces against capitalism on a number of specific and burning issues before the workers; and that it is up to the Communists, especially the official Communist Party to initiate such a May Day movement. Otherwise, the May Day demonstrations will be limited, the workers’ protests divided and made less effective; and to the degree of its influence, the official Communist Party will be responsible for a division of the workers, particularly among those elements who are Communists or sympathetic to the cause of Communism.
All the conditions point to the need of a broad May Day movement. But the policy of the official Communist Party prevents this, and makes a mockery of the slogan it pretends to be for and issues; namely, a United Front of all labor on May Day. In New York the official Communist Party at the May Day Conference called to mobilize the workers for May Day, held a long talk-fest, limited to its previously appointed speakers and gave no expression to delegates from the ranks and other bodies. The conference was like others for which the Party has become a laughing stock among honest and sincere elements who want to cooperate and participate in the movements of the day, such as the movement on behalf of the unemployed, etc. The Youth Conference for May Day, called by the Young Communist League of New York refused to seat the delegates of the Youth Section of the Communist League of America (Opposition) on the ground that they were “renegades” ... The idiocy of the Party leadership evidently knows no bounds. It leads to further isolation of the Communists from the labor movement, and lowers steadily the prestige of the Communists in the eyes of the workers. Among other things, by rejecting the delegates of the Left Opposition from official participation in the May Day demonstrations, the Party objectively plays the game of the bosses, who are indeed pleased to see the Communists forces divided.
It is imperative to unite all possible forces for May Day. The slogan of the United Front remains valid as the means to rally the workers and their organizations with their various economic and political views for a united and solid demonstration. The issues around which to unite, the workers are many:
These are a few of the immediate issues around which to rally the workers on May Day. A prerequisite is the unity of all Communist elements to conduct a campaign along these lines.
The slogan of the official Communist Party for a mass political strike on May Day is without validity under the prevailing conditions. As promulgated now by the Communist Party, its only results will be to mislead the workers, particularly the Communist workers and sympathizers, about the true situation today. Its inevitable failure will only bring discredit to the slogan and to the Party. Phrase-mongering is the most dangerous game for revolutionaries.
.In New York, reactionary organizations of World War Veterans and similar groups have secured Union Square for May Day and propose, with the full support of the Police Department, to prevent the workers from their accustomed use of Union Square for working class demonstrations on that day. Here is another direct offensive of the capitalists and the government to smash and limit the workers’ and Communist movement.
May Day is Workers’ Day; Union Square on May 1st, by usage and tradition, fought for and gained by years of determined organization and struggle, belongs to the organizations of the working class. The Communists and the Left wing must appeal to the masses of the workers against the insolent provocation of the reactionary forces, the militarists, the White Guardists – against the whole gang of anti-labor elements with the New York City government in the forefront. The Party cannot fight this battle alone. It must appeal to the masses. Upon the volume of support which the masses give to this appeal, clearly manifested beforehand, depends the question whether the Communists should accept the challenge to fight for the Square on May Day, or make a temporary retreat before stronger forces of the enemy. All efforts in the next days must be concentrated in going to the masses with this issue.
The Hoover government and the capitalist class continue to do everything in their power to hide the facts about mass unemployment; to lie about and distort the situation of prevailing misery; to cover up the failure of capitalism to solve the unemployment crisis as well as other ills of capitalism.
Reports are given in other columns of the Militant of the huge profits during the past year made by the numerous corporations throughout the country. Of course, the workers got, instead of profits, low wages, long hours, speed-up and then – joblessness. The census reports now being compiled by the United States government itself indicate that in round figures there are 7,000,000 unemployed workers in the United States. The panaceas of the bourgeois apologists and agents for unemployment have proved just nothing. Frances Perkins, the State Industrial Commissioner of New York, now hopes for a solution in the “next quarter century”! Other apologias for capitalism are equally valueless for the needs of the workers now without a job and the means of livelihood.
Vaster trade relations with the Soviet Union, extensive credits to the Soviet Union by the U.S. government, should be vigorously put forward by the workers, by the Communists, as practical measures to alleviate the unemployment situation in the United States and thereby also to aid the development of the Five Year Plan of the Soviet Union. Of course, no measures under capitalism can solve the unemployment problem which develops out of the system of capitalism. The basis for the complete elimination of unemployment can only be laid under a Workers’ Government, a Soviet system. But it must be impressed upon the workers that broad economic relations with the Soviet government are one of the ways to aid the present situation, and that demands must be made upon the U.S. government accordingly. It is particularly unfortunate that the official Communist Party does not utilize this concrete proposal as a major slogan in the unemployment campaign.
In New York a small demonstration against the murder of the anti-fascist, Carlo Mazzola, took place in Union Square on April 12 under the auspices of the Socialists, at which anarchist representatives also spoke. Mazzola was killed by one of Whalen’s policemen at an anti-fascist meeting in Cooper Union. The Communists were not permitted to participate officially in the memorial services and anti-fascist demonstration. For this the socialists deserve the severest condemnation for dividing the workers and refusing to unite all working classes forces against the fascisti and their murderous acts. A United Front movement against Mussolini, against Fascism is capable of organization and development. Those serve Fascism who refuse to permit the unity of workers’ forces and organizations in demonstrations, meetings and movements against Fascism. That is the manner in which the Socialists acted at the Union Square meeting. Honest anti-fascist workers who think the Socialist Party is the enemy of fascism should ask the question why the most militant fighters against it were excluded from the demonstration.
Last updated: 21.9.2012