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Geo. Clarke

The Fight for Harry Eisman

(May 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 21, 24 May 1930, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The ruling class has few scruples in its punishment of Communists. It picks from the ranks of fighters for the working class and hits with equal severity at all challenges to its rule. Now from the picket line, now from the Party, and it does not hesitate to send to its prisons even the “tender” youth. Harry Eisman, a member of the Young Pioneers has been sentenced to five years imprisonment in the Hawthorne Reformatory for participating in the March 6th unemployment demonstrations.

It Depends on Whose Holiday It Is

The ridiculous farce of the charge truancy against school children participating in working class holidays and demonstrations is quite apparent. Countless times throughout the year holidays are officially proclaimed by the authorities—flag day, decoration day, Lincoln’s Birthday, etc. Here the students are turned loose into the streets and forced to sing and cheer the “Star Spangled” capitalist and land of the slave. The boy scouts, camp fire girls, etc., are released from school almost any time the jingo militarists want to show their masters what gracious and valuable service they are rendering them.

But just let a working man’s son or daughter walk out to demonstrate against unemployment and the storm breaks loose. Expulsion, terrorism, and even imprisonment awaits the working class children. The capitalist class knows well the phrase: “The youth is the hope of the future.” All forces are brought into play to make this future one or servility and docile obedience to capitalism.

Harry Eisman sent to prison for five years; two students. Max Weiss of City College, and Sol Wellman of Boy’s High School, are threatened with expulsion; eleven mothers are given jail sentences because their children took part in working class demonstrations. The authorities grow red in the face denouncing the Young Pioneers and the Young Communist League. From the ruling class come cries for the suppression and smashing of these militant youth organizations. Drivers are heralded all over the press to counteract through the Boy Scouts any influence the Young Pioneers have among working class children.

In face of this increased persecution the working class must not remain quiet. Only organizations like the Y.P.S.L, long impotent in the interests of the working class, can fail to respond. With increased unemployment running into the millions, the speed-up and the wage cuts forced on the working class, the cry for organization becomes louder and more imperative. We must consolidate our forces to give impetus to this process.

Especially the working youth which is more exploited, has the great need to ally to the banner of Communism. Any unanswered blow on any section of the working class seriously weakens the whole movement .The case of Harry Eisman does not stand alone as an isolated sign of the cruelty of some city official. On the contrary, it is just one of a long chain of blows dealt both to adult and youth movements. Thus the slogan of Free Harry Eisman should become for the Communist youth a centre for mobilizing the working youth and student. The liberation of this young student is the task of working class youth irrespective of political beliefs and towards this end a broad united front should be created. The Communist League (Opposition) pledges its wholehearted support to save the movement for Harry Eisman from isolation. Let a strong movement be the response to ruling class provocations.

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Last updated: 29.9.2012