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George Clarke

Lovestone’s “Americanism”

(June 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 23, 14 June 1930, pp. 5 & 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Nowadays nobody with eyes in his head can mistake the sorry role that Lovestone and his faction are playing in the Communist movement. Years ago his opportunistic ideas could always find shelter under the protecting arm of Stalin’s Comintern; today he must shiver in the rain of criticism. To illustrate this I will point out several things which occurred at a youth meeting held by the Lovestone group in the Grand Opera House last) week. About fifteen people attended this meeting. The audience was mainly composed of Lovestoneites, a few League members and a stool pigeon of the Y.C.L. sent there to report the League members foolish enough to think they could attend any meeting but their own. The reporter of the evening was Will Herberg. He gave a fairly accurate representation of the situation in the Party. Any half-way educated Communist can see the countless mistakes and false policies of the leadership and the impasse into which they have led the C. I. But when he tried to analyze the causes at the bottom of this crisis and to estimate the work and value of the Left Opposition he got himself into an awful mess. His only attempt to discuss the questions the Opposition has raised was on the problem of Thermidor. Firstly he drew an utterly false picture of no unity of opinion among the forces of the Left Opposition on this question. Some, he said, believed that Thermidor was already accomplished, others that it was on its way and still others didn’t believe in it at all.

The first view (that Thermidor is already accomplished in the Soviet Union) is hold by Urbahns, he maintained. And then, like a typically bankrupt politician he attacked this view as the one of the Opposition. This he succeeded in doing, since it doesn’t take much brains to expose as erroneous a theory like this one. But he didn’t dare attack the official viewpoint of the Opposition held by all its adherents from Russia to America. That the danger of the Thermidor is being augmented in the persecution, exiling and shooting of Oppositionists, in the breaking of the alliance between the workers and peasants because of adventurist policies in industrialization and collectivization; in the growing of the power of the Kulak and the Nepmen due to Stalin’s zigzag policies; in the ominous growth of the Thermidorian bureaucracy in the Party and the government – only a Herberg can deny while he shuts his eyes and shout’s “don’t talk to us about Socialism in one country, we want to hear about American questions.”

Covering Lovestone’s Misdeeds The most interesting part of the meeting was Herberg’s answer to the question of Lovestone’s use of underworld tactics in the fight against the Left Opposition and the challenge to debate with us on fundamental questions. Complacently Herberg repudiated the violence perpetrated against the Opposition by the Lovestone group with the naive remark “at that time we were under Stalinist influence”. Even if any weight could be attached to this remark, Lovestone will have to explain away their burglary of the Party office and his own tacit silence while Blumkin was shot and thousands of Oppositionists are criminally persecuted and exiled to Siberia. We are still waiting for Lovestone to raise a voice against the exiling of L.D. Trotsky.

Not less demagogic and cowardly was Herberg’s reply to the challenge of a debate on fundamental issues. No! Herberg won’t debate with us because, 1st, we are too small; secondly because the questions we want to debate about don’t interest the American workers. The great Lovestone, the overwhelming “majority” of the American Party refuses to debate with us because we are too insignificant. Only yesterday Lovestone strained every muscle to prove to a recalcitrant minority that “Trotskyism” was the main danger in the American Party. Not quite so distant as that Lovestone shouted to the wide world that the ideas of “Trotskyism” has captured the C.L. We would suggest to Herberg to recall these trifles before he terms us insignificant to debate with.

Evading Questions of Principle

But just like the whole Lovestone crew, no sooner does Herberg say this than he starts to retract it. Well, the reason they didn’t want to debate, according to Herberg is because the questions we raise (Socialism in One Country, Chinese Revolution, Anglo-Russian Committee, etc.) “hold no interest for the American workers”. When Lovestone was in good graces with Stalin, when he ran the Daily Worker, when we had no press, before we could. print any of the suppressed literature, then it was time to scatter scandal, lies and calumnies about us. Now, when we are in a position to reply to his lies and expose his opportunism, Lovestone hides himself in a dark corner and fearfully cries out, “The American workers are not interested in the Chinese Revolution”. Whom does this remind us of? Haven’t we heard somewhere before this same alibi about the American workers not being interested in fundamental problems but in more immediate and more pressing questions. Doesn’t the S.P. carefully avoid the questions of internationalism, the Proletarian Dictatorship, etc. with just such platitudes?

But the Opposition is not afraid to debate with Lovestone on American questions; not afraid to show Lovestone, Herberg and Co. how the question of socialism in one country once helped Lovestone get control of the American party and reduce it to 7,000 and how this question has brought the Partly to its disastrous state today and how it will help bring worse results even with Lovestone’s kind in power in the future to the American Party.

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