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George Clarke

Cleveland Party & Unemployment

(July 1931)

On The Workers’ Front, The Militant, Vol. IV No. 13, 4 July 1931, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On Friday the nineteenth there was an unemployment demonstration in Cleveland called by the party, in which we took part. Hardly a thousand participated. There were only three placards displayed in the whole rigmarole. And besides it was quite spiritless. Sam Don, the D.O., stood in command from behind. The demonstrators marched on the City Hall where they were allowed without any resistance whatsoever to enter, en masse, the city council chamber, where the city council men awaited them for a hearing. And here lies the crux of the matter.

The party has changed its slogans and its position on the question of unemployment. It no longer demands unemployment insurance – $15 per week and an additional three for each dependent. Today it asks for relief (!) and it does not even specify how much. This brings it into conflict not with the capitalist class or its government, but with the charity organizations! As a matter of fact, the whole hearing, with the councilmen was devoted in the main to proving whether the charities were corrupt or not, whether they had denied food to this individual or not, whether they had given five dollars instead of nine. The unemployed council even produced, three cases to prove the graft of the charity organization. And the, witnesses! Owners of houses, insurance policies, hundreds of dollars in grocery bills, and what not. The party has sunk into the worst kind of opportunism. Not unemployment insurance because that requires a difficult struggle – but the path of least resistance – only relief; it’s easier to get, appears to be the attitude of the party. The whole unemployment struggle degenerates into whether the charities association shall pay its relief in cash or in kind. And to make up for this kind of opportunism the party tells the workers in an adventurist braggadacio. “If they won’t give us this relief we will go and take it.” By the way, the police were completely conspicuous by their absence. Only three mounted cops were visible on the whole line of march; not a single cop in the city hall to be seen. Cleveland.

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