From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 27 (Whole No. 86), 17 October 1931, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
Once more the International Labor Defense has carried out its classical united front policy. This time the Tom Mooney case is made to suffer the incalculable stupidity of Stalinism. Tom Mooney, through his appeal to all working class organizations gave a tremendous impetus to the struggle for the liberation of all class war prisoners. The party at first hesitated to take up the proposal made by Mooney, and then it paved the way for the reformists to seize the hegemony and split the movement, by the incomprehensible Stalinist policy of the “united front from below”. The I.L.D. having been thrown out of the “Mooney Molders Defense Conference” by the labor skates, learned nothing but a few A.F.L. tactics, which they proceeded to apply in their own conference held October 1th at the Irving Plaza Hall.
In order to avoid a meeting which would show the results of a policy of appealing to the “rank and file members of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and the other unions, independent of the A.F.L. ... and the local unions of the A.F.L.” the party call invites all organizations to send one delegate for every five members. By this very subtle method the conference was packed with party delegates, I.L.D. delegates, and the inevitable fraternal organizations. The credentials report was an incredible hash of figures for which the reporter kept apologizing and promised just as many times to send a “complete” report to the organizations represented following (!) the conference. The party wasted no time. From the very beginning the hand of the teachers (Mr. Green and Sam Gompers) was as clear as day. The chairman and the credentials committee were proposed by the Dist. Comm. of the I.L.D. No further proposals were accepted and the well known steam roller method applied. A delegate from a W.C. branch protested, but Carl Hacker not to be hindered by an “naive” rank and filer, muttering some vague words about facilitating the work of the conference, poo-pooed such antediluvian democratic notions. Then came a rain of banalities about why we unite with the rank and file and not the leadership of the reactionary organizations and other rot about the new “third period” tactics of the bolshevised I.L.D. This was known as the report of the I.L.D. district committee. Following the intermission for lunch, the delegates representing the Communist League of America (Opposition) Geo. Saul and Geo. Clarke were called before the Credentials Committee. Seigel “the leader” of the Comm. coaxed us to withdraw from the conference, explaining to us that since we were “old timers” he knew for what purpose we came to the conference. “Communists”, he said, “go to the A.F. of L. conferences to disrupt them (!) and the Opposition (being enemies of Communism) therefore came to the I.L.D. Conference with the same idea in mind.” These were literally his words. Explain as we might that our real intentions were unity and not split, there was no swerving the infallibility of his bureaucratic decisions. The Credentials Committee was to propose the rejection of the Opposition as delegates to the conference. Comrades Saul and Clarke nevertheless informed the Committee that they would fight the report from the floor.
Using a quotation from the Militant which even the hysterically whipped-up Stalinists could find little to boost, Seigal moved the non-acceptance of the delegates of the C.L.A. and the Weisbord group. Discussion was automatically closed and the former Lovestoneite, Nemser, in the chair proceeded to take the proposal of the credentials committee to a vote which passed not without opposition however. At this point, the delegates of the Opposition, who were demanding a discussion on the report all along, were joined by several other delegates, and the Stalinists were compelled to allow discussion. Discussion which was not to influence the vote on the report but was to sanction it. Del. Hermann of the Carpenters’ Union spoke against this exclusion, saying that his local had elected delegates to a united front conference and not a splitting party. Delegate Berlin of the Workmen’s Circle arose to express similar sentiments, but he was howled down by the chairman and the faithful from below. Then the big guns were brought into play. Maurice Malkin, well known in Right wing circles, stepped upon the stage to recite his little piece. One lie followed another from the mouth of this unequalled convert to the Stalinist camp. Taking the cue from Hacker, Malkin said that in 1925 and for many years following, the I.L.D. was a lawyers’ defense organization and that Shachtman had pleaded guilty when arrested in 1927 in a “Hands Off Nicaragua” demonstration in Washington, proving the depths of the Opposition’s renegacy. That the party had instructed Shachtman to act in this manner and had never condemned him or the others who were responsible for it meant nothing to Malkin.
But that was the mildest of his fabrications. About this time, the comrades representing the C.L.A. protested aloud. That was a signal for the pogrom gang to get to work. In a hysterical, half-crazed voice, a party member arose and demanded our exclusion from the hall to which the chorus did not fail to join in. Carl Hacker, who has learned a few lessons from John L. Lewis, proposed a motion asking the Opposition delegates to withdraw from the hall. The terrorized party members voted for it. When the Opposition refused to leave without making a statement, a pack of hoodlums approached us with the threat to beat up on us. Unwilling to turn the meeting into a riot, we withdrew from the meeting under threat of violence.
We read the next day in the Daily Worker that “someone” overheard one of the Opposition delegates phoning Cannon to the effect that “we tried to disrupt the conference but were unsuccessful.” Having split the conference, the bureaucrats, with an aching conscience had to wrack their feeble brains for such a crude and ridiculous invention in order to convince the delegates that after all it was the Opposition that disrupted the meeting!
Last updated: 4.2.2013