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Which Political Party Shall the Miners
Support in the Coming Elections

(October 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 40, 1 October 1932, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – The coal diggers of Illinois are fighting a great battle. It is a battle against many foes, which promises no easy victory. Yet every day is rich in lessons for every miner that wants to learn. Let us take an accounting of our enemies, why they are arrayed against us and why we fight them to the finish.

  1. There are the coal operators who would reduce our living conditions to the starvation level.
  2. There are Lewis-Walker and henchmen who steal ballots and club and shoot miners who protest against their corruption and fakery. Their only service to the miners has been a Judas kiss.
  3. And then there are the courts, the prisons, the armed deputies, the state troopers and the militia.

There can be no doubt about the real character of the Peabodys and their flunkies, Lewis and Walker. With them there can be no peace. But the troopers, the militia, the deputies – isn’t their duty merely the prevention of speeding on the highways, apprehending thieves, and helping old ladles across the streets?

When we were children we believed in Santa Claus. Before the strike many of us entertained equally ridiculous notions about the troopers and the militia, even though we were quite mature individuals. Then came the march on Franklin County. All we wanted to do was to help our brothers down south maintain the $6.10 wage scale. What did we get? Bullets clubs and machine guns – from troopers and deputies. In Taylorville the militia breaks up miners’ meetings with tear gas bombs.

It is clear now that Lewis and Walker are not the only agency of the coal barons. The whole governmental machinery is brought into action against the workers at the mere crook of the capitalists’ finger. It is a state with its officials, thugs, police, deputies and militia whose purpose it is to insure the rule of the parasitic, exploiting few over the overwhelming majority of the people – the working masses. Can the worker place any confidence in these lickspittles decorated with the badge of authority, and can he hope to win his fight against worsening conditions by merely a union battle? He cannot. He must transform the union struggle into a political struggle; the scrap against wage reduction into the great battle for the overthrow of the capitalist system.

The Capitalist Demagogues

This is an election year and the air is thick with the glib phrases and promises of the demagogues of the Republican and the Democratic parties. They want votes and they will promise anything to get them. But actions speak louder than words. And the actions of the Republicans and the Democrats stamp them as lieutenants of the capitalist class in the body politic, just as Green, Lewis, Walker and Co., are the bosses’ lieutenants in the trade unions. Look at their records.

Hoover gives billions of dollars out of the government coffers to the railroads and the banks, while the millions of unemployed starve to death. He promises prosperity, talks patriotism and drives the hungry veterans from Washington with a tear-gas bonus. Emmerson, the Hoover of Illinois, unleashes his brutal deputies, militia and troopers for a savage attack upon defenseless men, women and children thinking that thereby he will drive the miners back into the pits of poverty.

And the Democrats are their twin brothers. They can afford to howl at the Republicans – it is good politics. But their campaign funds come from the same capitalist sources – the Hearsts, the Youngs, the Raskobs, etc. The notorious Samuel Insull is known to have contributed to the funds of both old parties. Governor Roosevelt talks of unemployment insurance but the nearest the New York worker has come to this insurance is a two mile long breadline. Democratic mayors of Detroit and Chicago have sent police to murder workers demanding bread and relief. And in Franklin County the democratic sheriff swears in deputies to assist the Republican troops in their savage assault upon tie miners. And Judge Horner is silent. Like Emmerson he must serve his class which is in bitter and mortal hostility to the miners. It is the class that revels in luxury while the workers have nothing to eat. Both these parties have nothing in common with the miners, their strike, their union. They stand on the side of Peabody and the parasitic ruling class.

Now there is a third party – the socialist party. It claims to stand for the workers and a workers’ government – socialism. Let us apply the acid test of deeds to this party as we have to the others. The National Executive Committee has decided in Chicago “not to interfere in the internal struggle in the miners union between the rank and file and their official” (Lewis and Walker). What does this mean? It means giving undercover support to the fakers by not condemning them openly and officially. It casts the shadow of doubt into the minds of the rest of the working class as to the guilt and perfidy of these misleaders. The S.P. harbors within its ranks such outspoken supporters of Lewis, Walker, and the wage cut as John Hindmarsh, Adolph Germer, Richard Glover, etc. And this party says it stands for the workers!

The Socialist Progam

It declares for a workers’ government – Socialism. By what methods does it expect to take over the mines and the factories and the mills for the workers? By the ballot box – “peacefully”. You miners that marched down to Franklin County try to picture this ... The capitalist class that uses machine guns against you to prevent you from getting a dollar more per day, is going to hand over their billion dollar industries to the workers because they cast more paper ballots! Can we believe these people who, like Lewis, have sold out more than once throughout the world.

In 1914 the socialist leaders drove the workers into the world slaughter for the profits of the bankers and the munition makers. In 1918 the German socialist leaders invested with the support of the majority of the working class did not establish a workers’ government but turned the reins of power back to the capitalists and murdered thousands of German workers for protesting. (Like Lewis and Walker who settle for a wage cut after the miners have already voted it down). In 1926 the British socialist leaders of the Labor party betrayed the general strike of many millions of workers and then knifed the miners’ strike of several hundred thousands. Need more evidence be produced to show the deceptive character of the socialist party which steers the workers straight back into the capitalist morass after promising to lead them into socialism? It is the third capitalist party.

There is but one party which represents the workers – the Communist party. The Left Opposition (Communist League of America) calls upon the miners to vote for its candidates – Foster and Ford – in this presidential election.

Communism, which we will achieve through our mass strength and the dictatorship of the proletariat is the only fundamental way out of this crisis of capitalism for the miners as well as the rest of the working class. Soviet Russia has shown the remarkable achievements possible in a land where the workers rule.

The Communists make no bones about ballots. We think nothing can be obtained by ballots except a gauge as to how many workers are ready to go down the line for the abolition of capitalism.

Vote Communist

The Left Opposition is aware of the blunders of the official party – Stalinism – in the miners’ struggle as well as elsewhere. It takes no responsibility for them. It realizes and has pointed out the foolish policy of isolation followed by the Communist party. It has condemned the indiscriminate name-calling, the lies and the slanders hurled against the militants of the new union by the Stalinists. The Left Opposition states to the miners that such tactics are not the tactics of genuine Communism.

The force that represents Communism in the coal fields is the Left Opposition – in the election campaign the candidates upholding the Communist banner are Foster and Ford and the party is the Communist party. The Communist League of America calls upon the miners to support the Communist candidates against the candidates of the three old parties!

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