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Geo. Clarke

Organize Fight Against Mass Evictions

(May 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 27, 20 May 1933, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


As we go to press we learn from the evening papers of the savage assault made by the N.Y. Police upon demonstrations in New York at the Home Belief Bureaus where unemployed workers protested the slashing of relief and the cessation of rent payments by the city. The thugs in uniform brutally slugged the workers. Many were taken to the hospital for treatment.

The working masses of New York are setting their first dose of the Roosevelt “New Deal.” Tammany Hall, “the friend of the people,” has ordered the wholesale eviction of the New York unemployed from their homes. Working in cooperation with their election backers, the landlords and the bankers, the McCooeys, the Currys, the O’Briens and the rest of the honest men in control of the City government have cut off all payment of rents for the unemployed. This is no small matter. It cuts into the lives of more than 1,000,000 unemployed, their wives and children. Tammany’s brutal eviction order tells the jobless masses of this city to pack their belongings and to rent a sleeping place for themselves on the park benches, the subway or a flop-house – if they can get into one.

This is the fourth year of the economic crisis. The masses have watched the degradation of their standards of life with little or no resistance. So long as they were able to “get by” on the handouts of the relief institutions they remained dormant and passive. The Communists warned that even these pitiful doles would be retracted if the workers did not fight for their maintenance and for the granting of the only half-way substantial form of relief under capitalism – unemployment insurance. These warnings have now become a sinister fact. Relief has either been reduced or eliminated in various parts of the country. New York is now falling in line with new dole to be dispensed to the American workers – the dole of starvation and evictions.

The capitalist class is determined to carry out its cynical hunger program. Listen to what a capitalist information agency, the Kiplinger Washington letter has to say and draw your own conclusions:

“Organized labor now has the chance of a generation to fix wages into the general scheme of production costs and to promote collective bargaining. Labor leaders do not seem to see it, however. You as employers seem safe in assuming continuing stupidity of labor.”

This cynical but clear-sighted statement applies with equal force to the movement of the unemployed. But the failure to organize powerful unemployed organizations falls squarely upon the sectarian policy of the Stalinists which resulted in the division of the employed and unemployed. Yet, great opportunities still stand before the movement today. With hundreds of thousands of jobless about to be forcefully thrown out of their lodgings, with relief checks drastically slashed by the city, great masses of the jobless can be set into motion to frustrate the starvation orders of Tammany Hall. The Unemployed Councils of (ireater New York have called upon all workers, for all are directly or indirectly affected, irrespective of color, nationality or political creed to come in huge numbers to a city-wide demonstration against the attacks of the bankers and landlords – to raise their voices and their ftsts against the mass evictions and the reduction of relief.

The Left Opposition stands solidly behind this movement and calls upon all workers to lend their fighting support to stay the hand of the Tammany evictor. All out on Thursday, May 25th!

N. Y. Conference Against Evictions and Relief Cuts

On May 18, in answer to a call of the Unemployed Councils of greater New York, a provisional conference took place to organize the struggle against evictions, relief cuts and to prepare a larger united front which is to take place on June 4th.

Represented at this conference were the Communist Party, the T.U.U.L., the Unemployed Councils, the I.W.O, the CPLA, the Association of the Unemployed (controlled by the Lovestoneites,) the IWW, and the N.Y. Barnch of the Left Opposition which, although uninvited, sent three delegates, comrades Hilton, Lewitt and Clarke.

The conference began by an attempt of the Stalinists to exclude the Left Opposition from the provisional gathering through a motion by Benjamin to exclude all organizations not invited in the call for the conference. They, the Stalinists benevolently granted, would have the right to participate in the broader conference (where they could be swamped by the host of local party auxiliaries.) By this procedure, the I.W.W., also not included in the original call, would be barred from the preliminary deliberations. The protest of Cohen of the CPLA and Sizemore of the IWW succeeded in forcing the Stalinists to retract and passed the motion of Lewitt to seat all city-wide organizations present.

Next came the choice morsel of the meeting, if we may call it that. The Lovestonite from the Association of the Unemployed, Rubenstein, took the floor to make the most reactionary proposal yet heard from the Right wing camp. He demanded that the conference be restricted to unemployed organizations only. (This would mean that the only organizations eligible would be the Unemployed Councils and the Association of Unemployed, the S.P. unemployed organization having sabotaged the conference.) Rubenstein further stated that his organization was unanimously opposed to the participation of any political groups (!). This Right wing proposal, which one would expect from an A.F.L. Red baiter, could only succeed in ousting all trade union bodies which have a huge unemployed membership (dividing the employed from the jobless) and all political bodies which are directly interested in the relief question as a political struggle. Rubenstein’s attempt to take refuge behind the backwardness of t he members of the Association of Unemployed was futile as he directly implicated the Lovestone group by saying that this stand represented the unanimous opinion of his organization. The conference opposed this proposal as a man. Rubenstein withdrew from the conference, adding insult to injury and splitting the conference.

The conference then discussed and accepted a draft call for action and for the June 4th conference. It elected an Ex. Comm. from which they succeeded in barring the Left Opposition. As its part in this struggle the Left Opposition had pledged all its forces, the use of its headquarters for information and congregation to the jobless in the fight against evictions and relief cuts.

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