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With the Opposition in Minneapolis

(January 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 2 (Whole No. 98), 9 January 1932, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Recently a worker approached the League and applied for membership. He is sullen, shy, keenly observant, but not very talkative. He said he had just completed a 90 day sentence at the workhouse for participation in the February 25 Hunger Demonstration last year. He had been picked up by the police after the event as a “suspect”, in reality as a hostage pending the arrest of the T.U.U.L. and party organizers of the affair. The breaking into the Gateway Meat Market on that date, the product of the party’s “third period” adventure in Minneapolis, found the party bureaucrats unwilling to go through with the move for which they alone were responsible. When the three rank and file workers were arrested, Karl Reeve, Powers and Grecht, the erstwhile working class heroes on the party payroll, sneaked out of town. The party officially announced they had nothing to do with the affair and refused to participate in the defense of the workers fearing this would implicate it, and be used as prima facie evidence of the party’s responsibility. All idea of working class solidarity was thrown to the winds. The workers of Minneapolis got a lot of secret satisfaction out of the daring act of the demonstrators literally refusing to starve and going into the store and “taking it”. But chagrin was felt at the manner in which the party shamefully deserted the workers arrested, tried and railroaded to the work house.

The flight of Reeve and Powers threw the party into a panic. For months no challenge was made to the edict of the Republican Mayor Kunze against all Communist assembly. The T.U.U.L. headquarters on Hennepin was left open by the police perhaps for the purpose of trapping Powers. The Communist League headquarters, however, were raided twice and meetings broken up. Our headquarters were finally closed. To all appearances, the police department considered the Trotskyists as the more dangerous menace in the given situation.

In the workhouse, the I.L.D. machinery was again gummed up. Or was it deliberate sabotage and cowardice again? The I.L.D. lost a unique opportunity to exploit this local issue along with its national campaign. After all, nothing rallies local workers so much as a case they personally know about. Never for years has there been as good a case. Innocent, framed workers. The I.L.D. officially did nothing for the victims. A few friends brought fruit and cigarettes and very little of that. The boys felt the bureaucrats had betrayed them; and that their own comrades had deserted them. It rankled. They resolved never to be made scapegoats again.

After serving their sentence, one comrade dropped out altogether, one came back into the I.L.D., much “wiser” for the experience, and the third, after several months of thought and study of the situation, joined the Communist Opposition. In his own words he says, “I’m going to do what I can to help put the Communist party back on the right track.”

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Last updated: 23.3.2013