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Trotsky Meeting in Duluth

(April 1932)

Letters from the Militants, The Militant, Vol. V No. 15 (Whole No. 111), 9 April 1932. p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DULUTH, MINN. In spite of definite threats of a “broken head if he speaks Friday on Trotsky”, comrade Sam Bloomberg, well-known party member and a figure in the Winnipeg General Strikes of 1919, addressed a mass meeting of over 150 attentive workers Friday night in Moose Temple on the Truth About Trotsky, thus breaking through a ring of slander and intrigue maintained by the Stalinists against the Left Opposition for over two years since the occasion when comrade Shachtman last spoke here. The meeting marks a forward step for the Opposition in a city having a militant class-struggle tradition like Duluth.

It was originally scheduled to be held at Camel Hall. But since that hall is also rented on a monthly basis by the Stalinites, the management was pressed into refusing to allow the hall for a Trotsky meeting. As is to be expected, this bureaucratic attempt to suppress the meeting aroused determination on the part of the workers to hear the point of view of the Left Opposition, and, in spite of a blizzard, made our meeting successful. A few party members and a number of T.U.U.L., F.S.U., I.W.O. and ex-Party members were present, in spite of the party decision to boycott the meeting.

Comrade O’Rourke, the chairman, who is an old Duluth militant, a R.R. engineer, opened the meeting and introduced comrade Bloomberg. In an hour and a quarter speech, marked, by brilliant analysis and conviction, Bloomberg told the story of Trotsky and the Left Opposition, the alleged “differences” with Lenin from 1903 on, the theory of socialism in one country, the role of the Left Opposition in bringing the Communist movement back on the base of Marxism-Leninism. “For years I was prejudiced and poisoned against the Left Opposition by the Stalinite press. It took me two years of study and practical observation to convince me that Trotsky is right and that the hope of the international Communist movement rests in the success of the Left Opposition.” Bloomberg’s declaration was well received.

O’Rourke then, introduced comrade Carl Cowl, the secretary of the Minneapolis branch of the Communist League, who spoke on Why the Centrist Bureaucracy Defeated the Left Opposition. Citing the defeats of the proletariat in Bulgaria (1923), Germany (1923), Esthonia (1924), Great Britain (1926), China (1927) and the stabilization of capitalism connected with these catastrophes, together with the weariness engendered in the Russian proletariat after the heroic straining of forces in the years of the revolution and civil war, Cowl explained the new confidence placed in the petty bourgeois strata of the city and village and in the bourgeois elements of the state bureaucracy who gained considerable strength on the basis of the N.E.P. The centrist apparatus, supporting itself on these elements and exploiting the passivity of the proletariat, crushed the Left, revolutionary wing of the Party and revised the principles of Marxism-Leninism. He depicted the lying and disloyal campaign used to poison the minds of the party members. It is necessary to combat their lies with the truth, their disloyalty by comradely methods, their irresponsibility before the working class by serious work. He called on every member of the audience to hear the other side of the question by reading and subscribing to The Militant and Unser Kamf and Young Spartacus and the pamphlets on specific problems before the world working class. Further, those workers who are in agreement with the principles and aims of the Left Opposition, should not hesitate, but should join our ranks and help our cause.

Comrade Carl Skoglund, member of the National Committee of the Communist League, then took the floor on the German elections and gave an analysis of the dangerous and compromising position the Stalinists were leading the German party into. He explained precisely what Fascism is and the stupidity of the slogan: After Fascism – the Workers Dictatorship, which betrays and disarms the German working class in the primary struggle against Fascism. He revealed the figures in the recent elections and exposed the false analysis of “victory” for the Communists who gained a few hundred thousand votes as compared to six million of the Fascists. The German question will not be solved in the elections or in parliament, he said, but in the class struggle, and finally by the united forces of the proletariat against the reaction.

The speakers were harassed with questions and discussion, a few Stalinites adding to the interest of the meeting by raising the old chestnuts about writing in the capitalist press, aiding Bruening and others, some of which actually brought laughter from the audience. There were some serious statements of support together with a recount of a number of incidents in Duluth illustrating wrong party tactics, leading to lack of confidence and disrespect and finally isolation from the workers.

$10.50 worth of literature was sold, and there was a substantial collection. Three subs were gotten and two new members joined the League. Workers, after the meeting, expressed amazement that they could have been so deceived by the Party press and asked for more such meetings. With the present program of adventurism of the party continuing in force, there is every possibility of building a good branch in Duluth which will be able to help restore the confidence and support of the working class in Communism.

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