From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 29 (Whole No. 88), 31 October 1931), p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
CHICAGO. – A few additional words on the Unemployment Conference that took place in Chicago on October 18 might interest readers of The Militant. It was grimly humorous, if humor can be associated with unemployment and the struggles of the working class.
The conference which was to unite the workers for a hunger march in Cook County started at 11 o’clock, an hour late. The attendance was not as large as at the preceding conference. The preliminaries being done away with, the conference proceeded to the election of a credentials committee. The committee elected consisted of five: Rubicki, Brown, Williams, O’Hare and Curtiss, the last being a member of the Left Opposition. It would be too much to say that this was the result of pressure from the ranks; it was evidently a slip-up of the machine, although the Opposition’s stand, particularly for unity, had a large following also from the floor.
The credentials committee then convened in a room above. Of course, there was no great difficulty about seating anyone; everyone was seated except the delegates of the Communist League of America (Opposition) whose credentials were taken up when all other business was cleared away.
Rubicki then said, “I move that the delegation of the Communist League of America (Opposition) be not seated” because it was an organization that was against the Communist Party, the only party of the workers, and he drooled his litany on and on. Rubicki was very anxious to go to a vote. The delegate from the Opposition however got the floor and spoke, in brief, as follows:
“The statement of comrade Rubicki is untrue. While the Communist League of America (Opposition) is undoubtedly outside the Communist Party against our wish and action, because it disagrees with the policies of its leaders, it still recognizes the Communist Party as the incarnation of the ideals of communism which live in spite of the actions of the leaders of the party. Comrade Rubicki is challenged to prove that we, by word, writ or deed in any way, are against communism. Even if this statement were true, which it is not, the call for the conference specifies that all organizations ‘regardless of the affiliations to unions or political parties’ are invited. Would that mean that the Democratic, Republican or Socialist parties or their controlled organizations would be allowed to send representatives and the Opposition not permitted? Unity is the need of the movement; rally the workers behind the Communist Party and T.U.U.L.”
Rubicki constantly hurried the delegates and begrudged them a few words and demanded that a vote be taken. Discussion was for the moment cut short.
“All those in favor of the motion that the delegates of the Communist League of America (Opposition) not be seated, raise their hands”. Two hands were raised. Rubicki blinked in amazement, counted again. There were yet two.
“All those opposed.” ... Three hands were raised. Rubicki went pale with horror. It was bad enough that he had had to sit on the same committee with a “rengade”, but to have that committee go down and recommend the seating of the delegates of the Communist League of America was more than flesh could stand. Three to two the credentials committee stood, for seating the delegates of the Left Opposition.
Rubicki now became interested in further discussion. The Negro delegate, Williams, was evidently a new party member and instinctively he reacted to the proposals of the Left Opposition for unity. Upon him all the attention of Rubicki was turned. Rubicki was in a frenzy. The delegate of the Left Opposition, calm, had no difficulty in refuting Rubicki’s arguments. Rubicki had to dig deep into the sewers of slander and demagogy in order to bully the Negro delegate into voting to unseat the delegates of the Left Opposition.
The Committee then stood three to two on the question of seating the Opposition. A demand for a minority report was voted down – a Jeffersonian prejudice; it is all right for left wingers to ask such rights from reactionary labor unions, but quite different when the Opposition demands it from the party bureaucrats.
Meantime, down below the work of the conference had begun. During the discussion, comrade Oehler of the Opposition had put forth the position of the Communist League: for the six hour day and five day week without reduction in pay; for social insurance; for the extension of long term credits to the Soviet Union and development of economic relations between the United States and the U.S.S.R.; for unity of the workers; for the ultimate goal of the proletarian revolution. Oehler’s remarks were received with manifest applause by the delegates. Following him, Gebert party district organizer, spoke.
Gebert’s speeches never vary, especially against the “Trotskyites”: the same adjectives, verbs, nouns, adverbs, etc. He scarcely allows himself to give order to his words of what he would like to be “burning scorn”, but he only succeeds in boring his audience. Maybe there is merit in Gebert’s methods. Since he will never discover any new proofs of the “renegacy” of the Left Opposition, he will also not be guilty of deviations.
Finally the report of the credentials committee was called for. Rubicki reported and scarcely allowed himself time to mention the number of delegates, 320, before he attacked the “renegades”. The slip-up of earlier in the day was not to be repeated. The machine had been repaired, oiled and put again into first class shape, but in spite of all this, the attempts at steam-rolling had quite a bit of resistance. The unprecedented refusal of a minority report abashed even a number of party comrades. When “Noes” were called for, there was quite a sprinkling of them throughout the hall.
Some of the die-hards then arose and demanded that the unseated delegates leave the hall. The bureaucrats thought better of it, the action would be too obvious, and our support was not negligible. The die-hards, who plainly did not have much support from the floor, were quieted.
During all this hub-bub the delegates from the Left Opposition received whispered words of encouragement from workers. Their attitude was admiration of the more advanced communists and their sincere proposals, so obviously in place. The Opposition demand for unity aroused many of the workers. Our support was larger than ever before. In spite of the methods of the bureaucrats, we advise all workers, especially those who supported our seating, to remain in the Unemployed Conference for these, among other, reasons:
Last updated: 4.2.2013