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Farrell Dobbs

SWP Offers CP United Front
on Smith Act

Letter from the Socialist Workers Party
to the Communist Party

(28 July 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 31, 2 August 1948, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The Central Committee
Communist Party USA
New York, N.Y.
July 28, 1948


The indictment of 12 leaders of your party under the Smith Act is another sharp reminder that in this gag law the rulers in Washington have a diabolical weapon whose barb is aimed at the working class political and trade union movements.

We of the Socialist Workers Party were the first victims of the Smith Act. In 1941. eighteen of our party leaders were convicted under this Act in the famous Minneapolis Labor Case. They were imprisoned for terms ranging from 12 to 16 months. This conviction and the refusal of the Supreme Court on three different occasions to hear our appeal has set the precedent now being used against you.

We fought this conviction and the Smith Gag Act with all the power at our command. We succeeded in mobilizing hundreds of CIO and AFL unions. Negro, Jewish and other mass organizations representing over five million members. At the time of our case your party ignored the danger inherent in this conviction. Instead of helping fight it, the Communist Party sought to obstruct all efforts to arouse the labor movement to this danger.

Now that you are under attack, we, the first victims of the Smith Act, offer you our aid. We are convinced that only a united struggle by the whole labor movement – by all the tendencies within it – can defeat this conspiracy to deprive you of your democratic rights. The conviction of the Trotskyists paved the way for the present assault on the Communist Party. A conviction of the 12 indicted members of your party would in turn embolden the government to use the Smith Act for further persecution of workers’ organizations.

We ask you not to permit the profound political differences between your party and ours to stand in the way of a broad united front of the working class in defense of Civil Rights. While you did not come to the defense of the Trotskyists when we were prosecuted under the Smith Act, we have already made public our opposition to your indictment and are fully prepared to further assist in your defense.

We repeat. Only the solidarity of the whole labor movement and of all tendencies within it, can defeat the Smith Act which threatens all sections of labor.

We propose that representatives of our party be included on any defense committee set up in behalf of the 12 indicted leaders of your party. This in itself would be a forceful demonstration that on the issue of Civil Rights all sections of the labor movement, despite profound differences, can and must unite in self-defense against the dictatorial political agents of monopoly capitalism.

With us would come into such a united front defense organization a considerable section of the labor movement, which we and our co-workers have already succeeded in arousing to the grave dangers of the Smith Act during the famous Minneapolis Labor Trial,

We make this proposal in the name of our Political Committee and expect to receive a favorable reply from you at an early date.


Fraternally yours,
Farrell Dobbs
For the Political Committee
of the Socialist Workers Party

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