From The Militant, Vol. II No. 8, 15 April 1929, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Our expulsion from the Young Workers League, perpetrated by the Party bureaucracy and its counterpart in the League, took place because we announced our solidarity with the International Leninist Opposition and our intention, to struggle for the line represented by it.
We view the campaign against the Leninist Opposition as the sharpest clanger confronting the Comintern since such a struggle has had the effect – it could have no other – of strengthening the Right wing everywhere. The united attack “against the Left” (Stalin) by the Right and Center groups has only served to reinforce the Right-Centrist policies of the Comintern, and make more severe the difficulties of the Soviet Union. The Stalin faction, unable to solve these difficulties of the Soviet Union, on the basis of correct Bolshevik policy, has resorted to expulsions, imprisonments, exile and deportation as its “solution.” The policy of the Opposition has been to maintain the foundations of Marxism-Leninism against all attacks. It has fought against all odds to uphold the revolutionary character of the Soviet Union and the Comintern. The crisis in which these find themselves today can only be solved on the basis of the correct political line of the Leninist Opposition.
The Opposition has conducted an energetic struggle against:
- the revisionist theory of “building a complete socialist society in one country” (Stalin);
- against the opportunist position of the Comintern in the Anglo-Russian Committee and their failure to break with the British trade union fakers following their open betrayal of the General Strike;
- against the menshevik line of the E.C.C.I. in the Chinese Revolution, where an alliance was made with the national bourgeoisie in which the interests of the workers and peasants were sacrificed;
- for a clear and determined struggle against the constantly increasing Kulak and Nepman danger;
- for the establishment of Party Democracy on the basis of Lenin’s resolution at the 10th Russian Party Congress, and against the bureaucratic regime, the means through which alien classes are exerting pressure on the Party and the Soviet apparatus.
These wrong policies of the Comintern leadership are reflected in the Young Communist International. Instead of being in the foreground in the struggle against opportunism, the Y.C.I, has been transferred into a rubber stamp which endorses the position of the Stalin faction on every occasion. The sharp decline in League membership throughout the world, and particularly in Germany, China and the United States, plus a noticeable weakening of the recruiting power of the Leagues, is testimony to the false line followed by the Y.C.I. in recent years. A woeful passivity, indifference and stagnation characterizes some of the largest sections of the Communist Youth.
The Situation in the American League The situation in the American League merits the deepest attention of the entire movement. The League, reorganized legally in 1922, grew steadily until 1925 under the leadership which has now been expelled because of their adherence to the Opposition (Shachtman, Abern, Carlson, Edwards, Mass, etc.) In that period, free from faction struggle until the latter part of it when it was introduced by the Lovestone group. League units were organized in every part of the country. The third convention found a League with a member[ship] of more than 3,000. The Young Worker had been changed from a monthly magazine to a militant weekly newspaper, issued regularly. The influence, activity and ideological level of the League was on the increase.
The mechanical reorganization of the League’s leadership, during which the leadership selected by the overwhelming majority of the membership was removed by the representatives of the C.I., and agents of the Lovestone faction put in their place, marked the beginning of the decline of the organization. The League was thrown into a factional crisis from which the leadership has been unable to extract it to. this very day. Incompetent and bureaucratic, divorced from the proletarian youth and regarding them with the superciliousness of petty-bourgeois intellectuals, the Zam-Herberg-Darcy (Lovestone) leadership of the League led the organization along the downward curve of development at a steady and hardly interrupted pace. This leadership, transferring the opportunism of their Party faction directly into the League, has been guilty of numerous crimes against the revolutionary youth movement.
Instead of unifying the split ranks of the League, the present leadership has led it from one factional crisis into another. Instead of increasing the membership of the League, it has driven away workers so that the League membership today is considerably below 2,000. Instead of proletarianizing the League, the percentage of intellectuals and students is today higher than previously, as even the Y.C.I. must admit. Instead of strengthening the press, it has been forced to retreat to a monthly paper – that is, back to where the League was in 1922–23. Despite all the boasting and self-praise, the League is today as organizationally chaotic as it was in its worst days, and the nucleus reorganization remains on paper. Shop campaigns are non-existent and trade union work is a formality in which a handful of functionaries participate. The anti-militarist work swings from bourgeois pacifism to the wild “leftism” of military training, uniforms, and demands – in the present situation! – for a workers’ militia. The parliamentary activity of the League can probably best be characterized by the fact that the 1928 Election Number of the Young Worker did not appear until some time after Hoover’s election! The level of understanding of the membership is at low ebb, and the political education of the young Communists is confined chiefly to cramming the falsifications of Stalinist revisionism down the throats of the membership.
The outstanding and incontrovertible fact is that, in spite of the far more favorable objective conditions, the struggles, and the experiences the League has enjoyed in the last four years over the previous four, the League today is weak, uninfluential, stagnant and torn by factionalism. That is the balance sheet of the leadership of the League which has been instrumental in expelling many of the best and most capable comrades from the organization for their support to the revolutionary line of the Opposition.
The opportunities for growth have been many and frequent. The effects of rationalization and generally increased exploitation of the youth, the growing militarization of the country with its threat of imperialist war to the workers, the growing resistance of the workers expressed in the struggles in the coal, clothing, textile and other industries – all of these show that a fertile field for agitation and recruiting was open to the League. These can still be taken advantage of if a turn is made by the League members.
The struggle of the League Opposition was hampered in the past by the confusion and capitulationist ideology of a section of its leaders (Williamson, Harvey, and for a time, Kaplan). Attempting to make a mechanical separation of the struggle within the Party from that in the League, they weakly surrendered the principle struggle on one occasion after another. Done in “the interests of unity” it actually resulted in the further intrenchment of the Lovestone group in the League and the intensification of the factional situation. The futility of their “struggle” and their hopeless confusion and political cowardice has been frequently demonstrated. The revolutionary youth must reject both the corrupt, dilettante Lovestone group in the League and the capitulation ist minority. The latter, standing as it does on the platform of the Stalin faction, is waging a fight that is devoid of principal content. Its accession to leadership in the League would signify a victory for Stalinism, but not a victory for the proletarian revolutionary current in the Communist movement.
The differences existing in the League cannot be separated from those in the Party; those in the Party are vitally connected with the struggle in the whole International. The difficulties in the International cannot be solved on the basis of a bloc between the Right (Bucharin-Tomsky-Rykov) and the Center (Stalin) but only by the victory of the Leninist Opposition led by comrade Trotsky. To this victory we have devoted our efforts.
The comrades of the expelled Opposition have been active members of the League for many years, engaged in work in many spheres of League activity. The expelled comrades are proletarians who have in many cases played a leading part in the work of building the movement. The first condition for the unification of the League and Party is the immediate reinstatement of all the expelled Communists with full rights of discussion and clarification.
The Platform of the Opposition, sent to the Sixth Convention of the Party, correctly says:
“The main task of the League members is to fight relentlessly for the line of revolutionary principles now being defended by the Leninist Opposition. An additional prerequisite is the eradication of all corrupt petty-bourgeois tendencies in the League, of opportunist following in the path of the Party faction regime, of ‘smart-Aleckism’, cynicism, and playing with the working class movement.”
We stand on the line of the International Opposition and the Platform of the Communist Opposition in the United States, as the expression of the correct revolutionary course to be followed on an international and American scale. The League as a whole must adopt this line. We are determined to carry on the struggle for its victory.
SIGNED: Albert Glotzer, Mike Zalisko (Chicago); Joe Angelo (Springfield, Ill.); Gerry Allard (Christopher, Ill.); Martha Burns (Gary); Sam Curtis, Martin Payer, Charles Mahler, E. Carlson (St. Louis); Ruth Reynolds (Detroit); Carl Cowl, Sarah Avrin (Minneapolis); B. Morgenstern, Sol Lankin, Leon Goodman, Nathan Shanker, Joe Lesack (Philadelphia); Mac Kudler, Irving Spreiregen, Joseph Fox, Harold Robins, Joseph Friedman, George Clark, John Justin, Sam Watts, Leon Dennenberg, Harry Stone, Louis Stone, Paul Green, Jean Tishman, Ben Gross, Kari Hall (New York); Bob Green (Wilmington)
Last updated: 12.8.2012