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Albert Goldman

Speech at New York Rally
for Released Minneapolis Prisoners

(2 February 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 6, 10 February 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Far be it from us to lay the least claim to a martyr’s crown. Imprisonment is a terrible thing under the best of conditions. It is terrible to hear the noise of the locking of a door behind you and feel that you are actually treated like some wild beast.

But in comparison with the lot of those in Hitler’s or Stalin’s concentration camps, in comparison with the conditions that the Indian revolutionists have to endure in the prisons provided for them by British imperialism, our lot was quite an enviable one.

It is not, however, because of our treatment in prison that you and thousands of others have protested and are protesting. It is because we were imprisoned for propagating ideas which we believe offer the only path to the liberation of mankind. Very few of those who supported us agree with our ideas but they understand that to permit reactionary forces to imprison people for preaching ideas that have as their aim the achievement of true liberty and equality for all men is dangerous indeed for everyone who is dissatisfied with the world as it is.

Our agitation against the Smith Act becomes part of our struggle to preserve and extend democratic rights for the people. For we live in a period when those rights are constantly threatened. The economic dislocations that are bound to follow the war, will bring with them serious conflicts between groups and classes. The answer to such conflicts on the part of the privileged and powerful is invariably the same: prisons and violence for those who are in the forefront of the struggle against the suppression of every democratic right. We must be prepared to guard those rights.

To you who do not agree with our political ideas I can say: Be absolutely certain that just as you have supported us, we shall support any one who is attacked by the forces of reaction, regardless of his disagreement with us. We accept and act upon the great principle which should prevail in the labor movement – an injury to one is an injury to all. Against the capitalists and all their tools the unity of all labor must be considered absolutely essential. The struggle on behalf of the defendants in the Minneapolis Case did not keep us out of prison. But it was certainly worth while to spend 13 months in prison to see that the spirit of solidarity lives in the hearts of tens of thousands of workers.

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