Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Sam Gordon

Mobilising the Labor United Front

(September 1931)

From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 25 (Whole No. 84), 26 September 1931, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Every day brings new indications of well prepared attacks against the working class by the leaders of American capital, by the so-called “captains of industry”, if attention is given to the development of this campaign of attacks, the line of boss strategy, will become as clear as daylight before all workers, and the organization of their defensive struggle will thereby become more effective and strike its mark.

The burning need of the hour, in the face of the torrentous onslaught of the old, experienced and crafty bourgeoisie, is the hermetic unity of the working class, which has yet to be achieved. Equally important is the ever watchful alertness of the party of the class, of the Communists, in directing the forces of the defensive.

Double Responsibility

Incomprehension of the perspectives facing the working class, a false analysis of the situation, failure to grasp the tasks involved, faulty preparations, are bound to prove costly not only to the Communist leaders of the proletariat, but to the entire working class as a whole. This double responsibility staring us in the face, these circumstances that constantly keep every revolutionist on edge today, alone force the Left Opposition to stress before the membership of the Communist party, one hundred fold the importance of the Leninist united front tactic, the necessity of returning to the principles of the International of Lenin and of Trotsky, and to increase our criticism of the Centrist bureaucrats blindly following the Stalinist apparatus, with all the greater impetus.

A working class divided, is an easy prey in the claws of the capitalist vultures. The fighting unity of the workers spells their end. The struggle for the conciliation of the backward laboring masses with their revolutionary vanguard is a struggle on many fronts.

Aside from the necessity of uniting the reformist with the revolutionary workers, there are a good many other problems involved in constituting tho workers’ front. We shall deal here with only two aspects of the question of unity.

The bosses aim at breaking up the ranks of the proletariat is being carried on under various forms. One of the most vicious forms is that of pitting the white against the black workers. How they go about this is most easily demonstrated by a few Unemployment statistics. The Monthly Labor Review of the U.S. Department of Labor quotes the following from a report on an investigation made by the Urban League:

“Wherever figures were given, the percentage of the unemployed among the Negroes exceeded their percentage of the total population and in some cases, the disproportion was very marked. Thus, in Baltimore they formed 17 per cent, of the population and 31.5% of the unemployed; in Charleston, S.C. 49% of the population and 70% of the unemployed in Chicago, 4% of the population and 16% of the unemployed, in Philadelphia 7% and 25%, in Pittsburgh 8% and 38%,” etc.

Not only are Negro workers the first ones to be fired when personnel is reduced, but very often they are replaced by white labor. The boss, by playing on the race instincts of the white workers in this manner tries to set up a barrier between white and black, from which he alone ultimately gains. Now the Negroes make up about 10 percent of the entire population of the United States. In very many industries, their percentage is even far weightier. In resisting the attacks of the bosses, who live from the labor of the white and the black workers alike, the inclusion of the Negro toilers in the ranks of the struggle is indispensable. The unity of Negro and white workers is a matter of do of die. The task of the Communists is not so much to make the Negro worker race conscious, which all the blabber of the Stalinists about “national minority” and “self-determination” drives at, but much rather to expose the class character of the oppression against the Negro before the Negro himself as well as before the white workers. That is the only way of achieving the solidarity of the white and the black workers against the capitalist enemy. All the frame-ups, all the lynchings, all the massacres of Negro workers in the street must be explained and combated from this angle. The fight against Negro persecution and for the unity of the white and the Negro workers can only be carried on under the banner of the class struggle.

Foreign-Born Workers

Another method of dividing the workers against themselves is the campaign to deport foreign born workers. The labor faker Doak, as secretary of Labor in the Hoover cabinet, announces 20,000 deportations of foreign born workers within the period of a few short months and hopes thereby to arouse the basest national instincts of the native workers. When the native born worker considers, however, that the percentage of foreign born labor in the United States amounts to about 15 per cent of the entire industrial population and more, it becomes clear to him that this whole business of deportations is merely a reactionary ruse. Here are a few figures of the percentages of foreign born is different industries:

Iron and Steel manufacturing



Bituminous coal mining


Woolen and Worsted m’f’r’g


Cotton goods




The question of the unity of native and foreign born labor, is therefore, when we remember that foreign born labor amounts to about 9,000,000 workers in good, round numbers, a question of vital importance in the resistance of the American working class to the onslaught of capital. These hard figures are convincing enough to drive out primitive prejudices from the minds of the American worker. They mean: Hanging together or hanging alone. When the American worker understands this, he will undoubtedly raise his voice against the system of deportation, the cruelty and barbarism of which is enough to even make the conservative bourgeois intellectuals on the Wickersham Commission filled with disgust.

Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 27.1.2013