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Sam Gordon

An Admission of Bankruptcy

(July 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 28 (Whole No. 124), 9 July 1932, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Several weeks ago, when we carried an article in The Militant entitled The Right Wing International on the Verge of Collapse, the Lovestone sheet waxed indignant, confounded us together with the genuine liars fom the Stalinist camp and in a feigned gesture of contemptuous pride, stuck out its chest – upon which, alas, blows are soon to pound in loud repentance ...

A Damaging Admission

Three weeks later – we can hardly believe our eyes – the columns of the Workers’ Age itself carry statements to this effect:

“The International Communist Opposition (read: the international Right wing – Ed.), considered as a political unity, as a cohesive, smoothly functionary international faction in the C.I., has failed to measure up to the tasks which the situation in the world labor movement and in the Comintern has placed before it. The International Communist Opposition (read: the Right wing – Ed.) today is in a serious crisis, political as well as organization.” (Workers’ Age, June 25)

But even more damning than these admissions, which the Right wing leaders are forced to make before their alarmed and awakening rank and file, is their confession that there never actually was anything like an organized international Right wing. The Resolution on the International Conference, from which the above passage was quoted, tells us that “except for the transmission of correspondence between the various groups, the International Center has hardly functioned.” (!) That this was the case all along we have never doubted and we have more than once pointed out that the Right wing were merely drawing thereby the logical practical conclusions flowing from the theory of socialism in one country.

The Resolution on the International Conference is Lovestone’s Declaration of Bankruptcy. Seen in the light of recent developments, it represents an attempt of Lovestone to square himself with his taskmasters of tomorrow by cutting himself away from his allies of today.

“The chief manifestations of this crisis ...”, the resolution says, “is the fact that the substantial unanimity in principles (?) upon which it (the Right wing international – Ed.) was built up has now to a considerable extent been reduced to merely agreement on tactical questions.”

Here we have, then, on black and white, an avowal from the lips of Lovestone himself that his international alliance has no principle basis. But – there remains the basis of agreements on tactical questions. What tactical questions? Is it the tactical question of reform of the Communist International or the establishment of a new International? His resolution itself tells us that “There are some (Swedish Opposition) who regard the present crisis in the world Communist movement as essentially incurable on the basis of the rehabilitation of the existing Communist International ...”

Is it the tactical question on how to negotiate for readmission into the Communist International? Let us see. While Lovestone carries on negotiations with Comintern representatives in America, his erstwhile allies in Germany, the Brandlerites, write in their resolution:

Brandler’s View

“The International Communist Opposition (Right wing – Ed.) and the organizations belonging to it reject the maneuvers of the officials of the C.I. and their sections in approaching individual national organizations, local groups or individual members for the purpose of rejoining, so far as to play them off against one another”. (Gegen den Strom, June 18, 1932)

This declaration on the part of the Brandlerites gives the lie, by the way, to the Lovestones contention, in their “answer” to us referred to above, that “the unity moves ... which the C.P. Majority Group (Lovestoneites) have made, have been made with the full knowledge an approval of the German Opposition (Brandlerites) ...” Workers’ Age, May 21) But this is just another typical trick of the Lovestone fakers and does not surprise anyone who knows them, Lovestone pulled his followers into the Brandlerist camp in the dark of night. There is no reason why he should be expected to pull them out of it by any different methods.

Is it perhaps, we ask ourselves in exhaustion, the tactical question of the attitude towards the Left Opposition that the Right wingers agree on. Even there, no agreement exists. The Lovestone resolution tells us: “In general, only a few of the Opposition groups have worked out a definite viewpoint on the question of Trotskyism”. But it does admit that “in the now expelled minority of the German Opposition and in the group around Neurath in the Czech Opposition, definitive and avowed Trotskyist tendencies have become manifest”. He merely forgets to mention that the reason why “only a few of the Opposition groups have worked out a definite viewpoint on the question of Trotskyism” is that they are not quite safe with their rank and file on this point.

Finally, the resolution informs us,

“There is not sufficient agreement, on the question of Centrism (the Left wing reformists) and the relations of the Opposition towards it ... In the discussion which arose in the International Communist Opposition (Right wing), the existence of certain unclarity on and even toleration of centrism in a number of Opposition groups became visible.”

The fact that Centrism has been tolerated in a number of groups with which he has been associated for nearly two years does not, however, restrain Lovestone from giving the following, altogether baseless, estimate of the relationship between the Left Opposition and Centrism.

A Right Wing Lie

“... Trotsky himself has initiated a deliberate policy of political rapprochement (sic) with the Centrist organizations, a move generally welcomed by the latter. It is not an altogether unfamiliar role for Trotsky to play as the crystalizing force for various Centrist tenencies as a grouping. The political platform of this new Trotskyist alliance can be clearly seen from recent developments (which developments?): Trotsky lends the Centrists the much needed mantle of revolutionary integrity, while they agree to operate as the West European supports of the Trotsky faction in the C.P.S.U.”

Truly conceived according the traditional Lovestoneite horse-trade criterion. But comrade Trotsky and the Russian Opposition will thank Lovestone very kindly for this very Lovestonish “political platform” and remind him that we – the Left Opposition have got an International Center and that it does function and not only “for the transmission of correspondence between the various groups.”

* * * *

The only thing that stands out clearly in this confused, equivocal, characteristically opportunist Resolution on the International Conference is the resumption by Lovestone of the fight with all the necessary flourishes, aganst – “counter-revolutionary Trotskyism”, in this document, still – the “counter-revolutionary phase of Trotkyism”. The hazy charges of “Thermidorian accusations of Trotskyism against the Soviet State and the C.P.S.U.”, with which the Right wing fishermen hope to hook their rank and file bait. The talk about our “scepticism as to the possibilities of socialist construction (!) in the U.S.S.R. – is beneath reply. And so on.

Lovestone must ingratiate himself once more with the top sergeants of the Stalin faction. There is no better way for him to do this, there is nothing more palatable of flattering for these subalterns in the cloaks of generals than sustenance in the fight against Trotskyism. And Lovestone is an expert in this.

The negotiations for the re-establishment of the Right-Center bloc are going on full blast. The Right wing is toppling over. No time must be lost.

And so Lovestone makes haste, digs up his old clothes – “principles” and “tactics” – rushes over to the pawnshop of Uncle Stalin, gets the pure coin of a new assignment in the fight against “Trotskyism” and a new lease of political life for himself. But these are hard times. And who knows how long this coin will last?

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