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Cleveland Workers Hear Oehler

(March 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 14, 1 March 1933, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Cleveland. – A highly gratifying mass meeting of the Left Oppostion was held here last Wednesday night at Painters Hall. More than 130 workers were present, more than half of them party members or members of party mass organizations. Comrades Hugo Oehler and Sam Gordon presented the point of view of the Communist League on the German crisis, with comrade John Brantin in the chair. A good collection was taken and numerous Militants were sold.

This marks the largest and first peaceful meeting of the Left Opposition in this city. All previous meetings took place under organized attacks from the Stalinists. The previous intense and widespread activities of the local group with regard to the German Fascist danger – participation in demonstrations and meetings, extensive distribution of leaflets, etc. – had aroused great interest in the German meeting of the Left Opposition and the official party leadership saw itself forced to refrain from the well-known physical argument this time and actually to send down a representative to take the floor in their name.

After the presentation of the views of our organization the chairman, comrade Brantin, asked if the party representative wanted the floor for 15 minutes. Comrade Leonard Patterson, in the name of the party, did his best in the course of twenty minutes to defend the indefensible position of Stalinism in Germany. After a great deal of confusion and stammering, he finally concluded with that poor trump card of the bureaucracy – the swindle about the “dissolution” of the German Left Opposition.

Comrade Oehler replied for the Communist League and with firm but comradely arguments tore the bottom out of the contentions of the party representative, exposing in an even more convincing and concrete way the inadequacy and faltering, criminal stupidity of the Stalinist position in Germany! Many questions, testifying to the intense interest in the subject, were asked by the audience, to which our comrade gave the proper revolutionary answer. After comrade Oehler’s summary, the meeting adjourned amid continued private discussions outside the hall.

All in all, this represents a great step forward for the Left Opposition in Cleveland. Not only the excellent attendance, but even more the comradely and sane spirit of the discussion is bound to have a profound effect on the local Communist workers, but those who constituted the majority of the audience as well as those who will come in contact with them. For the first time in their experience, they saw how deep principle disputes among Communists can he conducted in a Bolshevik manner, in a manner aimed to bring about genuine clarification in the proletarian ranks. That this will show them the futility and shamefulness of the Stalinist methods of physical terror in settling disputes with the Left Opposition cannot be doubted.

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