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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(7 April 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 22, 7 April 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

I.F.T.U. Postpones Meeting in the Midst of Crisis

The increasingly sharpened character of political events appear to have paralyzed completely the bureaucrats of the International Federation of Trade Unions.

A regular meeting of the Executive of the I.F.T.U. was due in March. Hitler was taking Czechoslovakia and Memel, Franco was entering Madrid and Valencia. With such heat on, the Citrines and Schevenels decided ... to postpone their meeting!

It was not by accident that the only international working class organization meeting in the midst of the crisis last September and issuing its call to action was the Fourth International. While the social reformists and Stalinists become petrified by the impact of the crisis, the revolutionists of the Fourth International loom as the only hope of action for the world’s workers.

How They Worked to “Save Spain”

A pamphlet written by Jean Rous, French Fourth Internationalist who spent many months in Spain between July 1936 and the conclusion of the civil war, has just been published in France under the title Spain 1936–Spain 1939: The Revolution Assassinated. It covers the whole period with an amazing mass of detail.

The Rous pamphlet should be of particular value in making clear the criminally mistaken line of the P.O.U.M. The impotence of its centrist policies is clarified throughout by the mere recital of events and the P.O.U.M.’s reaction to them. The victimization of this party by the Stalinists and their People’s Front allies should not, despite our sympathy and solidarity with the victims, close anyone’s eyes to its false politics.

Rous cites a letter of May 25, 1937 written by the socialist War Minister of the Loyalist government, Prieto, to his party comrade, the Loyalist ambassador to the United States, Fernando de los Rios. This letter shows with what zeal these “socialists” went about saving Spain ... by crushing the Spanish working class organizations.

“Finally,” says Prieto in one of the passages, “the most important part of our mop-ping-up process in the rear has been concluded. At Barcelona, as well as in the rest of the province, the wheels of the F.A.I. and the C.N.T. [the anarchist mass organizations – Ed.] have been completely stopped, their most dangerous elements are either dead or imprisoned. What’s even more important, is the fact that those who have come to their senses are today either convinced or at the very least more moderate ... We haven’t yet finished mopping up completely. We have decided, among other things, to transfer these elements to the most dangerous fronts. In this manner the disrupters will aid us in perfecting our mopping-up process, for which we should be very thankful to them ... In following this line of conduct, we shall, as you know, please the three countries who have aided us most and who, quite recently, have demanded such a course from us.”

We learn from the press that de los Rios has formally resigned his post as ambassador and that he is joining the teaching staff of the New School for Social Research, where he will no doubt lecture on how to fight fascism.

This is no more than fitting. For, as Bernard Shaw once remarked, “He who can, does; he who can’t, teaches.”

Labour Party Branches Flock to “Anti-Register” Opposition

Thirty-nine branches of the British Labour Party have officially flocked to the growing rank and file opposition against the National Register conscription scheme, the development of which has been recorded regularly in this column.

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