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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(17 February 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 7, 17 February 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Purge in the Mexican Communist Party

The Mexican Communist Party is to hold an “extraordinary” convention next month. This convention is being called for the purpose of undertaking a thorough-going purge of the present leadership of the organization.

In the “theses” for the convention, entitled The National and International Situation and the Tasks of the Party, we begin to get an inkling as to the why and wherefore of the purge. While the situation has been extremely favorable for growth, the “theses” say, it has not been taken advantage of “because of the sectarian-opportunist (sic) line of the leadership of the party which did not have sufficient vision to grasp the development of the revolutionary movement in our country and the possibilities of forming a mass party of the proletariat.”

What is involved, obviously, is the sacrificing of a number of scapegoats in the leadership for carrying out the pro-“democratic” line which the Kremlin has now thrown overboard. From another paragraph in the document we are given the impression that this number is going to be quite large:

“Right now ... there is proceeding a cleansing, from the top to the bottom, of our own ranks, eliminating from its midst all (underlined in the original) the wavering and alien elements from the party, who because of the false political line and the lack of revolutionary vigilance have infiltrated its ranks.”

Among the leaders to be purged, we are informed, are Vicente Guerra, Arturo Ramirez and Manuel Lobato, all members of the Central Committee. Guerra was a member of the all-powerful secretariat and Lobato an alternate to it. Ramirez is the leader of the Mexico City district organization which forms the core of the party. They are charged with any number of crimes in the usual Stalinist fashion – from “facilitating and protecting the work of Trotskyist spies” inside the organization to making pacts with the Right Wing presidential candidate General Almazan. Even a group of free masons was allegedly under their wing. But their gravest crime, it seems, is an opportunist capitulation to President Cardenas.

Of all the charges made, the last one mentioned seems to be most significant. The contradictory character of the charges is quite in line with Stalinist practices and it is always necessary to wade through all the verbiage of these allegations and to sift them carefully for an indication of the real purpose. In this case it is quite apparent that all else outside of “capitulation to Cardenas” is just the usual dressing. In a pending break with Cardenas lies the essence of the purge.

Apparently, a large number of functionaries of the Mexican C.P. has been resisting the change of line in consideration of the rather comfortable positions that the backing of Cardenas and his pro-democratic orientation has afforded them. So that in reality, the convention will be a sort of a showdown between the pro-Cardenas and the pro- Moscow functionaries.

It is not excluded, however, that in the rank and file of the party a movement to break with Stalinism in a revolutionary direction may develop as a result of this situation.

Fruits of the “People’s Front” in France

Among the lesser crimes of the “People’s Front” in France was the Stalinist rehabilitation of Leon Jouhaux, social patriotic leader of the General Confederation of Labor (C.G.T.) in the last war. Jouhaux was not only dressed up as a militant fighter but feasted as a staunch friend of Soviet Russia, in Moscow no less than in Paris.

But there is no gratitude in Jouhaux’ heart at all. No sooner had the war broken out than he took up his old post as French imperialism’s chief war-booster in the ranks of labor. Of course his C.G.T. denounced Soviet Russia and supports Daladier’s campaign against it. That in itself is what was to be expected from the first. But the U.P. – and all other press agencies as well – is able to announce now that “the French General Confederation of Labor which for years has had a pronounced left wing tendency bitterly denounced Russia as well as Germany today.”

The “pronounced left wing tendency” – that is the gilding of Jouhaux by Stalin’s popular front policy. His denunciation of the Soviet Union is only the fruit of that policy.

German “Socialists” in the Service of Imperial France

We have become quite used to the abominable patriotic antics of the social democratic politicians of England, France, etc. They act no differently than they did in the last war. Only the German social democracy does not repeat its performance of 1914. But that is not through any change of heart on its part. Hitler has simply refused to give it a chance to do its part.

Somewhat ludicrously, the German social democrats do manage, nevertheless, to be true to color. They have remained social patriots – but are now on the side of the Erbfeind, the “hereditary foe” they helped fight in the last war. From France issues their miserable propaganda for a “socialism” that is to be introduced into Germany on the bayonets of French imperialism. In turn, they print at the masthead of their official organ, the Neue Vorwaerts, an inscription in large type: Journal Anti-Hitlerien. Daladier’s anti-Hitlerism, it appears, is just as acceptable to them as their “socialism” is to Daladier. They have become, to use the phrase of one of our German comrades, “social patriots in reverse.”

* * *

But they are not alone in the ranks of “social patriots in reverse.” Among them are to be found also the heroes of the centrist S.A.P. (German Labor Party), the erstwhile pride of the so-called “London Bureau” and – Willie Munzenberg, for a long time a pillar of German Stalinism and its foremost Trotsky-baiter.

Until long after the Moscow trials, Willie continued to condone every atrocity committed by the Kremlin butchers. It was only after Moscow cut off financial support and invited him for one of those visits which cost scores of other German Stalinists their lives, that Munzenberg became a violent anti-Stalinist. But Willie apparently knows how to make anti-Stalinism pay just as well as he knew in the old days how to work the Moscow racket. Now he publishes a paper in Paris called Die Zukunft (The Future), as the “organ of the Franco-German Union.” It goes without saying that the paper’s line is such as to gain only plaudits from the French general staff. Collaborators on it include half a dozen other German ex-Stalinists, old wheelhorses in the Munzenberg publishing schemes.

Business as usual, seems to be his slogan.

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