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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(20 July 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 29, 20 July 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

British Fourth Internationalists Hold
Successful National Confab

Right on the heels of the Emergency Conference of the Fourth International, we receive word that the Revolutionary Socialist League, British Section of the F.I., has just concluded a successful national conference “somewhere in England.” Naturally, the meeting took place under illegal conditions. It had as the main point on its agenda the problem of combatting the drive against proletarian revolutionists undertaken by the Churchill government in the wake of the anti-revolutionary actions initiated by the Labour Party bureaucracy. The latter anticipated the reactionary moves of the ruling class by banning, on May 2, the Militant Labour League, left wing Labour organization, to whose work and publications (The Militant, etc.), our comrades have devoted their principal attention and effort.

In contradistinction to the pacifists and centrists of the Independent Labour Party, the conference condemned the use of Conscientious Objectors Tribunals as contrary to militant working class policy. It reaffirmed the Bolshevik stand of working for socialist revolutionary aims within the armed forces amidst the masses of drafted proletarians.

“The League had issued a resolution,” the report of the conference in the Internal Bulletin of the R.S.L. reads, “concerning the Russo-Finnish war, which took the accepted line of the Fourth International and had put forward the immediate slogan of an embargo on arms for Finland ... A. brief report on the International was given, including a summary of the American party dispute.” The League’s actions as well as the stand of the Fourth International towards the Soviet Union were endorsed by the delegates. No minority similar in views to that within the American party was in evidence.

In relation to the main practical task, the attitude to be adopted as a result of the ban against the Militant Labour League, the conference voted for a resolution from which we excerpt the following passages:

“1. This conference reaffirms the basic strategical line of the organization in the building of the new revolutionary party. This consists of work in the mass organizations, the Labour Party and the Trades Unions, in preparation for the radicalization of the masses arising out of the political and economic crisis of capitalism accentuated by imperialist war ...

“3. This tactic was based on a Marxist analysis of the current situation and of probable developments in the future. This analysis is in no way altered by the Labour Party ban. What is necessary therefore is not a new strategical line, but a tactic suitable for existing circumstances ...”

In other words, our comrades have decided to find new means of continuing the tested policy of working close to the organized labor movement, instead of, as some dissident groups propose, deserting mass work for the existence of a sectarian propaganda circle. While maintaining relations with such groups which claim adherence to the F.I., in an effort to bring them into the organization, the conference rightfully refused to countenance any compromises with sectarianism.


Our Australian Section Outlawed
by Government

From Australian papers we learn that the Communist League of Australia, Section of the Fourth International, has been added to the list of organizations declared illegal by the Menzies government. The action against our Australian comrades was taken without an official decree, the police simply banning them from usual places where they have been holding meetings.

“Members of the Communist League of Australia,” says the June 17 Sydney Telegraph, “were prevented by police from holding a meeting in the Domain yesterday ...

“A crowd of about 15,000 attended the Domain yesterday afternoon. There was a good sprinkling of khaki in the crowd but, for the first time for several Sundays, there was no organized demonstration by soldiers ...

“The police were acting under Commonwealth regulations issued on Saturday declaring illegal the Communist Party of Australia and several fascist organizations.

“The Communist League was not mentioned in the regulations. When its members began to set up their platform in the Domain, they were told by Inspector Fergusson that if they addressed the crowd they would be liable to arrest. The Communist Party had made no attempt to hold its regular Sunday Domain meeting.

“Mr. J. Kavanagh, who was to have been chairman of the meeting of the Communist League, said last night: ‘Our party, followers of Leon Trotsky, was not on the banned list of organizations. We assumed that we would be allowed to speak ...” (Telegraph, June 17)

Of course, the newspapers only give as much of the story as the censorship will permit, and a direct report from our comrades has not yet reached here. But several things are obvious even from the Telegraph’s account: (1) A full-fledged government anti-red drive is under way. In other columns of the paper raids on organization headquarters and homes of individuals are reported. (2) The “spontaneous” actions of “outraged” soldiers did not succeed in breaking up the meetings of our comrades. In a previous issue we had reported that one such action in January was repulsed by a workers’ meeting under the leadership of our comrades with complete success. (3) Apparently, as the figure of attendance shows – 15,000 conceded by the bourgeois press – the meetings of our League were growing to such proportions as to require government action, if they were to be stopped. (4) Our comrades had also, apparently, taken over the leadership of large numbers of workers formerly under the leadership of the C.P. The chairman of the banned meeting, comrade Kavanagh, is, as readers of this column will recall, one of the leading Communist militants who quit the C.P. in the course of the past year.

We are not as yet in a position to know what course of action our Australian comrades are contemplating under the new conditions. But our knowledge of them and of the daring and courage which made possible their recent progress makes us confident that they will know how to surmount the new obstacles on their path, how to retain their contacts with the militant Australian workers, and to find the path toward building the party of the proletarian revolution in Australia. Our warmest greetings of solidarity to the Communist League of Australia!

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