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Sherman Stanley

The “American People’s Meeting”

Stalinists Stage Old Show
Under New Name, Slogan

(March 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 13, 31 March 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On April 5 and 6 there will be held in New York City a “People’s Meeting.” arranged for and convened by the American Peace Mobilization (APM). According to Miss Marian Briggs, national administrative secretary of the APM, this nation-wide meeting in New York heralds the rapid growth of a people’s “anti-war, peace movement in the United States.” “The cry for peace.” says Miss Briggs, “is rising from every state in the country and the promise of delegations from the farthermost parts of the U.S. makes it apparent that the April 5–6 demonstration will be the biggest, most important action yet taken by the American people.” (Daily Worker, March 13.) The APM has sent out 400,000 calls to various organizations.

What Is the APM?

On the day the Hitler-Stalin pact was signed in the year 1939 an organization known as The American League for Peace and Democracy, formerly the American League Against War and Fascism, was declared dead by its leader. Dr. Harry Ward. The American Peace Mobilization is the modern-day successor to the old American League. Why was it necessary to bury the old organization and re-create a new one? The answer is simple. Because the political line and policy of the American Communist Party, which had dominated and controlled the old outfit, had done a flip-flop overnight. From being the ally – or rather, desiring to be the ally – of the British and French “democracies,” Joseph Stalin had become the outright aide and ally of Hitler and imperialist Germany.

It was necessary to kill off the American League, which for years and years had advocated the People’s Front policy of collective security and war action by the “democracies” against Hitler. In the minds of those people who knew the League, it stood, for “all-out” aid to to any democratic capitalist country. This would not do, and so it was killed.

The old dies, but the new must be born. And thus there came into existence the American Peace Mobilization with the exact opposite program of the old organization, but with the same people – the American Stalinists – in firm control from top to bottom.

The More It Changes, The More It’s the Same

But as the old French proverb reminds us, “appearances are often deceiving.” Is it true that the APM and its People’s Meeting really represent an anti-war movement? If not, what does it really aim at? . We are not objecting to the APM merely because it is a Stalinist-controlled organization. That’s enough to make us suspicious, and to examine it closely. We say it is a FAKE, not a genuine anti-war movement, because its policy is set by Stalinists in conjunction with the war interests of the Hitler-Stalin imperialist alliance. As a partner in this active alliance, Stalin tries to help Hitler by embarrassing and annoying his enemies in the democratic imperialist countries. Hitler, above all, is interested in keeping Roosevelt and American imperialism out of the war as long as possible. The Stalinists, as allies of Hitler, try with might and main to aid this effort. So, while one hears of no Stalinist anti-war activity in Germany or those countries dominated by the Axis, one hears of it in the Allied countries.

The Communist Party, taking advantage of the genuine haired of the American workers for imperialist war, has created an organization like the APM for the deliberate purpose of demagogically utilizing these anti-war sentiments in the interests of the Stalin-Hitler alliance.

Where Is the Evidence?

Proof of this is simple and easy to obtain. The APM is not – as is the case with the Workers Party – against this war because it is an imperialist war on both sides. It is only against ONE side, because the Soviet Union happens to be on the other side! But suppose that Stalin jumps to the other side? (And Roosevelt is trying hard enough to convince him that he should do this.) Then the APM would likewise die overnight, and probably the old American League would be “re-born” in its place – shouting for “collective security,” “democracy” and all the current slogans of the American war-mongers. The Stalinists must have a “popular,” non-party organization for presentation to the skeptical American public and working class no matter what their program is. Today it is the APM and its People’s Meeting – tomorrow it will be something else. But it is always the same – a fake organization having as its objective the aiding of Stalin’s foreign policy.

In our next issue we shall describe the meeting itself. For the past month the Daily Worker has been singing the praises of the APM and boasting of its growing strength. Undoubtedly many delegates will attend its meetings – many only representing themselves, many from middle class organizations and some from Stalinist-controlled unions and locals of the CIO. But we have little confidence in its ability to advance the genuine cause of anti-war action. It lacks the elementary basis for such a thing – namely, complete freedom from the poisonous taint of both warring camps in the present World War.

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