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David Coolidge

The Auto Workers Convention and the CP Line

The Stalinists Swallow Their Tail

(4 August 1931)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 31, 4 August 1941, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the Daily Worker for July 14, 1941, the Stalinists state their revised confession of faith for the trade union movement, in line with the 1941 edition of the People’s Front. The party “line” for the convention of the United Automobile Workers is stated in an article by Roy Hudson. In line with their general policy since Stalin and Hitler ceased to be friends, the Stalinists are out to prove that they are ready to go along with even the most reactionary elements in the unions provided only that they are willing to help Stalin save himself and his fellow murderers in the Kremlin.

Hudson, speaking for the Communist Party, begins his article with felicitations to the UAW but soon gets down to the real business.

“The UAWA convention will, of course, have to devote considerable time to the discussion of the foreign policy, of the government and steps to assure the full mobilization of its membership to influence and determine direction of the adoption and execution of policies guaranteeing the defeat of Hitler and Hitlerism.”

What, specifically, is that foreign policy of the government that the Stalinists want the UAW members to be concerned with? They want the members of the UAW to be concerned with the war. “The UAWA membership ... has shown in the past that it was opposed to the United States becoming involved in the war ... the workers saw no practical way of defeating Hitlerism by supporting the Anglo-American bloc of imperialists.

“But now with the Soviet Union ... battling Hitler’s hordes, the workers know that the character of the war has changed. They know that the dangers to their own freedom and independence have increased immeasurably by this attack on the USSR.”

What Hudson Means

Mr. Hudson, of course, doesn’t stop in his flow of eloquence to explain his reasoning. According to Hudson, the workers saw no way of defeating Hitler by supporting England and the United States. But now that Russia is fighting against Germany there is a way of defeating Hitler. Does Hudson mean that the workers saw no way for the Anglo-American bloc to defeat Hitler and therefore refused to support this bloc? Is he saying that since another country, Russia, has joined the Anglo-American block, that bloc, now has a chance to win and therefore should be supported by the workers in the United States? Furthermore, how have the dangers to the workers in the United States increased by the attack on the USSR? All of the capitalist statesmen and capitalist newspapers say that the danger to the workers and others in the United States have lessened due to the Hitler attack on Russia. They mean that while Hitler is busy with Stalin, England and the United States have an opportunity to make further preparations. Also England can attack Germany from the rear. It is a fact, too, that the mass of the workers take this view of the matter.

This of course isn’t what Hudson means. He hints, only hints, at his real meaning when he writes: “but now with the Soviet Union ... battling Hitler’s hordes the workers know that the character of the war has changed.” Hudson doesn’t attempt to explain to the workers why the Stalinists hold that the character of the war has changed and that therefore they should now be for the war, for the Lend-Lease Bill, for aid to imperialist Britain and why such aid should “be carried out with the greatest speed.”

Hudson and the Stalinists are a little shame-faced about the participation of Stalinist Russia in the war changing the character of the war. They should be; for in order to demonstrate to any worker with two grains of sense that the character of the war has changed they must prove that the participation of Russia in the war has a progressive character, that such participation aids the cause of the workers of the world. Hudson hints that Russia is still the workers’ fatherland as it was in the days of Lenin. The Communist Party tries to make it appear that the Stalinist gang in the Kremlin still fights for world socialism and for the liberation of the peoples of the world from capitalist oppression. Hudson wants to make workers believe that the Communist Party in the United States has a clean and consistent working class record of militant revolutionary activity in behalf of labor. He forgets that some of us can read and that we can remember what we read.

Stalin’s Record

We remember that Stalin framed up and murdered the old Russian revolutionists, the leaders of the October Revolution. That he sent thousands of militant and revolutionary workers to concentration camps; that he destroyed the trade unions and the workers councils; that he destroyed the workers’ revolutionary party of Lenin and Trotsky.

We remember that Stalin and his gang set up a criminal and cruel bureaucracy in the Soviet Union; destroyed all civil liberties; established forced labor and put the GPU in charge not only in Russia, but sent these murderers and spies roaming all over the world to destroy all those who opposed Stalin.

We remember the Stalin-Hitler pact that gave Hitler the green light to march into Poland and start the Second World Imperialist War. We haven’t forgotten either that Stalin marched into Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia on a grabbing expedition.

We know that none of these things was in the interests of the world working class, but solely in the interest of the Stalinist bureaucracy. Such actions could not serve the working class and socialism because Stalin was working hand in hand with Hitler and the most reactionary people inside the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Stalin did not and does not now have the confidence of the workers because he had betrayed them and sold them down the river.

The Communist Party in the United States has carried on all the anti-working class policies and activities of the Stalinists in Russia. They jumped backward and forward through the hoop any and every time Stalin cracked the whip. They have put the Internationale on the shelf and poured forth the Star Spangled Banner whenever the “line” changed. They have been militant or reactionary in the unions, depending on the particular intrigues Stalin and the GPU were engaged in at the moment. their activities have not been determined by the interests of the working class in the United States but by the position the stupid and treacherous Stalin found himself in.

Workers in the United States remember these things and more. That’s why Hudson can not explain how and why the character of the war has changed. The Stalinists, can’t say that the entrance of Russia into the war has changed the character of the war because the workers’ fatherland has been attacked, because the “land of socialism” is being assaulted, because the Stalinist bureaucracy is leading the world working class to victory. Labor would throw this monstrous lie back into their teeth. They know that the Stalinists have betrayed labor all over the world.

A Little Shame-Faced

There is another reason the Stalinists are a little shame-faced in explaining how and why the character of the war has changed because Russia is in it. It is very noticeable that they do not talk at all now about socialism, the class struggle and the world revolution against capitalism. Russia is fighting only for home and fireside, for national independence; the same thing that England is fighting for. One Russian poet said that the Red Army was fighting for “humanism.” According to Stalin, they are not fighting for socialism; there is no call on the workers of the world to overthrow their own national imperialist masters. On the contrary, the Stalinists of the world are now calling on the workers in England and the United States to support the war, support the bosses who only yesterday they were calling imperialist bandits.

Thus they say that the character of the war has changed; that it has changed because Stalin and his GPU gang have changed camps. They have quit stooging for Hitter and are now stooging for Churchill and Roosevelt. First, they betray the workers to Hitler, now they are ready to betray them to the Anglo-American imperialists. And all this to save Stalin and his gang, to keep them in power. This is the real meaning of what the Stalinists call a change in the character of the war.

In the Unions

How do the Stalinists attempt to carry out their new (also old) line in the trade unions? First on the matter of Stalinist wrecking tactics in the unions. Here is what Hudson says: “The Communist Party as an organization never did, does not now, and never will attempt to dominate a union.” This, of course, is a barefaced lie. They have attempted to dominate unions in the most vicious anti-working class manner. They have planted their GPU agents in workers’ organizations. Wherever the Stalinists got control all democracy was at an end in that union.

They have given up “fraction” work in unions. They used to have “’fractions’ for the purpose of making certain that all Communists behaved as the best union members and did nothing that would hurt the union or discredit the Communist Party.” These scoundrels seem to think that every worker is a dope. The Stalinists never gave up “fractions,” they only substitute GPU control of the party trade unionists for fraction democratic procedure. Also, why do the Stalinists apologize for having fractions in the unions? Why do they lie? What’s wrong with a working class political party attempting to win trade unionists to its political point of view. The Democrats and Republicans have “fractions” in the unions. Quite often the boss party “fractions” are composed of the union officers. The function of the working class party “fraction” in the union is to combat the propaganda of the boss party “fraction” in the union, demonstrate to the struggle and lead labor to a complete break with the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Why should any real working class political party make apologies for such procedure? It doesn’t have to unless it is a party of betrayal, union wrecking, and a party that subordinates the interests of labor to the interests of the Stalin gang. This is what the Communist Party is.

But the Stalinists are not through crawling yet. Hudson explains their attitude on strikes. “Communists do not always favor strikes. They are not for strikes for the sake of strikes ... its members are often able to judge even better than the workers in a particular plant, if the time to strike is ripe, if other methods of struggle might not be better under the circumstances.” What does all this ducking and dodging mean? It means that Stalinist attitudes today on the strike are not going to be determined by the conditions in any plant. They will be determined by conditions in the Kremlin. They will be against strikes today because their blood-stained hero, Stalin, has ordered them through his GPU agents to adopt “other methods of struggle.”

The Stalinists, according to Hudson, support strikes if the workers insist on going through, but after the strike is over, “then, naturally, the Communists try to bring the lesson home to the workers, showing them that often other forms of struggle can be adopted, that there is need to be not only militant but FLEXIBLE in the application of the tactics of struggle.” We want to emphasize again that this flexibility is not determined by the concrete conditions that the workers face and their degree of preparation; but by the conditions that the Stalinist gangsters find themselves confronted with. The Stalinists will be bringing a lot of lessons “home to the workers” these days. Yes, there will be “other forms of struggle” proposed!

More Fakery

The Stalinists are astounded that anyone should attempt to “speak in our name and try to divide the UAWA with lies about our being opposed to this or that leader ...” But since the question has been raised, the Stalinists admit that they are for the re-election of Thomas.

Here is more fakery and fraud. Who was preparing to fight for the UAW convention, if not the Stalinists? The only reason that they have changed is that Stalin is now a partner of Churchill and Roosevelt, who yesterday were imperialists but now, along with Stalin, are champions of “democracy.”

They urge a stop to all discrimination in the unions “because of political opinions.” The Workers Party urges the same thing. But the Stalinists have been the chief offenders in this. They have persecuted and hounded militant workers out of the unions who refused to follow the Stalinist political line. They are prepared to follow the same course today. They will support the most reactionary forces in the unions. They will yell for support of the “defense” program. They will support the war all down the line and will join with the FBI to hound and harass all militant workers who refuse to bow to

The workers therefore are face to the will of the warmongers. The workers therefore are face to face again with Stalinist treason and betrayal. Labor Action and the Workers Party months ago warned workers about this. We said that if the Stalin gang fell out with Hitler, the Stalinists in the United States will turn around and become supporters of the imperialist war. Now it has happened. Labor must turn, a deaf ear to all the pleas and proposals of the Stalinists on the war. They should defeat them for every union office, including membership on leading union committees and boards.

How Fight Them?

This is not what the Stalinists call “red-baiting” and no worker should be taken in. The Stalinist party is not a revolutionary party, not a party that struggles in the interests of the workers of the world but against their interests. All their power and influence should be washed from the labor movement.

Does this mean that the Stalinists should be barred from union membership? Most emphatically, NO. But they should be barred from office and leadership. NOT BY UNION CONSTITUTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS, BUT BY REFUSAL OF THE UNION MEMBERSHIP TO SUPPORT THEM FOR OFFICE IN UNION ELECTIONS. No worker should be barred from union membership except for concrete anti-union actions. This should apply to Stalinists, Republicans and. Democrats alike.

Also, what we say about the Stalinists should give no support to other reactionaries and warmongers in the unions. There are Hillman and his group of bootlicking war shouters. Some of them will be present at the UAW convention. They are real “red-baiters” and should get no support. They also will attempt to tie the convention to the Roosevelt imperialist war chariot. They will be against the Stalinists despite the fact that both groups, will be supporting the imperialist war. The convention should give no support to the war, no support to the imperialist war plans.





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