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David Coolidge

Mass Action

(15 January 1945)1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 3, 15 January 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Philip Murray Embraces the “Free” Russian Unions
in Stalinist Paper

Philip Murray, of the CIO, has recently had published an article on international labor unity in the Russian publication War and the Working Class. It is a very queer article and only reveals again Murray’s stupidity and naivete. He is going to attend a conference, to be held in London this month, to discuss the formation of an international organization of labor. The conference will be composed of representatives of the British Trade Union Congress, the CIO and Russia. What we have to say about this conference revolves primarily around the question of Russia and the Russian representatives.

What will the Russians at the conference be representing? Surely not free trade unions. As a matter of record, there are no trade unions in Russia. There are organizations of workers in Russia, but there are also organizations composed of workers in Germany. There are no organizations of workers in Germany. There are no organizations of workers in Russia which are called in England or the United States trade unions. There are no organizations in Russia such as existed, for example, in the days immediately preceding the October Revolution. There is certainly nothing in Russia today in any way comparable to the free unions which existed after the October Revolution, in the days of the Bolshevik Party of Lenin, Trotsky and the other great leaders of the revolution.

What is known in Russia today as trade unions are groups of workers herded into Stalinized, totalitarian organizations, just as the German workers are herded into Hitlerized, totalitarian organizations. The Russian workers’ organizations are controlled and dominated by the GPU, just as the German workers’ organizations are controlled and dominated by the Gestapo. There is nothing in Russia in any way similar to the British Trade Union Congress or the AFL and CIO in the United States.

When Murray gets to London to this conference he will not sit down with democratically chosen representatives of the Russian workers but with Russian Stalinist politicians, who will be present, not in the interest of the Russian workers or of world labor, but solely in the interest of the Stalinist totalitarian bureaucracy. Murray, so to speak, will sit down with the GPU dressed in “overalls.”

Murray’s thinking about “free” unions in Russia takes its point of departure from his obsession with the war and the temporary and fortuitous block between England, Russia and the U.S. formed for the purpose of inflicting a military defeat on Germany. In Murray’s childlike mind he reasons that since England, Russia and the United States are united in war, therefore the labor movements of the three countries should be united.

Certainly the workers of England, Russia and the U.S. should be united. But there is no way at present to unite with the Russia workers. Today Murray can travel freely around the U.S. or England and talk to the workers and their free organizations, but neither he nor anyone else, except the GPU and the Stalinist bureaucrats, can travel around Russia and talk to the workers.

The German workers should be united with the rest of world labor. They aren’t and they can’t be, right now. But Murray is not concerned with any procedure to bring this to pass. He believes that the “German people” should be compelled to “make restitution for their crimes.” Does he demand that the Russian people make restitution for the crimes of Stalin and the totalitarian Stalinist bureaucracy? He does not, and we are happy that he does not. But why, then, does he not apply the same logic to the German workers?

Murray wants the “German people” to “make restitution for their crimes” while he prepares to go to London and sit at the table with Stalin’s GPU and the personal stooges who will represent Stalin at this conference.

This is Philip Murray’s conception of how to get an international organization of labor to carry on in the interests of the world working class after the close of the present war!

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