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A.J. Muste

A.J. Muste

Across the Country
with Cannon and Muste

(26 January 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 7, 26 January 1935, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

From A.J. Muste, national secretary of the Workers Party, comes further word of the tour he and James P. Cannon, editor of the New Militant, are making to present the program of the W.P. to the workers of the country. Reports indicate that Comrades Muste and Cannon’s tour is a march of triumph.

* * *

NEW CASTLE, Pa. and YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio. – From the debacle which overcame the militant movement of the steel workers last spring when Bill Green and Mike Tighe sabotaged the general strike in the industry, the movement is slowly recovering.

The determination to build a union is not dead among the steel workers, though they are somewhat lost in the maze of Labor Board elections, injunctions by the steel companies against the union and by the union against the companies and what have you. A crisis breaking into a strike may develop in one of these mills where an election is denied.

W.P. Has Many Contacts

The militant leaders hope nothing too serious will break before they get their forces organized better than they were last year. Comrade Cannon and I were called into conference by some of them. We find the Party has many contacts in steel.

Comrades McKinney, Cooper, Sullivan and Herman from Pittsburgh popped into the New Castle meeting. They are hoping to tie in the unemployed movement here with the national movement.

The Party branches in New Castle and Youngstown have a good start and are thoroughly in earnest. The meetings for Comrade Cannon and me brought out most of the active spirits in the locality and made converts to the W.P. After the mass meetings, the branches kept the national officers up until four in the morning to discuss branch problems!

* * *

CLEVELAND, Ohio. – On the way up here we visited an old steel worker’s home. He still goes to work when there is work. “We are lucky if we make 10 dollars a week now, when we used to make, that in a day.”

The day before, one of his shopmates fainted on the job, narrowly escaping being burned to death. “He has a wife and three or four children. He just doesn’t get enough to eat to let him do a trick in a steel plant.”

Two Husky Sons

Two husky sons of our friend sat in the house – no jobs. The father put a question to us – really to the capitalist system: “Do you think they’ll fix it so there will be something for the young men to do?”

The answer of capitalism to that momentous question we got an hour later when we drove through McDonald, where Carnegie Steel was just breaking ground for a new strip mill. Referring to the labor to be displaced by the new process, the young steel worker riding with us said : “They won’t need anything in this damn industry pretty soon except a few button-pushers.”

Same Old Story

We had a well-attended meeting here. Same old story as to C.P. and S.P. They can’t meet us in an argument on our Declaration of Principles. The branch has good material, is working out a program of action. It will be felt in the labor struggle in Cleveland.

The branch conference in Cleveland was attended by party members from Akron. As dispatches to the New Militant bave indicated, things may pop in rubber very soon, If so, Akron will be the first Toledo-Minneapolis of 1935. Our party members and sympathisers are the only advanced group having real access to the rubber workers. Would that Louis Budenz were well enough to take the field. What a chance his America of the Middle West would give him!

* * *

TOLEDO, Ohio. – If there was ever any doubt as to whether our Toledo comrades would be able to dig in and follow up (never mind if the metaphors are mixed, Comrade Editor) the work they did in the great Auto Lite strike, that day is past. The Central Labor Union supports the Unemployed Leagues openly. Our comrades are asked to write for the Central Labor Union paper.

The Auto Workers’ Union has kicked out Ramsey and Bossier and its present lenders make no secret of seeking the help of our comrades. The union is growing rapidly and despite the fact that the Auto-Lite plant itself is still half company union, thanks to Ramsey’s influence, the Mininger interests hesitate to provoke a quarrel. They’ve had a lesson!

Five members of an S.P. local drove 60 miles over roads that were a sheet of ice to our Toledo mass meeting. And they weren’t sorry!

Toledo branch is growing. Sam Pollock can’t be spared for Detroit just now. Ted Selander, however, is going to Columbus to hold down the office of the National Unemployed League of which he was elected treasurer last summer.

* * *

DETROIT, Mich. – There’s going to be big political news soon from Detroit. It will mean a substantial accession to the W.P. But we’ll have to keep the comrades guessing for a while.

Meantime we can report that the Detroit branch has a good start, has the respect and confidence of the best elements in the trade union movement, and with the forces that are being sent in will prove itself capable of handling even as big a situation as Detroit.

Reports on the interesting and complex industrial situation here, the New Militant is getting from other comrades. Capitalism is booming here. Ford working 24 hours a day.

So there’s no unemployment in Detroit?

Say, comrade, we said capitalism is booming.

* * *

CHICAGO, Ill. – A hall jammed with nearly 400 people. Spartacus Youth with their red sashes, the crowd so interested that we had to get the management of the hall to extend our time, the C.P. and S.P. attempts to answer us so weak that the workers present often roared their derision, the singing of the International and three mighty cheers for the Workers Party of the U.S. – that was the Chicago meeting.

A Hot Situation

It’s 10 below zero here meteorologically speaking, but it’s a “hot” situation as far as our branches, the Spartacus Youth League and prospects of growth are concerned.

The Chicago branches believe that a district comprising Illinois, southern Wisconsin, eastern Iowa and Missouri and northwestern Indiana, with headquarters in Chicago, ought to be set up soon. Comrade Cannon and I are convinced by their arguments and are recommending action to the Political Committee.

There are a million things to Write about Chicago, but here as elsewhere the time is all too short. Besides, I CAN hear the editor cussing now because this copy isn’t in. Better have mercy on us. As I said, it’s 10 below zero here, the weatherman says the cold wave is staying for a while, and we’re headed for Minneapolis and – the North Pole!

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