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Hugo Oehler Joins Opposition

(June 1931)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 24, 21 June 1930, pp. 1 & 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Through the adhesion of Hugo Oehler to the platform of the Communist League of America (Opposition), the Left Opposition recruits one of the best types of organizers that the American Communist movement has yet developed. Comrade Oehler was the representative of the National Textile Workers Union in its organizing campaign in the South during the Gastonia struggle and thereafter. He was everywhere hailed as a courageous and clearheaded fighter and leader.

Hugo Oehler has held numerous posts in the Communist Party. He was organizer of the Kansas District of the Communist Party, and during the Colorado coal miners strike directed the Party’s work in the field. He is well known to all militants, class conscious workers and revolutionists in the West and South, as well as to the Party organization generally. Oehler has presented the statement in the current issue of the Militant to the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party and to the District Committee in Chicago where he is at present working.

The pre-convention discussion of the Communist Party, the Thesis to the convention and the Comintern organization letter list the greatest number of shortcomings the Party has ever had presented to any of its conventions. A review of these documents will convince one at once that they are not shortcomings in the nature of a progressing party that is at a higher level but at a lower level in comparison with the past, especially in relation to the increasingly favorable objective situation. Bankruptcy of the Centrist Party Regime The Central Committee is presenting to the 7th convention a unanimous thesis and resolutions that have been printed in booklet form (after Bedacht’s trip) which means it is approved by our parent body in the International Office. This procedure, following the Comintern organization letter to the convention and the admitted mass of blunders, mistakes and shortcomings means

  1. That our present leadership is not capable of drawing up an analysis of of the present situation.
  2. That our international leadership does not trust this task to our American leadership.
  3. That the delegates to the 7th Convention, are not trusted with this task.

A leadership not capable of drawing up its own analysis is not capable of leading the revolutionary party. A convention that does not protest this action is a strait-jacket convention and not a unity convention. Leadership of the masses cannot be appointed from the International office – it can only be obtained and held by actual leadership in theoretical and, practical problems facing the working class. Leadership in the Marxian sense cannot sprout from the top like the Peppers, Lovestones and the present incompetents. The thesis presented dealing with the shortcomings does not and cannot deal with their fundamental causes.

The Menace of Revisionism

The Manifesto of the Communist Opposition to the rank and file and the 7th Convention is a document that clears the way for the membership to a correct understanding. The Manifesto points out the roots of the present Party crisis, not only facing us in this country but facing our comrades in the other parties of our International. The revision of Marxism by the Stalin-Bucharin leadership has derailed the movement in the swamp of the non-Marxist, eclectic, utopian, reactionary theory of the “Building of Socialism in one country”, the colonial revolutionary policy and the tactics of the “third period”. Activity and more activity will not replace correct Marxist theory and these problems first brought up by the Russian Opposition, seemingly remote and of no concern to the class struggle in America are the determining causes of the present chaotic condition in an otherwise objectively favorable situation.

The Communist Party is the instrument of the working class used as the leader and organizer of the revolution for the overthrow of capitalism. The first duty of every Communist is the success cf the revolution and so long as the Party has a program based on Marxism there is an unbroken chain between the class, the Party and the success of the revolution. Just as soon as the leading individuals or groups in the Party revise Marxism and Leninism a danger of the elimination of the Party as the leader and organizer of the class is at hand unless we arc capable of defeating the revisionists. But if the revisionists are able to dominate, it spells ruin unless the membership liquidates such a leadership.

The Struggle of the Left Opposition

This was the case with the Second International when the revisionists dominated and eliminated it as the leader and organizer of the revolution. We saw the transformation of the Second International from an instrument for liberation to an instrument of suppression of the workers and peasants. The same process is at work in our International. Fortunately, however, for the proletariat we are living in a different historical period; this process is only in the beginning stage in our International; and lastly we have an International Opposition led by L.D. Trotsky that exposes the revision, explains the determining causes of the crisis and mobilizes the forces to win the International for the Marxian-Leninist path again.

We members of the Communist Party ask for an answer to this manifesto and for the readmittance of comrade Trotsky, and the Left Opposition into the Party. We do not ask for a religious campaign of “Loyalty to the C.I.” to take the place of objective consideration of these proposals. If the policies of the leadership is Marxian then there is no conflict between loyalty to the C.I. and loyalty to Marxism but when the present leadership revise Marxism and present theories that are non-Marxian-Leninist the membership must choose between loyalty to that leadership, and loyalty to Marxism. We stand or fall by Marxism and Dialectic Materialism and by now life itself has proven the correctness of the Left Opposition group as Marxism fighting revisionism. The readmittance of the Opposition to the International, regardless of how painful it is to some “leaders” is a necessary step to prepare the Party as the leader and organizer of the big class struggles we can expect in the present period in order that pressure of world capitalist economy can be relieved from the U.S.S.R. and the extension of the dictatorship of the proletariat over greater sections of the earth can be accomplished.

Our demands are:

  1. The readmittance of the Communist Opposition and the adoption of the Marxian program of the Opposition.
  2. Replace the present isolation tactics. with Leninist United Front tactics in trade union work and all other activity.
  3. Eliminate mechanical control of auxiliary organisations and replace with control through Marxian policy.
  4. Reject VERBAL transformation of defensive struggles and demonstrations into revolutionary upheavals.
  5. Reject slogan of “Social Fascism” that renders aid to the reformists.
  6. Reject “Third Period” centrist zig-zag course and replace with dialectical analysis and tactics.
  7. Correct 7th Convention thesis on above points and other minor points following from these root causes.

Hugo Oehler

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