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Stalinists Again Oust Left Opposition
at Chicago Unemployment Conference

(October 1931)

From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 28 (Whole No. 87), 24 October 1931, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

CHICAGO. – The Oct. 18th conference of the Cook County Unemployment Councils, the third in three months, ended by laying the “base” for a fourth conference next month, electing delegates to call on city and county authorities to present demands, a committee for a Cook County Hunger March and a committee to line up preliminaries for the Nov. 7th march on Washington. The usual party and sympathetic element was in attendance and the usual bureaucratic methods and lack of Marxian program.

Comrade Curtis of the Left Opposition was elected on the credentials committee of five and when it came to the point of seating the three delegates from the League, Buckley, Curtis and Oehler, the party representative, Rybicki moved that they not be seated. Curtis spoke for the seating and to the surprise of the bureaucrats the vote was three to two in favor of comrade Curtis’ motion in the credential committee, one of the three being a party member who voted with Curtis and could not see why we could not be seated. After a long argument Rybicki finally “convinced” the other party member that he was “wrong” and he said, well what ever Rybicki says is correct. This gave the bureaucrats a majority.

In the meantime, comrade Oehler had obtained the floor for five minutes and dealt with the one point of adding the struggle for the shorter work day with the present two main demands of social insurance and immediate relief, concretizing it in the slogan of the six-hour day and the five day week. The delegates gave an excellent response, to these remarks, but Rybicki who had come out to caucus with the other bureaucrats to see what to do about the way things were drifting, came back to the credential committee and reported that the conference had hooted the “Trotsky delegate, Oehler” down. This was an attempt to weaken the resistance to his motion to oust us from the convention. Gebert, the D.O., took the floor after the League speaker and devoted fifteen minutes to slander and demagogy against the Left. The conference had started late and only several delegates had the floor for five minutes following and again went to reports of committees over the protest of many delegates.

The “majority” report of the credential committee was not to seat us. Comrade O’Hara, a Communist, but not a member of the party or the Left, being one of the members of the credential committee, representing a large unemployment council, took the floor to give a minority report. He was denied the right to present a minority report. All delegates were denied the right to speak on the motion presented by the “majority report”. It was railroaded through in the most brazen A.F.L. fashion. The bureaucrats feared a minority report, they feared discussion on the “Majority report” – they fear the Marxian position of the Left Opposition that smashed into their opportunist program.

In an uproar and protest from all parts of the floor and its usual counter-uproar of lesser bureaucrats hollering for the kicking and throwing out of the three delegates the will and desire of the Stalin bureaucrats overrode the interest of the workers by refusing to seat the Marxian wing of the Communist forces.

A motion to throw us out of the hall was not entertained by chairman Otto Wangerin. The committee on resolutions reported, presenting the draft program of the last conference for final corrections and adoptions. The amendments of the Left Opposition had been given to the committee but of course the resolutions committee said nothing on this.

The Chicago League continues its support of the Unemployment Councils and will fight for a correction and development of its program which at present has many opportunist points. Unemployment councils not being the Communist party cannot be expected to have a complete Communist program but unemployment councils under the leadership of the Communist party (and no one can question this) must have a correct Marxian program on what partial demands it takes up in the field of unemployment and must above all not have an adventurist or opportunist line. The Chicago League, true to the interest of the working class, can do nothing else than fight against the bureaucrats and their wrong line and for the unemployment councils.

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