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A New Turn in the T.U.U.L.

(July 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 28 (Whole No. 124), 9 July 1932, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The resolution of the eighth session of the Central Council of the R.I.L.U. dealing with the T.U.U.L. (June, Labor Unity) informs us that we “have not yet learned to work among the masses”. We have “isolated ourselves.” And it adds: “However, the lagging be. hind in organization and leadership of mass unemployment is still too great.”

The reason the American Centrists “have not yet learned to work among the masses”, “are isolated”, are “lagging behind”, is because they have attempted to carry out the “third period” policy. The resolution dismisses its own mistakes with the above and then reaffirms the tactic of the united front “from below” and the theory of “social Fascism.”

Another New Turn

The resolution presents a “new turn” on working in the A.F. of L., and in the reorganization of the T.U.U.L. on the factory basis it is essential for us to investigate this new turn to see if it is a step forward or a mere side stepping and an attempt to veil the third period wreckage without drawing any consequences.

At the beginning of the crisis, Centrism informed us that reformism was declining and that the A.F. of L. was on its last lap. This new situation called for the building of a new trade union center, using as a basis the Left wing of the A.F. of L., and what other outside contacts we had. At that time, the party said,

“A revolutionary upsurge in America is evident by the growing unemployment demonstrations, etc.”

“A revolutionary upsurge grips the working masses, opens the road to the Communist party for their organization and for leading these masses to struggle.” (Theses of the 7th Convention of the C.P., page 9)

After three years of a deepening crisis, the party discards its formula of “revolutionary upsurge” and moves to the Right in the election campaign and trade union activity. The resolution says,

“Recent experience has already shown the need for carrying on work not only in those industries where there are no parallel revolutionary unions but also in those A.F. of L. unions which are parallel to the T.U.U.L. unions”.

According to the Centrist, “Recent experience has already shown the need for carrying on work” in reactionary unions. Only recent experience? Lenin’s theses and all the experience that went with it and followed it are of no value Only recent experiences. The formulation should be: “The mistakes flowing from the ‘third period’ tactics as recent experiences already have proved, point to the need of carrying on work in reactionary unions.”

Centrism now speaks of working in reactionary unions but its organizational tactics continue to block the door to that. Sooner or later they will again ask why they don’t have any success with this Leninist tactic of working in reactionary unions? And again they will inform us: the line was correct but it was not carried out. If Centrism had carried out the Leninist concept of work in reactionary unions and the United Front three years ago we would now be carrying on the class struggle at a much higher level.

The Factory Basis

The new turn calls for the “reorganization of the T.U.U.L. unions on the factory basis.” Let us consider the “factory basis” in the light of the trade union program. The Communist League of America says the organization of the unorganized into new industrial unions is the central industrial task of the Communists in America. In order to carry out this task we must coordinate it with the supplementary activity of working in reactionary unions regardless of any momentary domination of one or the other phase of the work. Such is our line of march. Does the resolution of the Sixth Session dealing with America point out this line of march? No. Instead, we have as the main task the reorganization on the factory basis. Presented as it is, at this stage of “isolation”, of “lagging behind’’, etc., a reorganization which is not properly linked with the agitation for the building of new industrial unions, results in scattering our forces rather than in uniting them.

The tactics of Centrism since the “third period” have played into the hands of the reformists and syndicalists and now instead of facing the issue of new industrial unions as Communists, the Stalinists try to sidestep it.

The organization of the unorganized into industrial unions can be accomplished only by Communist leadership in this stage of capitalism. American imperialism cannot be defeated unless the Communist party and the class have suitable organizations as weapons to destroy capitalism. The American Soviets will be the determining organs for the Communists. The building of industrial unions will pave the way for the American dictatorship of the proletariat through the Soviets.

In organizing industrial unions, the mine, mill or factory makes up the basic unit and the chain throughout the industry constitutes the industrial union. The logical development of the industrial union has this structure. The Stalinists now emphasize the factory unit exclusively without regarding the problem of the industrial union as a whole. If we do not organize the decisive section of the industrial union as a whole, we will not defeat the bosses.

In Preparation for the Offensive

In the present downward curve of the standard of living and wages, separate, heroic factory or mill lights, here and there are able to prevent wage cuts and even increase wages, but this kind of isolated activity will not be able to transform the downward curve into a workers’ offensive. Only powerful industrial unions under Communist leadership will be able to smash into the capitalist ranks.

The agitation and activity for the organization of the unorganized into industrial unions includes the agitation for the mine, mill or factory unit. To talk of reorganizing on the factory basis and forget the elementary agitation for industrial unions is to put the cart before the horse. The organization of the industrial unions will be realized by building upward with the factory as a basis.

Regardless of what blunders Centrism has committed, its hope to find a way out by the mechanical desire of reorganizing on the factory basis will not solve the problem if it leaves untouched the colossal errors of the past. The Communists can only win by organizing the unorganized on the basis of industrial unions (which includes the “factory basis”) Not the organization of industrial unions by syndicalists or socialists but by Communists.

The Communist must agitate primarily for the organization of the unorganized into industrial unions. The Communists must explain the difference between the craft unions, and the industrial unions. The socialists and the syndicalists are not capable of explaining industrial unionism from a Marxian standpoint. Only the Communists can give a Marxian explanation for industrial unions and their role in reaction, in revolution and under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. This is the task of the Communists today.

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