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Maurice Spector

What Fish Committee Means

A Fighting United Front Needed Against the
Sharpening Offensive of the Capitalist Class

(July 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 27, 26 July 1930, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The bubble of the Whalen documents has been loudly and derisively punctured. That clown and former police commissioner Whalen presented these documents as “proof” that Amtorg the official Soviet trading agency in New York was the center of Communist propaganda for the United States.

Three witnesses called before the Fish Committee have conclusively demonstrated from different angles that these “documents” are absolute and unadulterated forgeries. The first witness exposed sixteen internal mistakes and discrepancies that pointed to their fabrication by Russian white guards. A newspapermen testified that the “documents” had been offered for sale in Washington six weeks before Whalen released them to the New York press. But the most deadly testimony came from the man in whose print-shop on East Tenth street the letterheads of the Whalen documents were printed.

No one in the least familiar with the history of the series to which Whalen forgeries belonged could have entertained the shadow of a doubt as to their true character. The Sisson documents of some years ago, setting out to prove that Lenin and Trotsky were “German spies” could have been convincing only to such a product of the New York Forward as Moissaye Olgin. The celebrated Zinoviev letter could impose only on the willing credulity of a social-imperialist like Macdonald.

This exposure will, of course not stay the activities of the Fish Committee. It is the time-honored practise of the ruling class always to explain away “social unrest” as a malicious foreign importation. When the masses were once struggling in England for the blessings of parliamentary democracy, the aristocracy blamed this movement on the gold of the French regicides. The source of all evil, the Czarist bureaucracy had it, were the Jews. In our present epoch of proletarian struggle, the capitalists find the key to all the riddles of the universe in ... Moscow gold. The one thing they will not admit is that the roots of the revolutionary are sunk deep in the crisis of a class society that has outlived its historic usefulness.

Commissioned by Congress to investigate Communist propaganda for the overthrow of the government, the Fish Committee was in reality an expedient to distract attention from the misery of the unemployment crisis. In line with this policy, the Fish Committee made a rabid attack on Amtorg. It is no pleasure to the workers of Russia to have to trade with the General Electric or Henry Ford but power in the United States still lies in the hands of the capitalist, not the working class. The development of trade even under these conditions is, however, of direct interest to the American working class. Amtorg bought more than $107,000,000 of American goods in 1928-9 and was planning to double that in the near future. The goods that Amtorg purchases here mostly with hard cash go towards facilitating the work of socialist construction in the Soviet Union and at the same time inevitably alleviate unemployment for thousands of American workers.

The baiting of Amtorg by the Fish Committee aided by the Matthew Wolls constitutes part and parcel of an attack on the interests of the American working class. The defense of the Soviet Union is their own best defense. This does not mean that the U.S.S.R. is any substitute for the action of the American proletariat. The Soviet

Union is the friend and ally of the international revolution which is the only guarantee that socialist society can be built up and maintained in any country. But the development of the class struggle takes place on the basis of the conditions in each capitalist country. The world organization that fights for the establishment of a chain of Soviet Republics is the Communist International. The functions of the Soviet Government and the Comintern are sufficiently distinct without P.A. Bogdanov, the Amtorg head, having resort to Sokolnikov’s worthless, dangerous and revisionist subterfuge at the Geneva Economic Conference to the effect that capitalist and socialist systems can cohabit the world peacefully side by side!

It is imperative to arouse the widest possible mass movement against this Fish Committee and its probable consequences. Elihu Root has already advanced the idea of creating a special secret Federal police, a sort of American Ochrana to spy more effectively over the revolutionary workers. Whether Root’s proposal in this form is realized at this time or not, the coming storm and stress period in the class struggle will mark more and more vicious attempts to place heavier shackles on the labor movement. The Department of Justice will be more extensively subsidized and its stool pigeon activities re-enforced. The revolutionary press will have a constant struggle against being barred from the mails. The industrial espionage system will be intensified. The jailing of militants who organize the workers will gain momentum. The capitalist campaign to terrorize the foreign born workers by the finger-print and passport route will revive. The criminal syndicalism and sedition laws of the various states will be brought into more frequent play.

As the counter-action to this capitalist offensive, the workers must organize a fighting united front. To make the most powerful appeal to the masses in the approaching elections, the Communist Party should demonstrate its re[illegible]ine is to place itself at the head of a movement for working class unity. The immediate objectives of this movement should be the release of all class war prisoners, federal, state and municipal grants for the relief of the workless, the enactment of unemployment insurance and old age pensions, the six hour day and the five day week, and the recognition and extension of large-scale credits to the Soviet Union.

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