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T. Stamm

Is Mooney to Stay in Jail?

Reactionaries Make Capital of the Stalinists’ Blunders

(February 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 9 (Whole No. 105), 27 February 1932, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Disgusted by the betrayals of the cynical fakers of the California State Federation of Labor and the A.F. of L., the impotence of well intentioned liberals and the futility of purely legal maneuvers, Tom Mooney addressed a ringing call to the working class of this country to unite in a fight for his liberation and the freedom of class war prisoners. Fourteen years in prison had not softened the militant fighter. The ideas and language of his call are revolutionary. They constituted the necessary spark to fan into flames again the smoldering resentment of the working class against perhaps the rawest frame-up of capitalist class justice. And they came at the time of the approach of the third year of a still deepening crisis, when their result in a militant working class movement would open up tremendous possibilities for the fight against the capitalist offensive and for relief.

In naming the organizations to the militant individuals and units of which he appealed, Mooney placed squarely upon their shoulders the responsibility of uniting in a movement for his release. In the list were all the Communist groups including the International Labor Defense. It was obvious, although Mooney did not say so, that he meant the I.L.D. and the C.P. to take the initiative in launching and organizing such a movement. Mooney’s pamphlet exposing the betrayals of Schauenberg and Co. who received the undivided support of the A.F. of L. bureaucracy, and still do, left no doubt that he did not look to these gentry to build and lead a fighting movement. Nor could it be reasoned that he had any confidence in the I.W.W. futilitarians, or the other groups enumerated in his call, including the simon pure legal men of the socialist party leadership. Their record of incapacity, spinelessness and betrayal shouted too loudly against the supposition of their conducting a fight.

The organization to whom fell the task of issuing a call to build the movement was the I.L.D. On the fifth of September the Daily Worker issued a “Call for United Action”. Mooney left the I.L.D. no choice. He asked for a genuine united front. The I.L.D. called for United Front Conferences.

The united front projected by the call had two principal defects. The conferences were to be called – for the release of Tom Mooney and Warren Billings, the Harlan Miners and Scottsboro Negro boys, Imperial Valley strike leaders and other class war prisoners. As The Militant remarked on September 12, “It is obvious that a united front movement for Mooney would be recreant in its duty if it failed to conduct a struggle also for the other class war fighters. But in this specific Campaign, the whole point is missed by failing to concentrate the whole issue around Mooney as the outstanding symbol of the capitalist system of anti-working class frame-ups ...” But for the Stalinists bureaucratic complacency and prestige is all! The Mooney issue – could be buried by lumping it with half a dozen other issues!

The second mistake in the united front outlined by the call was its appeal not to organizations to join with the I.L.D., but to individuals: – “the rank and file members of the A.C.W. – the working class members of the socialist party, etc. – “ It was to be a recruiting drive disguised as a united front from below. They obstinately persisted in a masquerade which fools nobody!

On the negative side, there is much to record. The Opposition, pursuant to its policy of opposing [sic!] Mooney’s appeal (Militant, Sept. 5th), sent a delegation to the N.Y. united front conference. Despite the fact that the Communist League is mentioned by name in Mooney’s appeal as one of the organizations he wants to participate in a genuine united front, our delegation was ejected under threats of violence. In Minneapolis, St. Louis and Staunton and Belleville, Ill., where the I.L.D. organized no conference and where the Opposition was instrumental in setting them afoot, the I.L.D. pursued a policy of: either we control the conference or we smash it. In one way or another they wrecked all of these conferences.

This method of freeing Moouey has ruinous consequences for the Communist movement. Mooney’s cause will not die if the party does not take it up. The issue will become a plaything for all sorts of political fakers. Particularly dangerous are the bourgeois demagogues who use the issue to make political capital, for the pursuit of personal ambitions. From time to time the press records their pious hypocrisy. The latest to come to our attention is the report in the N.Y. Times of February 13 of resolutions demanding that “Governor Rolph pardon Thomas J. Mooney immediately”, introduced into the House of Representative by those despicable demagogues from New York State, La Guardia and Sirovich.

In the lull in the fight created by the inactivity of the Communists, the Molders’ Defense Committee, the I.W.W and others are busy propagating the illusion that a boycott of California goods can force Mooney’s rslease. When the itinerant peddler of confusion, Marcus Graham, of the I.W.W. can persuade a group of militant miners like the Staunton Miners’ Educational Body to unanimously adopt a resolution for a boycott of California products as a means of getting Mooney out of jail it is only because these fighting miners have been made easy prey by their confusion and disgust with the Joe Tasnes and Bill Geherts.

Finally it must be remembered that the last act in the Walker-Rolph publicity stunt has not yet been reached. Gov. Rolph, who has reserved judgment on Walker’s plea, is sitting back waiting to see what pressure the working class will bring to bear on him for Mooney’s release. His reply is due soon. If no working class pressure is forthcoming, he will find that Mooney’s release is not to be considered.

Working class pressure can force him to find the necessary legal pretext to pardon Mooney. The time is short in which to build a fighting working class movement. But it is not too late if we begin at once. This the I.L.D. should do. What is needed is a genuine united front, from which the Communists have nothing to lose and everything tc gain. For this united front every party member, every member of a party organization sould raise his voice.

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Last updated: 25.4.2013