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T. Stamm

Here and There with the United Front

(February 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 9, 24 February 1934, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the era of the “third period” the united front policy of the Stalinized Comintern was the united front from below. Reduced to it concrete meaning this policy was a call to the workers in the Socialist parties and the reformist and Right wing unions to leave their organizations, leave their leadership, and enter into joint action with the Stalinists under the leadership of the latter on a program determined in advance by them. The theoretical sugar-coating with which the Stalinists dressed up their conceptions did not for one minute alter their ultimatistic and disruptive nature.

On March 6, 1933 when the situation was already lost in Germany and Fascism was decimating the organized working class the Comintern issued a call to the Second International for a united front of organizations, repudiating on its face the united front from below. Forthwith the journalistic hacks of the Stalinist apparatus set out to prove that the line of the C.I. manifesto was the only correct line, that this was always the line, that any other was counter-revolutionary.

On May 1 the C.I. issued another manifesto reverting back to the united front from below. The same writers wriggled like worms. The united front from organization to organization had unmistakably demonstrated its superiority in the question of the Chicago relief demonstration, the New York May Day parade, the Mooney movement and the united front with the Socialist locals on the West coast. The people who had seen its fruits struggled against abandoning this policy. No doubt heavy pressure from Moscow was instrumental in forcing the recalcitrants to accept the infallible line.

The theses of the Thirteenth Plenum affirmed again the united front from below: “The 13th Plenum of the E.C.C.I. calls upon all Sections of the C.I. persistently to fight for the realization of a united militant front with the social-democratic workers in spite of and against the will of the treacherous leaders of social-democracy.” And the sub-head under which this appears is: “C. Against Social-Democracy and For a United Front from Below.”

That is the policy now. But within this same FORM a change has taken place. Two outstanding events demonstrate this clearly. In the New York Hotel Strike after many appeals for unity of the Stalinist paper union with the A.F.W. the Stalinists put their new united front from below policy to work. They called upon all the strikers to strike under the leadership of the A.F.W. And under this slogan they invaded the A.F.W. The line they pursued there was no less disruptive than it was formerly when they were outside.

In the Madison Square Garden protest the Stalinists, who were not invited, came down in the name of unity to make a united front from below. Under the direct incitement of the Party leaders they conducted themselves as Fascists do at workers meetings.

Their united front is a maneuver to transfer their disruption from the outside to the inside. In this way they want to cover up their weakness and bankruptcy.

Essentially the policy is the same: disruption of all organizations and movements not controlled by the C.P. in the name of and under the slogan of unity.

The appeal of the Daily Worker of February 18 to the Socialist Party for a united front is an attempt to cover up the Stalinists’ entirely unjustifiable conduct at the Madison Square Garden protest. It means nothing. And it does not signify a change in the united front policy of the Communist Party.

The recent united front maneuvers of the Stalinists have given rise to much confusion on the part of workers who thought that the Stalinists unlike the leopard could change their spots. They thought the Stalinists, cognizant of their weakness, had finally come round to seriously promote unity in the workers’ rank. The course of the Stalinists in the Hotel Strike and in the Madison Square Garden protest should show them that it is only a tactical shift within the framework of the old strategy; and that its essence is still the same: disruption.

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