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Arne Swabeck

Mooney Appeals!

All Efforts Now for a Broad and Genuine United Front Move

(September 1931)

From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 22, 5 September 1931, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In an adjoining column, we print Tom Mooney’s clarion call to all revolutionary and militant labor organizations and groups.

We agree with. Tom Mooney that the “time for action has come”, and unreservedly indorse the call. To the Communist movement, to all revolutionary and militant workers it becomes a golden opportunity and an imperative duty to close the ranks and act unswervingly and unitedly in a struggle which will reverberate from coast to coast, for the unconditional pardon of Tom Mooney and the release of all class war prisoners. The Communist League of America (Opposition) adds its voice to that of Tom Mooney’s from his prison cell, where he has been buried for fifteen long years. We say: Yes, this issue can serve as a common rallying ground for all revolutionary and militant groups!

The Need for Action

With the capitalist offensive forging its way ruthlessly, with its dungeons filled with miners from Harlan, Kentucky, and from the Pennsylvania fields, with Negro workers from Chicago and Scottsborough, with the Centralia prisoners still languishing in jail and the continued increase of class war victims, this issue of freedom for Tom Mooney and release of all class war prisoners has become an ever more potent one, action upon which brooks no delay. With the deepening of the crisis and more acute working class misery, it is to be expected that the rulers of Wall Street, in order to extricate themselves from their economic difficulties, will attempt to feed the greedy maws of class oppression with many more victims – sterling champions of the proletariat. But it is not yet too late for the working class to rally and to build a gigantic movement which will prevent it.

From his prison cell Tom Mooney says: “I ask for a genuine united front.” This is entirely correct and will meet with the approval of every red-blooded worker. Only a genuine united front can produce a movement sufficiently strong in numbers, sufficiently strong in purpose and in conviction to batter open the prison doors and to advance the American working class toward the social revolution. Only an international solidarity, steeled by a revolutionary purpose, can liberate the working class from capitalist oppression and forever destroy the capitalist dungeons.

Tom Mooney names specific organizations upon which he calls to build genuine united front, to create Pardon Mooney Committees throughout the country. He does not call upon the imperialist agents within labor’s ranks, the reactionary trade union bureaucrats, nor upon these who have deceived with slick promises. Their role as deceivers and betrayers he has already unmasked by his burning denunciations. A genuine united front must mean an effort to include all of these organizations and others willing to participate. In this there need be no fear of the deceivers and betrayers within some of these organizations. The Hillquits, the Hillmans and the other little Mustes hate more than anything else to work in common with us in any genuine struggle, or even for the release of all class war prisoners. They prefer the ranks of reaction to the camp of revolution and they prove it daily at every serious test. But it is our task to make them stand up in front of the workers on every concrete question and affirm this by their refusal to participate in a real struggle. Such leader types will oppose the united front with the Communists because they aim to maintain capitalism. But without the Communists, there can be no united front and the workers will thus, by one more experience, learn that to heed the clarion call of Tom Mooney they will have to fight all such leaders standing in the way.

The Communist Duty

Upon the Communists devolves, therefore, the duty to bring this genuine united front into life. Their guiding line can only be the one of the dearest interests of the working class and of following the glowing spirit of Tom Money and the other class war prisoners. To weld together various workers organizations, with varying programs, into one solid fighting front around this one common purpose will bring about a mighty echo of approval from every militant worker.

It is therefore pertinent to ask, in view of the statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Party published in the Daily Worker of August 28 alongside of Mooney’s call: Do the party leaders intend to emulate the Hillquits, the Hillmans and their helpers in a refusal .to organize a genuine united front? Is this statement to be a justification for evasion of duty? While it indorses Mooney’s call in general, it fails entirely to indicate one single measure, one single step toward the organization of a united front. While it does call upon the workers, upon the unemployed councils, etc., for support to the call, it fails in the most crucial demand – the demand for the organization of a united front movement. The statement attempts to cover this failure by the usual base slanders against the Left Opposition as a means of diverting the issue away from the party leaderships’ responsibility.

Why do the party centrist bureaucrats fear a genuine united front? Not a “so-called ‘united front’ ‘arranged’ from the top with ‘leaders’ ... an alliance of a few so-called ‘leaders’.” This is not what Tom Mooney asks for. In a genuine united front the Communists can have nothing to fear from such “leaders”. Why, then, do they shirk this responsibility? This is what every party member should ask of the leadership!

Through the International Labor Defense there must be initiated the organization of a genuine united front, the setting up of Committees to fight for the freedom of Tom Mooney and release of all class war prisoners. The party leadership must give up its miserable evasion and cease begging the issue. It should grasp this as an excellent opportunity for Communists to mobilize a powerful movement. That much every militant worker will demand from it. Our modest forces will stand unreservedly at the disposal of such a movement.

“Tom Mooney is an historical symbol of the American workers – of their weakness and failures of yesterday and today and their potential, dynamic power which alone will bring victory tomorrow.” To bring this potential dynamic power into motion is now the task. Throughout the period of the present crisis, the insoluble contradictions of capitalism are intensifying. Throughout the country, the signs of sharpened struggles are multiplying. We are facing the beginnings of an upward working class curve. It harbors enormous possibilities. In this situation, the ringing call for Tom Mooney’s liberation and the release of all class war prisoners must echo and reecho throughout the length and breadth of the country. It must resound in a movement of powerful proportions. The Communists must become its spearhead.

A Call from Prison

California State Prison,
San Quentin, California

August 20, 1931

To All Militant and Revolutionary Labor Organizations and Groups

Dear Comrades and Fellow Unionists:

The time for action has come. Too long have we been deceived with slick promises – away with them! From the cell where I have been buried alive for fifteen long years I appeal to every working class organization with a spark of militancy or revolutionary purpose – I appeal for united action.

The most flagrant “frame-up” this country has ever seen is dragging into its sixteenth year, and not even a glimpse of freedom is in sight. In fact, I am more securely imprisoned today than when first arrested. The dictatorship of capital knows the economic conditions are so ominous that to issue a pardon at this time would be as though a lighted match were thrown into a powder keg. We must prove that neither will my continued imprisonment serve their purposes. Let this appeal be the spark which will start an unparalleled conflagration – agitation that will arouse the masses to demand my unconditional pardon and the release of all class war prisoners.

I ask for a genuine united front. Every working class organization should elect delegates and be represented on Pardon Mooney Committee that will direct the activities of the workers in this fight. The task of such committees will be to call mass meetings, distribute literature, carry on monster public demonstrations, and engage in an energetic campaign that will make the ground tremble under the feet of the arrogant rulers of California.

One of the immediate tasks of these committees will be to force through the pressure of an awakened public opinion, the publication of the Wickersham Commission of the suppressed report on the Mooney case, prepared by its experts. This Report, I am given to understand, is a factual record and, when published, will definitely prove that the California authorities combined to organize the frame-up.

Too many working class groups divide and weaken their forces. The effect they quite naturally should have in combined numbers is lost when they quarrel among themselves. This case ought to serve as a common rallying ground for all revolutionary and militant groups which should unite for effective work in the face of a common enemy.

I call upon the following groups, listed alphabetically, and other similar groups I may overlook or forget in my haste to unite and organize Pardon Mooney Committees in every city and state in this nation for immediate action:

I know it will not be easy for some of these groups to cooperate, one with the other. But this is a basic issue, and every sincere man and woman willing to join in a united effort should and shall, be welcome.

I have spent fifteen of the best years of my life in a California dungeon for the ideals and purposes all these groups represent and my fate is in their hands. When they fight for my freedom, they fight for their cause – the cause of labor. My continued imprisonment is the very best evidence of the futility and weakness of their divided efforts. Only by their combined strength can they defeat the common foe.

I hail each and every one of my fellow workers and comrades in this struggle. Let us all work in common for the Social Revolution that will bring to an end this barbarous dog-eat-dog, profit-mad, capitalistic system.


To each and every one of you I send fraternal revolutionary greetings.



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