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The Tom Mooney Case

Walker and the Labor Fakers in Attempts to Derail the Class Issue

(November 1931)

From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 33 (Whole No. 92), 28 November 1931, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The New York Tammany Mayor is in California “pleading” for Tom Mooney Sent off with the proper emotional touch, including a telegram from the aged mother of Mooney, he was hailed as “liberator” by “capitalist philanthropists”, by smug labor “leaders” and by the Socialist Party officials. What a strange situation? Mayor Walker, the bosom friend of Tom Mooney’s very jailors, or – maybe it is not so strange. Thus Tammany hopes to wash off the bloodstains of the innocent workers whom it and its vicious police have done to death or maimed.

Is the stage now all set for him to be released as a “magnanimous” act of his jailors and tormentors? We do not know. Perhaps they have finally noticed the power of Tom Mooney’s cause to eventually kindle the smouldering flame of working class revolt. Perhaps they calculate that the best way to quench this smouldering flame would be to assume the role of “liberators”. With a presidential election coming next year such a “noble” role could well serve the democratic party headed by the reactionary, corrupt Tammany Hall. But do they intend to extend this magnanimity to other class war prisoners? Not for one instant. Their only object is to try to grasp a popular issue and make it their own.

To complete the mockery all the friends of Tammany are scurrying to get on the band wagon. Wm. Green, evidently joined by the whole of the A.F of L. executive council reaffirms the “belief in Tom Mooney’s innocence”. Wm. Green asserts that the California Federation executive council is the only labor body authorized to intervene and to receive funds for Mooney’s release. But during these fifteen years which have passed, this galaxy of capitalist agents in labors’ ranks have used every means possible to choke any effort on behalf of Tom Mooney. Hence his scorching condemnation of them.

To Whom Did Mooney Appeal?

Despite all this stage setting; despite all the capitalist mockery, if Tom Mooney is soon to step out of jail a free man, the working class throughout the world will have cause to rejoice. They will welcome Tom Mooney to their ranks. His fight was and still is their fight, and his cause belongs to them only. They in the first instance compelled his capitalist jailors to abandon the execution which had been planned. But there remains nevertheless a blot upon the American working class for its submission to all the deception and betrayals which have helped to keep Tom Mooney in jail for so long. There remains especially a serious blot upon the leadership of the official Communist Party for its utter failure to rally to the recent clarion call of Tom Mooney, which pointed the way not only to his release by working class action, but also to that of a mighty movement toward the release of all class war prisoners. That failure has caused an indelible stain upon the Communist movement which can be eradicated only by being laid bare, by being honestly admitted and by being decisively condemned.

Tom Mooney’s appeal was addressed to the working class and in particular to its most militant section, the Communists. Tom Mooney knew, as history has proven, that only that section can give the life needed to build a powerful movement on a class basis. But Tom Mooney also definitely asked for “a genuine united front”. He named the organizations and groups which should be invited to participate in the movement. Among others he named the militant units of the A.F. of L., the Socialist Party and farmer labor parties, the Communist Party and the separate Communist groups, including the Communist League of America (Opposition).

The Heavy Price of Stalinist Failure

This genuine united front, the Stalinist bureaucrats of the official party feared. Their attitude was exactly that of the social reformists. From that decrepit gentry it could be expected; it should be otherwise with the Communist Party. The issue of a pardon for Tom Mooney was made a factional football. While the social reformists called their own conference, and, as for example in New York, excluded the Communists, the Stalinist strategists emulated that dastardly action in full. At a conference called by the New York I.L.D., to take up, among other issues, that of the liberation of Tom Mooney, delegates of the Left Opposition were expelled.

Such is the miscarriage of a golden opportunity. “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”. It was the opportunity to weld this potential, dynamic power and to set it into motion. But in this great duty the official party leadership has failed miserably. Thug they carry their heavy share of responsibility for having brought degradation to this issue so dear to the working class and for having played directly into the hands of its enemies.

These enemies, while now appearing in the role of liberators, may hope to choke the glowing spirit of Tom Mooney. We do not think they [1] can. But their endeavor is to take his cause away from the working class in order to obliterate and crush it. The policy of the official party leadership has helped to make this endeavor an easy one. Thus once more is recorded a heavy price paid by the Communist movement for Stalinism. We will continue to bend all our efforts for its eradication in the future.

Footnote by ETOL

1. This word reads “we” in the printed version.

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