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Marchers Advance to Demand Relief

Broad, Militant Movement Can Win for Unemployed

(November 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 48, 26 November 1932, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Delegates of the national unemployed hunger march are converging upon Washington to demonstrate at the opening of the coming short session of congress. They are going to demonstrate to give a great emphasis to the need for working class relief. They are the advance guard in a struggle which, of necessity, must develop into much larger proportions. Every ounce of working class energy should therefore be thrown into the scale to support this demonstration.

These hunger marchers represent something very real regardless of their present limited credentials. They represent millions of workers thrown onto the social scrap heap by a protracted and growing unemployment crisis. No security whatever for these millions has so far been provided by those who, today, rule us all. On the contrary, the changing economic structure of the country works in the opposite direction. Today, decaying capitalism throughout the world, transforms millions of workers into hungry, homeless tramps. And it is an important sign for the future when especially in the United States a section of them clearly show that they chose not to submit, but prefer the road of fighting resistance, in this sense the hunger march is a great harbinger of the future. But so far it represents directly only the militant working class section.

In a small measure the hunger march is another test to decide the future direction of working class struggle. Reform or revolution. This test will have an influence on the coming decision which the class must make. But it is also a test of policy which, in the end, will determine our success and victory. It is not the revolutionists alone who are recorded in favor of unemployment relief. The distinction between the reformists and revolutionists cannot be made that way, as the official party leaders have so often attempted to do; nor in the amount of dollars and cents demanded for relief, as they have also done. The reformist leaders of the Socialist party long ago, began speaking for the needs of the unemployed, for relief, for a measure of security through unemployment insurance. Now even the A.F. of L. leaders speak in favor of a system of unemployment insurance. But actual struggle for its attainment is the test of the sincerity of these proposals. There has not been one step taken or proposed by the Socialist party leaders, nor, of course, by the A.F. of L. hierarchy, to obtain this mere reform measure. These elements are bitterly hostile to hunger marches and to any fighting demonstration for relief. Is not this the surest proof of their game of deception?

Actual relief can be won only by a determined fight against the opposition of the capitalist rulers, and we are here confining ourselves solely to the question of amelioration of unemployment, and not speaking at all of its solution. In this determined fight the national hunger march plays its important part. Moreover, when correctly pursued it can, in a measure, become one of the stepping stones toward reaching the revolutionary solution of the unemployment problem.

But to have any significance at all in this respect and to really play an important part in the struggle for relief such hunger marches must become an expression of the working mass as a whole, not merely of one small section. The workers under social reformist influence should be drawn in The workers of the A.F. of L. and all unions should be drawn in. Most certainly the success of efforts in that direction will determine the success in getting relief for the class as a whole. This was very clearly demonstrated in Chicago where the official Communist party, despite its present false views of the united front policy attained a great temporary success.

It is pertinent to ask: are the Socialist party leaders, are the A.F. of L. leaders to be allowed to record themselves formally in favor of relief without being formally, in reality and in every other respect, put to the test in the struggle which is necessary to obtain relief?

The official party has nothing to gain from confining the unemployment demonstrations to the section of the working class which it influences or controls. On the contrary, it must take the opposite road. The way to do that is through the united front policy which brings the workers’ organizations together, with their leaders, or in spite of their leaders, in unity of action for specific objectives.

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