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B.J. Widick

In the Labor Unions

(3 November 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 84, 3 November 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In a brief trip through the middle-west touching two industrial centers we were able to get first hand reactions to the effect of the new line of the Stalinists in the labor movement.

In those localities where the Stalinists have been confronted by progressive opposition, they are having a very embarrassing time trying to shift to the new line of “Keep America Out of Imperialist War.”

This is true despite the overwhelming sentiment of the workers against participation in war. For the workers just don’t trust the Stalinists like they used to.

For example, in one key CIO industrial union council, the Stalinists introduced a mild “keep America from being dragged into war” resolution.

Only a few weeks previously they had denounced a more clear-cut resolution against imperialist war as “Trotskyite-fascist.” And had succeeded in getting the resolution tabled.

You can imagine how the progressives and every other delegate to the council felt when the Stalinist spokesman read their resolution with the new line.

Jeers, razzing and a demand for an explanation of the new line came fast. Silence was the only answer. So a motion to table the Stalinist resolution was passed.

Nobody Taken In

Efforts to obtain an explanation from Stalinist delegates after the session were equally fruitless. Only embarrassed silence and a desire to be left alone!

The rule or ruin policy of the Stalinists has left too many deep scars for the advanced workers to forget and be taken in by the pseudo-“left” line.

One of the taunts which the Stalinists are now receiving from progressives is, “So you’re going Trotskyite, eh? Taking their position.” However, the differences between the S.W.P. with its long standing fight against imperialist war and the sudden phoney turn of the C.P. are pretty well defined in these areas and there isn’t much likelihood of serious confusion.

On the part of Stalinist ranks, if their attitude in union meetings is any criterion, the new turn came just in time to save them from complete demoralization and break up which threatened after the Stalin-Hitler pact was announced. A breath of life was injected temporarily in the dying corpse of Stalinism.

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Last updated: 16 April 2018