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J.G. Wright

The Right Wing and Labor Party

(March 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 13, 31 March 1934, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Today, in America, we have entered upon a new and higher stage of the class struggle. With, the sharpening of the class struggle, the true nature of classes, and political parties or tendencies stand out in ever sharper relief. In the light of sharpening contradictions, most revealing of all are the political perspectives put forward by parties or tendencies within the working class. Let us apply this touchstone to the perspectives put forward by the Lovestoneites.

What is the task facing the revolutionist today? According to the Lovestoneites: “to agitate and prepare the ground for the formation of a Labor Party”. What is the historic need of the present moment? According to the Lovestoneites “the fight for a Labor Party.”

In the Workers Age (March 15, 1934) two articles appear proclaiming this perspective: one by H. Connor who deals with the Labor Party in Fort Wayne; the other by S. Jonas & H. Vaughan who deal with the Labor Party in general. Connor reports as an “activist”; Jonas & Vaughan on the other hand, approach the question “as theoreticians”.

Both the activist and the theoreticians argue for the Labor Party from the same premise, a very remarkable premise, to wit, because of the immediate need “to divorce the workers politically from the capitalist class” (Connor); because of “the necessity for the political separation of the working class from the capitalist class.” (Jonas & Vaughan).

From such a premise a Communist would argue not for a Labor Party but for a genuine revolutionary party. Beginning with the Communist Manifesto, all Communists have proclaimed the necessity of separating the proletariat politically from the bourgeoisie, i.e., “the organization of the proletarians into a class, and consequently into a political party”; and it is equally an ABC of Marxism that this task can be achieved only by organizing the vanguard into a revolutionary party Only the revolutionary party can divorce the workers from the capitalists politically.

But the Lovestoneites are not of the opinion that the proposed Labor Party would be revolutionary. No. Jonas & Vaughan deny that such a party would be revolutionary. It should only serve as a rallying point of all workers “regardless of individual differences”. Of course in the very next sentence, our theoreticians proceed to contradict themselves by insisting that such a party “will become more and more revolutionary in its outlook” in the process of the class-struggle. But let us pass in silence this vision of a party which although not revolutionary, will become more and more revolutionary. There is another and much more essential aspect to the question.

The Labor Party, not being revolutionary, cannot achieve the political separation (or divorce) of the working class from the capitalist class. Why then do the Lovestoneites propose its formation? Because they represent the opportunist and not the revolutionary wing in the labor movement. Like all opportunists they drag at the tall end of events; and like all tail-enders the Lovestoneites minimize the elements of class-consciousness, and worship the elements of spontaneity.

They have revived the hoary Menshevik theory preached by Martynov – the theory of “organization process”; the theory of the spontaneous growth of the revolutionary party; and of the spontaneous growth of class-consciousness. Today, on a different historical level, the Lovestoneites are chewing once again the thrice-digested cud of Menshevism. They counterpose the Menshevist concept of the spontaneous political development of the class to the Leninist concept of the vanguard, organized as a party, permeating the working masses with class-consciousness.

After proposing to divorce the workers politically from the capitalists by means of the Labor Party, Jonas, Vaughan, Lovestone and all other Martynovs further propose to make the workers class-conscious by means of the same Labor Party. “It is obvious (!) that no progress can be made in building a revolutionary movement, until workers have first BECOME politically conscious as a class. It is equally obvious (!!) that the tactics of the revolutionary parties have failed to accomplish this” (our italics). Ergo, most obviously, the Labor Party is needed.

In the period of civil wars and revolutions one must for the thousand and first time lecture to the; American Brandlerists the A.B.C. of Marxism. A politically conscious worker is a class-conscious worker. Workers do not become “politically conscious as a class” in the process of the class struggle by themselves, not even if they all joined or voted for a dozen Labor Parties. The revolutionary party is that historical organ by means of which the class becomes class conscious. The workers as a class do not first become politically conscious and then build a revolutionary movement; just the contrary, only if a revolutionary party exists “which does not fail to accomplish” its historic task of mobilizing the overwhelming majority of the workers under its banner can progress be made in building a revolutionary movement.

In 1920, the Leninist Comintern said, “After the defeat of the revolution in 1905, during the course of several years the Russian Mensheviks proclaimed the necessity of a so-called Labor Congress which was to replace the revolutionary party of the working class; all kinds of “laborites” of England’ and America, while consciously carrying oil a bourgeois policy, are propagating among workers the idea of creating Indefinite shapeless workers’ unions instead of a political party.”

In 1934, after the disastrous defeat of the German and Austrian proletariat, and the collapse of the Stalinist Comintern, the Lovestoneites can only repeat the perspectives of the Mensheviki in 1905, and of the “laborites” of England and America in 1920.

The task facing the revolutionist in America today, is the building of a genuine Communist party. The historic need of the present moment is the formation of the Fourth International.

Last updated: 4 January 2016