Jack Carney

Trade Union Blacklegs

A Letter from Jack Carney

The Brodsky-Murphy Controversy

Source: The Communist, September 30, 1922.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

To the Editor the COMMUNIST

Dear Comrade,

J. T. Murphy’s reply to V. Brodsky, in your issue of August 26th, is an able reply as far as it goes. But it does not present itself as an adequate reply to the criticism made by Brodsky.

It seems to me that what Brodsky is endeavouring to point out is the necessity for the revolutionists assuming a more powerful position than they at present occupy. There is room, decided room, for constructive work in our attacks upon the reactionary officialdom of the Labour movement. We need to be in amongst the rank-and-file of the unions and so compel action. To expect that the officials will bring about unity of action along the lines suggested by comrade Murphy is to expect, what Murphy himself knows to be so: the impossible. Any Labour leader who accepts the “spiritual” guidance of Amsterdam accepts its tactics and in so doing is consciously or unconsciously opposed to sympathetic action.

To act on an international basis is to turn towards Moscow. It is resorting to action. It is a turning away from phrases, etc. The officials of the Labour movement mistrust the rank-and-file and feel that they themselves are competent to lead the masses. It is, therefore, in my opinion, a waste of time to hammer at the officials without attempting to create the necessary support amongst the rank-and-file.

In the state of Illinois there is a mine leader, who believes in state agreements. In other words, he is for sectionalism of the worst kind. Within the miners’ organisation in this state there are hundreds of militants. The result of such organising of the militants was responsible for this mine leader receiving in one day a protest from over fifty locals informing him to keep his hands off a separate agreement. If the revolutionists had kept hammering away at the mine leader and left organisation within the union alone, the mine leader would have been successful. The rank-and-file need backbone. The revolutionist must supply it.

In conclusion, let us not forget, that as dangerous as “leftism” is, there is a far more dangerous “Rightism.” The United States militants are fortunate in having in their midst a W. Z. Foster, whose methods might be studied to advantage by all those who realise the necessity for more militant action and revolutionary understanding on the part of the rank-and-file of organised labour.

Fraternally yours,
Editor, “The Voice of Labour.”