Early American Marxism: Document Download Page by Year: 1930

Early American Marxism

Document Download Page for the Year




“Clique or Class? What’s Happening in the ILD?” by Benjamin Gitlow [Jan. 1, 1930] This article by Ben Gitlow, a leading member of the “Communist Party-Majority Group” organization headed by Jay Lovestone, charges that a campaign was well underway in the International Labor Defense organization to change its nature from a non-partisan workers’ defense organization to the partisan legal defense arm of the so-called “’loyalist’ clique”—i.e. the CPUSA. Gitlow quotes the 6th Congress of the Comintern’s characterization of the ILD as “an independent organization standing outside of all parties which on the one hand defends all victims of the revolutionary struggle and on the other admits to membership without any distinctions of party.” He contrasts this with the political practice employed at 1929 gatherings, in which “every trick and manipulation” was used “in order to exclude the ‘renegades’ from the district and national conferences.” The conferences had their floors closed to speeches by “non-Party workers,” Gitlow alleges, and “not a single non-Party worker” was elected to the group’s 1930 national convention. Gitlow warns that this sectarianization of the ILD would soon be formalized. “At the New York conference Nessin and [Louis] Engdahl announced officially that the national convention would amend the constitution of the ILD by eliminating the declaration that the ILD is a non-partisan organization. Thus will the finishing touches be put...” he declares.



“The Facts Speak for Themselves,” by Harry Winitsky [Feb. 15, 1930] The charges made by the CPUSA that recently expelled leader Jay Lovestone had acted improperly as a state’s witness in the Harry Winitsky trial of 1920 are refuted in this article by Winitsky himself, published in the pages of The Revolutionary Age, official organ of the “CPUSA-Majority Group.” Winitsky states that while at the time of the trial he had believed that Lovestone should have refused to testify under compulsion and instead should have chosen to go to jail for contempt of court, instead “Lovestone as a disciplined member of the Party accepted the instructions of Ruthenberg, then the Secretary of the Party, and testified.” Winitsky takes aim at Earl Browder’s editorial of Dec. 23, 1929, against Lovestone and declares “Browder in his article lies when he states that Lovestone agreed to testify against me when he was offered immunity from prosecution.” Browder’s further statement that Lovestone’s testimony “was referred to by the judge in charging the jury as the basis for a verdict of guilty against Winitsky” is called by Winitsky “a deliberate lie, a contemptible trick used by Browder to cover the truth.” In reality, Winitsky states that “I had no illusions as to my fate when I went to trial” and that Lovestone had merely regurgitated facts already in evidence in the proceeding. “I frankly told the Communist International in my statement of the case that I was convicted by the court even before my trial had started and that Lovestone’s testimony had nothing to do with my conviction,” Winitsky states. Winitsky proceeds to tell the sordid tale of the ongoing effort of the Foster-Cannon-Bittelman-Lore faction to dust off the 1920 trial for factional gain, as part of an effort to discredit the man believed to be the “brains” of the opposing Ruthenberg faction. Winitsky was induced against his better judgment to prefer charges against Lovestone to the Communist International—an action for which he was ashamed and subsequently apologized to Lovestone. Winitsky’s account of this effort to make hay of the trial offers a fascinating glimpse of the bitter and utterly unprincipled factional warfare of the middle-1920s.




“Resolution on Language Work: Adopted by the March 31-April 4, 1930, Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPUSA.”; At the end of March, the Central Committee of the CPUSA gathered in New York to prepare a “Thesis on the Economic and Political Situation and the Tasks of the Party” and to draft resolutions for the forthcoming 7th Convention of the Party, which opened June 20. This document is one of the seven resolutions adopted, outlining (in rather stilted language) the failings of various language fractions and the non-english party press and detailing the organizational-command structure within non-party language groups. An interesting detailing of the party’s foreign language work during a period when “federationism” was regarded as retrograde.


“‘As Pure and Transparent as Crystal,’”; by Leon Trotsky [April 26, 1930] Trotsky’s speculative commentary, first published in the April 26, 1930 issue of The Militant, the organ of the Communist League (Opposition), on Stalin’s decision to publish his “Speeches on the American Communist Party” in the VKP(b) theoretical journal Bolshevik and as a pamphlet in America with a print run of 100,000. Trotsky sees Stalin as attempting to undercut William Z. Foster’s claim to the leadership of the American party with these publications.