“Soviet Democracy Not Dictatorship”, by Albert Weisbord
A Strategy for South America, by S. Herman
The Scottsboro Case—How Not to Win the Negro Masses, by Frank Griffin
Reform and Revolution, by A. W.
The S. L. P. Since De Leon, by N. Shwartz
The Washington Convention of the Workers Alliance of America—A Report
Advice to the Left Wing of the Workers party
Also: the Revolts in Greece; The Struggle in Cuba: Germany Conscripts; The Harlem Riot; etc.
“SOVIET DEMOCRACY NOT DICTATORSHIP” by Albert Weisbord
“Soviet Democracy not Dictatorship”, this was the headline appearing in the “Special News Page Form” of the periodical, “Soviet Russia Today” announcing the big Anti-Hearst meeting January 25th. That such a statement could appear in a Communist paper bespeaks most eloquently of the terrific degeneration in the ranks of the Stalinists. Everything that Marx and Lenin ever taught about the State has been completely trampled under foot. Is there any State that is not a dictatorship of a class? Is there any “democracy” that is not dictatorship? Was there ever a case of Dictatorship of the Proletariat without “democracy"? Was not the establishment of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat the greatest “extension” of “democracy” for the masses in the history of the world? For three-quarters of a century, now, these concepts have been expounded and collaborated by Marxist revolutionists. Today they are denied by the bureaucrats who dare to speak in the name of the “Russian Revolutionist"!
The fact of the matter is that for some time now, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in the Soviet Union has been destroyed and a dictatorship of the bureaucracy substituted for it. As we put the matter in our general theses:
“From the blows of capitalist reaction and Stalinist bureaucracy there has resulted a peculiar situation within the Soviet Union. The Communist Party, the Trade Unions and the Soviets as real organs of control have been destroyed. With the destruction of those organs, proletarian democracy itself has been crushed. The end of proletarian democracy and those basic proletarian organizations signifies that in fact the Dictatorship of the Proletariat has been destroyed by Stalinism, so far as it means a form of State power.
“However, in spite of the degeneration within the Soviet Union since the death of Lenin, the Soviet Union is not yet a capitalist state. Capitalism cannot return in Russia without civil war and there is no class within the Soviet Union capable of wresting the factories and the means of production from the proletariat. Since capitalist relations are not the dominant ones in the processes of production and distribution in the S. U. there is no other conclusion but to declare that the Workers’ State still exists, that as such it still must be unconditionally defended by the proletariat of the entire world.
“To declare that the Soviet-Union is still a Workers’ State but no longer a Dictatorship of the Proletariat is the most accurate way of placing the contradictory situation in which the first Workers’ Republic finds itself today. It signifies that the proletariat has lost that direct and immediate political control over the State which it had in the days of Lenin and Trotsky. It exposes clearly the dangers of Thermidore that exist and how Stalinism is weakening the Soviet Union. It raises the warning that the Workers’ State can not long endure if once the workers’ control has been removed and in its stead there is substituted a bureaucratic dictatorship that sits on top of the workers and that, although still imprisoned within the framework of the 1917 revolution, is but waiting for the opportunity to open the gates to international Fascism from within. Only a new Communist International can defend and save the Soviet Union.”
To maintain that there can be a Dictatorship of the Proletariat without the widest expression of democracy on the part of the proletariat is to deny the fundamental political conceptions of the proletarian revolutionist and to fall into the worst errors of the Socialists and Anarchists who attack the proletarian dictatorship. It is to give aid to the Fascist enemy and to demoralize the working class. Can anyone imagine that the working class can seize the state power and oust the capitalist from the factories without the greatest awakening on the part of the masses themselves, without their direct and immediate participation, without the greatest extension of democracy for them? It is precisely in order to have a real say in its destiny and future that the proletariat does engage in the bitter civil war that inevitably accompanies the attempt on its part to wrest the power from the ruling class.
Here is what Lenin has to say in his classic book on “The State and Revolution": “Democracy is a form of the State, one of the varieties of the State; and consequently, like every State, it stands as an organized systematic application of force against mankind.” “Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich, that is the democracy of capitalistic society…But from this capitalist democracy…progress does not march along a simple , smooth, a direct path to greater and greater democracy’ as the Liberal professors and lower middle-class Opportunists would have us believe. No progressive development…marches through the dictatorship of the proletariat…And the dictatorship of the proletariat…cannot produce merely an expansion of democracy. TOGETHER with an immense expansion of democracy, for the first time becoming the democracy for the poor, democracy for the people, and not democracy for the rich folk, the dictatorship of the proletariat will produce a series of restrictions of liberty in the case of the oppressors, exploiters and capitalists”
Dictatorship and democracy are not necessarily antithetical. The dictatorship of the capitalist class expressed through a capitalist state can be carried out either by a monarchy, by Bonapartism, by a military dictatorship, by “democracy” or by a Fascist dictatorship. Further, the monarchy may be a “democratic” one, Bonapart may be chosen Emperor through the ballot and Fascism may take power after a vote is taken of the population. However, in all of these cases, whether monarchical or republican, whether democratic or dictatorial, it is still the capitalist state and the capitalist dictatorship.
Similarly, the working class may dictate its will through a Workers’ State which may have various forms, it may be the form of a democratic-dictatorship of workers and peasants, it may be the dictatorship of the workers in alliance with the poorest peasantry, it may be through the dictatorship of a bureaucracy still following the interests of the proletariat. So long, however, as the social produce of the working class still returns to that class, so long as there still does not exist the private ownership of the means of production, private profit, etc., there still remains a Workers’ State and in that sense, a dictatorship of the proletariat.
The term “dictatorship” may have two entirely distinct meanings. It may mean the essence of the State, that is that the State is an expression of the dictation of the will of the ruling class over the ruled classes (as when we say, capitalist dictatorship) or it may mean the particular form which the State takes in carrying out the will of the ruling class (as when we speak of the dictatorship of Prima de Rivera of Spain, or of Fascism in Italy, etc) Further it should be kept clearly in mind that a ruling class may carry out its will not directly through members of its class, but through members of another and even hostile class. For example there is no question but that Germany in 1914 was a capitalist State, i.e., expressed the interests of the capitalists and yet the capitalists themselves had little power in the government. The dictatorship of capital was expressed through the Junker aristocracy of the Kaiser. So it is today in Japan. On the other hand, in Germany after the war, capitalism was saved by the Socialists, supposed enemies of the capitalists and representatives of an inimical class!
So can it be with the working class when it rules. It can rule directly through its own open dictatorship, where it and it alone can vote (or where it and it alone can have the decisive vote)--Case I; or it can rule through an alliance with other classes such as the peasantry and other petty-bourgeois elements who are not capable either of ruling themselves or the proletariat and are quite content to let the working class lead in their mutual interest--Case II; or it can rule through a bureaucracy which still carries out the will of the working class--Case III.
In the first case (direct, open dictatorship) we have the widest development of the democracy of the workers, where the proletariat dictates its will directly and unrestrictedly through members of its own class.
In the second case we have a limitation of the democracy of the workers in that the workers, in a backward country especially, where it is a minority of the population, must limit its interests in favor of the petty--bourgeoisie and peasantry and dictates its will only through the permission of the small property holders. This mutual alliance of the workers and peasantry may take the form either of a “democratic-dictatorship” of workers and peasants, in which these elements crush all other elements and refuse to permit them to vote or to express their interests, or it may take the form of a broad extension of democracy in which all elements, generals, landlords, capitalist, etc., are allowed to vote but it is the interest of the broad masses that are actually carried out for the moment. In this last case we have a popular democracy and not a democratic-dictatorship.
In the third case, we have the “Workers’ State” or the “Workers’ and Peasants’ State” expressed and carried out through the Dictatorship of the bureaucracy. We can say, if we will, that the dictatorship of the proletariat is being expressed through the dictatorship of the bureaucracy, but this would be a rather ambiguous way of putting the matter since we wish to distinguish this state from the state where there is a genuine Dictatorship of the Proletariat, where the proletariat directly and immediately rules in its own interests.
But in all cases whether the proletariat rules immediately and directly or only indirectly through the mediation of this or that group, so long as the forms of property created by the October Revolution are not overthrown, the proletariat remains the ruling class and the state is still a Workers’ State.
The Russian Revolution evolved a number of State forms. In the period from February 1917 to October 1917 there was a capitalist State expressed through a provisional government that ruled with the passivity and permission of the masses organized in Soviets. The capitalists were ruling through the Socialist Revolutionary and Monshevik parties. The capitalist state was forced to express itself through a “broad democracy".
In the second period of the Russian Revolution, from Oct.1917 to the autumn of 1918, the capitalist State, that is the dictatorship of the capitalist class expressed through “broad democracy” and through a dual power, gave way to the dictatorship of the proletarians who, however, for the moment limited themselves to carry out not only their own interests but the interests of small property holders, especially the peasantry . Says Trotsky: “Not only up to the Brost-Litovsk peace, but even up to autumn of 1918 the social content of the revolution was restricted to a petty-bourgeois agrarian overturn and workers’ control over production. This means that the revolution in its actions had not yet passed the boundaries of bourgeois society. During this first period, soldiers’ soviets ruled SIDE BY SIDE WITH WORKERS’ SOVIETS AND OFTEN ELBOWED THEM ASIDE. Only toward the autumn of 1918 did the petty bourgeois soldier agrarian elemental wave recede a little to its shores AND THE WORKERS WENT FORWARD WITH THE NATIONALIZATION OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION. Only from this time can one speak of the inception of a real dictatorship of the proletariat". Thus, in the second period, we had a form of the democratic-dictatorship carried out under the leadership of the proletariat itself.
The third period of the Russian Revolution is the stage from 1918 to 1921. In this period we have the outright dictatorship of the proletariat in firm alliance with the poor peasantry. There is no longer mere “workers Control”, Industry is socialized. There is no longer a mere redistribution of land at the expense of the former nobility, there is an attack on the kulak as well and the mobilization of the poor of the countryside against the rich and prosperous agrarian. There is no longer “broad democracy” but the proletariat takes on to itself as many votes as it needs to give it full control of the State. It is not the peasant that shares control-and to share control in Russia meant for the peasants to dominate-but now the interests of private property are firmly subordinated to these of socialization. This is the period of stern civil war and war Communism. It is the period of the crushing of the capitalist class and the greatest expansion of the democracy of the proletariat. The Communist Party, organ of the awakened proletariat is inspired to achieve monumental heights. It stands out as a vast HEROIC organization.
The fourth stage is ushered in with the New Economic Policy of Lenin, 1921 and lasts to 1924. The dictatorship of the proletariat is not given up. The whole essence of the N.E.P. was to keep the foremost control of the State and not to yield in the slightest particular. And yet the world proletariat had not sufficiently supported the Russian Revolution with another soviet regime to which it could unite and from which it could gather strength to go on. The N.E.P. is the dictatorship of the proletariat forced to allow certain capitalist elements to develop in Russian economy. It is a period which sees the growth of a certain bureaucracy so that it is almost axiomatic to say that with the regrowth of capitalist forces within the Soviet Union there took place also a slight degeneration within the party and the beginning of the movement to crush the real democracy of the proletariat.
The fifth stage is initiated in that period marked by the death of Lenin and the final defeat of the first revolutionary wave of the European proletariat, namely 1924 to 1933. Slowly, step by step, the counter-revolutionary Thermidorian elements gather strength and strangle the democracy of the proletariat. They destroy the Communist Party, the Trade Unions, the Soviets, the Cooperatives, all instruments of proletarian democracy. The destruction of proletarian democracy is the destruction of the direct and immediate control of the workers over their own affairs. Now they have turned over their affairs to the specialized bureaucracy which undertakes to defend the Russian Revolution and to preserve its achievements in its “own” manner. For international revolution the bureaucrat substitute socialism in one country alone. The internationalist wing of communists is completely shattered. That which is called the Communist Party in name becomes but an apparatus over the masses in fact. However, the capitalist class still does not dare to raise the question of the private ownership of the means of production.
The sixth period is initiated after the victory of Fascism in Europe and the destruction of the Communist and revolutionary working class organizations there. In 1935 the vote is given to the peasantry equally with the workers; also the kulaks now thoroughly entrenched within the collectives, are informed they can come back to vote in the Soviets. This is the period of backsliding of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The bureaucracy, already for years uncontrolled, now begins to step out bolder than ever and in its own right. The bureaucracy makes an alliance with the peasantry against the working class. Having destroyed the dictatorship of the Proletariat they re-establish temporarily the democratic-dictatorship of the workers and peasant, they “broaden” the democracy so that they can throw not only their own interests but also the interests of the vast majority of the peasantry AGAINST THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT and against the Workers’ State. The stage is now all set for the destruction of the dictatorship in fact as well as form.
Already the bureaucracy has been faced with the direct hostility of the workers who will never allow that the factories would return to capitalism without the fiercest civil war. Groups are formed as “cells” in the key factories of Leningrad and Moscow, Kharkov and other most important cities. Some reckless adventurer is egged on to assassinate Kirov. In return the bureaucracy executes not only the assassin and his immediate aides, but all on whom they care to wreck their vengeance.
Among the 117 executed by the Soviet bureaucracy is Lazar Shatzkin, one of the leaders and founders of the Young Communist International. Shatzkin, years ago, incurred the displeasure of the Stalin regime for his criticisms and had been put in jail. He had languished there for two years. Suddenly he is taken out and shot. The Kirov assassination was not even the excuse for this murder. It was merely the cover to accomplish this dastardly act.
In the days of Lenin the democratic-dictatorship of the workers and peasants was under the leadership of the proletariat as a transition to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat itself where the proletariat would directly and immediately take over the power, crush the enemy and allow the maximum of democracy for itself. The dictatorship of the Proletariat, under Lenin, then meant two things: 1. The ruthless crushing of the enemy capitalist class and all their agents. 2. The greatest democracy for the workers and the unlimited extension of their interests.
This dictatorship as established by Lenin begins to wither away under Stalin. There is kept up the pretense of the ruthless crushing of the enemy class of capitalists. In reality Stalin aids the building up of new types of capitalists and of their agents, the bureaucracy. Under the guise of ruthlessly suppression of the capitalist class, what is ruthlessly suppressed is the internationalist section of the Communist movement. Simultaneously, as the genuine Communist elements are crushed, the democracy of the workers is destroyed as well. But as the democracy of the workers is throttled, the democracy of classes alien to the workers develop and grows. At first it is only the bureaucracy, that is the new city petty-bourgeois elements arising in the course of the revolution. Now it is also the peasantry. No longer does the proletariat control the majority of the votes cast. The “democracy” is “broadened” so as to include equally the vast mass of peasant property holders. But this very “extension” of democracy is the “restriction” of proletarian democracy, is but the extension of the democracy of the property holder against the proletariat, is but the extension of the power of the bureaucracy to unite with the peasantry against the proletariat.
And each new step backward is hailed as a great step forward! While losing Germany, the Stalinists point with pride to China, while losing in Shanghai, they point to the interior “Chinese Soviets"; while losing the industrial proletariat they idealize the peasantry. And now having stated that the world revolution will come through the Yaroslavl cow, they affirm that the peasant is no longer a peasant in Russia, precisely at a moment when they have consolidated the power of the kulaks by driving him into the cooperative and permitting him to capture it. He whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.
If, in 1924, the direct and immediate control of the State by the proletariat gave way to the indirect control by the proletariat through the bureaucracy, today there is only the shadow of control. Whatever is done today in the interests of the proletariat will be done with the “permission” of the peasants. The bureaucracy, always the agents of the ruling class, will begin to kowtow more and more to the peasantry and private property holders. The establishment of the secret ballot is designed to permit this bureaucracy to build up a new Party. It makes no difference that this party will take the name “Communist". Already for a number of years, within and without the official Communist Party there have been formed the kernels of really two parties, one the party of revolution, of the proletariat, of Lenin, the internationalists communists, the other the party of the kulak, of the nepman of the bureaucrat, of the capitalist, the National Bolshevik.
The criminal action of Nikolaev in assassinating Kirov has warned the bureaucracy that its stability is not very great, that it is becoming more and more isolated from the masses. The bureaucracy now prepares to wage its fight against workers on a “higher plane”, by means of consolidating their base through an “extension of democracy” to transform the dictatorship of the proletariat into the dictatorship of the private property holder, to change the workers’ state into a new form of capitalist state, to change the unlimited democracy of the proletariat into the limited “popular” bourgeois democracy as a stepping stone in its course to Fascism.
It would be suicidal for the American workers to think about the social revolution without sincerely taking account of the struggle for emancipation of the Negro masses and linking it up with the fight for socialism in America. No one can call himself a class conscious fighter unless he is willing to struggle against all theories of the bourgeoisie. The working class in this country can not build a revolutionary movement until it has been welded together with the oppressed Negro masses.
So far the working class movement has failed to find its base in the ranks of the Negro people. The reason for this is the failure to understand the revolutionary approach to this most vital question. No one can approach this question and succeed unless he has broken from all forms of “white superiority” theories, for any such weakness of manifestation will only discredit and destroy all possibility of winning the Negroes to fight side by side with the rest of the workers. All these theories are a result of the backward understanding that the American workers have in regard to the Negroes. In reality there are no differences between the revolutionary movement today and the social- democrats of 1863. The Republican Party spoke revolutionary phrases then but when victory was won they were the first to deny and betray the Negroes.
The revolutionary movement today speaks the same revolutionary phrases but in its every day approach to the Negroes these same bourgeois concepts express themselves in a superiority complex among the whites. This theory has always stood in the way and prevented a revolutionary program from being affected among the Negroes.
Let us consider the Scottsboro campaign and analyze closely the role the working class movement has played in it. Here we see that a criminal mistake was made by the working class organizations. Let us first deal with the C.P. as a political organization that is supposed to give the correct and proper leadership to the workers. First we must recognize the fact that the Communist Party did not consider the Scottsboro campaign as apart of the class struggle, but utilized it as a sort of sex affair to try to rally the Negro people. But by such a bourgeois approach it laid the basis for dangerous misconceptions not only in the Scottsboro campaign but in the approach to the Negro problem generally. There was a failure to realize that in spite of the fact that this was a sex affair it was in reality an attack against the toiling Negroes of the South. The brutal legal treatment of sex matters, as shown in the Scottsboro case, as directed against the Negroes is part of the effort of the ruling class to weaken every move on the Negroes’ part to try to put themselves on the level of the whites. This policy reflects upon all the whites also making them feel they are superior to the Negroes. Here we can see that in spite of the fact that this was a sex affair, the whole motivation of bourgeois society was not to be concerned with whether these boys were guilty or not but to utilize the question of sex in order to raise high the lynch spirit, and to sound the warning to the rest of the southern Negroes that the same will happen to them if they dare to get out of their place. Every advantage should have been taken of this; Negroes and whites should have been led into great mass struggles in this campaign. Was there a basis for it? Yes, but the C.P. did not utilize this basis.
It may seem funny that hundreds of thousands of workers in Europe demonstrated in the streets while in America it was kept purely a legal affair. It is true that it is necessary to go through a certain amount of legal persuasion in order to expose the bourgeois machinery to the working class and lead them into a struggle against it. But since it was not treated as a class struggle chase, all possibility was destroyed of developing struggles among the Negro masses. The Negroes will remember the Communist Party for the Scottsboro case but as time goes on we shall see a distinct reaction against the C.P. on the part of the colored people.
It would be wrong to put the whole fault on the International Labor Defense. The I.L.D. is only a defense organization and is lead and guided by the C.P. It was the C.P. that allowed Leibowitz to play his liberal role destroying all basis of the class struggle among the Negroes and by so doing prepare the ground for the Negro petty bourgeoisic to seize the leadership of the Negroes to betray them. And as we see the turnout and respect that was paid to Mr. Leibowitz by the Negroes we can only draw one conclusion. It was Leibowitz who dominated the Scottsboro campaign and not the I.L.D. and all of this came about due to the bourgeois approach and policy of the C.P. throughout the entire campaign. Until now, day by day, the C.P. is becoming more and more separated from the campaign.
A revolutionary approach can only be effected when it is applied sincerely. It can only have its base and take roots when we have proven our sincerity to the Negro workers in action and deeds. The Negro masses revolt against this bourgeois society because of the brutal terror and force which it uses in suppressing the Negroes. The Negroes are reacting against the revolutionary movement because of its open bourgeois chauvinist tactics in this question. Such an approach and tactics must be destroyed. Bourgeois tactics and approach to the Negroes can only expose the working class movement as a fake and opportunist attempt on the part of the white workers to try to escape the capitalist suppression by taking it out on the Negro themselves. This can only aggravate nationalism more sharply among the colored people. A revolutionary approach can gain that class confidence that will lay the basis for a real movement.
The decline of capitalist-imperialism marked by its world wars, its proletarian revolutions, its chronic crises and its Fascisms, has placed the entire question of reform and revolution in a totally different light. It is absolutely imperative that the revolutionary Communists understand thoroughly the changes that have taken place so as to adapt themselves accordingly and not make mistakes of ossification.
In the 19th century, capitalism was organically healthy and strong. Whatever contradictions were gnawing at its vitals came to the surface only on extraordinary occasions and could be more or less brushed aside. Markets were being won, the older ruling classes were being pushed aside by the rising capitalists, the working class was not yet strong and mature enough to play any decisive role in causing the capitalist system to collapse; everything, indeed, looked rosy and optimistic for the bourgeoisie.
If the working class did begin to stir in its own right, if it began to burst the upper crust of society with its Paris Commune, if it began to build up powerful organizations of its own under the banner of the Second or Socialist International, then it was always possible to conceive that the working class revolutionary movement could be bought off by the capitalists. The workers could be appeased and induced to collaborate with the factory owners for “their mutual benefit".
At this stage of development, capitalism, no longer able to deny the existence of a working class constantly growing larger and qualitatively more alert, a working class which it itself was bringing into existence, made every attempt to lull that working class into docile submission by means of bribes and concessions. The wages were increased, the hours reduced, the conditions of work and life were bettered, security was given through a series of legislative enactments covering children, women, accident, old-age, illness, unemployment, etc., through which the working class could obtain certain benefits. A certain percentage of the income of the State went to the welfare of the masses. Unions were permitted to flourish. Workers education went on apace. Masses of working men were taken into the political machinery and “democracy” of the capitalists was broadened to receive these workers and give them the illusion that they had a place under capitalism.
The capitalist-imperialists could readily do all of these things inasmuch as they were increasing their profits and coining super-profits from their colonies which they were exploiting to the limit. The benefits were handed down only to a relatively small portion of the working class, above all the skilled workmen, who by means of these special privileges were separated from the unskilled within the nation and from the colonial masses. Through dividing the working class in this manner, the employers were also able to increase their exploitation of the unskilled masses generally and to prevent them from organizing. Thus, in the main, those who were allowed to organize in trade unions and in other organizations, were those workers and petty bourgeois elements who would not be a menace to capitalist rule.
It must not be imagined that this was all a cleverly contrived policy on the part of the employers or a deliberate act of treachery on the part of the skilled and better-paid workmen to abandon their fellow workers. No, on the contrary, what-every actually existed was only a resultant of many clashes and conflicts on both sides: Workingmen fighting for better conditions and for the right to build a union of their own and entering into the democracy of the country, capitalists striving to keep as much profits as they could. However, by and large, what actually resulted has been accurately sketched out above. It was only the skilled who articulated their demands, the unions formed were only those which would collaborate with the employers, the increase in social benefits given the workers, after moderate struggles, were only those which the employers could afford.
Inside the ranks of the labor movement which was constantly growing and increasing in numbers, in organization, in understanding and in militancy, there were developed many opportunist theories as to the goal of the working class and the methods of reaching that goal. By the latter part of the 19th century, it had become clear that the interests of the working class were incompatible with those of the capitalist system,. That the capitalist system had to go and the workers were the historic agents to put an end to it. This was the “Social Revolution” of which all conscious workers were increasingly aware. The question remained, however, how to bring about that Social Revolution.
Among the capitalists who were conscious of the conflicts that were brewing there was enunciated a theory that a reform in time was better than a revolution. As the Russian Czar put it, better a reform from above than revolution from below. Each time the working class burst out in violent demonstrations against intolerable conditions, it was deemed the best policy to yield a little. Reform became the counter-weight to prevent revolution.
Inside the ranks of the working class, in the Socialist movement, a corresponding attitude took shape. It was not that “Socialism” was denied in theory but it was stated that one could accomplish Socialism gradually by means of reform. Step by step capitalism would be “reformed” until it would no longer be capitalism. Was not the position of the workers steadily improving? Were not their organizations growing? Was not democracy being extended to include them more and more? Were they not becoming better educated? What was to prevent them from gradually reforming capitalism so that it would be eventually transformed into a workers’ cooperative commonwealth?
In this way, the right wing opportunists in the Socialist movement also countered the revolutionists who pointed out that civil war and insurrection were inevitable before the workers could take power, that capitalism would grow worse and not better for the masses and the workers would be forced into revolt. Within the workers movement, too, Reform was opposed to Revolution.
On the other hand, there arose “revolutionary” Socialists who saw the reactionary tendencies of the “reform” wing who in the name of reform were really denying the revolution, and reacted violently against these reformists by declaring all struggle for reform was counter-revolutionary. These “revolutionary” anti-reformists however, themselves made exceedingly gross errors. They either called for the “unconditional surrender” of capitalism through pamphlets and conceived that more education and propaganda could do the work, the proletariat either utilizing the ballot of democracy or their economic organizations (S.L.P. type) or they planned the coup d’etat and plotted to seize City Hall as a tiny well organized conspiracy (Blanquists)
In this period the relation of reform to revolution was far more profound than either group imagined. Both groups failed to realize that it was precisely in the struggle for reform that the working class would lose its reformist illusions and become revolutionary. In the 19th century, the working class was clearly not developed enough to have seized the power of the State and established a Socialist Republic, Capitalist progress had not yet been exhausted. The working class could only mobilize for the coming struggle for power. But in the intermediate period what was left for it to do was to fight for the right to organize and for improvements in its material condition. Some of its immediate demands it would never gain under capitalism but the very process of struggle would sharpen its wits and prepare it for the larger and more important struggles in the future. The struggle for reform would hasten the struggle for revolution and prepare it. The struggle for democracy would bring about and make permanent the proletarian revolution. Reform itself was but the by-product of the revolutionary demonstrations of the masses.
Today all of this has changed. Capitalism is no longer on the up-grade but on the decline. Its super-profits have diminished. Its markets in part have vanished. Unemployment is permanent and on a terrific scale. The cost of social insurance and security for the workers is now so enormous as to bankrupt the entire bourgeois State. World wars, revolutions, perpetual turmoil prove that capitalism has reached the final stage of its existence where the constructive aspects of the social system have been superseded by its destructive aspects.
Today capitalism can no longer stand even social reform. If yesterday, capitalism tried to prevent revolution, today it must do away with reforms. It becomes anti-reform, it takes on reactionary features. Or, to put it another way, finding itself on the verge of bankruptcy and death, capitalism must undertake its “own” “reforms”, that is, Fascism. What is Fascism, if not a “reforming” of the capitalist system so as to permit the capitalists to hang on longer and to cheat history as long as possible? The rise of Fascism comes about from the fact that the conditions of the masses rapidly grow worse, the workers take to revolution, the unskilled masses begin to organize and strike back. The unions become instruments and training schools for Communism and revolution.
Now the capitalists, in fright, see that reform instead of preventing revolution has bred revolution, has compelled revolution; that is to say, evolution does not prevent revolution but rather “mothers” it. Now the opportunists see that instead of capitalism “reforming” itself in the Socialist sense, it can only “reform” itself in the Fascist sense. It is for this very reason that the opportunist Socialist, real defenders of capitalism, turn against reform, give up the struggle for social reform. It is for this reason that they tell the workers in Germany, for example, Vote for Hindenburg to keep out Hitler. Not that the vote for Hindenburg will keep out Hitler but that the vote for Hindenburg is an abandonment of the demand for social reform and is a recognition by the Socialist Party that since reform DOES lead to revolution, it is better to give up all demands for reform.
At this period, too, there has been revealed the utter ridiculousness of these who would refuse to participate in the immediate demands of the masses for reform and for an amelioration of their lot. It is these every day struggles that now are looked upon as revolutionary attempts by the capitalists. Nor is there any further need for the conspiratorial coup d’etat of the few in the light of the ripeness of the masses for struggle and the inevitable direction that the struggle takes for the seizure of State power.
It is precisely for the reason that the day for social reform, for social liberalism and social democracy has gone by that revolutionists must participate in the struggle for reform, not because it will be granted and dull the revolutionary ardor of the masses, but because it cannot be granted, because capitalism more and more becomes anti-reform, anti-humanitarian, anti-social.
If today the Socialists give up the struggle for social reform and become more “Republican Radicals”, precisely because the struggle for reform today leads directly to revolution, it is only the Communists, that is, the revolutionists, who must remain to fight for reform. For example, in the United States, it is not the Socialists who can organize the unorganized workers in the south, or in the basic industries of this country, nor the liberalized A. F. of L. but only the revolutionary elements. At this stage of its history American capitalism cannot tolerate even the “reform” of unionism and to create even “unions” in the basic industries and other unorganized fields will take the knowledge, the courage, the strength of the entire revolutionary movement.
Among revolutionaries in the 19th century the period of reform was always conceived as separate from the period of revolution; democracy was pictured as distinct from the dictatorship of the proletariat. Today, these two periods telescope into one another, intertwine into one another, are the mutual cause and effect, means and end of one another. The United States, before it has barely entered into its period of social reform, must already enter its period of revolution!
The centrists are those Socialists who still wish to fight for the anachronism of social reform, antiquatedly believing that social reform can be obtained without the necessity for revolution and civil war. They keep the old tactics without understanding that there is a different program connected with the old practice. The revolutionists however, in their fight for the overthrow of the capitalist system enter into all the every day struggles firm in the knowledge that through these struggles there will develop the insurrectionary attack of the workers that will lead them to Socialism.
The struggle for social reforms was in the province of tactics. In the old days, tactics and program were entirely divorced each from the other. Today, tactics that is, the day to day struggle, is intimately connected with the program of Socialism. The revolutionist has not only a tactic. He has a strategy. He knows how to work in the immediate struggle so as to realize the program.
In the last issue of the “Class Struggle” the writer attempted to survey the general conditions prevailing in South America. As elsewhere there have been curtailment of production, unemployment, wage-cuts and strikes. The distress has become so unbearable that the overwhelming majority of workers are ready to tear down all the old barriers in order to begin constructing a new life. We are attempting here to suggest a program for the lines this struggle needs to follow.
We know that a successful revolution must be led by the united urban proletarian masses. They can be the leaders but they cannot seize and hold power by their forces alone. This is particularly true of South America where, except for Argentina and Chile the rural population is from 70 to 85% of the whole. In Argentina and Chile the industrial workers, seem to be, roughly speaking, about as numerous as those engaged in agriculture and ranching, but, in any event, Argentina and Chile combined have a population of 18 million which is only a little more than 1/5th that of the entire continent.
We must first consider the correct line for the poor peasants and farmworkers who are the backbone of South American rural economy and who can be estimated at 55-60 millions of the 80 odd millions of inhabitants of the continent. First of all comes the demand for the abolition, without compensation, of all kinds of private ownership in land, peasant ownership included; for the transfer of all scientifically cultivated estates to the State or to the communes; for the confiscation of all livestock and implements on the lands (poor peasants’ goods are excluded) and their transfer to the State or to the communes; for the equal distribution of land among the toiling masses with periodic redistributions; for the conservation of forests, fisheries and all other resources. It goes without saying that this includes all oil lands, coffee, sugar, rubber and banana plantations, and all the mines.
It is very obvious that it is impossible to accomplish this without breaking completely with the capitalists, without destroying the power of the capitalists completely. This involves a struggle of the fiercest type because we know how desperately Ford will fight for his rubber plantations. Rockefeller for his oil fields and Guggenheim for is mines. The confiscation of land necessarily brings about the confiscation of the capital of the banks holding mortgages on that land. The centralized power of the city proletariat is indispensable to crush the centralized capital of the bankers who control South America. The tremendous ranches of the Argentine, the gigantic oil holdings in Bolivia, Venezuela and Columbia, the great plantations in Brazil, Chile, Peru and Colombia, must be turned over to the State but ONLY TO A PROLETARIAN STATE. The transfer of these large enterprises for the exclusive use of the State necessarily involves Socialist control and Socialist regulation.
It is of the utmost importance that the agricultural workers should not be misled by the reformist demagogues who promise these things within the framework of capitalism. Parties like the APRA in Peru must be completely exposed. In Southern Chile, Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, the poor peasants and rural workers have seized land from the capitalist. They must not allow their uprising to be destroyed by the puppets and demagogues of the American and British imperialists. It is of the utmost necessity that the workers in Bolivia, Peru and Chile seize power relatively simultaneously. The Bolivians will require access to the Pacific and their Andean neighbors must provide it. Conditions are most ripe for such a step.
In Bolivia the workers have been exhausted by the long and severe war in the Chaco. The workers are all armed having all been conscripted for military service. The imperialist Chaco war can now be turned into a civil class war. It must be made clear to both the Bolivian and Paraguayan soldiers that they are fighting not only for their local and immediate oppressors, but particularly for the hated Yankee and British imperialists. At the same time great care should be taken that those Indians be not misled by their own petty-bourgeois deceivers who, in the name of local patriotism, ostensibly seem to be against the foreigners. It should be forcefully pointed out that the step from foreign imperialism to local bourgeois domination would be a treacherous betrayal of the interests of the toiling masses. This is of the highest importance because the crushing of the Apristas in Peru and the so-called Moderate Socialists in Chile is as necessary as the overthrow of Kerensky became in Russia in 1917. The seizure by the peasants of the plantations in Bolivia and by the workers of the mines would be welcomed by the rank and file of their fellow-workers in the army.
A soviet Federation in the Andes could successfully resist any possible imperialist intervention. Foreign troops simply could not stand a prolonged stay in the regions 12,000 feet up in the mountains where the Bolivian mines are located. The Peruvian state apparatus itself has become increasingly unable to suppress the militant Indian ayullus (communes) which have taken away considerable land from the feudal Gamenales. The distance is too great and the mountains are too high for an attacking air force. Yet, at the same time, a great impetus would be given to the whole South American and even the whole world revolutionary movement, particularly because some of the imperialists’ important sources of raw materials would be cut off and in this way a serious crippling of capitalism in general would result.
The role of the peasants has been stressed for several reasons. The correct agrarian program of Lenin assured the success of the Russian Revolutions. The failure to win over the peasantry led to the collapse of the Hungarian revolution. In Peru and Bolivia and in most of South America for that matter, there really is no middle peasant, that is to say, there are very few of them. Either they are tenant farmers, whose lot is far worse than that even of the share croppers in the United States, or else they are bound to the land in virtual slavery. For them there is no hope as things are now. They have been disillusioned by the numerous palace revolutions which are nothing but the manipulations of the British and American bankers who are constantly intriguing against each other. They have seen that their relatives have mutinied and revolted in the very armed forces of the state itself, because of the inhuman conditions of the service, including the lack of proper food. The peasants must be freed from the degenerating social and political influence of the large landholders and their corrupt overseers. It is the sons of those people who make up the rank and file and non-commissioned officers of the Bolivian and Paraguayan armies and they must be the ones to lead the fight for the overthrow of their bourgeois officers.
The mistake must not be made in Argentina or Colombia, for example, where there are more farms than elsewhere of a small nature, that there is a community of interests of all “farmers". The landless agricultural worker might like the use of a little land to give him food. The small peasant would like either a little more land so that he and his family can eat or at least the time to work the land so that they might have something.
What has been said of the Andean countries is true of all of South America, subject to the special conditions in each locality, of course. The program should be along the following lines:
1. Stop imperialist fomented wars by ousting the imperialists and turn the struggles against the bourgeoisic on class lines.
2. Raise the slogan of Democratic Republic and advocate the formation of workers’ peasants’ and soldiers’ Soviets.
3. Arm the workers and peasants and form a people’s militia.
4. Confiscate the large estates and all enterprises.
5. Complete social insurance and workers’ control of industry on the road to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
But how can those things be successfully accomplished? Only with a political party to coordinate and direct all the elements of workers into a decisive army of struggle. There is no such party in South America. The need for one is great. Of course there are handfuls here and there who pay lip-service to the Stalinist Inter-national but that is all. The Communist Party is illegal in almost all of South America. Nevertheless, with a correct line the communists could win over the masses of workers who, in their own haphazard way, seek to strike off the fetters of capitalism.
One of the chief crimes of the Comintern was to ignore almost completely even the existence of the South American continent. Particularly during the last few years have conditions been very ripe for the development of a strong Communist vanguard to lead the South American revolutions, especially, at least, in Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru, which countries contain over two-thirds of the population of the continent. In these countries imperialist intervention is far more difficult than in Cuba, or Venezuela or Colombia. The six years of the crisis have dealt both English and American imperialisms some very severe blows and the loss of billions of investments in South America would greatly accelerate the overthrow of capitalism in general.
Decidedly strong Fascist actions have been taken in Brazil and particularly in Argentina where a military clique, calling itself Fascist, recently seized and with the connivance of the Federal Government, hold the city of La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires province. Of course, this was only of a putschist character but it shows the direction of the wind. Throughout South America trade unions are either forbidden or are “licensed” by the governments in true Fascist manner. The situation cries out for a real party of communists to hasten the political maturity of the workers and to make it very clear to them that the assorted political set-ups of the present time exist merely for the purpose of taking turns in serving the British or American bankers.
The demagogues have made many promises none of which has been kept. The Communists must concretely show to the masses that only by the seizure of not only the lands and industries but of the political power of the state as well under the dictatorship of the city proletariat can any promise really be kept. The workers are greatly dissatisfied with the indecision and vacillation of such as Alessandri in Chile and Torre in Peru. The longer the proletarian revolution in Peru, Bolivia and Brazil is delayed, the longer it is protracted by the vacillating and the wavering of the demagogues, the more victims it will cost and the more difficulties will come in its path.
A step must be made in the revolutionary termination of the war in the Chaco. Of course the difficulties of seizing power during an imperialist war are very great. But it is of the most vital importance to attempt the seizure of power NOW when the Bolivian workers are armed. The Bolivian and Paraguayan workers must not continue to slaughter one another. A successful worker revolution in Bolivia would spread like fire over the Andes to Peru and Chile. The support which a well organized Chilean proletariat could give would be tremendous. Its effect upon the Brazilian workers would be immeasurable.
There is no doubt that a successful workers’ revolution in Argentina, in view of its economic importance, would be far more influential than in any other South American Country. However, it can be said, merely by way of comparison, of course, that the workers of Argentina are in the same position in relation to those throughout the rest of South America as the workers of the U.S. are to those throughout the world insofar as the capitalist have granted to the Argentine workers certain concessions not granted elsewhere on the South American continent. However, the crisis is wiping out these differences and the Argentine worker is becoming more and more ripe for revolt. In Argentina a militant communist Party can be organized and can be closely united with the European workers of Northern argentine, Uruguay, and southern Brazil.
If a revolution on the Pacific side of the Andes can be attained more easily and can resist counter-attack more successfully, yet a revolution in Northern Argentine and Southern Brazil and Uruguay, embracing as it does the majority of the city proletarians of South America, mostly white class-struggle trained Europeans, would be of far greater decisiveness in world affairs. The victory of the proletariat here would be the victory of the masses throughout South America. The Argentine and Brazilian proletarians would know how to connect themselves in the countryside and win the support of the peasants war.
In considering the strategy for South America we have not touched on the relations of this continent with Central America, particularly Nicaragua, Columbia and Panama, Mexico and Cuba. Here is where resistance to Yankee imperialism burns fiercest in the breasts of the masses and it may well be that the spark to light the fires of revolt in South American can be blown by the winds from Central America.
But this, indeed, is a separate subject in itself. Without in the least desirous of appearing to exhaust the subject of a Communist strategy in South American we can sum up with the statement that such a strategy must take in the following considerations.
1. A policy for the revolution in the three key regions of South America, namely, the Pacific side of the Andes, the “white belt” of Northern Argentina, Uruguay and Southern Brazil, and the Northern part of South America and Central America.
2. A correct solution of the relationships between workers and peasants, city and country, Europeans and Indians and Negroes.
3. An intimate correlation of the events in South America with those of Central America particularly Mexico and Cuba.
4. An intimate fraternity between the movement in South America and the proletariat of the United States, in the first place the Negroes and Latin Americans.
With the death of DeLeon, the outstanding figurehead of the S.L.P., this group slowly but surely began to degenerate. The epigones now twist and turn out of joint any revolutionary teaching of their former MASTER but they insist on doing all the harm in the name of DeLeon, just as Stalin is doing it in the name of Lenin. We shall take up a few phases of this petrified outfit and pass judgement on them.
With the advent of the war in 1917, we find the S.L.P. extremely respectable. They wanted to prove their absolute loyalty to the government and as legalists at that. The S.L.P. flatly opposes the general strike or possible violence, and at every opportunity it makes itself legal and respectable before the bourgeoisie and its courts. It never stops even at pointing the finger to a labor movement not under its control and thus often plays the role of stool pigeons for the capitalists although it does not get paid for it and the ungrateful capitalist dogs even bite the hand that feeds them information.
In a letter to Senator Overman, they took a lot of pains to explain to this defender and upholder of the capitalist law that: “While other political parties, Mr. Senator, desire to capture the government in order to get possession of its repressive forces, the S.L.P.’s aim is to adjourn all these forces, for backed by the economic organization of labor, it knows that it possesses the only real power. While the S.L.P. has no objection to an economic labor organization using the strike as a weapon during the reign of capitalism to secure better wages and shorter hours whenever possible, let us make it plain, Sir, that we absolutely discard the strike, general or local, as a weapon of revolution. This we do, in the first place, because great strikes easily become movements of disorder, hungry masses, mass meetings, parades perhaps riots, are all incentives to disorder, to attack from above. Hunger, starvation, and lack of employment are all elements of weakness which the workers should avoid as nearly as possible. On the other hand, we hold that the workers in a revolutionary period must remain in the industry, the shop, the factory, and the mine, in order to take possession of same.”
In this cringing way they advise the workers to avoid unemployment and starvation because they are weaknesses-as if the workers of their own accord, create this condition. A thorough examination of their writings convince us of their pernicious stand to the effect that a strike for higher wages and shorter hours is useless under capitalism, because it can’t win. This has been the swan song of the S.L.P. since the death of DeLeon; they blame the other fellows for advocating something that WILL disturb capitalism, make the masses move in the direction of revolution. Despite their cringing and crawling, even these legalists were attacked. Their own wailing was: “Due to the hardships imposed by the Act of Oct. 1917, our Lettish and German organs had to suspend publication. They did so in 1917. Our other papers were harassed, and finally in June 1918, the second class mail privilege of the Weekly People was revoked Freedom of expression was curtailed, meetings were interfered with ..”
The irony of the thing is that in the letter to Overman, a short while after the above happened, they said: “ You are proud of American democracy. We believe in its virtues. It gives us the right to advocate our cause in the open; it gives us the power to alter or abolish the present form of government if the majority should see fit to do so. Is there a monarchy on the face of the earth which provides for such a contingency? If the people desire to change such a government it must be done in opposition to all existing institutions, laws and orders;-it must be by force. A judicial, legitimate abolition of monarchy is utterly impossible.”
But, in a democracy like America, these lunatics can even imagine the supreme Court, in its judicial sanctorum, passing a law declaring that hereafter the working class shall own all, because they are a majority. Any party that stands for revolution, even the most gradual and peaceful, can and will be hounded and finally outlawed as conditions become worse and the naked rule of fascism will be foisted on us unless we can smash this reaction beforehand. We must do all in our power to teach the workers how to meet this situation and at the same time expose the idiocy of sects who refuse to soil their hands in the struggle.
We can expect any inconsistency from such people. Petersen tells us (Oct.19, 1922) “The victory in Los Angeles will not insure the S.L.p> against similar attacks in the future. The real significance of this victory lies in this: the reaction recognizes that it cannot proceed successfully against the S.L.P. without at the same time overthrowing, definitely and absolutely, the Constitution. This the gentlemen in Los Angeles, either feared to do now, or they do not consider the time propitious. Gradually our constitutional rights will vanish. The I.W.W., the Communist and kindred groups are cooperating faithfully with the Plutocracy to accelerate this process.” Here, again, we see the pointing of the finger mainly for the purpose of making themselves respectable. Only the misleaders of the working class are ignorant of the fact that the authorities in California, as well as in other parts of “FREE” America, persecuted the labor movement on any and all flimsy excuses which they termed “illegal” acts. They always resorted to frame-ups that created a stench which spread over the entire world.
Let us now see the role of the S.L.P. in the trade union field. Since 1908, when DeLeon’s credentials were not recognized by the I.W.W. hardly anything was done by the S.L.P. to attempt to build an Industrial Union. The W.I.U. (Workers Industrial Union, the Detroit I.W.W.) was never more than a huge joke. Some worker elements-lost in the multitude of professionals and petti-bourgeoisie which make up the bulk of the S.L.P. membership were complaining. Petersen wrote (August 23, 1923) “ Instead of emphasizing the fact that only the economic organization can set on foot a true political party of labor (speaking of such political party in the sense of Marx and DeLeon, i.e., a full grown, practically all inclusive party of the working class) they are insisting that the S.L.P. out of its already very limited membership, must set on foot what they would be pleased to call an economic organization, i.e. an industrial union.” Acting on the advice and influence of Petersen the N.E.C. therefore opposed this worker element.
But the days of miracles are not yet gone. The S.L.P. leaders expect to have the Industrial Union, fully developed, drop into their lap like heavenly manna. They discourage strikes of any kind as can be seen in Petersen’s book, “ ‘The Virus of Anarchy’ “The S.L.P. discourages strikes, and encourages intelligent industrial class organizations, the existence of which will cause the bosses to ‘throw tubs to the whale’, i.e., to yield concessions to the workers in greater measure than any strike could effect, in order to check revolution.” This is told to us at a time when even a small strike, for only recognition of the union without better conditions, looms up as a miniature civil war. The least we can say of the S.L.P. in this connection is that they are consistent in their policy and they even disbanded their own creation the W.I.I.U.
On September 1, 1934, in an article entitled :"Strikers Face the Facts”, by W.B. he says: “FELLOW WORKERS, FACE THE FACTS. THE STRIKE AS A WEAPON OF THE WORKING CLASS IS DONE. We believe that you will speedily learn the futility and hopelessness of the strike as an answer to the gigantic problem pounding at our door demanding solution. We hope this realization will come before the capitalist classes can beat down the puny arm of the strike and drown the movement in blood and oppression. “Again we say-let us bend our energy to the preparation of our class for the organization of revolutionary Industrial Unions for the destruction of Capitalism. DROP YOUR PETTY REFORM STRUGGLES AND give all power to the Socialist Industrial Union".
We can now clearly see how far away from DeLeon the S.L.P. slipped. The fact is that they preach a doctrine the exact opposite. DeLeon favored strikes although he understood their limitation. On July 26, 1906, he said: “Nevertheless, though a strike is not a revolution, it may lead directly thereto.” Also in his “Flashlights of the Amsterdam Congress”, he said: “ So long as a revolution is not ripe enough to triumph in the court of first resort, (hustings) it is barred from the second. The posture of the advocates of the ‘general strike’ is obviously archaic. In the other hand, succumbing to what Marx termed ‘parliamentary idiocy’ there are those who totally reject the general strike; their mental horizon is bounded by the ballot; as a rule they are people who see in the trade union only a temporary makeshift; they do not recognize in it the ‘reserve army’ form of the revolution that, ten to one, as taught us by modern history, will have to march upon the field of last resort summoned thither by the usurper, defeated in the court below.”
In this connection we submit a statement by Marx to J. Hamann, September 30, 1869: “The trades union should never be connected with, nor made dependent upon a political party, if the former is to fulfill its task. The moment that is done, the death blow is dealt to it. The trades union is the school for Socialism. In the trade union the workingmen are trained into Socialists, because there the struggle with capital is daily carried on under their very eyes……
The very first thing that the S.L.P. (including Deleon) did AGAINST the advice of Marx, was to organize the Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance as a tail to their political party and completely controled by it. The second and major error consisted in the fact that instead of teaching the workers and helping to train them into Socialists, they abandoned orginized labor and turned the workers over completely to the mercy of the misleaders who taught them class collaboration. A study of the ideas of the S.L.P. of the trade unions convinces us that the S.L.P. never understood the role of these organizations.
Much has been made by DeLeon and the S.L.P. over a supposed difference between the General Strike and their advocacy of the general LOCKOUT of the capitalist class. This would have been a contribution if other advocates of the general strike had not also embodied the lockout idea. The social General Strike stands for revolution, the taking of goods from the warehouses to feed the workers and when successful, the reorganizing of society. Arnold Roller says “Is it not the most natural and the most radical form of revolt of the slaves when on the day on which they threw off the yoke of oppression for good, they declare to their masters, loud and distinctly, ‘No longer will we obey you, no longer will we bear weapons for you, no longer will we work for you, also no longer will we respect your title of possession’? At last we take possession of all you have robbed from us, of all those riches and treasures which we created, but never were permitted to enjoy.’”
Emil Pouget said: “We are convinced that if the General Strike were limited to suspending the life of society, it would carry with it great deceptions for the working class.”
Sorel wrote: “The General Strike counts on expelling the capitalists from the productive domain and on taking their place in the workshop created by capitalism.”
We can now see how ridiculous are the claims by the DeLeonites and the S.L.P. in all of their works, and as for example the very latest ravings in the “Weekly People” in the article printed September 15, 1934, entitled “Slavery or Freedom": “The idea of an Industrial Democracy is not an importation from another country, nor is it an invention. It was discovered by DeLeon through an application of Marxism to industrialized America.” And again: “ Only when its goal is one single objective the ‘abolition of the wage system’, can the Industrial Union become the battering ram for revolution.”
Arnold Roller was far clearer than DeLeon and the S.L.P. on this very point. He said: “Because strikes are mostly caused by Trade Unionists, it is quite natural that the General Strike idea is mostly propagated in Trade Unions. So it is consequently logical that after the victorious Social General Strike, the Trade Unions already organized will be and should be those who take production as well as the rebuilding of society into their hands.
“……Different branches of production, of course, would have to be given up entirely; for instance: the production of weapons, the mint, the production of church fixtures, etc.; others at least for some time; for example, articles of luxury, toys, etc. The war materials, such as guns, etc., would have to be remelted and made into useful machinery and tools. If, however, the proletarians of the neighboring countries should not yet have freed themselves, munitions of war could be used still better by putting them at the disposal of the fighting proletariat of the still oppressed nations.”
Realizing this condition, Roller was forced to accept the idea of a transition period and he saw clearly the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat. He said: “However, before the realization of the ideal-perfectly free Communism, needless of regulation-there will probably be a time of transition, the form and organization of which will be determined principally by the working men bound in Trade Unionism.”
Petersen is compelled to disown any possibility for dictatorship in America and it seems to us that he copied a nonsensical position of a bourgeois professor in order to appear somewhat logical. Prof. Sombart says: “The whole absurdity of this theory becomes apparent when its applied to democratic countries like Switzerland and the U.S.A. What work would there be for a Dictatorship of the Proletariat to do in these countries? Turn it as we will, the theory of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat cannot be made to fit into a historical, realistic view of society. It is a foreign element coming from a system entirely different. That Marx held the theory for so long-I do not know how long-is only another proof in support of my thesis that in the doctrines of Marx there are contradictory elements and all the sophistry in the world will not be able to bring them into agreement.”
Prof. Sombart wrote this long before Petersen ever intended to write his tripe. We bring this testimony to show that there has never been a question in the mind of any HONEST revolutionist, that Marx throughout held the view of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The Professor further tells us: “ I believe that ‘direct action’ the idea on which the whole syndicalist system is based, is actually opposed to the doctrine of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat which Marx NEVER GAVE UP “
In his “Proletarian Dictatorship vs. Democracy”, Petersen tells us on page 43: “ The lack of industrial development is one of the cornerstones, in fact, the chief one, upon which rests the particular application of the ‘dictatorship of the Proletariat’ by Marx, Engels and Lenin “ Here is implied the erroneous notion that if a country is highly industrialized like America, then it would be entirely superfluous and for that reason he continues on page 44: “ We may then logically deduce that where the conditions are the direct opposite to those which confronted Marx in 1871, and Lenin in Russia in 1917, the transition period mentioned by Marx and Engels is not only not necessary, but it is even impossible, in reason, to conceive of it “ Yes, it is impossible for one who lacks the capacity to reason and is compelled to resort to lies. Lenin, as the practical head of the Third International in 1921 laid down this point for ALL countries including America, and it is historically known that the S.L.P. refrained from joining because of it. Whatever their excuse may have been and still is with reference to the dictatorship of the Proletariat they have a colossal gall to intimate that even Lenin did not see the necessity for it in a highly developed capitalist country.
On page 9 of the same work we find Petersen saying: “ Needless to say, DeLeon’s outlook was taken from a vantage point of immediate contact with a far higher developed stage of capitalist development than that PRACTICALLY contemplated by Mark and Engels-and even by Lenin, it appears, until after his acquaintance with the writings of DeLeon.” Only an ignoramus or a charlatan can say such a thing, in view of the fact that Lenin’s Imperialism, written before he ever became acquainted with the views of DeLeon shows a development which the S.L.P. is even at this date not aware of.
On page 13, Petersen continues: “The apparent inconsistencies, however, are easily understood once we realize that the Lenin of post-1918 days is a somewhat different Lenin from the one of ante-1918 days, the reason for the difference being that before 1918 Lenin, like most of his contemporaries, was in total ignorance of the life and works of Daniel DeLeon. It is obvious then that Lenin, after reading DeLeon, had begun to modify his ideas especially as regards highly developed capitalist countries “.
Lenin NEVER modified his ideas regarding dictatorship. He advocated it until his dying day. Only those who in the past distorted Marx and Engels and charged them with modifying their views regarding violence are doing the very thing with Lenin. Lenin’s idea as to work in the trade unions, his estimation and role of a political party, his idea on the Negro question, his idea on militarism and patriotism; in fact in most ALL his ideas was IN DIRECT CONFLICT with the degenerate S.L.P. after DeLeon’s death.
What can be expected from people who try to delete Marx, Engels and Lenin? It seems that Petersen learnt this art of deletion and he practiced it in his introduction to Marx’s “Communist Manifesto". On page xxii he quotes the following: “The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the PEASANT, all these fight against the bourgeoisie to save from extinction their existence as FRACTIONS OF THE MIDDLE CLASS. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay, more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history.”
In Peterson’s desire to designate these elements as “conservative” and “reactionary” and as a “fraction of the middle class” he was forced to cut and delete Marx’s paragraph which when completed gives an opposite point of view, to wit: “If by chance they are revolutionary, they are so only in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat; they thus defend not their present, but their future interests, they desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat.”
The S.L.P never understood that bourgeois democracy is the Dictatorship of the capitalist class and that the Proletarian Dictatorship is workers’ democracy. Lenin wrote a book on this very point against Kautsky, but the S.L.P. borrowed all of Kautsky’s views. Later they were forced to show a friendly sign to the newly established U.S.S.R. and we find in the “Weekly People”, May 10, 1919 a previously adopted resolution of the N.E.C.: “Resolved, that we condemn all military intervention in the territories of these countries and insist upon adherence to a policy of absolute non-interference with the affairs of the people of these countries now engaged in the work of building the only real democracies the world has ever seen.”
In 1924 Olive Johnson said: “DeLeon and other Marxians in the Party naturally took a stand that the tax issue means nothing to the workers as they are exploited at the point of production; and as their labor power is a commodity sold at its value i.e., at a market price equal to the necessities for its reproduction, that whether the worker paid high or low taxes in the exceptional cases where the worker was the owner of a miserable piece of property made not the slightest difference to the general conditions of the working class and as far as the indirect taxes were concerned they were paid by the capitalist class out of the surplus stolen from labor at the point of production.”
This nonsensical position overlooks the fact that the standard of living is not something static, as it is possible that, if the working class would not resist the constant attempt on the part of the capitalist class to reduce their standards, they would find themselves on the level of the Chinese coolies; it also overlooks the fact that the standard of living is an historic element and various countries differ in their standards; it fails to recognize that certain direct taxes which are shifted from the capitalists directly to the poor, cut into the living standards of the working class as a whole. This process takes place only after the workers are exploited at the point of production and also effects other members of the working class which the S.L.P. forgets entirely. In the actual productive process not all of the working class is employed. The present N.Y. City sales tax does cut into the earnings of the working class and even into the relief payments to the unemployed and no sophistry of the S.L.P. can prove otherwise. The Marxist position must also include in its demands the advocacy of the removal of all taxes which the workers are forced to pay and the demand that they be paid by the capitalist class.
In winding up our condemnation of the S.L.P. it is appropriate to quote a final point on Patriotism on the part of E.M.T. (EMPTY) in an article entitled “Red, White and Blue for the S.L.P.”, which appeared in the “Weekly People” as late as December 29, 1934: “White to us in America is not the color of reaction; for reaction is black, the color of the law-breaking buckaneers who ‘uphold’ the Constitution and kiss the flag and trample on both of them when their profits are at stake. If the much vaunted 100% American is a white man in principle, regardless of his skin, then the S.L.P. will match color with any of the ‘champeens’. We are not aliens, we are Americans. This is our country. We honor our flag. We honor those who courageously fought and died to defend it.
“We are not lilies; but we are white enough to give and demand a square deal, not only in distributing wealth among those who work to produce it, but also in allowing the civil liberties which our national heritage provides. The S.L.P. does not screech for freedom of expression while spreading propaganda to ‘mobilize an armed insurrectionary force ‘ to establish a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ which would take away every liberty the screechers demand for themselves.
“We honor the men who wrote our Constitution…
“Loyalty to our American tradition of democracy marks the S.L.P. as ‘true blue…
“Through the will of the majority, under our constitutional guarantees, restoration to the rightful owners should be made by ‘due process of law’…”
Believe it or not this was written not by the D.A.R. but by a member of the S.L.P. which has the audacity to claim to represent the interests of the working class. The S.L.P. is far removed from the working class movement; above the process of evolution, as Kuhn once said, and like leeches, the editors hang on while the money rolls in. After all, $60 as a weekly-salary in times of depression-guaranteed until death-is not to be sneezed at. Neither the working class nor the capitalist class listens to them. They have as much effect as the barking of an Eskimo dog at the moon.
A very interesting and what may turn out to be important national convention of unemployed organizations was held in Washington, March 2nd, 3rd, 4th. The convention was called by a processional committee made up of unemployed groups led by Socialist Party elements and to the call there responded 118 delegates from 17 states representing some 30 odd organizations and claiming 400,000 members. Perhaps this claim was an exaggeration but some of the organizations such as the Workers Unemployed Union of New York City, the People’s Unemployed Leagues of Maryland, the Illinois Workers Alliance and the Wisconsin organization etc. were undoubtedly well established groups with many functioning units under their control. Even if half of the claims were correct, still it was a good-sized convention and representative of the country since there were delegates from Oregon, Florida, Missouri, Kentucky and many of the Eastern and Middle Western states.
The composition of the convention was made up of two distinct elements, in the main. In the leadership were a group of young Socialists, many of them mere kids, who, moreover, belonged to the “left wing” of the Socialist Party. Tied to the opportunist Socialist Party and yet believing in “left phrases”, this untried leadership was capable of being buffeted both by the right wingers present and by the left, mainly crystallized around the propositions brought in by the Passaic Workers Unemployed Union which had sent two delegates, Louis Talaber and Albert Weisbord, who spoke from the viewpoint of Internationalist-Communism. The main bulk of the delegates, however, were plain unemployed workers, part and parcel of the unemployed masses in the United States and typical of them.
The convention went off to a bad start because of the poor tactics of the provisional committee in organizing the affair. In the first place, in order to insure supremacy to the Socialist Party elements, there was made the decision that no State could have more than 15 votes, no matter how many organizations were present from that state and no matter how many members they had. It was on this question that the provisional committee had split with the National Unemployed Leagues, controlled by the Workers Party which had fought for proportional representation from each local that sent delegates. Because of the cumbersome machinery which had been set up a long complicated process had to be gone through to determine what organizations would be seated, how many delegates each would be allowed, how many votes each delegate would have, etc. It was only the fact that the convention was dominated by Socialist Party elements and that there was no organized opposition that the convention really got started at all. Of course in seating delegates and apportioning votes the “non-partisan” Socialist Party saw to it that those coming from Socialist controlled organizations completely dominated the scene.
The second mistake was in the arrangements of the convention. A report was made by Rassmussen that the arrangements committee had found clean beds in the “Gospel Mission” where the delegates could sleep for 25 cents a night if they presented themselves as individuals. At once comrade Weisbord raised the question from the floor whether the Negro delegates would be discriminated against and the shameful answer was yes. That is to say, the “Socialists” were quite ready to send delegates to sleep in a Jim-Crow place. Of course this raised a terrible stink which was only settled by the arrangements committee finally declaring that they had secured some 30-40 places to sleep in private homes and the Negro delegates might be taken care of there. This was a compromise but the delegates were forced to accept it as many of the had had no sleep after their long journey. Still the whole mismanaged arrangements stand as an indictment against the leaders of the convention.
The third mistake was in the refusal of the leading group to seat the National Unemployed League representative, Ramuglia, and the National Unemployment Council, Herbert Benjamin (of airplane fame) as fraternal delegates, but only as guests, with no voice or vote, although the National Unemployed Leagues of the Workers Party had been expressly invited to come to the convention.
Here is a very interesting point. Although it had been invited to the convention the snobbish and ultimatist Workers Party had actually compelled its National Unemployed Leagues to turn down the invitation. This was a very big mistake and clearly exposed the foolish antics of this “new deal” organization. Had the Workers Party group sent its delegates and tried to swing the convention more to the left a great advance could have been made. It is true that the Socialist crowd acted in a very bureaucratic way in arranging the votes in the convention but that difficulty could have been easily overcome in fact. The stupid dilitante blunders of the Workers Party came out clearly when both Ramuglia and Benjamin were asked to speak to give their viewpoints.
Benjamin made a typical oily “Uriah Heep” speech in abject humility. Wringing his hands like a regular Jewish pawnbroker he spoke of the mistakes that the Unemployed councils had made and how painfully they were being forced to correct these mistakes. He pointed out how intelligent the audience was and how they surely would not refuse to get together with the councils especially as the Councils had removed all revolutionary material from its program and was merely fighting for a Labor Party, for Public Works, for Unemployment Insurance and for Adequate Relief. Not a word did Benjamin mention of the necessity to do away with capitalism if unemployment is to be ended. Not in the slightest way did this Uriah Heep show himself any more to the left than the most right-wing delegate from the socialist Party. Gone were the phrases “Social-Fascist”, “united front only from below” etc.
On the other hand, Benjamin did point out that the convention marked a step forward in bringing together the various scattered unemployed organizations and that the program was one which could unite all. Only it was necessary to go further than had been gone. With his handshaking and his “humble manner”, Benjamin quite touched the hearts of his socialist brothers who roundly applauded him.
Ramuglia, however, committed one stupid blunder after another. Instead of pointing out the progressive character of the convention he implied that the whole thing was a fake, that it would have to be a fake because “HIS” organization was not in on it. In a thousand ways Ramuglia so irritated his audience that if Benjamin had not spoken the vain and pompous upstart from the Workers Party would have ruined everything. As it was, the convention enthusiastically voted to instruct the incoming national committee to negotiate within three months with the N.U.L. and the N.U.C. Regarding unity, thus reversing the report of the resolutions Committee majority and accepting the resolution that had been proposed by Weisbord.
The role that the Communist League of Struggle played was an important one. On the Resolutions Committee, Comrade Weisbord was responsible for many of the resolutions that were finally adopted and was instrumental in bringing in a militant line on many of the other resolutions, e.g. the resolution on Tom Mooney, on Scottsboro, on the Youth, on the Trade Union question, on the Negro question, on unity negotiations with the N.U.L. and the N.U.C. on placing a Negro comrade on the committee to see the President, on protesting against the President refusing to see the delegation selected to present their demands to him, etc. All the delegates recognized the progressive and militant role which we played at the convention.
Three of the resolutions brought in deserve special comment. The first one had to do with the general line on public works and unemployment insurance. Comrade Weisbord brought in a minority report on this question. Although the chairman, Lasser shamefully violated the rules of the convention and refused to allow him his allotted time to speak on this resolution, it got a great many votes on the floor. Especially the delegate from Oregon representing 3000 unemployed veterans was enthusiastic in his support of the proposal to raise the slogan of a general strike of limited duration. Many delegates, came over to get a copy of the minority resolution which was given out to the delegates, having been prepared beforehand. This resolution is appended at the end of this report.
The second resolution brought in the Resolution Committee was on the question of Negro discrimination and lynching. The majority of the Resolutions committee was willing to agree on the whole first part of the resolution, but was violently against the formation of physical defense bodies to defend the victim against any lynch mob. In the course of the debate, however, delegate Burnstine of Richmond, Virginia and delegate Lancaster of Montezuma, Indiana, were won over by Comrade Weisbord and they supported our delegate on the floor. To the surprise of the chairman and others, the resolution awakened widespread and intense enthusiasm. The overwhelming sentiment was for it and it would have passed. At this point the Socialist kids got busy and passed a motion to refer it to the incoming national Executive Board to work out. The resolution, however, was not defeated. Quite the contrary, it is now the duty of the National Committee to work out the proper policy in line with the wishes of the convention. It is up to every local to see to it that the National Committee does not sabotage this important question. (For resolution, see end of article)
The third resolution was on the question of the Labor Party. This Labor Party Resolution was the only thing brought in by the Lovestoneites in the whole convention. Here they squealed through the piping voice of Miriam Sylvis: “Fascism is coming, therefore we must hurry with a Labor Party”, as though a “Labor Party” can defend the workers from Fascism. On this question the Socialist Party itself was split. The majority voted down the resolution on the Labor Party as “premature,” the minority voted for the Labor Party. Only we of the Communist League of Struggle registered our vote against the Labor Party not because it was premature but because it was too late, not because the workers were too dumb to understand revolutionary action, but because they were ready for deeper struggle, not because the Labor Party can fight Fascism but because it cannot.
After the resolutions were all settled a very important thing occurred to the convention. The chairman received a telegram from Wm. Green which read: “I am of the opinion that cooperation should prevail among the unemployed organizations and the city central bodies and state federations of Labor for the purpose of protecting and preserving wage standards, hours of labor and conditions of employment upon public works and all public relief projects. I will urge the closest cooperation among the organized units referred to in this telegram so that the interests of both employed and unemployed may be protected and advanced.” This telegram, of course, marks a very important departure in the policy of the A.F.L. officialdom. If really carried out and not limited only to public works but to unemployment insurance also, it means a step forward not to be minimized.
The Constitution committee then reported. It was decided to take the name Workers Alliance of America (thus eliminating all terms such as unemployed, relief workers, etc., from the name) and to form a truly national organization. A National Committee of 15 was created. The machine was overturned on the matter of Vice-President, Patrick of Oregon being elected against the decision of the S.P. caucus for Ingram of Wisconsin. Organizational rules were worked out and the convention adjourned.
The Washington convention was progressive in at least the following steps:
1. in forming a national organization
2. in connecting closer with the trade unions
3. in opening up negotiations with the N.U.L. and the N.U.C.
4. in taking up the Negro question in a serious and militant manner and deciding upon a militant policy.
5. in providing a good vote for the minority resolution calling on the unions to prepare a one-day general strike for unemployment insurance, etc.
RESOLUTION ON PUBLIC WORKS AND UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
(submitted to the Convention as a minority report)
1. The unemployed workers of the United States represented by this convention in Washington declare categorically that no public works program can improve in any substantial degree the lot of the 20,000,000 unemployed in this country.
2. While we fight for an increase in the government expenses for such items as schools, hospitals, asylums, recreation centers and all such institutions through which the workers may benefit, nevertheless we must realize that under the guise of “Public Works” the Roosevelt Administration is providing billions as subsidies for private corporations, is building up the armed forces of the nation, both against the workers of other countries and against the workers of our own; the present regime is mobilizing for war. Against their fake “Public Works” in which the Big Business interests of the U.S. are preparing for their next war, we must carry on the most energetic struggle
We also realize that under the guise of “Public Works” through the investment of a large amount of new capital in roads, dams, etc., the basis is laid for new crises of overproduction under the present system.
3. It is not the business of the unemployed to fight for jobs to build up the capitalist system of the U.S. Whatever work is being done is being done under the direction of exploiters of labor who are sweating labor for their own profits and who, far from increasing the wealth of the country, are doing their best to destroy that wealth.
4. The “Public Works” program of the Roosevelt regime is calculated to divide and separate the masses of unemployed. Only a very small number of the total unemployed will be taken on. The rest will be forgotten or driven to local charitable agencies. The older unemployed will be driven into the ranks of the “unemployables” and their relief drastically cut down. The unemployed single men will be driven into some sort of concentration camps and barracks where they can be trained to be the Fascist troops against the workers. Under the guise that all the unemployed have been given work, all adequate unemployment insurance measures will be defeated.
5. Through the “Public Works” policy the present Administration intends further to regiment the workers, to mobilize them into “labor conscript armies”, to establish a form of universal chain-gang system. By means of this army of unemployed regiments the capitalists can batter down the wages of the unemployed workers and trade union members now at work as well. This is marching towards FASCISM.
6. We call to the attention of the workers of this country that there is a great conspiracy on the part of a tiny handful of employers controlling the dominant trusts in this country. In order to increase their profits and reduce their expenses they have locked out the workers from factories and closed the warehouses (now stuffed with goods which the workers have produced) to the hungry. We do not need mere “public works” under capitalist direction for the workers to have plenty now. There are enough factories, there are enough goods for all to have plenty. It is necessary to demand that the tiny conspiracy of the capitalist be wiped out and they be considered public enemies of the first order. IT IS TIME TO DEMAND THAT THE FACTORIES BE TURNED OVER TO THE WORKERS AND THE WAREHOUSES BE OPENED TO THE HUNGRY.
7. The Roosevelt ballyhoo of “Public Works” is only a continuation of the same propaganda handed out by the Hoover Administration. It is designed to be a substitute for the passage of a genuine unemployment insurance measure. This convention in Washington unconditionally denounces the Wagner Bill and all of its sponsors with its miserable $7 a week for 10 weeks for those who may be working for a private concern by June 1935 and who worked for six consecutive months. Let the Senators and the others who sponsor this bill try to live on this sum. We demand adequate unemployment insurance so that all the unemployed will be decently taken care of and allowed to maintain a healthy standard of living.
8. The most important business before this convention is to work out a program of action on the basis that the only way to win adequate unemployment insurance is to put force and militancy behind the drive to obtain it. We must have absolutely no illusions that the capitalist class will give us this unemployment insurance without a fight. The days of conferences, petitions, private meetings, smiles and pats on the back are gone by. The events that are taking place before our eyes in Europe show us that a stiff fight is ahead. In Germany, rather than continue with unemployment insurance, the German capitalist turned to Fascism and smashed every workers’ organization that dared to advocate even the merest social reform. In England, the workers have raised the slogan of unremitting fight with all means in their power against the attempts on the part of the National Government to put over a “New Deal” for England and cut down the relief.
9.We can put force and militancy behind our demands for unemployment insurance only when the unemployed unite their forces nationaly and obtain joint action with the trade unions of this country. Only by the closest working together of the unemployed with the employed, the unorganized with the organized, the out-of-work and the trade unions can anything worth while be accomplished at the present time.
10. Understanding that only a militant policy on the part of the entire working class of this country can win adequate unemployment insurance, this conference must go on record for a policy of direct action to show Congress that it means business. This unemployed convention must call on the trade unions of this country to unite with it in a one-day general strike throughout the country to compel Congress to act on the question of adequate unemployment insurance. The traditional form of action of the American workers has been the strike. The General Strike is only a development of this weapon and is exactly the kind of demonstration that will make the politicians in Washington understand that we do not intend to starve and submit peacefully while the big trusts plan to put over a Fascist dictatorship in the U.S.
11. We propose that the National Convention in Washington set a date for Congress to provide adequate unemployment insurance. Upon that date the whole working class and unemployed millions must be mobilized throughout the country into one united one- day general strike demonstration to put force into its resolutons and to compel Congress to act on measures so favorably to the masses of the workers. In Great Britain the British unemployed and trade unions are planning exactly that kind of action. We cannot be behind the British unemployed. On the contrary it is our bounden duty to seize the opportunity of the hour and strike home decisively for bread, for life, for security.
SUBMITTED BY THE MILITANT ACTION COMMITTEE OF THE WORKERS UNEMPLOYED UNION OF NEW YORK and by the WORKERS UNEMPLOYED UNION OF PASSAIC, NEW JERSEY.
RESOLUTION ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST AND LYNCHING OF THE NEGRO PEOPLE (Submitted by Comrade Weisbord) (only part of the resolution is given below--ED)
This convention goes on record as most strongly condemning the discrimination which is constantly being practiced against the Negro people in every possible way and is firmly resolved to do all it can to put an end to such nefarious practices that divide the workers for the benefit of the owners of the means of production of this country.
No unemployed group in the country can afford the slightest compromise on this most important question. Every effort must be made to draw in the Negro workers into the affiliated unemployed organizations and every attention given to see that the Negro members take their rightful place among the fighters and leaders of the organization. This can only be done when at the same time the strongest possible fight is made against any form of discrimination that takes place.
The period of the present crisis has seen the Negro stand up and fight for his rights. The share-cropper movement in Alabama and Arkansas, the Scottsboro trial, the great participation of the Negro masses in all unemployment movements and in strike are all indications that the Negro people are not going to take their miserable lot lying down forever. This struggle of the Negroes the unemployed must help in every way possible.
We can have no faith in the various anti-lynching measures now before Congress. What good are those measures when Constitutional Amendments, supposedly the fundamental law of the land, are but scraps of paper and when the very officers of the government are part of the lynching mobs.
A decisive way to put an end to the lynching of the Negroes and poor toilers is physically to defeat the lynching mobs. Let us keep in mind that it is not even illegal to wipe out those who intend to commit a murder. To wipe out a band of plantation owners and their agents who are lynching a Negro or poor white toiler for demanding higher wages or his pay is not only no crime but a bounden duty on our part.
This convention goes on record that Defence Groups must be built up in Southern communities, including both colored and white poor tenants and cropper farmers but mainly made up of white and colored workers. These Defence Groups are to have the purpose of preparing to check the lynchings of the Negroes and white toilers in every possible way. Difficult though this job may be and dangerous, it must be started sometime. Our organization must start it. Of course it is understood that this resolution is a national policy to be applied wherever properly prepared for.
The new Workers Party is less than a half year in existence and already factions are arising. This is quite natural in a membership that considers first organization and then program, that declares “let’s come together” and then considers why and in what direction it should go. The fact is the Workers Party has been a very loose aggregation of most diverse elements each traveling in different directions. The factional fight must break out all the sharper as the Workers Party is driven more and more into a pocket by the Socialist and Communist Parties. Now that the left wing has taken over the direction of the Socialist party and is beginning to talk “revolutionary” and now that the Communist Party is beginning to work in the A.F. of L. and to talk united fronts, etc., what excuse can there be for a new party, the Workers Party? Originally, the Workers Party hoped to be more “revolutionary” than the Socialists and more “reasonable” than the Communists, but now the former dissidents of each group can claim that their party has changed in the right direction. Both the Socialist and Communist parties have an old standing, a big capital. What hope does the Workers Party have?
The only way out for the Workers Party is either to fuss with the other centrist groups which are coming to look more and more like each other, or to break entirely with centrism and take a revolutionary position. Hence the factional fightes between the “right” and the “left” must take on a fiercer character as the problems, become more acute and the Workers Party really attempts to grapple with them.
Of course, in all our discussion we are not concerned with the right wing. We are concerned, however, with the left wing. We believe it was a very big mistake for the left wing Communists, like Zack and others, to have left the Communist Party in order to boost the workers Party but there is no use crying over spilt milk. The fact is the left- wing Communists are not ready for a principled position, are not ready to stand on their own feet and fight. Thus they are forced into an Internationalist Communist Party.
The first thing that must be clearly understood by the left wing forces is that despite the apparent looseness of things inside the Workers Party it will be no picnic to change that organization from centrism to Marxist-Leninism. There never yet was staged a successful “rank and file revolt” in a well developed revolutionary organization where the leadership was united against it. The Cannons and Mustes have built up an apparatus and henchmen for themselves in the course of years. It is not a case of splitting the executive committee and leadership. Anyone who thinks so is a fool. These elements are thoroughly ingrained and vulgar opportunists whom it is rather hopeless to change. The whole leadership must be smashed and a really revolutionary group, tested in struggle, having a long Marxist experience, placed in its stead.
The attack upon the centrist leadership of the Workers Party can only be made with an adequate program and after careful preliminary factional work. The left wing must organize into a faction nationally and work out its own superior discipline. To defeat the organization of the centrist leaders, there must be built up a powerful organization of the left wing.
The left wing must entirely drop any theory that its differences with the leadership is one of “tactics” and therefore is “secondary". There is among the left wing the spurious notion that “tactics” are “secondary” and “program” is “primary". The idea expressed is that so long as we can manage to agree on “program” there is no use splitting on “tactics". This is a thoroughly false and dangerous notion. There can be no sharp division made between program and tactics. Opportunist organization and opportunist tactics, lead to opportunism in program. Indeed very often opportunism in the program can not be discovered, cannot be smoked out-and here we must always remember that the real opportunist is very “adaptable”, very “flexible”, known how to hide his true feelings until the proper moment--except through the practice of tactics. Every difference of tactics, if collaborated, if systematized, if profoundly analyzed and insisted upon, becomes differences in program.
Several examples of this may be given. The split in the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, 1902-1903, took place over the question who should be allowed membership in the organization. As the debates over this organization question developed the theme it became apparent that the differences were not whether this or that person should be a member of the party, but what kind of a party must be built and this question was intertwined with the further question can the worker’s seize power only through civil war and insurrection or can they obtain their interests through class collaboration and reform. The more the question was discussed the more the Congress became divided into opportunist reformists on the one hand and revolutionary Socialists on the other.
Or another example: In July 1917, the St. Petersbury Committee of the Bolsheviks came out for insurrection and the proletarian revolution with the slogan: Down with the Provisional Government, Up with a Labor Government. Lenin denounced this slogan and would have driven out the adventurers had they insisted on their “playing with revolution". What was the difference of opinion here? Was it a question of democracy or dictatorship or the necessity of civil war, or the necessity of Soviet or of a centralized organization? Not at all. On the surface it looked as though the difference was one merely of “date". Yet this question of “date” of the insurrection meant the very life and death of the party. Behind the question of “date” was the program of Marxism versus Blanquism.
In a period of action tactics can become exceedingly important. Very often it becomes the only way in which programs become known to the masses and the only way to test out the correctness of programs to the revolutionists. Because the left wing of the Workers Party fails to understand that questions of tactics can become absolutely fundamental and primary to the welfare of a party and can expose most clearly the questions of program that lie hidden beneath the surface, it has fallen victim to serious opportunism in its own ranks.
Take the case of the left wing attitude on the trade union question. The left wing takes the position with the centrists that this question is a “tactical” one and that within the same party there can be comrades who declare: this is a period when the only work we should do is within the American Federation of Labor bring all independent unions into the A.F.L and as quickly as possible we should build up our own trade union center. Can any one believe that these differences are mere differences of “tactics"? To say that these differences are secondary is, entirely to fail to see their importance and the programmatic differences that lie behind them.
The trade union question is not an unimportant question. On the question of the relation of politics to economics, all the revolutionary movements in this country have broken their backs. Specifically, behind the question of whether the sole job in the trade union field is to work within the A.F.L are the following questions:
1. Can the A.F. of L. organize the unorganized, the mass of unskilled workers in this country?
2. Have we before us a perspective of the long growth of Liberalism (and within the labor movement, the A.F.L. stands for bourgeois-Liberalism) or is Liberalism on the wane and Fascist tendencies appearing?
3. Are the Communists supposed to work only with the skilled workers or are they to concentrate upon the unskilled masses in the U.S.?
4. Can we win the workers from the A.F.L. bureaucracy only from within or must we apply pressure also and mainly from without?
5. Can we take advantage of the coming splits within the A.F.L. without the establishment of a trade union center and should we not be prepared for the coming struggles by clearly announcing the necessity of forming one?
6. Can we test and harden our own members without sending them into the open shops of this country to lead strikes, to colonize them, to organize workers, to form independent unions? Shall we have a party of chatter box intellectuals or a party of Communist fighters?
7. Are the masses ready to be organized, are they ready to fight, are they willing to listen even to Communist elements provided they are approached realistically? Or are the Masses docile and patient as Muste wrote: (June 1931) “The generation of American workers which has come to industry since 1914 is more illiterate and ignorant about political and economic matters than any other working class in the world or than the American working class itself in any previous period.”
Now how can the left wing in the workers Party believe that when it disagrees with its centrist leadership on all the questions involved in the trade union question, that this is merely a matter of “tactics” merely a secondary consideration and not one of primary divergence? If the left wing follows the line of its leaders it will be in no better position than if was in the Socialist Party. The left wing itself will be only a cover to opportunism. In its daily life it will be constantly betraying the masses of unskilled proletarians.
But the left wing does worse than this. After declaring that its differences on the trade union question are merely secondary and can be eventually ironed out, the left wing than goes on to state that it will carry on its work of building independent unions outside the A.F.L. and will not take them into the A.F.L. REGARDLESS OF THE DECISIONS OF THE EXECUTIVE OF THE PARTY. Here a double error is made, for the left wing then goes on record that the minority must not abide by the decision of the majority EVEN ON SECONDARY QUESTIONS. Yet it is precisely on secondary questions that the left wing minority should submit to the majority and it is precisely on major important primary questions that the left wing should organize as a faction and eventually split the party if it cannot get a majority. If the trade union question is a secondary one, then it is all the more criminal to refuse to abide by discipline on this question.
The Workers party is already filled with a lot of loose intellectualist chatter boxes. It is not to the interests of the left wing to try to perpetuate this condition, unless it means to split the party and any means, even the perpetuation of mere chaos, is good enough for this end. The left wing must fight the centrist leadership for its loose organizational structure, for its territorial branches, for its lack of discipline, for its failure to form shop nuclei, for its failure to put out agitational leaflets, for its neglect even of trade union fractional formations, for its failure to put out shop papers, for its failure to assign its members to work in important shops and in mass organizations, for its dilletantism and amateurishness all along the line. Yet instead of doing this, the left wing actually goes on record declaring that the trade union question is secondary (error number one) and that on secondary questions it will disobey the decision of the party (error number two).
The only excuse for these false positions of the left wing is the fact that the left wing really knows the trade union position is most important, that it is a question of either changing the party on this question or splitting it and if the party must be split, then why build up the authority of the executive committee?
Or take the attitude of the left wing in the Workers Party on the question of internationalism, can it really endorse the liquidation of the internationalist- Commmunists in France into the French Socialist Party and into the Second International? Is it satisfied with the platonic support of the Workers Party for a “Fourth International” when it begins its history by stabbing in the back the internationalist center which had been established and approving the entrance into the Socialist Party of France? Can the left wing tolerate it that the Workers Party takes no stand on whether the Communist Party of Russia can be reformed or whether a new party must be formed? Are all of these questions merely “tactical” ones? But behind this question of “internationalism” are the following other questions:
1. How shall we build up a new Communist International? Shall the new international be another 2 1/2 international or a step in advance of the old third international now dead?
2. How shall we fight Fascism? Can the Socialist Party be the instrument to fight it? Can we fight it inside the Socialist Party?
3. Can revolutionists liquidate their revolutionary organization and join a centrist or reformist one, because “the masses are there, comrades"?
Or take the question of unemployment. Shall the unemployed movement be directed under the slogan? “We want work, we are sick of relief”, “Give us public works”, “Vote for the Unemployment Insurance Bill,” etc., or shall it be directed under the premise that adequate security for the unemployed, adequate unemployment insurance can not be granted today under capitalism without such a struggle as will lend to the dictatorship of the proletariat itself. The whole unemployed movement must be directed in the streets, must be physically united with the other organizations of the workers, especially the trade union bodies, and both united must prepare a one-day general strike for unemployment insurance. Is this too mere “tactics"?
Or let us take the Negro question. Does the left wing believe that a revolutionary organization can refuse to discuss the Negro question and fail to take a position officially on it, as the Communist League of America, the Muste group, and now likewise the Workers Party have done for so many years? Can a revolutionary wing consider it a mere “tactical” question that this so uniquely American question has been left abandoned and the Workers Party like the American bourgeoisie, kicks the Negro into the political gutter? Is it a matter of mere “tactics” that everything the Workers Party has ever done about the Negro question has been fundamentally wrong? Is it mere “tactics” that the centrist leadership supports the Federal anti-lynch bills fo the Liberals and refuses to take the only program-the line of the Communist League of Struggle?
The very fact that the left wing in the Workers Party considers these questions secondary and “tactical” shows how chauvinist this left wing still is, how poorly prepared for the American Revolution it is and how much further it itself must go.
Behind all of these so-called “tactical” errors of the W.P. stands a whole program, a whole system of stinking opportunism and reformism that makes the W.P. no better than a Socialist Party. Against this whole system of opportunism the left wing must strike a series of hard and sharp blows. It must repudiate the program of the W.P. It must work out is own line on such questions of unemployment, trade-unions, Fascism, Negro question, mass work, internationalism, etc. It must openly raise its own banner within the Workers Party.
The logic of factions leads to splits. Factions are formed only when the leadership of the Party is demonstrating that it has opportunist tendencies. When these tendencies have been crystallized into a definite system then the factions should be prepared to fight to a finish even to a split. This is the Communist way, the Leninist way. Lenin taught us not only when to be disciplined, but when to break that discipline . Lenin taught us not only how to engage in tactical maneuvers, but how not to get lost in these tactical maneuvers so that you do not give up your revolutionary banner and independence.
The logic of the left wing fight must bring them closer to the Communist League of Struggle.
The Harlem riot brings to light what a seething cauldron of unrest are the Negroes at the present time. It takes but the least scratch to explode the dynamite. The event setting off the riot was a very inconsequential thing, a Negro boy in a store steals a 10 cent pen-knife. That was all. He was seen being hustled to the back of the store. It was a white-owned store; the word spread around the boy was being beaten and perhaps lynched. Instantly the colored people there flared up; what a lynching is to the South this incident was to the much more advance Negroes of Harlem. Had the boy really been killed there is no doubt the lyncher would have been lynched himself for whereas the terror of the white mob in the South rides rough-shed over the country side, here in Harlem it was the Negroes who at once rose up to the defence of their own. The riots were instantaneous protest against what appeared as an act of persecution against one of their race. But why do they flare up so easily? Here were thousands of people milling and shouting around the streets, fighting the police, smashing plate-glass windows, looting stores. The “rioting” lasted for hours. Hundreds of police reserves, riot squads and detectives had to be called in to protect property, beat down the enfevered people, restore “order". Behind all this disorder lies the situation of unbearable abuse under which the Negroes are reaching the breaking point. The Negro intellectuals of Harlem who have issued statements on the situation blame the outbreak especially on segregation and discrimination in employment and in rents. They are correct. Starvation, discrimination in jobs and in relief, herding in many families together to pay the exorbitant rent, enforced vice in order to live, all this in a miniature city of 300,000 colored people.
It is plain, as we have declared in our pamphlet “The Struggle for Negro Emancipation”, that the Negroes are not going to take their miserable lot lying down forever. It is plain the moment is at hand when action will follow action throughout the country. Once the Negroes are on the move, a tremendous force will be unleased hurling itself with unheard of power against age-long oppression. The Harlem riots come at a time when the Negro share-cropper and tenant farmers of the south are uniting with the white and are organizing and fighting back against conditions of absolute starvation. The struggles on the countryside while they are vital, are nevertheless on a small scale and isolated by comparison with the action that can take place in the cities. The Negro quarters of our great cities, several of them counting 100,000 colored people and over, are hot-beds for outbreaks of tremendous size against unemployment, against discrimination against the evils of segregation. The insignificance of the event which lets loose the torrent of revolt must mislead no one. The causes of such an outbreak are fundamental.
The “riot” itself is a blind action. But it swings people into action, it throws a blinding light on problems which were accepted as a matter of course, it forces solution of the wrongs which hve been endured in silence. The Harlem riot compels investigation of the frightful living conditions in Harlem; such organizations as the Tenants’ leagues find their work recognized and facilitated. It is true any riot among the Negroes can very easily be turned into a race riot. Even in the recent occurrence white people, according to the newspaper reports, were beaten up in the streets. There is always plenty of grounds for swinging the resentment in that direction. The segregation policy which the Negroes have so long been forced to endure, and which has been a rich plum for white real-estate owners and merchants in the colored sections, proves a boomerang. 300,000 Negroes aroused and turning against “white” which to them stands for oppressor, have a power which the Negroes themselves need to take account of. Would not a few man-sized riots in the big cities, with thousands of dollars of “white” property destroyed, do something to end the Jim-Crow policy or at any rate deal it a body blow? That the bourgeoisie is scared at the riot is proved by the Mayor’s statement where he praises the dear, loyal, wonderful people of Harlem and his appointment of a committee to investigate the conditions. Of one thing one may be sure: as the riots in the Negro quarters increase, less and less will they be able to be turned into “race” riots and more and more will the poor whites of the cities join them in their “hunger” riots, thus further cementing white and black together.
Certainly it is not for us to cooperate with the police in issuing statements to calm the people down (as was done by the Communist Party through a statement issued at the time) calling upon them to “maintain strict discipline and direct their protests into practical ways, such as refusing to buy at the store, etc.” Instead of hailing the riots as a great step forward taken by the Negro masses in their fight against hunger and discrimination, the Communist Party rushes to protect bourgeois property and put down the masses. The militancy of the Negroes sweeps aside such petty respectable “statements” which are so anxious not to offend anyone and which throw cold water on the healthy revolutionary tendency of the Negroes to return blow for blow. What is needed is for the Negroes, not to try to become meek orderly and respectable--they have been that far too long, but to build up their own power through organization and a correct program of action, so that when “riots” break out they can be turned against the bourgeois property-owners, landlords, bosses and chain-store owners, in other words against the capitalist system itself in a conscious manner.
Compare the disgraceful leaflets of the Communist Party calling on the Negroes to “behave” with the gleeful statement even of the minister of the Abyssinian Church of Harlem who pointed out that all Italian wine shops were smashed in retaliation for Mussolini’s policy to Abyssinia and that not the small shops or shops where Negroes were employed but only the large shops were looted and wrecked. The most unconscious Negro is more revolutionary, it seems, than the Communist Party.
The Venizelist revolt in Greece has been put down but the victor is not the government. Out of the whole mess the real revolutionary movement comes out stronger than ever. In the newspapers it was given out that Venizolos was against the government because it wanted to restore the King and bring in Fascism. In this way Venizolos appeared as a democratic republican. And some Communist papers swallowed this truck without even a quiver. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In the last election, Venizelos ran for President on the platform of more power to the executive and for an absolute veto power of the executive over acts of Parliament unless over ruled by 2/3rds joint vote.
The principal reason behind the Venizelist revolt is the hand of hte adventurer Mussolini. Ever since Jugo-Slavia, Greece, Rumania and Turkey formed a four-powered pact under the initiative of the first named country, Italy has tried in every way to break up tis Balkan agreement. This was one of the chief reasons for Italy’s part in the assassination of King Alexander who had even gone so far as to offer to Bulgaria part of her former territory back, if she would join this pact. Europe is moving headlong to war. Mussolini must dominate in the East Mediterranean. To do this she must defeat and overwhelm Jugo-Slavia who stands in her way in Austria and Hungary and also in the Balkans and in the Near East.
Of course, the ground was well prepared for the revolt by the pressure of the crisis upon the country itself. With a population of 6 1/2 million people (43% of them are illiterate) the Greek government has piled up a war debt of close to 130 million dollars and a general public debt of 561 million. The drastic fall in prices of goods caused great misery to the people to which was added all the convulsions due to the feverish drop of the drachma which, standing at 19 1/4 cents in 1914, had fallen to 10 1/2 cents in 1920 and 4/5ths of a cent in 1932. The government deficit was constantly mounting while trade, by 1932, had fallen to one-third of what it had been in 1929. In 1933 foreign payments were suspended. The general surplus had been generally met by revenue sent from Greek emigrants in the U.S. and from the tourist trade, but this revenue had been drastically cut down. In 1931, for example $25 million had been received from emigrants, in 1932, it had fallen to $11 million.
Because of these general conditions, Venizelos counted on receiving support from certain discontented sections of the population, or at least on their hostility to the existing regime to weaken fatally the government forces in the struggle! Having united with an officers’ clique in both the army and the navy, Venizelos thought he could crack the ruling political group. But he reckoned without two important factors: In the first place, in the very last year the economic conjuncture has not been so unfavorable for Greece, but compared since 1929 has rather picked up. In shipping Greece now rivals Norway for 9th place. Industrial production has stepped up, so that counting 1928 as 100, the general industrial production is now at the level of 128. This has given rise to a militant working class of some 500,000 in number, which is nobody’s fool and will pull the chestnuts of the fire for no bourgeois adventurer such as Venizelos. Simultaneously, within the past year, emigrant income, tourist income, foreign trade, have all increased, prices for tobacco have improved, bankruptcies have declined and the public debt increase, fallen. All of these things, coming recently, must have induced the bourgeoisie to stand by the government, for the present at any rate.
The most important miscalculation, however, was that the masses did not participate in the revolt but looked cooly on, for the most part. Venizelos put out no demands for them and could not draw them in. Only on some of the islands and in the deep interior where both discontent and ignorance was rife was there some support. Without the masses, Venizelos was stuck. His navy was bombarded by airplanes, his army wilted away. His offers ran as fast as they could. It became comic opera.
But not only Venizelos made mistakes. So did the proletariat. They should have taken advantage of the rift in the bourgeois ranks to press home their own demands. Strikes should have taken place on economic issues leading to political issues. The terrible fall of the drachma has made the proletarian both miserable and restless. They have already shown in the recent wave of strikes that they know how to fight militantly. The fact is the working class organizations were not sufficiently prepared to take advantage of the events.
However, all is not lost by any means. The right wing in the government will strut still more pompously and ride over the masses still more crudely at a time when bourgeois forces have been irreparably split. The masses have not lost in this fight. The revolutionary movement has in fact become stronger with the rise of industry, with the rise of the cost of living, with the growing weakness of the regime. The end of the revolt may well usher in a period of revolution.
In the most brazen, wanton manner Italian Fascism attacks Abyssinia and prepares for war in order to seize that country. Abyssinia, last “free” country of Africa hurls her defiance. Note I--At a time when the European proletariat cannot fight off Fascism, it is the Negro masses that carry forward the banner of anti-Fascist action. Abyssinia appeals to the League of Nations for help. Note II--The Soviet Union, “The Workers Fatherland”, says not a word in Abyssinia’s defence. The Negro masses should die defending the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union will not raise its hand to help the Negro people. This is Stalinist internationalism.
The recent flare-up in Cuba with its walk-out of 300,000 teachers and students supported by a general strike of labor and governmental employees, is but further evidence of the great truth about Cuba which we have emphasized from the very beginning of the revolt after the fall of Machado, namely THERE IS NO INTERNAL FORCE WITHIN CUBA STRONG ENOUGH TO STOP THE REVOLUTION.
Of all the presidents since Machado, Mendieta has been the strongest. Starting out with coalesced support of the other bourgeois groups and petty-bourgeois elements around him (A.B.C., Menocal, Gomez, ect.) Mendieta keeps today only the army under Batista. The Mendieta regime has now become entirely isolated from the masses and has been reduced to a mere apparatus relying upon the most brutal terror as in the days of Machado.
When the walkout first broke out in the middle of February, the striking students and teachers early formulated five principal demands: 1. abolition of military rule. 2.democracy in government. 3. release of all political prisoners. 4. abolition of summary courts. 5. larger expenditures on education. 6. The resignation of Mendieta and Batista. In other words, the struggle is still being fought on the program of Democracy and not of Socialism, and it is still the petty bourgeoisie that takes the political initiative and not the trade unions.
Political democracy is impossible in Cuba without social democracy. It is for this reason that every president who takes office must do so without being elected and has as his main purpose the prevention of elections. Each time there is made the promise to have elections; each time, whether under De Cespedos, Grau San Martin, Hevia or Mendieta, the elections are postponed and postponed forever. Considering the fact that all of the elements who reach political office have posed as “revolutionary” at one time of another and have raised the hopes of the people that now a democratic election will be possible, the result only exposed one clique after another as counter-revolutionary and only awakens still further the toiling masses and oppressed intellectuals of Cuba.
That Mendieta was able to rule so long has been due to the policy of the U.S. government in making certain concessions to Cuba in order to put off the revolution. The Platt Amendment was revoked. The quota of sugar permissible to ship into the U.S. has been increased and the price of sugar raised. With the increased revenue Batista has been able to build up his army to the old gangster level of Machado.
However, with this support alone the Mendieata regime cannot last very long. Already the dreaded Ley del Fuego has been invoked, although it was against this gangster terror of the police that the revolution started. Again, capital punishment has been re-established. Batista is considering taking over the government himself and establishing an open military dictatorship. Like a leprous fiend, the government is being completely abandoned and detested by all. The result can only be perpetual turmoil, perpetual strikes and insurrections until the regime is overthrown.
This would have happened long ago if it had not been for the backwardness of the political development of the labor movement. There is needed a genuine Communist Party and this the labor movement has not been able to build up to now. As for the extant C.P., agent of Stalinism, it has proved the best friend that American Imperialism ever had among the masses of Cuba. The role of the C.P. is to carry out the wishes of the diplomats of Russia and the diplomats of Russia are in friendly cahoots with Roosevelt. Therefore the C.P. urges the masses not to seize the estates and business properties of the Americans, they thus keep back the revolution, and confine it to “democratic” channels and place still greater difficulties on the action of the masses. Just as it is clear that the Anarcho-Syndicalist influence must be rooted out of the trade union movement, so is it clear that the C.P. of Cuba must be annihilated before the working class of Cuba will be able to accomplish its goal of seizing state power and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat.
With almost the precision of a micrometer all the predictions of the internationalist Communists have come true in regard to Germany. Gone are all the bombastic phrases of the Stalinists-- “The German C.P. is stronger than ever". Germany conscription means a terrible consolidation of the forces of reaction. War is now a matter of months if not of weeks. And it has taken place without the slightest sign of protest openly expressed. Walter Duranty, N.Y. Times correspondent in Moscow, can now write: “The Russians no longer delude themselves about the situation in Germany. They knew that the present regime for the time being at any rate, is stable and strong".(3/28)
The Communist Party of Germany is dead, slaughtered by Stalinism. Can there be any further doubt about it ? Had there been a party would it not have shown itself when the Austrians were massacred, when the petty-bourgeois storm troopers were being murdered, when the Saar vote was being held, and now when conscription is being forced upon the German people?
When the Internationalist-Communists urged the C.P. to unite with the Socialists in a united front for insurrection before Hitler came to power, when we urged the mobilization of the Soviet troops on the Western Frontiers as a sign that the Red Army would help the insurrection of the German proletariat should it break out, we were denounced as adventurers trying to bring war on Russia. We pointed out then that it was not a question of war or peace, but when war was to break out; and since war was inevitable it could be fought on far more favorable terms for the workers before the trade unions were smashed in Europe. Now that the European workers organizations have been clubbed to death, Russia finds itself measurably weaker. It must make alliances with the French bourgeoisie. In other words the essence of Stalinism is that Russia could not mobilize its army for the Germany proletariat, socialism in one country forbade that, but it could mobilize its army to help the French Bourgeoisie.
The whole German nation is being mobilized for war. It is not a question of conscription of certain classes of youth or men, as before the war, but a matter of the mobilization and conscription of the entire population, from the youngest to the oldest. All distinctions between military and labor armies, between the front and the rear disappear under Fascism.
The organizations of the mass army has meant the dissolution of the petty-bourgeois Nazi and storm troops with their ideas of petty-bourgeois “socialism” and “control of the capitalists". The Nazis are brought into the army and thus come under the control of the old Monarchist generals and Junior officers. The old feuds between Nazis and army thus come to an end and a fusion takes place between the Monarchists who take the lead, and the Nazis who control. And this foreshadows the Hohenzollern. Just as Italian Fascism had to compromise with the Royal House, so will it be with Hitlerism. All the ways are being greased for the return of the Kaiser or his son. The only question is just what will be their role in the future German Empire and this will have to be fought out between the Junior agrarians and the capitalist industrialists. Certainly, the industrialists will not give up the real power. If the Kaiser will return it will be substantially as the symbol of unity rather than the actual decisive force in German history.
German conscription must create terrific consequences throughout all of Europe. The demands of der Fuehrer grow bolder and bolder. His main demand is for ansehluss with Austria. German conscription compels Austria also to conscript-and bring into her army Nazi adherents. For Austria, it is the beginning of the end, unless she succumbs to the demands of Italy and with Italian support tries to reform the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But this Jugo-Slavia will never permit. Should Italy, now mobilized in full war strength, under pretext of fighting the war with Abyssinia but really to take advantage of the European situation, stage an adventure and march into Austria either to proclaim the now Austro-Hungarian monarchy, or to “maintain the status-quo”, this must provoke at once an international war in which Italy and France and capitalism generally will get the worst of it. But if Italy does not advance NOW, Austrian anschluss is certain.
This will still further augment the strength of the German Reich. New demands are being made to the east; on Czecho-Slovakia which contains 3 1/2 million Germans within its borders, wrested from German control by the Versailles Treaty; on Lithuania for the return of Memel; on Poland, for the closing of the Danzig corridor. Under the pressure of the consolidated mass of 80,000,000 Germans, the greatest orginized mass in the history of Europe, the Versailles Treaty will be torn to shreds.
It will be noticed that all of the chief demands are made in the East. There is the inevitable arena of the coming struggle. Second, it will be noticed that the demand on Poland is made secondary to the question of Austria, to the demand of Czecho-Slovakia and Lithuania, Poland’s rivals and enemies. This is in order to win Poland to the German-Polish alliance that will pave the way for war against the Soviets. It will be kept in mind that Hitler gave as his excuse for rearmamont that it was the fear of Russian invasion that forced him to do this. Hitler is the knight that saves Europe from Bolshevism and trade unionism. The more Stalin gives up all idea of international revolution, the more the C.I. retreats into nationalism, the more arrogant the Fascist howling becomes. Unless France wants to become the “patron of Bolshevism” she will have to give support to Germany’s war on Russia.
German conscription is bound to have important results in France. It must strengthen all reactionary trends and hasten the day of Fascism in France as well. If Fascism is the most potent instrument enabling capitalism to fight its war successfully, liberal and “democratic” nationalist groups, will now unite to defend “democratic” France and help France to destroy its very “democracy.”
Already the socialist and Communist parties are preparing their treacheries. It has been reported that the Socialist head, Leon Blum, has declared that if the country is invaded he will defend his “Fatherland". The C.P. members are boosing the fact that now there is a Franco-Russian understanding, point out that a war against the Germany bourgeoisie, evidently, is more holy than a war against its own bourgeoisie. Here we have National Bolshevism at its worst. Between the Socialists and Communists, the united front is still maintained. But if the S.P. means to “defend the Fatherland” it will have to support the dictatorial tendencies within France and help the Fascist trends which grow with the war danger. They may mean a break in the united front between the Socialist and Communist parties.
Where then will the Trotskyites fit in? They gave up their organization and ran into the S.P. “Because of the united front". Now with the end of this united front, the Trotskyites find themselves safely within the S.P. and are forced to stand by while the Socialists prepare to “defend their Fatherland". Now the complete bankruptcy of the Trotskyites become apparent. Their only move to save themselves can be to leave the S.P. demonstratively. And then what? To reorganize themselves all over again, having made a demonstration of the lack of principle, their capitulatery cowardice, their inability to understand the a.b.c. of revolutionary strategy.
The imminent danger of war is proof positive that capitalism can no longer solve its problems within national limits. The economic crisis of 1929 became by 1932 a political crisis, each national bourgeois group trying to solve its economics by internal political convulsions. But the national measures must give way to external measures of war. Either the European proletariat will stop the war or it will lose all historical importance. The historical initiative for introducing Socialism will then shift to the gigantic proletariat of the United States.