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T. Stamm

Mooney Congress Called

Molders Committee Issues United Front Call for Chicago Meet

(February 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 5, 4 February 1933, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Under date of January 21, Tom Mooney issued a call for a Free Tom Mooney Congress to be held at Chicago, April 30 to May 2, under the auspices of the Tom Mooney Molder’s Defense Committee – “to plan the final fight for my freedom”.

The appeal is issued – “to every A.F. of L. union-local, district, state, and national in its jurisdiction; to the railroad brotherhoods, and all other labor unions; to all working class organizations – political, economic, defense, social, athletic, fraternal or cultural; and to all liberal organizations sympathetic to the workers.” Mooney says, “The time has come when all organizations fighting for my freedom must be welded into the widest possible united front.”

In essence this call is no different from that issued by Mooney on August 20, 1931. On that date Mooney said, “The time for action has come – I ask for a genuine united front. I call upon the following groups – to unite and organize – for immediate action.” In the list of organizations which follow are to be found the entire Communist movement, the progressives, the social reformists, and outright conservative organizations like the Amalgamated Clothing Workers.

The question arises: what is the necessity for the second call? Who and what is responsible for the failure to build the movement upon the basis of the call of August 20, 1931? What role did the party and the ILD play?

As our readers will remember the Militant greeted Mooney’s appeal of August 20th, and urged the party to take the initiative in building the movement for his release. Our analaysis pointed out that under the circumstances, Mooney’s appeal was a direct invitations to the Communists to take over the leadership of the movement. In issue after issue, and in conferences, wherever they were called, we raised our voice to urge the party to accept Mooney’s invitation and forge the weapon to smash the chains that hold him in jail.

The response of the Stalinist leadership of our party was to sabotage and wreck those conferences not organized by them. In St. Louis, for instance, where the local Mooney Molders’ Defense Committee, in cooperation with the Communist League of America had organized a genuine united front to which all working class organizations were invited, the Stalinists split the conference and organized one of their own. In southern Illinois, in Minneapolis, all over the U.S. they pursued the same tactics. This strategy played into the hands of the reactionaries who, while professing belief in Mooney’s innocence and a desire to fight for his release, have not and will not lift a finger toward this end. Their special job is to divide the class and keep it divided. It also served the Socialist party and the IWW and the liberals of all hues. For their failure to act they found a convenient excuse – “the impossibility of working with the Communists”.

As a result no movement was built. The opportunity to set the class in motion was lost. For this the Stalinist leadership of the party and the ILD are to blame. The “theoretical” motivation for their course was the now half-abandoned idiocy of social Fascism. “How can we”, the argument ran, “unite with the social democratic betrayers of the workers? How can we unite with Green and Woll? We want the workers. But the workers are divided. Ergo – the united front from below!”

Mooney waited patiently for the party to move. But the party, saddled with a false theoretical approach to the problem, made no headway in passing from agitation in the press to struggle. Now Mooney has issued a call for the same purpose through the Molders’ Defense Committee.

This does not mean that Mooney has abandoned the road of the class struggle as the only means of attaining his freedom. No. The language of the call precludes any such idea. There is also the fact that the date is set for April and May. Mooney chose this time knowing that a hearing in the Superior Court on the last count in the original indictment against him and Billings is scheduled for February 11. The dates alone speak volumes.

But what Mooney’s move does mean is that he considers the apathy of the Communists no means of solving the problem of his freedom. And we must acknowledge that he is correct. Our failure to act is a disgrace. But for that we are not to blame. The Stalinists, as we have pointed out, must answer to the class for this.

At the Chicago Conference everything will again favor the Communists. Mooney’s call insures that no liberal-socialist-Wobbly clique will bar them. It lays the basis for a class struggle fight. Chicago is the scene of the recent gigantic united front of socialist and Communist workers for relief. The traditions of that struggle and the fighting role of the Communists will stand them in good stead at the coming conference. It will give them a sympathetic hearing and following.

Lastly, there is the half-turn that the party and the ILD are making. Hacker admitted at a meeting last Sunday that the line of the ILD in the Mooney fight had been sectarian. And Frank Spector writes in the February issue of the Labor Defender: “At the bottom of our failure to develop a broad united front has nearly always been the sectarian attitude on our part.” This does not trace the root of the trouble to the soil from which spring these weeds of policy – the theory of social-Fascism. But it is the beginning of wisdom.

If the party members will raise their voices and demand a full accounting instead of this half-way apology (which is accompanied by the usual benedictions of the line and the criticisms of the execution) they can make this turn a genuine one. They must insist that they enter the Chicago conference prepared to work with the other groups represented there, not giving up for a minute their independent role as the vanguard of the class and their right to criticism of their opponents. With a correct policy on the question of the united front and the capital of Mooney’s call, plus their splendid record in the relief demonstrations the Communists can win the leadership of the movement and raise the struggle to new heights.

This can very well be the impetus which the class needs to resist the onslaughts of the bosses. Mooney has correctly insisted that the struggle for his freedom is inextricably bound up with the fight of the class against its capitalist masters. That is how we approach the problem, too. Everything now depends on the party. The Left Opposition will be present to raise its voice for Mooney’s freedom and Communism, and work energetically in the movement.

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