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T. Stamm

The Stalinist Shift to the Right

(April 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 22, 8 April 1933, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The second session of the Congress Organization Committee of the New York United Front Free Tom Mooney Conference revealed that the turn of the party on the united front is showing a dangerous drift to the Right. Palmer of the Federated Press, chairman of the committee, reported the following: Some time between the first and second sessions a little informal meeting took place in Palmer’s office. There were present two members of the Communist Party, Muste of the CPLA, and Palmer. They called Norman Thomas on the phone to discuss with him the question of drawing the S.P. into the Mooney movement.

Dicker with Thomas

Politically this meant that they were asking Thomas to lay down the conditions on which the S.P. would participate. Thomas, according to the report, pledged himself personally to work for the participation of the S.P. on the basis of a management committee for the National Congress to be held in Chicago, consisting of representatives of the C.P., S.P, ILD, LID, five trade unionists, and three liberals. This unofficial arrangement was submitted to Mooney for his approval. He wired back adding two representatives of the Mooney Molders’ Defense Committee.

The Left Opposition immediately demanded that the entire proceedings be made public and that all future negotiations be conducted openly before the entire working class. This demand provoked a discussion. The discussion revealed much confusion on the part of the Stalinists who are in control of the Committee. Politically the discussion revolved around the united front. The feeble attempts of the Molders’ Defense representatives to settle the matter on a legal-technical basis were simply brushed aside. It was obvious that the question could not be discussed aside from its political essence. The Stalinists gave their political interpretation a Rightist content. They refused to put the conference on record against the slanderous attack on the Chicago Congress by the Labor Committee of the Socialist party. This statement, issued on March 24, says that the Communists use the Congress as a tool to wreck other working class organizations. Labor Action, Muste’s organ quotes the statement without comment, though it is an active participants in the conference and probably will be in the Chicago Congress.

Winter, Nessin, Moore, Ballam united to hamstring the attempt to make the negotiations public. They so qualified the conference pronouncements that what will be issued will omit the essential facts given above and give a highly distorted picture of the proceedings.

It has come to this. Yesterday our Stalinist masters of revolutionary strategy and tactics shouted down the wind that we could make no united front with the “social Fascist leaders”. Today they are beginning to crawl on all fours before these treacherous fakers. They are trying to prove to the Thomases that they are good Communists! They are in full flight from the ultra-Leftism of yesterday. And they bow down before the old idol of Right opportunism!

Bureaucrats Fall Out

In the discussion Winter and Nessin once more took different stands. Nessin again advocated a Rightist position. Winter’s role is becoming clearer. He is carried along in the Right drift. His job is to put a plausible face on the thing. His proposals are designed to make it possible to point to efforts made for a genuine united front. This may fool some for a time but as the party swings further to the right this false face artist will be assigned other chores.

Ballam poured oil on tha troubled waters and evoked the anger of Moore. It is a pitiable sight to see these bureaucrats fall out among themselves. How sharp must be the fight in the party if it is carried out into the open at every meeting! Why is it confined to the top? Why isn’t the party membership allowed to participate in the discussions? Why is there no discussion in the party press?

The Stalinist bureaucracy cannot allow the party membership to intervene in its disputes. That would be disastrous for its position and prestige. So it maneuvers desperately to retain its weakening grip on the party But its base is narrowing and the day of reckoning is approaching. Then as now the Left Opposition will know how to act to build the party shoulder’ to shoulder with the party membership.

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Last updated: 4 September 2015