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T. Stamm

S.P. Sabotages Mooney Struggle

(April 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 24, 29 April 1933, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The fourth session of the Congress Organization committee of New York United Front Free Tom Mooney Conference established that the course of the Stalinists in their back-door bargaining with the Socialist party failed to bring the latter into the movement. Palmer reported that on Thursday, April 13, Clarence Senior informed the negotiations committee that the N.E.C. of the S.P. had decided not to approve the Chicago Mooney Congress.

Our readers will remember that a negotiations committee consisting of Muste of the C.P.L.A. Palmer of the Federated Press and, as it is now revealed, Hathaway and Stachel of the C.P. had been knocking on the back door of the S.P., hat in hand, asking it to participate in the Chicago Congress. The S.P. attacked the Congress in its press, delayed, laid down ultimatist conditions and finally said no. The reason advanced by the S.P., according to Palmer, is incredibly trivial and absurd. It seems that Mooney wrote a letter to Palmer in which he sharply criticized the course of the S.P. from 1913 up to date, and objected to the present attitude of the S.P. toward the Chicago Congress. A copy of this letter of which several copies must have been sent by Mooney to various individuals fell into the hands of the S.P. And upon this basis and other objections of an equally trivial character, the sensitive social democratic leadership (Hillquit! O’Neal! Lee! et al.) decided to withhold approval of the Chicago Congress. By this they deliberately sabotaged the movement for Mooney’s release.

The Committee’s Statement on S.P.

Palmer went on to say that upon receiving this news, the negotiations committee decided to release a statement to the capitalist and radical press summarizing the negotiations and stating the refusal of the S.P. to participate in the Chicago Congress. Palmer said that the committee decided not to include the reasons advanced by the S.P. leaving it to them to do so. The statement is unsatisfactory. It offers no analysis and certainly should have included the reasons advanced by the S.P. for its refusal to participate in the Chicago Congress. Had this been done the part played by the S.P. in the movement would be more clearly established. The statement would be more convincing even to the socialist workers. But it is something. It clearly shows that efforts were made to draw the S.P. into the movement and that the S.P. refused. It thus places the responsibility for the failure to build a united movement squarely where it belongs – on the S.P.

Palmer concluded by saying that he couldn’t see what more could be done, that it was now no longer a matter between the united front conference and the S.P. but a matter between Mooney and the S.P. The Left Opposition protested against this pessimistic and capitulationist attitude. We moved that the Congress Organization Committee issue a leaflet to the S.P. and A.F. of L. workers calling on them to raise the question in their organizations and to demand that their organizations participate in the Chicago Congress. The motion carried unanimously, the Stalinists voting for it.

This was the same motion made by us at the first session of the Committee in March. At that time the Stalinists exerted themselves to defeat our proposal. The responsibility for the loss of time is on their shoulders. The loss of time acquires great significance in view of the latest developments in the movement to free Mooney. According to the New Leader, the N.E.C. of the S.P. voted six to five against participation in the Chicago Conference. Thomas is quoted as saying that the S.P. must participate because it cannot afford to give the appearance of blocking unity. This reflects the pressure on the S.P. leadership both from without (Mooney and the C.P.) and the penetration of this influence into the socialist movement itself. The entire Chicago Yipsel movement has had its charter revoked because of its participation in united fronts with the Communists.

Had the party adopted a correct approach to this aspect of the united front problem, had it approached the S.P. openly before the eyes of the members of both parties and the entire working class, it could have increased the pressure on the S.P. leadership, forced it to vote favorably on the question of the participation of the S.P. in the Chicago Congress and succeeded in broadening the movement. The advantages to the movement and Communism in the united front are clearly indicated and need not be discussed at this point.

But Hathaway, Stachel, Palmer and Muste, having drawn losing cards against the S.P. bureaucrats, have rigged up a Management Committee for the Chicago Congress which is calculated to mitigate the disappointment of the party members who still have faith in the infallible line. On the Management Committee are included such well known socialists as Professor Robert Morss Lovett, Professor Keinhold Niebuhr and Frans Daniels!

The reports of the sessions of the Congress Organization Committee and the developments reported in the labor and radical press have served to illuminate the roles of the S.P., the Stalinists and the “progressives” in the Mooney movement.

The Lovestoneites have played a far smaller role. All of it has been disruption and sabotage. The April 15 issue of the Workers Age reports that Zimmerman of the Lovestone group was elected manager of Local 22 of the I.L.G.W.U., testimony to the influence of the Lovestoneites in Local 22.

How this influence is exerted to build the movement for Mooney’s release can be seen from the same issue of the paper. Under the revealing head, Union Hits N.Y. Mooney Meet, the Workers Age prints a letter from the Local to Mooney. The letter informs Mooney that the Executive Committee of the Local approved the action of the Local’s delegate (Nelson of the Lovestone group) in withdrawing from the March 12 New York United Front Free Tom Mooney Conference.

The reason speaks for itself. “From the report of our delegates it is evident that the official Communist party, which has apparently captured control of the Tom Mooney Molders Defense Committee, is bent upon running the ‘show’ for its own aggrandizement, and is determined – under all circumstances – not to permit a genuine united front of all workers’ organizations, regardless of their political or social views.”!!

As we go to press delegates are on their way to the Chicago Congress from all parts of the country. Present reports indicate that it will be a very large gathering with possibilities which extend far beyond the defense movement. And Mooney is standing trial on the last indictment against him. Both events will be reported in the forthcoming issues of the Militant.

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