Volume 3 Number 3 & 4 …………………….. March-April 1933
1. There is Still Time to Win in Germany
2. Roosevelt’s New Blows Against Labor
3. The War in China Begins
4. Two Articles by Leon Trotsky on the Capitulation of Well-Senin Clique in Germany
5. Within the International Left Opposition
6. News from the United Front
THERE IS STILL TIME TO WIN IN GERMANY
The blow has fallen in Germany with the inevitability and ferocity which could be expected. Trotsky’s predictions of the past two years are being fulfilled as rapidly as events crown upon each other. Suppression of all democratic rights, not only for the communists, but for the Social-Democratic working class; imprisonment and torture of radical leaders, mass arrests and herding into concentration camps of thousands of `Marxist’ workers, these measures within a few short weeks have brought for the moment a crushing defeat of the working class. To lay this defeat at the door of the Communist Party’s dallying policy of the period just past, to its blunders on the united front, its theory of social fascism, its underestimation of the fascist danger, etc., may now appear as wisdom after the event.
The danger now lies in considering the defeat irrevocable. Certainly the situation of the German workers is desperate. Without a press, without a possibility of open meetings or demonstrations, almost without leadership, for the moment they are like a man attacked by gangsters and left gagged, and bound hand and foot. But is the situation hopeless? Absolutely not. There are favorable aspects, which it is necessary to stress just now.
In the first place, the German working class is not worn out by struggle, but is comparatively fresh. Secondly, it is an organized, experienced, politically mature working class. Third, the forces opposing it are in the sense of military struggle far inferior—a nondescript rabble of students, fat storekeepers, disgruntled lawyers and lumpen-proletariat. Fourth, a world protest against the mass terror has been speedily aroused, which through the pressure or threat of a boycott can become an economic lever for undermining the fascist power.
Most of all, the openly announced change of the C.I. towards the united front policy long advocated by the Left Opposition is pregnant with hopeful possibilities. It must be admitted this change has been so far pretty half hearted. It comes not at the eleventh, but at the thirteenth hour. There has not been given an analysis of the errors of the period just past, which would thoroughly guarantee an about face. Yet the turn has been made and in the direction of “Trotskyism". If really carried out, it is possible yet the united Marxist and trade union working class can defeat the Nazi “murder pest". More than this, if really carried out, this united front may mean the eradication of the theory of social-fascism, which already is weakening. It means the final blow to the theory that Trotskyites are counter-revolutionists, and it is not inconceivable, especially if a successful outcome to the struggle in Germany is achieved, that it might lead to the reinstatement of Trotsky and his colleagues into the Comintern and the swinging of the Comintern to a correct course.
This, however, is leaping too far ahead. The heed of the hour in Germany is first, a redressment of the ranks. The Left Opposition has sustained a blow—though a minor one—in the recent capitulations. Already, however, it has been able to issue a manifesto. The need is not for putshist action, which might follow upon the too long delay, but for carefully planned stimulation of such action as would rally the ranks of the workers for decisive resistance. Strikes of a political character would appear to be feasible, though it is difficult to propose immediate tactics at such a distance and under such circumstances. That all preparations must be made illegally, is one of the handicaps thrust upon the workers by the Fascist victory.
The slogan of boycott has value for the stimulation of protest on the part of workers of other countries. The boycott, if carried out, can help to cripple or at any rate to embarrass the Hitler regime economically. But it alone does not constitute a rallying cry for the German masses temporarily driven under cover, but on the point of arising for battle. It is plain that only through civil war can the struggle be conducted, for the least move of resistance on the part of the workers will provoke the civil war, and on the other hand, to avoid it means the unthinkable situation of offering no resistance to the Fascist onslaught.
The ferment of the party, which we see in the United States, and the turning of the tide towards the Left Opposition, are among the hopeful factors in the case attendant upon the C.I. change of line.
ROOSEVELT’S NEW BLOWS AGAINST LABOR
Roosevelt stands for the “New Deal”, for the “forgotten man". If any worker was forgotten by Hoover, Roosevelt will remember him and with his “new deal”, whack him still more on the head and grind him down still further. The clever French journalist Sauerwein has aptly expressed it: Roosevelt’s policy is that of the iron fist under a velvet glove. Indeed “Liberalism” today can only be a velvet glove to cover the iron fist of dictatorship, whose final bourgeois form is Fascism. If the “Conservatism” of the Republican Party has given way to the “Liberalism” of the Democratic Party, it is only with the result of laying the basis for Fascism.
Let us examine the first two weeks “New Dealing” for the “forgoten man". With a tempo born of desperation a banking, farmer, labor, economy and general parliamentary program have been worked out.
The banking policy of the present regime has two fundamental purposes: 1. To save the banks and through them the capitalist structure generally and 2. To inflate the currency.
The act to save the banks must have the following results: 1. To get the little banks closed down or swallowed up by the big banking systems. The present act enormously accentuates the tendency to centralize or concentrate all banking capitol and through it capitol generally. 2. Every effort is made to get all the gold into the hands of the bankers. Here the bankers are favored, even over the “pure” industrialists, such as Henry Ford. The democratic party clearly shows that it is first and foremost a “Wall Street Party". The drastic act of closing the banks throughout the nation, and the threatened punishment for gold hoarders was to make sure that the “good money”, the solid metal, remained with the leaders of capitalism, the banks. 3. The banks are “saved”, but for how long? Factory production fell still lower than before. Millions more were, at least temporarily, added to the unemployed. Can such a situation “save” the banks? Let a new deep crash come and we shall see how the banks are “saved". We must keep in mind one difference between the abandonment of the gold standard in England and in the United States. England went off the gold standard primarily because of her foreign position, because of the external drain of gold upon her. The United States stopped gold payment because of an unprecedented national rush upon the banks.
The currency is inflated. There is no question about that. And Roosevelt here is only continuing Hoover’s more cautious policy. Prices of necessities will rise. Wages will not rise, or at least not as high as prices. Here is a new burden upon the workers that will greatly intensify their misery. The banks as debtors will pay off their depositors in “cheap money’ of which they now will have relatively plenty. As creditors, the banks stand to lose, but since many of the debtors, particularly the small business men and farmer are too heavily in debt in such a period of economic depression, the inflation will not really benefit the small capitalist, but will mostly benefit the banks and large capitalists.
Prices of goods will rise. But as trade is poor with low prices, it will be worse with high prices. Inflation, even when a regulated one, will push the index of production still lower down eventually, in spite of temporary flurries.
New paper will flood the country. The frozen assets of industry will be handled over to the government and the government will give out new crisp dollar bills in return. Industry may then take a speculative turn for the time being. It can force exports and increase the pressure on the market, but this must lead to a still greater crash (unless the increased competition lends to war). Not the increased output, but only the destruction of goods can “save” the capitalist world.
The farm policy of the new regime also continues the Hoover policy in the basic ends, which are: 1. To curtail production. 2. To raise prices. These are the basic aims of the legislation before Congress, and go hand in hand with the general inflation policy adopted.
A tax will be placed on agricultural products. This will be returned to the farmer who curtails in a certain amount of his production. Let us note the essentially fractionary character of these moves. First of all the full weight of the new tax will be placed on the consuming masses. Even Hoover, in his manufacturers sales tax, had not proposed such a tax. The cost of living will rise still higher. The backward country is separated from the advanced city, the farmer from the worker.
Secondly, we note, that capitalism has reached such a point, where it actually pays the producers to destroy their products. At a time, when millions are starving we must watch mountains of the necessities of life deliberately destroyed before our eyes and paid for by the starving themselves. Can a crazier system possibly be imagined?
Thirdly, the rise in prices will cause a still further drop in the demand. The competition among the farmers will grow still more intense, the lowest layers will be submerged even quicker. This will be accentuated by the curtailment of production. The plantation owners of the South will evict a fourth or so of their share croppers and tenants, perhaps; the more prosperous farmers will fire so many of their help. And let us not forget that the prices of the goods the farmer will buy from the mail order houses and trusts in the cities will rise still higher. Thus the agricultural laborer, the poor farmer, the share-cropper and tenant, the city unemployed who went back “to the folks on the farm” to tide over the crisis, these will be the newest and worst agrarian sufferers. Driven from the city back to the farm, driven out of the farm back to the city, a huge army of nomads, hundreds of thousands of homeless families, women and children will flood the roads and highways of the nation.
Still another velvet glove covers the iron fist of Roosevelt. He has declared a moratorium on mortgage payments on homes and farms. The government will pay the bankers direct and will take over the mortgages itself. Let us analyze this proposition beneath the liberal phraseology that covers it.
We must remember that the bankers cannot collect or foreclose on these mortgages. The desperate plight of the farmer, coupled in some places with his armed resistance, forced the biggest companies, such as the Prudential Insurance Company, to declare a moratorium. Now these bankers are “saved’, they will be paid in full and in cash by the government itself. The banks will not lose a cent. The United States government now becomes the collector and creditor of the farmer. The economic fight of the farmers against the bankers now really becomes a political fight against the government because Uncle Sam in the literal sense has become Uncle Shylock.
The poor farmer will have to pay in full and at the first upturn of the road, he will find that all his income will be automatically deducted by the government. There will be no bargaining, no let down for him.
All the government desires to do is to postpone the date of reckoning with the farmer, so that it will not coincide too closely with the movement in the cities. Again we have here a method of dividing the workers and farmers.
The Roosevelt Labor Policy is still more vicious in its essentials. Plans are being concocted for the militarizing and regimentation of labor. The homeless wandering youth were to be put into military training camps. The unemployed are to be put in barracks and under military discipline to be paid at the rate of a dollar a day. Not even Hitler’s “Arbeitedionastpflicht” or compulsory labor service goes as far as this.
This policy means a crushing blow at labor. It means a real attack upon the trade unions, the reduction of the wages to a dollar a day, the destraction of the standard of living of the masses, the formation of a national chain gang system, the organization of an army of potential fascist forces.
At the same time not a cent is to be given for social insurance. The budget for military expenses has not been substantially reduced in the least. However a huge cut has been made in the veteran pension system. At every point the cost of the crisis is going to be carried by the “forgotten man”, whom roosevelt is so kindly remembering.
Roosevelt tries to cover this iron fist policy with velvet gloves. A social worker is put at the head of the department of labor. What an index of the backwardness of the American workingclass as a class! In Germany there is a military general, in American a social worker! The masses are promised beer. “If you have no bread, eat cake”, said Marie Antoinette. “Drink Beer”, says Roosevelt. A system of public works will be inaugurated to provide work. We heard this from Hoover also. Even roosevelt says it can provide work for only 250,000 men and this is only 1% of the total looking for work. And these will be recruited from the ousted share croppers militarized and formed into anti-labor battalions.
The picture of Liberalism in 1933 cannot be concluded without a mention of Roosevelt’s government parliamentary policies. He has stated that the country is at war and he must be given the same dictatorial powers as he would receive if the country were really at war. Roosevelt is at war. He is at war against the masses of toilers of this country. His dictatorial powers can only be of the kind, which Hitler has succeeded in bringing to pass in Germany. the recent constitutional amendment eliminating the “lame duck’ sessions of Congress and the gap between election and inauguration of the President has centralized and sensitized the federal machinery so as to make it better equipped to deal with the masses in ferment. The dictatorial powers assumed in the banking crisis, the dictatorial powers assumed in the economy measures in dealing with the pensions thereby constructing a loyal body of henchmen for the President, the separation of the farmers from the workers, the attempt to separate part of the unemployed from the rest of the workers, the attack against the trade unions, the setting down of a compulsary wage of a dollar a day, the military camps for the youth, the wave of deportations of aliens from these shores, what are these measures, but the germs of Fascism. This is to be seen even in roosevelt’s “Brain Trust”, his gathering of “professors” around him. In appearance it looks like the “liberal” days of Wilson, in reality it is the practice of some of the theories of “Technocracy”, and of Fascism, which purports to stand above capital and labor and to give the country the dictatorship of the “elite".
All these are storm signals. What is roosevelt preparing for? Why does he give these blows to labor? Why does he try to isolate labor from its natural allies? Why is he setting up this storm machinery? Let us not forget that the “liberal” Wilson was our President during the last world war. It is easier to get the masses to fight with the “Liberal” phrases. Are we moving toward another world fight? Does Roosevelt fear the turn in the road that America is making? Is he preparing for the “Europeanizing” of American politics that must inevitably take place soon in American society and result in the creation of a gigantic class struggle here?
Let us remember Trotsky’s words: Before the American Communists there opens up breath taking perspectives.
THE WAR IN CHINA BEGINS
Japan has seized Jehol. The Chinese forces have been routed. The campaign has been carried through with the precision of a stop watch. All is quiet north of the great wall. So it seems. But this is very far from the truth. What are the facts and lessons to be drawn from the Jehol events?
The ruthless far sighted imperialistic plans of japan are rapidly being carried through. First Manchuria, then Jehol, then perhaps Inner Mongolia and parts of China within the wall, bombarding of certain Chinese ports, punitive expeditions against the Chinese Soviets, then the seizure of the Chinese-Eastern railway and all Russian trade in Manchuria, isolation of Kamtchatka and Vladivostok, a thrust at Chinese turkestan, the splitting of Siberia to Lake Peikal, etc. These are the grandiose schemes that rage in the court of the Mikado.
It is precisely for these reasons why the workers must demand, on the one hand a complete boycott of trade with Japan and, on the other hand that American Imperialism get out of the Far East, restore the concessions and privileges seized from the Chinese people and unconditionally free the Philippines and other American colonies.
The assistance to Japan on the part of the League of Nations, has been purely platonic. To talk a lot about peace, to sell plenty of arms to Japan, to place an embargo on arms to China, these are the measures taken. Only the United States, whose imperialist interests are directly threatened, and its allies, have shown a real hostility to Japan’s adventure.
Our answer to this must be the cry: NO NEUTRALITY IN THIS FIGHT. ALL AID TO THE CHINESE PEOPLE IN THEIR WAR AGAINST IMPERIALIST WAR AND AGGRESSION.
It has become plain as day that the only way to fight Japanese and other imperialism is for the Chinese masses themselves to do the fighting. The monumental treachery of the Nanking government and other military cliques has reached unheard of heights so as to become absolutely unbearable. Untold numbers of Chinese toilers and poor soldiers have been sacrificed and massacred through the cynical treachery of the officers. The whole province of Jehol was given up without a fight. Chiang Kai Shek was far from the scene; he is in a war against the Communist Red Armies. He is correct. Not Japanese Imperialism is his deadly enemy, but the masses.
The Chinese toilers have a truly heroic task. They must fight not only this powerful Japanese imperialism ………. throughout the world, but they have a job simultaneously to destroy their own government. In order to fight Japan, they must destroy the Nanking government and other militarists, who are only too poisonous against these imperialists in their midst.
DEATH TO THE NAN KING GOVERNMENT AND OTHER IMPERIALIST; This must be the banner that must inspire the every thought of the Chinese masses.
The proletariat of the United States must demand the complete breaking off of relations with the criminal Nan King government and other military cliques, which have only aided foreign imperialism to hack China to pieces. On the contrary,we must demand that adequate supplies and credits of all sorts be given to the Chinese people, which, led by the Chinese Soviets and workers, alone are capable of winning this struggle.
A deep ferment is taking place among the Chinese people. The press reports the wonderful heroism of the Chinese soldiers, who, clad in cotton in the bitter cold of the Jehol mountains and terribly betrayed, stuck by their guns and froze to death standing guard rather than retreat.
The labor movement in the United States must activate itself behind the Chinese masses. The Chinese war against Japan and other imperialism is only another phase of the Chinese Revolution. There has been too much passivity, too little appreciation of the Chinese events. A large movement must be built up to help the Chinese masses in their anti imperialist struggles, and in their revolution. An energetic demand must be raised for the release of Chen Du Haiu, leader of the Chinese Left Opposition Communist and for the release of the other Communist fighters. All support must be given to the Soviet Union as the only armed force supporting the Chinese toilers in their fight.
The Chinese masses are moving. At a time when Britain is forced to disgorge India and cannot retain even Ireland, can Japan swallow China? Empty dream! With the Soviet Union under proletarian control, stimulating and aiding the oppressed colonial masses to revolt, with Asia awake and China at war with at least one imperialism, the fight has only begun.
ON THOSE WHO HAVE FORGOTTEN THE A B C
by Leon Trotsky
The protest of some German comrades against the article, “With Both Hands”, may be interpreted in two different ways: First, as an attempt to find a suitable pretext for capitulation: Second, as errors of principle on the part of honest oppositionists, who have fallen into confusion. I set aside the first alternative, as being without theoretical interest. The second deserves to be investigated.
The article’ “With Both Hands”, warns that Stalin’s policy in the most important questions has approached such decisions that can take on an unalterable character. The article recalls that the Stalin fraction has solidarized itself with the Kellogg pact, and the american disarmament plan. As to the correctness of this extremely important action, there never were any differencss of opinion among us. The article quotes Stalin’s scandalous conversation with Campbell, which very glaringly lights up the road Stalin has entered upon.
“But do you really think that Stalin is capable of treachery?” chimes in an objection. An astonishing argument, which proves that many comrades in spite of their youth, have got to the point of forgetting the Marxian A B C. Do we then judge of a policy as depending upon a predetermined trust or mistrust of this or that person? The political line emerges through the pressure of the class struggle and the objective circumstances and develops its own logic.
In the year 1922 the Soviet Republic went through a severe economic crisis. On the November Plenum of the Central Committee, Stalin and others brought in a solution for the abolition in substance of the foreign trade monopoly. How shall we characterize such a resolution? As a betrayal or not? Subjectively certainly Stalin did not wish to betray the Socialist future. But the abolition of the monopoly is not in any way different in its inevitable consequences from the abolition of the nationalization of the means of production. Not for nothing did the whole capitalist world exert itself in the first year of the Soviet regime for the “moderation” of the foreign trade monopoly. Objectively the resolution of November, 1922, was an act of betrayal of Socialism. Subjectively the result was that Stalin and others did not oppose a sufficient theoretical and political resistance to the pressure of the economic crisis.
The historical example of the foreign trade monopoly best illustrates the disputed questions of today. We have so far been able to observe Stalin’s policy in a whole course of important historical stages. How shall we characterize his polices in China—i.e. his alliance with Chiang Kai Shek against the proletariat? We have always characterized them as treacherous. In this case the right zig-zag of bureaucratic centrism was carried to its last logical inference. Can any oppositionist deny that Stalin’s policy in China served the bourgeoisie —against the proletariat? Let us remember in this connection that Stalin carried out this policy through the crushing of those Russian Bolsheviks who wanted to help the Chinese proletariat against the bourgeoisie. What is this if not betrayal?
Since November, 1922, more than ten years have passed. The situation of the USSR has entered upon a period of extremely sharp crisis. In the world situation too, there are many dangers which can increase simultaneously with the further sharpening of the inner difficulties. The criminal policy of the complete collectivization and the adventurous tempo of industrialization has finally got into a blind alley. If we remain within the framework of bureaucratic centrism, there is no way out. The only possibility is a search for palliatives, and delays. Foreign credits could no doubt bring about a moderation of the inner crisis. America says she is not ready to renounce the war debts without “equivalents". Equivalents are also required for new credits. The program of her demands is well enough known to us from the past. Recognition of the debts of the war and before the war, “moderation” of the foreign trade monopoly, a real break with the Communist International, support of the American policy in the Far East, etc.
Certain concessions in regard to the debts are perfectly admissible. But just this equivalent interests the United States the least. But how do matters stand with the Comintern? It is already five years since a Congress has been called. Is that just an accident? One of Stalin’s motives is doubtless the thought, there is no use in irritating Hoover. The international proletarian vanguard will manage to get along without a congress. Then what is left of the Comintern in Moscow? Pitiable Plenums under the leadership of Manuilsky, whose worth Stalin very well knows. Would it be difficult to give up these “remains"?
The monopoly of foreign trade places more obstacles as “equivalent". But here also it cannot be a question of any absolute guarantees whatsoever. If ten years ago, when the Soviet industry was in a condition of complete ruin, Stalin approached the greatest concessions to foreign capital on this question. Now a surrender of the position on which industry has considerably grown, must be all the more shunned. “We are so strong, the apparatus will tell the workers, that we can permit a moderation of the foreign trade monopoly.” The capitulatory weakness in relation to world capital, in this as in many other cases will hide under the appearance of strength. Upon what are the objections of these mistaken comrades really founded? In the belief in Stalin’s good intentions. Only on that and nothing more. In any event, they think or say, “Stalin has so far not betrayed the Soviet Republic.” What remarkable profundity! First, we answer, one of the lies in the energetic actions of the Opposition, which never exuded soulful confidence, but on the contrary, aroused the workers at each critical moment to determined alertness. Secondly, Stalin’s policy in China has in any event had full fling and has led the second Chinese revolution to a complete collapse.
Here the objectors, hopelessly in error, take up a new position. “These are all your suppositions”, they will say, “You cannot prove them.” This is correct: In order to prove them, one must await the results—i.e. the collapse of the Soviet fatherland as the result of the completed policy of bureaucratic centrism.
Were the Apparatus under the control of the Party, were the workers to discuss questions of policy and were they able to control their executive organs, we would have serious guarantees of the responsible carrying out of policy. But just this is lacking. Nobody outside of the narrow and ever narrowing circle around Stalin knows what means for solving the crisis will be prepared. Can one seriously rely on that revolutionist, who in such a situation, where mighty historical factors are at work, bases his perspective upon psychological conjectures or upon moral estimations? When Ustrjalow expressed the hope, that the NEP would lead the Bolshevik party to a capitalist regime, Lenin said, “Such things of which Ustrjalow speaks, are possible.” History knows such revolutions of all sorts; to rely upon persuasion, devotion and similar signally mental qualities, is a quite frivolous thing in politics.” Lenin said this about the party in the year, 1922. What can be said today?
Many of the objectors want to conjure up the ghost of Urbahns in connection with our article, according to them we have approached his estimation of Stalinism. It is really painful to have to analyze such an argument at the end of December, 1932. Between Urbahns and us, was carried on the struggle on the nature of the Soviet state. Urbahns could not understand and until today has not understood that the Centrist policy based as it is on the foundation of the proletarian state does not yet in anyway alter automatically the character of the state. It all depends upon the degree, upon the relation of forces in the struggle, upon the stage, which the development of contradictions has reached, etc. Bureaucratic centrism weakens the proletarian dictatorship, hinders its development, undermines its bony structure of the proletariat like a sickness. Only, sickness does not mean death. One can be cured of a sickness. But Urbahns declared the dictatorship liquidated, while we fight for the restoration and strengthening of the dictatorship, still living, still enduring, although deeply undermined by Stalinist centrism.
But what can we say of those unfortunate oppositionists, who base the fact of the endurance of the proletarian dictatorship upon the necessity of trust in bureaucratic centrism, which has undermined this dictatorship? What can be said of such “physicians”, who suddenly make the discovery that it would be best for the welfare of the patient to overlook the symptoms of his disease, to color up the situation, and instead of a systematic treatment to content themselves with the hope that the patient, with God’s help, will get better by himself?
Our objectors reveal just such a deep lack of understanding of the vital relations between the Soviet State and bureaucratic Centrism as Urbahns. Only they cover their lack of understanding with a different color.
Only the terribly low level upon which the Stalin bureaucracy keeps the Communist movement, can explain the highly grievous fact that comrades, who have been learning for several years in the school of the opposition, can fall into such pitiable and compromising errors. There is nothing to be done! We will lose a little time with the repetition of the ABC; if it does not help, we will step over the stiff-necked lagging ones and go forward. Prinkipo, 28 December, 1932.
SERIOUS LESSONS FROM AN INCONSEQUENTIAL THING
by Leon Trotsky
It would be substantially incorrect to pass by the Well case in silence, and merely refer to the fact that a dozen lazy fellows have gone astray and have taken with them two or three dozen dead souls, who for a long time, have taken no part in the work of the organization. We have really no reason to exaggerate the extent of the loss. But is it indispensable to clearly take account of the event.
Well, like his twin, Senin, remained always a strange figure in the ranks of the Opposition. More than once we had to ask, “What keeps these inflated petty bourgeois in the Opposition? They formerly belonged to the Party, then joined the Right, then came to the Left Opposition and immediately on different occasions began to talk on this or that point of our platform, understanding it half way or not at all. Yet, not once, in spite of repeated proposals, have they tried to formulate their real position. This is explained by the fact that they had no position.
They belonged to that type pretty well divided between wavering intelligence and semi-intelligence, for whom ideas and principles occupy second place, and in the first rank stands the concern for personal independence, which in a particular case, passes over into anxiety for one’s personal career. So long as such a nomad has not found a final haven, he has never come to a complete understanding in anything and always holds the door half way open. Such types are met with naturally, also among the progressive workers,but rather as exceptions. But in the petty bourgeois milieu of “revolutionary” semi-intellectuals they constitute, we must admit, not less than 51%.
The petty bourgeoisie of old Russia threw up from its midst a significant number of revolutionists. Most of them, however, remained revolutionists only to the end of the University, then to become officials, or simple nobodies. Only a very limited percentage were won over to the proletarian spirit and remained in the path of the revolution to the end.
The Jewish intelligentsia and semi-intelligentsia, which is most numerous on the periphery of old Russian (Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine) was spared the way of the official. Hence the rather higher percentage of Jewish revolutionists in old Russia. But in the majority, these grouped themselves in the petty bourgeois parties, the Mensheviks the Bund. In the October revolution the majority were on the other side of the barricades. After the victory, they began readily to join the Bolsheviks. To this type belong today many of the dignitaries and likewise the Soviet ambassadors: Chintschuk in Germany, Majaki in London, etc.
But in still more significant numbers then the old Mensheviks, the young generation of the petty bourgeoisie and especially of the Jewish intelligentsia of the border districts, have rushed into the door of the Bolshevik party after the completed October victory and especially after the end of the civil war. Without connection with the population, peasant as well as proletarian, without serious insight into the affairs of the proletariat, these elements hastened to take over the official posts in the state, party and union apparatus. I remember how after my first trip in Ukraine under war conditions, I told Lenin how the petty bourgeois intellectual, thanks to his flexibility and his (not too high) culture, was here and there shoving aside worker Bolsheviks with a serious training in struggle. We agreed to determine upon certain measures for the cleansing of the Party and the soviet apparatus of such newcomers.
This heterogeneous crowd, which has many claims and many dissatisfactions, later joined any opposition, even if not for long. But as soon as it became plain that it was a question of a serious struggle demanding sacrifices, the petty bourgeois bureaucratic oppositionists quickly returned under the benediction of the Party and transformed their repentance generally into a means for career ends. So it was also in the beginning with the Left Opposition. In 1925, thousands of Wells rushed under the banner. It was only in the course of the following year that the proletarian kernel of the Left Opposition could cleanse itself of the compromising companions. These gentlemen then became the most furious persecutors of the Opposition; the apparatus made use of them, not without, however, showing a certain contempt for them.
In Western Europe, although the struggle of the Left Opposition is carried on under difficulties, still it is not under such a terrible pressure as in the Soviet Union. In Germany, France, and other countries the fellow travellers could hold out longer. Let us recollect the most “colorful” collapses off the deserters of the Opposition into Stalin’s camp within the last year or two: In Austria,—Graf; in France—Mill; in Germany—Well and Senin. All of them, different variations of one and the same social type. Coming from the border cities of old Czarist Russia, from petty bourgeois environment, without serious convictions, but endowed with the aptness to seize upon a couple of ideas in flight and with them to operate without ability—until their substitution by other ideas just as fertile but more promising. Each of the above mentioned belonged to some one of the foreign parties, but did not find the promised recognition; left them or were expelled, looked for other ways, joined the Right, then the left Opposition, as the passerby jumps in the trolley car, and then left the Opposition as the passenger leaves the trolley, when he wants to get off at a certain street. These people are considerably more dangerous for the organization to which they belong than for that one against which they struggle. A half hour before their capitulation, all of them, Graf and Mill and Well and Senin, drew back with indignation at the mere thought of the possibility of their return to Stalin’s camp. And 30 minutes after their last oath they broke with the Opposition in the most impudent and noisy manner, in order to immediately raise their price in the market of the Stalin bureaucracy. At the mildest estimation, we can call these people nothing but the garbage of the revolution.
And nevertheless they played a significant role in some sections. How can this be explained? A part of the explanation is already given through the hint of the Ukrainian experience. Even within the revolutionary proletarian organization the intellectuals, descended from the bourgeoisie, enjoyed their social advantages at least to a certain degree and up to a certain point of time. The worker is bound to the job. Unless he is unemployed, he generally does not tear himself from his roots. To move into the country or from one country to another is hard for him. He does not possess foreign languages. Even in his native tongue he does not write so easily. The composition of articles and resolutions causes him much trouble. The result is that the mobile intellectual, which is neither with experience nor knowledge but therefore knows all things and all people, is present everywhere and ready to write articles on everything with his left foot, frequently sits on the neck of the workers’ organizations. Naturally such a state of affairs to a considerable degree characterizes the youth of the organization. But this stage must be passed. It is time to become mature. The workers in greater numbers than hitherto must take the whole work into their hands. It is understood that this does not mean the driving away of the intellectuals—on the contrary, intellectuals, who have knowledge, who work and are devoted, are very necessary to us,—but this means at all events a serious test of little known intellectuals in work, and slow, very slow advancement to leading posts. We only need such intellectuals as place themselves tirelessly and to the end at the disposal of the workers organization.
The Bolshevik-Leninists must seriously place the question of the training and education of new cadres of the proletarian youth. The Left Opposition has its own revolutionary conceptions, its own history and tradition. Only on this basis can a serious proletarian revolutionist be educated. Two or three vulgarized slogans like “mass work”, “democratic centralism”, “united front”, etc. —that is sufficient perhaps for the Brandlerites and for the SAP, but not for us. Hand in hand with the political struggle systematic theoretical training must be carried on. The munition must be prepared for a whole historical epoch.
The “Well case” has more of a scandalous than a tragic character. But that does not in the least decrease its lessons. From the episodic struggle with little deserters, we must get the most for the revolutionary training of cadres. What takes place today within the frame of a small organization, will be often repeated later on a larger scale, not only before the revolution but after its victory as well.
The Well type occupies a big place in the apparatus of the Stalinist bureaucracy, not only in the USSR, but also in the capitalist countries. The “revolutionary” petty bourgeois is always torn between anarchy and (Kasern). They keep their hands on the seam of their trousers until the first serious lesson or the first serious danger; but they will continually find sufficiently important grounds to avoid the struggle. After the final victory of the proletariat they will come back again and probably organize the “society of old Bolshevik Leninists.” There have been examples of that. We must learn to test people in little shake ups, in second rate crises, in order not to be surprised at the sharp turns of history.
There is another important practical lesson which arises from the Well case. The Stalinist apparatus soon on an international scale means above all a certain number of jobs. This is no unimportant political factor, especially in the years of the world crisis. Graf, Well, Mill and the others are not in a position to claim a responsible post, since the competition is keen and each bureaucrat hangs on to his own post with tooth and nail, and looks upon the newcomer with suspicion. But the situation is immediately changed if the candidate previously breaks into the opposition, brings about a certain disintegration in its ranks and then loudly leaves it—as a hero of the struggle against “counter- revolutionary Trotkyism". The stock of such a candidate will immediately rise. I will not say that Graf or Well entered the Opposition with the ready made intention of betraying it (although in the USSR we have observed hundreds of such cases). But it is enough that the disposition to betrayal is part of the nature of such people, who are lacking in the revolutionary moral base. The constant doubt and dissatisfaction on the one hand as to their own insufficiency and on the other the exceptional temptations of the powerful apparatus—that is quite enough. In the Comintern, in the G.P.U., in each national section there is a special apparatus for the disintegration of the Left Opposition, composed for the most part of deserters of the Opposition or of Stalinist agents, who give themselves out as Oppositionists. If the German comrades take the necessary trouble, they will surely discover the connections of such agents, which lead from Well-Graf to Manuilski and Menschinski. How many Agebekoffs are engaged in the struggle against the “counter-revolutionary” opposition? It stands to reason that no agent can destroy an historical progressive tendency embodied in the tradition of revolutionary Marxism. But it would be an unpardonable frivolity to ignore the actions of the Stalinist agents for the introduction of confusion and disintegrations, as also of direct corruption we must be attentive and watch out!
And from this point of view it is of utmost importance to reinforce the cadres of the Opposition by revolutionary proletarians, who live before the eyes of the masses and are under their continual control. Naturally the workers also are no angels. The whole history of the social democratic cadres proves this, as also the history of Bolshevism after the seizure of power. Nevertheless the Left Opposition at present is passing through a much earlier stage. A worker in the Left Opposition cannot seek bureaucratic posts. To go through the Opposition as a passage towards becoming a Soviet official or a journalist under Thalman does not enter the worker’s mind. Just now, in its period of critical offensive, the Opposition can and must win over the best representatives of the young generation of the proletariat, those who are tested in struggle, the most unselfish ones, the most far sighted. The cleansing of the opposition of revolutionary garbage makes this task easier. Prinkipo, January 28, 1933
WITHIN THE INTERNATIONAL LEFT OPPOSITION
I. The Thesis of the International Pre-Conference of the International Left Oppositiontion
The International Left Opposition has met in a pre-conference in Paris. This was an important gathering from many angles. First of all, it is the first time the representatives of the various sections really got together to consider and collectively work out a common thesis and to lay the basis for an authoritative center. This is an immense step forward as we took occasion to point out months ago when we reported on our European trip.
Secondly, the thesis of the Pre-conference is one which goes a very long way along the lines advocated by our group, the Communist League of Struggle. We desire here only to stress the following excerpts from the Thesis:
“The Bolshevik-Leninists are prepared at any moment to return into the composition of the Comintern and to preserve strict discipline of action while at the same time carrying on an irreconcilable struggle against bureaucratic centrism on the basis of Party democracy. But today under the conditions of the split, our adherence to the Communist International cannot be expressed by organizational self limitation, by refusal to assume independent political initiative and engage in mass work, but must be expressed by the content of our work.”
The sections of the Left Opposition originating out of small propaganda groups, gradually are transformed into workers organizations. This transition puts into the foreground the tasks of party democracy, the kind of regime in which a few comrades, who are closely connected and understand each other even with the most informal indications making all their decisions in a casual manner, must finally give way to regular organizational relations….Discipline can be built up only on a conscious assimilation of the polices of the organization by all its members and on confidence in its leadership. Such confidence can be won only gradually, in the course of common struggle and reciprocal influence.”
The pre-conference charges the I.S. to conduct and to follow attentively, the reshaping of the sections in the sense of the organizational forms described in the theses of the first four Congresses of the C.I. as well as an adaptation of the section to the fundamental principles of a Communist organization (control of the work, collective and responsible work, etc.).
We can well accept this thesis. It is well formulated. On the whole it is very good.
February 23, 1933
To the German Left Opposition
The Communist League of Struggle wholeheartedly supports the German Left Opposition in its fight against the capitulator, Well, Senin and Co.
At no time have the German events so well proved the correctness of the line of the International Left Opposition as at present. At no time has Comrade Trotsky’s estimate of Stalinist Centrism been better verified than today. It is the sharpness of the struggle that exposes the cowards and capitulators. To cleanse them from our ranks only strengthens the movement.
The capitulation of Well, Senin and Co. proves again the necessity of testing all comrades in the tasks of the concrete struggle before permitting them to reach leadership in our organizations.
The Communist League of Struggle pledges its full support and solidarity in this critical moment.
COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF STRUGGLE
Albert Weisbord, Secretary.
Wave of Terror in Spain
(From Die Permanente Revolution—#3 1933)
For a week Azana’s police have carried out numerous arrests of Communists throughout Spain. A so called military plot in the army was discovered for the purpose.
Our comrade, La Cruz, was arrested in Madrid. He has been assigned to trial in a military court and has been kept waiting for months. Just now he is located, according to his letter to us, in the prison in Alzeciras.
Our Comrade, Nin, has been arrested in Barcelona with a number of others. He was thrown in jail without any charge.
The Communist International press in general is silent on these unheard of measures of terror of the bourgeoisie, as it is accustomed to keep quiet generally on the persecutions of opposition communists.
All the more it becomes the duty of the Opposition to sound the alarm. At the same time we must reiterate to the party comrades that the C.I. puts itself to shame by its treacherous silence on the crimes of the class enemy.
NEWS FROM THE UNITED FRONT
THE ALBANY UNITED FRONT ON LABOR LEGISLATION
We were a howling success in the literal sense of the word, at the Albany United front conference. What a fiasco, what a united front! The party captured, recaptured and enraptured itself. AFL unions—there were seven in all.
The Communist Party finally was forced to take over our program on unemployment calling for the raising of the slogan of general strike. But in payment we were refused the floor until very late in the evening of the last day, and then howled down by the Communist Party members. For us, however, it was a great victory. Even the howling down was a victory; they would not have howled if they had not felt the sting of our criticism.
We can be sure that if the Party now raises the slogan of the general strike it has not the least conception of how this is to be brought about. It has not the least intention of really digging into the working class neighborhoods, of really developing those local street struggles, which alone under proper leadership can lead to a solid strike movement. To issue phrases under the lash of the Left Opposition, to have not the slightest knowledge of how to put them into life. This is all one can expect of the Party bureaucrats.
During the Albany conference, we worked closely with the delegates from the American League. Unfortunately we could not agree to presenting a joint resolution. We hope that this foreshadows a time when both CLS and CLA will work more closely together.
THE “NEW” LINE AT THE TOM MOONEY CONFERENCE
What stands out from the Tom Mooney New York United Front Conference held on March 12th?
1. The Communist Party’s change to the “new” line in united front tactics is so far but formal. Whereas a year ago delegates from opposition groups were ejected bodily from such gatherings, today they are permitted to sit and even attain the propaganda advantage of making their views heard. This gain is not to be despised. But the whole conduct of the conference was still along the old narrow, mechanical lines. Of the 718 delegates present fully 550 came from party controlled organizations. This great majority voted as a block on all nominations, resolutions, etc. permitting little representation outside of party members on the leading bodies. Obviously delegations from minority groups were powerless to influence the outcome of the conference. The election of Comrade Berman, a well known adherent of the International Left on the Credentials Committee must be hailed as a victory due to the growing influence of the Left Opposition here.
2. Not only was the representation from unions small (19 AFL and 14 independent unions) but the tactics were such as to antagonize those trade union delegates, who were present; their efforts to obtain a report on the number of unions present were in vain. They were given a minimum representation upon committees. Such delegates would have to report back to their locals: “The Communists still act as an isolated sect, incapable of working with other groups.”
3. The S.P. has been once more exposed as an anti-labor organization. It declined the special invitation tendered it to participate in this conference. This continues the contemptible action taken at the time of Mooney’s conviction. At the same time, it must be recognized that the party’s tactics of Hooligan breaking up of S.P. meetings, its vicious theory of social-fascism, and its failure to really cooperate with other groups when it does call a united front (to give representation upon leading bodies, etc.) do not tend to win over the S.P. membership to bring pressure for cooperation with the Communists.
4. The C.L.S. managed to put forward its line of general strike and of linking up of working class pressure for Mooney’s release with the struggles of the unemployed. Our efforts to obtain representation upon the committee of 25 were blocked by the railroading through of a motion to limit the committee to the given number (afterwards contradicted by a motion to add two more) and by the general uproar which made it impossible to make a single word heard, much less to get the floor.
5, The resolution on policy adopted, calling for concentrated action on May Day, for a national conference on Chicago, for mass protest strikes, one cannot object to. But the futility of resolutions has long since been demonstrated. Continued pressure is necessary on the party until it will understand and put into effect a real broad united front in which all organizations cannot merely show their face, but can actively participate in the mass militant action which will free Mooney.
“DEMOCRACY” IN THE S.P.
Not merely were all Communist delegates excluded from the so called “united front’ conference on unemployment called by the S.P. on February 23rd, but a violent unprovoked attack was launched upon the rejected delegates as they stood in the hall. George Jarvis, delegate of the Vanguard Workers Club, rushed to the defense of the Negro ILD delegate, Comrade Alexander. Brass knuckles were flourished effectively and Jarvis came out with one tooth missing, a torn lip and a bloody eye. Such is the S.P. conception of the united front tactic.
The first mass meeting of protest on the Chinese situation was called by the Communist League of Struggle at the Labor Temple on March 13th. The speakers listed included A.J. Muste of the Conference for Progressive Labor Action, T.A. Bisson of the League for Independent political Action, Dr. Edmund Chaffee of the Labor Temple, Albert Weisbord of the C.L.S. and a Chinese student. A heavy downpour of rain interfered somewhat with the attendance at the meeting. It must be realized, too, that the organizations we succeeded in getting to cooperate with us do not command a mass following, at any rate in New York City. Yet our meeting was actually the only protest so far on a united scale, attempted by the labor movement on a situation, which it seems is threatened with being obscured by the developments in Germany and the financial crisis here.
A call has been received from Gillespie, Illinois calling for a conference on April 2nd to establish a new trade union center in America. While the Progressive Miners Union in Illinois is a movement of real vitality, which has potentialities for rallying the miners throughout the country, it seems to us that the call for a new trade union center is premature. It would first be necessary to build up groups in other industries to give such a center a sufficient mass base. The program for the new grouping is still too vague as it appears in the call for us to comment upon it. A complete article on the trade union situation will appear in next month’s Class Struggle.
Our support of the Illinois Miners’ Strike is being continued in concrete form. Clothing to the value of several hundreds of dollars has been collected and shipped to the Progressive Miners’ Union. We thank all of our contributors for their support.
TWO NEW COURSES of the Workers’ School—133 Second Ave
1. HISTORY OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION—Mondays 8-9 p.m. April 3—May 9, Instructor Vera Buch
2. WORKS OF LENIN— Wednesday 8-9 p.m. April 5—June 7 Instructor Albert Weisbord
If sufficient registration be obtained, the following will also be given:
CAPITAL VOL I—CAPITAL VOL II—TRADE UNION TACTICS