IA A! JANUARY 1935 First National League Convention Stormy Test of merican Approach This is the second of a. series of articles on the history of the National Unemployed league.
e. It By LOUIS BREIER The convention that founded the National Unemployed League is worth considering in some detail not only because its results were tar reaching and lasting, but also because its stormy and colorful sessions revealed the dangers threatening the movement then, as they do now. Fascism, partisaninertia, jingoism and a horde of crack pot political schemes, any one of which was suﬂicicnt to wreck the convention and the movement itself, combined into a desperate onslaught against the building of a militant, nation wide organization of the unemployed.
Backgrounds The beginnings of the widely discussed and much more widely slandered American Approach are probably to be found in the conception of unemployed activity. It represented a deﬁnite and reali tic manner of directing and part ipating in the work of the leagues, of carrying on the day by day struggles, of raising the political level of the workers and of building a solid and progressive basis for the ultimate conﬂict against unemployment and all other problems confronting the working It was this which distinguished practice and instiﬂed the steady growth of the Leagues.
How Others Work Some mention has already been made of the methods favored by the Communist and Socialist partiw. In their direction of the Unemployed Councils thc made few concessions to the regular party line Mechanical control of the organizations and wholesale indoctrination of the members while they stick is characteristic PERKINS DAUGHTER ENTERS SOCIETY Miss Susanna Wilson made her debut to society the other day, at the Hotel Pierre, one of New York swankiest hotels, where thousands of dollars are spent to launch a girl into society.
What of it?
Only this: Susanna twilson is the (laughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Caldwell Wilson. And Mrs. Paul Caldwell Wilson is Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, who feels so sorry for the workers, in public.
FOLLOW THE NEWS IN THE NEW MILITANT.
of their work in this ﬁeld as among the trade unions.
The tactics of the Socialists differ from those of the Communist Party only by the addition of their usual smugness and the myth of their superior regard for Democracy. Because of this, mechanical control as practiced by the exceeds anything that even Amter or Benjamin ever hoped to get away with.
committee of the NUL last August to present the case for a new national organization David Lasser, frankly that he does not believe inh rank and ﬁle conventions even for the purpose of resolving so lmpor. tant a problem as the formation of a new national unemployed organization, but prefers conferences of the top leadership because they get more work done with less fuss.
The American Approach Although their tactics placed them in the position of an artist attempting to portray the moon with a map, the conception of the purpose of work among the unemployed on the part of a revo lutionary party was always sound. It is the business of the class con. scious, revolutionary elements in these organizations to make them militant, effective instruments for struggle against all forms of immediate repressiou, and to turn the faces of the unemployed toward the larger battle. This was always the philosophy underlying the work of the CPLA.
But philosophy as such never mmnt anything to the CPLA. Philosophy had to be conﬁrmed in ac»
tion and there had to be mass organizations before there could be any action.
In a series of articles written for Labor Age in 1931 Louis Budenz, who popularized the term Ameri can Approach. laid down the program for unemployed organization.
Leagues, he said, must be mass organizations in the fullest sense of the term. CPLA elements in these organizations must not rem pent the doctrinaire and factional mistakes of the (LR and the 81.
They were to work to increase the effectiveness of the Leagues in their daily battles for immediate demands and, on the strength of their superior leadership and con sistent realism, raise the political level of the masses, reveal the classstruggle, and lay a ﬁrm basis for their participation in the coming struggle for a workers world.
During the first national conven.
The Party Fund HE campaign for the Party Fund is now under way. Returns are beginning to come in though not yet as fast or as numerous as they should. Reports from the branches are stlll slow, but indications are that the membership is getting behind this drive whole heartedly.
Los Angeles branch writes We are sure the Fund will go over big here. deﬁnite pledge of 26 was members. Allentown members pledged 38.
more than half of its quota.
made and more to come from absent Boston has already met The New York District) which. received a quota. of 1, 500 is hard at work meeting it and Philadelphia has pledged 75 thus far.
THE CHALLENGE As reported in the last issue of the New Militant, Mrs. of New York pledged to contribute 200 for Every 200 we collect from other blends. was the ﬁrst to sen met. by Mrs. Today sent RECEIPTS Previously reporeed: From Branches. 316. 20 From Individuals. 00 and Mrs. 400. 00 New Receipts Los Angeles Branch. 11. 25 New York District 50. 00 McL. Iowa Falls, 1a. 00 Friend, Youngstown, 10. 00 New York City. 100. 00 a 200 check which was promptly another 100.
to Total to date: From Branches. 377. 46 From Individuals. 319. 00 From Mrs. on pledge. 200. 00 Grand Total. 896. 45 As soon as the balance to make up 400 from individuals comes in, Mrs. will meet it with a second 200.
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FIVE TEN, DOLLARS We can supply collection lists for those who cannot afford any one of these sums by themselves. certiﬁcate will be issued for the total collected.
Members of the organization their Party Foundation Tax paid through the branches.
HELP REALIZE THE PROGRAM OF ACTION HELP BUILD THE Fill In Blank Below and Mail Today.
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or a Party Foundation mind Cer collection lists for the Party tion of the Leagues, when Fascist elements seemed to have gained complete control and it was necessary to pronounce the name of Marx in very soft tones and with a great deal of head pivoting, sev eral of the leaders of the Unemployed Councils who were present blamed the American Approach for it. The CPLA, they said, had sulltituted ﬂag waving for Marxism and those roaring patriots in Appearing before the executive. the convention were only a natural consequence of sociaH ascism.
But these dervishes of the true faith were wide of the mark. 1t president of the Socialist controlled was not the American Approach Workers Unemployed Union, stated that was at fault; it was America.
As we have shown, the unemployed leagues were all inclusive. The only restrictions on membership were against old party politicians and bosses of any category. These restrictions, hOWever, could not ex»
clude stool pigeons, provocateurs, NEW MILITANT spies. fascist agents, etc. They came in and did their work among the members until they were exposed or until the growing political consciousness of members themselves made them impervious to this poison.
II: was the latter condition for which the CPLA worked. In the leagues, as in the general American scene, the effectiveness of a revolutionary organization Is based on its ability to win the conﬁdence and leadership of the masses as against the misleadership of the demagogues and fascists. The CPLA was not afraid to face this fact.
It did not want another radical tea club. It wanted a mass organization. And it was willing to stake everything on the correctness of its tactics and its ability to lead the workers. The national convention was the test, not only of the courage and integrity of the CPLA but also on a minor scale of the ability and promise of the new party which has emerged from the combined experiences of the CPLA and the Communist League.
Next. week we will see what happened at the ﬁrst national conven Naval Race orebodes War of the Pacific By JACK WEBER The ﬁst international imperialist truce in the building of naval armaments has come to its predestined end. Theoretically it will remain in force till 1030; practically the powers are already at work to start off anew in the race for capitalist domination of the world. Lasting for a decade, the Washington Naval Pact was nothing but a temporary truce, affording a breathing spell to the nations just emerged from war into a critical economic and political period that necessitated the most far reaching changes and adjustments among the imperialist robber nations. In the war Europe, victors and vanquished alike, had lost, America had won. Germany had been ruined, but England was also badly shaken and her world tion of the Leagues.
position so much weakened that Farewell to Bureaucracy By JOSEPH ZACK in the previous article spoke about the system of falsiﬁcation and trickery used by the Stalin faction in the ideological struggle against the Opposition in the lins sian Communist Party. This system naturally expressed itself also In the ﬁeld of party organization.
The false line could be put through only by crushing out party democracy and setting up the uncontrolled rule of a bureaucratic clique. This was done in the Russian party, and then the completed system was mechanically imposed on all the parties of the lommunist International.
We in the American movement had to pay for the defeat of Lem inist. principles and methods in the Russian party. The degeneration of the American can never be understood until it is traced to this source. The internal regime of the in this country is only an expression of the Stalinist system which has become universal in the Suppressing the Opposition They began in Russia by slippressing the platform of the Opposition instead of abiding by party statutes and allowing its publication as a document for discussion.
Next, they expelled the 14 mem»
bers of the minority of the Central Committee before the party con gress! Meanwhile all their followA ers were expelled from the party.
The result was that when the party congress ﬁnally convened it was a mere assemblage of Stalin caucus.
Later on. all those adhering to the Opposition were arrested and exiled to Siberia or imprisoned. Thus the Opposition was disposed of.
Thereafter anyone voicing its ideas was dealt with as a countenrevolutlonlst. picked up at night by the and shipped somewhere sometimes, as in the case of Blumkin, even executed. Now it appears this sort of thing is to be carried out on a wholesale scale.
This is the background of the present terror regime in the Soviet party and the parties in capitalistic countries, including the This regime constitutes a fundamental departure from Lenin conception of the party and its functions; it: is a basically new system that has nothing to do with Leninlsln. It is of course foolish to think, and was such a fool, that by complaining about it or appealing against one or another bad spot or ulcer in this system to the a sub committee of Stalin, any remedy can be obtained.
The Stalin Regime The party regime introduced by Stalin throughout the Communist International is as follows: Centralism, minus inner democracy. Hierarchical method of selecting the leading personnel from the top down.
The method of putting this across with a semblance of democracy and greasing the workings of it is: a) To permit discussion of the execution of the general line set from the top; b) a system of ratification from below to conﬁrm the selection from the top.
Since those who might have any principled objection to this system as a whole are either eliminated or drop out of the movement be forehand, there ls very little or no trouble in getting things ratiﬁed or approved in that form.
The theory to justify the whole system and ake it appealing is. 1) Solid iron Bolshevik unity of our party. 2) we are a party that thinks and acts alike. 3) only a.
monolithic party can be mobile, ready to act at a moment notice, etc.
As good as this sounds, it is all false, because the democratic processes essential to arrive at such results are eliminated. Once the, basic principal line of a revolutionary party dictatorship of the proletariat, overthrow of capitalism versus social democratic peaceful, gradual transformation of capitalism into socialism is set, many opinions of major importance may arise from time to time as to how to achieve it. There cannot be such a thin: u people that think alike on these matters. There can be, by majority decision, unity of action through discipline, yes, and this is all that Lenin aimed at in his conception of centralization and pro letarian democracy. Not every littlo thing need be discussed by, everybody; but the big things, these are precisely the ones that must be discussed and decided democratically. Stalinism allows the discussion of little things; the big questions are decided from on top.
Conditions for Real Discussion There can be no such thing as a real discussion without giving equal opportunity to the advocates of various platforms and allowing groupings of opinion and their representation: up till the convention.
Lenin even allowed it on the Gentral Committee. But after a. deci sion has been made democratically, all mustﬂmrry it. out in action.
This is the essence of democratic centraliem as Lenin taught it and as the party practiced it in Lenin time.
All these rights still exist, largely, in the rules and by laws and even in oﬂicial theory of the Cominturu. But who can truthfully deny that in practice they have abolished all and sundry? What hypocrisy to preach to others about inner democracy vas the Daily Worker does to the Socialist Party. when inner democracy has been murdered in the ranks of the itself!
There cannot be such a. thing as forbidden subjects in a discussion amongst those who stand on the principle of the overthrow of capitalism and Soviet power. 0therwise there cannot be either discussion or inner democracy. But this is precisely what Stalin system has created only Stalin views are kosher. the rest are excommunicable. Let the doctors of Stalinism, on the basis of this kind of a recipe, create a better inner life in the party. Even if they were professors they would be wasting their time; lt cannot be done. The party is dying of inner sterility, of dry rot, because the system is false to the core.
In a previous issue of the New Militant have already explained, except for some minor details, the inner way kings of the party machine under this system. only want to add an item or two.
Show Business There is still in the party the staging of so called discussions.
of course, these are not discussions at all, but mere talkings to or explanations of the line already laid down from above; one is al«
lowed only to discuss its applicmI tion There is also the staging of conventions and plenums at which the mere rumor of some one dissenting creates a sensation.
Prior to the convention there is supposed to be a 60 day discussion period. The press is opened for discussion articles, etc. etc. My!
dear readers, look over the last convention discussion of the the most senile and ﬂabby thing yet seen on such occasions. You may be deceived into thinking that in all the problems facing the working class there is not one dis seating opinion; in fact, it is made to appear that there is no variety whatever they all agree on everything!
The followers of Stalin boast that Stalin united the party more than Lenin ever succeeded in dolng.
And he did by killing the internal life of the party!
What are the discussions that take place, after all? Well, the big shot makes a lengthy report.
Then everybody talks his head off about his own troubles in the district, section or unit, hardly mentioning the report of the big shot. or in order to be perfectly kosher. quoting one thing or another from it. At the end of this discussion the line of the report is approved.
If anyone disagrees, he leaves his disagreement for perhaps a better time.
Nothing is thrashed out In particular. If there is a new line in the report it is put: in suavely in order not to alarm the party and to safeguard the continuity of the line and In inmlllbillty and continuity of leadership. In brief, the convention is treated as a sort of glorified mass meeting, where the line is talked into you. Nothing is expected to happen and nothing does happen. Everything is cut and dried.
This Stalinist system of talking to the gallery has its strongest appeal to new, politically inexperi.
eneed members that is, for a while und there is always a hullaballoo about the promotion of new forces, etc. The older militants are not in favor. They simply don like it, although they don know what the real trouble is.
At general membership meetings, which are hardly ever held nowadays, questions are very often asked on unsigned slips of paper a. custom omanatiug from Soviet Russia, for even questions are at times dangerous.
How is it in the Soviet Union?
Worse. There one really takes a chance by thinking out loud, not only on big questions but often on little ones as well. If you are a new one you may get away with it for a while. But watch your step You may chatter u plenty, but no heavy talk. This is the inner life, the atmosphere created by Stalin system in the life of the party.
In the next article will deal with the policies and methods that form part of this system as practiced in this country, with special reference to the trade union ques tion.
How The Middle she could no longer demand and enforce by might of arms complete supremacy on the seas. Amerca had captured the world trade, had become a creditor nation on a par with the foremost foreign invester, England. This victory, American capitalism meant not only to retain but to extend at the ex pense of all other capitalist rivals until it would command that imperialist hegemony of the world that it felt essential to give full and proper play to its advanced technique. To signalize its newly gained strength, America started afresh, on the very eve of the peace conference, a naval plan that stunned the world. t The lmperialist Naval Race It was the peace President Wilson, who proposed the 1016 naval plan that was to give America the largest. fleet in the world.
He proposed to construct, in three years the most powerful dreadnoughts aﬂoat, that would rcnderr obsolete all the navies in the world.
This program was interrupted by the entrance of the into the war but at its conclusion, just be fore Wilson sailed for Paris, he said to Congress: take it for granted that the Congress will carry out the naval program which was undertaken before we entered the war.
In the new 1919 program it was then proposed that in three years America should build sixteen cupital ships, besides a large number of cruisers and destroyers. Al though England then possessed a bigger navy than all the rest of the world combined, this ambitious program would have placed the in ﬁrst place on account of the size of post Jutland super dreadnoughts to he built, their weight of armor and guns. The armament race was on!
The new war was to be a decisive battle for supremacy in the Paciﬁc, a conﬂict for the complete control of the only market still undivided among the imperialist free hooters Ghina. Primarily this meant ruthless struggle between America and Japan. Hence Japanese imper ialism, despite its relative poverty in money and resources, was forced as a matter of its national capitalist life to respond by starting the construction of even bigger ships with heavier armament and guns than those proposed by America.
Nor was England to be outdone, for she too began the laying down of vessels to be the largest in the world.
Class Led Freed Negroes After Civil War The Republican Party I: the Ship and All Else Is the Sea, Leader Told Them This is the second of a. series of articles on Negro Labor in the United States. t By SIMON WILLIAMSON It was but natural that the Negro middle class should hecome the ﬁrst spokesman and leader of the newly freed Negroes during the early post Civil War period. It repre sented whatever culture and inﬂuence the race then possessed. It was cognizant of this fact and was not long in taking advantage of its new opportunity.
Even during the antebellum days this middle class was composed of servants and freedmen. The freedmen had either bought their freedom or won it through some not of benevolence to their masters and In some instances they were the proud owners of Negro slaves. The servants and this class were artisants who had been given long periods of apprenticeship under master craftsmen. They were the crafts men of their masters. This class represented, then, the most militant spirits of the Negro slaves, and they despised the poor whites since many of the latter had been em ployed as overseers and, moreover, it was they who were used to catch runaway slaves. The white master class, even then, was shrewd enough to play one against the other.
Frederick Dong ass Shortly after the emancipation of.
the American Negroes from chattle slavery Frederick Douglass, the most outstanding Negro in the abolitionist movement and the most towering ﬁgure that black America has yet produced the last of his type that the Negro bourgeoisie will ever produce discovered that the white ruling class kept both white and black in subjection by playing one against the other. In an interview, heading a committee of Negroes, with president Andrew Johnson, who arrogated to himself the leadership of the poor whites, seeking equal citizenship for the blacks, he is recorded as having said to Johnsbn. The hostility between whltee and blacks is easily explained.
It has its root and sap in the relation of slavery and was incited on both Iidel by the cumin; slave mantel. Thole manta!
secured their ascendency over the poor whites and the blasts by putting enmity between tlieni. They divided both and con»
quered each, continued Douglass. There was no earthly reason why the blacks should not hate and dread the poor whites when in a state of slavery. It was from this class that their masters recruited their slave catchers, slave drivers and overseen.
Although no one knew better than Douglass that whites and blacks were played against each other by the opulent whites. he Joined the latter and proclaimed upon the platform, The Republican Party is the ship and all else is the sea.
Other lights of the Negro middle class of that period followed the example shown by Frederick Douglass and entered politics on the side of the exploiting class for self gain. They, like the white bourgeoisie, only on a smaller scale, are the enemies and exploiters of black labor. They would exploit white labor if permitted by their white capitalist ally.
The delegation of Negroes that appeared at the convention of the National Labor union in 1869 had as its most able Negro representatives John Langston, lawyer and later congressman from Virgln la, and Pinchback, lieuten ant governor of Louisiana. Both men were members of the Republican Party, which the union considered as a land monopoly, and were not in the least concerned about mUNI) VOLUMES 1933.
1934 PA Necessity for Truce In comparison with the Angle»
German naval race of 1907 to 1914, the pre war affair was a mere bagatelle from every point of view.
The cost of the new construction to the alone would have been more in three years than Germany had spent in twenty ﬁve. And this does not take Into account the in.
direct costs for new docks and harbors to house the new ﬂeet, be sides the fortifying of Paciﬁc fuel bases to render the ﬂeet effective.
The cost became a particularly disturbing factor when the slump of 1920 occurred. Then too the Panama Canal acted to limit the new race. For this Canal could afford passage only to the size of vessel allowed for in the American plan, whereas to meet the forty three and forty ﬁve thousand ton ships of the Japanese and English plans, the would have had to build ships that could not be passed through the Canal. The threat of an immediate war between America and Japan in 1921 found American capitalism in a difﬁcult position too, since it did not possess any adequate base of operations close enough to the now scene of conﬁ ct.
For these and other reasons American imperialism found itself forced to back down temporarily and to call for a truce in the naval race started by itself. The result was the Washington Pact of 1922.
In this pact the size of battleships was limited to those capable of traversing the Panama Canal, the ﬁve ﬁve three ratio was accepted (England thus yielded its historic mastery of the seas. the AngloJapanese Alliance was abrogated, at least in words, and an agreement was arrived at not to fortify the Paciﬁc Islands any further. in the pmsent. situation all this stands nulliﬁed. Japanese capitalism feels itself firmly enough entrenched in Manchurio, the historic startingpoint for all invasions into Ch na, to continue her adventue further.
Her demand for naval parity throws down the gauntlet to American imperialism at a time considered favorable by the Japanese militarists American imperialism cannot re fuse the challenge. The War of the Pacific seems close at hand.
2m labor in the South.
At first the convention refused to seat. Langston and Pincbback on the grounds that they were ofﬁce holders. Finally hey made a blunder and seated inchback. Langston was not seated on the grounds that he was stirring up race pre udice. Langston, thereupon, accused Cameron, his accuser, of being an emmissory of the Democratic Party. Both men rightly accused the other. Both Langston and Pinchback sought equal citi zenship for Negrm, but were op posed to the union idea of organizing a reform party. They saw their salvation in the Republican Party. They were interested in personal wealth, not labor solidarity.
During this same period John Lynch, Negro congressman from Mississippi, virtually got on his knees and begged the Democratic party to change its policy and ac: cept Negroes who disagreed with the tenets and policies of the Republican Party. These early middle class Negro leaders like their present day successors would accept anything for franchise but the organization of white and black labor. Yet their inﬂuence and the inﬂuence of their successors still goes far with the Negro masses.
However, in the Baltimore state convention of colored labor of 1869 Wesley Howard, a Negro working class leader, told the Negro working men. through their delegation present1 that the franchise without the organization of labor would be of little or no beneﬁt.
Howard was ignored. His ideas were not of the Negro dd e class.
His inﬂuence was not as great as that of Douglass, Langston or Plnchback but his vision was broader in scope. Had the black proletariat of America folowed his advice organized labor could tell a different story, and the economic status of black America would be much better.
Despite the setbacks of black labor the spectre of Howard foresight and militancy is hovering over black America again and net.
ther Negro middle class reaction nor white bourgeois chicanery can stop it from taking form.
Lastly, let it be remembered that the Negro Middle class are not interested in the abolition of wage slavery any more than the white bourgeoisie. All that they have ever been or will ever be interested in is the securing of advantages for their group. Segregation is one means of providing this.
Next week we shall deal with the the precarious conditions of Negro, workers.
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