. he has assembled all the dregs who considers himself above the grand generalities socialism in his Altmia who provides the!
cement that keeps this crew together, and Altman who maps out its strategy. Around himself of Local New York: left over Old Guardists; Stalinists open and disguised; paciﬁsts of ﬁftyseven varieties; the stalwarts of the I. People Fronters; petty trade union bureaucrats; all the grave yard socialists, who scarcely know the address of party headquarters. He has whipped them into a group under his slogan: Drive out the Left wing.
Altman Wrecking of Altman has had time and ex perience to prepare himself for his campaign. For a year he has systematically run Incal New York into the ground. Not a aisle independent Party cumpaign; three or four mass meetings in an that time under Local New York auspices. Exclusion of all revolutionary Left wingers from all temonsible posts and committees. strangling of Party activities in Stalinist united The Norman Thomas has, for many years, been the outstanding ﬁgure of the Socialist Party. As has often been the case with outstanding figures Thomas has for a long time believed that his position could enable him to rise above the Party and its conflicting tendencies. much as the State sometimes aspires to rise above the warring classes. UnfortunJ ately, th1 is not possible, no matter how outstanding the ﬁgure may be. This Thomas should have learned from his experiences in the struggle with the Old Guard. Then, too, he tried to rise above the conﬂict, tried up to the last moment, at the Chicago Convention, and even thereafter tried to minimize and delay the consummation of the conflict in the split. In the end, with sorrow and with indignation, he nevertheless had to choose. In the past few months, also, Thomas had to choose. It is a painful thing to have to choose, when either alternative of the choice really costs something, particularly when you are one petty squabbles of ordinary mortals. It is disturbing to one disposition; and somehow seems to break through the shell of the our time. defense of civil liberties. unity against war and fascism. elementary decency. and the rest which are so pleasant and often so convincing to utter, and which commit oneself to so conveniently little.
Thomas with Right wing We must give Thomas this credit, however: he has chosen.
After some delay, some hesitation, some effort to eliminate the necessity for making a choice, after days when as immediately following the November Elections «he talked at length about quitting the Party and the move ment, Thomas made up his mind, and made it up firmly. He decided to join forces with the Right wing; and he made this decision just preceeding the Chicago Convention. The decision was not accidental, but it is not necessary here to trace its political genesis and development.
Thomas is a determined man.
and once having decided, he acted in a determined fashion. At every crucial point, he dominated the Chicago Convention. Under his whip, the alleged Clarity majority went down like wheat before the storm. The real and telling blows against the Left were struck by Thomas. And in ﬁghting against the Left, Thofron. from the North American Committee to the American League. Sabotage of independent socialist work in the trade unions, with pro Stalinist Altmanites and pro Stalinist policies shoved down the throats of the Leagues. Sabotage of the work of the American Committee for the Defense of Trotsky; no meal New York mass meeting on the Trials; no membership meeting on the Trials. No vote ever taken at a membership meeting. Eli.
mination of the City Convention, in defiance of the sentiment of the active membership and the explicit provisions of the City Constitution. Constant pressure against the Call to make it revert to its character under the editorship of the Altmanite, Le venstein. Systematic, day by day, provocation of left wingers.
whenever they open their mouths, whether in public or inside of the Party. Flooding of the Labor Committee, when some of its decisions displeased him. Driving full speed toward support of La Guardia.
Now, as his campaign nears its his pacifism and his love of democracy and civil liberties.
Anything goes in a ﬁght against the left. Thomas is no legalist when it comes to opposing revo«
lutionury Marxism. 0n the ques tion of the suppression of the internal organs that outrageous violation of genuine party democracy, on the exclusion of mem«
hers of the Appeal tendency from the Thomas threw down his gauntlet. When resistance developed, he did not hesitate to deliver his, cheap ulitma tum: do it my way, or refuse the leadership of the Party.
Following the Convention, The»
mas traveled in Europe for two months. During this time, however, he kept his stand unmistakeably clear to the Partyinembership by appointing Lewis as his alternate at the Philadelphia meeting. There was some speculation in certain sec tions of the Party about where he would stand upon his return.
Such speculation was wasted.
Immediately upon his. arrival back in this country, he held a series of conferences with representatives of the Right wing. He gave them his guarantee that he would go down the line in the drive against the Left wing. All doubts were set at rest.
The Thomas Line As in other cases, Thomas attitude toward the internal situation in the Party could just as easily be deduced from his point of view on the key political questions. His column which like all his public utterances and writings he conducts without the slightest regard for Party discipline or legality during the weeks since his return has made an interesting study. He assigned responsibility for the Barcelona events to the POUM and the Anarchists. His criticism of the Soviet persecutions has been consistently from the right, using them as a text from which to attack the whole conception of a workers state (and, in passing, suggesting at least the partial guilt of Stalin victims. Openly in his column he attacks not merely the Fourth International, but the members of the Party who believe in the Fourth International.
These things are not out of keeping with Thomas tiaditional politics. It is important to observe, however, that since his solid incorporation into the Right wing, Thomas politics have actu ally suffered a retrogression a natural and usual result of his present lineup. For example: Thomas, in his column, gave the mas, like all others of his kind, ﬁnds no difﬁculty in forgetting lead for what is by now, apparently, ﬂirty policy the deole of Norman Thomas SOCIALIST APPEAL climax, Altman tempo increases, and the bureaucratic blows fall fast. By a combination of provocateur and policeman tactics, he breaks up the membership meeting of June 4th, in order to prevent discussion on Spain. He passes a ruling that branches cannot instruct delegates to the City Central Committee without a week previous notification.
He rules that it is a breach of discipline for branches to recall City Central delegates except under charges. He gerrymanders the membership allocations.
He rules that a branch protesting any ruling of the City Executive is subject to the lifting of its charter. He turns down applications for Party membership from all those suspected of sympathy to revolutionary ideas.
He prefers charges against left wingers on every conceivable ground. And, on July 6th, his Central Committee began the expulsion and suspension of Left wingers from the Party.
In Altman, the Right wing ﬁnds its fitting leader. and the strike movement, repeating the time worn statements about labor militancy pro voking fascist reaction; demanding, with the capitalist press, greater union responsibility (i.
e. less of a class struggle policy. and (July 7th) attacking the conception of the closed shop.
Thomas for La Guardia Every day, the implications of Thomas course become clearer.
At the July 32th meeting of the New York City Central Com mittee on the New York City Election Campaign, it was Thomas who was chief spokesman for the Altman resolution. Thomas, who has so often written and spoken about genuine and bons ﬁde Labor Parties, who has, in words, been so critical about Stalinists and liberals for their opportunists approaches to the Labor Party question, showed in his remarks that the resolution would mean support of La Guardia. In the voice of a tired radical. he complained that he never again wished to go through another campaign like that of 1936, where everyone was against us. and the Socialist Party isolated. Still more revealing is another recent incident: short while ago, as mand that the neutrality embargo be applied by the Government to Germany and Italy. This demand is, in political fundamentals, identical with the reformist Stalinist position on sanctions (and is of course supported by reformists and Stalinists. and is diametrically opposed to the Marvist position on war and the War Resolution of the Party. In the issues of July 10th and 17th, the column has contained a series of downright reactionary comments on the The so called Clarity group allegedly constituted a majority at the Chicago Convention. It tool: formal responsibility for the majority on the new In a certain sense this is true; but what that truth means can be understood only by realizing that Clarity is not in actuality a genuine political tendency. Clarity has no program, either in generaly or with reference to con crete conditions as they arise in the life of the Party; and having no program, it cannot consolidate, a genuine political grouping.
Clarity is a half way house; a temporary resting spot for those whose political ideas are still confused, who have not yet made up their minds where they stand and in what direction they pro»
pose to go (which, in passing, is why Thomas appeared more or less an an ally of Clarity until he definitely chose the Right wing. Clarity is based on confusion, on words out of joint with actions, on brave motions and feeble deeds, on endless maneuvers. on temporizing, hesitation, delay. Clarity spends its time building houses of cards, to watch them blown over by a puff from Left or Right. Clarity holds endless caucus meetings which can never decide anything; writes documents and make speeches that have no relation to reality rudness in contradicting its documents and speeches; makes elaborate plans which can never be lifted from the paper. on which they are written. In all of these features, Clitl ity is a classic example of a centrist tendency.
As a centrist tendency, Clarity tries to mediate between the extremes in the Party, to hold the balance between Right and Left.
For this reason, Clarity is always for peace and unity and truce and putting off de cisions. In actuality, of course, such politics is nothing but unscrupulous and hypocriticial reality, and complains bitterly at part of the general drive in Spain against revolutionists, several Americans were arrested by the Government in Barcelona.
These included three of our own party comarades Harry Milton, Charles and Lois Orr (the latter two subsequently released. and Hugo Oehler, secretary of the Revolutionary Workers, League, and for many years a well known militant in the labor movement of this country. Thomas who for so many years has capitalib ed on his defense of civil liber In practise, it results in an unending series of miserable rapitulations to the Right and treacherous blows to the Left.
Evolution of Clarity Group The evolution of every such centrist grouping is the same.
While political conflicts are doveloping, and before lines are drawn with complete clarity, such groupings show signs of strength and growth, and even may appear for a while as the majority. Then, as the conflict matures, the ground is cut away from the middle, and only two roads are left. The centrist grouping is pressed to the wall.
It has to jump. Normally, the bulk of the leadership of the centrist grouqing enters a bloc with the Right (not openly or honestly, of course, but with suitable formulas. while the active and militant ranks of the centrist grouping take their proper stand with the Left (while they were formerly prevented from doing only by the ambiguous and twofaced politics of the centrist leaders. and the passive and relies tionary sections of the centrist ranks go over to their natural home in the Right. The centrist tendency, as an independent grouping, is blown to pieces; and remains, if at all, only as a pitiful clique.
Clarity reached its point of maximum surface development at the Chicago Convention, where it claimed an outright majority.
Even then, however, underneath that surface the inner decay was well advanced, and showed itself in a dozen instances. The chief symptom was the fact that whenever Thomas crackedhis whip, the Clarity majority crumbled without a shadow of resistance.
Nevertheless, Clarity took over its majority on the From then on, the disintegration of Clarity proceeded with cumulative speed. The general process outlined above has been taking place in condensed form.
double dealing and horse trading.
It was impossible from the outties has made no public utterance on the arrest of our three comrades; has declined to participate in a public committee or speak at a public meeting in their defense; and was influent nl in the decision of the Workers Defense League not to intervene.
His one speciﬁc statement appeared in his column, where he used the arrests to make a vicious thrust at Oehler. Civil liberties, it seems, are all very well in normal times; but these conrades were on the wrong side of the barricades the side of till revolutionary workers during the Barcelona events.
Thomas still retains a few illusions. He has hoped, and still seems to hope, that it is possible to expel a number of the bud. ﬁctional minded adherents of the revolutionaiy tendency, and to retain the good constructive mass workers. Thomas can be pardoned his mistake: he has had no opportunity in his experirevolutionary solidarity. Prior to the Special Session of the be inclined to believe that the Party crisis could be solved by instituting a loyalty oath demanding fealty to the Second International, and thus weeding out the die hard revolutionists.
His colleagues explained to him the awkwardness of such a proposal coming at that time.
Let no mistakes be made about Thomas. Thomas no longer occu pics the independent position which he so long tried jealously to guard. He has given up his independence.
of the Right wing; he is now an integral part of the Right wing, and he must act accordingly. He has made his choice; and, through lhis decision, be has signed his Jown political death warrant. The Clarity Group set for the Clarity to function. The only which could have functioned would have been one which was really determined to develop the Party ﬁrmly into a revolutionary organization. This would have meant prominently an law to the disloyal and anti revolutionary Right wing, whose sole aim is to prevent the revolutionary development. But a Clarity by the nature of Icentrist politics. is not that kind of impotence of The character of the became at once obvious in the fact that it could not run the Party. It took the more than three months even to publish the Convention proceeding!
Only one issue of the American Socialist Monthly has appeared to this day, and not a single issue of the discussion organ voted by the Convention and subsequently scuttled by the itself. Two issues of the Call have been cut, to. eight pages; and the decision to move the Call to Chicago has of course never been carried out. The Psity reregistration. scheduled for immediately after the Convention, is only now getting haltingly under way. No pamphlets have been published. Not a single organized campaign has been conducted. Where the Party has been active, this has been due solely to local initiative. All of these symptoms are due, not to sabotage on the part of either Right or Left (as Clarity would like to pretend in order to excuse its own responsibility. but to the fact that the has provided no firm leadership; and.
because of. its political nat could not.
The Right wing, however, had no intention of waiting around for Clarity and the Clarity went ahead at once with their plans to smash the Party and to make up their minds. They ence of learning the meaning of He is not an ally which would have laid down the