The Questions of «at. b. 1 Party.
August 21, 1937 SOCIALIST APPEAL The following letter was written in reply to questions put to the author by Wendelin Thomas, who argued for the view that there was a basic identity between Bolshevism and Stalinism, as shown by Lenin attitude toward: ponents like he Mensheviks, the Kronstadt insurgents and the independent Makhno bands in the Ukrane during the Civil War. Thomas is a former Communist deputy of the German Reichstag and now a member of the International Commission investigating the Moscow Trials. Ed. Esteemed Comrade: do not think that the ques«
tions which you asked me have a direct relationship to the investigations of the New York Commission and can have an in ﬂuence on its conclusions. Nevertheless am fully prepared to reply to your questions in order to acquaint with my actual views all those who are interested in them. End Justiﬁes Means Like many others, you see the source of evil in the principle. The end justifies the means.
This principle is in itself very abstract and rationalistic. It permits most varied interpretations. But am prepared to take upon myself the defense of this formula from the materialistic undrdialeotical viewpoint. Yes, consider that there are no means that are good or bad in ﬁthemseli les or in connection with some absolute supra historical principle; Those means that lead to the raising of the power of man over nature and the liquidation of the power of man over man are good. In this broad historical sense the means can only be justiﬁed by the end.
Does not this mean, however, that falsehood, treachery, betrayal are permissible and justiﬁed if they lead to the end. All depends on the nature of the aim. If the aim is the liberation of manking then falsehood, betrayal, and treachery can in no wise be appropriate means. The Epicureans were accused by their opponents of sinking to the ideals. of a pig when they advocated happiness. To which the Epicureans, not without foundation.
replied: that their opponents understand happiness. in a piggish way.
You make reference to Lenin words that a revolutionary party has the right to make its opponents hated and despised in the eyes of the masses. In these words you see a principled defense of amoralism. You forget, however, to point out where, in which political camp are the re presentatives of lofty morals.
My observations tell me that political struggle in general utilizes widely exaggeration, distortion, falsehood and slander. The revolutionists are always the most slandered: in their time Marx, Engels and their friends; later the Bolsheviks, Karl Liebknecht and Ross Luxemburg; at the present time the Trotsky, ists. The hatred of the possessors toward the revolution: the dull conservatism of the petty bourgeoisie, the conceit and superciliousness of the intellectuals; the material interests of the labor By Leon Trotsky bureaucrats all these factors combine in the hounding of the revolutionary Marxist. At the same time the Messrs. Slanderers do not forget to be indignant at the amoralism of the Marxists. This hypocritical indignation is nothing but a weapon of the class struggle. Lenin Position In the words quoted by you, Lenin merely wanted to say that he no longer considers the Mensheviks proletarian ﬁgthers and that he makes it his task to make hateful in the eyes of the workers. Lenin expressed his thought with his characteristic passion and opened the possibilities for ambiguous and unworthy interpretations. But on the basis of the complete works of Lenin and his life work declare that this irreconciliable ﬁghter was a. most loyal opponent, for despite all exaggerations and extremes he always strove to tell the masses what is. The struggle of the re formists against Lenin, on the contrary, was thoroughly penetrated with hypocrisiy, falsehood, trickery and forgeries under the cover of universal truths.
Your evaluation of the Kronatadt uprising of 192. is basically incorrect. The best, most sacriﬁcing sailors were completely with«
drawn from Kronstadtv and played an important role at the fronts and in the local Soviets throughout the country. What remained was the gray mass with big pretensions. We are from Kruns tadt. but without political education and unprepared for revolutionary sacriﬁce. The country was starving. The Kronstanders demanded privileges. The uprising was dictated by a desire to get privileged food rations. The sailors had cannon and battleships. All the reactionry elements, in Russia as well as abroad, immediately seized upon this uprising. The white emigres demanded aid for the insurrectionists. The victory of this uprising could bring nothing but a victory of counter revolution, entirely independent of the ideas the sailors had in their heads.
But the ideas themselves were deeply reactionary. They reflected the hostility of the backward peasantry to the worker, the conceit of the soldier or sailor in relation to the civilian Petersburg, the hatred of the petty bourgeois for revolutionary.
discipline. The movement therefore had a counter revolutionary character and since the insurgents took possession of the arms in the forts they could only be crushed with the aid of arms.
No less erroneous is your esti mate of Mahno. In himself he was a mixture of fanatic and adventurer. He became the con centration of the very tendencies which brought about the Kronstadt, uprising. The cavalry in general is the most reactionary part of the army, The equestrian despises the pedestrian. Makhno created a cavalry of peasants who supplied their own horses.
These were not downtrodden village poor whom the October Revolution ﬁrst awakened, but the strong and well fed peasants who were afraid of losing what they had. The anarchist ideas of Makhno (the ignoring of the endelin Thomas State, non recognition of the central power) corresponded to the spirit of this kulak cavalry as nothing else could. should add that the hatred of the city and the city worker on thwart of the followers of Makhno was complemented by a militant auti Semitism. At the very time when we were carrying on life and death struggle against Denikin and Wrangel, the Makhnovists, attempted to carry on an independent policy. Straining at the bit. the petty bourgeois (kulak. thought he could dictate his contradictory views to the capitalists on the one hand and to the workers on the other. This kulak was armed, we had to disarm him. This is precisely what we did. Stalin and the Bolsheviks Your attempt to conclude that Stalin forgeries flow from the amoralism of the Bolsheviks is basically false. In the period when the revolution fought for the liberation of the oppressed masses it called everything by its right nome and was in no need of forgeries. The system of falsiﬁcations flows from the fact that the Stalinist bureaucracy ﬁghts for the privileges of the minority and is compelled to conceal and mask its real aims.
Instead of seeking for an explanation in the material conditions of historical development, you create the theory of the original sin. which ﬁts the church but not the socialist republic.
Respectfully yours, Trotsky.
Cdyoacan. July, 6, 1937.
ane More: The Altman Thomas Finances. Last week. the Appeal printed Lidia story of the shady deal proponad in the Altman»Thomas gmup by Girolamo Valenti for raising a slush fund from the bureaucracy of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers for the purpose of ﬁnancing the split drive against the left wing.
This week we are printing the proof of our assertions. It is presented by comrade Robert Monaker, an ofﬁcer of the League tor Industrial Demeteracy and editor of its ofﬁcial periodical.
We have received it in the form of a letter to the National Ere ecutive Committee of the Socialist Party, which we print in full. The Mensker Letter August 11, 1937. National Executive Committee. Socialist Party, 549 Randolph Street. Giicago, Ill. Dear Comrades. wish to call the attention of the to the Party situ ation in Local New York. As a member of the Altman caucus since its inception, have followed closely the conspiratorial actions of that body which feel are against the best interests of the independent future of the These actions. in my opinion, are a distinct corruption of Party minciples. have attended numerous meetings of the Altman caucus including meetings of key people who number 25 or 80 and it was the last meeting of the latter group which motivates me in severing all relations with this group and informing the Party as a whole as to the situation. charge and will cite hereafter my proof of the following. That expulsions of the left wing in mass were decided upon in advance of the action. Authorization was given to raise a fund of from 5, 000. 00 to 10, 000. 00 to ﬁnance the Altman caucus in a national expulsion drive. The caucus tolerates members who openly sabotage the publishing of the Socialist Call and advocate that it cease to be published. As to point At every meeting of the Altman caucus that attended, including the most recent one of key people held at Norman Thomas home on Tuesday, August 3, all members of the caucus decided that the Trotsyists must be expelled in whatever manner the action could be taken Before the meeting of the City Executive Committee. which was held on Monday, August 2, it had already been announced to a prior meeting of the Altman caucus by Hal Siegelthat this committee would take action to expel 54 members of the Appeal group at that City Executive meeting. Norman Thomas made the: statement at the meeting of August 3, which was held at his home, that he had made a mistake in approving the entry of the Workers Party into the Socialist Party. Assurance was given to this.
same group of key people at this same meeting by Jack Altman that the City Central Committee would have twmtltirds majority for expulsion of the Appeal members that had been brought up on charges. As to point Girolarno Valenti, editor of La Stamps Libero. suggested at the August meeting that a committee be formed to approach t, e Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union and the ILGWU for funds to ﬁnance the Altman group with the statement that he was certain that ﬁve to ten thousand dollars could be raised.
This suggestion was unanimously accepted and Valenti appointed a committee of one to do the job. As to point Sam Dewn tt and Valenti, along with several others, suggested that no more ﬁnancial support be given to the Call, which would result in its collapse.
The suggestion was also made that Norman Thomas withdraw his weekly article from the Call.
Though both of these suggestions were voted against, the people who made them are still tolerated in the Party and in the caucus. Included aong those that attended this August meeting were: Norman Thomas, Jack Altman, Hal Siege. Aaron Levcnstein, Rose and Morris Shapiro, Sam DeWitt, John Herling, Valenti and others. On the basis of the above statement request the NEC, as the leading body in the Socialist Party to intervene in the New York situation. am ready to appear at any time to substan.
tiate this statement. Fraternally yours. Sgd. Robert Menaker. PS. In order to acquaint those most affected by the actions of the Altman caucus, am handing a copy of this letter to Gus Tyler, editor of the Socialist Call and to Max Shochtman, representative of the group against whom this expulsion cnmpaign is basin organised.
The Socialist Appeal has only this question to put: what does the NEC intend to do about the malodorous scandal disclosed by the Member letter?
Clarity Heads Oppose Independent SP Slate; Zam, leaders of the Clarity group in New York are carrying on a campaign of protest against the right wing decision to withdraw the regular socialist candidate for mayor in favor of La Guardia.
Good, so far as it goes!
But wherein is the city of Cleveland different from the city of New York? Are socialist principles one thing in New York and another in Ohio?
Frank Stern, Labor Secretary of the Socialist Party in Cleveland, writes as follows about the situation in that city. new problem has come up here similar to the La Guardia situation in New York, but with added complications. Comrade Robert Dullea, as you know, is the regular Socialist candidate for Mayor in Cleveland.
Filing date for candidates is two weeks off. Last week, the endorsed for Mayor an Independent Democratic named Mar tin The Executive Committee of the SP then agreed to keep Dullea in the ﬁeld and to issue a leaflet giving our position on the Martin business. Last night, at a special Executive Committe meeting, Ben Parker (a Clarity le a e r)
brought the following matter up for discussion: that inasmuch as Bob Dullea is a supporter of the Appeal, it would be wrong for the to ﬁle for him because he would not be in the. party by election day (September 28) and the would be placed in the position of ﬁlling for and supporting a non party member who would probably be busy attacking the Second, that inasmuch as the has endorsed a man.
Delson and the other: we should withdraw our candidate and ﬁght within the for Martin to adopt a program and platform as beﬁts a warking class candidate. Bob Parker (another Clarity leader) supported Ben. Bill Kaufman, YPSL organizer here and a Clarityite, took issue with the Parkers. On our motion to reafﬁrm our support of Dulles the Clarityites split, Kaufman voting with us, carrying the motion through the Executive Committee.
The Parkers will issue a minority report. The whole business is coming up at a general membership meeting Thursday night called for that purpose.
As we go to press, we receive the latest news about the situation in the Cleveland Party organization. At a membership meeting of Cuyahoga County, the left wing motion that the SP of Cuyahoga County reafﬁrms its support of Robert Dullea as candidate for mayor of Cleveland. was carried by a decisive majority. The Clarity group split in two, with the YPSL comrades, Bill Kaufman and Hy Weintrauh, supporting the left wing stand, Highly interesting was the fact that Sam Baron, traveling caucus organizer for the Altman group, took the floor in complete solidarity with the Parkers position, showing that it was identical with the New York right wing stand on La Guardia. In his concluding remarks, Bob Parker declared: I! Baron has a good idea. am not ashamed of agreeing with him. don think it a crime to agree with Baron. If agree with Baron on the question of candidates, then m willing to be called an Altmanite