Felix Morrow

Illinois Socialists Condemn
Jingo Attacks on USSR

(27 January 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 4, 27 January 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

A letter in the January 20 issue of Norman Thomas’ Call is worth reprinting in full:

“To the Editor:

“The Jewish section of the Socialist party, Chicago, affiliated with the Jewish labor committee, whose function is to lead the fight against Fascism and anti-Semitism, expresses its dissatisfaction with the plans for a meeting to protest at the same time Nazism and Stalinism. Such a meeting is arranged in conjunction with the Czech, Polish and Finnish national councils.

“The Jewish section has more than once declared its opposition to Stalinism and the dictatorship practiced by the Soviet Union. We believe, however, that to protest against the brutal barbarism of Nazism, especially the savage persecution of the Jewish masses, and at the same time against the dictatorship of the Soviet Union, will detract from the effect of a protest against Nazism.

“Furthermore, we believe that such a protest meeting held in common with the bourgeois national councils, will be used primarily to attack the Soviet Union, with the object of severing diplomatic relations in keeping with the demand of the most reactionary forces in America.

“The Jewish section in Chicago declares that such action of the Jewish Labor committee is unjustified and harmful both from the Jewish, and from the Labor and Socialist standpoint. We hold it is especially important that our criticism of the Soviet Union be made as a working-class organization, that our protest against Stalinism be conducted independently of bourgeois and reactionary elements.

“Therefore, the Jewish section of the Socialist party, Chicago, is compelled not to participate in the planned protest meeting, disclaiming all responsibility for this action of the Jewish Labor- committee.


Mordecai Shulman, Chairman,
Nathan Miller, Secretary.”


Also a Condemnation of Thomas

This letter is very much in point. It indicates that there are people in the Socialist party who are not going along with the reactionary Thomas-Symes-Trager line of uniting with war-mongers in attacks upon the Soviet Union. The letter is, logically, not only a condemnation of the Chicago Jewish Labor committee’s action, but also a condemnation of the Socialist party’s support of the anti-Soviet resolutions, of the jingo leaders of the American Labor party, its support of bourgeois Finland, etc.

The sentiment expressed in this letter must be widespread among the rank and file of the Socialist party, for there has been a change of tone in the Call. It is no longer screaming at the toff of its voice for arms for Finland. It has made no attempt to answer our criticism of its jingo editorials on behalf of “democratic” Finland.

The change of tone is not, however, a change of policy. Underneath, the line remains the same reactionary line of backing Finland in the war, a “left” formulation of it, to hold on to class-conscious workers who are outraged by the brazen Hoover formulations with which the Call began.

The letter of the Chicago Socialists correctly denounces the Jewish Labor committee for joining with bourgeois groups in attacks on the Soviet Union. Is there any difference between that crime and that committed by Thomas? He writes; for example, in the January 20 Call: “We should do ourselves, and even encourage the government to do all that can be done for the Finns ...” He adds, queasily, “That is, all that can be done without involving or threatening to involve America in war.” To call upon the War Deal government of America to aid Finland – is that “a protest against Stalinism conducted independently of bourgeois and reactionary elements”? The letter of the Chicago Socialists should have been directed against Thomas and the Call as much as against the Jewish Labor committee.

Thomas says: “The aid given should be non-military.” Why? Either the cause of Finland is one deserving working class support, in which case it should be supported with arms, or it is unworthy of support, in which case it should get nothing at all; Thomas’ is a dishonest formula, designed to placate class-conscious workers in his ranks, while continuing his united front with Hoover for Finland.

Henry Haskell, in the same issue of the Call, makes a contribution which would provoke much merriment, if the issue were not so deadly serious, He writes:

“Socialists should make a sharp distinction between workers’ aid to Finland, and aid by reactionaries like Hoover and also the Roosevelt administration ... When the workers all over the world come to the aid of Finland, that is something else again, and must be of great concern to the leaders in the Kremlin.”

By the same token, every worker in the world coming to the support of the Anglo-French camp, would change the class-character of that war. And that, in fact, is what the “democratic,” “anti imperialist” wing of Anglo-French jingoism is trying to sell the American workers.

Let us hope that the Chicago Socialists, and every worker in the Socialist party, applies to the Socialist party’s line the principles enunciated in their letter. If they do, we shall gladly join hands with them in a revolutionary Marxist struggle against Stalinism, the only kind of struggle which can destroy Stalinism, win independence for a Soviet Finland, and save the Soviet Union from capitalist restoration.

Last updated on 17 July 2018