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Joseph Carter

U.S. Anti-War Congress

Socialists Withdraw from Arrangements Committee

(August 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 39, 12 August 1933, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On Labor Day weekend, September 1st to 4th, the “United States Congress Against War” will be held in New York City. The official call of the Congress contains the signatures of the Communist party, a number of organizations which it controls, pacifist groups, the I.W.W., and the Socialist party. Recently the National Executive Committee of the Socialist party withdrew from the united front because of criticism against it contained in the Daily Worker. A few words on how this united front was arranged.

Under the paternal guidance of Henri Barbusse – who will be in the United States for the Congress – Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, and Upton Sinclair, members of the American Committee for Struggle against War, issued an appeal for the September Congress. Suddenly an arrangements committee composed overwhelmingly of Stalinist controlled organizations was organized. The Musteites joined in. Under pressure primarily of pacifist friends of Barbusse in the S.P., lead by Jesse Wallace Hughan of the War Resisters’ League, the National Executive Committee of the Socialist party joined the united front on the condition that it be given adequate representation on the arrangements committee. This was soon agreed upon. A number of Socialists, Norman Thomas, Julius Gerber, etc. were added to the Committee; a few more Stalinists were put on.

Double Game of Stalinists

In the preparations for the Congress the Stalinists played a double game. In the press they continued their old attacks on, the Socialists, for the consumption of their own members and “others”. At meetings of the arrangements committee they spoke very humbly and even apologized for articles appearing in the Daily Worker attacking the Socialists. This was the picture several weeks ago when the Socialists took the C.P. representatives to task for an article in the Daily and Minor replied by stating that he had not read the article!

Instead of an open appeal to the National Executive Committee of the S.P. by the Communist party for united front against war, the Stalinists employ intermediaries, radical or liberal intellectuals. But this did not help them. The National Executive Committee of the S.P. withdrew from the Congress on the excuse that it was looking for: a criticism of it in the Daily Worker of the Socialist leaders. The arrangements committee replied by appealing to the N.E.C. to reconsider its decision. On August 3rd it decided:

“That this arrangements committee takes the position that in developing the united front no organization which is carrying out the purposes of the anti-war Congress should be attacked by participating organizations on fields of common work. That all participating organizations shall first place before arrangements committee or the sub-committee empowered to act for it, any and all differences of opinion between the participating organizations relative to the U.S. Congress Against War, before making them public. It is understood, however, that every organization shall be perfectly free to urge its own program with respect to the struggle against war. These assurances which the Arrangements Committee will make effective and which was agreed to by all participating groups including representatives of the Communist party should make fruitful cooperation possible.” (Daily Worker – 9-8-1933).

Meaning of Non-Aggression Pact

We quote at some length because of the importance of the section. The non-aggression pact could not be more simply written. No criticism “on the field of common work”. Does not this mean no criticism of the pacifism and Socialist action and policies on war? Where differences of opinion arise they should first go to the united front committee. Editors of the Daily Worker take note: before writing critical articles of editorials on the anti-war Congress submit it to the arrangements committee! The Stalinists agreed to, or more accurately inspired – in line with the March 5 Comintern manifesto – the above statement. They have traveled far afield from the policy laid down by Lenin for the Communists at the Hague anti-war conference of the pacifists and Socialists in 1922. Through the Barbusse Anti-War Congress held last August and all the subsequent “anti-war united fronts” they have blurred the line of revolutionary struggle against war in the direction of militant pacifism.

They are now appealing to the Socialist party branches to support the U.S. Congress Against War. J.B. Matthews, a member of the Socialist party who trails along with the Stalinists in its united fronts, has remained on the arrangements committee. One or two Socialist groups may support the Congress, but little more than that can be expected. The sabotage of the leaders of the Socialist party combined with the false course of the Stalinists and their anti-revolutionary position on the united front against war will result in keeping the Socialist workers for the time bring, away from common action with the Communists.

At the U.S. Congress Against War the Left Opposition delegates will present the revolutionary Communist program against war in contradistinction to Stalinist confusionism. Lenin’s teachings on this important sector of the class struggle, his conception of the united front on war and the need of American working class action against Roosevelt’s war program will be raised by the Left Opposition. This will aid in the clarification of both the Communist and Socialist workers and lay the basis for a genuine common action against war and the capitalist offensive.

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