Ernest Erber Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Ernest Erber

Erber Greets Youth Convention

(September 1937)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 1 No. 4, 4 September 1937, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Ninth National Convention of the Y.P.S.L. is convening to decide the fate of our organization. Those of us who have struggled for the last six years to convert the League into a revolutionary organization can look back upon our efforts with a feeling of satisfaction. Every recent convention, Cleveland in 1932, Reading in 1933, Pittsburgh in 1935, was a demonstration of the rising tide of Revolutionary Marxism in the Y.P.S.L. We assemble at Philadelphia with the knowledge that our struggle has finally succeeded, that at least 70 per cent of the membership supports our program.

Not only our great support in the ranks of the members should make Philadelphia a field day for the left wing, but the fact that the convention itself will even in its outward aspects attest to the work the left wing has been carrying on. For the first in the history of the league we will have in our midst the young workers from the California agricultural districts, the sailors from the Pacific, the young workers from the Akron rubber center, the Chicago and Youngstown steel centers, from a score of miscellaneous industries that have been the scene of recent strike struggles, and from the fighting ranks of the unemployed movement.

Growth of Left Wing

The largest left wing delegations will come from those sections which have been the only ones to show consistent growth and activity in the class struggle – noteworthy examples are Chicago, California, Upstate New York, Newark. The presence of these delegations will testify to the ability of the left wing to build the League and will be harbingers of the Socialist youth movement of tomorrow.

The political level of the delegations coming to the convention will mark a new high for the Y.P.S.L., another indication of the work of the left wing in developing the membership. No matter what aspect of the convention we look at, it should give the comrades of the revolutionary wing the feeling of a job well done and of tremendous opportunities before us.

Yet despite all this progress in building a revolutionary movement and all these gains by the left wing, or, to be more accurate, because of them, the Y.P.S.L. will enter the 1937 convention in the throes of a desperate crisis. The crisis arises from the fact that while the ideas af revolutionary Marxism have swept aside all centrist ideologies in the ranks of the membership and gained a majority, the Bourbons of the centrist leadership refuse to surrender control of the apparatus.

Robbing the Left Wing

After their first attempts to guarantee themselves a majority by means of gerrymander and election irregularities had failed to take away our majority, they resorted to a campaign of expulsions of our leading New York comrades to complete the job and to insure the presence of the Altmanite delegates who refused to come if a purge of “Trotskyites” was not carried out first.

The centrists of the Clarity group have followed with a boring monotony the same beaten path of futility traveled by every ill-fated centrist grouping in history. Even to the bitter end they imitate their historical prototypes, the Menshevik-Internationalists of Martov, the Independent Socialists of Kautsky and Haase, the Socialist Workers Party of Germany. Their struggle against the left becomes ever more vicious, more shameless, more unscrupulous, as their defeat becomes more apparent. Their “struggle” against the right becomes reduced to the remark inserted in their speeches and articles in the form of a footnote, parenthetical statement, or appendage, “and we also disagree with the policy of the right.” But in political acts they become indistinguishable from the right, and their blood with it becomes ever more open and direct.

Bankrupt Centrists

Like all defeated centrist groups, the Clarityites, rather than learn the lesson of their defeat, become embittered and enraged by it and refuse to recognize their loss. Their final futile, wild and desperate attempts to turn a defeat into a “victory” lead them into progressively more degenerate methods of struggle. From the underhanded and surreptitious methods of gossip, chicanery, and fraud which failed to stave off the inglorious defeat, they strive to learn from the left and carry on the fight in the open, but merely succeed in transferring into broad daylight and on an exaggerated scale the methods of the previous stage. From silently excluding our comrades from leading posts they now pass on to removing them, from backstairs gossip they now pass on to open slander, from apologetically “dropping” the left wing members from the books at Altman’s request they now pass on to wholesale expulsions, from being in a more or less accidental bloc with the right wing they now pass on to an open political agreement for joint struggle against the left.

History presents us with pictures of centrists in all kinds of compromising and ludicrous positions, but none more preposterous than the attempt of Clarity to conceal their political nudity behind a sheet of dues stamps. History has taught us that the capture of the outward forms of an organization by centrist maneuverers and combinationists who have been repudiated by the overwhelming majority of the membership can only leave them with a shell that crumbles at first touch. We can well afford to let the Clarityites capture the dues stamps, the desks, the typewriters, the falsified records; we will have what no one can steal from us, the Young People’s Socialist League, with a membership educated in Marxist theory and trained in the class struggle.

Ernest Erber Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 23 November 2014