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David Coolidge

With the Labor Unions – On the Picket Line

(28 July 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 30, 28 July 1941, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The New Jingo Line of the Stalinists

The Stalinists in the United States have made a new political discovery. They have discovered that when the Stalinist bureaucracy jumps from one imperialist camp in the present war into the other, the war loses its imperialist character. They ignore the Stalin-Hitler pact and seem to think that everyone else has forgotten how that perfidious covenant with hell was the signal for Hitler to invade Poland and initiate the Second World Imperialist War. The Stalinists, to be sure, announced that the pact would prove the greatest “bulwark of peace” in the world.

We don’t label this pact perfidious and reactionary because Hitler, the fascist, was one of the signatories. Fascism is nothing more than degenerate capitalism stripped of all its democratic pretensions and functioning with the knout and the club in the interests of finance-capitalism. If in similar circumstances, Stalin had signed a similar pact with Great Britain or the United States, it would have been just as perfidious and just as reactionary. That is, the Stalin-Hitler pact was not reactionary because it was signed with a fascist nation. Fascist Germany is at the same time a capitalist and imperialist nation, just as are England and the United States.

This pact was reactionary because in relation to the interests of the world working class, it was “conceived in sin and born in iniquity.” From a working class viewpoint this pact would have been no less iniquitous had it been a covenant between Stalin and Churchill or Roosevelt.

After this pact, these political acrobats and contortionists were against England and against the United States entering the war. They were for peace. Not in Estonia, Finland and Germany, of course, but in England and the United States.

They bellowed and organized all over the place with their American Peace Mobilization and other phony outfits. Labor Action pointed out long ago and warned that the Stalinists might soon be waving the flag and yelling for the defense of England and the United States. We said that just as they were rushing into the trade unions with their bogus peace line today, tomorrow workers should not be surprised to see them calling for all-out aid to “imperialist Britain.”

Well, it’s happened, as every worker knows who is not deaf or blind. The war isn’t completely non-imperialist of course, because Germany is involved and the Stalinists are certain now that Germany is an imperialist nation bent on the domination of the world and the total destruction of “democracy.” England and the United States are “democracies” again fighting against fascism. Therefore all out aid to England and the United States. Yesterday England was imperialist; today it’s a “democracy.” Yesterday, Roosevelt was preparing to plow our youth under; today he and Churchill are leading a holy crusade to give every boy a chance to become President or Prime Minister.

This all happened, say the Stalinist magicians, because Germany attacked the Soviet Union. To be sure, the Stalin gangsters have destroyed all the Soviets, the trade unions and the revolutionary workers’ party; but this makes no difference: it’s a “socialist” state anyhow, these gangsters of the Kremlin maintain. Furthermore, it makes no difference, they say, that the Stalin clique embarked on a grabbing expedition in Poland and the Baltic countries. Workers are not supposed to be interested in the fact that the Stalin gang participates in the imperialist war; first on one side and then on the other. The workers are expected to believe that when the Stalinists change camps the nature of the war changes. If Stalin makes a pact with Hitler, that is a move for peace. If Stalin makes a pact with Churchill, that makes England’s war a struggle for democracy and against fascism.

How They Carry It Into the UAW

Just as they carried the old People’s Front line into the trade unions, the Stalinists are preparing now to flood the labor movement with the new line. Workers who were told yesterday that the Lend-Lease Bill was an evil accompaniment of Roosevelt imperialism, are told today that it is OK and one of the strongest bulwarks of democracy and civilization. Workers who were told that they should oppose the war are now advised to support it.

The first concrete application of the new line in a trade union will come at the time of the convention of the United Automobile Workers, the first week of August. the Stalinists had been preparing a fight against President Thomas of the UAW. They wanted to oust him at the coming convention. They intended to advance their fake anti-war line. they would have made long and fervid speeches on British imperialism and colonial oppression.

But now none of this will happen. According to an article in the Daily Worker of Monday, July 14, written by Roy Hudson: “We (that is, the CP) do not hesitate to state that in our opinion the best interests of the UAWA, the unity of the UAWA, can best be served through the rallying of the membership around its present leaders, President Thomas and Secretary-Treasurer Addes.”

That is, since the war is now a war for democracy, and since Thomas has all along been a supporter of the war, the Stalinists will now support him for re-election. The planned struggle to displace Thomas has gone with the Stalin-Hitler pact.

Furthermore, Hudson says that the Communist Party as an organization “never did, does not now, and never will attempt to dominate a union.”

This is an astounding claim. Many militant unionists will be able to refute this out of their own experience. Wherever the Stalinists have had any appreciable influence in a union their procedure has been of the most bureaucratic and undemocratic nature. They have framed good union militants who disagreed with the Stalinist political line. They have carried on campaigns of slander and lies against all unionists, even the most loyal and militant, who opposed the Stalinist bureaucrats.

In numerous instances they have not hesitated at intimidation and terror. They have dumped workers from jobs where they had job control in cases where these workers were opponents of the Stalinist political line. They have refused to defend militant unionists who were being persecuted in the capitalist courts if these unions were in opposition to any of the twistings of Kremlin politics. The Stalinists always seek to dominate a trade union in the most vicious and non-working class manner.

Do Not Vote Stalinists Into Office!

These are some of the reasons why the Workers Party advises workers not to permit Stalinists to attain leadership and control in the unions. These are some of the reasons why Stalinists should not be voted for when they run for office in the unions.

The fact that the Stalinists announce their support of Thomas for re-election should be taken with a grain of salt. Thomas may or may not deserve re-election, but such questions should be decided on their merits in relation to his past as a leader of the international. The Stalinists don’t decide questions in this manner. They were prepared to wage a fight against Thomas not because he may not have been a good international president of the UAW, but because he was in disagreement with the political line of the Stalinists. Thomas could have been the worst possible trade union bureaucrat and still get the unstinted support of the Stalinists if he had been one of their stooges.

They will support Thomas, even with all his opposition to them, because they are afraid not to. They are ready now to crawl into their holes and be nice boys, at least in the open. This leads us to repeat that their announcements on the UAW convention should be taken with a grain of salt. They are a filthy and slimy outfit and very adept at the stab in the back tactic. They will come into the UAW convention with the best sounding resolutions. Out in the open, on the floor of the convention, they will be as meek as lambs. They will support even the most reactionary proposals of the leadership, even those that should be voted down. But under cover, in the dark, so to speak, they will scheme against those militants who disagree with their line and attempt to smear them.

They planned to achieve domination of the UAW at the coming convention. They really haven’t given up this idea; they only plan now to changed banners. They will attempt to secure places on the general executive board of the international. They will be willing to bargain and make the most reactionary concession’s in order to squeeze a few of their stooges onto the GEB.

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