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Socialism on Trial – Part II

Posted by devildog6771 on August 9, 2011


Cover of "Socialism on Trial"

Cover of Socialism on Trial

Socialism on Trial

The courtroom testimony of James. Cannon

Part II

District Court of the United States,

District of Minnesota, Fourth Division.

Wednesday, November 19, 1941

Morning Session

James P. Cannon

DIRECT EXAMINATION (continued)

Imperialist war

Q (By Mr. Goldman): Mr. Cannon, will you tell us the position of the Socialist Workers Party on the causes of modern war?

A: Modern wars, in the opinion of our party, are caused by the conflict of imperialist nations for markets, colonies, sources of raw material, fields for investment, and spheres of influence.

Q: What do you mean by “imperialist”, Mr. Cannon?

A: Those capitalist nations which directly or indirectly exploit other countries.

Q: What is the party’s position on the inevitability of wars under the capitalist system?

A: As long as the capitalist system remains, and with it those conditions which I have mentioned, which flow automatically from the operation of the capitalist and imperialist system, wars, recurring wars, are inevitable.

Q: And can anybody’s opposition, including the opposition of the Socialist Workers Party to war, prevent wars under the capitalist system?

A: No. Our party has always stated that it is impossible to prevent wars without abolishing the capitalist system which breeds war. It may be possible to delay a war for a while, but eventually it is impossible to prevent wars while this system, and its conflicts of imperialist nations, remains.

Q: Then is it true that the party is of the opinion that wars are caused by international economic conflicts, and not by the good will or bad will of some people?

A: Yes. That does not eliminate the possibility of incidental attacks being caused by the acts of this or that ruling group of one country or another; but fundamentally wars are caused by the efforts of all the capitalist powers to expand into other fields. The only way they can get them is by taking them away from some other power, because the whole world has been divided up among a small group of imperialist powers. That is what leads to war, regardless of the will of the people.

We do not maintain that the ruling groups of any of the imperialist powers now at war really desired the war. We have stated many times that they would have been glad to have avoided it; but they could not avoid it and maintain the capitalist system in their country.

Q: What is the attitude of the party towards a war which it designates as an imperialist war?

A: Our party is unalterably opposed to all imperialist wars.

Q: And what is meant by opposition to imperialist wars?

A: By that we mean that we do not give any support to any imperialist war. We do not vote for it; we do not vote for any person that promotes it; we do not speak for it; we do not write for it. We are in opposition to it.

Q: How does the Socialist Workers Party oppose the idea of the United States entering into the war?

A: We do it as every other political party promotes its ideas on any foreign policy. We write against it in the paper; we speak against it; we try to create sentiment in any organisation we can approach, to adopt resolutions against the war. If we had members in Congress, they would speak in Congress, in the Senate, against it. In general we carry on public political agitation against the entry of the United States into war, and against all measures taken either by the Executive or by Congress which in our opinion lead towards active participation in the war.

Q: What do you mean by “active”?

A: For example, all those measures which have been taken, which put the United States into the war, in effect, without a formal declaration to that effect.

Q: What was the party’s position with reference to amending the Constitution to give the people the power to declare war?

A: For quite a while now we have supported the proposal that was introduced into Congress, I think by Representative Ludlow, and is known as the Ludlow Amendment, for an amendment to the Constitution requiring a referendum vote of the people for the declaration of a war. Our party supported this proposal and at times has carried on a very energetic agitation in favor of such an amendment to require a referendum vote of the people before war could be declared.

Q: And that is still the position of the party, Mr. Cannon?

A: Yes, that is incorporated as one of the points of practical daily policy, in the editorial masthead of our paper. If I am not mistaken, it appears on the editorial page as one of our current principles, and every once in a while there appears an editorial or an article in the paper attempting to revive interest in this idea.

Q: If the United States should enter into the European conflict, what form would the opposition of the party take to the war?

A: We would maintain our position.

Q: And that is what?

A: That is, we would not become supporters of the war, even after the war was declared. That is, we would remain an opposition political party on the war question, as on others.

Q: You would not support the war?

A: That is what I mean, we would not support the war, in a political sense.

The Court: May I ask you to develop the significance of that last statement?

Mr. Goldman: Yes.

Q: When you say, “nonsupport of the war”, just exactly what would the party do during a war, which would indicate its nonsupport of the war?

A: Insofar as we are permitted our rights, we would speak against the war as a false policy that should be changed, in the same sense from our point of view, that other parties might oppose the foreign policy of the government in time of war, just as Lloyd George, for example, opposed the Boer War in public addresses and speeches. Ramsay MacDonald, who later became prime minister of England, opposed the war policy of England during the World War of 1914-1918. We hold our own point of view, which is different from the point of view of the two political figures I have just mentioned, and so far as we are permitted to exercise our right we would continue to write and speak for a different foreign policy for America.

Q: Would the party take any practical steps, so-called, to show its opposition to war, or nonsupport of the war?

A: Practical steps in what sense?

Q: Would the party try to sabotage the conduct of the war in any way?

A: No. The party has specifically declared against sabotage. We are opposed to sabotage.

Q: What is that—what do you mean by “sabotage?

A: That is, obstruction of the operation of the industries, of transportation, or the military forces. Our party has never at any time taken a position in favor of obstruction or sabotage of the military forces in time of war.

Q: And will you explain the reasons why?

A: Well, as long as we are a minority, we have no choice but to submit to the decision that has been made. A decision has been made, and is accepted by a majority of the people, to go to war. Our comrades have to comply with that. Insofar as they are eligible for the draft, they must accept that, along with the rest of their generation, and go and perform the duty imposed on them, until such time as they convince the majority for a different policy.

Q: So, essentially your opposition during a war would be of the same type as your opposition prior to the war?

A: A political opposition. That is what we speak of.

Q: Did the party ever, or does the party now, advise its members or any of its sympathisers, or any workers that it comes in contact with, to create insubordination in the United States armed forces or naval forces?

A: No.

Q: Will you explain the reason why?

A: Fundamentally the reason is the one I just gave. A serious political party, which aims at a social transformation of society, which is possible only by the consent and support of the great mass of the population—such a party cannot attempt while it is a minority to obstruct the carrying out of the decisions of the majority. By sabotage and insubordination, breaking discipline and so on, a party would absolutely discredit itself and destroy its possibilities of convincing people, besides being utterly ineffective so far as accomplishing anything would be concerned.

Q: Will you state the reasons why the party would not support a war conducted by the present government of the United States?

A: In general, we do not put any confidence in the ruling capitalist group in this country. We do not give them any support because we do not think they can or will solve the fundamental social problems which must be solved in order to save civilisation from shipwreck.

We believe that the necessary social transition from the present system of capitalism to the far more efficient order of socialism can only be brought about under a leadership of the workers. The workers must organise themselves independently of the capitalist political parties. They must organise a great party of their own, develop an independent working-class party of their own, and oppose the policy of the capitalist parties, regardless of whether they are called the Democratic or Republican, or anything else.

Q: What kind of a war would you consider a war waged by the present government of the United States?

A: I would consider it a capitalist war.

Q: Why?

A: Because America is today a capitalist nation. It is different from the others only in that it is stronger than the others and bigger. We do not believe in capitalist policy. We do not want to gain any colonies. We do not want bloodshed to make profits for American capital.

Q: What is the party’s position on the claim that the war against Hitler is a war of democracy against fascism?

A: We say that is a subterfuge, that the conflict between American imperialism and German imperialism is for the domination of the world. It is absolutely true that Hitler wants to dominate the world, but we think it is equally true that the ruling group of American capitalists has the same idea, and we are not in favor of either of them.

We do not think that the Sixty Families who own America want to wage this war for some sacred principle of democracy. We think they are the greatest enemies of democracy here at home. We think they would only use the opportunity of a war to eliminate all civil liberties at home, to get the best imitation of fascism they can possibly get.

Q: What is the position of the party with reference to any imperialist or capitalist enemy of the United States, like Germany or Italy?

A: We are not pro-German. We absolutely are not interested in the success of any of the imperialist enemies of the United States.

Q: In case of a conflict between the United States and Germany, Italy, or Japan, what would the party’s position be so far as the victory or defeat of the United States, as against its imperialist enemies?

A: Well, we are certainly not in favor of a victory for Japan or Germany or any other imperialist power over the United States.

Q: Is it true then that the party is as equally opposed to Hitler as it is to the capitalist claims of the United States?

A: That is uncontestable. We consider Hitler and Hitlerism the greatest enemy of mankind. We want to wipe it off the face of the earth. The reason we do not support a declaration of war by American arms is because we do not believe the American capitalists can defeat Hitler and fascism. We think Hitlerism can be destroyed only by way of conducting a war under the leadership of the workers.

Q: What method does the party propose for the defeat of Hitler?

A: If the workers formed the government I spoke of, if the workers’ form of government were in power, we would propose two things:

One, that we issue a declaration to the German people, a solemn promise, that we are not going to impose another Versailles peace on them; that we are not going to cripple the German people, or take away their shipping facilities, or take away their milk cows, as was done in the horrible Treaty of Versailles, starving German babies at their mothers’ breasts, and filling the German people with such hatred and such demand for revenge that it made it possible for a monster like Hitler to rally them with the slogan of revenge against this terrible Treaty of Versailles. We would say to them:

“We promise you that we will not impose any of those things upon the German people. On the contrary, we propose to you a reorganisation of the world on a fair socialist basis, where the German people, with all their recognised ability and their genius and labor, can participate equally with us.” That would be our party’s first proposal to them.

Second, we would also say to them, “On the other hand, we are going to build the biggest army and navy and air force in the world, to put at your disposal, to help smash Hitler by force of arms on one front, while you revolt against him on the home front”

I think that would be the program, in essence, of our party, which the workers’ and farmers’ government of America would advance so far as Hitler is concerned, and we believe that is the only way Hitlerism will be destroyed. Only when the Great Powers on the other side can successfully prevail upon the German people to rise against Hitler, because we must not forget —

Mr. Schweinhaut: You have answered the question, Mr. Cannon.

Q: Now, until such time as the workers and farmers in the United States establish their own government and use their own methods to defeat Hitler, the Socialist Workers Party must submit to the majority of the people—is that right?

A: That is all we can do. That is all we propose to do.

Q: And the party’s position is that there will be no obstruction of ways and means taken by the government for the effective prosecution of its war?

A: No obstruction in a military way, or by minority revolution; on the contrary, the party has declared positively against any such procedure.

War and revolution

Q: What is the opinion of the party as to the relationship between war and a possible revolutionary situation?

A: Wars frequently have been followed by revolution; wars themselves are the expression of a terrible social crisis, which they are unable to solve. Misery and suffering grow at such a tremendous pace in war, that it often leads to revolution.

The Russo-Japanese war of 1904 produced the Russian revolution of 1905. The World War of 1914 produced the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Hungarian revolution, near-revolution in Italy, and the revolution in Germany and Austria; and in general, a revolutionary situation developed over the whole continent of Europe, as the result of the First World War.

I think it is highly probable that if the war in Europe continues, then the mass of the people, especially in Europe, will undertake to put a stop to the slaughter by revolutionary means.

Q: So that it would be correct to say that a revolutionary situation is created by a war, and not by the Socialist Workers Party, if a revolutionary situation will arise?

A: I would say it is created by the privations of the capitalist system, which are tremendously accelerated by a war.

Q: What is the policy of the party with reference to permitting various opinions and interpretations of current events in the party’s publications?

A: Well, it is not prohibited. Usually, individual members of the party write articles with a certain slant on current events that is not necessarily shared by the majority of the Committee.

Q: With reference to predictions or opinions about future occurrences, would you say the party is more liberal in granting that freedom?

A: Yes, it must necessarily be, because predictions are not verifiable, completely, until after the event, and different opinions arise. We have had in the party, especially since the outbreak of the World War, conflicting opinions as to when the United States would make formal entry into the war, or whether or not the United States would enter the war. There were not very many who doubted that it would, but I heard some people in the party express such opinions.

Q: And would you say that the opinions of party members with reference to a possible future revolutionary situation is in that category of opinion, concerning which there are many differences of opinion?

A: Yes, there must necessarily be.

Q: Do you include in that category also predictions as to whether the revolution would not be accompanied by force or not?

A: Well, within limits, within limits. There is more agreement among the educated leaders of the party who have studied history and Marxism—there is more agreement on that question, than on such a question as the prospect of entry into the present World War.

Q: But there can be, and there are differences of opinion as to the exact time of the revolutionary situation and the approximate development of it?

A: As to the time of a revolution, that is absolutely speculative. There isn’t anybody in the party who has anything more than a tentative opinion on that question.

Q: Would you make any distinction between official resolutions of the party and editorials?

A: Yes. A resolution is a formal document, approved by the National Committee itself, or by a convention. It is thought out, and becomes an official statement of the party. In my opinion that carries and should carry a greater weight than an editorial which might be knocked out by an editor while he is rushing the paper to press, and is not written with the same care and preciseness of expression which obtains when a resolution is formally signed by the National Committee.

Q: Does the party accept officially all opinions expressed in signed articles, or even editorials?

A: No, I would say not officially, no. Signed articles by prominent leaders of the party, in the minds of the party members, have at least a semiofficial status, I think, but they do not have the weight of a formal resolution of the Committee or of a convention.

Party’s proletarian military policy

Q: Now will you please explain what is called the military policy of the party?

A: The military policy of the party is incorporated in the decisions of the conference a year ago, in September 1940. At that time we called a special conference of the party, in connection with a plenary meeting of the National Committee, to consider this particular question, our attitude towards conscription and the further progress of the war situation, and there we adopted a resolution substantially as follows:

Point 1: As long as conscription has been adopted as the law, and once it was the law, referring to the Selective Service Act, all party members must comply with this law, must register and must not oppose the registration of others. On the contrary, the party specifically opposes the position of such groups as conscientious objectors. While we admire the courage and integrity of a rather high order that it takes to do what the conscientious objectors have done, we have written against their policy and said it is wrong for individuals to refuse to register when the great mass of their generation going to war. So far as we are concerned, if the young generation of American workers goes to war, our party members go with them, and share in all their dangers and hardships and experience.

Point 2: Our resolution says that our comrades have got to be good soldiers, the same way that we tell a comrade in a factory that he must be the best trade unionist and the best mechanic in order to gain the confidence and respect of his fellow workers. We say, in the military service, he must be the best soldier; he must be the most efficient in the use of whatever weapons and arms he is assigned to, and submit to discipline, and be concerned about the welfare of fellow soldiers in order to establish his position in their respect and confidence.

The Court: May I inquire whether or not this is an oral or a written policy that Mr. Cannon has just given?

The Witness: I think my speeches at the conference in Chicago last September were introduced as exhibits here, some extracts from them at least.

Mr. Goldman: Yes, I am sure they were.

The Court: Mr. Myer, you should be able to put your finger on those particular exhibits, I believe.

Mr. Myer: I think they are exhibits 116 and 186.

Q: Now, were there any other points discussed and adopted at that conference with reference to the military policy of the party?

A: Yes. We came out in favor of the idea of conscription, universal military training. That is predicated on the idea that at the present time the whole world is in arms, that all decisions nowadays are being made by arms, or with the threat of arms. In such a situation we must recognise that the workers must also become trained in the military arts.

We are in favor of universal military training, according to our official decision; but we are not in favor, that is, we do not give political support to the method that is used by the present capitalist government.

We propose that the workers should get military training in special camps under the direction of the trade unions; that the government should furnish a part of its military funds in appropriations to equip those camps with the necessary arms and materials and instructors, but the camps should be under the auspices of the trade unions.

There should be also special camps set up under the auspices of the unions, for the training of workers to become officers. Government funds should be appropriated for this purpose, so that a condition can be created to remove one of the greatest defects and sources of dissatisfaction in the present military apparatus, that is, the social gulf between the worker or farmer-soldier, and the officer from another class, who does not have an understanding of the soldier’s problem and does not have the proper attitude towards him.

We believe the workers are entitled to have as officers men out of their own ranks whom they have learned to respect in the course of their work and common struggle with them, such as picket captains, leaders of unions, men who have distinguished themselves in the affairs of workers’ organisations, and who come from the rank and rile of the workers. Such men as officers would be much more concerned about the welfare of the rank and file of soldiers than a college boy from Harvard or Yale, who never saw a factory, and never rubbed elbows with the worker, and considers him an inferior being. That is, I would say, the heart of our military proposal, of our military policy.

Q: What is the position of the party with reference to civil rights in the army?

A: We stand also for soldier citizens’ rights. We do not agree with the idea that when you take a million and a half young men out of civil life, that they cease to have the rights of citizens. We think they should have all the rights of citizens. They should have the right to petition Congress; they should have the right to vote; they should have the right to elect committees to present their grievances; they should have the right to elect their own officers, at least the minor officers; and in general they should have the democratic rights of citizens, and we advocate that. We advocate legislation to confer upon the soldiers those rights, and doing away with the present inefficient military setup.

Q: Did the party officially, or to your knowledge, did any party member now in the service, ever attempt to create insubordination in the ranks of the armed forces?

A: Not to my knowledge.

Q: In your opinion, if there have been such incidents, what is the cause of them?

A: I think there are a number of causes of discontent and dissatisfaction in the conscript army. That is a matter of public comment in all the newspapers and magazines, and various opinions and theories have been expressed as to the reasons for it

Q: How does the party propose to realise the demands for compulsory training under trade-union control?

A: Our program is a legislative program. Everything that we propose we would have incorporated into law. If we had a delegation in Congress they would introduce a bill, or a series of bills, providing for the incorporation in the law of the country of these proposals, these military proposals of ours.

Q: Did any authoritative leader of the party ever refer to Plattsburg as an example?

A: Yes. In fact, that was part of the origin of the idea. As I said before, the chief sore point in the military setup is the class distinction between the officers and the ranks. We know that in the period prior to the First World War, special camps were set up for the training of business and professional men to be officers in the army. Plattsburg was one of these. This was a part of the so-called preparedness campaign, before the United States finally got into the war. The government appropriated some funds, and some businessmen donated funds. The government provided instructors and furnished the necessary equipment for the training of a large number of business and professional men who were ultimately to be officers in the army.

We cannot see why the workers should not have the same rights. We think it is perfectly fair and reasonable, certainly it is compatible with the existing laws. As I said before, it is a legislative proposal on our part. We would, if we could, incorporate that into the law of the country.

The Court: We will take our morning recess at this time.

(Morning Recess)

Q: I call your attention, Mr. Cannon, to the testimony of some witnesses for the prosecution to the effect that certain party members told them to join the army, and then to start to kick about the food and create dissatisfaction. What can you say with reference to the party policy about that?

A: In the military forces, as far as our information goes from members who have been drafted and from others whom —

Mr. Schweinhaut: Now, just a moment. You are not answering the question at all. He asked you whether the party had a policy, whether it does or does not If so, tell us what that policy is, not what you heard from people in the service.

The Witness: I want to explain why our policy is what it is.

The Court: We have not heard that there is a policy yet.

Q: Is there a policy?

A: Yes, we have a policy.

Q: What is that policy?

A: The policy is not to support or to initiate any agitation about food. I want to tell you the reason. So far as our knowledge goes, from members of the party who have been drafted and whom we have seen on furlough, and from other investigation, there is not much dissatisfaction with the food in the present setup.

Q: And if there is any dissatisfaction with food, what would you say it was caused by?

A: So far as our information goes, there are only isolated cases now. We do not propose to kick about the food if the food is satisfactory. If the food is bad, the soldiers will kick about it themselves, and they should kick about it.

Q: What would you say about the testimony of these witnesses —

Mr. Schweinhaut: I object to that.

Mr. Goldman: Strike it out.

Q: Then will you state definitely, what is the policy of the party with reference to creating dissatisfaction in the army when causes for dissatisfaction do not exist?

A: I do not know of anything in the party program or party literature that proposes to incite grievances without foundation. Where causes for dissatisfaction exist, they create the dissatisfaction, not the party.

Mr. Schweinhaut: Just a moment, please.

Q: If there have been grievances, and if there has been dissatisfaction, is the party in any way responsible for that?

A: No, I don’t think so, in any way at all. That is the present situation.

Q: And the people who have charge of feeding the army are the ones responsible for that, or for the grievances?

Mr. Schweinhaut: Well, that is leading.

Mr. Goldman: Well, he has not objected, so you may proceed and answer it.

Mr. Schweinhaut: Then I will object to it now.

The Court: I will sustain the objection.

Q: Now, on the question of military training under trade union control—you were speaking about Plattsburg at the time of the recess. Will you continue and explain further the policy on that?

A: I used that as an illustration of how special camps were instituted and government instructors provided to train business and professional men in the period shortly prior to our entry into the last World War. In the Spanish Civil War all the parties and unions not only had their own training camps authorised by the government, but even supplied their own regiments in the fight against the fascist army of Franco.

Q: Now, the present trade unions are not under the control of the party, are they?

A: No, they are under the control, essentially or practically completely, of leaders who are in harmony with the present Roosevelt administration.

Q: As I understand, the party favors military training under trade-union control?

A: Yes. The idea is to give to the unions, as they are, a wider authority and supervision over their people.

Q: And that policy is not dependent upon the party controlling the trade unions?

A: No. We can only take our chances that we will be in the minority in those training camps, as we are in the unions.

Q: What measures do you propose in order to effectuate the policy of military training under trade-union control?

A: As I think I said before, it is a proposal for a legislative program. We would have such a bill introduced into Congress and passed, if we had the power, or if we could gain the support of congressmen who are opposed to us on other grounds, but who would agree to this. This is a program that is not necessarily socialist

Q: If any member of the party would either attempt to obstruct the Selective Service Act, or advise the obstruction of it, what would the party do about that?

Mr. Schweinhaut: That is objected to on the ground that there has been no evidence offered by the government that the party attempted to obstruct the Selective Service Act.

Mr. Goldman: Then the government admits that the party has not attempted to obstruct the Selective Service Act?

Mr. Schweinhaut: We have not attempted to show that there was any attempt to interfere with the Selective Service Act.

Mr. Goldman: I gathered that questions were asked a number of witnesses, as to their age, and the necessity of their going into service, with an intention on the part of the prosecution to prove that we, somehow or other, tried to interfere. If the government says “No”, I will drop that.

Mr. Schweinhaut: We will clear the atmosphere on that right now. We do not contend that the party attempted to keep anybody from registering for the draft, or in that respect to impede the progress of the Selective Service Act. What our evidence tended to show was what the party members were supposed to do after they got into the army.

Mr. Goldman: Well, that is cleared up then.

Q: Did you hear a witness for the government testify that he was told by some party member to go to Fort Snelling and create dissatisfaction? I think that was the gist of the testimony. Did you hear that?

A: Something to that effect.

Q: What is the party’s policy with reference to any creating of dissatisfaction in Fort Snelling or any other military camp?

Mr. Schweinhaut: I object to that, because he has answered what it was at least twice.

The Court: Objection sustained.

Attitude to the Russian Revolution

Q: Does the party have an official position on the Russian Revolution, Mr. Cannon?

A: Yes.

Q: What is that position? Has it ever been adopted in the form of an official resolution?

A: It is incorporated in the Declaration of Principles.

Q: What is that position?

A: That the party supports —

Mr. Schweinhaut: Just a moment. I will object to that on the ground that, the witness having stated that it is incorporated in the Declaration of Principles, therefore, it speaks for itself.

Mr. Goldman: An explanation of the Declaration of Principles is in order.

The Court: He may answer.

A (Continuing): We support the Russian Revolution of 1917. We consider that it embodies the doctrines and the theories of Marxism which we uphold.

Q: How many revolutions were there in Russia in 1917?

A: There was a revolution in February according to the Russian calendar, in March according to the modern calendar, which developed into the proletarian revolution of November 7 according to the modern calendar.

Q: What is the general position taken by Marxists with reference to the Russian Revolution?

A: The one that I have given here, in support of the revolution.

Q: And what does “support” mean?

A: Well, that is a rather mild—it would be a mild description of our attitude. We consider it the greatest and most progressive event in the entire history of mankind.

Q: And I think you said in your reply to a previous question, that you consider the doctrines embodied in that revolution as Marxist doctrines? Explain that.

A: The theory of Marxism in our opinion was completely vindicated in the Russian Revolution, and the theory of Marxism, which is the establishment of a government of workers and peasants, which undertakes to bring about a social transformation from capitalism towards socialism—all this was undertaken in the Russian Revolution.

Q: Now, can you tell us anything about the legality of that revolution?

A: Yes.

The Court: Judged by what standards?

Mr. Goldman: What I mean by that is to have him explain exactly how the revolution occurred, because counsel for the government tries to present it as a violent upheaval of the minority against the majority, and the facts are the very contrary. I want the witness to explain the nature of that revolution.

A: The czar and czarism were overthrown in March by an uprising of the masses, of the people in the big cities, and the peasants.

Q: Was the Bolshevik Party responsible for that uprising in any way?

A: No. The Bolshevik Party was a very infinitesimal group at the time of the March revolution.

Q: What is the meaning of “Bolshevism”?

A: The world Bolshevik is a Russian word meaning majority. It acquired a political meaning in the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party. In the Congress of 1903 a controversy developed which divided the party into groups, the majority and the minority, the majority called the Bolsheviks and the minority called Mensheviks.

Q: Those are Russian words meaning minority and majority?

A: Yes. They split up and divided into parties. Each called itself the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party and in parentheses on the end “Bolsheviks” or “Mensheviks”, as the case might be.

Q: Now, will you proceed and tell the jury what happened during the October Revolution, or in our calendar in November 1917.

A: Well, to show the chronology: When czarism was overthrown by the masses of the people, the whole structure of that tyranny was destroyed. A new government was constituted, but the new government machinery was based on the Soviets, which sprang up spontaneously in the revolutionary upheaval. Soviets of workers and soldiers were established everywhere. In Petrograd, the workers and soldiers sent delegates—deputies—to the central council or, as they called it, the Soviet; similarly in Moscow and other places. This body was recognised as authoritative.

The government that was constituted after the overthrow of the czar was headed by Prince Lvov, with Miliukov as foreign minister; it derived its authority from the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies. In April they had a National All-Russian Conference of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviets, and there they elected an All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviets. In May, the peasant Soviets had an All-Russian Congress and elected an All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the peasants.

Q: What proportion of the population did those Soviets represent?

A: They represented the people, the great mass of the people. I think it was impossible even to speak in terms of majorities or minorities. They were the masses themselves. The peasants and the soldiers and the workers were the people; those two bodies, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviets and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Peasant Soviets, formed a joint body which was recognised as the most authoritative and representative body in Russia. It was by their consent that the government cabinet ruled.

The All-Russian Executive Committee of the Soviets repudiated Miliukov, who was the leader of the bourgeoisie. The Soviet body opposed him because of his foreign policy, involving secret treaties that had been exposed. He therefore had to resign, because without the support of the Soviets, authority was lacking; and I think that could be likened, as an analogy, to the French system of the resignation of the prime minister when there is a no-confidence vote in the Chamber.

Q: So that the Soviets constituted the authority of the people of Russia?

A: That is right.

Q: In what way did the Bolsheviks progress to power?

A: I wish to go on with the chronology, if you will permit me. Following the fall of Miliukov, Kerensky rose—there is a popular impression in this country that he became premier with the fall of the czar. That is not so. Kerensky became premier in July. He was made a minister and eventually premier because he was a member of the Social Revolutionary Party. That was the peasant party, which then lead the Soviets. He was also supported by the worker element, because he had been a labor lawyer. That was the basis of Kerensky’s office; that is, his authority was derived directly from the Soviets.

Now in this period the Bolsheviks were a small minority. They did not create the Soviets. The Soviets were created by the masses; they were initiated by the masses. Neither the Bolshevik Party nor any other party could do anything without the support of the Soviets. In the midst of the revolution of 1905 and again in the overthrow of the czar in 1917, the Soviets sprang up simultaneously.

The most influential one naturally was in Petrograd, which was the seat of government. The Bolsheviks were a small minority in this Soviet at the time of the overthrow of the czar. When Kerensky became premier, the combination of his Social Revolutionary Party and the Menshevik Socialist Party—those two parties together had an overwhelming majority in the Soviets, and ruled by virtue of that. The Bolsheviks were an opposing faction.

During that time Lenin, as the spokesman for the Bolsheviks, said over and over again, “As long as we are in the minority in the Soviets, all we can do is patiently explain.” The Bolshevik Party opposed any attempt to seize power by a putsch.

Q: What is a “putsch”?

A: An armed action of a small group. The Bolshevik Party demanded, with Lenin as their spokesman, that the Social Revolutionary Party and the Menshevik Party take complete control of the government by removing the bourgeois ministers and make it a completely labor and peasant government, and they issued the promise that, “If you do that we promise that as long as we are in the minority, we will not try to overthrow you. We will not support you politically, we will criticise you, but we will not undertake to overthrow the government as long as we are in the minority.” That was the policy of the Bolsheviks in the March days of the revolution against the czar, and into July.

In July the workers in Petrograd staged a demonstration with arms, against the advice of the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks advised against it on the ground that it might unduly provoke the situation, and tried to persuade the workers in Petrograd not to go into that action. It was not a rebellion; it was simply a parade with arms. This action, carried out by the Petrograd workers against the advice of the Bolsheviks, brought repressions against the workers on the part of the Kerensky government.

Then the Kerensky government undertook to discredit and frame up the Bolshevik Party. They accused Lenin and Trotsky of being German spies. This was the predecessor of Stalin’s Moscow trials. They accused Lenin and Trotsky and the Bolsheviks of being German spies. Trotsky was thrown into jail, Lenin was forced into hiding, and repressions continued against the Bolsheviks, but it did not do any good, because the policy and slogans of the Bolsheviks were growing in popularity. One by one the great factories and soldiers’ regiments began to vote in favor of the Bolshevik program.

In September an attempt at counterrevolution was made under the leadership of General Kornilov, who could be properly described as a Russian monarchist-fascist. He organised an army and undertook to overthrow the Kerensky government in Petrograd, with the idea of restoring the old regime.

The Kerensky government, that had put Trotsky in jail, had to release him from prison to get the support of his party to fight down the counterrevolutionary army of Kornilov.

Trotsky was brought from prison and went directly to the Military Revolutionary Committee, in which government men also sat, and there drew up with them plans for a joint fight against Kornilov. Kornilov was crushed; the counterrevolution was crushed primarily by the workers under the inspiration of the Bolshevik Party. They tied up his railroad trains, he could not move his troops; his best troops were induced to fight against him, and his counterrevolution was crushed.

As this was going on, the Bolsheviks became more popular all the time, as the genuine representatives of the revolution. They gained the majority in the Petrograd Soviet, the most influential Soviet in the country, and in Moscow and others. The Kerensky government was losing ground because it was not solving any of the problems of the people. The Bolsheviks’ slogans of “Bread”, “Peace”, “Land”, and other slogans—those were the slogans that the masses wanted.

On November 7 was held the Congress of the All-Russian Soviets of Workers and Soldiers. The Bolsheviks had a majority there, and simultaneously with the meeting of the Soviets, where the Bolsheviks had a majority, they took the governmental power.

Violence and the Russian Revolution

Q: And was there any violence connected with the gaining of the majority by the Bolsheviks?

A: Very little—just a little scuffling, that’s all.

Mr. Schweinhaut: That was in Petrograd?

The Witness: In Petrograd, yes. That was also where the czar was overthrown.

Q: And subsequent to the gaining of the majority by the Bolsheviks what violence, if any, occurred?

A: One point more first. A month or so later, a special All Russian Congress of the Peasant Soviets met, and there also the Bolsheviks had a majority. Then the minority withdrew from those authoritative bodies of government, and began an opposition struggle against the Bolshevik government.

Q: What violence, if any, occurred, and who initiated the violence?

A: That began following the armed struggle against the government.

Q: Who began it?

A: The czarists, the white guard Russian element, the bourgeoisie generally, the deposed capitalists and others. They undertook a counterrevolution, and the civil war that ensued lasted until almost 1921. The civil war lasted so long because the white guard and bourgeois elements received the support, first of the Germans, and then of England and France, and even the United States sent an expedition.

The Soviet government had to fight against the whole capitalist world, on top of fighting against their own opposition at home; and the fact that the Bolsheviks represented the great majority of the people was best evidenced by the fact that they were victorious in this civil war, not only against their opponents at home, but also against the outside powers who supplied the opposition with arms, soldiers and funds.

Q: How were the Soviets in those days elected?

A: They were elected in the factory-workers’ meetings; that is, the factory workers would gather to elect their delegate. Each Soviet constituted a unit of government and the combination of Soviets constituted the government.

In the Soviet system, the factories select delegates, according to their number, one for each thousand or whatever the proportion may be. The soldiers’ regiments do the same; the peasants or dirt farmers do the same, so that the government established in that way, by those Soviets, represents the whole mass of the people who are involved in productive activity.

Q: What was the number of members of the Bolshevik Party at the time of the Russian Revolution in November 1917?

A: The most authoritative figure I have seen given is 260,000, or a quarter of a million. That seems to be the figure that has the best authority.

A: And what proportion of the population supported the Bolshevik Party at that time?

A: In my opinion, the great majority of the workers, peasants and soldiers supported them at the time they took power and afterwards.

Q: From which group or class of society did the Bolshevik Party get most of its members?

A: From the workers. It was a workers’ party, a party of industrial workers and agricultural laborers. There were some peasants in the party, but the party was primarily constituted of industrial workers in the cities, agricultural laborers, and some intellectuals, some educated people who had put themselves at the service of the workers in the party.

Q: What is the best authority as to the number of workers in Russia at the time of the revolution—by “workers” meaning industrial workers?

A: Five million.

Q: And the majority of the population consisted of peasants?

A: Peasants, yes.

Q: What is your opinion as to the number of members that the Socialist Workers Party will probably have when the majority of people in this country adopt the program of the party?

Mr. Schweinhaut: I object to that, Your Honor.

The Court: What is the basis of your objection?

Mr. Schweinhaut: He is asking this witness to guess today as to the number of members that the Socialist Workers Party will have when a majority of the people in the United States adopt its policy.

The Court: There are too many elements of speculation in that. Objection sustained.

Q: Will you tell the court and jury what differences arose between Stalin and Trotsky subsequent to the revolution?

Mr. Schweinhaut: I object to that, because I do not see any materiality or relevancy in it.

Mr. Goldman: The prosecution has contended, and I think Mr. Anderson has made many statements to the effect, that Trotsky, being the archconspirator in this case, had certain ideas and certain doctrines. I think the jury is entitled to know in a general way—it is impossible to go into great detail—but the government has opened up its case in such a way that it is essential for the jury to know at least some of the basic principles of Trotsky, who it is alleged was one of the archconspirators.

The Court: Well, if you will agree to limit it to a reasonable amount of testimony.

Mr. Goldman: I certainly will—otherwise, we might be here two years.

Mr. Anderson: All we ever brought out, on Trotsky, was some literature and speeches and pamphlets, in the party press.

Mr. Goldman: I should think that after the prosecution takes three weeks, that they should give me a week at least to try the case.

The Court: I don’t think it is necessary to try it that way.

Differences between Stalin and Trotsky

Q: Will you describe briefly the fundamental differences that arose between Stalin and Trotsky subsequent to the revolution?

A: I mentioned the other day that the fight originated in the struggle over democracy. That was the origin of the fight, really inspired by Lenin during his last illness, in collaboration with Trotsky. Lenin did not survive to take part in the fight, and Trotsky had to lead it. This soon developed further.

It soon became apparent to critical observers, this tendency of Stalin to crush democracy in the party and in the life of the country generally. It was based on Stalin’s desire to change the program and the course of direction of the revolution, which could only be done by this means. Trotsky struggled for free discussion of the problem, with the confidence that the majority of the workers in the party would support his program. Stalin and his group represented, in our opinion, the conservative tendency, based upon a certain stratum of the party and the government that had acquired official positions and privileges and wanted to stop there.

Q: Stalin then represented in your opinion the party of the bureaucratic?

A: The bureaucratic and conservative. As a matter of fact, Trotsky designated it as the bureaucratic-conservative faction, at one stage in the struggle.

Q: Interested in what?

A: It was interested in preserving its privileges, and not extending and developing the benefits for the great mass of the people.

Q: What form did this dictatorship of Stalin assume?

A: It assumed the form of crushing democracy inside of the Communist Party and establishing a dictatorial regime there. For example —

Mr. Schweinhaut: Well, while Mr. Cannon is pausing, may I object now to this line of testimony because it is immaterial and irrelevant to the issues here? It is immaterial what form of government Stalin set up in Russia. What do we care?

The Court: I do not see any reason why he should go into all the details. I think you should recognise that, Mr. Goldman. I want to give you every opportunity, every reasonable opportunity, to present your theory of the case before the jury, but I do think that there is much here that is immaterial and unnecessary.

Q: What is the position of the party on the Soviet Union at present?

Mr. Schweinhaut: I object to that, Your Honour.

The Court: He may answer that.

A: The characterisation we make of the Soviet Union, as it is today, is of a workers’ state, created by the revolution of November 1917, distorted by the bad present regime, and even degenerated, but nevertheless retaining its basic character as a workers’ state, because it is based on nationalised industry and not on private property.

Q: Now, what is the position of the party towards the defence of the Soviet Union, and why?

A: We are in favor of defending the Soviet Union against imperialist powers for the reason I just gave, because we consider it a progressive development, as a workers’ state, that has nationalised industry and has eliminated private capitalism and landlordism. That is the reason we defend it.

Q: That is, you consider the Russian or the Soviet state, a state based on the expropriation of private industry from the capitalists?

A: Yes, the operation of industry as a nationalised industry.

Q: And you are defending that kind of a state?

A: Yes.

Q: Isn’t it a fact that Stalin has killed most all of the so-called Trotskyists in Russia?

A: Yes. We are against Stalin, but not against the Soviet form of industrial production.

The Court: The jury will keep in mind the admonition heretofore given them, and we will now recess until two o’clock this afternoon.

District Court of the United States,

District of Minnesota, Fourth Division.

Wednesday, November 19, 1941

Afternoon Session

The Court: Proceed, gentlemen.

James P. Cannon resumed the stand, having been previously duly sworn, and testified further as follows:

DIRECT EXAMINATION (continued)

By Mr. Goldman:

Q: And the party would exhaust all the possibilities for a peaceful transformation if the democratic rights are given to the working masses?

A: In my opinion, to the very end, yes.

Q: Even to the end of trying to amend the Constitution of the United States, as provided for by the Constitution of the United States?

A: If the democratic processes are maintained here, if they are not disrupted by the introduction of fascist methods by the government, and the majority of the people supporting the ideas of socialism can secure a victory by the democratic processes, I don’t see any reason why they cannot proceed, continue to proceed, by the democratic method of amending the Constitution to fit the new regime.

Naturally, the amendments would have to be of a very drastic character, but parts of the Constitution I would be willing to write into the program of the party at any time—that is the Bill of Rights, which we believe in. That section of the Constitution which protects private property rights, we think, would absolutely have to be changed in the society which we envisage, which eliminates private property in industrial enterprises of a large-scale nature.

Q: But it is your belief, is it not, that in all probability the minority will not allow such a peaceful transformation?

A: That is our opinion. That is based on all the historical precedents of the unwillingness of any privileged class, no matter how it is outlived, to leave the scene without trying to impose its will on the majority by force. I cited examples yesterday.

Q: What is the —

A: I might give you another example on the same point. For example, the Bolshevik revolution in Hungary was accomplished without the shedding of one drop of blood, in a completely peaceful manner.

Q: When was that?

A: That was in 1919. The government that was established following the war, of which Count Karolyi was premier, came to what is considered the end of its resources—it could not control the country, did not have the support of the masses, and Count Karolyi as head of the government, on his own motion, went to the head of the Bolshevik Party, or the Communist Party, rather, of Hungary, who was in prison, and summoned him to take charge of the government in a peaceful, legal manner, like the change of a cabinet in the French Parliament—of course, prior to the Petain regime. Then, this Soviet government, having been established in this way, peacefully, was confronted by an uprising of the privileged class, of the landlords and the big owners, who organised an armed fight against the government and eventually overthrew it. The violence on a mass scale followed the change of the government did not precede it.

Marxism a guide to action

Q: What is the position that the party gives to Karl Marx and his doctrines?

A: Karl Marx was the originator of the theories and doctrines and social analyses, which we know as scientific socialism, or Marxism, upon which the entire movement of scientific socialism has been based since his day.

In the Communist Manifesto of 1848 his ideas were sketched and then in other big volumes, notably in Capital, he made a most exhaustive scientific analysis of the laws governing the operation of capitalist society, showed how the contradictions within it would lead to its downfall as a social system, showed how the conflict of interests between the employers and the workers would represent an uninterrupted class struggle until the workers gained the upper hand and instituted the society of socialism.

So Karl Marx can be viewed not only as the founder of our movement, but as the most authoritative representative of its ideology.

Q: Does the party accept all of the statements found in all of the books written by Karl Marx?

A: No, the party has never obligated itself to do that. We do not consider even Marx as infallible. The party accepts his basic ideas and theories as its own basic ideas and theories. That does not prohibit the party or members of the party from disagreeing with things said or written by Marx which do not strike at the fundamental basis of the movement, of the doctrine.

Q: And you interpret Marx, or you apply the Marxian theories, under conditions that prevail at the present time, is that right?

A: Yes. You see, we don’t understand Marxian theory as a revelation, as a dogma. Engels expressed it by saying our theory is not a dogma but a guide to action, which means that it is a method which the students of Marxism must understand and learn how to apply. One can read every letter and every line written by Marx and still not be a useful Marxist, if one does not know how to apply it to the conditions of his own time. There have been such people, whom we call pedants.

Q: You are acquainted with the Communist Manifesto, are you not?

A: Yes.

Q: And you remember—I think it is the last clause of the Manifesto, where Marx and Engels, co-authors, say: “We disdain to conceal our aims”, and mention something to the effect about violent revolution. Do you remember that?

A: Well, it says, “We disdain to conceal our aims. We openly say that they can be achieved only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social institutions.”[3]

Q: When was the Communist Manifesto written?

A: 1848.

Q: Subsequent to the writing of the Communist Manifesto, did Marx ever write anything with reference to the possibility of a peaceful revolution in democratic countries?

A: Yes.

Q: Where was that written, and explain to the jury what was said.

A: Well, the most authoritative place where it is stated and explained is in the introduction to the first volume of Marx’s masterwork, called Capital, the introduction by Frederick Engels, who was his co-worker, who was the co-author of the Communist Manifesto, and is recognised universally in the movement as completely identified with all of Marx’s ideas and theories. Engels as a matter of fact edited and compiled the second two volumes of Capital, after the death of Marx.

Q: What did he say in that introduction?

A: This was the English translation of Capital and the introduction was presenting the volume to the English public. Engels stated—I think I can quote almost literally—that he thinks the work of a man who during his entire life was of the opinion that the social transformation in England, at least, could be effected by purely peaceful and legal means—he thought such a book should have a hearing from the English public. That is very close to a literal report of what he stated in this introduction.[4]

Q: And why did Marx have that opinion with reference to England?

A: Well, he had that opinion with reference to England as distinct from the autocratic countries, because of its parliamentary system, its democratic processes, and civil libertarian method of political procedure.

Q: So at the time that Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848, there was no democracy in existence on the European continent, is that right?

A: The whole of Europe was seething with revolutions at that time.

Q: And no democratic processes were available?

A: At least not in the stable system that had been established in England. I think I should add, to get the whole picture of this introduction which I am speaking of, that Engels said, after he had made this remark which I have reported, he said: “To be sure, Marx did not exclude the possibiliy of a proslavery rebellion on the part of the outmoded and dispossessed ruling class.” That is, after the transfer of power.

The Court: Pardon me, Mr. Cannon. Would you be good enough to elaborate a bit upon the significance of that proslavery phrase?

The Witness: Yes. I think he had in mind the American Civil War. Marx and Engels attentively followed the American Civil War, wrote extensively about it in the New York Tribune. A collection of those writings, both political and military, has been published as a book, which is a classic in our movement. And what Marx undoubtedly had in mind when he spoke of a “proslavery rebellion”, was an analogy with the American Civil War, which he had characterised as a proslavery rebellion on the part of the Southern slave owners. Of course, he did not maintain that the English bourgeoisie are slaveholders in the same sense, but that they exploit the workers.

Q: Now what, in your opinion, is the relationship between the Declaration of Principles of the Socialist Workers Party and the theories of Karl Marx?

A: I would say that insofar as we understand Marxism and are able to apply it, it is an application of the Marxian theories and doctrines, his whole system of ideas, to the social problem in America.

Q: That is, the Declaration of Principles is based then upon the fundamental theories of Karl Marx?

A: Yes, we consider it a Marxist document.

Party’s attitude to Lenin

Q: What is the position that the party gives to Lenin?

A: Lenin, in our judgment, was the greatest practical leader of the labor movement and the Russian Revolution, but not on the plane of Marx in the theoretical field. Lenin was a disciple of Marx, not an innovator in theory. To be sure he contributed very important ideas, but to the end of his life he based himself on Marx, as a disciple in the Marxist movement of the world. He holds a position of esteem on a level with Marx, with this distinction between the merits of the two.

Q: Does the party, or do party members agree with everything that Lenin ever wrote and published?

A: No. The same attitude applies to Lenin as to Marx. That is, the basic ideas and doctrines practiced, promulgated, and carried out by Lenin, are supported by our movement, which does not exclude the possibility of differing with him about this or that particular writing, or of individual members of the party differing with Lenin in important respects, as has been the case more than once in our party.

Q: By the way, is it true that there is a communist government in the Soviet Union?

A: No, not in our view.

Q: Is it true that there is communism in the Soviet Union?

A: No there isn’t any communism in the Soviet Union.

Q: Is there socialism in the Soviet Union?

A: No—well, I would like to clarify that now. Socialism and communism are more or less interchangeable terms in the Marxist movement. Some make a distinction between them in this respect; for example, Lenin used the expression socialism as the first stage of communism, but I haven’t found any other authority for that use. I think that is Lenin’s own particular idea. I, for example, consider the terms socialism and communism interchangeable, and they relate to the classless society based on planned production for use as distinct from a system of capitalism based on private property and production for profit.

Q: Could there be a socialist society and a dictatorship like Stalin has at the present time?

A: No. According to Marx and Engels, as you approach the classless socialist or communist society, the government, instead of becoming more of a factor in human affairs, becomes less and less and eventually withers away and disappears, and is replaced or evolves into an administrative body that does not employ repression against the people.

So the very term government implies, in our terminology, a class society—that is, a class that is dominant and a class that is being suppressed. That holds true whether it is a capitalist government, which in our views oppresses or suppresses the workers and the farmers and represents the interests of the big capital, or a workers’ and farmers’ government immediately following a revolution which represents the interests of the workers and farmers and suppresses any attempt of the displaced capitalist class to resist its authority or to reestablish its rule.

But once the resistance of the old outlived exploiting class is broken and its members become reconciled to the new society and become assimilated in it, find their place in it, and the struggle between classes which is the dominating factor in all class societies is done away with, because of the disappearance of class distinctions, then the primary function of government as a repressive instrument disappears and the government withers away with it. This is the profound conception of Marx and Engels that is adhered to by all their disciples.

Q: Did Lenin ever use the term “Blanquism” to designate a certain type of movement?

The Court: What is that?

Mr. Goldman: Blanquism.

The Witness: Yes, he wrote more than one article in the course of the Russian Revolution, more than once he wrote, “We are not Blanquists.”

Q: Now, what is meant by “Blanquism”?

A: Blanqui was a figure in the French revolutionary movement who had followers in the Paris Commune of 1871. Blanqui had his own conception of party and of revolution, and his ideas are known among the students of the history of the labor movement as Blanquism.

Q: What are his ideas?

A: Blanqui’s idea was that a small group of determined men, tightly disciplined, could effect the revolution with a coup d’Ètat.

Q: What is a “coup d’Ètat”?

A: That is a seizure of power, a seizure of state power by armed action of a small, determined, disciplined group; they would, so to speak, make the revolution for the masses.

Q: And what did Lenin say about that?

A: Lenin opposed this view and his articles were written in answer to opponents who had accused the Bolsheviks of aiming to seize power without a majority. He said, “We are not Blanquists. We base ourselves on mass parties and mass movements, and as long as we are in the minority our task is to patiently explain the problems and issues until we gain the majority, and as long as we are in the minority we will not try to overthrow you. You let us have our freedom of speech and press, give us the opportunity to expound our ideas, and you don’t need to fear any Blanquist putsch on our part.” Putsch, as I explained before, is an attempt of a small group to seize power by surprise tactics.

Q: So Lenin depended upon mass parties and upon gaining a majority for those mass parties, did he?

A: Yes, in the early days of the Communist International—it is a period that I am familiar with through close study and personal participation in the movement—he hammered at this idea all the time, not only against his critics in Russia, but against various individuals and groups who came toward support of the Russian Revolution, and had some distorted ideas.

In Germany, for example in March 1921, the German party, which had been organised, attempted an insurrection without having the support of the masses; this became famous in the literature of our international movement, as “the March Action”. The tactics embodied in it, the conception of some of the German leaders that they could force the revolution by their own determination and sacrifices—this whole idea, the March Action, and all the ideas embodied in it were condemned by the Third Congress of the Communist International at the insistence of Lenin and Trotsky. They refuted this theory, and they counterposed to it mass parties, mass movements, gaining the majority.

They put out the slogan to the German party that it should aim to have a million members. Zinoviev, who was chairman of the Comintern, made that one of his leading ideas on the German question, that the task of the German party was not to get impatient or to try to force history but to be busy with agitation and propaganda and have the goal of a million in the party.

Q: These million members would not by themselves make any revolution, would they?

A: Naturally not—Lenin did not expect to have a majority of the population become members of the party, but to support the party. But the very fact that he proposed—or rather Zinoviev, who was the lieutenant of Lenin, acting as chairman of the Communist International proposed—as a slogan, “A million members in the German Party”, certainly was a powerful indication that they did not expect to get a majority of the people until they had a numerically powerful party.


Endnotes

[3] ibid.[note 2, Part I], p. 73

[4] Engels, “Preface to the English Edition”, Capital, Vol. I (Penguin Books: Harmondsworth, 1976), p. 113


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