A Brief History of Big Labor (AFL now AFL-CIO) and the Socialist Party USA.
The Relationship between Marxist Socialism and Fascism, both Statist Governing Theories.
This is a brief history lesson… put the beer down for a couple of minutes.
Originally published 1932. (Keep in mind that a mere 30-years later came the 1960’s radicals… who today hold positions of power within our Government.) Found at: http://www.marxists.org
The A. F. of L. Becomes Fascist
Over 40 years ago on Union Square, New York, the leaders of the first May Day demonstration spoke not only about the 8-hour day but about the abolition of the capitalist system. “While struggling for the 8-hour day we will not lose sight of the ultimate aim, – the abolition of the wage system,” read the resolution presented to the striking masses assembled at Union Square on May First, 1890, after they had marched there in great columns under unfurled red banners through the working class sections of the metropolis. Now, the A. F. of L. and the Socialist Party make common cause with the bosses and are doing everything possible to prevent the workers from fighting for any improvement in their conditions, and instead of fighting for the abolition of the capitalist system are fighting to preserve it.
Over 40 years ago, the A. F. of L. appealed to the International Socialist Congress in Paris to help the American Federation of Labor with the strike movement inaugurated for May First, 1890, and the International came to the aid of the American workers by making this struggle an international one. Now, President Green and his satellite Mathew Well pledge the support of the A. F. of L. to each and every reactionary organization or movement formed for the purpose of combating the Communist Party which is carrying on the American fighting traditions of May First. The A. F. of L. leaders have developed from class collaborationists into open fascists, serving the capitalists as hangmen of the American working class.
In their attempt to defeat May Day and to draw the workers’ organizations which are under their influence away from participation in May Day demonstrations, the A. F. of L. and other reactionary labor organizations have fostered the observance of a so-called Labor Day on the first Monday in September of each year. Labor Day was adopted first on a local scale in 1885 and later granted by the various state governments as an antidote to May First celebrations.
Another campaign against May Day was inaugurated by the federal government with the aid of A. F. of L. leaders when May 1 was adopted as Child Health Day. The hypocrisy of both the government and the A. F. of L. is proven by the fact that a million and more children under 16 are sweated in American mills, shops and fields for the glory of American capital.
The real meaning of this sudden interest in child welfare, however, may be gleaned from the following reference to the subject in a report submitted by the Executive Council to the 1928 Convention of the A. F. of L.:
… The Communists still maintain May 1 as Labor Day. Hereafter May 1 will be known as Child Health Day, as the President is directed by the resolution passed by Congress to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe May 1 as Child Health Day. The object is to create sentiment for year-round protection of the health of children. It is a most worthy purpose. At the same time May 1 no longer will be known as either strike day or Communist Labor Day. (Italics mine – A. T.)
Can it be that the A. F. of L. leaders have not heard the story about King Canute and his attempt to sweep back the tempestuous ocean waves? Or is it that in their eagerness to break the fighting spirit of the workers they are willing to try anything?
The Social-Fascism of the S. P.
The betrayal of the workers begun during the war was continued by the Socialist parties after the war. They joined bourgeois governments to protect them from the wrath of the workers; they organized counter-revolutions to thwart the workers’ struggle for power; they became the butchers of the militant sections of the working class which were fighting for the overthrow of the rule of capital, just as the workers of Russia have done under the leadership of the Bolsheviks, the Party of Lenin. The social-patriotism of the Right and the social-pacifism of the Center during the war, have now been merged into social-fascism. The social-fascists have become part of the capitalist state machine, protecting it from the revolutionary actions of the workers and peasants in the imperialist and colonial countries. They call for war against the Soviet Union and organize plots designed to arrest the progress of building Socialism there. They support the war being waged against the Chinese people by Japanese imperialism and the seizure of Manchuria as an eastern base for attacking the Soviet Union.
They have long ago abandoned the demand for the 8-hour day. They hope that the League of Nations will secure for them the shorter workday through conventions between capitalist governments. The Marseilles Congress of the Second International in 1925 declared that the 8-hour day “should be recognized only in principle.” They still participate in May Day events, but only on the other side of the barricades, as was exemplified by the fiendish actions of the Socialist Chief of Police of Berlin, Zoergiebel, against the May Day, 1929, demonstrations in the working class sections of that city. In the 1932 presidential elections, the Social-Democracy backed the Bruening fascist government by supporting the re-election of Hindenburg.
The “Socialist” Prime Minister MacDonald sends troops to mow down the Hindu masses who are rising against British imperialism and its agents in India. Wherever capitalism has felt weak to cope with the rising tide of the revolutionary and national liberation movements of the workers and peasants, it has called to its service the Socialist parties, willing agents of capitalism within the labor movement, to help defeat these movements.
In the United States, the Socialist Party plays the same role. Although it is not in office, it has already earned its spurs in the business of betraying the best aspirations and interests of the workers. It joins all reactionary forces who are vilifying the Soviet Union and are trying to whip up sentiment for war upon the workers’ republic. It works with the A. F. of L. and the Muste “progressive” labor unions in hounding militant workers, in supporting the bosses against the workers, in applauding the forces of the state when they prosecute and persecute the revolutionary movement of this country. The old leaders of the S. P. (the Hillquits and Oneals) have forsaken whatever Socialism they ever believed in and the new leaders (the Thomases and Brouns) are bourgeois liberals who use the labor movement to advance the programs and the policies of the Theodore Roosevelts of the Bull Moose days and the Robert LaFollettes whose aim has always been to fool the masses with radical shibboleths.
Norman Thomas, the darling of the capitalist press, announces to the world in a recent book that he has brought forth a new kind of socialism, a socialism without Marxism. It has been tried before. An abler man than Thomas, Eduard Bernstein, tried to de-Marxianize Socialism more than thirty years ago. He knew better, however, than to go as far as Thomas goes in his claims. The German pioneer in this he’d only wanted to “correct” Marx, to “bring him up to date.” The American, Thomas, knows no halfway measures. He not only “revises” Marx, but abolishes him altogether, without, however, injuring Socialism thereby, as S. P. leaders declare.
Norman Thomas and the class-collaborationist Socialist Party which he represents today perhaps better than anyone else, stand exposed before the workers of this country as the betrayers and open enemies of the only Socialism that means workers’ rule, the Socialism of Marx and Lenin, the Socialism for which the Communist Party fights, the Socialism that is being built by the victorious workers and peasants in the Soviet Union today.
Revolutionary Traditions of American Labor
The American labor movement is rich in revolutionary traditions upon which the Communist Party and the Trade Union Unity League can draw in their work of organizing the American working class for revolutionary action. The great labor struggles which dot the history of the United States, bear testimony to the militancy of the American workers. Not only have the workers been ready to initiate struggles or accept provocations of the bosses, but when out on strike, they have stayed out long and fought bitterly against the combined forces of bosses and the minions of the State.
A labor movement which can look back to the general strike movements of 1877 and 1886, to Homestead (1892), to the A. R. U. Strike (1894), to Lawrence (1912), to the Steel Strike (1919), to Seattle (1919), to the many strikes in the coal, railroad, clothing and other industries, to the great struggles in Colorado, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, the Mesaba Range and, more recently, to Gastonia and Harlan, can also look forward to still greater struggles in the future. With the prevailing objective conditions – constantly deepening economic crisis, growing permanent unemployment, intensified exploitation through speed up methods, acceleration of imperialist rivalries leading to another world war, the American Labor movement, freed of its misleaders, will give an account of itself. The massacre by Ford police of four Detroit auto workers at an unemployed demonstration before his plant, the murder of Negro jobless in Chicago and Cleveland are evidences of the sharpening class struggle and the militancy of the workers.
Remember, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Ideological infighting is always present between Statists. It’s a matter of who gets to Control you.
But when it comes to Free-Market Capitalism which protects the Natural Freedom and Liberty of the Individual… it is always the enemy of both flavors of Statism and they will always find communal ground in their effort to do away with it.
And You, in believing you have that Natural Right and subscribe to a bottom up Governing Theory, are the Enemy.
Happy May Day!
May 3rd, 2015 at 5:01 pm
Looks as though that mirrors the Bolshevik-Menshevik conflict in pre-Soviet Union Russia. If you read the the literature of the time, you come to understand that the more leftist the group the more they require ideological “purity,” and anyone who deviates therefrom is as bad as the “official” enemy, and ends up being, in fact, the enemy as well.
Great, informative piece, Mike!
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May 3rd, 2015 at 10:18 pm
When they are not fighting the Capitalist Pig their favorite pastime is fighting eachother… always has been… always will be. We just need to keep up the good fight and get out of their way.
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May 3rd, 2015 at 10:38 pm
As Henry Kissinger once said: “Too bad they can’t both lose.”