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Full text of "The farmer-labor united front"

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The 



Farmer-Labor 
United Front 

By 

C. E. Ruthenbere 

Executive Secretary, Workers Party of America 



A statement of the United Front Policy 
of the Workers Party of America, first 
made in a speech before a series of Party 
membership meetingrs by C. E. Ruthenberg. 
The Central Executive Committee of the 
Party has authorized the printing of this 
statement of policy in pamphlet form in 
order to familiarize the whole Party mem- 
bership 'with the underlying principles which 
guide the present policies of the Workers 
Party. 



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stack 
Annex 

5 

035 

The Farmer-Labor 4c? i 
United Front 

By 
C. E. RUTHENBERG 

Executive Secretary Workers Party of America 

For two years our Party has carried on a United 
Front campaign. We have endeavored to apply to the 
conditions in the United States the United Front pol- 
icy of the Communist International. The United Front 
campaign in this country has taken the form of a cam- 
paign for a Farmer-Labor Party. 

This campaign has now reached its decisive stage. 
During the next few months we will either gain a 
great victory as a result of our two years' work in 
support of the policy we have been pursuing or we 
will receive a set-back. It is essential, in order that 
our whole Party strength can be mobilized in the 
course of this campaign, that every Party member un- 
derstands clearly the basis of our United Front policy 
and what we are trying to achieve thru this policy. 

There have been indications recently that some of 
the members of our Party do not clearly comprehend 
our United Front policy. This was shown when a 
minority of the District Executive Committee in Min- 
nesota made the proposal that Party members should 
run on the Farmer-Labor ticket without stating that 
they were Communists and without advocating their 
Communist principles. Another piece of evidence of 

3 



182337: 



\ 



the same was the proposal of a minority of our Dis- 
trict Executive Committee in Michigan that the Party, 
if it does not support, should at least not fight against 
the candidacy of Herbert R. Baker in the Republican 
primaries, because Baker has the support of the labor 
movement of Detroit and the State of Michigan. A 
third piece of evidence, still more significant, came 
when our little branch at Spokane, Washington, sent 
a letter to the National Office stating that a LaFoUette- 
for-President Club had been formed in that city and 
that the Party branch had captured this club, and 
wasn't this a great achievement for our Party ! 

All of these facts indicate a misunderstanding of 
our United Front policy and the purpose we have as 
a Communist Party in entering into United Front or- 
gfanizations and fighting there together with other 
workers. 

In order to clarify the situation for ourselves it is 
necessary to state clearly at the beginning the purpose 
for which our Party is organized. We call ourselves 
Communists, and the fundamental statement of prin- 
ciples or our Party set forth in its program is a state- 
ment of Communist principles. We therefore call our- 
selves a Communist Party. 

What is the aim of a Communist Party ? For what 
purpose is it organized? When we answer these ques- 
tions we will lay down the principles which must gfuide 
us in all our work. As a Communist Party we are 
fighting to bring about in the United States the Prole- 
tarian Revolution, establish a Soviet government and 
the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. That aim is the 
reason for our existence and all of our policies must 
lead us to the achievement of that aim. If they lead 

4 



us in that direction, then they are a correct Communist 
policy. 

Having established the fact that we are a Commu- 
nist Party and that our goal is the proletarian revolu- 
tion and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, the next 
question which faces us is how can we achieve this 
goal? What policy must we follow? What tactics 
must we apply so that we can bring about the prole- 
tarian revolution in the United States and establish 
the rule of the Workers here? 

The Con<fitions for a Proletarian Revolutitui 

Lenin said, in one of his articles, that the conditions 
for a proletarian revolution were: first, that the cap- 
italist class could no longer rule, and second, that there 
must be a will to power on the part of the working 
class. 

At this point of the discussion I do not intend to 
take up the first question. It will fit into the argu- 
ment at a later point of development, and also the first 
condition, that is, the inability of the capitalists to rule, 
is not something which grows out of the work of our 
Party, but this condition comes into existence as a 
result of the development of inner economic forces of 
the capitalist system. 

The task of our Party as a Communist Party is to 
create the second condition for the Proletarian Revo- 
lution ; that is, the will to power on the part of the 
working class. In order that such a will to power 
may exist we must win the support of a majority of 
the working class for the Proletarian Revolution. How 
can this be done? That is the problem which faces 
us as a Communist Party. By what methods can wc 

5 



win leadership over and the support of a majority of 
the working class for our program of the Proletarian 
Revolution and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat? 

There are two methods thru which it might be con- 
ceived that this could be done. The first of these is 
the method of propaganda, that is, that we should 
present to the working class our indictment of the 
capitalist system, facts about the exploitation of the 
working class, the theory of surplus value, the class 
struggle, and the materialist conception of history, 
and by publishing books, newspapers, pamphlets on 
the subject and thru agitation at meetings, convert a 
majority of the working class to a belief in our ana- 
lysis of the existing capitalist social order and the way 
in which the evils of this system could be abolished. 
This method of propaganda to win the support of a 
majority of the workers is the method which has been 
employed by the Socialist Labor Party. It is the 
method now advocated by the Proletarian Party. These 
organizations believe that thru a theoretical presenta- 
tion of the fundamental Communist principles, a ma- 
jority of the working class can be won for the support 
of those principles and that some fine day the Prole- 
tarian Revolution will come about. Such a method, 
however, will never bring about the Proletarian Revo- 
lution. If we were to depend upon propaganda alone 
we could wait for another million years and there 
would be no Proletarian Revolution nor a dictatorship 
of the working class. 

We must carry on educational work in our Party. 
We must carry on educational work among sympa- 
thizers of our Party. It is our task to educate as many 
workers as possible to an understanding of the funda- 

6 



mental principles of Communism, but we cannot rely 
upon that method alone to achieve the proletarian rev- 
olution. 

The United Front 

The method which has been adopted by the Com- 
munist International and the Communist Parties the 
world over is quite a different method. The method 
of the Communists is one of the things which distin- 
guishes the Communist Party from previous working 
class organizations which have sought to bring about 
the Proletarian Revolution. 

As Communists, we know that the capitalist system 
brings about continual conflicts between economic 
groups in the present social order. The wage workers 
come in constant conflict with the capitalists over ques- 
tions affecting their daily lives. The workers desire 
higher wages. They want shorter hours of labor. 
They want improvements in their working conditions. 
Struggles over these questions and even broader ques- 
tions grow out of the fundamental conflict between 
the wage workers and the capitalists. These conflicts 
are not questions of theory. They are hard, bitter, 
every day struggles which decide the standard of liv- 
ing of the workers and their families. 

Similarly, the exploited farmers find themselves in 
conflict with their exploiters from day to day. The 
farmers struggle against the bankers who hold the 
mortgages on their land. They are in continual con- 
flict with the marketing organizations to which they 
sell their products. Their interests are in opposition 
to those of the railroads which transport their goods. 
Thus both wage workers and farmers are engaged 
in a continual struggle with the capitalists. 

7 



The policy of the Communist Party is to associate 
itself with the workers in the every day struggle. 
Communists fight with the wage workers and farmers 
in support of the demands which they make of the 
capitalists because it is in these struggles and thru 
these struggles that the workers learn the character 
of the capitalist system and there is developed the will 
to power of the workers, the determination to triumph 
over the enemy who exploits and oppresses them. 

The every day struggles of the workers creates the 
most favorable condition for establishing the influence 
and leadership of the Communist Party. The work- 
ers learn by experience the character of the capitalist 
system. They learn by their experiences in the struggle 
that the government under the capitalist system is 
merely an agency of the capitalists for maintaining 
the system of exploitation. Tliev learn this, not thru 
theoretical presentation and proof of the facts, but 
thru the hard knocks of their experience with the cap- 
italists and with the government which supports the 
capitalist system. 

While fighting with the workers to realize their im- 
mediate demands against the capitalists, it is the part 
of the Communists to point out to them at every stage 
of the development of the struggle that these imme- 
diate demands cannot solve their problems. Thus in 
the process of the struggle itself, the workers become 
more conscious of their class interests and of their class 
enemy. It is in the process of tlie struggle that the 
revolutionary will of the workers develops and thru 
these struggles they are led step by step to the final 
struggle of the Proletarian Revolution. 

This is the United Front policy of the Communist 

8 



International. This is the United Front policy which 
the Workers Party applies in its campaign for the 
formation of a Farmer-Labor Party. 

Our Policy in the United Front 

With this theoretical statement of the basis of our 
United Front policy clearly in mind, we can return to 
a consideration of the policies proposed. by comrades 
in certain districts and submit them to the test of 
whether they lead to the goal which we are striving 
for as a Communist Party. 

When some of our Minnesota comrades propose that 
members oi our Party should run as candidates in the 
Farmer-Labor primaries without announcing them- 
selves as Communists and without advocating their 
Communist principles, were they carrying out cor- 
rectly our United Front policy? We have seen that 
our purpose in the United Front is to develop the 
class consciousness of the workers and lead them for- 
ward to the struggle for the Proletarian Revolution 
and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. 

How can we achieve this purpose if we never say 
anything about our Communist principles when par- 
ticipating in a United Front struggle? By what method 
would we develope the revolutionary consciousness of 
the workers if we limit our agitation and propaganda 
in the United Front movement to those things for 
which the United Front is formed to fight? 

Such a policy would be that in place of our forming 
a United Front and during the process of the United 
Front struggle developing the class consciousness and 
revolutionary will of the workers, that we became what 
the masses of workers are. In place of making Com- 

9 



munists of Fanner-Laborites, the Communists would 
become Farmer-Laborites. 

The Minnesota situation is of vital importance to 
our entire Party, for in Minnesota the Farmer-Labor 
Party exists in a crystallized form. There is now in 
Minnesota a Farmer-Labor Party such as we are 
working to build thruout the United States. The 
policy we adbpt in Minnesota will be a guide for our 
general policy in the whole country. 

The Central Executive Committee of our Party took 
a firm stand against the proposal of the comrades in 
Minnesota. It instructed them that it is their duty in 
becoming candidates in the Farmer-Labor primaries, 
to publicly announce themselves as Communists and 
to advocate their Communist principles. The Central 
Executive Committee further instructed the comrades 
that if they are nominated in the Farmer-Labor pri- 
maries, it is their duty to carry on an elective cam- 
paign as Communists, publicly announcing their Com- 
munist principles, and if elected to office, they must 
carry on revolutionary propaganda in the legislative 
assembly of the capitalist government. 

There are comrades who will argue that if we follow 
the policy laid down by the Central Executive Com- 
mittee for the Minnesota Comrades, that we will en- 
danger the United Front. They argue that when we 
show our Communist face and advocate our Commu- 
nist principles in the United Front we tend to disrupt 
the United Front. 

It is undoubtedly true that this danger exists, but 
if we are never to show our Communist face and 
never to advocate Communist principles as part of the 
United Front, then what purpose have we in engaging^ 

10 



in a United Front movement ? How can we win sup- 
port for our fundamental Communist principles, for 
the Proletarian Revolution, for the Soviets, and the 
Dictatorship of the Proletariat if we never advance 
these principles during the process of the struggle? 

In place of attempting to avoid conflicts, we must 
welcome conflicts at certain stages of the development 
of the United Front. It is only if such conflicts de- 
velop that we can differentiate ourselves as Commu- 
nists from those with whom we enter into a United 
Front and thus build up support for our principles and 
win leadership on the basis of our principles. 

The Limits of the United Front 

The policy advocated by the Michigan comrades 
raises a different aspect of the United Front. It raises 
the question, how far can we go in the United Front? 
What are the limits of the United Front? 

The position of the minority of the Michigan Dis- 
trict Executive Committee was that because the labor 
movement of Michigan was supporting the candidacy 
of Herbert R. Baker, candidate for the Republican 
gubernatorial nomination, they hesitated in breaking 
with the leaders of the Michigan labor movement on 
this issue and to enter into a fight against Baker's 
candidacy. 

What was the argument of the Michigan comrades ? 
They said that if we oppose Herbert R. Baker, who 
has the support of the entire labor movement in Mich- 
igan, we will isolate ourselves and break the United 
Front in which we have been working with the work- 
ers of Michigan. 

The test of any United Front movement for us as 

11 



Communists is whether that movement develops the 
class consciousness of the workers and tends towards 
class action. If a United Front serves this purpose, 
then we, as Communists, can enter into it and fight 
with other workers. But if the United Front, in place 
of developing class consciousness and creating the 
basis for class action, leads away from these things, 
it is our duty to fight against it and to endeavor to 
build a united front which will develop class conscious- 
ness. 

What did the proposal of the Michigan comrades 
mean? The Republican and Democratic parties are 
the class instruments of the ruling class. They are 
the organizations thru which the capitalists control the 
government. The capitalists use these parties to es- 
tablish their class domination, to keep the workers in 
subjection. 

The capitalists foster the illusion that the Repub- 
lican and Democratic parties thru which they maintain 
their class domination represent the interests of the 
whole people. It is our task to destroy this illusion. 
The destruction of this illusion is part of our work 
of developiing class consciousness among the workers. 

From the foregoing it appears very clearly that 
under no circumstances can our Party support can- 
didates on either of the old party tickets. To do that 
would be leading the workers back into the parties 
of their enemies. In place of developing class con- 
sciousness we would be helping the capitalists to main- 
tain the illusions which we are endeavoring to destroy. 
The Central Executive Committee of the Party there- 
fore instructed the Michigan comrades that they must 
enter into a fight against the candidacy of Herbert 

12 



R. Baker, even tho in doing so they were obliged to 
split the United Front which had existed between our 
party and part of the labor movement of the state of 
Alichigan. 

The Application of the United Front Policy 

With this statement of the basis of our United 
Front policy, our tactics in the United Front and the 
limits of the United Front, we can turn to a considera- 
tion of the practical application of the principles set 
forth. 

In doing so, it is necessary to consider the first con- 
dition of a Proletarian Revolution as set forth in the 
quotations of Lenin above. What forces destroy the 
ability of the capitalists to rule? How does the cen- 
tralized capitalist power disintegrate? 

We can answer these questions by considering some 
concrete illustrations. During the process of the war, 
the productive power of the European capitalist na- 
tions has decreased. Capitalism is unable to bring into 
existence as much wealth as it did in 19 14. Conse- 
quently there is not as much wealth to go into the 
pockets of the capitalists as profits nor as much to pay 
wages for the workers. 

Another factor working toward the same end is 
the fact that every capitalist country during the war 
period accumulated an enormous indebtedness. Inter- 
est must be paid on this indebtedness. The war also 
created great new charges against the capitalist gov- 
ernments. They must pay pensions, they must main- 
tain the crippled and maimed. In scores of ways 
expenditures of the government have been increased 
during the period of the war. The only way in which 

13 



the money can be raised to pay the interest on the 
huge debts and the new burden the governments must 
carry is thru taxation. This means that in addition to 
suffering as a result of decreased productivity as is 
the case in Europe, capitalist society must hand over 
a larger part of the wealth produced for the use of 
the government in paying the enormous cost growing 
out of the war. 

The capitalists do not want to pay these losses out 
of the wealth which they take under the capitalist 
system. The petty bourgeoisie, small business men, 
the professional groups, resist the efforts to load the 
burden on to their shoulders. The workers, who at 
best get but a scant existence under the capitalist 
system, must resist the efforts to reduce their stand- 
ard of living thru making them pay the losses. Thus 
the struggle between economic groups in capitalist so- 
ciety is greatly intensified. 

This struggle does not only manifest itself in re- 
sistance, on the part of the main economic groups in 
capitalist society, to assuming the burden growing out 
of the war. The big capitalists themselves do not have 
uniform economic interests. The financial interests 
make their money in one way, the basic interests in 
industry such as coal and steel and railroads have 
certain definite interests, the manufacturing industry 
has its separate and distinct interests. 

All of these groups seek to escape the new economic 
burden growing out of the war. The capitalist class 
as a whole seeks to shift the burden to the shoulders 
of the working class. The big capitalists try to make 
the small capitalists pay. The small capitalists en- 
deavor to make the professional groups shoulder the 

14 



burden. Within the group of big capitalists there is 
also a struggle to shift the burden from one group to 
another. 

The intensified economic struggle thus produced has 
its reflection on the political situation. Each group en- 
deavors to gain control of the governmental power in 
order that it may use that power to relieve itself and 
make some other economic group carry the burden of 
the losses coming out of the war. 

In Germany, during the last few years, we have had 
a succession of governments. Governments have lasted 
from a few weeks to a few months. The capitalists 
have been unable to unite among themselves for the 
common struggle against the working class. The sit- 
uation in Germany is the reflex of the economic strug- 
gle among the various strata of the capitalist class for 
relief from the burden of the war. In the coming 
German elections there will be at least a dozen polit- 
ical parties asking support of the electors. 

The situation which exists in Germany is an illus- 
tration of what Lenin meant when he said that the 
capitalists must no longer be able to rule before a 
proletarian revolution can be successful. This condi- 
tion exists in Germany today. 

To a lesser degree the same development has taken 
place in England. Why is it that the two capitalist 
parties, the Liberal and Conservative parties in Eng- 
land have not combined against the Labor Party to 
get it out of power? The explanation is the fact that 
the clash of interests between the capitalist groups 
represented by these two parties as a result of the 
conditions outlined above is so bitter that they are 
unable to combine against their common enemy. They 

15 



prefer for the moment to permit a labor government 
to hold the reins of power rather than have one or 
the other of the capitalist parties rule. Thus v^e see 
the beginning of the development of the condition in 
England of the inability of the capitalis^-s to rule 
there. 

The Situation in the United States 

In the United States we have the beginning of a 
similar development. At the time of the opening of 
Congress the organization of the two liouses was de- 
layed for weeks because the progressive group in Con- 
gress under the leadership of LaFollette held the 
balance of power. The fact that such a group exists 
is not merely a happy chance of politics but this group 
represents definite economic interests. 

We have also a sharpening of the struggle between 
the capitalists and other economic groups outside of 
congress. 

The open shop drive of 1921 and 1922 was an ef- 
fort on the part of the capitalist class to make the 
workers of this country pay the cost of the war thru 
forcing a lower standard of living upon them. In 
the struggle whidh ensued from the drive against the 
workers organizations the capitalists threw into the 
balance the weight of power of the government they 
control. The workers everywhere when they went on 
strike found themselves face to face with the organs 
of the governmental power. Injunctions, police courts, 
soldiers, governmental boards — all of these were part 
of the machinery thru which the capitalists sought to 
destroy the workers' organizations as a preliminary 
to forcing down their standard of living and thus 

16 



makng them pay for the new burdens growing out of 
the war. 

The consequence of this experience by the workers 
was the development of the movement for independent 
poHtical action by the workers. 

The farmers have gone thru a similar experience. 
The farmers blame their present state on the govern- 
ment. The deflation policy, which the farmers see as 
a reason for their suffering, was put into effect thm 
the Federal Reserve Board. The Esch-Cummins bill, 
guaranteeing railroads cetrain incomes, was another 
act of the government thru which the farmers suf- 
fered. The loan legislation, under the terms of which 
the bankers profit and the farmers gain nothing in 
the form of relief, is again a governmental action. 
Thus we have the farmers directing their struggle to- 
ward the achievement of relief thru use of the gov- 
ernmental power because they see that this power is 
now in the hands of their exploiters and used against 
them. Out of these experiences there "has grown up 
the movement for the formation of a Farmer-Labor 
Party to fight the political battles of the industrial 
workers and farmers. 

The Third Party Movement 

The petty bourgeoisie — the small business men, 
the professional groups, etc., have gone thru a sim- 
ilar experience. They see the big capitalists using 
their power to escape paying the burdens growing 
out of the war and loading these burdens on the 
shoulder of the group to which they belong. 

What, for instance, is the present struggle in Con- 
gress over the terms of the Mellon tax law but an 
effort on the part of the big capitalists to shift the 

17 



burdens of taxation from their shoulders to those of 
the small capitalists, the professional groups, and the 
workers. 

The petty bourgeoisie in this country is also strug- 
gling for political power. The Third Party movement 
represents this group. The small business men, the 
professional groups, together with the aristocracy of 
labor is moving toward the Third Party to represent 
them on the political field because of the same forces 
which are driving the industrial workers and organ- 
ized farmers into independent political action. 

Thus we see developing side by side in this country 
a movement for the formation of a Farmer-Labor 
Party to represent the class interests of the industrial 
workers and exploited farmers, and a movement for 
a Third Party to represent the class interests of the 
petty bourgeoisie. 

These two movements are not always separate and 
distinct. At times they intermingle. There are Third 
Party elements in the Farmer-Labor Party movement 
and there are also workers and exploited farmers in 
the Third Party movement. 

Our Party Policy 

Two years ago, in considering the United Front 
policy of the Communist International, our Party de- 
clared that the problem of the United Front in the 
United States was the problem of the formation of 
a Farmer-Labor Party. Since that time the Party 
has carried on a consistent campaign to bring into 
existence a Farmer- Labor Party in this country. Our 
first efforts in this direction were in connection with 
the Cleveland Convention of the Conference for Pro- 

18 



gressive Political Action. We raised, against the policy 
of this conference of going into the primaries of the 
old parties, the slogan of independent political action 
and the formation of a Farmer-Labor Party. 

The second stage of this campaign was the struggle 
of last year in relation to the July 3rd Convention. 
Our Party supported that Convention and carried on 
an aggressive fight to win the support of the workers 
and exploited farmers. In spite of the defection of 
the group which originally called the July 3rd Con- 
vention, the Federated Farmer-Labor Party was 
formed by the representatives of the 600,000 organ- 
ized workers and farmers represented in that Conven- 
tion. 

The Campaign Since July 3rd 

Since the July 3rd Convention at which the Feder- 
ated Farmer-Labor Party was formed, our policy has 
been to create even a larger United Front crystalliza- 
tion of the Farmer-Labor movement. The Federated 
Farmer-Labor Party supported this policy. Thru the 
medium of the Federated Farmer-Labor Party we 
were able to establish contact with other Farmer- 
Labor organizations, particularly with the Farmer- 
Labor Parties of the North-west. Together with these 
groups, the Federated Farmer-Labor Party issued the 
call for the June 17th Convention at which the Farmer- 
Labor Party is to be crystallized on a mass scale na- 
tionally. 

At the same time the Third Party movement has 
crystallized in the call for the Convention on July 4th 
at Cleveland. The Cleveland conference is carrying 
on a struggle for support of the farmers and workers 

19 



as well as for the support of the Third Party ele- 
ments. 

We thus find ourselves face to face with a fight to 
secure support for the June 17th class Farmer- Labor 
Party convention and in a struggle against the July 
4th Third Party convention. 

The position of our Party in relation to these two 
Conventions is that the July 4th Convention can have 
all the broken-down politicians. It can have all the 
small business men. It can have all the professional 
groups. It is welcome to the $10,000 a year labor 
aristocrats, but we will fight against the July 4th 
Convention securing a single industrial worker and 
exploited farmer. 

When the June 17th Convention was originally 
called for May 30th, the July 4th Convention had not 
yet been announced. At that time it appeared that 
both the exploited farmers and industrial workers and 
the Third Party petty bourgeois elements would come 
to the May 30th Convention. Since that time, how- 
ever, the July 4th Convention has been called and this 
has set up a cleansing process. The Third Party petty 
bourgeois elements are giving their support to the 
July 4th Convention, whereas the exploited farmers 
and industrial workers are supporting the June 17th 
Convention. 

This does not mean that there will be no Third 
Party elements in the June 17th Convention. Un- 
questionably such elements will also be represented in 
that Convention, but the Convention will be dominated 
by, the program will be written in the interests of, 
and the leadership will be that of the class Farmer- 
Labor Party elements. 

20 



On the other hand, the July 4th Convention will 
be dominated by and its program will be written in 
the interests of the small business men, the profes- 
sional groups, the well-to-do farmers and the aristoc- 
racy of labor. 

Thus the issue has been clarified. June 17th a class 
Farmer-Labor Party Convention; July 4th a Third 
Party petty-bourgeois Convention. 
Our Party is opposed to any mixing of the two ele- 
ments. We are not for organizational unity of the 
Farmer-Labor Party and the Third Party. If by any 
chance these two movements were to combine in one 
Third Party, it would only mean a later split. The 
economic interests of the industrial workers and farm- 
ers cannot be harmonized with those of small business 
men, well to do farmers, professional groups, and the 
aristocracy of labor. We must therefore fight against 
any proposal to unify these two groups in one organ- 
ization. Let the petty bourgeois elements form their 
own party ; let the Farmer-Labor Party elements form 
their class party. 

The Work Before Us 

The work which now confronts our Party is to build 
up the forces for the June 17th Convention. We must 
carry on an intensive campaign thruout the whole 
country to have the June 17th Convention endorsed 
by trade unions, central labor bodies, cooperative or- 
ganizations, labor fraternal groups, and all organiza- 
tions of industrial workers and exploited farmers. We 
must carry on a campaign to have delegates sent to the 
June 17th Convention from these groups. That is 
the first phase of the work which our Party must do. 

21 



If the organization to be formed on June 17th is to 
have a nation-wide basis and carry on a nation-wide 
campaign, local and state Farmer-Labor Parties must 
be created everywhere in support of this Convention. 
That is the second task before our Party. We must, 
wherever we have Party organizations, take the ini- 
tiative in building up local and state Farmer-Labor 
Parties. 

Our whole Party must be mobilized for this work. 
The campaign into which we have now entered will 
be the decisive campaign of our Farmer-Labor United 
Front. Every Party member must go to work at once 
in the organizations of which he is a member. Our 
whole Party must throw itself into the work of creat- 
ing local and state Farmer-Labor Parties. 

The Significance of the Farmer- Labor Party 

It is not a little thing which we are endeavoring 
to achieve thru the Farmer-Labor Party campaign. 
There is probably not a Communist Party in the In- 
ternational except those which are face to face with 
the proletarian revolution which has the responsibilies 
and the opportunities of our Party at the present 
time. 

If we can crystallize at the June 17th Convention 
a national Farmer-Labor Party representing a million 
or a million and a half organized workers and farm- 
ers, the American labor movement will have made the 
greatest step forward in its history. 

If a million or a million and a half industrial work- 
ers and farmers send representatives and organize a 
class Farmer-Labor Party to enter into the political 
arena and fight against the old capitalist parties, the 

22 



American revolutionary movement will have made its 
first great stride forward. 

This is the goal which we are endeavoring to achieve 
thru the Farmer-Labor United Front. No member 
of the Party who considers the situation and its possi- 
bilities can do otherwise than agree that we are in the 
midst of a struggle which if successful will bring into 
existence a new situation in the United States. For 
the first time there will be a class party on a mass 
scale fighting against the parties of the capitalist class. 

The energy and enthusiasm which are put into the 
campaign in support of the June 17th convention and 
in support of the formation of local and state Farmer- 
Labor Parties must be as great as the opportunity 
which our Party faces. 

The Candidacy of LaFollette 

While our Party is strongly opposed to any organ- 
izational unity between the Farmer-Labor Party and 
the Third Party there is one point on which there 
must be cooperation between the two groups. 

It happens that both the farmers and industrial 
workers who are supporting the class Farmer-Labor 
Party m.ovement as well as the elements which are 
supporting the Third Party movement are for La- 
Follette for president. 

It is more likely that the June 17th Convention will 
nominate LaFollette and that this nomination will also 
be made by the July 4th Convention. 

What is our position in reference to this situation? 
Are we for LaFollette? Certainly not in the sense of 
the little branch in the west which participated in the 
formation of "LaFoUette-for-President" clubs. 

23 



We are opposed to LaFollette. We know that La- 
Follette will not support a program which will mean 
anything to the industrial workers and exploited farm- 
ers. We know that LaFollette represents the petty 
bourgeois Third Party elements and that the program 
which he advocates is in the interests of this group. 
We know that so far as the revolutionary movement 
is concerned that its victory will be over the dead 
body (politically) of LaFolette. 

We will state our view in the June 17th Conven- 
tion. If, after we state our view, the majority of the 
delegates in that Convention nominate LaFollette, we 
will accept the nomination and will vote for LaFolette 
in the elections. 

There are comrades in our Party who take the posi- 
tion that if LaFollette is nominated in the June 17th 
Convention, we must split away from that Conven- 
tion. Such a policy would mean that we would turn 
over the class Farmer-Labor Party movement to the 
Third Party movement. We would give the leader- 
ship of the industrial workers and exploited farmers 
to the petty bourgeoisie in place of fighting for leader- 
ship ourselves. Our policy on this subject is not a 
policy which our Party has formulated alone. The 
Communist International recently sent a letter to the 
Mexican Communist Party dealing with a similar sit- 
uation in that country. We have printed this letter 
in the form of a pamphlet "The Strategy of the Com- 
munists."* 

On page 10 of that pamphlet the following appears : 
"The first task of the Party must be to state 

clearly and plainly what the situation is and how 



lOc For Sale by Literature Department. 
24 



it will develop. Secondly, it must be clearly rea- 
lized that it is not a matter of indifference for the 
revolutionary labor movement whether Calles or 
De La Huerta betray the working classes, even 
though both will end in the same results. The 
whole situation is not a comedy, as it might ap- 
pear, but a real fight. It is an attempt on the 
part of petty -bourgeois democracy to keep its 
head above w^ater, and it can do that only by pos- 
sessing political power. The interests of the work- 
ing class are also involved in this struggle, for 
the only allies on which the petty-bourgeoisie can 
rely, are the working class and the peasantr}\ 
Calles must therefore make concessions to these 
classes. It is already apparent that the overwhelm- 
ing majority of the workers and peasants will 
support the candidature of Calles. If the whole 
working class participates in this struggle, the 
Communist Party must not stand aside and look 
on ; it must fight with the others, for Calles today 
means protection for the masses from reaction 
and clerical domination. But it is the duty of the 
Communists to combat the illusions of the masses 
as to the ability of the Calles Government actu- 
ally to give this protection. Thruout the period 
of Obregon's regime, Calles silently participated 
in the attacks of the Government on the working 
class. Calles will behave on a national scale just 
as Felipe Carillo behaved on a local scale in Yuc- 
atan. He will suppress the trade unions opposed 
to him and persecute the Communists ; he will not 
hesitate to shoot them down if necessary. In spite 
of this, the Communist Party must participate in 

25 



the elections on behalf of Calles. Certainly not 
as enthusiastic followers of the coming govern- 
ment. This tactic is merely a necessary halting 
place on the road to the Workers' and Peasants' 
Government, on the road to the proletarian revo- 
lution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. The 
result developing from the Calles Government 
will open the eyes of the Mexican proletariat to 
the impotency of reformism, to the powerlessness 
and corruptibility of opportunistic and petty-bour- 
geois anarchistic phraseology. The Mexican work- 
ers and peasants will recognize that there exist 
but two kinds of politics; the one that leads to 
the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and the one that 
leads to the domination of the proletariat, and 
which is represented by the slogan : All power to 
the workers and peasants. Many honest work- 
ers will say to the Communists : If you are al- 
ready prophesying the treachery of Calles, then 
your participation in the fight is nothing but a 
manouevre to compromise Calles. But such a 
statement of the question is incorrect and undia- 
lectical. That Calles will compromise himself does 
not depend on us, but on his opportunistic policy 
of compromise with the bourgeoisie. But we, on 
the contrary, point to the only path by which 
bankruptcy can be avoided, that is, the path to 
the reaUzation of the proletarian revolution. But 
will Calles follow this path? We have sufficient 
reasons not only to doubt this, but to answer in 
the negative." 

Calles is the LaFollette of Mexico. The Commu- 
nist International says to the Mexican Communists: 

26 



In six months from now Calles will persecute you and 
shoot you, but vote for him, because the working class 
as a whole is fighting for Calles and the Communists 
can not stand aloof. 

Our attitude toward LaFoUette is parallel to that 
of the Mexican Communists toward Calles. We have 
no illustions about LaFolette. We know that he will 
betray the industrial workers and exploited farmers, 
even tho we pledge ourselves to vote for him in the 
election we will point out his shortcomings, his com- 
promises, and his betrayal of the interests of the in- 
dustrial workers and poor farmers. We cannot sup- 
port LaFollette as enthusiastic followers, but the sit- 
uation which we face is such that we are compelled 
to make an election alliance in support of LaFollette 
because the masses of farmers and industrial workers 
who are supporting the class Farmer-Labor Party still 
labor under the illusion that LaFolette is the Moses 
who will lead them out of the wilderness. While sup- 
porting LaFolette, it is our duty to destroy this illu- 
sion. 

The question may be asked whether the proposal to 
make an election alliance in support of LaFollette is 
within the limits of the United Front as outlined above. 
An examination of the facts of the situation will show 
that it is. The test of whether a United Front cam- 
paign was within the limits of our United Front policy 
was whether it promoted class consciousness and class 
action or whether it led away from class consciousness 
and class action. 

The candidacy of LaFolette on the Farmer-Labor 
and Third Party tickets will draw millions of workers 
out of the two old parties. By breaking their ties with 

27 



the old parties it will create the conditions for devel- 
oping class consciousness and class action. 

If LaFollette were to run as a candidate on the 
Republican ticket we could not, under any circum- 
stances, support him, because that would be leading 
the workers and farmers back to the class instruments 
of the capitalist class, but as a candidate on the Farm- 
er-Labor and Third Party tickets, we are able to vote 
for him while carrying on our campaign of criticism 
against his policies because his candidacy will break 
away the workers and farmers from the class instru- 
ments of the capitalist class — from the Republican and 
Democratic parties. 

Sununary 

To recapitulate the arguments: Our Party as a 
Communist Party exists for the purpose of bringing 
about the proletarian revolution, the Soviet Govern- 
ment, and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The 
test of our policies must be whether they lead toward 
this goal. The task of our Party is to create in the 
minds of the majority of the workers the will to take 
power. The method of pure theoretical propaganda 
can never win the support of the majority of the 
workers for our principles. We, as Communists, have 
adopted the method of the United Front, of allying 
ourselves with the workers in their immediate strug- 
gles, and in the process of these struggles developing 
their revolutionary consciousness and class action. The 
Farmer-Labor Party United Front is a movement 
which develops class consciousness and class action, 
as it brings masses of workers into the political strug- 
gle against the capitalist parties. Therefore, we are 

28 



supporting the formation of a Famer-Labor Party. 
We are opposed to any unity of the Farmer-Labor 
Party with the petty bourgeois Third Party. While 
opposing organizational unity, standing firmly on the 
ground of separate organizations, at the same time 
we are compelled to base an election alliance on the 
candidacy of LaFolette for President. While support- 
ing LaFolette, we must at the same time criticize his 
shortcomings and compromises, to destroy the illu- 
sions of the workers. 

This, then, is the United Front policy of the Work- 
ers Party of America. It is a policy which has already 
made of our Party a great influence among the masses 
of workers and exploited farmers. If our Party mobil- 
izes its strength and carries the present campaign thru 
to victory, we will indeed have achieved a great stride 
forward for the revolutionary movement in the United 
States. 



29 



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