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A.J. Muste

For a United Mass Party of
Workers and Dirt Farmers

(25 February 1933)

From Labor Action, Vol. 1 Second Zero Issue, 25 February 1933, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In a couple of weeks the Republican party, whose symbol is the elephant, goes out of office. In Washington and the Democratic party, whose symbol is the donkey, comes into power.

Millions of workers and farmers voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt last November. Some did so because they really thought F.D.’s promise of a “new deal” meant something. Many just wanted to make sure Hoover got kicked out F.D.’s “new deal” will turn out to be only a new shuffle. The workers will get just as much from him as they got from that other Roosevelt, T.R. The jackass will not get us any farther than the elephant.

Roosevelt may do a few things that will temporarily deaden the pain from which the masses suffer, especially if, as a result of forces over which he has no control, there should be a brief spurt in business, which does not now seem likely. But Wall Street put its stamp of approval on Roosevelt. That ought to be enough for the workers and farmers.

We must get rid of the disease that is slaying the masses, bring Ing starvation in the midst of plenty. That means that the masses must have their own political party.

Don’t Unite With Your Enemy

When farmers organize a union or holiday association to stop foreclosures. they do not take in the bankers, the insurance company officials and politicians who have brought misery upon them. They know that if a union or association is to be effective, it must be a union of, for and by the farmer. It cannot have in its membership the very people it is out to fight.

When the automobile workers organize a union, they don’t take Henry Fond into membership. When the oil workers organize a union, they don’t make John D. Rockefeller, Jr., its president. They know that a union must be of, for and by the workers and cannot include their enemies.

How then can the workers and farmers possibly get anything from a political party in which the bosses and the bankers are not only members but, because of their money, have the controling power? The old parties. Democratic and Republican both, have bosses and bankers and mortgage sharks in them. They only pull the wool over the workers’ eyes. They are parties of for and by the profiteers. We must build a party of, for and by the workers.

Some people say that now is not a good time to start building such a party We ask when is a good time to start putting out the fire? The house is certainly on fire so far as American farmers and workers are concerned. Misery stalks everywhere through the land. The man who says this is not the time to begin is silly or tired or a traitorous defeatist. We must begin now.

Present Workers Parties Must Unite

There are parties in the field now the Socialist Party, Communist Party, Socialist Labor Party, Independent Labor Parties, Farmer Labor Parties, etc. The trouble is that not one of them has real national power. There is no definite indication that in the near future anyone of them can grow into real power. In several instances they are fighting each other. The result is that the worker who does wake up and decide that the Democratic and Republican parties are no good is confused. Party A asks for his vote and says Party B is an agent of the capitalists, no better than the Democratic and Republican Party B turns around and says the same thing of Party A. The worker probably ends up by deciding that both are either crazy or dangerous.

If all these groups would unite on some common program which would rally the masses of the producers for united political action today, we are certain that this would stir the imagination of the masses and that millions would respond.

There are those who think this is a crazy dream. If it is so much the worse for us. A divided labor movement is an easy prey to Fascism. But then crazy dreams have sometimes come true.

Forces Are Gathering

There are many forces which could help to build such a party. The rank and file in many unions are ready. In some cases present leaders would have to be kicked out since they are only Tammany or Vare or Big Bill Thompson politicians. But some union czars and racketeers have been kicked out recently. A lot more are not sleeping any too soundly these nights. There are many farmers’ organizations which will soon see, if they do not now, that the old parties are no good. The Unemployed Leagues will find that in order to achieve their ends they must engage in united political activity.

In a mass labor party there must lie a strong, clear-headed left-wing which knows that the real aim of any working-class movement must be the complete overthrow of the oppressors, the overthrow of ths profiteering system and the establishment of a workers’ republic; who know that there will have to be some more Boston tea parties in tbe U.S. and a new Declaration of Independence – independence from the profiteers. Such a vanguard within the labor party the CPLA will be. A bunch of radicals without the masses is helpless. But it is not guaranteed either that big masses organized in a labor party without a sense of direction, will not land in the ditch.

Raise the slogan of a mass party of the workers and dirt farmers everywhere – in the unions, in the unemployed leagues, in farm organizations, in cooperatives, in political parties and groups which claim to serve the masses! Smash the parties of the bosses and bankers! Build the party of Labor!

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