New York Trotskyism in the 1930s

Hellman, Geoffrey

Publisher:  The New Yorker
Date Written:  16/12/1939
Year Published:  1939  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21503

A look into the 1930s socialist movement in New York, including a historical background of Trotskyism and a list of the Trotskyists goals to improve American politics.



The political group familiarly known either as the Trotskyists of the Trotskyites is officially called the Socialist Workers Party. A lot of its members feel this name is confusing, since the Party has just about as little patience with the Socialists as it has with the Stalinists, the Lovestonites, President Roosevelt, and Father Coughlin, all of whom the Trotskyists would like to blow up. It regards itself as the orthodox Marxist Party and it looks upon the regular Communist Party as at best a rather contemptible reformist group. During the eleven years of its existence it has consistently maintained direct contact with Trotsky and an uncompromising policy of world revolution against all existing forms of government, every one of which it considers too far to the right.


I asked for a statement on the Socialist Workers' position in the contemporary American political scene and was referred to the September issue of the Appeal, which contains a photograph of Cordell Hull, captioned "Bankers' Hatchet Man," and the following platform:

1. A job and a decent wage for every worker.
2. Open the idle factories-operate them under workers' control.
3. A twenty-billion-dollar federal public works and housing program.
4. Thirty-thirty! $30-weekly minimum wage - 30-hour weekly maximum for all workers on all jobs.
5. Thirty-dollar weekly old-age and disability pension.
6. Expropriate the sixty families.
7. All war funds to the unemployed.
8. A people's referendum on any and all wars.
9. No secret diplomacy.
10. An independent labor party.
11. Workers' defense guards against vigilante and fascist attacks.

During the past few weeks a twelfth plank has been added to this platform: "Full social, political, and economic equality for the Negro people." There are only a handful of Negro Trotskyists as yet, but the Party is making a drive to get more.
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