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Final Argument


Albert Goldman

Tells the Minneapolis Jury That We Seek
to Organize “the Immense Majority
in the Interest of the Immense Majority”

“If, as Our Writings Show, We Want Majority of People
to Accept Our Ideas, Why Should We Advocate Violence?”

(27 & 28 November 1941)


From The Militant, Vol. V No. 52, 27 December 1941, pp. 3–5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


This is the second installment of the brilliant final argument of chief defense counsel and defendant. Albert Goldman to the jury in the Minneapolis “sedition” trial. The initial portion of this address, published in last week’s Militant, included a conclusive refutation of the federal prosecution’s charges that the Socialist Workers Party and its program constitute a “conspiracy to overthrow the government by force and violence.” In years to come, this speech will be read and studied as a model both of a principled defense of the rights of working-class political minorities, and as an historic exposition of the ideas of Marxian socialism.

* * *

What We Mean by Majority

Mr. Anderson read an article of mine which I introduced into evidence just before closing the case for the defense. It was published in The Militant of March 29, 1941.

In order to prove that we did not believe in convincing a majority of the people, Mr. Anderson showed that in that article I used the term “majority” without mentioning the people and at other times I used the term “majority of the working class.”

What do I mean when I use the phrase “the majority of the working class?” Read the section that I have already cited from the Communist Manifesto. Read in my pamphlet, What is Socialism, that section where I state specifically that there are probably no more than three million people who can be considered capitalists in the United States. Read that section in my pamphlet which says that the working class in an industrially developed country like the United States, constitutes a majority of the people. And then read that section where I say that the workers, even though they are in a majority, must have the help of the middle classes, especially of the farmers, in order to achieve victory, and you will see that I cannot mean, what Mr. Anderson says I mean, that is, a majority of only one class, a minority of the people.

The industrial wage workers are the ones to take the lead in the struggle against the capitalist system. In the first place, they come more directly in conflict with the owners of industry – in the big steel mills, auto plants, mines, etc. In the second place, the industrial wage workers are used to working together – cooperation is the key word under socialism and the industrial wage workers in their factories learn to work cooperatively. They understand that it is necessary under conditions of modern industry to work cooperatively in order to build an automobile or a complicated machine.

The farmer, on the other hand, working on his own land, tends to be individualistic. It is necessary for the workers to get the support of the farmers. In my pamphlet I state that in a socialist society the farmers will finally come to realize the advisability of cooperative farming. The point that I want to emphasize is that whenever we use the expression “the majority” or “the majority of the people” or “the majority of the working class” we mean one and the same thing – the same thing that I read to you from the Communist Manifesto:

“All previous historical movements were movements of minorities or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority in the interest of the immense majority.”
 

What the Seeking of a Majority Means

I am certain that, if the government in this case were simply interested in bringing into court possible violators of a law, it would have moved for a dismissal of the case immediately upon learning that the Socialist Workers Party aims to get a majority of the people to accept its ideas. If counsel for the government did not know our position before, they should by now have wired Washington for permission to dismiss the case because the phrase majority of people settles all questions as far as our guilt of advocating the violent overthrow of the government is concerned.

I presume, ladies and gentlemen, that you do not think the defendants are insane. You may not agree with us; you may think that we are Utopians, but I believe you consider us sane people. Only insane people, however, would be capable of actually preferring and desiring violence. If there is an individual who says that he wants a violent overthrow of the government, a violent transformation from the capitalist system to the socialist system, he belongs in the insane asylum.

And if, as is shown by our writings, we want a majority of the people to accept our ideas, why should we advocate a violent change from capitalism to socialism? What does advocate mean? To incite, to urge. We would then be convicted of saying: Even though we shall get a majority of the people behind us, we still want to overthrow the government by violence. The fact that we want a majority of the people to accept our ideas proves beyond all doubt that we want a peaceful transformation.

I want to repeat this fundamental proposition because it is all-important: If we want a majority of the people, as we do, to accept our ideas, then we must be in favor of a peaceful “destruction” of the government. Does peaceful destruction sound paradoxical? Not if you understand it correctly in the sense that it means the removal of certain persons ruling on the basis of certain principles, and replacing them by other persons obligating themselves to rule upon different principles. When government counsel failed to

stress the fact that the Socialist Workers Party desires to have a majority of the people on its side, it could only be explained on the hypothesis that Washington in this case was out for a conviction regardless of the evidence.

The only interpretation that honest people can accept of the idea of violence as contained in our program is the following: We predict that even after a majority of the people will be won over to the ideas of socialism and will try to establish socialism peacefully, the minority, organized by the capitalists, will resist with violence. Especially is that true now, because of the rise of fascism.
 

The Prosecution Distorts Our Ideas

One factor that you must take into consideration and always be on your guard against, is the possibility of distortion by excerpts. A person writes an article, a party formulates a program based on fundamental theories. Along comes a prosecutor and snatches an excerpt here and a sentence there. The possibility of distortion is very great.

“Think not that I am come to bring peace on earth. I come not to bring peace, but the sword, and the son shall be set against the father, and the daughter against the mother, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law.” Is not the one who wrote these two verses an advocate of violence and hatred? If Mr. Anderson did not know that the Prince of Peace uttered these words, he probably would seek to indict the author.

Every piece of great literature can be distorted. The Bible can be made into an obscene book simply by taking out certain excerpts. This is the method which the jury must guard against. Excerpts can be found from the writings of Karl Marx, from our program, from Trotsky, from Lenin, which would indicate that we want and we advocate a violent revolution, but that would be false, that would be a distortion, because taking the program as a whole, it is clear that we want to gain a majority of the people to our ideas, and from that it follows that we want to gain power peacefully.
 

Reactionaries Will Instigate Violence Against Majority

Will there be struggle at the time the majority decides to establish socialism? I told you before that in this society struggle is an unalterable law. At times the struggle is on a political plane, at times it is on an economic plane. Workers join together, create a union, try to get a raise in wages or an improvement in conditions, and struggle follows.

And sometimes that struggle is accompanied by violence. That is true not only of a strike of truck drivers in Minneapolis. Read the history of the labor struggles in the United States, of great strikes in Colorado, in southern Illinois, in Ohio and elsewhere, and you will convince yourselves that violence is not something that occurs in strikes led by Trotskyists. In 1877, at a time when socialists were never heard of outside, perhaps, of New York City, there were great railroad strikes, and violence resulted. What caused the violence? The agitation of some people? No. The bitter struggle between exploited workers and greedy employers.

Unfortunately, we are compelled to say that in all probability the social revolution will be accompanied by violence. Do we therefore advocate violence? No. We want a peaceful transformation.

There have been civil wars in history. History does not know of a single case where a ruling group, controlling economic and political power, has peacefully surrendered that power to a majority. Perhaps we have entered a period when the ruling class will realize that it is useless to struggle and will surrender its power without violence. We hope so; we hope that the ruling class in this country, when confronted by a majority determined to establish a new social order, will see the advisability of giving in peacefully. But we do not want to create that illusion; and that is what we mean in our Declaration of Principles when we say it is an illusion that socialism can be introduced through parliamentary means. It simply means that we believe that after we gain a majority of the people to our ideas, the ruling group will not surrender peacefully.
 

Our Rights Were Won by Struggle

Theoretically, the existence of political democracy offers a chance to achieve socialism in a peaceful manner. But even the democratic rights that we have now have not been gained without struggle.

Do you think that everyone had a right to vote in the early stages of the republic? No, there were property qualifications. A struggle began to abolish these qualifications. Mass agitations, mass demonstrations were utilized in that struggle. People were jailed in that struggle, but finally they won the passage of laws granting the right of suffrage to every person without any property qualifications. But go down into the South and you will find that the Negroes still do not have the right to vote.

Take the principle of compulsory free education. Do you think that was gained without tremendous agitation that lasted for years and decades? Read the history of our country and you will see differently. Nothing, nothing of value that mankind possesses has been achieved without sacrifice, without struggle.

The prosecutors point to our literature which speaks about mass demonstrations and mass agitation. We do not deny that we believe in the effectiveness of mass demonstrations. The prosecutors must have forgotten that in the history of this country many things have been won by mass demonstrations.

We are now in a period when the people should have economic democracy in addition to political democracy, and a struggle will be necessary in order to achieve that. It will be waged on the political field; it will be waged in strikes against employers; it will be waged in debates, mass demonstrations, in the courtrooms, and people will be jailed.
 

We Shall Try to Avoid Violence

On the basis of their analysis of history and social conditions, Marxists predict the future. Will we be right? No one knows. I hope, and I am certain that every one of my co-defendants do, that our prediction with reference to violence accompanying the social revolution will not be fulfilled.

We want to take over the means of production peacefully, but we predict that the minority will use violence to prevent the majority from achieving a peaceful transformation, and it is necessary to be ready for the violence of that minority.

We are not able to predict with great exactness. A social scientist cannot predict with the exactitude of a physical scientist. What we can say now, however, is that as the ideas of socialism gain ground, as more and more people become convinced that socialism is the only possible solution, the fascists will also gain strength. In Germany the fascists were financed by the big industrialists. The capitalists in this country will do the same. They will finance the fascists to destroy the labor movement. The only real possibility of avoiding violence is for the working masses and the farmers to organize so strongly that the minority of capitalists will not attempt the use of violence.

The fact that we support the formation of a Labor Party is an indication that we shall try our best to exhaust all possibilities for a peaceful change. To Mr. Anderson our support of a Labor Party if evidence of a plot. To him it means that we would like to see a Labor Party so that the dupes in that party will participate in elections while we, behind the scenes, plot to overthrow the government by violence. What utter nonsense!

Mr. Cannon said on the witness stand that, as serious political people, expecting the masses to accept our ideas, we cannot conceal those ideas. We cannot say or do one thing and expect that the masses will be able to read our minds and follow us in doing something else. According to Mr. Anderson, we organized a Union Defense Guard in order to overthrow the government by force and violence. Bur he never proved, because he never could prove, that we ever told that to the members of the Union Defense Guard. Presumably, then, we would call together the Union Defense Guard one fine morning and reveal the startling secret to them that they are expected to overthrow the government by force and violence. Is it not absurd to think that we expect people to follow us in an attempt to overthrow the government when we have never told them that that was their duty?

Our task is to inform the masses of our ideas. We cannot possibly be conspirators, because we want to educate the majority of the people to accept our ideas. There is a section in our Declaration of Principles which says specifically that our task is to convince the masses that our ideas and our solution to the problems of mankind are correct and that it is impossible to use force against the masses. We can only use the power of persuasion and no other power.

Through a Labor Party we attempt to educate the masses to act independently on the political field and also to exhaust all possibilities of a peaceful change. We do not claim that the creation of a Labor Party will assure a peaceful change. We are against creating illusions because even if a labor party is created, the probability of the capitalists organizing a minority to prevent a peaceful change remains the same. And we are not afraid to tell the masses exactly that, and it is not against the law to say so. It is against the law to incite and urge people to overthrow the government by force and violence, but it is not against the law to predict that violence will be used by the minority to thwart the will of the majority. And this is the crux of the question, ladies and gentlemen:

On the basis of the evidence you can find only that, basing ourselves on an analysis of history, on an analysis of the social forces operating in present society, we declare that the probability is overwhelming that the social revolution will be accompanied by violence – the violence of the minority determined to guard its rights, its powers, its privileges.

I think – I am certain – that the court will instruct you that if, in considering all of the evidence in the case, you conclude that the evidence may just as well be consistent with the innocence of the defendants as with the guilt of the defendants, you are under an obligation to accept the hypothesis of innocence. That is the law.

Let us assume that after listening to all of the evidence and all the arguments in this case, and after reading all of the exhibits, you say to yourselves that the evidence can be interpreted in two ways: one, that the defendants advocated the violent overthrow of the government, and the other that the defendants predicted that there will be violence. Then you must accept the latter hypothesis and find us not guilty.
 

Historic Examples of Violence by Reactionaries

Mr. Cannon pointed out under cross examination by Mr. Schweinhaut some historical examples where the majority won the power peacefully, but where the ruling minority initiated violence and began a counter revolution. One example is our own Civil War where, after Lincoln was elected by the people, the southern slaveholders began the revolt. The slaveholders refused to give up their privilege of owning chattel slaves and fought to extend slavery. Violence began, but it came from the South, from the minority, and it was not until the majority of the people residing in the North assembled all their forces that they were able to put down the slaveholders’ revolt.

Who was responsible for the violence? A minority of slaveholders determined to hold on to their property rights against the majority of the people.

I presume there were many people who, prior to the Civil War, predicted that violence would accompany the abolition of slavery. Were they responsible, then, for the Civil War? Is the Civil War not a clear example of a peaceful accession to power and the use of violence by a minority to overthrow the majority?

In Spain we have another example. The Loyalist government had the support of the vast majority of the people and came to power because of the support of the people. The fascists thereupon organized their minority, and with the aid of Germany and Italy, began a violent counter-revolution and succeeded in defeating the majority.

On the basis of these historic examples and many others, on the basis of the present day struggles in industry, where the employers do not hesitate to use violence to prevent workers from organizing unions and improve their working conditions, we predict that the social revolution, which will have as its aim to take away the wealth and the power and the privileges of a small minority, will be resisted by that minority to the death.

The more we emphasize that possibility, the more the people understand that possibility and prepare for it, the less will be the violence. But if violence does come, will we be responsible? Is the weatherman responsible for predicting a hurricane? Is the physician responsible when he predicts death for the patient? Is the astronomer responsible when he predicts the coming of an eclipse? Are we, predicting a great social storm at the time of the social revolution, responsible for the violence that may ensue?
 

What Is a Revolutionary Situation?

A great deal has been made by the prosecution of the fact that in our writings appears the statement that we intend to take advantage of a revolutionary situation. What is that revolutionary situation? The only government witness who attempted to explain it, Bartlett, went way beyond his depth. He may be a shrewd union business agent, but he is hardly capable of explaining the theoretical problems connected with socialism.

The prerequisites for a revolutionary situation have been summed up by Marxists to be the following: first and foremost is the decline of the social system when the forces of production can no longer function effectively; second, the inability of the ruling class to solve the problems it is confronted with; third, great suffering of the masses; fourth, the desire and determination of the masses to change the social system; fifth and final, existence of a party trained to understand the operation of social forces, able to predict the direction in which society moves, and determined not to permit a minority from thwarting the will of the majority.

Mr. Cannon correctly explained to you that these conditions do not as yet exist in the United States. Much has been said here by the prosecution to the effect that the defendants believe that the war will create a revolutionary situation. Perhaps it will, ladies and gentlemen, but are we responsible for the war? And if the war does create a revolutionary situation, can we be held responsible for the revolutionary situation? Perhaps the prosecution – and by the prosecution I do not mean Mr. Schweinhaut or Mr. Anderson, but Washington – should busy itself with passing a law preventing the war from creating a revolutionary situation. Or might I suggest that in order to prevent the possibility of a revolutionary situation, the present administration refrain from going to war.

THE COURT: We will take our afternoon recess now.

(AFTERNOON RECESS)
 

Advocacy of Violence – or Prediction?

THE COURT: You may proceed.

MR. GOLDMAN: The distinction between prediction and advocacy should by this time be perfectly clear. But that does not seem to be the case as far as government counsel are concerned. They introduced into evidence my pamphlet What is Socialism and read an excerpt from it beginning with Page 33. This is the pamphlet that I handed out to you at the beginning of the trial and if you have read it, you probably saw that it was written in very simple language because it consists of a series of lectures delivered to workers. It is under such conditions that the clearest exposition of our thought is necessary because when one speaks to workers he is compelled to reduce his ideas into the simplest terms. On Page 33 I asked the following question:

“What methods will the workers be compelled to use in order to destroy the political power of the capitalists and to establish their own power?”

And I went on:

“In countries, such as Germany and Italy, where the fascists have destroyed every right that the workers ever had, it is perfectly clear that the workers will be compelled to use violence in order to get rid of their fascist oppressors. But how about the United States, England or France?” – the pamphlet was written in 1938 before the Vichy government took control – “In these countries the workers have the right to vote. Why is it not possible for them to elect a majority of socialists in Congress or in Parliament and establish socialism by law?”

“A peaceful change,” I wrote, “is an ideal most desirable. Everyone, especially the revolutionary socialists, will subscribe to that idea” – I say a peaceful change, I do not say a violent one – ‘‘the question, however, is not whether it is desirable but whether it is possible. On the statute books of most of the states there are ‘criminal syndicalism’ laws” – and the Smith Law, upon which the second count of this indictment is based, is a criminal syndicalism law – “providing long prison sentences for anyone who advocates the overthrow of the government by violence. Such laws will be as effective as laws against the occurrence of earthquakes. For revolutions cannot be prevented by any law. Like convulsions in nature, they are the result of the evolution of forces beyond the power of man to stop.”

Then here comes the significant section, the section that should settle all doubts concerning the question –

“On the basis of history and of theory, we are justified in predicting that the capitalist class will not surrender power to the working class without a violent struggle. History knows no example of the peaceful surrender of an exploiting minority to an oppressed majority. The actual conduct of the capitalist class at the present time, the violence which it uses against the workers when they strike for an improvement in their conditions, confirm the historical lesson, and justify the prediction that they, who will lose their wealth and power, will utilize all forms of violence against the overwhelming majority.”

What possible interpretation can anyone who is free of prejudice place upon that paragraph other than that I predict, but I do not advocate, the use of violence. I concluded:

“The form of government in the United States practically guarantees the ruling class its domination against the will of the majority of the people. To introduce socialism by law would require an amendment to the Constitution and for that, a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress and a majority in three-fourths of the state legislatures is required. Thirteen small and backward states could prevent any Amendment to the Constitution. Revolutionary socialists all favor a peaceful transformation of the present order to the socialist order” – we favor it, we want it, we desire it, then how, I ask, can we advocate the contrary – “but he is insane who thinks that millions of workers will consent to starve because a minority of exploiters will threaten to, and will actually use violence against them.”

I continue reading:

“If there is any one thing that will prevent the capitalists from using violence, it will be the strong organizations of the working class. The greater the strength of the working class organizations, the less violence will there be.”

If, after reading this section of my pamphlet and after reading my column published in The Militant of March 29, 1941, the prosecution still insists in pressing this case, it must be that Washington wants a conviction regardless of the evidence. Possibly the prosecution missed this section of my pamphlet and missed the column which I wrote, but they know about them now and have known about them for several weeks; and for the prosecution to continue this case can mean nothing else but a determination to get a conviction regardless of the evidence.
 

Why We Are Revolutionary Socialists

If you consider what motives have led the defendants into the socialist movement you can realize how absurd it is to accuse them of advocating violence. You have seen enough of the defendants and heard enough about their theories to convince you, I am certain, that it was not for personal gain that the defendants have become socialists. We are in a small minority and can therefore expect for a long time to come to meet only with hatred and scoffing, with persecution and prosecution. You can realize that we are in the socialist movement because we are devoted to its ideas and ideals.

If there is any one thing that impelled us to join the socialist movement, it is a hatred of the violence that exists in society – not only the physical violence but spiritual and moral violence – the violence which condemns children to starvation or semi-starvation because of the poverty of the parents, the violence which condemns children to go to work long before they have received an adequate education. Everywhere in society there is violence of one sort or another, culminating in the dreadful violence which sacrifices millions of human beings upon the altar of war. It is this violence which we hate that drives us into a movement which has as its ideal the creation of a world free from violence, where human beings will cooperate in the ‘production of goods to satisfy their needs, where peace and security will prevail.

We are, of course, not pacifists. We do not believe with Ghandi [sic!] that it is wrong for three hundred million people in India to use violence to drive out the British oppressors who claim to be fighting a war for democracy. As much as we hate the violence that exists in society, we see no alternative to the necessity of destroying the violence of the minority with the violence of the majority. But to accuse us of wanting and advocating violence is to accuse us of something that is revolting to our very nature.

Perhaps it would be fitting to close this section of my argument by quoting some people who are not in the ranks of the defendants and who can hardly be accused of being against the government.

”This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.”

None other than Abraham Lincoln said this in his first inaugural address.

“I hold a little revolution now and then as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

The man who uttered this sentiment is not on trial. It was Thomas Jefferson.
 

Our Position on the War

It would stand to reason that, once having settled the central question of the case, whether or not we advocate or predict violence, there should not be much more to say. But you will excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, if I continue the argument on matters that in my opinion are subsidiary but which the prosecution has emphasized over and over again.

There is always the danger that Mr. Anderson will claim that something is undenied and uncontradicted and perhaps it will be said, if I refrain from discussing other matters in the case, that I was afraid to do so.

The government follows a simple principle. It first assumes that the defendants are guilty of conspiring to advocate the overthrow of the government by force and violence and then it introduces evidence of our position and policies on various questions in order to prove that all of our activities are based on one motive and that is to further the conspiracy. If the defendants oppose the war, that shows that they are guilty of the central conspiracy; if they are active in the trade unions, that proves the same thing, and thus with all the activities of the defendants.

There are many people in this country opposed to our entry into the war, but since they are not members of the Socialist Workers Party they have the right to do so, but we who are members of the Socialist Workers Party have no such right.

The government of course did not have to introduce any evidence with reference to our opposition to the war; we would gladly have stipulated that we are guilty of that. As a matter of fact, the government could have shortened the case by at least two weeks if it had come to us and asked us to stipulate the facts on a great many questions which it laboriously attempted to prove. We could have stipulated that we oppose the war, that we visited Leon Trotsky and that we sent men to guard him, that we advocate the creation of Workers Defense Guards, etc. These things are found in our principles. Ninety per cent of what the government tried to prove, we would have stipulated to and we could then have gone to the heart of the question as to whether or not we conspired to advocate the overthrow of the government by force. But since the government took all this trouble to prove things that we admit, it is necessary for me to explain those policies and analyze them.

The government accuses us of two things with reference to the war, one, that we oppose it, and two, that we intend to take advantage of a revolutionary situation which we expect the war to create.

While it is true that we hold wars to be inevitable under the capitalist system, it is also true that we would like to avoid them. War is the greatest destructive force in modern society. If this war should last for years, it may well be that all the resources of society will be exhausted and not even a social revolution could solve the problems of mankind. With the exhaustion of all the material and spiritual forces of society, the possibility of creating a new social system is very slim. We would then have to wait until the material and spiritual resources of mankind are resuscitated.

It is our duty to prevent war if possible and to shorten the war if war is declared in spite of our efforts. We shall try to convince the masses that in order to live and in order to permit their children and their children’s children to live, they are under an obligation to end the war and create a socialist order.
 

Our Anti-War Opinions Are Being Prosecuted

There is at present no law making it a crime to oppose the war. But I am safe in saying that our opposition to the war is one of the most important, if not the most important, factor in explaining this prosecution. The rules of evidence do not permit me, as I indicated before, to go into the motives for the prosecution; but I would say that the address of Mr. Anderson yesterday and the emphasis which the prosecution has placed throughout the course of the trial on the party’s position with reference to the war and with reference to our policy on military training, justifies the conclusion that to a large extent it is our opposition to the war that explains this prosecution.

To justify the introduction of our position on the war into evidence, the government contends that our opposition to the entry of the United States into the war, and our statement that we will continue to oppose the war even after the United States declares war, is evidence that we are conspiring to overthrow the government by force and violence. A far-fetched and an unreasonable contention! There are pacifists, conscientious objectors and others opposed to the war who are not interested in establishing socialism or overthrowing the government. There are socialists of a type that support the war. Only we revolutionary socialists who oppose the war are prosecuted.

As I indicated, there is no law preventing us from opposing the war. Nor is there a law which prohibits people from saying that they will continue to oppose the war even after war is declared. Of course when war will be declared, the Espionage Act will-come into effect, making certain statements about the war unlawful, but thus far war has not been declared and I am certain that no one could be convicted simply for a statement that he intends to oppose the war even after it will be declared.
 

Where We Stand on the War

Our reasons for our opposition to the war have been sufficiently clarified by the testimony of the defense and I need not go into detail. We consider the war, on the part of England, of Germany, of France, of Italy, of Japan and of the United States as imperialist in character. We do not hesitate to admit that. We have written and said it thousands of times.

What do we mean by characterizing the war on the part of these countries as imperialist? We mean that the ruling classes which are responsible for the war and which lead the masses into the war are fighting to protect or to acquire markets, colonies, sources of raw material and spheres of influence. Germany wants the colonies that England has. England came upon the scene first, grabbed off most of the rich colonies in the world, and now Germany is trying to get some of these colonies away from England. The United

States has not very many colonies in the strict sense of the word, but it has billions of dollars invested in Latin America and in other parts of the world and it wants markets in China, in the Far East.

One of the government witnesses, Mr. Harris I believe, was a member of the Marine Corps and he testified that he was stationed in China some time ago and Mr. Anderson praised him to the sky for serving his country in China. We do not conceal our belief that the marines in China are not there to protect the interests of the people of the United States but the interests of the Standard Oil Company and other big companies who have investments in China. The capitalists of this country are not interested in the development of China; they are interested in China because it furnishes them a market for the sale of their goods and a field for the investment of their capital.

The same thing is true with reference to Latin America. Roosevelt, representing the interests of the American capitalists, is not interested in the welfare of the people of Latin America. The claim that the present administration is interested in fighting for democracy can be disproved by the fact that when Franco was fighting the Loyalist government in Spain, the present administration declared its neutrality. It was not interested in defending democracy so long as there was no threat to the economic interests of the American capitalist class.
 

Our Attitude Toward Imperialist War

When we state that this is an imperialist war, it follows that we cannot possibly support the administration in its war efforts. You may not agree with us – some of you undoubtedly think that we are wrong – but I hope that in considering the evidence in this case, your opinion as to the correctness or incorrectness of our attitude on the war should not sway in the least your decision.

Mr. Cannon explained in his testimony for the defense that opposition to the war means non-support in a political sense. If any member of our party were a member of Congress, he would not vote for a declaration of war, nor would he vote for the war budget. No matter how much we may antagonize any jury, we must say that because it is the truth.

Certain expressions found in some of the literature introduced by the government have been emphasized by the prosecution, especially the expression, “Turn imperialist war into civil war”. This expression is not found in our Declaration of Principles. I never used it either in my pamphlet or in any of the columns I wrote for The Militant. But it has been used, and by great socialists, and at times it has been repeated by some of our members. If you should take this expression into consideration, you must take it in connection with our general program which says that we must win over a majority of the people. The expression is correctly interpreted as follows: If, in the midst of the war or at the end of the war, a majority of the people, tired and weary and driven by the agony and suffering to which they will be subjected by the war, will accept our ideas and decide to take power, then if the minority will resist, the result will be that the imperialist war will be turned into a civil war. That is the only correct way to interpret that expression in the light of our Declaration of Principles which says that we must win a majority of the people over to our ideas.

We say now and we shall continue to say it as long as we are permitted, that war is a result of the conflict between imperialist nations.
 

We Predicted This War

The exhibits introduced by the government show that long before the war began we predicted that it would come. Were we then responsible for it when we predicted its coming? Who is responsible for the war? In the last analysis, not even Hitler who fired the first shot, is responsible. As far as we are concerned, the responsibility for this war is primarily upon the system that creates the imperialist rivalries. On the basis of the present system Leagues of Nations, Kellogg Peace Pacts and all the good intentions in the world cannot preserve peace.

Most of you are old enough to remember the statements that were made during the last war, that it was a war for democracy and it was a war to end wars. And the results of the last war are visible to everyone – fascism and now another war. Who was right? Socialists like Lenin who said that without socialist revolutions all over the world , there will be more imperialist wars, or the people who proclaimed that the first World War was the last war? We can predict with absolute certainty the same thing that Lenin predicted in the first World War: if socialism does not come, more wars will follow.
 

Fascism Must Be Destroyed – How?

The vast majority of the people of this country are terribly afraid of Hitler and justifiably so. I don’t think the isolationists are correct when they say that we do not have to fear an invasion of this country by Hitler. It is not a question of invasion; it is a question of imperialist rivalries and Hitler is no doubt the greatest potential enemy of the ruling group in this country and above all he is the greatest potential enemy of the American masses. The destruction of Hitler – and I am using Hitler as a symbol of fascism – is a task which should be undertaken by everyone who values freedom and culture. No nation is sure of liberty so long as fascism exists anywhere in the world.

But the question is: What method should be used in exterminating the fascist danger? We contend that this war is not a war against Hitlerism. I he British ruling class is not hostile to fascism. It can be taken as an elementary proposition that the British ruling class is not interested in preserving democracy.

The people of Great Britain and the people of this country are interested in democracy and want to fight for it, but in our opinion to fight under the leadership of the Churchill government or under the leadership of any other capitalist government is to fight not for democracy but for the financiers and industrialists.
 

Fascism Is the Product of Decaying Capitalism

Even assuming that Hitler should be defeated, fascism will not be destroyed because fascism is not a product of Hitler but it is a product of a decaying capitalist system. Dislocation of economy is bound to follow this war; millions of men will be thrown out of work, misery and suffering will be their lot and in such a situation fascism is bound to flourish. It is in such a situation that the fascist demagogues of Germany succeeded in gaining power. The German people, crushed and humiliated by the Versailles peace, not given a chance to work and live, were thrown into the arms of Hitler. Should capitalism continue to exist after this war, fascism is inevitable unless the masses of people take their fate into their own hands and create a socialist order.

Should war last a long time, the possibility of a peace between the imperialist nations is very great. The British ruling class and the American ruling class can easily come to terms with Hitler if they cannot defeat him, but not so the working masses; they must fight Hitler to the very death – especially the socialists who know the fate that awaits them if Hitler is victorious.

The prosecution statement that in a war between the United States and Germany the defendants will prefer a victory of Germany is made either because of complete ignorance of our position or because of a malicious intention to falsify our position. Mr. Anderson said that in his opening statement. At that time, he did not perhaps know our position with reference to this question. Let no one dare, however, to stand up before you now after the exhibits have been introduced and say that we want a Hitler victory.
 

Our Program to Defeat Fascism

We say that to defeat Hitlerism it is necessary for the masses to assume leadership in that struggle.

What is the fundamental reason for Hitler’s victories? Is it simply because he has been preparing for a longer time? How could he win his victories if a large section of the German people did not support him? To say that the German people, a great and cultured people, willingly accept the violent regime of Hitler is to insult the Germans. They are, however, given no alternative; it is either supporting Hitler or suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of the British imperialists and they fear that more than they fear a Hitler victory.

Hitler can come to the German people and say truthfully: The British ruling class has a monopoly on the wealth of this world; we ought to have our share of it. When he attacks Churchill and the British ruling class, he is speaking the truth – at least 90 per cent of the time; when he talks about his own intentions, he speaks nothing but lies. The same is true of Churchill who tells the truth only when he is attacking Hitler.

The situation would be entirely changed if in England the workers would establish their own socialist government and if in the United States a Workers’ and Farmers’ Government would displace the present capitalist government.

Socialist governments in England and the United States would proclaim to the German people: “We have nothing against you; all we want is that you join us in creating a cooperative commonwealth throughout the whole world. We have no ambitions against your territory and we shall not do anything to deprive you of your liberty; revolt against Hitler and establish your own Socialist government.” Hitler could not last one week after such an appeal. He would be destroyed by his own people.

This is our solution to the problem of Hitlerism. Unfortunately we are as yet too small a group really to influence the thought of the masses. It is not we who will create difficulties for the ruling class in this country; it is the war that will create those difficulties. Let us assume a war which will last five or even more years; the cost of living will be going up; over 50 per cent of our productive efforts will go for war purposes; the people in this country will be suffering as well as the people in England and in Germany and in Italy; and we hope that the day will come when all the peoples of the various countries will fraternize and put an end to the conflict which is now being fought to guard the interests of the ruling cliques.
 

The Class Struggle Will Intensify

It is nonsense to think that a small party like ours can, by its agitation, create dissatisfaction. What will create dissatisfaction is the war and we are not responsible for that.

The class struggle will go on during the war whether we agitate for it or not. We have very little influence in the labor movement but the struggle goes on right now. With the cost of living going up, the workers are bound to strike for higher wages and he is indeed foolish who thinks that, by putting us behind bars, strikes will cease. Neither will a revolutionary situation be prevented by putting us behind bars. It would be necessary to put the whole working class behind bars in order to assure the capitalists the kind of peace that they want. Hitler thinks that by his methods of force he can bring to an end the class struggle and this trial is an indication that the same methods will be used in this country. The spectre of fascism haunts this trial – a mass trial that is characteristic of trials in Italy and in Germany.

I do not mean to say that fascism is here; we still have a chance to argue before a jury, but the very fact that a large number of people can be dragged into court because of their ideas and writings is an indication that the monster of fascism is coming ever closer to us.

“Revolutionary defeatism” is another expression that the prosecution points to as something terrible to contemplate. I expressly defined that phrase in the column that I referred to before, published in The Militant of March 29, 1941. It simply means that we continue to advocate the class struggle during the war. By that is meant that if the workers have any grievances, they should demand the settlement of those grievances and if no settlement is made, they should go on strike. Will that interfere with the military effort? The responsibility is not that of the workers but of the employers who refuse to settle the grievances.
 

What Political Opposition Means

In that same article I state that we want to carry on our agitation and gain a majority even during the war. But so long as we have no majority, there is nothing for us to do except to submit to the majority. “To submit to the majority’’, ladies and gentlemen, that phrase is found several times in my column. Do the prosecutors expect us to change our ideas because there is a war? Do they want us to stop thinking? Yes, we want to convince workers and soldiers that our ideas are correct and until we convince the majority, we are willing to submit to the decisions of the majority. For any government to demand anything more than that means practically introducing fascism.

In that article I expressly state that our party opposes sabotage, opposes any individual or group action which would obstruct the conduct of the war. If the prosecutors were fair and had the power to dismiss this case, they would do so without hesitation the moment their attention was brought to this column. He who would contend, after reading that article, that we are in favor of a victory of Hitler or that we would practice sabotage, does not want to read correctly.

Of course, under Mr. Anderson’s theory, to teach socialism constitutes, in and of itself, sabotage. He stated that, but he does not claim that we would try to sabotage the army by doing something to the rifles or to the planes or cannons so that they could not be used properly. The prosecutors simply claim that, if the soldiers listen to our theories, they will not fight for the government. In other words, socialism is sabotage to the prosecutors regardless of the fact that we say over and over again that so long as we are not in a majority, we can do nothing but what we are told to do.

THE COURT: We will adjourn now.

MORNING SESSION
Friday, November 28, 1941

THE COURT: You may proceed.

MR. GOLDMAN: Once more I beg your indulgence for taking so much of your time. Last night I went through my notes and I cut out enough to shorten my argument by about four hours. If, in your deliberations, someone asks why did not Goldman touch upon this matter and that matter, then the answer is that I had to refrain from discussing many questions because of lack of time.

Yesterday, in discussing the question of whether or not we advocate or predict violence, I forgot to mention the fact that in the majority of instances where violence is mentioned in the exhibits, it refers to defense against the fascists. This is an important point which I ask you to consider in your deliberations.
 

The Proletarian Military Policy of Our Party

The indictment, charges us with conspiring to create insurrection and disobedience in the armed forces of the United States. It is important to discuss our so-called military policy. The government depends upon that policy, I think, in its attempt to convince you that we are guilty of that section of the indictment.

When the question of compulsory military service was first taken up in Congress and a discussion upon it began in the country, our party felt it necessary to take a position on that question.

As you know, there are people in this country who are pacifists and conscientious objectors who, under no circumstances, would fight in the armed forces or even allow themselves to be drafted for military service, There are many socialists who take a similar stand.

We, on the other hand, considered the situation from its fundamental aspect, namely, that in this epoch when fascism has come upon the scene with its horrible violence, it is futile not to recognize the fact that all important questions will be settled by military means. Not only futile, but extremely dangerous! Of all groups in society, we are most vehemently opposed to war but so long as war exists in the world and so long as there are fascists ready to use violence against the working class, every worker has the duty of training to defend himself. Young people will have to go to war whether they like it or not and since that is the case, we are in favor of having our youth trained in the arts of war. Modern warfare requires great technical skill and he is foolish who does not understand that it is necessary to acquire that skill.

We cannot tell the young generation to oppose military training when we know that it will be dragged into war. And it is on the basis of this fundamental proposition that we say to the young men: Do not resist compulsory military training; go into the army and do your best to get the training necessary to defend yourselves against the enemy from without and – we also added – against the enemy from within. In a world where fascism and violence and war dominates the scene, it is necessary for you to accept military training in order to defend yourselves.

Naturally, we would like our members, wherever they are, in the factory or in a union or in the army, to propagate our ideas, but we understand that the army is not a place where one can speak as freely as outside of the army. We don’t like it but we are realistic enough to understand that in the army it is necessary to be cautious. Just as a trade unionist in an open shop must be careful in propagating his ideas for trade unionism, so must a soldier in the army be careful in propagating ideas frowned upon by the generals. In the army, of course, it is far more dangerous to propagate socialism than it is to propagate trade unionism in an open shop. The greatest open shop institution in this country is the United States Army.

Conditions in our army are not so bad now as they were fifty or a hundred years ago. There was a time when it was impossible for a human being who was not brutalized to remain in the army. That has been changed and not without a struggle.
 

For Equal Rights in the Army

At present we advocate the idea that soldiers in the army should be on terms of equality with the officers. We consider the private soldiers equal in every way, except from the point of view of technical training, to the officers and we insist that they be treated in the same way as officers are treated. We advocate legislation compelling the officers to treat privates with respect and to change the rules which permit officers in charge of a military tribunal to inflict inhuman punishment for some minor infraction of the Military Code.

The government has introduced evidence that we urge the soldiers to kick about their food. I do not know whether there have been complaints about food in the army. If the food is not good, then the soldiers, including members of our party who are drafted, should kick about the food. If the prosecution is interested in preventing such complaints about the food, then let it see to it that the soldiers are provided with good food. Are we in a situation where soldiers must eat rotten food without complaining? That seems to be the theory of the prosecution.
 

Why Workers Follow Us

Here I want to point out to you the absurdity of the accusation levelled against us to the effect that we send our members into the army in order to kick about food and create insubordination, Do you think we could win any influence in that way, and after all, that is our main aim – to win

people over to our ideas, and thus gain influence. How do you think Vincent Dunne and Farrell Dobbs and Miles Dunne and Carl Skoglund and all the other leaders of Local 544 succeeded in gaining influence over the truck drivers? Simply by kicking?

And certainly not by proclaiming themselves to be Trotskyists. You can readily assume that the 6,000 truck drivers do not follow their leadership because it is composed of Socialist Workers Party members. The vast majority of the truck drivers is composed of Republicans, Democrats and Farmer-Laborites. But these people also voted for Farrell Dobbs and Vincent and Miles Dunne as their union leaders. Why? Because they saw in them men who have served their interests. The truck drivers may not even like the fact that those defendants who are leaders of Local 544 are socialists; but still they vote for them because they see in the defendants men who guard the interests of the workers. Our party members in Local 544 did not win influence among the truck drivers because they taught socialism, but because they improved the conditions under which the truck driver’s worked.

The same thing holds with reference to any of our members who may be in the army. They did not gain influence by teaching the abstract doctrine of socialism, but by taking care of the soldiers’ interests. It is true that we take advantage of every opportunity to teach the ideas of socialism. But we feel the socialist ideas will take root, not at present, when the vast majority of the people is satisfied with its conditions, but in the future when the masses will be driven to accept new ideas because of their suffering and privations. Human beings are very slow to change their ideas. The human mind is surrounded by a crust of all the ideas it has absorbed from childhood, and not until events destroy that crust is it ready to accept new ideas. It is because we want to get the confidence of the workers and the soldiers that we defend their immediate interests, and do not merely teach them the abstract doctrine of socialism.
 

Military Training Under Trade Union Control

We have put forth the idea of military training under trade union control. As Mr. Cannon testified, a training camp was operated in Plattsburg, New York, for the purpose of training businessmen and professional men as officers, and the government furnished the necessary funds. Why not have training camps where the trade unions could train their men both as soldiers and as officers?

In our opinion the great majority of generals and higher officers in the army are hostile to the laboring class. The higher officers are raised and trained in an environment which makes them hostile to the workers. They are not interested in democracy or in fighting for democracy. Have not the events in France confirmed our opinion in that respect? The American and British generals are not any different from the French generals. Who surrendered to Germany? Not the rank and file, but Petain and Weygand and the other generals in command of the French army. Who permitted the Germans to enter Norway? Not the rank and file soldiers, but the fascists in the upper ranks. We say plainly that we do not trust the generals and higher officers to fight for democracy.

Because of that we propose that the trade unions train their own officers – officers in whom the workers can have confidence and whom they can control. And you must remember, when you consider this point, that the trade unions are not under the control of the Socialist Workers Party, but under the control of men who are, from our viewpoint, very conservative, and even reactionary. Still, rather than have officers trained at West Point, we prefer to have them trained under trade union control because the trade unions are organizations of workers. Furthermore, you must remember that our program of military training under trade union control is a legislative program. We want Congress to pass legislation making such training possible by appropriating funds for that purpose.

Of course, as with all other activities and policies of the Socialist Workers Party, our idea of military training under trade union control is evidence, as far as the prosecution is concerned, of a conspiracy to overthrow the government by force. No matter what we do, it is taken by the government as evidence of this conspiracy. If we opposed military training, that would constitute evidence of a conspiracy; when we are for military training, that is brought in as evidence of a conspiracy!
 

Why We Want Workers’ Defense Guards

Another policy of ours which the government introduced as evidence of a conspiracy is our proposal of establishing Workers’ Defense Guards. We have no hesitation to admit that we would like to see the workers create such defense guards. I shall even admit – and let the government make the most of it – that if Workers’ Defense Guards should be created, they would defend the revolution of the majority against the violence of the minority. We shall do our utmost to create Workers’ Defense Guards so that when the majority of the people take power, it will be able to put down any revolt by the minority.

The charge that is levelled against us, you must remember, is that we are conspiring to overthrow and to advocate the overthrow of the government by force and violence. The government must first prove that charge beyond a reasonable doubt, and it cannot prove it by introducing evidence that we advise the establishment of Workers’ Defense Guards or a Union Defense Guard. If the jury agrees with me that we do not advocate the use of violence, but predict that the minority will use violence against the majority, then everything else is immaterial. It is perfectly proper for us to propose to workers the idea of creating defense guards to protect them against fascist violence, and mind you, we are not advocating a policy of creating defense guards of our own members. We want the workers to -build these defense guards.

Unfortunately, they have not as yet followed our proposals. The fascist danger is not so evident to the workers as it is to us, and they have not acted in accordance with our proposals. This is a fine example of the idea that it is not agitation that can bring certain things into existence. If conditions, are not ripe for it, then we can talk from now until doomsday and the workers will not follow our advice. There is not a single Workers’ Defense Guard in the United States today.

MR SCHWEINHAUT (Prosecutor): That statement, that there is not a single defense guard in the United States today, is not brought out by the evidence. The contrary has been established. As a matter of fact, in March of this year the Union Defense Guard was in existence in Minneapolis.

MR. GOLDMAN: I still contend on the basis of the evidence that there does not exist a single defense guard in the United States at the present time.

THE COURT: Well, the jury will remember what the evidence was on that particular question.

(To be continued next week)


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