Capitalist Terror in America Against Negro Workers

The capitalists and their obedient servants—the Social Democrats and fascists, the Churchills and Kautskys, the old men driven half-crazy by fear of a social catastrophe and the astute young men who aspire to be big parasites, the “pen gangsters and press pirates," all the biped scum bred by the capitalist system, all the vermin in human shape without which capitalism cannot exist— accuse the “Bolsheviks" of the Soviet Union of wanting to “destroy culture.” The bourgeois press has been issued the slogan by its masters: “The fight against the Bolsheviks, the fight against Communism, is a fight for culture!"

The capitalists, needless to say, have something to fight for. Their “culture" consists of a series of institutions which act quite freely with the object of defending and justifying the absolute and unlimited power of a parasitic minority over the laboring majority: the workers and peasants, and the petty bourgeois, who live by performing wretched little jobs for the big bourgeois. Their culture consists of schools where lies are told, of churches where lies are told, of parliaments where, too, lies are told, of a press which lies and calumniates. Their culture is the police, who have the right to manhandle and slay workers. Their culture has developed to an incredible height—to a continuous and daily war against the workers, who do not want to be robbed, do not want to be beggars, do not want their wives prematurely to lose their health and become old women at the age of thirty, their children to die of starvation and their daughters to prostitute themselves for a crust of bread, and who do not want crime—prompted by unemployment—to spread in the working people's honest midst.

In effect, the cultural life of bourgeois states amounts chiefly to street fighting between police and workers, to increasing suicide from starvation, to the spread of petty larceny owing to unemployment, to growing prostitution. This is no exaggeration: the “police chronicle" of all the bourgeois newspapers is filled with facts of this kind. The “cultured” bourgeois world lives in a continuous state of war with the working class, and the war grows more and more bloody every day. A minority fighting for the right to rob the majority with impunity—that, in a nutshell, is the whole cultural life of the present-day world outside the Soviet Union. In their war against the poor and hungry, the rich and well-fed try to weaken the working class in its striving to organize for the world-wide decisive fight, by tearing from its midst, flinging into jail or killing its most active individuals, and at the same time they try to intimidate the mass of the workers by condemning to death innocent men, of which the murder of Sacco and Vanzetti was an example.

Just now, in America, in the town of Scottsboro, a tragedy is being enacted which is reminiscent of the case of these two Italians who, after they had been sentenced to the death penalty, were kept in jail for seven years waiting to be burned in the electric chair. Against this murder of two innocently condemned men, the humanitarians of all Europe and its working class protested; but the protest did not produce a single crease in the wooden faces of the American millionaires. In Scottsboro, eight young Negroes have been condemned to death. They too are quite innocent. They were seized by the police at random, they were unacquainted with one another; nevertheless they were sentenced to death. This was done in order to intimidate the Negroes; this murder is a “precautionary measure." It is being committed because the Negro masses are being drawn more and more into the revolutionary movement and are taking their place side by side with the masses of white workers. They are beginning to take an active part in the struggle against American imperialism. Scared by the spread of the rebel spirit among the thirty million Negroes—workers and farmers—the bourgeoisie are doing their utmost to crush the growing fighting strength of the Negro masses. And the weapon they use is—white terror.

This is clearly to be seen in the bloody events at Camp Hill, Alabama. This case has added new fervor to the campaign the working class of the world is waging against lynching and in defense of the American Negro workers, and has laid additional stress on its importance.

This year the Negro share croppers of Tallapoosa County, Alabama, formed their own organization. It is militant, and is taking an active part in the Scottsboro campaign. A fortnight ago it called a meeting of its members in a church to protest against the Scottsboro case. The landowners mustered four hundred police and armed fascists, who attacked the church. In the course of the affray, Ralph Gray, the leader of the organization, was severely wounded and was carried home by his comrades. When the fascist ruffians learned that Gray was still alive, they surrounded and broke into his home and shot him in his bed, in the presence of the doctor who was tending his wounds. The fascists wrecked many a Negro hut in their hunt for officials of the organization. Four Negroes were carried off to the woods and lynched. Fifty-five Negroes have been arrested on a charge of “manslaughter."” Five leading officers of the organization are accused of “attempted murder." Sheriff Young, the ringleader of the fascist band, was severely injured while the heroes were attempting to defend themselves.

Take the jail in Harlan County, Kentucky, in the very heart of the East Kentucky mining region, which is a source of wealth to some of the biggest corporations in the country, and which has only hunger, poverty and death to offer to the miners and their families. In the dark dungeons of this jail lie nearly a hundred miners. Some of them are charged with manslaughter, and are menaced with the death penalty. Many of them are accused of “belonging to organized bands," others of “criminal syndicalism," because they addressed meetings. Three months ago the miners went on strike in an attempt to improve their miserable conditions. Governor Sampson brought out the constabulary against the strikers, and the mine owners set gangs of armed fascists, sheriffs and police against them with orders to crush the strike with heavy guns and bombs. Thirty-one persons—eighteen miners and thirteen soldiers and fascists—were killed. The miners captured six guns with ammunition, raided a company store and seized provisions for their starving families.

Eighteen miners are threatened with the death penalty, fifty with long terms of imprisonment. Sixteen miners’ homes were burned down. Miners’ families are being evicted from their homes to this day.

In Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, forty thousand miners are on strike, the majority of them Negroes. Most of the six hundred miners arrested on July 6 were Negroes. When they were arrested they were beaten up and tortured.

The American section of the International Labor Defense is giving world prominence to the Scottsboro case. For the first time since the American Civil War, the brutal exploitation of the Negro masses by the ruling class of the United States is receiving international publicity and condemnation. The demand made by the American section of the ILD that execution of sentence be postponed for ninety days was supported with a storm of protest all over the world. From the U.S.S.R., Britain, France, Australia, Cuba, Austria, Germany and many other countries came thousands of resolutions demanding the release of the eight Negro Scottsboro boys. American consulates in Germany and Cuba were besieged by thousands of demonstrating workers.

The eight Negro Scottsboro boys are lying in prison with the electric chair before their eyes, and with the daily reminders from the wardens that they will soon be burned in it.

“The world-wide campaign must be intensified. No meeting or demonstration should be held, no leaflet, no ILD paper should be issued without containing an appeal to the masses to raise their voice against the white terror American imperialism is resorting to in order to stifle the mounting indignation of the Negro masses in the United States." (From an appeal by the ILD to all its sections and organization's.)

When the proletariat of all countries protests against the killing of its brothers, it is not, of course, because it reckons on persuading the capitalists not to kill. The capitalists cannot be “humane"—everything human except the brute beast in man is alien to him. If he donates dollars squeezed out of the workers to universities, he does so in order to strengthen his power. The teachings of Marx and Engels are not taught at his universities, and anyone who were to suggest that lectures in dialectical materialism should be given to students would be kicked out at once. It is the duty of the proletarian to protest against these murderers, but he should know that the murderers cannot stop murdering, and that they will murder the finest of his fellows. The capitalist protects his dollars, and to him dollars are always more precious than any individual, no matter who that individual may be. The proletariat should know that Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were not killed by soldiers, but by the capitalists, and that it was not a half-crazy woman that fired at Lenin, but a mechanical instrument of a definite system of thought—an instrument of the vile, inhuman bourgeois way of thinking.

The proletarians should know that between them and the capitalists no agreement—“compromise" or truce—is possible. It is time the proletarians knew this. And it should also be firmly remembered that in 1914 the proletariat of Europe and America was betrayed to the capitalists by the Social Democrats, and that this cost the workers thirty million lives. They should not forget that that "bloody hound," Noske, is also a Social Democrat. And, in general, they should not forget the crimes committed against the working class by its diverse enemies, by traitors and scoundrels. All this must be remembered in order that the bloody villainies of the past may not be repeated in the future. And all this is easy to remember. One has only to watch the vile and atrocious activities of the Second International Socialists and all that the European capitalists are contriving against the Union of Socialist Soviets.

The workers of Europe and America should realize that when they work in war industries they are manufacturing rifles, machine guns and guns to be used against themselves. The capitalists will not themselves go and fight if they make up their minds to start war on the Soviet Union—they will send their workers and peasants to the fields of deaths to fight the workers and peasants who have abolished capitalism in their own country. Every capitalist war means suicide for the working class.

The working class of Europe and America should protest against individual murders of workers by the capitalists. It should protest, because this helps to foster in it the sentiment of international class solidarity—and the broadening and deepening of this sentiment is something the working class of Europe and America needs very badly. But even more solid, resolute and stormy should be its protest against every attempt on the part of the capitalists to engineer another world slaughter of workers and peasants.

The best, the surest and most practical way of preventing such a slaughter is for the socialist workers to go over en masse to the Communist Parties.

The Third International is a real leader of the workers, because it is a workers' international. It will not betray them. It recognizes the necessity for only one war—a war of the proletarians of all countries against the international capitalist gang, against those who live on the labor of others.