The Turning Point
AS 1928 OPENED, Lovestone appeared to be firmly in command. His opponents, still dazed by his smashing victory the year before, held their fire, not knowing where he was vulnerable to attack. Early in February he completely dominated an American party plenum, and the Opposition permitted him to present a unanimous report for the Political Committee. When he said that "the party was never as homogeneous and unified in principle as it is today," it did not seem like an idle boast.1
Stalin's new line apparently did not hold any terrors for him. The American economy was even making an effort to bear it out. From the middle of 1927 to the middle of 1928 industrial production and factory employment fell off; some industries suffered sharply. The Daily Worker saluted the new year jubilantly: "The prosperity bubble has been pricked," and assured its readers that "all signs point to a rapid increase in the intensity of the class struggle."2
Much depended, however, on the exact estimate of the next stage. Was it a temporary recession or an ever-deepening depression? If a depression, what would it do to the Comintern's old line which was predicated on America's upward development? Would America remain an exception to the rule in the capitalist world?
For the next year and a half, Lovestone's fate was bound up with these questions, and his first attempt to answer them showed him poised to leap in whatever direction events might dictate. The United