The Roots of American Communism

By Theodore Draper | Go to book overview
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19
The Legal Party

FEW words have created more hope and wreaked more havoc in the labor movement than the words "united front" have done. The germinal idea of the united front was contained in a suggestion to the British Communists in Lenin "Left Wing" Communism. He advised them to wage a campaign for an electoral agreement with the leadership of the British Labour party against the alliance of Lloyd George and the Conservatives. His reasoning was brutally candid. The British Communists were few and weak. It was hard for them to get the masses to listen to them. The Labour party was large and amorphous. If the Communists came out and called upon the workers to vote for the Labour party leaders, Arthur Henderson and Philip Snowden, they could be sure that the rank and file would at least listen to them.

But Lenin had to explain away one delicate matter. After all, the Communists considered the Hendersons and the Snowdens traitors to the working class. According to Lenin, the Communists could use the united front to destroy them politically on one condition-- "complete liberty" for the Communists in the electoral bloc. If the Labourites accepted, "we will not only help the Labour Party establish its government more quickly, but also help the masses understand more quickly the Communist propaganda that we will carry on against the Hendersons without curtailment and without evasions." If they refused, "we will gain still more, because we will have at once

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