How to Win a Majority
THE Farmer-Labor movement's revenge was ironic. Dead, the movement disturbed the Communists more than it had disturbed them alive.
After having done more than their share to kill the Farmer-Labor movement, the Communists could not bury it in their own minds. They proceeded to hold an inquest which dragged on for months and tore the party again into wildly wrangling factions. For about half a year, the factions had been restrained from fighting openly by the Comintern's pre-election decision of May 1924. But the decision did not tell them what to do after the election. Between Comintern decisions, the American Communists were still permitted to do their own thinking, and this privilege reopened the Pandora's box of factionalism.
Immediately after the election, the new struggle broke out over the ghostly question of the Farmer-Labor movement. Was it dead or merely dormant? If dead, what should the Communists do next?
Foster's majority said that the Farmer-Labor movement was dead beyond recall and was not useful any more even as an "agitational slogan." A mass trade-union basis, the argument ran, was indispensable for a real Farmer-Labor movement. Such a basis was now totally lacking and inconceivable for a considerable period. Therefore, instead of wasting any more time on it, the Communists should concentrate all their efforts on building their own party.1