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Police Spies and the Communist Movement

On March 6th the American Communists organised a demonstration in Union Square, New York City. The police were ordered to clear the streets on the ground that the Communists had not obtained a permit for a parade. Five Communist leaders were arrested and the crowd were beaten up by the police with great brutality.

That, of course, is a common story. There is, however, an additional feature of some interest. The Police Commissioner, Mr. Grover Whalen, declared on the following day that he had his agents inside the Communist Party keeping him informed as to all their plans and the movements of their leaders. He was greatly amused because the uniformed police, in order not to give away the spies to the Communists, cracked their heads along with the others. Mr. Whalen has also supplied to employers the names of workers who are members of the Communist Party.

We refer to this because it illustrates once more the danger to the workers of organisations which advocate violence, and attempt to carry on illegal activities in the absurd belief that they can do so in secret. Illegal activities result invariably in some unfortunate workers falling into the hands of the authorities and paying with imprisonment for the dangerous policies of their leaders. In this country during recent months there have been several heavy sentences on workers caught distributing inflammatory leaflets to soldiers. The Communist Party leads its unfortunate victims into trouble and can do nothing whatever to help them. Even if they succeeded in getting in touch with soldiers or sailors, it is almost certain that the latter would be discovered. It is exceedingly doubtful whether any of the so-called activities of the Communists are secret from the police. The only people who appear to be kept in the dark about the activities of their leaders, are the rank and file members of the Communist Parties.

A few years ago the American police were actually able to get one of their agents sent as a Communist delegate, to represent the American Communists at a Congress in Moscow.

The only sound line for the socialist movement in countries such as Great Britain and the U.S.A. is to organise on a basis which makes secrecy unnecessary. This rules out the Communist policy of street fighting, but that policy is one which is of no use to the workers. On the contrary, it has, in many countries, often been engineered by the authorities themselves, through their inside agents.