1980s >> 1980 >> no-912-august-1980

50 Years Ago: Violence and secret organisation

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 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. Groves Whalem, 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. 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.

The only sound line for the socialist movement in countries such as Great Britain and the USA 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.

From an editorial, Police Spies and the Communist Movement: Socialist Standard, August 1930.