On the brink of the Great Depression, the Communist Party was in crisis. The thousands of revolutionary workers who had come to the Communist movement inspired by the Russian revolution had no say in the direction of the party. Right-wing CP leaders, demoralized by the capitalist boom of the 1920s, had lost faith in the revolutionary potential of the American working class. A corrupt, cynical bureaucracy was consolidating its hold on the party apparatus, replcaing Leninism with Stalinism.
From 1928 to 1933, the Left Opposition fought to restore the party's Marxist program and Leninist organisational principles. Arned witgh the ideas of the Russian Left Opposition led by Leon Trotsky, they did their best to educate the Communist workers in the fundamentals of proletarian internationalism and workers' democracy, under the harsh conditions of expulsion, ostracism, and physical attacks.
James P. Cannon (1890-1974) was a central leader of this fight. He had been active in the revolutionary movement for two decades: a leader of IWW strikes and free-speech battles; a participant in the Socialist antiwar movement during World War I; a founding leader of the CP; a leader of the struggle in the early 1920s to orient the CP towards the American labo movement; and a leader of mobilizations of hundreds of thousands in defense of Sacco Vanzetti. From 1928 until his death he worked to rebuild the Marxist leadership in the U.S.
In this volume, one of a series collecting his speeches and writings, Cannon explains the Left Opposition's orientation toward trying to reform the CP rather than forming a new party; the need for trade union unity and how to fight it; the CP's "third period" ultraleftism and its "new unions"; how to work with "progressive" union leaders in a united front; and how to defend democratic rights.
- From the back cover