Defend the Civil Rights of Communists!

By Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1939)

Entry 1326


From: holdoffhunger [id: 1]


Revolt Library Anarchism Defend the Civil Rights of Communists!

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(1890 - 1964)

IWW Activist, Founder of the ACLU, and US Communist Party Chairwoman

: At the age of 17 she became a full time organizer for the IWW, and was consequently arrested 10 times. Although she was never convicted of any criminal activity, she was forced to leave the IWW in 1916 because of internal conflicts. In 1920 she helped found the American Civil Liberties Union, and began actively supporting Sacco and Vanzetti... (From: Spartacus Educational Bio.)
• "Defense of our civil liberties; for political prisoners; fighting against raids, wholesale arrests, and deportations of thousands of foreign-born workers – these were the big issues of 1918 and 1919. The boss class was terrified by the great Russian Revolution." (From: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, 1939.)
• "'The right to assemble; the right to speak' written in dead words in the Bill of Rights was written in live deeds by the people all over the United States." (From: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, 1939.)
• " they inspired us, how we revered them. French Communards, Russian revolutionists escaped from Siberia, Germans driven out by Bismarck, Garibaldians in their red shirts, Irish, Polish exiles. Oldtime Americans marching, telling of Haymarket, Homestead, Pullman. Men who knew Marx, Engels, Silvis, Parsons – patriarchs and prophets to us." (From: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, 1939.)

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Defend the Civil Rights of Communists!

Source: The Communist, Vol. XVIII, No.12, December 1939
Publisher: Workers Library Publishers, New York, NY
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

 Photo by gliuoo, CC BY-ND License

Photo by gliuoo,
CC BY-ND License

HUNGRY for huge war profits, the barons of Wall Street are speeding to involve the American people in the imperialist war raging in Europe. The blackout of civil liberties is part of Wall Street’s war drive. Capitalist reaction is intent upon depriving the Communists of their civil rights as the preparation for an attack on the economic standards and civil rights of the trade unions, of the working class, of all who oppose American involvement in the imperialist war. Immediate and powerful defense of the civil rights of the Communists is, therefore, of the utmost urgency for the entire labor movement and all who stand for progress and peace.

The Communist movement is the product of the historic struggle of the working people for emancipation from capitalist exploitation and oppression and for the establishment of socialism. Marx and Engels developed the basic theory of this struggle, and ninety-two years ago founded the Communist Party to organize its consummation. The utopian dream of many generations was transformed into scientific theory and practice. The living realization of the scientific truths discovered by Marx and Engels almost a century ago and brilliantly advanced by the genius of Lenin and Stalin is embodied in the glorious achievements of the Soviet Union and in the whole world Communist movement. The banner of socialism waves triumphantly over one hundred and eighty million people, and enjoys the love and devoted support of millions and millions more in the capitalist and colonial world.

To halt the steadily moving current toward socialism is the compelling motive of capitalist policy throughout the world today. To this end, capitalism resorts with increasing fury and violence to “the branding reproach of Communism” against all progressive measures and movements, trade unions and peace organizations. Behind this smokescreen there is a plan with these definite objectives: to plunge the U.S.A. into the second imperialist war; to deliver the country to the reactionary candidates of Big Business in 1940; and to smash the Communist Party as the condition precedent for the fulfillment of these aims.

It is neither new, strange, nor accidental that the Communist Party, the only party of socialism in the United States, should be the object of the most vicious attacks by the reactionary bourgeoisie and its apologists. Born in the anti-war struggles of the American people against the first imperialist World War, the Communist Party today is the main organizer of mass resistance against America’s involvement in the second imperialist war. The Party is in the very forefront of the struggle to expose the predatory, reactionary nature of the war, the anti-Soviet aims of Anglo-French imperialism; and to defeat the plans of the American monopolists to reap billions in bloody profits from the war as the prelude to America’s actual participation in it.

The pack of the master class is baying over the radio and in the press, trying to win sympathy for the hypocritical “anti-Hitler” slogans of Anglo-French imperialism, and to create prejudice against the Land of Socialism. Increasingly, reaction is directing its attacks against the Communist Party. The indictment of Earl Browder, General Secretary of the Communist Party, on petty passport charges long dropped as untenable by an earlier administration, and the barrage against him and the whole Party in the entire capitalist press; the barring of the Communist councilmanic candidates in New York City on the flimsiest of technicalities; extradition proceedings against Sam Adams Darcy, State Secretary of the Communist Party of Eastern Pennsylvania, for prosecution on equally flimsy grounds; denial of the use of the radio to the Communist Party; the refusal of Harvard and Princeton Universities to permit Comrade Browder to deliver scheduled addresses and the deliberate press distortion of his recent speech at Boston; the organized hooligan attack upon the Detroit meeting addressed by William Z. Foster, National Chairman of the Party; the revival of criminal syndicalism laws and the arrest of Party leaders in Iowa—these are evidences of an organized attack, which, if not checked now, will be directed, before long, against the democratic rights of labor and the entire people.

The Defense Committee for Civil Rights for Communists, consisting of Robert Minor and myself, are authorized to receive contributions for the defense of the legal existence of the Communist Party under the Bill of Rights. We call upon all members of the Communist Party, all workers, friends, sympathizers and others who believe in democratic rights and civil liberties to contribute. We appeal for loans for a Bail Fund necessitated by the refusal of bonding companies to make bail. Threats of further arrests make it imperative for us to raise a large People’s Bail Fund. If one thousand persons will lend us $l00 each we can have such a reserve bail fund for all emergencies. Address: Room 524,799 Broadway, New York City.

Help defend the right of the Communist Party to educate and organize the American people against involvement in the imperialist war, for the protection of their living standards and civil rights from reactionary attacks, and for the transition to socialism, for which America’s material productive forces are riper than in any capitalist country, and upon which depends the permanent prosperity, peace, and well-being of our people.


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December, 1939
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