James P. Canon
See also: Canon
James Patrick Canon , born in Rosedale in the Kansas in 1890, died with Los Angeles in August 1974, is a American Communiste of tendency Trotskiste. Canon was one of the founders of the Socialist Workers Party.
James P. Canon is initially member of the Industrial Workers off the World (IWW) then Socialist Party off America. It is personally formed by Bill Haywood, influential directing IWW.
Canon opposes the First World War from its positions internationalists and adopts the Russian Révolution of 1917. In 1919, it is one of the founding members of the Party of the communist Workers (currently known under the name of Communist party of the United States of America) and takes part in its direction as of the first days, being useful like chair Party of 1919 to 1928, secondary function compared with the General secretary.
With the factionalisation of the American Communist party in the years 1920, reflecting the stalinisation on a world level of the Communist parties, Canon is responsible for the International Labor Defense (organization influenced by the party, which deals of the movements anti Lynchages and the defense of the civic rights). This function enables him to make sure of the militant supports. Its partisans were generally organized within the group called “faction Foster - Canon”.
In 1928, at the time of its stay in Russia, Canon reads a criticism of the direction of the Internationale Communist written by Leon Trotsky that the Comintern let circulate by error. Convinced by the arguments of Trotsky, it tries to form a Left opposition in the American Communist party dominated by the Stalinist . It is then expelled. It founds thereafter the Communist Ligue of America with max Shachtman and Martin Abern, and begins the publication of The Militant . This league declares being an external faction of the American Communist party.
With the collapse of the Comintern vis-a-vis the Nazism, the leaders of the league conclude with Trotsky that the Comintern cannot be reformed any more interior. They embark thus in the construction of an Internationale news and new parties. That means concretely that the Communist Ligue of America is not regarded any more an external faction of the American Communist party but as the embryo of a future revolutionary party. That also means that they will turn to the other movements of nonStalinist Communism which share their objectives.
Although the Communist League is a small organization - their opponents called Canon, Abern and Shachtman “the three generals without army” - it gains with Mineapolis and with Saint Paul majority of the militants of the Communist party. Thus when the Class struggle explodes with the beginning of the year 1930, the Communist League is in good position to apply its ideas in these twin cities. In particular thanks to the influence which she off exerts in the International Brotherhood Teamsters (road trade union) which grows quickly after a historical fight in 1934. Canon plays an important role in this fight while daily directing, with Shachtman, the work of the Communist League.
Shortly after the American Workers Party of Abraham Johannes Muste and the Communist League amalgamate, forming the Workers Party off the United States. Later, with the increase in their forces, they join off the Socialist Party America (SPA) as an internal tendency. This rallying is not taste of another faction inside the SPA which scissionne to form the Revolutionary Workers League, carried out by Hugo Oehler. In 1937 after having recruited a great number of militants of the Young People' S Socialist League (youth organization of Socialist Party off America), the tendency of Canon leaves the SPA and creates the Socialist Workers Party. Canon becomes its first secretary.
Canon is also one of the principal leaders of the Fourth International, founded in 1938 by Leon Trotsky. He visits the Great Britain in the intention to unify the various British groups. The unification is effective with the creation of the Revolutionary Socialist League, which will disintegrate quickly.
In 1940, one of the Co-leaders of the SWP, max Shachtman, leaves the party with many militants to form the Workers Party. The reason of this scission is the dissension with the theories of Canon, according to which the trotskists must continue to defend the Soviet Union against the Western Impérialisme, but also that the minority of the SWP must subject to the authority majority. This conflict is reported in the book of Canon The Struggle for the Proletarian Party and in that of Trotsky In Defense off Marxism . Another hard blow falls down on the SWP during the Second world war: Canon and other members of the SWP are imprisoned because of the Smith Act which condemns the opposition to the war. Even in prison its influence remains strong, writing to the leaders of the party regularly; for example, it recommends to them to change the line of the party on the Insurrection of Warsaw. The book of Canon Letters from Prison contains several of these missives.
After the war, Canon takes again the direction of the SWP, but its role declines gradually after having left in 1953 the post of national secretary with Farrel Dobbs. Canon withdraws itself in California in the middle of the years 1950. There remains however an active member of the political committee of the party. Canon is very implied in the scissions which take place as well in the SWP as in the Fourth International one in 1952. It takes the direction of the one of the two public factions of the International one which is supported by the SWP, “the International committee of the Fourth International one” (QICI). It supports the reunification of the two factions in 1963, thus giving rise to the Secrétariat unified of the Fourth International. It does not take share with the various conflicts of tendencies between 1963 and 1967, except for décrier the firmer organisational standards developed by its former defenders.
Canon is regarded as a talented revolutionary journalist, a great number of its articles are gathered in a series of the books, most known of them being Notebook off year Agitator and The Struggle for has Proletarian Party .
Other books of notorious importance were written by Canon: America' S Road to Socialism , The History off American Trotskyism , Socialism one Trial and The First Ten Years off American Communism .
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