Jack Kavanagh Joins
the Fourth International (1940)
Jack Kavanagh was a leader of the Socialist Party of Canada from 1908
to 1921. He was elected to the National Executive Committee of the
Workers’ (Communist) Party of Canada at its founding convention in
He moved to Australia in 1925, and was a central leader of the
Communist Party of Australia until 1930, when a new leadership was imposed
by the Comintern.
The following statement appeared in The Militant, organ of the
Workers Party (Australia) in March 1940. It was made available on the web
Jack Kavanagh joins Communist League
Old communist indicts Comintern
Declares Fourth International upholder of Marxism-Leninism
After almost six years of relative inactivity in the revolutionary
working-class movement – six years in which I hoped that the membership of
the Communist Party would become aware of the manner in which it was being
led from the revolutionary path of Marxism-Leninism – I am forced to the
realisation that the Communist International and its sections can no
longer be depended on to lead the working class in its struggle for the
overthrow of capitalism and the introduction of socialism.
Because of this I am seeking membership in the Communist League of
Australia, section of the Fourth International.
I was expelled from the Communist Party in January 1931 on the basis of
lying charges brought by the then general secretary, H.J. Moxon (since
expelled on the grounds of vacillation, desertion and careerism). This
action was taken because of my criticisms of the economic and political
ineptitude manifested by the Central Committee under the direction of H.
Moore, CI representative then in Australia.
I was readmitted to the party in July 1931, and was again expelled in
May 1934 on the grounds that I was a Trotskyist. This arose out of a
statement made at a lecture at the Friends of the Soviet Union, to the
effect that "I did not consider Trotsky to be a counter-revolutionary". I
had at this stage been on probation for two years and 10 months.
From May 1925 until the time of my expulsion in 1931 I had been a
leading member of the Communist Party, and from 1928 to 1930 organiser of
the NSW Labor Council. Prior to coming to Australia I had been a leading
member in the trade union and revolutionary movement in Canada from 1908
until leaving for Australia, being national organiser for the Workers
(Communist) Party of Canada at the time of leaving for this country.
At the time of my expulsion in 1931 the symptoms of that metamorphosis
from democratic centralism to centralised bureaucracy, which has taken
place in the CI, was very much in evidence. The theory of the
infallibility of the leadership was put forward simultaneously with the
theory that the leadership must not be exposed to danger. The vacillations
between ultraleftism and the extreme right, such as recently manifested in
relation to the imperialist war, were demonstrated in the party attitude
to the trade unions and the ALP.
The theory of socialism in one country eliminated world revolution from
the de facto program of the Communist International. Independent
working-class action was discarded in favour of demands upon capitalist
governments. Collective security by the alliance of capitalist states took
the place of collective action by the international working class. "World
peace" movements, composed of heterogeneous bourgeois and pacifist
elements, containing the taint of class peace, were substituted for
working-class anti-imperialist-war organisations. The defence of democracy
(the democracy of Chamberlain, Daladier, Roosevelt, Menzies) was put
forward as a means to preserve peace for the Soviet Union. The Popular
Front of "good" bourgeois elements of diverse political affiliations, and
of the working class, was put forward in place of the united front of the
working class. In line with this the Workers Weekly, organ of the
Communist Party, had a rebirth as a democratic "people’s" paper, the
This continued degeneration found its final expression in the support
given to the imperialist war by the Central Committee of the Communist
Party, a position reversed on the receipt of instructions to the contrary
The cult of leadership, so subserviently developed during the past
decade, has so confused the leadership of the Communist Party, has so far
removed them from the basis of the class struggle, that they were unable
to adjust themselves to the diplomatic moves made by the Soviet Union.
It was either a realisation of the weakness of the Comintern or a
disregard for the revolutionary movement, plus fear of Hitler and the
imperialists on the part of the Soviet bureaucracy, which led to the
situation in Finland – a situation which has provided the imperialists
with the excuse for an attack upon the Soviet Union; an opportunity they
have been hoping for during the past 22 years.
The growth of bureaucracy in the CPSU and in the Communist Parties has
weakened the defences of the Soviet Union.
Realising that the Soviet Union must be defended at all costs, that the
gains of October must be defended against the bureaucracy as well as
against the imperialist aggressors, that revolution in some of the major
powers must be achieved in order to allow the gains of October to be fully
developed. I am joining the Fourth International to assist in preserving
and carrying out the program of Marxism-Leninism.
Sydney, February 15, 1940
Copyright South Branch Publishing. All