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Vol. 78/No. 31      September 1, 2014

‘We dedicate our lives
to the workers cause’
Below is an excerpt from the speech given by Farrell Dobbs at a Dec. 26, 1943, farewell banquet held in New York City before he and 17 other leaders of the Socialist Workers Party and Teamsters union began serving their sentences after being framed up and convicted under the thought-control Smith Act.

I have never been in jail. But some of my best friends have been in jail. And therefore I have had a great deal of kindly advice and feel amply prepared to meet all of the exigencies of the period ahead.

One of our comrades who was imprisoned at the time of the trial in Minneapolis in 1941 — in the penitentiary where some of us are now going — told us a very interesting story about the reactions of the men in the penitentiary during the trial of the 28 in Minneapolis. He said that these men in the prison followed closely the reports of the trial in the Minneapolis press, and they were absolutely convinced that it was only a matter of hours or days at most as the trial proceeded, until at least one of the many defendants would testify on behalf of the government and, in prison parlance put the finger on the others.

He related how they watched with absolute disbelief, as the trial unfolded, day after day, and they read the accounts in the paper. They saw the prosecution present its case. They saw the prosecution witnesses, the Tobin stool-pigeons, the FBI college boys, and the rest of their stooges, take the stand one after another to testify against the defendants, and, finally, in amazement, they saw the prosecution rest its case without putting a single one of the defendants on the stand to testify against the others.

They saw the defendants go forward with the defense testimony, standing solid. Everyone who testified, held to his convictions, refused to waver or weaken in the face of the prosecution. And when the judge passed sentence, the 18, who finally were convicted, stood absolutely firm, looked the judge in the eye when he passed sentence and walked out of the courtroom with heads erect. And these men in the penitentiary couldn’t believe this.

They asked our comrades in the penitentiary, “What kind of people are these comrades of yours?” They knew the time tried method of the prosecution — to lump together a mass of defendants, figuring with absolute certainty that, under the law of averages, there would be at least one weakling in the group who will break down and give aid and support to the government in its case against the others. “What kind of people are these?” They couldn’t understand. And they are not the only ones who couldn’t understand.

But these comrades who stood before the court are typical of the kind of people that make up the membership of the Socialist Workers Party. We are a party of one-hundred percenters. We have made up our minds that the great cause to which we have dedicated our lives is more important than anything else in this world. We place it before every other consideration. Nothing else is dearer to us. And we laugh with disdain at the capitalist tyrants who try by their persecutions, by their legal frame-ups and their prisons to swerve us from our path, try to frighten us away from the fight for the great goal for which we struggle. We understand — everyone of us — that nothing is more important than the working class cause to which we dedicate our lives.
Related articles:
SWP leader speaks to workers from bosses’ court
New edition of ‘Socialism on Trial’ presents program to advance fight for workers power
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