May 11, 1933
By Robert Minor
Yesterday Adolph Hitler, his hands dripping with the blood of murdered German workers, destroyed the books written by "Jews, Internationalists, and Marxists" in a public bonfire in Berlin. All the books of Lenin that could be found were burned.
Within the same 48 hours, in New York City, a dozen uniformed guards, supported by foot and mounted police, surrounded a painter's scaffold to put an end to the painting of a mural decoration on the great new theatre and amusement building, the "Rockefeller Center."
For, if the German ruling class must incite wholesale murders of Jews and must destroy the culture of Germany, in order to conceal their enslavement of the German working class (and even enslavement of the same petty-bourgeois masses which they incite to anti-Jewish insanity)--so also must American ruling class destroy in this period of dying capitalism, any cultural effort that shows--
A white worker, a Negro, and a soldier, with their hands being joined together by Lenin.
The same Rockefeller who employed the artist to paint the mural decoration, sent the uniformed guards to seize, pay off, and discharge the artist before he could finish the job.
Six years ago when the late Dwight D. Morrow, partner of the international banking firm of J.P. Morgan and Company, became United States Ambassador to Mexico, he was sent there as a special agent of corruption. It was a critical situation. The whole drive of the American ruling class to secure the colonial conquest of Mexico hung in the balance. The astute partner of the Morgan-Wall Street firm was a specialist in that highest art of corruption which appears in the guise of "broadminded sympathy" with the cause that is to be destroyed. Morrow was the most noted agent in the wholesale bribing of the biggest section of the bureaucracy of the Mexican government and army in the effort to convert that government into a sub-department of the Department of State of Yankee Imperialism at Washington. And among all of the foul jobs that was done by Morrow it is known that his proudest boast was his success in breaking down the morale of a certain world-famous artist who was then a revolutionary leader of workers and peasants and of the Communist Party of Mexico. "Honors" and admittedly large commissions were heaped upon the once-outcast revolutionary artist. Diego Rivera thus became Morgan's artist, Rockefeller's artist, Ford's artist, where once he had been the Mexican workers' and peasants' artist, Rivera became the head of the National School of Fine Arts of the government of Mexico. Workers and peasants were hanged by thousands. And Diego Rivera, member of the government, did not protest.
Within the "cultural" centers of the big Yankee cities, Diego Rivera became the political symbol of the "new relationship" between the United States and Mexico--the symbol of "understanding" behind which the corruption and strangling of the national persistance of Mexico against the imperialist conquest by Wall Street is concealed. The talented Mexican artist became the "rage" of the American high bourgeois circles... But Diego Rivera had only one thing to sell Mr. Rockefeller: his talent, his love and his hate--learned in the class struggles of Mexico--a love and a hate and a talent that began to take sick and die on the plaster walls of the great buildings of the Fords and the Rockefellers.
After the "Hoover era," during which all roads of triumphal march had led to Washington, came the crash. Great masses of hungry and ragged men thronged the roads to Washington. On May Days, a million workers marched and red flags flew. American ex-soldiers were shot down by Hoover. Vast millions of Negroes moved in their slavery and thousands fought in the streets, shoulder to shoulder to white workers to save nine Negro boys framed up and condemned to death. Giant columns after columns of unemployed workers, ragged soldiers, expropriated farmers, enslaved Negroes, captured freight trains, occupied government buildings, invaded state houses, put ropes around the necks of judges. The great seething mass of Latin-America and the Philippines began to boil with revolt against enslavement by the Yankee Wall Street of the North. The capitalist world began to shatter, to crack, and in places, to fall. The irreconcilable class divisions of the human race were more and more exposed. The decay of the capitalist slave system stood out against the brilliant dawn of living Socialism in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, successfully built on the plan of Lenin. As the chasm widened, war flamed on the horizon--imperialist war--all forms of capitalist war--class war--impending imperialist invasion of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.
The Communist Internationalist vastly strengthed, nearly doubling in membership within a year. The Communist Party of Mexico, the Communist Party of the United States grew and strengthened and began more than ever to consolidate those forces which will destroy capitalism. The Communist Parties began for the first time to weld together those social forces, the proletarian slave, the colonial slave and the soldier slave in uniform. The Party of Lenin, the Communist Party alone, could do it.
These became the greatest reality of the world today. And if you do not know it, reality is all there is for an artist to paint.
Diego Rivera, painting for Rockefeller, had deserted the Communist Party: Diego Rivera was no longer a revolutionist. But he had nothing to sell to Mr. Rockefeller but his talent and the cadaver of his old love and hate. Rockefeller, like Morrow, had promised him that his freedom to picture reality as he saw it would be given him along with the Yankee dollars. And there was nothing else to paint--so on the walls of Rockefeller Temple, under the brush of Diego Rivera appeared a worker, a Negro and a soldier--their hands being united by the symbol of the revolutionary world Communist Party--Lenin.
There is always trouble in buying the talents and the dreams of men. The corruption of culture is a delicate thing--there must remain the semblance of the real, a semblance of the love of life and truth: otherwise the bargain is not delivered. But the worker, the soldier and the Negro--and Lenin (the Communist Party)--are a combination which spells death to capitalism. The paymaster of the artist shuddered at the sight.
The stopping of the production of the mural decoration at the Rockefeller Center is a political incident. It is one of the lightning flashes in the stormy skies of the present decline of capitalism. It shows the tangled snarl of contradictions between the foul system of capitalist wage slavery and prostitution of all arts and culture, on the one hand, which constitute the capitalist relations of production, with the highest development of the material base of production. This flash of lightning shows the picture of a prostitute civilization which cannot longer live without debauching all of life and all of culture, without a regime of Hitler's murder and Rockefeller's vandalism, and indeed the class violence and murder of American bourgeoisie which rival the bloodiest crimes of the German fascist.
Not too long after the German masses will hang the butcher Hitler, many men of the class and role of Rockefeller will face a revolutionary tribunal of American workers, soldiers, and Negroes.
It may be in the same great hall at the Rockefeller Center.