Vol. 7
February 1932

Diego Rivera and the John Reed Club

On January 1, the Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, was the speaker at a public meeting arranged by the John Reed Club of New York. The invitation was extended to him hastily on the basis of his former record as a revolutionary artist and as a result that he was seeking to return to the revolution path which he had deserted when the terror against Mexican workers and peasants was launched in 1929.

At this time, the Club without investigation or proper consideration had also accepted a $100 contribution from Rivera.

The January 1 meeting, instead of coming up to the expectations of many members of the John Reed Club, proved to be an attempt by Rivera to achieve a personal triumph. In his speech, he made no mention of his own unprincipled activities as a supporter of American imperialism and its tool, the Calles Government.

Rivera was exposed as a renegade and a counter-revolutionist, who since 1929 has deliberately and without hesitation used the influence he obtained as a Communist and working class leader to play the game of Wall Street and its Fascist Government in Mexico. It was also shown that Rivera's renegacy has been reflected in his art, which has grown increasingly sterile as he has drawn further away from the working class, which once made him articulate and which transformed a feeble imitator of Picasso into a powerful artist of the Revolution.

Rivera, not only refused to renounce such artistic manifestations of his capitulation to the bourgeoisie as his San Francisco stock exchange murals with their vulgar glorification of American capitalism, but even attempted a specious, profoundly counter-revolutionary and patently dishonest "leftist" defense of them. This, of course, was immediately and decisively exposed by members of the John Reed Club as reactionary art.

The John Reed Club recognizes that it was a serious error to have invited Diego Rivera and provided him a forum for his opportunism. Rivera was branded as a renegade from the revolutionary movement at the Kharkov Conference of revolutionary writers and artists held in November, 1930, and is so characterized in the report of the American delegation to that conference, printed in the February, 1931, issue of New Masses. The club should therefore have investigated carefully before opening its doors to this intimate of Dwight Morrow and cultural agent of American imperialism. Since the John Reed Club meeting Rivera, who professes to be an adherent of Trotsky, has further proved his "revolutionary" character by speaking before the Lovestone group of renegades from Communism, before the social-fascist Rand School, and various bourgeois circles.

The John Reed Club declares that the ideals for which it stands, have nothing in common with the "ideals" of the man who sold out everything for which he had stood for a job with the Mexican government. We therefore call upon writers, artists, and other cultural workers to repudiate this unprincipled demagogue and to expose him at every opportunity.

Since we do not wish to carry on our activities with the money of a renegade, the John Reed Club will return Rivera's $100 contribution, with which he hoped to buy himself that revolutionary cloak which he needs to serve his capitalist masters effectively.

The John Reed Club of New York