James P. Cannon Quotes
“Pride, anger, spite -- any kind of subjectivity which influences a political course leads only to the defeat and destruction of those who give way to it. You know, in the prize-fighting profession -- "the manly art of self-defense" -- one of the first lessons the young boxer learns from the case-hardened trainer is to keep cool when facing the antagonist in the ring. "Don't ever get mad in the ring. Don't ever lose your head, because if you do you will wake up on the canvas." Boxers have to fight calculatingly, not subjectively. The same thing is doubly true in politics.”
“People who are easily discouraged, whose heart sink when they encounter conflicts and setbacks, shouldn't go into revolutionary politics. It is hard fighting all the time, there is never any assurance of smooth sailing. How can that be expected? The whole weight of bourgeois society presses down upon a few hundred or a few thousand people. If these people are not united in their own conceptions, if they fall to quarreling among themselves, that is also a sign of the tremendous pressure of the bourgeois world on the vanguard of the proletariat, and even more on the vanguard of the vanguard. The influence of bourgeois society finds an expression at times even in sections of a revolutionary workers party. Therein is the real source of serious factional fights. One ought, if he goes into politics, to try to understand all these things; try to estimate them clearly from the political point of view and find a political solution for them.”
“Nobody is born a Bolshevik. It has to be learned. And it cannot be learned solely from books either. It is learned, over a long time, by a combination of field work, struggle, personal sacrifices, tests, study, and discussion. The making of a Bolshevik is a long, drawn-out process. But in compensation, when you get a Bolshevik, you have got something. When you get enough of them you can do anything you want to do, including making a revolution.”
James P. Cannon
- Date of birth: February 11, 1890
- Died: August 21, 1974
- Born: in Rosedale, Kansas, The United States.
- Description: James P. Cannon was born in Rosedale, Kansas, in 1890. His father, who had originally come from Ireland, was a socialist and was a regular reader of Appeal to Reason.
At the age of 18 he joined the Socialist Party of America and became a devoted follower of Eugene Debs. His friend Tom Kerry claimed that Cannon considered Debs as "one of the greatest orators, agitators, and propagandists that the American working class radical movement had produced."
Cannon was also an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) where he worked under Frank Little, who was lynched in 1917. Cannon also got to know Vincent Saint John. He later recalled: "Despite his modesty of disposition, his freedom from personal ambition, and his lack of the arts of self-aggrandizement, his work spoke loudly and brought him widespread fame."
According to his friend Joseph Leroy Hansen: "Fundamentally, Jim was an angry person. He was angry at injustice, at inequities, at special privileges, at exploitation. He was angry at poverty, lack of opportunity, oppression, racism, and sexism."