Update 11-03: Sunday, September 18, 2011.



"Socialist Party of Washington State Constitution." [as amended July 1903] Beginning in 1903 the National Office of the Socialist Party of America began to be regularized, selling dues stamps and tracking the number of paid memberships in its state affiliates. The state parties themselves, however, remained largely autonomous -- joined as a loose federation under the aegis of the national party. This second surviving variant of the constitution of the radical Socialist Party of Washington continues unchanged the previous model of locals paying the State Committee dues of 10 cents per member per month. A new tier of party bureaucracy has been added, the "county organization," consisting of four or more locals in county. In practical terms this was a vehicle for the coordination of the activities of the locals of Seattle's King County. The provision calling for the expulsion of any individual advocating for "fusion" with groups which are not advocates of "revolutionary socialism" is expanded and the appeals procedure defined. Provision for mandatory approval of the actions of the annual State Conventions by membership vote are specified. The salaries of designated organizers by the State Committee is formally limited by resolution of the 1903 Convention to $3 per day plus $2 expenses.


"An Object Lesson in Referendums," Hermon F. Titus [May 4, 1905] Although controlled by adherents of the ideology of the Socialist Party's Left Wing from its earliest days, the Socialist Party of Washington was the scene of a non-stop factional war, driven by the Center-Right minority that controlled Seattle's King County organization. Godfather of Washington's majority Left Wing was former Baptist preacher turned Seattle newspaper publisher Hermon F. Titus. During the first decade of the 20th Century Titus's paper, The Socialist, gained a national readership as a semi-official organ of the Left Wing -- standing in opposition, say, to the electorally-oriented neo-populism of Julius Wayland's bigger and better-known Kansas weekly, The Appeal to Reason. With Titus exiting the state to greener pastures in Toledo, Ohio, enemies brought charges against Titus, alleging irregularities in a ballot distributed at Seattle's radical Pike Street Branch. A new state constitutional referendum was now being pushed by conservative forces in the Washington Party, aiming at eliminating the branch system of organization and replacing it with a division of the cities of the state based upon electoral districts. Titus characterizes the charges against him as personally motivated, politically driven, and trivial and charges that the timing of the charges was intentionally such as to prevent Titus from defending himself in person.


"Fraina to Discuss New Party Policies." [article in Cleveland Socialist News, March 1, 1919] This brief news article in the organ of Local Cuyahoga County SPA documents the touring efforts of Louis C. Fraina on behalf of the program of the newly organized Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party. Fraina, just out from a 30 day jail term in New Jersey for speeches delivered against military conscription in 1917, was to speak three times in one week to Socialist audiences in Cleveland, the largest local organization of the Socialist Party of Ohio. Fraina was to speak on the Third International, the Proletarian Dictatorship in Soviet Russia, and matters relating to Socialist Party tactics, being joined at the first event by Alexander Bilan, later a member of the first five person National Executive Committee of the Communist Labor Party, speaking in Russian.


"Packed Meeting Holds Up Action on Left Wing Program." [event of March 16, 1919] News account from the Cleveland Socialist News of a March 16, 1919 meeting of Local Cuyahoga County addressed by Louis C. Fraina. Fraina sought the Local -- the largest unit of the Socialist Party of Ohio -- to endorse the Manifesto and Program of the Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party. About 325 party members were gathered, including about 175 new members of the local's Russian Branch. The Russians, said to have had a poor understanding of the English-language proceedings, were led by group leaders and acted as a bloc, voting in accordance with directives and shouting down debate. The meeting was effectively disrupted, with only a set of rules adopted providing for a vote on the Left Wing Manifesto as a whole as a basis for party policy and no action taken on the adoption of the program at that time. A follow-up meeting was called for March 30 for further discussion of the Left Wing program and final action on its proposed adoption.


"Eugene V. Debs’ Speech at West Side Turn Hall, Cleveland, Wednesday, March 19, 1919." Stenographic news account of the March 19, 1919, farewell speech of Socialist orator and publicist Eugene V. Debs before an audience of 3,000 in Cleveland, Ohio. Debs was soon to be imprisoned for having violated the so-called Espionage Act for a speech against militarism delivered in June 1918 in Canton, Ohio -- this despite the fact that by this time the war in Europe had come to a conclusion over four months previously. "I am going to speak to you as a Socialist, as a revolutionist, and, if you please, as a Bolshevist," Debs declares, noting that in Soviet Russia for the first time in history the working class stands unbowed and in control of the state apparatus. It is for this specific reason that he and his comrades were being jailed, Debs intimates. Debs states he is making his appeal to the masses rather than to the Supreme Court, which he characterizes as "begowned, befettered, bewhiskered old fossils, corporation lawyers, every one of them." Debs declares it "the finest thing I know is to carry yourself as a man — face humanity, look up into the sun and not feel ashamed of yourself; walk straight before the world, and live with it in terms of peace; look at yourself without a blush. Have you ever tried it? If you have, you are a Bolshevist." Debs declares that the working class paid the economic and physical costs of the recently concluded European war but that it was the master class making the terms of peace. "Russia is making a beginning; the Soviet is just an example," Debs states, allowing that the Bolsheviks "have shed some blood, they have made some mistakes, and I am glad they have. When you consider for a moment that the ruling class press of the world has been vilifying Lenin and Trotsky, you can make up your mind that they are the greatest statesmen in the modern world." He deems his forthcoming imprisonment to be a necessary tribute to be paid to the revolutionary cause.


"Communists Unite: An Appeal to the Rank and File of the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party," by Elmer T. Allison [October 29, 1919] Graphic pdf format. Front page editorial from the October 29, 1919 issue of The Ohio Socialist. Allison, editor of the Ohio Socialist (and brother-in-law of Communist Labor Party Executive Secretary Alfred Wagenknecht, makes an appeal to the rank and file of the rival Communist Party of America (CPA) and Communist Labor Party of America (CLP) to push their leadership to organic unity of the two organizations. "The rank and file of both sections see no fundamental differences between the two parties. And there are none," Allison declares. Allison proclaims that the Communists of Cleveland are a microcosm of the movement across the United States, split up into two competing camps. This situation needs to be brought to an end, in Allison's view, and he advocates that the rank-and-file of both organizations demand unity of the two organizations. "If any stand between unity of the two Left Wing elements, throw them out, brand them for what they are, ENEMIES OF THE WORKERS," Allison insists.


"What is Attorney General Palmer Doing? Letter to an Unnamed NYC Magazine Editor." [Jan. 27, 1920] This article publishes in full a letter sent out by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer to the editor of an unnamed major American magazines, attempting to shape coverage of the Justice Department's recent mass arrests of non-citizen members of the Communist Party of America. Palmer indicates that he is "taking the liberty of sending to you photostatic copies of original documents published by various branches of the Communist Press in Russia and in the United States." Included among these are programmatic documents, manifestos, and leaflets, along with one manifesto by the anarchist Union of Russian Workers. "My one desire is to acquaint people like you with the real menace of evil-thinking which is the foundation of the Red movement," Mitchell declares. The liberal magazine The Nation, in publishing the leaked correspondence of Mitchell Palmer charges the Attorney General with hypocrisy for charging radicals with “the sabotizing of public thought” while at the same time himself carrying out an "unblushing effort at propaganda."


Miners of America! Resist the Terrors of Your Masters! [March 1920] Full text of a rare leaflet directed at coal miners ahead of a scheduled April 1 strike, published by the Communist Party of America. "You should serve notice on the mine barons that not one ton of coal will ever be mined until the mine guard system is destroyed and a standard of living fit for human beings guaranteed you by the barons," the leaflet proclaims. Rank and file miners are instructed to keep a careful eye on the union functionaries claiming to represent them, for just as they had previously "deserted and betrayed the Kansas miners who were fighting the Industrial Court Law of that mental eunuch and moral pervert, Gov. Henry Allen of Kansas, so they will betray you unless you make sure you can intimidate them so they will not dare betray you." The leaflet demands: "You must fight these organizations of the state and national governments for they are your mortal enemies. You cannot resist the power of the army by armed force for the simple reason that you haven’t the equipment to fight with, but you can prevent them entering the coal fields if you CAN REACH THE RAILROAD WORKERS WITH YOUR MESSAGE AND CONVINCE THEM THAT TO RUN TRAINS CARRYING CONSTABULARY OR MILITIAMEN OR SOLDIERS IS AN ACT OF TREACHERY TO THE WORKING CLASS."


"Principles and Decisions of Individual Cases of Alleged Membership in the Communist Party of America," by Louis F. Post [circa March 1920] The 1919 to 1920 frenzy of raids and deportations launched by J. Edgar Hoover and A. Mitchell Palmer was effectively stymied by the principled action of one man, Assistant Secretary of Labor Louis F. Post. Post, a former magazine editor and advocate of the "Single Tax" theories of Henry George, was the Labor Department official in charge of immigration, official approval of whom was necessary for any deportation order to be executed. Contrary to the desires of the law-and-order conservatives in the Department of Justice and their ally, Commissioner General of Immigration Anthony Caminetti, Post required that those selected for deportation be afforded careful individual treatment according to the rule of law — resulting in the cancellation by the Labor Department of a large number of its deportation orders. This is an official memorandum by Post detailing his findings on the American Communist movement. While Post finds that simple membership in the Communist Party of America is sufficient to constitute cause for deportation under the wording of the Immigration Act of October 16, 1918, he indicates that merely signing an application card, having one's name appear on a membership list, or gaining membership automatically through membership in a group joining the CPA en bloc was not of itself sufficient. Rather, Post states that government authorities must show "satisfactory proof of individual activities or declarations tending to show knowledge of the character of the organization." In addition to raising the burden of proof for deportation, Post adds a subjective component, stating "When the accused alien appears to be a person of good general character, fit for American citizenship, except for the accusation in hand, and there is reasonable doubt of his membership, the warrant will be canceled." Post's politically courageous position halted the Justice Department's rush towards mass deportations but generated a major political controversy when the Hoover-Palmer forces pushed back in the halls of Congress.



"To the Russian Workers in America Relative to Recent Raids and Arrests: Proclamation of the Chicago District Committee of Russian Branches, CLP." [published March 11, 1920] The early American Communist movement is sometimes simplistically viewed as divided between the "Foreign Federations" of the Communist Party of America and the "American and English-speaking" Communist Labor Party. In reality, the latter organization included substantial foreign language contingents, including in particular Russian and Croatian speakers from the Midwest. This is a Proclamation by the CLP's powerful Chicago District Committee of Russian Branches, published in the organization's Russian-language organ and saved from oblivion from the US Department of Justice. The manifesto declares that the recent anti-Red raids by the government were a calculated diversion to distract attention from American intervention in Soviet Russia: "The most backward American workers now know that the 'heroes' of the present raids are nothing but thieves, who run before the mob shouting, 'stop, thief!' so as to divert the people’s attention from themselves." In the face of continued repression, the CLP Russian Federation remains defiant: "We are ready to moisten with our blood every step forward towards liberation from capitalist slavery, just like our glorious Fatherland, the Red Russian Revolution, is doing. We are prepared to experience all the sufferings and trials which the American Bashibuzuks (roughnecks) are preparing for us. But we will not give in!"



"Letter to Walter H. Evans, District Attorney of Multnomah County, Oregon, in Portland from J. Edgar Hoover, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, in Washington, March 24, 1920." This letter from the young chief of Anti-Radical operations in the United States to the Multnomah County, Oregon District Attorney follows up on a January communication by Evans with a member of Congress, in which he provided a copy of an IWW resolution endorsing the 3rd International. Hoover responds to Evans' request as to whether such an endorsement would make membership in the IWW a deportable offense by noting that the final determination in this matter had been vested by Congress in the Secretary of Labor rather than the Attorney General. Hoover notes the ruling of the Labor Department that membership in the Communist Party of America was sufficient grounds for deportation under the law of October 1918 and anticipated a similar ruling against membership in the Communist Labor Party, since "in principles and tactics, both parties are identical." Hoover makes no mention about any similar move to rule membership in the IWW illegal per se for non-citizens of the United States.


"Partial Minutes of the Meeting of the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of America." [April 15-19, 1920] Official "majority faction" account of the April 1920 split by C.E. Ruthenberg, Leonid Belsky, and Croatian Federation leader "Wood" from the Communist Party of America. Since Ruthenberg kept the original minutes and removed them when he bolted the organization, the version here was reconstituted from memory by his successor as Executive Secretary of the CPA, Charles Dirba. The plenum opened with a battle over what the majority claimed were biased minutes of the previous meeting composed by Ruthenberg, with extensive corrections made. The Ruthenberg minority is then said to have delivered some unspecified "ultimatum" to the majority, threatening the organization with a split -- reading between the lines the primary matter of contention seems to have related to the CEC majority's insistence upon removing Ruthenberg faction leaders Belsky and "Wood" from their posts as District Organizers, with dissatisfaction over the pace of unity negotiations with the rival CLP probably also factoring into the equation. Negotiations between the two sides were said to have been conducted from Thursday, April 15 through the morning of Sunday, April 18, ending in failure. At that point an effort was made to resume the meeting of the full CEC, which Ruthenberg refused to join, declaring that he refused to recognize the committee's authority. The meeting was called to order nevertheless by Dirba and those wishing to leave were invited to do so, prompting the withdrawal of Ruthenberg, Jay Lovestone, and Alex Georgian of CEC; William Reynolds of the Estonian Federation, Fritz Friedman of the German Federation, Joseph Kowalski of the Polish Federation, and District Organizers Marion Sproule (Boston), "Wood" (Cleveland), "Davey" (Pittsburgh), and Belsky (Chicago). Alexander Bittelman also submitted his resignation from the CEC without stating a reason but remained at the session without participating, pending decision on his resignation by the CPA's Executive Council. The balance of the session was spent naming committees to explain the split to the CPA's membership, restructuring the organization to combine the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Districts under the supervision of new DO John Ballam, and the naming of new members to the Joint Convention Committee negotiating unity with the rival CLP.


"Socialists for Constitutional Methods: In Fighting Spirit... Socialist Convention Arouses General Interest... Splendid Speeches by Hillquit, Stedman, and Others..." [events of May 8-12, 1920] Unsigned news account of the 1920 National Convention of the Socialist Party of America published in the Buffalo, New York weekly, The New Age -- a paper loyal to the SPA's Regular wing. The article claims that while the SPA's membership had fallen to just 24,000 in September 1919, it had subsequently rebounded to 40,000 (an outright fabrication, internal party documents have subsequently revealed). Plans of the organization to combine its monthly Bulletin with the weekly newspaper The Eye-Opener to form a new monthly magazine called The Socialist World are revealed. Party leader Morris Hillquit's keynote speech to the convention is quoted at length, including a section in which Woodrow Wilson and his administration was was lit up for its gross hypocrisy: "Wilson was elected by the vote of Socialists. But Wilson, the pacifist, drew us into the world’s most frightful war. Wilson, the anti-militarist, imposed conscription upon the country. Wilson, the democrat, arrogated to himself autocratic powers grossly inconsistent with a republican form of government. Wilson, the liberal, revived the medieval institutions of the inquisition of speech, thought, and conscience. His administration suppressed or tried to suppress radical publication, raided homes and meeting places of its political opponents, destroyed their property, and assaulted their persons. Wilson, the apostle of the 'new freedom,' infested the country with stool pigeons, spies, and agents provocateur, and filled the jails with political prisoners." A "lively" debate over the party's platform spearheaded by a left opposition including Louis Engdahl, Bill Kruse, Benjamin Glassberg, and Walter Cook is noted, with Engdahl identified as "leader of the radicals." James Oneal answered on behalf of the Regulars, declaring: "Let it go throughout the country that you favor a dictatorship of the proletariat and you cease to be a political party. Introduce such a resolution and you must do your work underground... Bourgeois democracy with all its shams and illusions permits in normal times decision by an honest and fair discussion. To espouse the dictatorship program would turn every such democracy into an absolute autocracy." Oneal and the Regulars ultimately triumphed over Engdahl and the Left on the question of the declaration of principles proposed by the radicals by a vote of 103 to 33, the article notes.



"Partial Minutes of the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of America." [May 21-23, 1920] Full minutes, sans a missing page or two, of the May 1920 plenary session of the governing Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of America. Six meetings of the Executive Council had been held between this May session of the CEC and the April session at which C.E. Ruthenberg and his followers had split the organization. The actions of that subcommittee were ratified by the full CEC here. A report on the state of the organization was delivered by new Executive Secretary Charles Dirba, who noted that the Ukrainian Federation did not leave the organization with the Ruthenberg minority, but rather had elected to stay with the regular majority faction of the CPA. A financial crisis caused by Ruthenberg's seizure of the CPA's bank account at the time of the split was averted when the four loyal Language Federations (Russian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Ukrainian) came up with sufficient funds for the organization to continued operations; a little over a month after Ruthenberg's departure, the organization held a cash balance on hand of $1250, Dirba indicated. As a security measure to prevent any future theft of funds by a splitting Executive Secretary, a trustee was elected to jointly control the account for all party funds over $1000. The factional situation in each of the CPA's districts is reported by DOs, although a page or pages detailing the situation in the various CPA Language Federations is unfortunately missing from the surviving archival copy of the minutes. Proposed constitutional changes were discussed and an agenda for the forthcoming 2nd National Convention of the CPA voted upon. A letter of Louis Fraina of the provisional Pan-American Bureau of the Comintern instructing the CPA to contest the 1920 Presidential election was deemed "contradictory to Communist principles" as passed by the Founding Convention of the CPA and was referred to the 2nd Convention for possible action. An investigating committee to deal with Jacob Nosovitsky was named and charges preferred against John Ballam alleging unscrupulous financial dealings with party members were agreed to be heard. The Executive Council was instructed to publish a resolution against C.E. Ruthenberg damning him "for all his treacherous acts against the Party -- for his seizure of Party funds and records, for continuing to sign as Executive Secretary without any authorization, for issuing his paper under Party name and seal, etc."



"Letter to the Executive Committees of the Communist Party of America and the Communist Labor Party of America from the Executive Committee of the Communist International." [June 1920] The relations between the Communist International and the American Communist movement during its first decade of existence may very nearly be reduced to a simple theme: the Comintern sought party unity and an end to factionalism; the American Communist factions each sought to use the Comintern as a cudgel to annihilate their factional opponents. While CI funding of the American Communist movement and efforts to control its top personnel were no doubt also important, literally every interaction between New York and Moscow must be viewed through the factional prism. This is an early example, one of many, of the Comintern attempting to unify the American Communist organizations born the previous September. "The split brings much harm to the Communist Movement in America," ECCI declares, adding "It will lead to the division of the revolutionary forces, to harmful duplication and unnecessary friction and unjustifiable waste of energy on internal struggles." The letter adds that "A close study of the documents from both sides has convinced us that there are no serious differences in the programs of the two parties. There are certain differences on the question of organization." The CPA is portrayed as being more theoretically advanced, the CLP as more reflective of America's native-born workers -- "thus the two parties naturally supplement each other and only by bringing them together will it be possible to create a strong Communist Party in America." The letter hints at ECCI favoring the CLP's basic organizational model, declaring "The party must not be a conglomerate of independent, autonomous 'language federations,'" although the CLP's formal statutes calling for the use of party referenda to resolve contentious issues is specifically rejected.


"Seymour Stedman: Socialist Candidate for Vice-President," by William M. Feigenbaum [June 17, 1920] Campaign biography of the Socialist Party of America's 1920 candidate for Vice President of the United States by prominent Socialist Party journalist William Morris Feigenbaum. Although Stedman was a prominent lawyer in this period, his working class background and activity as a pioneer member of the Social Democracy of America is emphasized here, with nary a word about Stedman's activity after being elected a member of the Illinois State Legislature in 1912.


"Letter to Eugene V. Debs at Atlanta Federal Prison from Morris Hillquit at Saranac Lake, NY, June 30, 1920." At its most critical juncture, fighting a two front war between government repression and factional strife, the Socialist Party of America found its two top factional peacemakers out of action, with Morris Hillquit at a sanitarium in upstate New York attempting to recover from tuberculosis while fiery orator Gene Debs continued his prison stay in Atlanta. This letter from Hillquit to Debs attempts to explain the thinking behind the positions taken by the Regular majority at the May 1920 Socialist Party Convention to the party's Presidential nominee. Attempting to assuage the firebrand Debs' fears, Hillquit declares that "Neither the platform nor the Declaration of Principles, nor the resolution on international relations were drawn with a view to making the party more 'respectable' or 'conservative.' On the contrary, it was my intention in framing the document -- an intention which I believe was fully shared by the delegates at the convention -- to uphold the radical position which has characterized the Party during the last few years, and to surrender nothing." Hillquit additionally notes that the lack of orthodox Marxist terminology in the 1920 convention documents represented a step forward, with recent events having "convincingly demonstrated" to Hillquit "the dense and seemingly impregnable ignorance of the average American in matters of technical Socialistic and sociological nomenclature, and his practical inability to comprehend in abstract terms." Hillquit continues that "It is perfectly useless to attempt to explain our conception of such terms as 'Social revolution,' 'class struggle,' 'proletariat,' etc. To the unschooled mind the one will always mean a barricade fight accompanied by terrorism, guillotining, etc. -- the other an interminable succession of arbitrary and deliberate strikes and beating up of scabs, and the third, a mass of hoodlums. I am now more convinced than ever that in order to get our message across we must divorce ourselves from the worship of phrases, and talk the plainest possible English." Hillquit also reaffirms his support of Soviet Russia, asserting "I believe our comrades in Russia are doing the most inspiring work ever attempted in the history of our race. I feel an abiding confidence that sooner or later -- and probably sooner rather than later -- they will evolve a truly Socialistic order of society in Russia, which will in may ways serve as a model to the entire civilized world. So long as they fight against international forces of capitalism and reaction, I shall always support them with all the weapons at my command." This sentiment does not imply a willingness to accept every dictum from Moscow, Hillquit hastens to add.


"Debs and the Socialist Party." (commentary in The Toiler) [July 2, 1920] This article from the front page of the United Communist Party's "legal" labor weekly attempts to gauge the mindset of Gene Debs, fiery orator and icon of American Socialism. In the inner-party conflict of 1919, the "Right Wing leaders of the party in control of the party machinery overrode all the constitutional provisions and rules of the party and expelled the Left Wing," in the summary view of the unnamed writer, adding "Either one group or the other had to leave the party. The Right Wing held the party machinery and used its power to hold the party." Between expulsions, defections, and the withdrawal of tens of thousands of disgusted members, the ranks of the Socialist Party of America had fallen from 100,000 to a mere 15,000, the author indicates. In desperation to revive their flagging organization, the so-called "Right Wing leaders" had made an appeal to the rank and file using "the magic name of Debs." Ignoring the fact that the SPA's top leadership had amicably shared an organization with Debs for over a quarter century, the writer asserts that "the Hillquits, Stedmans, and Bergers" had "never liked Debs" and that Debs was himself befuddled behind bars. "He does not understand the depth to which the Socialist Party has sunk in its repudiation of Revolutionary Socialism," the author contends. Debs had allowed himself to be nominated for President in an effort to bring about a reunification of the Left and Right, in the writer's estimation, but this was impossible. Further, he declares, "it might as well be said frankly that while Debs would quickly repudiate the present positionof the Socialist Party and its leadership were he outside of prison and fully informed, at the same time he is not a Communist in fundamental understanding. Emotionally and through his revolutionary spirit he is with the Left, but not through understanding and acceptance of Communist principles." The writer concludes that "No revolutionary Socialist will support the Socialist Party because Debs is its candidate.... Debs’ name cannot cover the reactionary character of the Socialist Party. Rather will the fact that the party has tried to camouflage its reactionary character by trying to pull Debs down to its level excite the complete disgust of every revolutionary worker."



"Published Summary of the Meeting of the Central Executive Committee of the United Communist Party." [events of July 1-3, 1920] Rather than official minutes, this is the published summary of the July 1-3, 1920 plenum of the CEC of the United Communist Party, as published in its underground official organ, The Communist. No names (or pseudonyms) are provided, limiting the value of the information here. With respect to the ultra-rare non-English variants of this official organ, it is stated that German, Polish, Russian, Croatian, and Yiddish variants of Issue No. 1 had been published, with similar editions of No. 2 in preparation, following the recently released English edition of No. 2. A Lithuanian language paper, perhaps with a different title and content, was in preparation. The CEC determined at its July session to additionally issue The Communist in Finnish and Hungarian. Outreach to other language groups was to take place through multiple editions of the Program and Constitution of the UCP, which was to be issued in Italian, Spanish, Swedish, and Latvian, the CEC decided. English Editor-in-Chief C.E. Ruthenberg was given the power by motion of the CEC to direct publication of specific articles in all the above-mentioned non-English editions of the underground organ. An itemized financial statement showed nearly $20,000 remaining in the group's coffers, with June expenses outstripping organizational income by a factor of 4 in that period.



"Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the Communist Party of America: New York City -- July 13 - 18, 1920." No stenogram was kept of any underground convention of the Communist Labor Party, the United Communist Party, or the Communist Party of America -- but several sets of minutes of these gatherings have survived. This document publishes the official minutes of the 2nd Convention of the (old) Communist Party of America -- that is, the majority group remaining after the split of Ruthenberg, Belsky, Lovestone, and their co-thinkers. A total of 26 delegates, 5 non-voting members of the Central Executive Committee, and several fraternal delegates representing the Federations were in attendance at this 6 day gathering held at some undisclosed location in New York City. The number of dues paying and dues exempt members of the organization was given as 6,256 by the Credentials Committee, with nearly 1/3 of the organization concentrated in the New York City district. None of the CPA's 5 districts was based farther west than Chicago or farther south than Philadelphia, emphasizing that it was for all intents and purposes a Northeastern organization. Clearly padded federation reports claimed memberships of 3200 for the Lithuanian Federation, 2500 for the Russian, and between 1700 and 1800 for the Ukrainian -- the three pillars of the CPA. The convention formally endorsed the 3rd International's stand on parliamentarism, while indicating "we consider the use of the bourgeois parliament as of secondary importance and for revolutionary propaganda and agitation only." Amendments were made to the Constitution and Program of the organization. All delegates used pseudonyms, few of which have been properly identified. Further complicating matters, on its third day the convention voted to change pseudonyms of all of these delegates.


"Motions and Resolutions Adopted at the 2nd Convention of the Communist Party of America: New York -- July 13 to 18, 1920." Complete set of resolutions passed by the 2nd National Convention of the (old) Communist Party of America. Included are official greetings to the Comintern and the government of Soviet Russia, as well as resolutions on Soviets, Unity with the United Communist Party, legal workers groups, youth groups, and legal defense. A financial resolution calling for all parties to donate one full day's worth of wages to the support of the organization was also passed. With regards to young people, the CPA set a minimum age requirement of 17 for full membership, with those younger than that age to participate in special educational groups run by the Sub-District organizations.  With respect to unity with the UCP, a hard line is taken: "Unity with the UCP as a party of Centrists is impossible. We can unite only with such of their membership or parts of the UCP that will repudiate their Centrist leadership and join the Communist Party on the basis of our principles, program, and tactics."


"Program of the Communist Party of America Adopted at its Second Convention." [adopted July  18, 1920] Adoption of a new party program was considered by its participants to be one of the most important actions of the 2nd Convention of the (old) Communist Party of America in July 1920. The CPA saw the proletariat's tasks as universal rather than subject to national specificity, declaring "the problems of the American working class are identical with the problems of the workers of the world." It was up to the working class and its vanguard party to "conquer political power, destroy the bourgeois state machinery, and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of a Soviet Government in the transition period from capitalism to Communism," the Program declared. Capitalist rule was fundamentally violent, the CPA asserted, with bourgeois democracy a fašade masking the "lies, demagogism, persecution, slander, and bribery" actually back of the system. "The proletariat cannot yield itself to the artificial rules devised by its mortal enemy but not observed by the enemy. To do so would be to make a mockery of the proletarian struggle for power," the CPA declares. While endorsing revolutionary industrial unionism, the CPA emphatically rejects the IWW as a vehicle, indicating that it "rejects the basic principles of the Communist International -- mass action, proletarian dictatorship, and Soviet power. It rejects the idea of armed insurrection and the use of force in the time of revolution" as well as "the necessity of destroying the capitalist state." Rather, the Communist Party is itself envisioned as the vehicle for the mobilization of the trade union movement to revolutionary ends.



CLICK THE LOGO AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE TO JUMP DIRECTLY TO THE EARLY AMERICAN MARXISM WEBSITE.




The URL of this page is http://www.marxisthistory.org/subject/usa/eam/11-03.html