Update 11-12: Sunday, November 20, 2011.
"Platform of the Socialist Party of Washington." [Adopted March 12, 1912] One of the largest state organizations of the Socialist Party of America during the Debsian period was that of the Socialist Party of Washington. This document, adopted by the SPW's March 1912 state convention and ratified by referendum vote of the membership, presents the party's perspective at the high-water point of the American socialist movement. The platform declares the class struggle to be an international phenomenon, with the capitalist class, by virtue of the limited wages they pay, faced with a constant state of underconsumption and the need to find foreign markets for finished products. Periodic crises and systemic unemployment are seen as inherent, resulting in "extreme poverty, which in turn produces crime, insanity, prostitution of body and brain, suicides, drunkenness, disease, and degradation." Social ownership and democratic management of the means of production and distribution is seen as the solution to this fundamental problem and is declared the "ultimate demand" of the organization. A tepid and ameliorative 11 point minimum program is offered as a means to this end.
"No Precinct Committeemen for Us," by Hulet M. Wells [Oct. 11, 1912] This polemic article by Socialist Party of Washington left winger Hulet Wells denounces the party's right wing for "party treason" for "deliberately running a sticker ticket" in opposition to the regularly-selected party nominees during a newly mandated primary election for the Socialist Party in 1912. "Now these same people have had themselves elected as 'Socialist Precinct Committeemen,' as they are allowed to do by the primary law, and they are claiming to be the only real party. They are even threatening to have the law on the regular party and take their property away," Wells charges. Wells asserts that the state legislature had no authority to impose the precinct committee system upon the Socialist Party and that the law specified (contradictorily) that parties retained the right to make their own rules -- and there was "absolutely nothing for this committee to do" under Socialist rules. Nevertheless, Wells charges, "this self-elected Precinct Committee in Seattle is in correspondence with the Socialists and ex-Socialists in Tacoma and Spokane, and hopes to get a few Precinct Committeemen from other places to join those in Seattle in forming a 'State Central Committee'" in opposition to the regular party organization. "They are welcome to the offices, but by their deliberate act of running an opposition ticket, they have put themselves outside the party," Wells declares.
"An Open Letter to John Fitzpatrick," by William Z. Foster [Jan. 1924] This voluminous open letter to progressive head of the Chicago Federation of Labor John Fitzpatrick appeared in the pages of the Labor Herald, organ of William Z. Foster's Trade Union Unity League. Foster attempts to respond to Fitzpatrick's public criticisim of the Workers Party of America for having caused a split of the July 1923 convention of the Farmer-Labor Party in Chicago. Foster criticizes Samuel Gompers for having "sabotaged" the 1919 strikes of packinghouse and steel workers -- the former by insisting upon turning over the action to inept international unions, the latter by doing nothing at all to further the organizational effort. The failure of the steel strike in particular ended an effort to "revolutionize" the American Federation of Labor, Foster notes, forcing a "a new tack to arrive at the goal of the reorganization and modernization of the trade union movement." This was an organization of left wing union elements into the Trade Union Educational League. If he had closely participated in a broad left wing movement, Foster declares that Fitzpatrick might "have been developed in spite of yourself into a figure powerful enough to wreck the reactionary bureaucracy." But Fitzpatrick had proven unequal to the task, being as he was "a regular of the regulars," Foster asserts. "You will not break completely with the official family and become an outcast, a disrespectable in the movement... You are determined to maintain your official standing in the labor movement, and especially to retain the presidency of the Chicago Federation of Labor. For you every tactical consideration depends upon that." Foster then offers his own interpretation of the July 1923 as illuminated by this burning bridge: continuation on the path towards an independent labor party "would have brought you the bitterest opposition of Gompers and might have cost you your position as head of the Chicago Federation of Labor.... A militant leader would have made the fight. But not you. Reluctant to break squarely with Gompers, you let the movement simmer along. Consequently the Farmer-Labor Party practically died in your hands despite its golden opportunity. It failed in its mission as champion of the labor party idea and soon degenerated into little more than a name."
"The Case of Joseph Zack: An Editorial," by Max Shachtman [July 23, 1938] Max Shachtman, editor of the Socialist Appeal, recounts the case of Joseph Zack Kornfeder, a founding member of the Communist Party of America who later evolved into a position of vocal anti-communism. At this juncture Zack was facing the prospect of deportation to Czechoslovakia by the United States government, "despite the fact that Zack was born in Scranton, Pa., and is therefore an American citizen." Shachtman notes that Zack-Kornfeder had broken with the Communist Party USA in 1935 and had begun to write to the US State Department in 1936 seeking action on behalf of his Russian-born wife and son, who were "held in Russia as virtual hostages." Instead, the American government, " far more interested in maintaining friendship with the Stalin bureaucracy than in 'helping an American citizen,'" had done nothing on their behalf, but had rather begun deportation proceedings against Zack. "Roosevelt today poses as the great friend of the political refugees," Shachtman declares. "At the same time, his Department of Labor deports, each year, more people than are admitted under all the immigration quotas! That is a statistical fact. More than that, it now proposes to deport a US citizen, solely because he is a revolutionary worker and does not suit the Stalinist machine in Moscow and on 13th Street."