Update 12-11: Sunday, March 11, 2012.

"A Letter on Immigration to George Brewer in Girard, KS from Eugene V. Debs in Terre Haute, IN." [circa May 19, 1910]  This bitter attack on the racist majority report of the Socialist Party's Committee on Immigration, defeated at the 1910 "National Congress" of the Socialist Party was intended by its recipient to have been read to the assembled delegates, but permission from Debs was received too late. Alternatively, the article was published in the pages of the left wing Chicago Socialist monthly, the International Socialist Review. Debs charges the majority report with being "utterly unsocialistic, reactionary, and in truth outrageous" and urges Brewer to use all his power in opposing its endorsement of exclusionary immigration law which would continue to bar new arrivals from China, Japan, and other Asian countries. "These poor slaves have just as good a right to enter here as even the authors of this report who now seek to exclude them. The only difference is that the latter had the advantage of a little education and had not been so cruelly ground and oppressed, but in point of principle there is no difference, the motive of all being precisely the same, and if the convention which meets in the name of Socialism should discriminate at all it should be in favor of the miserable races who have borne the heaviest burdens and are most nearly crushed to the earth," Debs declares. A written reply would be made to this letter of Debs by Chairman of the Committee on Immigration, Ernest Untermann, in August 1910.

"A Reply to Debs," by Ernest Untermann [Aug. 20, 1910]  A spirited defense of the Socialist Party's racist resolution immigration policy by Chairman of the Committee on Immigration Ernest Untermann. In response to a letter to the editor of the radical International Socialist Review by Gene Debs castigating the Socialist Party's majority report on immigration as "unsocialistic, reactionary, and in truth outrageous," Untermann responds by charging Debs with failure to examine and refute the propositions behind the policy. "Mere invective and sentimental oratory will not refute facts," Untermann declares. While proclaiming that the reason for Asian exclusion is not "ON ACCOUNT OF THEIR RACE," Untermann makes his case for exclusion of Asian immigrants based on race, declaring Asians inassimilable (unlike European immigrants), inflammatory to already difficult black-white race relations that make Socialist and trade union organizing difficult in the South, a factor which contributes to replacing the primacy of the class struggle with diversionary racial issues, and a benefit only to the capitalists who consciously make use of cheap Asian immigrant labor against (white) American workers. Untermann demands an explicit reply of Debs on these matters.

"Landmarks of the Labor Movement in Milwaukee," by Frederic Heath [Sept. 3, 1910]  With a Social Democratic administration newly elected for the first time in the city's history, Labor Day 1910 was an occasion for remembrance and reflection by the Socialists of Milwaukee. This article by pioneer Wisconsin Socialist Frederic Heath reviews some of the political and physical landmarks of the city's labor and radical history. Heath gives significant coverage to the early shoemakers' union the Knights of St. Crispin, early efforts at forming a central labor body, the myriad of pioneer Socialist newspapers, as well as the ongoing factional fight between Greenback Labor Party supporter Robert Schilling and the fledgling Marxist movement. Heath's article provides an paralleled source of information about the physical meeting places of early Milwaukee Socialist and labor organizations. Also of note is historical detail on the re-prosecution of Marxist leader Paul Grottkau by a new Schilling-Union Labor Party administration, during which Grottkau was sentenced to an extensive jail term for contempt of court on the basis of a piece of doggerel demeaning the trial judge published by Grottkau's newspaper.

"The Immigration Question," by Ernest Untermann [Dec. 10, 1910]  With its defeated majority report calling for continued "Asiatic exclusion" in America coming under fire in Karl Kautsky's influential theoretical magazine Die Neue Zeit [The New Times], chairman of the Socialist Party of America's Committee on Immigration Ernest Untermann here again issues a defense of the policy in the pages of Victor Berger's Social-Democratic Herald. Untermann contends that the prohibition of Asian immigration to the United States is economic rather than chauvinist in intention and he provides an extensive tale of his own personal experiences at sea for a year working side-by-side with grossly exploited Philippine sailors. "I lived for 12 months on rice and dry fish, prepared after the Tagalog recipe and eaten by all hands out of one common dish by the help of our ten fingers. I reveled in all the luxuries of the Tagalog larder and tried all its delights... And since that time I feel like Berger. I would rather 'fight like a tiger' than be reduced to a scale of living which condemns me to rice and fish and to a wage of 6 reales per day." He emphasizes that the majority report of the Immigration Committee was originally composed by himself and New York Socialist Joshua Wanhope and that Victor Berger merely signed the document to indicate his approval.

"A Socialist Mayor and an Almost Mayor," by Mila Tupper Maynard [Dec. 31, 1910]  Touring Socialist organizer Mila Tupper Maynard heads for the Pacific and provides an account for readers of Victor Bergers Social-Democratic Herald of the growth of Socialism in the Upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest. She tells of a booming Socialist community in Minneapolis, who in November 1910 had come within a mere 800 votes from electing Thomas Van Lear mayor of the city of 300,000. Work was being done to further spread the Socialist message, Maynard notes. In North Dakota Arthur LeSueur had been elected mayor of Minot, third largest city in the state, with Fargo and Grand Forks also boasting solid Socialist locals. Maynard predicts the election of a Socialist Congressman from North Dakota in 1912. In Washington, woman suffrage had been passed -- raising the number of states with full female voting rights to 5 -- and the vote for the Socialist candidate for Supreme Court Judge, head of the ticket in 1910, had increased 5-fold. Maynards overall assessment is upbeat.

"Danger Ahead," by Eugene V. Debs [January 1911]  In the wake of the unprecedented electoral success of the Socialist Party of America in the fall 1910 elections, party leader Gene Debs was one of the first to throw a wet blanket on blind enthusiasm with this short piece published in International Socialist Review. Debs colorfully remarks that "Voting for socialism is not socialism any more than a menu is a meal" and cautions the party faithful to guard against the danger that the Socialist Party will be swamped by an exodus from the old parties seeing a coming government headed by the rising SPA as a distributor of government jobs. Moreover, Debs notes, "the truth is that we have not a few members who regard vote-getting as of supreme importance, no matter by what method the votes may be secured, and this leads them to hold out inducements and make representations which are not at all compatible with the stern and uncompromising principles of a revolutionary party.... Socialism is a matter of growth, of evolution, which can be advanced by wise methods, but never by obtaining for it a fictitious vote." Debs declares "the economic organization of the working class" to be of "far greater importance than increasing the vote of the Socialist Party," but warns against opportunistic promises being made to "American Federation of Labor and its labor-dividing and corruption-breeding craft unions" in pursuit of votes.

"The McNamara Case and the Labor Movement," by Eugene V. Debs [January 1912]  In the aftermath of the guilty plea of John and Jim McNamara in the October 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times building, Socialist Party leader Gene Debs offers his assessment of the affair. Debs is scornful of Samuel Gompers and the American Federation of Labor for cravenly rushing to join the capitalists in condemning the activities of the McNamara brothers in an effort to save face before the bourgeois world. "The acts to which the McNamaras have confessed and for which they are now in prison I do not approve, nor does any other Socialist," Debs declares, adding "I am not caring what the capitalist class think of me and I am not tempering my judgment or shaping my acts to meet their favor." Debs identifies the McNamaras as committed participants in the Gompers craft union establishment -- Democratic Party voters, Catholic church members, and supporters of pure-and-simple trade unionism. Still, rather than rushing to judgment, Debs urges sympathetic understanding and discrete silence in recognition that the McNamaras were pushed into violence by the ethical code of capitalism and the desperate logic of craft unionism within that system. Debs notes recent instances of capitalist violence against working class and the hypocritical way this bloodshed had been ignored. He also demands recognition of the lawless kidnapping of the McNamaras in their present case. Debs asserts that "If the McNamara case teaches us anything it is that we must organize along both economic and political lines, that we must unite in the same union and fight together, and in the same party and vote together, and stick unflinchingly to that program..." Debs intimates the Times bombing was part of an organized conspiracy since it was extremist anti-union forces who had the most to gain from the affair.

"God’s Masterpiece: Woman," by Eugene V. Debs [July 13, 1922]  A short, sentimental, and very traditional celebration of the gentler sex by Socialist Party leader Gene Debs, who contrasts man-the-creator with woman-the-healer-and-beautifier. "If the hand of man is magical with accomplishment, the small white hand of woman has even greater magic, in that it soothes and blesses ever. With the touch of her fingers she changes the hard sick bed into down and dreams. With the stroke of her palm she banishes the tears of childhood and gives smiles for sobs," Debs writes. Debs envisions a world in which "Love shall reign instead of hate, beauty shall take the place of deformity, peace of war, plenty of poverty; and all the world, under her unfettering ministry, shall be a home, safe and saintly, sweet and satisfying." Debs' vision is revealed as a clear reflection of Gilded Age paternalism rather than one of modern 20th Century feminism.


"To Members of the IWW: Unite Your Forces Upon a Program of Revolutionary Class Struggle with the Red International of Labor Unions for Proletarian Dictatorship! (Appeal of the Red International Affiliation Committee)." [circa July 1925]  Full text of a rare 1925 leaflet by a pro-Communist faction of the Industrial Workers of the World called the Red International Affiliation Committee (RIAC). The piece gives a fascinating glimpse at the little-studied factional politics of the IWW during the 1920s. Snippets of a membership series for the organization are provided: 38,828 in 1923; 30,722 in 1924; and just 13,620 in 1925 following a bitter "emergency" split of the organization. The IWW in 1925 is revealed as consisting of 5 actually functioning industrial unions -- Lumber, Marine Transport, Metal Mining, General Construction, and Agriculture -- with another 24 "paper" industrial unions almost devoid of membership. The 1924-25 "emergency" split seems to have been concentrated in the Lumber and General Construction fields, reading this document between the lines. An extensive program is presented by the RIAC, emphasizing affiliation with the Comintern's Red International of Labor Unions and a concentration upon the development of the five actually functioning industrial unions rather than extension of the organization into other fields, with activity in other industries to be contained in already established unions in conjunction with the Communist Party's Trade Union Educational League.  A call is made by the RIAC for the establishment of "committees of action in every key industry, especially in every transport center, to unite all workers for defense of their class brothers and to prevent aggression against workers engaged in struggle" in light of Capitalism's ongoing transformation to Fascism and violent counter-revolution during what is conceived as it's "final" historical phase.


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